Girl Scouts: Inspiring Girls to Love Nature and Seek Adventure
By Missy Brozek, Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes
Girls have struggled with isolation over the past couple years, spending long hours indoors, often in front of a screen. But girls are forces of nature, and they were meant for outdoor adventures. Time in nature is more necessary now than ever. Whether it’s a walk through a city park, a horseback ride through the countryside, or navigating the rapids on your kayak, time in nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention spans, better moods, lower stress levels, reduced mental disorders, and more.
For over 100 years, girls have discovered, explored, and strengthened their outdoor skills and commitment to environmental stewardship through Girl Scouting. Guided by supportive adults and peers, Girl Scouts find the wonders of nature, experience the thrill of adventure, and challenge themselves and one another to reach new heights.
Girl Scouts’ national outdoor programming features a variety of fun, challenging, and experiential activities that empower girls as they develop values, skills, and behaviors essential to effective leadership in the outdoors. In Girl Scouts, girls learn:
• Outdoor Competence – helping girls engage safely and responsibly in a range of outdoor activities like practicing “leave no trace” and knowing what to bring to be prepared.
• Outdoor Confidence - giving girls confidence in their outdoor abilities and helping them try new and challenging outdoor activities.
• Outdoor Interest - helping girls find their love for nature and an interest in the natural world.
• Environmental Stewardship - helping girls understand how their behaviors impact the environment and what they can do to protect the natural world.
Eight in ten girls say Girl Scouting allows them to do outdoor activities they have never done before and wouldn’t have done otherwise—suggesting Girl Scouts opens the door to novel outdoor experiences. These experiences go beyond just providing fun. When Girl Scouts get outdoors, they discover that they can better solve problems and overcome challenges, develop leadership skills, build social bonds, and be happier overall.
Screens have become tough competition when trying to encourage kids to get outdoors. Kids and teens are becoming widely disconnected from nature, spending much of their time indoors with their favorite devices in hand. For older kids, the element of challenge and adventure can be an excellent motivation to get them moving and exploring.
Try these ideas to get your teens and tweens out in nature:
• If your kids enjoyed scavenger hunts when they were little, encourage them to try geocaching. They’ll be solving mysteries, deciphering clues, and tracking down hidden treasures while soaking in the benefits of being outdoors. Geocaching combines orienteering, problem-solving, and outdoor adventure. Teens and tweens will love the challenge.
• Older kids love taking selfies and snapping photos on their phones. Try setting them out on a photo scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or a local park. If you have tech-savvy kids, this is a fun way to get them exploring outside while tapping into their interests. Look up! Daytime: try cloud watching and see what shapes or animals you can make out of the clouds. Nighttime: find a cozy spot for stargazing and see which constellations you can point out.
• Gather a group of friends and build a hammock village in a park or your backyard. A hammock is the perfect outdoor option for teens who love reading or listening to music! And you can wrap up the night with s’mores around a campfire!
JJ, a 14-year-old Cadette Girl Scout, said, “Even if I’m not in the mood at first, when I take my skateboard out and ride around my neighborhood or meet my friends to hang out at the park, I’m always in a better mood afterward.”
Encourage outdoor adventure through Girl Scout camp! Whether they’re swimming in a lake for the first time, discovering wildlife in the woods and water, or hiking through an incredible vista, every outdoor adventure grows a girl’s “I’ve got this” attitude. Once they unlock that confidence, they’ll aim as high as the stars they see outside their cabin window.
Girls can choose their own adventure with Girl Scouts. Learn more at gsnwgl.org.