Happy Mother’s Day from GSHPA!

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the women in our lives who are mothers or have been mother figures to us. I’m sure we are all accustomed to this holiday, and usually spend it giving flowers, gifts or even allowing the women in our lives to spend the entire day relaxing. We celebrate this holiday every year, but have you ever heard how Mother’s Day came to be?  

In the late 1800’s, several women around the United States tried to inspire local Mother’s Day celebrations, and are considered to be early Mother’s Day pioneers. It wasn’t until 1905, with the death of one of those pioneers that the official Mother’s Day holiday that we celebrate today really took off. After the passing of her mother, Anna Jarvis worked with a Philadelphia department store to hold the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908. Thousands of people attended, and this inspired Anna to fight to have the holiday added to the national calendar. Her argument was that American holidays were biased toward male achievements. She worked to organize a letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians to adopt a special day to honor motherhood. Finally, after persisting for several years, President Woodrow Wilson officially signed Mother’s Day as we know it into existence in 1914.  

Mother’s Day is also widely celebrated around the world, though not always on the same day as here in the states. For example, in Thailand Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of their queen. In Ethiopia families gather in the fall to celebrate mothers with a large feast that lasts several days! In France, Mother’s Day is at the end of May or early June, and is typically celebrated very similarly to the way we celebrate.  

Daises: Jeannette, Genevive S., and Rosalina S. 

GSHPA Troop 70304 in Lancaster worked together to create handmade cards to give to their moms!  

No matter how you celebrate Mother’s Day, it is important to recognize and thank the women in our lives for all that they do for us. If you’re still looking for ideas of what to give for Mother’s Day, check out a list of my favorite ideas below! 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas 

  • A handmade card or letter 
  • A fresh, summery scented candle (you could even make this yourself!) 
  • Breakfast in bed 
  • A pressed flower card or framed arrangement  
  • A day of relaxation – doesn’t have to be at a spa, this could be letting her enjoy a day to herself at home! 

Let us know in the comments what your favorite Mother’s Day gifts to give or receive are! 


Written by Colleen Sypien

SPOTLIGHT- Alumni, Always a Sister

Chloe Wegrzynowicz: Girl Scouts creates spark in building confidence in self and in helping others 

Taking the time to learn about some of GSHPA’s Alumni is probably, hands-down, one of the most favorite aspects of my work here in the marketing and communications department for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.  

The day-to-day duties are also rewarding, but when I get a chance to learn more and be inspired by our members, especially those Girl Scouts that have taken action to the next level, it’s the perfect reboot that I need.  

The story of Harrisburg native and recent high school graduate, Chloe Wegrzynowicz, is one such reboot. Here’s her story in the making. She speaks loudly for those who might need a voice. We are lucky to have her in our ranks.  

GSHPA: Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Your current schooling and your career track. 

CHLOE: I am from Central Pennsylvania, but was born in Harrisburg, PA.  I have a younger sister and three half-brothers. I am especially close with my sister Haley. I am currently enrolled at Emory University (Go Eagles!). I will hopefully be double majoring in Spanish (BA) and Philosophy, Politics, and Law (BA PPL) or Spanish (BA) and Anthropology & Biology (BS). After Emory, I aspire to continue my education and become an immigration lawyer or oncologist. I’m a little unsure yet but I definitely want to use my life to learn more and help others.  

GSHPA: What are some of your favorite memories regarding your Girl Scout experience? 

CHLOE: Being a Girl Scout was one of my favorite things from high school. I made some of my best friends through Girl Scouts. Every fall we would go to a festival, which was especially memorable. My favorite memories are the ones in which I was with my sister scouts, which is just about all of my memories. But, I wouldn’t be where I am without their support and encouragement. 

GSHPA: Has your experiences in Girl Scouting affected your leadership style/experience now. If so, can you explain? 

CHLOE: Yes. Before I joined Girl Scouts I was incredibly shy. However, when I went to my first meeting everyone was kind and open to hearing what I had to say. Throughout the years, I learned to have a voice, which has helped me to be a better leader. Now, I have the confidence to be who I am, as I am, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.  

GSHPA: Tell us a bit about your Gold Award project. 

CHLOE: I wanted to address bullying, and more specifically peer pressure as it relates to self-validity amongst high school students. There was a great deal of bullying, peer pressure, depression, and party-culture at my high school, and I wanted to do something to address that. Confidence was something I also really struggled with, especially as a Type One Diabetic I often felt very self-conscious. After two of my peers passed away, I decided to dedicate my project to helping students “Believe” in themselves.  I painted a mural inspired by one of my favorite quotes by Dante Alighieri, “From a Little Spark May Burst a Flame”.  I also filmed a documentary addressing how exactly those issues affected students from three different schools/backgrounds. Lastly, I gave a speech in front of my student body about my experiences with confidence and the path to learning to not only love others but to love yourself, too.  

GSHPA: What are some ways you can recommend participating in the Girl Scouts as a volunteer? 

CHLOE: There are so many ways to volunteer with Girl Scouts. I think the best way to volunteer is to go through the Girl Scouts webpage.  Troops need help with field trips, cookie sales, and sometimes guest speakers for badges.  It’s also nice to give advice to younger Girl Scouts who are looking to work for a Gold Award.  

GSHPA: If you have any particular hobbies that you would like to share, we would love to hear about them! 

CHLOE: 

  • I love creative writing. It is one of my favorite things to do.  
  • I also exercise every day; I love lifting and yoga especially. My goal is to learn Titthibasana  
  • I play the piano for fun and am currently teaching myself the Ukulele.  

Written by Cathy Hirko

The Perfect Pairing: Girl Scout Edition

When you think of a perfect pairing for a Girl Scout cookie, what comes to mind? For me, it’s usually a glass of milk. But have you ever considered pairing your cookie with a glass of wine, beer, or even a whiskey?

Well, we did! As a thank you to our volunteers on Volunteer Appreciation night in April, we held a virtual Girl Scout Cookie Pairing and we’ve compiled our favorite tips below to share. Let us know what you think!

Toffee-tastic

  • Beers: For a buttery cookie such as Toffee-tastics, you’ll want to pair this with a scotch ale to bring out the caramel flavor.
  • Wines: To pair a Toffee-tastic with a wine, we recommend something with a stronger flavor. You could even pair this with a local cider!
  • Spirits: For a spirit, we suggest pairing with a flavored vodka (think caramel, vanilla, or anything sweet).

Bonus tip: If you prefer something non-alcoholic, we recommend dipping a Toffee-tastic in your coffee or hot chocolate!

S’mores

  • Beers: For a beer pairing, you can’t go wrong with a Russian imperial stout. Pairing the sweetness of the cookie with the roasted flavor of a dark stout will make you feel like you are roasting marshmallows over a campfire! For a beyond perfect pairing, don’t miss the local S’mores stout from Maxie’s in Cumberland County.
  • Wines: For wines, S’mores appeals to two flavor pallets, anything from a more subtle rosé to a drier merlot. You can’t go wrong!
  • Spirits: A unique spirit that pairs with several cookies, but especially S’mores, is peanut butter whiskey. We recommend Ole Smokey or Skrewball.

Bonus tip: Put your S’mores cookie in the microwave for 10 seconds to get the same gooey marshmallow as if you roasted it over a campfire!

Lemon-ups

  • Beers: For a unique cookie like Lemon-ups, you’ll want something light and airy to bring out the citrus flavor. Lemon-ups pair well with an IPA or a Hefeweizen which brings out the bright, citrus flavors of the cookie. For a local brew, head up to Troegs and check out First Cut or Joyous, which packs the perfect fruity punch.
  • Wines: For wines, you can’t go wrong with your favorite sparkling or white wine.
  • Spirits: The ultimate spirit pairing for Lemon-ups—a limoncello Moscow mule! For this easy perfect pairing, you’ll need limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, ginger beer, and lemon slices (for serving, of course).

Trefoils

  • Beers: For beer, we recommend an IPA but steer clear of anything bitter since the cookie doesn’t have as much sugar to counteract the flavor.
  • Wines: The Trefoil cookie’s light buttery flavor makes it the perfect match for a wine that is bright, fun, and lively. We recommend a semi-sweet Riesling.
  • Spirits: For spirits, you can mix and match a flavored vodka! And, if you are looking for a local option, check out Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg. Their perfect pairing? Lavender lemonade!

Do-si-Dos

  • Beers: The Do-si-Do is a unique, versatile cookie that pairs well with nearly anything—from blonde ale to a dark coffee porter! The porter will accentuate the peanut butter flavor, while bringing out the sweetness of the oatmeal cookie.
  • Wines: For a wine, we recommend a merlot or zinfandel to highlight the cookie’s oatmeal caramel flavor.
  • Spirits: For spirits, we paired our Do-si-Dos with a butterscotch spirit. If you want to go local, head up to Hazards Distillery in Mifflintown to try their butterscotch flavored moonshine.

Samoas

  • Beers: For Samoas, you want to be sure to pair the cookie with something that won’t take away from its flavor. For beer, we recommend steering clear of a blonde or pale ale. Try out a chocolate stout, brown ale, or amber ale instead.
  • Wines: We recommend pairing a Samoa with a sparkling wine or a dessert wine. This is especially perfect for those with a sweet tooth!
  • Spirits: Of course, with a coconut cookie, you can’t go wrong with a coconut rum or even a cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Tagalongs

  • Beers: For a perfect beer pairing, you’ll want something that compliments the sweetness of the cookie without overpowering it. We recommend a Vienna lager or imperial stout.
  • Wines: You’ll want a wine with an assertive flavor, but not overpowering. Think cabernet, madeira, or anything with a bold flavor to cut with the sweetness of the cookie.
  • Spirits: The ultimate perfect spirit pairing with a peanut butter cookie? Peanut butter whiskey, of course! Test out this Skrewball martini recipe to mimic the Tagalong cookie: Skrewball, chocolate syrup, and vanilla vodka.

Thin Mints

  • Beers: Similar to Tagalongs, Thin Mints pair perfectly with an imperial stout.
  • Wines: For a wine, steer clear of anything that will overpower the cookie. Try out a dry merlot, malbec, or port wine.
  • Spirits: Check out the Bailey’s with Mint or a Coffee Liquor, it will elevate the mint flavor for you.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking for a fun, kid friendly pairing, have some Thin Mints and Cheddar cheese, it’s so tasty!

Let us know your favorites in the comments below!


Written by Rachel Lilley, Volunteer

SPOTLIGHT: Happy Mayday!

Have you ever heard of May Day? May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on the first of May. It is an ancient festival of spring and a current traditional spring holiday in many European cultures. Do you enjoy dancing? Singing? How about eating sweets? Then you will love May Day traditions!

In the 19th and 20th centuries people would create May Day baskets to leave at their neighbor’s doorsteps. They were often handmade paper baskets or cones, filled with flowers and sweet treats. The idea was to go to the door of a neighbor, often where a child or significant other lived, leave the basket on the step, knock on the door and then run away yelling “May Basket!”.

Since May Day is all about the arrival of spring, there are lots of fun ways to celebrate! One such way is to dance and sing outside! Some people even dance around a maypole. A maypole is a tall pole, usually made of wood, that has long ribbons connected to it. Everyone grabs a ribbon and dances around the pole in a circle. After some time the ribbons are wound around the pole and create a beautiful wrap! Maypoles were a part of many European folk festivals, and they are still sometimes used in parts of Europe and the Americas today!

Here are more ways to celebrate May Day…

  1. Light a bonfire. Always build fires with an adult present and remember your campfire safety tips!
  2. Gather wildflowers and green branches and decorate your house. Traditionally this was called “Bringing in the May”. You can take beautiful blooms and green items from outside and spread them around your home. Consider putting them in jars or vases.
  3. Make and dance around your own maypole. Get creative! If you don’t have the ability to make or use an actual pole, consider tying some ribbons to a bush instead.
  4. Make a flower crown! Gather flowers with long stems and weave them together in a circle to create a crown.
  5. Take off your shoes and go outside! This is called “grounding” and is a great way to connect with nature. Take a few deep breaths. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair. What do you hear? Birds? A barking dog down the street? Nothing?
  6. Leave a May Basket for your neighbors, just like they did in the 19th and 20th centuries. Follow these directions to make a May Day Basket Cone

Now that you know more about May Day, consider celebrating every year. WELCOME SPRING!


Written by Jess Delp

Thank you Volunteers!

Happy National Volunteer Month! Here at GSHPA, it’s the volunteers that make everything we do possible. We have over 2,900 volunteers that dedicate countless hours to making sure every girl has opportunities of a lifetime. To all of our volunteers, we thank you!

This past year, especially, we’ve leaned on you more than ever. A global pandemic isn’t something that we ever imagined happening, but with all of the extra support of our volunteers, we were able to persevere! Our volunteers stepped up when we needed it most, for that we are very grateful.

We closed our camp gates, office doors, canceled our in-person cookie booths, stopped meeting in person, and went 100 percent virtual. This was something new to all of us, and we had to learn how to navigate a digital world together. The transition wasn’t perfect. In fact, we’re still working on some things, but you and your support and participation were with us every step of the way.

“Despite a pandemic, despite the downturn in the economy, despite all the obstacles ever imagined, Girl Scout Volunteers were still serving and volunteering for the girls,” said Chief Operating Officer Deb Bogdanski. “It is such a testament to the dedication and focus of our volunteers – thank you for everything that each and every volunteer contributes!”

Your efforts do not go unnoticed. We see you encouraging your Daisy troop to be their best selves. We see you putting in extra hours of your personal time to ensure that each girl in your Girl Scout troop is selling cookies to meet their goals. We see you inspiring the next generation of leaders, engineers, artists, teachers and beyond!

This National Volunteer Month (and every day), we want you to know just how vital you are to the success of the best girl leadership development program in the world – a place where every G.I.R.L. can unleash her full potential and make amazing things happen on her terms, largely because of you!

Thank you from our GSHPA leadership team!

Janet Donovan, President and CEO

Deb Bogdanski, COO

Krystell Fox, CFO

Nancy Venner, Chief of Strategy and Public Policy

STEAM Snack: Model Cars

Hello! Welcome back to our monthly post that will focus on STEAM activities and snacks you can do at home with your family or with your troops. 

Ah, it’s finally spring! With the warmer weather approaching, many of us use this time to get some Spring Cleaning started. Why not put all those things in your junk drawer and recycling bins to good use by creating model cars! This STEAM activity brings together the engineering and art by allowing girls to explore their creativity and build something out of objects they have at home. By using everyday “junk” they will expand their minds and repurpose it into something new.  

Why mechanical engineering? 

When you hear the word engineering, you usually think about buildings and bridges. Learning about the different branches or types of engineering is not only interesting, but it can be fun and useful for you and your troop.  

In its most basic definition, mechanical engineering is the design and building of machines. A mechanical engineer is someone who solves problems with creative solutions, usually through designing and building different types of machinery.  Engineers use their imaginations to invent new things and come up with new and better designs. This is a great opportunity to help young girls learn problem-solving skills that help make the world a better place.  

Mechanical engineers are involved in many fields of work, including:

Aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, construction, energy, manufacturing, medicine, railway engineering, and sports!  

Mechanical engineers use the design process to work through their solutions and designs. These are skills the girls can adapt to any situation: 

  1. Define the need 
  1. Brainstorm 
  1. Design 
  1. Build 
  1. Test & evaluate 
  1. Redesign 
  1. Share solutions  

Remember: Steps 4-6 can be repeated in a cycle over and over again until a final design has been found/created.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

We are not all mechanical engineers, and it is ok to feel like we don’t know enough to lead the girls in engineering activities. But remember you do know enough! Focus on the steps of the design process, let the girls lead their projects, see where it goes.  You will get different designs as the girls use their imagination to solve the challenge.   

If you are feeling that you want more expert knowledge, reach out to your troop parents, friends, relatives or other GSHPA troop leaders on the GSHPA Facebook page to see if there is an engineer you can invite to come talk to your girls.   

How do I get started? 

To get familiar with mechanical engineering, watch this video from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It’s a great video to share with your girls to learn about mechanical engineering, understanding how to involve your interests when considering a future career, and learning that mechanical engineering is way more than what you might’ve thought. Video: What is a Mechanical Engineer? –An Introduction  

Before gathering supplies for you to do the activity, remember, it is always easier to guide girls through the process when you have done it yourself.  Start at the beginning and work through each step, make notes (mental or written) on how each step works for you and any modifications you might make for your girls.  When you are done you now have a prototype to share with the girls! 

The Badges 

  • Daisy Mechanical Engineering Model Car: Steps 1 & 3 
  • Brownie Mechanical Engineering Race Car: Steps 2, 4, & 5 
  • D/B/J/C/S/A Think Like an Engineer Journey: Step 1 
  • Find out how engineers use design thinking to solve problems. 

The Activity 

Supplies 

Look in your junk drawer, recycling bin, and around the house for materials to create a model car.  

General supplies: paper, pencil, tape, glue/hot glue, and scissors. 

Things that might be handy for designing/redesigning: rubber bands, push pins/tacks,  

Here are some suggestions for specific model car parts: 

  • Body of car: water bottle, toilet paper/paper towel tube, juice box, disposable cup, takeout container, ice cream container, milk carton, cardboard box, tissue box, cans (soda, canned food) 
  • Axles: straws, BBQ skewers, chopsticks, toothpicks, pencils, pens  
  • Wheels: bottle caps, candy mints with a hole in the middle, CDs, cardboard circles, buttons, beads  
  • Connecter for attaching wheels to axle: dry sponge, foam, clay, marshmallow cut in half 

Introduction to the girls 

Start the activity by talking to the girls about what a mechanical engineer is and introduce the design process.  This would be a good opportunity to share the “What is a Mechanical Engineer?” video with the group.  

If you have a large group or think your girls would enjoy working in pairs have them pair up at this point. Explain that they will be following the design process for each step of this activity. 

Define the need 

To build a model car out of materials found around the home, build a car that will move when pushed or using air as an energy source. 

Brainstorm & Design 

Give each girl a piece of paper and pencil and set the timer to at least 5 minutes (10 minutes if you think your girls need more time) to brainstorm their ideas. Girls should use the full five minutes to draw their ideas and write down any thoughts. If they think they’re done, ask them to get more specific or draw their design from different angles/points of view. What kind of car do they want to create? What is their power source? What materials are they going to use? 

Build 

Have girls grab their materials and build their cars! Encourage them to try out different materials and take a moment to think how it will work in their designs. Remind them that it’s okay if it doesn’t work how they imagined – mechanical engineers encounter problems like this every day in their jobs. Problems are a way to find the solution.  

Test & Evaluate 

Remind the girls that as they are testing to ask themselves questions like: How it is working? How does it look? Is there something I can do to make it perform better? What other material would work since this one doesn’t? Can I adjust something before taking away that material? Will changing one thing affect another?  

Redesign 

Girls take those questions they asked themselves and redesign their cars. Some may need small changes and others may need to start over. Remind them: if your car doesn’t work the way you want it to, that’s not a failure, that’s an opportunity to make it better. Take a few minutes to think about what went wrong and how you can change it. Once it is redesigned, test and evaluate again. 

Share Solutions 

Once everyone has designed, built, and tested their cars it’s time to share! Have each girl showcase her car and share what she did to create it, test it, and improve it.  

As a group, ask the girls questions like: 

  • What made your car go faster? 
  • What would have slowed the cars down? 
  • What failures did you face? What did you do to work through it? 
  • How did you improve your designs?  
  • If you had more time, what would you do? 

Time for a Snack 

Great job! Keep the mechanical engineering theme going by creating and eating your own apple and grape race cars!  

Ingredients:  

  • Apple  
  • Grapes 
  • Toothpick  
  • Knife to cut fruit  

Directions: 

  • Grab your apple and cut two full cheeks – cut the two sides of the apple, leaving the middle. Slice out the center into thirds, creating a wedge.  
  • Cut grapes in half. 
  • Push 2 toothpicks into each apple wedge to represent the car axles. Put the grape halves on each side to represent wheels. 
  • Enjoy!  

Source/credit: 

https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/apple-race-car-snack-recipe/hgdm5z2c


Written by: Colleen Park

Autism Awareness Month

The public has come to know April as Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. This is a time when the world recognizes and celebrates the rights of individuals with autism.

With the support of the Autism community, this year, a change has taken place. Autism Awareness month has shifted to Autism Acceptance month. The many autism community advocates and organizations across the United States, which provide resources to families and have been advocating for acceptance, hope this shift in name will make a bigger impact in the eyes of the public. This is a huge deal to the 1 in every 54 Americans currently living with autism. 

Most of us have heard of Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however very few fully understand everything that goes along with that diagnosis. Even being a mom to a son with autism, I am by no means an expert on this topic. There is a saying in the autism community, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

The reason this saying resonates, is because autism is a spectrum disorder. For instance, my son does fairly well in school academically and is able to communicate verbally, however he struggles to regulate his emotions and interpret social cues. For him, those struggles lead to behavior issues and trouble interacting with others. While some can communicate verbally, some children with autism may also have intellectual disabilities, developmental speech delays, or the inability to express their needs, which could require more support in school and at home. Sometimes these differences cause children on the spectrum to feel isolated and disconnected.  

Troop Leaders can help girls with autism spectrum disorder by providing an accepting and safe environment to learn & practice important social and life skills. Girl Scouts is for everyone and all girls can benefit from the sisterhood. If you have the opportunity to include girls with ASD, I have included some suggestions to make the transition easier for everyone involved. 

One Troop Leader in Atlanta suggests, just as you would do with any other troop, don’t be afraid to tell parents that you need help – they’ll pitch in, especially when they see the effort you’re making to include their girls. This is a great way to ensure troop success. For instance, when parents or caregivers are participating at the meetings, they will know if their daughter had a bad day or if she has fears or issues about certain things and will be there to provide extra support, allowing the Troop Leader to assist the other girls in the troop. 

Another suggestion is to have a discussion with the girls not on the spectrum about being differently abled, as this will help create the accepting and safe environment for the girl(s) on the spectrum. It can be as simple as letting them know someone with autism is joining their troop and asking them if they know what autism is or if they know someone who has autism. Also, knowing in advance some characteristics of autism, such as, doesn’t talk much, is scared of sudden loud sounds, or doesn’t look people in the eyes when speaking, can help to lessen overwhelming amount of questions at the first meeting.  

A few things to keep in mind when including girls with ASD: 

– Establish a routine. Children with autism are especially responsive when there is a clear structure and routine. 

– Use many visuals. Using visual charts, checklists, illustrations, and videos can all help with expectation and communication.  

– Support during transition. Changing routines or even unstructured time, such as moving from one space or activity to another can be tough for kids with ASD. 

Below I have listed the website and article used for this blog, as well as, additional websites troop leaders can find more information about autism:   

Autism Society – https://www.autism-society.org/ 

GSUSA Blog Post – https://www.girlscouts.org/en/adults/volunteer/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html 

ASERT – https://paautism.org/ 

The Tommy Foundation – https://www.tommyland.org/ 


Written by Debbie Ramsey-Golden

Going for Gold

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Seniors and Ambassadors work towards earning their Gold Award by taking on issues they feel passionate about and making a difference in their community. Not only is earning the Gold Award an amazing achievement on its own, but it can also open up doors for those who earn it, through scholarships, college and career opportunities, and more. The Gold Award year runs a little differently than our typical Girl Scout year, and our most recent Gold Award earners are in the class of 2021. The most recent Gold Award year ran from April 2020 to April 2021, and we are so excited to celebrate with the class of 2021 virtually this May.  

We have had so many amazing Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award in our council. This year alone we have 58 Gold Award Girl Scouts throughout GSHPA! In reflection, and as a fun way to share some Gold Award experiences, I connected with a few council staff members to ask them about their Gold Award projects. Caroline Jaeger, our Product Program Outreach Specialist, earned her Gold Award in 2013, and Gina Naticchi, Volunteer Support Coordinator in the Scranton area earned hers in 2003, and both were kind enough to tell me about their experiences! 

1.    Can you tell us a little bit about your Gold Award project? 

Caroline: My Gold Award project was titled Laxin’ Legacy. I played lacrosse from a very young age and knew I’d be going on to play in college when I was thinking about what my project would be. I knew I wanted to combine my passions and decided to have lacrosse be incorporated into my Gold Award. I arranged a mentorship program between the high school girls lacrosse team and the local rec team. Once per week during the spring season, myself and a group of high school girls from the lacrosse team would go over to the rec team’s practice to coach/run their practice. During this time we would do two things: 1) teach an advanced lacrosse skill to help them for when they reached high school tryouts, and 2) sit down and have a conversation about what to expect when you get to high school – not just athletically, but socially and academically – and answer their questions to prepare them for a successful and easy transition to high school. At the end of the season, I gave them a manual of everything we coached them on, and the high school team continued to run this program after I graduated. 

Gina:  I put on a huge flag retirement ceremony in my town. There had never been a flag retirement held in my town before and I felt that with all the buildings that had flags outside, it was a great idea to hold one so businesses had a way to properly dispose of old flags.  I ended up contacting and collecting old flags from businesses and set up collection boxes all around town for people to drop off old flags.  I then planned an entire ceremony that involved several local organizations, including Girl Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, fire departments, American Legions, VFW’s and local politicians.    

2.    What is something you learned from your project that has stuck with you into adulthood? 

Caroline: When you combine your passions in life with whatever you are working on or working toward, you will have success and you will enjoy the journey. This was true when combining my love of lacrosse with my Girl Scout Gold Award, and it is true now with having a career in an organization that I am passionate about. 

Gina: One thing I learned is how quickly the community was willingly to help me. I specifically remember I was hoping to get a local priest or pastor to do a small prayer at the start of the flag retirement ceremony.  I called a local church that I wasn’t a member of, to see if they would be willing to do the prayer at the ceremony, and the church immediately said yes.  At the time, I figured since I had no connections and wasn’t a member of the local church, they would say no.  The fact that the church went out of their way to help me, really showed how my town was willing to help each other out when asked. It’s such a small detail, but clearly it means something to me when I remember it from almost 20 years later.  

3.    What skills did you learn from earning your Gold Award that help you today? 

Caroline: There were so many skills that I learned and grew during my Gold Award that help me today, and most of them are centered around leadership. Some of these skills include planning, public speaking, and time-management. The skill of leading my peers was a significant one. At the high school age it is easy to be a follower or just hide in the crowd. Doing my project forced me to rally my peers – my teammates – to help me out and get them just as excited about this impactful project as I was.  

Gina: Leadership, communication, and organizational skills. It doesn’t sound like it would be a lot of effort, but putting on a successful flag retirement ceremony took a lot of time and work.  At the time, I had only been to a few flag retirement ceremonies, and I would go, help put old flags in a fire and would leave. Because I wanted my project to involve the entire community I spent a lot of time reaching out to businesses about collecting flags. I also spent a lot of time planning the actual ceremony itself because I wanted to make sure that I involved local organizations as speakers. Even something as simple as finding a location was difficult because I had to make sure the area was large enough for the ceremony but I also needed to make sure that the fire dept had easy access in case something happened.  

4.    In your opinion, why should girls want to earn their Gold Award? 

Caroline: Girls should be driven to earn their Gold Award because it gives them an opportunity to make an impact on this world in a way that they decide, and it sets them up with a foundation for success at such a pivotal time in their life. 

Gina: Girls should want to earn their Gold Award because it’s the highest achievement you can earn in Girl Scouts. I love knowing that I started Girl Scouts when I was in Kindergarten and continued it through High School and was able to earn the highest award. Very few girls earn their Gold Award and I love being part of the elite club of Gold Award recipients. It also feels so good knowing I did a successful project that helped my community.  Participating in product program, going camping and earning badges is a huge part of Girl Scouts, but helping the community was always my favorite part.     

 
Earning a Gold Award takes a lot of time, hard work and passion. I think the best way to see that passion first hand is to take the time to talk to a Gold Award Girl Scout near you! You can also view our Class of 2020 and learn about their projects at the bottom of our Gold Award website page. Keep an eye out for the Class of 2021 coming soon! Have you earned your Gold Award? Let us know in the comments! 


Written by Colleen Sypien with writing assistance by Rebekah Stefl

Seven Ways to Spend Earth Day

Spring is finally here!  No more days of bundling up in half of your wardrobe just to walk outside.  We can see the ground, the flowers, the birds, and not under a foot of snow.  Now, how to celebrate the warmer weather?  With some Earth Day activities of course!  Earth Day is officially Thursday, April 22, but why not celebrate all of April?  Check out some of our favorite Earth Day activities and let us know what your favorites are in the comments! 

Nature Photography 

Grab your camera or phone and head outside to take some pictures of what the Earth has to offer.  Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local park or hiking trail and grab a shot of the beauty Mother Nature has for you.  

Cloud Watching/Star Gazing 

Find a blanket and pillows to spread out in your yard and see what shapes and animals you can find in the clouds.  Wait a few more hours and try it again with the stars, look for the Little Dipper, Orion and all the other constellations up in the sky.  

Egg Shell Planting 

Do you have any hard boiled eggs from Easter hanging around? Take the shells and plant them.  Fill the shell with some potting soil and a seed, and once the seed sprouts, plant the whole thing in the ground.  

Outdoor I Spy 

I don’t know about you but I Spy is a favorite game of my kids while on long or short car rides.  The great outdoors has so many things for the eyes to spy, you can sit in your back yard or go for a family hike and take a closer look at what surrounds you in nature.  

Recycled Art 

Take a look in your recycling bin and find some art supplies! Be inspired by the Earth and all that you can find in nature to create something to celebrate Earth day, Share your piece with family and friends to help inspire them.  

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt 

We are all about scavenger hunts, and now here is one for exploring outdoors on Earth Day. Here is a list we put together to hunt for, you can collect them in a bucket or even better take a picture and cross it off the list.  (Remember Principle 4 of Leave No Trace, leave what you find.) 

  •  Rock 
  •  Stick 
  •  Leaf 
  •  Grass 
  •  Litter 
  •  Flower 
  •  Spider Web 
  •  Dirt 
  •  Ant 
  •  Feather 
  •  Bark 
  •  Bug 
  •  Slug 
  •  Water 
  •  Worm 
  •  Cloud 

Earth Day Cookies 

We found this great post on how to make Earth Day Cookies!  Simple and tasty what could be better!? 


Written by Liz Bleacher

Famous Girl Scouts

There are so many amazing Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in the world, and reading about what they have accomplished and done for the world is so uplifting. Keep reading to learn about some of my favorite famous Girl Scouts! 

Sally Ride 

Sally grew up as a Girl Scout, and became the first woman to fly in space in 1983. She’s been an advocate for science education, particularly for girls, and was a professor of physics at the University of California. She also co-founded Camp CEO, a Girl Scouts mentorship program! 

Queen Latifah 

Latifah was a nickname growing up, and it means delicate and sensitive in Arabic. Despite a nickname that may have made people think she was meek and mild, her career and success has been anything but! She debuted her first album when she was just 19, and her successes are incredibly empowering to read about. She is also the narrator of the documentary about famous Girl Scouts in “Lifetime of Leadership”. 

Katie Couric 

Katie worked with a Girl Scout troop in Arlington, Virginia for many years, and has been a dedicated Girl Scout ever since. She is an accomplished journalist, and has helped work with Girl Scouts to raise awareness of the leadership gap between men and women.  

Gloria Steinem 

You may recognize Gloria’s name as an author and journalist, but she has also been an entrepreneur and activist throughout her life. She has helped to launch the Women’s Action Alliance, the Women’s Media Center, and Voters for Choice. Her grandmother was even a chairwoman of the National Woman Suffrage Association! 

Taylor Swift 

Taylor grew up right here in Pennsylvania in Berks County! She started singing at a young age and has gone on to have huge success, even recently been named artist of the decade at the American Music Awards. Despite her successes, she still remembers her Girl Scout roots, and has even given free concert tickets to troops in the past.  

Condoleezza Rice 

As a political scientist and diplomat, Condoleezza has blazed new paths for African American women and women as a whole. She became the first woman and first African American provost at Stanford University, was the national security advisor and secretary of state during George W. Bush’s presidency, and became one of the first female members of Augusta National Golf Club in 2012, a club that had excluded women for 80 years! Her incredible leadership journey began when she was just a girl in Girl Scouts.  

Is your favorite famous Girl Scout part of my list? Leave a comment below if you have other famous Girl Scouts we should read about! 


Written by Colleen Sypien