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May 09th, 2021

girl scouts archeryYoung archers take aims at their targets as part of a Girl Scout activity. Courtesy photoROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

Though the weather outside may still be somewhat chilly, it is spring time, and outdoor fun is a popular thing this time of year.

For young ladies and adults in Southwest Kansas, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland (GSKH) is offering plenty of chances to get outdoors, with the first being an outdoor camping event April 24 and 25 in Garden City.

GSKH Girl Experience Manager Jen Ashcraft said this event is geared as a training for volunteers in the region.

“Troop leaders come in for an overnight and learn outdoor skills to take their girls camping,” she said.

Ashcraft said most of Girl Scouts’ Southwest Kansas happenings take place in Garden City and Scott City, with a few still in Dodge City.

“I don’t have anything specific for Dodge City at the moment,” she said. “We’ve got four different camp sessions, three that are being hosted by our council staff and one that is being hosted by volunteers.”

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GSKH has a couple of events taking place in June, with the first taking place June 9-11. Ashcraft said that event, “Rocking It Old School,” is hosted by a group of volunteers in the Garden City area, and those in attendance will be from communities throughout the area, including Liberal, Garden City, Dodge City and Scott City.

A troop science camp will run from June 28-30 in Garden City. Ashcraft said girls will learn how to assist with real life science projects by collecting data and reporting it to scientists.

June 25-28, GSKH is hosting a “Wildlifer Challenge.” Ashcraft said this is a girls only camp experience, with some involvement from staff and volunteers.

“It’s a very independent style camp for the girls to come and learn different camp skills,” she said. “We have a list of challenges girls can complete to earn a badge from the state park system. We’ve done Wildlifer Camps for many years. It’s always popular.”

For younger girls, GSKH will host a Daisy event July 24 in Garden City for kindergartners and first graders.

“It’s the girls’ first camp experience,” Ashcraft said. “We’re very focused on insects and critters this year.”

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a part of life, and when coronavirus first appeared on the scene, Ashcraft said Girl Scouts worked to limit activities as much as possible.

“Last summer, we cancelled all of our in-person events for the safety of the girls, but we were able to run a virtual camp,” she said. “We picked some virtual camp sessions where the girls had some activities they could complete with their families at home. They have been to Zoom a couple of times in order to meet with each other and get to do social connections and additional learning about the camp projects.”

In August 2020, GSKH began having in-person events again with some precautions in place.

“It was masks and social distancing and giving the girls as much of a normal Girl Scout experience as possible while still meeting the requirements of the pandemic,” Ashcraft said.

In early spring, as many as 20 area Girl Scouts visited the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City. Ashcraft said there is a mixture of opinions as to the continuation of in-person activities for troops.

“Some of our families are definitely ready to come back to in-person events, and others prefer to continue with the virtual experience for a little bit longer,” she said.

Girl Scouts also recently completed annual cookie sales, and Ashcraft said sales went well for this year.

“Our girls were able to meet the challenges, and we’re very happy with the turnout,” she said.

Ashcraft said having events like the ones planned in the next few months give young ladies a return to a sense of normalcy.

“I think it’s important for the girls to get back to seeing their friends and having those experiences again,” she said. “School life is different, and family life is different. They just haven’t had those opportunities over the last year, and being able to provide them these big spaces to come together and have those experiences again is really important to us.”

For families who may not be able to afford to send children to events, Ashcraft said help is available, particularly for those hit by COVID-19.

“We do our best to provide fun, interesting activities,” she said. “We do offer financial aid and scholarships for families. The pandemic has hit a lot of our families very hard in that area.”

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