November Calendar

Our 2022 Girl Scout year is in full swing, which means troop meetings are underway and we have lots of great programs to share with you! Our Program team has been hard at work this year to plan out the entire Girl Scout year of programs to help leaders and families best plan ahead. GSHPA Girl Scouts have had a great October, check out some photos of what they have been up to, and we are so excited to share all of our November 2021 programs with you.

For your convenience, we have a calendar attached to this post that can be used to share with your parents and leaders. All programs do require for advance sign ups, so please use our event calendar on our website to sign up for any programs that interest you or your troop here.

Monday November 1:

Think Like an Engineer Brownie Journey

Brownies will use design thinking to solve problems, complete engineering design challenges, and learn how to plan a Take Action project in this three week journey series.

Wednesday November 3:

STEAM with the Program Team Master Chef

Gather up your extra Halloween candy and get ready to become Master Chefs and learn how to bake a yummy treat!

Brownie Painting Badge

Join us to learn how to paint and color our world. By the end of this event, girls will earn their Painting badge.

Saturday November 6:

STEAM Saturday at Happy Valley – Augmented Reality

Step into a virtual world with us and watch 2D drawings come to life, hold the solar system in your hand, and learn app development basics. This event is in person at Camp Happy Valley, and morning or afternoon sessions are available.

Wednesday November 10:

STEAM with the Program Team Poetry

We will be learning about different types of poetry, and how to become poets!

Thursday November 11:

Virtual First Aid Badge (CSA)

Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors are welcome to join us for this virtual badge event. Girls will learn how to handle medical emergencies as well as research careers in the medical field and more!

Wednesday November 17:

STEAM with the Program Team Eyes and Brains

Join us to explore the relationship between our eyes and brains. We will also be experimenting with optical illusions.

Junior Drawing Badge

With this badge session Juniors will be learning about new materials, perspectives and methods of drawing to create a new piece of art. At the end of the session girls will earn their Drawing badge.

Saturday November 20:

Trail Adventure Badge Day at Happy Valley (DBJ)

This in person badge day will get our Daisies, Brownies and Juniors out to explore the outdoors! There will be hiking, trail runs, and learning about protecting the nature we enjoy.

Monday November 29:

Think Like an Engineer Junior Journey

Juniors will use design thinking to solve problems, complete engineering design challenges, and learn how to plan a Take Action project in this three week journey series.

Tuesday November 30:

Discover the Outdoors Indoors (J)

This virtual event for Juniors will dive into wilderness survival. Don’t forget to invite your friends!

Download the November Calendar.

GSHPA Spy School

This month Girls Scouts at GSHPA took the opportunity to meet at some of our beautiful properties to attend Spy School! Well not real spy school, rather one of our STEAM Mobile programs during the STEAM Saturday event. This month the girls strengthened their observation skills, learning about finger prints, handwriting, and cyphers. They ended the day working as a team to solve the clues and “break out”.

We have more programs coming, in December we will be focused on Robots at Camp Small Valley, in January we are Wild About Animals at Camp Furnace Hills and Camp Small Valley. Please visit our website to learn more and register.

Amy Wallace: Reaping the Benefits of Girl Scout Lessons

By Cathy Hirko

Amy Wallace

Amy Wallace is a former Girl Scout and now the Vice President of Learning and Development at Members 1st Federal Credit Union in Cumberland County. While chatting with Amy at a recent Members 1st Federal Credit Union employee/family function in Lancaster, I found out that she and her family have a rich history with Girls Scouts. She gladly agreed to share her story with us.

Amy now lives in Mechanicsburg with her husband and two children. In her day-to-day work with Members 1st, she said she has “the honor of focusing on associate growth and development each day.”

She originally grew up outside Boston, but the opportunity to play college basketball brought her to the Central Pennsylvania area.  After graduation, she decided to stay. She loves it here. 

“We still get all four seasons, but it’s a good bit warmer here than in New England!” she said.

GSHPA: Your parents (before they were your parents) have a unique connection to the oldest running Girl Scout Camp in the United States, Camp Bonnie Brae. What can you share about that?

Amy: This is such a neat story and one that is near and dear to my heart.  When my father was growing up, he served as the “Handy Man” for Camp Bonnie Brae.  The camp resides on the same lake where my parents have a summer home.  My dad grew up on the lake and spent many summers working at the camp.  My uncle (my mom’s brother) also worked at the camp as a cook.  My dad and my uncle became great friends.  When my uncle got married, my dad and my mom were both in the wedding, but they didn’t know one another yet.  The wedding was the beginning of my parents’ epic journey.  They have been married for 49 years! 

Now, during the summer, when we are sitting on the porch at the lake house, we can still hear the dinner bell at Bonnie Brae ring across the lake.  The camp is an active reminder that the Girl Scouts are alive and well as the waterfront is bustling and the campers return each year.  My parents continue to attend the Bonnie Brae reunions as there are many former workers, like my dad, who are still in the area and enjoy the chance to return to camp and see how the legacy continues. Bonnie Brae will always have a special place in the story of our family.

GSHPA: Share with us some of the memories/experiences that you had as a Girl Scout.

Amy:  It’s hard to choose just a few.  I began as a day camper at the former Camp Virginia and then graduated to sleep-away camp.  I had the privilege of attending Camp Wabasso in New Hampshire, which specializes in horseback riding and then Camp Favorite on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where I chose the overnight bicycling adventures. 

Girls Scouts has allowed me to try new experiences that I would have not encountered in my daily life.  From windsurfing to sleeping in a hammock in a tall stand of pines, I was always challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone and try new things.  Girl Scout camp afforded me the ability to tackle a ropes course with a team of people, to learn archery, to create and act in a camp skit, to go trail riding by horseback, to go sailing, to hike through cranberry bogs, to camp outside and cook over a fire …  The Girl Scouts are masterful at creating activities that not only allow you to try new experiences, but learn impactful life lessons.  At a young age, I didn’t appreciate those many life lessons, but today I reap the benefits of those experiences.

GSHPA: What skills or attributes did you learn from the Girl Scouts that you still carry with you today?

Amy: To know that stepping outside your comfort zone can bring growth, joy, and life lessons. I learned the value of teamwork.  As a dominant, outspoken personality, I learned the value of letting all the voices in the group be heard to solve problems and tackle challenges.  The high ropes course (for example) is an excellent place to solidify that sometimes it takes a group effort to achieve a tall feat.  I also learned about the value of communication, adventure, ingenuity, creativity, empathy, independence, encouragement and respect/appreciation for nature.  I know that my experiences as a Girl Scout helped to build the foundation that I draw from on a day-to-day basis in my current occupation and interactions.

Why is it important to mentor others? What can we learn about lifting others up and helping in our professional lives?

Amy: While at Camp Wabasso, I had the opportunity to go rock climbing.  In hindsight, it was not something I enjoyed, but I sure did learn a lot by challenging myself to climb a rock face in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

At one point, I fell.  I was dangling from the side of a mountain by a tiny rope, being anchored by a complete stranger (who turned out to be my biggest cheerleader in that moment) who was telling me to keep calm, get my footing, and try again.  Isn’t that the greatest metaphor for life?  Do you surround yourself with people who cheer on your crazy adventures?  Do they remind you to stay calm and find your inner peace in moments of panic?  Do they uplift you with words of encouragement and guidance when needed?  Do they remind you that inside yourself is a strength that sometimes you lose sight of?

Just like that counselor who had me anchored to the mountain and held my fate in their hands, I want to be that voice of reason and encouragement to others.  Self-discovery and growth can be challenging.  Pushing yourself into new situations can reap great rewards, but it can come with self-doubt and imposter syndrome.  The ability to be a cheerleader, motivator, and counselor is such an honor.  For someone to trust you enough to be vulnerable with you is an amazing gift.  Mentorship is a chance to give back to others and your community as a whole.

I can think through my life and career and name many people who took the time to mentor me.  In the same way, I want to give back to others. My counselors at camp cheered me on, wiped my tears, held my hand, offered encouragement, asked me about my worries/doubts, and helped me to see a strength inside myself that I didn’t even know was present.  THAT is the beauty of mentorship and that is the energy I want to put out into the world. Helping others to live their best lives and find their core strengths is truly a humbling experience.  There may be many things we can’t control in this world, but giving back to others with our time and guidance allows us to make the world a better place from our little corner of the planet.

GSHPA: If you had a top memory to share about your Girl Scout experience what would that be?

Amy:  My favorite memory, by far, is the overnight trip I took from Camp Favorite.  The two weeks of camp involved several days of progressively longer bike rides until we worked up our stamina to hit the Cape Cod rail trail.  We biked from the camp to Hyannis, MA, roughly a 20-mile bike ride, to catch the ferry to Nantucket.  Once on the island, we stayed at a youth hostel where we were responsible for chores to help maintain the daily operations of the hostel.  We spent time exploring the island by bike for a few days, before we returned to camp.  More than 30 years later and I still have vivid memories of the trip, the challenges, the ways in which in I grew, our cheerleader counselors, and the feeling of accomplishment when our entire group made it back to camp.  As a pre-teen girl, the thought of biking 60+ miles, while carrying all of my personal belongings seemed unfathomable.  The Girl Scouts structured an experience to help me see that I was capable of more than I realized. 

GSHPA: What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie and why?

Amy:  Ooooo… this is a tough one.  I’m going to go with the classic and say: Thin Mints.  Straight out of the freezer is my favorite way to enjoy them!

Cathy Hirko is the marketing and communications director for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email: chirko@gshpa.org.

What a Yummy Adventure!

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, its members, family and friends attended a number of Open House celebrations in September that highlighted Girl Scouts’ newest member of the Cookie family: Adventurefuls!

The brownie and salted-caramel Girl Scout Cookie was the star of the show for parties that we held in York, Scranton and Hershey. Attendees were able to sample the Cookie and try Cookie-inspired recipes.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the parties:

Didn’t get a chance to attend? We have another party coming up in Gettysburg on Nov. 7. Hope to see you there!

Spooky Snacks

By Rebekah Stefl

Since October is in full swing it is clear to see things are getting spooky! As the temperature drops and it begins getting dark earlier it is easy to start thinking about one thing: Halloween. Yes, the night when goblins and ghouls come out to play! So what better way to celebrate spooky season with one of our all-time favorite things, snacks!

Zombie Toes

You Will Need:

  • Pretzel Nuggets
  • White frosting
  • Food Coloring
  • Milk Chocolate Chips

First you will need to add your green (or any color you like) food coloring to the frosting and mix! Once you have your mixture ready start spreading the frosting on the pretzels and add your zombie toe nails (chocolate chips).

Cookie Spiders

You Will Need:

  • Oreo Cookies (double stuff works best)
  • Supplies for Eyeballs (we recommend candy eyes, M&Ms, mini marshmallows or icing, but you can use anything you’d like)
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Frosting

Start by laying out your supplies and snapping your pretzel sticks in half. If you would like your spiders to have extra-long legs you can leave them whole instead! Once you have your pretzels ready, begin sticking them in between the Oreo layers – right into the icing! Don’t forget that spiders have eight legs. Once you have assembled your spider’s body it is time to add eyes and decorate! We recommend letting your family decorate their own spiders for extra fun!

Monster Mix

You Will Need:

  • Popcorn
  • M&Ms
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Nuts
  • Spooky Sprinkles

Assemble all your supplies, (feel free to add extra goodies outside of our list) mix in a large bowl and enjoy!

We hope you enjoy these spooky snacks! Be sure to share your favorite Halloween treat recipes in the comments!

What’s the difference, Community Service vs Take Action Project

By Liz Bleacher

Within Girl Scouts we do a lot of projects and activities that help our communities at a local, county, state, national and even worldwide level. Some of these projects are community service and others can be considered Take Action Projects, some even can be in both categories at once.  The question is – how do you tell the difference between the two? How do you decide if what you are doing will help you earn your Community Service Bar or qualify as a project to complete your higher award, like the Bronze award?

I have some answers for you, in this post I will go through the check list of both so everyone, girls, volunteers, and adults, will have a better understanding of the two and be able to plan correctly.  To start lets go over some vocab so that we all understand what is meant.  First, a need, this is something that is a condition that needs supply or relief, it is a temporary fix.  Second and often used interchangeably but not the same is, an issue, which is an important topic or problem that is addressed on a bigger scale.  An issue requires a more long-term self-sustaining solution.

An example of this would be a food bank “needs” fresh fruit and veggies on the shelves for their community.  And the deeper “issue” is that they don’t have a regular sources of donations or a place to store fresh produce. Now, how do “need” and “issue” fit in with community service and Take Action projects? Let’s find out!

Community Service Projects

When planning a community service project you are focusing on solving an immediate need, having a food drive or raising money to donate to the food bank so they can purchase some produce will help with that need.  You can work to help fill the shelves, this solves the need and is a fantastic thing to do, but it doesn’t deal with the issue.  Once they give that food away or it goes bad they will be right back where they started.

Community service projects make the world a better place right now. Girls can engage in short-term service, like collecting toys, or a long-term project like weekly volunteering at the food bank, the work helps with the immediate need in their community.

Take Action Project

A Take Action project is a project that solves an issue by discussing and discovering the cause and coming up with a plan to affect or eliminate the cause of the problem.  For the food bank, the root issue was they don’t have a regular source of produce or a way to store them for a short period.   You could start your Take Action project by asking, “Why can’t they find produce and what do they need to store it?” After research, a Take Action project would eliminate the issue by working with local groceries or farmers to collect their extra produce and may include working with local companies to get one or two industrial refrigerators donated to store the produce for the weekly/biweekly distribution. This would provide the food bank with a regular source of produce and a place to store it. 

Take Actions projects go a step further than a community service project that stop when you stop.  Take Action projects, do not stop, they are continual, sustainable.  Both community service projects and Take Action projects are great opportunities to strengthen your communities and make the world a better place, just in different ways.  Everyone from Daisies to troop leaders, to life-long members can choose to serve in the way that is best for them.  Now that you know the difference you can work with your fellow Girl Scouts to make the best choice for your troop.  Like Juliette Gordon Low said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”

Quick Resources

You can take a look at the different ways Girl Scouts can give back with badges and Journeys.  As well as the awards Girl Scouts can earn that help build their skills to eventually earn their Highest Awards.

Fall Fun with Friends

By Colleen Buck

Fall is a busy time of firsts – first day of school, first soccer practice, first time meeting new friends, the list goes on! With all of those firsts, it is also a great time for Girl Scouts to experience some firsts together while embracing the change of seasons and getting to know new and old Girl Scout friends. You can even add an additional layer of fun to your troop’s fall activities by incorporating a fun patch that goes along with the activity for the girls to remember the fun they had.

As you are thinking of fun fall activities to share with your girls, we have compiled a list of ideas for you to use. Some of our favorite well-known and not so well known ideas are listed. If your troop is extra-adventurous, you can take our challenge of completing all of these activities!

  • Experience a hayride
  • Go to an orchard to pick apples
  • Try some delicious apple cider at the apple orchard
  • Hold a troop investiture
  • Go to a pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins together
  • Have a pumpkin decorating showcase or contest
  • Attend a GSHPA program in person or virtually
  • Go on a nature walk to find items to use while working on your Outdoor Art badge!
  • Compile recipes for the best fall drink, shop for the ingredients, then have a taste test party
  • Plan and throw a big birthday party for Juliette Gordon Low (Oct 31)
  • Attend or participate in a fall community parade
  • Combine fun and community service, and offer to rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor
  • Plan and make a Troop “Friendsgiving” Dinner and invite families to join in the fun of eating it
  • If all of the girls in your troop celebrate Halloween, have a costume troop meeting and take lots of pictures
  • Plan a community service project together
  • Pair up with another troop to exchange SWAPS
  • Have a bonfire
  • Learn how to cook over a fire – s’mores or popcorn are good fall campfire snacks!
  • Go on a hike
  • Learn how to sew, knit or crochet
  • Visit a GSHPA camp property and get outdoors
  • Have a movie night
  • Have a fall themed craft party
  • Plan a Take Action Project

If your troop takes our challenge of completing all of these fabulous fall activities, you can use the attached PDF to keep track of what you have completed. If your troop is going to take the challenge, sound off in the comments to let us know what you are most looking forward to!

Colleen Buck is a Program Coordinator at GSHPA.

Taking in 100 Years of Girl Scouts in Northeastern PA

By Cathy Hirko

The second-oldest operating Girl Scout camp in the world is right here in the regional footprint for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. And our camp has had a lot to celebrate recently.

Camp Archbald, like GSHPA’s other camps, re-opened this year as Pennsylvania started easing its way out of COVID and the regulations surrounding outdoor, public activities. While providing a safe environment, girls and their families were once again able to enjoy what the Girl Scout outdoor experience had to offer.

In September, Camp Archbald marked a major milestone by celebrating its 100 year anniversary.

According to the Supporters of Camp Archbald (SOCA) website, the camp was founded in 1920 by the Scranton Pocono Girl Scout Council.  The site noted that the Scranton council initially started in 1918 at Lake Coxton, but the location was not right for a permanent home. In 1920, Mrs. Thomas Archbald, the chairwoman of a committee tasked to find land,  visited the Ely Lake site in Susquehanna Township and eventually made it the permanent home of the council’s first residential camp. Named after Mrs. Archbald, it’s the second-oldest operating Girl Scout Camp in the world.

Fun fact also from SOCA: The first camp ran eight weeks of resident camp, with approximately 76 girls attending each week. The cost? Seven dollars a week.

COVID delay

Camp supporters initially had planned to host the 100 year anniversary in September 2020, but a global pandemic forced the anniversary celebration to be held a year later on Sept. 18, 2021.

Camp attendees dating back to the 1940s attended the anniversary ceremony and celebration. In addition to tours and a full day of activities, organizers showed camp history memorabilia and led an opening ceremony.

The video below, highlights the September celebration.

To learn more about GSHPA camps and activities, please visit our website.

Have a great memory to share about Camp Archbald? Share in the comments or email Cathy Hirko at chirko@gshpa.org.

Cathy Hirko is the director of Marketing and Communications at GSHPA.

Sharing What They’ve Earned

Every fall Girl Scouts here in Central PA have the opportunity to start building on their entrepreneurial, communication and teamwork skills. The Fall Fundraiser Program, which includes nuts, candy, and magazines, provides girls with bonding fun that also generates important funds to support troop activities throughout the year. 

We checked in with Troop 52287 in Mount Pocono to see what they have been working toward and some of their favorite parts of participating with Fall Fundraiser Program.  Troop leader, Alexandra Mepham, shared that her troop made up of Daisies and Brownies worked hard to help pay for fun experiences like renting out a movie theater, snow tubing and maple syrup tour. The girls also decided that they wanted to use their money to help others, including local animals and those with medical challenges. 

Here is what the girls have to say about their experiences.

Cara T. said her favorite part was getting orders ready for her friends and seeing the customers’ excited faces. She was happy to donate to animals and have some money for art supplies and a yummy pizza party.

Brianna G. loves the fact that we used our fundraiser money to help animals because of her love for animals.

Elliette W. loved taking orders from friends and family. And she enjoyed helping the animals and getting to do fun things with her friends like snow tubing and learning about syrup.

Olivia O. loved delivering to people including one of her mom’s coworkers with brain cancer. The treats made her happy and she is now cancer free and looking forward to more goodies.

What fun and amazing things have you done with your Girl Scouts?