Risk-Taker: Girl Scout Heather


What makes Girl Scout Heather a risk-taker?

Heather isn’t afraid of adventure. She is courageous and strong, up for trying new things and she embraces the unfamiliar…even if it makes her a bit nervous at first. Her motto is: “you will never know if you don’t try it.”

She has been going to Camp Conowingo since 2010, has traveled around the globe, is a member of Friends of the Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center and is a founding member of Caitlin’s Outdoor Adventurers (COA)

When Heather, noticed that more and more girls were leaving Girl Scouts to join other outdoor adventure-based activities, she recognized a need for something within Girl Scouts that was focused on the outdoors for girls in grades 6-12. With a mission inspired by Caitlin Dunbar that encourages girls to be stewards of the earthwhile having great adventures, Heather and other members of Friends of the Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center got to work planning Caitlin’s Outdoor Adventurers which launched in 2014.

Since then, Heather and the other members of COA have been busy helping out at the Caitlin Dunbar Nature Center, participating in environmental protection and doing outdoor adventure activities. “One of my favorite things we have done is archery. As a level one archery instructor I love going up to camp for our Sunday night meetings and getting to practice my skills on the range,” said Heather. When it comes to the service projects COA has done, one project stands out the most: “Building an owl nest our first year. Only a little while after we put it up, owls had made it into their home. It was neat to see how a little time and some engineering skills could make such an impact so quickly.”

Making an impact, whether it’s for wildlife and nature or for younger Girl Scouts, is a hallmark of this risk-taker. Not only is Heather an archery instructor, she’s about to embark upon her first summer as a camp counselor at Camp Conowingo after spending time as a CIT (counselor in training) in 2016. “I can’t wait to give back to a program that gave so much to me and to create the magic that is Camp Conowingo for every girl,” said Heather.

When we asked her how she would help a camper that isn’t so keen on taking risks, here’s what she had to say:

I truly believe in the saying “you will never know if you don’t try it.” So, my goal as a counselor is to get girls to at least try everything. I normally try to first find what is making them scared; is it that they don’t think they can do it, or are they scared of falling? I tell them how much I believe in them and, even though they may not think they can get to the top, or even get a foot off the ground I know they can. I also show them how safe everything is because it is totally normal to wonder weather a wire holding you in the air is actually safe. I make sure they know that everyone is scared of something (I usually tell them I am scared of butterflies which makes them laugh). Then I tell them that they will never know if they could do it if they don’t try and I cheer them on the whole way.

Homesickness is probably one of the things I struggle with most when helping kids because honestly, I have never felt it, from summers at camp to international travel. However, something that I have tried before that seemed to have the best impact was telling one girl last summer: “at the end of the week you know you will be home, home is a definite waiting there for you. But what you don’t know is when you will be here again, with all of your friends having this much fun. So it’s okay to miss home everyone does but try your best to enjoy being here while you can cause trust me once you get home you will miss camp.”

So besides butterflies, what else makes this risk-taker nervous? 

You might be surprised to learn that she actually gets nervous a lot. Everything from starting a new job to public speaking and even some outdoor adventures:

The time coming to mind is last year when I went caving. At first when I was told I was going caving I told them they were crazy, there was no way I was crawling on my hands and knees underground with no light in spaces where I couldn’t stand! However, my friends, who were also a little scared, helped convince me I could do it. They said “I have seen you literally hang upside down in mid air, you are capable of a lot more than you think,” and we all agreed to try it together.

I went through the training courses, so I knew exactly what it would be like and I went into it knowing that I could stop at any point if I felt like it was too much. But what I found was I actually really liked it and would have never known if I didn’t push myself.

Like Heather, all Girl Scouts have the ability to be risk-takers! Whether you want to be adventurous and go caving, give a speech in front of a large crowd, fight for something you believe in, or try out for your school’s musical, all of these risks are ones worth taking because, like Heather says, you will never know if you don’t try it.

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