On a beautiful October weekend this fall, Camp Sacajawea hosted a unique group of campers for a retreat. Seventy-five Girl Scout Troop Leaders and volunteers immersed themselves into camp life for the weekend to experience Girl Scout traditions, learn new skills, and connect with other volunteers.
Director of Volunteer Engagement Lindsay Russell, said, “We started talking about what our volunteers needed and wanted, and what we realized is that people want the in-person connection and they want to be able to experience things in person rather than online.”
So the 2021 Volunteer Retreat was created. Modeled after a typical girl camping experience, Troop Leaders checked into Camp Sacajawea in Boone on Friday night where they got to meet other leaders, chat with Girl Scout staff, and enjoy a campfire and s’mores.
The next morning, CEO Beth Shelton kicked off the retreat with “Creating a Girl-Led Experience.” Breakout sessions ranging from grade level specific training, higher awards learning and hands on sessions for STEM, Art and taking girls outdoors along with optional CPR and First Aid training. Attendees mixed and mingled over meals and hiking breaks, all while learning from one another and making new friends.
“We really wanted the Troop Leaders to be able to build their skill sets as leaders. Our adult volunteers are essentially the gate keepers to the Girl Scout experience, so we wanted to give them the type of experience we want them to give Girl Scouts,” said Russell.
Peggy Hugen started a first-year Daisy Girl Scout Troop in 2017. She attended the retreat to better support her large, active troop.
“Post-COVID, I’ve been struggling as a leader. I hoped the retreat would help me re-focus and add motivation to be the leader I want to be, even though my time is more limited than it once was. I also wanted to collaborate with other leaders and learn some things to help me be a better Girl Scout,” Hugen said.
Russel echoes those thoughts. “The biggest feedback I received was about the networking and relationship building. The connections leaders got to make – with our staff, with other leaders, and with the Girl Scout Experience – was really impactful,” said Russell.