From Camper to Camp Staffer
My name is Molly Green, I am a Girl Scout alumna and I know firsthand the impact that resident camp experiences have on Girl Scouts!
I joined a Girl Scout troop when I was four years old, just as soon as I could; but, it wasn’t until I was 13 that I packed my bags and headed off to my first summer at Girl Scout resident camp. I remember my best Girl Scout friend, Ashley, suggesting we be camp buddies. I just stared at her with a skeptical look and it took a lot of convincing to get me to go…
Little did I know, that one week of resident camp would change my life.
The bus ride out to camp that summer was a little rough and I definitely remember crying, but Ashley was able to comfort me. Before I knew it, we were at camp. When the bus doors opened and my feet hit the camp ground, I was as happy as could be. I never got sad or missed home after that, I loved every second being at camp.
I only went back to camp one more time as a camper. I remember the moment when I realized my feet knew the trails, my nose knew where I was based on the smells around me and I was in love with the place. When I was there, I felt like I could do anything.
My third summer I enrolled in the Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program, which would be my first of 11 years working at Girl Scout camps.
In the CIT program, we had a swimming pool session all to ourselves. In that session I asked the lifeguard if I could see what it was like to hold the lifeguard tube and jump in. To my surprise, she handed me an extra, and taught me how to jump in, just like a lifeguard. I had my friends take pictures of me with the tube, jumping in, etc. I was thrilled! I remembered thinking that I could never be a lifeguard myself- that I didn’t have the right body type for it, that I would never be fit enough to swim or be able to possibly save a life.
A few years later I got my lifeguard certification at camp. Then, a few years after that, I was in charge of a team of lifeguards, the pool, and the canoeing program. Camp made it possible. I had all the support I needed to pursue that goal, and in the end I surpassed my goals and surprised myself. I kept the picture of myself as a CIT in my desk that year, and I pulled it out when I had conversations with discouraged campers. I told them they might not feel like it now, but they can really be anything and do anything, and I was there to help them in any way I could.
In 2008 I embarked on a new camp adventure and headed out to Washington, DC to help open Camp Winona, a new resident camp at the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. I was an administrative staff member there from 2008-2013 and my job titles included Business Manager, Staff Director, and Support Director.
After summer camp in 2013, I decided I should retire and get a “big girl job,” as those outside of resident camping say! I landed a job with a school district and found myself free for the summer of 2014. So naturally, I returned to my summer camp roots to be an Aquatics Director at another camp of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital!
Working at Girl Scout camp has been the most formative activity in my life and I literally have hundreds of wonderful memories.
When Camp Winona became a resident camp in 2008, we were tasked with creating a camp culture from the ground up. At times, it felt like we would never get that “campy” feel. During a campfire in 2010, I remember looking around at the staff members whom I had helped to train and at the campers, many of whom were returning for their third summer with us. We were singing “Linger,” and I got extremely emotional. I thought of all the times I had sung that song over the years; with my troop, as a camper, as a camp staffer, and there I was over 1,000 miles from my home camp, raising my voice in song with even more Girl Scouts. It was comfortable, and familiar. I knew in that moment that we had succeeded in creating a camp culture, because it felt like home.
I was only a resident camper for two summers. That’s twenty days of my life. I have spent 10 years now as a staff member trying, but I could never repay the Girl Scout world for those twenty days. In fact, I find that as I try to give more girls the opportunities and support that I had, I just keep reaping personal benefits.
Resident Camp registration is now open! Register your Girl Scout and give her an experience that has the power to impact her life forever!
We would like to spotlight more alumnae like Molly in our Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout series. Do you know an inspiring alumna? Tell us her story! Send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.