Summer Camp: Taking Small Steps for Big Success
Spring camping season will be here before we know it with summer camp opportunities following soon after. Whether a girl is considering day camp or overnight, or if she’s ready for a weeklong resident camp experience, there is a wide range of activities and themes to match her needs and interests. We encourage you to help give the gift of the outdoors to the girl(s) in your life so they have the same opportunities as Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, a Girl Scout Senior from Troop 32038 in Dayton, is a long-time summer camp attendee, with hopes of becoming a camp counselor when she is older. As a Girl Scout Daisy, Elizabeth attended her service unit’s day camp. She loved the outdoor activities, liked playing in the creek and all the arts and crafts activities.
Elizabeth then attended Troop Adventure Camp at Camp Whip Poor Will the summer after her third grade year, with several girls from her troop. It was a great way to get started with summer camp, since her leaders and other girls she knew were there. That same summer, she went back for a mini-session on her own. The short mini-session was another great way to ease into summer camp, since she was only away from home for a few days. Elizabeth had such a great time that she was already planning for the next summer on the way home from camp.
Since then, Elizabeth has attended summer camp every year, both at Camp Whip Poor Will and Camp Libbey. Elizabeth says she loves camp so much because the activities are fun and the friendships formed are great. She likes the outdoor activities, such as the zip line, canoeing and archery. She also loves camp traditions like songs and games. She even thinks the food at camp is great, and the table games are one of her favorite ways to get to know the other campers and counselors.
Some years, Elizabeth has attended camp with a buddy, but as she’s gotten older, she’s picked her favorite session and gone on her own, quickly making new friends within her camp unit. Over the years, she’s met new friends at camp who she stays connected with all year round. Camp has given her the opportunity to meet girls from all over the state and from all different backgrounds.
Elizabeth’s parents and troop leaders see that she has learned to be responsible for herself and learned valuable leadership skills. Through activities like the ropes courses, she’s learned confidence and teamwork. Her mom has noticed that she now focuses on being prepared for what she needs at camp, vacations, weekend trips, school and other activities. And her leader has seen that she's learned how to work with younger girls, and really understands the responsibility, both for their safety and for being a good example.
Last summer, Elizabeth started working toward her goal of being a camp counselor by completing the CIT-I Aide training. Elizabeth wants to be a counselor because she thinks her counselors have been fantastic role models for her, and she is excited to help other girls learn skills and experiences just as her counselors did for her. She has felt welcomed back every year by the counselors and staff who know her from previous summers and she looks forward to being part of that team in the future. She has plans to continue to be a CIT this summer, as well as attending a second session just for fun.
Summer camp has given Elizabeth much more than a collection of camp T-shirts and a hat full of S.W.AP.S.—even though these are fun too! It has given her memories, friendships, skills and leadership experiences to last a lifetime. No matter what age a girl starts going to camp, she will gain a lifetime of experiences to remember. Help us start a Girl Scout on her lifelong outdoor journey by encouraging her to attend a camp of her choice.
TRAVEL AND TROOP TRIP PLANNING
What better way to enrich a girl’s experience in Girl Scouting than a troop trip. Every trip you plan should have a purpose, allowing the girls to learn and interact while having a fun time. Trips are a perfect way to allow Girl Scouts of all grade levels to Discover, Connect and Take Action. Troop trips create the perfect environment to (girl-led, learning by doing and cooperative learning) implement the program processes .
Trips should be appropriate for the age of girls you are working with and progressive. And, like everything in Girl Scouting, it is important for leaders to allow the girls to do the planning!
Girl Scout Daisy activities include local field trips (up to a daylong) and one night overnights with family members. In the Girl Scout Daisy circle, girls can help choose the places they would like to visit.
Like Girl Scout Daisies, Girl Scout Brownies can do daylong trips and simple overnights. Girls can decide what trips they would like to go on in the Brownie ring. Leaders help with the idea generation and narrowing the location for the troop trip.
Girl Scout Brownies should be included on the trip information such as the cost, what the girls will see, and what they might like to do on the trip. Following the trip, the troop should reflect on their experience.
Girl Scout Juniors are able to generate ideas and determine where they want to go. Girls can plan the trip in patrols (small groups) while keeping in mind the purpose of the trip, the cost and the basic agenda.
Leaders should support the girls by ensuring their trip is realistic and appropriate for their grade level. Additionally, they can answer questions that arise during the planning.
Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors will want to start looking at extended overnight trips. They might want their trip to focus around a specific skill such as horseback riding, biking, camping, skiing, (just to name a few) or places they have never been like Savannah, New York or Washington D.C.
Leaders should allow the girls to take the reins and do the majority of the trip planning from research on the place to the trip agenda and budgeting. Leaders should also encourage the girls to enhance the experiential learning cycle by doing a presentation on their trip: what they learned, their favorite parts and what new experience they gained from it.
Girl Scout Ambassadors usually have greater emotional, physical and mental maturity than younger Girl Scouts which allows them to benefit from more extensive travel. Ambassadors might want to look into destinations, either nationwide or international. Ambassadors can also help younger troops with the troop trip processes and planning.
Leaders will want to encourage Girl Scout Ambassadors to look at all their options for trips in Girl Scouting.
Regardless of whether your troop trip is a day trip or extended overnight trip, troops should always follow the troop policies in Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints. Remember, a Troop/Group Trip Notification Form needs to be submitted for day trips over 60 miles and any overnight trip not at a Girl Scouts of Western Ohio property. Additionally, leaders should find ways of incorporating the Girl Scout
program processes of girl-led, cooperative learning and experiential learning.
PROGRESSING GIRLS THROUGH OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES
Being outdoors can be a new and exciting experience for a lot of girls (and leaders)! Girl Scouts has a long tradition of enjoying, learning about and advocating for the outdoors. There are many ways to help girls increase their appreciation for outdoor activities, but like anything, girls must be allowed to experience it at their own pace. Some girls are ready for overnights at camp at a very young age, and others require a little more time to ease in and feel comfortable. If progressed properly, every girl should be able to love the outdoors and find an opportunity that suits her.
The first step in getting girls excited about outdoor learning is to get them outside! You do not need to be an outdoors person yourself; you can explore with your girls! Include in your troop meeting a quick outdoor activity or weather permitting, have the whole meeting outdoors. Even if you live in a city setting, find a local park or playground with green space.
To further develop girls interest in the outdoors, The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting has outdoor badges and activities for girls to help build their outdoor skills. For a more in depth experience, complete the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey with your girls. While you complete these activities, you can assess your girls’ readiness to pursue other outdoor opportunities.
Below are some opportunities available for troops and girls. Discuss these with the girls and, as a group, decide where you’ll start.
Camping 101/Campin’ Fever
A unique outdoor program opportunity for both girls and adults are the Camping 101/Campin’ Fever events. While on this weekend overnight opportunity, adults complete troop camp training requirements while experiencing camping with their girls first hand. Camp staff and volunteers provide training and activities during the troop’s first camping experience. There are still several chances to complete troop camp training through Camping 101/Campin’ Fever in the Toledo or Cincinnati regions during the upcoming spring.
Council Sponsored Opportunities
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio offers many outdoor program opportunities for girls to supplement their outdoor progression. In each region, girls have access to environmental education, adventure opportunities and skill development in sessions such as archery, horseback riding, Adventure Challenge Education or Maple Sugar Festival. For complete session descriptions, grade level and other registration information, see pages 8–43 in the Program Opportunities for Girls and Adults book, or search a desired region on eBiz.
Community Sponsored Opportunities
Utilizing community sponsored opportunities is another way to develop girls’ outdoor progression. Community sponsored opportunities offer troops activities that support the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. In addition, the organizations are familiar with our program goals as well as Safety Activity Checkpoints. Many community organizations can offer outdoor activities to supplement or enhance Girl Scout Journey or badge activities. For a complete list of community sponsored opportunities, as well as registration information, see pages 45–64 in the Program Opportunities for Girls and Adults book and at www.girlscoutsofwesternohio.org
Summer Camp Opportunities
Girls and troops can continue to develop their outdoor progression through numerous summer camp opportunities, offered through Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. We offer opportunities for all levels of outdoor comfort, starting with special opportunities and one-day workshops. Girls can attend a daylong event to focus on a specific skill, meet the staff and explore the camp facility. As a troop or with a parent, Girl Scout Daisies can get their first taste of camping during Daisy Days. In addition, Me and My Gal is a time-honored special opportunity for a girl and favorite female adult to attend an overnight event together.
For a young girl ready to strike out on her own or with a friend, day camp is a great opportunity for her to explore camp for several days while still getting to go home in the evenings. Every session of day camp offers a one night overnight opportunity for girls to continue the fun of day camp with their camp friends and counselors.
Troop Adventure Camp (TAC)
Troop Adventure Camp (TAC) is a great chance to spend two or three nights with your troop at camp. Working with their leaders, girls get to enjoy many great activities led by camp staff and older Girl Scout program assistants. Girls remain with girls and adults they know and trust, and TAC is a stepping stone between day camp and resident camp.
Resident camp is the ultimate overnight camping adventure for individual girls, or to register with a buddy. Mini-sessions are shortened three day resident camp opportunities perfect for first time Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie and Junior campers. A full session of resident camp is six days long for Girl Scout Brownies through Ambassadors. All girls can choose from session topics that interest them!
2013 Registration Information—Camp Registration Opens: January 30, 2013 (for all opportunities excluding Troop Adventure Camp) Troop Adventure Camp Registration Opens: February 20, 2013.
Camp Fairs—Camp fairs are an opportunity for campers and parents to speak with camp representatives as they make informed decisions about which type of camp is best for their camper. Learn about opportunities available this summer at Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. Families can even register for camp at the fairs!
DATE: Saturday, March 2, 2013 TIME: 10 a.m.–noon LOCATION: Each of the four Girl Scout Centers
SERVICE LEARNING: A GIRL SCOUT TRADITION
Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout!
In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the northeastern part of the United States. Eight of our sister Girl Scout councils suffered damage and are working to recover while also supporting their communities. We know how much Girl Scouts young and old want to help, so we’re including some information to help you give to the councils that were affected, if you choose.
GSUSA has temporarily lifted the restrictions on troop fundraising so that girls can donate money to those eight councils. Collecting coats, blankets, and other necessities, however, is not advised; councils aren't able to store, inventory, or distribute those donations at this time. What's needed now are monetary donations, so let's get those thinking caps on and create money-earning opportunities! Any funds troops earn can be sent directly to the eight affected councils. Visit https://donate.girlscouts.org/hurricanerecovery
for more information.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the GSUSA National Program Team has developed two new program resources that demonstrate how the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is all about helping girls be leaders in times of disaster. These resources also give tips and examples for engaging girls who want to help out:
For Girls: What Can a Girl Scout Do When Disaster Strikes?
A girl-friendly tip sheet that girls of all grade levels can use to channel their leadership experiences toward helping out in times of disaster. To view this resource, visit http://forgirls.girlscouts.org/disaster-response/
For Adults: What Girl Scout Leadership Looks Like in Times of Disaster: Responding to Hurricane Sandy
Developed for council staff and volunteers, this resource will help adults guide girls who want to know how they can help after a disaster. To view this resource, please visit http://www.girlscouts.org/support/GS_DisasterResponse_forAdults.pdf
World Thinking Day and Service Learning
Each year on February 22, Girl Scouts participate in activities, games and projects with global themes to honor sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries.
World Thinking Day is part of the WAGGGS Global Action Theme (GAT) which aims to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. The 2013 theme, which aims to bring people together to save children’s lives, is a terrific opportunity for girls to participate in service learning activities.
World Thinking Day gives girls a chance to celebrate international friendships, and is also a reminder that Girl Scouts of the USA is part of a global community—one of nearly 150 countries that are members of WAGGGS. WAGGGS selected five countries of focus for World Thinking Day 2013, which represent the five WAGGGS regions: Jordan (Arab Region), Malawi (Africa), Pakistan (Asia/Pacific), Republic of Ireland (Europe) and Venezuela (Western Hemisphere).
Your group can combine World Thinking Day and Service Learning. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Learn about illnesses and diseases, such as malaria, that may lead to child mortality. Talk about efforts to fight malaria, how different organizations, such as Nothing But Nets, are working to reduce malaria in developing countries.
- Learn about hunger. Talk about what it means to simply be hungry and what it means to be starving. What are some ways we can fight hunger? Take Action on at least one of these ideas. For example, visit a local food bank to learn how hunger and poverty affects children in your community, find out what food items the food bank needs and organize a food drive.
- Organize an art show at your school or community center. Display pictures, paintings, photographs, or a mural showing how poverty and hunger affects children around the world. Can you include some solutions on ways to prevent undernourishment?
- Learn about the importance of access to safe drinking water, proper hygiene and sanitation. Plan a trip to the local sanitation facility to learn more about how to maintain a clean water supply. Then investigate how a community without a water and sanitation facility could keep its water clean to prevent diseases.
Remember, money-earning and service activities (like all Girl Scout activities) should be girl-led. When talking about service learning projects with your girls, be sure to help research and plan projects and activities based on what they are interested in. Girls will be much more engaged when they have a say versus if they are being told what to be passionate about!