Let's Go Camping!

Saturday, March 12, 2022


One of the most exciting and memorable things that you can do with your troop is camping. Camping teaches your girls self-confidence, ownership of their environment and the 'Leave No Trace' principles, fine and gross motor skills for your younger girls, and a feeling of accomplishment like no other. I know that a troop camping trip might seem overwhelming when you start to put pen to paper and plan with your girls and adult volunteers, but I assure you that it can be done and you'll all learn something and grow more confident as a troop because of it. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. You can never be too prepared for a day outside.  

Before you get started planning your camping trip, you'll need to have someone in your troop who has their Outdoor Skills Certified Adult course completed through your Council. I've just recently completed my outdoor certification with our Council -- Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines (GSNCCP). Our course was taught by Council Outdoor Facilitator, Cindy S. and I enrolled via the GSNCCP website. Courses are located under the activities tab where you can search for the event. This particular course is titled, "Let's Go Camping" and was located at Camp Graham on Kerr Lake near Henderson, in the northern part of North Carolina. This course is also taught at other camp properties during different times of the year by other skilled volunteers. I'd also recommend that you access the proper forms on your Councils website (GSNCCP Forms) and keep Safety Activity Checkpoints readily available when planning any outing with your troop. 

"Let's Go Camping" has very detailed requirements in order for you to have a successful overnight camp-out. There were 20 adult volunteers, including myself, from different troops within our Council and we all had very different skill levels and outdoor knowledge. Our instructor, Cindy S., sent out two very detailed emails with items that we would need, so that we weren't met with any unexpected issues because Camp Graham is in a remote area. With this class being held in February, the temperatures were also something that we needed to prepare for, so we weren't cold if we decided to sleep in our tent. Normally, tent camping was required, but Cindy allowed some of the attendees to sleep in the Staff house because the weather was less than ideal (rain and sleet). This particular "Let's Go Camping" course was blended, meaning that we had to take an online portion before we were able to complete the outdoor skills portion. The online modules were divided into three parts; Let's Go Outside, Let's Go Exploring and finally, Let's Go Camping! Much like the Girl Scouts Outdoor Progression chart, volunteers must also progress into a new outdoor skill in order to be successful leaders and facilitators for their own troop.

Before I share my personal experience and what I learned while taking this the course, I want to explain the 'Girl Scout way' in outdoor education. I'm a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and have taken a three-day  outdoor survival course in the wilds of Alaska. We had to build fires, a shelter, find our own food and "survive" for three days with other members from Coast Guard units around the Juneau, Alaska area. I'll tell you this -- camping in the wilds of Alaska while trying to "survive" and camping with a  multi-level troop of 20 young girls are two very different experiences. It's one thing to be responsible for yourself and an entirely different kettle of fish when you're responsible for a large group of young girls and that's something that you really want to be prepared for. 

My troop, Girl Scout Troop 1063, is a multi-level troop of 7 Daisies, 7 Brownies, 4 Juniors and 2 Cadettes. So, 20 very excited and amazing girl leaders who are up for an amazing adventure...or are they?  You should really ask yourself this question when you're considering a camping trip for your troop. While some of your girls are ready to campout, others might not think so fondly of the idea. How do you convince some of your girls to at least give camping a try -- you have to ease them into the outdoors. You must be an advocate not only for them, but for the outdoors, and help them build confidence in their abilities by exploring the outdoors together in a positive and accessible way. The Girl Outdoor Readiness Assessment will help you determine the outdoor ability of  MOST of the girls in your troop. This assessment is like a barometer to help you make the best decisions in regards to troop outdoor activities. I'd say that you frequently use this readiness assessment when making outdoor plans, whether it be a hike, camping trip or just venturing outside. 

Some of the many skills that I learned in the "Let's Go Camping" class that I will explore in this post are knots, proper use of a pocket knife, saws, fires and how to safely start them, how to use a campstove, flag ceremony, proper clothing, how to set-up a tent, how to make S.W.A.P.S (special whatchamacallit affectionally pinned somewhere), firestarters, what is a Kaper chart and how to use it and my favorite skill of all -- cooking. It is going to take sometime for me to update this blog post with all of the necessary illustrations and  step-by-step instructions for the girls, so please check back frequently to see these topics explored in great detail.

For my girls in Troop 1063, I've uploaded the national program requirements to this post for the following camping badges by order of level for you to access. You'll need to familiarize yourself with the national program requirements and what you'll need to accomplish to earn these badges. 

So how did it go? I'd love to know how your adventure was in the comments below. What are some things that you enjoyed and how was your experience? Trails are made to be explored and I hope that your girl-led adventure was everything that you hoped and planned for -- and so much more! 

Co-Leader Mrs. Stacey |  Troop 1063

Want to join a Girl Scout troop in your area? Use the Girl Scout Council Finder and get started!


My Trail Adventure

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Who's ready for an exciting trail adventure? I bet you are! But, what are some things that we might need to think about, before we venture out? Whatever adventure you choose, it should be girl led!

First, let's Look Out. Following the Girl Scouts Outdoor Progression chart, we can share experiences with our family and friends before we plan our big outing. A good place to start, is asking them what are some of their favorite places that they've explored and why was the experience so memorable to them. Was it because of the incredible views once they reached a certain place or saw a new plant or animal that they'd never seen before? Or, was it simply the sense of accomplishment that they felt after completing their big adventure. Who knows what they might say, but just starting the conversation will create a deeper bond with that person, and help you to share in their experience in a positive way. Another thing that you could ask your family and friends about, is how they prepared for their adventure and what were some important things they packed and some items that they wished they would have packed. After all, we can learn from other's experiences and become wiser in our decision making because of it. Sometimes, just having a conversation about another person's experience, gets us excited about our own adventure and gives us some ownership in the planning phase.

Next, step outside and look, listen, feel, and smell; engage all of your senses. What did you discover when you were mindful of your surroundings? Did you want to explore your surroundings a little more or were you just happy to take in that moment and reflect on what you want to accomplish. For  younger girls in the troop, such as Daisy's and Brownies, I'm sure you know that they have a lot of energy and will no doubt be excited to start exploring their surroundings. That's why the planning phase in very important for younger girls in the troop. We want them to explore their environment, but we also want them to do that safely and always be mindful of their surroundings and any possible hazards. The Girl Outdoor Readiness Assessment will help you make an informed decision based on the ability of most girls in the troop with the appropriate outdoor activity. For our Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, setting a goal will help them accomplish a more challenging adventure, such as a trail run. 

Then, let's Move Out. Take a short walk outside and maybe design a nature sculpture with leaves and rocks or try and name a few plants that you see on your short outing with the troop. Make a plan and talk with the girls about how they might need to be prepared for their environment and any different types of weather that they might encounter. I'm sure that you've heard of the old saying that there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. It is very hard to get warm once you've gotten cold and cotton can be your troops worst enemy if the weather turns cold and rainy and no one was prepared. You want to create an experience that is both memorable and fun for everyone.

Lastly, let's Explore Out. Packing a daypack is essential. You'll need to think about where you'll be taking your short and easy hike and pack appropriately. I've included a PDF checklist that is complete with areas for you to write in anything that you might want to add. You'll need your troop first-aider (wilderness first-aider if more than 30 minutes from EMS) if you're going as a troop and you'll also want to make sure that your adult to child ratio is correct. Make sure everyone dresses for the weather and has a healthy snack or lunch with them. And remember, don't forget the leave no trace principles listed at the bottom of the Outdoor Progression chart - it is critical that we leave a place better than we found it. 

For Troop 1063, I require our girls to fill out the Trail Adventure Safety Plan when they are in the planning phase of their hike. It is very important that a responsible adult knows the plan and who and how many are in the hiking party. I've made this into a form, so it should be very easy for the girls to fill out and send to Co-leaders for their records.

Troop 1063, please download your Trail Adventure requirements below if you're completing your hike with a family member/caregiver. You'll need to give a short presentation at one of our three meetings this December to meet the badgework requirements. 

So how did it go? I'd love to know how your adventure was in the comments below. What are some things that you enjoyed and how was your experience? Trails are made to be explored and I hope that your girl-led adventure was everything that you hoped and planned for -- and so much more! 

Co-Leader Mrs. Stacey |  Troop 1063

Want to join a Girl Scout troop in your area? Use the Girl Scout Council Finder and get started!

My Journey to Become a Citizen Scientist

Friday, November 19, 2021

Let's start out by thinking about what it means to be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) thinker (not an expert). As a Co-leader, we are expected to take on roles that we might not be familiar with. Thankfully, Girl Scouts offers instructional materials via their gsLearn portal, so that volunteers like ourselves can feel confident teaching our future girl leaders topics that we might not have much knowledge about. 

I was in the Coast Guard for 6 years as an Information Systems Technician second class, so I have a lot of knowledge in the areas of telephony and computers. After I got out and got my BFA in animation and visual effects, I went on to work for KiwiCo as a technical illustrator, illustrating instructions for kids DIY projects for 6 years. I love STEM.

The field of Citizen Science is a great place for girls to explore and help other scientists around the world work on STEM projects and contribute to meaningful research and make a difference in their community.

Girls will need to complete a Take Action project and come up with an initiative that has a lasting impact on their community, long after their initial Citizen Scientist Journey is complete. 

Our local council, North Carolina Coastal Pines is hosting a Journey of a Journey Citizen Scientist event on November 20, 2021 at the Havelock campus of Craven Community College for 80+ registered girls representing Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico counties. All levels, Daisy-Ambassador will be represented, so it is going to be an AWESOME event. 

I contributed two worksheets for the girls participating, so they could have a clear understanding of where they need to start, for their Take Action project after the event. Girls are encouraged to use the project finder on the scistarter or zooniverse platforms to find a project and make it happen!

You can download the two worksheets here, if you couldn't make it to the event , but still want a resource for your troop to have for the Citizen Scientist Journey. 

Want to join a Girl Scout troop in your area? Use the Girl Scout Council Finder and get started!

Here is the PDF download for the Citizen Scientist Worksheets (All Levels):



All About Me | Getting to Know Your Troop

Getting started as a new Co-leader in a new multi-level troop, you might feel a bit overwhelmed about how to approach your curriculum when it comes to badgework. In the Volunteer Toolkit on your councils website, you can choose Pre-selected Tracks such as K-5 | 6-12 level Journeys for a multi-level troops, Daisy Petals and Leaves, Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador level plans that you can use to set-up your meetings. I think that these tools are awesome and I was really impressed when I started going through the individual levels. But how does this help us to understand what interests our girls have and their goals as a Girl Scout? 

I, myself, am an absolute lover of journals, planners, stickers, gel pens, and all things that help my day flow a little better (with a sprinkling of cuteness and color). So, I decided that our girls should have what I like to call a Guidebook, to help them stay organized at our bi-weekly meetings. The Guidebook is more or less, like a plastic 3-prong journal for the girls to keep track of their progress throughout the year. Before each meeting, I'll add new badgework material and they can keep track of their accomplishments throughout the year. The girls then return their Guidebook back into me at the end of our meetings, so they don't get misplaced. They will be able to take their Guidebooks home at the end of the year. 

Also in the Guidebooks, I gave every girl a copy of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, so they could follow along at each meeting, even hadn't memorized them yet. I want them to have the knowledge at their fingertips and know that they can always look back at their Guidebooks for reference.   

I know that my 6 year old Daisy and 8 year old Brownie REALLY love to complete journal style handouts and I couldn't help but design an "About Me" for them and the other girls in our troop as their first creative way to express themselves and their interests. Looking online, I found some really great layouts/ideas, but it seemed that most were still not zeroing in on who our girls were and how I was going to tailor our curriculum to meet the collective interests of the whole troop.

Here is the PDF version of our "About Me" I really hope your girls have as much fun completing it as our girls did. I have also formatted the "This is me!" 2" x 3" rectangle (they can also draw a self-portrait) for a neat little camera that I purchased called a Kodiak Smile Instant Print Digital Camera. Oh wow! The girls LOVED watching their photos print out and they are sticky backed, so the girls could add them to their Guidebooks right away. What a fun time we had that meeting!

When I brought all of the Guidebooks back home and started looking over them, I was excited to find out that the girls were really into the Outdoors, Computers and Cooking. Our two Cadettes are very interested in obtaining their Gold Award and our troop is very excited about that!  

With this small exercise, I feel like I have a way forward with my first year as a new Co-leader. I can't wait to share more ideas with everyone about my experience as a new Co-leader with troop 1063.

Drop a comment below if this helped your troop or you have any ideas to make it better...I'm always open to new suggestions.

-Stacey W. Porter | Co-leader Troop 1063

Want to join a Girl Scout troop in your area? Use the Girl Scout Council Finder and get started!

Here is the PDF version of our "About Me"     

Welcome to Adventures in Girl Scouting

Friday, November 5, 2021

My name is Co-leader Stacey, and I'm starting this blog to not only help our new Girl Scout troop 1063 better connect to our learning materials, but to also help any other Girl Scout troops and grown-ups that might want to download some of our materials and follow along. 

I'm quite new to being a Girl Scout leader, but I think that I can use my skills as a technical illustrator (www.treehousekidsmagazine.com) to better help Girl Scout Co-leaders and their troops with their own collective learning goals. I'll still use and follow the materials provided by Girl Scouts of America, but I will create additional handouts, puzzles, step-by-step illustrated instructions or even create new games to navigate the badgework. 

hope you will join us on the AMAZING journey together into the fantastic world of Girl Scouts!

Co-Leader Mrs. Stacey | Troop 1063

Want to join a Girl Scout troop in your area? Use the Girl Scout Council Finder and get started!