Fun Fall Patches For You

Post by Colleen Sypien

Fall is fast approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to get back together with your Girl Scout friends and earn some new badges! Below we have some of our favorite badges that you can earn this fall with your troop or on your own!

Financial Literacy Badges

With Fall Fundraiser starting soon, we will be learning all about how to be entrepreneurs. These badges are a great way to supplement what we learn through product sales by expanding what it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Brownie Philanthropist Badge – When it comes to running a business, it is important to know how to be financially savvy and good with people. Part of being a business owner though is giving back to your community as well, and this badge starts to build the foundation of giving back.

Junior Business Owner Badge – What type of business would you want to own? With this badge you can explore business ideas and develop a basic business plan!

Cadette Marketing Badge – Our Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs teach us about advertising and marketing to our customers through emails, door to door sales, virtual sales and more. Take what you have learned from these programs and learn how to expand your marketing strategies with this badge.

Senior Customer Loyalty Badge – Explore how to best invest in your customers and provide quality experiences for your loyal customer base with this badge.

Outdoor Badges

As the weather moves from summer to fall temperatures, we have the perfect opportunity to get outdoors! The Trail Adventure badges for each level are a great way to get outdoors and learn about planning an outdoor adventure. These badges can be done at every level, and provide girls the opportunity to have a girl led experience.

Daisy Trail Adventure Badge

Brownie Trail Adventure Badge

Junior Trail Adventure Badge

Cadette Trail Adventure Badge

Senior Trail Adventure Badge

Ambassador Trail Adventure Badge

Higher Awards

As we begin the 2022 Girl Scout year on October 1, there are new girls bridging up to levels that can earn the Higher Awards. Girls who are Junior level can earn their Bronze Award, Cadettes can earn their Silver Award, and Seniors and Ambassadors can be working towards earning their Gold Award. These are the highest awards that a Girl Scout can earn, and are amazing opportunities for girls to learn more about their community, what they need, and develop a sustainable way to help their community.

Bronze Award

Silver Award

Gold Award

As leaders start to plan the year with their girls, don’t forget that there are planning resources available to help! Our Award and Badge Explorer shows all of the badges available to girls to earn, and gives an overview of the steps required to earn each badge, as well as a link to purchase the badge. Another fantastic resource is the Volunteer Toolkit. Our Volunteer Toolkit User Guide helps leaders to navigate and learn all that the toolkit has to offer. From meeting resources and material lists to lesson plan outlines and meeting timelines, the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) has it all!

Let us know in the comments what badges you are excited to work on this year!

4 Steps to Plan a Successful Girl Scout Year

Fall is here, the weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to change and Girl Scout are heading back to school.  This means girls, parents and volunteers are starting to get crazy busy with their hectic schedules.  But have no fear, whether you are a brand new troop leader or a seasoned volunteer there are online and offline resources that will help you have conversations with your parents and volunteers and plan for the year, girl led of course.  Here are some easy and great ideas to help make your meeting planning smooth sailing.

Find your Troop’s Vision

Talk with your troop members, adults and girls, to discuss what their vision for the upcoming year is going to be.  What are your goals, what are they excited about, what are they dreading? Girl Scouts of all ages are able to come up with some SMART goals for the troop for the year to help them grow in their experiences.  Don’t fall into the temptation to plan it all yourself, I know sometimes it feels easier, but Girl Scouts is girl-led.  Having the girls participate in the planning will help the girls engage and be invested in the yearly agenda.

Flexibility is Key

That agenda you spend all the time and energy creating, it is a changing document.  You can spend as much time planning for the unexpected as you want and there will be something that pops up unexpectedly.  It is important to stay flexible and let the girls that it is ok to have changes to original plans, use it as a teaching opportunity.  For example, your troop has planned a hike that might need to be cancelled or moved because of the weather, a guest speaker had to cancel last minute leaving a gap in your nightly plans.  Check in with the troop throughout the year to make sure you are staying on track for your vision and see if any changes need to be made.

Brainstorming!

Think about how much time you are going to need to spend on planning, do you just need one meeting for the younger girls or a few meeting for the older girls to take the lead.  Keep the planning specific with a timeline so you can stay focused and keep the process moving forward.  You don’t want to spend all your year planning and not actually get to the fun stuff.

Depending on the attention span and interest of your troop, you can plan a couple meetings at a time or take on months or the entire year.  This is brainstorming so make sure to write down all the ideas from each member even if they are crazy and seem to be too big or out there.  These ideas can lead to something that would work for your group.

Ideas to keep track of your brainstorming session:

  • Write it down! Use poster board, butcher paper, whiteboard or you could use a Google doc if you are a more tech troop.
  • Have each girl brainstorm individually before coming back as a group to talk about it.  Some girls have a hard time sharing their thoughts in large groups so this will allow everyone to have input.
  • Make it a game: give the girls 5 minutes to write down as many ideas for each topic you need to plan. Examples, snacks, service projects, badges, journeys, fun trips, places to visit, etc.

Start Big, Add Details

Take a look at the list that you created and decide as a group what you are going to do.  For younger girls you may need to take the lead as the adult and with the older girls let them give it a try and be there to help as needed.  To narrow things down, talk as a group to come up with the favorites.  This can be done through voting, discussion, ranking, and more, it is important that everyone feels they are being included and their voice is being heard.

Once you have narrowed down the list to the top interested of the troop you can start filling in the details. This is where your network will come in handy to use your connections within and without Girl Scouts.  This can include your Service Unit, Troop Leaders, parents, your council, social media or community groups.

Online resources are a great place to go for you and your girls to research your plans.  Search engines, Pinterest, and blogs are great places to find if someone else has tried your idea, and you can build off what they had done. 

What to do next

Remember you don’t have to do it all yourself, have the girls, parents, and other volunteers help! Use your resources wisely, this includes people too! Make a plan, be flexible, and use what you have to make your upcoming year full of fun success!

Building a Positive Image: You and Your Body

Written by Melissa M. Brown, Psy.D, UPMC

Feeling insecure once in a while is normal.  But it should not be your norm.  Appreciating the body you have and refocusing toward positivity are steps you can take toward valuing yourself as a complex individual.

What if I asked you to name three things that you would change about your body? How quickly would you answer? And if I asked you to name three things you love about your body? Would you answer as quickly?

If you struggle with the positive answers, you are not alone.  American women have a much higher rate of distorted feelings about themselves than women from other countries and cultures.  In fact, in a survey by Body Image International, females in the U.S> had lower opinions about every body part they asked about.  And these same feelings extend from women to teens to adolescents – most of us struggle with our body image at different points in our lives. 

What is body image?

How do you see yourself and feel about your body when you look in the mirror? Your thoughts, perceptions and attitudes about your physical appearance are your “body image.” But your body image is more than how you feel about physical appearance, attractiveness and beauty.  How you perceive your body is your mental representation of yourself.  This “picture” can govern everything from your life plan to the plans you make each day.

While it may seem that we are making progress, our culture needs to continue to reshape what we see (think television and magazines) so that the majority of the models and actors represent the same diversity of bodies (among other attributes) that we have in real life.  As long as the “ideal” or “preferred” is portrayed as “thin” or some other unrealistic size or shape for most of us, we will continue to have unrealistic expectations about our own bodies. 

How does social media impact body image?

There are some social media “influencers” who use the platform to promote body positivity and self-acceptance.  Ashley Graham, Serena Williams, and Demi Lovato are just a few female celebrities who have taken a stand by posting un-retouched photos of themselves or challenging negative comments made to their social media accounts about their bodies.  As of yet, however, these actions are not counteracting the impacts of social media on most of us.

In fact, a study done by Rachel Cohen, PhD Candidate, UTS Graduate School of Health, in 2018 found “engaging in photo activities, (e.g. viewing friends’ photos or updating your own profile picture) on Facebook, was associated with concerns including greater “thin-ideal” internalization, self-objectification and body dissatisfaction.” The study also found that following appearance-focused accounts on Instagram, (i.e. health and fitness or celebrities like the Kardashians), was related to some negative body image outcomes and disordered eating.

So, if social media is showing more kinds of bodies, from thin to curvy to full-size, why do we still have a negative image of our own bodies?  As adolescents, we experience the height of self-consciousness and the need for peer validation. It’s normal in our growth and development.  But with the Internet as a new “peer,” the next question to ask is, “Is what I’m seeing real?” Air brushing, glittering light, posing, and filters are a few techniques that distort images and make what you see on social media quite different from reality.

What can I do to have a more positive body image?

Accept your body

  • Don’t body-share yourself. When you make harsh comments about your own body, it hurts your self-esteem.  That’s true whether you say it out loud or think it to yourself.  It hurts just as much as if someone else said it.  Be kind.  Respect yourself, even if you have things to work on.
  • Build a better habit. Do you have a habit of putting your body down? To break that bad habit, build a good one in its place.  Tell yourself what you like instead of what you don’t. Keep doing it until it is a habit.

Like your body

  • Find things to like about your looks. Do you like the way your hands move or what they create? What about your eyes or your smile? Tell yourself what you like and why.  If you aren’t sure, what do your friends tell you they like about you? Accept those things. Let yourself feel good.  There is a lot to like about you.
  • Focus on what your body can DO.  Celebrate all the things that your body does for you from breathing to dancing.  Your body is amazing. Think about all that it enables you to do. Be grateful.

Take care of your body

  • Eat healthy foods. Learn what foods are good for you, and how much is the right amount.  Eating right is about building strong bones, growing and having energy.  Being good to your body can help you feel good about yourself.
  • Move every day. Your body takes care of you. Take care of it and have fun.  What do you like to do to get moving? From walking, swimming, biking, hiking and so much more, movement is a gift. Moving also lifts our mood.  It can also disrupt negative thoughts and help us refocus.

How can adults help?

Adults can acknowledge their own insecurities and struggles.  In one study, 90% of teens who reported being unhappy with their body shape said their own mother had an “insecure body image.”  How adults talk about ourselves, how we look, our relationship with food, diet culture and our bodies, as well as how we speak about other women in the news and on social media can have a huge impact on how young people perceive themselves.

Adults should talk about social media. Having a conversation around social media and how it makes adolescents feel can have a big impact. Open, honest, frank discussions about social media and the potential impact it can have can help uncover any feelings of negativity (or positivity) it may be having on the well-being of young people.

Adults can encourage role models of all shapes and sizes. Many of the images we see in magazines and across various media platforms can give us a skewed view of what we should aspire to look like.  By highlighting different types of beauty, adults can help young people learn to recognize and overcome insecurities.

When should I talk with an adult?

Talk with a trusted adult after you have read this post.  Tell them you have negative feelings about your body and any concerns you may have.  Getting a different perspective and being reminded of how much you have to offer can help you feel confident and improve your self-esteem.

When we have negative thoughts and feelings about our bodies, these feelings may overflow into other areas of life.  If you think you may be depressed, tell someone right away. Other things to watch out for:

  • Constant comparison of your body with others
  • Feelings of guilt or shame about food
  • A fixation on losing weight or about specific parts of your body
  • Excessive exercise
  • Use of diet pills, diuretics, or laxatives
  • Periods of fasting, or extremely limited food intake
  • Changes in mood (irritability)

If you experience any of these, tell a parent, doctor, or therapist what you are going through.  Ask for help.  Body image and self-esteem can get better with help and care. 

Start on the path to positive body image

Getting to a positive body image is a journey that can take different lengths of time. Reading this article can be a first step from negative thoughts about your body toward positive body image.  Now you have an introduction to healthier ways of looking at your body.  If you think you need help to continue making changes, ask an adult.  The more you practice positive thought patterns, the closer you will be to loving the body you have and appreciating who you are as a whole.

A Fortnite at the Farm in Felton, York County

Dozens of Girl Scouts, friends and families joined GSHPA at the teaching museum in Felton Pennsylvania for a fun afternoon of Fortnite activities! Girls participated in archery, structure building, healing by the campfire and meeting some of the farm animals including llamas. No wait… they weren’t llamas, they were alpacas! Girls learned the differences between llamas and alpacas at the event as well.

For more information about fun upcoming GSHPA fun visit our events calendar!

S’more for Everyone

In honor of National S’more Day we here at GSHPA wanted to share some of our top s’more recipes! We have included twists on your classic s’mores and some brand new creations! We are especially excited about our fall-themed s’mores! We hope these recipes help you celebrate National S’more Day in style! Maybe you will even find your new favorite from our recipes below!

Chocolate Covered Pretzel

You Will Need:

  • Two Pretzels (medium to large in size)
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Chocolate

Once you have cracked your graham cracker add your chocolate and your freshly toasted marshmallow!

Autumn Apple

You Will Need:

  • Two Ginger Snap Cookies
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Sliced Apples (we recommend Honey Crisp)
  • Apple Pie Spice

Top your ginger snap cookie with apple slices and a toasted marshmallow. Sprinkle with Apple Pie Spice and enjoy!

Peach Cobbler

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Sliced Peaches or Peach Pie Filling
  • Ground Cinnamon

Start by cracking your graham cracker in half then top it with your freshly toasted marshmallow and peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Chocolate
  • Sliced Strawberries

Once you have cracked your graham cracker start piling it high with chocolate and sliced strawberries. Then finish it up with your freshly toasted marshmallow!

Caramel Apple

You Will Need:

  • One Cinnamon Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Caramel Sauce

Simply crake your graham cracker in half, top with your freshly toasted marshmallow and drizzle with as much caramel sauce as your heart desires!

Pumpkin Spice

You Will Need:

  • One Cinnamon Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Pumpkin Puree or Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice

Start by spreading your pumpkin puree or pie filing on a graham cracker cracked in half. Then top it with a toasted marshmallow and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Try adding chocolate if you’re feeling bold! 

Mexican Hot Chocolate

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Chocolate
  • Chili Powder

Add your chocolate and toasted marshmallow to a cracked graham cracker then sprinkle with chili powder and enjoy!

Salted Caramel

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Flaky Salt

Crack your graham cracker in half then add your toasted marshmallow. Once assembled drizzle with caramel sauce and finish with a sprinkle of flaky salt!

Chocolate Covered Cherry

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Chocolate
  • Slice Cherries or Cherry Pie Filling

Simply crake your graham cracker in half, top with chocolate, cherries and your freshly toasted marshmallow!

Peanut Butter and Banana

You Will Need:

  • One Graham Cracker
  • One Marshmallow (freshly toasted)
  • Chocolate
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sliced Bananas

Once you have cracked your graham cracker start piling it high with chocolate and sliced bananas. Spread peanut butter on your other graham cracker then put it all together!

We hope you enjoy our s’more recipes! Be sure to share your favorite s’more recipes in the comments below!

5 Million Trees in 5 Years

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania and Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership share in protecting the environment.

Five million trees planted in the next five years.

It’s a bold nationwide initiative and one that the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is proud to support.

GSHPA is also honored to have a bold partner in this effort: Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership, a program of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Heart of Pa Council kicked off its local initiative in April by hosting its first tree-planting event at Camp Small Valley in northern Dauphin County. GSHPA Gold Award Girl Scout, Lauren Braught, led the charge.

Gold Award Girl Scout Laren Braught, left, assists a fellow Girl Scout in planting a tree at Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County.

Lauren’s Gold Award Project in the fall of 2020 involved planting 50 trees at Camp Small Valley. Topping that effort, she helped to plant 100 trees at the April event, which kicked off Girl Scouts USA Tree Promise. Lauren, a recent high school graduate from Cumberland County, provided instruction on tree planting to Girl Scout members and volunteers. Adults also joined in on the fun.

Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Braught, from Cumberland County, helps plant trees at Camp Furnace Hills during an open house in Lancaster County in May.

“We were honored to have Lauren’s experience with Chesapeake Bay Foundation Student Leader program and dovetail that experience into our council’s Tree Promise kickoff,” said Lutricia Eberly, GSHPA Director of Outdoor and Program Experiences. “The power of that moment is that younger Girl Scouts are able to look up to Lauren, learn how to correctly plant trees, and be inspired for their own Gold Award project.”

A month later, Lauren was helping young Girl Scouts again as she assisted in planting dozens more trees at Camp Furnace Hill’s open house celebration on May 16.

Check out GSHPA’s event calendar for future opportunities to plant trees in your neighborhood.

What is the Tree Promise?

GSHPA Girl Scout preps a tree for planting during a open house at Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County.

Girl Scouts joined forces with the Elliott Wildlife Values Project and American Forests. What better person to ask to help plant, protect, and honor trees than the Girls Scouts? Members “use resources wisely” and “make the world a better place” every day by following the Girl Scout Law and Girl Scout Promise.

What is the Gold Award?

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable — proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has. Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond.

28 New Girl Scout Badges for all Ages!

We are excited to introduce you to 28 new badges for Girl Scouts of all ages.

You can become a digital activist, make your own Cookie Business plan, and explore the natural world around you through math.  It is time to try something new.  Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to take new adventures with these 28 new badges in Math in Nature, Entrepreneurship, and Digital Leadership, along with new Global Action Awards.  No matter their passions, Girl Scouts will find a way to break new ground and share their experiences. 

See the new badges below with the dates we are offering badge days and as always take a look at the Badge Explorer to start planning.

The Brand New Badges

New for All Levels

All Girl Scouts in grades K-12 can now earn Digital Leadership and Cookie Business badges.

6 Digital Leadership Badges

Sponsored by Instagram

Girl Scouts of all ages who are looking to explore the power of being online and social media will find the Digital Leadership badges for them.  They will learn to be safe online and manage their screen time, create a social impact and become a digital activist, and connect with their communities, local and global.

Check out GSHPA’s Event list to sign up for our Virtual Badge Days focusing on Digital Leadership.

13 Cookie Business Badges

Daisies to Ambassadors will be challenged to think outside the cookie booth to become Cookie Goal Setters, Bosses, and Influencers.  Digital sales and marketing are just a part of all the new curriculum to help the girls learn how to make the most of their cookie season and the Digital Cookie platform.

2 Global Action Awards Badges

There are now two new major awards for all levels of Girl Scouts: World Thinking Day Award and Global Action Award.  Girl Scouts will be able to start their global impact with these awards, one for each level.

New for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors

Girls Scouts in grades K-5 can now earn brand-new Math in Nature badges.

9 Math in Nature Badges

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson

Girls are going to get outdoors and explore the world around them through nature and math all at once.  These new badges will help Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors discover the links of science and nature, including, the Fibonacci sequence, patterns, and so much more.

Getting Started Today!

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA are ready for you to try these out we have Badge workshops scheduled for a selection of these new badges that you can sign up for virtually and in person

GSUSA has free self-guided activities available online through Girl Scouts at Home.

You can also access the Volunteer Toolkit, for a variety of programming, including troop meeting plans, tips for volunteers, and other resources.

Explore all of these amazing new badges online using the Awards and Badge Explorer.

One Small Step and One Giant Impact

Samiya Henry, Gold Award Recipient, Dauphin County

When you hear the phrase “Girl Scouts,” what do you think of? Do you think about the troop leaders who inspire their girls to break boundaries and discover the beauty of the world in everything they do? Or do you think about the endless number of badges there are, each badge being a brick that helps Girl Scouts who are trying to make the world a better place? What about the Girl Scout cookies? Even my mind goes straight to the $4.00 box of Thin Mints when I hear “Girl Scouts.” But it also makes me think of leadership and opportunity. I have been a Girl Scout with the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) for over ten years. GSHPA was the first organization I joined after moving to Harrisburg, PA from the Philadelphia area. 

The Girl Scouts not only helped me adjust to my new school and make new friends within my troop, but it helped me understand more about my new found Harrisburg community. Girl Scouts taught me the importance of leadership, community, and service, three very important skills that can guide you in life. These skills began to take root with my journey from being a Brownie (in my elementary school) troop to a Senior (as a one-girl troop (AKA: a Juliette)). These skills, along with the traits of volunteerism, understanding, trustworthiness, and business management are what make Girl Scouts unstoppable.  These skills are empowering and allow us to fulfill projects to the best of our abilities. The one project many Girl Scouts strive to complete is the Girl Scout Gold Award. I completed my Gold Award, entitled “One Small Step,” in July of 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I based my Girl Scout Gold Award around STEM.  I merged my passion for space exploration with my passion for serving and educating others about space, science, and law.  It all began at a conference I attended.  My decision to draft a Space Bill of Rights was sparked by one of the speakers from the National Space Society convention I attended in 2019. 

The speaker talked about Neil Armstrong’s footprint and how there are no laws in space protecting ownership of his footprint.  Thus, my idea to draft a Space Bill of Rights for those who plan to live on Mars or on the moon one day.  This same speaker would open my eyes to a very important fact: space is not owned by anyone.  No person, nor nation.  Therefore, when I began to think about a Space Bill of Rights, I decided to review various constitutions throughout the world.  

When drafting my Bill of Rights, I sought community involvement.  The “community” consisted of people from all around the world:  Africa, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Philippines, and the United States of America.  Starting in May 2020, I was able to engage the community by asking them to participate in two surveys I created.  The survey questions were generated from the constitutions I reviewed from various countries and my research concerning medical ethics.  By responding to the survey questions, the “community” of citizens from all around the world were able to help me identify the elements they deemed most important for the Space Bill of Rights. 

I was able to submit my Final Report titled: “One Small Step,” on July 20, 2020 and I was approved to receive my Gold Award in no time!  Not only did I achieve the highest Girl Scout honor, but I was able to engage the global community with a project involving space, medical ethics, and law.  Just imagine:  The possibility of being able to see the Girl Scout flag being placed on the Moon or Mars next to the U.S. flag one day! It is possible. With the accomplishments of Space-X and NASA’s rover exploration on Mars, it is possible.  In fact, the space race to the moon and Mars makes my project timely and relevant.  

I have a website up and running where people can learn more about the history and purpose of my Gold Award, while also having the ability to take the two surveys. The link is here: https://smilin632.wixsite.com/sbor20

Samiya and her project advisor, Mrs. Rebecca Lowe.

You can also reach for the stars.  If you are a Girl Scout, stay the course and follow your dreams.  The Gold Award is the perfect platform to help you follow your dreams.  Never give up. Show the world what you can do. 

The Girl Scouts has played a major role in shaping my character and my outlook on life.  For ten years, I have learned to set goals, give back to my community, lead others, and dare to dream.  It has been an honor for me to be a Girl Scout, to earn my Gold Award, and to receive a scholarship from GSHPA.  As I prepare for the next phase of my educational career, I will carry my Girl Scout experiences with me for life.  My Lifetime Membership will serve as a constant reminder that becoming a Girl Scout was one of the best decisions I could have made.  Being able to complete my Gold Award during a world -wide pandemic was humbling.  Meeting new people and being able to help others was a Blessing.  

By the words of the Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are the makers.”  Thank you GSHPA for helping to prepare me to conquer the world.  Thank you, for everything!  

Backyard Camping

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to get outdoors this summer is by traveling to your own backyard! You’ll save time and money, but can have just as much fun planning your backyard camping adventure as you would planning a trip away. Keep reading for some fun ideas for a summer backyard campout!

Shelter

First you’ll want to decide what kind of sleeping arrangements you’d like to have. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Setting up a tent: if you choose this option, you could sleep on the ground in your sleeping bags just like you might on a camping trip in the woods. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a more comfortable arrangement, you could set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows for more of a “glamping” experience!
  • Create a tarp tent: all you need is a tarp and rope! This option would be more open-air than a tent, and allows you to sleep under the stars while still being protected from the elements. 
  • No shelter: if the weather is going to be nice overnight, you could choose no shelter at all! Remember to make sure this is a safe option – think about what kind of animals might come through your yard in the middle of the night

Remember that whatever shelter you choose to set up, you can make it as fun as you’d like! Adding extra blankets or stuffed animals will make the space nice and cozy. Some fairy lights strung up will provide you with light once it’s dark. Or if you want to imagine you are hiking through the mountains with only the items you can carry on your back, maybe your setup looks a little more rustic with just your shelter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a lantern. This camping adventure is completely up to you!

Activities

After your shelter is set up for the night, don’t forget to plan some camping activities! Some of our favorite Girl Scout activities include:

  • Singing songs around a campfire (don’t forget to have some fire starters on hand, as well as an adult!)
  • Going for a hike – this could be a walk through your neighborhood, where you listen for the sounds of nature, or if you have a hiking trail near your house you could explore that too!
  • Have an outdoor Soundscape Scavenger Hunt and listen to all of the different sounds nature has. 
  • Learn about the Leave No Trace principles, and make a plan to follow those principles both on your backyard camping adventure, as well as on future trips into the outdoors. 
  • Learn about the stars in the sky through GSHPA’s Constellation series. Remember to wait for the sun to set completely. You can use the app SkyView Lite (with parent permission), and watch the first video of the series here.
  • After the sun has set and you’re getting ready to sleep, another camping favorite you can do is storytelling!  Each person can take turns telling a story they’ve heard or have made up. Or you could make it a game by having each person say only one sentence of a story. Popcorn stories can be super silly since everyone only gets to say one sentence at a time!

Now that you have your shelter set up, and activities planned, we can’t forget one of the most important parts of a camping adventure…the food!

Backyard Cooking

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: the food! We are going to be talking about all the fun and interesting ways to cook outside! Did you know that you can actually bake brownies in your backyard? How about a full chicken or a whole pie? Well you definitely can and we’re going to show you how!

Box Oven:

Kicking off our outdoor cooking adventure is a box oven! As the name suggests it is made with a cardboard box!

To create your Box Oven you will need:

  • A Cardboard Box (extra thick/sturdy if possible)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4-6 Empty Soda Cans
  • A Grill Rack (must fit inside box)
  • Charcoal
  • Small Aluminum Pan

You will want your box to have a flap to cover the opening like a door. The remaining flaps can be removed. Then start by covering your cardboard box in aluminum foil – shiny side out! Be sure to cover every inch of cardboard in foil to ensure it doesn’t burn!

Once covered place your empty soda cans on the sides to hold up your grill rack. After your box oven is all set up begin putting hot charcoal in your aluminum pan! Keep in mind each brick of charcoal will be around 50 degrees, so add enough to reach your desired temperature with that in mind!

Just let your box oven preheat – then start cooking! We recommend making brownies or pizza! And don’t forget a potholder or other heat protection!

Flower Pot:

Did you know you can grill using a flower point? You can – let’s talk about how!

To create this unique grill, you will need:

  • 10 Inch Ceramic Flower Pot (please use a plain undecorated flower pot)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Perlite
  • Charcoal

Start by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the inside of your flower pot – shiny side out! Once the inside is fully coated add your pearlite. Perlite is a mineral that reduces moisture and insulates heat which can be commonly found in any garden center or store. You will want to pour perlite to fill your lined flower pot about halfway. After this has been added place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the perlite. Top the aluminum foil with hot charcoal and you are ready to roll!

Once hot you can use your flower pot just like a grill! We recommend roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to start! It is a great option for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts to try! You can even add a grilling rack to the top for more cooking options!

Tin Can Cooking:

Cooking on top of a tin can is great for camping, especially for breakfast! It is a great option for french toast and pancakes!

To create your own you will need:

  • #10 Tin Can (make sure the inside is not lined with plastic)
  • A Buddy Burner

Yes, that’s all you need! Before we talk about how to set up your tin can, let’s talk about how to make a Buddy Burner!

To create a Buddy Burner, you will need:

  • A Tuna Can (or similar – freshly washed)
  • Strips of Cardboard, Paper or Wood Shavings
  • Melted Wax

When making your Buddy Burner start by emptying, washing and drying your tuna can. After that fill the can with strips of cardboard, paper or wood shavings – this will be your fuel. When filling the can try not to pack your too tight to ensure air can circulate. We recommend making sure a few edges are sticking out for easy lighting.

Once you have filled your can simply pour melted wax inside about 2/3 of the way and allow to set! Once dry you are ready to get started!

So now that you have a Buddy Burner, let’s talk about your larger tin can! Start by washing and drying it. After that you should take a can open and create small holes along the top edge of the can, like the image above, to help with ventilation. And that’s it – you’re ready to get cooking!

Simply light the Buddy Burner and place your Tin Can Stove on top. Once hot you can use it to cookie pancakes, French toast and much more! After you’re done cooking we recommend flipping the top of your stove onto the Buddy Burner to extinguish it – just be careful, it will be hot!

We hope you enjoyed learning all about our favorite backyard cooking and camping methods! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments below!

Important Lessons in Sign Language

Rachel Skoczynski, Troop 15089

Hello, my name is Rachel, I am from Troop 15089 in Mechanicsburg, PA.  We are working toward earning the Speaking in Sign badge, and we started the first half of this badge by doing a Zoom meeting with my Troop 15089 and Troop 20078 in York, PA.  

During this Girl Scout meeting with my deaf mom, I got the chance to teach the Girl Scouts about the deaf culture. We also taught them how to sign the letters of the alphabet, Pledge of Allegiance, and the Girl Scout Promise.   

At the second half of the meeting, we even had a Sign Language interpreter join our call and talk about a career as an interpreter. With all of the new skills we taught, I hope they will be able to inform other people one day and share the importance of the deaf culture. 

Your shirt, attention and personalities matter  

The top 3 things to know when meeting a deaf person is to wear a solid color shirt, talk to them not their interpreter, and to not cover your mouth.   

You should always wear a solid shirt so when signing to them they can easily understand the signs. It is important to look directly at someone and not at the sign language interpreter and lastly you should be careful not to cover your mouth when speaking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.  

Personally, I have been signing since I was a toddler, and my mom gave me a sign name showing the first letter of my first name and first letter of my middle name.  

Later on I realized everyone else’s sign name had a fun and creative meaning or had to do something with their personality.  So, I asked my mom if she could change it and therefore my new sign name incorporated the sign of happy and brave to reflect my personality!  

In the next portion of our badge we will be completing the take action portion and I will be teaching American Sign Language at the Joshua Program in Harrisburg this summer.  

I am looking forward to this and grateful for the experiences I’ve had with Girl Scouting. 

Troop 20078’s video inspiring others to learn to sign.