We can’t say it enough: Girl Scout camp is a transformative experience. Every summer, under the clear California skies, girls of all ages make new friends, push their limits, learn to love the person that they are, and dream about the person they can become. We reached out to our 8 camp alums to find out what camp meant to them, and received an outpouring of love for the magic of camp. Here’s what they had to say:

Alex D. aka Turtle

I started attending Girl Scout camp in the 5th grade, but it wasn’t until I came to Skylark Ranch the summer before 10th grade as a Counselor-in-Training (CIT) that I started to understand what being a leader truly meant.

Of course I learned awesome outdoor skills, but the true gift of Girl Scout camp was courage: courage to try new things, courage to voice my beliefs, and courage to be 100% myself. It gave me role models and mentors that lifted me up and made me believe that I could do or be anything—and that no matter what I chose, I’d still have people cheering me on the whole way.

It challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone, introducing me to people with different backgrounds and experiences, and made me into an adaptive and resilient human being willing to advocate for myself and others, no matter who they were. And it gave me a sisterhood that still supports me today. And the strength, skills, and interests I developed at camp lead to my career in the camping industry where I get to help girls gain courage, confidence, and character in the outdoors, just like I did 15 years ago.

How Camp Changed Alex's Life

Arri D. aka Birkenstock

Growing up, I never imagined that Girl Scouts would be a part of my life long-term. I began as a Daisy and earned my Bronze and Silver Awards. When I was a college student, I continued to look for ways to be involved with the organization responsible for so much of my leadership style and go-getter attitude. That longing for purpose and community (combined with my memories of camp and love of the outdoors) led me right back to Girl Scout camp! Working at camp challenged my leadership abilities by guiding me to adapt to unpredictable situations. Girl Scouts cultivates self-starting leaders, not something you find in an average college internship. It’s not every job that you can question whether the coloring on your legs is a dirt tan or an actual tan!

After working with camps for a couple years, I became a STEM Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of Northern California. It is important to me to be able to give back to the organization that helped me become the person I am today. Being a small part of building the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and providing opportunities to girls is something I feel passionately about and hope to continue for a long time!

How Camp Changed Arri's Life

Bianca J. aka Bumble Bee

Girl Scout summer camp was a place I learned to thrive. I was a camper for several years at Camp Mariposa in Altadena, California. Over the years, I broadened my horizons and challenged myself in so many rewarding and fun ways–all in an environment where I felt empowered and strong. My love for camp continued through high school where I diligently volunteered as a Program Aide, and later in college, I fulfilled a dream of mine to become a camp counselor. I will always cherish my camp experience in its various forms, as it has truly defined so much of what makes me the confident, passionate, and caring leader I am today.

How Camp Changed Bianca's Life

Courtney L. aka Lucky

Participating in the CIT Program and subsequently working at a Girl Scout summer camp gave me the confidence and leadership skills at a young age to pursue professional goals. I also gained invaluable mentors and made close personal friends that I still rely on to this day, almost 15 years after my first day of attending summer camp!

How Camp Changed Courtney's Life

Hayley I. aka Bambi

Summer camp helped shape me into the woman I am today. It taught me to try new things and that failure is not always a bad thing. It taught me how to make new friends in just a couple of hours, and how to navigate these new friendships through ups and downs. It taught me to trust in myself and my own strength. It gave me a place to learn and explore and it gave me role models in the form of counselors. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend summer camp throughout my childhood and grateful for everything that I learned there.

How Camp Changed Hayley's Life

Jennifer R. aka Pirate

Without camp I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My camp experience taught me that in an ever changing world, keeping certain traditions alive is important. It taught me the true meaning of friendship. It taught me to love the outdoors and most of all it taught me to always be me and to be proud of who I am.

How Camp Changed Jennifer's Life

Tori H. aka Dot

Camp has given me so much over my 18 summers I have been going (9 as a camper, and now 9 as staff). I honestly can say I would not be who I am without Camp Scherman. I learned so much confidence, and now am so fortunate as to have a staff position that lets me do that for my kids. I get to see the same kids come back for years and come through the program. More than anything, I get to foster their growth and welcome them to the staff family. Every day I am at camp, I am able to give back a fraction of what it gave to me and, after 9 years, I still don’t know if I can ever repay the place I call my mountain summer home.

How Camp Changed Tori's Life

Keniki G. aka Elphie

Without my 9 years of Girl Scouting and 8 years of volunteering as an adult, I can 100% say I would not be the woman I am today. Besides the gaining courage, strength, sense of self, and leadership skills, I can also thank Girl Scouts for some of my closest friendships and most amazing experiences.

I have my best friend of 20 years because my mother was recruited to become a co-leader and we earned enough cookie dough to go to camp. I have strong women that I can call upon for professional advice as well as a listening ear because I went through training and leadership programs at camp. Being able to interact with international staff at summer camp bolstered my enthusiasm for learning new languages and exploring; now I have a passport full of stamps and am fluent in two languages. This fall, I have the pleasure of having two bridesmaids whom I would have never met if not for the sisterhood that is the CIT program at Camp Azalea Trails. I have so many friends and experiences that I will never forget and I can’t wait to be able to give my daughter the same experiences one day.

How Camp Changed Keniki's Life

What to do next:

Leah Takahashi—Leah is the Marketing Manager for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she creates content, plans blog posts, and promotes all things Girl Scouts in all formats digital. Leah joined Girl Scouts at the age of 5 and has been a part of the organization ever since (shout out to Troop 31213 – woot woot). During her younger Girl Scout days, Leah did everything from selling thousands of Girl Scout Cookies to serving as a National Delegate at the 2011 Convention and even earning her Gold Award in 2012. She may be young, but she’s got plenty of Girl Scout experience under her belt and is excited to share it with you!

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