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Girl, Growth, and the Great Outdoors: Girl Scouts vote to take on Outdoor Challenges in New Badge Program

As National Great Outdoors Month (June) begins to wind down, Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines is just getting revved up for an adventurous summer with a Girl Scout designed outdoor initiative that would make any avid outdoorswoman envious. Informed by thorough research about the benefits of time spent outdoors, Girl Scouts themselves led the charge and voted to create a new outdoor badge series called Outdoor Explorers which launched nationally June 1. 

The benefits of the Girl Scout outdoor experience do not end with the joy of earning a new badge. According to More Than S’mores, a 2014 study by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), girls benefit immensely from time spent outdoors. Girls who regularly spend time outdoors are more likely than their peers with less outdoor experience to possess certain leadership traits, such as environmental stewardship, willingness to seek challenges, and problem solving skills.

“In this study, we expected to see that girls were having fun in the outdoors,” says Dr. Kallen Tsikalas, lead researcher on the study. “However, we were surprised by just how important it was for them and how much they appreciated having opportunities to take on challenges and build skills in a socially supportive environment. Girls really want to feel like they are accomplishing something and growing as a person, and the outdoors is perfect place for them to do this.”

Participating in Girl Scouts has proven to be one of the best ways for a girl to get a quality outdoor experience. The GSRI found that over 90 percent of Girl Scouts reported having done at least one outdoor activity in Girl Scouts during the previous year and nearly 40 percent reported outdoor activities on a monthly basis with Girl Scouts.

In addition to the many summer camp opportunities offered, the council recently renovated the tree houses at Camp Graham in Vance County to upgrade the overnight camping experience for Girl Scouts. The Tree Houses boast elevated cabins named for North Carolina trees, warm water shower stalls, and a program shelter with electricity and other amenities. The chill of fall and winter will not hinder the outdoor adventures of Girl Scouts using Owl Hollow at Camp Mary Atkinson in Johnston County thanks to a recent winterizing process that now allows for year round camping. Plans to upgrade the bath houses at Camp Hardee in Washington, N.C. are underway.

Girl Scouts of the USA also announced a partnership with the National Park Service for the Girl Scout Ranger program in which Girl Scouts can join with a national park in their area for an organized outdoor service project. Local Girl Scouts can also participate in “Sparkle Days,” a partnership with North Carolina State Parks to be “park explorers” for a day and get an in depth view of some of North Carolina’s most beautiful state parks.

Girl Scouts and their families are fortunate to live in a state with access to exceptional state parks, beaches, and mountains. There are seemingly endless places to explore the outdoors. To learn more about the camp facilities of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, visit Explore the Camps | Girl Scouts of NC Coastal Pines