Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Adventure out West

This summer, Virginia Beach Girl Scout Katelyn went on a great adventure. In August, she headed out West to Olympic National Park in Washington for a science and wilderness exploration trip as part of the Alcoa Scholars Summer Program, hosted in conjunction with NatureBridge. Katelyn was selected to participate in the program through an international application process.

Katelyn, who has been a Girl Scout for 12 years, has always loved the outdoors. Whether it’s in a tent, a cabin or out under the stars, she loves camping. She sees it as an opportunity to be with good friends and enjoy nature while taking a break from the everyday stresses of high school. For Katelyn, being in nature is refreshing and therapeutic.

After arriving in Washington, she got to know her fellow travelers—eight of her peers who came from the United States, Russia, Australia, Italy and Spain. Together, they talked about their goals for the trip and learned about how to prepare for a backpacking trip.

“During the packing process, we learned that we’d be leaving behind some luxuries we had brought along, namely pillows,” Katelyn said. “But, along the way, we learned that a warm, fluffy jacket stuffed into a sleeping bag sack is a good makeshift pillow.”

Along their journey, Katelyn and her fellow travelers hiked along glacially fed rivers and through alpine meadows. They also be conducted scientific research projects unique to Olympic National Park. They tested the pH of a variety of water sources. They also tested the turbidity, which is the clearness of water, and discovered that the water was crystal clear throughout the park, as its protection in a national park makes it virtually untouched compared to other water sources around the world. Each day was full of scientific exploration and self-discovery.

“I learned about the opportunity to apply for this program from my Girl Scout leader,” Katelyn said. “I read about it, fell in love and put in an application. I wanted to participate because it would be a wonderful opportunity to go camping, make new friends and learn more about nature and science.”

For Katelyn, Girl Scouts has always been an important part of her life. As she has moved around world with her military family, Girl Scouts has enabled her to find a group of friends everywhere she goes. She also credits Girl Scouts with teaching her important leadership skills and how to be more sensitive to the needs and feelings of those around her. Her outdoor experiences in Girl Scouts have taught her many important skills that she put to the test in Olympic National Park.

For information about outdoor opportunities with Girl Scouts, visit www.gsccc.org. Get more information about the Alcoa Scholars Summer Program here.