WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Babbs in the Woods: Changing Prisms, Kicking Bear … all about not ‘faking the funk’

I believe Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” sounded from speakers in the dining hall on a Friday night at on the campus of Boys & Girls Town Missouri. I believe at that time, I was barefoot, wearing shorts, a trendy top and a hot pink, inflatable swim ring around my middle – a dancing fool with at least 50 other women on the dance floor at the slumber party for the Changing Prisms program. And then, two young women came from out of the blue and asked, “Are you Alec’s mom?”

My cover was blown. They had already text-messaged my son (whom they work with at a camp for children nearby) about my way cool dance moves and ability to jump higher than the crowd several times in a row. They probably had taken photos of me in midair, bumping into girls and making them laugh.

The party occurred in the middle of 33 hours spent with at least 100 women in this program that rips you apart and builds you back up. Designed by Judy Hillyer, director of advancement for Great Circle agencies, Changing Prisms is an annual workshop that focuses specifically on the needs of young women between the ages of 13 and 18, most of whom have experienced abuse, neglect and trauma. Changing Prisms helps these young women deal with their feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, depression and anxiety through activities and workshops designed to help improve their confidence and self-esteem. Judy asked me to come on board three years ago as a mentor.

Photo courtesy of Great Circle Agency

Judy has the ability to find the right women at the right time to do the right thing, as she so often says. For example, our group’s therapist Katy Gray works in Springfield, Mo., in the residential facility there and gave up her days off  to volunteer her time to be with us. Katy proved her worth again and again so that the group could move ahead with its task at hand, whether it was learning a dance, building a construction project to symbolize the past and future or use the special glitter markers (when there were only two and we needed three!). Or Clemmie and Regina, from the Magdalene House in Nashville, who got bumped off three flights (thanks, Delta) yet still managed to get to the program in time to work with the girls. Clemmie and Regina, who grew up on the streets, who turned to drugs and prostitution to survive and who eventually learned to trust and to respect themselves after graduating from the Magdalene program. They show the girls that it is possible to move forward and the sooner, the better.

While the girls worked on their projects, I revisited what it was like at that age – tough enough at times, except I had two parents who would drop anything, anytime, so that they could pick me up and help me out. I had a support network of family, teachers, a minister, relatives. I can’t even count how many people were there for me.

As luck and coincidence would have it, Terri Lee Pocernich, proprietor of Camp Wild Girls, stopped in and spent a night here with us in Missouri last week on her way home to Wisconsin from Louisiana. Her plans for the weekend included participating in a camp run by Kicking Bear – where kids from broken homes and/or who are neglected get an opportunity not only to spend time at camp learning bowhunting, but also, get paired up with a mentor in their communities after the camp experience.

Terri Lee Pocernich and her daughter, Tali, stopped by Possum Holler to visit Babbs and her husband. Terri Lee's rolling office contains a froggie training potty. She was on her way to a Kicking Bear Camp for kids. Photo by Jason Baird.

Part of being a mentor meant telling the girls about my job, my expectations, three good reasons to get into an intimate relationship and other things. At first, they thought being an outdoors-related writer was odd, but cool. Then, they asked some questions about it, and now, I think they believe that being a writer, editor, photographer is attainable. You know, that “if she can do it, I can do it” theory.

What did I learn? I learned not to “Fake the funk.” We learn positive chants that we use every year at the program. One is when someone yells, “Beautiful!” And the group responds, “You must be talkin’ to me!”

If you “fake the funk,” you’re not being real. Someone yells “I will not!” And the group responds “Fake the funk.”

And this fact got reaffirmed to me: that kids don’t expect perfect people in their lives. They just want people they can trust …. you know, the ones that don’t fake the funk. ~ Barbara Baird

Twitter: http://twitter.com/babbsbaird
Facebook: http://facebook.com/babbsthewon

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.


The Conversation

  • Elizabeth Hellmann says: June 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Great article! Not only is it excellent writing, but it makes reading about a worthwhile program so much fun that it makes readers want to get involved, too.

  • Becky Lou Lacock says: June 14, 2010 at 6:58 am

    What a great weekend experience this must have been!! It is great to be reiminded of ways that we can help others by just caring and sharing. I will remember the “I will not Fake the Funk”! and yo will have to show us some of those dance moves! Great Story, will pass it around!

  • Tammy Ballew says: June 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    And Terri Lee, the next time you are traveling through Missouri, I hope you give me a call. I would love to have seen you and Tali.

  • Tammy Ballew says: June 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful experience, Barb, for not only the girls but all the volunteers giving of their time and heart. You are so amazing, you just keep giving and giving and giving. And that’s awesome that Paige and Gwen could be there too. You all are definitely mentors to a lot of us!!!

  • Terri Lee Pocernich says: June 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Glad you had a wonderful weekend with the girls! We had a blast at the Kicking Bear one on one event. Thanks for the hospitality at Possum Hollar!

  • Women's Outdoor News says: June 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I think you’re on the list already!
    And, I was honored to dance with you, too!
    Barb H. … yes, next year, let’s see about getting you a swim ring and a dance or two, too, and thanks for the comments!

  • Barbara Hannon says: June 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks to you Barb for always giving me a laugh, usually followed by a life enriching explanation of some thing or some one that has affected your present state. I remember when you and I talked about participating in this together. Maybe next year for me. Lord knows I could share some stories!

    Great article and great for me for being considered a friend of yours! I’m richer for knowing you!

  • Paige "Chicki Chicki" Eissinger says: June 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for dragging me into yet another challenging, yet rewarding, experience, Babbs. The time I spent this past weekend as a member of the volunteer support team reminded me how much I took for granted the support I got from my family, friends and church when I was growing up. Don’t let anybody tell you the girls who attended Changing Prisms were the only ones who had a life changing experience. I truly don’t believe anyone who was a part of it, no matter what their role, came away untouched in some way. So, where do I go to sign up for next year?