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 basically an event where teams would 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 & Jerry’s ice cream shop and 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 lbs.). 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! A lot of QuestFest was very wheelchair accessible. At the Expo they had, 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 that 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 said that a minimum amount 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 is 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 of. We had to play a game called cornhole, which required you to be able to run quickly and be able to 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 sit out, my group found another quest to do. Two quests later, I’m still out of breath and as my group’s about to do a quest that involves playing freeze dance, I ask 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, one of which was a full day, one of which was a half day, to do the quest. I feel that, especially for people with disabilities, having many shorter days would be better than a few longer days, since longer days can be extremely tiring while there’s still all the 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, when quests will resume. 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!
UPDATE: Another version of this article has been posted on The Mighty. You can see it here!
I'm a 15 year old who loves singing, reading, writing, and campaigning for hypotonia awareness.
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