By: Stephanie Hall, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Outdoor Adventure Specialist
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
– Mary Anne Radmacher.
As a Girl Scout volunteer, you are uniquely poised to make an immeasurable impact on the lives of girls. One way to do this is by helping girls to realize all the opportunities to travel that are within their reach. Travel is an integral part of the Girl Scout experience because through travel girls can connect with nature, see new places, gain insight into other cultures, become more independent, meet new people, and so much more. Don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to plan that trip to Morocco yet though. Part of the Girl Scout experience is progressing from one level to the next at the right speed for your troop. There are so many options for trips at every level.
Consider starting with a field trip to see more of your community. You could go to a local museum, the zoo, a park, or your nearest GSHOM camp or regional center. Even a small trip has so many different parts that girls can be part of planning. They will learn about meal planning by deciding what is for lunch, who is making it, and how it will be stored. They can start to practice budgeting by figuring out how much the field trip will cost and how much everyone needs to pay. By helping to plan these trips girls take ownership over the trip and they build a foundation of skills they will need for planning bigger trips.
Once your troop starts to feel more comfortable with their planning skills, try an overnight. You could go to a weekend program at camp, a mall lock-in, a backyard campout, or a zoo overnight. Spending the night away from their parents is essential for girls gaining confidence and independence. These overnights also allow the girls more time to bond with each other and work on problem solving--how do they decide who gets the top bunk? Girls will practice long-term goal setting and planning--how many boxes of cookies will they need to sell to pay for this trip?
Now that you are really in the trip planning groove, try an overnight in another city or try a longer trip for two or three nights. By going farther away, you are allowing your girls to grow and meet new people. They will not only bond with their troop but they will make new friends and learn how to talk to new people. You could head to Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Chicago, or Cedar Point. As trips get bigger, they not only allow girls to become better at long-term planning, they also help keep girls in Girl Scouts. A trip may take more than a year to plan or save for. If girls are involved and invested in the planning process then they will want to join the troop again next year and go on the trip.
All of these experiences build girls up to be able to plan amazing cross-country and international trips. These life changing experiences are some of the many things that Girl Scouts is uniquely able to help girls achieve. As a troop you can choose to do a Getaway which is a short travel program designed specifically for Girl Scout troops. There are so many options of places to go from New York to California! As girls get older, they may also wish to do some independent travel; this is the perfect time to tell them about Destinations. Destinations are travel opportunities for individual girls, age 11 or older. These are truly special trips that allow girls multiple options based on their interests and where they want to go. They can learn about history in Italy or scuba dive with sea turtles in Costa Rica. Of course the girls could always plan their own trip for the troop because by starting small and involving the girls in the process you’ll have set them up for success in planning their own international trip.
For more information about trips be sure to check out:
Safety Activity Checkpoints http://www.gshom.org/volunteer/resources/safetywise/