Girl drama -- it's, like, the worst, amirite?

That's why two longtime friends -- Marisa Tayal, 14, of Clintonville and Edee Malley, 16, of Old North Columbus -- want to help at least a handful of girls navigate the choppy waters of growing up.

The duo, who are homeschooled but both members of the Whetstone High School girls track team, have been planning, marketing and holding summer camps for girls for several years.

This time around, they are organizing a special one in the backyard of Edee's home.

It's called the Girl Empowerment Camp. It will run June 11-15 and is open to girls ages 9-11.

"In this camp ... the campers will learn about strong female leaders from the past and present, create art, play games, cook, swim and connect with other girls," Edee and Marisa wrote in a press release. "The teens are passionate about empowering younger girls."

"We will work to help the girls develop strong voices and recognize and evolve their inner strength, solidity and equanimity," Edee said in the release.

Registration for the camp ends June 4. The cost is $90 per camper.

"When I was in middle school, there was a lot of girl drama," Edee said in an interview.

Those who haven't raised teen girls may not realize it, but that drama is a very real thing, and there's even a scientific explanation. In a May 2007 article in Current Psychiatry, Drs. Dannah Hirsch and Louann Brizendine wrote that during puberty, "surging hormones make the developing brain more vulnerable to stress."

"Although brain size and basic circuitry are mostly set by age 5, puberty stimulates new brain cells and increases myelin production," the article noted. "Faster myelinated connections between emotionally impulsive limbic brain areas such as the amygdala and sensible, cognitive areas such as the prefrontal cortex are not finished until the early 20s."

During the Girl Empowerment Camp, Marisa and Edee hope to encourage participants to talk to one another, rather than about one another.

"I guess my biggest reflection on girl empowerment is for girls of that age to have a fun space to be in," said Susan Tayal, Marisa's mother. "I know there are lots of games they have to play. To just be able to hang out, be themselves, have a chance for conflict to arise and have a chance to resolve that conflict.

"I think the biggest thing is for them to see these older girls doing something they like to do."

"For most of the time the girls, and us, will figure out what we want to do," Edee said.

Tayal and Edee's mom, Ali Malley, will be on hand for the camp, as well as a Nature, Art and Games Camp for boys and girls ages 5-8 that's set July 9-13.

"We kind of see our role as supervising the supervisors," Susan Tayal said. "We don't see our role as supervising the campers as making sure our teenage daughters are adequately supervising these kids. It's definitely their project.

"It's amazing how much kids can work when it's their idea," she said. "I'm proud of them for doing the work. I'm pleased that they've found something they can choose to pour a lot of their energy into."

"They are two passionate young women, and strong," Ali Malley said.

The girls have been holding summer camps in the backyard of the Malley family's triple lot since Edee was 10, her mother said.

"They had to make registration forms and deal with parents," she said.

Marisa said the Girl Empowerment Camp can accommodate as many as 20 participants.

"We want as many kids as we can -- anyone whose parents can come, like, twice a day," Edee said.

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