Girl Scout troop 6000 is making history in upstate New York. For the first time ever, the Girl Scouts of America has a troop made up of young ladies who are homeless. Camp Kaufmann is a 425-acre summer camp that hosts over 4,000 girl scouts each year, and this year troop 6000 gave its girls the chance to experience some outdoor activities that many of them have never had a chance to experience.
The girls slept under the stars in tents, hiked, swam, canoed, learned archery and worked together on challenging ropes courses. For many of the girls in Troop 6000, their weekend at Camp Kaufmann marked the first time they’d ever camped out or swum in a lake. Most importantly, the girls were made to feel part of a reliable community.
That need for community is what sparked the creation of Troop 6000 in the first place whenever a Girl Scouts employee found herself living with her children in a homeless shelter. The founder of Troop 6000, Giselle Burgess, saw the need for a strong community program for her kids a year ago and she found that Girl Scouts was the answer. When the troop was created, there were just 32 girls in the troop. Now, a year later, the troop has hundreds of girls and is working with the city to raise additional funds, increase the staff size and get other shelters to participate. The troop has its sites on 500 members by the end of the year.
Cookie selling is the cornerstone of Girl Scout activities, and in their first year Troop 6000 set a goal of 6,000 boxes sold. They sold over 30,000 boxes! Heading to Camp Kaufmann this summer seemed like an appropriate reward for such an outstanding achievement.
The girls and their families spent a weekend learning how to spend time in the wild, but do it responsibly through “leave no trace” principles. They also learned basic first aid and organizational skills, which they can use when they get back to their own communities.
Now, girl scout troops for young women in shelters have popped up in other major cities across the country, which says something about what a great organization the Girl Scouts of America truly is.