11 Reasons the Girl Scouts are Awesome

  I can't say enough about the Girl Scouts of America. I loved scouting as a kid-the friendships, the songs, the cookies, the camporees, the crafts- I'm only recently beginning to realize how much it influenced my interests and values as an adult. The highlight of my summers was getting to spend 2-4 weeks at sleep away camp a few hours north of my parents' home. I'd forgotten just how magical overnight camp could be until this summer, when I had the opportunity to be a Unit Leader at a Girl Scout camp in the town I grew up in. It was crazy how vividly I could remember my own time at camp once I was back in that setting. The campfire songs all came back to me, the dining hall etiquette, the Girl Scout Promise- I'm practically giddy just thinking about it. In my interview prior to being hired as staff at camp, I was asked what I thought it was about summer camp that made it such a special experience for girls. I'm sure in the moment I gave some general, corny answer about a shared experience and stepping out of your comfort zone. But having worked with the girls all summer, I've had some time to come up with what I think is a much more specific and thought-out response.
  1. Camp is FUN. Duh. But really! Girl Scout camp provides girls this really unique environment where it's not only okay, but 100% encouraged, to be absolutely freaking ridiculous. Silliness is such an important part of camp- whether it's wearing your hair in 8 pigtails for camp birthday or writing "Ladies of the 80's" in body paint markers across your face. I loved coming home covered in unicorns, flowers, Pokémon, and rainbows because it was evidence of a crazy fun afternoon spent on the field with my campers.
  2. Leadership and stuff! One of the hardest but most liberating parts of leading girls at camp was reminding myself to step back and let the girls lead. When they would ask me for permission to do something, it was so awesome being able to say 'yes' no matter how weird the request. I was there to ensure their safety, but beyond that the girls were really free to try anything they could think of. It was such a contrast to working in a school setting where I'm always needing to be in control and dictating what the kids are doing, when they can talk, where they can go, what we were learning. At camp, girls had the autonomy to decide for themselves what they were interested in, what their goals for the week were, and how they would accomplish those goals. For kids accustomed to more of an academic setting, being in control of their own experience at camp was so empowering!
  3. Friendship and teamwork are what camp thrives on. There are no friends like camp friends. For starters, campers choose programs that fit their interests- whether it's horseback riding, boating, marine science, archery, or arts and crafts- the girls are going to be spending their time at camp with other girls who share their passions. It's great seeing the bonds that form between campers over the summer even in the most shy girls. The staff are encouraged to come up with activities that will encourage them to come out of their shells and work together as a unit.
  4. Learning to respect and care for Nature. Girls at camp develop such a magical relationship with the Earth. And I say 'magical' literally because there were so many times when I could see the wonder on their faces- at a doe with her fawn we spotted behind the cabins, at the pine needles they'd blow away to make wishes, or when the girls would beg to make fairy houses for the magical spirits they were sure occupied every inch of camp. One of our mottos that I was always spouting off was to leave a place better than you found it- never with litter, ash or broken branches. Beach
  5. Body positivity. Body positivity. Body positivity. It's an issue that is close to my heart and I'm sure the same is true for most women. I remember being as young as 7 and worrying that my body wasn't good enough. Being at camp is an awesome environment to tackle issues like body image because girls are surrounded by their peers in a setting where staying clean and pretty and neat is totally irrelevant. Even if a girl is insecure when she's dropped off the first morning, by the end of the day everyone's covered in dirt and sap and paint anyway. Beyond that, at camp the girls can focus on all the ridiculously awesome things their body can do! When you're hiking, swimming, climbing ropes courses, biking, kayaking and running around all day you kind of have no choice but to appreciate your own body's strength.
  6. Creativity and crafting. One of my favorite parts of going to camp was arts and crafts, and now, 15 years later, it's one of my campers favorite things. My girls made tutu's to wear for Tutu Tuesday, "Beach in a Jar"s, memo boards, picture frames, candles, tote bags, fimo pens, quilts- the list goes on and on. And if the girls had an idea of their own, our craft director was more than willing to help bring their vision to fruition.
  7. Life skills like nutrition, survival, and business/budgeting. Every week the campers are faced with a lot of the tasks that are essential to being a successful human being. And I'm talking things that I still struggle with in my 20's like planning a healthy, balanced meal and making a budget for an overnight away from camp. It was so cool to hear what my campers came up with for our cook out menus- they were concerned with not only incorporating the main food groups, but also accommodating everyone's allergies and avoiding too much sugar.cookout
  8. Being exposed to adult female role models and leaders. The Glass Ceiling is a real world problem, but in Girl Scout Camp world you get to be led almost exclusively by women. The archery instructor? A woman. The lifeguards? All women. Craft director? A woman. Administration? Women. Drivers? Women. It's awesome. Girls get to see women of all ages, backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, body types and nationalities kicking ass and taking names.
  9. Community involvement and good citizenship. It says right in the Girl Scout Law that we must serve our country and help people at all times. Nothing wrong with that! When I was a Girl Scout, my troop helped an elderly woman in our community by raking leaves in her large yard one fall. At Christmas we would always visit nursing homes and sing Christmas carols from room to room. We collected donations for the local animal shelter. It's so great for girls to know that they can actually make a difference in their communities and improve the lives of people around them.
  10. Generating interest in STEM fields has become a growing goal for the Scouts since I was a kid. There is such a deficit of women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields and that's something that we really need to change. I led a group of middle school girls this summer whose session was all about Marine Science. We planned a 2 night trip to the sea coast where they were able to go tad pooling and hear from a Marine Biologist about the different organisms that were a part of that ecosystem. Another session I led a group of girls on a day trip into Boston, where they got to explore the Boston Aquarium and the Museum of Science. One of our all camp activities this summer was having a 'Mad Scientist' come and put on a show for all the girls where he talked about different chemical reactions and properties.Aquarium
  11. Being outside all day with your friends is just good for the soul.

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