Wednesday, May 25, 2016

All New Camp Hacks to Help Your Camper Rock Summer Camp

The sun is beaming a little brighter every day, temps are heating up, and it’s almost time for one of our absolute favorite times of the year—Girl Scout camp! Exploring the great outdoors, swimming, having a blast with friends, learning new things, sitting around cozy campfires, singing songs, and filling the day with fun and adventure? We’re so ready!

Plus, guess what? Camp is one more opportunity for her to discover who she can become—a place where she can raise her hand, speak up, and try something new, almost every single day. It’s a place with a dozen different ways to take the lead in small, powerful ways, a place where she will learn over and over again, that she CAN do anything, even if she fails at first.

So, yes, camp is awesome! But camp can also be overwhelming, especially for those first-time campers. For example, it can be daunting to get your camper all packed up and organized for their day or week at camp (when you won’t be there to help them). We also know campers sometimes struggle with things like staying at camp overnight for the first time, making new friends, or feeling homesick.

That’s exactly why we worked with amazing Girl Scout camp directors across the country to put together these super fun and useful camp hacks—yes, yes, yes! Check out our spirited playlist and get tips on everything from making the most out of that bandana and putting together a cool “clothing pill” for quick-and-easy morning dressing, to overcoming homesickness and dealing with those pesky afraid-of-the-dark jitters, plus so much more.

Cool, right? Make sure to share, share, share, and help every first-time camper you know have the best Girl Scout summer ever! And hey, even an experienced camper might learn a new trick or two, so don’t be shy about sharing with them too. 

Here’s to a great summer full of new experiences and cherish-them-forever memories. Happy camping friends

Friday, May 20, 2016

Girl Scouts, Educators, Members of Congress Rally for Title IV, Part A Funding at U.S. Capitol

On May 18, against the backdrop of the US Capitol, Girl Scouts, educators, a high school choir and Members of Congress rallied to demand that Congress fully fund Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Authorized at $1.65 billion in ESSA, Title IV, Part A is a flexible block grant that is intended to provide school districts with funds to support well-rounded academic programs. Girl Scouts is part of the Title IV, Part A Coalition, a group comprised of more than 75 national non-profit groups, working to ensure that this program is funded at the fully authorized amount.

Girl Scout Ambassador Richa Gupta, from Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, spoke at the event and shared her thoughts on her experience:

I’ve been a Girl Scout for almost eleven years now, having joined when I was six years old,, and it has become as much a part of me as any personality trait. To me, and so many others, Girl Scouts is more than just about cookie sales and cute uniforms. It has given us opportunities to grow and succeed in community service and other fields that spark our interest. For me personally, Girl Scouts let me connect with other girls in my community when I moved to a totally new nation. It gave me the confidence to take leadership positions in my school and my community. It is what inspired me to achieve my Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, when I created a computer lab and provided technological training for intellectually disabled students in a school in India. Without Girl Scouts I may not have gained so many leadership and life experiences that help me so much today. At the end of the day, Girl Scouts allowed me to just be me.

And that is the biggest reason that I was so excited to speak at Capitol Hill this week to support Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. So many amazing people from Girl Scouts and other organizations have worked so hard to ensure funding for all the important activities for students around the country. Girl Scouts has been such a huge part of my life, and I hope we can continue to support and enlarge the program to reach more and more girls. Everyone deserves the chance to participate in Girl Scouts, STEM activities, music programs, and other activities, regardless of where they live or how big their parents’ bank account is. We need to support our girls, and our future, through the funding that this bill will provide. Even the smallest actions can make huge differences, and this is no small action.

In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law, which governs the nation’s public education system. Girl Scouts worked with other nonprofit youth-serving organizations to lobby Congress to include language encouraging local school districts to engage community-based groups, such as Girl Scouts, in providing students out-of-school programs that complement in-class instruction.

The language in Title IV, Part A provides funds for local education agencies to partner with community organizations to provide students with access to a well-rounded education, including among other topics: STEM and financial literacy with a focus on college planning. Girl Scouts’ evidence-based programming can serve as a great way to complement in-class instruction, especially in the areas of STEM, environmental education, bullying prevention, and financial literacy related to college planning.
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hear It from a Girl Scout: From Gold Award to Internship

In collaboration with Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA has provided six Girl Scouts since 2013 with the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship, which is available to Gold Award recipients who complete Gold Award projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Kaitlyn Kanis of Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana received the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship in 2013 and is now an intern at Alcoa Lafayette Operations. Check out her story and what she has to say about her experience in Girl Scouts.

Tell us about your STEM-related Gold Award project and your experience in Girl Scouts.

For my Gold Award, I chose to complete a project that incorporated an environmentally friendly solution to a major problem in my community. Growing up, I was very athletic, and our town had a very well-organized Little League system and a beautiful community park where we could play. However, the mosquito population was about enough to prevent members of the community from attending games or making use of the park, which is in a very wooded, wet area. I also grew up spending my summers living at a state park near my house because my parents volunteered for the Department of Natural Resources, and the time I spent here instilled in me a desire to conserve our resources and treat the Earth with the utmost respect. I combined my love of spending time at the ballpark with my love of the Earth by taking an environmental approach to reducing the mosquito population—by constructing several bat houses to be installed at various locations around the park. To complete this project, I searched to find the most effective bat house plans and then tweaked them to fit the needs of my community’s park. Enough wood and other needed supplies to complete my project were donated, and I was able to enlist a woodworker in the community to teach me about the process and help me complete the initial building of the houses. A local Girl Scout troop, consisting mainly of Daisies and Brownies, helped me with the tasks that remained—painting and roofing. The same day they helped me, I spoke at their meeting about the importance of bats in the ecosystem and did a bat craft with them. Several other members of the community assisted in the final stages of the project, including the hanging of the houses. Now my bat houses can be seen hanging around the park, the mosquito population has become more manageable, and a bulletin in the information boxes around the park describes my project and informs community members of the role of bats in the ecosystem.

What advice would you give to other girls who are in the process of earning their Gold Award?

I would tell them to never give up, to not let what is “cool” or what everyone else is doing take precedence. If there is anything worth your perseverance, this is it. This will open so many more doors than you ever imagined. Earning your Gold Award will change your life. I know—it did mine. Without my Gold Award and the scholarship opportunities it opened up for me, I would never have been able to afford furthering my education at the university level. Without the opportunities the path to completing my Gold Award offered me, I wouldn’t have been able to find what I truly loved doing, or what strengths I was blessed with. This project will teach you more about yourself than anything else in your high school and early college career and will push you to be the best version of yourself.
What opportunities has Girl Scouts given you?

Girl Scouts has given me more opportunities than I would have ever thought possible. Throughout my formative years, I was able to visit many businesses and locations in surrounding areas—more so than some of my friends—and those opportunities allowed me to dig deeper into my passions and explore my future. Girl Scouts has also instilled in me a desire to succeed, to always be thinking about my next move. Many of the activities I completed when I was younger as well as opportunities to practice leadership skills with girls younger than myself when I was older built in me a greater self-confidence. I believe one of the most important opportunities Girl Scouts has provided me with was the opportunity to realize my potential as a female, and to be empowered to reach my goals alongside other strong females.

Tell us about your internship at Alcoa.

The past two summers I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) staff at Alcoa Lafayette Operations as an intern. The first summer, I worked solely as the environmental intern and was able to explore every part of the facility as I completed governmental and internally regulated inspections, took samples for environmental risk analyses, and completed several different projects, such as creating an inventory for the spill-response trailer and working with my supervisor on the placement and maintenance of environmental stations in the new facility on the grounds. Last summer, I worked as the Environmental, Health, and Safety intern, which allowed me to gain experience in all areas of that department—I completed a very large government-regulated report, attended several safety meetings with plant employees, and worked on creating and updating safety procedures, such as machine lock-outs. I also have had the opportunity to visit several other Alcoa locations, including the Technical Center, which has enabled me to see many different sides of the aluminum industry. I will be returning to Alcoa this summer, once again as an EHS intern, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What impact has Girl Scouts and the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship had on your life?

Without Girl Scouts and the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship, my world would be completely different, and my eyes would not have been opened to the amazing field of industrial work I have grown to love. Each summer, I have been able to learn more and become better equipped to move into this field full time upon my college graduation. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to realize my love or skill for working in this setting, and would not have gotten to meet the EHS professionals who have had such a tremendous impact on my life and career alike. My contact with my mentor over the first year and a half of the scholarship allowed me to get involved in the company and helped place me at a location near my hometown for the summers, which has been a huge blessing, seeing as that I attend a university almost 1,300 miles from home! This scholarship has also given me peace of mind during the long semesters, allowing me to focus on my academic career without worrying about where I will be getting money for textbooks or how I will afford university housing and required supplies.

What advice would you give to other girls who want to pursue a STEM field?

I’d tell them it’s a challenging but rewarding experience. Often, women and girls are overlooked, despite being more accomplished and better equipped to complete the job. It takes courage and persistence to stand out, but I believe that many women and girls can outperform men in these fields—if they have a passion and a love for subjects included in the STEM fields, strive for success, give it all they have, and don’t let anyone discourage them.

What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges I faced was the dissipation of the troop I had belonged to since I was six-years-old to late middle school/early high school. For both my Bronze and Silver Awards, I had been surrounded by a hoard of other girls working on theirs, which provided a readily available support group of leaders and troop parents to turn to with questions about paperwork or project steps. Having a large troop also helped motivate me to start and complete my projects. However, as I continued on as a Juliette [individually registered girl], it was easy to feel lost and fall behind in the steps to complete my Gold Award. To overcome this problem, I made a time schedule of when I needed and wanted every step completed, and I did not let myself fail to keep to the schedule, pushing myself to achieve more and to be more than I had ever imagined.

How do you take the lead?

During both of my internships, so far, as one of only a few females, I have had to increase my work ethic and performance to stand out among the males. As I work closely with plant employees amid large machinery, I am making my appearance as a female in a leadership position--even wearing multiple layers of clothing and fire-retardant protection most of the day. At my university, I belong to two national collegiate honor societies as well as multiple scientific research clubs and the campus honors program—taking the lead for academic excellence among females in STEM-related courses. Aside from being a Gold Award recipient, I also hold the American Farmer Degree through the National Future Farmers of America (FAA) Organization, one of the highest awards possible in that organization. I am also an active volunteer in the community I now live in, teaching elementary school-age boys and girls in our local hockey league the basic skill set for the sport as well as delivering nutritious meals weekly to members of the community for Meals on Wheels.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day to You—and to Every Mom in Your Life!

At Girl Scouts, we know firsthand that moms and all their awesome, life-changing love come in many different packages. Sometimes “mom” is actually, well, Mom. But many times motherly love comes from others—like aunts, grandmas, dads, and Girl Scout troop leaders—sometimes even from that friendly neighbor who always seems to find the best way to brighten our day.

It’s easy to see that motherhood is rooted not only in biology. Motherhood is active when we support another person’s dream, or pour our love into someone because we see it’s needed. And it’s always an amazing gift. That’s why we’re celebrating all of those who have shared motherly love with the children of this world—including our own Juliette Gordon Low, who founded Girl Scouts to prepare girls to face the world with courage, confidence, and character, making it a better place along the way. Daisy may not have borne children of her own—but she was definitely a mother, and a great one at that!

So today, let’s celebrate all of the mothers out there, no matter what form they come in. Let’s take a moment to pause and say “thank you” to that beautiful person (or people!) in our lives who mothers us. Who worries about us, supports us, nurtures us—who pushes us to be our very best. Let’s acknowledge every person in our lives who helps us find our confidence, who loves us for exactly who and what we are, and who we can always count on to be in our corner, no matter what.

We’d also like to send a very special shout-out to all the Girl Scout moms who give so much to our Girl Scout movement every day—from driving girls to meetings and helping with activities, to leading troops and opening girls’ eyes to life-changing new experiences. We appreciate you, and we know the girls do too! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Need a fun activity to do with that special kid in your life? Girl Scouts is working with Huffington Post this Mother's Day to participate in their #TalkToMe video series – a movement to spark conversations between caregivers and children. You can join the movement by sharing a conversation with your loved one on social media. You'll even have the chance to be featured on Huffington Post alongside notable celebs, including Oprah and Vin Diesel. So grab your smartphone or tablet and start recording! And don't forget to tag #TalkToMe and @girlscouts so we can share it too. Here are some tips to get the conversation started! 
Friday, May 6, 2016

The Results Are In!

You bling'ed, you voted, and now the results are in! We are proud to announce the winners of the 2016 Bling Your Booth Challenge! Congratulations to all the winners and a huge shout out to everyone who participated!

Troop 273
Girl Scouts of Gulf Coast Florida 

Troop 90501
 Girl Scouts of North East Ohio 

Troop 353
Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas 
Troop 14119
 Girl Scouts of West Central Florida 

Troop 1080
 Girl Scouts of West Central Florida
Troop 50712
Girl Scouts Heart of PA

Troop 7442
 Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey 

Troop 20069
Girl Scouts of Western New York 

Troop 41867
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio 

Troops 80953 & 80972
 Girl Scouts Heart of PA 

Troop 436
 Girl Scouts of Citrus Council 

Troop 70024
 Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey 

Troop 1050
Girl Scouts of Central Illinois 
Troop 41169
 Girl Scouts of Western Washington 

Troop 540
 Girl Scouts of Louisiana Pines to the Gulf 

Troop 1159
 Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas 

Troop 1009
Girl Scouts- Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas 

Troop 90041
 Girl Scouts of Northern California 

Troop 1229
 Girl Scouts of Maine 

Troop 830
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois 

Troop 70152
Girl Scouts of West Central Florida 

Troop 20648
Girl Scouts Heart of PA
Troop 142088
 Girl Scouts of San Jacinto 
Troop 431
 Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada 
Troop 483
 Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore