Monday, August 3, 2015

On the Road with Anna: Camp Tour

Welcome to “On the Road with Anna,” in which we continue following Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez as she travels the country meeting the girls, volunteers, and council teams that help make Girl Scouts such a powerful force for change.

It’s summer! And what better place is there to be during summer than at Girl Scout camp? Recently I got to visit two wonderful camps and see how Girl Scouts are continuing our century-old tradition of building leadership skills in the outdoors.

On my tour so far, I’ve heard from hundreds of girls about why they love camp, and talked to the amazing volunteers and staff who help these girls create memories that will last a lifetime—and who make sure they are safe, happy, and excited to come back next year.

I’ve also gotten to experience camp alongside the girls and learn firsthand how camp activities contribute to a lifetime love of nature and the outdoors—something Juliette Gordon Low wanted for every girl and that Girl Scouts is still committed to offering all girls today. Through fun, hands-on outdoor activities, girls gain the confidence and courage to face challenges and learn how to overcome obstacles, whether on their own or as part of a team.

From a dance party and an ice cream break with some Daisies at Camp Jockey Hollow in Mendham, New Jersey, to the three-level high-ropes challenge course (which I personally conquered!) at Camp Moseywood in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, I’ve seen the variety and depth of activities we offer and how girls use their downtime to create special bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime.

For one lifelong Girl Scout in Pennsylvania, those bonds have lasted well into adulthood and across generations in her family.

“My 84-year-old mother was a camper here, and she brought me here when I was a little girl,” said Sue Tantsits, whom I met on my visit to Moseywood, where she led us on a hike around the property, teaching us about the local flora and fauna along the way.

“This place is a part of me and a part of my family,” she added. “We had mom’s 80th birthday here at camp. The camp was full and they made her a birthday cake. It’s really hard to describe how wonderful it was.” Rocking chairs dedicated to Sue’s mother now sit on the porch of the dining hall at Moseywood, overlooking her beloved lake.

I want every girl to have the opportunity to experience both the feeling of community and the sense of freedom you feel at camp, just like Sue and the generations of campers who have come before and after her were able to do.

I always tell girls that they should do at least one thing that scares them everyday. At Moseywood, way above the treetops on the high-ropes course, I conquered something that I found not only challenging but also a little bit scary as I climbed alongside the campers.

But at the end of the challenge course, there was a zipline that gave me a gorgeous view over the lake and the surrounding hills as a reward!

Check out the video to see me zipline over the lake and more.

Until next time…