When you think of a diva, do you conjure up images of Beyonce or Patti LaBelle? For those unfamiliar with Camp Diva, their purpose has little to do with these ladies. Camp Diva has been serving girls, ages 11-17, in the Richmond Metropolitan area since 2004, providing opportunities for teen girls to prepare themselves spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and culturally for their passage into womanhood.
CAMP DIVA started in tribute to five-year-old, Diva Mstadi Smith-Roane, after she lost her life due to a firearm accident. Even at her tender age, Diva was just that, a diva…a divine goddess. In remembrance of her, with help from her mother, Clover Smith, Angela Patton founded CAMP DIVA that summer, allowing Diva’s spirit to live on. It was a chance to give girls in need an opportunity to have a support system and a chance to develop the characteristics of a true woman. It was also a way for Clover to continue to give the motherly love and support she gave to Diva.
CAMP DIVA offers many hands-on and traditional summer camp activities during its five-week Summer Retreat such as sewing, cooking, art, swimming, dance, sports, and performing arts, while also providing workshops on life and social skills, fitness and nutrition, and manners and etiquette. The camp also offers activities like journaling and goal setting, team work and sisterhood building, yoga and spa visits, community service and social change projects.
Camp Diva has also expanded over the last eight years to offer several specialized after school programs that introduce girls to entrepreneurship, various trades, and careers; give the girls hands-on experiences to prepare them for the workforce; and teach them practical life skills.
Angela Patton says that “through Camp Diva, girls see what a true diva is and should be, contrasting the world’s amended and varied definitions of a ‘diva.’” For more information about CAMP DIVA, its programs, and more, go online to www.campdiva.org.
The future is bright, but your support is needed
Since the inception of Camp Diva in 2004, the camp has been working with the East District Family Resource Center, partnering with the national organization, Girls For a Change, and has had the honor of receiving various grants to continue to promote their mission. But to continue the vision of the camp and serving our Richmond population, Camp Diva is calling on you for support to meet its various needs. In addition, Camp Diva is always looking for partners, especially as it looks to expand its programs to the Petersburg area, and beyond.
You can help by:
• Giving a monetary gift. Camp Diva is able to provide safe environments during their summer and after school programs.
• Encouraging Corporate Sponsorships and aiding in grant funding opportunities. Offer Camp Diva the ability to create jobs while increasing its staff. These funds could also be used to directly fund programs or enhance Camp Diva’s fund raising efforts.
• Funding marketing and public relations efforts. Partnerships with local media in print and broadcast are important for promotion to continue to make Camp Diva events successful.
• Providing Transportation. Camp Diva has been unable to offer transportation for one of their off-site after school programs. In addition, without reliable transportation of their own, they are only able to offer programs for a maximum of two hours for one day a week. Providing transportation for Camp Diva girls will allow them to build upon current successes and make even more of a difference in the lives of the girls they serve.
• Providing a Home site. An exclusive site for Camp Diva would allow the camp to efficiently operate its programs, and would also provide the camp with another possible source of income as it could rent out its space for use by other organizations.
• Volunteering. Camp Diva is always in need of volunteers for its programs, events, and committees.
Whatever your area of expertise or abilities, there is surely a place for you with Camp Diva. To find out more about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, please contact Angela Patton at 804-852-4385 or www.campdiva.org.
CAMP DIVA PROGRAMS
CAMP DIVA is not just a camp. The program has blossomed over the years to offer various programs and events for girls year round, including Camp Diva’s “DIVA Den” programs, the annual Date with Dad Dinner and Dance, as well as the signature Camp Diva Summer Retreat.
Camp Diva’s “DIVA Den” programs are offered during after school hours for girls, ages 11-17, at no cost. The “DIVA Den” is open one day a week, for 12-weeks per semester (Fall and Spring), and include programs such as Sisters of Nia, Girls For A Change, and Girl Circle.
Sisters of Nia is designed to help girls in urban communities in grades 6, 7, and 8, transition from elementary to middle school, and from middle to high school. Sisters of Nia strives to provide an environment where girls are supported, nurtured, and empowered through lessons and activities based upon Kwanzaa principles, addressing the various developmental changes taking place during these important times of transition.
Girls For A Change is a national organization, of which Camp Diva is an partner, which aims to teach middle and high school girls about social change and how to take action in their communities. Girls identify challenges in their communities, and design and implement creative solutions to address them as a community team. Each team is led by two women who serve as coaches by guiding and supporting the girls through the project. This program provides the tools and resources for these girls so they may develop their voice, problem-solving abilities, and realize their full potential as active and productive citizens.
Girl Circle is made up of structured support groups for girls, ages 11-17. Each week during the program, a group of girls meet with an adult woman for two hours and take turns talking and listening to one another about their concerns and interests. The girls express themselves further through creative or focused activities such as role playing, drama, journaling, poetry, dance, and art. Girl Circle is designed to foster self-esteem, help girls maintain an authentic connection with peers and adult women in their community, and allow for genuine self-expression through verbal sharing and creative activity.
Date with Dad Dinner and Dance
In 2007, Camp Diva started to recognize and celebrate the critical role a father plays in a young girl’s life with their annual “Date ith Dad Dinner and Dance.” The 5th Annual event is set for Sunday, March 18, 2012, 4 – 8 p.m. at the Cultural Center of India located at 6641 Iron Bridge Parkway in Chester, Virginia.
The goal of the event is not only to foster better communication between fathers and daughters, and provide a place for them to spend some all-important quality time, but also to demonstrate the importance of the father-daughter relationship and show that despite the high rates of father absence in Richmond, there are fathers who are active in their daughters’ lives.
Over the first three years of the event, attendance grew from 20 fathers and daughters to over 300. State Senator Henry L. Marsh III, a supporter of the event, has mentioned that he looks forward to the dance one day filling a large venue like the Richmond Convention Center or Coliseum.
Proceeds from the 5th Annual Date with Dad Dinner and Dance benefit the Camp Diva Summer Retreat. Founder/Director Angela Patton comments, “the ‘Date With Dad Dance’ fundraiser helps ensure we can make this camp free, or at least affordable, for girls who can really benefit from the experience but cannot afford it, especially in this economy.”
In addition, Camp Diva has received letters from male inmates from Richmond City Jail applauding their efforts in making a positive difference in the lives of these young girls. After sharing these letters with girls who attend Camp Diva’s programs, the girls began to advocate for the girls who have fathers who are in prison and have limited contact with their daughters. They recognized that even girls who have frequent visits are seldom able to engage in daily experiences that are part of being a family. So this year, Camp Diva will also host their first ever “Dance of Their Own,” Saturday, March 17, inside the walls of the Richmond City Jail for incarcerated fathers and their daughters.
Camp Diva Summer Retreat
Finally, the signature event for Camp Diva is a five week, full-day, rites of passage summer camp for girls 11-14 years old. This is the only program in the Richmond Metropolitan area geared toward the growth and development of African-American girls. While girls participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, sports, and more, they also engage in fun, unique, life-changing experiences designed to help them gain personal power and self-confidence, and balance the mind, body, and spirit, all while creating and developing deep and lasting friendships and memories.
Ashlee Miller, a longtime volunteer with CAMP DIVA, says the activities have “substance, and activities are more structured without being restrictive.”
Other summer programs include DIVA-Preneurship for girls, ages 14-17, who want to learn a broad range of business, finance, economics, and entrepreneurial skills. This program is also geared toward college preparation. Girls in the program are assigned to a work site where they learn various job skills. Camp Diva also offers DIVA Tech, a STEM-related program that aims to close the technology divide between African-American girls and other groups by offering mentoring, training, and hands-on experience in computer technology for girls in the 11th grade.
With all its offerings, CAMP DIVA is truly a unique experience. Girls don’t go to this camp simply for a place to ‘be,’ or to be babysat, but to truly be transformed.
2012 CAMP DIVA Summer Retreat Orientation
Saturdays, March 31 & April 28
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
The East District Family Resource Center
2405 Jefferson Ave Richmond, VA. 23223
2012 CAMP DIVA Summer Retreat
Mon. – Fri., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., July 9 – August 10, 2012
For more information, please visit: www.campdiva.org