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Get Girls Outdoors with camping, hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities

Getting Girls Outdoors

When girls spend quality time outdoors and increase their exposure to nature, they thrive physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Volunteers need to be confident in their outdoor skills in order to lead the best safe and fun-filled outdoor experience for their Girl Scouts! We are here to help you if you’re not feeling confident or even just want to brush up on some outdoor knowledge.

We invite you to share your love for the outdoors with our Girl Scouts. Click here to learn about becoming an Outdoor Volunteer!

Taking Activities Outdoors

Venture Out:  Learn practical tips and tricks, read other volunteers’ stories, and explore the joys of taking girls outside with Venture Out!, a fun, interactive “outdoor” adventure made possible by GSUSA’s Elliott Wildlife Values Project.


Step-by-Step: Developing Outdoor Skills in Girls:  At Girl Scouts, we work to build girls’ outdoor skills and inspire girls to care for the environment. The Girl Scout Outdoor Progression Chart (PDF) is a tool you can use as you advance girls’ skills in an age-appropriate way. 


Taking the Journey Outside:  It’s easy to take a Girl Scout Journey outside. Each Journey is full of fun, interactive activities that can easily go outdoors and inspire girls to love and protect the planet. Watch this video to find out how!


How to Leave No Trace Outdoors:  A Girl Scout always leaves an area better than she found it. Throughout this video, girls will learn the importance of caring for the land, and how to easily “Leave No Trace” when exploring and enjoying the outdoors.


Outdoors Songs and Games:  This video provides fun tips on how to teach songs and games to girls to do in the outdoors, and resources available to learn more about Girl Scout songs and games. 


<-- Keep an eye out for the tree icon in Volunteer Toolkit! This icon indicates an activity can be taken outdoors!

Camping with Girls

Sample Packing List

Click here for a sample packing list to share with your girls as you plan for your overnight trip!


Planning Your Troop’s First Campout: In order to have a great campout, you need to plan ahead—and be prepared. This video will give you plenty to think about as you plan your next outdoor adventure with Girl Scouts.


Introduction to Campsite Set-Up:  A safe, efficient campsite is important when camping. Watch and learn how to set up a proper camp!


Introduction to Cooking Outdoors:  Propane, charcoal, box ovens—there are so many choices when cooking outside. This video shares ideas about the delicious possibilities. Tasty!


Introduction to Fire Building:  To ensure a fun campfire experience and help minimize impact on the environment, this video provides basic skills on Leave No Trace ethics, wood gathering, types of fire building methods, and how to start and extinguish a campfire.


Not ready to take your troop out on your own? Check out our event calendar to find upcoming Troop Adventure Camp or Troop Adventure Day opportunities! At these events, you and your volunteers will supervise your troop while GSHPA staff faciliate outdoor activities. 

Outdoor Progression
Outdoor Program Progression Chart

Learn more about how to utilize this Outdoor progression by clicking here!

Outdoor Adult Enrichment
Opportunities Offered by GSHPA

For activities that are available at GSHPA camp properties that require training or certification, these opportunities are available periodically throughout the year. Opportunities include, but are not limited to the topics below: 




Climbing Wall Facilitation


Low Ropes Facilitation


Leave No Trace Awareness


First Aid/CPR/AED


Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking


Check our Event Calendar for upcoming opportunities! 

NEW! Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA (GSHPA) offers four levels of training for GSHPA adult members and leaders to prepare for taking girls on an overnight experience! The four levels are outlined below.


Introduction to Overnight Stays on GSHPA Properties (online course) - Topics covered during this training include: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience, outdoor progression, how a leader should prepare, what to pack, nighttime jitters, food/mess kits, first aid/medication, ratio requirements, group sleeping, when a male volunteer is staying over, and a Leave No Trace Online Awareness Course.

Introduction to Overnight Stays on GSHPA Properties and Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking are both required before taking girls on an overnight stay on any GSHPA property. These trainings are valid for three years.


Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking (blended learning) – Topics covered during this training include: fire building, outdoor cooking, putting out your fire and cleaning up, and campfire alternatives.

Introduction to Overnight Stays on GSHPA Properties and Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking are both required before taking girls on an overnight stay on any GSHPA property. These trainings are valid for three years.

The in-person portion of Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking is not required, but will periodically be offered for those interested in additional training. 


Advanced Camping Skills (online course) Volunteers interested in advanced camping skills should consider this training. This training will include topics such as: tent site selection, how to set up a tent, and safety considerations when camping at a public facility such as a state park. 


Backpacking/Primitive Camping (in-person) Volunteers interested in taking girls backpacking or primitive camping should consider the GSHPA Backpacking Introductory Course. In addition, there will be one adult spot available in each Level 1-3 course for an adult who is interested in gaining the skills necessary to lead GSHPA backpacking events.

GSHPA members can access the online and blended courses through gsLearn (search by course name). The in-person portion of Fire Building & Outdoor Cooking and Backpacking/Primitive Camping are routinely offered by GSHPA Outdoor Experience staff and volunteers and can be found on the Event Calendar.

Additional Opportunities

For those that are interested in acquiring training or certification that is not offered by GSHPA, the following organizations meet Safety Activity Checkpoints.

-Archery: USA Archery, National Field Archery Association, or Easton Foundation
-Lake Swimming: American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard Training
-Pool Swimming: American Red Cross Lifeguard Training
-Low ropes, climbing wall, or climbing wall/zip line: This training is coordinated with an outside vendor by GSHPA


Rowboat: GSUSA Small Craft Safety Training or American Red Cross      Waterfront Lifeguarding

Canoe: American Canoe Association (ACA) Canoe Level 1 Instructor  or higher, ACA Paddle Sport Safety Facilitator-Canoeing, GSUSA Small Craft Safety Training, or American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguarding

Kayak: ACA Kayaking Level 1 Instructor or higher, ACA Paddle Sports          Safety Facilitator-Kayaking, GSUSA Small Craft Safety Training, or          American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguarding    

SUP: ACA SUP Instructor Level 1 or higher, ACA Paddle Sports Safety        Facilitator-SUP, or American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguarding. ACA          SUP Yoga endorsement or equivalent for yoga on flat water.

*GSUSA Small Craft Safety Training is not applicable to non-GSHPA properties.

Reserving a Camp Property

Visit our Property Reservations page to take a virtual tour of our camp properties, view pricing, and reserve a camp property for your next camping trip!


GSHPA + DCNR Partnership

Pennsylvania State Parks offer a variety of professional development opportunities for  teachers as well as non-formal environmental
educators. We provide hands-on, cross-curricula training for teachers from all grades (Pre-K - College). Learn more!

GSHPA Outdoor Opportunities
  • Troop Adventure Day
  • Troop Adventure Camp
  • Spend a Day Completing Badge Requirements


Leave No Trace

At GSHPA, we believe in responsible behavior and respecting the environment. That’s why we're one of only two Girl Scout Councils that are Leave No Trace Partners! The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that supports protecting the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. That’s something we can get behind!

How can Girl Scouts ensure they’re practicing #LNT daily?

There are seven principles of Leave No Trace. It’s important that Girl Scouts are familiar with these principles, considering so many of our activities happen in the outdoors. Let’s go through each one and think about how the principles apply to Girl Scouts.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Before you start your outdoor adventure (no matter how small!), make sure you’re prepared. Make sure you’re familiar with regulations and special concerns about the area(s) you’ll be visiting, and keep in mind high-traffic times. Avoiding crowds will not only prevent protected wildlife from getting trampled, it will also make it a more enjoyable experience for the girls!

Depending on the size of your troop, consider splitting up into smaller groups. If there are too many people in one given spot, there might not be enough room on the trail for everyone to listen, talk, and share with each other. Smaller groups help us foster conversation while we’re mindful of the environment around us.

2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

Whether you’re visiting for a day or overnight, it’s important to stick to durable surfaces, like established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grass, or snow. This is for the safety of everyone in your group as well as the safety of the environment. When we walk beyond established paths, we risk damaging vegetation and other organisms that can be damaged beyond recovery.

If your troop is staying overnight, remember that campsites are found, not made! You don’t need to alter an existing site to meet your needs. Try to find a site that is so highly impacted that further careful use will cause no noticeable impact.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

One of the easiest ways to Leave No Trace is to dispose of any waste you’ve brought with you. If there are trash cans available, excellent! Use them for anything you no longer need, separating recyclable and compostable items if necessary. If there aren’t any trash cans, bring it all with you. This includes packaging, leftover food, and other litter. And if you’re camping overnight, don’t forget to check that you’ve grabbed all of your clothing, camping gear, and anything else non-edible you may have left behind.

And when nature calls, find a spot at least 200 feet from water, your camp, and trails, and dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep for solid human waste. When finished, cover and disguise the hole. It’s not glamorous, but it helps protect the environment!

4. Leave What You Find

Girl Scouts love souvenirs as much as the next person, but during your outdoor adventure, the only souvenirs you should take are pictures! Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects where you find them, and avoid building structures like forts or makeshift furniture. Leave those projects for your backyard.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

While you may not be in wildfire country, it’s still incredibly important to minimize the impact of your campfire. Keep in mind regulations for where you’re visiting (which you should’ve already researched as part of principle 1!), as fires might not be allowed.

When and where fires are permitted, keep them as small as possible. Only use sticks that can be broken by hand, no tools required. Once you’re done, make sure all wood and coals have burned to ash. Put out the fires completely, then scatter the ashes once they’ve cooled.

6. Respect Wildlife

One of the best parts of spending time outdoors is seeing all the amazing wildlife. But as exciting as it is to see animals in the wild, remember that they should be observed from a distance and should never be fed. It damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.

Similarly, make sure food (including food waste!) is stored securely. Whether they’re fed intentionally or find your food on accident, wildlife can be very negatively impacted by human food.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Finally, remember to be considerate toward others, including those in your group. Ask questions courteously, avoid making loud noises, and yield to others on the trail. In short, be a sister to every Girl Scout—as well as every non–Girl Scout!




Have questions about getting girls outdoors? Reach out to our Member Services team at 800-692-7816 or