Thank you all so much for helping to lead the encampment over the weekend. 17 years ago I took my oldest daughter Carolyn and her troop on their first hike as Daisies up to the water tower there and it was lovely to go back for a final campout with all of you to mark my youngest daughter Lizzie’s graduation and my last encampment as your encampment director.
It was great to be able to enjoy the new “flower meadow” camp sites, although some of you with allergies may not have enjoyed that as much. Maybe the meadow will be better for fall encampments till the trees grow and change the undergrowth. There were lots of comments in your evaluations about loving the water park and the facilities. I will write to Louis at Sweetwater and Sylvia who books groups for County Parks and let them know how much we liked all the improvements.
Many of you suggested that although you liked organizing the encampment by levels you wished there had been more interaction during the day Saturday between levels. It might have been fun to let everyone roam everywhere with an “A” group at the site in the morning and a “B” group minding the site in the afternoon. It might have been nice to pair a younger troop with a big sister troop for the day or for some activities in the afternoon. Or as one troop suggested, do 1/2 half the day at your own level and 2nd half with other level troops. Other troops said that they liked being together (mostly the older girl troops) and liked being housed together.
The Brownies seemed to have had the most time on their hands. Although the older troops asked for more “troop down time” the younger girl leaders almost all complained that they got finished too quickly with what they had planned and then had too many hours without anything to do. Some of you suggested that maybe the activities were too short or that you should have started later in the morning. Someone suggested that you might have planned some bigger projects making something that would take some time like learning to make a lanyard or you might have planned some big group games like capture the flag or hide and seek. Maybe planning a lunch project that would take some time to make or having the girls do more of the “teaching”. One leader said that none of us like to have our girls say “I’m bored” but sometimes they need to be bored a little to jump start their imaginations.
Some leaders were unsure about the times that things were happening and that was probably my fault. I probably said one thing in a meeting and then wrote a different time on the website. We sort of had an unofficial organizer at each level and it might have been nice if each one had written out a schedule of events for you.
The baked potato bar was popular with almost everyone. Thank you all for supplying the terrific toppings. We had plenty of leftovers though so I think everyone who liked something on the buffet had plenty to eat. One leader suggested that you should ask your girls to bring something as a back up like a granola bar or piece of fruit in case they don’t like what’s being served. That’s good advice. The older girls really enjoyed doing the outdoor cooking and learning some new techniques for lunch.
No one liked the prolific pincher bugs and there’s not much we can do about that. Toads, birds and lizards like to eat pincher bugs so I would imagine we’ll see more of them there in the future!
You had lots of good ideas for future encampments: horseback riding (maybe we should do an encampment at Rawhide Ranch?), do a cooking theme again, some sort of competition, art camp, girl scout ways (so you learn about different levels-great for bridging), music camp, dance camp, performing arts camp, beach camp (come to Camp Surf in October!) playing sports against other troops, hiking, obstacle course, animals, bubbles, archery, something value based like kindness or honesty, team building and a craft fair!
A few of us have been talking about trying to offer an “adventure” camping opportunity every year and go someplace like Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Grand Canyon etc. I hope you’ll hear more about that in the future!
All the girl scout research on a national level says that camping is one of the top reasons that girl scouts stay in a troop as they get older. You build great memories as a group, learn to rely on each other and learn new skills that build self confidence by camping. Thank you for giving that gift to your troop and your girls.