Not For Fun Only—The evolution of Girl’s Camp

By Laraine L. Thompson

By the time this article goes to print Portland Oregon East Stake Girl’s Camp will be a memory. The church’s Girl’s Camp Program has been around for numerous years.

Camp has always been a place for girls to learn to love the outdoors and to build friendships. For a very long time the girls responsibility was to do just that. Somewhere along the way, the church began to see the need for our young women to go beyond merely enjoying themselves in nature. Just as the legacy of Boy Scouts of America was to teach our young men wilderness survival/self reliance skills along with vital leadership skills, the Girl’s Camp program saw fit to require similar skills from the girls participating in a yearly Girl’s Camp.

The Young Women Camp Manual, published in 1992 by the church cites these goals for each young women attending camp:

  • Draw closer to God
  • Appreciate and feel reverence for nature
  • Become more self-reliant
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Respect and protect the environment
  • Serve others
  • Build friendships
  • Enjoy camping and have fun

Now, each of the first four years that a girl attends Girl’s Camp, she learns basic survival skills—camp sanitation, water purification, campfire building and cooking, wilderness orientation, compass reading, first aid. In addition the girls learn about the environment and the ways in which man must care for its protection.

Beginning in a girl’s fifth year of camp, she assumes the duty, as a junior counselor of helping to teach the younger girls the skills she has already mastered. As a junior counselor she hones her leadership skills and learns to be responsible for the care and keeping of those younger than herself. She helps teach the survival skills that she has already learned and in which she has become certified. She guides the younger girls in her group as she develops spiritual devotional material for each night of camp. She helps these girls plan and perform camp fire skits.  Above all else she serves as an example of self reliant competence and devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For many young women, Girl’s Camp is the highlight of their year. If properly approached, Girl’s Camp can be the greatest survival and leadership training that a young woman can experience in her young life. The friendships made, the fun along the way, in addition to the superb spiritual experiences to be had are further exclamation marks to a wonderful wilderness week.

Photo source: LDS Media Library

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