CMP regularly receives letters and emails from our club leaders. Here is a letter from a Girl Scout program official explaining his journey in adding a rifle camp to the Girl Scout camping program. We are sharing this article as a resource for other leaders. If your club needs help starting or expanding its marksmanship programs, please contact the CMP at [email protected].
I’m from the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, and we were the first Girl Scout Council to form a CMP team. We started just as Covid was breaking down. I’ve had the team officially since before Covid, but it took time to get the rest of my ducks in a row.
It was a five year battle for me to get my CEO at the time to agree to allow us to have air rifles in the camps. In my role with the council, I manage all office properties and all of our campgrounds, along with managing all outdoor programs. This means that in addition to managing the properties, I facilitate programs with the girls directly.
I have been an archery instructor for girls for over 38 years. Working with the girls, they have always asked to shoot weapons. I was able to help, being a trained rifle and pistol instructor and Chief Field Safety Officer. You could train enough people to run the program.
We work on long-term plans for our camps. We held 22 community meetings with hundreds of girls in attendance to voice their opinions on what they wanted to do to stay involved in Girl Scouting. At 21 of those 22 public meetings held in the northern Illinois neighborhood, the girls said they wanted shooting sports.
We haven’t applied for any funding yet, though like us I bet a lot of teams could use some funding. We are limited because we cannot use council funds. Despite all the obstacles, we have now competed several times a year with Tina Odle, CMP Illinois State Director, in Kankakee, Illinois.
I have six girls who have stayed with him, and I have many more who want to join. We have tryouts in April where we will try to increase the team to 12 girls. We have funded this by paying each girl $5.00 (now $10.00) each practice to cover the cost of ammo and targets. The council invested to buy 12 Daisy 599 rifles, and the girls’ parents bought them directly from us, at cost, to be on the team.
We also built an indoor shooting range at one of our camps and practiced there (it was an old mess hall), and received four air rifles donated by the CMP to help us with a youth team.
I have lofty goals. In my time, I have taught archery for many years. Two of the girls I introduced to archery have competed in the Olympics. I wasn’t their coach, I only introduced them because they were friends with my daughters and they fell in love with archery. One was a substitute and the other won a bronze medal, many years ago.
I would love to see one of the girls on a Girl Scout team compete in the Olympics before I die, something I don’t plan on for a while. I will be retiring and moving from Illinois to Georgia in a few months. I found a good person to take over as the team’s coach.
Although my CEO is now retired, he was not afraid to let us be the first in the country to build a team. Others have followed, which is why she now has three Girl Scout council teams. I am very happy that CMP does the work that she does to educate young people about firearms and firearm safety.
In addition to the small air rifle team we have, we have ranges at all three of our camps, so any girl whose parents sign the waiver to allow their girl to shoot can come to our camps, where we have 22 trained and trained range security officers. eight rifles. instructors to teach, spark interest and learn proper safety procedures.
This year alone, we implemented software to properly track the number of users, and we had over 500 girls shooting in our fields. At each of our three campgrounds, we have different range setups just to keep it unique. Each of the girls goes through a safety briefing, driving instructions and what to do if they find a gun lying on the ground. The girls can then shoot, which is all they really want.
I wanted you to know a little about what it took to start some Girl Scout teams. I am not a person to help spread the word other than by word of mouth, face to face. I would love to promote our team through your newsletter. The girls show deserves to be known.
When I visited Camp Perry, I walked through what I would call a Hall of Honor. I saw the Boy Scouts of America award cabinets. He also knew that, at the time, there was no active team, and it was just an honor bestowed on the Boy Scouts. I was saddened to learn that there were no Girl Scout award cabinets. Someday, I hope there can be a Girl Scout showcase.
I hope, when I’m retired, to go to Camp Perry during their big events over the summer to see some of what I can only imagine through pictures.
I just wanted you to know how proud I am of our little Girl Scout Air Rifle team, how far they’ve come.
Property and Program Director
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of marksmanship competition for United States citizens. To learn more about the CMP and its programs, log on to www.TheCMP.org.