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Girl Scout Troop learns it takes a village to get to the annual campout 


Helping the homeless, survival skills, first aid, Dutch oven cooking and live theater

–When the six members of Girl Scout Troop 40017 registered for Kaleidoscope 2017 they were excited to embark on the big bi-annual 3-day camping adventure that plays host to 3,000 Girl Scouts and leaders. Little did they know at the time that their quest for camping skills would lead them to learn all about their local community, themselves and ways to give back.

The 11- and 12-year-old sixth graders all love to camp and were looking forward to acquiring new skills to put into practice in the skills challenges that take place during the event. They signed up to compete in Survival Skills, Orienteering, and First Aid. They also signed up for the Cook-Off and All-Camp Community Service Project. Then they had the opportunity to submit an audition video to perform a skit for the 3,000 attendees and got accepted. Anyone familiar with scouting knows that every Girl Scout looks forward to trading S.W.A.P.S. (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) at Girl Scout events, so they knew they had to come up with something great to swap. Then the real fun began.

Community service project

After the wet Paso Robles winter and hearing about the challenges for the homeless in the area, especially kids, the girls came across the idea of arm-knitting warm, soft scarves and set about knitting 10 scarves each. The yarn was supplied by the Wallace Group and the 50+ finished scarves were delivered to the Paso Cares organization on Wednesday, April 26 for distribution as needed. From start to finish, including practicing and goof-off breaks, it took about 100 hours of combined time to complete the project. “Wallace Group is proud to support these hard working young ladies (and future leaders) in their efforts to arm-knit scarves for the homeless,” Kari Wagner, Wallace Group.

Skills training takes a village

In addition to a priceless set of flashcards developed by a member of the Kaleidoscope leadership team, the girls took additional training on a variety of skills, including:

• Campfire building
• Dutch oven & camp stove cooking
• Survival Skills
• First Aid
• How to not get lost and how to get found if you do get lost
• How to use a compass/orienteering/map reading
• Campsite set-up and breakdown
• How to pack for quick and easy load-in

Assistance, advice, and training was given without hesitation by former and current Girl Scouts, older Girl Scout troops, moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents and most notably the Paso Robles Fire Department and Lisa McKinny.

Theme and swaps

The 2017 theme for Kaleidoscope is “Oh, the Places You Will Go” and each participating troop selects swaps and campsite décor to match the theme. Troop 40017’s take on the theme was “We’re Going to College!” so they created swaps and décor using the school colors of each girls college selection. (Leaders would like to clarify that while the girls were required to select a school with a 4-year program, they were not required to actually attend the college should they change their mind at any time in the next 7 years ). The swaps are mini-mortarboards complete with tassels using school colors. This project took about 30 combined hours.

The dry run

The last task on the girls’ list before heading out to Kaleidoscope was a practice campout, basically a dress rehearsal of the entire weekend. The girls practice packing and load-in, setting up camp, their 3 skills challenges, their skit and a cook-off dry run, complete with parent judges for all challenges.

“Kaleidoscope is a whirlwind of fun, skills and outdoor experiences,” says founding troop leader Sunny Bivin. “We have been looking forward to and preparing for this weekend for six months. Now it is time to put all of that preparation and skills practice to good use. Really, at the heart, Kaleidoscope and Girl Scouts gives girls opportunities to learn outdoor skills and explore outdoor adventures in a safe, caring environment with their best friends! Who wouldn’t love that? ”

Kaleidoscope 2017 takes place April 28-30, 2017 at the Live Oak campground near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County.

About Troop 40017

The Cadette troop (ages 10-12) consists of 6 sixth-graders from Flamson Middle School. The troop started in 2009, and the members are Tacey, Kaci, Kelsey, Karli, Ireland and McKenna. In addition to school and Girl Scouts, the girls have a wide range of interests including soccer, dance, cooking, reading, and a long list of other fun hobbies. The co-leaders are Sunny Bivin who started the troop, and Shonna Howenstine who came on board in 2015.

About Girl Scouts Cuesta Del Norte Unit

Our Service Unit is part of the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast (GSCCC) and serves girls residing in or attending schools in the North San Luis Obispo County area. Anyone interested in more information can send an email to or call 1-800-822-2427.

About Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts are 2.7 million strong—1.9 million girls and 800,000 adults who believe girls can change the world. It began over 100 years ago with one woman, Girl Scouts’ founder Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, who believed in the power of every girl. Today the Girl Scout mission continues by building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. With programs for girls from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to do something amazing.



About the author: News Staff

The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at