Kids and Creeks - A STREAM Girls experience

Girl Scouts take part in a STREAM Girls weekend. Trout Unlimited photo.

By Franklin Tate

GAP CREEK, South Carolina — What is it with kids and creeks anyway?

How does all of that moving, riffling, sometimes very cold water work its spell on the young brain, rendering whole groups of boys and girls into zombies who (use your best zombie accent here): “must go into the water…must get soaking wet…must wade up to my armpits… uuuunnnnhhhh…”

Moths to the campfire, every single time.

Such was the case on a recent chilly spring morning when 12 Girl Scout Cadettes (middle schoolers) joined Tara Granke and me for a STREAM Girls weekend on Gap Creek in South Carolina.

To a girl, each Scout took the plunge. Goodbye dry sneakers, socks, and blue jeans! So long warmth and comfort! But what better way to become a STREAM Girl than to become, well, a girl in the stream? It makes a lot of sense. Yet I personally was not about to give up my waders and follow suit; guess I’m not a true blue STREAM Man, not yet.

STREAM Girls encourages girls to see their watershed through the eyes of an artist, a scientist, and an angler. They participate in a streamwalk assessment activity, learn the basics of casting and fly tying, and inventory their stream’s macro invertebrates. They also journal, sketch, and fish. Done properly, the program takes at least two full weekend days, but it can also be conducted in an afterschool setting.

Girl Scouts take part in a STREAM Girls weekend in Gap Creek, South Carolina. Trout Unlimited photo.

TU staff and volunteers ran the first STREAM Girls program in Central Wisconsin in 2013, but expansion to new areas has taken time. STREAM Education is TU’s version of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as it adds the ever-important Recreation and Arts to the curriculum. STREAM education is the central, grounding concept behind the TU Headwaters program’s new five strategic priorities, and there is enormous potential for watersheds to teach kids science and technology, all while getting wet and having a great time.

On the banks of Gap Creek, there was nothing but smiles and enthusiasm, and we couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of TU volunteers Simons Welter, Mike, Zoe, and Nicholas Mihalas, and Steve Herring.

Preliminary feedback from the Scouts and their mothers is stellar across the board, and the Girl Scouts of SC Mountains to Midlands Council is very eager to make the program a regular offering at the Camp Wabak property.

A participant in a recent STREAM Girls weekend takes a minute to reflect on her experiences in a journal. Trout Unlimited photo.

The saddest part was the weekend had to end, that our time with this group of amazing girls was over. As each Scout made her last cast on the Saluda, and one by one they got into cars and began their journey home, I thought about how incredible it is to share a river with a young person. And I realized that, by jumping in feet first and getting completely soaked, these girls are simply reconnecting to that streak of wildness that runs like a current through each of us. Who can blame them for that?

Franklin Tate is director of Trout Unlimited’s Headwaters Youth program. He is based out of Asheville, North Carolina. Reach him at


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