Girl Scout Mission Moment Recap – January and February

By Catherine Amoriello

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

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

Cadettes recognize Higher Award recipients in library display

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

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

Girl Scouts honor military members with wreaths

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

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

Girl Scouts make hats for children in need

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

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

Juniors get history lesson from historical society, museum

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

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

Daisies, Brownies and Cadette join forces to help food bank

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

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

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

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

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

Girl Scouts make holiday cards for SpiriTrust Lutheran residents

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

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

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

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

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

Girl Scouts learn healthy habits with Franklin & Marshall College sorority

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

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

Junior hosts collection drives for Bronze Award project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join us in March for our program events!

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

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

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

By Catherine Amoriello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rebekah Stefl

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

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

Kitchen Sink Brownies

Ingredients (Brownies)

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

Ingredients (Topping)

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

Directions

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

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

By Janet Donovan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daisies bloom through GSHPA’s Kindergarten Readiness campaign

By Catherine Amoriello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GSHPA MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR CLAIRE GILBERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to take on our February STEAM challenges?

By Colleen Buck

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

Academic Edge program helps girls overcome hurdles to join Girl Scouts

By Catherine Amoriello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GSHPA PROGRAM MANAGER KATIE SWIGLO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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