Surviving and thriving: Girl Scouts attend Camp Sacagawea

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Every summer since 2006, Girl Scouts from across Muscatine County have loved meeting up to spend a week outdoors having fun at Camp Sacagawea. After the interruptions caused the past two years by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 72 campers, along with the adult organizers, enjoyed taking part in most of their favorite activities from July 25 through 29.

This year, campers got to enjoy a “Survivor” theme, integrating outdoor skills into may of the activities they did. Kids enjoyed a wealth of outdoor activities, including archery, canoeing, and trying out atlatls, or spear throwers. While younger campers took a nature hike with Muscatine County Conservation, older campers learned how to start a fire without using matches and how to build a shelter out in the wilderness. Campers also got to put on their own talent show too, a tradition they missed during the abbreviated camp held last year with strict social distancing requirements in place.

Wednesday evening, campers in fourth grade and up got to enjoy a late evening camp experience, staying a little past the camp’s usual hours to eat dinner together, hike, canoe, and even make s’mores.

As part of the week’s activities, campers in sixth grade also got initiated as PAs, or assistants who help the adult camp leaders do activities with the younger campers. To celebrate their initiation, older PAs come up with fun and silly challenges for the new PAs to do, which all of the campers enjoy watching. “It’s just a fun thing we do to get them into being a PA,” said Carter Wagg, a sophomore in high school who has attended Camp Sacagawea for seven years. “We always do something special, and it’s fun every year.”

With the number of activities Girl Scouts at Camp Sacagawea expanding as the pandemic recedes, Camp Director Jennifer Pierce took delight in getting campers, ranging in age from kindergartners to seniors in high school, to enjoy themselves, build friendships, and have quintessential camp experiences without having to go too far from home. She most savored, “being together. Last year’s camp was only a three day camp, and because of COVID, we had to keep them separate, but this year we’re all back together.” She later added, “this is my bread and butter–I just love doing this.”

The campers themselves got a lot out of getting back to camp as well. “When I was younger, it was fun to do the activities, and now as a PA, it’s fun to help the kids do the activities I did,” shared Carter.

“I like getting to do new things and making new friends and getting to make new memories,” chimed in Clarissa McNally, also a sophomore.

Camp Sacagawea has provided Girl Scouts with summer entertainment for 16 years, and Pierce plans to keep it running strong for years to come. As protocols continue to return to their pre-pandemic standards, she hopes to encourage scouts to keep coming back to camp so that as many as 80 to 100 kids can participate in next year’s day camp.

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