Everyone knows buying Girl Scout cookies helps support Scouts, but one local annual fundraiser also sends women back in time to their camp days for a weekend. Maura Warner, vice president of marketing and retail at Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (GSEIWI), explains why the Glamp weekend is such a hit with campers.
“Glamp is an amazing weekend where women get to come out to Girl Scout camp and relive their childhood days and maybe if they haven’t even come to camp to try camping for the first time,” said Warner. “Glamp is combined glamour and camping, so you don’t have to be an incredibly outdoorsy person to really enjoy yourself.”
Attendees don’t have to worry about roughing it very much. “We’ve got a whole mix of activities that are a little more glamorous, like massages and a mixology course,” said Warner, “but then we’ve also got all of our classic camp activities like canoeing, zip lining, archery, a climbing wall and hiking.” Glampers can stay in a variety of accommodations that range from modern dorms to rustic cabins.
While the event has only been taking place for a few years, word has been spreading about the program from Glampers. “In 2023 we had a record attendance,” Warner said. “We had 80 women come out to Glamp and enjoy themselves. We had a lot of first time Glampers this year and this year we had a good mix of people who currently volunteer for our organization and people who just loved Girl Scouts and wanted to enjoy themselves this weekend.”
The camp may be fun, but it raises desperately needed funds to help current Girl Scouts. “Glamp is a major fundraising event for Girl Scouts,” said Warner. “The participants who come there, their event fees go to help bring more Girl Scouts out to camp. This year the Glamp event raised $38,000, a $5,000 increase over last year. All those funds are going to help ensure that our properties are top-notch for our campers. Camp Liberty has our summer camp program, but we also do lots of events out there.”
Fundraising is necessary because of the costs to maintain the facilities “Just this year, our properties for Girl Scouts cost about $1.2 million,” Warner said. “We really rely on fundraisers and the generosity of people who really believe in the impact the outdoors makes on a young girl’s life.”
“The outdoors is essential to the Girl Scout program, so it’s really an opportunity for girls to step outside, build some independence, gain new friendships, gain a sense of adventure and become really confident in themselves.”
The girls aren’t the only ones who are trying new things at camp, said Warner. “A great example is a couple of women who came over to our climbing wall. They just wanted to get on the wall and go up just a little bit and then jump off. They’ve never done something like that before, but through the encouragement of the other women on the ground telling them ‘hey you can just put your foot up just slightly higher’, ‘you can get to the next one’, ‘take a break, take a deep breath you can get to the next ring’, ‘you’re so close’, those women hit the top of the rock wall. They got to hit that buzzer and feel so confident. When they came back down, they were saying ‘I feel like I could have accomplished anything like I could climb a mountain.’
The climbers weren’t the only ones affected, according to Warner. “I was talking to a coworker who was leading the climbing wall and she said, ‘I was crying thinking about how cool that is that I helped give that to somebody.’”
The skills and confidence Girl Scouts build at camp do more than help them in school. “What they learn out at summer camp is going to help them prepare them for college or their first job. Through trials and tribulations in life, they’re going to build that confidence out at camp.”
It’s not just the girls who benefit from Glamp; for the Glampers, it’s a weekend to revisit their Scouting days. “All of our women attendees get to really experience the fun of summer camp just like the girls do,” said Warner. “You can pick in advance how glamorous or how active you want to be. There were a lot of women who filled their schedule with every camp activity imaginable and they were just so ready to sit down and relax by the time they came to dinner. We have a lot of crafting activities, massages, different hikes. We did nature photography and I led an at-home barista session, so we had a real mix of glamour and camping.”
Glampers fill their mornings and early afternoons with activities and after a snacked filled happy hour, “we jump in later to the day to a really nice dinner that adds that glamorous element to the event.” The evening usually ends with singing around a campfire, but rain has changed those plans over the past couple of years. Glampers gathered in the camp lodge for socializing, cards and board games. “It’s so great to see people making new friends and just building those connections that I also think are so valuable when girls are at summer camp,” said Warner.
The local Glamp was inspired by a similar event in Seattle that’s hosted by Girl Scouts of Western Washington. “I think our first year of Glamp, we had maybe 30 attendees,” Warner said. “Now to have 80 women out at camp enjoying themselves…it’s been great to see this program grow.”
Even though Glamp 2023 is barely in the books, plans are being made for next year. “We’re working on finalizing our date for 2024 as we speak. You can follow us on social media (Glamp weekend). That’s where we’re going to announce that date.” Even if you don’t want to camp, you can still help the program, said Warner. “Glamp takes so much work to put on so if you don’t want to be a Glamper, we would love to have you as a volunteer. We need people to facilitate sessions, help us set up, help us clean up, and spend the weekend with us just making sure that all our Glampers have an amazing weekend.”
For more information on Glamp, click here.