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

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