Some of my best summers were spent at Camp Cedarledge, where I would go to Girl Scout camp nearly every summer to ride horses, make new friends, and pig out on good ole camp food. (I never understood the girls who hated the food there, I personally live for chicken patties.)
If you also ever went to girl scout camp or were ever a girl scout, you might know what I’m talking about or have some favorite memories yourself. Being a girl scout is not only a great way to make new friends when you’re young, but you learn lots of lessons you wouldn’t otherwise. Even essential life skills like how to make a fire from nature, how to swim and first-aid (all GS counselors are CPR certified and get basic first aid training. Basically superheroes here).
Here are 5 things being a girl scout taught me:
1. In order to make lasting friends, you have to open up and be yourself.
Being a girl scout is great because you learn early on how to make friends. Sure, making friends is easier when you’re young and you’re all shoved into a tent together at camp. However, you learn that you feel the most confident when you know you can be yourself and your friends love you for it.
2.You discover so much about yourself when you try new things.
Without girl scouts, I wouldn’t have figured out that I was a natural at riding horses, or that I could be a great camp counselor. When you are encouraged to try new things, you learn that you are capable of things that you never dreamed of. And this lesson stands today: if you try something new, you might just succeed. But don’t let your adult brain scare you out of it!
3. You learn to better handle conflict.
When you have to work together to build something or get through an obstacle course, you have to learn how to adjust quickly and work well with people.
4. You learn more about the type of person you want to be, especially as an adult.
While I had great troop leaders and the majority of my counselors at camp were amazing, we all know adults in charge who probably shouldn’t have been. People don’t realize how kids are like sponges who soak up their environment, and an adult’s behavior can have a huge impact on a kid. As an adult, I think back to the adults in my life as a girl scout and remember the ones I wanted to be like when I grew up. I also remember the ones who I said I would never be like.
5. You learn when to put other people first, and when you must help yourself first.
As a camp counselor, I got to give back to a community that had always given the best to me. And when you’re in charge of 18 small children out in the middle of the woods, you develop an almost fierce sense of protection. Putting those kids first and making sure they’re safe and having fun is your literal job. But with maturity comes the additional realization that you must build yourself up before you can help others.
If you’re a past girl scout and you want to give back to the community, consider either becoming a camp counselor or becoming a troop leader someday. Or, just buy some cookies and support your local troops!
Huge shout-out to all my Camp Cedarledge and Tuckaho friends and fellow counselors–along with the amazing leadership who created an awesome community for me as a kid. Part of my heart will always reside at camp and with you, my friends. I wish I could have lingered a little longer.