A very exciting day - the first outing of a dayhiking group sponsored by Girl Scouts of Hornets' Nest Council in North Carolina. This group is part of the outreach I envisioned as I hiked the Smokies trails in 2008 and 2009. Thanks to the donations of interested and generous people, this group and other outdoor opportunities are now possible for girls served in my Council's area.
The dayhiking group idea is simple: the second Saturday of each month, any Girl Scout age 13 and up can join me for a hike. The girls do not need to sign up as part of a troop or with a parent. Adult Girl Scouts are also invited, as long as they are willing to help with transportation if needed. (I figure that any adult I can coax into the woods will get bitten by the hiking bug and pass the enthusiasm on to others.)
I planned the first meeting at Latta Plantation Park and a very short getting-to-know-you hike of 2 miles. It was quite cold and one adult dropped out the night before because of fear of the cold...but one of the things I want most to teach is that hiking is enjoyable no matter what the temperature IF you are well prepared. I had a couple of bags of extra clothes just in case.
All the girls and other adults showed up well prepared. These particular girls are all in one troop and are getting in shape for a trip to Europe this summer, so they were excited.
I don't think I'll have any trouble getting adults to work with me in this venture. One Girl Scout friend, Jill, joined me on this day, as well as another friend familiar to my regular blog readers, Carol (who hiked with me several times in the Smokies, including the unforgettable "7 bears in one day" hike). Carol brought along her college age daughter, Betsy, too. So we were a big crowd huddled in the foyer of the small Visitor Center at Latta Plantation.
We talked about the ten essentials, types of clothing, the day's hike plan and safety practices. One of the adults with the troop was a dad who fishes and he was happy to hear me emphasize the same practices he uses about always having rain gear no matter what the forecast, etc.
Our hike was just a quick ramble to see how well the girls took direction and followed guidelines(very well) and how they handled the cold (great). They are obviously ready for bigger and better things. As this group catches on, I will need extra adults and the flexibility to split the group into different abilities so no one feels rushed or slowed down. I look forward to having that problem, i.e. enough participants to need to split.
The temperature rose to about 30 degrees and we ate our lunch sitting on the ground in the intense sunshine, talking about where to hike next month and the girls' upcoming trip. I have traveled twice with Girl Scouts in Europe and had awesome experiences and I'm very excited for these girls to have that opportunity too.
Working with teenage girls is such a pleasure - they are energetic and talkative and they notice things that adults overlook. Just sitting here typing this up, I feel a shiver of anticipation of all the adventures ahead!
I wonder what's going to happen exciting today? ~ Winnie-the-Pooh