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“Girl Scout camp is better than anything ever”

Submitted by Mary Ward

I recently returned to the place where I became myself: Sky High Ranch. “Rustic” is the fancy word I used to read in the description of this majestic place in the camp brochure. This is the only place I’ve ever been where a hole in the ground is politely referred to as the “ladies room,” where we all sing grace together before every meal, where girls don’t wear makeup, where we do so many fun things without anyone updating their Facebook status about it, and where no matter how many years pass, the memories will always linger on my heart.

I found myself thinking back to my days at Girl Scout camp, and how the friends I made there are the ones I still keep in touch with. I remember looking forward to camp from the time the brochure appeared in my mailbox until I stepped out of my mom’s minivan at the base of Cardiac Hill. It’s so rare to find friendships where you can go nine months without talking and then pick up right where you left off, but those are the kinds of friendships that are formed at Sky High Ranch. These days, I think it’s hard for kids to form quality relationships with one another because they are so distracted by the over-stimulation that’s occurring around them all the time- devices at their fingertips to always keep them entertained, the TV is always on, ear buds in- it’s a miracle that anyone is able to get anything done.

Girls today need Girl Scout camp more than any other generation. This place is not just a way to keep girls busy for a week. It’s not just a place where girls have fun and explore. Yes, they do those things, but it’s so much more than that. This is a place where girls learn about themselves and their world. A place where girls grow passionate. A place where girls step out of themselves and into something bigger- into a sisterhood that lasts a lifetime, into the freedom to create their own identity, into the chance to help other girls learn who they are and feel good about themselves.

We used to say that living with someone for a week is equivalent to knowing someone for a year. That sounds a little crazy, but to this day I still believe that. We met on a Sunday, and within 24 hours, I’ve seen your crazy morning hair, found out how funny you are, discovered that you snore, learned many things that we have in common, noticed your picky eating habits, stumbled across your pet peeves, and found a new sister. We might be friends for a summer, or we might be friends for a lifetime. But, we will always be bonded together in some way by this shared experience.

I hear parents saying that their daughter won’t be returning to camp because of other activities: basketball camp, band camp, sports teams, but I just can’t keep my mind from wondering if those places will be as enriching as the place I grew up in. The truth is that I know that they won’t be- they just can’t. Girls need to be free to run wild, to explore, to smell the rain as it pours onto the beautiful evergreen trees that surround the property, to jump into a freezing cold pond first thing in the morning- just because they can.

And that’s the thing I learned at Sky High that probably changed my whole life- I can.

*** The Girl Scout summer camp schedule is now live on the Girl Scouts of Colorado website Register online starting Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. Register early. Some sessions fill in just a few hours.

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