Girls Empowered by Mountain Shepherd (GEMS) encourages girls to explore and discover new things about themselves, their interests and abilities, and their environment – backcountry or not – every day during our 5-day overnight camps. Here’s a quick snapshot of GEMS discoveries!

1. The “great outdoors” makes a great classroom…

…and gameroom, and stage, and nap spot, and dining area. Outside is where our lessons are taught, games are played, talent shows are conducted, and sometimes where sleepovers are held! When the weather’s nice, find GEMS outside.

2. Fires are for warmth and much, much more!

One of the practical survival skills that girls learn is firecraft! GEMS explore all the reasons to use a fire, from cooking to signaling and more. Girls also learn that fire is a metaphor for passion, so they investigate their own passions and how to set goals related to them!

3. Ants aren’t just pesky picnic guests.

Food may be at the bottom of the list of seven survival priorities, but it’s still important! When they’re not munching on personalized trail mix or marshmallows roasted over fires they built themselves, GEMS uncover some new sources of nourishment while learning about food and wilderness survival…

4. Water, like middle and high school, can have all sorts of icky surprises in it.

Would you drink straight from a puddle? What about taking a sip of water collected by a tree? During those hot, sticky summer days, a cool drink of water is just what GEMS need. Girls learn where to collect water, how to filter it, and what sorts of gear can ensure their water is crystal clear, all while discussing how to combat those hidden negativities in their lives.

5. Building an improvised shelter is knot so hard after all!

After lessons in knot-tying and knife safety, GEMS are ready to construct their own improvised shelters to protect themselves and others from the elements, complete with an all-natural mattress that’s unbe-leaf-ably comfy! Girls are also encouraged to ponder ways to shelter themselves from the elements of growing up.

6. Signals aren’t just for cell phones…

Signaling isn’t just an essential skill to have when in a survival situation; it’s just as important in the “frontcountry,” where body language and verbal communication play the same role as mirrors, whistles, and smoke signals. GEMS learn that body language can even be a signal to yourself – just try out a superhero pose and see how empowered you feel!

7. The GEMS Way can guide you through the backcountry and the frontcountry!

Girls are introduced to “The GEMS Way” during camp, and by the end of the week, they’re masters of courage, confidence, and compassion. This code promotes these three traits in the way that we think, act, and feel. Through kindness, teamwork, and adventure, girls practice applying The GEMS Way to wilderness situations and to all sorts of scenarios they may face at home and at school.