Gold Award- Myth vs Fact

Written by Brynne Hall

The Girl Scout Gold Award is something that most Girl Scouts have heard at least once in their time as members, but only a small group end up achieving. It is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve has a girl member. One piece of the Gold Award is to address a root issue in the area of a girl’s choice. The root issue they will tackle could be anything from food insecurity to intergenerational relations to social injustice and everything in-between. The ultimate goal of a Gold Award project is to not only address a root issue, but to also allow girls to build and demonstrate their leadership skills in a positive way so they can continue to be leaders into adulthood.

Sounds pretty amazing right? On top of the benefits already mentioned, Gold Award Girl Scouts can receive special scholarships when pursuing secondary education. And Gold Award Girl Scouts interested in join the military are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade. Additionally, this distinction impresses many potential employers who are looking for individuals with initiative, creative problem solving skills and established leadership abilities.

While there are so many great things about earning your Gold Award as a Girl Scout, there are also many myths and misconceptions about the Gold Award and how to earn it.

So let’s break down a few of those to help our girls and volunteers better understand the world of Gold Award…

Myth: Girls can only earn their Gold Award if they have been a member of Girl Scouts since Daisies (K-1st grade).

Fact: Girls can join Girl Scouts at any time and still earn their Gold Award! We recommend starting your Gold Award in 9th or 10th grade (as a Senior Girl Scout) so you have plenty of time to complete the prerequisites (see next Myth) and your Gold Award project. We are happy to help girls who start later in their Girl Scout journey complete their Gold Award as well.

Myth: Girls have to earn their Bronze and Silver Awards before starting the Gold Award.

Fact: We have two prerequisite paths and girls must choose one of these paths before starting their Gold Award project:

            1. Two Senior or Ambassador-level journeys

            1. One Senior or Ambassador-level journey and Silver Award

Girls are given these options to ensure every Girl Scout can pursue their Gold Award if they way even if they have not received any previous higher awards. The goal of both journeys and the Silver Award is to teach girls the difference between community service and a Take Action project, which is the foundation of a Gold Award project. Girls need to understand how to identify and address a root issue and how to build that into a project, and through completing journeys and/or the Silver Award, they will progress much more easily into the Gold Award project expectations.

Myth: Girls can earn the Gold Award as a troop or group project.

Fact: The Gold Award is an individual award and therefore each Girl Scout must choose their own Gold Award project. While troop members and troop leaders can be a great support and are more than welcome to join a girl’s “Gold Award Team” it is important to note that the Gold Award is an individual award rather than a group project.

Myth: Girls can just choose their parent or troop leader as their Project Advisor

Fact: A Project Advisor should be a “subject matter expert” on the issue or topic being explored in a Gold Award project. We strongly encourage girls to connect with someone in their community to fill this role so they can find someone who can best support them throughout their project. Additionally it give the girls the opportunity to network outside of her immediate family and Girl Scout circle. 

Myth: Girls can raise money for another existing organization that they care about as their Gold Award project.

Fact: No, due to federal IRS regulations GSHPA has to follow as a non-profit organization, our members cannot raise funds for an outside organization. While they can collect physical items to donate (coats, toiletries, animal food, etc.), they cannot solicit monetary donations for an outside organization. The overall goal of the Gold Award is for girls to find creative and unique solutions for their project and show their leadership skills to address a root issue and this goes beyond collecting resources.

Myth: Girls have until their 18th birthday or high school graduation to complete their Gold Award projects.

Fact: Girls have until September 30th of the year they graduate high school to complete their project. Graduation year of 2021? You have until September 30th 2021 to complete your project.

Myth: You do not need prior approval to start your project and only need to submit a Final Report.

Fact: All Gold Award candidates MUST use GoGold for every step of their project, starting by submitting a Gold Award Project Proposal. Once submitted each proposal is reviewed by GSHPA’s Gold Award Management team. The team will then connect with the Gold Award candidate for a short interview to ensure she is set up for success. During this interview the GSHPA Gold Award Management Team will either approve the proposal or share feedback/suggestions needed to add before approval. Once the Gold Award project is formally approved the Girl Scout can begin! After completing her Gold Award project the girl will submit her Gold Award Final Report in GoGold for final review and approval before she is officially named a Gold Award Girl Scout. 

Myth: Girls and families have to be financially responsible for your project’s expenses.

Fact: No, there are many ways to fund your Gold Award project! The GSHPA Fund Development department can help create a plan for each girl pursuing her Gold Award to help her fundraise and find creative fundraising solutions. Girls can also use money earned through the Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs as well as approved additional money earning opportunities (the Gold Award Management team can help guide you on this).

Myth: Since the Gold Award is an individual project, the girl has to do everything alone.

Fact: No! It is important to note that there are many people who are there to support each Girl Scout through her Gold Award journey. While developing a Gold Award project girls will create a team of multiple individuals helping them along the way allowing them to further their leadership skills! The Gold Award team can include family, friends, fellow Girl Scouts, community members, etc. Additionally, the Project Advisor is there to help guide girls through obstacles and issues that may arise during their project. And don’t forget about troop leaders, parents, etc. which will be a Gold Award Girl Scout’s biggest cheerleaders along the way! And last, but not least the GSHPA Gold Award Management team is here to help! We can answer any questions you have, we will coach you throughout your project and can help you strategize if you have to change your project along the way. We will also be here to celebrate with you when you cross the finish line of your project!

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what Gold Award is all about!

Learn more and how to get started here .

And to reach out to the GSHPA Gold Award Management team, please contact mygoldaward@gshpa.org or 800-692-7816.

Fall Traditions: Girl Scout Promise and Law

Girl Scout Traditions provide both girls and adults with a sense of history, connection and belonging. One tradition at the very center of Girl Scouting is following the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law. Both the Girl Scout Promise and Law guide Girl Scouts through the mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  

Reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law can be easily included in most meetings, ceremonies, special events and virtual gatherings. They serve as great ways to check in with the troop about the true meaning of being a Girl Scout. While it is important to help the girls learn the Girl Scout Promise and Law it can also be a fun way to complete a step towards the Girl Scout Way badge as well!  

The Basics 

When saying the Girl Scout Promise you should start by making the Girl Scout Sign. To begin raise three fingers of the right hand then use your thumb to hold down the pinky finger. The three fingers represent the three parts of the promise.  

Girl Scout Promise (Learn and follow along with GSHPA Girl Scouts here)

On my honor, I will try:  
     to serve God* and my country, 
     to help people at all times,  
     and to live by the Girl Scout Law

*members can substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs  

Girl Scout Law (Learn and follow along with GSHPA Girl Scouts here)

   I will do my best to be 
       honest and fair, 
       friendly and helpful, 
       considerate and caring,  
       courageous and strong, and 
      responsible for what I say and do,  
     and to   
      respect myself and others,  
      respect authority, 
     use resources wisely, 
     make the world a better place, and  
     be a sister to every Girl Scout.
  

Here are 3 fun activities you can do to help your girls learn the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law!  

Girl Scout Paper Sign 

Materials: construction paper, GS Promise trefoil cut outs, scissors, tape/glue, pencils, and markers/crayons. 

Directions:  

  1. Each girl will need 1 piece of paper to start. They place their hand flat on the paper then begin tracing their hand with the pencil. Once traced they will want to cut it out.  If easier you can provide your girls with a preprinted/traced hand they can simply cut out instead!  
  1. Then fold/bend the pinky and thumb until they meet in the middle to create the Girl Scout Sign.  
  1. After that have your girls cut out and decorate trefoil cut outs which include the GS Promise.  
  1. Then tape/Glue both the hand and trefoil onto a piece of construction paper. After everything is attached they can also decorate their creation! 
  1. Afterwards have them over the promise individually or together so the girls learn it by heart. 
  1. Try making the hand gesture/symbol with their own hands, now that they see how it’s supposed to look with the paper! 

Girl Scout Law Popsicle Hanger 

Materials: 12 Popsicle Sticks (per girl), ribbon, colored pencils/crayons, a marker, and glue.  

Directions: 

  1. Once each girl has her materials, have her write the Girl Scout Law on the 12 Popsicle sticks with her marker.  
  1. After the writing out the Girl Scout Law, color each stick a different color. 
  1. When the Popsicle sticks are colored you will then glue them onto a piece of ribbon in the order they are said when reciting the Girl Scout Law. If you would like hang up your Girl Scout Law simply make a “U” shape out of the ribbon with the round curve at the top. Then add your Girl Scout Law sticks!  
  1. After the glue has dried encourage your girls to hang/place their creations somewhere at home!   

Girl Scout Law SWAPS  

While this activity will help your girls learn the Girl Scout Law, it also allows them to participate in another longtime Girl Scout Traditions: SWAPS. The term “SWAPS” is short for: a Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere and is an amazing Girl Scout tradition! Each Girl Scout will make their own SWAPS to exchange with other Girl Scouts promoting friendship and connection.  

Materials:  beads, safety pins, string, and a card with the Girl Scout Law (you can make your own or use this). We recommend using the corresponding bead colors included on this print out.  

Directions: 

  1. Each girl will get a copy of the Girl Scout Law, beads, a key ring and string. The girls should begin placing their beads on the string in the order they appear on the card. As they do this, explain each color and its corresponding line of the Girl Scout Law.  
  1. Once all the beads are in place, tie off the string and attach a safety pin to the top of the chain.  
  1. Afterwards encourage girls to hang onto their Girl Scout Law SWAP or try swapping it with other members in the troop!  

Investiture Ceremony

What is an Investiture Ceremony? 

An investiture is a traditional ceremony designed to welcome new members to the  

Girl Scout family —both girls and adults alike! An investiture ceremony makes for a great way to start the Girl Scout year. The primary focus is honoring the Girl Scout Promise and Law and it can be customized based upon the age and interests of the group. Since Girl Scouting is always girl-led it is important to let the girls influence the planning of this ceremony.  

The ceremony should have an opening or welcome, the main section which includes the investiture itself and a closing where you’ll leave the group with an inspiring takeaway.  

All investitures should include these 3 key elements: 

  • Recite the Girl Scout Promise, either individually or as a group. 
  • Receive the appropriate membership pin—the Girl Scout Daisy pin, Girl Scout Brownie pin, or Traditional Membership pin, depending on the girls in your troop. 
  • Be verbally welcomed into your troop and to Girl Scouting. You may choose to give the welcome to new members yourself, or returning girls might want to collectively give the welcome. 

What is a Rededication Ceremony?  

Rededication is the opportunity for girls and adults to renew their commitment to the Girl Scout Promise and Law. You can choose to do an investiture and rededication ceremony as one or two separate ceremonies. Just like the investiture ceremony, a rededication can also be easily customized your group. An example of this customization could be scheduling the celebration of this ceremony the week of Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday (October 31st) to highlight the legacy of Girl Scouts.  

Ceremony Example: How to Hold a Candle Light Investiture and Rededication 

Materials Needed:  

  • 1 Small Table 
  • 3 Large Candles (with holders) 
  • 10 Small Candles (with holders) 
  • Matches  
  • Girl Scout Pin for Each Girl/Adult Involved  

Room Set Up:   

  • Candles and matches should be placed on the small table (do not light)  
  • Troop/Group should stand in horseshoe formation  

Holding the Ceremony:  

Start by explaining the importance and meaning of investiture/rededication that we mentioned earlier.  

Then someone will begin to light the 3 large candles which represent the 3 parts of the Girl Scout Promise while reciting:  

  • Candle 1: “The first candle I light shall shine as a symbol that Girl Scouts try to serve God and their country.”  
  • Candle 2: May the light of the second candle shine as a symbol that Girl Scouts try to help people at all times. 
  • Candle 3: “May the light of the third candle shine as a symbol that Girl Scouts are true to their ideals as interpreted by the Girl Scout Law.” 

After that you will move on to the remaining 10 unlit candles, which each represent a part of the Girl Scout Law. As you begin you should assign a portion of the law to each candle so it can be recited when the candle is lit.  

You can now call forward girls/adults from the group to light a candle. If you do not have 10 or more participants you can have girls/adults light multiple candles. Just keep in mind the fire safety guidelines when asking girls/adults to take over the lighting of these candles.   

When ready the girls/adults should begin lighting their candle individually from one of the large candles. As the candle is lit the girl/adult should recite the part of the Girl Scout Law assigned to that candle.  

After the candles have been lit those being invested or rededicated should come forward. You should have the girls/adults (individually or as a group) say the Girl Scout Promise. Then the Troop/Ceremony Leader will pin the Trefoil (Membership Pin) on each girl and say: “This pin tells everyone you are a Girl Scout, I know you will wear it proudly.”  

One option is to pin the pin upside down. If so, the leader says: “I have put your pin on upside down. Do at least 3 good turns or deeds this week, one for each part of the Girl Scout Promise, and at our next meeting I will turn your pin upright.” The pin can also be pinned upright at the ceremony to skip this step if desired.  

Once pinned the leader and girl/adult will do the Girl Scout Handshake. If you want to see how to do the Girl Scout Handshake, check out our video here! The Troop/Ceremony Leader will then welcome the girl/adult to the Girl Scout organization and to the troop.  

After all the members have been invested or rededicated the Troop/Ceremony Leader says:  

“Girl Scouts, the three gold leaves of the trefoil hold a message as you start your journey through Girl Scouting. Today you are entering into an organization that will bring you joy as you work together, play together, seek together. The Trefoil Emblem points the way to sisterhood, friendliness and good citizenship.”  

At the end of the ceremony the group should saying the Girl Scout Promise all together.  

Veterans Day Message

“I have found a family here at Girl Scouts and I hope you do too.” That is something I recently told a new staff member when talking about working for this organization. For me, this family I have found has supported me through some rather challenging times. And this Veteran’s Day, I’m even more grateful for my Girl Scout family.

You see, I am part of a military family. My husband has served in the National Guard for the past 22 years with three deployments under his belt. But his position in the military has required so much more travel than just these deployments. I did a little math before I began writing and realized he has been gone, whether somewhere in the United States or overseas, for 32 out of the past 67 months. Why 67 months? That is how long I have been working here at GSHPA, and why this family has become so important to me.

We’re not the typical military family that has to move around a lot. We are a National Guard family. This means my children and I stay put while my husband goes where he is ordered. Sometimes it’s a weekend, sometimes a month, and most recently a year. My children and I are so lucky to have the stability of staying in one place, but that doesn’t make it easy either. One of the things that has helped has been GSHPA. The staff who have become family, the volunteers who have become friends, and the girls who continue to motivate and inspire, have made this military life so special.

Service is such an important part of what we teach our Girl Scouts. It is incorporated in almost everything we do, most visibly in the donations to the military through our Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs. But our girls’ support of our military men, women, and families goes far beyond those two programs.

My daughter’s troop and service unit have participated in several activities in support of our military. Her troop and service unit participate not because she and I are part of a military family, but because they truly care. Two years ago, they volunteered to line a local park with American flags for the arrival of a traveling 9/11 memorial. Walking around the memorial that week, I showed my daughter several soldiers who served alongside her father. As a wife and mother, these Girl Scouts gave me hope.

Her troop also donates cookies every year to a local combat veteran support group. The first time they dropped off cookies, the veteran who runs the support group told my daughter that he served with her father. Girl Scouts has helped her learn and appreciate not only the sacrifices of our service men and women everywhere, but also that of her own father.

I am always amazed and grateful for volunteers. For the time they dedicate to our mission, for the opportunities and lessons they provide for our Girl Scouts, and for the kindness they show to those around them. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with one of my volunteers, they always take the time to ask me how my family is doing. Volunteers ask because they know of our recent deployment and because they simply care. I wish I could explain just how much this means to me, but I cannot. That simple question means the world to me. Our volunteers have so many things on mind right now, but they always take the time to check on us. They truly are sisters to every Girl Scout.

Our Girl Scouts, girls and adults alike, support our military year round, in seen and unseen ways. Much like our military men and women, Girl Scouts do not seek recognition for their service and support. Veteran’s day is a day to recognize the service of military men and women. For me, Veteran’s Day can be a difficult reminder of the sacrifices my family makes for this service. It’s a life we chose and we wouldn’t have it any other way. And my Girl Scout family, my co-workers, volunteers, and girls, help make this life so much better!

This Veterans Day message is from Jess Mislinski, GSHPA’s Regional Director.

News: Volunteer Systems 2.0

Volunteer Systems 2.0 is COMING! 

VS 2.0 is better than ever! We are updating our systems to make them more user friendly for our members.  

Please note: Starting November 18 at 11:59 PM EST, Girl Scouts will begin system-wide updates that will temporarily restrict the ability to complete many volunteer and member related tasks and pause access to:  

  • Volunteer Toolkit (VTK)
  • gsLearn (volunteer online training platform)
  • myGS  
  • New membership registration/s and membership renewals
Virtual Events Calendar | Girl Scouts at Home

Things to consider: 

  • Troop leaders should download all meeting aids and/or resources needed for troop meetings or activities scheduled from November 18 – December 10. 
  • Troop leaders should consider any non-meeting or activity needs they may have during this time. For example, will you need your troop roster? 
  • All members and volunteers should watch for an email from Girl Scouts in early December announcing the debut of our refreshed member account management system, updated login information, and instructions on how to access their refreshed Girl Scout account. 

If you have questions about the new system please reach out to Member Services at 1-800-692-7816 or MemberServices@gshpa.org.  

5 Activities to Center Your Gratitude This Fall!

November is officially here and for many of us this month marks the beginning of the holiday season! Although many of our holiday plans may look different this year than they have in the past. We may not have the opportunities to connect with family and friends in the same ways. So it is important to keep in mind all the things we have to be thankful for and to practice gratitude with those around us!

Gratitude is being thankful for all the goodness in our lives. When we take the time to be grateful we are able to connect to those around us and acknowledge all the goodness in our lives. Research consistently shows that pausing to embrace gratitude allows people to feel positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, improves overall heath and aids in building strong relationships.

Keeping the importance of gratitude we wanted to give you some ideas to practice gratitude this holiday season!

  • Gratitude Pumpkin: A great activity that can be utilized all month long! All you will need is a pumpkin and a sharpie. You can write/draw something that you are thankful for each day on the pumpkin. At the end of the month you should have a pumpkin full of gratitude that will also serve as a perfect center piece for a holiday meal!
  • Gratitude Stones: Add your very own messages of gratitude to stones of all shapes and sizes! Afterwards these stones can be placed as reminders around the home, used as a holiday centerpiece, or placed outside for others to find. For this activity you will need rocks (large enough to paint on), paint, Modge Podge, and gratitude messages! Once you have the supplies just glue/paint your grateful messages on the rock and seal with a coat of modge podge.
  • Gratitude Tree: A great way to combine nature and gratitude! You will need sticks, pipe cleaners, a jar/vase, paper, string and a writing utensil. Start by creating a tree shape with your sticks, add pipe cleaners to hold it together and place it in your jar. Afterwards cut the paper in to leaf shapes and write messages of gratitude on each; you may also want to punch a hole in each leaf. Simply attach these leaves to your tree with string and your tree is ready! Gratitude trees make great holiday centerpieces!
  • Gratitude Scavenger Hunt: Scavenger hunts are always fun, but a gratitude scavenger hunt is fun with a purpose! This activity can be done all month, during a troop meeting, or at a holiday gathering. Make your own list or use ours.
  • Gratitude Conversation Starters: Talk to your loved ones about gratitude! Use these conversation starters around the table, before bedtime, to start a troop meeting, or wherever you find fit! If talking it out isn’t your thing- they could also be utilized as journal prompts. Make your own or use ours.

Whatever this holiday season brings for you, make sure to take time to acknowledge the goodness! We would love to hear what you are grateful for this holiday season.

4 Civics Lessons Girls Scouts Should Know

In the United States, every four years, those 18 years of age or older are given the opportunity to go to the polls to vote and elect a president. Pretty exciting, right? Is today, November 3rd, the only date Americans get to participate in our government? I hope you are answering no!

It is our job as US Citizens to spend time learning and researching the issues impacting our communities. Yes, adults are able to vote, but this is so much more to our government than just the presidential elections.

Long before Girl Scouts are old enough to vote they can be engaged in their local and national governments.

Girl Scouts offer a wide variety of citizenship badges to help girls learn how the government works and how they can be involved. We have grouped these lessons into four important topics that will help every one of all ages understand and feel comfortable engaging and voicing their opinions.   

The Rule of Law:

The United States works within the idea that we all follow the rule of the law. When starting to have law oriented conversations with your troop it is important to explain it in a way they will understand. A good way to start is to discuss how the laws have been created and how the law is enforced.  A great way of explaining it to girls in your troop can be through Girl Scout Badges.   

  • Badges to explore: Junior Inside Government

The Three Branches of Government:

It is best to think of the United States Government as a tree that has three branches to keep it balanced. The three branches work together to keep the tree upright and strong. So what are these three branches? First, we have the legislative branch who makes the rules. Second, the judiciary branch, which is comprised of judges who decide individual cases. And third, the executive branch which includes the president and agencies who carry out and enforce these laws. The three branches work together to protect the law. Additionally, it is important to note that these branches can be found at all levels of government including federal, state and local.

  • Badges to Explore: Democracy for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors

Influences on Government:

Today we live in a world where news is available 24 hours a day. It can be found everywhere we look, from television and the radio to the internet, mail, billboards, etc. It is clear that those sharing information in the news are very passionate about their beliefs.  Traditionally these beliefs and influences have the ability to change what issues are up for debate. When discussing this topic with your troops it is important to give them an understanding of how things such as media, money, etc. may affect the information they are seeing. It is important to have a well-rounded view and the badges included below will help you start those conversations with your troop.

  • Badges to Explore: Cadette Finding Common Ground, Cadette Netiquette, Senior Truth Seeker

Everyone Can Be Involved

It is important for Girl Scouts to be familiar and involved with their local, state and federal governments. Voting is not the only way to have an impact. Girls of all ages can learn about the causes they care about to form their own opinions. They can also write letters, visit elected officials and volunteer in the community to make an impact.

It is important to keep in mind how valuable each and every individual can be. In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, said that the government as a whole is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

So it is important for Girl Scouts to have these discussions with their families, friends and troops to learn and practice participating the government. If you would like additional ideas on how to start this process, please check out the badges included below or visit www.gshpa.org.

  • Badges to Explore: Ambassador Public Policy, Brownie Celebrating Community, Daisy Good Neighbor

Happy Birthday, Juliette – Happy Birthday, Daisy!

A birthday message from GSHPA President and CEO

Close your eyes and make a wish!

Have you ever blown out the candles on a birthday cake?  Most of us have.  I can remember the single candle on our oldest daughter’s first birthday cupcake, and the cake in full blaze at my grandmother’s last birthday celebration.   I can remember my childhood birthday cakes; my mom always let each of us choose our favorite and she would bake it – even if no one else liked it.  It always came from a box – add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, and 2/3 cup oil, but it couldn’t have tasted better.  My childhood birthday cake was always Butter Brickle with Heath Bar.   

When I had my own children, I did the same for them.  For all three, their childhood favorite was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.   When they were old enough to help bake, they made my birthday cake – and, of course, it was covered from top to bottom with sprinkles.  

After dinner, the candles were placed on the cake, the lights turned out and the match was struck. Then each candle was lit and the singing began.  “Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you. . .” And then – the wish.  “Make a wish!  Blow out the candles!”   

I think back to what Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called Daisy, might have wished for in her childhood. Did she wish to see the day when women might vote?  Did she wish for a movement that would last a century?  I think back to my own childhood birthday wishes.  Honestly I don’t remember any of them, even birthday wishes as an adult.  I am sure there were definitely years when I hoped for a particular present when I blew out the candles, but generally, I remember being caught off guard when my mom said, “Make a wish and blow out the candles.”   How could that be?  Every year, it is the same.  The lights go out, the singing begins, and I have to make a wish, yet, I never felt ready to do so.  

Perhaps, it’s because even as a child, I understood that wishes were just that: wishes.  A dream so light, airy and fun, but not likely to come true without something more.  Even as a child I somehow understood the saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”   Somewhere along the line, I learned that wishing isn’t enough.  You need a vision and you need a plan.  I think Juliette Gordon Low came to understand that as well. Her vision to see young girls become resilient and self-reliant women and her plan to do that one girl at a time started in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls. Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

So how do we further today’s Girl Scout vision of creating girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place? We still do it with a plan – one girl at a time, one leader at a time.   We each bring new girls to the movement.  We each help every girl to experience all the pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience from life skills to entrepreneurship to the outdoors, to STEAM.  We each participate in projects throughout our own communities as reflected in our highest awards of Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  And all of us live by the Girl Scout Law.  So that is my wish, but that is also my plan.   

On this, what would have been Juliette Gordon Low’s 160th birthday, I wonder what she might wish.   Today, on Juliette’s birthday let’s every one of us close our eyes and make a wish that every girl gets to experience Girl Scouts.  Better yet, let’s close our eyes and make a plan.  I think that’s what Juliette would wish.   

A birthday message from Janet Donovan, GSHPA’s President and CEO

Juliette Gordon Low’s Story

October 31st has many traditions and reasons to celebrate, but this date holds an extra special meaning to Girl Scouts across the world. The founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, was born on this day, so we celebrate it as “Founder’s Day” throughout the Girl Scout Community.  

In honor of this day, Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA would like to share a story with you – the story of Juliette Gordon Low.  

On a cool autumn night while kids explored the streets in search of treats and tricks on Halloween, Juliette was born on October 31, 1860 in Savannah, Georgia. At birth Juliette was named: Juliette Magil Kinzie Gordon, but was soon given a nickname. Her uncle saw baby Juliette and said she looks like a daisy, and quickly the rest of her family and friends began to call her “Daisy”, which stuck with her as an adult. 

As Juliette got older she had a need for adventure. She faced the world and its challenges head on, and was known for being compassionate and a strong sense of humor.  As a child she was quick to make friends and serve her community. Juliette attended a boarding school for most of her teenage years, but never forgot her roots. Juliette wanted to try her best to make a difference. While home from school Juliette saw a need for children’s’ clothes in her local community, so Juliette brought together a group of her friends and taught them to create clothes for the children in need. That was just one of her many adventures.  

Juliette was also known for being strong throughout life. As you may know Juliette was nearly deaf for most of her life. As a child Juliette developed countless ear infections which were eventually treated with silver nitrate, a new medical treatment, which resulted in Juliette losing almost all of her hearing in that ear. Juliette did not let that stop her, she accepted every challenge along the way. Juliette continued to stay active, excelling in tennis, swimming, horseback riding, and hunting throughout her life.  

In 1882 Juliette decided to travel to Europe for the very first time. While on this trip Juliette met William Mackay Low. William, also known as Willy, was the son of a successful cotton merchant named Andrew Low. Juliette and William would soon form a relationship and wanted to get married. Juliette’s family did not approve of William. Juliette’s father wanted her to marry an independent hardworking man, rather than one from a rich family. Against their families’ wishes Juliette and William were married on December 21, 1886. While exiting the church after the ceremony Juliette and William met with cheers and showered with rice. Unfortunately a grain of rice got stuck in Juliette’s ear and later when it was taken out, her eardrum was damaged, leaving her with more hearing loss.   

After they were married Juliette and William had two homes, one in Savannah, Georgia and the other in England so they could be close to family. Sadly, their marriage was not one of love and devotion, instead William began spending all the family money and found a girlfriend. Juliette left England to return to the United States during the Spanish-American War. Juliette joined her mother at the Florida hospital she was in charge of, giving aid to soldiers injured in battle. After the war Juliette and William’s marriage was close to ending, Juliette was in the process of divorcing William when he died of a stroke in 1905. When William died he left everything to his girlfriend.  

While Juliette experienced countless hardships and loss in her life, but she never gave up. As the years went on Juliette was involved in many activities, but didn’t find her true calling until she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell in 1911. After their meeting Sir Baden-Powell suggested that she work with a local group of girls in England and Scotland. After this experience with Baden-Powell’s organization Juliette quickly decided to bring a similar concept to the United States. When she returned home Juliette contacted her cousin and announced, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start tonight!”  

Juliette knew the importance of girls having a place to grow and flourish. On March 12, 1912 Juliette Gordon Low brought together 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia. Juliette broke many of the social conventions of the time when she started Girl Scouts, she wanted to provide all girls regardless of race, socioeconomic status or culture a group where they were welcome. Juliette strived to give all girls a place to develop their leadership skills.  

Over the years Juliette devoted her time, money and resources to expanding the organization. After three years the organization continued to grow, and it was in need of funds. While Juliette had a talent for fundraising she knew that additional sacrifices would need to be made towards the success of Girl Scouting. So in 1915 Juliette Gordon Low sold her dearly loved string of pearls for $8,000, which today would equate to $185,000.  

Through Juliette Gordon Low’s hard work, sacrifice and devotion Girl Scouting quickly grew and expanded. Today, Girl Scouts can be found across the global continuing to offer a safe environment for both girls and adult women to grow and flourish as individuals.  

Juliette Gordon Low died on January 17, 1927 after a long and private battle with breast cancer. After her death she was honored by the establishment of the “Juliette Low World Friendship Fund” which offers Girl Scouts and Girl Guides financial support towards international projects.  

In 1912 Juliette Gordon Low had a vision. It was her hope that one day all girls would have a place to feel comfortable, connected and challenged to develop as leaders and citizens.  

Today, Girl Scouts across the global, including Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, strive to continue her mission of creating girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  

Ready to Camp in the Cold?

Winter camping can be a challenge, but we are here to tell you that winter camping can be fun for any age Girl Scout! When getting ready for your Winter Camping Adventure, it is important to remember the first step of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare!  

Winter Camping Shelters 

  1. Quinzhee – Snow Shelters! 
    • A quinzhee is a snow cave, constructed from hollowed-out piles of snow.  
    • These winter shelters originate from the indigenous people of North America.  
    • Snow can be a great insulator and these shelters keep in heat and block the wind! 
    • See here for how your troop can make a – Quinzhee!  
  1. Tent 
    • Keep in mind the weather when choosing your tent!  
    • If the weather is cold, but little wind, then most tents work. 
    • If you will be camping during a snowstorm or blizzard, you will want a ‘four-season’ winter tent. 
  1. Indoor Camping: Cabin/Yurt 
    • Cabin or Yurt camping is the best choice for younger Girl Scouts (Daisy-Junior) or new campers as indoor camping provides a warm, snowless place to sleep. 
    • Check out your local and State Parks for indoor camping options!  
    • GSHPA properties also have a variety of options for winter camping at our four properties. 
    • Interested in renting out a GSHPA camp property? Click here! 

What to Pack:  

Before you set out on your camping trip, you need to prepare your supplies! The National Park Service lists the following “Ten Essential Items” recommended for all weather camping:   

Ten Essentials:

  1. Navigation 
  2. Sun Protection 
  3. Insulation 
  4. Illumination 
  5. First-Aid 
  6. Fire 
  7. Repair Kit/Tools 
  8. Nutrition 
  9. Hydration 
  10. Shelter 

When planning a winter camping adventure you will need a few additional items!  

  • Sleeping in the Cold 
  • Bring two sleeping bags or one sleeping bag specifically made for cold weather 
  • Down or synthetic sleeping bags work fine, but must be stored in a dry place to be most effective.  
  • Cold weather sleeping bags are insulated and reflect your body heat. 
  • Bring at least two sleeping pads 
  • Don’t be afraid to test your sleep system to ensure it is warm enough! We recommend trying it out in your backyard first! 
  • Additional items can be found by clicking here! 

What to Wear: 

  • Layers! 
    • When preparing for winter activities, layers are essential!  
      1. Base Layer 
        • This layer is should be tight to the body and quick to dry.  
        • It is important to avoid cotton in cold temperatures, as this absorbs moisture, like sweat, and it will not dry quickly! 
        • Nylon, wool, and polyesters are the best options!  
      2. Middle Layer 
        • A good option for the second layer is a lighter jacket, sweatshirt, or fleece.  
        • Remember, avoid cotton! 
      3. Outer Layer 
        • Your last layer will ultimately depend on the weather and outdoor conditions.  
        • Typically a waterproof jacket or insulated puffy jacket is best! 
        • And remember that insulation is important – it must protect you from the wind and precipitation in addition to keep you warm!  
  • Stay DRY! 
    • Keeping dry is essential!  
      • Wet and cold makes for cranky campers! So pack extra layers! 
    • Remember that a Girl Scout is always prepared. It is better to pack too many layers and not utilize them all, than to realize you do not have enough on hand.  
    • When you are done playing in the snow, make sure to change out of any wet clothes immediately and hang them to dry! 

Cooking and Fueling Your Body for the Cold 

Your body burns more calories than normal when trying to keep warm. You need to double your normal calorie intake when winter camping. 

  • We recommend foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  
    • And you should eat often!  
  • During winter activities, keep snacks with you to keep your body fueled and warm! 

Remember to stay hydrated too! We don’t always feel thirsty in the cold, but you can very easily become dehydrated on a cold day.  

  • Always keep at least one full water bottle nearby and drink water regularly.  
  • Insulated water bottles recommended! 
  • And include warm drink options 
  • Teas and hot chocolate, are great options to drink when campers come in from the cold! 

Benefits to Winter Camping  

  • Winter camping is a unique experience and provides several exclusive activities for you to try! 
    • Winter Hiking  
    • Winter Scavenger hunts  
    • Snowshoeing 
    • Cross Country Skiing 
    • Down Hill Skiing  
    • Sledding  
    • Winter Shelter Building 

Winter camping can be a great new adventure for you! Remember, you can always make changes based on your group’s needs, safety, and comfort. It’s all about having a positive outdoor experience! Enjoy your winter camping!