Girls con­nect with great out­doors at camp

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY SA­MAN­THA CAMILLETTI

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.

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