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Girl Scout Senior, Kendall, Shares Her Girl Scout Destination Experience

Kendall Hovius (1)

My name is Kendall.  I have been a Girl Scout for 11 years.  I am a Girl Scout Senior and this was my first year participating in the Girl Scout Destination Program.

Girl Scouting is an activity that I have always loved.  Same with Traveling.  So it was only natural to combine the two.  My mom and I looked at the GSUSA Destination website and saw all the amazing places Girl Scouts can go.  It seems there are trips for any possible interest. I immediately saw the Scuba & Sea Turtle Adventure and knew that it was the Destination for me.  There is an application process that includes an essay and letters of recommendation, so I anxiously applied.  I was so excited when I found out I was accepted into the program.  To help offset the cost of this adventure, I was able to earn 3 scholarships.

Over the 14 day program I experienced things I could only dream about.  After arriving in Costa Rica, I joined the group for a scenic drive to base camp.  The next day the group, made up of 9 girl scouts from all around the United States, hiked across the border into Panama.

During this Destination, I lived in a tent on a dock in San-San Pond Sak, Panama. There was no running water and I had to learn how to take a shower using a bucket!

Volunteering with leatherback sea turtle conservationists was amazing.  I dug for eggs in the hatched nest so the scientists who worked with them could see why they didn’t hatch or make it to the surface.  We also went on night walks to find and measure Leatherback sea turtle mothers, who were coming up to lay their eggs.  Releasing newly hatched baby sea turtles from one of the nests into the ocean was the highlight of the trip.  That's me holding one of the baby turtles!!  They were so cute!   After that, the whole group walked along the beach and picked up trash.  We filled 3 black trash bags.


The group spent some time at a local school.  Before the trip, I organized a collection of school supplies to bring to the children.  I was able to provide the school with a suitcase filled with donated items from my community such as notebooks, crayons, markers, calculators, glue, pencils, and many other items.  The school loved the donations from all of the girls.  The group then spent the afternoon playing with the students and helping them practice their English skills.  At the dock, where I stayed at for the later portion of the trip, the family who owned it had 5 children, who all the girls got to color and play with.  The girls braided our hair into adorable hairstyles, and one of the boys went snorkeling with us in our free time. It was so much fun to interact and play with children from a different culture.

We also spent time in the ocean learning to SCUBA dive.  I am now a certified diver!  There is a beautifully amazing world under the water that I saw while SCUBA diving.  During one dive, I had the opportunity to swim through the wreck of a Catamaran, and during a night dive, I saw the amazing bioluminescent plankton native to the region.  Another water activity I participated in was wake and knee boarding.  In addition, I zip lined through the rain forest, and even got to zip line upside down!  Up on one of the zip line platforms the instructor pointed out a golden ant, which was the length of a quarter!

Eating new foods was an interesting experience. I tried all kinds of new foods such as black beans and rice, empanadas, and homemade chicken fajitas.  Sadly, I learned I am not a fan of refried beans.  During the trip us girls cooked for ourselves, and we had two ‘Cocineras’  a day, the Spanish word for cook.  The  Cocineras  helped us learn to prepare these new foods

Another fun adventure I had was within the city of Bocas Del Toro.  During our trip there was a parade for the kindergarteners, and it was really interesting to learn a bit more about Panamanian culture.  When we walked around the city, I had the opportunity to try Panamanian food and drink, such as plantain chips and tamarindo, a type of juice.  All the girls tried our hand at bargaining with the vendors on the streets, and managed to find a few great deals!  Later on that day I toured a laboratory where many different scientists lived and worked.             What a great experience!

Is your Girl Scout interested in traveling? With different trips every year, there’s something amazing for everyone. Pack your bags full of life-changing experiences and make friends from all over the country as you travel with Girl Scouts from different states! Learn more  here.