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What would you give to change the world?

Camp: More than S'Mores

It's a Community where Girls Can Find Themselves

"It's great to be somewhere you're encouraged, where you don't have to worry about how you look, where you think about more than just yourself, where you can try and accomplish so many things, where there's a feeling of togetherness that pretty much only happens at Girl Scout camp."
- Christina, Camp Participant

Mention camp, and the images that pop into most people's head are gooey s'mores, silly songs, and summertime activities - not concepts like community, confidence, or self discovery. But for Christina, Miyako, and thousands of other campers at Girl Scouts of Northern California summer camps, it's that unique combination of fun, friendship, and empowerment that helps them find their place and the sense of community they've been searching for.

A camper for three years at the High Sierra residential camps, Sugar Pine and Deer Lake, Christina is thrilled to be returning to Girl Scout camp next summer as a counselor-in-training (CIT) so she can become one of the leaders that she has always admired.

"I'm looking forward to being able to lead more," she says. "I just want people to know that it's important for girls to go to camp to try new things, because trying something new can boost your confidence. After that, you feel like you really accomplished something."

CampGirl Scout Camp Encourages Leadership and Self-Esteem

Shelby and Allison, two longtime Girl Scout campers at Camp Konocti, a volunteer-run resident camp in Mendocino County, also made the transition from camper to CIT. In a speech at a Santa Rosa event in the fall, the girls credited their camp CIT program with helping them grow as leaders.

"Girl Scouting is more than just selling cookies; we are leaders in our own communities," they said. "We set goals, and complete them. But most important of all, we achieve tremendous and extraordinary accomplishments that will follow us for the rest of our lives. I'm confident to say, and I'm sure every other CIT would agree with me, that this program changed our lives for the better and we wouldn't be where we are now without it."

Miyako, a first-time camper who attended Skylark Ranch resident camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains this year thanks to financial assistance, would second Shelby and Allison's sentiments about finding a place for herself within the camp community.

"All last year at school I wasn't sure if people liked me, but I found out that at camp, actually, everyone likes me," Miyako told her mother after returning from camp.

The positive changes in Miyako, after just one session at Girl Scout camp, are clearly evident, according to her parents.

"In our eyes, our daughter carries herself a little taller, with roots a little stronger, and her heart a little more sure, because of her experiences at camp," her mother reports.

Other parents echo Miyako's mother, saying that camp makes their daughters stronger:

  • "She left feeling timid and tentative about being away from us for a week. She returned brimming with self confidence and eager to share with us all of the songs she learned at camp. She's still singing them!"
  • "I can see that my daughter has the ability to deal with new situations with confidence. She used to be more shy, but being in the safe environment of Girl Scout camp has made new experiences easier for her."
  • "She has become so much more comfortable in her own skin."

Girl Scouts of Northern California Camp

To be sure, Girl Scout camp is a special place for the 10,000 girls who attend Girl Scouts of Northern California's volunteer- and staff-run community, resident, and family camps each year. Campers experience the thrill of activities like caving, kayaking, pottery, horseback riding, surfing, outdoor cooking, theater, and so much more. Just ask Christina, who is counting the days till summer 2010 already.

"Next summer, when the rest of my classmates will be traveling to new and faraway places, I will be going somewhere that, in my mind, is so much better than any pish-posh beach resort. I will be going to Camp Sugar Pine - my favorite place in the entire world. And you have no idea how much I am looking forward to it already."

Girl Scout camp teaches girls independence, leadership development, self-confidence, the importance of teamwork and cooperation, environmental stewardship, and new skills that make them stronger. In 2009, more than 10,000 campers attended 30 community, resident, and family camps throughout Northern California, including 314 girls who participated thanks to financial aid from donors.

Camp Facts at a Glance for 2009:

  • 10,000 campers
  • 23 volunteer-run community and resident camps
  • 5 staff-run resident camps
  • 2 family camps
  • 314 girls attended camp with financial aid
  • 30 camp properties for troop use and summer camps

Donate to the Girl Scouts of Northern California

You can make a donation online by clicking here, or by mail to the Oakland Girl Scout office, 7700 Edgewater Drive Suite 340, Oakland, CA 94621. If you have questions about giving options, please contact Stephanie Chew, Senior Director of Gifts at or (510) 562-8470, ext. 115.

Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor as individual situations vary.