Unlike short walks, hiking involves lengthy,
cross-country walking trips and often requires sturdy boots to provide traction
on rocks and unruly earth floors. With respect to the Leave No Trace philosophy, it’s important for
hikers to leave trails as (or better than) they found them. Although the action
of one hiker may not strongly affect the environment, the effects of large
groups of hikers can degrade trails.
Girls are not allowed to use firearms unless 12
years and older and with council permission; girls are never allowed to hunt or
go on high-altitude climbs. Girls are also never allowed to ride all-terrain
vehicles or motor bikes.
Know where to hike.
Connect with your Girl Scout council for site suggestions. Also, to
locate hiking areas near U.S. metropolitan areas, visit localhikes.com.
Include girls with disabilities.
girls with disabilities and/or their caregivers to assess any needs and accommodations. Contact national parks
to inquire about their accommodations for people with disabilities, and learn
more about the resources and information that Global
Explorers and Wilderness
Inquiries provide to people with
- Lightweight, layered clothing and outerwear
appropriate for weather conditions
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Waterproof sunscreen (SPF of at least 15) and lip balm
- Hat or bandana
- Water bottle or hydration pack (each girl
carries at least one quart)
- Nonperishable, high-energy foods such as fruits
- Insect repellent
- Hiking/trail boots or footwear
- Map and compass or map and global positioning
- Pocket knife
Prepare for Hiking
with council and parents. Inform your Girl Scout council and girls’
parents/guardians about the activity, including details about safety precautions
and any appropriate clothing or supplies that may be necessary. Follow council
procedures for activity approval, certificates of insurance, and council
guidelines about girls’ general health examinations. Make arrangements in
advance for all transportation and confirm plans before departure.
- Girls plan the activity. Keeping their
grade-level abilities in mind, encourage girls to take proactive leadership
roles in organizing details of the activity. Encourage girls to plan routes, activities, rules for group living, and
guidelines for dealing with problems that may arise with other groups of hikers.
for transportation and adult supervision. Ensure that the hiking adult or instructor has
experience in teaching hiking techniques and trip planning. Ensure that one adult is in front of the group of
hikers, and the other is in the rear of each group, and that both are familiar
with the area. The recommended adult-to-girl
ratios are two non-related adults (at least one of whom is female) to every:
- 6 Girl Scout Daisies
- 12 Girl Scout Brownies
- 16 Girl Scout Juniors
- 20 Girl Scout Cadettes
- 24 Girl Scout Seniors
- 24 Girl Scout Ambassadors
- Plus one adult to each additional:
- 4 Girl Scout Daisies
- 6 Girl Scout Brownies
- 8 Girl Scout Juniors
- 10 Girl Scout Cadettes
- 12 Girl Scout Seniors
- 12 Girl Scout Ambassadors
- Compile key contacts. Give an itinerary to a contact person at
home; call the contact person upon departure and return. Create a list
of girls’ parents/guardian contact information, telephone numbers for emergency
services and police, and council contacts—keep on hand or post in an easily
accessible location. Also know the
location of the nearest landline telephone in case cellular phones do not
share resources. Encourage girls to distribute a list of hiking gear and
supplies, and to determine which resources can be shared.
- Choose an
appropriate hiking route. Terrain, mileage, and hiking time are known to
the hikers in advance. Hikes are restricted to a reasonable length as determined
by age, level of experience, nature of the terrain, physical condition of the
hikers, disabilities, weather conditions, and time of day. The hiking pace
always accommodates the slowest hiker.
safety of hiking routes. The route is known to at least one of the adults
or a report is obtained in advance to assess potential hazards such as
poisonous plants, dangerous animals, unsafe drinking water, cliffs, and
drop-offs. Ensure that a land-management
or similar agency is contacted during the trip-planning stage to determine
available routes and campsites, recommended group size, water quantity and
quality, and permits needed.
that hikers have a comprehensive understanding of the trip. Group members
are trained to be observant of the route, surroundings, and fatigue of
individuals. Instruction is given on the safety rules for hiking, such as
staying together in a group, recognizing poisonous plants and biting or
stinging insects and ticks, respecting wild animals, and behaving effectively in
emergencies. Ensure that girls know how to read maps, use a compass, navigate a
route, and estimate distance.
safety precautions. Search-and-rescue procedures for missing persons are
written out in advance, reviewed, and practiced by girls and adults. Methods of
communication with sources of emergency care, such as hospitals, and park and
fire officials, are known and arranged in advance.
for emergencies. Ensure the presence of a waterproof first-aid kit and a first-aider
with a current certificate in First Aid, including Adult and Child CPR or
CPR/AED, who is prepared to handle cases from extremes of temperature, such as
heat exhaustion, heat stroke, frostbite, cold exposure, hypothermia, as well as
sprains, fractures, insect stings, tick bites, snake bites, sunburn, and
altitude sickness; a first-aider (level 2) with Wilderness and Remote First Aid
is present for hikes of 10 miles or more and away from emergency assistance. If
feasible, a vehicle is available to transport an injured or sick person. See Volunteer Essentials for information
about first-aid standards and training.
On the Day of Hiking
- Get a
weather report. On the morning of the camping trip, check weather.com
or other reliable weather sources to determine if conditions are appropriate.
If severe weather conditions prevent the hiking activity, be prepared with a
backup plan or alternate activity. Write, review, and practice evacuation and
emergency plans for severe weather with girls.
- Use the
buddy system. Girls are divided into teams of two. Each girl chooses a
buddy and is responsible for staying with her buddy at all times, warning her
buddy of danger, giving her buddy immediate assistance if safe to do so, and
seeking help when the situation warrants it. If someone in the group is
injured, one person cares for the patient while two others seek help.
the environment and keep trails clean. Use the principles of minimal-impact
camping. Store garbage in insect- and animal-proof containers with plastic
inner linings, and cover it securely when there is a campsite garbage-pickup
service. When there is no garbage-pickup service, remove garbage from campsite
in plastic bags and discard, as appropriate. Recycle whenever possible. Do not
bury food; carry out grease and fuel canisters. Do not remove natural materials
such as leaves or branches. In addition, avoid eating wild foods, walking on or
uprooting plants, interfering with or feeding wild animals, and littering.
safe hiking. Instructions are given on the safety rules for hiking, which
include forbidding hiking off-trail and after dusk. Girls stay on the pathway
to avoid trampling trailside plants and causing erosion. In addition, take
adequate rest periods, with time to replenish fluids and eat high-energy food (such
as fruits and nuts).
Hiking Society: www.americanhiking.org
Mountain Club: www.outdoors.org
Trail Conference: www.atconf.org
- Leave No
Hiking Know-How for Girls
with maps and a compass. Before heading out on a lengthy hike, learn how to
read a map and use a compass. Look at a map to understand where you started,
and where you plan to finish. What do you anticipate you’ll see during your
about regional nature. What flowers, trees, insects are unique to the area
you’re hiking in?
A mark, often on a tree, that indicates a trail’s route; most often, the blaze
is painted with a bright color
- Hot spot:
A place on the foot that is sore as a result of a shoe’s rubbing and
irritation, and where a blister will form; use moleskin to make a doughnut
shape around the hot spot to prevent blisters