Girl Scouts descend on Battle Point Park for return of fun-filled day camp

The fifth-grade campers called “Bluebirds” gather for a photo outside of their tent. In front is Bianca Daniels, Elena Conklin and Amelia Frank, and in back is Veronica Conklin, Annabel Nemeth, Zeta Bittman and Grace   Smith. - Madeline Corbin / Bainbridge Island Review
The fifth-grade campers called “Bluebirds” gather for a photo outside of their tent. In front is Bianca Daniels, Elena Conklin and Amelia Frank, and in back is Veronica Conklin, Annabel Nemeth, Zeta Bittman and Grace Smith.
— image credit: Madeline Corbin / Bainbridge Island Review

Earlier this month, the northeastern section of Battle Point Park was overtaken by Girl Scouts. After a two-year hiatus, the Girl Scout Day Camp returned this summer for its 17th year, with Rossana Muir as the head coordinator.

Muir and the eight members of the core staff have been planning since September to make this year’s camp better than ever before. They are allowing and encouraging the teen leaders, called Program Aids (PAs), to be more involved in the coordination and management of the camp, while the adults are mostly there to help if problems arise. The 17 PAs are from grades eight through 12, and they oversee the 106 campers from grades one through six.

“We’re giving more of a challenge to the teenagers,” Muir said. “They will learn management skills and the responsibility they will need to survive once they face the real world.”

The goal of the camp, and of Girl Scouts in general, is to provide young girls with knowledge and confidence that will help them be successful in life.

“It is a chance for the adults and volunteers to teach outdoor skills to our girls, allowing them to be self-sufficient and responsible. We want to help them become leaders in our community,” Muir said.

To emphasize the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s annual theme “Let Your Spirit Soar,” the day camp has organized several workshops from local organizations. The Museum of Flight taught the campers about rockets, the West Sound Wildlife Shelter brought live owls and eagles, and University of Washington meteorology students taught about atmospheric science.

Other workshops included a presentation from the Red Cross and a cooking class. During the day, the PAs also instructed the campers on outdoor skills such as knot-tying and fire and knife safety.

And at the end of the week, the campers will receive an eagle-shaped patch for their Girl Scout vests.

The camp has become a well-loved tradition among island Girl Scouts. All of the PAs except two have attended as campers themselves, some every year since first grade.

Once the girls are too old to be campers, many become “Program Aids in Training” for a year before they can lead the camp themselves.

Three PAs are assigned to each grade, and engage the girls in age-appropriate activities. Much of the day is spent practicing camp songs and games.

“I love listening to the girls,” said Evalynn Parman, a freshman at Bainbridge High who is in charge of the first-graders. “They have so many funny and interesting things to say, and it’s great to see them work together.”

Each day has its own fun theme, such as “Crazy Hair Day,” and at the end of the week, campers in grades four through six get to sleep over at the park with the PAs and adults.

“My favorite part was always the sleep-out when I was younger, because we got to have a sleepover with older kids and see shooting stars,” said Rachel Gallagher, a BHS senior who is also in charge of the first-graders.

During the last two years, the program went dormant because no one stepped in to be the director. Muir finally took charge this year, and Joandra Stinson has already committed to taking over next year, guaranteeing that the camp will continue.

“I’m so glad to see day camp return to Bainbridge,” said BHS senior Rose Conlon. “Growing up, it was always a summer tradition, and I’m excited to help share the experience with a new generation of Girl Scouts.”

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