7 Years Later

by Aby Ryan, CEO & Founder of Athena Camps. Originally published here.

 

Seven years in, as the matriarch of this thriving, growing organization, it gives me great joy to have walked with two of my Athena Directors as they crossed over the threshold into motherhood. Raw, vulnerable and FOREVER changed. Becoming a mother, inspired Athena Camps. 

I started Athena Camps in 2011, when my daughter Jordan was six years old, entering kindergarten. I knew we needed some help when she was 3 years old. She needed it, and I needed it!

The resolve to start Athena Camps was solidified on Jordan’s first day of kindergarten. I was sitting in the playground with a bunch of other parents watching our kids run around the enclosed space and the cliques already beginning to form. The social order. Wow. How were the girls supposed to be more than their body image and what the media told them to be, keep their voice and unique qualities, and learn how to lift each other up into equal pay and positions of authority? We needed some help. My mom did the best she could but I was never was taught the skills to navigate the social and emotional world of being a girl. By the time I was forty, I knew three things:

  • Playing sports saved my life, and taught me useful leadership and life skills
  • My coaches had great influence on me, negatively and positively
  • Authentic friendships and mentorships with women lifted my spirit and gave my life meaning and purpose 

Seven years later, Athena Camps has given me:

  • Confidence that dreams do come true
  • A community that teaches and mentors my daughter
  • The privilege to be a matriarch:

          ma·tri·arch
           ˈmātrēˌärk
            noun
            1.a woman who is the head of a family or tribe.
1.an older woman who is powerful within a family or organization.