Girl Scouts toasting marshmallows

Girl Scouts like to get out and experience the real word, where toasting marshmallows is a timeless favorite.

As it starts to cool down in the Valley, Girl Scouts– Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) wants to remind West Valley residents of all the amazing opportunities to explore the outdoors – right in your backyard. Check out these Girl Scout approved ideas for getting in touch with nature and exploring all the West Valley has to offer.

Go Horseback Riding

GSACPC Girl Scouts learn to care for and ride horses at Camp Maripai, and you can too with year-round horse programming. Visit girlscoutsaz.org/activities for upcoming horse clinics, badge sessions and more details on the popular summer camp sessions at Camp Maripai. 

Master horse riding skills and practice at the many horseback riding trails at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Estrella Park offers over 33 miles of trails accessible for horseback riding for you and your troop of friends. The park is open year-round from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Vehicle entry to the park starts at $7. For more information, visit maricopacountyparks.net.

Hike to a Waterfall

Go on a two-mile trek on the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Waterfall Trail hike. The trail is rated family-friendly, for beginners and dogs. Girl Scout tip: Hike this trail a day or two after it has rained to see some water! 

The park is open year-round from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Vehicle entry to the park starts at $7. Visit maricopacountyparks.net for more information on White Tank Mountain Regional Park. 

Go Stargazing

At Estrella Mountain Regional Park, programs are offered to stargaze and learn about the moon, planets, nebulae, and galaxies. Gather your troop, snacks, and chairs as this program is included in the day-use park entry fee, they even provide the telescope.

The park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Vehicle entry to the park starts at $7. The cost of stargazing events is included in the day-use park entry fee. For more information on upcoming stargazing dates, visit maricopacountyparks.net.

Visit Luke Air Force Base

Schedule a tour to Luke Air Force Base and you can get the opportunity to learn about the air traffic control tower, aircrew flight equipment and the explosive ordnance disposal facilities on base. Luke Days 2020 is coming up in March. 

Tour season is open September through March, with tours open to the general public on Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-noon. The tour request form is available online at luke.af.mil. For more information on Luke Days 2020, please visit luke.af.mil/Luke-Days-2020.

Go Camping 

Camp at one of seven campsites available at Skyline Regional Park in Buckeye. Create memories exploring the rest of the park during the day and unwind listening to music, testing your outdoor cooking skills and stargazing at night. As an added bonus, go on a hike or take your mountain bike for a spin.

Park entry is free, with trails open from sunrise to sunset and gates closing at 10 p.m. For more information on how to rent a campsite and pricing, please visit buckeyeaz.gov/residents/skyline-regional-park

While enjoying the outdoors, GSACPC also recommends a few tips to help you stay safe. 

• Stay hydrated – Girl Scout tip: pack a reusable water bottle to eliminate waste.

• Tell someone where you’re going.

• Pack light and Leave No Trace. 

Whether protecting the environment or just having fun, Girl Scouts love spending time outdoors. Getting outside is one of GSACPC’s program pillars, and there are plenty of opportunities for local Girl Scouts to enjoy nature and more during summer camp, from outdoor cooking and hiking to archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, games and singing. 

With four different camps and one located in Metro Phoenix, the Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain located just 26 miles outside of the West Valley, Girl Scout Summer Camp is accessible to any and all interested girls – whether they are Girl Scouts or not. 

More information on 2020 Girl Scout Summer Camp will be available this January. To learn more about how to register, tiered pricing and financial assistance options, please visit girlscoutsaz.org.