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The 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.
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.
The 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.
It’s clear that girls really enjoy outdoor experiences. Two-thirds (62 percent) of Girl Scouts surveyed enjoyed the 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…
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 African American girls reap unique benefits from the outdoors; they are more likely to say…
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.