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!

Ensuring Girls Reach for the Stars and Beyond

Spotlight on STEM Volunteers, Joe & Rita Wright

What do you get when you combine a retired postal service worker and a mechanical designer? Two EXTRAORDINARY Girl Scout Outdoor STEM Program volunteers, of course! Joe and Rita Wright are and they have been sharing their love and vast knowledge of astronomy with Girl Scouts in our council for over 10 years!

You might call Joe and Rita Professional Amateur Astronomers. Joe oversees the UMKC Observatory and both he and Rita have impressive resumes, accolades and honors for this only being a hobby of theirs!

Joe attributes his initial fascination with astronomy to his father who was a plane mechanic for TWA. He remembers earning his Astronomy Badge at Boy Scout camp and that year his parents bought him a telescope. He would take that telescope to Boy Scout camp outs and would teach others about astronomy. This was just the beginning for Joe! As for Rita, she was fascinated by everything she learned from Joe and it became a passion of hers as well!

Just as fascinating as their path to interest in astronomy is their involvement in Girl Scouts! When Joe relocated the Boy Scout troop he was leading (and the troop he earned is Eagle Scout in) to a new church, the church asked what they were going to do for girls. So, they formed a multi-level Girl Scout troop! While they have a son and a daughter, neither was involved in Scouting. Joe and Rita chose to lead these groups because they felt like it was important to their community.

Combining their love of astronomy and Scouting programs, Joe and Rita were invited to a training at the University of Arizona to learn how to bring more astronomy programs to Girl Scouts in 20114. They worked with other Girl Scout trainers and under Dr. Don McCarthy developing programs to bring back to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri.

Every spring and fall Joe and Rita put on multiple STEM in the Outdoors Programs at Camp Tongawood for Girl Scouts of all levels. Joe and Rita ensure each program is progressive so that girls can continue building on their knowledge, if they choose. Girl Scouts who attend one of their programs will use Joe and Rita’s incredible equipment like telescopes, infrared cameras, specialized lights and measurement tools that Joe and Rita haul out to Girl Scout camp in an old converted scout trailer! Girls will get to see and touch unique artifacts such as meteoroids and dessert glass. But most importantly, they will be challenged to answer their own questions by two very passionate and caring volunteers who hope to inspire just a little interest into the field of astronomy.  “We want girls to learn from their peers if they don’t understand. We don’t just give them the answers, we try to weasel it out of them!” Joe said.

Since 2004 they have participated in eight different astronomical education trainings in their spare time, often writing applications and proposals and securing the funding themselves to cover the costs of their attendance so they can further their knowledge to share with community.

This summer they will travel to Greenbelt, MD to the Goddard Space Flight Center with two Girl Scout Ambassadors from our council for “Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts.” We are just one of 10 councils selected to participate in the new 5-year space science education program that will bring together Girl Scouts with scientists, engineers and educators at NASA and beyond! They will help create a new series of Space Science badges for Girl Scouts nationwide and the groundwork to create a council-wide astronomy club!

Also this summer, Joe and Rita have been invited to be part of the staff for the first-ever Girl Scout destination at the University of Arizona-Steward Observatory! As if their summer wasn’t busy enough, they’re also coordinating community events around the Kansas City area for the solar eclipse that will happen on August 21, 2017!

“Most of our joy is in the programs we do for Girl Scouts. It’s seeing the lightbulb for the girls come on. It clicks and that’s what inspires us and rejuvenates us,” Joe said.

Joe and Rita are truly life-long learners who are inspired by Girl Scouts to continue pursuing and sharing their passion for astronomy, and we are so lucky to have them as volunteers!

Be sure you follow our social media channels as we share what Joe, Rita and the two Girl Scout Ambassadors are up to in Goddard, MD this summer at their NASA training!

More Than Just S’mores

 

School is winding down and the temperatures are warming up! As you plan your summer, is camping like a Girl Scout on your summer to do list?! You know that Girl Scouts and the outdoors go together just like that perfectly toasted marshmallow goes between graham crackers and chocolate! And everyone knows that s’mores taste the best at Girl Scout Camp!

But, Girl Scout Camp is about SO much more than just s’mores. Girl Scout camp is where your G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout.

Because at Girl Scout camp, she will:

Be determined to succeed. Honest. Fair. Ambitious. = She’ll try new things, learning more about herself as well as her strengths and weaknesses.

Think outside the box. Experiment. = She will use her resources wisely and be a creative problem-solver.

Try new things. Be courageous. Embrace the unfamiliar. = She’ll discover how one decision she makes impacts her and the world around her.

Empower others. Be empathetic. Advocate. = She will lead with integrity and practice grit.

When she camps like a Girl Scout, she will empower herself for life.

There are still several open spots at Girl Scout Camp this summer for you to be a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader!

Did you know that monthly outdoor exposure contributes to girls’ challenge seeking and problem solving? Or that an overwhelming majority of girls really enjoy outdoor activities in Girl Scouts? How about that Girl Scouts who get outdoors are twice as likely to connect with and care for the environment that non-Girl Scouts?

Below are some new and exciting programs and sessions that we want to make you aware of!

Teens Only Session – Session 4 (July 6 – 14 & July 9 -14) features programs just for girls going into 6th grade or higher! Teens will rule Camp Daisy and will enjoy connecting with other teens!

Extended Programming – throughout the summer are some extended programs, mostly for teen Girl Scouts, to build skills and friendships that will last a lifetime!

Journeys! – Complete your Sow What Journey (9 – 12 grade) or Breathe Journey (6 – 8 grade) at camp this summer!

Excursions – Learn skills at Camp Daisy, then take them offsite with our resident camp staff and do adventure activities, kayak on a lake (Kayak Kansas), problem solve on a high ropes course (Challenge Accepted) and more!

Mini Camp – for Brownies & Juniors who are new to outdoor experiences and overnights away from home. These two-night experiences will give her a taste of summer camp and leave her wanting more!

We know that choosing to send your Girl Scout to resident camp is a big decision for both you and your girl, so take sure that you both take the Camp Readiness Quiz on page 4 & 5 in our 2017 Summer Camp Digital Guide! If the results indicate that either one of you aren’t quite ready, think about going to camp WITH your Girl Scout!

You & Me: Ladies is for Girl Scouts in K-3 grade and a female caregiver in her life!

You & Me: Gentlemen is for Girl Scouts of all ages and male role model in her life

S’mores & More is for the whole family! Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends!

So, will you make that perfect s’more at and enjoy it at Girl Scout Camp this summer?! Learn more and register today!

All the Reasons to Camp Like a Girl Scout this Summer!

Camping has long been an aspect of Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Camp is where your G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout.

Because at Girl Scout camp, she will be:

A GO-GETTER: Determined to succeed. Bold. Honest. Fair. Ambitious.

An INNOVATOR: Creative. Will think outside the box. Use resources wisely. Experiment.

A RISK-TAKER: Try new things. Be courageous. Step up. Discover. Embrace the unfamiliar.

A LEADER: Confident. Responsible. Empathetic. Advocate. Empowers others.

Because when she camps like a Girl Scout, she empowers herself for life.

We’re excited to announce that registration for 2017 Summer Camp is now open! We have some new and exciting programs and sessions that we want to make you aware of!

Badges – In most programs, girls will complete steps and earn a badge at resident camp. In all programs, girls will complete steps in additional badges that coincide with girl-led activities!

Teens Only Session – Session 4 (July 6 – 14 & July 9 -14) features programs just for girls going into 6th grade or higher! Teens will rule Camp Daisy and will enjoy connecting with other teens!

Extended Programming – throughout the summer are some extended programs, mostly for teen Girl Scouts, to build skills and friendships that will last a lifetime!

Journeys! – Complete your Sow What Journey (9 – 12 grade) or Breathe Journey (6 – 8 grade) at camp this summer!

Excursions – Learn skills at Camp Daisy, then take them offsite with our resident camp staff and do adventure activities, kayak on a lake (Kayak Kansas), problem solve on a high ropes course (Challenge Accepted) and more!

Mini Camp – for Brownies & Juniors who are new to outdoor experiences and overnights away from home. These two-night experiences will give her a taste of summer camp and leave her wanting more!

We know that choosing to send your Girl Scout to resident camp is a big decision for both you and your girl, so take sure that you both take the Camp Readiness Quiz on page 4 & 5 in our 2017 Summer Camp Digital Guide! If the results indicate that either one of you aren’t quite ready, think about going to camp WITH your Girl Scout!

You & Me: Ladies is for Girl Scouts in K-3 grade and a female caregiver in her life!

You & Me: Gentlemen is for Girl Scouts of all ages and male role model in her life

S’mores & More is for the whole family! Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends!

We asked our Resident Camp Director Marley Parsons (aka Ferris) why she is so passionate about camp and why it’s so beneficial for girls to go to Girl Scout Resident Camp. As a lifelong Girl Scout and lover of the outdoors, she passed along some great resources to reference when considering summer camp!

 

More than S’mores – In 2014, Girl Scouts of the USA published a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute called More than S’mores. For this study they talked to nearly 3,000 Girl Scouts in fourth-through-eighth-grade about their outdoor experiences

American Camp Association (ACA)-  Camp Daisy Hindman is accredited by the American Camp Association. The ACA is a community of camp professionals who, for over 100 years, have joined together to share their knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. On their website is a great article called The Case for Camp- Why Kids Need it Now More Than Ever.

So what are you waiting for?! Get your Girl Scout registered for Summer Camp! The first 400 girls who register for any camp program (You & Me, S’mores & More, Mini or Resident Camp) will receive this limited edition Camp Daisy bandana!

A Girl Scout Gem

Celebrating 60 Years of Hidden Valley Camp

Tucked away in the heart of Lawrence, Kansas sits 40 acres of wildlife terrain where thousands of Girl Scouts have grown as G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers, Leaders)™ for 60 years! Hidden Valley Camp sits in what used to be a secluded part of Lawrence in 1956. Throughout the years, significant city developments have taken place all around the property, but Hidden Valley has remained a wilderness area and semi-primitive campsite, living up to the “hidden” part of its name!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Hidden Valley is one of the few privately owned and operated camps in the region. The land was purchased and Hidden Valley Camp was established with funds from the estate of the late Alfred Bromelsick who passed away in 1950. Mr. Bromelsick was a longtime advocate of outdoors programs for youth, specifically those of the Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and 4-H organizations. Today, Hidden Valley Camp is owned and managed by the locally-based Lawrence Hidden Valley Committee (LHVC) Inc., a nonprofit organization comprised of adult Girl Scout members living in the greater Lawrence community.

Many additions and improvements have been made to Hidden Valley in the past 60 years to keep up with the growing needs of Girl Scouts! In 1996, Friends of Hidden Valley was created to keep up with those improvements. This separate committee supports LHVC in programming, maintenance and establishing and meeting the goals of the property today, and for the next 60+ years.

Hidden Valley has seen so much love from many dedicated Girl Scout volunteers over the past six decades. One of those volunteers was the late Mariana Remple. Mariana was a co-founder of Hidden Valley Camp along with Carolyn Blaas, and was active with Girl Scouts of the USA for 50 years! In addition to Mariana’s work with Hidden Valley, she served as troop leader for Troop 660 for over 40 years and as assistant troop leader until her passing.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

As a treasured Girl Scouting experience for girls, those who once experience this camp as a young Girl Scout are now coming full circle serving on the LHVC and the Friends of Hidden Valley Board or serving in other capacities as adult Girl Scout members.

Durand Reiber remembers going to a very rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley with her troop when she was just a Girl Scout Brownie. In 2002 she was hired as Camp Manager – the camp’s first paid employee, a role she still serves in today.

“I was a Girl Scout through my senior year, canoeing and camping away with Mariana Remple’s Mariner Troop 660, which had a profound impact on my life. I continued to travel, camp and canoe, often leading my women friends on trips. My love of all things natural, and my college and career choices are an extension of all those experiences, beginning with that rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley,” Durand said.

Kyra Flummerfelt was a Girl Scout growing up in Lawrence, living right down the street from Hidden Valley, but didn’t experience it herself until she found herself leading her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop! In 2008 she was asked to join LHVC board and oversee the reservations and equipment checkout process and now she also serves as the zip line and archery facilitator.

“I love getting to meet leaders and help make camping easier by providing them with pretty much everything they need to camp out.  When we decided to add the zip line to camp I signed up to be a facilitator.  I am afraid of heights but chose to overcome it so that I could not only help others experience the wonders of zip line but so I could do it too.  I now love to zip line,” Kyra said!

Today, the wondrous 40 acres of Hidden Valley boasts hiking trails, diverse habitats of the prairie, woods, rocky hillsides, wetlands and streams, a challenge course with two zip lines and archery range. It also has a tree house, Yurt (really big tent) and a cabin with a kitchen making it the perfect place for seasoned campers as well as young troops to experience the great outdoors!

One thing that hasn’t changed about Hidden Valley is that it has a profound impact on those who still visit it today, no matter their age.

“This easy year round access means many troops routinely go there and the girls and adults alike get to know it well, developing a deep love for it over the years…and over time, it just becomes one of those special places in life you always remember,” Durand said.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

While Girl Scouts in the greater Lawrence, Kansas area have first priority in reservations, Hidden Valley is open to all Girl Scouts and other groups who wish to take advantage its amenities.

“I can assure you that the experiences Girl Scouts and Hidden Valley offers girls make a difference and gives them a place to practice courage, confidence, and character,” Kyra explained. “Hidden Valley has been a place to make memories for so many people for the last 60 years and hopefully with help from the girls, leaders and community volunteers we can keep it that way for many more to come.”

If you would like to make a reservation at Hidden Valley for your troop, visit their website at www.lhvcamp.org and click on the reservations and equipment tab!

Camp Like a Girl Scout

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Spotlight on CIT II Olivia Aractingi aka “Puffy”

When Girl Scout Ambassador Olivia Aractingi went to summer camp for the first time in 2007, she left feeling empowered.

Empowered to embrace her unique qualities.

Empowered to believe in herself.

Empowered to make friends wherever she went.

“Even at 8 years old I knew. I met tons of different people and I loved the diversity between us. That experience made me who I am,” Olivia said.

Camping has long been an aspect of Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Camp is where every G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout, like Olivia.

Over the past nine years, she has been to three different camps, participated in a variety of programs and formed countless friendships with campers and counselors. Through her experiences at camp, Olivia has found her passions and challenged herself.

One summer her mom signed her up for a horse program. “I tried something new, realized that I didn’t like to ride horses, but I like to help out with them. The beauty of camp is that its challenge by choice,” she explained. “Camp shows yourself your boundaries. You explore what you do and don’t like – it’s perfect because if you don’t want to do one thing, there’s always something else.”

As Olivia has grown through camp each summer, so have her leadership skills. She’s earned both her Counselor-in-Training (CIT) I & II pins and works to ensure that younger campers have an experience as memorable as her first one was.

“My goal every summer is to get to know everybody at camp – learn one thing about every person. That does great things for building friendships!”

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Olivia knows that her experiences and skills she builds at camp stay with her even when she’s not there. During the school year she her camp experiences and recruits girls of all ages to join Girl Scouts to join her the next summer!

“Going to camp has helped me communicate with people in the real world. It has turned me into a leader and a problem solver,” Olivia said.

Because she camped like a Girl Scout, Olivia is empowered for life.

What program will empower your G.I.R.L. this summer?! Our 2017 Summer Camp Guide is now live and registration opens on January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am!