As Girl Scouts grow older and have more camping experience, it is harder to keep them interested in camping. Here are a few ideas from other Girl Scout leaders for campouts that rated high with older girls.
Teach Girl Scouts outdoor gourmet cooking. Cook a dinner completely outdoors. Combine food, a laid back atmosphere, and new ways of cooking. Box ovens, pie irons, and solar ovens are probably new to many girls. Make individual "cakes in a can." Clean out some food cans like tuna cans, spray, and flour the inside. Fill half way with batter and bake. Girl Scouts can bake cakes and bread mixes at a campfire.
Hold an Iron Chef-style cook-off and have each troop compete. Give each troop a box with the same ingredients: meat, potatoes, onion, lettuce, box of cake mix, 1/2 cup oil, 3 eggs, etc. Troops use their utensils, pans, box oven, Dutch oven, stoves, etc. to make a meal. Each team turns in to the judges a plate with a sample of each dish. The troop eats what they cook. The winning troop is presented with the Golden Spatula Award (spray painted spatula).
Host a cool Animal Eyes activity at night. Put pairs of different colored reflective stickers on the trees and plants at various heights in the woods. Girls are given cards that indicate what color various animal eyes reflect at night. The girls walk down the trails, shining their flashlights into the woods. When they find a reflective pair of "eyes," they look at the choices for that color, and consider the height and location of the "eyes" to figure out what "animal" it is. The girls have fun in the dark, learn a little something about animal eyes, and use some logic and reason to come up with their answers.
Take the Girl Scouts on the Wild Cat Hike. Use a poem about a wild cat that lives in the night. Write each line of the poem on a piece of card stock and use reflective tape to cut cat eye shapes to add to the card. Before the hike, hang the cards with string along the hiking trail. Girls walk the trail in the dark. When a flashlight beam hits the card, the eyes will glow. One girl takes the card down and reads. When the girls have finished the poem, they are back at camp. All the cards are down and ready to put away. Time for S’mores.
Plan a Mystery Madness campout. Use a murder mystery story packet. Each girl plays the role of a different character. At the end of all clues, girls guess which character committed the murder. All girls attending the campout are assigned a character and given some background information. Girls bring costumes and props for their character. At the end of the mystery, play the music associated with the scenario (sock hop for a murder set in the 50’s) and let Girl Scouts dance.
Plan for Cadettes to earn the Uncovering the Evidence IPP. Leave some handwritten clues along the way, and a couple pieces of evidence as well. Once the girls put things together and want to search the suspected person's belongings, they must write a search warrant listing who, what and why. If it is not good enough, the Girl Scouts have to try again. They become GSI: Girl Scout Investigators.
Plan a glow stick hunt. Purchase one package of 15 bracelet-size glow sticks for every two to three girls so they have plenty to play with. After the hunt, Girl Scouts will spend hours joining them together making bracelets, necklaces, and halos. Then have some digital cameras available and let the girls take pictures. Most digital cameras have a “night” setting which keeps the shutter open a little bit longer. All sorts of motion photos with light can be taken if they get creative.
Show a movie outdoors. Use a projector and a white wall or sheet. Afterwards, stargaze in a large, flat area on blankets and watch for shooting stars or play flashlight tag in a large flat area.
Play Girl Scout Jeopardy. Use a poster board with categories and answers or use a laptop and projector with a PowerPoint program for the game. Girls love competition. Divide them into groups. Each group sends one person for each question. The team player that rings in first gets to answer for the determined number points. If she gets it wrong, the opposing team gets to try to answer. If you have a large group, plan a tournament. Make several versions of questions. Have team play-offs until you get to one winning team. Have prizes for the winning team.
For a "last" camping weekend for girls graduating, plan a campfire session to talk about the girls’ most favorite memories, to make promises to keep Girl Scouts alive in their adulthood, and to make wishes for the future. Use Campfire Blue or other additive to change the color of any wood burning fire to blue for a mystical feel.
More nighttime activities are listed on the Girl Scout site under "Camping."