Writing about Snow White really got me reflecting on Girl Power Pajama Jam (GPPJ). I anticipated this event all year. From the moment I started my internship at Heartland Alliance, the staff could not help but talk about this event. As the day grew closer, my excitement mounted. It was a logistics nightmare and a lot of planning– much of it that was not even my responsibility, which allowed me the full anticipation experience. I love when the excitement mounts, building slowly at first, until I cannot control it and it comes bursting out in wild energy!
The event almost took on a life of its own this year. The number of people attending nearly doubled from last year, causing a change of venue and a few tweaks to our plans. I got to help prepare the office for 50 girls to arrive. It took about three hours to set everything up but it wasn’t a chore, it just added to my excitement. The arrivals started slowly, we got one van of girls when three should have arrived at the same time, but it was alright. Eventually, all the girls arrived. We played Mulan while we waited for arrivals. It was fun watching the girls arrive: many of the younger ones came in their pajamas, and a lot (both younger and older) dressed up for the event. It looked like the girls were ready to do some damage!
We started easy: Pizza Party! 50 girls demolished 15 pizzas, no problem. Then we eased into our team building activity: the Human Knot. It was hilarious to coordinate this effort. It would be difficult doing this activity with 50 people anyway, but add in language barriers and a widely varied age group and it was ripe for fun. My group never did untangle the knot– chalk it up to poor leadership if you want.
From there we went into a group dance. My good friend Lindsay Addy (from the collection ;] ) choreographed a little hip-hop to teach the girls. She picked an awesome song too– honestly I don’t know the names but it was all about GIRLS! It was so much fun to learn a dance as the big group, and, when surveyed, the girls from Thursday Group all said learning the dance was the best and they were excited when I told them Lindsay could come teach us a dance soon!
Post-Dance lesson, chaos took over. I was surprised at how well the group had done with so much structure up to this point. We didn’t completely let all the rules out the window. We set up five stations and the girls had two and a half hours to go between stations. This allowed them freedom to hang out with whomever they wanted and let them have control over what they did and did not participate in.
I was hosting the Karaoke/Dance Party room with Lindsay and a staffer. It was awesome. The girls went CRAZY for Karaoke (as a result I want to raise money to purchase a Karaoke machine for Heartland). I borrowed the machine we used from Joeleen Famoso and it was such a good decision–definitely worth an 8 hour trip with it on my lap! I did have to purchase a new Karaoke CD: apparently the girls don’t know much music before 2005. So we had all of 13 songs to chose from. One of them was Bebier’s “Baby”. I heard Baby sung 8 times that night. Pretty sure I have it memorized. But you know what, I didn’t even mind hearing it that much because the girls were having such an excellent time. Alternating every 15 minutes with Karaoke was Dance Party. Those girls know how to get their dance on! It is always so much fun dancing with them and I LOVE playing DJ for them. The last 15 minute dance party, every time I put a song on the whole room would start screaming! It was awesome.
I also enjoyed visiting the Sundae room. Ice cream is delicious and I am a sucker for toppings! So I took a short break to photo bomb some ladies taking pictures in the hall and grabbed some ice cream! It was strangely quiet in the kitchen though, girls used the room to take a break and really re-sugar themselves. So I didn’t stay long.
We had a great craft room set up in what is usually the child care room. There is a great window for parents to view their kids, and I stared creepily through it for a few minutes to see what sorts of things were being crafted. It was weird. I felt like a huge creep so I didn’t watch for long.
Next to the craft room we fashioned a photo booth in the cubicles with a sheet and some creative lighting. It was neat. I don’t know how it worked but we were able to print the pictures off right there for the girls to take them home.
Finally, the last area was the manicure room. No joke, this place was legit. It could have been a nail salon. It was a nail salon! There were four manicurist including Sammy feed-the-birds-baby-G Lewandowski. She brought her own supplies including awesome nail polish pens and really blew the socks off the staff and the participants. The nail place was so legit, it even had an appointment system.
It was such a huge success. I cannot even articulate how great it felt to see these ladies take part. Their joy and elation really brought home what I was doing. My career path is such an excellent fit for me and I am so excited for what lies ahead. Not only that, but Heartland Alliance is such a wonderful organization that is truly committed to the populations it serves. I am lucky and blessed that my first internship was here.