Legacy: Girl Scout-led Camp for Kids with Autism

Scripps Ranch Girl Scout ambassador Carly Stachwick was recently appointed to the Community Campership Council’s Board of Directors. She will represent the voice of youth for the local nonprofit, which makes camp opportunities available to children of diverse backgrounds.

Carly, 17, (above) has five years’ experience co-directing special needs camps with sister girl scouts Andrea Norris and Rachel Wedge of Scripps Ranch Troop 8250. When the girls discovered that kids with autism, like Carly’s brother Shane, had very few camp options, they set out to change that. As 8th graders in 2012 the girls earned the Silver Award—the highest honor for Girl Scout Cadettes—by creating a camp for kids with autism and their fathers. Incorporating the inclusive nature of Girl Scout camps and other programs, the girls worked in partnership with the National Foundation for Autism Research.

The girls’ first camp was so successful that they continued it every year since, with help from other girl scouts. This past fall the troop hosted its 5th Annual He & Me weekend camp experience at Greek Oak Ranch in Vista. More than 50 campers ages 4–24 participated in the session, for a total of 250 since the camp started.

Highlights from the 2015 jungle-themed camp included: rainforest crafts; a bike safety rodeo; campfires; and activities that provided sensory stimuli such as texture, movement, and sound. The girl leaders fostered a challenge-by-choice environment in which campers were encouraged, but not required, to try new things.

The members of Troop 8250, currently Scripps Ranch High School seniors, have trained younger girl scouts from Scripps Ranch and University City to run the camp to ensure it continues after they graduate. Girl Scouts San Diego spotlighted Carly and her troop in its year-end Girl Scout Impact Report, which you can see at www.sdgirlscouts.org/ImpactReport.

Scripps Ranch girl scouts are making the world a better place!