Outdoor Girls began as a nature group for young Girls in Butler, Missouri as an alternative to organized team sports, and youth groups that didn't meet the needs of many of the Girls, or were out of reach financially for local families.
Our focus with Outdoor Girls is to teach young Girls (and adult leaders as well!) about outdoor skills and safety principles, while also impressing upon them the importance of teamwork and repsonsibility, both to themselves and to their crew.
We look at the natural world that is actually around us - near our homes. While we don't learn about panda bears or polar bears, we do learn about black bear populations that have been reintroduced in the Midwest.
Living in a rural area provides a wide variety of resources which are often on too small a scale to be recognized by a large national organization - hiking and camping in undisturbed areas a few miles from home, hobbyists with the expertise to teach a small group about astronomy, outdoor cooking or traditional handcrafts, or professionals willing to donate time to teach a small group about first aid.
Often, rural "town" kids seem to be the most deprived of outdoor experiences. In larger cities, there are opportunities for kids to get out into nature, simply because there are few natural areas for their enjoyment so special programs are used in these areas to aid with their "nature deficit". Most rural communities are too small to be reached by these programs, although the need is just as great.
The Girls can earn 8 badges in each of 4 different areas: Outdoor Living, Outdoor Safety, Outdoor Skills, and Nature. The first 2 levels in each badge, Seeker and Tracker, are intended to be earned in meetings with other Girls. The higher levels, Explorer and Star, are intended to be earned outside of meetings.
The first two levels of Outdoor Girls' badges require little or no special equipment, and supplies can generally be found at a local discount store, making the programming even more available to the Girls that need it.
In most cases, we are simply trying to introduce the Girls to experiences and knowledge that they might not have gained otherwise. A Girl won't be an expert geologist by the time she earns her Geology badge; however, she may find an interest in the field that could grow into a career, which could in turn lead to a cure for White Nose Syndrome in bats and save many species on the endangerd list in the process.
And even if she doesn't cure White Nose Syndrome in bats, she will still have a million great memories, and the confidence that comes with learning new skills.
But Why is Everything Orange?
As any outdoor enthusiast can tell you, the color of outdoor safety is bright orange.
The safety of our Girls is priority #1.