Girl Scouts Of WNY Celebrates 50th Annual Skills & Chills Event

A girl from the viking team sharpens a knife under the watchful eye of judge Cathy Liberante.

HOLLAND – Last month the Girl Scouts of Western New York participated in their 50th annual Skills & Chills event at Camp Seven Hills Goodyear in Holland.

The canoe judges asked girls to paddle forward, backward, sideways, and in a circle to show their control over the watercraft.

Skills & Chills is a yearly competition that focuses on outdoor skills and teamwork. Girl Scouts from grades six through 12 participate to showcase their abilities and earn awards.

A volunteer committee organizes the event and chooses judges that are subject matter experts in each field. Girls face off in events such as archery, orienteering, first aid and emergency preparedness, canoeing and kayaking, tent pitching, log sawing, knots and lashing, and field sports.

New this year, the committee added jackknife to the skills and asked girls to prove their aptitude for usage and safety, whittling, and knife sharpening using a whetstone.

“It seems it gets bigger every year. This event is not only important for girls’ confidence and sense of adventure, but they also learn environmental stewardship and it’s a team environment as well,” said Alison Wilcox, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western New York. “It also exposes them to things they might not normally get to do. I was talking to a troop who hadn’t been able to master the knots, and they talked about practice and infusing it into their troop camping throughout the year, and it gives them a goal to achieve for next year.”

Troops collectively decide on a team name and often create costumes to match their theme. This adds to the fun and helps to unite the troop even further with a visual element.

This year troops chose team themes such as Harry Potter, Skittles, fairies, Pac-Man, fruits and vegetables, s’mores, vikings, and more.

To further celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Girl Scouts of Western New York archives committee brought in multiple displays showing the history and evolution of the event.

It has been hosted at five different camps and throughout that time the skill challenges have varied due to location or the girls’ interests in particular outdoor activities.

Two girls from Team Baby Shark participate in two-girl saw.

The event was originally started in 1970 by Millie (Speedy) Burns. Some previous skills have included outdoor meal cooking, a canoe race on the Erie Canal, campsite setup and takedown, and swimming.

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of Western New York and see outdoor opportunities, visit


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