"It has taught me that women are just as, if not more, capable than men at succeeding in high powered roles" - Lauren Wheeler on her experience at Camp CEO

Research shows that 90% of 9 to 10-year-olds think that women and men have the same chance at succeeding at their jobs – yet glaringly, only 35% of 17-21-year-olds feel the same. At GirlguidingNWE we want to bridge the gap between the initial enthusiasm young girls feel about their ambitions, and the deflated responses they seem to later develop.  

Which is why annually our members between 14-17 years old have a chance to take part in Camp CEO – an insightful four-day residential at our London HQ bursting with valuable career lessons. Here, they receive expert career advice on how to overcome challenges, build resilience, and gain confidence - through practical guidance such as interviewing and networking skills.

Julie Bentley, Girlguiding's Chief Executive shares: 'This new research shows girls are lacking in confidence at an important stage in their lives when they are starting to think about the future, enter work or begin university.

'As the UK's leading charity for girls and young women, it's our responsibility to change this through opportunities like Camp CEO – bringing together girls with successful female role models to fuel their ambition and build their confidence.'

This year, our very own Ranger, Lauren Wheeler, 17, enjoyed her stay at camp CEO. We didn’t want to just tell you how valuable we think Camp CEO is, so we caught up with Lauren to find out more about her experience. Here’s what she had to say:

What did your time at Camp CEO look like?

The camp ran for four jam-packed days which were all unique and exciting in their own way. On a Sunday evening, 20 of us from guide and ranger units across the country met for the first time. Then we spent the evening introducing ourselves, playing icebreaker games, and discussing our nerves/anticipation for the week ahead.

On the first full day of the camp, we set aims for the week, took part in workshops on personal branding and managing our minds which were really useful. We then finished off the day with a range of adventurous activities including the Aqua Park and banana boating- perfect in the 30-degree heat! - Before having dinner and participating in an African drumming workshop. The next day we took part in a full day of workshops, which included networking, personal branding and social media all of which were fascinating, in preparation for meeting the CEOs on Wednesday. We ended the day with a relaxing yoga session and flower garland making the session.

On our last full day, we finally got to meet our mentors - the culmination of the camp and definitely the most memorable part. After a ‘speed networking session’ with the mentors, we got to take part in a fun team building activity session with them- which was incredibly entertaining- finishing off with a delicious barbecue by the lake. In the afternoon we had the chance to spend two one-hour sessions, one on one, with our mentor alongside taking part in a dragons’ den style competition. The next day we debriefed, said sad goodbyes to one another and departed on our various routes home- as far as the Isle of Man and Gibraltar!

What did camp CEO teach you?

Camp CEO taught me a huge range of skills which will be incredibly useful as I think about my career pathway. I know that the skills I developed in networking and interviewing will be vital as I begin to look for jobs and that the sessions in personal branding, stress management, and goal-setting will come in handy throughout my career. The camp taught me that you really can succeed in anything you put your mind to if you set goals, plan, and are willing to work hard for it.

What was your favourite thing about attending camp CEO?

Over the course of the week, we were fortunate enough to participate in a huge range of engaging sessions and workshops interspersed with numerous adventurous activities, all of which I enjoyed tremendously. However, my favourite moment has to be meeting the inspiring business women who generously gave up their time to come and pass on their words of wisdom to us. This really was the culmination of the camp since all the skills and knowledge we developed throughout the week, including those in networking, personal branding and aspirations were invaluable when it came to meeting with and quizzing our mentors. I feel the training really helped us to make the most of the opportunity when we had the chance to chat with them one on one.

Is there anything you would like to say about the female CEO you shadowed?

Yes- definitely! My mentor, a woman named Sarah Atkinson from CA technologies, was incredibly inspiring and I was amazed by her determination to bring equality- especially helping girls to succeed in STEM careers- to the workplace. Sarah’s words of wisdom and experience from her many years in a senior role as a leader were beyond helpful and I will cherish them for a long time to come. I am so grateful to have had the chance to talk through my hopes and aspirations for the future with her as well as having the chance to pick her brain about the characteristics which she believes are vital for being successful in business.

If in any way, how has camp CEO inspired you?

It has inspired me to believe in myself, step outside of my comfort zone and taught me that women are just as, if not more, capable than men at succeeding in high powered roles and in positions of leadership.

What do you enjoy about Girlguiding?

I love that through Girlguiding, girls can develop invaluable life skills whilst having fun, making new friends and connecting with like-minded young women from across the country. I feel as though the organisation really promotes a sense of community, as well as investment in social action and I truly believe that being a part of the guiding ‘family’ is one of the best opportunities that young women can have.