Thursday, February 22, 2018

World Thinking Day: A Nod to Decades of International Sisterhood

Every year, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world celebrate February 22 as a day of international friendship called World Thinking Day. But what is World Thinking Day? And how did it get started?

It all dates back to 1926 at the fourth World Conference of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at our very own Camp Edith Macy (now Edith Macy Conference Center) in New York. The delegates at the conference decided that there should be a special day every year when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world think of one another and celebrate our global sisterhood. They decided to call it Thinking Day and chose February 22 to celebrate it.

Six years later in 1932, at the seventh World Conference, a Belgian Girl Guide suggested that girls show their appreciation of Girl Scouting by offering gifts to our international Movement through fundraising or making a donation in support of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts continue to honor this tradition every year by making contributions to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which supports international travel for girls and fosters friendships between Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 146 countries.

In 1999, at the 30th World Conference in Dublin, Ireland, delegates from around the world decided to emphasize the international aspect of the day and the global nature of our Movement, so they changed the name to World Thinking Day.

Since 2005, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has chosen a theme for each World Thinking Day, usually related to a global issue facing girls, such as health or education. This year, the theme is “Impact.” Imagine the impact of 10 million Girl Scouts and Girl Guides thinking and acting on the same issue!

To earn your World Thinking Day award, try some of the activities listed on our website, and let us know: what are you doing to celebrate World Thinking Day? And how is being part of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides making an impact on you? Don’t forget to tag your thoughts on social with #WorldThinkingDay and #WTD2018!
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

R2-D2 Would Be Proud: Girl Scouts Triumph in the Largest Robotics Program Ever

The Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) has just finished an unforgettable season of robotics competitions. To tell the council’s story, Kelli Cavenah, Girl Scout Leadership Experience manager, shares some background, reactions from participating Girl Scouts, and how the program has worked at the council.

As GSSJC finishes the first decade of our robotics program, the future looks bright! This year, we have doubled our competition teams and continued to revitalize a monthly noncompetitive group. We’re lucky to be able to run the program through generous assistance from corporate supporters, including Anadarko Petroleum, Motorola Solutions Foundation, and Schneider Electric. Our sponsors, along with a dedicated and passionate volunteer corps, allow us to make a lasting difference in the lives of hundreds of girls who participate in one of GSSJC’s robotics programs.

“I learned about programming and building a robot to do different things, learned about teamwork, and how to work well in a group.” 

—Lizzie from FLL team Hydro Puppies

To begin the year, we invited teams to develop their own names, and did they jump at the chance —from the Gear Girls to the Hydro Puppies, the names truly reflect girls’ personalities and strengths.

“The ’Fe’ in Fe-Males stands for [the Periodic Table element for] iron, because we are a strong team,” says team member Kaylyn. Her teammate Jordyn adds, “We are stronger than Iron Man, the superhero of robotics.”

Other teams put equal thought into their names. Katie, a member of Bling Bots, shares how her team conceived its name: “The bling part of our name is girly, and bots represents robots. Our name tells people that robotics isn’t just for boys.”

“We’re all very smart,” says Laura of her team, the Brainiac Maniacs. In addition to inventing creative names, the girls design team shirts to represent their squad spirit.

With teams competing in FIRST Lego League Jr. (FLL, Jr.), FIRST Lego League (FLL), and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), GSSJC’s goal is to facilitate opportunities through which a girl can become a true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. Throughout this robotics competition season, we’ve seen teams power through challenges and develop skills in each of the G.I.R.L. areas.

“My coach encourages me to find my voice and share my thoughts, not just at robotics [events], but all the time.” 

—Katie from FLL, Jr. team Gear Girls

This year, the themes for FLL, Jr. and FLL were water-based (Aqua Adventure and Hydro Dynamics), which proved to be difficult for many teams affected by flooding in our area from Hurricane Harvey. Unsurprising to anyone who knows a Girl Scout, our girls rose to the challenge and showed leadership skills while they guided fellow Girl Scouts and team members through the challenging weeks following the hurricane. The skills the girls have gained in innovation, leadership, coding, engineering, and beyond have translated to tangible changes for the girls, who have learned a great deal over the course of the season.


To add to our amazing season, the Brainiac Maniacs FLL team fulfilled the FIRST Core Value (discovery, teamwork, and gracious professionalism) so fully that, combined with optimal performance in robot design and the group’s project, the team received the Champion’s Award at the Southeast Texas Regional Championship and a bid to attend the World Championship. This is a fitting achievement for the tenth year of our program, and we could not be more proud of how the girls’ work has paid off.

Every year, we’re amazed and humbled by the outstanding girls who participate in our program, as well as the everlasting dedication and support of our robotics volunteers—and the 2017–18 year was no exception!

“Being a Girl Scout inspires me to strive for the best, find resolutions to problems, and help others.” 
—Stephany from FTC team Robois

GSUSA is thankful to Motorola Solutions Foundation for their leadership in supporting girl-centered programming through FIRST.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekly Girl Scout Gold Award Spotlight

Check out this week’s sampling of go-getting, innovating, risk-taking Gold Award Girl Scouts—young women who know what it means to lead with true G.I.R.L. spirit!

Tara, Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast

For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, What Makes Me Tic, Tara took the lead in educating her community on Tourette’s syndrome to reduce instances of related bullying. She held a series of trainings for school faculty in her community; by educating teachers, she has enhanced their understanding as well as expanded the reach of her program to the students of those teachers. In addition, Tara created Teens That Tic, an online support group that enables teens with Tourette’s to connect with one another.

Learn more about Tara's What Makes Me Tic.

Alex, Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont 

To earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, Alex helped feline friends at a
local animal shelter, creating 50 first-aid kits to send home with newly adopted animals. Each kit contains items such as cotton swabs, gloves, and cat toys. In addition, Tara learned about cats’ medical needs and educated younger Girl Scouts on the subject. These days, Tara is testing the waters assisting her troop leader. Here’s hoping she’ll start her own troop soon!

Learn more about Alex’s first-aid kits.

Izzie, Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska 

Girl Scout Izzie wants to help people, including those who live 8,000 miles away—and with her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she’s doing just that. Inspired by her older sister who had recently visited the country of Namibia, Izzie created 60 pillowcase dresses for a soup kitchen there, which was a less challenging aspect of her project than delivering presentations about it. But like a true Girl Scout, with practice she overcame her fear of public speaking and earned the highest award in Girl Scouts.

Learn more about Izzie’s dresses.

Kayla, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast 

Gold Award Girl Scout Kayla earned her recognition by giving her local church an impressive makeover. To complete her Gold Award project, she painted the church, planted drought-resistant succulents, installed a new basketball hoop and a volleyball net, and created a scripture wall displaying some of the young church members’ personal favorites. When asked what she learned in the process, Kayla said, “This project really helped me decide to major in business administration. It gave me a new set of skills that I am excited to use in college and in the business world.”

Learn more about Kayla’s renovations.

Gold Award Girl Scouts are recipients of one of the most prestigious awards in the world for girls. By the time they put the final touches on their seven-step projects, they’ll have addressed a significant problem in their community—not only in the short term, but with a plan to sustain the work for years into the future. They’re also eligible for college scholarships and to enter the military one rank higher than non–Gold Award Girl Scouts.

Got a Girl Scout Gold Award story to share? Send the details and relevant photos to for a chance to have it featured
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Girl Scouts Make Their Voices Heard at the Georgia State Capitol

More than 400 Girl Scouts from across Georgia visited the state capitol in Atlanta on February 6 to learn more about the legislative process and have conversations with legislators about naming the iconic bridge over the Savannah River for Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low. Girls and volunteers attended sessions at the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives and met individually with legislators to request support for naming the bridge. Through Girl Scouts, girls learn how to identify issues they care about, stand up for what they believe in, and take the lead with true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader)™ grit.

Cadettes Ariella from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and Raiyan from Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia were both present at the state capitol. In their own words, they describe their experiences meeting with legislators to ask for their support for the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge.

Ariella A. (Duluth, GA)

Ariella signing the banner
I knew this was going to be a fun day off from school! I also attended last year’s event at the state capitol, and it was a great learning experience. I got to speak with former Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who is currently running for governor. But this year, there was more on the agenda. Not only were we there to tour the capitol building and sit in the chambers of the House and the Senate, but we also planned to lobby the legislators to officially name the bridge that spans the Savannah River the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge.

You might be asking yourself, “How are these young girls between the ages of 8 and 18 going to act as lobbyists and influence how the legislators vote?” It’s simple. Research the facts, prepare an “elevator pitch,” and practice it while being sure to maintain eye contact and not fidget. These are the same skills that successful adult lobbyists must have.

I walked to the House chamber entrance and started to “work the ropes.” The time came fast when a legislator approached the entrance. This was the moment! I saw his name tag, which said Josh Bonner. I started by asking him, “What is your FAVORITE Girl Scout cookie?” That was the perfect opening line. Then it was time for my elevator pitch. I told him how important it was to Girl Scouts that the Savannah River bridge be officially named the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge in honor of her work to empower girls.
Ariella speaking with legislators

Next he asked me some questions. I was ready for this because of Ms. Irvine, the eighth grade social studies teacher who helped me prepare for this day. She said, “Be sure to know all your facts. You can COUNT ON the legislators to quiz you. They want to make sure you are committed.” Because of this, Representative Bonner was impressed with my answers. Finally I asked him, “Can I count on your support?” And he said, “YES!”

I spoke to four more legislators before it was time to meet with Representative Brooks Coleman from my home district of Duluth. So by now I was a pro! The Girl Scouts from my service unit took a group photo with him at the North Stairs, and then it was time for me to lobby him for his vote. I started to speak with Representative Coleman, and from the corner of my eye, I saw a reporter and his cameraman approach. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Wow Ariella, you’ve got this! This is going to be the perfect opportunity to get our agenda out beyond this capitol building!”

Ariella speaking to press 
Only after the conversation did I know that it was none other than Mark Strassman of CBS Evening News. He asked to interview me, and I gladly took the offer. I was not nervous at all. It was just as if I was speaking to a legislator. Afterward he told my mom that he was amazed that I was able to speak so clearly about our agenda. He added that we should be sure to watch CBS that night. It was a success! The entire nation will know about Girl Scouts’ efforts to officially name the Savannah River bridge the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge. 
So you see, our voices do count. We must know the facts and practice, practice, and practice in preparation for the finale. In a way, it is not unlike anything else we do in our lives, such as sports, music, writing, etc. Be confident. People do want to hear our opinions. Let your voice be heard!

Raiyan J. (Savannah, GA)

Juliette Gordon Low, a woman who inspired 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia, on March 12, 1912, created this organization known as Girl Scouts. Little did Juliette know that in under 100 years, the 18 girls would grow to 2.6 million worldwide and become an extremely well-known organization. She was an inspiring person who “built bridges” between people. Recently in Atlanta, hundreds of Girl Scouts gathered to advocate for naming the Savannah River bridge in honor of Juliette and her incredible accomplishments. I was among them.

As a third-year Girl Scout Cadette, my experience was something I will never forget. That early morning, there were not many people (yet), and I went to go tour the capitol and learn about how a law is passed in Georgia. A bill (a proposed law or amendment) is first submitted to the House of Representatives by one of its members, where they discuss and vote on it. The same thing happens on the Senate side, but the bills may not be the same. If the House and Senate pass the bill, then both sides come together and try to agree on any differences and what the bill should say. If they agree, both sides send the bill back to be voted on again. If all of that happens, it gets sent down to the governor, who signs the bill and it becomes law.

Raiyan with Representative Ron Stephens
After learning about how laws are passed, I went to Representative Ron Stephens’s office. Surprisingly he invited my sister and me in and listened to our idea about naming the Savannah River bridge in honor of Juliette Gordon Low. Representative Stephens, like me, is from Savannah, so he was not only in support of us but he had also already written a bill to submit to the House of Representatives that would name the bridge for Juliette! In fact, while I was visiting him, he allowed me to hold the actual bill that they were going to drop into the box in the House Chamber. I continued through the day visiting several other representatives.  Afterward the other Girl Scouts and I organized a milk and cookies event for the senators and representatives. Many people were being interviewed. Sue Else, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, was at the event, along with Senator Lester Jackson, who sponsored and submitted a bill on the Senate side. When I was introduced to him so I could thank him for his efforts, he gave me his Senate Medallion. On it was the Georgia crest and motto of “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.” He explained how the three columns on the Senate coin held up the Constitution and had the banners with the motto written on them. This idea of justice seemed a natural fit with Juliette Gordon Low’s belief in girl empowerment. In 1912, she opened Girl Scouts to girls of different ethnicities and cultures. She was truly a bridge builder.

I do not know if the effort will finally result in having the bridge named for Juliette or if the vote will fail, but either way, I felt empowered by expressing my voice and opinion and having it be heard. I can imagine someday in the future finding myself driving over that bridge named Juliette Gordon Low. At every crossing, I cannot help but think that I would be reminded of how Juliette brought people together from around the world. The thought of me having some part in its naming and honoring someone who helped make me the person I am today makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Girl Scout Volunteers, We Love You!

That’s right—we’re talking to you, our extraordinary volunteers, who tirelessly give of their hearts and time to help us unleash the leader in every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. This Valentine’s Day, we want you to know that we see you, we appreciate you, and yes—we love you! We know we don’t say it nearly enough, but we didn’t want today to go by without letting you know how we truly feel. 

Valentine’s Day is about friendship, and that’s what you provide. It’s about community, and that’s what you build. It’s about sharing your heart, and that’s exactly what you do—without limits and without hesitation. You’re the real MVP! 

So when you’re tired and running around coordinating meetings and events galore, and losing a little steam, we want you to remember this: every day as a Girl Scout volunteer, you power life-changing adventure, opportunity-rich learning, and powerful growth for girls who will become the leaders and happy, healthy, problem-solvin’, barrier-breakin’ change-makers our world needs. 

And while they’re having the time of their lives making forever friends and trying new things, they’re learning that anything is possible. Their confidence is rising, and they’re breaking through fear. They’re raising their hands, sharing ideas, and believing in their own inherent power right from the start, all because you show them every day that’s it’s there. By walking beside them, letting them lead, and supporting them unconditionally, you’re not only talking the talk—you’re walking the walk. And what a walk it is! 

Don’t ever let anyone suggest that being a Girl Scout volunteer is no big thing. It takes grit, creativity, leadership, vision, and so much heart. We’d be nothing without you, and we want to thank you, from the bottom of our green green hearts, for showing girls that the world is theirs to take on. Between the power of your guidance and our proven Girl Scout Leadership Experience, there’s no challenge our girls can’t overcome, no goal they can’t reach. 

So today, we celebrate you and the priceless love you give girls every day through your unwavering dedication to their success. The future is bright, and you’re lighting the way!
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. 

And just for good measure, we’ll say it once more: WE LOVE YOU!