Girls with Altitude

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Girls with Altitude (GWA) is a sisterhood that empowers 6th–8th graders to build community and gain valuable leadership skills. This outdoor after-school program creates a safe and welcoming environment for girls to be themselves, explore Hale’s unique wilderness setting, and realize their potential. GWA offers a variety of activities that inspire girls to challenge themselves. The program also provides time and support for girls to complete homework.

Who We Serve

Girls with Altitude serves students from Westwood, Dover, Dedham, Norwood, and Needham. Hale offers transportation on a first-come, first-served basis to Thurston and Coakley Middle School students, but we encourage parents to provide transportation whenever possible. GWA is based at the Trading Post, roughly 0.7 miles from Hale’s Main Entrance at 80 Carby Street, Westwood MA. Pick-up occurs between 5:30 PM and 6 PM.

A Typical Day

Activities include teambuilding challenges, low and high ropes, outdoor living skills, archery, hiking and navigation, group games, sports, cooking, arts and crafts, photography, and more. Here’s a glimpse of a typical day:

  • 2:30-3:00 PM: Arrival, snack, activity preview
  • 3:00-3:30 PM: Energizer and teambuilding challenge
  • 3:30-4:15 PM: Outdoor exploration, challenge, or activity
  • 4:15-5:00 PM: Leadership development activities and discussions
  • 5:00-5:15 PM: Activity debrief, reflection,and positive affirmations
  • 5:15-6:00 PM: Homework time and pick-up

Each afternoon, girls create space to be themselves, share experiences, and develop a supportive network of friends.

An outdoor program? In the winter?

Winters in New England may be unpredictable, but GWA takes advantage of the outdoors regardless of the weather! Preparedness, be it for school or the elements, is a key lesson we teach our girls. Weather-appropriate gear allows us to safely participate in activities that include hiking, climbing, archery, shelter-building, sledding, and snowshoeing. On especially cold days, we might head inside for arts and crafts, cooking, STEM challenges, and teambuilding activities.

Winter Session Topics

Our theme this winter is Leadership. Girls will critically explore what inspires, challenges, frustrates, and motivates them as they build the self-esteem and resiliency young leaders need.

Jan. 4—Leadership Meet & Greet (Free Open House)

Get to know the GWA team and meet other female leaders in the Hale community. Learn how they’ve overcome challenges to achieve success in their careers and lives. Girls will begin building vision boards will guide their leadership journeys throughout the winter and beyond. If you aren’t ready to register for our winter season but would like to attend this free open house, please email Emily.

Jan. 11—Understanding Identity

Who am I? We all have a different way of defining our personal identity and values, and it doesn’t have to be the way the world defines us. We’ll discuss the many aspects of our lives that form identity and reflect on the unique qualities that make each of us strong.

Jan. 18—Developing Your Leadership Style

How do I lead? Many people think leaders are the loudest and most popular people in the room, but there’s more than one way to lead. By identifying the personal values and experiences that shape their lives, girls will discover the unique potential they have to lead in their own way.

Jan. 25—Defining Success

What does it mean to be successful? We all want to be successful, but what does it mean to succeed? Success can seem elusive when media and social influences make us question our progress and worth. We’ll break those messages down, figure out what success means to each of us, and set personal goals to help us achieve it.

Feb. 1—Coping with Challenges and Managing Stress

How can I do all of this? Physical, emotional, and mental wellness are necessary for leaders, but they can be hard to maintain when we feel burdened by homework, aggravated by casting decisions, or trying to manage gossip. Girls will learn coping mechanisms and stress management techniques so they’re ready to face challenges as leaders.

Feb. 8—Leading Followers, Following Leaders

How do I work with others? No one leads in a vacuum (and sometimes effective leaders are actually followers)! Leaders rely on face-to-face communication and problem-solving skills to encourage and influence their teams. Girls will learn how tone, context, and word choice can positively influence their communication. We’ll also role-play scenarios that require advanced teamwork skills.

Feb. 15—Leading the Way

What inspires me to be a confident leader?  When we’re inevitably overwhelmed and begin to feel helpless, it’s important to remember why we strive to be leaders at all. We’ll identify internal and external motivators and learn how to avoid becoming discouraged in light of setbacks. Girls will reaffirm their personal goals and commit to helping one another achieve them beyond the scope of GWA.

Spring Session Topics

Our theme this spring is Creating Change. Discussions and activities will help girls think critically about how they interpret information, set expectations, and consider others’ perspectives.

Apr. 5—Changing Perceptions

One of the keys to creating real change is shifting our perceptions of the challenges and obstacles that stand in our way. We’ll reflect on the influences in our lives that affect the way we see the world and how changing our mindsets can help us achieve our goals.

Apr. 12—Challenging Stereotypes

The stereotypes and expectations of society and the media significantly impact the way girls value themselves and perceive their potential.  By developing skills to think critically about these messages, we can actively challenge stereotypes and learn to use our own platforms to be encouraging and empowering.

Apr. 26—Finding Our Voices

Speaking up and challenging the status quo takes courage, and we believe this comes from validating girls’ unique perspectives and voices. We will reflect on what makes each girl’s voice important and the many ways they can use it to change the world.

May 3—Building Empathy and Spreading Kindness

Sometimes the most important changes we make are created through small acts of kindness and understanding. By listening to others and learning to put ourselves in their shoes, we can provide much-needed emotional support for the members of our community who need it most.

May 10—Becoming a Mentor

There are many ways to lead, and serving as a mentor to peers and younger girls is a great way to pass on everything we’ve worked on at GWA. Through role-play and simulations, we’ll practice mentoring and coaching skills that will make us effective community leaders.

May 17—Setting Goals

To continue the work and discussions around creating change, girls will set one goal for themselves to create a change either personally or within their community. Girls will also write letters to themselves for  Hale to send at the end of the summer to remind them of their goals and the lessons and values they took out of GWA this year.

It’s the last day of Girls with Altitude, and I feel proud for being me and our group for being us! Self-defense, high ropes, media talk…it’s been a fun journey, and I’m proud that I made it!

Rates and Dates

Please enroll using our online registration system.

We encourage enrollment for an entire session since workshops build on one another and consistency makes for a stronger community. However, if you are unavailable for the entire session, you are welcome to join us for up to three individual workshops. An individual workshop is $50 with transportation or $45 without transportation. Contact Emily to register for an individual workshop.

Winter 2019

Our Winter 2019 session includes 7 workshops every Friday between Jan. 4 and Feb. 15. Please note that space is limited, and there is a waitlist for our “with transportation” option.

  • $275 with transportation
  • $250 without transportation

Spring 2019

Our Spring 2019 session includes 6 workshops on Fridays between Apr. 5 and May 17. Please note there is no workshop on Apr. 19 due to school vacation, but we hope to see you at one of our Vacation Programs!

  • $275 with transportation
  • $250 without transportation