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Radke column: Girl Scout Camp lets girls choose adventure from mild to wild

11:32 AM, May 22, 2013  |  Comments
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For Midwesterners, it has seemed like spring would never come, much less the promise of summer. With temperatures rising and school ending, it is finally time to swap those snow boots for hiking boots. Summer adventure is filled with possibility, perhaps nothing more so than the experience of camp.

For many, a week away at camp is the highlight of their summer. For girls in north-central Wisconsin, that camp often is Camp Birch Trails, Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes' popular resident camp located in Irma. Many girls are registering for Girl Scouts specifically for the exciting outdoor adventures that camp brings.

Unique to our camp program offerings at Camp Birch Trails are progressive wilderness trips. Girls can choose from four different wilderness trips: biking, canoeing, kayaking and backpacking.

"The wilderness trips are broken into five levels, each increasing in length and with tougher terrain," said Danielle Polzin, outdoor program manager for Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. These trips culminate to canoeing the Boundary Waters, hiking Isle Royale National Park, biking the loop around Lake Superior and kayaking in the Apostle Islands. In addition, a 12-day horseback riding trip through the Badlands is offered each year.

If the challenges of the wilderness trips aren't your style, Girl Scout camps still have plenty to offer, such as campfire cooking, leadership development, art, drama and more. Camp surveys show that attending camp improves girls' confidence, independence, and sense of self. Indeed, last summer, 92 percent of parents reported that their daughters gained independence at camp.

"Camp is a safe place for kids to gather. Having an all-girl atmosphere allows girls to be themselves without judgment from others," Polzin said. "They discover new things about themselves, overcome fears and meet new people. The lessons they learn at camp transfers into their lives at home, school and in the community."

Whether a girl's idea of adventure is a two-week biking trip or spending a few days trying archery and canoeing with her new friends, Girl Scout camp has something to suit each personality. All of these options make it possible for any girl to unplug, discover and play.

Wilderness trip alumna Erica Dillig concurs: "Girl Scout camp taught me that we aren't confined to do things like watching television or playing video games. It isn't hard to get out and do something adventurous. Live outside the box, it'll surprise people!"

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