Professional Girl Scout Earning Limited Residency Master's Degree

April 09, 2018 - By Prescott College

Stefanie Argus is changing the world by guiding conversations about power, privilege, and identity

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Stefanie Argus has been earning her master’s degree in Adventure Education online at Prescott College while living in Rhode Island. The flexibility of the limited residency program “made it possible for me to work full-time as a Girl Scout professional while completing my studies part-time.”

Stefanie has valued her time at Prescott College because of its “commitment to equity.” Her own commitment to ensuring girls’ access to nature was highlighted during the American Camp Association (ACA) National Conference in Orlando, Florida in February. Her thesis titled, “Girl Scout Voices: Describing Ecological Identity”, explored how Girl Scout campers ages 14-18 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island relate to, connect with, and identify with nature. Research took place across five Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England camps, including Camp Hoffman, one of hte oldest continuously operating overnight summer camps in the country. Her thesis makes a significant contribution by creating the “transformational agenda toward ecological identity for camps.” The agenda includes four major recommendations to: (1) promote a participatory relationship with phenomena through direct experience, (2) expand perceptual experience for reflection, (3) interrogate power and marginality, and (4) advance bioregional thinking and active community citizenship.

Stefanie was inspired to conduct this specific area of research based of her long-term employment with the Girl Scouts in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Stefanie first started attending Girl Scout summer camp at age ten and has worked as a Girl Scout outdoor educator for the last dozen years. She credits Girl Scout camp with grounding her love of outdoor experiential learning. Stefanie said, “In the 2014 More Than S’mores report, the Girl Scout Research Institute found that Girl Scout programs afford girls a high overall outdoor exposure, particularly through resident camp and high-adventure activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, or kayaking. Fifty percent of respondents said that Girl Scouts provided them with opportunities to access the outdoors that they would not have had otherwise. Seventy-two percent of participants reported improving an outdoor skill through Girl Scouting, and Girl Scouts also reported higher environmental stewardship than girls at large.”  

Stefanie is utilizing her Master of Arts in Adventure Education to advance her work. She states, “being able to share my thesis with colleagues in the camp industry is a professional milestone for me.” She will continue to share the results of her thesis research to ensure that “youth are able to experience the wonderment and place-connectedness in nature to cultivate their ethics of care for the earth.”

Stefanie will soon share her thesis research with the Girl Scouts of the USA and looks forward to graduating from Prescott College this coming May. Reflecting on her time at Prescott College, she states, “the most meaningful touchstones have been learning from trailblazing women in the fields of outdoor and environmental education, including Dr. Denise Mitten, Dr. Karen Warren, Dr. Marna Hauk, and Professor Deb Matlock. I’ve particularly grown from studying ecofeminism, brave spaces, dissident language, poetic inquiry, bricolage, and arts-based research." She has grown into a more justice-oriented, more mindful, and more accountable person through her studies, gaining a “valuable reflexive lens in considering my own nature-connectedness.” As a result of her learnings, Stefanie plans to change the world by “guiding conversations about power, privilege, and identity with youth groups on a regular basis.”