Girl Scout Troops Enjoy Outdoors, Fun At Camp
By TAYLOR GRIFFIN
For the past couple of summers, Kaitlyn Yost, 16, has enjoyed her title as the official cook for the annual Girl Scout summer camp in Tyler. Grilled cheese sandwiches are her specialty for her giggly girls, she said.
But she doesn't do it for the job experience or even the chance to cook for a crowd. She loves to hear the little voices of her campers call her "Chef Kaitlyn."
"I just love the looks on their faces. It's worth it," she said. "Every year is different, fun and exciting."
This week, "Chef Kaitlyn" was reunited with her darlings at Summer Sensation, the regional summer day camp for area Girl Scout troops, which ended Wednesday. Held at the Girl Scout regional headquarters, the camp hosted 86 scouts, all eager to learn new skills as well as brush up on some old ones.
"Day camp in Girl Scouts gets the girls outside and lets them get dirty," Kelly Jackman, camp director, said. "It also lets them meet new friends from other troops."
This year's theme was "Back to the Future," celebrating the 100th anniversary of this national organization.
Joining the Tyler scouts were troops from surrounding cities such as Athens, Longview and Marshall. Ms. Jackman, or as her campers call her, "Ms. Kelly," enjoys the aspect of getting together with the other troop leaders, who share ideas and experiences from their own troop.
"It's a great way to meet other Girl Scouts and share what we do with them," she said.
Each day, the girls participated in activities such as outdoor cooking, crafts and sessions to earn their badges. As a scout goes from a little Daisy at age 5 to an Ambassador when they reach 18, earning certain badges become more challenging -- each one teaching a valuable lesson.
"Some are harder than others, but they all encompass a service component," Ms. Jackman said. "As the girls get older, their leadership evolves."
Alyssa Graham, 14, of Tyler, and Joanna Bartley, 14, of Tyler, began their Girl Scout careers in first grade. They love the company of their fellow scouts and becoming role models to the younger crowd.
"I love the little ones. They'll try to imitate us, and it's cute," Miss Bartley said, giggling.
Miss Yost loves the family environment she gets when she comes back to camp. Everyone knows and cares about each other, she said.
"It's just a great place that helps you grow and expand," Miss Yost said. "It's nice, calm, and you just feel safe here."
Life lessons and skills are taught during camp, and throughout the year, that shape the lives of each scout. Among these lessons include problem-solving, watching and observing, the qualities of a good or bad leader and learning how to be a role model.
For Ms. Jackman, who has been camp director for more than 10 years, the leadership skills that each girl gains carry on much further than just day camp.
"Over the years, I've watched these girls grow, mature and develop their leadership. They come back each year with new sets of skills," she said. "To me, that's wonderful. It's what it's all about."
When a girl finishes as a senior, it means a lot to the community, and it truly says something about that girl, Ms. Jackman said.
"If you give girls the opportunity to lead, they will do it, and they will stay with it."