Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Bridge to Remember

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, GSUSA along with Girl Scout Central hosted two very special multi-level bridging ceremonies at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum to celebrate National Bridging Week. Here are a few highlights from this epic weekend!

Girl Scouts from all levels eagerly checked in.
For some Girl Scouts this was their last time bridging.
Bridging Girl Scouts buzzed with excitement...
while color guards diligently rehearsed their very important role.
Despite the chilly weather, family members showed up with a smile.
As the ceremony began, Girl Scouts tuned in intently.

Gold Award Girl Scout Isabella kicked off the ceremony with an inspiring speech about her Girl Scout Journey and how it's helped her build the confidence she needed to take-on her grand challenge raising mental health and teen suicide awareness. 

GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo encouraged girls to be what they want and to follow their dreams because her dream to become a rocket scientist came true thanks to Girl Scouts"My patch is my story." 
At the end of each ceremony Girl Scouts gathered to take a few fun pictures.
Sylvia called all the girls to strike a power pose, and this was the result. NEVER underestimate the power of G.I.R.L.!
Once the ceremonies ended Girl Scouts explored the Intrepid Museum to learn about all the amazing contributions women have made to sea, air, and space!

Congratulations to all the Girl Scouts who advanced to a higher level on National Bridging Week, you are a source of power, hope, and inspiration for the future!

From Special Agent badge to Girl Scout Gold Award

Guest post by Gold Award Girl Scout Emily C.

When Emily earned her Girl Scout Cadette Special Agent badge in sixth grade, she knew that one day she would earn her Girl Scout Gold Award by helping the Bainbridge Police Department in renovating the safe room to feel more like a safe space. Emily shared with us why she chose to help the BPD and what her experience was like.

About five years ago, as part of the requirements for earning the Special Agent badge, my troop visited the police station to learn how evidence is processed. The officer gave us a full tour of the station including the safe room—a small, dark room just off the lobby where people could go if they felt threatened. He said sometimes they would have a child wait in the safe room until someone came to pick them up, usually because of a situation at home such as a fire, a car accident, or when one parent was arrested and the other sent to the hospital. I think it hit me harder than most, because I could easily see myself having been one of those kids. All I could think about was how scary and traumatizing it would be to spend even five minutes alone in that room. I knew then that this was the change I wanted to make.

Four years later, I gave the Police Chief my proposal for renovating the safe room to make it emotionally and psychologically safe. I fully expected my proposal to get shot down, but he loved it! After receiving approval from Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, I got to work. Thanks to several friends, my family, and a few technical experts, renovations to the room were finished about 100 hours later. The walls had to be patched and repainted a more soothing color. Blinds, furniture, and carpet were cleaned. I also built and painted a 6’ x 4’ whiteboard with wood trim to hang on the wall. I designed, built, and stained a step stool so smaller children could reach the whiteboard, and brought in a bookcase that I filled with age-appropriate books obtained through a donation from the local United Way. I applied two inspirational quotes and a large tree on the walls to decorate the room and make it comforting. Lastly, I created a brochure for parents and guardians outlining how to create a safe space at home. My brochure is now available in the Police Station resource center as well as at the local United Way.

Besides being a lot of work, and having to learn how to drill, screw, and nail into Kevlar-coated walls, the biggest challenge I faced was the time it took for the walls to cure before the white board and decorations could be applied.

The staff at the police station eagerly accepted the responsibility for maintaining the room. I gave them a large supply of whiteboard markers and eraser cloths to ensure that the room would stay well stocked. The chief checks it daily to make sure drawings aren’t left on the whiteboard so long that they leave a permanent shadow on the board.

Gold Award Girl Scouts make lasting changes when they work on an issue they’re passionate about. Whether they’re tackling ocean pollution, human trafficking, education access, or the emotional and psychological well-being of children waiting to be picked up from their local police department, Gold Award Girl Scouts are inspiring leaders. Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Monday, May 13, 2019

14 Things You Must Pack For Summer Camp

The weather’s getting warmer and the days are getting longer, and Girl Scouts know what that means: it’s camping time! Sure, Girl Scouts camp all year long, but summer camping is definitely very popular. Whether it’s a weekend camping trip with the troop or a week-long stay at your local Girl Scout camp, some supplies belong on every what to pack for summer camp list!

Here are some items that Girl Scouts shouldn’t leave behind when they set out to explore the great outdoors:

First things first: how are you going to hold your supplies if you don’t have a sturdy backpack? A well-made pack ensures that your Girl Scout is no more than an arm’s length away from whatever she needs as she hikes along the trail.

Water Bladder or Water Bottle
We all know that during the summer days the temperature can hit the ceiling. Having a large water bladder can not only keep your Girl Scout well-hydrated, it can also keep her cooled down as the heat rises during the day. A little heat never kept a Girl Scout down!

Bug Repellent 
It’s fun to be outdoors with your Girl Scout friends! It’s not so fun to meet new friends in the form of mosquitoes and ticks while out on the trail. Bringing along bug spray is a good way to say “thanks but no thanks” to any pests you may encounter while exploring the outdoors.

When is a bandanna not a bandanna? How about when it’s a makeshift bag, or when it’s a hair tie, or when it’s a sling or tourniquet? Bandannas are not only fun and stylish, they can also be useful in dozens of different ways as you hit the trails.

Proper Footwear
Nobody wants sore feet when they’re camping, especially if nature walks or hikes are involved! Sneakers or a sturdy pair of hiking boots work wonders at extending the outdoor experience as you navigate paths through the woods and outdoors. Don’t forget an extra pair of dry socks (or three!) in case of a surprise rainstorm.

Sit-upons are as unique as the Girl Scouts who make them: no two are the same! Bringing her sit-upon is a great way for a Girl Scout to show off a cool project she has created, and it also ensures that she won’t be sitting in any mud puddles or ant farms when breaking camp.

Even the most fun camping trip can be tainted by a bad sunburn. A good bottle of waterproof sunscreen is a must have if you are spending hours outdoors. Remember: even if it is cloudy out, it’s still very possible to get burned if you don’t protect yourself. Don’t forget the sunscreen. 

Sleeping Bag and Pillow
Even if it gets too warm in the evening for a sleeping bag, it’s better to be with one than without if an overnight stay is planned. Having a soft extra layer between your Girl Scout and the woodland floor will help ensure a good night’s sleep so she’ll have the energy to tackle the trail tomorrow!

Games and Journals
A deck of cards, some Mad Libs, and other small games are a great low-key activity to keep everyone busy after setting up camp. It’s a good way to increase bonding and to burn off any extra energy that your girls have generated while they were soaking up nature’s beauty during the day. Sending her to camp with a special journal gives her a place to keep all of these camp memories, especially if she’s spending a week at a resident overnight camp.

It seems like a no-brainer, but be sure not to forget essentials such as her toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc. Something to keep in mind: the longer the trip, the more she is going to miss these items if she forgets them.

Bathing Suit
Swimming, canoeing, paddle boarding, boating—there are so many watersports she can get into, depending on what your camp offers. Make sure that before she leaves, she has her suit packed up! 

While it’s good to unplug while out on the trail, she is going to want to have a way to share the memories she made along the way during her adventure. Sending her along with a small digital camera is a good way to create lasting images that can be shared with her friends back home, and it may spark an interest in photography.

Even under the light of a full moon, nights during the summer can get very dark. For safety’s sake, be sure not to forget to pack a flashlight or two, as well as some extra batteries. Camping is always more enjoyable when you can see where you are going!

Mess kit 
Is there anything better than cooking at camp? Mess kits are absolutely essential if you’re camping with your troop! They’re easy to transport and make cooking and eating at camp a lot simpler.

Still looking for a camp this summer? Don’t forget to check out our Girl Scout Camp Finder!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Building Girl Leaders: Workplace Visit at Lord + Taylor Offices in NYC!

Courage. Confidence. Character. These are the qualities of great leaders. Because of Girl Scouts, girls learn from a young age the importance of taking action, persisting through challenges, and trying new things to build their leadership skills.

Girls want to be engaged and involved. They want to have opportunities to lead and explore different career paths. Which is precisely the mission of the Leadership Institute created by Girl Scouts of Greater New York. The institute is a talent incubator that develops 21st century skills, such as innovation, resilience, and collaboration, as well as in-demand, subject-specific skills, through real-world projects. Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors take a hands-on approach by attending college exposure events, expert-led workshops, workplace visits, and so much more—way to go, Girl Scouts!

A huge part of creating a sustainable pipeline of G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ trailblazers is working with entrepreneurs and businesswomen in girls’ communities. Because when girls connect with accomplished women, they find mentors, get inspired, and network. Our partnership with Lord + Taylor helps us achieve that.

On Wednesday, April 24th, a group of Girl Scouts attended a workplace event at Lord + Taylor’s corporate offices in New York City. Leslie Field, the Leadership Institute’s director, says, “Workplace visits, such as the one to Lord + Taylor, expose girls to the professional world. Girls learn about the personal journeys and professional experiences of female leaders that they met during their workplace visit.”

During the event, girls met Vanessa LeFebvre, Lord + Taylor’s president and connected with female department leads who work in marketing strategy, production, merchandise, and human resources—we were so excited to meet them! And it shows—check out how focused the girls were throughout the event.

Amy Avitable, senior vice president of marketing at Lord + Taylor, summarized her goal for the event: "I want these girls to experience what is possible with female leadership. To be inspired, to be strong, and to be compassionate; to be driven, kind, smart, and fun. To understand, and hopefully aspire to be, well-rounded and inspirational leaders."

Every girl learned something new and was inspired by the insights, stories, and advice from the business leaders at Lord + Taylor. See this short video recap from three of the Girl Scout attendees:

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, where we’ll bring you more inspiring G.I.R.L. stories and event highlights!

About Lord + Taylor

Founded in 1826, Lord + Taylor is one of America’s first department stores. It has built its reputation on offering premium fashion apparel and accessories, exciting store environments, and seamless service. Since 2018, Lord + Taylor has offered cookie booth space for girls across its stores nationwide. In 2018, Lord + Taylor provided National Gold Award Girl Scouts with their first official adult Girl Scout uniform as part of a celebration of the young women’s achievements. In April 2019, GSUSA will be the charity of choice for Lord + Taylor’s annual Charity Days event. One hundred percent of the purchase price of Charity Days coupon books will be donated to GSUSA, with a guaranteed $150,000 minimum donation.
Friday, April 19, 2019

Just a Cookie? You Decide.

Guest Post from Delea Patterson, Girl Scout parent from Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. This post was originally published by Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

“Girl Scouts just sell cookies and do crafts!”

Really? This statement—and I’ve heard it many times—always strikes a nerve in me. I realize that this is the experience of some, but I always want them to know this is not the norm and that we have leaders with adventurous spirits who want to see girls flourish! Our troop started out small and we continue to grow each year. Sometimes we lose girls to other activities or sports, but overall they keep coming, and they do so because of those adventurous leaders. When girls ask if they can do something, we find a way.

We do sell cookies, lots of cookies because cookie sales help our girls go camping, complete community service projects, clean up trash in national parks, start little libraries in our community, and participate in feeding those less privileged.

Our girls have completed engineering and robotics projects. They have had fun fly fishing and painting and doing archery, pottery, and glass art projects. How did we pay for these? Cookies. Girl Scout Cookies.

And, yes, sometimes we make crafts. We created paper poppies and presented them to veterans at our local Veterans Day program. The girls learned the history behind the poppy and saw the pride in those veteran’s eyes when they asked if they would like one.

Over the years of being involved in Girl Scouts, I have watched girls find their voices and become sisters for life. I have watched shy, quiet Daisies and Brownies blossom in front of my eyes and ask questions, many questions. I have seen them sing and dance and laugh. I have watched girls show respect as we retired our nation’s flag by a campfire. I have watched as some broke down in tears at the memorials on our National Mall in Washington, DC. This year I am looking forward to seeing them fly as we travel to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

When you buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies, you are really showing girls they can be entrepreneurs and, by doing so, they can stand proud. They are learning that by working hard they can go anywhere and be anything.