Gosh I love girls camp. I went for eight years as a youth, and then I've gone back every year they let me as an adult. I love it even though I am so not an outdoorsy person. In fact, the only time I've been camping since I was about 13 was at girls camp. I love all the cheesy activities and the emotional testimony meetings, I love reeking of campfires, I love all the intense time with these wonderful teenagers.
Over the next few months I'll be posting several discussions of issues relating to Girls Camp, and I'd love to answer any questions or research anything I can to help. While I haven't been a camp director myself, I've done enough around there that hopefully I can help and we can all learn from each others experiences and great creative minds.
To get things started, let me broach an issue that's been pestering me for the past few years:
When I was a camper, we spent our days at camp doing the certification from the manual. Usually the older girls taught clinics to the younger girls, which is how I could get away with attending my sixth through eighth years. Sometimes it was tedious, but if the teacher was prepared it could be a lot of fun trying these skills out in the setting they were intended for, rather than just listening to a lecture. Plus, this method contributed to unity across age groups as the younger girls and older girls worked together to teach/learn the certification skills, and filled a lot of time during the camp day with purposeful activities.
It also gave quite a cool cache to the older girls as they showed off their years of experience. As a little yearling I would listen with awe and fear about the dreaded fourth year hike and having to cook my own meal over a fire! And stay all the way through the night! What if I starved? Or froze? Could I ever grow up to be as cool and knowledgeable as those older girls? Oh how I hoped.
As an adult, most of the certification seems to happen away from camp. In my last three stakes the certification was either the responsibility of ward YW leaders, or the stake conducted certification nights the wards would use as their activity for the week. The hikes usually happened during the camp week while the other years sat around or played games or did crafts until everyone else got back.
Doing the certification away from camp always struck me as bizarre. Isn't the whole purpose of camping that certification, coupled with gospel instruction? How can you really deeply learn these camping skills if you learn them in a ward meetinghouse where you're not allowed to actually start a fire? And how do you possibly keep up to hundreds of girls entertained during the day without learning these skills?
I would suspect it was just a weird idea from a stake camp director, if it weren't for the fact that my last three stakes, in New Hampshire, Southern California, and Central California all did it. Three different stakes thousands of miles apart all came up with the same technique that was so radically different from the girls camps I attended as a youth.
Does anyone know if there was a policy change? I don't really understand why that would happen. Maybe it's a way of getting the camp skills to girls who can't make it to camp? Maybe it requires fewer leaders? I can't imagine, but if anyone knows whether or not this is now the way it's supposed to be, then maybe I can stop being so perturbed.