Troop camping has been one of the cornerstones of Girl Scouting from the very beginning. This timeless tradition gives girls of all ages an opportunity to explore leadership, build outdoor skills, gain independence and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Camping can strengthen the bond between Girl Scout sisters and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Today we are featuring Cadette Troop 440 and their love for camping. It all started two years ago, after going to a community encampment, the troop committed to making camping a priority. They set out with a goal to complete the GSWCF camp patch wheel by staying at every campsite in our council. They not only reached their goal but surpassed it! This troop has even ventured outside of our council to go camping in Savannah and Disney’s Fort Wilderness.
Did you know all five of the GSWCF camp properties have their own patch?If you collect them all, you can form this patch wheel on your Girl Scout sash or vest!
We had the opportunity to meet with Troop Leaders Erin and Kristin and members Alyssa, Anna, Kristy and McKenna to hear all about their camping experiences. This troop has become pros when it comes to Girl Scout camping. They are happy to share some helpful tips and favorite memories to inspire you all to get outdoors and go camping!
What are some of your camping essentials?
- Bandanas: They suggest bringing 3-5 per girl and 8-10 per troop leader. There are so many great uses for bandanas such as to dry hands, carry water bottle, pot holder, and keeping your hair back. No need for paper towels which means you’ll save money and limit waste.
- Mess Kits: The troop says to get nonstick pans are the way to go because aluminum pans tend to stick and burn. They recommend using Kangaroo Texsport.
- Microfiber Towel: They dry faster than regular towels and can fold up small.
- Plastic Bags: Pack your clothes in plastic bags to stay dry and clean. They suggest using a separate bag for each day’s clothes. This is also helpful for young campers, they have a whole outfit with a shirt, shorts, under garments and socks all put together.
- Bug Spray: Those no see’ems will get you.
- Refillable Water Bottle
- First Aid Kit: Each member of the troop made their own as an activity during troop meeting. They always keep it with them, especially when camping.
Let’s face it, we live in Florida and it is most likely going to rain during your trip. How do you prepare and deal with the rain?
- Garbage Bags: Put your backpack inside a garbage bag to keep all of your stuff dry.
- Extra Clothes: Bring an extra t-shirt, undergarments and socks.
What do you tell the girls to pack for camping? How do you communicate that with parents?
Erin shared, the leaders make up a packing list but tailor it to each camp out depending where they are going and the activities planned. For example, for tent camping, the girls need to bring pad for the floor but in a cabin they need just need a sheet and blanket for the bunk.
Through camping, Erin and Kristin work to teach the girls responsibility and how to take care of themselves. The girls get the packing list at their meeting prior to the trip and they are responsible for packing themselves. If they forget to pack something, they have to take ownership and can’t blame their parents.
How do you fund your trips?
The troop relies on funds from the Girl Scout Cookie program and Fall Product sales to fund their camping trips. In addition, the troop collects $10 in camping dues every month to help supplement the expenses. If they are going somewhere further away such as Savannah, they each paid $25 to help with the extra expense for gas.
To entice customers to buy more cookies the girls have a couple of good slogans they like to use:
- “Don’t think of it as a $4 box of cookies, think of it as a donation to a really good cause with a free box of cookies!”
- “All the cookies freeze really well!”
How do you keep the girls entertained? The Busy Bucket is full of books and games. The girls also put on skits to entertain themselves and the troop.
What are your favorites?
Song: “Rocky the Raccoon” – they wrote this one after a raccoon made its way into their campsite and was found licking their mess kits. Writing camp songs is one of the ways they pass the time together.
Tradition: Dirt Shirt –Each girl has a plain t-shirt with Dirt Shirt on the back. During their camping trip they write funny quotes on from the camping trip. This is a great way to capture memories as they happen.
Meal/Recipe: Walk-Away Tacos
Put Doritos or Fritos (or both) in a bowl and mash up the chips. Put taco meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream on top and mix it all up. It’s supposed to be served in individual size bags of chips but to save money the troop buys family size bags of chips and they eat it in their mess kits.
“It might look out and sound disgusting but it is SO GOOD!” – Alyssa
How does the meal planning?
The girls vote on what they want to eat for each meal and the troop leaders shop for groceries and bring everything on the trip.
How are you seen your girls grow through camping?
- “It helps teach us how to get through things and situations we never thought we could do before.” –McKenna
- “I got over my fear of making fire.” -Alyssa
- “The girls have learned how to turn to each other for help. Their first instincts used to be to run to us (troop leaders) with every little thing. But they now turn to each other first.” -Kristin
Why do you think it’s important for troops get outdoors together?
- “Builds a bond within the troop.” - Kristy
- “Real life experiences”– McKenna
- “We get to experience a lot of new things and do somethings that are really fun. Somethings aren’t as fun but it just teaches you how to deal with it.” – Anna
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your troop camping trip and make your reservations today!
Want to learn more about our 5 camp properties? You’ve come to the right place, click here!