Imagine waking up on an island just off the coast of California, cooking your own breakfast, then heading to the ocean to kayak and discover sea caves—and that’s just the beginning of your day. Hundreds of GSGLA Girl Scouts have experienced the trip of a lifetime as part of our Island of the Blue Dolphins (IBD) program, a high-adventure specialty camp. Not only did the girls put their outdoor knowledge to the test, they also exercised their leadership skills and connected with other Girl Scouts in a remote, wild location. The result: Memories and lessons they’ll never forget.
One recent camper, Abigail K., noted that in addition to kayaking, the girls “went snorkeling, and went for a night hike where we got to see constellations and even planets. That was my favorite part of the entire camp because of the beauty and the memories.” Her mom, Barbara, accompanied the girls on the trip and adds, “Some of the girls were nervous to kayak the third day… but most decided to go and came back saying how much fun they had in the caves. I believe the leadership makes all the difference in an organization like Girl Scouts.”
Cadette and Girl Advisory Bureau member Elizabeth L. also traveled to Santa Cruz Island, along with her sister Girl Scouts in Troop 7352. She details her Island of the Blue Dolphins adventure below.
Every G.I.R.L. needs to experience IBD. My adventure began when my troop arrived on Santa Cruz Island, and we gathered all of our belongings from the boat and sang camp songs on the way to our campsite.
With some first-time campers, in keeping with the spirit of the G.I.R.L., we made them feel right at home, working together to set up all of the tents. We then split up into patrols according to our G.I.R.L. character types [Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader]. Within each patrol, we were assigned different tasks; as a Leader, I cooked meals, led hikes, and made sure we worked toward our badge requirements.
The second day, we woke up bright and early and went kayaking in caves. Our kayaking guides taught us how to balance ourselves, paddle, and steer. When we were kayaking out at sea, unfortunately, one of the campers started to not feel well. She was instructed by Melissa, our camp counselor, to join her in her kayak. But the girl in the front of Melissa’s kayak was afraid to go into the water so far out at sea, as she had to swim from one kayak to the other and switch spots. Yet she was able to face her fears and was successfully able to get herself into the other kayak.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. We had time throughout our trip to head to the beach, swim in the clear water, and play in the sand. I saw so many different sea creatures that I had never seen before!
Without question, the trip brought out every aspect of being a G.I.R.L.: You needed to be a Go-getter to try new things such as eating seaweed; an Innovator to be able to get out of tough situations; a Risk-taker to be able to do something you have never done before, such as kayaking in caves; and a Leader to be able to help the patrols work together.
On our last day, we were sad to leave, and remembered our camping experience on the boat ride home. Between our beach adventures and many hikes, we were able to explore the entire coastline.
Prior to attending this camp, I took the G.I.R.L. quiz and found out that I was a Leader; however, by the end of camp, I learned that I embodied all of the G.I.R.L. characteristics: As a Go-getter, I was up early every morning to start a new adventure; as an Innovator, while at the beach, I used smooth, round rocks as a sit-upon to sing camp songs, since we were limited on the items we could bring on this trip; as a Risk-taker, I tried new things that I have never done before such as kayaking and snorkeling; and as a Leader, I was able to help guide first-time campers in setting up their tents. I also encouraged others to keep going even though they were tired.
Lastly, while my sister Girl Scouts in Troop 7352 and I attended IBD together, we were split into different patrols—as a result, we were able to make new friendships, and everyone felt like one big family. Also, at the end of each night, our troop came back together and we shared our new experiences with one another. It was relieving to know that I wasn’t the only one in my troop who was nervous to try new things. Having a trusting friendship with my sister Girl Scouts, I wasn’t afraid to be myself and come out of my shell to share my feelings and experiences.
I have so many amazing memories from this trip and I couldn’t imagine sharing these memories with anyone else than my sister Girl Scouts.
Learn more about how Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership through outdoor adventure programs and more. Also, explore summer camp at GSGLA, where girls have a variety of options for discovering their interests, developing their independence, and making new friends.