The Tacoma Nature Center offers council-wide Girl Scout badge workshops and individual troop programs for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Troops or individual Girl Scouts can register for these workshops and complete their needed requirements with hands-on activities, crafts, and guided hikes. Adults must accompany girls according to Safety-Wise rules. Girls registering individually must be accompanied by an adult.
For Daisy Girl Scouts (girls age five to six) there will be a “Daisy Day at the Tacoma Nature Center” on Saturday, May 19, 2012. The event is from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm, $10 per girl, and adults are free. The girls will have activities and guide books that will help them with their leadership journey between earth and sky (which is the theme of the Daisy Girl Scouts) “It’s your Planet Journey.” Participants must be a Daisy Girl Scout to attend. People can register at any time before the deadline by calling the nature center at (253) 591-6439. Troops can register together, or girls can register as individuals. The fee is paid at time of registration and can be made with credit or debit card. If someone prefers to pay by check or cash, they can come to the front desk of the nature center to register. Registration deadline for this event is: May 12, 2012.
For Brownie Girl Scouts (girls age six to eight) there will be a “WOW! LOVE Water Journey Workshop” on Saturday, October 29, November 19, February 4, and March 24 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. It is $12 a girl and adults are free. Snake Lake at Tacoma Nature Center is an educational opportunity for learning the many ways water is used by people and wildlife, a guided hike is included along the Tacoma Nature Center’s wetlands trail, and discover ways to protect this precious resource, including how to fix a leaky faucet! Girls will earn the LOVE Water segment of the WOW! journey awards. Participants must be a Brownie Girl Scout to attend. The registration deadline for this workshop is one week before each workshop.
For Junior Girl Scouts (girls age eight to eleven) there will be a “Get Moving! Energize Journey Workshop” on Saturday, December 3, December 17, April 7, and May 12 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. It is $12 a girl and adults are free. Girl Scouts will become “energy detectives” and practice the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Some environmental educators will also add two more Rs: respect and responsibility. Girl Scouts will make their own paper, observe animals, and enjoy a guided hike outdoors. Girls will earn the Energize segment of the Get Moving! journey awards. Participants must be a Junior Girl Scout to attend. The registration deadline for this workshop is one week before each workshop.
For Cadette Girl Scouts (girls age 11 to 13) there will be a Leader in Action Badge Workshop on Saturday, October 8 and January 28 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. It is $10 a girl and adults are free. LiA is the Leader in Action badge for Cadette Girl Scouts. The Cadettes learn the activities that are done in the Brownie Girl Scout W.O.W. workshop so they can teach or lead the Brownies. Some of these activities include how to teach cooperative games, teaching about the water cycle with a science demonstration and singing a song, helping girls make a rainbow craft, and leading girls on a hike to explore the wetlands home of wildlife at the nature center. The registration deadline is one week before each workshop.
Margie Shea, Education Program Specialist at the Tacoma Nature Center, explained a little bit about the Girl Scout workshops and herself, “Girl Scout troops have been coming to the Tacoma Nature Center for help in earning wildlife and nature-related badges for many years, but about nine years ago while I was on staff at the Girl Scout Council, I worked with the education staff person at the nature center at the time, to expand their program offerings to a larger number of girls. That is when the workshops started, which were open to 80 girls at a time instead of one single troop. This also allowed individual girls to earn a badge without needing to be part of a troop. A few months later, I left my job with the Girl Scouts and became the educator at the Tacoma Nature Center. It was a perfect opportunity to continue the collaboration with the Girl Scouts and further expand nature programming into the community. After all, the nature center is the perfect place to learn about wildlife, plants, and the relationships among all living things.
In the past nine years over 2,000 Girl Scouts have attended workshops at the Tacoma Nature Center to earn badges, learn about nature, and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Hundreds of other Girl Scouts have visited with their own troops. Many Girl Scouts have joined the Teen Volunteer Staff at the nature center after participating in our programs.
After the Girl Scout council initiated the new Journeys program in 2010, I wanted to offer support to the leaders and troops in trying out some of the new activities. The “It’s Your Planet-Love It!” Journey is a great match to what we can teach at the nature center. I also wanted to provide a fun opportunity for the older Cadette Girl Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills working with the younger girls, while also earning their Leader-in-Action badge. So, 29 Cadettes received training in October and January to lead activities for Brownies in our W.O.W. LOVE Water journey workshops. It’s been fun to coach them, and see them in a leadership role with the girls.”
Margie shared what she thinks of the Girl Scout Workshops in general, “The Girl Scout workshops have been a popular program. We have the girls and the attending adults evaluate each program for us. A consistent favorite with both is taking the nature hikes and learning more about the native plants and animals, and simply enjoying being outdoors together. Research studies have emphasized the importance of getting children outdoors and connecting with their natural world. Better physical health, improved academic learning, increased self-confidence, and decreased stress levels have all been linked with outdoor play and discovery. When children and adults connect with nature on a personal level, they are more likely to care about what happens in their own backyards and communities, and become better stewards of the environment. Being able to facilitate that with the programs I teach at the nature center is a great satisfaction to me. And it is so much fun!”
Margie revealed that aside from the Girl Scout workshops they do even more Girl Scout events, “Girl Scout troops can sign up any time of the year for several badge programs we offer by scheduling a time that is convenient for them. The programs are listed on our website: www.TacomaNatureCenter.org. The nature center has been part of the annual Girl Fest sponsored by GSWW with an interactive booth of program activities. We also offer trainings such as Project WILD to help youth leaders teach about nature to children.”
Margie discussed how the Tacoma Nature Center is unique compared to others, “Tacoma Nature Center is a natural oasis on 71 acres in the middle of a city. We are a designated wildlife preserve, providing key habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a diverse population of invertebrates. The hiking trails pass through wetlands and forest habitat. Dogs are not allowed as their scent and presence can disturb the nesting and safety of the birds and other wildlife. The Discovery Pond outdoor play area is a unique place for families to explore natural elements with a running stream, log slide, climbing rock, tree house, and rock cave. We also have a popular native plant sale the first Saturdays in May and October to encourage natural yard care and use of native plants in home landscaping. And we are in the third year of our Nurture in Nature preschool, which provides a high quality nature-based early childhood experience that includes outdoor play each day.
Tacoma Nature Center is open year-round. Trails and grounds are open 8 am until sunset. The building, which includes: an indoor exhibit area with small animal displays, gift shop, classroom, and rental space for meetings and parties, is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. There is no fee to visit, though donations to support our programs are always welcome!”
For more information about the Girl Scout and Boy Scout offerings, or the Tacoma Nature Center in general, please visit: www.TacomaNatureCenter.org.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com