SEASON 1: Understanding the Issues

The great outdoors can mean great things for teens, young adults

It is not an overstatement to say that a lot of teens and young adults are constantly plugged into social media and addicted to their devices.

Back in November, It Happens at STN brought you an important discussion about the dangers of too much screen time for teens. So what can be done to break that cycle and create more healthy behavior?

The Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) has an answer, and it sounds like a simple one: get outside. But, while stats show being outside can greatly improve mental and physical health, it isn’t always as easy as just opening the door.

During the February episode of It Happens at STN, GSACPC Co-CEOs Christina Spicer and Mary Mitchell join Girl Scouts Gina Ferroni and Aarohi Ghorpade, and In the Room hosts Stephanie Parra and Lloyd Hopkins for a round-table about the importance of spending time outdoors and how a large grant is helping more girls get outside.



Action Panelists

This Month's Panel

Christina Spicer



Mary Mitchell



Aarohi Ghorpade

Girl Scout


Gina Ferroni

Girl Scout


A grant for the near and distant future

In the fall of 2022, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation granted the Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council $2.25 million to ensure the fact that the organization could grow outdoor programming to scale

We know that we can all have a lot of fun getting outside and spending at camps like GSACPC offers for Girl Scouts, but why do you think it is important to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the great outdoors?

"It pushed me to kind of be more adventurous. These obstacle courses… I remember all my friends encouraging me to go do these even when I was a little afraid. They encouraged me to go do that. It really taught me not to hold myself back."

"[It’s] just being able to get in touch with just the trees and learning about everything and being able to do all these outside activities. Not only do you have the outdoors that's healing you, but now you're bonding with all these new people that you've never met before. I still have friends I met eight years ago that I keep in touch with. I always look forward to going up there. It's such an enriching experience just to even be there and breathe the air."

"Research shows that when girls and youth are in the outdoors, it helps them with their physical and emotional health. We want to make sure we are providing our beautiful properties and girls the unique programming opportunity to do that."

"We all know we feel better when we get physical activity and our properties create lots of opportunity and space for that and for girls to really test their own agility in the out outdoors, (and) experience and really understand how to take risks in the out of doors with caring adults."

Gina and Aarohi, for young adults it can be really tough to put the phone down and take a break from the screens. How does getting outdoors and participating in these Girl Scout camps help you do that?

"Every time I'd go, it feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. My favorite rule at Girl Scout Camp is have fun, of course, but no phones. It’s tough, you know, [for the] first couple days because we're basically addicted to our phones, it feels weird. But by the end of the week, I'm almost dreading having to go home because I'm surrounded by that again."

"Having no phones allows you to really spend time with each other and get to talk to each other. And when you go back, if I have any problems, I know I can reach out to them. I basically talk to them about anything because we spend so much time together."

It isn’t cheap to create programs like these and make these Girl Scout camps as great as they can be. As the leaders of GSACPC, can the two of you give us a sense of how important this grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation is and what it is going to help you do?

"Girl Scouting has a long historical history of getting girls in the outdoors. We know how to do that. We're honored to be able to have the privilege of having this funding to create greater access for all girls across all 75,000 square miles that we serve in the state of Arizona up until the tip of Utah and into New Mexico."

"We think about ensuring the fact that there are no barriers for any girl that wants a connection to the outdoors that they have that. We want to ensure the fact that we have the resources to hire the right people in getting girls in the outdoors. We dreamt about what our girls would need and The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation grant ensures that we could grow our programming to scale."

As you think about the historical challenges we all faced over the last several years, why do you feel that outdoor camps like GSACPC provide, and just getting outdoors in general, is especially important for teens and young adults right now?

"When the pandemic hit, I don't think there was a single one of us that actually didn't feel connected to the environment. You went outside for the first time and felt safe. So as we started to think about re-engaging in this recovery space."

"I think that this whole thing around mental well-being became much more prevalent and at the forefront during the pandemic. That really created some challenges for young people that became front and center. We want to be a part of the solution."

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