Recently in Camp Category

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I came to Girl Scouts by way of Girl Scout camp.   When I was in college, I served as the assistant director of a Girl Scout camp that had 6- to 11-year-olds.   They graduated from our camp and went to the larger and more exciting one on Lake of the Ozarks for the older girls.   What a glorious job it was!

My job was the camp program. I was out in the woods all day, moving from unit to unit spelling staff so they could get their breaks.   I had an ancient Schwinn bicycle that I rode through the center part of the camp, but most of the camp was inaccessible by bicycle, and I had to hike, often alone at night, in the dark.   I learned a lot about the beauty of the woods in the evening with the sounds and movement of animals.

Why do I mention this?   Because camp is a great way for a girl who might not excel at sports or at school to recognize that she has courage, confidence and character.   I am always stunned and amazed at the girl who finds a snake in her tent and blissfully walks over to tell her counselor.   No screaming, no yelling, just a nonchalant note to the counselor that someone needs to take care of the snake so she can change her clothes to go swimming.

In today's world, where we have technology leashes through our cell phones, laptops, video games, and other devices to keep us in touch, it really leaves us out of touch -- out of touch with nature, with the melodies of the birds and the foraging of raccoons in untended trashcans.   I was spending the night at Kamp Kiwanis awhile back, when there was a huge commotion after dark. We discovered that the noise was made by an armadillo, waddling around looking for food.   Someone I was with from the staff mentioned she had never seen a live armadillo in her life.

We have some great camp opportunities this summer besides resident camp, if your daughter is worried about spending the night away.   We have a day camp option for both resident camps.   We also have established the dates with the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Lanark property in Millbrook to offer two-day camps there.   Last year, that camp received rave reviews from the girls.   We also have Sail Away, the sailing camp for girls who want to learn a lifetime sport, sailing.

We have some great opportunities for girls to increase their skills and get outdoors with their friends.   Even if their friends don't attend, we work to be sure they have others to rely on while they are at camp.   You would be surprised how spending time away from technology broadens a girl's curiosity.   Check out all our camps at www.girlscoutssa.org/camp.  I'm planning on being up at camp all summer this year; the best job you can imagine.

Thank you for your hard work.
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We are at the culmination of the 2014 cookie program.    Like you, we are all happy for the cookies to disappear. We look forward to the program each year, but are grateful for its completion.    I want to thank each of you for all your hard work, patience, and generosity of your time.

Each year I hear a number of stories about the quiet girl, who doesn't really talk in the troop meeting who blossoms during the cookie program, being a real entrepreneur.  The goals of the cookie program - which are for girls to gain experience in goal setting, business ethics, people skills, money management,  and decision making, are fulfilled by all the girls who participate in the cookie program.   Hopefully, each of you had some powerful learning experiences with your girls.

And now for Camp!
We are in the process of camp sign up.   This year we have added a day camp opportunity for those girls who are reluctant to spend the night away from home.   The camp program from their arrival at camp until they leave (9a.m.-4 p.m.) each day will be the same as the resident campers.   A girl can use her cookie program credits for day camp, as well as resident camp.   We look forward to this as a great way to provide a great camp experience for girls.

This year we are making some changes at resident camp.   We are going to eliminate turtle time and bring in external resources from the wider community.   In each area, we have some tremendous outdoor education and environmental resources, which will provide fun and educational activities for the girls during this time every day.   In addition, the COO or I will be on the property daily with some of the program staff and other resource people.   We have had our program team working on the programatic elements of camp.

We are also working on a new opportunity for GSSA's older girls.   The staff at Wehle Conservation Center in Midway (near Union Springs) are going to allow us to conduct a resident camp on their property  for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. We are going to allow the girls to shape their camp experience.   Wehle provides some wonderful outdoor education and conservation opportunities.   This will be aimed at older girls only, and they will have a great deal of input on the activities in which they participate.   For more information on that opportunity, which is scheduled for July 13 - 19, contact Amy Farrar at afarrar@girlscoutssa.org or 334 272-9164, x2205.   

Sailing camp is still under discussion at this time, and we hope to have information to you soon.

Have you heard of Amazon Smiles?
Finally, this week I discovered another painless and easy way to donate to GSSA.   We have Socialvest, which is an organization that provides us with a small percentage of your purchase costs from a large number of companies.   It does not increase the cost to you, and GSSA receives a check related to your online purchases.   The other one is Amazon Smile.   We talked to Amazon Smile, and it seems they have added us, using one of the legacy council names (Girl Scouts of the Deep South), which is fine as we still use that tax identification number, so you go to Amazon Smile and sign up.   Then, when you go to Amazon to shop, instead of going directly to Amazon, go to smile.amazon.com and again a small percentage of your purchase will be sent to us to support the girls of GSSA at no cost to you.   Please sign up and remember Girl Scouts when you shop.

Thank you for all you do on a regular basis to make the world a better place.

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We have been working during the cookie program on summer camp planning and are making some changes as a result of the camper comments and suggestions made at the end of last summer.  In order to ensure every girl can experience what camp has to offer, there was a need to dramatically cut the number of programs offered.  This suggestion was heard repeatedly last year from both camps.   For example, not everyone got to run the zip lines or ride the banana boat, so this year we will be certain if the boat that tows the banana boat is working, everyone that wants to ride the banana boat will.

Focus will be continued on Girl Scout badge work in every program offered but we are going with a few broad themes so camp planning is less complex.  As a parent it will be easier to select a camp.   Don't worry, there will be plenty of new and fun things to do!  We are offering a distinct, skill-building badge program for each age based on each week's theme.  The theme for the first week of Scoutshire Woods and the first week of Kamp Kiwanis will be "Kamp Katniss", based on the popular movie The Hunger Games, which focuses on outdoor skills, adventure games and archery.   The second week of Scoutshire Woods is "Pioneer Girl" which goes nicely with building traditional camp skills.  For the last week of Kamp Kiwanis, we have "Experimental Explorers", a week full of scientific exploration and experimentation.   And as always at Camp Scoutshire Woods, we will offering the horse program.

This year our council is adding a very convenient and exciting day camp option.   As we discuss camp with parents, many don't want their girl away from home at night or camp competes with soccer and softball.   In an effort to provide a great camp experience there will be day camp options at Camp Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis.   Planning with transportation companies to transport girls to both properties daily is in the works.   Campers need to be dropped off at the Mobile Service Center between 7-8 a.m. and will return between 5-6 p.m. for the Camp Scoutshire Woods session.   The same will be the case for Kamp Kiwanis, as we are working on transportation from the Montgomery Service Center. If there is sufficient interest from Auburn then a location will be determined. The day camp option will be $250 per week or 785 boxes of cookies with a cash deposit of $50 to attend.

Since day campers will be on the property, rather than turtle time after lunch, we are working to bring in local experts on a variety of topics.   Hopefully, there will be some herps come to camp during that time, as well as some raptors and other great fun, learning experiences.

Still in the planning stages, is a great opportunity for an older girls' camp at the Wehle Conservation Center.   This will be a resident camp that we can take full advantage of the resources available there.  In addition to the wonderful resources, they also have an air-conditioned dormitory.   The plan is to work with those older girls interested in this opportunity to shape the program they desire with a focus on leadership skills.

Sailing camp is still part of the mix and we are in the process of setting the dates.   There has been interest in sailing 1 camp and sailing 2 camp, but we will need enough girls to make that work, otherwise we will continue with the mixed skill levels.

If you have questions or a specific interest in summer resident camps or day camps, please contact Amy Farrar, at afarrar@girlscoutssa.org

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As we look toward next summer, we are taking stock of this year's camp programs and offerings and looking at new possibilities.   There has been a resurgence of family camps, so one of the questions we have is whether, if we had waterfront staff, would you be interested in a family "staycation" at one of the Girl Scout properties?   There is a lot to do at most of the properties, but with the increasing cost of gasoline and vacations, we see this as a value added opportunity for parents of Girl Scouts.

Another conversation we have been having is whether to allow parents to attend camp with your younger Girl Scout.   Allowing your daughter to spend time away from home with someone they don't know can be daunting, so one of the discussions we have had is a session that might start on Friday evening, with the parents staying until Sunday evening, and then allowing the girls to stay on without a parent into the week.

The third alternative we have discussed is, rather than spending the night at camp, offering a day camp program.   You would drop your Girl Scout off at our office, and she would be taken up to camp every morning for a week.   There would be girls spending the week, but the girls who come from the office would participate in the same program, other than the overnight segment.

We are always looking for ways to increase girl participation in camp.   We believe being in the great outdoors is a learning opportunity that should not be missed.   We are also looking at a winter camp session during the end-of-the-year holidays, and if we have sufficient interest, we will run that session.

Please let us know your thoughts on camps for your Girl Scout at communications@girlscoutssa.org.   Thank you for your input.

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Those of us who work with cookies up close and personal are always thinking ahead.   Cookie season is chaotic, so as we keep moving cookies around, our minds turn to spring and then summer.   Those of us who work at the council office love summer because it is our opportunity to get out of the office and enjoy some fun with the girls.   We do a lot of planning for summer camp now, while the cookie program is in progress.   And that planning is a fun thing, working on programs girls love and thinking of new ones that will attract girls. 

 In an effort to save money, we will have only one camp staff this year.   Our camp numbers are decreasing, and it doesn't make financial sense to have two summer camp staffs.   We will have one staff who will do the first three weeks at Camp Scoutshire Woods and then the last two weeks at Kamp Kiwanis.   We will also have the Mariners sailing program at Kamp Kiwanis near the end of the regular sessions.

Each year I have a parent say their daughter would attend camp, but the weeklong session is a lot for the first time out.   We do have a three-day camp session for Brownies and Juniors, which is offered at both resident camps.   It is aimed at the first-time camper and affords them the opportunity to try out camp activities such as cooking over a fire, singing camp songs, swimming, and canoeing.  We do hope you will consider this.   It is a great way to get a girl interested in camp without being gone all weeklong.

We are planning some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at camp this year.   If that sounds too much like school, it isn't.  Girls will use the technology of fingerprinting during the CSI Detective program, learn about geography during the Letterboxing and Geocaching treasure hunt sessions, or use simulated space travel to explore the cosmos with our Astronomy program.  So you can learn about science painlessly while having lots of fun in the woods.

There are two canoe trips planned, the first one being on the Okatoma River during the first week of Camp Scoutshire and the second one on the Tallapoosa during the first week on Kamp Kiwanis.   This is an opportunity for older girls to test themselves on faster water than Echo Lake or Lake Martin.   Those sessions require that you be a proficient swimmer and have experience in a canoe or kayak.   These usually fill up quickly.

Another new session is Camp Theatre!  Girls will open up their creativity by learning performance skills such as stage movement, improvisation, voice lessons, clown and mime.  Girls will showcase their talents for their parents at the end of camp.

Those girls who sell more than 600 boxes of cookies receive 175 program credits toward a reduced camp rate.   Applications for camp are due March25.

We also have some other big programs where girls can use their cookie program credits.   One is an overnight trip to Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.    This is the first time we have offered this program in recent history.    The cost is $129 per person, so you can use cookie program credits to attend.   Another program to consider is a trip to see the hit Broadway show Wicked in New Orleans on June 1.

Hopefully, your girls are excited for these opportunities and others the cookie program provides.

Thanks for all your hard work during this time of year.

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What about way too much to eat, relatives under foot, wrapping paper, kids with lots of time on their hands?  It is always interesting when we look forward to the holidays, but we are also happy when we can return to our routine.

In this time between various holiday activities, we want to take stock of 2012.   I believe it is good to be grateful for every day and each year.   GSSA has had an excellent 2012!   The cookie program was strong last year, with 500 more girls involved in the program.   The per girl cookie sale average increased, which translates additional funds to fix deferred maintenance, make new purchases, and build new things.   We addressed a number of leaking roofs, those of us in the Mobile Service Center are especially grateful for a new roof on both buildings, so it no longer leaks in.   We bought more stand-up paddle boards for both Kamp Kiwanis and Scoutshire Woods, so girls can hone their skills on those.   We built zip lines for the girls at Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis, complete with helmets, harnesses, and trolleys for the girls to ride on.   There was a new dock at the island in the lake at Scoutshire Woods, and we built another new dock for the mariners at Kamp Kiwanis.   The horse ring at Scoutshire Woods has a new deluxe restroom, which is a prototype of more restrooms to come at this property.   It is constructed of concrete block, so in case there is a storm, girls would have a more substantial building to go to.   This is a partial list of the opportunities we were able to offer the girls because of a strong cookie program.

The girl programs for the 100th anniversary were outstanding.   In the early spring we were able to offer Girls Rock Mobile for 600 girls.   What a weekend that was, with an overnight at the Mobile Convention Center.   It included a boat ride so girls understand the port and issues confronting the port with litter.   There were exhibitors, and a great scavenger hunt through the city streets. 

GSSA also took two buses to Rock the Mall, the 100th anniversary rock concert on the Washington Monument mall, over 250,000 girls and adults attended that day.   Many other girls used their hard- earned cookie rewards to visit Savannah or take other trips they had been saving for.

The Heritage Committee put together an excellent exhibit highlighting the 100 years of Girl Scouts.   The History Museum of Mobile hosted a wonderful reception for the exhibit opening, so many got to celebrate 100 years of girls learning to become leaders.   This exhibit continues to tour the council and has been enjoyed by many.

We started having Girl Scout Alumnae events at different camps in the council and are working to reconnect with those who have gone before us, celebrating their involvement with girls creating leaders.   We continue to schedule those events throughout the council.

All of this happened while every week many of you meet with your girls, sing songs, build skills, and teach girls how to become leaders in their community through Discover, Connect, and Take Action.   We appreciate all you do to make the world a better place.   We are grateful for an excellent 2012 and have high hopes for an even better 2013!

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This is a great time of year if you work for Girl Scouts, because you have the opportunity to get outdoors and ready for camp.   It is always the highlight of my year, as I get to spend time working on things to enrich the girls' summer camp experience.   Some of the projects are in the early stages, others are not quite underway, but we'll get there. 

At this time of year, I like to check with the rangers to see what wildlife we have on our properties.   So far this year, we have had three rattlesnakes on three of the four camps.   The only camp we haven't seen a rattler on yet is Kamp Kiwanis.  

Last year Kamp Kiwanis had a rattlesnake, which is fairly unusual and likely the result of their habitat being destroyed with the tornado.   A few years ago, when we timbered Camp Humming Hills, the guys working on the timber project said they saw a jaguar with two cubs.   Recently, Wanda Smith, the ranger's wife was on the property and saw two jaguars.   They are incredibly elusive, to see them would be a tremendous gift, as their range is huge.  

In an effort to document our wildlife, we will be putting in some trophy cameras.   They take photos of movement, even at night.   They do that with an infrared flash, so they don't spook the wildlife.   I'm hoping we will have some fun and education about what lives at the camps when we aren't around.

We have one zip line installed at Kamp Kiwanis, and some of the board members took their fiduciary responsibility seriously and tried it the afternoon before the annual meeting.   We are intentionally installing the zip lines at girl level, and if they enjoy them, then we will look at putting more in higher places.   Right now, we have the test line in, and once we figure out how that works, we will install a few at Camp Scoutshire Woods.  For girls waiting to use the zip lines, since there's always a line at such things, we have a slack line, much like a balance beam made of a narrow tape between two trees.   It's the new hot thing on college campuses.

Paul Wright, the ranger at Kamp Kiwanis spent a large chunk of his time this winter clearing out the trees between the Pioneer Unit bathhouse and the lake to build a beautiful new dock for the sailing program.   This will keep the sailboat traffic and canoe traffic separate.   We also have more stand-up paddle boards headed to both Kamp Kiwanis and Camp Scoutshire Woods.

Summer Resident Camp information is now up on the web sitefor you to see.  With two amazing camps and many different sessions (including sessions focusing on horseback riding, swimming, boating and traditional camp), there is sure to be camping experiences that are right for your Girl Scout or troop.

We have Mom & Me sessions this year, two for Daisies and one for Brownies so our littlest Girl Scouts can bring a special female grown-up with them to camp.

We are also offering troop camping this year at Kamp Kiwanis. Bring your troop  and two leaders and set your own agenda and pace. We will provide archery, canoeing, arts and crafts directors and even do most of the cooking for you! You can also participate in many of the regular camp activities.

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Yes, this is the  time of year that we start planning for summer camp.   It is important for the camp directors to get their plans nailed down so we can get the properties ready for the summer ahead.  Last year we saw a significant decrease in the number of girls attending resident camp, which we hope will not happen again this summer.

I had someone call and suggest we do an abbreviated session for Brownies.   We do offer abbreviated sessions for Brownies; in fact, we have one that includes moms!   Our initial camp registrations last year  were ahead of what they had been the year before.   But, as time went along, both resident camps had fewer girls.   I speculate some of this is from troops saving their funds to go on significant trips this summer.   We have a number going to Rock the Mall in Washington, D.C., and many traveling to Savannah.   Another problem for summer 2012 is the Montgomery School District isn't out of school until much later in June.  Because of these factors, we will reduce the number of camp sessions at both properties from four weeks to three weeks.   Given the number of girls we had last summer, I don't anticipate this will create any issues.   In fact, it should make for better sessions.   Both camp directors have new ideas on how to improve the programs.   They are both working to integrate the new materials from the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting in their programs.   We hope to have more information for resident camp available earlier this year and can't wait to see you at camp next summer! 

Kamp Kiwanis 2010 252.jpgCome join the Fun! Learn to sail and have an AWESOME time. This program is to teach girls to grow in confidence, courage, and character through the skills of Sailing! Out of council Girl Scouts welcomed! Any girl 6th grade or higher (C,S,A), who can swim 50 yards, and loves the water!

The weekends will cover introduction to sailing and sailing safety for the class 1 sailors, while more experienced (those who have attended Summer Sail Away or past weekends) will learn more advanced skills to possibly move to a higher class.

All other classes will be grouped by the level of experience each sailor has had. All classes are taught basic water rescues, parts and rigging a sail boat, points of sail, weather, knots and hitches, and navigation.

Class 1- Beginners Single Sailing and safety (tandem)

Class 2- Intermediate Sailing Open Water (tandem & single)

Class 3- Dingy Sailing (Mainsail, Jib,)

Class 4- Sloop Sailing (Flying Scot,)

Max. Enrollment 24 girls, Leaders come and help where needed

Cost: $35.00 per person attending 

For more information check out the specific weekend info:

October 21-23, 2011

May 4-6, 2012

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