Girl Scout campers get hands-on with forensics

Published 7:19 am Saturday, July 18, 2009

COURTLAND—Once they enter middle school and high school, girls are much less likely than boys to take science or math courses. Nor are girls as likely to pursue a career in those fields, according to research conducted by Girl Scouts of the USA.

However, the organization is offering a local camp to encourage more young women to break into these fields.

“It’s somewhat assumed that girls go into certain fields,” said Elizabeth Farry, community relations manager for the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast. “They have that invisible wall that they have to break through.”

The weeklong Crime Scene Investigators residential camp allows 20 girls in grades 6-8 to perform hands-on experiments to learn all about forensics. The girls studied the fingerprinting process and how to extract DNA from fruit.

Southampton County’s Girl Scout Camp Darden is hosting the camp. Camp Darden has been used by the Girl Scouts since 1964 and is operated by the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast, which serves about 16,000 girls in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

“It really is a great asset to troops in this area,” Farry said.

“They’re always amazed at it,” said Farry. “This age can really benefit from a more specialized program.”

This is the second year for the Camp Scene Investigators program. Farry said that it will likely be offered again next year.

“It seems to be quite popular with the girls,” she said.

Not all of the girls at the camp plan to pursue a career in math or science, but they appreciate the experience anyway.

“I think it’s cool to experiment and do fingerprints,” said Lauren Palagyi, a 13-year-old camper. “My dream is to become an artist.”

While the camp focuses on science, Farry said that the campers aren’t locked up doing experiments all day long.

“They get all of the traditional camp activities as well,” Farry said. “They’re not just doing science. It’s not like school.”