As we launch a new Girl Scout year, we encourage every Girl Scout and troop to take the Every Girl in a Tent challenge, continuing the Girl Scout tradition of exploring the outdoors, sleeping under the stars, and building courage, confidence, and character along the way!
Why are we so adamant that every girl has a camping experience this year? When girls camp, they experience the curiosity-piquing classroom of the outdoors. It’s a unique combination of hands-on skills-building paired with big-picture reflection. And while it’s true that we also want every girl in a science lab, boardroom, and city council meeting, we believe that those things too can start with every girl in a tent.
Still not convinced? Keep reading for a few more reasons to take the Every Girl in a Tent challenge, on your own, with your troop, or with your family this year.
She will connect with herself and others
We spend a lot of time in a connection middle-ground. Think, in a room by yourself, but scrolling through social media, or in a room with friends who are all wearing headphones. Camping offers opportunities to genuinely connect with others and also spend some real time in solitude. Campfire conversations are only interrupted by the need to add another log to the flames, and her time spent sitting at the water’s edge with a journal doesn’t require an Instagram filter (At least not until she gets home!).
Spending time out in nature also helps us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, like our ecosystem, world, and community. And of course, you don’t have to be in a tent or around a fire to reflect, feel gratitude, or have a meaningful conversation with others, but camping disrupts our routine enough to remind us to take time to do those things—both when we’re out in the woods and when we come back home.
Camping promotes independence
Not only is she responsible for her own food, water, and shelter, but she will inevitably run into challenges. Broken tent pole? Rainy night? Right or left on the trail? She’ll learn how to problem-solve with the resources she has and how to try again if the first idea doesn’t work. Though she’ll make a few mistakes, from burnt marshmallows to soggy boots, she’ll build resilience—and remember to pack extra socks next time. In the future, when the going gets tough—on the trail, in the classroom, or elsewhere—she’ll have her camping experience as a valuable reference point to power though.
She will engage with nature in a new way
Being outdoors promotes curiosity, consciousness, and concern for nature. In Girl Scouts, she will learn about and practice Leave No Trace principles while camping. She may observe evidence of climate change, pollution, or other lack of environmental care, which could inspire her to make a change. She might observe great examples of environmental responsibility that she wants to implement at home (both sound like the start of a great Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award project to us). When girls can reflect on positive, outdoor experiences that they have had, they will want to ensure that these resources are available for the rest of their lives and for future Girl Scouts to enjoy.
Plus, as she experiences nature first-hand, she might discover her interest in soil science, geology, map-making, or environmental policy.
Camping builds unique skills
Camping isn’t easy, but it is simple. Things that might take less than two minutes at home, like getting clean drinking water, storing food, or getting ready for bed, might take an hour or two in a camp setting. Because of this fact, most of the day’s work and activities are focused on the necessities of food, water, and shelter, providing ample opportunities to practice skills like knife safety, knot tying, fire building, map and compass navigation, and more (Don’t worry, this isn’t a list of prerequisites!). Additionally, girls will learn that they can survive (and thrive) with just the things they can fit in their backpack, canoe, or sled.
We mean every girl
We know that not every Girl Scout (or troop leader) is going to be enthused about multi-week backcountry backpacking trips. We also know that camping hasn’t always been accessible to every girl or every family. That’s where we come in to support troop leaders and girls with resources to tackle their Every Girl in a Tent Challenge in the way that works best for them. Whether a backyard campout, two nights in a State Park, or seven days in the Boundary Waters, all outdoor, overnight experiences “count”—it’s really that simple!
Camping newbie? No problem! Check out these resources to get you started:
- Camping Safety Activity Checkpoints (pg. 26)
- S’mores & More and Campfire Fun
- Every Girl in a Tent Progression Chart
Is your troop up for another challenge? Check out Every Girl In a Tent’s partner initiative, Adventure Club!
McKayla Murphy – McKayla is a program resources specialist at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in dance. McKayla is passionate about racial equity, critical media studies, and art education. She enjoys dancing, trying new food, and seeking adventure (including winter camping and travel). Staples in McKayla’s life include dark chocolate, her hammock, and plenty of reading material.