Category Archives: Girl Scouts News

Calling all future leaders, advocates, & philanthropists: apply for the Girls’ Leadership Council

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Submitted by The Women’s Foundation of Colorado

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is now accepting applications for the 2015 Girls’ Leadership Council, a leadership and training program for girls entering their junior years in high school.

This one-week summer program on the University of Denver campus helps high school sophomore girls discover their own power and potential to assist and impact their communities.

The 2015 Girl’s Leadership Council will offer you the opportunity to:

  • Meet with Colorado business leaders and philanthropists and hear from expert guest speakers on issues impacting Colorado women and girls.
  • Discover the importance and impact of philanthropy by and for women and girls.
  • Build a network to lean on during your high school and collegiate years and beyond.
  • Live with and learn from a group of diverse girls who share your passion for improving their communities.

To learn more about the GLC and the application process, watch this video. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado encourages applications from girls with diverse backgrounds. Although academic performance is a consideration in the selection process, we are looking for girls who demonstrate passion, commitment and leadership in many ways. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, there are no fees for this program.

Eligibility:

Any high school sophomore girl in Colorado who will be a junior in fall 2015

Program dates:

July 26-Aug. 1, 2015

Program Location:

University of Denver Campus

Application Deadline:

March 6, 2015, 5 p.m.

Finalist Interviews:        

May 16, 2015

If you have questions, please visit the WFCO web site or contact Community Initiatives and Investments Manager, Alison Friedman at 303-285-2972 or alisonf@wfco.org.

“Selfie Project” by Longmont Girl Scouts makes headlines

The “selfie project” by Troop 73392 of Longmont has Girl Scouts across the country talking and taking notice. As part of their Media Journey, the nine Cadettes studied ads featuring women and young girls. They quickly noticed nearly all of the photos had been edited or “Photoshopped.”

To help themselves and other fellow Girl Scouts recognize real beauty and celebrate what makes each of them unique, they took selfies. Those selfies were displayed at a community event, where family and friends could write comments on Post-It notes and place them on the photos.

“Your hair is just great. Your teeth are also amazing,” one read.

“You are so pretty and show so much confidence,” another stated.

What did the girls learn? “Your flaws are what make you beautiful,” sixth grader Ashley Reichenberg told reporter Whitney Bryen of The Longmont Times-Call. “That’s what makes you unique and special, like her being silly.”

After the story ran in the newspaper, Girl Scouts of Colorado, along with Girl Scouts of the USA, shared the news on Facebook and Twitter.

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Soon after, Fox 31 in Denver invited the troop to come in for a live interview with Brooke Wagner. Click to watch the interview.

Afterwards, Brooke took a selfie with the girls and shared it on Twitter.

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Girl Scouts of Colorado is so proud of these Girl Scouts for all their hard work to show women of all ages that real beauty is inside themselves, not inside a magazine.

Three things you can do on World Thinking Day

By Girl Scouts of the USA

When you’re a Girl Scout, you’re part of something much bigger than just your troop or group. Your “network” stretches across your state, throughout the nation, and to more than 150 countries in the world where Girl Scouts or Girl Guides are found. Together, you’re a powerful force!

Every February 22 on World Thinking Day, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world unite in purpose to focus on one issue, or theme, to make the world a better place. This year, the World Thinking Day theme is “Create Peace Through Partnerships.”

Here a few things you can do to make this World Thinking Day special:

Share your #guidinglight

Candles have always been a powerful symbol of friendship for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. This year, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides will light up social media with the glow of thousands of candles on World Thinking Day. So how do you participate? Here’s the short version: Light a candle. Take a selfie. Upload it to social media using the hashtag #guidinglight. Include a message that inspires others to do the same. And don’t forget to tag @GSColo, @girlscouts, @WAGGGS_world—and any other friends you might want to join you! Check out more details.

Show that peace is in your hands!

We all have the power to make changes for the betterment of our world. Learn about the international symbols for peace. Trace your hands and draw one of the symbols between them. If you want to start a conversation with members of your community, see if you can display your artwork at a community center, a local business, or house of worship. Invite community members to an “art opening” and talk about this year’s World Thinking Day theme.

Earn your World Thinking Day award!

Explore this year’s theme, “Create Peace Through Partnerships”! There are lots of ways to participate. Reading books, watching movies, constructing a “peace pole,” inviting a returned Peace Corps volunteer to talk to you about her/his experiences… Girl Scouts of all ages can participate in World Thinking Day. Check out our list of activities by grade level.

Questions about World Thinking Day? Learn more.

Troop 4258 delivers surprise holiday wrapping kits

Submitted by Kristi Gulley

I just wanted to share a fun activity my troop did. At our last meeting, we assembled over 100 holiday wrapping kits. Then, we went Christmas caroling around one of our local neighborhoods and left the kits on the doorsteps. It was a fun night and to see the surprise on the faces of the people who were home was priceless! We asked for people to share on social media. This was posted on a local community site:

“Looking for Girl Scout Troop 4258 – I think they played Santa! Last night, I found a roll of holiday wrapping paper and some gift wrapping supplies on my porch with a delightful note from Maya with Girl Scout Troop 4258. I can’t be totally sure whether this was intended to be delivered to me, but I really want to thank Maya and her troop. Problem is, I have no way to contact them. They are also trying to follow their gifts on social media which seems like a totally cool holiday activity. I’ll be posting that pic in a few.”

A few other neighbors responded that they also got them and yes, it was intended for her! It was such a great experience and a great opportunity to share random acts of kindness with the girls.

Lone Tree Brownies fulfill teachers’ wish lists

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Submitted by Tiffany Baker, (Co-Leader)  Girl Scout Troops 59 & 1226

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When our Brownie Girl Scouts asked us leaders to have more hands on learning experiences and less sit down discussions, we thought, “How could we make the Brownie Money Manager Badge more interactive?”

Badge requirement ideas included asking the girls to pretend to shop at a supermarket for groceries, an outfit, school supplies, and entertainment with friends all on a budget.

Each of the girls spoke with their teachers about what supplies were still needed in their classrooms. In true Brownie Spirit, the girls worked at home to earn classroom supply funds from their parents with agreed upon chores. Some items were donated by businesses.

We decided to meet up at WalMart, which has all the departments we needed.  The Brownies did a scavenger hunt in the Grocery and Clothes departments with a set budget, calculators, and lists of items they needed to find.  Then, they took their teachers’ classroom supply wish lists and worked together as a team to purchase all of the items on the lists for under their $100 combined troop budgets.  But, the learning didn’t stop there! Afterwards, the girls ordered and purchased their own snacks using cash at the in-store McDonalds with their Girl Scout sisters.

The girls learned a simple way they could say thank you to their teachers and work as a team to stay within their budgets.

Brownies help make 2,000 sandwiches for Denver Homeless Community

Submitted by Tiffany Baker, Co-Leader of Girl Scout Troops 59 & 1226

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Looking for a messy and fun service project to help the homeless?  Consider The Denver Peanut Butter Plan!  This organization meets once a month to make as many peanut butter sandwiches as they can.  Young kids can help make the sandwiches for 2 hours in the morning. Adult volunteers distribute the sandwiches in the afternoon.

Our Brownie Girl Scouts chose to work on a Lunches with Love service project this October.  They learned how to work on an assembly line team and that kids can chip in too to help feed others in need.

Each Peanut Butter Plan participant is asked to donate one jar of peanut butter and one jar of jelly, plus 2 or more loaves of bread.  This organization can also use sandwich size Ziploc baggies.  Volunteers are welcome to stay for the fun or just drop off donations.  Other donation ideas to consider would be toiletry kits (deodorant, tooth brushes, etc.), first aid kits or Adult Size t-shirts.  These items are welcome for distribution, anytime!

These troops have a goal of completing one or two service projects a month during the school year.  Next up: Collecting classroom school supplies for their teachers’ wish lists.

Gold Award project focuses on friendship

 Submitted by Sarah Greichen

 My name is Sarah Greichen. I’m a sophomore at Heritage High School and I am currently working on my Girl Scout Gold Award. I was inspired to start this project by my twin brother. Jacob and I have grown up in a family of five and grew up doing almost everything together. When we were little we had lots of joint friends, parties, and activities. Jacob, however, got less and less busy and had fewer friends. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I realized that Jacob actually had no friends at all. It wasn’t because friendship wasn’t something he didn’t want or pursue or because he didn’t try tons of sports and activities. It was because he has an Autism Spectrum disorder and the opportunities for friendship were few.

In 8th grade, I wanted to earn my Girl Scout Gold Award and for me the choice was easy. I wanted to find a friend for my twin brother. I knew that if I could find Jacob a friend, I could help other kids with disabilities find friends too. I interviewed tons of parents and community providers and researched kids with disabilities and friendships. I learned that kids with disabilities often cannot make friends on their own and need help from a parent. I also learned that parents connect and talk to each other through Unified Sports. I learned that friendship is necessary for a happy and productive life. I also learned that tons of kids with disabilities have no friends. Most people put kids with disabilities in a group together and think that a kid with a disability can only be friend’s with a kid with a disability. But, that’s not true. A Friendship between a kid with a disability and a kid without a disability is the best kind of friendship to have. This kind of friendship is called a Unified Friendship and it allows both people to learn a lot and gain a new perspective. I know this because Jacob is the best friend I will ever have and I want other kids to share this same experience and Score A Friend!

A Score a Friend Club is a youth leadership club that promotes unified friendships and school-wide inclusion. The first Score A Friend cub is starting at Heritage High School this year! I am also starting a Unified Kayak Club at my school and the National Sports Center for the Disabled is providing staff, equipment, etc. I am so excited that my brother gets to participate in two new unified activities this year! I hope that all Girl Scouts will read this blog and consider starting a Score A Friend Club at their schools!

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Girl Scouts peak Mt. Bierstadt

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Submitted by Judy Moisey Asay, Troop Leader 548

Members of Troop 548 (Mountain View Unit) participated in a mini-backpacking trip to the Pike/Arapahoe National Forests in July. It was a first for three of the four girls. The trip was girl-planned and organized. That was a challenge because they had to figure out equipment and food, as all but one girl had never backpacked. We leaders were digging through all of our equipment to make sure all had what they needed for the trip.

While on the trip, the girls and leaders peaked Mt. Bierstadt, which is 14,060 feet in elevation and the 38th highest of 53 peaks over 14,000 feet high. The troop left on a Thursday and packed in approximately 1.5 to 2 miles to cut down on climbing time the next day. The girls did great carrying packs weighing roughly 26-29 pounds of food and gear. (We leaders had more for contingencies.) We were lucky and the weather was great that afternoon. We found a nice, somewhat sheltered area, to camp in and the girls set up tents and unpacked for the next two days. They also experimented with two types of water filters, a Steri-Pen and pump filter. The conclusion was that the filter got all the “floaties” out and the Steri-Pen tasted better so they used both. Cooking was done over a backpacking stove, something new for the girls. The menus were great with pita pizzas and top Ramon stew for the dinners.

Leaving at 5:55am the next morning, the girls made the peak shortly before 10am with the leaders following behind at a slower pace, but getting up there. (Our legs aren’t 14 years old anymore!) It was a great challenge and we leaders especially enjoyed backpacking and hiking again. The girls are planning to do more hikes and peaks next summer.

Girl Scouts complete a 50 mile canoe trip

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Submitted by Judy Moisey Asay, Troop Leader 548

Colorado Girl Scouts participated in a 50 mile canoe trip to the Buffalo National River in Arkansas this summer. The Buffalo National River is the only river in the US that is a national river, meaning there are no dams from the start of this 132 mile long river to its end. Three Senior scouts and six adults put in at Mt. Hershey on June 1 and canoed for 5 days down the river, taking out at Dillard’s Ferry. The group also participated in a special service project for the Buffalo National River Park Service station. They collected trash and broke up 27 unauthorized fire circles along the 50 mile stretch of river. The weather was great for the most part and the group saw a lot of wildlife along the way. The closest encounter with wildlife was when 2 raccoons managed to break into one of the coolers, making off with three leftover bagels and some gorp. The group managed to scare them off with no further loss of food, but the raccoons definitely wanted to stay for dinner! The girls were able to do some rock climbing and swimming along the way, as well as some training on running rapids. At the end of the trip, Ranger Mike Simpson presented the group with the Buffalo National River Special Scout Project patch. They were the first Girl Scout group in a number of years to complete the Service Project. Next year’s trip will be in Canada on the Boundary Water Canoe Area in August 2015.

 

Girl Scouts save lives while backpacking Pikes Peak

Submitted by Laura Clark, Troop 931

My girls call me Leader Laura.  I have been privileged to be the Leader of Girl Scout Troop 931 in Colorado Springs since 2007, where I have seen these girls learn, grow, and mature into self confident young adults. These girls take cookie sales very seriously: They set high goals, achieve them, and enjoy their success by planning activities and adventures paid for from the profits of the sale.

Troop 931 has sold tens of thousands of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, and used the proceeds to perform community service and go on some amazing trips.  This year a few of the girls in the troop were interested in backpacking to the top of Pikes Peak.   This 14,115 ft. mountain towers over Colorado Springs, and is a constant source of pride for our community.

The hike to the top isn’t for the faint of heart.  The Barr Trail to Pikes Peak is the most difficult hike in the area.  It is an advanced trail that gains 7,800 feet in altitude in 12.5 miles, not to mention the 12.5 miles back down to your vehicle.

Colorado weather is dangerously unpredictable.  It can be extremely hot hiking the beginning of the trail, and the average temperature at the summit in the summer is forty degrees below the temperature at the base of the trail.  Electrical storms and rain are daily events, and it is possible to encounter snow and ice even in the summer months.

Three girls in the troop were interested and able to go on the hike:  Jordan, Rebecca, and Tristina, all who have been Girl Scouts since elementary school.  All of these girls take honors classes, Jordan is active in Ice Hockey, Rebecca is captain of her High School Color Guard, and Tristina is in cross country and cheer.

In addition to being physically fit and enthusiastic about the hike, the girls train for the Girl Scout “Reach for the Peak” outdoor skills competition every year, where they compete in events such as emergency first aid, campsite set up, emergency survival, knots, lashing, outdoor cooking, etc., so they had the skills and training necessary to take such an adventurous trip.

We all met at my house Friday night.  The theory being they would be able to go to bed as soon as possible Friday night and get up early for the hike the next morning.  We put together our food for the trip (lots of nuts, dried fruit, cereal, breakfast bars, Ramen, freeze dried meals and water), and distributed necessary gear amongst the girls (tents, camp stove, water filter, emergency first aid and fire starting supplies).  Then the girls used the computer to check the most recent weather forecast and trail conditions (50% chance of storms after 11am), printed a detailed description of the hike with landmarks and places to filter water along the way, and planned to get up at 3am to leave by 3:30am to get an early start on the trail.

Saturday morning we had a quick breakfast of coffee, cinnamon rolls, and sausage.  The girls were excited and awake at 3am, even though they did not go to bed early as planned (they are all good friends, so I figured they’d be up talking most of the night, and they were).  All 6 of us piled into my truck (the three scouts Jordan, Rebecca, and Tristina, Thomas (a brother and a Boy Scout who wanted to hike too), Liane the Troop co-leader, and I) and headed to the trailhead.

Barr Trail is located in Manitou Springs, close to the Cog Railway that travels up Pikes Peak.  It was still dark as we parked at the base of the trail, along with many other hikers looking to get a head start on the trek. At 4:30am we donned our backpacks, head lamps and good attitudes, took a picture for posterity, and began hiking.

The girls had researched the trail, so we knew the first few miles would be a difficult uphill climb, but after about the third mile it would even out for a bit.  At around 6.5 miles we would come upon Barr Camp, where many hikers choose to spend the night either before or after hiking the peak.  There would be water to filter at Barr Camp, and emergency supplies to purchase if needed.  Our research told us there would be a cabin about a mile past Barr Camp that sleeps 6, available on a first come basis, and a popular spot to stay in the summer months.    After reaching the cabin the hike would get more difficult, especially once we made it past the timberline.  The last 3 miles was supposed to be the most complicated, due to lack of oxygen and stress from the hike.  It was recommended to summit and be back below the tree line before 1pm to avoid summer thunderstorms.  It normally takes about 8 hours to summit (without backpacking gear).

It became obvious about half a mile into the trail the group wanted to hike much faster than Liane.  We were worried we wouldn’t make it to the summit before the required time unless we hiked at a faster pace, but we wanted to stay together.  Liane had quite a heavy pack, and after some discussion we decided to separate and meet at the cabin a mile past Barr Camp:  She never planned on summiting, the trail was heavy with hikers, and we all felt confident she would be safe hiking “by herself”.  So it was decided Thomas and I would continue the hike with the girls, Liane would hike on her own, and we would communicate every so often through texting.

The first three miles were indeed aggressive, but we pressed on knowing the trail would eventually get easier.  It was dark when we started out, and along the way we had views of the night lights of Colorado Springs, hundreds of twinkling stars, and the bright lights that were Venus and Jupiter shining just to the left of the crescent moon.  I took pictures with my camera, knowing they would never represent the true beauty of the night.

We stopped many times for a few seconds here and there to admire the view.  At about the 3-4 mile mark the sun came up and we started seeing really cool red and white mushrooms.  The girls identified them as Amanita muscaria, more commonly known as fly agaric.  These mushrooms are poisonous to the touch, so we became concerned when we found some had been uprooted.  We followed a stream for a while, and the girls took turns identifying several trees, mushrooms, and flowers (to get ready for the plant identification part of the Reach for the Peak competition in 2 weeks).

Around the 4 mile mark the trail indeed became a bit easier to hike, but only for about a mile.  Then the incline picked up once again, and the five of us started stopping more frequently to rest.  We were all hungry despite breakfast, and broke into our snacks earlier than anticipated.  We were glad we packed plenty of food:  it began to look like we were going to need all the calories we could get!

Tired but feeling accomplished with the hike so far, we arrived at Barr Camp at about 8am.  Barr Camp has a nice stream running through the area, and we noted several places we could camp if the cabin a mile up was occupied when we arrived.  It was at the cabin we planned to take a longer rest before tackling the second half of the hike.  We knew the hike would get a bit easier from there, so we didn’t rest, but continued on up the trail.

We expected a gradual climb to the cabin.  After about a mile we were discouraged by how steep the climb was becoming, and in our lack of locating our designated spot to rest.  We went back to our notes, verifying the cabin’s location. We started wondering:  Had we missed it?  Was it hidden?  We were getting pretty tired by this point, so we stopped to take a rest and have a snack (peaches!).

A hiker passed us, and we asked her if we were close to the cabin.  “You mean the A-frame?  That’s at least another mile” she answered.   We were taken aback.  She had to be mistaken. She indicated she had hiked most of the way to the summit on another occasion, but had to turn back because of a storm.  However she did remember seeing the A-frame at Timberline, and obviously we were a ways away from that yet.  We looked around, and indeed we were still in a heavily wooded area, nowhere near the timberline.

This changed things a bit.  By this time we were at least 2 miles past Barr Camp (with our gear), and about a mile from where we had planned to meet Liane (the cabin I will now refer to as “A-frame”).  We were pretty tired at this point.  The group discussed the options we now faced: We could go back and meet Liane at Barr Camp, or continue with our hike and plan to sleep at the A-frame no matter what, knowing Liane wouldn’t go that far.  We knew if we hiked back to Barr Camp we would not be summiting, and that once Liane found out how far away the A-frame was from Barr Camp she would stay at Barr Camp.  Jordan indicated Liane had her own tent, sleeping bag, food, and stove in her pack, so we all decided to continue with our hike and text Liane to let her know our decision.

On we hiked.  The mile more we had to hike to get to the A-frame took us quite a while.  We were tired and sore, but with the knowledge the A-frame was located at the Timberline felt like we were on a mission.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, we saw about 15 people scattered on rocks, looking down at the A-frame below.  It was beautiful.  A small wooden platform covered on three sides with an open view of Colorado Springs below.  It was situated in a small valley, with a stream running through the area and 3 or 4 obvious campsites directly nearby.  This meant we would have a place to camp, even if the A-frame was occupied.   The girls took off their packs, and despite their fatigue immediately began to inspect the site.

There were belongings already in the A-frame, but no one seemed to be around.  It looked like the sleeping bags inside had been left by previous backpackers (they were old and worn), and the shelter was littered with trash.  There was a fire pit directly in front of the cabin, so we would be able to have a campfire at night if it wasn’t too windy.  A quick inspection of the area indicated there was no firewood so I made a mental note to try and collect some on our way back down.

The girls seemed to have a new sense of energy.  At 9:30am we left our sleeping bags and tents in the A-frame (we would be ok without these supplies if they were stolen, but we figured they wouldn’t be), put on our packs with the rest of our supplies, and headed up the trail to finish our journey.  We were at 11,500 ft in elevation at the A-frame, and needed to get to 14,115 ft.  It was 3 miles to the summit, and more difficult than we could have imagined.  The hike just kept getting harder and harder, the air thinner and thinner, and just when we thought we were at the summit, we would round a corner and see what looked like miles and miles of trail still ahead.  The air was much colder here, and without the trees the wind was brutal.  We could see storm clouds quickly curling over the mountain above us and forming into thunderheads.  We put on our hats, jackets, and gloves, and trudged on.

Every hiker we passed on their way down would congratulate us, smile and say we had about half an hour to go.  Every.  Single.  One.  Despite the fact we kept advancing on the trail, for about 2 hours every hiker would tell us we had half an hour to go.  It was maddening, but we made a joke out of it to help pass the time.  At this point we could hear the horn of the Cog Railway, indicating passengers should board the train to head back down.  To us it was a sign we were getting close.  We saw several mountain bikers riding down the mountain, and commented on their bravery/foolishness.

When we had about a mile left on the trail, the hike was no longer “fun”.  It was here we would hike 5 or 6 yards and need to stop and rest for a minute (or five) to catch our breath.  I felt like I was a coach pushing the girls to “keep going” because we were “almost there!”  They became each others’ cheerleaders, taking turns saying “We got this!”  and “We can do it!”  We reminded each other if this was an easy hike, everyone would do it, and that its difficulty built character.  And awesomeness.  On we trudged.

It was brutal.  No one wanted to give up, but neither did we want to keep going (resting felt wonderful, and it was so hard to start hiking again).  At long last we saw a sign indicating the “16 Golden Stairs”.  We had no idea what those were, but they didn’t sound good.  They ended up being switchbacks that were more like rock climbing than actual stairs, and vicious on our already aching legs.  Rebecca announced this hike brought new meaning to the term “thunder thighs”.  We all laughed, and kept climbing.

After the last “stair” we stopped to catch our breath (again), and saw we were about 200 yards from the summit.  Although we would have loved to have run, skipped, or jogged those last yards, it just wasn’t possible.  We lumbered the last few feet, and almost cried tears of joy as we crossed the cog train tracks and stepped onto the deck.

I asked the girls “Do you want to take pictures now or after we rest?”  “Now!” was their answer because once they sat down, they didn’t think they would get up again.  We took some pictures at the summit sign, walked in the door of the gift shop, and almost fell upon the nearest empty booth to the triumphant arm pumping cries of “We made it!” and “We did it!”.  The girls were elated.  We all were!  It was 12:30pm, and it was snowing.  We made it from Barr Trail up Pikes Peak in 8 hours, with full gear.

During our 45 minute reprieve at the summit we spent most of our time resting and commenting on how difficult the hike was and how awesome we were.  The Summit House consists of a restaurant, gift shop, and deck area.  It was extremely crowded with tourists milling about, waiting in lines to buy souvenirs indicating they had “made it to the top”.  There were two guys in the booth next to us who had just hiked up as well, but were waiting to take the train down the mountain.  The girls told them about some of our other Girl Scout adventures (our trip to Alaska, learning how to surf in Texas, heading to Wyoming for Frontier days, rafting, spelunking, rock climbing, etc.).  They were impressed we were Girl Scouts, and one even indicated his 11 year old niece was “getting bored with dance”, and would love to do some of the adventurous things we did.  He didn’t know “older girls” could be Girl Scouts too.  I gave him information on joining a troop.

I text Liane, and she had just reached Barr Camp.  She indeed decided upon hearing it was 3.5 miles past Barr Camp to the A-frame to stay at Barr Camp for the night.  She already had an adventurous 6.5 mile hike up to Barr Camp and was equipped with plenty of food, water, and supplies.  We would meet her in the morning at the campground.

We ate lunch (Ramen!), used the restroom, filled all of our empty water bottles, enjoyed a cappuccino, and bought some fudge to celebrate for dessert later that night.  Then it was time to head back down to our campsite (hopefully before a storm hit).

Now that we were rested we took a few more pictures as we made our way back to the trail.  I don’t know if it was our rest or the fact that the storm seemed to be coming over the mountain so quickly, but the hike down was much faster than the hike up.  We could practically run down the trail without needing to rest (we walked).  We heard a chirp-like barking sound, and were delighted to discover it was a Marmot perched on a nearby rock.  The girls posed for pictures (it’s an inside joke for the troop: We love Marmots because the Troop won the “Marmot Award” five years in a row in the Reach for the Peak outdoor skills competition).

The hike from the A-frame to the summit took us 3 hours. We made it back down in about 45 minutes, stopping along the way to gather some precious firewood.  There wasn’t much, but we collected what we could, knowing the night would be cold.  We correctly informed hikers still ascending of the actual time to the top, and as we got closer and closer to Timberline became fearful for hikers beginning the hardest part of their trek with night coming.

As we descended I kept hoping no one would be there to greet us at the A-frame.  It is a first come camping situation, and barely big enough for the six of us to set up our sleeping bags.  I hoped our leaving sleeping bags inside the shelter would “claim” it for us, but was unsure as to the protocol for such a situation.

Then I heard voices.  It seemed there were people at the site already, so I braced myself for the best way to handle the situation.  I mentally told myself confident and positive was best.

As we rounded the corner and crossed the stream I saw what appeared to be a man wearing cotton sweats and a t-shirt crouched down beside the fire pit.  Inside the pit were 2 branches that had obviously just taken off a nearby pine tree, complete with short green needles and sap oozing from the branches.  He was holding a match under one of the green pine needles, trying to get it to catch.

I smiled warmly and shouted “Hello! We’re the ones sharing the site with you tonight.  It looks like you could use some help.  Do you mind if we help you start the fire?”

“Y-y-y-es, if you think you c-c-c-an do it” he stammered.  “I’m f-f-f-reezing over here, and c-c-c-an’t get it lit.”

“Ok, give us 10 minutes.  Ladies, start the fire.”

The girls dropped their gear near the A-frame and separated into two groups: One to start on the fire, the other to look for more of the scarce firewood (we hadn’t found very much, and would obviously need more).  Thomas helped the girls gather wood, and found some tinder and kindling under a nearby tree.

I wanted to get to know our fellow campers better, so I began asking questions.  Right away it was obvious something was wrong.  He started babbling.  It seem he had a gallon of water open and spill inside his pack 2 miles down the trail, but he kept hiking until he reached the A-frame.  His clothes were soaked, and due to the cold water, powerful wind and dropping temperatures, he was having a bad reaction. In addition he had a terrible headache.  His friend had one too, and was throwing up near the shelter.

I saw this as a dreadful situation but a wonderful teaching opportunity.  “Girls” I said, “what do you think is going on here?”

They quickly assessed the situation.  The young man was obviously suffering from hypothermia:  His clothes were soaked, he had goose bumps all over his skin, he could barely walk, and he was chattering and stammering.  He also had a mild case of altitude sickness, and his friend more severe.

The girls knew what to do:  get the young man out of his wet clothes and into a dry sleeping bag.  Did anyone have spare clothes he could wear?  The wet injured party did.  Apparently he was in shock as well, as he had been wearing his wet clothes even though he had dry ones in his pack.  The girls got the fire started, and treated one boy for altitude sickness, while I continued to ask the young man questions to keep him awake as he was warming himself up in his sleeping bag near the fire.

They were in more trouble than I had thought.  It seems they drove 8 hours from eastern Kansas (where they lived at 1000 ft elevation) the night before and arrived early that morning to hike the peak.  Neither he nor his friend (the one throwing up) had made it to the peak.  They were in High School, and had three other friends hiking with them, but got separated along the way.  At one point between Barr Camp and the A-frame they were so exhausted they slept beside the trail for a few hours (another sign of altitude sickness).

These two young men took a wrong turn but ended up finally finding the A-frame, so they figured they were ok because they made it where they were supposed to end up.  They had left their dinner (hamburgers) in the car, but at least they had water to drink (from the creek!).  At this point I was seriously wondering who had authorized this trip for these boys when one of the missing three showed up.  He had indeed also gotten lost, and was suffering from a pretty bad headache.  The girls treated him as well, and then began bandaging their own blisters.

It was now starting to get dark.  These boys had no food and no tents, but they were getting along pretty well with the girls.  Well, the two who were awake with headaches and hypothermia were talking with the girls; the other boy had passed out inside a sleeping bag, and we all figured that was the best thing for him at the moment.  The girls set up a bag near him in case he needed to vomit again anytime soon.

Troop 931 made the decision to share the A-frame and what food and filtered water we had with the boys.  Our new friends had been hiking all day with no food, and would need to eat something if they planned to hike down the mountain the next day.  The girls talked them out of hiking to the summit and taking the train down in the morning.  We got our freeze dried food, and brought out the backpacking stove to heat some water.  Just as we were finishing dinner their other two friends showed up.

These “friends” were actually an adult male and female who were “supervising” the boys on the trip, but none of the party of 5 were related.  They had 5 apples and 5 brats in their bag, which was better than nothing but nowhere near enough in our opinion.  They also had a 2 man tent, which the two went to set up at a site nearby.  They seemed amused when the boys told them they left their food and gear in the car, and thanked the girls for treating the boys.

About half an hour later the woman cheerfully came back to the A-frame.  She had heard the girls were Girl Scouts, and wondered if they could help them start their fire.  They had a lighter and had been trying for half an hour, but couldn’t get it going.  At this point I need to mention the girls didn’t really pack much in the way of fire building materials.  We hadn’t expected a fire ring, and only brought a few supplies in case of an emergency.  The man was eager to help the Girl Scouts with the fire:  “Just tell me what I can do to help and I’ll do it!” he said, then asked them how to keep it going.

The girls quickly got the couple’s fire started as well.  As we were sitting there, I heard the woman say she didn’t know Girl Scouts did outdoor stuff, or that you could even be a Girl Scout in High School. She thought Girl Scouts was just about selling cookies. She also said she was “definitely buying lots of Girl Scout cookies” the next time she saw girls selling, and sincerely thanked the girls over and over again for their help.

Back we went to the A-frame.  The girls re-assed the boys conditions, and noticed the ones who were awake were improving.  The other boy was still sleeping, but didn’t have a fever.  The girls decided to practice some Yoga to stretch their sore muscles from the climb and to prepare for the descent tomorrow.   We shared the fudge and celebrated our success as we watched the sun set and stars come out.   Together we pointed out landmarks and reflected on how awesome the whole experience had been.  We had to be the luckiest people alive to have this view at night.

Just after the sun went down, two soldiers from a nearby Army base came up to the A-frame.   The two had decided over breakfast to hike the peak, and headed out that afternoon.  They wanted to know how far it was to the summit. We strongly encouraged them to hike in the morning.  It was snowing on the peak, not to mention at least a 3 hour climb through difficult trail to get there.  “Well, we aren’t really convinced we can’t make it tonight” one of them said.  They didn’t seem to believe us, and kind of smirked when we told them of the difficulty.  We wished them luck and warmly let them know they were welcome to set up a tent anywhere nearby if they’d like.

One hour later they were back from their attempt and setting up their tent (they had gone a little ways, began to believe us, and decided to turn back).  However, they couldn’t start their fire.  The girls were happy to help yet again!

Back in the A-frame things were starting to get fun.  The new friends were discussing books, High School classes and sports, and college prospects.  It was now about 10pm, and starting to get windy.  We put our fire out, and with one side completely open to the elements it immediately got very cold inside the A-frame.  This was not good for the boy still chilly but recovering in the sleeping bag, or anyone else for that matter:  It was supposed to be in the 20s on the peak that night.  The girls used their knot tying skills to attach a tarp over the opening, which kept out most of the wind, but unfortunately took away the view of the city below, and also the light.  The girls took the notorious water jug and attached a flashlight to the top, making the small light into a wonderful lantern, and brought out a deck of cards.

The group of teenage girls and boys were getting along pretty well.  At this point, I thought they were getting along a little too well.  Realizing I was the only real adult in this whole situation, and that most of their parents would be upset with the kids “sleeping together” no matter the extenuating circumstances, I decided to put my foot down with sleeping arrangements. The girls had their sleeping bags set up where their heads were facing one wall of the cabin, the boys on the other.  I was in the middle.  While I was really tired, I knew I should stay awake while the teenagers were awake, so I listened to them talk and have a really fun time comparing Kansas to Colorado until 2am, when they finally got to sleep.  By this time I was freezing, and unable to sleep myself, so I listened to the wind howling outside the shelter.  4am came, and along with it, some pretty powerful wind gusts.  One gust tore the rivet off the tarp, and with a loud and obnoxious crumpling and flapping sound started flailing noisily in the wind.  I am proud to say the knots the girls tied remained in place, even though the tarp had torn.  The tarp was replaced, and luckily that seemed to be the worst of the wind for the night.

The girls set the alarm for 6am so we could watch the sunrise, eat breakfast, pack up and go.  The two boys with headaches were doing much better, and wanted to pose for pictures with the girls.  The boy who had pretty severe altitude sickness was better but still miserable (he would be until he descended the mountain), and planned to sleep for a few more hours.  We briefed the adults on what to do for altitude sickness, gave them some supplies, and told them if the boys ended up getting sick in the near future to research Giardia.  They were very appreciative, thanked the girls over and over again, and let them know if it hadn’t been for them, they “probably wouldn’t have made it through the night.”

The A-frame had been filthy when we arrived, so being Girl Scouts we decided to clean it up before we left.  Since it is quite a hike to reach the shelter from both the top and bottom of the trail, it is unlikely others would come to clean up the mess.  Luckily we had brought some trash bags along in our packs (in case of intense rain they work well as ponchos).  We filled the bags with empty water bottles, dirty plates and utensils, empty fuel canisters, socks, and other “trash” and decided to carry the bags from the shelter 9.5 miles down the mountain.

 

It took us about an hour to hike down to Barr Camp, where Liane was waiting for us, ready to go.  She had a fabulous time talking with dozens of hikers she met along the trail, and a peaceful night sleeping in a tent by the stream, watching a campfire of her own.  We had quite a few stories to share with her on the way down.  We couldn’t believe how many unprepared hikers we encountered.  They all agreed “someone should write a book about this trip, or make it into a movie!”

We had 2 more miles to hike when Thomas yelled back to us “Come quick!  Ms Liane fell down!”  We rushed back up the trail to see that she had indeed taken a pretty hard fall, and was lying face down in the dirt.  She had lost her footing and was off balance due to the pack she was carrying (which gave momentum to her fall) and fell face forward down the trail.  We were all afraid she had broken something, but she assured us she had just fallen quite hard, landed on her nose (ouch!), hand, and knee, and while she was shaken up, nothing seemed to be broken.  Bruised pretty badly, but not broken.   Liane was a brave and excellent role model through the whole experience.  She handled the fall like a champ, didn’t complain, kept positive, and after cleaning her cuts we were on our way back down the trail, a little more cautious this time.

We made it to the parking lot at 11:30am, took a celebratory picture by the Barr Trail Sign, and headed home.  We were all exhausted, dirty, and smelly, but so proud of our accomplishments!

The whole way home we would look at Pikes Peak and say ‘We were just there!” and “We climbed that!”  Every time we look at Pikes Peak we will think of the adventures we had this weekend, and how we conquered the mountain.