Milford Scout leader attends international camp retreat in England

Over the summer, Girl Scout volunteer Mary Tesla traveled with her three granddaughters, daughter, and husband to Olave in Sussex, England to enjoy the great outdoors at the Olave 2015 International Camp retreat.

Although the trip may sound like a family outing, there’s an interesting twist — they’re all Girl Scouts. So says Connecticut native Mary Tesla, who is a troop leader in Milford, and has been a volunteer at Girl Scouts of Connecticut for 42 years.

“I was a Girl Scout when I was younger, and then stopped before high school,” she said. “I had such wonderful experiences as a Girl Scout, so I became a troop leader when my two daughters were interested in Girl Scouting. I’ve been involved ever since.”

“It’s definitely a family affair,” Tesla said. Her daughter, Diane, is a troop leader in East Haven. Tesla’s three granddaughters, Melody and Lily from Seymour and Alaiana from East Haven who went to Camp Olave, are also Girl Scouts. Her husband, Steve, who also went to Camp Olave, is a volunteer as well.

Olave International Camp is located at Blackland Farms in East Grinstead, United Kingdom. The camp started in 1989 and is held every four years, giving Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world the opportunity to camp together, take on different activities, and learn about different cultures. Tesla has attended six out of the seven Camp Olave events, and has brought her family with her on multiple occasions.

Tesla said that this year, Girl Scouts of Connecticut was the only American troop at Camp Olave.

“It was so exciting to represent Connecticut and the United States,” Tesla said. “International travel is so beneficial — girls are able to make lasting friendships, learn about their new friends’ cultures, and make connections.”

According to Tesla, the theme this year was fire, earth, wind and water. Campers were able to participate in a number of activities that centered on those themes. Activities included sailing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, climbing walls, zip lining, outdoor survival skills, emergency preparedness, and more. Along with those activities, there were traditional Girl Scout activities, like making s’mores and singing songs around a campfire.

Tesla said that her granddaughters “had the time of their lives” and that every Girl Scout should have the opportunity to travel internationally.

“Every child should have the opportunity to do this, for they will realize how small the world is, and how the things we do can have such an impact on others,” she said. “At Camp Olave, all of the campers had the opportunity to see so many different cultures, and get to know so many different types of people. They become better people.”

Tesla said the best thing about Olave 2015 International Camp was that everyone there is involved in Girl Scouting, so they believe in the same mission and have the same goals.

“There we are all connected with girls, women, and men who want to make the world a better place,” she said. “You are constantly trying new things, eating new things, meeting new people, and learning how to make a good impression.”

Tesla also said that as a volunteer with Girl Scouts, she is constantly growing as well.

“I cannot imagine my life without Girl Scouting,” she said. “For someone who is thinking about volunteering, it is the most rewarding experience in your life. There are a lot of organizations to belong to, but this is an organization encouraging girls to become fulfilled young women. The reward you get when you see the change you make in a girls’ life is awe inspiring. It’s a wonderful thing.”

To learn more about being a volunteer, visit