Girls connect with great outdoors at camp
NEWPORT NEWS, VA. | The mood was festive on a recent morning — it was the first day of Camp Skimino and white Tshirts, soon to be tie-dyed, were passed around to the campers.
The air buzzed with camp energy — a mixture of nervousness and excitement for the week to come.
Camp Skimino on Fenton Mill Road in Williamsburg is one of four summer camps offered by the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast, which encompasses most of Hampton Roads.
Several camps, organized by the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, are being offered this summer to members and non-members to get girls ages 6 to 18 off their electronic devices and into the outdoors.
In addition to Camp Skimino, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast host camps in Franklin, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Hampton. The organization serves more than 400 campers each summer, according to Kaitlin Smith, the public relations manager for the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.
The four camps are open year-round to serve thousands of Girl Scouts annually, Ms. Smith said.
Camp Skimino, named for the Native American word for “smooth river,” opened in 1956. Some campers even travel to Camp Fury in Hampton daily and return to Skimino for a campfire and singalong songs before bed.
“We have all kinds of traditional camp activities here from archery to swimming to canoeing. Girls stay in platform tents or air-conditioned cabins,” Ms. Smith said. “It’s a great place for girls to unplug, spend at least a week outside in nature and just reconnect with themselves, reconnect with nature and really build new friendships.”
Camp Skimino accepts day campers as soon as they begin first grade and overnight campers as soon as they enter sixth grade. Each week is tailored to the age groups while falling under a central theme, according to Ms. Smith.
Early this summer, the organization hosted a Harry Potter and magic theme. The fourth- and fifth-graders experienced “potion-making” while the second- and third-graders tried their hands at caring for “magical” creatures. “Potion-making” in this instance involved creating those tie-dyed shirts.
The Girl Scouts get help settling on themes based on camper surveys and counselor influence.
“One of the counselors was really excited about bringing that theme and coming up with the activities to surround it,” Ms. Smith said.
Each day includes traditional camp activities such as canoeing, archery and swimming, as long as the weather cooperates.
“I think it’s the theme that has made this week different from the other weeks because so many of my girls came with Harry Potter cloaks, wands and owls. That’s pretty exciting that there’s a theme that everyone just loves so much,” said Poppy “Popsicle” Crawshaw, an adventure counselor at Skimino.
Ms. Crawshaw, a Girl Scout, earned a Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, after organizing and running a seven-week basketball camp at a Title I school. She said having the accolade helps her inspire the younger girls.
“I still remember my counselor, her name was Beans, and I just really looked up to her,” Ms. Crawshaw said. “And so hopefully if the girls see that a lot [of the counselors] got our Gold Award and a lot of us stuck through Girl Scouts, stayed together and kept empowering each other, hopefully they take that along with them.”
In addition to providing inspiration, Ms. Smith hopes that this camp will give girls a sense of self-reliance.
“They really learn that they can rely on themselves, they can be independent — it’s important that they leave with a closer sense of self,” she said. “It’s also great to see the girls accomplish things. The girls learn it’s OK to take a risk, it’s OK to fail and then pick themselves up and try again. I think that’s so neat to see them do that.”
Typically, a week at camp costs between $100 and $380, according to the organization’s website. The price depends on the theme of the camp as well as the if campers choose a day camp or to stay overnight.