For over 75 years, Mountain House has offered an opportunity for Girl Scouts in every age group to be creative in the art center, swim, perform on stage, sing songs, get messy with science, learn outdoor cooking, try a low-ropes challenge course, participate in nature activities or learn archery.
Mountain House, in Salisbury Township, is one of three Girl Scout day camps – the others are in Valley Forge and Lafayette Hills.
Girl Scout resident camps are Laughing Waters, in Gilbertsville, Mosey Wood, in White Haven, Shelly Ridge, in Miquon, and Wood Haven, in Pine Grove.
Camp programs offered this summer at Mountain House included, “Musical Sensations,” “Girl Innovators,” “Splash Stars,” “Me & My Girl,” “Summer Sampler,” “Under the Big Top,” “Take the Stage,” “Outdoor Artists,” “Creative Kitchen,” “Fairy Tale STEAM Frenzy,” “Fun N’ Games,” “DIY Dreamers,” “On the Ropes,” “Fierce First Aiders,” “Fictional Fun,” “Snack Attack,” “Hogwarts Express,” “Imagineers,” “Girl Naturalist,” “Thrill Seekers,” “Pampered Camper” and “Art-rageous.”
Mountain House has 40 to 50 girls who attend day camp mid-June through the second week of August. Fifteen staff, many of whom are college students, teachers and former Girl Scouts, work with the girls throughout the summer.
Mountain House Camp Director is Kristin Leiby, of Catasauqua. This is Leiby’s second year at Mountain House with a total of nine years working with Girl Scouts on a full-time basis.
In the off-season, Leiby works on designing Girl Scouts programs, connecting with community partners and working on community programs.
“Mountain House is centrally located in the Lehigh Valley which is a close break from city activity,” Leiby said. “It gives the girls a chance to disconnect from their phones and social media. We provide a girl-led environment where the staff has tailored programming to the girls’ interests.”
Leiby said safety and security is a high priority for Girl Scouts. Volunteers and staff undergo rigorous background checks.
Leiby said the Girl Scouts organization is very inclusive and provides accommodations for those girls with special needs so they have a great Girl Scout experience whether in a Troop or at camp.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania serves nine counties: Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Berks, Chester, Lehigh, Philadelphia, Northampton and part of Carbon.
Girls entering kindergarten are part of the Daisy Troop; girls in second and third grades are Brownies; girls in fourth and fifth grades are Juniors; girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grades are Cadettes; girls in ninth and 10th grades are Seniors and girls in 11th and 12th grades are Ambassadors.
Leiby said the Girl Scouts organization has seen growth over the past few years because of the curriculum and because Girl Scouts continues to evolve to meet the girls’ interests and needs.
Leiby said Girl Scouts introduced 30 new badges this year including robotics, engineering, environmental stewardship, space/science and cyber security.
Only open to high school girls, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts and the most prestigious award in the world for girls.
There are seven steps to completing the Gold Award: identify an issue, investigate it thoroughly, get help and build your team, create a plan, present your plan and gather feedback, take action and educate and inspire.
Gold Award Girl Scouts are able to earn college scholarships and distinguish themselves in the college admission process. Gold Award Girl Scouts are also able to enter the military one rank higher.
The Girl Scout Gold Award stands apart from other achievement awards as it must be proven to be a sustainable project so that once the project is complete, it will continue to function without the aid of the Girl Scout.
Of the recent decision to include girls in Boy Scouts of America, Leiby said, “Girl Scouts is and will continue to be the premier leadership organization for girls. The curriculum we have and all of the leadership opportunities we offer, paired with the girl-led environment, is unparalleled anywhere else.”
“At Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, we are committed to creating a safe space for our girls to step out of their comfort zones, try new activities and take on leadership roles,” Kim Fraites-Dow, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, said.
“At all of our camps, including Camp Mountain House, we provide an inclusive, girl-led, all-female environment that does just that. Now more than ever, it is important that girls know their potential and have confidence to chase their dreams, which is why the Girl Scouts just launched 30 new badges that emphasize topics such as space exploration, mechanical engineering and robotics,” Fraites-Dow said.
“Through these new badges and every Girl Scout opportunity we are preparing the next generation of female leaders in a way that no other program or experience can.”