High Rocks is gearing up for a busy summer; still accepting 8th-12th grade registrants for Camp Steele in July

Two upcoming camps will be hosted by High Rocks Educational Corporation later this summer. According to its website, High Rocks is an award-winning leadership program for young women ages 13-25. They work with girls from all walks of life and accept girls from all different tables in the cafeteria.

Margaret Emanuel is the lead program coordinator at High Rocks, and she’s been involved with the program since 2010.

“High Rocks was founded in 1996 by Susan Burt,” explains Emanuel. “Susan Burt was a middle school teacher. She taught the gifted program at Marlinton Middle School and she really wanted to start an organization that would help girls that were really struggling with the transition between middle school and high school, and struggling to define what success was and how they could be successful and sort of get all of the life skills that they needed to really be happy and healthy as teenagers.”

Emanuel said it’s not easy being a teenager nowadays, especially for the young women in the county.

“Being a teenage girl is really challenging, no matter who you are, where you live, how much money your family makes, and she really saw that and really had a vision for creating a space that girls could truly be themselves, be in a judgment-free space and learn what it was like to just feel accepted for who they were, and in that process really learn how to be a successful person and a successful adult,” Emanuel says.

The first camp they’re gearing up for is called New Beginnings and it’s the program that High Rocks was sort of founded on. New Beginnings is a fourteen day sleep-away camp for girls transitioning from seventh into eighth grade.

“We have four classes that camp is really based on,” she says. “And the reason is because when the camp was founded there were staff that really spoke very strongly about how these subjects really made a lasting difference in their lives and really empowered them. Those four classes; we do horsemanship, where they learn to be around and really care for horses and ride horses, and then we do a creative expressions class which includes both visual art and creative writing, we do a science class usually it focuses more on the social and environmental sciences, and then we also do a math class. Math skills that are relevant to that grade level.”

High Rocks serves girls in Pocahontas, Nicholas and Greenbrier counties.

“Any seventh grade girl can apply to the program within those three counties,” Emanuel says. “If they are not from within those three counties, like if they’re in other counties in West Virginia, we can serve them also. We usually work with them to find sponsorship.”

Emanuel said there’s no cost to the girls to attend the camps at High Rocks.

“We do a lot of fundraising and work with private donors to provide scholarships for the girls,” says Emanuel. “It costs about $2,000 for a girl to come to camp, but their family is not responsible for paying any of that money. If they want to contribute to some of that, they’re welcome to.

The New Beginnings Camp for middle school girls is full, but High Rocks is still registering girls for Camp Steele in July.

“It’s named after Virginia Steele who donated all the property for our camp ground,” she says. “Any eighth through twelfth grader can apply for that camp and that is still open for registration. We still have spots available. They have classes also, but actually we call them tracks. We’re kind of trying to mirror what a college experience is like. So they pick a major and a minor track. Those tracks we have a construction track, where they do a construction project, we have a media track where they make videos, we have a visual art track, we have one about social movements in education, and then the last one is food revolution, so talking about food politics, and local foods movement and things like that.”

Emanuel said Camp Steele starts July 12 and runs through July 27.

“Eighth through twelfth grade girls that are in the area that want to apply to Camp Steele, we are still taking applications,” says Emanuel. “They can apply through our website, which is www.highrocks.org and we’ll be accepting applications on a rolling basis until camp starts. So, if anyone is interested they should definitely apply and we’re always available to answer any questions.”

Emanuel said the impact the camps have on the girls is pretty evident.

“Because we do written evaluations at the end of each camp,” she says. “So, the girls all fill out a written evaluation, and, let me see if I can remember this right, we ‘re still kind of compiling all the statistics from last summer, but for the summer before, 100% of the girls that attended New Beginnings said that it was life changing.”

Story By

Angelo Jiordano

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