Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: from the Girl Scouts of Alaska Statewide Camp Director

Summer camp is just around the corner and soon there will be hundreds of girls exploring nature, giggling in tents at night and singing camp songs. The phenomenal thing is that beneath the laughing, the fun and the friendship of camp, vitally important growth is happening…

Each summer during camp staff training, I ask counselors to envision a world where:

• You could completely trust every person sitting in the room with you

• You knew in all certainty that the people around you would never do or say anything to hurt you intentionally

• You knew that if someone had a problem with you they would come to you directly to resolve it

• They would never spread rumors or gossip about you

• They would stick up for you

• They would never make comments that make you feel insecure

• They would encourage you and support you to be yourself, to take risks and accept you unconditionally for who you are

• You would never again have the experience of walking into a room and having everyone get quiet because they were talking about you – and if it did happen you could trust that it was because they were planning a surprise party for you

Sadly, all too often, girls experience the exact opposite of the world I ask camp staff to envision. Luckily, camp is a place where we can create something different, something powerful and life changing for girls. Camp is a place where we not only envision this world but we can actually create it. The work of creating this world is the focus of every camp counselor during your daughter’s time at camp.

This work isn’t about trying to create an idealized, unrealistic world for girls but about showing girls the possibility of what the world can be and giving them the life skills to both create it and deal with the sometimes harsh realities of what the world can be.

At camp, girls participate in activities like canoeing, outdoor cooking, fire building, and hiking. Interwoven in those activities are life lessons about teamwork, bravery, courage, strength, independence, self-respect, cooperation, responsibility, inclusion and communication. These life skills are the true value camp. Memories of giggling in tents and singing around the campfire are nice but the things that have a lasting impact are those things you have to look past the smiles and dirt to see… the courage, confidence and character of a leader.

Amanda Block
Girl Scouts of Alaska Statewide Camp Director