Summertime. Outdoor cooking. Group games and songs. Swimming. Nature. Arts and crafts. Girl Scout traditions. The list could go on!
What does each of these things have in common? Volunteer-led day camp! There are so many summer adventures for Girl Scouts—whether it be resident camp, troop camp, or troop-arranged field trips. But did you know we also have some amazing volunteers who put together incredible Girl Scout programming through volunteer-led day camps? These camps are planned by Girl Scouts, for Girl Scouts! They’re a great way to learn new skills, meet other Girl Scouts in the area, and most importantly—have a rip-roaring good time! What better way to learn about volunteer-led day camps than to hear directly from our awesome volunteers?! Kirsten and Kelly are day camp directors for their annual day-camp held at the Sagata Troop House in Bayport, MN. Kirsten joined me for a Q & A to tell us what their day camp is all about.
Q: What is the name of your camp?
A: KinniCroix Valley O.W.L. Twilight Camp (Each year they have a different theme. I learned that O.W.L. stands for Ordinary Wizarding Level—for their camp theme this year, they are putting their own spin on the writings of J.K. Rowling.)
Q: A fun tradition at Girl Scout Camp is to have a special camp name. What are your camp names?
Q: Wenonah and KitKat. Because we are both service unit managers for our local service unit, we use our “street names” a lot.
Q: How long have you been volunteering at your Girl Scout day camp?
A: Seven years.
Q: How and when did you first get involved in day camp? Why do you choose to volunteer as a day camp director?
A: I was a camper and volunteered as an older girl, and we both volunteered as adults when our girls attended day camp. We became day camp directors when my oldest daughter became a junior caddie and our area did not have a day camp and we wanted one.
Q: Describe your day camp in three words.
A: Older girl leadership.
Q: Volunteers are essential to day camp. Why should someone volunteer at their local day camp? What are common ways to volunteer?
A: It’s so much fun and it’s really easy! We need adults to be with each unit [of campers]. We have also had a photographer, a food person, an older girl coordinator, a volunteer coordinator, and people who help with program activities—plus our great dads and friends who help us set up and take down tents!
Q: Some camps are referred to as “Twilight Camp” like yours. What exactly is that?
A: We meet in the evening so that our volunteers and busy girls can still fit in a day camp experience. We meet on Thursday and Friday for 3 hours and then all-day Saturday and stay overnight.
Q: How are girls involved in the planning process? Do older girls have a special role in your day camp?
A: Our older girls are consulted about program and theme ideas—without them, we couldn’t run our camp! Our purpose is girl leadership development.
Q: Do you have a favorite day camp memory you would like to share?
A: There are so, so many incredible moments every single year! One that comes to mind (from our Harry Potter-themed year) is when the Dragon unit—combined Daisies and Cadettes—won the Quidditch cup when their littlest camper caught the snitch!
Doesn’t that sound like a great time? If you want to join in on the fun, see our listing of volunteer-led day camps (each approved camp has the option to have their information shared on our website) or check-in with your local service unit to see if a day camp is offered in your area. Some camps are only offered to Girl Scouts in their service unit, while others are open to all girls in our council. Each volunteer-led day camp is unique and can range from 1–5 days—some even include an overnight. Get ready, because summer will be here before we know it!
Emily Schmall – Emily is the Senior Manager of Volunteer Services at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She was a Girl Scout growing up and now leads her daughter’s troop of spirited teenagers, where they share many adventures. Her background is in programming, education, and curriculum development. She has a BA in visual art and attended the M.Ed. initial licensure program in art education, both through the University of Minnesota. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, where they are busy training their rescue puppy and teaching their old cat new tricks. In her (non-Girl Scout related) free time, Emily enjoys photography, playing the ukulele, and attending the Minnesota State Fair.