Girl Scounts USA and SCA recently announced a two-year effort to expose more girls to the benefits of spending time in nature. As a first step, SCA led an all-Girl Scouts volunteer trail crew at Shenandoah National Park and among the ten-girl team was Rosie Lu.
There are a few things in life more serene than being surrounded by nature. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the outdoors, anyone can experience moments of peace and clarity in places that are a step away from the bustling business of civilization.
Here at Shenandoah you can watch the sunrise over the vast Virginia landscape, hike through forests teeming with thousands of species of flora and fauna, gaze at the infinite vastness of our universe in the night sky, see a bear off of Skyline Drive, or in my experience, pee in the woods alongside deer. (True Story, it happened once when we were working on limber lost trail). The beauty of nature can find us in many ways, like the weeds that dominate the sidewalk cracks in my hometown of Queens, New York.
I expected to be immersed in nature when I first applied for this crew, but I didn’t expect I’d have the opportunity to build stairs, drains, and lifelong friendships. It’s incredible how quickly and how closely you can bond with strangers when you’re thrown into the woods to do manual labor. Our conversation went from shy and polite small talk, to a silly and energetic discussion about Evie preventing “rokes” (rocks) from flying away. Not only that, but we became a great team as we dug up dirt, smashed concrete, cooked, cleaned, ate, and lived together.
It amazed me to see how everyone lent a hand or pitched suggestions when we were collaborating on something, whether it be carrying 10 foot logs or making dinner. Each girl had her own quirks and unique qualities. The crew had a diverse spectrum of personalities and backgrounds, representing seven different states, which was something that made each day a special surprise.
Ellie was the 80’s loving pun master, Katherine was the always peppy Explorer, Emma was pretty much the crew’s mom, Phoebe was super strong and always came up with the best one-liners, Evie was the resident nature expert and also ridiculously strong, Samantha was one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met and super hardworking, Daniella was great at cooking potatoes and always looked out for us, and Lexie told us funny and memorable stories about life in her small home town.
Of course our lovely crew leaders, Cat and Gabie, are not to be forgotten. They’ve somehow been able to deal with our shenanigans over the past two weeks. Without them, we wouldn’t have had the support and guidance to challenge ourselves and to be ourselves. I have learned so much over the past two weeks, from using a sledge hammer to real life bear wrestling (the proper title is bear technician, but they basically fight bears in the park).
I truly believe that the skills I’ve picked up and the experiences I’ve had on this crew have made a big impact on my life. I’ll be heading off to college next month to study mechanical engineering but who knows where my career path lies. Perhaps I’ll end up being a bear technician, a law enforcement ranger, or a backcountry wilderness and trails manager right here in Shenandoah. The people who work in the National Park Service, especially the women, have shown me so many different opportunities for the future, and I can’t wait to embark on them.
As this two-week long crew comes to a close, I’ll fondly reminisce on the great memories I’ve made. From sunrise hikes and log rolling, to smashing things up and contra dancing, I’ve had a ton of fun with my Girl Scout sisters. The impact we’ve made in the park, the SCA, and the Girl Scouts, as the first all-female crew, is something that cannot be understated. It’s been incredible to be a part of something so monumental and life-changing. I’ll miss everyone so much, but I know we’ll never forget the experiences we shared and the people we met. It really doesn’t get better than this.