Meet Lifetime Girl Scout & GSKSMO Staff Member “Willow”
Girl Scout camps are magical places and the weeks Girl Scouts get to spend in the great outdoors each summer are often the highlights of their year. For some special Girl Scouts, the love of camp and inspiring the next generation of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, can become a life mission. Meet GSKSMO’s Outdoor Experiences Manager – Alli Bearly (aka “Willow”)! This Girl Scout Alumna, Lifetime Member and experienced camper has turned her love of camp into a career helping girls.
Alli joined Girl Scouts as a 1st grader and stayed with the program through her senior year. She loved getting to know her Girl Scout sisters, doing service and getting outside. It wasn’t until later in her Girl Scouting career, the last summer she could in fact, that she experienced the magic of resident camp. “When I was younger, I was very shy. I loved camping, but the idea of doing it for a week with people I didn’t know stressed me out. The summer after my junior year, however, my friend convinced me to do this canoe track and told me ‘don’t worry, they’ll teach you how to canoe,’ so we went,” Alli said.
That experience was a turning point for Alli. They slept under the stars, canoed over 90 miles and she had independence like she’d never experienced. Not only did that inspire Alli to get involved with Girl Scout camp as a counselor, it was a foundational experience that gave her the courage to study abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, during college. All because of Girl Scout camp and pushing her limits.
The summer of 2012 was Alli’s first summer on staff and she joined the Adventure Staff, teaching rappelling. Rewind several years to Alli being a 4th grader who watched rappel and made the choice to not complete the activity with her troop – a decision Alli feels was right for her at the time. “I love the ‘challenge by choice’ philosophy that we use at camp. I remember as a girl being able to make the choice not to rappel and no one telling me I had to go. It’s something I still use in my personal life and I think it’s a great model for girls to realize they’re the ones that make those decisions for themselves, even if the decision is no,” Alli said.
For Alli, the reason she’s decided to have a career with Girl Scouts is because she’s getting to change the lives of girls every day, just like her counselors gave her the courage to be a G.I.R.L. when she was a girl. “Camp is a place where there are no limits placed on you. Girls get to do whatever and try anything and I wanted to give back to a place and organization that gave so much to me by letting me try. It’s awesome to see girls face scary challenges every day and decide what they want to do,” Alli said.
As the Outdoor Experiences Manager, Alli directly works with adventure staff and helps develop new programs. In particular, she’s excited about the Low Ropes course at Camp Prairie Schooner because “it’s a great opportunity for troops to learn how to work together and improve their relationships,” Alli said. While many of the programs encourage personal challenges, like rappelling and zipline, she loves the group challenge that Low Ropes provides.
While summer is the highlight for Alli’s team, she loves every aspect of working with girls on adventure programming year round. “I love my job because I can see differences being made in girls. As someone who’s been on the other side, as a girl, I know how much these little things can impact a girl’s life,” Alli said.
With summer in full swing, Alli and her staff are out at camp and helping girls become G.I.R.L.s! Thanks to all our dedicated staff who makes a difference for girls! If you’d like to learn more about our Council Properties and adventure programs, visit our Outdoor Experiences page!