Thursday, May 29, 2014

More Than S'mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts' Outdoor Experiences

A study recently released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, More Than S'mores, affirms the overwhelming benefits of outdoor experiences for girls. Researchers found that girls who regularly spend time outdoors, as compared to their peers who spend less time outdoors, have a higher sense of environmental stewardship, more readily seek challenges and are better problem solvers-- all of which are important traits in twenty-first century leadership.

Through the study, researchers learned that a majority of girls who are Girl Scouts are participating in a range of outdoor activities, including camp, sports and environmental community service projects. Researchers also found a strong correlation between monthly involvement in outdoor activities and leadership development for girls. Outdoor activities often offer girls new physical, psychological and social situations that evoke curiosity and motivate a sense of discovery. These experiences help girls become more self-aware, teach girls to cooperate and communicate as part of a team and be efficient problem solvers, which are keys to leadership that will last them a lifetime.

The study also shows that outdoor experiences are particularly beneficial to girls of comparatively low socioeconomic status (SES). More Than S'mores reports that lower-SES girls who have regular outdoor experiences with Girl Scouts are likely to credit Girl Scouts with helping them become leaders. Additionally, outdoor experiences through Girl Scouting are beneficial to leadership development across ethnicities.

As noted, girls learn environmental stewardship through outdoor experiences. According to More than S'mores, Girl Scouts are twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to say they take action to protect the environment (51 percent versus 23 percent). Researchers also found that more than two-thirds of Girl Scouts volunteer for environmental causes through the organization and that giving girls the chance to have personal experiences in nature has made them appreciate it more.

"Girl Scout camps transform a girl's understanding of and appreciation for nature, while helping her build a unique set of skills and boosting her confidence in a way few experiences can match," Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chàvez said. "Camping has always been one of the cornerstones of Girl Scouting, and the research is clearly showing that there is a connection between the camp experience and girls' understanding of their leadership potential."

Girl Scout camp has been a tradition central to the organization since it was founded over 100 years ago. Today's camps are highly evolved to match the interests of today's girls. Girl Scouts is committed to pursuing its mission through the camp experience, offering an array of innovative, fun and memorable camp activities that allow girls to build courage, confidence and character and make the world a better place.

View summer camp opportunities with GSCCC here. All girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts, are invited to attend summer camp with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.