Camp is at the heart of the Girl Scout experience. Our council-run camps at Skylark Ranch, Sugar Pine, and Bothin are full of fantastic outdoor adventure, but they aren’t the only options! Volunteer-run camps (VRCs) also serve up a classic Girl Scout camp experience. From Gilroy to Humboldt and everywhere in between, there is a camp for every girl. Staffed by screened and trained volunteers, girls at our volunteer camps do everything that girls at our council-camps do—sometimes with even more specialty skills and local knowhow. Plus, parents can attend with their daughter in exchange for volunteering in different areas of the camp operation!
With 20 volunteer-run day camps and 4 volunteer-run resident camps in operation, here’s why you should check out your local VRC this summer:
Incredibly dedicated volunteers
VRCs are run 100% by Girl Scout volunteers. Some of our volunteer-run camps, like Two Sentinels and Alvarado Day Camp, have been running for over 70 years! During the school year, these volunteers use their own skills and experience, as well as input from older Girl Scouts to plan an exciting camp experience. All camps have different themes and specialties to offer, with more nature-based camps teaching survival skills, outdoor cooking, and camp craft. You can even earn outdoor badges at certain VRCs, like Dos Pueblos Day Camp and Diablo Day Camp, this summer!
Fun for the whole family
A unique part of the volunteer-run camp experience is that the whole family can join! Are you looking to send your Girl Scout to camp, but want to maximize family time this summer? No problem! Do you have younger girls who can’t be Girl Scouts yet? No problem! Many of our VRC camps welcome tag-a-longs (campers that are not of Girl Scout age, or even brothers of girls), and all our camps are happy to accommodate the needs of their volunteers. Talk about the perfect family vacation!
We’ve got both day and resident camps
Although we’ve got plenty of volunteer-run day camps, I’m happy to report that GSNorCal has FOUR volunteer-run resident camps! Two Sentinels, located in Kirkwood, CA, has a progressive backpacking program and is our only GSNorCal camp with its own waterfront! Camp Butano Creek, located in Pescadero, CA, offers opportunities to surf, horseback ride, and backpack, along with a cutting-edge pottery program! Kamp Konocti in Fairfax, CA focuses on outdoor and survival skills. And last but not least, Camp Tall Trees: located in Humboldt at Redwood National and State Park, this camp takes full advantage of its natural surroundings with hiking, climbing, and watersports.
A wide variety of locations
No matter where you live, our VRCs are located throughout Northern California, both on and off GSNorCal properties. Diablo Day Camp, which runs 9 sessions over the summer, is located at Twin Canyon in Lafayette. This program’s specialty is outdoor cooking: each unit cooks their own lunch daily under the summer sky. They also offer archery, swimming, and have an impressive older girl leadership program. Dos Pueblos and Chabot day camps are week long Day Camp programs that run at the Hayward Cabin, and Marin Day Camp at Arequipa is a 4-week long day program that runs at Arequipa, just next door to Bothin. VRCs also run at many county parks; SU630 Day Camp runs at Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, Mt. Top Day Camp runs at Mt. Madonna County Park, and Berkeley-Albany & Alvarado Day Camps run at Tilden Regional Park. If you live in our council, there’s a camp not far from you, so check out our full list of VRCs.
Amazing older girl leadership opportunities
Because so many VRCs are centered in Girl Scout volunteer communities, many of them have strong older girl leadership opportunities. Older Girl Scouts are highly involved in the VRC planning and organizing process. Some VRCs have older girl committees that help with the decision making and camp planning throughout the school year, and once summer comes, girls use skills they’ve worked on to lead units of younger girls (under the wings of experienced and supportive adults). At Windsor Day Camp, near Santa Rosa, they have older girl Camp Directors that run camp for the week, and at Funshine Day Camp, located in Morgan Hill, older girls go through a progressive program to become unit leaders. The leadership skills girls learn from camp cross over to their school, careers, and beyond!
Watching campers grow as they go through each level or program at a VRC is inspiring. But we are truly overwhelmed with gratitude and pride when these same campers come back as dedicated volunteers to support the camps that gave them so much. Volunteer-run camps not only provide the Girl Scout Camp experience—they create a community. Consider signing your girl up for a volunteer-run camp this summer, or if you’re interested in volunteering or starting a volunteer-run camp in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how!
What to do next:
- Check out our full list of volunteer-run camps, but remember each volunteer-run camp has its own registration process.
- Looking for more ways to get outdoors? We have tons of outdoor-related blog posts!
Alex Diaz—Alex is the Outdoor Program Manager for the Girl Scouts of Northern California who has been working with our summer camps the past 11 years. She is a Bay Area native and lifetime Girl Scout who loves the Girl Scout community, the Girl Scout mission, and getting girls outdoors. From planning long term camping trips with her Girl Scout troop, to being a PA at her local Volunteer Run Camp, to working for Camp Metro and Skylark Ranch, she has truly found her love of nature through the Girl Scout experience.