Clark Girl Scout creates program to teach kids wilderness skills |

Clark Girl Scout creates program to teach kids wilderness skills

Samantha Kucera poses with the "Discovering the Wilderness" patch on her shoulder. As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she developed a program that allows Girl Scouts and other children to learn wilderness skills.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Samantha Kucera wants other kids to know how to stay alive outdoors.

As part of her Gold Award project, the ambassador Girl Scout and Steamboat Springs High School senior has developed a program to teach wilderness skills, such as what to do when lost and how to build a campfire.

In addition to teaching scouts and area fourth graders wilderness skills in person, she’s created a booklet filled with tasks appropriate for kids in third and fourth grade to help them learn how to stay safe outdoors. Using it, kids can learn how to recognize help when they’re lost, how to use a knife safely and how to read weather conditions outdoors. Girls Scouts can also complete tasks in the booklet to earn a “Discovering the Wilderness” patch.

“It’s affecting not only my life, but anyone that has this patch because suddenly, I know that what I decided to do affected them and made them better,” Kucera said. “Now, they can survive in the wilderness, and they can help their friends survive in the wilderness. It’s just more confirmation that these skills are what the world needs. It helps us reach outside technology, and it’s just it’s good to know that it’s helping other people.”

Kucera’s 16-page activity booklet is available online and at Steamboat Lake State Park as part of the park’s Junior Ranger program. Park Manager Julie Arington said, while the Junior Ranger program is educational, Kucera’s programs better address kids’ interactions with the outdoors.

“She was really good about interacting with me and the staff to make sure that her project was going to fit our needs,” Arington said. 

In addition to the booklet, Kucera has hosted several events to teach kids wilderness skills. She’s led a wilderness skills day for fourth graders at Strawberry Park Elementary, as well as at her troop’s annual camping weekend, which attracts girls from across the state. She’s now working to host a similar event in Denver.

Kucera was inspired to develop the program when she entered high school. Having participated in camping competitions through Girl Scouts and learned wilderness schools at North Routt Community Charter School, she found that she wanted other kids to learn how to survive.

Kucera’s work earned the Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive. High School aged scouts can receive the honor by identifying an issue, then taking action and educating others about. So far, in the 2019-20 state program year, 24 girls have received the Gold Award in Colorado, according to Girl Scouts of Colorado Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper.

While the minimum requirement for the award calls for at least  80 hours of work researching, planning and implementing a project, Kucera said she spent around 240 hours working towards her award. 

“Everyone has always has told me ‘Oh, you should have a dream and reach for it,’ but I never had that,” she said. “At the Girl Scout National Convention three years ago, I heard them say ‘I’m a Gold Award Girl Scout.’ I said, ‘That’s what I want to be. That’s my goal.’ Being able to actually have completed it, it was something that I strived for and actually made it.”

Kucera is the second Girl Scout to earn the award this year from Routt County. Christine Bolt earned the award as well after developing and hosting Camp Bloom, a free, weeklong camp for children on the autism spectrum.

Kucera also developed a website for kids to learn about wilderness skills at

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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