Posts Tagged ‘Outdoors’

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Getting Outside This Winter

January 8, 2018

While most people are staying indoors this winter – we know our Girl Scouts want to get outside and explore what the nature around them has to offer. Girl are natural born adventure seekers and with over 100 years of experience in the outdoors, Girl Scouts provides excellent ways for girls to explore their leadership, build new skills, and develop an appreciate for nature all while having fun.

This winter, we encourage girls to get outdoors and explore the beauty that nature has to offer. Here’s a quick list of fun and engaging ways to get your girls outdoors this season.

Bird Watching/Bird Feeders

When the leaves fall off the trees, it becomes easier to spot birds! Take a short walk (or find a window with a view) to see how many you can find. Some birds will have darker, muted colors in the winter months, and many will look fatter than usual as they puff themselves up for warmth. What do you notice about the birds you find?

If you need a great reason to look for birds, check out the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) – an event that takes place each February to help scientists record and track bird populations all over the world! No need to travel to participate, simply make observations in your own backyard or park, and enter your observations onto the website. The next GBBC happens February 16-19, 2018 and requires just 15 minutes of observation to take part!

For added fun, make a bird feeder to help supply local birds with food sources when it’s cold out – spread some bird seed in a cake pan, then fill with about ¼ inch of water. Take a loop of string or yarn and place one end of the loop in the water, leaving the rest of the loop to hang over the side. Put in the freezer (or outside, if it’s cold enough!) until frozen solid. Once frozen, remove from cake pan (you may need to thaw it for a few minutes to loosen it up). Find a sturdy branch to hang your winter feeder, and watch the seed fall as the sun melts the ice! For a fun example with photos, click here.

Go to a Nature Center, Wildlife Center, Aquarium, etc.

Nature Centers are great places to visit when it’s cold outside…they often have short trails to walk, but also have indoors learning and fun opportunities! Check out a park near you, or find an organization in your county through our council Program Provider Resource Document. You can often call ahead and work with staff to put together a program that matches your interests, or fits a badge you are working on.

Play a Nature Game

If the weather is chilly but dry, you can enjoy time outdoors and warm up with an active game that involves running around and also helps us understand our environment a little more! Check out our Nature Play Day Activity.

Start the Citizen Science Journey

The new Citizen Science Journeys are a great way to engage in the world around you AND help provide information to real scientists! Leaders can access the Citizen Science Journey for Daisy-Junior scouts through the Volunteer Tool Kit. Think it’s too cold to start an outdoor journey? Think again – the first step of this journey (at all levels) can be done entirely indoors! Visit www.nccoastalpines.org and click on MyGS to check it out.

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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:  http://www.girlscouts.org/en/our-program/badges/badge_explorer.html.

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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