Happy National Campout Day!

Summer has traditionally been camping season in my family and this year the Great American Campout will be Friday June 25th to Saturday, June 26th.  Growing up in National Parks we spent most of our summers backpacking and camping all over the Pacific Northwest, car camping, beach camping, backcountry camping and backyard camping.  I reached out to some friends who are Girl Scouts and some that are avid campers with their families for their favorite tips and tricks for making your next camping experience the best it can be, no matter where you will be setting up your sleeping bag.  

It is OK to stay Connected 

Depending on who you are camping with and what your goals for the trip are, many love the idea of no cell service or WiFi, and for others being connected is an important part of who they are, both ways are good.   

three girls taking a picture outside a tent

If you do decide to stay connected to technology for the camping experience there are many apps out there that can help you have a fun time while engaging with nature.  Apps for star gazing, frog songs, bird identification, really pretty much any natural history topic you can think of, these apps are a good way to integrate the knowledge you learn with the real world experiences you are having.  

#1 Rule: Have Fun!  

That’s it no other tips, having fun looks different for everyone whether you are tent camping, car camping, primitive camping or backcountry camping.  Being prepared and then being flexible will help you keep having fun and we have some tips and tricks below to help you do just that.   

Be Prepared, Keep it Simple:  

Pack what you need, no extra weight, you don’t need as much as you think, pack your first aid kit to your skill level.  

Keep organized:  

camping supplies packed in labeled totes
Photo from takingontoday.com

Organizing your supplies before you leave is a great start to staying organized when you are the campsite.  Using clear tubs and totes makes it easy to see when you need it and easy to pack in the car.  Some suggested themes from fellow Girl Scout campers. 

  • Kitchen Tote: Camping Stove, small tote with camp utensils, spices, Ziploc bags, foil, and dishwashing supplies, charcoal (if needed), matches and propane fuel, paper towels/kitchen towels, wet wipes.  
  • Sleeping Area Tote: Ground cloth or tarp (folded), mattresses for each family member, tent, camp pillows, sleeping bags.  
  • Camp Life Tote: Headlights/flashlights for each family member, cord for hanging wet clothes, games or playing cards, lanterns, chairs, axe, beach towels.  
  • Food/Snacks 
  • Toys/Crafts/Entertainment 

Wash Stations 

When camping with kids of all ages having a hand and foot washing station would be a great idea, a volunteer from York County suggested having a spot in camp where you can sent the dirty hands to get clean throughout the day.  You can use a water just that has an open/close spout or a collapsible water jug. Having a wash basin, a plastic pin that kids and adults alike can step into to wash dirty feet, you will also want to have some towels close by to dry off right away otherwise you will just keep tracking dirt and mud into you tents and sleeping bags.  

baby playing in a tub of water

Baby wipes are also a good alternative to a wash station if you are limited on space or water.  This option will make more trash, so make sure you have a place to keep the used wipes to dispose of appropriately.  Along this line of thought stock up on baby wipes and antibacterial wipes they will come in handy to wipe down kids, tools, hands, faces, etc.  

Food Plans 

two children eating smores
  • Preparing as much food as possible ahead of time 
  • Don’t store food in your car or tents.  
  • Do use bear lockers if provided, do use a lockable cooler, do hang food from a tree in a stuff sack at night at least 10 feet up and three feet out.  Do remember to hang any scented items as well, toothpaste, lotion, chap stick, and shampoo.  
  • Freeze Jugs of water ahead of time and they can act as coolers to keep your food safe, and when they melt you have more drinking water.  Make sure to not fill them up all the way to leave room for when they expand as the freeze.  

Bring Entertainment 

young girl blowing a large bubble

Yes you are going out into nature to explore and be one with the wonders of the wild, but kids tend to have a short attention span and you will only be able to tell them to go watch the clouds so many times. Being prepared with activities that will use the environment you are in and activities that are favorites from home will help keep everyone happy.   

Here are some suggestions from some seasoned campers:  

  • Squirt Guns 
  • Balls – Soccer, Football, baseball 
  • Bubbles 
  • Chalk 
  • Binoculars 
  • Exploring Camp tools 
  • Coloring Books 
  • Crafts (embroidery floss, beads, etc.) 
  • Magnifying Glass 
  • Bug catcher, identification book 
  • Card Games  

Various Tips and tricks from some experiences campers.  

  • Soap Your Pots and Pans, this provides a barrier for all the soot and makes it simple to clean the outside of the pots at the end of the trip.  
  • Always Hat or Bandana: protects from sun and ticks, also bandanas – slings, bandages, potholders, strainers, and more 
  • Plastic Bags, these can be use for everything, storing dirty wet close, keeping extra food safe, storing items you want to keep dry. 
  • Dry feet are happy feet. Have dry socks to change into, also a pair of sandals you could wear around camp to let your feet dry and air out.  Don’t put your wet shoes or boots too close to the fire to dry out.   
group of teenage girls sitting around a camp fire at night.

What other things have you found to be helpful with camping as a troop or family? Share your tips and tricks in the comments so we can all learn something new. 


Written by: Liz Bleacher, Program Coordinator, GSHPA

Site Teams

Since I arrived at GSHPA in the summer of 2019, I have been amazed and humbled by the passion of our members for our four camp properties.   

I quickly got involved with the Camp Furnace Hills site team, hearing their questions and ideas for the future use of the camp, and sat in on phone calls between GSHPA and Supporters of Camp Archbald on a monthly basis, dialoguing about areas of priority focus in maintaining the second oldest Girl Scout camp in the United States. 

My holiday season in 2019 kicked off with the Foxfire Open House at Camp Furnace Hills.  Foxfire House is a Swiss German bank house, built in the 1800’s.  The volunteer led Foxfire Team cooked goodies for the open house, arranged for a string duo to perform in the living room, and conducted tours of the house for attendees.  Foxfire House programming and tours are a gem, and true resource for Girl Scouts to learn about the life of girls long long ago. 

At the Foxfire Open House I met a number of lifetime Girl Scout members who all shared their story of connection with Camp Furnace Hills and now I’ve gotten to know them all well through monthly site team meetings.  This group of volunteers has compiled a detailed excel spreadsheet of projects at Furnace Hills, ranging from repairing fascia, to removing dead trees, and blazing new trails.  Through a network of relationships we’ve now found new vendors for accomplishing work at Camp Furnace Hills and connected troops for Bronze and Silver Awards.   

The Furnace Hills Camping Association and GSHPA are partnering together for an open house on May 16th at camp.  The details are still being finalized but tours of Foxfire House, the chance to practice archery, learn about the history of Camp Furnace Hills, and plant trees are all on the list of possibilities for the afternoon event. 

The second site team I’ve had the delight to get to know, passionately cares for Camp Archbald.  This amazing group of volunteers has shared the history of the beginning of camp, and their personal stories of how camp impacted their life over the years, culminating in the time they’re now bestowing to repair Greenwood and the Caretaker’s House, along with numerous other projects on property.  Beginning in September of 2020, the Archbald site team arranged twice monthly work days, ranging in attendance from 10 to 60!  Their excel spreadsheet of projects, with a tab for every single building on property, is an inspiration for any project manager!  Supporters of Camp Archbald execute a sold out resident camp experience each summer, and planned a yearlong acknowledgement of camp’s 100th anniversary with a celebration scheduled for the weekend of September 18, 2021. 

The paragraphs above cannot begin to describe my awe and respect for the volunteers passionately involved with Camp Furnace Hills and Camp Archbald.  Next, I hope to tap into the passion of volunteers who are connected to Camp Small Valley and Camp Happy Valley, to re-invigorate site teams at those camp properties.  If anyone wants to join the site teams for any of our properties, please reach out to me at leberly@gshpa.org or 717-461-6947. 


Post by Lutricia Eberly

Girl Scout Mom

I was recently asked to share a favorite memory from Girl Scouts. With the question, I was flooded with my experiences from Girl Scouts and immediately knew my answer was creating memories with my daughters. Although I was not a Girl Scout growing up, I have been a member for the last five years and have already made many amazing memories.  

Me and Izzy at our first Girl Scout camping trip!

Over the last 5 years, the Girl Scouts has helped my daughter and I bond while experiencing new things together. My favorite memories come from camping with my daughter’s troop. We have taken camping trips to Camp Happy Valley and Camp Small Valley. First, these trips were with my oldest daughter, Izzy, and then my youngest, Marley, when she was old enough. Due to my lack of experience going to camp, I was blown away at how awesome camping with the Girl Scouts was! We cooked over a fire, crafted, tie-dyed, hiked, shared stories, sang, and laughed A LOT. Watching my daughters build friendships and experience the outdoors are memories I will cherish forever.  

The girls at camp!

Another favorite memory that comes to mind when thinking about the Girl Scouts is working with my daughters at the fair. Each year, the local Girl Scout troops take turns running the infamous Girl Scout milkshake stand at the Shippensburg Fair. As explained earlier, having never been part of teams or groups I had no idea what we were signing up for! The first year Izzy and I worked the Girl Scout milkshake stand from 5-11pm with nonstop customers. I was in awe watching how well my daughter worked under pressure! The girls take pride in the milkshake stand knowing they are earning money for their troop. Over the years, we have taken many shifts and made a lot of milkshakes, and I couldn’t be prouder. 

Izzy waiting on customers at the Shippensburg Fair.

The last memory I will share is the countless cookie booths. Although at times, a cookie booth shift seemed like another thing I had to fit into my already busy schedule, they were opportunities to make memories with my daughters. During cookie booth shifts I got to watch Izzy and Marley gain skills by dealing with customers, pitching their ideas, and building friendships and trust with their troops. Treating ourselves to a box of tasty cookies at the end of a shift always left a sweet spot for the overall experience!  

Marley getting ready for cookie booth!!

Do you have Girl Scout memories to share? Let us know


Post by Gabby Dietrich