Wednesday, July 1, 2015

RECAP: Ultimate Girl Scout Campout at the White House

Yesterday, fifty Girl Scouts from across America’s cultural, geographic and economic landscape had a truly unforgettable experience at the White House.

 First Lady Michelle Obama, our honorary national president, was an amazing host!
She kicked off our day of outdoor fun with an inspirational talk on the importance of staying active, exploring the outdoors, and caring for our environment.

Soon after, she joined different groups of girls alongside Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Girl Scouts' national president, for some hands-on learning and activities, including orienteering, knot tying, tent pitching and rock climbing.

After these action-packed sessions, Girl Scouts were treated to a healthy meal in the State Dining Room. In the spirit of health, fitness, and outdoor exploration, we were also given a tour of the First Lady’s garden.

And that’s not all!

After dinner we had a surprise guest join in on the fun: none other than President Barack Obama! The President and the First Lady participated in sing-a-longs and had a few laughs before he ended his visit with a memorable group hug with ALL fifty girls.

The adventure didn’t stop there! Astronaut Cady Coleman led an empowering “fireside” chat about her experiences in space. She then led us all on an amazing tour of the night sky as we settled down to do some stargazing with Cady and NASA pros.

After storms rolled in through the night, campers quickly moved into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for the rest of the night.

Ready for adventure, the girls were troopers and made it an exhilarating experience.

It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that no one who participated will ever forget!
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Photo Rundown: White House Campout

Dozens of girls and volunteers from around the country have pitched their tents and unrolled their sleeping bags, and are getting ready for the ultimate sleepover—a night on the White House South Lawn.

Climbing walls, stargazing, orienteering, knot tying, s'mores, and more are on the agenda. The campout is part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative, which fights childhood obesity.

As an added bonus, astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA staff are expected to join the girls after dark and help them decipher the mysteries of the night sky.

Engaging in the campout activities will help girls earn one of the new Girls' Choice Outdoor badges. The requirements to earn the new badges are available for download in the Girl Scout shop. Physical badges will go on sale at council shops across the country in August.

Check back later for even more photos!

Venture Out!: An Excellent Outdoor Resource for Volunteers

Let’s face it—girls really enjoy the outdoors. In fact, Girl Scouts have been enjoying the great outdoors since our Movement began in 1912. And while our program has evolved with the times, one thing remains: the outdoors are an integral part of what makes Girl Scouts such a unique and dynamic organization for girls.

The reality is, though, that while girls want to spend time outside, not all volunteers are equipped to provide such memorable experiences. After conducting a survey, Girl Scouts discovered that many of our newer volunteers aren’t totally confident and comfortable when it comes to leading outdoor excursions. Whether they’re a bit unfamiliar themselves or lack the confidence to get creative and spearhead activities and events outside, one thing is clear: volunteers need resources.

The solution? Venture Out! With this new resource, new volunteers learn practical tips and tricks, read other volunteers’ stories, and explore the joys of taking girls outside through a fun, interactive outdoor adventure made possible by GSUSA’s Elliott Wildlife Values Project. Gone are the days when girls and volunteers miss out on the outstanding benefits of getting outdoors; Girl Scouts is now proud to offer a resource that helps Girl Scout leaders strengthen their outdoor skills as they instill confidence in their own troop members.

So are you ready to Venture Out! with us? Get started now!
Saturday, June 27, 2015

12 Camping Tips for National Campout Day

It’s National Campout Day, and it’s time to rock the outdoors with an awesome camp adventure. Here are 12 camping tips to ensure a great time free of hassle and full of FUN.

Camping Tip #1: Be prepared!
Our Girl Scout motto is especially true when camping.

So be prepared for safety and emergencies by packing a first-aid kit, waterproof matches and fire starters, a headlamp and extra batteries, a whistle or other signaling device, a space blanket, and a compass or GPS device and map of the area.

Also be prepared to manage your personal comfort. Pack for all kinds of weather, pack each day’s clothes in plastic bags, and don’t sleep in clothes you’ve wore all day.

Finally, prepare for downtime. We’re so used to being busy that free time on a camp adventure can make us a little uncomfortable. Camping gives us a chance to unwind and try something different. Pack a book, binoculars, art supplies, and/or travel-size board games so you have something to do when relaxing or when bad weather keeps you confined to a tent.

Camping Tip #2: Tell someone where you’re going!
This is super important. Always tell someone where you are going for your camp adventure and what day/hour you plan to return. If something happens to you, that person will know to call the authorities.

Camping Tip #3: Leave no trace!
While camping or doing any other outdoor activity, it’s important to respect nature. Make sure to pack up all your trash and food scraps, and leave things like rocks, trees, wildlife and other natural things untouched.

Camping Tip #4: Disconnect/unplug!
Don’t let your peaceful campsite be interrupted by the ring of a cellphone or the ping of a text. We live in a world so hooked to the Internet, cell phones, and tablets; give yourself the gift of disconnecting for a few days. There are so many things to hear, see, and do on a camp adventure that can’t be replicated in any other environment. You’ll miss out on experiencing the power of this place and time if you stay connected to your devices—so unplug and enjoy.

Camping Tip #5: Pick up after yourself!
For more than 100 years, girls have heard their leaders say, “A Girl Scout always leaves a place better than she found it.” That is also true when camping! Please pick up and pack up the litter you find on the trail, clean up your fire ring and campsite, and be good neighbors to those who are camping nearby by keeping noise at a minimum whenever possible.

Camping Tip #6: Pack pliers and work gloves!
That’s right: pack ‘em! They come in handy for lots of reasons, and are great when grabbing pots off a fire.
Camping Tip #7: Soap your pots and pans!
This is a neat trick: apply dish soap to the outside of all your pots and pans before putting them on the fire. When it’s time for cleanup, the soot from the fire will wash right off.

Camping Tip #8: Bring a bandana!
Bandanas are useful in so many ways—especially when you’re out camping. They can function as slings, hats, bandages, potholders, strainers, and so much more.

Camping Tip #9: Pre-pack your meals!
Here’s another cool trick to simplify your camp adventure: remove all your grocery items from their boxes and pack the ingredients for each meal you plan to eat in individual plastic bags. You can also add matches and a fire starter to each bag. When it’s time to cook, you’ll be all set, instead of having to sort through coolers and boxes to find everything you need.

Camping Tip #10: Protect yourself from the environment!
Pack and use sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and insect repellant every day. Also, pack extra dry socks to avoid blisters and a hat to protect you from the sun, rain, and cold.

Camping Tip #11: Pack a few S hooks!
S hooks are handy inside tents to suspend a flashlight or small items you might need during the night; you can even use them to hang and dry out wet articles. And get this: an old belt buckled around a tree with S hooks clipped to it becomes a handy place to hang cooking gear.

Camping Tip #12: Pack a plastic shower curtain!
It has a ton of uses including as a ground cloth under your tent, a sit-upon, a tent fly, a tablecloth, and a way to keep your firewood and equipment dry.
And we know we urged you to stay disconnected and unplugged as much as possible, but here are some cool and even educational apps to add to your camp adventure if you just can’t resist the call of the screen. And make sure to share your favorites with your friends. Happy camping!

<![endif]-->CampSongs (lists songs by title, type, and tune) 
CampRecipes (tons of campfire-friendly recipes) 
Lantern (basically a flashlight shaped like a lantern) 
Creepy Tales (stories, geared for specific ages, that have funny endings) 
KnotsGuide (how-to for several different knots) 
NatureGate (tool for plant, animal, etc. identification) 
Campers List (place to list/share items needed for a camp adventure) 
Leafsnap (tool for plant identification using photos) 
Bird Calls (tool for identifying birds by sound) 
Night Sky (star and constellation ID tool) 
Sibley Lite (tool for identifying birds by habitat/color) 
Anti-Mosquito (sends out a frequency that repels mosquitos) 
AllTrails Hiking and Mountain Biking (resource for trails galore!) 
Trails-GPS (tracker for hiking) 
MapMyHike (GPS mapper) 
First Aid By American Red Cross
Friday, June 26, 2015

Photo Rundown: Girl Scouts Meet Pope Francis in Vatican City!

Girl Scout leaders Anna Maria Chávez and Kathy Hopinkah Hannan traveled to Rome for an audience with Pope Francis on June 26 alongside Girl Scout Catherine Riordan, one of the 2014 National Young Women of Distinction!

"Faith is at the heart of Girl Scouts, and is woven into everything the organization does to inspire girls to take action to make the world a better place,” says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of GSUSA. “To have the opportunity to make this journey to the center of Catholicism and have an audience with Pope Francis is an honor I share with my colleagues across the Girl Scout movement. We are delighted to be able to work with such wonderful organizations in the U.S. as the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry to help girls across the country explore and deepen their faith.”

“At Girl Scouts, faith unifies us and inspires us to take care of each other and the world around us,” says GSUSA National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan. “Our visit to Rome to engage with ICCG and Pope Francis exemplifies Girl Scouts’ inclusive culture that embraces all faiths and cultures, and reflects our commitment to encouraging girls to enter their own faith journey to find inspiration and meaning.”

Photos from top to bottom: Anna Maria Chávez with Pope Francis, Girl Scout Catherine Riordan with Pope Francis, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan with Pope Francis. All photos courtesy of "L’Osservatore Romano" SCV. All image rights and copyrights reserved to the photographic service of "LOsservatore Romano."