Our Story

Girls’ Rites co-founders Laurel and Cass both grew up with unique and powerful experiences of deep connections with women and the outdoors. Between the two are over 20 years of experience working with youth - and the accompanying belief that empowerment and deep relationships set young women up for success in their limitless futures.

A friendship formed while leading a transformational student leadership trip in Guatemala revealed a mutual love of adventure, and led to dreams about a program that would reflect the unique experiences and needs of high school girls. Listening to monsoon season thunderstorms, they imagined intentional opportunities to connect with experienced women, experiential community building opportunities, storytelling as a central method to develop leadership, and above all, centering the voices of girls.

In the Spring of 2017, they collaborated with a diverse group of girls to “dream and scheme” this idea into reality. On sticky notes and scribbled map routes, Girls’ Rites was born. Co-created with the teens it serves, Girls’ Rites launched in the fall of 2017 with 16 high school girls. Over the course of the year each girl was mentored by a woman from the community, contributed to multiple local service projects, designed and led an evening seminar on an issue important to them, and participated in a twelve-day road trip through the South West.

In its first year Girls’ Rites led 11 girls through five states, 6 protected public lands, and 33 camp stove meals. Our first year girls were both participants in the existing program scaffold, and builders of its growing success. Each year and with each new cohort, co-creation begins anew.

With the support of our growing community of girls and women, GR will continue to evolve, creating more space for women and girls to raise their voices and come together in community. Will you join us?