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What would you give to change the world?

PhotoGirl Scouts are Green By Nature, Green at Heart

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Crystal looked out at the expanse where the mountains meet the ocean and, for the first time, felt a bond with the natural world like she'd never known even though she lives less than an hour away.

She and other girls from underserved communities in Northern California were part of the Girl Scouts first-ever Green Biz Camp, a partnership between Girl Scouts of Northern California and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship at the University of San Francisco.

 Their field trip away from their urban existence and out to the Marin County coast was designed to inspire them to create eco-friendly business plans as part of their 11-day conference.

"The trip to the Marin Headlands made me feel connected with nature first-hand and made me even more committed to making my company green and sustainable," she says. "I photographed many shots of the ocean because looking at it made me feel calm and it was a really great moment I wanted to capture for others."

Girl Scouts have always used resources wisely

For Girl Scouts, green is not just another color - it's a commitment from the Girl Scout Law to "use resources wisely." Green Biz Camp is one of many components of the Green By Nature initiative through the Girl Scouts of Northern California. It not only allowed girls to be involved in coming up with environmental solutions but gave them the opportunity to become more financially literate. Between field trips to learn about the environment and meet green entrepreneurs, networking events and a meeting with a state senator, each girl worked with a mentor to develop a rigorous business plan for her own green business.

All participants had impressive business plans that incorporated "green thinking." As a result of this camp, three of the girls have already started implementing their business plan and have clients. Another small group has formed to start working on their Girl Scout Gold Awards together with a service project centered around green business.

"Green Biz Camp proved that we can turn out some fantastic fiscal and environmental stewards," said Marina Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California.

Karen is another participant from Green Biz Camp. At age 14, she is about to launch an online environmental magazine for young adults that she designed at the camp. The environmental and business education she's been exposed to through the Girl Scout Hispanic Initiative has inspired her to become an environmental justice attorney after graduating from college - something she never imagined she could actually do.

"Girl Scouts has led me to believe that the road to college is a possibility for me and other girls in our community," Karen says. "It is no longer just a dream as I grow every day as a person."

Girl Scouts of every age are green

Green By Nature
Facts at a Glance 2009

  • 460 participants at Amazing Bay Day

  • 1,700 participants at Girl Scouts Save the Bay events

  • 1,600 girl in underserved communities in Save the Bay programs

  • 10,000-plus girls at summer camps

When it comes to making an impact on the environment or any other area, Karen says that age is not a factor.

Girl Scouting incorporates Green By Nature activities with every age level, beginning with Daisy Girl Scouts in kindergarten. Today, through environmental activities and partnerships, Girl Scouts explore California ecosystems and wildlife, learning to value and protect them. The hands-on Girl Scouts Save the Bay program connects girls with nature and helps them act now to protect Northern California's waterways. Each fall, Girl Scouts across Northern California gather to learn and celebrate during Amazing Bay Day, and troops work on conservation-based badgework and activities during the year.

At 30 Girl Scouts of Northern California summer camps, more than 10,000 girls find themselves immersed in the outdoors - and for many, this time away from cities makes them come home with new-found appreciation for the environment.

After returning home from Skylark Ranch resident camp, where campers focus on reducing waste as part of their day-to-day activities, Kylie "appreciates the environment more, picks up trash when she sees it, and she clears her own plate." Another Skylark camper "talks all the time about environmental issues that she learned at camp and continues to apply them today." Camp Sugar Pine, home to one of the largest Sugar Pine trees in the world, also leaves a lasting natural impression on its campers, including one who says her "nature side comes out more at camp."

"I used to just love nature," another girl wrote. "Now I really love nature."

Donate to the Girl Scouts of Northern California

You can make a donation online by clicking here, or by mail to the Oakland Girl Scout office, 7700 Edgewater Drive Suite 340, Oakland, CA 94621. If you have questions about giving options, please contact Stephanie Chew, Senior Director of Gifts at or (510) 562-8470, ext. 115.

Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor as individual situations vary.