It was such a joy to be at camp this summer, in a year where Girl Scouts needed the fresh air and connection the most!
Summer camp 2021 with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) was a blast because nothing could stop our Girl Scout friends from having the best summer ever! Our staff shared some of their stories from spending the summer with the campers at several locations across our council: gather around the campfire and read on to reminisce.
Written by GSGCNWI Staff Members
Le’Claire Park Summer
“During the summer, Community Engagement partnered with the Chicago Park District for a 6-week summer camp program. The Park’s focus area for this week was about kindness and Hippie Day. The girls started with art and crafts; they all got a chance to create world peace signs. After that, we decided to focus on the Science of Happiness badge, which highlights the scientific method behind happiness. We asked the girls questions, like what makes you happy? What are you grateful for? How could you make others happy?
Then we played a game called ‘Don’t make me laugh’; each girl got a Laffy Taffy candy and we had them stand up and say the joke on the wrapper out loud, it helps with their public speaking and gets them out of their comfort zone. Lastly, we closed with self-portraits. We wanted the young ladies to understand that it’s important to love yourself and most importantly to figure out what makes you happy in that process. We had lots of fun!
About a week later, one of our summer camp girls Kay-C came up to me and said, ‘Miss Diamond, I had my mom go to the store to buy me Laffy Taffy candies, so I could tell her the jokes on the back of them to make her happy.’ I was so excited to hear this because that’s exactly what we wanted the girls to gain from that session. We wanted them to learn self-regulation, so they can go home and use those skills, not only for themselves but others they love as well.
With the past year that all of us have had, it’s important that we all must try to intentionally make ourselves smile but others as well, when we can. Girl Scouts does an awesome job with giving girls those hands-on skills and now we can make a difference in their emotional learning as well.”
Diamond Franklin, Director of Service Partnerships
“The Albert C. Hanna High Adventure course is a place where girls find their courage, by taking part in ‘challenge by choice’ — girls go as far as they want to go, and while they are encouraged to stretch outside of their comfort zone, we understand that for some, even a small step can be a huge deal. That was the case with Paige. She was a little nervous about the high ropes tower, and for her, every step up the ladder to enter the course was a BIG DEAL. Slowly she made it to the top of the ladder, then to the first platform at 25 feet up in the air. Each step up, she visibly challenged herself beyond her comfort zone and found her courage. She even took a step out onto a cable, and then decided that was her challenge for the day. On her way down, to the cheers and applause of her fellow campers, she was very emotional. When asked at the bottom (after catching her breath) if she was proud of herself, she had a little smile and said, ‘Yes.’
Early this summer, a tornado touched down in Woodridge/Naperville close to Camp Greene Wood. While the camp was not impacted, the decision was made to cancel camp for the day to allow emergency services open roads to assist in cleanup efforts. One Brownie, seeing what had happened, decided she wanted to help. She (with mom and camp director Sprout’s help) organized a canned food drive during day camp check-in that Thursday, leading her other fellow campers in helping make a difference for families in need in the camp community.
That same week in resident camp world, it was a very stormy week, leading to a lot of activities girls were looking forward to getting rescheduled. One girl at the end of the week shared that while they hadn’t gotten to do everything they wanted to do, in the order they wanted to do it, she didn’t really mind because of the friendships she had made with the other girls in her group throughout the week.”
Katie Young, Director of Outdoor Programs
Biking for Days
“I spent 6 days over 2 weeks leading middle school girls in the resident camp biking unit. Middle school girls get a bad rap — these girls could not have been more supportive and respectful of each other! They were master negotiators, easily navigating the difficult conversations about who should ride in what order and why. Adults could learn from them — they clearly knew each other well enough in a short amount of time to discuss the riding order with respect for each individual girl’s abilities and desires.
These girls were resilient, too. We weathered a flat tire, riding past many dead animals and a girl who on the last day realized she’d been riding in a difficult low gear all week! Not to mention that only two of these girls had EVER ridden their bike on a real road or highway.
They loved to talk — and were not shy about it. Conversations surrounded books they loved to read (they begged for more library time on each of our trips that included a library destination), who took what meds for which conditions, menstrual cramps and sexual identity. I saw high fives between girls who shared learning disabilities and anxiety issues.
These girls still need supervision and guidance but truly, we adults can learn a lot from them about respect, support and caring for one another.”
Julie Gilmartin, Director of Volunteer Services
All Kinds of Girls
“Camp was very introspective for me as a newer employee to GSGCNWI. It really helped to personify a lot of the key phases we use when talking about Girl Scouts, like ‘make new friends’ and ‘a place for every girl.’ And I did meet a variety of girls: girly-girls, sporty girls, girls that were into sci-fi fantasy and anime, girls that loved bugs and nature, shy girls, and girls with personalities perfect for reality TV.
The main thing that stuck out for me during camp was the formation of the ‘buddy line.’ Anytime we had to move from one location to the next, girls had to find a buddy that they could partner with while they walked in line to the next activity. The counselors were often strategic with how the buddy line was formed, encouraging girls to partner with someone they haven’t partnered with before, or find a partner who you have something in common with. The random selection prevented cliques from forming and indeed helped girls ‘make new friends.'”
Sherrie Green, Marketing Manager
Make New Friends, Keep the Old
For more than 100 years, Girl Scout camp has brought girls outdoor adventures full of learning, challenges, a whole lot of friendship, and tons of fun. This happens through a community—each girl who comes to camp is welcomed into a group of girls who together can discover together.
When you are ready to meet in-person with your troop, Girl Scout camps will be open! You can reserve outdoor shelters, lodges, and other campsites on our new registration and reservation site.
Locations open for use*:
- Camp Butternut Springs (Valparaiso, IN)
- Camp Greene Wood (Woodridge, IL)
- Camp Juniper Knoll (East Troy, WI)
- Camp Palos (Palos Park, IL)
*Some sites may not be available in the winter months.
Not sure where you want to go? Check out an overview of our camps & locations!