Virtual experiences and in-person family camping being offered
BEDFORD, NH – Summer camp – so many kids look forward to it, with the chance to be outdoors, make new friends, explore and gain new skills, and generally enjoy time to truly be themselves in a supportive environment. With the COVID-19 pandemic, summer camps everywhere had to adjust their plans, and Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains has reimagined camp as an opportunity for girls and their families to enjoy the outdoors while staying safe.
While Girl Scouts’ traditional day and resident camp programs in New Hampshire and Vermont are not taking place this summer in order to keep everyone safe, the council serving the two states is excited to offer some great alternatives like family evenings, family camping, and virtual camp programs. Regardless of the type of program, Girl Scouts will continue to emphasize the importance of being outdoors in nature, as a way for girls to become more confident and courageous, giving girls many opportunities to challenge themselves, make lifelong friendships, and learn skills they’ll use all their lives.
Girls are already signing up for virtual camp-from-home programs, eager to re-establish connections with old friends and see their familiar camp counselors. Virtual day campers are provided with activity kit backpacks they use throughout their week, where they spend one hour a day online getting to know their counselors and sister campers, then spend time outdoors doing activities like making an edible “campfire,” trying out an orienteering challenge, or observing wild birds.
At the Camp Kettleford drive-through open house on Sunday, June 7, Liliane Fontaine, 10, of Bow, NH, said, “I like meeting new kids and seeing the counselors every year!” She and her sister will be participating in the virtual day camp experience and were picking up their backpacks at the Bedford, NH, event.
Jazmin Averbuck is the camp director for Camp Farnsworth in Thetford, VT, and she is especially looking forward to leading girls through a virtual 24-hour camping experience, where a girl might spend a night outdoors at home, create a blanket fort for the night, or just create a tent for their stuffed animals. “We want to be sure we are giving campers time to communicate with one another and their counselors,” she said, where they sing camp songs and choose their own activities. There are videos to explore, such as a visit with horses at the barn or the waterfront at camp, and challenges to complete. The 24 hours ends with closing campfire together.
Families are invited to come to the council’s properties for an evening and enjoy a picnic dinner and activities like singing, skits, and nature walks while maintaining social distance from other family groups. “We have a long history of inviting families to our camps,” said Karyn Martin, Assistant Director of Facilities and Outdoor Program for the council. “We’ve been working hard to invite families to camps. It’s a logical progression.”
Families looking for a true camping experience are also welcome to spend a weekend on site at Camp Farnsworth, Camp Kettleford, and Camp Seawood, camping in an Adirondack or lodge, while Girl Scout staff will assist each family group individually in activities outdoors, ensuring that girls lead the way.
Safety is paramount, and many steps have been taken to ensure that all participating will follow guidelines issued by the states of New Hampshire and Vermont.
“To ensure the safety of all, we are following the CDC and state guidelines relative to COVID – 19, and the GSUSA safety activity checkpoints and relevant ACA (American Camp Association) guidelines,” said Michael Zienkiewicz, Director of Facilities & Outdoor Program for the council. “This includes the health screening of staff and all participants attending the program, social distancing and cleaning as needed and with safety reminders from staff throughout the program.”
Staff has been well trained to keep at least 6 feet of distance and wear masks. Camp rest areas will be wiped down after each use, frequent hand washing will be encouraged, and each family at camp must provide their own food.
Girl Scout camp is unique in that it is girl-led. Guided by staff, girls of every age are involved in planning, organizing, and evaluating their camp activities. Girls are empowered as they learn and practice creative thinking, leadership, and decision-making skills. Girl Scout camp programs are open to all girls entering kindergarten through grade 12—including those who have never before participated in Girl Scouts. Financial assistance is available.
It’s not too late to sign up. For more information, see https://www.girlscoutsgwm.org/en/camp/our-camps.html, call the council’s Customer Care number at 888-474-9686, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.