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The Benefits of Outdoor Experiences for Girls

The Benefits of Outdoor Experiences for Girls

GSRI_More_than_Smores-Outdoor_Experiences_Page_01The newly released GSRI study More Than S’mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Experiences (2014) reports that Girl Scouts benefit immensely from their time outdoors: they experience personal growth and empowerment, try new things, overcome fears, and learn teamwork and leadership skills. The open space of the outdoors, combined with the calming effects of nature and the opportunities for new experiences and growth, constitute an ideal setting in which girls can explore, observe, learn, and give back to their peers and their communities. The inherent novelty and challenge of many outdoor activities also appeals to girls and can help them develop mastery, agency, and personal identity.

What other benefits do girls gain from outdoor experiences?

According to More Than S’mores, through an outdoor experience in Girl Scouts, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of girls improved a skill, and 48 percent helped other girls do an outdoor activity. Importantly, girls also develop environmental stewardship through outdoor experiences. Compared to a national sample of girls, Girl Scouts are twice as likely to say that they take actions to protect the environment and have had a personal experience in nature that has made them appreciate it more.

How often should girls get outdoors?

ropesThe study found that girls with more frequent and longer-in-duration outdoor experiences are more likely to seek challenges and better at solving problems—qualities that will advance them personally and academically. Participating regularly in outdoor activities helps girls develop competence, companionship, and a sense of being able to make a difference for the environment.

According to girls, what are the best things about being outdoors?

It’s clear that girls really enjoy outdoor experiences. Two-thirds (62 percent) of Girl Scouts surveyed enjoyed theresident-camp outdoor experiences they’ve participated in. Camping was the most memorable outdoor activity for Girl Scouts in the study, providing them with ample opportunities to have…

  • hard fun (involving challenge, mastery, and accomplishment)
  • people fun (making friends and strengthening friendships)
  • nature fun (observing and interacting with the natural world)

Which Girl Scouts benefit from outdoor experiences the most?

All girls benefit from time spent outdoors in Girl Scouts, but monthly outdoor experiences are especially important for girls of a comparatively low socioeconomic status (SES). These lower-SES girls with monthly outdoor experiences say they are much more likely to become leaders because of Girl Scouting. Additionally, Latina and 3) 02-2-2013 SU 132 Winter Wonderland archeryAfrican American girls reap unique benefits from the outdoors; they are more likely to say…

  • they have overcome a fear of the outdoors through Girl Scouts
  • they first tried a certain outdoor activity in Girl Scouts
  • they could not have done the outdoor activity if not for Girl Scouts

So what does Girl Scouts do differently? What is the unique role of Girl Scouts in girls’ outdoor experiences?

Outdoor experiences are an integral part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) for girls of all ages. Outdoor activities are woven into the core leadership development program in such a way that girls feel comfortable trying new things and testing their limits, and gain confidence and acquire new skills in a safe and supportive all-girl environment. From a relaxed swim in the lake to teaming up on a wildlife conservation project to high-adventure rock-climbing, the GSLE offers girls a variety of opportunities to learn and grow inside and out.

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