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Jennie White’s Wings

by Megan Weissman
 ∙ Aug 18 ∙ 8 Min Read

Jennie White is one of those one-in-a-million kind of people. And you know it from the moment you engage with her. Her journey with Campowerment was a fated one, one that, if you’ve donated to Give Her Camp in any amount, YOU helped happen.

Jennie found Campowerment <> Campowerment found Jennie after Chelsea, our CEO, saw a Facebook post made by a friend of a friend who was, at the time, a social worker at The Henry Street Settlement, “a not-for-profit social service agency in the Lower East Side of Manhattan that provides social services, arts programs and health care services to New Yorkers of all ages.” The post called for Mother’s Day donations that Henry Street could provide to the mothers of the children receiving services there AND to the moms who give of their time…in gratitude for all they show up to manage every day. 

The post led to a Give Her Camp connection and commitment; if the social workers on staff could nominate any mom for Give Her Camp, we were committed to providing one of the community-funded scholarships to that woman. That woman was Jennie, and we’re torn on who received the greater gift: us or her!!! (Though, we’ll admit, that’s often how the story goes around here…)

And that’s just the prequel. 

Leading into camp, Jennie shares…

At the time, there was a lot going on to distract me from doing what I needed to do to serve me. My 22-year-old son had beaten cancer. My 20-year-old daughter had gone to jail. At first I felt very guilty about doing something just for me. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but when I was awarded this scholarship, I knew I had earned it.

Below is a conversation I got to have with Jennie about what came next…

Being around such powerfully minded women where all of us are seeking an answer [to life’s big questions]…you feel like you’re in the right place at the right time to hear the right thing. As one of those women, I didn’t know what answers I was going to get, but I had hope they would come.

With each workshop, I filled my bag with little nuggets everywhere, and it was very inspiring to be around women doing that beside me. Being in that space, I knew I couldn’t return home to do the same things that put me in that rut.  

. . . . . . .

[There were little signs from above and sayings from the people around me at Campowerment that told me I was in the right place, too.]

At some point during my first camp, Tammi (Founder, Campowerment) said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” and I apply that to everything in my life: parenting, education, everything – however long it may take. 

Hearing her say that in the moment I was putting pressure on myself to find answers, gave me permission to not feel bad for how long it took me to get on this journey.  

Similarly, one of the best things Chelsea (CEO, Campowerment) says is, “This is sacred ground”  [in land acknowledgements for the Native land we are all on, and the very special shared feelings certain land allows us to feel]. As a woman of such strong faith, I know the power it holds – this is sacred ground – so I knew, whenever at Campowerment, I was home.

It was the most life-changing surprise. The camp experience sowed a seed of intergenerational empowerment, and for that I’m forever grateful.

. . . . . . .

After her first camp visit, Jennie turned her life upside down…and left, right…in really every which direction you could imagine, she changed things up. First, on the docket: dump her narcissistic boyfriend and quit her job. (Fret not: she followed the 72-hour-rule).

Quitting a job is no easy feat but Jennie attributes the quote “to get to places you’ve never been, you have to do things you’ve never done” in helping her decide to make this drastic change. 

. . . . . . .

Jennie: I walked out of [my first] Campowerment [retreat] and was like, “ I deserve better. I know I’m better.” 

I faced and fought through hell and high water, beat every odd and statistic…all to come to Campowerment and realize that I don’t look like what I’ve been through. And those who  mishandled me, including me, sometimes didn’t know what I carried!

Having community and sisterhood and family that really just empowered me to move on to another chapter in my life. 

Everything had to change. If it wasn’t going to change for me,  I was going to make it change. I had maybe a couple of hundred dollars in my bank account. It was very scary but I knew it was necessary.

. . . . . . .

Beyond quitting her job, Jennie decided to go back to school (!!!).

. . . . . . .

Jennie: I will be finishing August 25th! My degree is a Bachelors of Science in community and human services with a dual concentration in human services and social welfare policy. I went back to college to really make a difference in the lives of the families that I counsel and advocate for. I saw so much neglect of children with special needs and their families, from city and state departments during the pandemic. It was heartbreaking. By going back to school I knew I would have the knowledge to help arm these families to fight for services, better classroom environments, and access to better schools and help them heal. This graduation is a rebirth of who I am. It’s a new coming of so many great things.

Being a part of Campowerment has made me realize there is a higher level of friend I can have and that I deserve. I think that’s why this season is so great because I have people that believe in me.

In my old friendships, I was the encourager, always pouring out. but you can’t pour out of an empty cup. I had to learn to pour into myself. And I learned those skills at Campowerment.

. . . . . . .

Jennie: When I came back for a second camp in 2021, the community was a lot more diverse. There were more women there who looked like me, sounded like me and had some of the same life experiences that I’ve had. There are women there from all walks of life, but I felt more represented this time.

Even in the experts, seeing a woman that looked like me that can relate to where I come from, was really unique and powerful.

Each time I come to camp I’m at another level and I come seeking the next level of me, and at camp I find it in new ways. 

Everything I’m doing now is totally new. I spent most of my life giving, I want to learn how to be a receiver…and that’s what I began to pick up at camp in 2021. I want to learn how to receive the way I give and know that it’s okay to have other people take care of you.

. . . . . . .

What’s next for Jennie? As a parent of a child with special needs, Jennie felt her calling was to specialize in parents of children with special needs, so after graduation she begins a Master’s program to become a licensed and board-certified ABA therapist (a Behavior Analyst). A board certified ABA Therapist helps patients with disabilities, Autism, and behavioral disorders with social skills. She has some ways to go before acquiring her license but is on her way! Go Jennie!

. . . . . . .

Jennie: It is something very near and dear to my heart and I want to help parents who may be struggling. I’ve learned some real techniques and strategies about how to persevere and how to overcome these challenges and teach your children to get through these same struggles in life

I want to help parents understand what I have come to understand, with help from my time in the Campowerment community, there is always more. Even when you think you’ve reached the ceiling, there is infinitely more to grasp, to learn, to observe, to see in other people, and to see within yourself. 

Within Campowerment, you’re seen, you’re heard, you’re known, you’re chosen. You’re just loved. And that’s what is needed in this world by women, by men, by everyone. And if you get an opportunity to come to Campowerment, your life will never be the same.

. . . . . . .

If you see, hear or feel yourself in Jennie’s story, register for a Campowerment retreat this Fall and see what this dream incubator holds for your next chapter(s). We’re so here for it; all you have to do is just show up. So, sign up and start there, wouldya?

Need financial assistance making it happen? Our goal is to find a way to fund camp for every woman* bold enough to pursue it. This community funds a 501c3, our partner organization – Give Her Camp – and until Aug 20, scholarship applications and nominations are open. Should that serve you, apply today.

And on that note, if you’re in a position and so inclined to fund a trajectory-changing experience for incredible women like Jennie, make a donation in any amount to Give Her Camp today. Our appreciation for your support is overflowing. 

From the campfire & beyond,
The Campowerment Crew

*All who identify with the feminine experience

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