Summer Centered: Rosie Cohen ‘18 Educates, Empowers, and Inspires Girls in Rural West Virginia
The history major is working as a teaching intern at High Rocks Academy, a free, nonprofit summer camp that supports young girls in Appalachia.
Breathing the fresh air of the Appalachian Mountains, exploring the outdoors and working with young people: this is how Rosie Cohen '18 is spending her summer. The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) is funding her internship at High Rocks Academy for Girls in Hillsboro, W.Va. The camp was established in 1996 to arm middle school girls with rigorous education, leadership skills, and confidence, and, thus, help them excel in high school.
"As a history major, it's been cool to immerse myself in a region where power dynamics and the domestic intimacies of the American empire are so tangible," says Cohen, who first visited High Rocks on a CPGC-sponsored service trip during fall break of her freshman year, during which she helped with their year-round after-school programming and campground construction.
Her responsibilities this summer include teaching science and arts-and-activism classes, playing Ultimate with campers during exercise time, and supporting them emotionally. Additionally, she is also helping run the camp and is, therefore, learning the intricacies of nonprofit work.
"Communication can be tough at big nonprofits," Cohen admits, "but I've already learned so much from everyone I've met: identifying plants for herbal remedies, running a classroom, Appalachian history, what it's like to be a teenage girl in rural West Virginia."
High Rocks offers two summer camp opportunities. New Beginnings Camp is designed for rising seventh-grade girls and it is usually their gateway to the Academy. Older girls, those in grades 8–12, can apply to participate in Camp Steele, which is named after Virginia Steele, a local woman who donated the land on which the camp sits. Working with young girls is the best part of the job for Cohen, who is thrilled to be a part of the support system for High Rocks’ next generation of female leaders.
"The more I spend time with High Rocks girls, the more I can tap into my 13-year-old self, which I think has made this summer one of personal development," she says.
When she isn’t working at the camp, Cohen can be found enjoying the natural beauty of her location. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, dancing, building campfires, enjoying hammock time, interacting with the other nine interns, and learning about West Virginia’s history through her independent research.
"I like to work hard, and this internship is physically intensive, as well as emotionally intensive," Cohen says. "I find thrill in the challenge."
-Katya Konradova '19
"Summer Centered" is a series exploring our students' Center-funded summer work.