This was a new kind of crazy I had not yet experienced in my life! So fun but a very big project.
Who: I collaborated with another leader in one of our sister wards (share the same building) and we came up with a schedule and list of activities together. We were fortunate to find someone in another ward in our stake who works for the BSA and could help teach classes for us at camp.
What to Bring: We told them to bring a backpack, rain jacket (just in case), water bottle, cold sack lunch, pocket knife if they had one, bug spray, sunscreen, tennis shoes, medications. Do NOT bring electronics of any kind!
Where: For the first two days we rented the local boy scout camp (you could check into prices for local girl scout camps or cub camp areas too, or if the church owns anything in your area, that can be used as well) and enjoyed their amenities. On the third day we met at the stake center and did a hike. The fourth day we reserved a pavilion and soccer field at a local park.
Cost: The cost ended up being $55 a girl, and with that the girls got a craft, a marshmallow gun, a bird feeder, canoeing, archery, .22 shooting, orienteering, and a badge to take home. I thought we did pretty good considering we floated several girls who couldn’t pay, and the fact that cub camp for my son this year cost $185 for four days. We did have to have a lot of parent involvement for chaperoning and teaching the classes. Check around—the archery was put on by a guy from our stake with stake equipment, and another guy in our stake was NRA certified so he taught the shooting class. Both these instructors donated their day. Ask your local leaders for BSA activities and people in your stake—there is a lot of talent and good ideas and people willing to put in time to help!
- Name Necklaces: In place of name tags (we had 38 girls attend!) we cut a large-ish branch in small rounds and let the girls decorate them. They got a peacock bead to string on as well if they passed the swimming test (if they could swim 100 yards they could go in a canoe without a chaperone) that way the canoe instructor could see easily right away who needed to go in what kind of canoe. The girls were divided into three groups, so they got either a blue, orange, or green string to string their necklace with and we punched holes in the wood rounds with their names to make a giant wooden toggle. They could also string the same colored beads on if they wanted.
- Fire Building/S’more Making: Some of these girls didn’t know how to properly light a match! We covered fire safety, fire triangle (air, fuel, heat), proper extinguishing methods, and then built a teepee fire and made smores with the sticks they whittled. Next year we’ll add Advanced Fire Building and safety for ones that are comfortable using matches. (A lot of the younger girls flung the match after they got it lit and were not comfortable holding a match. The beginning class next year will have them practice lighting match after match and holding it steady before lighting.)
- Whittling: They had to bring a pocketknife and whittle a bar of soap and then a stick for mallow roasting. Had lots of talk about knife safety (the girls kept wanting to walk around camp whittling).
- Canoeing: a lot of the girls had never been in a canoe before—some couldn’t swim! We practiced getting comfortable in the canoes the first day and the second day we had a race. Advanced canoeing will entail swamping the canoe and teaching the girls how to get back in it.
- Marshmallow Gun Making and War: these were pre-cut pvc pipe and pieces. The girls colored them and blew mini marshmallows at each other.
- Obstacle Course
- .22 Shooting/Marksmanship
- Craft Making—we thought about bird houses but decided on wooden plaques they painted. They also made bird feeders out of oranges.
- Flora and Fauna Identification (for hike)
- Flag Etiquette
- First Aid
- Wilderness Survival
Schedule: View the schedule they used here.
Awards: Joann’s fabric has some fun charms you could do in lieu of badges, and oriental trading company has charms as well, and there are some LDS ones sold online and at bookstores. If my girls have already received a badge, they will get a flower bead to sew onto the badge they already earned. They also get a bead on their badge if they know the skill well enough to teach it to the other girls.