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Learning Leadership From the Tree Tops

Apr 14, 2011

For Tori Mack, Girl Scouts is all about the outdoors. Her love of the outdoor adventure camp in her home state of Missouri even led her to focus her college studies on environmental engineering.

“I realized that I want to do things outside and improve the environment and make the world a better place,” said Tori.

Tori Mack on the ropes course.

One of the ways Tori has worked to make the world a better place is through her leadership at her council’s outdoor adventure camp. The camp includes a tree-top ropes course, as well as a series of ground level obstacles that Girl Scout troops complete together over the course of a weekend at the camp.

“You see quiet girls become leaders. You see the troop leaders let the girls take the lead. It shows them that they can solve problems for themselves,” said Tori. “Then they can take that and make their own decisions about what they want to do next.”

Before Tori was an outdoor adventure leader, she enjoyed the camp with her own troop. Through trust building exercises with her fellow Girl Scouts and facing her own fears on the ropes course, she developed more than her love for nature.

“When I went through it as a girl it was just so much fun. My mom said that when I got back I was so much more together and focused. Even my teachers said they noticed a change in me just after that one weekend,” said Tori.

One weekend was not enough for Tori. She continued to attend the camp as a Girl Scout, and became certified to lead campers through the courses as soon as she could. Now that she is in college, she has retained her certification and hopes to help at the camp whenever she has time.

“We have an advanced weekend where we do the obstacles but with a twist. One of my favorite parts of that is when we go out and give the girls a piece of plastic, a piece of rope and a knife and you have to build a shelter. You learn so much about nature, and engineering and even yourself when you do something like that,” she said.

Tori is channeling her love of nature and the sciences into her studies at the University of Minnesota, but her camp experiences have impacted her even more broadly.

According to Tori, “outdoor adventure is probably the single isolating event of my Girl Scouts experience that made me a leader.”