About GEMS

GEMS: Shining Bright

Girls can begin their Girls Empowered by Mountain Shepherd (GEMS) journey during this five-day overnight experience hosted at Mountain Shepherd Adventure School. This session is designed for girls going into grades 6-8. During Shining Bright, girls discover the seven survival priorities: positive mental attitude, first aid, shelter, firecraft, signaling, water, and food. This experience introduces girls to the parallels between each survival priority and their lives in the “front country.” Girls are also encouraged to explore their own personalities and communication styles, through which they gain an appreciation for teamwork and positive social interactions with their peers. GEMS Shining Bright enables girls to find courage, build confidence, and show compassion for others through exciting and educational activities, such as night hikes, team-building games, and the practice of survival skills. Girls will be Shining Bright and ready for more empowerment when they leave!

GEMS: Digging Deeper

Girls who feel prepared to dig deeper into the parallels between survival skills and their day-to-day lives are invited to take on new challenges and celebrate bigger accomplishments during GEMS Digging Deeper! This session is also a five-day overnight experience during which Girls Empowered will be challenged to step further outside their comfort zones by building on the skills and understandings they gained during GEMS Shining Bright. This experience begins with a review of the seven survival priorities, allowing girls to reflect upon their initial empowerment experiences. Then, girls spend the middle of the week on a 2-night backpacking expedition along the nearby Appalachian Trail, where they will strengthen their survival skills and begin exploring their own unique leadership and communication styles. The week concludes with canoeing on Craig Creek, which allows girls to explore and prepare for situations that may be out of their element. GEMS Digging Deeper presents new challenges and opportunities for goal-setting to Girls Empowered, and girls will move forward with a deepened sense of courage, confidence, and compassion.

GEMS 3: Rock On

Avid Girls Empowered are invited to Rock On for another intensive five-day overnight experience focused on personal development and empowerment. This experience challenges girls in exciting ways by encouraging them to take on leadership roles among their peers while exploring new outdoor activities. While canoeing, camping, rappelling, stand up paddleboarding, and hiking, girls will discover new parallels to their ever-changing lives. Girls will be challenged to think independently and to cooperate with fellow GEMS to be successful throughout the week. While other GEMS levels are designed for girls going into grades 6-8, GEMS: Rock On is open to girls who are beginning or continuing high school, too. Girls leave this inspiring and demanding week having grown into strong, compassionate, confident leaders, ready to Rock On in their communities!

GEMS: Be Genuine

GEMS who have already shined bright, dug deeper, and rocked on are ready to Be Genuine on their fourth exciting endeavor! This session invites GEMS back to Mountain Shepherd for five days of personal growth and leadership development, plus plenty of outdoor adventures. Be Genuine challenges girls to use the survival, communication, leadership, and safety skills they’ve gained to plan an outdoor adventure, explore civil debate and compromise, investigate environmental issues, practice public speaking, and discover nutrition and personal health. Additionally, GEMS in Be Genuine will take day trips away from camp to enjoy a starry night hike to McAfee Knob, dive deeper into kayaking and tubing on the Jackson River, hit the trails on bikes on the Jackson River Trail, and practice their confidence pose in mid-air while zip-lining at Buffalo Mountain Adventures! GEMS will grow to be GEMuinely authentic, adventurous advocates in GEMS: Be Genuine.

GEMS: Polishing Up

Polishing Up is designed to introduce older girls to the GEMS program by combining the GEMS 1 and 2 experiences into a single five-day overnight session.