Frequently Asked Questions

Logistics & Registration

Registration and fee payment must be completed online here.

The cost is $25 per child (plus $3.16 processing fee).

The retreat is open to girls in grades 4 through 9.

No, the format is a one-day event which is held from 8:00am – 3:30pm on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

The event is held at the Breslin Student Events Center on the beautiful campus of Michigan State University.

The address is 534 Birch Road, East Lansing, MI 48824.

You can get directions here.

The retreat date is Saturday, April 25, 2020. This year our format is a one-day retreat, Saturday only. Drop-off is between 8:00 – 8:30am. Please return promptly for pick-up at 3:30pm. Parents/guardians must come inside the Breslin Center for both drop-off and pick-up.

Yes, the retreat provides a light breakfast (ex: bagels), a full lunch, as well as snacks throughout the day. If your child has severe food allergies, we recommend they bring snacks that are safe for their particular allergy or dietary restriction.

The event drop-off and pick-up will be located at the Gilbert Pavilion – Hall of History Gate which is located at the southeast end of the Breslin Center. Please park in Lot 63W or Lot 126, or Ramp 7 for drop-off and pick-up. Parking for the event is free. The Breslin gate entrance map is available here.

Yes, parents/guardians need to bring attendees inside the Breslin Center for check-in and you are invited to depart after you have dropped them off with their mentor at their group table, or you can stay to watch the kick-off and keynote presentation. Enter the Breslin Center at the Gilbert Pavilion – Hall of History Gate at the southeast end of the building. Please park in Lot 63W or Lot 126, or Ramp 7. The Breslin Center gate entrance map is available here.

No, parents/guardians will not stay with their child during the retreat. Parents/guardians can stay to watch the kick-off and keynote presentation at the beginning of the event but will be invited to leave directly following that portion of the event.

For the safety of all participants, we cannot allow unsupervised/unapproved adults to stay all day. If you would like to volunteer, you are welcome to do so by signing up here.

You may want to consider returning to attend our parent session from 1:15pm – 2:45pm.

To enjoy the benefit of the entire program, it is best if attendees can be present for the entire day. However, if circumstances arise and your child must depart early, you must complete the Pick-Up, Drop-Off and Commuter Form and you must inform the registration volunteers at check-in as well as your child’s mentor when you check them in at their group table.

If you must pick up your child unexpectedly, you must check-in at the volunteer table – a volunteer will be able to locate your child and bring them to you. You will need to show ID, which must match the parent/guardian documentation we have on file for empowHER. Your child must be signed out with their mentor prior to leaving the building. This is for the safety of your child and all empowHER participants.

In addition to the online registration process, there are three required registration forms [Medical Treatment Authorization Form; Media Release Form; Parent-Guardian Consent Form] and all forms must be fully filled out, signed and handed in during drop-off. Electronic signatures are NOT accepted.

Due to University rules, a child will not be allowed to stay at the retreat if a form is missing or not signed. The registration forms must be printed out and completed, there is not an online or electronic option for completing the forms at this time.

If you child must leave the retreat early, an additional form is required called the Pick-Up, Drop-Off and Commuter Form.

If a parent/guardian is not comfortable signing a media release, this event may not be appropriate for your child. A signed media release form is required for all participants, but stipulations can be made regarding group photos/video versus individual photos/video of your child. We have videographers and photographers taking footage throughout the retreat and it’s possible that news outlets will report on the event as well. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to avoid taking footage of one child with over 500 people moving throughout this large event.

The entire empowHER team, including all mentors and volunteers, are required to pass a criminal background check before being approved to work the event. A group of the empowHER team are trained in CPR and First Aid and will be present for the entirety of the event. An athletic trainer is also present for the entirety of the event. You may review the empowHER participant handbook. The retreat takes place on the campus of Michigan State University and abides by the University’s rules for youth programs. You may also review Michigan State University requirements for youth programs.

Please send any necessary medical items (i.e. inhaler, EpiPen, etc..) and required personal hygiene items. If your child has severe food allergies, we recommend they bring snacks that are safe for their particular allergy or dietary restriction. Other than this, the children do not need to bring anything specific to the event. We will provide a bag, paper, pen, and other gifts. Please do not send a backpack or other large items with your child as space is limited at the group tables.

Please send your child in comfortable clothes and have them dress in layers. An empowHER t-shirt will be given to each attendee at check-in and they are expected to wear the shirt during the event. Attendees may wish to wear an undershirt or long-sleeved t-shirt so they can put the t-shirt on over it upon arrival. Attendees will be moving throughout the Breslin center to attend sessions in breakout rooms and coming back to join the full group for larger sessions on the main floor of the Breslin Center. Their “home base” will be their table group located on the concourse. Most attendees typically wear leggings, active wear (yoga pants, sweats, sweatshirts) and other comfortable type clothes. One break-out session will be self-defense, so they will be active for this instruction. Your child should wear whatever makes them most comfortable.

Yes, there is a wait list that can be located using the event’s registration link. If the event is full and your child is still interested in trying to attend, joining the waitlist is a great idea as cancellations will open up additional spots closer to the event. We will contact the waitlist based on a first come, first serve basis meaning those who waitlisted earliest will receive the first opportunity at open spots.

The retreat is not offering refunds at this time. If you must cancel after paying for the event, we will use your registration money as a donation to help support the event in future years.

Suitcases 4 Kids was founded in 2014 by Skylar Medes. The Medes family has been a foster family for seven years and have had 15 foster children during that time. When Skylar was in the 6th grade she noticed that most of the foster kids that came into their home had very little clothing, personal care items or a suitcase/bag to carry their items. Some children would have clothes and other items they brought with them that they carried in a garbage bag or a paper box, but most of them came with only the clothes they were wearing. This made her realize that when children come into a new foster home, they would not have many essential items they need right away. So, Skylar started to collect gently used clothes, suitcases/bags and personal care items to give to her foster siblings. Eventually she expanded her donations and has been able to offer a suitcase full of belongings to over 300 foster children.

When she won the 2017 Y-PIF (Youth Passing It Forward) Award, with the help of Sally Babbitt (a local lawyer), she decided to become a non-profit organization. We are asking empowHER participants to help Skylar and her organization!

If you can please bring a donation for children in foster care, you will be helping kids in your community. Personal care items are always needed: socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner or lotion, or gently used suitcases/bags. Skylar will make sure that these donated items are given to children in foster care so that they can have items of their own. Thanks for your help!  

Event Schedule

The full event schedule is located here and will be updated as sessions and guest speakers are finalized.

Age appropriate sessions are set up based on your child’s school grade. The session schedules are set ahead of time so there is no need for parent/guardians to choose sessions.

Special Arrangements & Accommodations

As part of our mission, we aim to help your child gain the skills to take on challenges in their life as well as embrace their strengths and differences from other children. At the retreat, the girls have the wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with new and unique people. Our hope is that they can make new friends and see things from a new perspective. For this reason, your child may be placed in a table group with future friends rather than girls from the school that she attends. It is normal for the girls to feel a bit apprehensive at first, but rest assured that as soon as they are introduced to their table group, the mentor will make them feel welcome and safe. We have witnessed dozens of new friendships blossom at the event and are confident that your child will leave feeling grateful that they were given this opportunity to move a bit outside their comfort zone.

Yes, we can accommodate most food restrictions. Please include specifics on your child’s registration Eventbrite form. If your child has severe food allergies, we recommend they bring snacks that are safe for their particular allergy or dietary restriction. If you have questions, please email registration@empowHERretreat.com including the name of your child and the parent/guardian contact info including phone number.

Yes, we welcome all individuals who identify as girls. We are committed to being a welcoming space for all! It would be helpful if you could include specifics on your child’s registration Eventbrite form during the registration process. If you have questions, please email registration@empowHERretreat.com including the name of your child and the parent/guardian contact info including phone number.

If your child has special needs due to a disability or medical concerns, include specifics on your child’s registration Eventbrite form. If you have questions, please email registration@empowHERretreat.com including the name of your child and the parent/guardian contact info including phone number.

All groups must contact the empowHER committee ahead of time to arrange for registration. If you have a large group, please contact the empowHER committee at registration@empowHERretreat.com to make these accommodations.

Please note: Groups will still be required to register each girl individually on the online Eventbrite form, and each girl must have all registration forms including parent/guardian signatures on file with empowHER in order to participate.

Still have questions regarding registration or the retreat?