Girl Scouts get robotic, learn outdoor skills through GSHPA camp workshops

By Kristian Beverly

The sky is the limit for Girl Scout activities, and this week we’re highlighting STEAM Saturday robotics and Troop Adventure Day workshops that were held on Feb. 5 at two of our camp properties!

Earlier this month, girls participated in a Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) STEAM Saturday workshop focused on robotics at Camp Happy Valley in Adams County. The girls drew and decorated their own paper robot before sharing their creations with each other.

They then received a lesson about Botley the robot. Botley is a robot that’s perfect for learning about the basics of coding. Botley is controlled by a remote that sends instructions such as “go forward” or “turn.” After their lesson, the girls broke up into groups before being handed their own robot.

Teamwork and friendship allowed the girls to learn and have fun. Some groups created obstacle courses for Botley. Others had it spin! Much fun and education was had in whatever capacity the girls choose to do with Botley. When asked if they had fun, there was a resounding “YES!”

On the same day as the STEAM robotics workshop, Daisies, Brownies and Juniors participated in Troop Adventure Day at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County, where the girls learned about different outdoor skills.

Doesn’t it look like a lot of fun? 

Kristian Beverly is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in digital media for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at kbeverly@gshpa.org.

Join us in March for our program events!

GSHPA has an extensive lineup of program events planned just for you! From our weekly STEAM with the Program Team sessions, to an Adult Enrichment opportunity, to an Outdoor Journey at Camp Archbald, this month has something for everyone. Visit our event calendar to see all events and opportunities being offered in March.

Registration is open for all events – we can’t wait to see you there!

Experience the magic of camp

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is gearing up for another action-packed season of summer camp adventure. With themes like Fairy Garden Discovery, She’s Crafty, Survival Games, and Vintage Girl Scout, there’s an activity for every girl of any age and interest.

The magic of camp does not manifest overnight, but is carefully crafted by the GSHPA Outdoor Program team all year long. Led by Outdoor Program Manager Sarah Baldwin, the camp staff works tirelessly to put all the pieces together to create a camp experience girls will never forget.

“The outdoor movement is all across Girl Scouts right now, [and] camp is a huge part of that,” Baldwin said. “Camp is the tradition that people hang on to. It’s what they think of when they think of going outdoors.”

This rings especially true for Baldwin, who was once herself a Girl Scout.

“I was lucky that both my troop leaders wanted to do programs outside of the meetings,” Baldwin said of her time as a scout. “I really enjoyed getting to do those camping trips and I’ve always loved the outdoors. Being able to have those experiences was amazing.”

Baldwin in her element during an outdoor escapade.

Shortly after graduating college, the Massachusetts native took her passion for the outdoors across the U.S. From a wolf conservation in Indiana to a 4-H camp in South Carolina, she has traveled the country working at a variety of outdoor education centers and camps. With the skills and experiences she has gained throughout her career, Baldwin breathes life into camp at GSHPA’s four camp properties.

“We’ve seen over and over again that a girl-only environment allows our Girl Scouts to reach higher and discover more about themselves.”

GSHPA Outdoor Program Manager Sarah Baldwin

Baldwin unites with a predominantly female camp staff, on par with GSHPA’s unique girl-only camps and events. She said being able to have a camp where girls can see adult women be successful and get to connect and learn with them is an invaluable experience for campers.

“We’ve seen over and over again that a girl-only environment allows our Girl Scouts to reach higher and discover more about themselves without that peer pressure,” Baldwin said. “They find they’re succeeding in activities they wouldn’t associate with girls as much.”

Baldwin teaches a group of girls outdoor skills during one of GSHPA’s camp programs.

Success is also found at camp by girls who may struggle with learning in a traditional classroom setting. With new themes like Mystery Investigation, where girls will travel to Harrisburg University’s new forensic science lab and solve a mock-crime scene, and Potions & Wands, where campers will learn about aquaponics and make their own “potions” at Commonwealth Charter Academy’s (CCA) AgWorks lab, girls can take an outside-the-box approach to learning something new.

“Those kids who can’t learn in a classroom environment thrive,” said Baldwin. “The person the teacher calls the ‘troubled kid’ is shining at camp. They’re learning outside with a different hands-on approach.”

Although summer camp only lasts a few weeks, the acquired skills, moments of triumph, and newfound friendships last well beyond when the last camper leaves the property for the season.

“I got a letter from a camper in 2019 that was from a Senior girl scout. Basically it was her journey of camp and how much she appreciated our camp,” Baldwin said. “Camp has always been her home away from home. I read the letter to staff every year to show the impact of camp on the girls.”

Baldwin supervises swimmers at Camp Archbald during a 2021 summer camp.

These success stories from GSHPA’s camp program are what energize staff to plan impactful adventures, give their full time and attention to campers, and brave the elements, year after year.

“We are not a five-star hotel. It’s hot. We’re in the down pouring rain half the time. And they’re handling it like pros,” Baldwin said. “Every day is exhausting, but every day is worth it.”

Camp registration opens to Very Involved Campers (VICs) this week and to the general public Feb. 1. Check out GSHPA’s four camp properties Camp Archbald, Camp Happy Valley, Camp Furnace Hills, and Camp Small Valley.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

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.

Let’s Get Outside – Girl Scout Style!

7 Awesome Outdoor Activities

As we enter the fifth month of the year, and have learned over the past year how important outdoor experiences are, we have 7 self-led ideas for you and your Girl Scout to get outdoors!  Below are some links/activities to explore a variety of fun related to the outdoors.  Be sure to read all the way to the end for an edible campfire!   

  1. Earn the “Clean Water Grows on Trees” fun patchvia our partners Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership. Trees provide habitat and improve the air we breathe. But did you know that clean water grows on trees? Earn this fun patch by learning about the trees in your neighborhood and then taking action to protect them. 
Lauren Braught, GSHPA Gold Award Girl Scout holding “Clean Water Grows on Trees” fun patch
  1. Soundscape Scavenger Hunt- A soundscape is the acoustic environment as perceived by humans. In this activity, you will explore your backyard for a variety of sounds! This activity satisfies parts of both Daisy: Outdoor Art Maker – Step 2 and Brownie: Senses – Step 2 
  1. Bug Bingo– Discover the wonder and joys of nature through bugs! This activity satisfies step 3 of the Brownie: Bugs Badge.   
     
  1. Learn more about Knots with this Girl Scouts USA blog post:  10 Essential Knots for Girl Scouts  
  1. Backpacking Skills Videos - Learn the basics of backpacking and then learn more about GSHPA’s backpacking programhere
  1. Virtual Constellation Discovery Series - Learn about the stars, constellations, and the stories written in the night sky with Sarah, our Outdoor Program Manager, through a series of fun videos. 
  1. Activity: Edible Campfires 
    (This activity is courtesy of Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington council) 

Learn about fire building and safety by making edible fires! 

Supplies 

  • A plate (to build your edible fire on) 
  • A small cup of water (to represent your fire bucket) 
  • A spoon or fork (to represent your shovel/rake) 
  • Small roundish snacks (to represent your fire ring) 
  • M&M’s, cheerios, and mini marshmallows 
  • Any sort of small, slim snacks (to represent tinder) 
  • Thin, twig-like snacks (to represent kindling) 
  • Pretzel sticks and veggie straws 
  • Thicker, branch-like snacks (to represent fuel) 
  • Jumbo pretzel sticks or tootsie rolls 

Directions  

  • When we make a campfire, we need a clear area free of dried grass and sticks and we should be using an established fire pit. Begin making your fire by making sure you have your plate clean and ready!  
  • Create a fire ring on your plate with your “rocks.” 
  • Do we have the right safety equipment on hand? Ensure that your fire “bucket” is filled with water and that you have your “shovel” nearby. Pull back your hair and make sure you’re not wearing anything that could hang into the fire. 
  • The next step is to collect your tinder, kindling, and fuel. 
  • Tinder is your smallest piece of wood, about the size of your pinky finger. This wood catches quickly and its main purpose is to get your initial flame. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • Kindling is the next piece, about the size of 1-2 fingers. This type of wood is the second stage, it burns longer than tinder and can get that necessary initial fire started. Once you get enough kindling burning, it should begin to generate enough heat and flame to get your big pieces lit. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • Fuel is the biggest log, the ones that keep your fire burning all night. Some styles of fire have it in their initial formation, while others have to begin to add it as your fire builds up enough heat to catch them. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • When building your fire, consider what you want to use it for.  
  • To cook food, to keep you warm in harsh weather, or simply to provide a space to gather around and sing songs and tell stories.  
  • There are hundreds of styles of campfires, here are some easy examples to start. 

Once you’ve fully enjoyed your fire, the most important thing to do is ensure that it is completely put out. Eat your snack, or pack it away into a plastic baggie to enjoy later! 


Post by Lutricia Eberly

Seven Ways to Spend Earth Day

Spring is finally here!  No more days of bundling up in half of your wardrobe just to walk outside.  We can see the ground, the flowers, the birds, and not under a foot of snow.  Now, how to celebrate the warmer weather?  With some Earth Day activities of course!  Earth Day is officially Thursday, April 22, but why not celebrate all of April?  Check out some of our favorite Earth Day activities and let us know what your favorites are in the comments! 

Nature Photography 

Grab your camera or phone and head outside to take some pictures of what the Earth has to offer.  Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local park or hiking trail and grab a shot of the beauty Mother Nature has for you.  

Cloud Watching/Star Gazing 

Find a blanket and pillows to spread out in your yard and see what shapes and animals you can find in the clouds.  Wait a few more hours and try it again with the stars, look for the Little Dipper, Orion and all the other constellations up in the sky.  

Egg Shell Planting 

Do you have any hard boiled eggs from Easter hanging around? Take the shells and plant them.  Fill the shell with some potting soil and a seed, and once the seed sprouts, plant the whole thing in the ground.  

Outdoor I Spy 

I don’t know about you but I Spy is a favorite game of my kids while on long or short car rides.  The great outdoors has so many things for the eyes to spy, you can sit in your back yard or go for a family hike and take a closer look at what surrounds you in nature.  

Recycled Art 

Take a look in your recycling bin and find some art supplies! Be inspired by the Earth and all that you can find in nature to create something to celebrate Earth day, Share your piece with family and friends to help inspire them.  

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt 

We are all about scavenger hunts, and now here is one for exploring outdoors on Earth Day. Here is a list we put together to hunt for, you can collect them in a bucket or even better take a picture and cross it off the list.  (Remember Principle 4 of Leave No Trace, leave what you find.) 

  •  Rock 
  •  Stick 
  •  Leaf 
  •  Grass 
  •  Litter 
  •  Flower 
  •  Spider Web 
  •  Dirt 
  •  Ant 
  •  Feather 
  •  Bark 
  •  Bug 
  •  Slug 
  •  Water 
  •  Worm 
  •  Cloud 

Earth Day Cookies 

We found this great post on how to make Earth Day Cookies!  Simple and tasty what could be better!? 


Written by Liz Bleacher