8 Steps for a Healthy Vacation

Wellness Wednesday focus on vacations near and far.

Summer is in full swing! So for many that means loading up the family (and way too many suitcases) to head off on a fun-filled adventure! Vacations are a time for relaxation and creating memories, but is it possible to avoid those post vacation blues? Yes, it is! If you keep health and wellness in mind when planning you vacation it can be easier to transition back to your routines! Check out these tips and tricks to stay healthy and happy during vacation!  

Bring Snacks:  

  • When traveling on the road snacks can be expensive and sometimes unhealthy. Try packing travel-friendly snacks for the whole family to enjoy!  

Stay Hydrated & Safe: 

  • Vacations can be a lot of fun, but they can also be hot! When traveling bring along a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and ecofriendly! Additionally, if you’ll be spending time in the sun we recommend staying safe. So don’t forget the sunscreen and first aid kits!  

Walking Around Town:  

  • One of the very best ways to get to know a new city or town to travel by foot! Walking gives you the opportunity to see new sights, restaurants and much more! Just remember to wear comfortable walking shoes!  

Plan Active Adventures:  

  • Vacations are a great time to lay on the beach and relax, but they can be active too! Incorporating health into your vacation doesn’t have to be boring, it can be an adventure! Try surfing, a local hike or explore a waterpark with your kids! It will keep you active and be a great time to make family memories!  

Explore Local Restaurants:  

  • Yes, it can be easy to stop by a fast food restaurant while traveling, but when you have time we recommend exploring local restaurants! Trying regional cuisine is a great way to get to know the area and to make healthy choices!  

Eat Breakfast:  

  • Vacations often deter from our daily routines, it is still important to eat breakfast! If you are staying at a hotel or resort try taking advantage of their breakfast options. It is a great way to start your adventure off on the right foot!  

Relax:  

  • Vacations should be the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation! It is important to take time to relax, catch up on sleep and enjoy yourself! We recommend picking up a good book!  

Pace Yourself:  

  • While on vacation many want to “hit the ground running” to explore everything! It can be a great time to experience new things and make memories, but try not to overdo it! Strive for flexibility in your schedule so you can fully enjoy your vacation while still exploring the sites!  

We wish you all the best in your upcoming vacations and beyond! Be sure to share all your favorite vacation tips and tricks with us in the comments!  

STEAM Snack: Beach Day Currents

Summer! I know many people take the opportunity during summer to visit the ocean.  We thought having a STEAM activity to go along with our beach plans would be a fun way to start our summer.  There are so many topics to talk about with the ocean, so this time we are focusing on currents, let us carry you away.

Why Currents?

Currents are important to ocean life, global weather, and for shipping.  Environmentalist can study currents to learn how pollution is transported around the world.  Humans and sea-life have been using currents to travel the world forever, and it is important to learn how we are all connected.

What if I’m not an expert?

During this activity you are going to show the girls the basics of how currents work, hot and cold water.  There is a great TedEd talk that explains currents in a fun way for adults and kids.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4pWafuvdrY&t=35s

Don’t feel like you need to explain everything, you are not expected to know it all, share videos you find that are created by the experts.  If the girls have a question you don’t know the answer to, take a breath and ask you favorite search engine.  Please take a moment to look at the source before sharing with the girls, not everything on the internet is fact.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking about the science of sound:

  • How does the currents impact you?
  • How do you impact the ocean?
  • How does sea-life use ocean currents?
  • How can we help the ocean?

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • Clear Bowl
  • 2 cups
  • Eyedropper
  • Hot and cold water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Salt
  • Paper
  • Crayons/markers
  • Pencil

Take the time to try out the demonstration ahead of time to make sure you don’t have too many surprises when showing the girls. 

The Badges:

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Eco Friend Step 1
  • Junior: Animal Habitats Step 2
  • Cadette:
  • Senior:
  • Ambassador:

Demonstration 1: What is a current?

The Science

The water in the ocean is always moving, thanks to two types of currents – surface and deep.

Surface currents are moved by the winds in the area and affect the top of the ocean.  These currents usually push water towards land and create the waves we see.

Deep currents are made by the sinking of cold water from the earth’s poles, which then drifts to the equator, warms up and rises to the surface and then drifts to the poles again.  There is now a cycle of warming rising water and cold sinking water around the world’s oceans.

We are going to do a demonstration to simulate deep water currents in a glass.  

Step One: Fill one of the cups with half a cup of cold water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and several drops of food coloring.  Fill the other cup with half a cup of warm water and add a teaspoon of salt plus several drops of food coloring mix both cubs well.  Keep them separate.

Step Two: In the bowl, mix one cup of cold water with one tablespoon of salt and mix well.  Now use the eyedropper to slowly add some of the warm blue water and observe what happens.  Once you have done your observations, pour the water out

Step Three: In the bowl, mix one cup of warm water with one tablespoon of salt and mix well.  Now, use the eyedropper to slowly add some of the cold blue water and observe what happens.  Once you are done with your observations, pour the water out. 

What do you see?

You should see that the warm colored water rose to the top as it mixed with the cold water.  You should see that the cold colored water sank to the bottom as it mixed with the warm water.

Explanation

The currents you are observing are convection currents, they are found in the deep waters of the ocean.  Cold water sinks and hot water rises creating movement, or currents, in the ocean.

Activity 1: Who uses Currents?

The Science

Ocean currents flow like huge rivers, sweeping along predictable paths, some are deep, some are at the surface, and some are short, other cross oceans and even the globe. 

Currents help control the climate and are also critical important to sea life.  They carry nutrients and food to organisms that live permanently attached in one place and carry ocean life to new places.

Ocean currents serve as giant highways, helping move migrating animals around the ocean quickly in search of their next meal.  Many animals, especially large ones like wales, sharks, and sea turtles, follow ocean currents to and from their feeding and breeding grounds.

Often you will find smaller animals following the large ones around the currents.  They will tag along for protection and also to gobble up scraps of food, dead skin, and other things to eat. 

Humans have used ocean currents to explore the Earth, they affect the shipping industry.  Many of the items we buy have spent time on a ship in the currents.  Commercial and recreational fishing and recreational sailors use the current to navigate the oceans and find their catches. 

Ocean currents also play a role in moving pollution around.  Oil spills and trash travel around the oceans on the currents.  Debris from Japan after the tsunami years ago washed up on Pacific Northwest beaches. 

We will now create our own ocean current super highway. 

Step One: Brainstorm a list of marine life that uses currents

  • Animals who use currents: whales, sharks, sea turtles, jellyfish, seals, fish, plankton (plants and animals), krill, eggs, larvae, manta rays, shrimp, sunfish, eels, dolphins, lizards. Other items in the currents: ships, nets, trash, oil, trees, debris.

Step Two: Decide who will be in your current and draw them on your paper. 

  • Keep in mind how the animals might interact with each other.  Who is using the current to travel? Who is using it to find food?
  • You can have the girls draw their current or cut out pictures and make it more like a collage. 

Step Three: Share your current with the group.

Wrap up:

Scientist think that we have only explored 5% of the Earth’s oceans.  What would you like to explore and discover?

An Oceanic Snack

Dolphins are a favorite ocean animal for many and here is an easy way to create a adorable snack that is easy and healthy.

Step One: Cut a banana in half.

Step Two: Cut a slit on the stem to make a “mouth”. 

Step Three: Stick a blueberry or other small fruit in the mouth or even a goldfish cracker. 

Step Four: place hungry dolphin into a cup or small bowl filled with fruit.

Some inspiration for your bananas

Now that you know all about currents, share what you learned and let us know in the comments below!

4th of July: Girl Scout Style!

July 4th is Independence Day, a day we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and in a sense the United States’ birthday! Today celebrations are marked with fireworks, cook outs, and most notably decorations of red, white and blue. While we all have our favorite ways to showcase our red, white and blue, I’m here to share with you some fun ways to celebrate the fourth of July…Girl Scout style!  

  • Dress up in your Girl Scout best, and celebrate the men and women who have fought to keep our country independent and free. Place flags at a cemetery, march in a parade with your troop, or even hold a flag ceremony in their honor. 
  • Add in some Girl Scout green to your July 4th celebrations! With adult help set off green fireworks, use green chocolates in your s’mores, add green streamers into your decorations. Girl Scouts care deeply for our country and our fellow citizens…maybe we should change the colors officially to red, white, blue and green? We certainly can in our own celebrations! 
  • Celebrate by earning a Citizen badge. Offered at every age level this badge offers a great chance for girls to learn to celebrate their communities.  
  • Blast to the past and learn about how girls used to celebrate our nation. During World War II, Girl Scouts knit socks for soldiers, planted victory gardens, and even sold war bonds. They also sponsored defense institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids. Kickoff this Fourth of July by planting a victory garden of your own, or learning how to knit socks! 
  • As Girl Scouts we have strong roots in our traditions. One of my favorite traditions is exchanging SWAPS! Get together with your troop or make some on your own to share with your troop later. Check out some of my favorite 4th of July SWAPS ideas below: 

Girl Scouts has a long history of supporting our country, which we date back to Juliette Gordon Lowe. Juliette was a strong patriot, and we as Girl Scouts continue to show our patriotism through sending cards and care packages to those serving our country, marching in parades for Memorial Day, 4th of July and more, placing flags at cemeteries, and so much more. We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday.

Show us in the comments or on social media how you plan to celebrate in Girl Scout style! 

Post by Colleen Sypien, GSHPA

Happy National Campout Day!

Summer has traditionally been camping season in my family and this year the Great American Campout will be Friday June 25th to Saturday, June 26th.  Growing up in National Parks we spent most of our summers backpacking and camping all over the Pacific Northwest, car camping, beach camping, backcountry camping and backyard camping.  I reached out to some friends who are Girl Scouts and some that are avid campers with their families for their favorite tips and tricks for making your next camping experience the best it can be, no matter where you will be setting up your sleeping bag.  

It is OK to stay Connected 

Depending on who you are camping with and what your goals for the trip are, many love the idea of no cell service or WiFi, and for others being connected is an important part of who they are, both ways are good.   

three girls taking a picture outside a tent

If you do decide to stay connected to technology for the camping experience there are many apps out there that can help you have a fun time while engaging with nature.  Apps for star gazing, frog songs, bird identification, really pretty much any natural history topic you can think of, these apps are a good way to integrate the knowledge you learn with the real world experiences you are having.  

#1 Rule: Have Fun!  

That’s it no other tips, having fun looks different for everyone whether you are tent camping, car camping, primitive camping or backcountry camping.  Being prepared and then being flexible will help you keep having fun and we have some tips and tricks below to help you do just that.   

Be Prepared, Keep it Simple:  

Pack what you need, no extra weight, you don’t need as much as you think, pack your first aid kit to your skill level.  

Keep organized:  

camping supplies packed in labeled totes
Photo from takingontoday.com

Organizing your supplies before you leave is a great start to staying organized when you are the campsite.  Using clear tubs and totes makes it easy to see when you need it and easy to pack in the car.  Some suggested themes from fellow Girl Scout campers. 

  • Kitchen Tote: Camping Stove, small tote with camp utensils, spices, Ziploc bags, foil, and dishwashing supplies, charcoal (if needed), matches and propane fuel, paper towels/kitchen towels, wet wipes.  
  • Sleeping Area Tote: Ground cloth or tarp (folded), mattresses for each family member, tent, camp pillows, sleeping bags.  
  • Camp Life Tote: Headlights/flashlights for each family member, cord for hanging wet clothes, games or playing cards, lanterns, chairs, axe, beach towels.  
  • Food/Snacks 
  • Toys/Crafts/Entertainment 

Wash Stations 

When camping with kids of all ages having a hand and foot washing station would be a great idea, a volunteer from York County suggested having a spot in camp where you can sent the dirty hands to get clean throughout the day.  You can use a water just that has an open/close spout or a collapsible water jug. Having a wash basin, a plastic pin that kids and adults alike can step into to wash dirty feet, you will also want to have some towels close by to dry off right away otherwise you will just keep tracking dirt and mud into you tents and sleeping bags.  

baby playing in a tub of water

Baby wipes are also a good alternative to a wash station if you are limited on space or water.  This option will make more trash, so make sure you have a place to keep the used wipes to dispose of appropriately.  Along this line of thought stock up on baby wipes and antibacterial wipes they will come in handy to wipe down kids, tools, hands, faces, etc.  

Food Plans 

two children eating smores
  • Preparing as much food as possible ahead of time 
  • Don’t store food in your car or tents.  
  • Do use bear lockers if provided, do use a lockable cooler, do hang food from a tree in a stuff sack at night at least 10 feet up and three feet out.  Do remember to hang any scented items as well, toothpaste, lotion, chap stick, and shampoo.  
  • Freeze Jugs of water ahead of time and they can act as coolers to keep your food safe, and when they melt you have more drinking water.  Make sure to not fill them up all the way to leave room for when they expand as the freeze.  

Bring Entertainment 

young girl blowing a large bubble

Yes you are going out into nature to explore and be one with the wonders of the wild, but kids tend to have a short attention span and you will only be able to tell them to go watch the clouds so many times. Being prepared with activities that will use the environment you are in and activities that are favorites from home will help keep everyone happy.   

Here are some suggestions from some seasoned campers:  

  • Squirt Guns 
  • Balls – Soccer, Football, baseball 
  • Bubbles 
  • Chalk 
  • Binoculars 
  • Exploring Camp tools 
  • Coloring Books 
  • Crafts (embroidery floss, beads, etc.) 
  • Magnifying Glass 
  • Bug catcher, identification book 
  • Card Games  

Various Tips and tricks from some experiences campers.  

  • Soap Your Pots and Pans, this provides a barrier for all the soot and makes it simple to clean the outside of the pots at the end of the trip.  
  • Always Hat or Bandana: protects from sun and ticks, also bandanas – slings, bandages, potholders, strainers, and more 
  • Plastic Bags, these can be use for everything, storing dirty wet close, keeping extra food safe, storing items you want to keep dry. 
  • Dry feet are happy feet. Have dry socks to change into, also a pair of sandals you could wear around camp to let your feet dry and air out.  Don’t put your wet shoes or boots too close to the fire to dry out.   
group of teenage girls sitting around a camp fire at night.

What other things have you found to be helpful with camping as a troop or family? Share your tips and tricks in the comments so we can all learn something new. 


Written by: Liz Bleacher, Program Coordinator, GSHPA

Making Memories: Dad Style

Four GSHPA Dads Share their Stories

As Girl Scouts we learn all about how awesome Girl Power can be, and we learn from our amazing leaders and other women in our lives. But sometimes it can be easy to forget that our Girl Scout dads play a huge role in helping us to grow into our Girl Power too. This Father’s Day we celebrate all of our amazing Girl Scout dads out there, and thank you for all you do! We checked in with a few of our volunteers to see why they love being Girl Scout dads:

David Jensen, Lancaster County Girl Scout Dad

              “I was familiar with Girl Scouting from a young age. In vague memories I remember bits and pieces of Girl Scout meetings, parades, outings, etc. My sisters were Girl Scouts and my mother was their leader. The two activities that stand out are the monthly Leader meetings in our dining room and that my sisters and mother and their troop went to Puerto Rico. Yes, Puerto Rico…for a week!

            Fast forward a bit and now I have a daughter that wants to be a Girl Scout and a wife that wants to be a leader. So my wife Anne decided to start a Brownie Troop. There were enough girls but not enough adult leaders, so I decided to be her assistant.

            We did many activities such as fishing, knots, archery, whittling, rocketry, cooking (chicken soup – which the girls’ parents somehow didn’t want to try!), Daddy/Daughter dances and even sewing.

            Slow forward (because now the knees hurt, the back is stiff and I don’t move as fast anymore). I now have a granddaughter Arianna that is a Juliette. Well here I go again… Coding badge, making Swaps and Swap holders, helping build their cookie booth and even camping.

            Recently we have helped plant 50 trees and bushes at Camp Furnace Hills, participated in the camp clean-up (and received a parting gift of poison ivy).

            It has been quite a journey so far and I have enjoyed every minute. And for all the fellas – If you know of someone in Girl Scouting, wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece etc., even though you are not a “Girl” they would be happy to have you.

            Now off to our next adventure – Rock Climbing on Sunday. Wish me luck…”

Rich Ainey, Lackawanna County Girl Scout Dad

“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working side by side with my wife with Troop 50863 and Troop 50866. Both of these troops were started to ensure that my daughters had a Girl Scout Troop to belong to. It has been great to be able to watch not only my daughters flourish and grow, but also a number of other girls do the same.

I was there when girls operated a power tool for the first time to build a “buddy bench” for a service project. I was there to teach many girls how to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time at a community camp at Camp Archbald.

I was there to help the girls to finish and install their little free library as well as another service project. Many times I have been able to witness girls overcome a fear of something or experience something for the first time. This is just some of the many things I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy about being involved with Girl Scouts.

 One particular story I distinctly remember was our last time at community camp at Camp Archbald in 2019. We were up there for the weekend and having a great time. Some strong storms were supposed to move in on Saturday evening around dinner time. As luck would have it, the power got knocked out and stayed out as we were preparing our typical spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Rather than backing down and accepting defeat, we managed to finish off dinner by flashlight, serve dinner, and get everyone fed. Not only did we do that, we managed to get the generator up and working so that we could have lights in the dining hall. We also made s’mores in the ovens and made sure everyone was safe and secure.

When we woke up the next morning, power had been restored and we proceeded to finish up our weekend. I don’t think any of the girls that were there that weekend will forget all of the different events. Most certainly, they will all look back and think about the obstacles we overcame while we still managed to have some fun.

For other guys out there saying, “What can a guy do at Girl Scouts?” I would challenge them to come and find out. Become an archery instructor, help out at a cookie rally, experience a rope runner rally, come up for community camp (when COVID restrictions are lifted), help out at a camp cleanup, or do any variety of activities that include being involved in your daughter’s Girl Scout journey. I can promise you that it will be something you won’t regret.”

Matt Reed, Union County Dad

When Matt was growing up he dreamed of being a Boy Scout Leader. His plans took a turn though when he and his wife had two beautiful daughters, instead of sons! Being outdoors is his passion, and he has worked hard to introduce the girls in his troop to as many outdoor activities as possible. Matt’s troop has gone camping and kayaking, and the girls hope to soon cross backpacking off of their list too!

Jamie Stefl, Northumberland County Dad

“Throughout my life I’d heard about Girl Scouting, but it wasn’t until my daughter joined that I started getting involved. My wife had been a longtime Girl Scout so we were excited to get our daughter started in the program and it has been a family journey ever since! It has been an amazing opportunity to connect with my family while making a difference in the community. While my daughter is fully grown, and working for GSHPA, I still enjoy being involved as a volunteer in our Service Unit.

Over the years I have attended a wide variety of Girl Scout events and activities, but I think my favorite has always been going camping. I remember the first time I went on a Girl Scout camping trip as a volunteer and it was an adventure! My daughter was a Brownie at the time and her troop planned an overnight stay at Knoebels in Elysburg. We pitched tents in the parking lot and had a wonderful time, but I don’t think I have ever been that cold! It was well below freezing overnight and we awoke to frost covering all the tents! We all had a good laugh about it once we thawed!

Since then I have continued to stay involved with Girl Scouting as a volunteer. As an engineer I was always involved with creating Girl Scout floats for the local parades. I remember helping out with cookies, well, helping get cookies out of my house that is! And I really enjoyed attending events. In 2012 our group traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Girl Scout 100th Anniversary Celebration which was quite an experience! I’ve attended all of GSHPA’s Gold Award Ceremonies and even went to GSUSA’s National Convention.

I think my advice to any father considering joining Girl Scouts, would be, just to do it! Yes, as a dad you can experience a wide variety of things with your daughter through Girl Scouting, including camping and selling cookies, but I think it is so much more than that. It is truly an amazing experience to personally see your daughter grow through Girl Scouting.”

Each of these wonderful Girl Scout dads work hard to provide girls the best possible Girl Scout experience, and certainly prove that being “man enough to be a Girl Scout” is a wonderful thing! Girl Power champions come in all shapes and sizes, and out Girl Scout dads are great examples of this. Shout out your Girl Scout dad stories in the comments, we’d love to hear more about our amazing GSHPA Dads!

Post by: Rebekah Stefl
Post by: Colleen Sypien

GSHPA’s Cookie Story Finds Success

Janet Donovan
President and CEO
Girls Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania

A recent Associated Press story regarding unsold Girl Scout Cookies on a national level highlighted the challenges that many Girl Scout Councils faced as we emerge from a nationwide pandemic. This was not the story for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

Like many nonprofits and businesses, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) was not immune to the trials COVID-19 forced upon our organization.

But we met those challenges and in many ways exceeded our goals. Our Girl Scouts thought like entrepreneurs. We found creative and innovative ways to reach our membership, our volunteers and to continue to implement our important girl-led programs. Those connections were especially crucial to many girls in our membership during this time of unprecedented isolation.

GSHPA, which represents 30 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, worked hard to seek out that success during this past cookie-selling season, which officially ended in April.

We are proud of our efforts!

In fact, our local inventory controls, unlike the overall theme of the AP story, were actually tighter this year than in years past.   

We did have fewer Girl Scouts participating in the program this year, but our program leadership, which collaborated with every department in our organization (as well as neighboring Girl Scout Councils), projected, budgeted and adapted appropriately.

We found new and exciting ways for our Girl Scouts to sell safely both online and in-person, which included holding traditional cookie booths.

Here are some key highlights:

·         In our S’mores Executive Club, which is an exclusive club that spotlights our brightest entrepreneurs who go above and beyond our product program efforts, the number of girls reaching that benchmark in 2019 was 94. In 2021, that number was 138, an increase of 46 percent.

·         In that same time period, our Girl Scouts increased their average number of cookie packages sold from 178 to 231.

·         When COVID hit in 2020, Girl Scouts sold about 300,000 packages that year in direct sales. This year, and under most of the same conditions, our planning paid off. Our Girl Scouts sold more than 580,000 packages.

In fact, when our council began our booth sales for 2021, we couldn’t meet the initial demand.

“Although our booth opportunities were down 50 percent this year (locations where businesses allow us to sell directly) our girls created safe and innovative ways to continue to reach their goals. During the first two weeks of our direct sales in March, we connected with a sister Girl Scout Council to purchase cookies from them so as to meet the demand of our local entrepreneurs,” said Jess Delp, GSHPA Director of Product Program and Retail.

We are also very proud of the overwhelming success of our 2021 Gift of Caring program. This council-wide service project gives our GSHPA community the chance to donate cookies to military troops overseas and other nonprofit partners.

This year, Operation Gratitude was the recipient of our Gift of Caring initiative, and we easily surpassed our goal of donating 30,000 boxes to troops. Donations were up by 60 percent! Those donations are a testament to the giving nature of our local Pennsylvania communities.

It’s important to note that all proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program remain local and help to fund all of our programs: our camps, outdoor programs, STEAM, leadership training and more.

We know that we will continue to face many challenges as we tackle the rest of 2021 and plan for 2022. But the lessons learned during these past 15 months have certainly shown us that we can adapt and find success in the most trying time period in recent history.

We are grateful to note that we have a strong and resilient GSHPA community to thank for our support as we move forward and we thank the central Pennsylvania community. Your support allowed us to experience the success that we enjoyed.

How you can help

GSHPA has received questions regarding how to reduce the excess cookie inventory of our sister Girl Scout Councils. We appreciate your outpouring of support!

To help, please visit digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/girlscouts2021 where you can donate cookies to first responders, food banks, and other worthy causes. In addition to helping other Girl Scout Councils with their cookie inventory, part of your donation will support local GSHPA Girl Scout Troops as well.

Thank you!


Troops to Troops

Many people will tell you Girl Scout Cookie season ranks right up there as one of the best times of the year. For some, the joy comes from trying the year’s newest flavor, for others, it’s the comfort of their favorite classic variety that brings back special memories.  

For military service members deployed overseas, reminders of home can be few and far between, but the Girl Scouts of America and national nonprofit Operation Gratitude are working to change that. For nearly 20 years, the Girl Scouts have partnered with OG to send the treasured treats to Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors as a way to say “thank you” and to assure them that their service and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed.  

Operation Gratitude received their first donation of Girl Scout Cookies during their 2004 “Patriotic Drive”-  just a year after OG was officially founded. The first donations were from individual Girl Scouts or their troops who chose OG as their “Gift of Caring” recipient. These types of donations grew every year after, and soon, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles named Operation Gratitude as an official Gift of Caring charity. Other regions in California and throughout the country followed suit. Eventually, the number of boxes designated to Operation Gratitude became so large that the Girl Scout regions had the donations shipped directly to them from the warehouse, and they would arrive by the truckloads! 

The cookies are included in hundreds of thousands of Operation Gratitude Care Packages distributed across the globe to service members stationed so far from home. These brightly colored cookie boxes contain so much more than a special snack, but also bring smiles to the faces of their recipients who know someone stateside is thinking of them.  

The Girl Scouts’ participation with Operation Gratitude doesn’t end with the cookie deliveries. In addition to individual scouts, troops and councils donating these items, they also volunteer at Operation Gratitude Care Package Assembly Days and participate in a variety of service projects like hosting OG collection drives, crafting Handmade with Love items or paracord bracelets, and handwriting notes of encouragement and appreciation. The time, effort, and personal touch by volunteers that goes into Operation Gratitude Care Packages are what service members say makes the biggest difference.  

In 2021 alone, the Girl Scout Cookie donation to Operation Gratitude is expected to total around a quarter of a million boxes. As Operation Gratitude’s mission grows, so, too, does the impact of the Girl Scouts’ donations. Cookies and other items the organization contributes are also being included in care packages delivered to first responders and healthcare heroes who protect and serve our communities in a different, but equally important way.  

Through their partnership with Operation Gratitude, the Girl Scouts are connecting communities, giving back, and making a real difference. Though COVID-19 has put a temporary pause on some of Operation Gratitude’s larger in-person assembly efforts, there are still plenty of ways for Girl Scouts to get involved. For more information on virtual volunteerism, visit https://www.operationgratitude.com/express-your-thanks-virtual-groups/.  


Written by our friends at Operation Gratitude

To Help People at All Times

One of my favorite childhood memories takes me back to when I was 8 years old, helping my grandmother at our church on Saturday mornings to box up food from the local food bank for our neighbors in need.  My grandmother was in charge of the food distribution, and the volunteers who helped were kind and patient, including me in tasks that I was able to handle and making me feel a part of the service we were providing to the community. 

These Saturday mornings helped to shape the rest of my life.  I spent countless hours throughout high school and college volunteering to help those around me.  After college, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer for nearly three years on two different continents.   

As Girl Scouts, we have many opportunities to work with our sisters to make the world a better place.  This year, GSUSA offered several different National Service Projects, including writing letters people in nursing homes, sewing face masks, and addressing food insecurity through the current Fighting Hunger campaign.   

Girl Scouts are also encouraged to participate in local community service and Take Action projects.  Although different, both community service and Take Action projects are essential elements to Girl Scouting.  The below information comes from the Understanding Take Action Activity for Juniors on the GSUSA Girl Scouts at Home webpage.   

“Community service projects are acts of kindness and important ways to help something or someone right now. They are commonly short-term projects that almost always multiply efforts that are already in place. Examples include collecting food for an existing food pantry, providing clothing or toiletries to people who have suffered during a disaster, cleaning up a rundown playground, or picking up trash at a park, forest, or beach.  

Girl Scout Take Action projects address an issue by tackling the factors that cause or contribute to it. As you may expect, these projects have a far-reaching influence. They’re designed to change something for the better—forever. Projects associated with Journeys and the highest awards (the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award) are Take Action projects.” 

Both types of projects help us practice the Girl Scout Promise and Law by helping people and making the world a better place.  When you decide to participate in community service or Take Action projects, you make an impact not only on those around you, but also on your future. 

My daughter is a Junior Girl Scout this year and, like many of you, looking forward to serving her community through projects with her troop.   

She also looks forward to being be able to return to helping my mother, who is now leading the local food distribution efforts, to box up food for families in need.   


Post by Adia Walker