Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Girl Scout camp is a day at the beach




BY MOLLY HARPER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ERLANGER — Oblivious to the roar of interstate traffic less than 100 yards away, 9-year-olds Sequoya Tolliver and Keisha Conrad are happily digging a moat for the sand castle they're building.

        “I love sand!” Keisha says, tossing a scoop behind her. “This is probably the most fun we've had here so far.”

        And they've only been at the Girl Scout Day Camp for two hours.

        The Licking Valley Girl Scout Program Center will hold two week-long day camps for 150 Covington area Girl Scouts. This is the fifth year Covington Community Center and Licking Valley Girl Scouts have offered the free camp to local girls aged 5 to 12.

        The campers aren't required to be Girl Scouts. But Molly Mulhern, youth development coordinator for the Covington Community Center, said many of them come to camp and want to join troops. This interest has sparked seven new troops in the Covington Independent Schools in the last year.

        Ms. Mulhern said the camp allows the girls to get in touch with nature in a relaxed, rural setting.

        “Lots of these girls don't have the opportunity to get to land as extensive as this,” she said of the 11-acre compound. “Here they get outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Despite being so close to the interstate, it's very peaceful and tranquil for them.”

        The theme for the camp is Beach Party, U.S.A. The girls will spend the week learning about marine life and the ocean environment.

        As they sat at a plastic-covered picnic table painting boxes that would be encrusted with sand and seashells, 6-year-old twins Delilah and Lillian Patton agreed that craft time was the best part of the day.

        “We paint these and then we'll put our treasures in them,” Delilah said as Lillian nodded. “We already liked ocean stuff when I came here, so I was happy when I found out the whole week was about beaches.”

        Ms. Mulhern said the girls are learning a lot of facts, but they're also learning less tangible things such as self-esteem, teamwork, leadership and self-expression.

        “We want the girls to be their own people,” she said. “We want them to be proud of who they are and what they do.”

        Serving as role models for the young Scouts are the Leaders in Training, or LITs. These 13- to 17-year-old junior counselors herd the campers from one activity to another, ensuring their safety and inclusion in the group. Program manager Nancy Rogers said this position is an important first step toward leadership for teen-age Girl Scouts.

        “We make sure they know that these little ones look up to them and they need to be good role models,” she said. “It makes them more aware of what they do and say. They try to be on their best behavior.”

        LIT Christal Housely said the idea of the girls imitating her is daunting.

        “It makes me nervous knowing they're watching me and they might act like me,” she said. “But I'm having a lot of fun and the girls behave really well. Eventually I'll get used to them looking up to me.”

        Both Sequoya and Keisha want to come back next year for day camp and think they might even be ready for sleep-away camp. “If I have this much fun here in the day, I want to see what's it like if I stay all night,” Sequoya said.

       



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