REDMOND, Ore. - On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, from late October through mid-November, Redmond's John Tuck Elementary gymnasium was transformed into a character-building boot camp for third- through fifth-grade girls.
Created by Tuck Elementary teacher Susan Gotshall, the program called Tornado Girl Boot Camp was thought up as a response to combat squabbling and gossip among elementary-age girls and a way to build character.
"I think this age range is such a pivotal time for girls to learn about friendship, loyalty, determination, self-worth and finding their own inner strength," Gotshall said.
Each session begins with the group talking about a character trait and how it applies to the girl's lives and then they do a boot camp workout, all while wearing T-shirts with the words, "I am a Tornado Girl: I am strong. I am smart. I can do anything."
The girls absolutely love it and have so much fun," Gotshall said. "I see them in the hallway with the biggest smiles and they say "Hi Miss G., I'll see you at boot camp today!"
Gotshall discovered Crossfit about seven years ago when she was searching for something that was athletic, fun and she could stick with long term. She was introduced to the popular activity by a friend and after one session she was hooked.
Crossfit is promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and also as a competitive fitness sport. Workouts often incorporate weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics and calisthenics.
"Crossfit is something that has empowered me throughout my adult life, something I wish that I had when I was younger," Gotshall explained. "I think it would have helped me navigate those challenging pre-teen through teen years."
Gotshall said she wanted to create a similar atmosphere with third through fifth-grade girls where they could experience community, come together to support each other, have fun and feel good about themselves.
"Why not create a girls boot camp where we focus on a weekly character trait like determination and tolerance, cultivate positive self-esteem, and most of all, just have some fun," Gotshall said. "A little outside-the-box thinking has paid off tremendously and has had a positive impact on the lives of these wonderful young ladies."
The next boot camp begins in February. Contact Gotshall for more information at email@example.com.