GSHPA prepares to host third annual STEAM Summer Kickoff event

Girls called for more engineering, nature and science programming and GSHPA answered!

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scout crafting.
A Girl Scout stays focused during a STEAM gemology session.

If there is one thing Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) prides itself on, it is being a girl-focused organization that strives to meet the wants and needs of its member base. For this reason, GSHPA is excited to announce that it will be hosting its third annual STEAM Summer Kickoff virtual event June 13-17 to provide more free STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) programming to girls because…well because they asked for it!

After surveying girl members in 2021, GSHPA discovered they were particularly interested in learning more about engineering, nature and science. In addition to providing great educational resources about these topics, STEAM Summer Kickoff also provides opportunities for girls to stay involved and make new friends during a time when many troops are taking a break from meeting.

Girl Scouts crafting.
Girl Scouts show off their crane design made during a STEAM engineering session.

“We want to stay girl-led, we don’t want to just pick and choose,” said Katie Wilbur, GSHPA Program Coordinator. “We try to make sure the programs are what the girls are interested in.”

With this in mind, GSHPA made the STEAM Summer Kickoff’s theme STEAM Career Exploration to help girls explore each facet of STEAM. The program will see girls learn how they can follow their own unique interests and passions to develop a successful career later in life. Embodying this sentiment will be keynote speaker Victoria Kageni-Woodward, Gusa owner and York-based fashion entrepreneur, who will kick off the week-long event by sharing her story of how she turned her passion for clothing design into her livelihood.

Girl Scout drawing.
A Girl Scout shares her animal drawings made during a STEAM winter animal program.

Led by Pennsylvania-based GSHPA Program Partners, short-term volunteers and GSHPA staff, girls will hear from professionals who are experts in their respective STEAM fields about topics such as native mammal wildlife, how to pitch an entrepreneurial idea, the impact of bees on our ecosystems and much more. Girls will have the opportunity to interact with these working professionals during the live sessions every day at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., as well as participate independently with take-home worksheets and activities they can do on their own time.

Girl Scout cooking.
A Girl Scout makes a delicious French toast dish during a STEAM Master Chef session.

GSHPA’s goal is to show girls that learning and participating in activities they enjoy does not need to end when the STEAM Summer Kickoff event wraps for the week. Many Program Partners provide opportunities to continue learning and staying active with their group through events they host. For example, Program Partner Whitewater Challengers will be offering a Raft-O-Ree Weekend for girls to attend that same weekend to follow their water and boating interests.

“Don’t let this learning stop this week, this is only one piece of the puzzle. You learn about it and apply your interests and we provide the tools for girls to keep doing it,” Wilbur said.

As a virtual series, STEAM Summer Kickoff provides flexibility for participants – girls are encouraged to sign up for all sessions that interest them, but aren’t required to attend every session. And with two sessions a day in both the morning and evening, girls will still have plenty of time in the afternoon to get outside and enjoy the warm weather without missing a beat!

Girl Scout eating ice cream.
A Girl Scout enjoys a sweet treat with her friends, made during one of GSHPA’s STEAM programs.

“It’s a great way for Girl Scouts to communicate with girls from all over the state. If girls aren’t Girl Scouts, this is a great way to see the culture and get a taste of it,” Wilbur said.

STEAM Summer Kickoff registration is open now and free to ALL girls from anywhere in the U.S. Check out the list of featured programs, mark your calendars and get ready to watch your girl explore just how far her passion can take her!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Camp Small Valley: Your best bet for a traditional Pennsylvania outdoor experience

With yurts, a swimming pool, programming space and more, Camp Small Valley delivers for those looking for a limitless outdoor adventure.

By Catherine Amoriello

The wait is finally over – spring is here and summer is just around the corner! As we pack away our winter attire and welcome back our flip flops and swimsuits, girls from near and far are getting ready to attend Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) Summer Camps in Adams, Dauphin, Lancaster and Susquehanna counties. But here’s a little secret many don’t know – girls aren’t the only ones who can have fun at a GSHPA campground!

While GSHPA camp properties are home to many girls for Girl Scout events and camps, any individual, school group or small club/hobby group is welcome to rent GSHPA camp properties for their needs. In an effort to share all the great opportunities GSHPA camps offer to EVERYONE, we’re hosting a camp property blog series throughout the month of May! In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to feature each GSHPA camp property and fill readers in on everything from lodging options to activities offered to features that can be found at all four properties.

From veteran outdoor thrill seekers, to Live Action Role Play (LARP) lovers, to novice campers looking to ease into the outdoors – you have a home at GSHPA camps.


We’re kicking off this blog series by featuring GSHPA’s largest campground, Camp Small Valley. Nestled in the mountains of Dauphin County, Camp Small Valley totals 792 acres with lodging options including cabins, tent platforms, yurts and lodges. This campground is home to GSHPA’s resident campers during the summer, providing a dining hall with a full commercial kitchen to meet the needs of longer-term stays.

Camp Small Valley has a lot to offer groups of various interests and needs with a few standout characteristics. Read on to learn why visitors can’t get enough of this limitless outdoor adventure option!

Camp Small Valley is the only GSHPA camp with yurts.
Girl Scout Camp Small Valley yurts.
Camp Small Valley’s yurts are a great lodging option for any group.

The camp’s yurts are its most popular lodging option and serve as a unique draw to the camp property. Yurts are circular-dome structures with walls that are built on platforms, a design that dates back nearly 3,000 years to Central Asia. The yurts comfortably accommodate larger groups and are available to rent any season making them an ideal lodging option year-round. GSHPA will be building two more yurts at the camp within the next year after having received funds allocated by the Dauphin County Commissioners.

Camp Small Valley is the only GSHPA camp with a pool.

The camp’s main pool is 30×70 feet and includes a shallow end about three feet deep and a deep end about seven feet deep. Featuring a zero-depth entry into a splash pad area two feet deep, the camp provides a perfect place for visitors to cool off, no matter their swimming abilities. A major plus? The pool overlooks beautiful Pennsylvania mountains serving up photo-worthy landscapes.

Camp Small Valley’s Star Center serves as a perfect space for programming.

The camp’s Star Center building includes a spacious downstairs crafts center. The activity space can provide up to 30 people with chairs and table area, providing a great space for program-led groups. Crafters, artists, gamers and experimenters – the Star Center is your creative haven!

Camp Small Valley provides endless opportunity for adventure.

The camp’s size makes it home to a variety of outdoor activities including swimming, archery, hiking trails, a climbing wall, tree/high ropes courses and so much more. Camp Small Valley’s land is also part of a conservancy with Manada Conservancy, and the camp is near Weiser State Forest and the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art making it a great option for individuals seeking additional outdoor excursions.

Is Camp Small Valley the camping option for you? Make a reservation now and start planning your next adventure!

Stay tuned next week for our next feature in our camp property blog series where we’ll explore Camp Archbald in Susquehanna County!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Daisy Girl Scout serves as motivational figure for ‘lead by example’ Harrisburg city cleanup event

Girl Scout Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa share their experience with gun violence to inspire others to create a safe community.

By Catherine Amoriello

It’s a chilly Saturday in April as I make my way up the steep slopes of Reservoir Park in Harrisburg. I follow the narrow, winding roads until suddenly the park pavilion comes into view. As I approach, the wind is brisk and biting and the clouds threaten rain. The only reprieve comes from brief bursts of sunlight through the clouds.

Reservoir Park pavilion in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Volunteers gathered at the Reservoir Park pavilion in Harrisburg for a community cleanup event April 9.

Despite the very unspring-like weather, a large group of adults and children assembles outside the pavilion. As I weave my way through the assemblage and reach the steps of the building, my eyes finally find what I’ve been seeking – a Girl Scout Cookie booth.

Not far from the booth I spot its owner, her identity given away by her bright blue Daisy vest which she wears proudly over a pink and purple ombré coat and a purple headband to match. Seven-year-old Aubriella darts about the pavilion, eager to join the group forming outside. Although selling Girl Scout Cookies is important work, Aubriella is also at the park to participate in a “lead by example” community cleanup.

Girl Scout selling cookies.
Daisy Girl Scout Aubriella hosts a cookie booth at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.

The cleanup has brought Harrisburg community members together, many of them children, to disperse throughout the city streets to pick up trash. Tone Cook, founder of anti-gun violence group Michael’s Memory, organized the event to give children a safe space to socialize and show them they have power to influence change in their communities, including helping to decrease gun violence. It provides adults the opportunity to show their younger counterparts how to make an impact, which the children can then pass along to their peers.

I join Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa at a picnic table covered with snacks and treats for the volunteers. Aubriella sits between us, and while she’s straining to keep the cleanup crew in her sights so as not to miss her opportunity to join them, she kindly gives me the time of day (much in thanks to Landolfa’s prodding). After proving to Aubriella that I can indeed spell her name with my eyes closed, we take a more serious turn to explore one of the reasons she and Landolfa are in attendance at the cleanup event today – to share their own recent experience with gun violence.

In early March, Aubriella and Landolfa set up their first cookie booth outside of a store in Steelton. As they were selling cookies, gun shots rang out nearby, prompting Landolfa to rush Aubriella inside the store for cover.

There was fighting in the parking lot and then someone had a gun, Aubriella recounted.

One would think this act of violence would cause Aubriella to host her booth elsewhere, or maybe even close up shop for good. But in true Girl Scout fashion, Aubriella tapped into her bravery and returned to the store another day to reestablish her booth.

“She was scared, but we had made a commitment. It’s her first year in Girl Scouts,” Landolfa said of their decision to return to the site. “I felt like that wasn’t something that normally happens in our community. We set a goal so we had to go back out.”

Girl Scout and mom selling cookies.
Michelle Landolfa supports Aubriella as she sells Girl Scout Cookies at the cleanup.

Landolfa was unprepared for the community support Aubriella would receive. With an initial goal of selling 50 boxes of cookies during her first Girl Scout Cookie Season, Aubriella sold more than 3,200 boxes.

“We had the mayor come out, the fire department…We received very overwhelming support. They [Steelton community] have such a huge heart. They came out and really supported her,” Landolfa said.

I’m hardly surprised when Landolfa tells me she’s also a former Girl Scout. Upon meeting her she holds her tall frame with confidence, rocks her edgy teal hair slicked back in a chic ponytail and her brown eyes are bright with kindness and warmth. Her own experience as a Girl Scout and a lack of available local programming for children is what brought her and Aubriella to Girl Scouts.

“She’s really young, not a lot of schools have much programming for inner city kids. That’s why we got involved,” Landolfa said. “She’s really grown so much since she’s been in Girl Scouts.”

As our conversation nears its end, volunteers begin gathering inside the pavilion. Cook takes a moment to speak about how the cleanup is one of many stepping stones to creating a safe and beautiful community. He reminds the adults of their responsibility as role models to not just tell children to make a difference, but to show them how to make a difference. Many in the crowd nod their heads and audibly confirm their agreement.

Girl Scout with mom.
Aubriella shares her story of resilience and mission to lead by example with community members.

Eventually, Cook waves Aubriella forward to stand before the volunteers. He asks her to share why she’s at the cleanup today. Her eyes dart across the crowd, taking in the faces and cell phones all pointed in her direction. She shifts nervously on her feet, and although quiet, she speaks.

“I’m going to be a good example. I’m going to clean up the park.”

Cook further clarifies Aubriella’s intent. “She’s going to be cleaning up to make a safe space for other kids in the community.”

Other children are then called to stand alongside Aubriella. Some appear as young as 2 years old, others are in their teens. Cook motions to the young group.

“This right here is what’s going to lead us.”

Girl Scout cleaning up the park.
Aubriella joins volunteers to participate in the community cleanup.
Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girls and volunteers gather at Pennsylvania College of Technology for Girl Scout Tree Promise event

Girl Scouts will plant, protect or honor 5 million trees by 2025

By Kristian Beverly

The weather on May 1 didn’t seem like the ideal weather to plant 400 trees. It was overcast, chilly, muddy and rainy. Those four adjectives could conquer the confidence of a girl – if they weren’t Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts Tree Planting sign at Penn College.

Over 80 girls traveled to Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Earth Science Campus in Allenwood, Pa., for the Girl Scout Tree Promise event. Some came in troops and others attended with their families. The Girl Scout Tree Promise is a nationwide movement to plant, protect or honor five million trees by 2025.

Before the event started, girls registered and received a pair of Penn College/GSHPA branded gloves and a Penn College drawstring bag from GSHPA staff.

GSHPA employees pose with some of the items for girls.

After registering, girls created necklaces and bracelets while others opted to explore around the pavilion.

Around 1 p.m., the rain stopped. Attendees were welcomed and given instructions for the day by organizers.

Each attendee received native trees or shrubs to plant. There were many types of trees or shrubs to be had, along with friends to see.

The girls learned how to plant bare root trees or shrubs. The ones with long roots had them shortened so they could adjust easier to their new home. Once they understood the planting steps, the girls used teamwork and hard work to plant and anchor their plants.

Trees were covered and stabilized to protect them from wildlife such as deer.

After planting, attendees could complete environmental activities created by Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture visited with their The WoodMobile. Through interactive activities, children and adults learned about the impact of trees.

Thank you to everyone that attended to plant trees! It was definitely a success!

Kristian Beverly is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in digital media for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Mission Moment Recap – April

Girl Scouts in Dauphin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Monroe, Perry and York counties give back to the community and wrap up Cookie Season.

*All Mission Moment information is submitted by volunteers/members. Should you have any questions regarding a submission, please email

By Catherine Amoriello

We love getting to see all of the great things our Girl Scouts are doing in their local communities! In April, our girls were busy making an impact by donating items to animal shelters, addressing period poverty, learning ways to reduce trash waste and so much more.

Girl Scouts work with state police to capture Cookie Thief

Girl Scouts from Troop 10970 in Perry County helped the Pennsylvania State Police interrogate, apprehend and hand-cuff the Cookie Thief! The girls participated in the investigation to earn their Detective Girl Scout Badges. They learned about DNA, finger printing, finger-print lifting, investigation techniques and more.

Daisy Girl Scouts provide supplies for animals seeking “furever” homes

Daisy Girl Scouts from Troop 11339 in Dauphin County collected donations for the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area. After delivering the donations, humane society staff gave the girls a tour of the shelter.

Girl Scouts use cookie booths to help meet troop goal

Girl Scouts from Troop 51005 in Monroe County hosted several cookie booths to raise money for a trip to NYC in June. The girls’ determination was evident as they braved snow, rain and wind to keep their booths open!

Older Girl Scouts get creative with unique cookie booth theme

Girl Scouts from Troop 20443 in York County got innovative with their cookie booth to attract customers. Believing they lack the “cute factor” of younger Girl Scouts, the older girls created a theme and used inflatables to make their booth stand out to customers. Their efforts proved successful as many customers were drawn in by their creativity.

Senior Girl Scouts address period poverty with successful donation drive

Senior Girl Scouts from Troops 10235 and 10238 in Dauphin County held a supply drive and made period product packs to address period poverty. The Take Action Project resulted in more than 7,000 individual items being donated to the Healthy Steps Diaper Bank which sponsors the program.

Girls gather to make Earth Day crafts in York

Girl Scouts participating in the Extended Community Outreach Program in York County spent one of their weekly meetings making an Earth Day craft. The girls also did some coloring, played a few rounds of bingo and welcomed new girls who were attending the program for the first time.

Girl Scouts “MacGyver” cookie lift to deliver to second-floor resident

Girl Scouts from Troop 70070 in Lancaster County made a special Girl Scout Cookie delivery to a second-floor resident so they wouldn’t have to come down the stairs.

Girl Scouts below window selling cookies.
Girls sell out of cookies with help of Lancaster pet store

Girl Scouts from Troop 70070 in Lancaster County had a successful last cookie booth at Finnegan Farms in Lancaster. Finnegan Farms’ owner even dressed up as a dog to help the girls attract more customers. By the end of the day the girls were sold out of cookies.

Girl Scouts selling cookies at Finnegan Farms in Lancaster, PA.
Troop studies litter patterns to help reduce waste in community

Girl Scouts from Troop 50866 in Lackawanna County participated in a community clean up and litter study with Valley Community Library and the Sierra Club. The girls helped collect more than three bags of trash, two and a half bags of recyclables and multiple large items from a local park. The girls counted litter to study what is being dropped in the community where they live to learn how to reduce waste and educate the community.

Girl Scouts picking up trash and litter.
Daisies learn how to give back with funds earned from Cookie Season

Daisy Girl Scouts from Troop 10729 in Dauphin County decided to use some of their Cookie Season proceeds to give back to Chambers Hill United Methodist Church’s food pantry. The girls decided how much of their cookie proceeds to use and went shopping for items using the church’s needs list, such as cereal, pasta and sauces.

Girl Scouts shopping.
Brownies and Juniors grant animal shelter “wishes” with money raised during Cookie Season

Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 10286 in Dauphin County used some of their proceeds from Cookie Season to give back to the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area. The girls shopped for items on the organization’s wish list such as cat food, litter, treats, hay and toys. The troop enjoyed getting to decide how to use their funds for good.

Girl Scouts shopping.

Do you have a Girl Scout Mission Moment to share? Submit it now so we can showcase your passion and hard work in next month’s recap!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

A look back: Our 2022 Girl Scout Cookie Season

By Catherine Amoriello

Girls, volunteers and parents/caregivers of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) – WE DID IT! We made it through yet another successful Girl Scout Cookie Season. And not only did our girls persevere through challenges thrown their way, but they increased their total number of packages sold from last year!

In March, GSHPA asked girls to share their cookie booth adventures with us on social media and girls delivered! What better way to end the sweetest time of the year than through a recap of all the amazing cookie booths our girls led this season?

Cadette Troop 20322

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Juliette SU 715

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 10645

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 10734

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 11410

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 11411

Troop 20030

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 20393

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 21229

Troop 22125

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 32105

Troop 32109

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 32725

Troop 32727

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 33013

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 33203

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 50603

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 50829

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 51005

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 51441

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 52144

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 52286

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 52299

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 60041

Troop 60413

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 70110

Troop 70430

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 70479

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 71348

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 80065

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 80088

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troop 80338

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troops 32525 and 33203

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troops 40377, 40374 and 40375

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Troops 70417 and 70050

Girl Scouts at Girl Scout Cookie Booth

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

HRG’s Erin Letavic shows the value in being a STEM problem solver

A civil engineering senior project manager in Dauphin County shares her journey in STEM.

By Catherine Amoriello

Erin Letavic, Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. (HRG)
Erin Letavic, Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG)

STEM – we see this word everywhere nowadays, and for good reason. Nearly everything we use is a result of one or all of the components of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. We can thank a STEM professional for the bridges we drive over, the apps we tap on our phones and even the food we eat every day. Its prevalence in our society is a leading factor for why STEM is one of the four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).

With so many opportunities to learn and foster an interest in STEM fields, it may be surprising to learn that women and girls are underrepresented across all levels of the STEM pipeline. But Erin Letavic, a former Girl Scout and a Civil Engineering Senior Project Manager at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) based in Harrisburg, proves girls and women can and should have a seat at the table in STEM fields.

Letavic has been with HRG for 15 years and offers experience in engineering and consulting, focusing on municipal services, grant funding solutions and stormwater permitting. Her position as project manager has provided her the opportunity to lead a team and share the importance of her team’s work with the community.

Erin Letavic planting trees.
Letavic participates in a tree planting activity.

“A lot of these projects take multiple years to come to fruition. It takes some fortitude to keep things on track,” Letavic said. “You end up doing a lot of storytelling. I enjoy building the team and also conveying the reason behind the improvement and benefit to the local community.”

With a role that’s very client-focused, Letavic also spends a lot of time working with others to develop solutions for water-related problems.

“I tend to be more focused on strategy. I talk with clients about typical water issues that they have, or partners they have that have those issues and they want to help. I help them develop strategies to work through those issues and fundraise for solutions to help solve the problems,” Letavic said.

Letavic is a natural problem solver who has always had a desire to understand how things work. As someone who grew up having to do many tasks manually, such as hand-drawing maps for projects, but now having the luxury of digital tools to accomplish those same tasks faster, Letavic feels she brings a different perspective to problem solving. Through her assistance with LandscapeU, a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship at Penn State University, Letavic has identified a lack of initiative to problem solve which she credits to most of society having answers at their fingertips through phones and computers.

“I’ve noticed with these students, and I’d bet it happens with Girl Scouts as well, in society we’ve been accustomed to just looking the answer up,” Letavic said. “The majority of STEM problems are not straight forward. You might know math, you might know the chemistry, but when we’re trying to solve really complex STEM problems, rarely is there one right answer. I think we can be most successful doing a small project, or even solving climate change, by coming up with an answer and being ready to defend it.”

Brownie Girl Scout.
Letavic as a Brownie Girl Scout.

Letavic believes learning through STEM and developing STEM skills is important for girls because it will teach them how to problem solve independently, a skill that will prove valuable to girls interested in a future STEM career. For girls leaning toward an engineering career path, Letavic advises to be practical and remember that every level of engineering work is important in the big picture.

“There’s a lot of jobs in STEM and I think a lot of us get stuck in the advanced areas,” Letavic said. “We still need people interested in computer programming and AutoCAD work. If I had a wish, [it would be] more engineering students would come out wanting to do more traditional engineering work.”

Girl Scouts provides endless opportunities for girls to get involved in STEM. From coding robots to exploring math in nature to learning forensic science elements, there’s a hands-on activity for all girls. Visit the GSHPA Events webpage to explore all STEM and STEAM events.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Donate Girl Scout Cookies to Operation Gratitude and make a military member’s day

By Catherine Amoriello

Operation Gratitude President and CEO General James Johnson
Retired Maj. Gen. of the U.S. Air Force James Johnson, Operation Gratitude President and CEO

As Cookie Season nears its end, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) would like to remind all you cookie lovers that not only are you able to buy cookies to enjoy yourself, but you have the unique opportunity to buy cookies to give back to others through GSHPA’s Gift of Caring donation program in partnership with Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that provides care packages to deployed troops, recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders and health care heroes. By donating to Operation Gratitude, Americans are able to express their appreciation to all who serve and protect our nation.

Operation Gratitude anticipates sending out 30,000 care packages by the end of May. Through donations received through GSHPA’s Gift of Caring program, each package will include two boxes of tasty Girl Scout Cookies along with other donated goods such as snacks, hygiene products, handmade items and a paracord bracelet. Retired Maj. Gen. of the U.S. Air Force James Johnson, Operation Gratitude President and CEO, said the cookies provide a special taste of home for package recipients.

“When people talk about this feel of home – Girl Scout Cookies are definitely the type of thing that transmits that. I think we all have an experience with Girl Scout Cookies,” Johnson said.

GSHPA has partnered with Operation Gratitude for its Gift of Caring program for the past two years. The partnership was born of GSHPA’s own connection to the military through Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO, who served as a U.S. Navy Two Star Rear Adm. and holds more than 30 years of military experience. Between Donovan’s military history and Operation Gratitude’s mission to provide quality products that bring joy to its recipients, it was the perfect blend of common interests.

In 2021, GSHPA donated 46,000 boxes of cookies to Operation Gratitude. This year, the organization has a goal of donating 50,000 boxes of cookies. In an effort to reach this goal and spread awareness for the Gift of Caring program, Jess Delp, GSHPA Director of Product Program and Retail; Nancy Levy, Operation Gratitude Director of Donor Relations; and Johnson have all agreed to get a Girl Scout Cookie pie in the face if GSHPA hits its target for donations!

“Normally this wouldn’t be my thing. I’m actually excited that this may generate donations. I think it will be fun for the Girl Scouts,” Johnson said at the prospect of being pied in the face.

The idea for the cookie pie in the face incentive came from none other than a group of Girl Scouts during the Operation Gratitude phonathon event. They decided one lucky Girl Scout will have the pieing honors, selected through a random drawing of all girls who participated in the Cookie Program this year.

As of April 11, more than 32,000 boxes of cookies have been donated to the Gift of Caring program. With less than one week of Cookie Season left, GSHPA encourages customers to use the Girl Scout Cookie Finder to donate cookies online through a troop near them. For those who need help donating through the Cookie Finder, check out the slideshow below to see how you can donate in just five simple steps! You can also reach out to the GSHPA Member Services team at 800-692-7816 or at for assistance.

Donate today and help GSHPA meet its donation goal before Cookie Season ends!

How to Donate Girl Scout Cookies to Operation Gratitude in 5 Easy Steps

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

5 ways to show your Girl Scout volunteer you appreciate them

By Catherine Amoriello

It’s Volunteer Appreciation Month which means it’s time to show the individuals who volunteer their time and energy to Girl Scouts how much we appreciate their support!

There are many ways to recognize a volunteer and tell them you care about them, but in case you’re struggling with ideas, we’ve rounded up our list of top five ways to show your Girl Scout volunteer you appreciate them. So read on, get inspired and then go out and thank your volunteer for all that they do!

1. Make a thank you video.

Use your digital skills to thank your Girl Scout volunteer with a unique, heart-felt video. You’ll get the opportunity to tell your volunteer directly how much you appreciate them and they’ll get to keep and share your virtual thank you wherever they go. If you have the resources, get creative and add in music, special effects or even additional video clips of others who you know appreciate the volunteer.

Girl Scouts working on computer.
Girls get techy to create a one of a kind virtual thank you.
2. Throw a party.

Round up a party-planning committee to throw your Girl Scout volunteer an appreciation bash! Get creative with decorations, prep some tasty snacks and curate a special playlist of all your volunteer’s favorite songs. For added excitement, make it a surprise party!

3. Purchase your volunteer some Girl Scout swag.

This is a great time to get your Girl Scout volunteer some upgraded swag as GSUSA is running a special promotion from April 15-25 where customers get 15% off orders of $75 or more*. Every time they use their new apparel, they’ll be reminded of how much they’re appreciated. Visit the GSUSA Online Store to pick out something special.

*Excludes earned awards and badges, Council’s Own badges and patches, gift certificates and customized uniforms.

Girl Scout Retro Legacy T-Shirt.
Pick out something cool from the GSUSA Online Store for your volunteer, like this Retro Legacy T-Shirt.
4. Make a special treat.

Arguably everyone’s favorite way to learn they’re appreciated, make your volunteer a tasty treat! If you know their favorite snack or dessert, whip it up for them to enjoy. If you’re unsure what to make, you probably can’t go wrong with this delicious Thin Mint Brownie recipe.

5. Write a letter.

Possibly one of the easiest ways to let someone know how you feel, take the time to write a thank-you letter to your volunteer. Share with them the impact they’ve made on you and why you value having them as part of your Girl Scout experience. For added appreciation, take the time to hand write the letter instead of typing it up.

Girl Scout hand writing card.
Buy or hand make a special card for your volunteer and let them know how much you appreciate them!

Whether you decide to celebrate your volunteer with an idea from our list or in your own unique way, don’t forget to nominate your volunteer for a Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) Volunteer Award! A long-standing tradition dating back to the beginning of Girl Scouts, Volunteer Awards acknowledge volunteers who are peer-nominated to receive honors for their outstanding dedication and service to Girl Scouts. Volunteers can be nominated for an award any time during the year by submitting a GSHPA Volunteer Award Nomination Form. All nominations are reviewed in February each year with nomination notices being distributed around April.

And remember, thank your Girl Scout volunteer not just in April, but every month of the year. It’s always a good time to show appreciation for the people who go above and beyond to serve the Girl Scout mission and help build girls of courage, confidence and character.

GSHPA Volunteers – thank you for all that you do!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

GSHPA announces Volunteer Award winners

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) has a very busy month ahead of itself. Between an extended Cookie Season (buy your cookies before April 24!) and some awesome Early Bird membership renewal promotions (we’re looking at you $10 GO! Dough for all returning girls who renew before April 30), GSHPA has a full docket. But this won’t keep the organization from taking time to recognize a month-long event that celebrates those who breathe life into Girl Scouts – Volunteer Appreciation Month.

Volunteer of Excellence Girl Scout Award
The Volunteer of Excellence Award recognizes volunteers who have contributed outstanding service to the Girl Scouts mission.
Appreciation Girl Scout Award
The Appreciation Award recognizes volunteers who have contributed exemplary service and have gone above and beyond to deliver the Girl Scouts mission.

There are many ways to say “thank you” to a volunteer making a difference, and one way Girl Scout volunteers can be thanked and recognized is through a nomination for a Volunteer Award. A long-standing tradition dating back to the beginning of Girl Scouts, Volunteer Awards acknowledge volunteers who are peer-nominated to receive honors for their outstanding dedication and service to Girl Scouts.

As part of its Volunteer Appreciation Month celebration, GSHPA will distribute Volunteer Awards to nominators throughout April to present to their nominees at a later date of their choosing. This year, 57 GSHPA volunteers were nominated and approved by a volunteer review committee to receive an award. Be sure to share your own note of congratulations to these volunteers for earning these awards!

“The opportunity to honor and thank our dedicated volunteers is so very important. These sister Girl Scouts have gone above and beyond to uphold and share the Girl Scouts’ mission, and they deserve recognition for the significant work they are doing for our girls and communities. On behalf of GSHPA and our membership, congratulations to all Volunteer Award recipients!” said Deb Bogdanski, GSHPA Chief Operating Officer.

Volunteers can be nominated for an award any time during the year by submitting a GSHPA Volunteer Award Nomination Form. All nominations are reviewed in February each year with nomination notices being distributed around April.

Juliette's Pearl Girl Scout Award
Juliette’s Pearl recognizes volunteers actively giving outstanding service to one or more Service Units or groups for an extended period of years.

Although April is designated as Volunteer Appreciation Month, we should remember volunteers deserve to be recognized and celebrated year-round. Appreciation is an ongoing everyday process for anyone, anywhere, anytime. People do not volunteer because they expect a reward – they see a job to be done, and they do it. So THANK YOU volunteers, for all that you do to make a difference not just in April, but all year long!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

GSHPA Volunteers – we thank YOU!

by Kristian Beverly

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. Volunteers are the backbone of Girl Scouts. Through the support of parents, troop leaders and many other volunteers, Girl Scouts is able to build girls of courage, confidence and character. Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania thanks all volunteers, past and present, for their service.

The video below is dedicated to our volunteers who work so hard to uplift our girls. Thank you!

Kristian Beverly is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in digital media for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania announces Adia Walker as new Chief of Staff

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Chief of Staff Adia Walker
Adia Walker, GSHPA’s new Chief of Staff

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is excited to announce Adia Walker as its new Chief of Staff.

Walker enters the role with more than two years’ experience as GSHPA’s former regional director.

“I am so excited to have Adia Walker step into the role of Chief of Staff at GSHPA. As Girl Scouts’ former regional director, she demonstrated great leadership ability. I know she will wholly embrace this new role and continue leading our organization to great places,” said Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO.

As Chief of Staff, Walker will provide organizational support for the president and CEO of GSHPA and function as an intermediary between GSHPA’s executive team and stakeholders. She will also assist and communicate with executives in decision making, program management and initiative implementation. With her comprehensive knowledge of GSHPA’s overall functions, Walker will assist in implementing major goals and oversee strategic business initiatives.

“I’m really looking forward to learning a whole new aspect of the organization. I was embedded in the membership side of things, and that helps to motivate me to learn more about the organization and keep lifting GSHPA up to new successful heights,” Walker said of her recent appointment.

Walker applied for the position seeking a new challenge and opportunity for growth. Guided by her passion for Girl Scouting and her belief in its positive impact, Walker looks forward to her next chapter with Girl Scouts.

“I’m very much personally invested in the Girl Scout mission. I have an almost 11-year-old daughter who’s been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten. I’ve seen the amazing foundation Girl Scouts has laid for her and I know how important Girl Scouting can be for girls and their families which creates a ripple effect for the whole community,” Walker said.

Editor’s note: The Community Leadership Series Class of 2022 elected Walker as the Class Representative to the Leadership Harrisburg Area (LHA) Board of Directors in early May 2022. Her term will officially begin July 1, 2022.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA welcomes new committee members to Finance and Audit, Volunteer Strategy committees

By Catherine Amoriello

In recognition of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is excited to celebrate Patricia ‘Trish’ Leib joining its Finance and Audit Committee and Amy Beamer Murray and GSHPA Board Member Gina Suydam joining its Volunteer Strategy Committee.

“We are very excited to be working with our dedicated board leadership and committee members to continue making a difference in our local communities by building girls of courage, confidence and character,” said Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO.

Patricia Leib, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Finance and Audit Committee Member
Patricia Leib, GSHPA Finance and Audit Committee Member

Leib, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., recently retired from a 44-year career in financial services with PNC Bank. She began her career at a community bank holding various positions until the bank was acquired by PNC Bank in 1988. She held several positions within PNC and spent the last 20 years in the Institutional Asset Management Group. She was a portfolio manager and relationship manager for charitable and non-profit organizations and corporate pension plans. In that role she was an advocate for clients providing solutions for the achievement of their financial goals. Leib currently serves on the congregation council of her church and is a board member of nonprofit cemetery. A lifelong resident of central Pennsylvania, she resides in Silver Spring Township.

Amy Beamer Murray, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Volunteer Strategy Committee Member
Amy Beamer Murray, GSHPA Volunteer Strategy Committee Member

Murray, of Harrisburg, Pa., is chief operating officer and partner at Pavone Marketing Group, a Harrisburg-based advertising agency. Pavone was founded in 1992 and she was the company’s first employee. Over the years, she worked at Pavone in a variety of roles, including project management, accounting, account service, media planning and public relations. Murray serves the community in numerous ways: as a member of the board of Caitlin’s Smiles; as a seminar volunteer for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY); as a classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania; and as a guest speaker at numerous high schools, colleges and universities, and community groups. She has been named one of the Central Penn Business Journal’s Forty under 40, as one of the Top 50 Business Women in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and as Rising Star by the Elizabethtown College Business Alumni. She has also been named as one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Central Pennsylvania.

Gina Suydam, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania Volunteer Strategy Committee Member
Gina Suydam, GSHPA Volunteer Strategy Committee Member

Suydam, of Tunkhannock, Pa., is the President/CEO of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, where she works with a variety of businesses in rural northeast Pennsylvania.  Suydam serves as a board member for the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals, Northeast Sight Services and Wyoming County Community Alliance, participates with the Northern Tier Partnership for Regional Economic Performance assisting with economic development of a five-county region, and represents the county on the regional Economic Development Agency at the request of the Wyoming County Commissioners. She was named one of Northeast Pennsylvania’s Top 25 Women in Business in 2017 by the Northeast PA Business Journal. Currently, Suydam is collaborating with several other Wyoming County organizations on a Community Heart & Soul initiative, a humanities-based approach to community planning sponsored in part by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She is also facilitating the sixth annual class of Leadership Wyoming, a regional leadership program which she implemented to develop a more complete awareness of Wyoming County’s industries among local professionals.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girl Scout Mission Moment Recap – March

*All Mission Moment information is submitted by volunteers/members. Should you have any questions regarding a submission, please email

By Catherine Amoriello

We love getting to see all of the great things our Girl Scouts are doing in their local communities! In March, our girls were busy making an impact by collecting donations for an animal shelter, giving back to veterans, leading a donation collection for a nursing home and so much more.

Junior Girl Scouts host pet supply drive for Bronze Award project

Junior Girl Scouts Leah and SkyLee from Troop 11570 in Dauphin County hosted a pet supply drive for their Bronze Award project. The supplies will be donated to the Perry County Animal Rescue. They also hosted a bake sale and used the proceeds to buy more supplies to donate.

Girl Scouts assist with church service

Girl Scouts Sophia, Lily and Kelsey from Troop 32817 in Luzerne County volunteered at Firwood United Methodist Church in Luzerne County. The girls participated in the service by reading, assisting with the offertory collection and extinguishing candles.

Girl Scouts in church.
Girl Scouts assist Rev. Craig Gommer with the Sunday service held at Firwood United Methodist Church.

Juliette rallies community to give back to nursing home residents

Juliette Junior Girl Scout Callie in Northumberland County packed 156 care packages for the residents of Mountain View, A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, for her Bronze Award project. Callie chose this project to show the nursing home residents that their local community cares about them. After identifying resident needs, Callie reached out to local businesses, friends, family, her school and national businesses for donations needed for her collection.

Troop learns about money; has sweet outdoor adventure

Girl Scouts from Troop 20376 in York County visited Boscov’s for a lesson on money to earn a cookie badge. As part of the activity, the girls were tasked with finding three outfits they could get for $50 each.

Troop 20376 also teamed up with Girl Scouts from Troop 21195 for an adventure at Nixon County Park for the Maple Sugar Festival weekend. The girls had lots of fun at the event learning how syrup is made.

Troop faces snow to hold successful cookie booth

Girl Scouts from Troop 70070 in Lancaster County braved wintry weather to host their cookie booth. The snow couldn’t keep customers away as the girls sold 57 boxes of cookies.

Troop supports military troops with cookie donation event

Girl Scouts from Troop 52140 in Lackawanna County participated in a Girl Scout Cookie donation event. Customers at the event could buy boxes of cookies for themselves and then donate boxes of cookies to veterans at the Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center. The troop is aiming to get more than 200 boxes donated this year. The girls were also able to meet and speak with veterans at the event.

Girl Scouts and veterans.
Girl Scouts from Lackawanna County give back to veterans at the Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center.

Girl Scouts partner with Amazon for International Women’s Day talk

Girl Scouts Mari and Paige from Troop 51445 in Lackawanna County visited an Amazon site to present an International Women’s Day talk about the history of Girl Scouts and its impact on women.

Girl Scouts and Amazon.
Girl Scouts visit an Amazon site to share the impact of girl scouting for International Women’s Day.

Girl Scouts don cookie suits to draw customers to cookie booth

Girl Scouts from Troop 21077 in York County dressed up in cookie suits to advertise their products during their cookie booth sale.

Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Girl Scouts display their Girl Scout pride at their cookie booth.

Girls learn about engineering design process through Academic Edge program

Girls in first and second grade in Dauphin County learned about and applied the engineering design process to help Mario design a new race track in honor of National Mario Day. The girls completed the same steps used by scientists, inventors and engineers. The girls completed the activity through a STEAM-focused Academic Edge program.

Academic Edge participants test their race track for a STEAM activity.

Do you have a Girl Scout Mission Moment to share? Submit it now so we can showcase your passion and hard work in next month’s recap!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

York girl thrives with Girl Scout connections

Autism has its challenges, but one York mom sees how Girl Scouts has opened up opportunities for her daughter.

By Catherine Amoriello

Since Girl Scouts’ inception in 1912, the organization has been focused on inclusiveness, encouraging girls to be confident in themselves and their abilities and to support and lead one another. Years later this sentiment still rings true, and 10-year-old Junior Girl Scout Mara is just one of thousands of girls who has benefitted from the welcoming environment of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout does a craft.
Mara showcases a craft she made through a Girl Scout activity.

Mara joined Girl Scouts in 2019 as a Brownie at the suggestion of her third grade autistic support teacher. Mara has high-functioning autism, which her mother Becca Thiec described as facing certain challenges with communication but being able to function with minimal assistance in a general education classroom. When Mara joined Girl Scout Troop 20484 in York County, she was welcomed by her troop mates who encouraged her and helped her overcome those challenges.

“We were doing fun patch work for the 110th celebration. One of the activities was doing puzzles which can be a difficult thing for her,” Thiec said. “The girls encouraged her and got her involved with the activity.”

Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Mara and her friends advertise Girl Scout Cookies for their 2022 Cookie Season.

The girls in Mara’s troop have become genuine friends. Mara said seeing her friends every other week is her favorite part about being in Girl Scouts, and after listing off a stream of names when asked who her friends are, Thiec confirmed Mara had just named every girl in her troop.

“Rose and Jazz in particular will literally say, ‘Hey Mara, what’s up?’ ‘Mara come on!’ They made sure she was along with them for whatever we were doing as a troop that the other girls then saw how to get Mara more involved and help boost her confidence,” Thiec said.

Along with many friendships, Mara has also gained confidence, independence and communication skills since joining her troop. Thiec credits the Girl Scouts.

“She has opened up more socially than before, which is related to autism. We did a skating party at the beginning of February and she saw a couple that fell. I think between maturity level and the Girl Scouts, she actually went out and said, ‘Are you OK?’ She wouldn’t have done that before,” Thiec said.

Girl Scout with her mom.
Mara with her mother Becca Thiec.

Thiec is a big supporter of her daughter’s Girl Scout experience. She usually stays at the troop meetings to provide one-on-one assistance for Mara if needed, but Mara has become increasingly more independent.

“There’s times she’s pushing me away – that’s a good thing if she’s pushing me away. She doesn’t want mommy’s help for certain tasks that’s being asked of her in troop meetings or troop functions,” Thiec said.

Through Girl Scouts, Mara has been able to participate in a multitude of activities she wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. From completing a Take Action Project with her troop where they collected donations for a homeless shelter, to visiting Foxfire House at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County, to going indoor camping, Girl Scouts has provided Mara the opportunity to challenge herself. She even went horseback riding.

Girl Scout riding a horse.
Mara rides a horse for the first time through an activity planned by her troop.

“She was definitely afraid,” Thiec said of her daughter’s first introduction to equestrianism. “[But] she actually got on a horse and did horseback riding. If there wasn’t somebody there that she already knew, she wouldn’t have done it.”

Thiec is looking forward to seeing Mara continue to apply the life skills she’s learning in Girl Scouts in her everyday life.

“[I’m] just hoping that with what she has gained social-skill wise, [she] keeps pushing forward, that she doesn’t regress which I don’t think she will,” Thiec said. “Overall I can see social interaction growth, and overall growth. She’s doing so well.”

While Mara’s Girl Scout experience may differ from others because of her autism, Thiec believes the inclusiveness of Girl Scouts reaches all girls.

“It doesn’t matter if a girl has a disability or not,” Thiec said. “As long as you can find the troop that is open-armed, like mine is, they’ll accept her no matter what.”

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

How Girl Scout troops can help humanitarian crisis caused by Russia-Ukraine war

As the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Europe, Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) has shared opportunities for Girl Scouts to raise money in support of our sister Girl Guides and their volunteers and families who are being impacted by the war in Ukraine.

Here are some ways that girls can offer their support.

Additionally, below are resources for members and their families to help navigate discussions concerning the ongoing conflict.

GSHPA receives $65,000 in gaming grant funds to build new yurts at Camp Small Valley

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is excited to announce it has been awarded $65,000 in gaming grant funds to build two new yurts at Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County.

The funds come from revenue generated at Hollywood Casino and are allocated to local organizations by Dauphin County Commissioners. The grant is part of a total $8 million that will be shared with the casino’s host county and municipalities.

Yurt at girl-only camp property Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
The yurts at Camp Small Valley are the camp’s most popular lodging option and are available to rent any time of the year.

GSHPA applied for funds to build more yurts at Camp Small Valley because the current structures are its most popular lodging option and serve as a unique draw to the camp property. Yurts are circular-dome structures with walls that are built on platforms. This design dates back nearly 3,000 years to Central Asia. GSHPA’s yurts comfortably accommodate larger groups and are available to rent any season of the year making them an ideal lodging option year-round.

“Our girls love the yurts because their round shapes, bunk beds, screen doors and high ceilings make them fun to hang out in,” said Ginger Aurand, a troop leader for Service Unit (SU) 646. “I would recommend the yurts for all other Scouts, but especially to young Scouts who are experiencing camp for the first time. The yurts have a comfortable feel and almost feel home-like.”

The addition of these new yurts will create opportunity for more girls and camp visitors to use the property and enjoy their outdoor experience. GSHPA anticipates the new yurts being completed and ready for use by fall 2023.

Camp Small Valley hosts GSHPA’s summer resident camp and year-round, council-sponsored outdoor events. The yurts are a component of overnight camping with Girl Scouts, which is a longstanding and well-established element of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). We know that participation in outdoor programs promotes a higher level of engagement in environmental stewardship, and Girl Scouts who have monthly outdoor experiences are stronger problem-solvers and better challenge-seekers.

Camp Small Valley, its yurts and its other amenities are not only available to Girl Scouts but to any and all looking for a unique camping experience. Families, schools, organizations and individuals are welcome to rent lodging and amenities through GSHPA and are encouraged to learn more about GSHPA Summer Camp properties.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Hanover-based orthodontic practice gives back through Girl Scout Cookies

EDITOR’S NOTE (March 29, 2022) David Ross Orthodontics pledges to purchase two cases of Girl Scout Cookies per troop, not per girl.

By Catherine Amoriello

Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics
Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is more than halfway through its Girl Scout Cookie Season and our girls are going stronger than ever! While Girl Scouts work hard to sell their cookies and hone their entrepreneurship skills, it’s important to remember that Cookie Season would not be possible without the support of many individuals. From our bakers, to our volunteers, to our cookie-loving customers, we appreciate all who support our Girl Scouts in reaching their cookie goals. One such supporter of the Girl Scout Cookie Program is Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics out of Hanover, Pa., and Lutherville-Timonium, Md.

This year will be the fourth year the practice is pledging to purchase two cases of Girl Scout Cookies per girl. As an orthodontic practice that serves a mostly younger demographic, supporting girls aligns with Ross’ philanthropic goals.

“The core of our practice is children. Anything that comes into our focal point of supporting kids, supporting programs that support children or supporting schools has always been the main focus of David Ross Orthodontics,” Ross said.

Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics with young Girl Scout and Girl Scout Cookies.
A Girl Scout shows her appreciation for David Ross Orthodontics’ support of her cookie endeavors.

Ross began the practice’s cookie initiative as a way to eliminate the challenge girls face of having to go door-to-door, or wait for customers to come to them to buy cookies. The initiative not only provides direct support to Girl Scouts and their troops, but gives back to individuals making a difference in the community as well. All cookies purchased by Ross are donated to first responders in Hanover, including police officers, firefighters, nurses and other community heroes.

“We support them [Girl Scouts] and take the cookies to support others in a pay it forward concept, which is how we run our business,” Ross said. “We have always done this, but the pandemic adds to the ‘thank you’ for all the hard work they do. Giving back to them has been so great and something that we want to do.”

In 2021, the practice purchased and donated more than 35 cases, or about 420 boxes, of Girl Scout Cookies. The practice does not have a limit to how many girls it will support through buying cases of cookies, and it welcomes any girl from any troop to get involved by emailing or calling/texting their office in Hanover at 717-637-4131.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Ross not only donates cookies but enjoys them himself as well! The orthodontist’s favorite Girl Scout Cookie is Thin Mints (but they have to be frozen).

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center, shares entrepreneurship wisdom

By Colleen Buck

As we continue our Cookie Season here at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), we remain focused on bestowing entrepreneurship knowledge and skills upon girls to help them succeed in their cookie endeavors. As our young entrepreneurs are busy out in the field promoting and selling cookies, we got the chance to chat with former Girl Scout and entrepreneurship guru Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Zielinski kindly imparted valuable entrepreneurship advice for us to share with all of you future female business leaders, so read on to learn how to take your passion for entrepreneurship to the next level!

“I think women of all ages can do amazing things when they put their minds to it, and we can achieve more by working together.”

Lisa hall zielinski, director of the university of scranton small business development center (SBDC)
Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

According to your online profile, you were raised in a family business. Can you describe what that experience was like and how it influenced your career path?

Growing up in my family’s automotive business, I learned a little bit about everything! I helped out with everything from finances to inventory to changing tires and rebuilding engines. I was voted Most Mechanical in my high school class – maybe not what every girl dreams of, but not every girl is the same. I learned to appreciate small businesses and how important they are to families and communities and, while I was not always clear about exactly what I wanted to do for a career, I knew small businesses would be an important part.

What are some of your responsibilities as director of The University of Scranton SBDC?

As Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC), I oversee the organization and lead an awesome team of staff and interns who provide educational programming and individual consulting to entrepreneurs in eight counties in Northeastern and Northern Tier Pennsylvania. Aside from leading the team, I manage our operation from start to finish. I make sure we are on task on every project, achieve goals and keep in compliance with all policies and grant guidelines. Collaboration is also a major part of my job, working with colleagues and partners across the region. I also teach some of our training classes, and I teach undergraduate classes in the Kania School of Management.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people and the variety! My team, our university students, our partners and the clients we serve are what I love most about my job. I am an extrovert and get my energy from connecting with others. I also like the variety of my work. I get to do a little bit of everything and I use many of the skills and knowledge I learned through my education – leadership, marketing, psychology, accounting, math, and so on. Believe it or not, I even use algebra!

What challenges do you face in your job?

Running a nonprofit means lots of juggling. There is never enough time or funding to reach all of the people or do all of the projects. With so many people to serve, it can be really hard for me to prioritize and set boundaries and to help my team do so also.

Lisa Hall Zielinski with Tomorrow's Leaders Today (TLT) participants.
Lisa Hall Zielinski with participants of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT) program.

Can you speak to the importance of mentorship within the field of entrepreneurship/business?

I think mentorship is positive in any field, but especially when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. Having someone else to talk to and learn from can be extremely helpful, especially when you are on your own trying to run a business. You don’t have to do everything exactly as a mentor would do, but hearing their experience and getting their input can be really helpful when it comes to overcoming challenges or pursuing opportunities.

Do you mentor any girls/women in the area of business and/or entrepreneurship?

I have worked with many women and young women over time, starting with my time at Keystone College where I ran a leadership center and continuing when I came to The University of Scranton through my work with the SBDC. I have closely mentored a handful of young women because I think it’s critically important that we help each other succeed. I think women of all ages can do amazing things when they put their minds to it, and we can achieve more by working together!

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world. What challenges do you think Girl Scouts face in the program that might mirror challenges adult entrepreneurs face?

No matter what your age, it’s hard work to market and sell products or services with all of the information and competition in our world today. Coming up with new and innovative ways to reach customers is something every entrepreneur should be thinking about these days and it’s not easy. The good thing is that Girl Scout Cookies are delicious! (I have two favorites, by the way, Caramel deLites and Lemonades!)

What benefits do you think entrepreneurship skills provide young girls?

I believe the skills young girls can learn through entrepreneurship are skills for life! Through entrepreneurship, girls can learn critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, self-discipline and much more. They can build skills in financial literacy and leadership and learn how to set and achieve goals. All of these things help build strengths that are important no matter what they choose to do in life. Also, we need more woman-owned businesses! Through entrepreneurship, women can create their own economic independence, create jobs for others and make a positive impact on our economy.

Lisa Hall Zielinski recognized as Northeast PA Business Journal's 2013 Top 25 Women in Business.
Lisa Hall Zielinski was recognized as one of Northeast PA Business Journal’s 2013 Top 25 Women in Business.

What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in business/entrepreneurship?

Try lots of things and don’t be afraid to fail! I keep quotes posted near my desk to create a motivating environment. This one is from Woody Allen: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” While most of us strive for success and want to avoid the pain of failure at all costs, I think we often learn more from our ideas that don’t work and it often leads us to come up with even better ones!

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, can you share your favorite memory from your time as a Girl Scout?

I was a Girl Scout and my mom was a leader. I have very clear memories of meetings, specific projects and outdoor adventures. I remember towers of cookies piled in our kitchen during cookie time! I also helped my mom when my younger sister was a Daisy. In fact, the day after I got my driver’s license, I drove a car full of Daisies to the airport for a tour!

Colleen Buck is a Program Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Pennsylvania governor celebrates 110th birthday of Girl Scouts with GSHPA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf receives Girl Scout Cookies from Janet Donovan, President and CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s favorite Girl Scout Cookie is the Thin Mint. At right is Janet Donovan, President and CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

Representatives from Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) were welcomed to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office on March 9 to mark a milestone in the Girl Scouts’ history: the 110th birthday celebration.

March 12 marks the day that Founder Juliette Gordon Lowe organized the first Girl Scout Troop in Savannah, Georgia. Lowe was ahead of her time as she helped organize enrichment programs, service projects and outdoor activities. Since the time of the first meeting with 18 girls present, Girl Scouts has grown to over 3.7 million members.

Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO, was joined by Hershey-area Girl Scouts and sisters Alexis and Scarlett, a sixth-grade Cadette and a Daisy in first grade, respectively; and Raina, a third-grader and Brownie from Middletown.

GSHPA presented Gov. Wolf with his favorite Girl Scout Cookie, Thin Mints, as well as the newest Girl Scout Cookie, Adventurefuls (full transparency: the governor did pay for the cookies). Gov. Wolf also signed the GSHPA Happy Birthday poster and stood for various photos with the visiting Girl Scouts.

We thank the governor and his team for their hospitality this past week.

Below are some highlights from the visit.

Tips and tricks for your Girl Scout Cookie Booth

By: Colleen Buck

Girl Scout Cookie Booth season is just around the corner! Booths are a great way to increase troop sales while having a fun time. To have a successful booth, it is important to make sure you have everything you will need the day of, including smiles and excited girls! While we have had to adjust the way we hold cookie booths in the past two seasons, it’s important to be prepared to set the troop up for success. Read on for some tried-and-true ways to help your troop have a successful cookie booth season!

Teach girls cookie booth etiquette.

Service with a smile: Don’t forget to thank your customers!

This is a very important first step for cookie booths! Girls and troops are representing Girl Scouts to both their customers as well as the location that has allowed a booth to be set up. It is important to remind girls that stores and other locations may have certain rules in place, so knowing those rules ahead of time will be helpful. Actions like running around the entrance or inside of a store may result in that location not allowing us to return in the future.

No matter what age girls are at the booth, it is also important to remember to smile and say, “Thank you!” Showing customers our Girl Scout spirit will not only encourage them to return as customers in the future, but might even help to increase sales at the booth. Making sure each girl knows the cost of each cookie, what each cookie tastes like, knowing which cookies fit certain dietary concerns and how the troop will use the money earned can help boost sales as well.

Dress for success!

Look good, feel good: wear your Girl Scout uniform with pride!

Whenever we are representing Girl Scouts we want to dress for the part! Uniforms are the perfect way to not only represent Girl Scouts as an organization, but to catch the eye of potential customers. With that said, here in Pennsylvania we all know the weather in March and April can have a mind of its own! Be sure to check the weather forecast the night before a booth, and notify families that dressing in layers is always best. Even if the start of a cookie booth is warm and sunny, the end of a shift may not be.

Dress and prepare for comfort as well. Having one or two camp chairs for girls to take short breaks in can be helpful. Standing for hours on end is difficult, so taking measures to ensure comfort is important and will help the girls recharge throughout their shifts. Similarly, having things like carpet squares to stand on, or hand warmers for pockets can provide comfort and allow for a more successful booth shift.

Create an eye-catching booth.

Advertise with flair: make your booth stand out with bright colors and signs!

Bring the customers to you by decorating the booth with vibrant colors, signs, cookie themed décor and more! This is the perfect time to let the troop’s creativity shine. Little Brownie Baker has some great ideas for booth crafts and decorations that can really help jazz up the presentation and draw in customers. Having fun with the booth and using decorations, signs and even costumes will also create a fun energy that will allow the girls to have fun and the customers to have some fun as well!

Don’t forget, cookie cases and individual cookie boxes make for some great materials to use while crafting. A cookie box pennant to hang above or on the table takes care of advertising what is being sold and checks the boxes for fun and vibrant! For even more awesome cookie booth crafts, Pinterest is also a great resource!

Have fun!

When it comes to running a cookie booth, the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Customers will naturally be drawn in to a booth where girls are energetic, smiling, conversational and happy to be there. Be prepared, create a visual booth that draws people in and remember that Cookie Season helps provide our girls with amazing skills and opportunities for the future!

Colleen Buck is a Program Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Your one-stop shop for all things Mega Drop

By Catherine Amoriello

EDITOR’S NOTE (March 11, 2022) Because of the predicted snowstorm for March 12, several Mega Drop events have been postponed. Please refer to this document for any updates.

FACT CORRECTION (March 11, 2022) Cookie booths will be open beginning March 12.

(Original blog post from March 9, 2022)

The wait for Girl Scout Cookies is almost over as we near Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s (GSHPA) annual Girl Scout Cookie Mega Drop on March 12! The Mega Drop is no small, spur-of-the-moment event but rather a carefully crafted machine that moves thousands of cookies to troops across GSHPA’s 30-county footprint.

Girl Scout loads Girl Scout Cookies into car.
Volunteers within GSHPA’s 30-county footprint will come from far and wide to pick up their cookies at this year’s Mega Drop distribution event.

The Mega Drop involves multiple GSHPA staff members and volunteers who are stationed at various distribution locations. With an event this large and complex we know you’ve got questions, and lucky for you, we’ve got answers.


What is the Girl Scout Cookie Mega Drop?

The Mega Drop is an all-day distribution event where Girl Scout Troops stop at a distribution site near them to collect cookies to provide to their customers.

Where does the Mega Drop take place?

Mega Drops take place at several locations within GSHPA’s footprint. Locations include Parks Warehouse in Harrisburg, Susquehanna Mall in Selinsgrove, PNC Field in Scranton and York Water Company (Mount Rose location) in York.

When is the Mega Drop?

This year’s Mega Drop will be held on March 12 and begin at 9 a.m. at all distribution locations. All Mega Drops will run until 2 p.m., excluding the York location which will remain active until 3 p.m.

How many boxes of cookies get distributed at the Mega Drop?

This year, almost 404,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies will be distributed to troops across GSHPA’s 30-county footprint!

Can I come watch the Mega Drop in action?

Yes! The public and media is welcome to witness the amazing endeavors of the Mega Drops in real time at any of the distribution locations. Additionally, the “That’s What Cheese Said” food truck will be providing delicious food for purchase at the York location from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If Girl Scout Cookies are being distributed on March 12, when will I receive the cookies that I ordered?

If you ordered cookies within the initial order time frame (between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6), your cookies will be in Girl Scout hands by the end of the day on March 12! After March 12 you can reach out to the Girl Scout you ordered cookies from to inquire about the status of your order and delivery.

Oh snap – I just realized I haven’t bought any Girl Scout Cookies yet! Can I still buy cookies?

Of course you can! You can purchase your favorite Girl Scout Cookies using the Girl Scout Cookie Finder. Through the Cookie Finder, you’ll easily find where cookie-selling booths are being established in your local area and when booths will be open. Booths will be open starting March 18 and cookies will be available for purchase until April 17. Customers can also find troop links to order online.

I personally don’t need any cookies, but I want to help the cause! Is there any way I can make a donation of some sort to the Girl Scout Cookie Program?

Absolutely! In addition to buying cookies for yourself you can also donate cookies online to Operation Gratitude and help GSHPA reach its goal of donating 50,000 packages to military members at home and overseas.

GSHPA Mega Drop History

The annual Mega Drop was established at GSHPA in 2019, making it a relatively new event for the council. While GSHPA has always distributed cookies, volunteers often had to find time during the work week to pick up their cookies which could make for a stressful experience for girls, volunteers and GSHPA staff alike.

Girl Scout Cookies.
Almost 404,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies will be distributed at GSHPA’s 2022 Mega Drop.

When Jess Delp, GSHPA Director of Product Program and Retail, learned about the philosophy of Mega Drop at a product program conference in 2018, she discovered a way to distribute cookies in a less stressful (and dare we say more fun?) way. Cookie distribution evolved from a week-long mad dash into a well-organized, single-day event that allows the council to deliver cookies in a more convenient way to majority of the Service Units.

“I love it [Mega Drop] because my goal is to always make things easier for the volunteers. They already give so much of their time and energy to Girl Scouts all year long. To be able to offer deliveries on a Saturday and get so many cookies in the hands of our troops and members is awesome,” Delp said. “The more we can support our girls and volunteers in their cookie endeavors, the better.”

P.S. – Stay tuned for our next blog post on March 12 which will provide LIVE updates from all four of our Mega Drop distribution sites!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

GSHPA staff joins the fun of World Thinking Day

By Rebekah Stefl

As you may know, Feb. 22 is a significant day for Girl Scouts. On this day, we celebrate World Thinking Day, the International Day of Friendship! Originally established in 1926, World Thinking Day is an opportunity for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides across the globe to celebrate their differences and friendships. In honor of the friendship between Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, and Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouts, Baden-Powell’s birthday on Feb. 22 was selected as the official date for World Thinking Day.

Since 1926, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts celebrate World Thinking Day by learning and experiencing cultures around the world. Of course, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) staff is no exception! GSHPA’s World Thinking Day celebration was led by its Cultural Awareness Committee (CAC). The committee’s mission is to educate and celebrate the diverse culture within GSHPA’s staff and stakeholders, as well as create and offer resources and tools to demonstrate appreciation and understanding for staff.

On Feb. 22, the GSHPA CAC brought the staff together for many cultural activities in honor of World Thinking Day. Staff members had the opportunity to participate in three category competitions for Best Background, Best Costume (Traditional) and Most Interesting Item from Another Country (see the winners in the slideshow below!).

GSHPA Staff World Thinking Day Category Winners

Afterward, our staff moved into virtual breakout rooms for fun activities to learn more about cultures around the world. They enjoyed trivia, games, learning about unique world festivals and much more. Along the way, staff members shared their own travel experiences and comradery! At the end of the event, the staff left with a variety of goodies including candies from across the globe, personalized luggage tags and a staff cookbook featuring family recipes from staff members.

We invite you to join in on the fun and follow this Mango Lassi recipe included in our GSHPA cookbook, submitted by GSHPA HR Generalist Nancy Spinella!

Mango Lassi Smoothie


  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 ripe mango (peeled, pitted and chopped)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 10 ice cubes
  • Thin curls of mango peels


  1. Process the yogurt, mango, sugar and ice cubes in a blender until the ice is partially crushed.
  2. Pour with ice into chilled mugs or glasses and garnish with the mango peel.
  3. Sip and enjoy!
Rebekah Stefl is a Volunteer Support Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Janet Donovan, President and CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, selected as Female Veterans Day honoree

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is proud to announce its President and CEO and retired U.S. Navy Two Star Rear Adm. Janet R. Donovan has been selected as an honoree for the Pennsylvania Commission for Women’s sixth annual Female Veterans Day Ceremony.

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania President and CEO Janet Donovan.
Janet Donovan

As part of Women’s History Month in March, the Female Veterans Day Ceremony recognizes women in the commonwealth who have served their country through the military. Selected veterans will be honored for their bravery and service to the nation by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and first lady Frances Wolf at a ceremony and reception on March 31.

Donovan has completed numerous professional development and executive training courses in strategic planning, strategic communication and innovation, coalition-building, finance and accounting, cyber security, risk management and ethics.

As a retired U.S. Navy Two Star Rear Adm. and former Deputy Cmdr. in the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Navy, Donovan is a model candidate for this honor. Her broad professional background and history with the U.S. Navy spans more than 30 years. She has held many leadership positions throughout her naval career including, but not limited to, attorney, legal advisor, deputy commander and senior mentor. She also has more than 20 years of executive experience in strategy development, talent management and collaboration.

“I am excited and grateful to be selected as an honoree for the Female Veterans Day Ceremony. It has been a privilege to serve my country, and it will be an honor to stand alongside other exceptional female veterans who have also been selected for this recognition,” Donovan said.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Her creative pallete? Metal and a plasma cutter

By Cathy Hirko

Metal, welding and art. These three words normally are NOT included in one sentence, but they most definitely describe the creative outlet of Rae Ripple.

A national television series last fall launched the Texas mom of two in the spotlight for her work, and in a field not likely to be populated with a ton of women.

But like most women who follow their passions — we see them everyday in the faces of our Girl Scouts, our troop leaders and the countless volunteers who make our Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) chapter sing — Ripple found what she loved to do and worked at it. Persistence and practice have contributed to her excellent creative career in the welding arts.

Ripple became well known in her field after Netflix premiered “Metal Shop Masters” in September 2021. She was a part of seven talented welders to take part in the competition series.

From Netflix to York County, Ripple will be sharing her advice as part of Women in Construction (WIC) Week that is being held by the local southcentral chapter of The National Association of Women in Construction. Her visit is part of a number of events the chapter is hosting.

Part of our mission at Girl Scouts is to share some of the important events being held in our network, especially ones that speak to GSHPA. Our own programs help build independence, and introduce girls to opportunities they might not have known existed. Our girl-only environment provides fun opportunities to explore and grow.

According to her background, Ripple had an extraordinary, tough upbringing. She persevered and fought for her future. She kind of stumbled into her welding work and discovered her passion. After countless hours of practice, it paid off.

Netflix came a knocking.

If you’re interested in seeing Rae Ripple in action:

Rallying with Rae Ripple: Overcoming Adversity & Finding Your Passion

March 8, 4-6 p.m.

York County School of Technology Fieldhouse

Register for the event now.

Cathy Hirko is the Marketing and Communications Director for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girl Scouts get robotic, learn outdoor skills through GSHPA camp workshops

By Kristian Beverly

The sky is the limit for Girl Scout activities, and this week we’re highlighting STEAM Saturday robotics and Troop Adventure Day workshops that were held on Feb. 5 at two of our camp properties!

Earlier this month, girls participated in a Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) STEAM Saturday workshop focused on robotics at Camp Happy Valley in Adams County. The girls drew and decorated their own paper robot before sharing their creations with each other.

They then received a lesson about Botley the robot. Botley is a robot that’s perfect for learning about the basics of coding. Botley is controlled by a remote that sends instructions such as “go forward” or “turn.” After their lesson, the girls broke up into groups before being handed their own robot.

Teamwork and friendship allowed the girls to learn and have fun. Some groups created obstacle courses for Botley. Others had it spin! Much fun and education was had in whatever capacity the girls choose to do with Botley. When asked if they had fun, there was a resounding “YES!”

On the same day as the STEAM robotics workshop, Daisies, Brownies and Juniors participated in Troop Adventure Day at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County, where the girls learned about different outdoor skills.

Doesn’t it look like a lot of fun? 

Kristian Beverly is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in digital media for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Girl Scout Mission Moment Recap – January and February

By Catherine Amoriello

*All Mission Moment information is submitted by volunteers/members. Should you have any questions regarding a submission, please email

We love getting to see all of the great things our Girl Scouts are doing in their local communities through our Mission Moment submissions! In January and February, our girls were busy making an impact by making hats for children in need, addressing food insecurities in their local community, connecting with residents at senior living homes and so much more.

Cadettes recognize Higher Award recipients in library display

Cadette Girl Scouts from Troop 10265 in Cumberland County helped plan, design and set up a Girl Scout display at Fredricksen Library. The display highlighted recent Gold, Silver and Bronze Award recipients from Service Unit (SU) 157 in Cumberland County. The display included new and old uniforms from friends and family members of SU 157, pictures, borrowed awards, cookie boxes and plush cookie prizes. The display also included QR codes that led to information about Higher Awards and joining Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout apparel displayed in case.
Girl Scout memorabilia rests in a display case at Fredricksen Library.

Girl Scouts honor military members with wreaths

Girl Scouts from Troops 34671, 30301, 33206 and 30130 in Luzerne County honored deceased military members at the Hanover Green Cemetery by placing wreaths for National Wreaths Across America Day.

Girl Scouts holding wreaths.
Girl Scouts prepare to honor diseased military members by placing wreaths on their grave markers.

Girl Scouts make hats for children in need

Girl Scouts from Troop 40418 in Centre County held a virtual party with The Brave Beanie Project, a local organization that donates beanies to children across the country who are chronically ill or are disabled. The girls made six beanies that will go to children in need.

Girl Scout holding hat.
A Girl Scout displays the beanie she made for The Brave Beanie Project.

Juniors get history lesson from historical society, museum

Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 10645 in Cumberland County learned about early settlers in Pennsylvania through a presentation from the Cumberland County Historical Society. The girls also visited the Oakes Museum of Natural History at Messiah University to complete activities to earn their Math in Nature badges.

Girl Scouts dressed in early Pennsylvania settler clothing.
Girl Scouts immerse themselves into a history lesson and dress up as early Pennsylvania settlers.

Daisies, Brownies and Cadette join forces to help food bank

Daisy Girl Scouts from Troop 60070, Brownies from Troop 60071 and a Cadette from Troop 60073 in Lycoming County learned about needs versus wants at the Footprints of Montgomery food bank. The girls helped package 40 bags to be handed out to local residents in need and also contributed to the food bank’s diaper drive.

Girl Scouts at food bank.
Girl Scouts from troops 60070, 60071 and 60073 donate diapers to kick off their day at Footprints of Montgomery food bank.

Troop participates in record-breaking toy collection for children in need

Girl Scouts from Troop 71518 in Dauphin County volunteered at the Hershey Bears Teddy Bear Toss night to sort, count, bag and load trucks full of stuffed animals collected at the game in partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network. The girls and their troop leaders were part of the world record for collecting over 52,000 bears.

Girl Scouts with stuffed animals.
Two Girl Scouts nearly disappear in the pile of plush toys collected during the Teddy Bear Toss.

Girl Scouts make holiday cards for SpiriTrust Lutheran residents

Girl Scouts from Troop 81659 in York County made Valentine’s Day cards for residents at SpiriTrust Lutheran during a trip to Camp Happy Valley.

Valentine's Day cards.
Girl Scouts show their creativity and kindness through Valentine’s Day cards for SpiriTrust Lutheran residents.

Girl Scouts and Providence Place of Lancaster residents connect through song and camp memories

Girl Scouts from Troop 71348 and Juliettes from Service Unit 715 in Lancaster County visited Providence Place of Lancaster to help residents make Valentine’s crafts. During their visit, the girls and residents shared snacks, sang Girl Scout songs and exchanged stories and memories of camp.

Girl Scouts with Valentine's Day crafts.
Girl Scouts showcase the crafts they made with residents at Providence Place of Lancaster.

Girl Scouts learn healthy habits with Franklin & Marshall College sorority

Girl Scouts from Troop 71348 and Service Unit 715 in Lancaster County earned their Healthy Habits patch with the help of sorority Kappa Delta at Franklin & Marshall College. The sorority hosted a workshop for the girls to share information about eating healthy and staying active, as well as a Zumba session.

Girl Scouts with sorority.
Sorority sisters and Girl Scouts gather to explore healthy habits.

Junior hosts collection drives for Bronze Award project

Junior Girl Scout Ava Lebo from Troop 11570 in Dauphin County hosted a clothing and food drive for Bethesda Mission for her Bronze Award project. She also hosted a bake sale and used the proceeds to purchase more items needed by the homeless shelter.

Girl Scout Ava Lebo and Bethesda Mission volunteer Donald Koch load donated supplies for Koch to distribute to places in need.

Juniors, Seniors and Ambassadors participate in community service project to help nonprofit

Junior, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts from troops 33206, 34671 and 30130 in Luzerne County volunteered at Parenting Autism United to assist with painting projects for the organization’s new office.

Girl Scouts get hands on at Parenting Autism United’s new office to help the organization complete painting projects.

Do you have a Girl Scout Mission Moment to share? Submit it now so we can showcase your passion and hard work in next month’s recap!

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Join us in March for our program events!

GSHPA has an extensive lineup of program events planned just for you! From our weekly STEAM with the Program Team sessions, to an Adult Enrichment opportunity, to an Outdoor Journey at Camp Archbald, this month has something for everyone. Visit our event calendar to see all events and opportunities being offered in March.

Registration is open for all events – we can’t wait to see you there!

Share and make new memories with us for Girl Scouts’ 110 anniversary

By Catherine Amoriello

In case you haven’t realized, we have quite a lot to celebrate next month.

For starters, Girl Scout Cookies will finally be in our hands. We will do what we’ve only been able to dream about for months – collect our cookies, plop down on the sofa and scarf down every box in record speed (more than likely in one-sitting, because let’s be honest). We’ll spring an hour ahead with Daylight Saving Time, bringing our dark and desolate Pennsylvania winter (hopefully) to its end. And of course there’s St. Patrick’s Day, but Girl Scouts know there’s another green-themed holiday that trumps the one led by a little green leprechaun – Girl Scouts’ birthday on March 12.

Girl Scouts’ birthday is a special one this year, as it marks the organization’s 110 anniversary. That’s 110 years of girls breaking down barriers, accomplishing their goals and tackling issues in their communities. To honor this milestone, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) wants to honor every current member and alumnae who helped shape Girl Scouts into the organization it is today. But we need your help to do it!

We’re asking all members and alumnae to complete the 110 anniversary Girl Scout memory form and participate in our social media campaign where we’ll share a Girl Scout memory every day on our social media platforms beginning March 7 leading up to the 110 anniversary on March 12. From service projects done in the 1970s to summer camp fun had in 2010, we want to share your Girl Scout story.

So grab some balloons and get ready to blow out the candles – we’re getting this party started.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Put your leftover Valentine’s Day candy to work with this brownie recipe

By Rebekah Stefl

Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, we all have one important question: What do we do with all this extra candy? One option is to use your gifted treats to make your own new dessert! Check out our recipe for Kitchen Sink Brownies to learn how to put your leftover V-Day goodies to use.

Get creative with your leftover Valentine’s Day candy and use them as toppings for homemade brownies.

Kitchen Sink Brownies

Ingredients (Brownies)

  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp. water

Ingredients (Topping)

  • 6 oz. of your preferred chocolate for melting
  • 3 tsp. butter
  • Your preferred toppings (chocolate chips, chopped up candy bars, caramel bits, pretzels, potato chips, etc.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large bowl, mix brownie mix, eggs, butter and water to form batter. Pour into greased 8×8 nonstick baking tray. Bake 50-55 minutes or as directed on box – allow to cool completely.
  3. Add chocolate and butter to a microwave safe bowl and heat until melted. Pour chocolate mixture over cooled brownies and spread to coat. Add toppings of your choice and allow to cool until chocolate has set.
  4. Slice and enjoy!
Rebekah Stefl is a Volunteer Support Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Pressing forward: Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania mitigating supply chain challenges

By Janet Donovan

It’s COOKIE SEASON in Northeast and Central Pennsylvania – our third during this COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. When COVID-19 struck in 2020, our girls provided Girl Scout Cookies to their customers through creative and innovative ways, despite the lock downs. Our business community shared in helping those efforts. They learned about how to take their cookie business digital and how to create opportunities for contactless delivery. The second year, in 2021, they built on those skills, and many troops focused on Gifts of Caring to support our first responders and deployed military. This year, Girl Scouts, along with the rest of the nation, are learning about supply chain.

Recent national media attention about the Girl Scouts highlighted some of the production challenges that councils are experiencing regarding our Cookie Program. Although Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), hasn’t been immune to supply chain and labor issues, we are working diligently with our girls, our volunteers and our customers to ensure positive outcomes for our membership and for those we serve.

This is also an important time to remember that not every Girl Scout council is affected in the same way. Cookie Program seasons, consumer preferences and production schedules all factor into the mix.

GSHPA was informed by our baker, Little Brownie Bakers, earlier this year that they were experiencing production delays that may impact the availability of some types of cookies. Specifically, we have reduced S’mores and Adventurefuls cookies from our online order system due to demand.

To learn more about our digital order options from Girl Scouts you can visit our GSHPA site. Additionally, in-person cookie booth sales will begin in March.

Our Girl Scouts can and will rise to meet any challenge. We don’t have to look that far back in our past to see how our girls have proven time and again their resiliency when faced with adversity and challenges.

Let us also look beyond the Cookie Program, because our council – our volunteers, our members and our staff – never stopped providing key programming, interpersonal connections and outdoor experiences when most in-person contact was limited during the pandemic. Those connections provided countless positive outcomes for our girls during a very unsettling time.

Fast forward to present day and our girls are only just getting started with their 2022 Cookie goals, which we are already exceeding over last year. We are doing everything possible to ensure every Girl Scout can bring our beloved Girl Scout Cookies to their customers. Supporting our entrepreneurship efforts can be as easy as picking up some of your old favorites or trying something new this year. All proceeds from cookie sales remain local, with troops or our council, and girls will need community support and patience as they work to conquer this next challenge to their cookie businesses.  Thank you for supporting our youngest entrepreneurs on their pandemic business journey!

It’s important to note that we are grateful to have a strong and resilient GSHPA community to thank for our support as we move forward. Your support allows us to enjoy future success.

Janet Donovan is the President and CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

Daisies bloom through GSHPA’s Kindergarten Readiness campaign

By Catherine Amoriello

It may only be February, but spring has arrived early with the bloom of Girl Scout in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s (GSHPA) Daisy recruitment and kindergarten preparation programming initiative Kindergarten Readiness.

The Kindergarten Readiness program provides girls the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten, as well as provides parents/caregivers the tools they need to help support their girls. With focuses on socialization, learning and building relationships both within Girl Scouts and with the broader community, Kindergarten Readiness lays the foundation girls need to find success in their first year of school.

Girls participate in an activity at a Girl Scout outdoors camp.
A group of Girl Scout Daisies gather for an activity during a Mom and Me camp experience at Camp Happy Valley.

“Starting school in general is tough for parents of kindergarten kids. It’s a whole new world,” said Claire Gilbert, GSHPA’s Membership Coordinator. “Girl Scouts are in a prime position to swoop in and help out with that.”

But the program is more than just kindergarten prep; it’s an easy way for girls to get involved with Girl Scouts as Daisies.

“Girls that enter at the Daisy level stay longer and they have better experiences,” Gilbert said. “This is a great time to start having those one-on-one experiences with your daughter. It’s something we want to get people involved in.”

Although Gilbert has been involved with GSHPA’s kindergarten programming in the past, this will be her first year coordinating the readiness campaign. Gilbert knows first-hand the advantages of getting involved in Girl Scouts at a young age, as she began her own Girl Scout journey as a Daisy.

“I just had such a formative experience. My troop members are still my best friends,” Gilbert said. “I love the cooperation aspect of it. You don’t have to be good at Girl Scouts–you can just do the activities and immerse yourself.”

From participating as a Daisy to working as a summer camp staff member to joining GSHPA’s ranks officially as a Volunteer Support Coordinator (VSC) in 2013, Gilbert’s Girl Scout resume speaks for itself. And although her history and experience are qualification enough to take on Kindergarten Readiness, she has one other trick up her sleeve–she is a mother to her own kindergartener and Daisy, Thora.

Girl scout and her mom smile for a picture.
Claire Gilbert and her daughter Thora pose for a selfie during one of GSHPA’s Mom and Me camp sessions.

“Having my daughter in the program has been great. It was an easy process for me,” Gilbert said. “She’s coming home telling me things about her experience and learning about the Girl Scout Law. Listening to this narrative come out of her is the cutest thing. It’s an extenuation of my own time with the Girl Scouts.”

Learning the beginning elements of Girl Scouting is just one aspect of the Kindergarten Readiness experience. Girls will also learn about life skills, making new friends and socialization. These fundamental basics will be especially important for girls to be exposed to after having spent their developmental years in a COVID-lockdown environment.

“As a Daisy, I know Thora is getting a positive, affirming social experience with girls her age and women mentors. That is invaluable to me as a parent.”


Gilbert said her own daughter felt the impacts of COVID-related isolation, and through Girl Scouts she has been able to establish a sense of community with other little girls participating in the program.

“I’ve really liked Girl Scouts because it gives her that socialization outside of school where she’s having fun but learning those key morals,” Gilbert said.  “It’s going to give her those strong building blocks. Helping your community, taking pride in your community, learning how to talk to people in your community–that’s important.”

While Kindergarten Readiness serves Daisy-level girls, the program’s impact reaches future Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. Today’s Daisies are tomorrow’s Gold Award earners. The long-term success of girls depends on Daisy involvement and retention.

“We want them to start growing a strong sense of self, start making new friends [and] having new experiences. That’s why it’s called Daisy Launch, because they’re starting their Girl Scout adventure,” Gilbert said.

As for Gilbert, she’s excited to pass the Girl Scout torch and watch her own Daisy sprout from the ground and reach for the sky.

Little Girl Scout has fun at camp.
Thora takes a water break during her first Girl Scout experience at Camp Happy Valley. Through GSHPA’s kindergarten readiness programming, Thora seamlessly joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy.

“[Girl Scouts] opened doors for me,” Gilbert said. “[I hope] it can have even a smidgen of effect on my daughter in the same way.”

Claire Gilbert shares why she wanted her daughter to be a Girl Scout.
Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

Are you ready to take on our February STEAM challenges?

By Colleen Buck

The GSHPA Program Team loves incorporating science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) into our programs. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we created 10 STEAM challenges girls and troops can take part in this month. Don’t forget to sound off in the comments once you’ve completed all of the challenges!

Academic Edge program helps girls overcome hurdles to join Girl Scouts

By Catherine Amoriello

From its inception, one of the main priorities of Girl Scouts has been inclusivity. Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) believes that every girl should have the opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun through Girl Scouts.

Unfortunately, many girls face barriers that prevent them from having the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouting. Whether it’s lack of financial resources or not having enough support at home to join, for many there is a wall separating them from all the benefits Girl Scouts has to offer. But through the GSHPA Academic Edge program, these walls can be torn down to ensure every girl has the chance to thrive as a Girl Scout.

“Honestly, this program benefits all girls. We see more growth in girls who are more at risk,” said GSHPA Program Manager Katie Swiglo. “We’re giving them a safe environment to be social and take risks in the hopes this five-week program will give them the support they need throughout their school career to flourish.”

Girls work diligently on a craft activity during an Academic Edge program session.

Swiglo oversees Academic Edge, and has been leading the program since April 2020. Established at GSHPA in 2018, Academic Edge blends the Common Core State Standards of education with Girl Scout programming to bring the Girl Scout way to school grounds.

“The inspiration for running Academic Edge comes from not all girls have the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts,” Swiglo said. “We want to go where the girls are, specifically in schools, to bring Girl Scouts directly to them.”

Swiglo currently runs the program in six schools with about 85 girl participants. GSHPA works with the schools to determine the best time to host the five-week long program, which can operate during the school day or directly after school. Since the program’s introduction, Academic Edge has had many repeat customers in schools that see the value in bringing the program onto their campus.

“Schools want us to continue coming back year after year,” Swiglo said. “The schools see the excitement the girls have for Girl Scouts and how much fun they’re having. They want the girls to learn in a fun way and enjoy learning, because they’re going to need to carry that with them through their lives.”

GSHPA Program Manager Katie Swiglo believes every girl deserves the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts.

Academic Edge’s success and worth is in large part credited to the individuals who manage the program. Swiglo, who recently added a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction to her knowledge and expertise in educational programming, cites her own nine years as a Girl Scout as having had an impact on how she runs the program.

“Girl Scouts developed my teaching philosophy. Kids learn when they’re having fun and playing. We’re teaching them just as much as they do in school but we’re doing it in a fun and creative way,” Swiglo said. “What I appreciate in our program team is the background in education. We’re delivering programs with the psychology of learning in mind when developing and delivering programs.”

Girl participating in coding activity.
A girl ponders her next step in a coding activity provided through the Academic Edge program.

Academic Edge offers four different programming tracks, similar to the four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) – science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), life skills, outdoors, and leadership skills. Participating schools will see their girls learn about a variety of topics, from robots and coding, to Leave No Trace principles, to digital leadership.

So at what cost does this type of in-depth programming come for both the schools and the girls? The answer is simple: not one dime. Just by participating in Academic Edge girls receive free membership for their first year of Girl Scouts and schools aren’t required to contribute a single cent toward funding the program. This is all thanks to grants secured by GSHPA’s Fund Development Department. Since the program is standards-based and supports classroom education, donors see the worth in putting their dollars toward the initiative.

“The difference between what a school can do and what Girl Scouts can do is we are inspiring girls in a different way.”


Academic Edge has proven itself successful, but Swiglo cites a lack of awareness around the benefits of Girl Scouting in the academic community, as well as COVID-related challenges, has made it difficult for GSHPA to get the program into more schools. She believes a better understanding of what the program has to offer would entice more schools to participate.

“Girl Scouts is coming into the school with a different set of resources than the school may have,” Swiglo said. “We’re also coming in with a fresh perspective in our knowledge of what girls want and what girls like. So the difference between what a school can do and what Girl Scouts can do, while we’re hitting some of the same goals, we are inspiring the girls in different ways.”

An Academic Edge participant is eager to share why she loves Girl Scouts.

Through Academic Edge, Swiglo hopes to make it easy for every girl to reap the rewards of Girl Scouting. From kindergarteners learning to make new friends to fifth-graders discovering the power of their voices, the program welcomes all girls to realize their potential through GSLE.

“Every girl deserves the opportunity to participate in a program like Girl Scouts,” Swiglo said. “I want to spread our wonderful programming to as many girls as possible.”

For more information about how you can participate in Academic Edge, please contact GSHPA Program Manager Katie Swiglo at or by phone at (717) 884-4220.

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at

February event calendar available now

Join Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) as we gear up for another month full of programs for Girl Scouts of all ages! Visit our event calendar to view the full list of GSHPA programs offered.

In February we celebrate World Thinking Day, and this year’s theme is Our World, Our Equal Future. Explore with us as we learn about climate change and gender equality, discover female changemakers and how we can follow in their footsteps, and learn how we can change the world through fun videos, trivia, and activities.

Registration is open for all February events–we hope to see you there!

Why do you love camp?

By Cathy Hirko

Brylea Starr is a 10th-grader who lives in Lycoming County, one of the 30 counties in our GSHPA footprint.

She is a Girl Scout in Troop 60041 and she loves to travel, sell Girl Scout cookies—she has a healthy competitiveness about her—and is a big fan of attending camp at Camp Small Valley in the summer.

older girl scout laughing while talking about camp.
Brylea Starr visits our GSHPA Harrisburg office to share why she loves camp.

She’s part of an elite group of GSHPA campers known as VICs: Very Involved Campers.

What’s a VIC, you ask? A VIC is a girl who participated in a GSHPA summer camp experience. You get the opportunity to earn VIC swag and provide feedback on camp themes, sign up with early registration, and get a snazzy VIC rocker for your Camp Small Valley patch.

Basically, you are kind of an insider camp expert.

Brylea and her mom visited the GSHPA Harrisburg office last year so Brylea could share her thoughts about camp and why she loves it. She had a ton of reasons, and wasn’t shy about expressing them. I loved talking to her for the recordings.

We captured this first one below. It’s short and sweet. Look for many more to come that feature Brylea.

And a big thank you to Brylea and her mom for helping us out. Your support and contribution to the Girl Scouts are the very reasons we love what we do here at GSHPA.

Get Creative! Girl Scouts shine as entrepreneurs

By Cathy Hirko

This time of year my social media feeds have been BLOWING UP with all things Girl Scouts. From customers looking to buy Girl Scout Cookies to members sharing their favorite Girl Scouts memories, the digital world is pulsing with Girl Scout life.

Our Girl Scout Entrepreneurs are also using online platforms to market their cookies and demonstrate the fun of our Cookie Program.

Take this gem of a video:

It 100 percent will make you smile. The music, the fun, the creativity — the cookie shopping!

It all resonates with anyone who is passionate about what they do. And as the days grow more hectic and busy, we need to remember to breathe, and remember that having fun should always be a part of our day.

If you know of a Girl Scout, or Girl Scouts who you think we should highlight on the blog, please reach out. We would love to share their story or stories, and their videos!

That’s it for this post. Short and sweet.

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend. Soon, you will be enjoying Girl Scout Cookies!