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Girl Scout Camps Are More Than S’mores

KSAL Staff - July 12, 2014 4:00 pm

A new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute shows that girls benefit immensely from time spent outdoors and correlates girls’ regular outdoor activity with other traits important to 21st-century leadership.

The More Than S’mores report, released by the New York-based institute, shows that girls who regularly spend time outdoors eclipse their peers who spend less time outdoors in environmental stewardship, and they also more readily seek challenges and are better problem-solvers.

Outdoor experiences are particularly beneficial to girls of comparatively low socioeconomic status, who are likely to credit Girl Scouts with helping them become leaders after benefiting from regular outdoor exposure through Girl Scouts.

Additionally, outdoor experiences through Girl Scouting, such as camp, are beneficial to girl leadership development across ethnicities. Latina (38 percent) and African-American (40 percent) girls are more likely than their peers (28 percent) to say they overcame a fear of the outdoors through Girl Scouting; 79 percent of Latina girls say they first tried an outdoor activity in Girl Scouts; and an overwhelming 59 percent of Latina girls say Girl Scouts has offered them outdoor activities they would not have otherwise had access to.

“In this study, we expected to see that girls were having fun in the outdoors,” says Dr. Kallen Tsikalas, lead researcher on the study. “However, we were surprised by just how important it was for them how much they appreciated having opportunities to take on challenges and build skills in a socially supportive environment. Girls really want to feel like they are accomplishing something and growing as a person, and the outdoors is perfect place for them to do this.”

According to the study, Girl Scouts are twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to say they take action to protect the environment (51 percent versus 23 percent) and that they’ve had a personal experience in nature that has made them appreciate it more (49 percent versus 29 percent).

“Girl Scout camps transform a girl’s understanding of and appreciation for nature, while helping her build a unique set of skills and boosting her confidence in ways few experiences can match,” says Anna Maria Chàvez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “Camping has always been one of the cornerstones of Girl Scouting, and the research is clearly showing that there is a connection between the camp experience and girls’ understanding of their leadership potential.”

Girl Scout camp is a tradition central to Girl Scouts since 1912, although todays’ camps are highly evolved, matching the interests of 21st-century girls. Across 80 Kansas counties, the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland Council is offering more than 100 camps and activities this summer, with everything from the survivor-style camp “Expedition Challenge” to “Girl Power Day Camp” and even a “Mystery at Midnight: Forensic Science” overnight.

Girl Scout camp is for every girl. There’s still time to register at one of the exciting camps across the state, including the following:

• Where the Sidewalk Ends – for K-3 girls, July 21-24 in Wichita. Register by July 14.
• Bug Out to Day Camp – for K-12 girls, July 24-26 in Burlingame. Register by July 18.
• Outdoor Madness – for K-1 girls, July 26 at Starwoods Outdoor Center near Clearwater. Register by July 14.
• Happy Hikers – for girls in grades 2-3, Aug. 1-2 in Hays. Register by July 21.
• Girl Scout Day Camp – for girls in grades 2-12, Aug. 5-8 in Elmdale. Register by July 11.

For more details, go to kansasgirlscouts.org/summer-camp/.

Story by: Darcy Gray / Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland

City of Salina