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Girl Scout Outdoor Experience Climbs High


Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa is proud to provide tree climbing opportunities to camp attendees each summer, but our incredible trained staff takes it a step higher in the off-season with tree climbing experiences held at the GSGI Des Moines office throughout the year.

In early November, Camp Sacajawea Director Abbie Smith and Camp Tanglefoot Director Julia Mannes hosted two small groups of girls to learn the ropes – quite literally!

“Girls start out by learning how to put gear on. As a group they learn about the type of tree, how old it is, and some other attributes of the specific tree they’re climbing. They learn the process of climbing in a group demonstration, then choose their climb. We go over the climbing steps again and make sure they can tie a safety knot. Then they climb,” said Smith.

Equipped in helmets and safety gear, girls wear harnesses and strap into ropes that hang from arborist-inspected tree branches. Both Smith and Mannes are certified facilitators and monitor the girls’ actions throughout their climbs.

Girls work with a combination of muscle and coordination to climb their way up. They climb independently but rely on the moral support from other girls to face the challenge of something new.

“The unique aspect of tree climbing is that once a girl learns the process, it’s up to her to set her goal and manage her climb herself. She can conquer her fear of heights seven feet off the ground hanging out above everyone on the ground or climb 40 feet into the canopy of a tree and touch the branch that’s holding her up. Even getting off the ground and sitting in the harness can be outside a girl’s comfort zone,” said Smith.

The girls who attended in early November also got to experience incredible fall coloring in the tree they were climbing. All of the girls climbed further than ever before and learned valuable lessons of patience, determination, and bravery.

To learn more about Girl Scout programming, visit our website.