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The great outdoors has always inspired human curiosity, courage, and determination. From lesser known naturalist heroines like Rachel Carson and Herma Albertson Baggley to great conservationists like Jane Goodall, women have always had a place in exploring nature. But you don’t have to live with chimpanzees or trailblaze Yellowstone National Park to inspire a love of the outdoors in your girls! Dive into the complex beauty and diversity of the natural world with the Girl Scout Naturalist badges. We’ve got all the resources and skill-building activities you’ll need to teach your girls about the world around them, from Brownies to Ambassadors.
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We’ve got all the resources and skill-building activities you’ll need to teach your girls about the world around them, from Brownies to Ambassadors.
The Brownie Bugs badge will help your girls get to know the smallest residents of the natural world. Far from being gross, bugs will be your girls’ valued guides to understanding ecosystems and food chains. You’ll build bug crafts, learn about their habits and habitats, and even go on a field trip to see them in their natural environment. Visit the Oakland Zoo to see their arthropod collection (a fancy name for bugs!), find a local butterfly exhibit (such as the rainforest environment at the California Academy of Sciences), or for extremely brave Brownies, take a tarantula trek at Mount Diablo!
Channel that flower power with the Junior Flowers badge! Talk to experts, identify different flowers and how they work, and explore their many uses—from medicines to tea to aromatherapy, flowers have many uses. (For example, did you know you can use these colorful plants to send secret messages? It’s called floriography!) Stop and smell the roses by taking a local California wildflower or poppy hike (even better if it’s a Superbloom year!), talk to a beekeeper about the role of bees and wildflowers in our food supply system, or visit a local botanical garden such as Filoli in Woodside to learn more about these blossoming beauties!
Trees are tree-mendously important: they provide nuts and fruit for food, shelter from the rain and shade on sunny days, and most vitally, they breathe in our carbon dioxide and breathe out clean, fresh oxygen, which keeps our whole planet alive! The Cadette Trees badge is an incredible opportunity to get to the root of what makes these majestic plants so amazing. Design your dream treehouse, make a tree map of your neighborhood and identify the different species, or debate the pros and cons of logging and deforestation. Get to know your tree friends better by hiking through a grove of California Redwoods (Muir Woods, Calaveras or Sequoia National Parks are some of the best places in the state, but these gentle giants live all over!), going apple, orange, or even avocado picking in a local orchard, or branch out by visiting a local fire tower for a panoramic view of a forest.
Sun, moon, clouds, stars—your girls will stretch their minds beyond our planet to learn about all the wonders seen and unseen (or that need a telescope) with the Senior Sky badge! Spot planets and identify constellations by hosting a star party, listen to sky creation myths from cultures around the world (including your own!), and understand the science behind air and light pollution. Visit your local planetarium (like the one at Cal Academy), take photos of the stars with a night photography class, watch (and discuss) a TED Talk on climate change, or reach for the stars with Girl Scouts’ space science program!
Water may make up 71% of our planet, but it’s still a precious resource vital to all life on earth (and we think it’s pretty swell!) Dive into this beautiful element with the Ambassador Water badge! Make music from water sounds (or even build your own fountain), go kayaking or sailing with the Mariner Girl Scouts interest group, or learn about sustainability at a water treatment or desalinization plant. Design a new water filtration device, suggest water policy ideas to your local representatives, or get involved with marine conservation at the Marine Mammal Center, or with the Save the Bay program at the Aquarium of the Bay!
From land to sea to sky, from the smallest insect to the majestic redwoods, the outdoors has always been the heart and soul of the Girl Scout experience. No matter the age of your troop, there are exciting experiences in nature, science, and adventure waiting for you just around the river bend. So get outdoors, breathe that fresh air, and earn some naturalist badges!
What to do next:
- Can’t get enough of the wild? Neither can we: here are even more ideas for outdoor activity (and some of them count towards these very badges!)
- Looking for amazing nature experiences close to home? Check out these awesome things to do outdoors in Northern California.
- Celebrating our beautiful planet isn’t just for Earth Day—it’s for every day! Take care of your local environment with these eco-friendly activity ideas!
Katie Mock—Katie is the Marketing Copywriter for the Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she writes everything from tweets to Trailhead articles, and makes sure everyone dots their ‘i’s and crosses their ‘t’s. Although she was a Girl Scout for only a few years, her experiences with Girl Scouts, combined with attending a single-sex high school, gave her a profound appreciation for the power all-girl spaces have to change girls’ lives for the better. Katie moved to the Bay Area after graduating from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Linguistics; when she’s not diving into writing with a red pen, you can find her geeking out about the latest sci-fi novel, cooking anything from traditional Japanese Cuisine to pizza, or cuddling her two cats.