Take your outdoor interests to the next level; join a Girl Scout Trailblazer Troop

By Catherine Amoriello

Is your favorite part about Girl Scouting the outdoor adventures? Could you spend all day swimming, hiking, camping or learning about the outdoor world around you? Are you an enthusiastic outdoorswoman looking to level up your skills? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to join a Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) Trailblazer Troop!

Girl Scouts from Troop 81597 in Fulton County earn their Trailblazer pin while working on their hiking badge at Blue Knob State Park. The girls climbed 2,000 feet to earn the badge and learned about wilderness first aid, stewardship and hiking skills.

Trailblazer Troops are special interest troops focused on the great outdoors. The troops zero in on five outdoor core competencies which include adventure sports, stewardship, hiking, camping and survivorship. For each competency, girls will strive to learn more about the activity, apply what they learn through participating in the activity, and share the activity in a way that engages others. Girls can focus on one concentration area or all five of them. The choice is theirs!

Trailblazer Troops are just like any other Girl Scout Troop. They still do badge work, complete Journeys, earn Higher Awards and go on trips – they just complete all of these tasks through an outdoors lens. While Trailblazer Troops are only available to girls in eighth through twelfth grade, there are no other requirements or prerequisites to join a troop. Trailblazer Troops are open to girls of all ability levels who are willing to complete the curriculum to earn their Trailblazer pin. But Sarah Baldwin, GSHPA Outdoor Program Manager, provides a dose of reality of what it means to be a Trailblazer.

Girl Scouts work on their survivorship skills by learning how to build a shelter with materials only found in nature.

“I think when people think of girls going outdoors, they don’t think of the skills. They think of girls going camping for a quick overnight or Girl Scout camp. It’s not getting dirty or roughing it in the woods, but it is. Especially with Trailblazers,” Baldwin said.

Like a traditional Girl Scout troop, Trailblazers have troop leaders to lead them through one adventure to the next. Any current troop leader can complete trainings to become a Trailblazer Troop Leader, and GSHPA welcomes new volunteers to sign on as leaders as well. Under the guidance of their troop leader, girls will have the opportunity to focus on outdoors skills such as diverse hiking and camping styles, orienteering, conservation practices, outdoor preparedness and safety, survival techniques and more.

Joining a Trailblazer Troop will not only improve girls’ outdoor competence, but will prove valuable in a multitude of career paths down the road. From environmental educator, to park ranger, to environmental advocacy lawyer, Trailblazer Troops open the door for girls to turn their passion for the outdoors into a lifestyle.

Girl Scouts prepare for their hiking expedition on the Appalachian Trail.

“There’s plenty of girls and women who hike the Appalachian Trail every year. The goal is to give girls confidence to do something similar,” Baldwin said.

For girls and troop leaders interested in learning more about Trailblazer Troops, be on the lookout for informational events this fall and winter. GSHPA will also be hosting a Trailblazer informational session at this year’s Virtual Volunteer Conference on Nov. 5.

Ready to get started now? Find a Trailblazer Troop to join near you by visiting GSHPA’s Trailblazer webpage and completing the Trailblazer Troop interest form.

Face a new outdoor challenge, get dirty, and embrace the wild – are YOU ready to be a Trailblazer?

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

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