Youth leaders learn hands-on safety skills during weekend preparedness retreat
In the fall of 2015, the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County partnered with America’s PrepareAthon! to host Dare to Prepare, a two-day camping excursion and training session at Camp Edey in Bayport, NY. The local Girl Scouts learned how to be prepared for potential disasters on Long Island, and the Girl Scouts gained insight into the emergency responses they remembered experiencing during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“Getting the Girl Scouts involved in community preparedness is a step toward a stronger, more resilient Nation,” said Tina Petruska, a training specialist at the Camp Edey Office. “They can learn important lessons here and then share them with their families to start the disaster preparedness conversation at home.”
On the first day of the event, scouts learned self-defense and survival skills from U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Antonio Narein. Afterward, they worked toward earning the Safety and First Aid Badge in a session on how to handle medical emergencies. Participants also developed family emergency and pet emergency plans.
The next day, groups practiced additional survival skills, including how to use compasses, tie common knots, and handle knives safely. The scouts also learned how to mark trails for others to follow. As a result, participants earned the Girl Scouts Are Prepared Badge.
Reaching Out to Help their Communities
Scouts and their leaders then split up into groups to work on various disaster preparedness projects.
Ambassadors (grades 11–12) learned how to identify people or businesses in the community that might need extra support during a disaster. They were encouraged to reach out to a nursing home, assisted living facility, or home for veterans to help create a plan for natural disasters. They also learned how to team up with America’s PrepareAthon! to host registered preparedness activities on site.
Seniors (grades 9–10) and cadettes (grades 6–8) created packets for the elderly and other community members who are vulnerable to disasters. Packets included an emergency contacts list, tips for creating an emergency kit, and information about registering for emergency alerts—including Code Red—and Red Cross and Weather Channel apps. Participants learned the importance of finding out if their neighbors require life support and were briefed about how to get these neighbors included on the list of Life Support Services with local Emergency Medical Services and utility companies.
“Dare to Prepare was a comprehensive and innovative program that taught the girls how to stay calm and react wisely in an emergency situation,” said President and CEO for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County Yvonne Grant. “We were delighted to partner with FEMA and local agencies to bring such an informative and practical-use experience to our girls.”
Girl Scouts of Suffolk County Dare to Prepare
- Child Care Center, School, College/University (15)
- Faith-Based Organization (2)
- Individual/Family/Neighborhood (18)
- Military (2)
- Non-Profit/Volunteer Organization (5)
- Private Sector/Business (18)
- Public Sector/Government (non-military) (22)
- Whole Community Event (multiple sectors participating) (34)