Summer Seminars for Women

July 31 to August 4, 2024

Summer Seminars for Women 2024 is full. A waitlist is available for those interested.

We cannot offer virtual morning sessions this year. We hope you can join us on Zoom during a Pie Night evening of socializing and an SSW Mocktail Hour with AYF President Liz Marshall. Watch the SSW Facebook Group for more information.

Summer Seminars for Women offers a unique opportunity for women across multiple generations to come together for learning, reflection, connection, and fun through individual and group activities. The American Youth Foundation mission is the bedrock of our work, and our programs are intentionally designed to encourage participants of all ages to unleash their best.

Join SSW for a retreat that will feed your mind, body, and soul as we connect with each other at beautiful Miniwanca in West Michigan. Miniwanca provides a natural environment to gather and share stories and experiences as we learn more about ourselves and each other. All are welcome to join this community building, friendship, and fun in a circle of wonderful women. We invite you to bring a friend, family member or colleague who may not have experienced Miniwanca before.

This year’s theme is Illuminating Your Path.

Scroll down to see this year’s speakers. 

Dates & Rates

Dates: July 31 to August 4, 2024

In-person Rate: $500


2024 Speakers

Katie LeGrand • “Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen”

Katie Belden LeGrand is a member of the SSW Coordinating Team. She is a former high school teacher and outdoor experiential education facilitator who is currently a CrossFit trainer and wellbeing coach. Her friends Carol Moakley and Laura McAllister will join her this summer to lead this session.

Carol has her master’s in social work and works at Washington University in St. Louis. After 23 years advising students, Carol completed a career management coach certificate, a process that led her to listen differently. She also empowers young people and the St. Louis community through service on the Board of the campus YMCA. Carol is one in a family line of lifelong Miniwanca girls.

Laura currently works as a consultant for a global public relations firm, a role that convinced her that listening can be balm for the soul. A lifelong reader, she serves on the board of her community library, where she advocates for books, people, and the spaces where they connect. She brings deep ties to Miniwanca and an abiding thirst for the cool waters of Lake Michigan.

Seeking balance in the mental, physical, social, and reverential aspects of our lives is a key element of developing best self. These four folds are represented in the AYF emblem and serve as another framework to encourage program participants to stretch their minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits.

Together, the SSW community will explore how we can use the four folds as an accessible way to show up as our best selves when we listen to others. This session is inspired by the Anthropedia Foundation’s well-being coaching curriculum and David Brooks’ book, How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.


Jennifer Cramer • Illuminating Human Connection & Community through Primate Studies

Jennifer Cramer is an anthropologist and primatologist whose field-based projects have taken her to Central America, the Caribbean, and across Africa. Studying wild primates in a diverse range of habitats, she became fascinated by the ways they have complex relationships with one another, just like people.

This session will reflect on how humans fit into our larger natural environment by exploring the amazing similarities between us and our closest living biological relatives, primates (like apes and monkeys).

Scientists have long leaned on primate studies to broaden their understanding of human behavior and health. In some primate species, females hold the power in the group, are highly cooperative, have lasting relationships, and spend long periods of time caring for their young. Our SSW community will learn more about parallels between primates and humans to reshape and strengthen our understanding of our own experiences as women.

Jennifer will share what sparked her passion for studying primates and why her work has shifted toward collaboratively growing local conservation efforts and environmental stewardship. Just as SSW brings together women from all walks of life to create community, Jennifer owes her unlikely life path to women guides and mentors who encouraged her to pursue meaning and paths less traveled.

Jennifer also develops training and education programs for an affordable, cooperative housing nonprofit organization. She lives in Milwaukee with her family and enjoys being a mother to two fun daughters. Attending Summer Seminars for Women in 2023 was her opportunity to fulfill her childhood dream of experiencing sleepaway camp.

Meredith Sanders • SoulCollage® – Creative Illumination

Meredith Sanders has served on the SSW Coordinating Team for three years and wears multiple hats within AYF programs. One of the most admired and notable gifts Meredith possesses is her immense creativity. She generously shares this gift and believes each of us has the ability and freedom to express our uniquely creative selves in many ways. An avid photographer, skilled facilitator, thought leader, and advocate for youth and adult empowerment, Meredith mindfully enhances experiential learning and the sense of space and place in any environment.

During this session, Meredith will guide us through an interactive and introspective process called SoulCollage®. As a trained SoulCollage® Facilitator, Meredith will support our group as we create our intuitive collages using a variety of images. There are many ways we can quiet our minds, and simply be in conversation with and listen to ourselves.

Using the materials we will have available on site (as well as what participants will bring), our morning will include a fascinating mix of learning, creating, doing, sharing, and observing. Being in community while exploring our own pathways, how we travelled them, and how we honor the people who have helped light the way in our lives will culminate into a unique and illuminating creation to take home.

A Day in the Life