Published On: Wed, Feb 12th, 2014

High Rocks Academy for Girls –  more than a summer camp

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High Rocks Academy for Girls Community Outreach Coordinator Marlyn McClendon, left, and Development Coordinator Renae Anderson gave a presentation to the Marlinton Woman’s Club February 6. The two discussed programs offered by High Rocks and ways the community can help the girls who attend the camps and programs. S. Stewart photo

High Rocks Academy for Girls Community Outreach Coordinator Marlyn McClendon, left, and Development Coordinator Renae Anderson gave a presentation to the Marlinton Woman’s Club February 6. The two discussed programs offered by High Rocks and ways the community can help the girls who attend the camps and programs. S. Stewart photo

At Thursday night’s Marlinton Woman’s Club meeting, representatives from High Rocks Academy for Girls gave an informative presentation to explain everything that the academy has to offer.

Community Outreach Coordinator Marlyn McClendon and Development Coordinator Renae Anderson led the discussion and described programs offered to girls and young ladies in Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties.

“Since 1996, High Rocks has been a thriving center for youth empowerment for young girls and youth women,” McClendon said. “It started as intense summer camps almost seventeen years ago. Over the years there are a variety of programs we offer, from tutoring, to college access. We seek to inspire a culture of learning in our area.”

Expanding from its lodge in the Hillsboro area, High Rocks now has satellite offices at Dogwood Studios in Lewisburg and Steel Studio in Richwood. Girls no longer have to travel to Hillsboro and instead can get the same programs in their own counties.

“We currently have sixty-two active girls,” Anderson said. “Mentoring is really the focus of giving girls more Lots of Attention [LOA] time and it’s one-on-one time with girls where you really focus and listen, and really just give them their time to say what they need to say. Giving them an ear to listen really goes a long way.”

AmeriCorps volunteers and High Rocks staff have branched out into the schools and are working with students at Marlinton Middle School and Pocahontas County High School.

Each year, girls preparing for college go on campus visits with High Rocks staff to become familiar with what is needed to apply for and attend college.

“We gauge the girls interests and see what kind of college they want to visit, and we kind of tailor to that,” McClendon said. “This year we’ve already gone to Berea College, Marshall [University], Roanoke College, Sweet Briar College and Hollins University.”

The two main camps offered at High Rocks are Camp New Beginnings and Camp Steel. New Beginnings is for seventh grade girls and Steel is for older girls who are returning to camp or girls that did not know about the camp in seventh grade.

“What we focus on at all the camps is self-confidence,” Anderson said. “You can overcome what you think you can’t overcome. We have a lot of creative projects. We do a media track, creative expressions. They take science and math classes that are really academically rigorous.”

The camps also offer outdoor education with horse training and wilderness walks. The girls also learn building construction and how to can food.

“Something that’s really interesting about the construction,” Anderson said. “I’m an alum of High Rocks. I can walk into that campground and say ‘I was part of building that building.’ Every alum can point out a building or structure on the campground and say ‘I was a part of making this and it is mine.’”

The ladies closed the presentation telling club members there are many ways individuals in the community can get involved to help program continue at High Rocks.

“There’s always ways to volunteer, whether it’s tutoring or, what we really encourage is people to come up and visit the campground and see what the girls get to experience,” Anderson said. “We’s also spreading the word about the Neighborhood Investment program. It’s for donors who give a donation of $500 or more. They qualify to receive fifty percent back in West Virginia state tax credits that can give you a break on your next year’s state taxes. High Rocks was given a very generous amount of these Neighborhood Investment tax credits this year.”

After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions. McClendon and Anderson were joined by executive director Sarah Riley and board member Lynmarie Knight who helped answer questions.

For more information on High Rocks Academy for Girls, visit www.highrocks.org

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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