Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pearls for Girls: Camp Alice Chester

Dateline: East Troy, Wisconsin
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin - Southeast Council Kick-Off Workshop

What a fascinating person Alice Chester must have been… tennis champion, ambulance and truck driver in France during WWI, suffragette and League of Women Voters organizer, founder and first commissioner of the Wisconsin Girl Scout movement, and more. The woman was so dedicated to the health and well-rounded development of young girls that she sold her personal keepsakes in order to buy land for a camp where they could experience the traditional outdoor activities that she felt so fortunate to enjoy in her own youth. That’s what we were told Alice Chester did in 1924… she sold her pearls so that the Milwaukee Area Girl Scouts could establish a summer camp expressly for girls. In gratitude, they named the camp in her honor.

Mary Jo and Peggy inspecting the e-Tourmobile
From Camp Alice WisconsinGS
The legacy of such dedicated Girl Scout leadership continues, and it was abundantly evident when we visited Camp Alice Chester on Saturday to present a Leave No Trace program to more than 60 highly motivated Girl Scout troop leaders and staff. It was a feisty bunch for sure… 

We emphasized the not-so-black-and-white dimensions of Leave No Trace, and had lots of questions that helped us all explore the gray areas of Outdoor Ethics. Our presentation was actively interactive, and workshop participants debated how choices are conditioned by context, and how the circumstances of climate, topography, vegetation, wet/dry, time of year, group size, and such can help determine the appropriateness of decisions about outdoor behaviors and consequential impacts. It was spirited, and at times, it was hard for us to get a word in edgewise.

From Camp Alice WisconsinGS
We first got the crowd fired up with a round of “Step On It,” followed by a little trash talk, during which we exhaustively discussed the finer points regarding disposal of human waste, and then followed-up with a spirited “How Long Does It Last” exercise. After learning how to show a little respect for wildlife by employing the “Rule of Thumb,” Peggy led the group through the “Camp Oh-No!” final exam.

Final Exam
From Camp Alice WisconsinGS
The Girl Scout leader group was absolutely game and the interactions were challenging, constructive and lots of fun. It was a group that demonstrated a well-developed capacity for reflective thinking… and good humor… and a sincere interest in modeling and teaching how to experience and enjoy the outdoors in the “right kind of way…” We were left with the distinct impression that the Wisconsin Girl Scouts are in good hands, and Leave No Trace is sure to become an integral component in their instructional agenda. We have a feeling that Alice would be pleased and proud about how things have worked out for her girls.

As we departed, we gave copies of the “Leave No Trace” DVDs (US National Park Service) to the Council staff. In turn, they presented us with a Girl Scout tote bag filled with a representative assortment of nuts from their fundraising sale... nice road-fare. Thanks go to Mary Jo Zachow for demonstrating her favorite Leave No Trace teaching activity during the workshop, arranging our participation in the event, and for welcoming us so warmly. All in all, it was a terrific Saturday night soiree at Camp Alice.

From Camp Alice WisconsinGS
Hope to see you down the road,

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-Word: "everybody"

From Camp Alice WisconsinGS

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