• Crossing the "T"s in youth travel
• Girl Scout safety tips
• Creating a safe, interactive environment for all
In my spare time (I laugh at that thought), I am a co-leader of my daughter's Girl Scout Daisy Troop. Interacting with these young ladies is a joy, often quite humorous, and takes work to make sure we are providing safe and educational opportunities for them to learn and grow.
Luckily, Girl Scouts of the USA has many great programs and guidelines to help even the busiest of troop leaders create successful outings. I decided to look deeper into planning activities for older girls and learned quite a bit.
Emily Fein, Director of Programs for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, helped explain some of their large events and best practices for youth events. “Girl Scouts Destinations is an adventure program designed for girls ages 11 and older,” Fein explained. Each year new destinations and experiences are explored by Girl Scouts from across the globe, whether biking Denmark and Sweden, participating in CampHERO in Wisconsin, or swimming with sea turtles in Costa Rica, a strict protocol is set, and met, to provide each participant with the most vibrant and safe experience possible.
When planning these youth travel events, Girl Scouts adopts ‘Safety Activity Checkpoints’ for planners and volunteers to adhere to. This guide, quite literally, has a best practice for almost any activity a youth group would participate in, from arts and crafts to ziplining. The report also includes adult to youth ratios for different age groups, emergency guidelines, required and recommended gear for each activity, and even expresses which activities are absolutely not allowed at or as a Girl Scouts sanctioned event.
This year, Girl Scouts participating in the Lake Erie Island Exploration will have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, visit a local aquatic center, and visit Kelley’s Island. They will also spend time aboard the R/V Gibraltar III, a research vessel, where they will collect and test samples from the lake.
The Journey will require planners to adhere to multiple Safety Activity Checkpoints; kayaking, boating, snorkeling, and hiking, just to name a few. Girls will be required to know how to swim and have a safety whistle around their necks while in boats. Water rescue gear and Coast Guard approved life-jackets will be required, as well as lots of sunscreen.
For Fein’s team, this island excursion brought some of its own unique planning details, including ferry transportations and island evacuation plans. There are many safety procedures for the youth while on the water. “All of our vessels are Coast Guard inspected, equipped with life jackets and life boats for all passengers, and piloted by experienced, licensed captains,” stated Kristin Stanford, Ohio State University.
The planning process began just over a year ago. Girls Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) requires journey applications to be submitted in April of the year prior to the event and registration for the event began in the summer of last year. Girls were able to register up to a few weeks prior to the trip.
Whether you are planning youth events in your stomping grounds or far from home, remember to create clear guidelines for safety in all areas that can be given to your venues, parents, and staff. Teamwork makes the dream work!
For more on Girl Scout Safety Guidelines, go to www.GirlScoutsOC.org