To summer camp or not to summer camp… that is the question.
Many parents are trying to decide whether or not to send their kids to summer camp this summer. Have questions? We do, too. So we went straight to the expert: Violet Apple, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.
Girl Scouts of Central Maryland has decided to offer camp this summer. Violet shared why she thinks parents should consider sending their kids to summer camp, the precautions that Girl Scouts is taking with their own camps, and what to do if you — or your child — is feeling anxious about camp.
Coffee With Violet Apple, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland
Tell us about Girl Scouts and your role — and your path to becoming to Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.
I came to Girl Scouts almost 30 years ago. I have served as Chief Membership Services Officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and Interim Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. I moved to central Maryland in 2014.
When I began my career at Girl Scouts I was struck by the mission and the organization’s potential to have a positive impact on girls’ lives. Through camping, badge earning activities, community service projects, and troop activities, Girl Scouts offers girls many ways to explore, learn and develop a variety of skills.
Much of my time in Girl Scouts has been focused on program, including supporting the development and administration of summer camps. I really like being outdoors, listening to birds sing, enjoying the different smells and scenery and, being in/on the water. Activities like camping and being outdoors allow time for self-reflection, discovery, and conversation. It’s a chance to have good times with friends and unplug from the rest of the world. I’m glad that those who are ready, will be able to enjoy summer camp in central Maryland this year.
Tell us about Girl Scouts and summer camp. Camps are opening up! What can families expect?
Yes, we are very excited to be offering in-person summer camp this year! We are offering resident, day and virtual camps that begin June 27. Camping takes place at Camp Conowingo which is on beautiful acreage in Cecil county. Because of our virtual camp opportunities, we have something for girls in grades K-12. As we’ve done for the last 12 months, we will be adhering to recommendations from the CDC and Maryland’s statewide COVID safety protocols as well as ACA best practices. We’re offering horseback riding, archery, hiking, canoeing and swimming. The full list of camps and activities can be found at gscm.org under the camps tab. We still have camp spaces available so it’s not too late for girls to sign up.
Why is getting outside this summer so important for girls (or kids in general) — especially after the last year that we’ve had?
It’s been a tough year, especially for kids–across the nation. We know that the lack of social interaction that happens during their school day is having an impact. Last month I hosted a discussion with two doctors; a pediatric psychiatrist and a pediatrician. Both provided great insights and suggestions to help children and youth express their thoughts and feelings, especially related to the pandemic. A summer camp experience includes many of the suggestions the o doctors had to encourage social and emotional wellness: providing opportunities for mastery and achievement, encouraging movement and exercise, providing opportunities to engage in acts of kindness, encouraging social interaction and most importantly, helping them find joy. Our summer resident, day or virtual camp will help girls engage in these types of activities.
I’ve come to discover that every summer camp has a unique identity. What sets Girl Scout Camps apart from other programs?
I think the girl-only environment promotes camaraderie, teamwork and friendships. Girls are able to leave the confines of home, take a break from their devices and have fun and take risks in a community they help build–at camp. Many experiences that girls have at camp stay with them for a lifetime.
What would you say to a parent that is apprehensive about sending their child to camp this summer?
Do some research, talk to other parents, find out what the camp offers. Look at their website or Facebook page to determine if it is an environment your child would like. Find out if the camp is ACA accredited. ACA accredited camps have met standards related to safety guidelines, staff training and a host of other categories relevant to the well-being of your child. Many camps host open houses for potential campers and their families; attend one if you can.
What is one thing you can’t wait to do this summer?
I can’t wait to get to the beach and find peace just looking at the ocean. That will be refreshing and rejuvenating.