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.

Top five outdoor activities girls can do with GSHPA this summer

By Catherine Amoriello

Does your girl have some gaps to fill in her summer plans? Look no further than Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s (GSHPA) summer programming! From independent activities at home to group outings with her best Girl Scout pals, GSHPA provides an array of opportunities for your girl to make this summer her best one yet!

Read on for our list of top five outdoor activities your girl can do with GSHPA this summer.

1. Attend a GSHPA Camp Excursion.

Older Girl Scouts.
Older girls connect through a GSHPA outdoor program session.

New this year, GSHPA’s Camp Excursions are designed for Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Your girl will spend a weekend “away” to explore unique areas and activities available right in Pennsylvania. Following the Girl Scout travel progression model, girls will gain the confidence to adventure locally and foster travel competency to become future independent travelers. With a session at Camp Happy Valley July 29-31 and at Camp Small Valley Aug. 19-21, your girl will have the freedom to explore domestically alongside her fellow Girl Scouts.

2. Participate in the GSHPA Outdoor Challenge.

The GSHPA Outdoor Challenge is returning for the third summer in a row…but with a special twist! In honor of GSHPA’s 110th anniversary, there will be 110 challenges available for girls to complete. This year’s challenge will also have a state park focus and will be available to use during Girl Scouts Love State Parks events in September. By participating in the Outdoor Challenge, girls will try new experiences and have the opportunity to win some awesome prizes! Stay tuned for the release of this year’s activity sheet.

3. Join the Girls Go Summer Club.

Girl Scout participating in virtual programming.
A girl participates in one of GSHPA’s many virtual programming opportunities.

Does your girl enjoy staying active well into the evening hours? Sign her up for Girls Go Summer Club programming. This virtual series has girls meet weekly to explore different topics about life skills, entrepreneurship, the outdoors, citizenship, health and Girl Scout traditions. Daisies and Brownies will meet 5-6 p.m. and Juniors and Cadettes will meet 6:30-8:00 p.m. After spending all day outside in the sun, your girl will look forward to cooling off indoors with her fellow Girls Go Summer Club friends!

4. Get a taste of Girl Scouts through day camp.

Girl Scouts singing songs outside.
Girls sing Girl Scout songs together during a day camp summer session.

A great option for all girls, but especially girls with busy schedules or who aren’t quite ready for an overnight camp experience, GSHPA’s day camps provide flexibility and fun! Day camps are held at Camp Happy Valley and Camp Furnace Hills and are available to all girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. With themes like Vintage Girl Scout and Fairy Garden Discovery, your young Girl Scout will have a blast adventuring through camp, learning new things and making new friends. An added bonus? GSHPA is offering bus transportation to the camps and registration discount opportunities are available!

5. Explore through Girl Scouts Love State Parks initiative.

Girl Scouts Love State Parks is a national event celebrated in over 400 state parks across 50 states and Puerto Rico. Girls are encouraged to explore their local state parks by participating in activities such as self-guided tours, family hikes, watersports, stargazing and special events. The event will be held Sept. 10 and 11 – stayed tuned to learn which Pennsylvania state parks will be offering Girl Scout-specific activities!

New adventures, friendships and experiences await through GSHPA this summer, so what are you waiting for? Explore what summer experiences GSHPA has to offer your girl and turn her summer plans from “I don’t know,” to “Yes let’s go!”

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.