Journalist, troop leader and self-described social media addict Barb Fraze knows the outdoors are the key to unplugging. She joined Girl Scouts in second grade, and hasn’t stopped camping since her first summer backpack trip with her troop in Ohio.
I have so many favorite memories: The swinging bridge at Camp Whippoorwill; sitting on bunk beds playing games at an indoor camping trip in the winter; traveling to Ontario and camping with my Senior Girl Scout troop.
When I was a Cadette, we tent-camped at a local state park. It was November in Ohio, and it started to snow. Some of the girls wanted to go home, but a few of us talked the others into staying. When we got up in the morning, the water pipe at the campground had frozen, so we decided to go home. Those were the days of external poles and great big tents. When we took all the poles out of the tent, it remained standing because it was frozen!
I have found that being at camp allows girls to discover a different side of themselves. Using five senses, they can discover so much about nature — and themselves! There is nothing like going to sleep listening to acorns drop on a roof or listening to a whippoorwill or owl, or smelling a campfire or touching the bark of a tree (preferably without a hairy vine!). Girls who challenge themselves — whether it is by using a latrine for the first time or spending the night away from home or hiking at 15,000 feet in South America — all gain a feeling of “I can do this!” I think it helps them in other things they do.
Troop camping provides a whole slew of life skills, including meal-planning and shopping: comparing prices, looking at sizes and actually counting out the money. They learn responsibility for their gear. But also, I believe camping and outdoor education create lifelong memories. I bet if you ask most adults for memories of Girl Scouts, quite a few of them would involve the outdoors. I remember very few things about my troop meetings, but remember the outdoors as a series of adventures.
Outdoor education is not just camping. The environment is challenged, and the more we learn about how things are interdependent, the better I believe we will take care of it.
Make this her best summer ever. Registration for Camp Winona & Camp Coles Trip begins January 28. Camp May Flather & Camp Potomac Woods registration begins January 30. Day and evening camp registration begins February 11. Visit our website for more information.