Breaking Boundaries and Busting Barriers

The Boundary Waters account for over 1 million acres and 1,000 lakes of the Superior National Forest in the northeastern most part of Minnesota. With those statistics, it’s no wonder why Girl Scouts from all over the country head to Ely, MN every summer to experience the great outdoors camping, hiking, canoeing, porting and even making their way into Canada! This summer, seven Girl Scout Cadettes and two volunteers made the 10-hour road trip to the State Park with our Outdoor Experiences Excursion program!

Upon their arrival at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes & Pines camp, they started learning what to expect over the next five days and four nights! In true Girl Scout fashion, girls packed light using their resources wisely. Each canoe had one Duluth pack that contained clothing, sleeping bags and hygiene items for two girls! Girls took two changes of clothes – one dry set for at night and a wet set for during the day. FYI, getting into wet clothes in the morning can be a little cold!

The groups also had a food pack, weighing about 75lbs that carried all their nutrition and supplies for the 5 days. In the State Park, all food must be packed out or eaten. They would build a fire every morning and evening to cook – making pizza, pancakes, macaroni, brownies, burritos and cheesecake! After each meal, they had to wash dishes and dispose of the water 150 feet from the lake to avoid contamination. For drinking, they gathered water directly from the lake and purified it with iodine through a gravity filter.

One of the volunteers who traveled with our Girl scouts was Girl Scout Alum, Katelyn Clark, who actually went on this very trip herself when she was a young Girl Scout!

“It was amazing to see the girls grow. Most were nervous when going through training and spending the first night at base camp in the woods.  The last day as we were paddling in they were discussing that they can do anything and that they felt that they accomplished a lot,” Katelyn said.

Their trip wasn’t without its challenges. During their R&R day they took a short paddle and hiking trip to get a better view of the lake. On their way back they were met with a thunderstorm and had to pull over and spend time with another group out of the water who felt the need to instructions and guidance. As they disembarked, Girl Scout Cadette Autumn got out and moved the metal canoe all on her own. The other group was impressed and acknowledged that these girls were Girl Scout STRONG!

On their final day, they had to take some long portages (carrying the canoe above their head) to get to the some of the final lakes, going up and downhill for a mile and quarter with all their gear in tow too.  “The girls were so empowered after we finished. It was personally the highlight of my trip to see each one of them so self-confident after we completed them,” Katelyn said.

In total they went about 26 miles, crossing into Canada and have the arm muscles, mosquito bites and wet boots to prove it!

 

At the end of the trip, the girls reflected and had some of the following takeaways:

-You can do anything you mentally put your mind to, your body has few limitations.

-Everyone has their own strengths and you need to accept them and use your team to make everything work.

-It’s good to disconnect from technology and your to do list and just listen to your body every once in a while.

-Everyone has different bodies and different ways of being fit – it is important you listen to yours and find your own ways.

-Camping is fun

-Get to go to school saying they carried a canoe for 1.25 miles, lived in the woods for a week, canoed 26 miles and went to Canada!

-Girl Scouts teaches you how to be a leader through experiences like these. You don’t feel like you are learning but you learn things like teamwork, communication, perseverance and acceptance through trips like these.

“It was such an amazing experience to see the girls go through the same process as I did 20 years ago – nervous, self-doubt, confident and empowered. Paddling back in on the last day and listening to them talk about their takeaways made me tear up because I knew I was sending home 7 ladies that felt like they could conquer the world,” Katelyn said. “At its core this is truly why I volunteer, to help girls have experiences that empower them and inspire them to carry on the values they have learned.”

This is just one Outdoor Experience, of many, that girls can have when they’re a Girl Scout! As she grows, so do her skills. Each experience will prepare her to thrive physically, emotionally and intellectually.

See all the Outdoor Experiences available to Girl Scouts this fall at outdoor.gsksmo.org.

 

Making a SPLASH at Camp Prairie Schooner        

Day Camp is a special place where Girl Scouts get to know others in their Service Unit and teen Girl Scouts grow as leaders. Every summer Service Unit 637 holds a Day Camp where girls explore and learn new skills at Camp Prairie Schooner. Troop 3389 from Lenexa, KS, led by Crystal Hoopes and Susanne Neely is one of the troops in Service Unit 637 with girls who have grown up to be awesome teen leaders.

Troop 3389 has been together since kindergarten and they’re now high school sophomores, so they’re experts on camp. These Girl Scout Seniors have wonderful memories of camp and though their memories of the pool area have been fond, in recent years, the declining state of the pool has left them wanting more. Finally, their dreams are being answered with the brand new Aquatics Center and All Season Shower House.

As an advocate for girls and longtime Camp Prairie Schooner visitor, Crystal Hoopes knows firsthand the state of the pool area and how desperately it needed to be improved for the Girl Scouts who call Camp Prairie Schooner home each summer. “Even public pools are better quality…and our Girl Scouts deserve better,” Crystal said. Each year her Girl Scout teens help younger girls learn to swim and beat the heat in the cool water, but the girls couldn’t be more excited for a facility that’s updated and focused on programming.

Troop 3389 with young Girl Scout sisters at Day Camp at Camp Prairie Schooner.

“Our girls are excited about being able to learn to kayak and canoe off-season!” Crystal said. The opportunity to teach these skills is just one of the awesome new things that will come with the new Aquatics Center. The opportunities are limitless with this new design and we couldn’t be more excited.

One of the best new features, for Crystal, is the fully ADA-compliant, zero-entry pool. “If you can’t go down a ladder, you can’t enjoy the pool. The new zero-entry will let every Girl Scout and leader enjoy it,” Crystal said. She knows younger girls at Day Camp will also love the feature because it will help them ease into swimming more easily than the current pool drop-off.  As a troop who’s grown up at Camp Prairie Schooner and with this pool, Troop 3389 has wide eyes set on their 2019 adventure.

Troop 3389 growing up at Camp Prairie Schooner.

Having access to top quality facilities like this empower girls to reach their potential. “Being a Girl Scout means I’m gaining skills to help for my future,” Girl Scout Mary Hoopes said. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience and outdoor adventure opportunities empower girls like Mary and all the members of Troop 3389 to take on challenges and leadership roles like never before. For families, Girl Scouting offers fantastic memories. “Girl Scouting helps build leader, but it’s also great memories, both for adult women and the girls,” Crystal said.

As the new Aquatics Center inches closer to being funded and opening a new world of opportunities for girls, we want to extend a special opportunity to have YOU as well! You can have your name memorialized at camp for years to come! With a gift of $250, $500 or $1,000, you can have your name placed on a paver or locker/cubby. See www.gsksmo.org/MakeASplash for more details!

We can’t wait to make a BIG SPLASH for G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ in 2019! Thank you to troop leaders, like Crystal and Susanne, for their on-going support, advocacy for girls and time as leaders. See you by the pool!

Our Top Campfire Recipes

(includes all the ingredients and instructions)

Thursday was the first official day of summer and camp season is well underway! As you prepare to get outdoors with your troop or family, you can impress them with your outdoor culinary skills using these recipes below!

 

Breakfast:

Omelet in a Bag
From Leah at Beyer Beware
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
BPA Free freezer bags
2 eggs/person
Omelet ingredients of your choice (pre-cooked sausage, bacon, ham, mushrooms, black olives, peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.)
1 bag shredded cheese for every 6 people

Instructions:

  1. Start a pot of boiling water large enough to hold at least 6 bags
  2. Write names on freezer bags
  3. Break two eggs into each freezer bag
  4. Add ingredients of your choice
  5. Seal and place in boiling water for 14-15 minutes
  6. Carefully remove from water and let cool for a minute or two before emptying omelet onto a plate

 

DIY Instant Oatmeal
From The First Mess

Ingredients:
½ c. Oats per person
Toppings of your choice! (dried fruits, nuts, brown sugar, etc.)
Salt

Instructions:

  1. Use a campfire tea kettle to boil water
  2. Using a bowl, create your own oatmeal mix, using 1/2 oats per person, a pinch of salt and toppings of your choice.
  3. Add 2 tbsp. – ¼ c. of boiling water to the oatmeal mix depending on how watery/sticky you want it and stir.
  4. Enjoy!

 

Main Dishes:

Pizza Fondue + French Bread
Submitted by Lysette Deboard, SU716 Day Camp Director
Serves: 12ish

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs ground beef
2 c. mozzarella cheese
2 c. cheddar cheese
3-4 cans pizza sauce
4-5 loaves French bread

Instructions:

  1. Make a hot fire an place a grate over it. Cover the outside bottom of a cooking pot with dish soap
  2. Place the pot on the fire and brown the ground beef
  3. While the beef is being prepared, have girls slice bread and prepare any other sides you may have (salad/veggies are great with this!)
  4. Line a large bowl with several layers of paper towels. Pour the beef in the bowl and let the towels absorb the grease. Put the beef back into the pot and over the fire. Alternatively, you can drain the grease into a can.
  5. Pour all pizza sauce in with the beef an let it simmer until heated. Cook 15 minutes or until hot.
  6. Add cheeses to the pot and stir well until melted.
  7. Remove from fire and serve a large scoop of “fondue” and two slices of bread to each person.

 

Walking Tacos
Serves: 5+
Ingredients:
Single-serving bag of Fritos for each person
1 lb. ground beef for every 5 girls/4 adults
Taco seasoning of your choice
Taco toppings of your choice (shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, pico, salsa, sour cream, avocado, black olives, onions, black/refried beans, etc.)

 Instructions:

  1. Using a campfire pan, cook meat with desired taco seasoning until brown
  2. Remove pan from fire and set in a safe area
  3. Have each girl open a bag of fritos and serve one spoonful of meat directly into the bag
  4. Let each girl add her desired toppings & enjoy straight out of the bag!

Desserts

Campfire Cobbler
Submitted by Kelly Rogge, SU 618, Troop 1302
Serves: 12ish

Ingredients:
2 cans pie filling – your choice!
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter or margarine

Instructions:

First you will want to put at least 25 charcoal briquettes in the campfire. While those are getting nice and hot, line your dutch oven with heavy-duty foil. Do not use the cheap, Dollar Store foil. Go for the Reynolds Heavy-duty brand. Double-line the dutch oven completely. Open two cans of pie filling and pour into the dutch oven. Pour one box of yellow cake mix on top of the filling, and spread evenly. Cut stick of butter or margarine into slices and place on top of the dry cake mix. Put the lid on the dutch oven.

Remove the briquettes carefully from the fire using tongs. Place five to six on the ground near the campfire. Place the dutch oven on top of the briquettes. Then place 10 to 12 briquettes on the lid. This will ensure even cooking. Cook cobbler for 25 to 45 minutes, depending on how hot the briquettes are.

 

Not-so-messy S’mores
Submitted by Allie Steele, Troop 1006

Ingredients:
Waffle Cones
Marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Additional toppings of your choosing
Foil

Instructions:

  1. Grab a cone and put in marshmallows, chocolate chips and whatever else you like (bananas, strawberries, caramel chips, peanut butter cups, etc)!
  2. Wrap the stuffed cone in tin foil and place it on the fire for 5-10 minutes (depending on how melty you like it!)
  3. Take off the fire and allow to cool
  4. Unwrap the tinfoil and enjoy your not-so messy s’mores!

 

What are your go-to campfire meals?! Let us know in the comments below or share them on social media and tag us with #gsksmo!

Get Outdoors with Badges

June is Great Outdoors Month! With summer here, it’s the perfect time for a Girl Scout to take on an adventure in the outdoors! And, we encourage our Girl Scouts to take on earning a badge or two with the support of her parent / caregiver. Getting a head start on planning for the new GS Year? Here’s some great information on how to support your Girl Scout(s) in focusing on an outdoor badge.

Girl Scouts are the true vision of “work hard play hard.”  Through their badge and journey requirements, getting girls outdoors teaches them about the environment that surrounds them, leadership skills and social bonds and problem solving skills.

Here are the badges that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk Takers, Leaders)™ can earn through outdoor activities!

  1. Go camping. We’re all about learning, having fun, and making friends—the perfect combination for camp. Camping is a great way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Whether for a day, a week, or longer, camp gives girls opportunities to grow, explore, and have fun under the guidance of caring, trained adults. There are a variety of ways for girls to get involved like: day camps, troop camping or a resident camp experience at one of our sister councils. See all the ways you can camp like a Girl Scouts this summer!  Did you know: girls at ANY age can earn badges for camping?  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.

 

  1. Take on an outdoor adventure. Consider climbing a hill or mountain so high you’ll be yearning to snap a selfie on top of it to capture the memory. Grab a friend or team up with your Girl Scout troop to explore your neighborhood at night or buddy up to set up a tent in a nearby park or your backyard. If you’re a Brownie these are just some activities you’ll try out when you challenge yourself to earn the Outdoor Adventurer badgeDid you know: our older girls can complete something BIG through our Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge?  For the girls who have already mastered camping, hiking, and canoeing, earning your Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge might be perfect for you!

 

  1. Try your hand at geocaching. Here’s your chance to play part global explorer, part detective when you search for treasure chests known as “geocaches” using GPS. By the end of your search, you’ll not only have had an exciting geocaching adventure but also have learned how to prepare for future quests- a perfect way to connect STEM to the outdoors. If you’re a Junior, you’ll be taking the steps to earn the Geocacher badge, too. Did you know:  you can set up a Geocaching session with our trained staff at Camp Tongawood and Camp Prairie Schooner?!  You can also checkout necessary equipment and download the resources to lead the session yourself! Learn More!

 

  1. Ride Horses. Are you up for a challenge? Why not try horseback riding? This exciting sport engages all ages! You will improve your strength, focus, and form. This is also a unique way to earn badges.  Be sure to prepare. Learn about our community partners like Pine Dell Horse Farm or S&S Stables to book your own equestrian trip. Simply follow the safety activity checkpoint guide for horseback riding and fill out the activity and troop approval application prior to the activity!

 

  1. Outdoor Art? Why not! Whether it be through photography, painting, jewelry making or music, experiment with new ways of expressing your love of nature. Let it move you to create art inspired by the outdoors. Seniors can earn the Art Expert badge once their masterpiece is complete.

 

  1. Plan a trip to the beach, river, or lake. Have an adventure on the water! We have many bodies of water in our landlocked region that girls can explore! Just be sure that you’re following the safety activity checkpoints or using one of our community partners like Living Water Canoe/KayakHey Girl Scout adults did you know: that you can become certified to lead water excursions with your troop?  The next Small Craft Safety training is June 2 and Moving Water training is June 9!

Prepare for great adventures, Girl Scout style! Get your outdoor gear at the Girl Scout shop. The badges don’t stop here. Check out more Girl Scout badges you can earn when you show the outdoors some love.

Rock Chalk, STEM Hawks!

It’s fall and that means it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and get your hands dirty! For Girl Scouts, this included an exciting STEM day at Camp Tongawood, hosted by KU’s Biology department (the Ecology & Entomology graduate program students), who wanted to do their part in inspiring the next generation. As Andrew Mongue, a grad student lead on the project, said “One of our big motivators with these STEM activities is to provide encouragement and re-spark interest in girls at the critical ages.” Thanks to their work and innovative activities, girls were laughing their way to a love of science.

The University of Kansas (the Jayhawks), worked with Girl Scouts to create a program that not only inspires girls, but provides their grad students an opportunity to interact with kids. With grad programs taking 5-6 years, this community engagement helps keep the students motivated and gives Girl Scouts unique STEM experiences in the most critical time in their lives.

“…it really is a two-way street; I get encouragement from the girls’ excitement. A PhD is a long-term goal (5-6yrs) and at times I can lose sight of the passion that set me down this path. Working with kids who have nothing but pure wonder for the sciences and natural world helps remind me of my own passion for Biology,” Andrew said.

This year KU hosted a bug event where girls were able to capture bugs, look at them up-close and get guidance from Andrew (AKA “Ant-Man”) and Kaila Colyott (AKA “Wasp”). They ran around with nets, got into the creek and captured bugs on the ground. One of the most exciting parts for girls was watching normally sweet dragonflies eat prey in the enclosure!

In October, a larger project with more students from KU joined together for this rotation style STEM expo. Girls got to experience wide range of activities from looking at worms, fish and fungi under microscopes to changing colors with acids and learning about genetics! It was quite the experience for girls.

“…it’s important to develop and promote STEM learning outdoors, like Camp Tongawood. There is a lot of great ecology (read: really cool bugs among other things) in the countryside of Kansas that most people won’t interact with going about their daily routine. These places are great to explore nature are crucial nurturing that curiosity in kids,” Andrew said.

One of the favorite projects was an art project using fish specimens! That’s right! Girls picked a dead fish that had patterns/textures they found interesting and used paint to transfer the patterns on to pieces of white cloth, creating their own art pieces! What a cool way to explore animals and learn about what makes fish so interesting.

The acids and bases activity was a bubbly experience with some real chemistry magic! Adding either a base or an acid to a solution let girls watch it bubble, change colors and even smoke when dry ice was added. Girl Scouts learned about ocean acidification that is a concern for scientists and ways we can go about preventing it. What a colorful way to learn about chemistry.

Thanks to the KU Biology department for their hard work on this expo. Girls were raving about it and were clearly inspired! Together, we can keep inspiring young women to love science and create a bright future in science.

Built by G.I.R.L.s for G.I.R.L.s: A Look Inside the “Magical” Camp Prairie Schooner

Frolicking with the Prairie Fairy and adventures out in Farmer’s Field – those are experiences that Girl Scouts who call Camp Prairie Schooner home are very familiar with. For more than 70 years, Girl Scouts have taken pride and ownership in this beautiful camp located near the Little Blue River in Kansas City, MO. It’s also the location of our upcoming Alumnae Reunion Weekend, Lifetime Member Picnic and Trefoil Society Pinning Ceremony on Sept 23 – 24! Today we’ll take a look how this camp came to be and the women whose tenacity made it a reality.

Camp Prairie Schooner patch (left); Flag ceremony and patches (center) and early sign (right).

In the early 1940s, the Independence Council of Girl Scouts decided they wanted a camp for Kansas City Girl Scouts. A leader in that initiative was Mrs. Dewitt, who was active in the community and knew about a war time fund that had unallocated money. During World War II, the War Chest fund had been active in raising funds and by 1945, the remaining money was in limbo, ready to be reorganized.

Mrs. Dewitt, advocating for girls, approached the War Chest Board about the funds before they reorganized and the leadership wasn’t sure if they could trust ladies to establish and run a camp. As we know, G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can do anything, and the Girl Scout Council knew they could achieve their goal, even if the Board doubted them.

The Council found the land where Camp Prairie Schooner currently sits and decided it was an ideal location. With a train stop just a short hike away, wooded areas and space for camp, they advocated for the funds. Despite pushback from the War Chest Board, Mrs. Dewitt was a hard woman to say “no” to and the Board sent the Jackson County Planning Commission to look at the land and make a recommendation. They had planned to use this as a stalling technique, hoping the women would give up before getting the funds.

Jerry Manning was sent to inspect the site and as he visited, he met the team behind the camp plan. It included community leaders and strong women who knew this would be a success. He realized this was a project backed by serious people wanting to create a better world for girls, not a whim that ladies had. He made the recommendation that the War Chest

Camp Prairie Schooner staff from 1988 (left) and approx. late 1970s (right).

funds should be given to Girl Scouts, and they were. After they acquired the land, the Council asked Mr. Manning to become the Camp Chairman, which started many years of service he gave to Girl Scouts, including serving as President of the Pioneer Trails Council!

Cookie money and funds from the War Chest paid the $4,000 for 127 acres of land that is now Camp Prairie Schooner. Still having reservations about the project, the War Chest Board held the title to Camp Prairie Schooner until the Council proved the camp was successful. After the installation of a pool and successful management of the property, they realized that these G.I.R.L.s meant business and the title was officially given to Girl Scouts.

Camp Prairie Schooner philanthropy! Girl Scouts from SU 638 & 639 built a Gaga Pit in 2015 (left) and Burns & McDonnell host annual work days at camp (right).

Today, Camp Prairie Schooner stands as a living testament to the power of G.I.R.L.s who wanted to make the world better for young women. We thank those early pioneers for their vision and tenacity that brought that camp to life as well as the current day donors who add to camp each year! Businesses, donors, and girls have added new facilities and games to camp, creating more opportunities and adventures (read our blog post about girl donated projects). Thank you!

We invite you to join us at Camp Prairie Schooner for our Alumnae Reunion! Registration closes SOON, so register today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion! See you at camp!

A New Home for the Oakledge Ish-Ki-Ti-Ni

The most recognizable symbol from Camp Oakledge was the totem pole (or “Ish-ki-ti-ni” for more recent Girl Scouts) that stood near the dining hall. Its image was on badges and shirts, serving as a friendly face for campers. When Camp Oakledge was decommissioned, the Ish-ki-ti-ni was moved to Camp Prairie Schooner. Now renamed the “Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni,” the rebuilt totem pole will be rededicated during the Alumnae Reunion and Picnic on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner. We wanted to share the story of this symbol of camp history and celebrate its new life!

The name Ish-ki-ti-ni comes from a Native American mythology of the owl. While the whole totem pole has come to be known as the “Ish-ki-ti-ni,” it is started as the name of the owl that symbolically sits at the top of the totem. According to Oakledge camp legend, you can sometimes see Ish-ki-ti-ni flying over camp at night, watching over Girl Scouts.

Below the Ish-ki-ti-ni are symbols – the Girl Scout Trefoil, the frog, the turtle, the butterfly and the gnomies (pronounced “ga-no-me” for this totem). Each represents a part of the camping experience.

 

For alumnae and younger Girl Scouts alike, the Ish-ki-ti-ni serves as an important part of childhood. “In 2013, we pretended it was a time traveling machine. We wrote a song and we would hold onto it while singing it and it would take us to different summers. Kind of like a ride down memory lane. The song went: ‘Ishkitini Ishkitini take us way back when / Show us all the memories that you hold within,’” Girl Scout camper, Olivia (AKA Puffy) said.

Marley Parsons (AKA Ferris), resident camp director and alumna, feels the Ish-ki-ti-ni is a symbol of her Girl Scouting life. “The Ish-ki-ti-ni was a huge representation of my childhood. From whispering in the Green Gnomie’s ear to help find lost times, to peeping in the hole in the back to try to see the Red Gnomie, it was all part of my camping experience,” Ferris said.

Since the Ish-ki-ti-ni is made of wood, it needs to be remade about every 10-15 years, meaning a new group of Girl Scouts gets to give new life to the totem. Currently, the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni is being rebuilt for the 2017 Alumnae Reunion, retaining as much of the original as possible.

“In 2004, the totem pole I grew up with fell into disrepair. While I was heartbroken that we had to build a new one, I loved that Bean and Beaner had us write wishes on the back of the new feathers [on the owl at the top]. It made it really special. Part of me was now a part of the Ish-ki-ti-ni. It makes me really happy to know that I am also here now, in 2017, helping rebuild it for another generation of campers,” Ferris said. She’s also part of the rebuilding team that’s preserving the memories of the totem.

In the process of being rebuilt, the Ish-ki-ti-ni is also finding a new home at Camp Prairie Schooner. “I’m happy it is being rededicated to Prairie Schooner because, for me, that’s where it all started. My very first camp was Schooner. So because the journey to camping at Oakledge started [at Camp Prairie Schooner] for me, it’s giving me a sense of closure,” Puffy said.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner where we will rededicate the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni at Camp Prairie Schooner and create a time capsule with it! Registration closes on September 8th, so get registered today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion.

 

Girl Scouts Give Their Heart to Camp!

“We are always looking for places to help, but sometimes the person or place we need to help is right next to us. We have a tendency to look globally, which is great, but sometimes you need to learn to look locally for who you can help.” -Liz Gregoire, Girl Scout Junior Troop 173.

Girl Scout camps are places of adventure and opportunity. Thanks to the work of countless individuals, generous gifts from donors and members of Daisy’s Circle, and Girl Scouts, camps continue to grow to meet the needs of the girls they serve. This effort to keep improving camps has inspired girls to find ways to give back themselves. Check out these three inspiring stories about new opportunities added to camps for girls by girls!

GAGA BALL PIT

It all started with the GaGa Ball Pit! In 2015, Service Units 638 & 639 added a GaGa Pit to Camp Prairie Schooner as a Day Camp service project. Girl Scout dad, Bill Schneider worked with Site Manager, Zac Sibert, to plan the project and coordinated the teens on build day. While Bill handled all the cutting of the wood, girls helped assemble, stain and drill on the project to make it come to life.

“We wanted another experience for the girls…[a GaGa Pit] is competition, fun and not too physically demanding while still getting your heart pumping,” Mr. Schneider said. The GaGa Pit has since been a place where girls can go for free-form fun. It’s organic play that the girls can do during down time and where girls meet new people. This project has since inspired two troops to give back to camp and complete their Bronze Award projects!

9 SQUARE GAME

Junior Troop 173 from Lee’s Summit, MO gave back by building a 9 Square game in Farmer’s Field for their Bronze Award. The troop knew they wanted to give back to Girl Scouts, so they walked around Camp Prairie Schooner and made note of their favorite things and the GaGa Pit was the top option.

“What our girls love about the GaGa Pit is that they get to meet other girls, so we built something in Farmer’s Field that could do the same thing,” Liz Gregoire, Troop 173 leader said. Part of the appeal of 9 Square was that it was a structure the girls could build without a lot of adult help and they could be creative.

Through the process, the girls learned to write donation request letters and how to build the structure. They printed rules that hang by the game and can see the result of their work every time they visit camp. “By seeing an activity you did within Girl Scouting, you will see it year after year and how it gets utilized by your troop and other girls. While service projects for other organizations are great, you don’t get to see the lasting results like you do giving back to Girl Scouts,” said Liz.

OUTDOOR JENGA

Gaming fun! An outdoor Jenga set was added by Junior Troop 1963 from Shawnee Mission, KS, also as a Bronze Award project. The troop got supplies donated and with the help of parents, they measured, cut and stained the game. While the actual cuts were done by adults, the girls did all the measuring, wore all the safety gear and were taught about the tools that were being used for the project.

“Giving back makes their experience better and gives them ownership in the camp. They see immediately value in their service by seeing other girls enjoying their project,” said Barb Janssen, Troop 1963 leader.

While they originally planned to go to several stores to inquire about donations, they only needed to make one stop – Home Depot! Melissa from that store donated the wood, stain and sandpaper to make this project a reality. We love it when the community comes out to help girls.

“My favorite thing about the project was getting to build something that every girl in Kansas and Missouri is going to be able to use,” said Jessica Janssen, one of the Girl Scouts who built the Jenga set. The troop donated the game just before their Day Camp, so the Girl Scouts got to see other girls using the game right away. Thanks for this awesome addition to camp!

What an inspiring set of projects! These girls are giving back and making camp better than ever – thank you! Together, we are making camp an absolutely incredible place to be.

Do you love our beloved camps as much as our featured Girl Scouts? You can join us in continuing to support these awesome experiences. Right now, your gift has double the power to help girls get the outdoor experiences they need! The Feist Charitable Foundation is offering a matching investment of $10,000 to underwrite Outdoor Adventure Programming at Camp Prairie Schooner and enable program to develop and grow. Now is a great time to make your gift have twice the impact! You can give now by visiting www.gsksmo.org/Donate

Have you tried out one of these awesome girl-inspired and created activities? Share your experience using the comments below.

For the Love of Girl Scout Camp

Spotlight on Resident Camp Director Marley Parsons

Girl Scout Camp. Where your girl gets to be the person she’s been taught to be. Where she tries new things, is curious, confident, embraces the unfamiliar and makes new friends. Friends that are as much different, as they are alike. Camp is where she has the opportunity to fall in love with something larger than herself.  Girl Scout camp is an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

For Resident Camp Director, Marley Parsons (aka Ferris), camp was all of those things and more; which is why she is so passionate about providing Girl Scouts with those experiences at Camp Daisy Hindman each summer.

Marely joined Girl Scouts when she was in third grade. Something she had always wanted to do after hearing her mother share stories of Girl Scout camps, badges and pins. For her first Resident Camp experience, Marley had to convince her mom to let her go to Oakledge where the programming was more advanced, because she wanted to be at the same camp her mother had attended and worked!

That first summer was just the beginning for Marley. She was at camp every summer after that, often for multiple sessions. At camp, Marley completed all three Treks – Canoe, Pack and Sail, which was a remarkable accomplishment for any Girl Scout.

“Camp was the place where I went to be included and be successful. Where I was encouraged to be strong and challenge myself,” Marley said.

In 2002, she completed the Counselor in Training (CIT) program and was on staff the following two years and then returned to camp staff for a summer after college in 2012. In 2016, Marley’s passion for Girl Scout Camp brought her to Girl Scouts full-time, as the Resident Camp Director.

“I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do so many amazing things if it weren’t for the skills of resilience, self-reliance, self-rescue, and bravery that I learned at camp. I wanted to be a Camp Director to teach girls these skills. Teach them how to be courageous, show them their strength, and help them grow into people who will run the world in the future.”

Just like her mother, Marley is telling her own stories to campers and the camp staff, instilling a love for this organization and its experiences that will continue for generations to come.

“In my opinion there is nothing better for youth development than Resident Camp. It’s a structured environment for girls to try new things in a safe and accepting place. For most youth, camp is the first experience away from a familiar environment. It’s the first experience young children have with adults who are not relatives or teachers who take a genuine interest in their lives. I’m a grown adult now, and those staff who helped me grow as a child are still heroines in my mind’s eye.”

What memories do you have from Girl Scout Camp? How has Girl Scout camp impacted your Girl Scout? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

The Love of Camping Becomes a Career

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!