Girl Scout Leaders Find Resourceful Partner in Park Authority

A Girl Scout works on an art project in a RECenter.

This blog post is my first. That means I’m open to the possibility of any result ranging from a great success to a disaster. That’s quite fitting, as it follows my first Girl Scout meeting as a Girl Scout leader.

Don’t misunderstand. I have been leading Girl Scout programs and helping scouts, both boys and girls from ages 5 to 17, fulfill their requirements for badges for more than 10 years. Six of those years were with the Park Authority while I was based at Cub Run RECenter.

I have always enjoyed teaching scout programs, especially programs for Girl Scouts. I love to tell them that I am a scientist and a girl, and that I get paid to go to summer camp with friends every year. I love reminiscing about when I was a scout. In those memories, I went to sleep-away camp, toured fast food restaurants and learned about other cultures. I love scouting and all it stands for.

However, it is a whole new thing to be a scout leader.

I thought my experience leading Girl Scout badge programs would make this a snap, and that my girls could save some money because I could lead their badge programs. But Girl Scouting is so much more than that. I thank God for my two (yes, two) co-leaders. I won’t even go into the paperwork and training requirements, and any Girl Scout leader reading this blog is probably nodding along at this point.

During my first meeting as a leader, I asked the girls what they wanted to do as Girl Scouts. The GSUSA is very adamant that we encourage the girls to lead in any way possible, even my kindergarten troop. The girls chose a nature walk. With my past experience, I could guide that.

No problem.

Then they chose singing and dancing. I could guide that.

No problem.

Then they said gymnastics and a tea party and a bike rodeo.


Girl Scouts meet a horse at Frying Pan Farm Park.

It was then that I knew how a troop leader feels. That also was the moment that I understood why scout leaders come to this vast pool of resources called the Park Authority. I have a new resolve in my position with the Park Authority to give those scout leaders and their scouts the best possible experiences of nature in my role working with our nature centers, and I am resolved to encouraging other park sites, like RECenters, to offer scouting experiences in which those site personnel excel.

No one person can do it all. No one park can do it all. But it sure is great to know that the parks are out there looking for ways to help scouts have positive experiences, try new things, learn new things and to participate in their world.

Written by Tammy Schwab, manager of education and outreach for the Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority.

Scout leaders can find programs for scouts at Parktakes Online. Type “scout” in the keyword search box.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

3 thoughts on “Girl Scout Leaders Find Resourceful Partner in Park Authority

  1. Rachel G.

    This is so true about being a GS leader, I can totally relate to being overwhelmed at first. Our troop has been to two excellent programs at Hidden Oaks. One was to earn a badge (Watching Wildlife) and the other was to go to Fearless Fest. The girls loved the nature center, and the naturalists were friendly, helpful and fun. Thanks for such great outreach!

  2. Carol

    Welcome to the leadership club — and thanks for all those Park Authority badge programs our troop has used along the way!

  3. Debbie Lodato

    I was a girl scout leader for 12 years. My daughter graduated as a senior girl scout to an adult scout. She loved scouting and all it had to offer. The training for the leaders can be a bit extensive, but you learn so much and meet other leaders to network and gain insite from. I now work with the Fairfax County Park Authority and am so impressed with all the scout programs that they offer. This is such an excellent source for leaders to tap into, and the price is right! Our Naturalist at Cub Run RECenter is always willing to work with leaders to put together a group for a badge/try-it etc. As long as there is an adequate number enrolled. Don’t forget about those Silver & Gold or even Eagle Scout projects. Yes, you can get them done with FCPA.
    Debbie L.


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