They probably weren’t thinking about a global pandemic when the Girl Scouts adopted “Be prepared” as their motto, but that hasn’t stopped them from carrying on with their mission.

When COVID-19 put the kibosh on in-person summer camps, the Girl Scouts of Arizona simply hosted Camp Log On, a virtual camping experience using video conferencing. It went so well, more little girls are joining their ranks and they’re getting ready for fall programming.

“We really wanted to create a fun and engaging place for our girls to be, stepping away from the pressures of COVID,” said Caity Martin, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona outdoor specialist.

During the summer online camp, the girls participated in a different activity every week.

The girls learned about such things as self care, creative journaling and how to create glow-in-the-dark slime.

The camp was a trial and error experience for leaders, who had never done online meetings before.

“One of the challenges is anything on a virtual platform, you have to work harder to be heard and seen. It was a huge challenge to have it online. It was definitely not the most traditional camp, but we felt we brought the great outdoors to their computer screens, wherever they were,” Martin said.

There were 46 girls who registered for Camp Log On across Graham, Cochise, and Greenlee counties.

Colleen McDonald, program director for the scouts of the southeastern Arizona region, said the camp was a learning experience, especially for the leaders.

“We used what we learned over the summer for the fall,” said McDonald.

In the fall, packets will be sent to registered participants with enough projects for a month for four people. Each week, the girls will participate in Zoom meetings with the rest of the scouts. Each month will be themed differently, and there will be a different project weekly.

“We had to do a strong pivot, and now we can create a community virtually,” said McDonald. “Each week during the camp we learned more and more.”

Camp leaders have learned they need to pick activities that are easy to instruct online and keep their girls engaged. They also realized they needed to make sure everyone has a voice.

McDonald said one of the things scout leaders have learned through all of this is that smaller groups are best for online projects.

Aside from learning how to instruct online scout groups, another surprising result of Camp Log On is more girls have become interested in Girl Scouts.

Scouts that were from different areas across the southeastern Arizona area logged on to participate in scouting activities over the summer, McDonald said.

Scouts who may have not been able to participate before because of a lack of scout leadership in the area can now participate online.

Safford mom Nicole Bedolla said her daughter, Talia, loved doing crafts during Camp Log On. Her favorite craft was an ocean jar, a mixture of ocean sand, glue and food coloring.

“I felt it went great. It was a nice opportunity and she really liked it,” Bedolla said. “It was a new experience for her and she liked doing it.”

McDonald said she hopes many more girls will take advantage of this new way of doing things.

“We feel excited about being able to creatively apply new ways of learning and potentially reach more girls,” McDonald said. “We’re taking advantage of being able to meet online.”