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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Girls Scouts free to be themselves, get muddy at Camp Miakonda

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chloe Bowling, 10, Lia Smith, 10, and Nyomi Bell, 7, from left, have fun as they form the Girl Scout’s Friendship Circle during a Spring Break Day Camp at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania. Chloe Bowling, 10, Lia Smith, 10, and Nyomi Bell, 7, from left, have fun as they form the Girl Scout’s Friendship Circle during a Spring Break Day Camp at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania.
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They ran at full speed, splashing through mud puddles and taking long hikes in the wilderness.

Later they sat on picnic tables and had a contest to see who could make the loudest, nastiest burping sound.

It’s all part of the fun at Girl Scouts Spring Break Day Camp this week at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania Township. More than 50 girls in kindergarten through fifth grade are participating in the program.

PHOTO GALLERY: Spring break day camp

“They call me the ‘burping frog’ because I can burp the best,” boasted Malina Burley, 9, a third grader at Meadowvale Elementary School in Washington Local Schools. Malina and 16 of her peers were participating in an arts-and-crafts session on Tuesday when some of them began teasing each other about crushes on school boys.

Carla Steele, community engagement manager with the Girl Scouts, leads campers outside  during an exercise at the Girl Scouts’ Spring Break Day Camp at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania. Carla Steele, community engagement manager with the Girl Scouts, leads campers outside during an exercise at the Girl Scouts’ Spring Break Day Camp at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania.
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“You’ve liked him since kindergarten,” one of Malina’s friends’ teased. That prompted more ribbing from other girls at the table until Malina put an end to it with a loud, sustained belch that prompted a tablewide contest.

Although the burps weren’t encouraged, the Girl Scout staff allowed the youths to have their fun as long as they didn’t lose control or hurt each other.

Lauren Light, a recruitment manager for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, said most of the time girls of all ages are under pressure to behave and look a certain way when boys are around.

“When I was a Girl Scout it was a relief not to wear make-up and get dressed up to impress the boys,” Ms. Light said. “Although these girls are younger, they already know that peer pressure of guys being around.

“It’s OK if they want to burp, and have fun at camp. That’s what it’s all about.”

The spring-break camp is geared toward young girls whose schools don’t offer Girl Scout programs or for girls who are so involved in sports and other activities they don’t have time to be regular members, Ms. Light said. The weeklong day camp’s $15 cost includes a yearlong membership.

Sarah Goede, community engagement manager for the Girl Scouts, said the best part of the job is to help build the girls’ confidence and character.

“We give them the opportunity to try new things and meet new people, and we offer them structure and new experiences,” Mrs. Goede said. “I think that’s what makes us different than the Boy Scouts of America.

"We’ve always been more flexible and inclusive. Look around at our members —we have girls who are Middle Eastern, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American,” she pointed out.

The young girls didn’t seem to notice the cultural or skin color differences.

Desirae Meade, 8, tries out the hand puppet she made at the camp, which runs through Friday. Desirae Meade, 8, tries out the hand puppet she made at the camp, which runs through Friday.
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India Boone, a fourth grader at Monclova Primary School in Anthony Wayne Local Schools, grabbed her peers’ attention after she made several hand puppets made of small paper lunch bags and prepared to present a puppet show.

The plot required India to operate several puppets who help a young, lost princess find her way back to her castle.

An extraordinarily shy Samantha Joelson, a first grader at Highland Elementary in Sylvania, quietly worked alone on her hand puppet. Instructor Lori Richard reassured Samantha that her creation was “beautiful and stunning.”

Samantha had colored a pretty red dress on her puppet, which she named “Rosabell” and used strands of orange, yellow, green, pink, and purple yarn for Rosabell’s hair.

“She’s my friend,” Samantha said, her voice barely a whisper. “She’s 6½ years old, just like me.“

The Girl Scouts will spend the week learning about nature and participating in activities that promote teamwork, discipline, leadership, and confidence building, officials said.

“My two girls love it,” said India’s mother, Aundrea Mathis, once a Girl Scout herself. “I love it. It’s a chance for them to hang out with other girls. I love the empowerment of it, and they just have so much fun.”

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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