The Girl Scouts are going digital.
This year’s Girl Scouts of Northern California Camp CEO will feature hiking, a ropes course, organic gardening, and live video conferences with some leading female business executives.
Using Highfive video conferencing equipment, 70 high school-aged scouts from disadvantaged communities will get motivation and inspiration from business heavyweights while enjoying the natural wonders of Stanislaus National Park.
It’s a great example of how video conferencing can move beyond the office and have a positive impact on the wider world. While Camp CEO will run for just three days, the video calling technology could promote and facilitate ongoing relationships between scouts and the successful female role models they may one day emulate.
Highfive Video Conferencing Across a Network of Thousands
The Girl Scouts of Northern California has more than 44,000 members located from Silicon Valley all the way to the Oregon border. The size of that network has led the adult leaders of the movement to adopt video conferencing for their administrative and planning meetings. This is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers, after all, so any technology that can bring together such a widespread group without costly airfares, hotels, and tanks of gas is going to help.
This year, the group decided to use that technology to bring the scouts themselves face-to-face with female mentors they would otherwise not get a chance to meet.
The Highfive video conferencing platform is particularly useful for a remote video meeting setting as it includes a mobile all-in-one camera, speaker, microphone, and software setup. These types of all-in-one products, such as the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect and the Owl by Owl Labs, have started to become more popular as the modern office evolves to take advantage of an increasingly flexible and remote workforce. Fluid working arrangements need mobile video solutions that can be quickly deployed in small, multi-purpose spaces without the aid of expert IT staff.
The Girl Scouts have taken that concept and used the technology as a heavy-duty webcam to stage video calls from locations that give them just the right blend of connectivity and outdoor adventure.
Mobile Video Conferencing
Systems like Highfive aren’t as free to roam as a Girl Scout troop camping in the woods. They are still tethered to a power source and a TV screen, but if those things are on hand somewhere nearby, they can be operated by anyone with the wherewithal to arrange a three-day camp for 70 teenagers.
You could get more mobile by using a laptop/webcam combination or a smartphone video connection if you were determined to give the Scouts virtual sports coaching or expert rope climbing instruction, but in the case of the Northern California Scouts, the meeting was probably a more sedate experience.
And sedate can still mean intimate. Video conferencing makes it possible, at least theoretically, for the Scouts to virtually meet business mentors multiple times over their long weekend. This way they could pose their own questions directly to each mentor, and the session could flow into a genuine conversation and even friendship.
After the camp conversations end, the Scouts could stage follow-up visits with their newfound mentors, either as a group–maybe the troop could set up a series of themed discussions over the course of a year–or in the form of one-on-one meetings.
Mentoring by Video Conference
Ongoing mentoring relationships are already being fostered over video conference in the business world. Small business support organization SCORE has used free video calling services, like Skype and FaceTime, to establish online mentoring relationships between young business owners and retired professionals. Under that set-up, a mentor and mentee are free to visit with one another online as often as is necessary to discuss the challenges that crop up in the day-to-day life of a new company.
The Girl Scouts could have the same relationship. This type of mentoring would, of course, be more aspirational and fundamental than calculating tax holdings or employee benefits, so the skills of the mentor would need to be a little broader. Still, these kids could learn a lot from someone with a perspective and specific business experience that they won’t find among their own peers, or perhaps even among their teachers and troop leaders.
The fact that video meetings remove the need for travel means that Scouts could find inspiration from business women all over the country. Scouts could even be matched to mentors based on common interests and aspirations, so that a Girl Scout with the dream of becoming a marine biologist could talk directly to a marine scientist, while an aspiring programmer could talk to another woman in computer science about her journey.
What the Californian Scouts have established with their Camp CEO is just the beginning of what could be lifelong relationships between the current and future leaders of industry.