Camping and outdoor activities have always been a core part of Girl Scouting. This summer Girl Scouts of West Central Florida enhanced the summer camp experience by offering two travel camps, one in the Florida Keys and other in the Florida Panhandle. These trips gave west central Florida girls the opportunity to explore the great outdoors in two completely different outdoor environments. Today, Girl Scouts Sara C. and Lexi D. are sharing their camping experience at the Aquatic Adventure in the Florida Keys. This 4 day/3 night camping trip featured an airboat ride, snorkeling, beach days, hiking, kayaking and fishing all in the beautiful Florida Keys. Best of all, it was with an awesome group of Girl Scouts! If you have attended any of the GSWCF summer overnight or day camps in the past, you should think about making a travel camp your next adventure!
Sara C., Girl Scout Cadette from St. Petersburg
Finding out there was going to be a first ever Girl Scout Travel Camp was so exciting. I have been camping as a Girl Scout both with my troop and summer resident camps at Scoutcrest and Wildwood, and I knew I had to make sure I was registered.
We all met at the Leadership Center in Tampa and started our road trip to the Keys. On the drive down, we stopped to take a tour of the Everglades on an airboat ride. From there we continued on to our destination and camp. During our time in the Keys, we went snorkeling, visited a turtle hospital, Key West and Southernmost Point. My favorite part of the trip was the turtle hospital. We learned about rescuing turtles and the steps they take to educate and release turtles back into the environment when possible.
All Girl Scouts should try the opportunities offered in trips, camps and outdoor activities. During this week we learned things about Florida, and had lots of fun. There were unexpected things that didn’t go as planned, but we learned how to adapt and make it work anyway.
One of the best parts about camp is meeting other Girl Scouts from different areas and getting to share this experience together. My best friend and another troop mate came on the trip me. I also got to meet up with another Girl Scout that I met last summer at Camp Scoutcrest. The week after the Keys travel camp, I went to Board, Tube, and Ski Camp at Camp Scoutcrest and to my surprise some of my new friends from the Keys were there too and we had another fun week together.
Lexi D., Girl Scout Cadette from St. Petersburg
Hi, my name is Lexi. I recently went on the Aquatic Adventure in the Florida Keys! It all started when everybody met up at the Leadership Center building in Tampa. While checking in, I met many new girls going on the trip, and also reunited with some old friends. About half way through the drive down to the Keys, we took a tour on an air boat through the Florida Everglades. I was personally very excited for this because I have never been on an air boat before. On the tour, we saw all sorts of wildlife including some gators.
After the tour, we drove to Camp Sawyer, a Boy Scout Camp in Pine Key. We pitched our tents then unloaded the luggage. There was even a dock leading out to the ocean, we all walked out on it to explore the beautiful camp. The water was so clear and blue; you could see the reef and all the fish and animals swimming in the water. The next morning we took our swim tests. When I started my swim test I was quickly called back on land because there was a nurse shark feeding on the snails stuck to the reef! I was ecstatic when I found out that I had just swum with a shark! After swimming, we played some group games and then Ranger Taylor gave us tips and pointers for snorkeling the next day. Later that day, we went to Key West, and visited Florida’s Southernmost Point.
When we woke up the next morning we went snorkeling. The water was beautiful and filled with many animals and reefs. At first, I was kind of nervous but once I jumped in I was shocked to see the entire ocean so clear. I saw fish, sea horses, lobsters and sea anemones. There was even a barracuda underneath the boat. This was my favorite part of the trip! We spent the rest of the day at a beach then back to camp for dinner and bed; this was our last night at camp.
On our way home we stopped at the turtle hospital. When I saw some of the injured turtles I felt bad. At the hospital there were also permanent residents. These were turtles that were so badly injured that they could not be released back into the wild. We got to feed them with special pellets and then we left to return back home.
On this trip I learned that the ocean is a beautiful environment with many unique, delightful creatures. We should take care of our oceans and keep our beaches clean. Some animals living in our ocean mistake most of our trash for food. They then cannot digest it and bad things could happen. I also learned how to properly snorkel. When you snorkel you cannot swim too close to the reef because you might accidently kick the reef and break it. You could also get injured. This trip changed me because at first I thought the ocean was a scary place that life- taking creatures lived in. Now I love the ocean and I want to explore more of it. I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist but I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly. Now I want to work on saving our sea turtles and our reefs. I also respect sharks and other so called dangerous creatures that live in the ocean.
If I compared this to another Girl Scout camp I would say I like this trip better because I got to go somewhere that is very important to Florida that I have never been before. Plus, I got to take a vacation in a tropical, fantastic place! If this trip was offered again I would love to go in a heartbeat! I believe that other Girl Scouts should attend these types of trips or going to camp because it gives them a whole new experience from meeting new people, to exploring different places. They will also gain independence and learn how to take care of themselves in the real world. I highly suggest Girl Scout Camp and trips for all girls!