It can be challenging to focus on an outdoor challenge now in the intersections of a global pandemic, civil uprising, and community grief. As we have witnessed repeatedly, while the outdoors should be for everyone, experiences in the outdoors are not universal. We’ve talked about how we’re taught who belongs in the outdoors versus who doesn’t based on identities like race, gender, class, ability, body size, age, sexuality, and so much more.
The outdoors also has been proven to be a space that is grounding, stress-relieving, and beneficial to our mental, emotional, and physical health. Spending time outside—no matter the activity—can help us celebrate joy, resilience, and peace in our lives.
There are multitudes to outdoor experiences and it’s important to recognize, learn, and affirm how privilege shows up in outdoor spaces. As the Twin Cities metro area and other communities across our council come together to take action, we also invite you to challenge yourself and learn new skills outside with your family, troop, and community! Taking action and celebrating the outdoors go hand in hand.
This past May, Girl Scouts kicked off the Girl Scouts Love Outdoors Challenge—and we invite you to participate! From now until Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend on September 12–13, 2020, you can complete a preset number of activities per program grade level to earn a patch—available for purchase for $1.50 at shop.girlscouts.org. The outdoor challenge worksheet breaks down the activity options. This is a fun opportunity for the Girl Scout in your life to learn new skills, take risks, and challenge themselves in the outdoors!
As the challenge builds to another exciting celebration of Girl Scouts Love State Parks, connect with your local state park for the most up to date information on camping and day-use expectations. Stay tuned for more information on Girl Scouts River Valleys partnerships and activities for the fall weekend later this summer.
As you’re reviewing the checklist and making your summer plans, be sure to check out our past In the Loop posts for activities and helpful tips and tricks for the outdoors no matter your skill level:
- Social Distance Birding
- Four Resources for Your Budding Citizen Scientist
- Resilience in the Outdoors
- Take a 5 Senses Hike
Finally, before going outside to a public, state, or national park, please check social distancing guidelines for your area. If you are going outside, please practice safe social distance precautions and keep up to date on your state’s outdoor recreation guidelines (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Department of Natural Resources).
Grace Heneghan – Grace is a Program Resources Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in Gender and Women’s Studies and minor in Environmental Studies from Northland College. Her background also includes guiding backcountry expeditions and teaching outdoor education to youth. In her free time, Grace enjoys reading, listening to music, cooking, and exploring the metro area. Three things she can’t live without? Pamplemousse La Croix, a canoe paddle, and a manicure.