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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Girl Scouts flourish at La Casita camp despite fires, summer heat

Fourth of July had come and gone and while most kids their age were starting to get the summertime blues, 63 adventurous Girl Scouts took part in the Survivor Girl Day Camp at La Casita.

Participants in the five-day camp held for Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles from the ages of five to 15 enjoyed a variety of activities such as learning and practicing survivor camping skills, participating in several badge activities and listening to speeches from park rangers and firefighters, who modeled possible career paths for several girls.

What made this particular camp special is that it took place at La Casita, the beloved historical property the Girl Scouts recently saved from being sold. Survivor Girl Day Camp was the first event the LA council had sponsored, and during the camp the girls took full advantage of all the amenities La Casita had to offer.

After completing several arduous activities throughout the days, the Girl Scouts earned several badges for activities such as, outdoor cooking, first aid, fire building, outdoor camping, compass-reading and knot-tying.

Beverly Speak, whose granddaughter took part in the excursion, said she was immensely proud of all of the girls who were incredibly eager to learn the “traditional, old-timey camping skills that kids just don’t do anymore.”

Daisy Scouts earned their Vi Petal badge, Brownies earned their hiking badge, Juniors earned their camping badge and Cadettes claimed their trailblazer badge.

Savannah Speak, age 7, is a Brownie. She said earning her Brownie Petal felt good and that the camp was really fun. Her favorite activity was archery. She noted that the biggest challenge she faced was knot-tying.

“But now I know how to tie lots of knots,” she said.

Another challenge all the Girl Scouts faced was that the camp took place during the same time as the recent San Gabriel Canyon Wildfires. Ms. Speak said she was concerned the first day because, although the fire was blowing only a little bit of smoke into camp, the bigger problem was the heat. But the kids and the staff took it all in stride and completed camp activities while staying hydrated. A highlight for many campers was watching the water-dropping planes fly overhead to combat the wildfires.

As the temperatures dropped as the days went by, girls made use of the fire pit, which the fire department allowed, and built what the scouts call an “edible campfire,” which is described as a fun, safe way to learn about how to build a campfire without actually playing with fire.

At the end of the camp, girls split into several units based on their ages, and participated in activities and challenges to demonstrate their newly-acquired survival skills to camp leaders.

Led by GSGLA staff members Deanne Moore and Michelle Geathers, seven volunteer adults and 12 older girls serving as program aides kept the girls engaged and learning, laughing and singing, and creating memories that would last forever.

Survivor Girl Day Camp was conceived to build girls’ confidence, character and independence. Although some of the skills mastered are not necessary in the modern world, the girls were able to discover their adventurous side and get in touch with nature. Not only did they learn about the value of teamwork, but they learned about the value of friendship. Many of the girls shared that they created bonds with one another that would last long after summer was over.

La Casita, which was donated to the Girl Scouts in 1947 by Claremont’s Pitzer family, is an outdoor education resource for Girl Scouts but is available for rent to the community. Adjacent to the Wilderness Park and Thompson Creek Trail, La Casita is easily accessible but offers a serene environment, distant from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. For information about renting the property, contact Elsa Escobedo by email at eescobedo@girlscoutsla.org or call (626) 677-2366.

Day and overnight camps are open to all girls, including those not currently registered as Girl Scouts. Visit girlscoutsla.org to view all camp offerings.

—Anjali Reddy

[Editor’s note: Anjali Reddy will be a junior at Vivian Webb in mid-August, where she will serve as news editor on The Webb?Canyon Chronicle.  Anjali said she enjoyed writing both news and feature stories as a first-year reporter last year. She looks forward to working as an editor in fall and hopes to recruit more Webb students to the newspaper staff. This is her first assignment as an intern at the COURIER.—KD]

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