The Girls Scouts at the Camp Country location in Hockessin are making more than Popsicle crafts ...

When the Girl Scouts at the Camp Country Center in Hockessin leave after summer camp is over, they take home a lot more than some homemade art and crafts.

“We work to teach them real life skills,” said Jennifer Acord, communications director for Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay.

This year, the three weeklong camp sessions – “Iron Chef,” digital media and STEM – focused on building confidence, expanding educational horizons and girls empowering girls to think for themselves.


Built in 2009, the center’s STEM lodge was Delaware’s first platinum LEED certified building, utilizing rain water for toilets and solar panels for its energy needs, along with dozens of other ecological upgrades.

“The entire building is a learning experience, so when the girls come in, they can learn about sustainable architecture,” Acord said.

Inside, the campers study the STEM fundamentals in a state-of-the-art lab, Acord said, with the kids starting at an early age in an effort to get the girls invested in STEM principles.

“There’s a need for girls – for women – in STEM,” Acord said. “We’re trying to get the interested early on, because by the time they hit middle school, they’re less and less interested in STEM.”

Acord said the organization tries to accomplish that goal by exposing them to science and technology in an engaging and supportive environment.

“Our council was chosen as a STEM Advocacy Champion, which means we were deemed as leaders in STEM programming,” Acord said.

Meanwhile, Sarah Hobbs, of the YWCA Delaware, works with the girls in the general purpose room at the STEM lodge to instill confidence in who they are as individuals.

Efforts there include asking the youngest girls about the idealized vision of a “Princess,” and then dconstructing that myth with realistic expectations.

“We talk about things like what the ‘perfect figure’ is, and what they think of as beauty, and we put them in a realistic context,” Hobbs said. “These are skills that we address that aren’t being addressed elsewhere.”


At the camp’s digital studio, where the girls can work with everything from Photoshop to green screen Chroma-Key effects, creativity runs side by side with fun as they produce videos and slideshows.

“Some people look at an ant on a wall and say, ‘ew, get that off!’” said 10-year-old Ginger De Lussey of Wilmington, who spent the week photographing insects for a slideshow. “I used to do that, but now that I’m doing this, I’m like, ‘ooh, I gotta get a picture of that!’”

“The goal is to have the girls be content creators, not just content consumers,” Acord said. “So instead of just watching videos, they’re making the videos.”

During that process, the girls are also learning decision making and problem solving skills, usually based around the technology that is constantly evolving.

“We have a 3-D printer that gummed up during a demonstration,” said STEM specialist Catherine Houghton “One of the students ran over, disassembled it, cleaned the nozzle … so they’re not afraid of tech.”

Houghton said of the three groups in the digital media camp, one will produce a “day in the life” videpo that the Scouts hope to use for promotional purposes.

Making that video includes a shot list, storyboard, and the actual filming and editing process.

“So it’s an authentic problem for the girls to solve,” Houghton said.

Having worked for 30 years for the Christina School District, Houghton said that she is aware of the gaps in STEM programs, as well as where the opportunities are to preview STEM principles when she can.

“I’ve very well aware of the next generation of science standards, and a piece of that that the schools are not going to be able to pick up easily are the engineering components, so we’re trying to sneak those components in,” Houghton said.