By Jenifer Bubenik, Community Cultivation Specialist
Growing up, Girl Scout camp was always my favorite time of the year. I can still remember the excitement I felt before each camp season. Girl Scout camp is where I learned how to properly tie knots and identify poison ivy, paddle a canoe, ride a horse, and most of all, where I made new friends.
These memories are some of the many reasons I love sharing Girl Scouts with communities across the Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines council region. As I work to foster relationships in communities new to Girl Scouting, I am able to bring our leadership programs and opportunities like summer camp into households and families that otherwise know very little about Girl Scouts.
Over the last year, I have been fortunate to work with Girl Scout Troop #4230 from Southeast Raleigh. This past spring, we presented our S’More Adventure program to the girls’ families and shared the many opportunities possible through our Camp Pathway program. The girls and families were hooked from the start!
In the following weeks, Wake 16 Membership Director Meridith Orr and I met with the girls to ensure they were prepared for camp. They made their first sit-upons, SWAPS to share with new friends at camp, and crazy hats for Wacky Wednesday – a tradition at Camp Mary Atkinson. We also had a guest speaker teach the girls about First Aid and CPR. When it came time to leave for camp, the girls were ready.
As we headed to Camp Mary Atkinson the van was quiet – this was each of the girls first time at camp and it was clear they were taking the whole experience in. Ooh’s and aah’s abounded once we reached the property, full of lush green trees and flourishing flowers. After check-in, the older girls ran off to Fox Leap without a good-bye or hugs — they were excited to get going!
Over the course of the next week all eight girls participated in archery, canoeing, cook-outs, and even used iPads to identify trees and outside plants. They nick-named the Alpine Tower the “Eiffel Tower” and shared that swimming in the pool was their favorite activity at camp!
As we drove home, I asked what they had learned over the course of the week. I heard so many responses including, “I learned to face my fears” and “I learned to swim under water with my eyes open!” And what had once been a quite car ride to camp, the return ride was booming with camp songs with each girl wanting, “My song next!”
Back in the girl’s neighborhood, there were lots of hugs and thank you’s, but most of all questions. From Linda, “Miss Jenifer, can I go to every camp, every year?” From Camila, “Miss Jenifer, when do we get to go back to camp?”
I told them that I hoped each of them could attend camp again next year and for years to come. But I also shared, that if they are like me and a Girl Scout for life, camping will be with them wherever they go. I encouraged them to take what they learned at Girl Scout camp and use it in the future, whether they are hiking the Appalachian Trail or pitching a tent in their backyards.