Tuesday, July 28, 2015

“Creating the World’s Future Leaders and Executives” by Ariana Freitag


Girl Scouts has provided me a lot of amazing opportunities. I am an Ambassador Girl Scout with Troop 583 in Austin, as well as the team captain of the GSCTX Lady Cans robotics team. I recently had the privilege of attending the sixth annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) in Berlin, Germany, and participating in the inaugural Youth Track module of the conference. Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, was a keynote speaker, and Dell Corporation, one of our major supporters, generously invited two Girl Scouts to attend with her. The conference is one of many of Dell’s initiatives to support the empowerment of women in business and technology and to reach girls and young women early to prepare them for their participation in the growing global economy.

The conference was attended by over 150 female entrepreneurs and executives from all over the world, who took advantage of the opportunity to network and connect with resources to help them expand their businesses. Being in the rising technology hub of Berlin—networking with adults and other kids, attending workshops on subjects ranging from presentation skills to product marketing—was truly amazing. I also got to spend a day sightseeing around the city. Along with the amazing technology everywhere, the modern architecture was outstanding.

The Youth Track at DWEN was attended by over 20 young people from diverse backgrounds. The program was developed by two amazing young women, Jordan Howard and Cynthia Hass, Youth Innovation Advisors for Dell. The Youth Track was focused on educating participants about the process of developing our own start-up and pitching it to potential investors. We went from brainstorming ideas to creating a three-minute pitch presentation in just two days. We also attended workshops on creating concise pitches and heard from the adult entrepreneurs about their experiences as business owners and innovators. After a lot of hard work I presented my startup idea as a closing presentation to the DWEN attendees. This was one of the most awesome things I have ever done, and after that moment I was even more certain that I wanted to become an entrepreneur, own my own business, and be its CEO.

Getting to meet the CEO of Girls Scouts of the USA was pretty cool, too, and having a private chat with her was not just exciting but also impactful. Anna Maria Chávez’s keynote speech about the importance of Girl Scouts left me feeling inspired to keep supporting girls in both Girl Scouts and around the world. I share her belief that empowering young women is “not a job, but a mission.” She continually called us, the two Girl Scouts in attendance, her bosses, and she is always open to hearing feedback from any Girl Scout. I even got an “Eagle One” patch—Ms. Chavez’s signature patch—to put on the back of my sash so I could remember this moment forever.

Looking back at my experience at DWEN, I am so grateful I got the opportunity to represent Girl Scouts at such an amazing event. Girls have so many opportunities available to them, they just need exposure to what’s out there and the chance to build the skills that will enable them to meet the challenges ahead. Any girl can be an entrepreneur if she wants to. Events like DWEN provide exposure to valuable information and networking opportunities, and prepare young girls to become the innovative CEOs of tomorrow. I hope that one day I will attend DWEN as an executive and that I will see more Girl Scouts at the Youth Track as well. 

"Give your girl the opportunity to have new experiences like this that will help her shine. Enter your zip code here to learn more."
Saturday, July 25, 2015

5 Camp Songs Every Girl Scout Should Know

girl scout songs, camp songs, best camp songs

Camp season is approaching! While many are loading up their overnight bags, preparing their favorite fireside snacks, and picking out their favorite swimsuits, we’re all about the camp songs that’ll be ringing in the air very soon. To prepare our campers for the ultimate sing-along session, we asked our Facebook audience for the best Girl Scout camp songs. Here are the Top 5—check them out and see if your favorite is among them.

And while you're singing along, don't forget to sign up for camp for 2016 - our handy Camp Finder can help. Happy singing!

Download the lyrics to Kookaburra here.

  Download the lyrics to the Brownie Smile Song here.

Download the lyrics to Linger here.

Download the lyrics to Princess Pat here.

Download the lyrics to Make New Friends here

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Guest Blogger: Girl Scout Zahra Hajee Wins Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship!

I started a makeshift school for my siblings during our summers in Texas, when it was essential for us to find games that could conquer the frequent spells of heat and boredom. Role playing “university” lessons in our kitchen was initially an amusing way to cope with the sweltering heat. However, as the classes continued into the fall, I began to receive a tremendous amount of satisfaction in watching my siblings innovate. There were times when they would attempt to solve a complex puzzle, and I would suddenly watch the light go on in their heads. It was almost a physical reaction; I could see the eyes open, the neck snap back, the pulse quicken. It was this moment of understanding I longed for in each class, and one of the most vivid memories that resonated with me as my high school career began and Kitchen Counter University came to an end.

Although my household teaching career had ceased, my passion for critical thinking had not. In college, I aspire to research how we make connections, retain information, reason, and learn, and use these findings to impact our current educational system through cognitive intervention technologies. Through opportunities such as undergraduate research fellowships and support from faculty and like-minded colleagues, I can attain the ideas, network, and stimulating environment to make these dreams a reality.

Because of the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship, I will not only be able to follow my passions, I will also be challenged to embrace different fields and perspectives in a world of specialization. As a college student and innate entrepreneur, I will have the experience of being at the helm of my educational journey while taking risks, learning from failure, and making a unique and lasting contribution to the local and global community.

And this is what Girl Scouts is all about. Programs like Girl Scouts and the Alcoa Scholarship provide the resources for students to explore the best ways to better themselves and impact their communities. With this scholarship and my entire college career ahead of me, I am ready to learn, innovate, and show the world what I am made of.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 63 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $615 million. In 2014, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2014, 58 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 700,000 people and 500 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.alcoafoundation.com.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Alumna Spotlight: Sarah Kauss from S’well

When Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO of S’well Bottle, was starting her fashionable, eco-friendly water bottle business, she drew on her Girl Scout experiences for inspiration. “Being outdoors so much at Girl Scouts really gave me an appreciation of the environment. I’m sure that had something to do with starting a stainless steel reusable bottle company that would be better for the earth than plastic bottles! I’m sure if you dug into my psyche and tried to find the base reason for what I do, that early inspiration, a big part of it would be Girl Scouts.”

Now, with S’well bottles available in 35 countries, Sarah relies on the confidence and selling skills she first learned selling Girl Scout Cookies. “Regardless of career, there isn’t a job today where you aren’t selling. How to engage and tell someone about your product and get them to say yes—the confidence you need to sell cookies is the same confidence you need to sell to J. Crew."

Sarah credits Girl Scouts with more than just helping her hone her sales skills. It also inspired a love of travel. “We were always fundraising to take some wild trip to Montreal or to a Girl Scout Jamboree,” she says “I spent four summers traveling with the Wider Opportunities program to different states, and it showed me just what a big world there is out there. I was bit by the travel bug. It gave me so much confidence to get on a plane by myself to travel to Tennessee or North Carolina. I think Girl Scouts inspired my love of the west. I went to Wyoming on a Wider Opportunities program and loved the mountains. I went to college in Colorado and then later moved to California, and that was all inspired by that first trip west from my home in Florida.”

Sarah’s most memorable Girl Scout experience—among many happy memories—was a trip to Wyoming. “I met girls from all over the country. It felt like we were on a great adventure together, transported to some far-away land.”

Looking back at her Girl Scout journey as an adult and successful entrepreneur, Sarah says she is grateful for all of the different experiences she had as a Girl Scout—starting as a Brownie and continuing through high school. “The world can be hard, but there are so many paths at Girl Scouts. I was an intern at a TV station through Girl Scouts. I thought I wanted to be a reporter, but it wasn’t right for me. Girl Scouts lets you dabble in lots of different things and find yourself. I really love Girl Scouts and believe in what Girl Scouts does for girls. If I have any daughters someday, they will also be Girl Scouts!”

Are you a Girl Scout alumna? Register today and reconnect with this great Movement! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Outdoor Safety Tips: Poisonous Plants

Summertime is full of adventure, with endless options for getting outside. For those who enjoy exploring the great outdoors, safety is especially key. As you make your way through the wilderness (or just your own backyard) be mindful not only to protect our precious planet, but also yourself! There are many potential dangers out there, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips on how you can identify "safe" plants and those plants you should steer clear of. Happy trails!

Poison Ivy: “Leaves of three, let it be.”
This plant has solid-green pointed leaves that have a smooth and shiny surface and usually grow in groups of three. It can grow as a vine or have more of a shrub-like appearance. The exact look of poison ivy will change depending on the season, displaying yellow flowers in spring and yellow/red leaves in autumn.

Poison Oak:
This itchy plant also grows in threes,   but may also be found in groups of five or seven. Its leaves are similar in shape to oak tree leaves, but not as defined , and they have a hairy texture. Poison oak usually resembles a shrub, but it may also look like a vine.

Poison Sumac:
This rash-inducing troublemaker thrives in the water, so you are more likely to find it in swampy areas. The green leaves grow in groups of sevens to thirteen. Beware!

Tips for protection:
Keep covered. Long sleeves and pants are a great way to protect your skin from accidental contact with poison plants when camping or hiking.

Wash wash wash! If you think you came into contact with one of the above plants, wash with soap and water as soon as possible. No soap and water available? Alcohol wipes are also a great option and fit easily in a pocket for on-the-go needs.

If a rash develops, don’t scratch it! Scratching only spreads the rash. 

Of course, if you have any concerns about your health after coming into contact with one of these plants, we recommend contacting your physician. 

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Girl Scout Inspires Change with Japanese Cultural Festival

Meet high school senior Natalie Anzivino, who knows a thing or two about honor and the importance of taking action to inspire community change. Through her Gold Award project, Natalie brought an entire community together in celebration of Japanese culture by creating an annual cherry blossom festival in Huntington Beach, California.

With the support of the Sister City Association and the City of Huntington Beach, Natalie organized, planned, and executed the First Annual Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival in 2014. She brought together Japanese performers, food vendors, cultural exhibits, and craft and game booths for the event, in addition to recruiting Girl Scout troops and local high school volunteer groups to run the craft and game booths.

 Photograph by Gregory Robertson and courtesy of Historic Wintersburg.
The 2014 festival was such a success that the city made it an annual event. The Second Annual Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival was held in March 2015 and drew 5,000 attendees, with twice the number of exhibitors. Due to the astounding success of the original event, a delegation of city officials from Anjo, Japan (Huntington Beach’s “sister city”) attended this year to participate in a cherry tree planting ceremony, honoring the relationship and ties between the two communities.

In addition to increasing awareness about Japanese culture and the importance of cultural exchange, Natalie’s project inspired other students interested in community service to give back. Each year, the program will be managed by selected student ambassadors.

“I was inspired by the change in perspective that occurred within the community as a result of the festival I organized,” Natalie said. “One man that was interviewed at the event was of Japanese descent and he relished the opportunity to show his children some of their heritage that they had not experienced until the festival came along. I was proud to have created awareness of these cultural traditions and believe strongly that celebrating different cultures within our community strengthens us all.”

Girl Scouts helps girls like Natalie become the leaders they are meant to be and take action to impact their community. That’s why we launched the ToGetHerThere campaign, the largest fundraising campaign for girls in history. We know that when you invest in girls, they change the world. With Girl Scouts by their side, our girls will develop the courage, confidence, and character they need to reach their fullest potential and transform their world.
Thursday, July 2, 2015

Girl Scouts Advocates for Action to Help Girls Overcome Obstacles to Leadership

Girl Scouts advocates in support of girls at all ages of development growing into leaders, in their own life and in the world. And new research released June 30, 2015, at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (#DWEN) Summit brings fresh awareness to the ongoing global challenges female entrepreneurs face, and the need to support girls in filling the entrepreneurial pipeline so they can be the leaders of tomorrow.

Dell’s Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard found that gender-based differences hold high-impact female entrepreneurs back in all 31 countries in the study, and that leadership roles remain male-dominated, making it less likely girls or aspiring young female entrepreneurs would know a woman entrepreneur. This is where Girl Scouts comes in!

Anna Maria Chávez, our national CEO and the keynote speaker at the #DWEN Summit, says “Every day, I get to see and hear of all the incredible things that girls are doing in their troops to make the world a better place.  From individual Gold Award projects that focus on poverty, human rights, or sustainable energy, to entire troops working on robotics teams, I see the limitless capacity of girls and our youth to change the world, and it reminds me of the importance and impact of our mission.”    

Studies by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) on girls’ attitudes, well-being, and healthy development, such as The State of Girls: Unfinished Business and Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, show that while progress has been made for girls across the US with regard to their educational attainment, challenges persist, such as a lack of confidence in their leadership potential and inadequate access to the resources they need to succeed. These study insights heighten the imperative to support girls—not just for their or their families’ benefit, but also for the healthy growth of the world economy.

Such challenges remain considerable when it comes to girls establishing and fully developing their leadership potential in areas that interest them. According to recent GSRI studies, girls have limited exposure to STEM fields and shy away from careers in politics. Moreover, leadership isn’t a top goal for many girls. These findings show that while girls do have interest in fields that have been traditionally male-dominated, a gap exists in their confidence in their ability to succeed in them, as they perceive a number of societal obstacles standing in their way. 

As we all know, Girl Scouts continues to advocate for action to help girls overcome obstacles to leadership—from working to affect public policy and offer programs for all girls, including the underserved, to generating visibility through social media dialogue and public speaking by Anna Maria Chávez, who says “We have an obligation to demonstrate the power of our voice and the value of our perspective, by serving as pioneers and role models for today’s young girls. Communities, business leaders, and governments all over the world must stand up and recognize the reality that sits at the very core of the Girl Scout mission—that girls matter.” 

We couldn’t agree more, Anna!

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!