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My Experience at Girl Scouts QuestFest as a Disabled Person

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This past July, I had the pleasure of getting to go to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouts itself, for a big event called QuestFest. It’s an event where teams get clues on an app or website, then do certain activities in certain places around Savannah, then take and upload pictures to get points. One example of a “quest” was going to a park and taking a picture placing a stone on a monument. Another example was going to a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop, having to find out which flavors are only available in the shops and asking for samples of them. A third example was working out a complicated math problem to find out how many pounds of coconut are used in Girl Scout Cookie factories in a week during cookie season (in case you’re curious, the answer was about 75,000 pounds).

As you can see, there was a wide range of quests. I had an amazing time! Although my team didn’t win, we had a lot of fun and all got a lot closer. While preparing for this trip, I was worried about how accessible it would be, as I have a disability which made my experience a bit different from the able-bodied girls there. Accessibility-wise, the people planning QuestFest actually did a pretty good job. I saw girls, leaders, and volunteers with disabilities all having a great time along with me! Many parts of QuestFest were accessible. At the Expo, the aisles were very wide, as well as the gift shop. A lot of the indoor quests were held in accessible buildings, and most of the quests themselves were accessible. There were wheelchair accessible seats at the concert, although they were all the way in the back of the convention center.

But there were some things the people who designed QuestFest didn’t think about when it came to making QuestFest accessible. For example, most if not all quests said that either everyone must participate or a minimum number of people had to participate. I’m assuming this is to ensure that the entire team is participating in the quests and that it’s not just one person doing everything. Sounds like a good idea, right? Well, there’s a problem in this system. In small groups, these limits can force everyone to participate in every quest. Doesn’t sound like a problem to you? Well, it can be.

In my personal situation, I was in a group with six girls and three adults total (which was very small in comparison to the other groups). My disability causes me to get tired really quickly, and I will need breaks while doing lots of physical activity (i.e. walking around Savannah, Georgia, along with the quests that require lots of running around). But because of the minimum amount of people that had to participate, my small group size, the pressure to do as many quests as possible, and my group’s desire to keep on the go, I wasn’t able to rest or take as many breaks as I needed.

There was one quest in particular where, if I had a choice, I would have sat out. We had to play a game called cornhole, which required you to be able to run quickly and throw far. But due to the minimum amount of girls who had to play actually being higher than the number of girls on my team, I had to play. My teammates quickly got frustrated with me and it was extremely tiring, but before I could ask to take a break, my group found another quest to do. Two quests later, I was still out of breath and as my group was about to do a quest that involved playing freeze dance, I asked to sit out — but once again, the quest’s requirements said that all girls must participate.

Another thing that could be improved by next year is that there were only two days, a full day and a half day, to do the quest. For people with disabilities, I feel having many shorter days would be better than a few longer days, since longer days can be extremely tiring. There’s so much pressure to do as much as possible, as opposed to many shorter days, where after half a day all quests will be over and all the girls participating will be able to rest until the next day.

But to end on a positive note, despite some of the challenges, I had an amazing time! I learned so much, and getting to travel to Savannah, Georgia was an invaluable experience.

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Thinkstock photo by Dolgachov.

Originally published: September 26, 2017
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