By Camp America on 27/02/2016
The thought of living in a rustic environment is often a reason as to why so many people don’t select this type of camp, however, by the end of this blog, you should have a full understanding...
The thought of living in a rustic environment is often a reason as to why so many people don’t select this type of camp, however, by the end of this blog, you should have a full understanding as to why I’d disagree, and what Girl Scout camps are all about!
When applying for Camp America, I went in with an open mind and fully flexible with my camp choices, and I’m so glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, I originally began my journey looking at private camps, but when I got to the recruitment fair, I found a camp that had what I was looking for, got speaking to the director, who was, and still is, one of the most down to earth, nicest person i’ve ever met, and I ended up bagging myself a placement at Camp Ledgewood; a Girl Scout camp in Ohio – an experience I wouldn’t dream of ever being different, hence why I’m returning this year.
What is Girl Scouts?
I’m lucky to have had a years experience working with my local Girl Scout troop so I had an idea of what to expect, but to work at a Girl Scout camp, you don’t need to have experience in the field; a lot about the people within Girl Scouts is all about your personality, enthusiasm and can-do attitude!
Girl Scouts is a global association, giving girls the opportunity to develop their courage, confidence and individual character; making friends, going on adventures, making a difference and doing something amazing to make the world a better place. This philosophy is represented throughout their time at camp, with girls being given the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, make new friends (but keep the old…sorry, I had to, GS’s will understand), build and develop new skills, gaining confidence in themselves, and all round, having fun! Girls can be part of Girl Scouts any time from the age of 5, and the same goes for coming to summer camp. Girls that are Daisies are given the opportunity to go to day camp, whether it be one day only, or a week of day sessions, with girls from Brownies +, being given the opportunity to go to resident camp…that’s how my camp was run anyway!
So, what makes Girl Scout camp different?
It’s likely that life at Girl Scout Camp is going to be more rustic compared to that of a different camp type, however, just like any camp type, all Girl Scout camps differ, so don’t let the thought of the rustic environment immediately put you off.
Yes, you could be sleeping in a platform tent, or a cabin with no air conditioning. Yes, you may not have the access to a toilet directly in your cabin, and may have to go outside to get to the toilet. Yes, you may not have access to plug sockets to do your hair. But, there’s more to camp than all of that…far more!
At Girl Scout camps you are free from the forms of technology and learn to appreciate the people and environment around you, with plenty of time for adventure, exploration and a million of fun memories!
Girl Scout camps are often a lot smaller than any other camp type, so there will be a smaller team of staff, and campers, which I absolutely love! Being part of a smaller team means you really get to know the people you are working with, and a really strong bond is created amongst you all – the friendships are truly wonderful!
Let me introduce you to the awesome group of ladies I worked with last summer. I was part of a team of 20-30 staff, and most weeks, I got to work with a different group of counsellors within a unit. Orientation week allowed us to get to know one another really well, so when it came to working with one another throughout resident camp, we had so much fun with each other, and it was cool to be able learn off one another over the weeks! At Girl Scout camp, you go by a different name, for both safety reasons within an emergency (no-one will have the same name), and to add the fun and mystique of camp to the campers. So for 8 weeks of the Summer, we said goodbye to our real names, and hello to our crazy camp names; names such as Penguin, Scooterbug, Captain Jack, Periwinkle, Rabbit, Lyrics and myself Nutella, are just some examples found amongst the team below! I was introduced to the majority of my co- counsellors by their camp names, so it took a while to work out who’s who in regards to their real names, and it still to this day makes a lot more sense to call everyone by their camp names – hey, real names are just boring.
With a strong focus being on the outdoors, Girl Scout camp provides the girls with plenty of time to explore and have fun in the natural environment. Girl Scout camps still have a lot of the same activities and facilities as private camps, activities such as canoeing, swimming, zip lining, high ropes/low ropes, arts and crafts and all camp games, but the programmes and structure to camp seem a lot more relaxed, each one is ‘themed’, and the girls are given free time for unstructured play. With the majority of programmes running on a weekly basis, each unit will be part of a specific, themed programme, where all the activities scheduled for the week will tie into the theme of their chosen programme. For example, a week of water based activities; canoeing, water games, extra pool time…a week of daring girls enjoying the zip line, high ropes, rock climbing, etc. all whilst still enjoying the traditional activities of camp such as s’mores, hiking, crafts and pool time! Girl Scouts often run trip programmes too, so my camp had a few programmes that were based around theme park trips, water park trips, caving, white water rafting – extremely cool stuff!
Typical day at my Girl Scout camp;
(7/7:30) Wake up
(8:15am) Flag ceremony
(8:30am – 9:30am) Breakfast
(9:30am – 10am) Camp kapers (Girls do little chores to keep cabin/tent clean)
(10am – 11am) 1st Activity
(11am – 12pm) 2nd Activity
(12pm – 1pm) Lunch
(1pm – 2pm) Turtle time (An hour of rest/quiet time)
(2pm – 3:30pm) 3rd Activity
(3:30pm – 5pm) 4th Activity
(5:15pm) Flag Ceremony
(5:30pm – 6:30pm) Dinner
(7:30pm) All Camp Activity
Candle Power (Reflecting on the day around a candle with your unit)
Anytime from around 9:30pm – 11pm was lights out
This was the typical schedule of each day at camp, but would have a few spare hour gaps for unstructured play. One of the two afternoon activities would always be pool time. The time after All Camp was when each unit would go and take their showers before lights out. Depending on the girls preference, we also offer Polar Bear swims, were the girls get up and go in the pool between 7am – 7:45, and we’d also open up any ideas if the girls want to do any night activities such as night hikes, stargazing, camping in the pop up tents, etc. Girl Scout camps are full of fun and adventure!
Twice a week, we had all camp campfires; a Sunday, the girls first night at camp, and a Thursday, the girls last night. On Sunday, the camp fire would be led by us counsellors, leading a few repeat songs, performing a skit, introducing ourselves through a role call song and dance, and welcoming them to camp. The Thursday camp fire however, is my favourite! This is when the girls lead it, and each unit gets up and performs a skit or song that they have prepared and rehearsed throughout their week in the unit; there’s nothing better than seeing the growth in confidence since the Sunday, and the relationships that were made between them all!
Like I said, the environment of Girl Scout camps can be more rustic than those of private camp, but that’s not meaning you’ll definitely be living in a platform tent. Some GS camps have platform tents only, but some offer other forms of accommodation too. My camp had a mixture of accommodation; platform tents, cabins and adirondacks, but we only used the platform tents and cabins for Summer camp. At first, I never thought I’d like sleeping in the platform tents, but they soon became my favourite things! I loved being woken up by natural light, the sound of birds tweeting, and the rest of camp waking up – platform tents really give you that real camp feeling, living beneath the trees and sleeping amongst the stars.
I’m pretty sure the majority of camps have the same type of food being served; with food being served in a big dining hall, and plenty of opportunities to get to know one another, and theres always going to be a song and a dance! I loved camp food, but that may be because we had awesome chefs and kitchen aids ;) Whats my favourite food from camp? It has to be Basco sticks, mac n cheese, and this potato stuff (I don’t know what exactly it is, but it’s incredible). But at Girl Scouts, it’s also likely that you and your unit of campers will cook at least one meal a week over the fire, as something called ‘pack outs’. At my camp we had three pack outs a week; Wednesday dinner and Thursdays breakfast and lunch. The girls are given a choice, and as a group they decide on their favourite, in which they then all work together to prepare and cook over the campfire, which they also helped build. Breakfast was always a fun option for pack out at my camp – the girls were given an option of four choices, 2 of which would involve them ‘getting their breakfast themselves’, whether it be Polar Bear breakfast (where we chuck it in the pool and they swim for it), or Jungle breakfast (where we go out and hide it on a hiking trail and they hike for it). The best part of pack outs, for me, is the Pie Iron pizzas and S’mores! If you’ve never had a pie iron pizza, get yourself to camp, because you’ll have plenty there (I could quite easily eat a pie iron pizza every day!!).
Every Thursday at camp, dinner turned themed! You name it, we had a theme; throughout Summer we celebrated Christmas In July, Hawaiin theme, Harry Potter theme, Disney – and all the counsellors and campers would dress up according to the theme, have dinner in the theme decorated dining hall, and have fun! Oh, and Wednesday will forever be Tie-Dye day…at camp, every Wednesday we all wore something tie-dye, usually a cool T!
Why should you consider working at a Girl Scout camp?
Well, why not?! You should have the jjist of what exactly to expect from this camp type now, and hopefully you agree with me that your summer would be packed with fun, adventure, smiles, laughs, memories, and a flipping awesome bunch of friendships! The people in Girl Scouts are absolutely amazing, you’ll learn a lot from the people you work with and the girls you meet, you’ll try things you never thought you’d do, and you most definitely will have the time of your life!
What do other people in Girl Scouts think?
So, you’ve heard enough from me, my experience at camp and my favourite things from camp, so I’ve decided to feature a few of my co – counsellors into this blog, sharing their opinions as to why they love Girl Scouts, and their favourite thing about Camp!
During the fifteen years I have been a Girl Scout, I have developed many skills in many areas. While learning skills that built confidence I learned about being a leader. As a Girls Scout, I was taught that a leader is someone who is independent, reliable, and responsible. As a camp councelor for Girl Scouts I am able to lead groups of girls to do activities at camp, become independent and be able to take care of themselves. I supervise their safety and teach them many skills that will encourage and enable them become leaders – Lyrics, American Camp Counsellor at GSNEO’s Camp Ledgewood
Camp Ledgewood is magical and wonderful. It’s hard to talk about a place that has ended up meaning so much to you. There’s so much to say! So coming from England and being away from home for the first time, surely you’d have your ‘moments’ where you missed home and family, but those moments were rare and didn’t last long. Why? Because you had such supportive, wonderful people around you. I felt at home here. The best part of camp is the feeling you get. It’s surreal. You feel at peace there, and constantly happy (believe me, life without technology is better!) and the worst thing..leaving I was lucky enough to spend my summer with the most amazing children that taught me so much! Never underestimate the knowledge of children, they taught me all I need to know about the states! Then the counsellors, they are not just colleagues, they are friends. Friends that I love! They made me feel at home straight away and I went out of their way to ensure I was happy and having fun . From the moment I met the Camp Director in London, I could tell how great my Summer was going to me. I feel like I’ve left half of my heart at camp – I would definitely recommend a Girl Scout camp if you’re looking for nothing but fun and laughter!– Sunshine, British Camp Counsellor at GSNEO’s Camp Ledgewood
Camp provided such a diversity and experience that is hard to find anywhere else. Working at camp at a young age has helped me prepare for life by putting me in stressful situations and making me think outside of the box. There is no experience like camp, and the relationships you form with your co-workers last a lifetime. I still keep in touch with some of the girls I worked with almost three years ago now, and it’s great to see where everyone is in life, and how Girl Scouts has impacted them– Strings, American Kitchen Aide at GSNEO’s Camp Ledgewood
I love camp because girls have the freedom to shape their experiences. Scouts are free to express themselves and are free from the daily constraints of family and societal influence. I really enjoyed the variety of programmes offered. I learned much about the diversity of the interests of our scouts. As an administrator, I enjoyed the chance to step outside of my comfort zone to provide our amazing scouts with safe, fun experiences they will always be fond of. Camps offer an opportunity for scouts to make new friends, learn about themselves and try new things. I believe camp gives participants a boost of self confidence, and facilitates participant exploration of themselves as well as the world around them – Curly, Waterfront Director at GSNEO’s Camp Ledgewood
Remember, don’t let the thought of a rustic environment put you off; Girl Scout camps are full of fun and adventure, you really get to grow in yourself, try new things, meet new people and be yourself. Plus, after a whole summer of no makeup and nice hair do’s, at my camp, we all got to dress up nice for our final day, a staff banquet…the perfect ending to the best Summer!
Peace out, Girl Scout
– Nutella x