What makes camp experiences so powerful? Raven, a lifetime Girl Scout, former camper, and soon-to-be counselor, shares what she loves about camp and what keeps her coming back. Read on for a taste of Girl Scout Camp River Ranch traditions and takeaways—and don’t forget to register for 2022 summer resident camp!
When did you get involved in Girl Scouts and Girl Scout Camp?
I joined Girl Scouts at five years old as a Daisy, and I started going to Girl Scout resident camp at Camp River Ranch the summer before starting first grade. I was in a Girl Scout troop all through elementary school (so through Juniors). After that, I moved school districts, my troop disbanded, and I didn’t look for another one. But I always kept going back to camp.
I’ve been back to Camp River Ranch every year since my first summer, except for when camp programming was closed in 2020. When Camp River Ranch opened for family and group reservations in 2021, I worked on program staff. This year will be my thirteenth summer at camp and my first year fulfilling my dream of being a counselor!
What were your camp friendships like?
I went to camp with a friend for a couple of summers or so. I found that fun because I got to share all those fun camp moments and got to build more memories with them. But I also made friends within camp, which meant a lot to me when I was younger. I was so quiet and shy; I had a hard time making friends, but I found it easier to make friends at camp. Maybe it was because of the community… Whatever the reason, I was always able to fit right in and make friends.
I stayed in contact with a few camp friends for a few years, but due to distance, friendships would usually fade eventually. I do currently keep in touch with one friend I made from camp whom I met during my tenth year at camp. Then in my eleventh summer, we went to camp together as second-level Counselors-in-Training (CIT 2s). We’re friends on Instagram, and I get to see all that she’s been up to on there.
What did you look forward to most about camp when you were younger? What do you look forward to now?
I looked forward to the people most—both the other campers and the counselors. I also looked forward to all the songs and activities they planned. My favorite activity was pioneering because I had always loved crafts, but I got to try things I didn’t normally experience outside of camp, like candle making, making corn husk dolls, or making ice cream. I still look forward to all those things now, but for different reasons.
What Girl Scout Camp traditions mean the most to you?
I love the songs, especially during campfire. There’s nothing like singing songs surrounded by this accepting and friendly community while the sky slowly transitions to the night and the sun sets over the lake. That’s the most meaningful tradition to me, but I also like the bead system we have.
We have camp necklaces with beads that represent our years at camp and various activities, like swimming between all three docks on the lake (Tri-Dock). I remember wanting to get all the beads and loving doing the activities to get them. One year, one of the counselors, Pickins, wore her hair in a bun all the time, so she had her own bead that you earned by wearing your hair in a bun for 24 hours. That one was really fun.
How has camp made you more confident and courageous?
I also gained a lot of leadership and communication skills. Many activities at camp require us to work as a group to achieve a certain task. Specific teambuilding games include guiding each other to find objects while blindfolded or walking across an uneven balance beam while holding hands. Even outdoor cookouts helped us learn to work together.
Why did you decide to join Girl Scout Camp staff?
For many years as a camper, I had wanted to be a counselor. I wanted to be part of that, to help create camp experiences like the ones I had enjoyed. All my counselors left good impressions on me, although I don’t remember all of them. There are only a few I remember by name, and most of those people were from more recent years. Regardless, I want to help leave that good impression and create a good experience. Years down the road, even if campers don’t remember me, I want them to remember the good times they had.
Thank you to Raven for sharing her experiences at Girl Scout Camp River Ranch! Now it’s your turn to go camping, earn some beads, and build confidence. Check out the available sessions and programs in our 2022 Girl Scout Camp Guide.
We can’t create Girl Scout Camp magic without amazing summer staff who campers look up to. If you’re over 18 and interested in building Girl Scouts of courage, confidence, and character by working at camp this summer, come join us! Know someone who fits this description? Encourage them to apply!