Be a G.I.R.L. at Badgerland Programs

By: Allison Sauer, Cadette Troop 2279 Co-Leader

Have you ever signed up for one of the many overnight events that are offered through Badgerland Girl Scouts? If you have, chances are you’ve received a packing list. I know you’ve seen something on your packing list and thought, “This is surely a suggestion, knee socks… seriously? Sturdy shoes…come on! My kicks will be just fine.” At one time or another, I’ve not only thought those thoughts, I’ve said then to my daughter.

And I will never ever do that again! EVER!

My troop loves getting the PathFinder. Our ritual is to go through and highlight all of the programs we’re interested in. Last year, the Be Prepared, Search and Rescue program really stood out, and my girls were so excited to attend. After we secured our spots, I printed out the packing list for everyone. And when the time came, with the aforementioned mindset, we packed and set out for our adventure.

Getting to Camp Brandenburg was so easy. If you’ve never been, you are missing out on an absolutely gorgeous piece of property that we are truly lucky, as a council, to own. The rolling hills, thick woods and lake make for a beautiful setting for just about any Girl Scout event.

As we entered the camp and headed towards check-in, everything looked normal. I could hear Courtney, Troops and Resources Program Manager, asking the girls if they were dressed in what they would be wearing for the program, and making sure that everyone would be warm and comfy for when the program began. My girls and I were ready to go, or so we thought.

At check-in, Courtney asked if Bella would be comfortable working on a “special project” for the night. She agreed, and off she went. A little while later, she joined back up with us at Hilltop, her “special project” a secret to everyone.

When I walked into Hilltop the atmosphere changed a bit. There were several military-looking people scattered around the room. Courtney introduced us to a man named Eddie and his team, who are not only first responders, they are the team that is normally deployed first when a disaster hits somewhere in the U.S.

I immediately thought of the packing list and panicked a bit because of my flippant attitude toward it. Clearly, Eddie took his packing list seriously. He was dressed in all-black combat gear, sturdy black boots and a thick, black belt chocked full of pouches. To say he was intimidating would be an understatement.

I wore my skinny jeans, ankle socks, comfort-sole Candie’s, a Girl Scout tee layered under my black Columbia, and I just had a pedi. After seeing Eddie’s “outfit” my mantra became, “I’ll be fine, it’s a Girl Scout event… it’ll be easy”

Was I ever wrong.

That evening’s mission was truly literal. Eddie and his team set the stage for a search and rescue of a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who was lost in the woods with her autistic grandson. We were split into groups and partnered with rescue workers from across the country. They shared great information with our girls; from how and why they set a grid map, to why being quiet and listening is important.

Next, we were inserted into our search grid, which was located above Hilltop. The lay of the land is steep and thick with trees, dead leaves and underbrush. It was around that time I realized what Bella’s special project was. Eddie and his team had applied makeup to her leg to make it look bruised, and asked her to pretend to fall and injure herself. When Bella “fell” the entire search stopped until additional rescue workers found us, assessed the situation, strapped Bella to backboard and began hiking their way up a steep incline. No path, no markers, just ankle-twisting underbrush, small trees slapping at your face, and plants with thorns grabbing at your skin.

Why do I remember these specific roadblocks? Well, prior to Bella’s injury there were some girls whining about these obstacles. “My feet hurt.” “The branches are cutting me.” “This is too hard.” etc. Three amazing rescue workers and I carried Bella up through the woods. Keep in mind, Bella is 5’5”, 140lbs and strapped to a backboard!

What I didn’t know was that our group of girls didn’t stay behind to continue searching for the original victims. Instead, they tearfully followed their fellow Girl Scout, whom they had only met hours earlier. Not only that, they insisted on carrying Bella down steep terrain to the emergency vehicle waiting for us.

This was amazing to behold. Seeing their focus shift from complaining about the bugs flying around to worrying about their fellow Girl Scout was life changing. Once the girls loaded Bella into the emergency vehicle, they complained no more. Their focus was finding the two victims, all the while, worrying about Bella’s “injury.”

As night fell we were at the tail end of our grid, which connected with base camp. It was at that point when Eddie met us. He explained to our group that Bella had pretended to be injured, and she had joined another group to continue the search. As he walked away, I was met with 10 girls that were happy, crying and confused. “I was so worried about her,” and “I couldn’t stop thinking of her,” were some comments I heard.

At that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of Girl Scouts. The girls accepted each other not just because they were told to or because they were grouped together. They accepted each other because they are sisters. I watched the girls show compassion and kindness, patience and resilience. I have never experienced the unconditional love that these girls showed each other. I was rejuvenating as a human and I was close to tears many times that day.

It was later in the evening when the last group of girls used the information they learned to safely carry a “hurt” 9-year-old boy up an incline so steep, a rope pulley needed to be secured to ensure safety for all. When they reached the top, a thunderous round of applause echoed around us. I will never forget the words Eddie spoke next. He pointed to all the girls and said, “You did this.”

Yes they did.

From start to finish we were met with challenges that required us to push ourselves mentally and physically, and they each crushed it! The weekend’s program was not just about Search and Rescue; it was about like-minded strangers coming together and building relationships through unique opportunities like this and leaving as friends.

Our daughters pulled together for a mission, little did we all know the mission was not exclusively about finding two lost victims, it was about finding strength to do things we never thought we would or could do. It was about supporting each other through encouragement. I know Bella will never forget that weekend, and neither will I.

On a side note: if “sturdy shoes” is on the packing list, it’s not a suggestion!

2017 Girls’ Choice Badges

Troop Camping Badges

By Cody Huston, Customer Service Associate

The girls have spoken and the winning Girls’ Choice badge topic for 2017 is Troop Camping!

The requirements for these badges are now available to download. What a great way to start the summer! Incorporate the badge into your summer outdoor adventures, and you will be ready when the badges arrive in the shops in August.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, Daisies can join the outdoor fun with their first Girls’ Choice badge.

Troop Camping badges offer a progression through camping and outdoor education:

  • Daisy – Buddy Camper
  • Brownie – Cabin Camper
  • Junior – Eco Camper
  • Cadette – Primitive Camper
  • Senior – Adventure Camper
  • Ambassador – Survival Camper

At each level, girls help plan a camping trip and explore new camp skills, while learning how to “Leave No Trace,” because a Girl Scout always leaves a place better than she found it.

Download the requirements and start planning your camping adventure today. Don’t forget, Badgerland has a variety of program kits and troop supplies you can borrow to help in your camping adventures, like marshmallow sticks, pudgie pie irons, compasses, binoculars, a geocaching kit and more. Contact your local Shop for more information.

Remember, camp life is the best life!

Tales of a 10-Year Summer Camper

By Colleen (Domino) McGuire, Ambassador Troop 2561
Youth Leadership Council member

As a graduating senior, when I look back there has been one constant in my life that I attribute to discovering Me: Camp.

I started attending Camp Black Hawk when I was eight years old and Camp Ehawee about five years ago. Now, 10 years later, I continue to go to both camps knowing exactly what I will find there: Home.

I have a loving family, but there is the undeniable pull of your camp family; the family that took you in and that you found. Camp is my happy place and my camp family is the group of people I can tell anything to. They are the people I think about when someone asks who I look up to…who I admire. It’s my camp family!

But I remember just how scary it was going the first time. I was so nervous. I didn’t think there was any part of me that was ready to go off to camp on my own. But the moment I got there, the staff made me feel safe and even happy to be there. Ever since that first year, my camp experiences have been ones of excitement, adventure and love.

Beyond the feeling of home, camp offers a plethora of amazing experiences and opportunities for girls. I grew at camp learning valuable skills like survival, making friends, leadership and courage, as well as a ton of other cool things. At camp you have amazing role models leading and interacting with the girls, and I know the support I got from the staff was priceless in helping me grow into a strong and confident leader.

One of the things I love is the variety of camps they have, and the themed weeks. There are camps focused on science, nature, art and even one or two geared towards pop culture! The themes have ranged from wizarding, to time travel, to Olympics, to color wars, and every week there are more fun games to play and more fun themed events. There’s never a dull moment at camp, and although you are having so much fun with all these great people, you’re still learning something new every step of the way!

As a camper I loved the horses and archery. As a leadership camper, I loved helping the other campers and learning how to take care of people.

This summer, will be very different for me as I take my place on staff.
And I can’t wait to make that first-year, nervous camper who is so scared feel as safe and happy as I did once I got to camp! And I can’t wait to learn what else I can love about these two places and the people who go there.

As a part of the Youth Leadership Council, I have the pleasure of knowing girls from across the council, and almost all of them place camp as one of the most important things that they have experienced through Girl Scouts.

Camp is home to me, and no part of the experience has been negative! Even if you just try it once, this is an experience you can’t pass up!

Register for summer camp.

Not Sure About this Whole Troop Camping Thing? We’ve got you covered!

Girls camping

By: Katie Ravich, Adult Learning Specialist

There’s nothing that bonds a group of Girls Scouts  more than a camping trip. These are the memories you and your girls will remember the most.

Not sure how to even get started with a troop overnighter? We can help.

Badgerland offers two outdoor training certifications.

Troop Overnight Certification 1 (TOC 1) is a home study course that’s completed online. This training is for adult volunteers who want to take their girls on an overnight to a place with full indoor facilities  – in other words to a destination where the cooking, sleeping and bathrooms are inside. A great starter place for troops with a TOC 1 certified adult is Hawk’s Nest at Camp Brandenburg. If you’re looking at other destination for Hawk’s Nest is booked up, here are some other ideas for a TOC 1 overnight experience:

  • Campgrounds with cabins. Many public and private campgrounds have cabins for rental.
  • Community Centers with an overnight space.
  • Nature Centers. Many nature centers offer an overnight space.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • YMCAs.
  • Churches. Tons of churches around Badgerland offer overnight space.
  • School Forests: Does your school district have a forest? Check to see if you can rent the site!

Troop Overnight Certification 2 (TOC 2) can be done as a home study course, but we also offer a fun one-day in-person training at a Badgerland property in spring and early summer. Adult volunteers who want to take their girls on an overnight to a place without full indoor facilities (cooking outside, sleeping in tents, bathrooms outside) needs to complete TOC 2.

Want to take TOC 2 in person? Badgerland has three TOC 2 in-person trainings lined up for the 2017 camping season. Space is limited, so get registered early.

Once you’ve completed TOC 2 you can take your troop on an outdoor camping adventure.  Badgerland properties are popular and fill up fast, so here are some other ideas for a TOC 2 overnight experience:

  • State Park CampgroundsFind a State Park your troop wants to visit and check for camping accommodations.
  • County Park Campgrounds. Many counties maintain campgrounds. For instance, Dane County has five Dane County Camp Grounds.
  • County Fair Grounds
  • City Park Campground
  • School Forests: Does your School District have a forest? Check to see if you can rent the site.
  • Private Campgrounds. If the state, county or city parks are full consider checking in with r private campgrounds in the area you want to camp.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure your Girl Scouts get outside this year and explore the great outdoors the Girl Scout way!