Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Global Sisterhood in Action: World Thinking Day Celebrations in Saudi Arabia and Japan

It’s World Thinking Day, and we’re so excited to take a peek into how Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world are celebrating! Because although we take great pride in this unique, worldwide movement every single day, today is extra special as we rally our global sisterhood and celebrate it on a whole other level.

That’s right. Today is a day of global connection, action, and pride in all of the amazing things that Girl Scouts and Girl Guides do across the map. This year, it’s also a day to “Grow” as we encourage girls to explore, stretch, and take on new challenges while celebrating what it means to be part of this one-of-a-kind family.

So today, as Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from 146 countries are inspired to come together, share, and learn from one another, let’s hear how girls in parts of Saudi Arabia and Japan are celebrating World Thinking Day!

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

On Saturday, Girl Scouts in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, not only celebrated World Thinking Day but also commemorated the 70th anniversary of Girl Scouting in Dhahran—what an epic coincidence! And because women in Saudi Arabia don’t get many opportunities to join the workforce, during the special gathering of about 130 girls and adults (including girls from the Ras Tanura Compound, where Saudi employees live), the audience heard from female VIP speaker Huda Al Ghoson. Currently the executive director for human resources at Aramco, a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Huda spoke about how girls and women can successfully challenge the status quo. That’s so Girl Scouts!

As part of the dual celebration, and in honor of this year’s World Thinking Day theme, Girl Scouts in Dhahran also painted a tree in the Girl Scout house (the dedicated Girl Scout space provided by Aramco), using each leaf to show how they plan to change the world (or their community). And they even got to enjoy an exhibition of Girl Scout heritage and historical artifacts with different storytelling stations and interactive activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Girl Scouting in Dhahran.

Basma Kleemeier, overseas committee chair for USA Girl Scouts Overseas in Dhahran said, “We really liked the ‘Grow’ theme this year, as the Girl Scout program here in Dhahran really grew from a small start with a primarily American membership to 250 girls and 60 leaders with nationalities from all over the world.” The Girl Scouts in Ras Tanura now come from a variety of countries, including Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Croatia, France, Holland, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Talk about global!

“We are all one, working to excel in the world as humans to show our best in compassion, leadership, sisterhood, and honesty, as we live by the Girl Scout Law,” Basma said. We just love that!

When girls in Dhahran are not busy celebrating holidays and anniversaries, they participate in adventurous campouts, including activities like archery and rappelling. They also hold annual fundraising events, visit museums to learn about Saudi culture, and interact with the community to complete award projects, many of which focus on improving the local community and the Dhahran region as a whole. This is what leaders are made of!

Zama, Japan 

Simultaneous with the celebration in Saudi Arabia, Girl Scouts at Camp Zama (a U.S. Army post) in Zama, Japan, celebrated World Thinking Day by growing their cultural knowledge. Each troop (more than 100 girls total, including local girls) hosted a table to provide attendees with information about different countries’ traditional games, dances, food, and other customs.

“Each year, Camp Zama tries to coordinate with our Japanese sister troops to share the World Thinking Day event,” said Naomi Conner, troop leader for CSA (Cadette, Senior and Ambassador) Troop 900 at Camp Zama. “It is so important for us to share each other's culture and spaces for many of the events that we do in Japan. There is a language barrier, but our girls work it out every time! It is amazing to watch as a leader.”

When the girls at Camp Zama are not celebrating World Thinking Day, they’re getting fish pedicures, riding bikes around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, discovering Chinatown, and camping under the stars as they gaze at Mt. Fuji. They also sing carols at the local nursing home, help feed the homeless, clean up beaches and rivers, and gather materials for local orphanages. And their Japanese sister scouts often invite them to special events and ski trips or teach them how to make Japanese dishes. So many enriching experiences!

Misawa, Japan

Meanwhile at the Misawa Air Base in Misawa, Japan, girls and leaders are gearing up for their World Thinking Day celebration taking place this Sunday, February 26. More than 200 Japanese and U.S. Girl Scouts, leaders, and friends will attend the event, during which each troop (14 troops total!) will present a four-minute activity—either a dance, game, song, or some other activity that can be easily understood no matter the language. The best part? The whole activity will be played out as if the girls were on an airplane. So cool!

Here’s how that works: the girls will sit in their assigned sections to prepare for takeoff, with the older girls taking the lead as pilots, flight attendants, and emcees. The activity will then play out as in-flight entertainment (with snacks, layovers, and all!) in which the different troops will present their activity and engage their friends.

“I feel that the importance of World Thinking Day here is more than just researching other countries, but to continue to foster the wonderful relationship we have with local Girl Scouts,” said Kelli Kelley, training facilitator and troop leader for Troop 29 in Misawa. “Actually having two separate [World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts] countries represented and teaching each other is amazing. It takes great effort to translate all of your information and to ensure that everyone will understand you, but knowing that this is how much we care for each other is inspiring.”

Kelli encourages girls in the United States, not just abroad, to get out of their comfort zones and try something different. Girls can contact a committee, service unit, or council in another part of the world to be picture pals, sharing their lives with girls who walk similar paths—girls who are trying to make the world a better place, just like the group in Japan. “Find out what girls are doing in their communities, share your take-action projects with them. Learn from each other,” Kelli suggested.

For example, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in Misawa are active both on and off base. They volunteer for their base animal shelter, care for the environment, make care packages for servicemembers and their families when they’re hospitalized, and make baby blankets for newborns. The girls even put together a special baby basket every year for the first baby girl born during Girl Scout week. They also fundraise for a local school for kids with disabilities, clean up beaches, and do so much more.
What an incredible group of leaders and go-getters!

You can learn more about our overseas communities at

So? How AWESOME is it to be able to get a glimpse of what Girl Scouts and Girl Guides do in other countries, and what better day to recognize them than today?!

Have your own fun plans to celebrate World Thinking Day? Don’t forget to inspire your fellow Girl Scouts today by sharing activities and photos on social media with the hashtag #WTD2017. Because although we may be miles and miles away in distance, we’re all right beside one another in heart and mission. We hope you have a terrific and inspiring World Thinking Day!

Help more girls experience this great big world by donating to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Celebrate Your Faith Like A Girl Scout

Girl Scouts encourages girls to grow their faith and is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which includes many of the principles and values common to most faiths. Although a secular organization, Girl Scouts has, since the movement began, encouraged girls to explore their spirituality by earning the My Promise, My Faith pin.

Throughout this journey, girls open up conversations with women in their religious community, research inspiring quotes that resonate with the part of the Girl Scout Law on which they have chosen to focus, and create a work of art to express what they’ve learned with their friends, family, and possibly even the larger community. Girls of all grade levels are eligible once each year to earn the My Promise, My Faith pin. Learn more about how to get started.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Black History Month: Girl Scouts’ Legacy of Inclusivity

Girl Scout Intermediates in front of the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., 1940. 
Inclusivity is a big part of the Girl Scout DNA. From the very moment founder Juliette Gordon Low first mentioned her plans to start Girl Scouts, it was set to be an organization not only for the girls of Savannah but also for “all of America, and all the world."

Beginning with that first small troop gathering of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette Low broke the conventions of the time by reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills.

Today, as we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we highlight how Girl Scouts has welcomed African American girls to the Girl Scout Movement throughout our history. Girl Scouts has long been a pioneer in acceptance, a beacon of inclusivity, and a stalwart civic advocate to make sure every girl—regardless of her race, religion, orientation, or socioeconomic background—has the opportunity to thrive.

Our promise of inclusivity was fulfilled early when African American girls became members of the third U.S. troop formed in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1913, according to the March 1952 issue of Ebony magazine.

The first all-African American Girl Scout troops were established as early as 1917. Troops for girls with disabilities formed that same year. One of the earliest Latina troops was formed in Houston in 1922. Girl Scout troops supported Japanese American girls in internment camps in the 1940s. And after much perseverance, in 1942, Josephine Holloway established one of the South’s first African American troops in Nashville, Tennessee. By the 1950s, Girl Scouts was leading the charge to encourage councils to fully integrate all troops.

Ebony magazine commended Girl Scouts’ inclusivity during GSUSA’s 40th anniversary, noting that in 1951, there were more than 1,500 racially integrated Girl Scout troops and more than 1,800 all-African American troops (mostly located in the South). The magazine cites Girl Scouts as "making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region." As Girl Scouts began a national effort to desegregate troops, the Movement was increasingly recognized as "a force for desegregation," especially in the South.

As the 1960s dawned, and the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, Girl Scouts launched several major initiatives related to racial and ethnic diversity and made a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the principles of equality and the realities of the organization's administration, publications, councils, troops, and leadership. In 1969, Girl Scouts launched "Action 70," a nationwide effort to overcome prejudice and build better relationships among persons of all ages, religions, and races.

Within the Girl Scout ranks, African Americans gained responsibility and increased visibility both locally and nationally. In 1975, Dr. Gloria D. Scott served as the first African American national board president and the public face of Girl Scouts. (Fun fact: During the last year of her presidency in 1978, the Girl Scout Trefoil was reimagined by legendary designer Saul Bass to highlight our Movement’s great diversity.)

The following decades brought continued commitment to issues of diversity and multiculturalism, with the organization continuing outreach into the African American and other minority communities and pledging to promote respect and appreciation for the religious, racial, ethnic, social, and economic diversity of our country.

Today, acceptance, inclusion, and diversity continue to be a top priority for Girl Scouts.

As interim CEO Sylvia Acevedo recently noted, "We stand for inclusivity. We stand for unity, patriotism, and a commitment to the country we all share. We stand for the skills and resources that girls need to discover their talents and gain the courage, confidence, and character they need to be leaders."

So, let's take a moment to reflect on our Movement’s accomplishments in the area of inclusivity. Then, let’s redouble our efforts to fulfill Juliette Gordon Low's vision that Girl Scouts is—and will continue to be—a safe, welcoming place for ALL girls.

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! 
Monday, February 13, 2017

Calling All Cookie Bosses—We Have a Challenge for YOU!

Girl Scouts are already cookie bosses. They’re crushing their cookie goals, building confidence, and learning leadership skills not found anywhere else! Now, it’s time to celebrate—

by accepting the #gsCookieBoss Instagram Challenge! 

We’re asking YOU, Girl Scout, to go on Instagram and tell us how you’re the ultimate cookie boss this cookie season. It’s simple!

How to enter: 
1. Follow @girlscouts on Instagram.
2. Upload a selfie using #gsCookieBoss and tagging @girlscouts.
3. Share how you’re a Girl Scout cookie boss by telling us how you overcome challenges, build your confidence, learn awesome new skills, and take the lead through your cookie sales.
4. Once you receive a confirmation message, claim your post to complete your entry.

All participants will be featured in a fun gallery, and five lucky winners will be randomly selected to win an awesome camera bundle pack and a special prize from Stella & Dot. Each winner will also be highlighted on our social channels and blog!

The sweepstakes will be open until March 24, 2017, and one winner will be selected weekly starting February 24.

Let’s do this!