Archive for the ‘Camp’ Category


From Camping in a Dress to Addressing Camp Improvements: A Legacy of Girl Scouting from Peggy Sirvis

November 4, 2017

Of Margaret “Peggy” Pickard Sirvis’ memories from growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, camping trips with Girl Scouts top the list. Highlights include the weeks spent at Camp Shirley Rogers rear Roaring Gap and her troop camping trip which included a ride along a bumpy field in the back of a farmer’s pick-up truck to a remote camping site. Both times, Peggy and her fellow Girl Scouts were required to wear dresses while traveling to and from camp.

The 1930s were definitely different times!

Peggy [in her dress!] at Camp Shirley Rogers

These moments sparked a lifelong dedication to the Girl Scout Movement that included serving as a field director for Centinela Valley (California) Girl Scout Council in the 1950s and 60s, leading troops and helping in other volunteer roles, and sparking the same passion in her daughter, Barb. After Peggy returned to Chapel Hill in the mid-2000s, a friend of Barb’s, Linda Foreman, suggested Peggy check out her new hometown council. Peggy renewed her involvement with Girl Scouts – this time as a generous donor, a guest star at troop meetings, and a member of our Juliette Gordon Low Society for Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.

Peggy died peacefully on April 8th 2017 at the age of 93. To honor her memory, Peggy’s daughter Barb worked with our development team to create a legacy gift to support improvements to Peggy’s beloved Camp Graham. In 2014, I took Peggy on a visit to the Cloverfield Treehouse Unit and she fell in love with the spirit of our picturesque resident camp on Kerr Lake.

Peggy with Troop #243

Sirvis’ gift of $300,000 will include

  • Renovations and HVAC for the Staff Office, a hub for activity for camp staff and visitors;
  • Renovations for Holly Hill cabin units to allow these units to be accessible for Brownies to enjoy resident camp at Camp Graham;
  • A new, fully-enclosed bathhouse unit at Holly Hill including heat, to help extend the camping season for Holly Hill; and
  • Seed money for future renovations and capital improvement projects like the swinging bridge, the staff house, and the dining hall.

In addition, over 20 donors – Girl Scout friends of Barb and Peggy from around the country – made gifts to Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines in honor of Peggy. Those funds along with an additional in-kind gift of telescopes and stargazing equipment, will provide stargazing programs to all troops and girls who camp at Graham. The Sirius Stargazing Unit will be dedicated to Peggy whose camp name became Sirius when one of her Centinela Valley colleagues commented: “Peggy was the brightest star in the sky.”

Peggy’s daughter Barb with Lisa Jones, Chief Executive Officer, at G.I.R.L. Convention in Columbus, Ohio.

Peggy will be missed by all who knew this shining star. Yet, we are grateful knowing that she will not be forgotten. As our campers discover, connect, and take action for years to come at Camp Graham, Peggy’s memory will live on through her legacy gifts.

As we celebrate Donor Appreciation Week, we are honored by donors like Peggy, Barb, and her friends. We are also grateful to all our Juliette Gordon Low Society donors who, through their legacy gifts, are shaping tomorrow’s leaders and safeguarding the traditions that brought them joy and inspiration. (Although, maybe without the going-to-camp-in-dresses part!)


Growing Confidence with Girl Scouts Outdoor Experiences

October 30, 2017

Camp Graham (18)

By Meridith Orr, Program Executive

“All Girl Scouts like the out-of-doors and most of them enjoy it still more if they know something about the things they find there.” — From the Girl Scouts Handbook for the Intermediate Program, October 1940

“…camping is living in the out-of-doors, not just visiting it.”  Worlds to Explore Handbook for Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts, 1977


I was never what anyone would call an “outdoorsy” kid growing up.  And if I ever saw a bug, lizard, snake or other crawling thing, I would gasp and run away at warp speed.

Now, after working in the Girl Scout program for a few years, I am a different person.

For example, one evening as I saw something slither across my porch my only thought was, “Is that a lizard or a salamander?”  while I turned my key in the front door.

THAT, my friends, is the power of Girl Scouting.

Not only do we help prepare girls to take on the world as future leaders, we build girls who can be comfortable with the outdoors and have fun experiences even if they hadn’t been a fan of nature before.  We also help build adults’ outdoor confidence as well!

Take, for instance, a day at the office when we needed to set up a bunch of rain-soaked tents out in the sun to dry and asked our co-workers for some help.   As we congratulated ourselves on a big task made easier by many generous hands, one staff member said she felt more accomplished having just learned how easy it is to put up a tent – something she might not have ever learned how to do had she not worked for Girl Scouts.

“It’s the magic of our movement,” I tell people.  Just a few experiences have the power to transform everyone, because of our program’s emphasis on adventure and fun.  There’s just something about this Girl Scout game of ours that makes people want to step out of their comfort zone and try something new, and we find ourselves better for it.  It’s been going on for more than 100 years.

The early handbooks provide guidance on introducing girls to nature by prescribing skill development such as: knowing the flowers and growing a garden, learning what lives in fresh water and in the sea, identifying rocks and minerals, identifying land animals, birds and insects; to identifying stars and other objects in the sky.

In “The Out of Doors” instructions are provided for traveling by foot, what to wear and where to go, what to carry, taking the Girl Scout Law with you, reading trails and signs, making maps without a compass, and eating on the trail, with recipes.

And so it goes today.  Our legacy Naturalist badges in the Girl’s Guide To Girl Scouting include:  Bugs, Flowers, Trees and Sky (Girl Scout Brownie – Senior levels).  The activities for these badges are virtually the same as in the early handbooks.   And to help get troops started on these experiences, we connect them to events such as the Brownie Bug Out to get girls used to insects and other crawling things.  Those events typically happen at museums and gardens throughout our 41-counties.  Check our council event guide and program provider resource for opportunities near you.

Want to see more?  There’s a Badge Explorer online at our national web site:

Here, you’ll be able search by topic and preview the activities for accomplishing all our Outdoor Education and Nature-themed badges.   And soon, more Girls’ Choice badges will be added to include camping adventure activities and scientific exploration of the outdoors!

Transform your Girl Scouts and yourself, by taking a walk outside and trying some of these badges!  And then share your stories with using the Story Submissions link!

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