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Summer Leadership Intensive
Sponsored by the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers,
at Edith Wharton’s Summer Home,
The Mount, Lenox MA
This transformative weeklong intensive aims to awaken young women to the power of their own voices, both written and spoken. Through a combination of public speaking exercises, facilitated writing practice, team-building activities, and other modes of exploration, we empower girls to speak up, stand up, and lead.
Whether well on her way to becoming a leader in her school or local community, or just beginning to discover what inspires her, The Butterfly Leadership Program offers opportunities for young women to hone their skills. Led by longtime college educator Jennifer Browdy, Ph.D., with award-winning spoken word poet Grace Rossman, the writing-intensive program gives girls the tools, strategies and confidence they need to step into leadership roles wherever they are.
A Typical Day in the Summer Leadership Intensive
A typical day in the Butterfly Leadership Summer Intensive starts off with a yoga-dance warm-up. This is our chance to center ourselves and shake off any worries or tension that might get in the way of working as productively as possible. Moving at the start of the day also helps us to wake up!
After our warm-up, we usually complete several short writing prompts on the theme of the day. You might be asked to write about a woman leader from another time in history, an issue facing the world that you care deeply about, or a memory or story that it is essential to understanding who you are. These short prompts are not intended to produce polished pieces of writing. Rather, these “focused free writes” allow us to use writing as a means of self-exploration and inquiry into what it means to lead, which issues require the most urgent leadership, and how our unique set of qualities and skills can allow us to step into leadership confidently and effectively.
Then we move from writing to some sort of speaking activity. This may take the form of reading a piece of writing out loud, telling improvised stories, or working in small groups to prepare and perform a skit. These exercises allow us to practice public speaking in a low-pressure context, and even make the act of getting up in front of others and presenting… FUN!
Our last activity of the day might be a group art project, a writing exercise outside, or taking a tour of Edith Wharton’s estate and discussing the artist’s life and work. We will also spend one evening together watching an outdoor performance by Shakespeare & Company, right on the grounds of The Mount.
We close each day with a yoga-dance cool down, bringing us back into our bodies and allowing us time to process and integrate the information we covered during the day.
On Friday (the last day of the program), our schedule is a little different. After editing and expanding one of our focused free writes into a finished piece of writing, we practice performing what we’ve written, drawing on the public speaking skills we’ve learned over the course of the week. We then invite parents and community members to join us for a celebration of our efforts in the form of individual and group presentations.
Here's what past participants had to say about the Summer Leadership Intensive:
“What I liked about the Butterfly Leadership Summer Intensive was that I didn’t feel restricted. I also loved the way the teachers approached the writing, whether it was a walk in the woods or interviewing a partner. I particularly enjoyed the yoga at the beginning (it felt great!) and the walk in the woods.”
“I liked that the Butterfly Leadership Program brought us all together in our journey of finding our strength.”
“I liked that the Butterfly Leadership Summer Intensive was low-pressure and presented a “safe space” for writing. Sharing writing in school generally sets me on edge but this program’s environment made me feel less worried about doing so.”