Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Volunteer Spotlight: A Cape Full of Patches and a Heart Full of Girl Scout Love

Lois Harris of Cape May, New Jersey, is a Girl Scout through and through. With more patches than she can count, tons of stories, and a love of Girl Scouting that has filled her life and those of girls across five states for decades, Lois is not only a Girl Scout alumna but a dedicated volunteer with 68 years of experience! Today, we celebrate you, Lois, for your passion, your dedication, and all the amazing ways you have made a difference throughout your life.

Girl Scout volunteers around the country like Lois really do make a difference for so many girls. These individuals, through their giving spirits, provide girls with an opportunity to take part in the adventure of a lifetime. Often, volunteers—true mentors—make a lifelong impression on girls, sparking in them a desire to pay it forward, introducing them to new hobbies and even future careers, and fueling our Movement with strength and passion.

“I was an only child and suddenly I had all those sisters!” Lois shared with a laugh. “Plus, I had the greatest mentor as a Girl Scout that you could ever have, and I have been trying to pay her back ever since.”

As did the Girl Scout leader who inspired her into action, Lois has contributed so much to Girl Scouting—from leading troops, to mentoring hundreds of girls and holding a variety of volunteer leadership positions at various councils, to serving as a Girl Scout summer camp director. She even spent 20 years as a docent (guide) at the Girl Scout Museum at G.S. Cedar Hill Program Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she gave tours, told stories about her many patches, and hosted tea parties!

“I have a cape with all my patches on it that hangs down as far as my knees, and it’s made of the same material Girl Scout uniforms were made of in the seventies,” Lois shared proudly. “And I don’t just collect patches; I’ve earned every single one. Everything on that cape represents the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve done in scouting.”

During her tours at the museum, Lois would place her incredible cape on the floor and tell visiting Girl Scouts all about the places she’d been and the amazing things she had done because of Girl Scouts. “I’d say to them, ‘If you stay in Girl Scouts long enough, you’ll get to do these things too!’”

Lois talks about her experiences as a Girl Scout and Girl Scout volunteer with great fondness, highlighting all the fun and adventures she’s had, as well as the amazing things she and the hundreds of girls she’s mentored over the years have learned along the way.

“I think my favorite part of being a Girl Scout volunteer is seeing girls develop from innocent young children to taking responsibility and learning leadership skills, especially at the Cadette level,” Lois said. “I learned leadership skills, too—the more you [volunteer], the better you get at it. You get very good at dealing with other women at leader meetings. [Girl Scouts] really is a great character and leadership building organization.”

Take it from Lois: being a Girl Scout volunteer rocks! Let’s give a cheer for Lois and thousands like her, who make Girl Scouting possible every day, bringing so much passion enthusiasm to an already incredible adventure!

Looking for a way to thank your own Girl Scout volunteer? Download a shareablethank-you card. You can also tag your volunteer in a quick thank-you message on Facebook or Twitter today!
Monday, April 24, 2017

Girls of Courage Grow into Leaders of Communities

For Volunteer Appreciation Month, we asked Margarita Olivarez to share the story of her lifelong relationship with Girl Scouts-- from her childhood as a Girl Scout to being a Troop Leader today. Thanks for all you do, Margarita!

It’s been decades since I pinned my first Girl Scout badge to my vest in elementary school, but the mission still rings true: Girl Scouts builds young women of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. I’ll never grow out of being a Girl Scout, because the organization stands for universal values of altruism and community service, which are just as imperative in adulthood.

When I became a mom, I started volunteering in different capacities, because like all parents, I wanted the best for my children. Although I hoped my daughter would choose to be a Girl Scout, I didn’t expect that I would be a troop leader for 12 years. And I definitely didn’t expect to continue leading the troop nine years after she left it! But why would I leave? Working with young girls gives me hope for the future of our communities—I see them develop into confident adults who understand the importance of giving back.

"Working with young girls gives me hope for the future of our communities—I see them develop into confident adults who understand the importance of giving back."

When we tell our kids to clean up after their campsites or we show them beautiful endangered animals in their natural habitats, we’re teaching kids to protect the environment. When girls earn badges for learning valuable skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or leadership, we’re teaching them that they can do anything they put their minds to. And when they serve food to hungry neighbors, we’re teaching them the value of compassion.

Working so closely with girls is inspiring. They consistently challenge themselves to try new things, persist in spite of difficulties, and transform their dreams into realities. From learning to tie a clove hitch knot to overcoming homesickness when traveling abroad, these experiences are essential to shaping their worldviews. When I catch a glimpse of a girl’s face during that moment of accomplishment, I know I have made a difference.

"When I catch a glimpse of a girl’s face during that moment of accomplishment, I know I have made a difference."

Volunteering with Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand the effect people can have on one another. The experience has also compelled me to volunteer for other meaningful organizations in my community, like my church, United Way, and the Hispanic Association of Women.

I’m proud to work with civically minded people at AT&T who support my efforts and volunteer alongside me. This April, as we celebrate National Volunteer Month, I encourage all of you to find ways to inspire others and help make the world a better place by giving your time and hard work. Learn more about how my colleagues and I support our communities and amazing organizations like Girl Scouts.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

G-Team Gears up For G.I.R.L. 2017!

Hi, there! Your helpful blogger from G-Team (the amazing girls planning G.I.R.L. 2017) is back with an update! If you need a reminder, G-Team is made up of 21 girls from all over the United States who have a shared mission—making G.I.R.L. 2017 the best event ever.

As G.I.R.L. 2017 draws near, G-Team is in full gear prepping for October in the lovely Columbus, Ohio.

G-Team has four subteams: Program, Special Events, Hall of Experiences, and Marketing and Design. We communicate through video chats and constant emails and, just to make sure our planning is on track (as well as to compare the weather from all over the country), we also group text. All this contact is because we’ve been working tirelessly for G.I.R.L. 2017 since our retreat last July in Columbus, OH.

Currently, the Program team is reaching out to speakers for our breakout sessions. These people will lead discussions about diversity, art that enacts change, stress, communication, different cultures, and Girl Scout traditions.

The Hall of Experiences is going to have loads of amazing sponsors and booths that will fill the expo hall. The picture above shows the G-Team in the expo hall. Another organization was using the room at the time, so it's hard to tell how huge it is!.

Our Special Events team is planning the festive party for all the guests, and our Design and Marketing team is developing a rocking playlist. Kara, a member of the Special Events team, said, “The party is going to be awesome. It will be full of activities for everyone, as well as great snacks! Also, there will be performances from girls across the country. The whole weekend of G.I.R.L. 2017 will be crammed with information and motivational speakers, but the girl party is really the place to let go and have fun! You can hang out with your troop, the other girls you have met in your sessions, and new friends you met from lunch. We also will have a great closing event on Sunday that you won’t want to miss.

Marketing and Design has also been planning our G.I.R.L. 2017 spaces and lounges, where every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ can chill out or socialize with other people from all over the country (and even the world)! There will be both a teen lounge and a younger girl lounge, so everyone has a great place to relax during the busy days.

The G-Team’s next retreat will be in New York City, where we’ll meet with some inspirational people from GSUSA and continue to make big decisions about G.I.R.L. 2017.

Needless to say, your time at G.I.R.L. 2017 will be chock-full of unforgettable experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. G-Team also has some surprises up its sleeve, so watch for updates, and don’t forget to come to G.I.R.L. 2017 in Columbus, Ohio, this October! We’re excited to see the whole event come together and to watch 10,000 people experience the power of a G.I.R.L.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Take Action and Lead!

Not everyone who hikes the Elliott Wildlife Interpretive Trail at Camp Andree Clark knows exactly what they’re looking at when they see a vine twisted around a tree branch or a red-feathered bird flying through the air. And that’s where Girl Scouts comes in—specifically, girls whose Take Action projects provide hikers with opportunities to learn more about the plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds they might encounter along the way.

The interpretive trail was developed by Green Corps Girl Scout Cadettes from the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York. The Green Corps program is designed for girls who have a special interest in the outdoors and preserving our environment. Visitors to the Edith Macy Conference Center can can check out a backpack with a trail map and a designated iPad, loaded with educational videos created by corps members.

To learn more about the most recent of these particular Take Action projects, we talked to Jennifer, a Cadette from Girl Scouts of Greater New York. Working with other Girl Scouts, Jennifer was able to build her leadership skills, tap into technology, and make the wonders of the Elliott Wildlife Interpretive Trail more accessible to visitors.

What inspired you to be part of this project?

What inspired me to become a part of Green Corps was the fact that I wanted to learn more about the Girl Scout community and Edith Macy. I also wanted a chance to be a part of the great work that Green Corps accomplishes.

What challenges did your group face while expanding the Elliott Wildlife Interpretive Trail? How did you overcome them?

Members of my group worked well together, but we did face challenges. For one, we had to research specific plants and learn everything we could about them. But even though we had learned so much about the plants, it was really hard to find them in real life!

What is your favorite feature of the trail?

My favorite feature is the videos [we created]! All of the girls said the names of their plants and described them. We saved the videos onto an iPad that guests can check out.

How did this project educate you and others about the importance of wildlife?

This project educated me and continues to educate other people by supplying them with the names of the plants that they see (including pronunciation). The videos also teach others about why these plants are important.

What skills did you learn throughout this project that you think will benefit you in the future?

There were many skills that I learned during this process. Working as a team gave me the courage to speak up, the confidence to stand out, and the strength to lead.

What advice would you give to other Girl Scouts working on similar Take Action projects?

I would tell other girls working on similar Take Action projects to stand out, be creative, and not be afraid to lead.

The Elliott Wildlife Interpretive Trail was made possible with funding from GSUSA’s Elliott Wildlife Values Project.

Sometimes It IS Easy Being Green

From the hikes that Juliette Gordon Low took with the first Girl Scout troop, to the girls who worked on their Ranger patch in national parks last weekend, every Girl Scout spends time in the great outdoors. It’s in our DNA.

But enjoying the outdoors is only half the story. We also believe in respecting and protecting the planet. That’s why, of all the holidays we observe throughout the year, Earth Day is one of our favorites. Because everyone is thinking about the planet on this day, we get an extra opportunity to share our stories and lead by example. How do Girl Scouts shine when it comes to the environment?

  • Instead of recycling one soda can, we make sure that unexpected things—like holiday lights—are recycled. 
  • We educate and organize entire communities to help clean up parks

Girl Scouts are passionate about making Earth Day every day, so on this very special occasion, let’s share our stories, rally everyone we can, and work together to find ways to green up our homes, neighborhoods, and planet!