Hello again! Before I talk about Step 2 of the Girl Scout Outdoor Progression Chart, Meet Out, let’s do a quick review. In my last blog post, I addressed the first step in Outdoor Progression Chart, Look Out, which encourages girls to think about the outdoors and share their experiences before venturing outside. If you haven’t read the Look Out blog post yet, I would encourage you to start there… but if you have, welcome back!
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As a reminder, I’ll be writing a blog post about once a month on fun and easy ways to move through the Girl Scout Outdoor Progression Chart, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my 36+ years with Girl Scouts, it’s the fact that if a girl’s first outdoor experience is a positive one, then she’ll be hooked for life.
So let’s take a look at Step 2: Meet Out. What does that mean? A great way to move on from looking at what’s outside is just being outside. Your first outdoor experience with your girls doesn’t have to an elaborate hike or overnight camping trip – start with something simple that will give your girls a taste of the outdoors (without overwhelming them).
If you have only interacted with your girls in an indoor location, try having part of your troop meeting outside and see what changes. If your normal meeting location doesn’t have safe and easy access to an outdoor meeting place, host a special meeting at a different location, so your girls can experience some fresh air and nature.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan to Meet Out with your girls:
Teach your girls how to interact with nature
Meet Out is the perfect time to introduce the Leave No Trace Seven Principles in order to help your girls better understand how and how not to interact with the outdoors. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization whose mission is to protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly.
Unlike the comfortable familiarity of being indoors, the outdoors introduces your girls to an entirely new experience. I would suggest starting with Principle 4: Leave What You Find. Think ahead about what might catch the attention of your girls and what behaviors this new environment might bring out. Start a conversation to get your girls thinking – something like, “Girls, check out that cool looking tree outside, those leaves are HUGE! I’d like to take a closer look at one, but should we pick leaves off trees?” Questions like this will start a discussion about good and not so good interactions with nature to help ensure the whole group is on the same page when you all finally go outside.
Clarify outdoor rules and boundaries
Sometimes being indoors is easy, you can say things like “we’re going to stay in this room” or “everyone sit around this carpet”, but being outside opens the group space up, making it a bit harder to define. When outside, it’s a good idea to set guidelines for how far your girls can go. I like to use this boundary rule: if you can’t see and hear me, you have gone too far and need to move closer to the rest of the group.
If you are going to allow the group to explore the open space, make sure you have a way to gather them back. I like to play a game I call “flypaper”. Just let the group know when you go outside you are fine with them walking around and getting a closer look at things, but if they hear you yell “flypaper” and point to a spot they have ten seconds to get to that spot and stick to it. For example, let’s say your meeting space is a library and for Meet Out you’re exploring a playground nearby. Tell the girls they have 6 minutes to walk around the outdoor space. When the 6 minutes are up, choose a landmark everyone can see and in your best outside voice yell “flypaper on… (that pine tree/or your co-leader)… 10, 9, 8, 7…” Once all the girls have made it to the designated spot, ask them to share what they saw during their 6 minute adventure. You might do this a few times so your girls have time to notice different things (smells, noises, or how they feel) every time they regroup to share and discuss.
After being outside, prepare your girls to go back inside
Going outside is invigorating, girls who seemed tired and lethargic at the start of your meeting may have some newfound energy from even a little time outside. But sometimes it can be harder to get the group to go back inside than it was to get everyone outside, especially if your girls don’t want their time outside to end. If you meet right after school (or another time where the girls have been indoors sitting all day), it’s important to set aside some time outside. Let the girls know how long they will be outside and use transitional warnings so they know how much time is left. When you are near the end of that time, start a countdown for returning inside. 15 minutes might be enough, maybe 5 minutes – you know your girls best, but make sure you prepare your girls and close your first Meet Out on a good note.
More Easy Meet Out Activities:
Nature Rubbing Craft: For an artsy craft, try making some nature rubbings out of leaves or flowers – just make sure the items you use are already on the ground.
Outdoor Sound Songs: After meeting outside, encourage your girls to write a poem or song inspired by the noises they heard outside.
Nature-Themed Games: There are lots of fun and active outdoor nature games one of my favorites is Bat and Moth.
Spending time outside and sharing what you observed is a fun addition to any meeting. Whether you decide to hold a Meet Out every meeting or just once, remember to take some time at the end of your time together to talk about the cool things you saw and learned. Hopefully you found this information helpful and are now able to take the first step in getting your girls to explore the outdoors. Next month, I’ll talk about next step in Girl Scout Outdoor Progression Chart, Move Out. Thank you for taking the time to step outside of your comfort zone and encouraging your girls to explore the world around them. If you have any great ways to Meet Out or ideas for Move Out, please share them in the comments section below — I’d love to hear them! Until next time, Happy Trails!
What to do next:
- The 2018 Camp Brochure is now available, find the program right for your girl on our CampRocks website!
- Looking for related reads? Check out our other blog posts about getting outdoors with your Girl Scouts!
- From setting up a campsite to outdoor songs, GSUSA’s Outdoor Resources page has tons of helpful how-to videos.
- Don’t forget to share your favorite outdoor experience in the comments section below, and keep an eye out for my next blog post!
Mary-Jane Strom—Mary-Jane is the Senior Director of Camps & Adventure at Girl Scouts of Northern California as well as a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, joining as a Brownie and completing her Gold Award in 1991. Mary-Jane fell in love with the outdoors and camping at a young age after her aunt sent her to Girl Scout camp as a birthday present. Mary-Jane has spent every birthday since at camp, returning summer after summer after summer. When not at camp, Mary-Jane enjoys a variety of other outdoor activities, like open water swimming and running.