What is a labyrinth?
Many cultures have used labyrinths as meditation and prayer tools for over 4,000 years. They are recognized as ancient symbols that relate to self-discovery and wholeness. The design of a labyrinth combines both the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our center and back again into the world.
Did you know?
Each one of our Girl Scout Camps has at least one labyrinth on the property! Girl Scouts can even contact camp directors to do a service project involving the labyrinths, or they can create one of their own! In addition, several troops from our council, including Troop 151 from Holbrook, AZ, have taken action to design and construct community labyrinths while earning a badge or completing a High Award.
Labyrinths that are open to the public can be found all over the state as well. Here are some links to help you find one (or several) near you:
Why should I use a labyrinth?
Having time and space for reflection has many benefits! Whether you walk solo or in a small group, you can use a labyrinth experience to reduce stress, establish a sense of living in the present, and embrace your personal journey. Group labyrinth walks can build a stronger sense of community and deeper relationships because walking together requires a foundation of trust and respect. If you are seeking new ways to emphasize self-awareness, practice decision-making skills, and develop an enhanced connection to our earth and others, you may enjoy visiting a labyrinth.
A Leader’s Labyrinth Story: JoDee Turner
Sometimes I think a labyrinth walk is just what is needed to ground us.
My first time experiencing a labyrinth was very moving for me. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and took to the journey of the labyrinth. I was told that I should walk in with the thoughts weighing heavy on my mind and soul, go to the center, leave them there, and then walk the path out with lighter energy. I felt tears roll down my face as I approached the center. I took a moment at the center, left all my worries there, and started back the way I had entered but not as the same person that had entered. I was stunned that something so small as walking the labyrinth could change my life forever. I learned that if I embraced the calm and looked into myself, I would find my path within Girl Scouts and life.
I have experienced labyrinths at three of our camps, plus a retreat. I think out of all my walks, two stand out to me for bringing peace and making my heart warm. Both were night walks and included music. One was at Willow Springs. It was candlelit, with wooden flutes playing while everyone took on their journey. The only lighting was stars in the sky and the tealights throughout the labyrinth. The music echoed through the trees and wrapped me in a warm blanket. One of my other favorite night walks was at a retreat with my fellow Girl Scouts. We had spent a couple of days deep-diving into Leadership from the Inside Out. We ended one of our sessions with a night walk. All of us bonded together through our experience and shared an even deeper connection. We sang in unison, walked in sync, and wound our way in and out of the labyrinth.
I have taken these deep connections and tried to share them with my Girl Scouts to experience it too. I am honored that I have the opportunity to help guide our young girls and teach them about the wonders of the labyrinth. I am also excited these young girls are learning and experiencing the outdoors at an early age in this introspective way.
Getting Your Girls Involved - Badge Connections
We invite leaders and families to explore Arizona and find a labyrinth near you. Girl Scouts offers many outdoor badges where you can incorporate a labyrinth into the experience. Girls can use their surroundings to create a labyrinth by including rocks from the region to set the center and to line the borders of their pathways. They can set the mood by listening to their surroundings and embrace nature in their walk, and create miniature ones on the go.
Here are some of the badges you can incorporate labyrinths into:
- Daisies Use Resources Wisely Petal - Practice being resourceful and design a labyrinth using the materials that girls have available. While most labyrinths are constructed from local stones, girls can also create a labyrinth utilizing pillows, blankets, and even stuffed animals! This is a great way to encourage creativity with untraditional resources.
- Brownie Letterboxing & Hiker Badges - Have fun hiking and hiding a family letterbox near a labyrinth site to encourage more girls to visit the labyrinths located in your area. Find more details on Letterboxing on our council website, including instructions for logging your letterbox location and clues.
- Junior Gardener Badge - Labyrinths are a traditional feature in garden sites and are a creative way to incorporate hardscape design within a green space. Explore a local labyrinth in a garden near you and enjoy the opportunity to walk and smell the roses!
- Cadette aMAZE Journey - Life is a maze of relationships, and this Journey has girls maneuvering through all its twists and turns to find true friendships, plenty of confidence, and maybe even peace. Visiting a labyrinth can represent the challenges girls have encountered and provide a safe space for reflection as girls begin, or a symbolic way to celebrate completing the Journey.
- Senior Outdoor Art Expert Badge - Explore a labyrinth to gather creative inspiration and use the opportunity to also observe and tune into nature all around you. Girls can capture their experience through music, visual arts, or digitally and may also decide to design their labyrinth outdoors.
- Ambassador Outdoor Art Master Badge - Teens can bring art and the outdoors together by experiencing a labyrinth. Together, get inspired by the beauty in nature and the connections made when walking the paths as a group.
How to Draw a Labyrinth
You can create labyrinths in many ways. For example, you can draw them with chalk outside, on a paper plate (using your finger to “walk” the path), you could mow one (if you have grass), or use molding clay.
Use this guide to help you draw your own!
This blog is written by JoDee Turner and Jenny Sharbaugh. ALC is centered around the principles of Authentic Girl Scout Leadership, formerly known as Leadership from the Inside Out. “We are committed to helping you discover, unlock and develop your leadership superpowers so that you can guide and empower your girls as they grow into leaders themselves.”