Alumni Spotlight: Elise and Princess Boot Camp

After camp, the thing we love most about the Great Books Community is hearing about the amazing things our campers accomplish all year round. Sometimes we hear a story that’s so exciting, we can’t wait to share it with everyone!10648340_10202498786982196_4048237611953972854_o

Elise is a junior in high school and has been coming to Great Books at Stanford since 2013. As part of her Creativity-Action-Service component toward her International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, Elise created Princess Boot Camp, an interactive theatrical education production for girls in grades K-5. Princess Boot Camp is a remarkable program that brings members of the community together to perform, empower young girls, and raise money for local charities. Elise wrote to us to explain how the program works, and about how her Great Books experience influenced the creation of Princess Boot Camp:

“In the summer after my freshman year in high school, I attended a summer program at Stanford University called Great Books. It was there that I met other people who shared my interests and accepted me for being myself. We embraced our differences; many were from other countries and cultures, some were from public schools while others were from private schools, and some were extraverted and others introverted. After spending two summers there, I decided I needed to do something in my community.

“I established a program called “Princess Boot Camp” to help other kids who had the same struggle with being themselves. Princess Boot Camp is an interactive theatrical event for girls in Kindergarten through 5th grade that breaks down the stereotype of a “princess.” In our view, a princess is beautiful, not just because of what she looks like but also because she is intelligent, active, kind, and charitable. Through Princess Boot Camp, I teach young girls how they can be themselves and also to accept and celebrate differences in others. I encourage them to see beauty in a different way.

Elise as "Tink" leads a Princess Boot Camp production.

Elise as “Tink” leads a Princess Boot Camp production.

“During our first Princess Boot Camp, we taught anti-bullying, the importance of charity, dance, music, and self-defense. The program was a huge success: Sixty-seven girls attended, and I could see how delighted some of these girls were that they weren’t the only ones who struggled with fitting in. In order to run the program, I pulled from different groups and clubs. The result was that people from my high school who would normally not even talk to each other worked side by side, which broke down social barriers.

“Even better, we grossed nearly $1700 and the net proceeds were split between St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (80%) and my high school’s drama program (20%).

“The second Boot Camp conducted this month brought in aspects of diversity and multiculturalism; we taught the girls to look past physical and cultural differences. They learned that everyone could be themselves and not have to change in order to be friends, that differences can make friendships more interesting. Our second Boot Camp grossed over $1200 and the net proceeds went to a local former military family financially devastated by a rare pancreatic disease (80%) and the drama department.”

To learn more about Princess Boot Camp or to attend one of their events, check out their Facebook page.

Have an exciting piece of news to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!

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