Staying Safe this Summer

Ah, summertime as a kid. A time for lazy days at the pool, exciting trips, and plenty of sun and fun. But if you’re like most parents, you struggle with the balance between allowing your children the freedom to gain independence and keeping them safe and protected. 

There’s good news: If your child attends a well-run summer camp at GSHPA, then she is surrounded by professionals who are trained to ensure her safety. From the administrative staff to the counselors, every staff member has been trained and certified in keeping campers as protected as possible. 

But what about when your kid isn’t in camp? What about when she’s swimming in a local pool, playing ball at a park, visiting an amusement park, or hanging out at his friend’s house? 

Summer Safety 

#1 – Sun Safety:Sunburns aren’t just painful; they can also increase a child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Send your child to camp wearing a hat with a brim (preferably one that shades the face, ears, and neck) and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection. Encourage your child to drink 5 to 6 glasses of water a day to protect from dehydration. 

#2 – Safety Plan: Getting lost in a public area can be scary for unprepared kids – which is why it’s important to arm your child with a safety plan. First off, you’ll want to make sure your child has your phone number and address memorized. Also make your child knows that if she gets lost, she should stay in the same area so that you can find her, and she should ask someone in a uniform or a mother with children for help. 

#3 – Personal Safety: Sit down with your child and teach him about personal safety rules. She should know that there’s a difference between a “good touch” and a “bad touch,” that it’s okay to say “no” if someone asks him to do something that makes him feel uncomfortable, and that no one should ever ask him to keep a secret from his parents. 

#4. Water Safety:Make sure your child knows never to enter a pool without supervision. Teach them to walk around pools and only dive in areas that are marked for diving. Warn your child to leave any water area immediately if they see lightning. 

#5 – Communication: One of the most important parts of keeping your child safe is making sure to keep an open line of communication at all times. Encourage your child to speak up if she feels uncomfortable about something, and if your child wants to talk, make the time to do so. Most importantly, try to be positive when your child does confide in you, rather than harping on what she did wrong that caused the situation.   

Here at GSHPA, we take safety very seriously. Our counselors undergo hours of pre-summer training about camper safety, including water safety and safety precautions for each specialty activity.  All lifeguards at GSHPA are Red Cross certified and many of our counselors have CPR and First Aid certification as well. 

So you can rest secure that in camp, we’ve taken every precaution to ensure that your child has a safe summer. But as a parent, you are the most important role model your child has, and the one who will teach him safety lessons that will stay with him for the rest of his life. This summer, show your children how much you love them by teaching them the rules they’ll need to stay safe not just this summer, but for years to come. 


Post by: GSHPA Director of Facilities Planning and Operations, Mike Leavitt

PA’s State Parks

As we gear up for a summer of camping and getting outdoors, I’m excited to share about some of our State Parks within our council footprint for Girl Scouts to check out this summer! Did you know that the parks of America go by many different names? The most common is usually a state or national park, but names can also include national forests, wildlife areas, recreation trails, natural areas, as well as many other names. Yosemite became the first national park in 1872, and not too long after Pennsylvania designated its first state park Valley Forge in 1893. Today Pennsylvania has 121 state parks, many of which can be found right inside our council. My list below is only a few of our state parks, but you can check out a full list here to plan your summer outdoors! 

Codorus State Park 

Located in the southern part of our council, the land of Codorus was originally used for industry, and had the first coal burning furnace west of the Susquehanna River. One of the founders of the area, George Ross, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and even introduced George Washington and Betsy Ross! With over 3,500 acres, visitors can experience fishing, bird watching, swimming, hiking, camping and more.  

Pine Grove Furnace State Park 

Also in the southern part of our council is Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Originally used as an Iron Works during the Civil War and beyond, John Birkinbine became the lead engineer for the company in 1878. Dismayed by the dwindling forests in Pennsylvania, Birkinbine eventually went on to be a founding member of the PA Forestry Association after the Iron Works was shut down. In 1913 the land was sold to the state and was turned into the state park we know today. Some of the original buildings from the Iron Works are still standing today and can be visited. This park is the halfway point of the Appalachian trail, so you can also hike the trail and visit the Appalachian Trail Museum! 

Rothrock State Forest 

Named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, also known as the “father of forestry” in Pennsylvania, this state forest boasts more than 96,000 acres! This is a great place to visit to see a forest “at work”. Protecting rare plant communities, timber harvests and gypsy moth containment are all examples of this.  

Frances Slocum State Park 

Located in the northern part of our council near Scranton, this park is named for Frances Slocum, a young girl from Wilkes-Barre who was kidnapped by a group of Delaware Indians in 1778. The Native Americans traveled north and west, and Frances traveled with them, eventually assimilating to life with the tribe, and even refusing to return home with her brothers when they finally found her 59 years later. This park features the Patrick J. Solano Environmental Education Center, which features ecology programming and an exhibit on the indigenous people of the area.  

Badges You Can Earn 

2021 Global Action Award 

  • This award has several steps to it, however visiting a state park to learn about how climate change has impacted the trees, wildlife, marine life, and other parts of the environment is one of the steps! 

Daisy Trail Adventure  

  • Girls will plan and go on a hiking adventure for this badge, and a short trail for beginners at a state park would be a great introduction to hiking and our state parks.  

Brownie Hiker  

Brownie Outdoor Art Creator 

Brownie Trail Adventure 

Junior Animal Habitats 

Junior Camper  

Junior Trail Adventure 

Junior Outdoor Art Explorer 

Cadette Trailblazing 

Cadette Primitive Camping 

Cadette Eco Trekker 

Cadette Trail Adventure 

Senior Adventurer 

Senior Trail Adventure 

Senior Paddling 

Ambassador Trail Adventure 

Ambassador Survival Camper 

Ambassador Ultimate Recreation Challenge 

This list contains only 4 of the many state parks available to us in Pennsylvania. This summer I challenge you to check out a few of our awesome state parks, and get outside and moving. You can even take your state park trip and use it as an experience toward earning one of the badges I mentioned above. Let us know in the comments which state park is your favorite to visit! 


Written by Colleen Sypien