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

Thinking Traps

 

Although our world hasn’t always talked about mental health enough, we know that everyone struggles with mental health. Just like anything health related, it takes ongoing learning and practice to be healthy both physically and mentally.

A great place to check in with yourself is the thoughts in your head. Sometimes we get so busy living life that we don’t stop to check how we are thinking about things. Negative thinking can impact your mood, self-worth, and emotional health. 

Take a minute to check in with yourself on any negative thought traps you fall into. Below are 10 common thought traps that commonly catch us all. Knowing these and being aware can help us be mindful so that we can get out of the traps and back to positive thinking! 

All-or-Nothing Thinking – This is where we think things are either good or bad, safe or dangerous, success or failure. This way of thinking tents to leave out the in between and can be unrealistic and limiting.

  • Example is a friend gets mad at you and you assume everyone hates you. 

Negative Filter– Focusing on the negative, unfair, scary things and ignoring anything positive. 

  • An example would be focusing on all your mistakes instead of the things you did well. 

Overgeneralization-Making sweeping judgements about ourselves (or others) based on only one or two experiences. These thoughts typically contain the words “always” and “never.”

  • Example is you get an “F” on your assignment and you believe you’ll never succeed at anything 

Fortune Telling- Believing you can predict the future. But you can’t because you don’t have a crystal ball and aren’t a fortune teller. 

  • Example is thinking “No one is going to talk to me at the party.” 

Mind Reading– when we believe that we know what others are thinking and assume that they are thinking the worst of us. The problem is that no-one can read minds and we can never really know what others are thinking! 

  • Example is thinking everyone is talking about you behind your back. 

Catastrophizing– Imagining that the worst possible thing is about to happen, in reality the worst-case scenario usually never happens and even if it did you’d probably be able to cope.

  • Example is thinking you will fail the test and then get kicked out of school and disowned by your parents.

Personalization– Believing that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to something you’ve said or done. You end up taking everything personally when in reality it’s nothing to do with you 

  • Example is a friend getting upset and you thinking its your fault. 

Labeling– Attaching a negative label about yourself or someone else rather than acknowledge it was just a single event or mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and we’re way too complex to be described by one word. 

  • Example is thinking your a failure instead of knowing you got one bad grade. 

Emotional Reasoning – Taking our emotions as evidence for the truth. When you use emotional reasoning, whatever you’re feeling at the time is believed to be true automatically and unconditionally, regardless of the evidence.

  • Example is feeling lonely and thinking you’re a loser 

Should Statements- having rules for how you, or others, should and shouldn’t behave. When our expectations fall short, we feel disappointed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry with ourselves.

  • Example is thinking you should never eat chocolate. 

Don’t get discouraged if you identify with these negative thinking traps. Now that you are aware, you can catch the traps in the future! 

Recognizing our negative thoughts is the first step to changing them and thinking more positively. Positive thinking habits like practicing 

gratefulness and recognizing strengths can help build positive thinking muscles! 


Post by: Special Guest Writer Gabby Dietrich

Corporate Spotlight: Debbie Kolsovsky

Critical advice: We need to invest in girls, stay curious, and step out of our comfort zones

A PNC exec shares insight on career advice, the financial sector and support of Girl Scouts.

The following post is part of a new corporate sponsored series feature for the GSHPA Blog. The series will highlight local business and community leaders who understand the value and impact Girl Scouts can play in your community.

Debbie Kolsovsky, PNC, Lackawanna County

This month we are featuring Debbie Kolsovsky of Lackawanna County.

Kolsovsky is the executive vice president and regional managing director northeast region, Institutional Asset Management at PNC. She is also the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA. 

GSHPA: PNC has been a great supporter of GSHPA and we thank you for that support. Tell us, why is it important for a company to invest in the growth and development of girls?

Kolsovsky: We should all care about investing in the growth and development of girls because they are our future leaders. Speaking from personal experience in the financial services industry, we know better outcomes are achieved for clients when we have diverse teams, and that means more women in leadership roles. To have more women in leadership roles, it’s critical to start investing in young girls and giving them the opportunities to take risks and succeed.

Speaking more generally, PNC is focused on helping our communities thrive. Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA is aligned with our philosophy. They work to invest in our future generations across all economic backgrounds to develop strong girls with leadership abilities, an investment that will pay dividends for the future of our community and our world. 

GSHPA: We have 59 girls in the 2021 class that we are honoring this year who have achieved their Gold Award for our council. Many of them will be graduating this year from high school. What career and young-adult advice would you given them as they take this next step in their journey?

Kolsovsky: First, I would like to say congratulations to all the Gold Award winners on this significant accomplishment. My advice would be to enjoy the next part of your journey and fully embrace the next step, whether it’s entering the workforce or going to college. As you embark on your career, don’t be afraid to ask questions and take risks—that is how you learn and grow. 

GSHPA: How did you choose your career path? What were some of your influencers/mentors along the way?

Kolsovsky: I was given an opportunity through one of PNC’s development programs, and that’s how I learned about finance. My job has remained interesting and engaging because I’ve stayed curious, I’ve asked questions and I’ve taken risks, and that has all led me to where I am today. A lot of opportunities and challenges have kept my role interesting as well.

I have had the privilege of working with several great people here at PNC who have been mentors to me throughout my career. Much of the advice that I give others now was given to me at one time by a mentor. The most valuable advice I’ve received was to step outside of my comfort zone, because that is how you learn something new and expand your professional experiences. The worst that could happen is that it won’t work out, and you will still have learned something.

GSHPA: You are very involved in both leadership growth and volunteer activities in Lackawanna County. Tell us about them and why is it important to being active in your community?

Kolsovsky: In addition to my work with Girl Scouts, I am involved with a higher education organization, a few healthcare organizations, and nonprofits that focus on economic development and community support. I find value in giving back in a variety of ways, and I learn from each organization I’m involved in. 

Something that was said to me when I started at PNC has always stuck with me: we ask a lot from our communities — we live, work and do business here, so it’s only right that we also give back here. That is my philosophy and that is why it’s so important for me to stay involved in these organizations.

GSHPA: What advice would you give to someone interested in finance as a career?

Kolsovsky: You might be surprised how many different types of opportunities there are in the financial services industry. I’ve been with PNC for 31 years and I’ve held several different jobs over the course of my career. While numbers are a part of my work, banking is still very much a people business. At the end of the day, it’s about understanding what our clients need and coming to the table with innovative solutions that can help make their lives easier.

GSHPA: As the Vice Chair of GSHPA’s Board of Directors, is there anything else that you would like to add about your involvement in our organization?

Kolsovsky: I was never a Girl Scout, but through my work on the Girl Scouts board, my appreciation has only grown for the organization and its impact on our community. So many former Girl Scouts are still involved, which speaks to the positive impact this organization has had on their lives. GSHPA gives girls access to programming that opens their minds and expands their worldviews. They help girls develop the confidence to be leaders focused on making a positive difference in the world.

This Corporate Spotlight blog is proudly supported by PNC.

Staying Safe this Summer

Ah, summertime as a kid. A time for lazy days at the pool, exciting trips, and plenty of sun and fun. But if you’re like most parents, you struggle with the balance between allowing your children the freedom to gain independence and keeping them safe and protected. 

There’s good news: If your child attends a well-run summer camp at GSHPA, then she is surrounded by professionals who are trained to ensure her safety. From the administrative staff to the counselors, every staff member has been trained and certified in keeping campers as protected as possible. 

But what about when your kid isn’t in camp? What about when she’s swimming in a local pool, playing ball at a park, visiting an amusement park, or hanging out at his friend’s house? 

Summer Safety 

#1 – Sun Safety:Sunburns aren’t just painful; they can also increase a child’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Send your child to camp wearing a hat with a brim (preferably one that shades the face, ears, and neck) and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection. Encourage your child to drink 5 to 6 glasses of water a day to protect from dehydration. 

#2 – Safety Plan: Getting lost in a public area can be scary for unprepared kids – which is why it’s important to arm your child with a safety plan. First off, you’ll want to make sure your child has your phone number and address memorized. Also make your child knows that if she gets lost, she should stay in the same area so that you can find her, and she should ask someone in a uniform or a mother with children for help. 

#3 – Personal Safety: Sit down with your child and teach him about personal safety rules. She should know that there’s a difference between a “good touch” and a “bad touch,” that it’s okay to say “no” if someone asks him to do something that makes him feel uncomfortable, and that no one should ever ask him to keep a secret from his parents. 

#4. Water Safety:Make sure your child knows never to enter a pool without supervision. Teach them to walk around pools and only dive in areas that are marked for diving. Warn your child to leave any water area immediately if they see lightning. 

#5 – Communication: One of the most important parts of keeping your child safe is making sure to keep an open line of communication at all times. Encourage your child to speak up if she feels uncomfortable about something, and if your child wants to talk, make the time to do so. Most importantly, try to be positive when your child does confide in you, rather than harping on what she did wrong that caused the situation.   

Here at GSHPA, we take safety very seriously. Our counselors undergo hours of pre-summer training about camper safety, including water safety and safety precautions for each specialty activity.  All lifeguards at GSHPA are Red Cross certified and many of our counselors have CPR and First Aid certification as well. 

So you can rest secure that in camp, we’ve taken every precaution to ensure that your child has a safe summer. But as a parent, you are the most important role model your child has, and the one who will teach him safety lessons that will stay with him for the rest of his life. This summer, show your children how much you love them by teaching them the rules they’ll need to stay safe not just this summer, but for years to come. 


Post by: GSHPA Director of Facilities Planning and Operations, Mike Leavitt

Remembering Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally observed to honor the men lost during the Civil War. Throughout our history this holiday has changed to honor both the men and women that we have lost in all wars, including World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Over the years, the traditions of honoring those we have lost have evolved. Since Girl Scouts traditions and ceremonies are so important to us, we heard from Girl Scouts across the nation for ideas of ways to celebrate Memorial Day. Even though COVID has changed the way we are able to do some things, honoring our fallen soldiers can still be done. If your troop needs ideas for how to observe Memorial Day this year, check out these ideas from other troops!  

  • As a troop, visit a cemetery to clean trash and debris 
  • Contact your local American Legion to look into placing flags on soldiers graves, or holding a flag ceremony 
  • Work with local Women Veterans of America, VFW’s, Veteran Affairs or military posts to not only honor those who have fallen, but also to help those dealing with the loss of their comrades 
  • Hold a flag retirement ceremony 
  • Participate in a local parade that commemorates fallen soldiers 
  • Contact your local American Legion to find and attend a salute at a monument 

Other ideas could include holding a troop flag ceremony for the girls and their families to honor family members who served and are no longer with us. Honoring the men and women who have fought for our country and are no longer with us is important, no matter how little or big the ceremony or parade.

For troops who choose to take this time to learn more about Memorial Day and our soldiers, leaders can use the resources below to help their girls learn more.  

 
Is your troop commemorating Memorial Day this year? Let us know in the comments how you will be honoring the men and women who died serving our country! Don’t forget, we love to see what your troop is up to. Fill out a Mission Moment form so we can see the great things your girls are doing in and for their communities. 


Written by Colleen Sypien

20 Girl Scout Summer Reads

Let’s be honest, when it comes to summer, reading might not be the first thing on every girls minds as a fun activity.  It was for me I loved to read and I know that others are not as obsessed with books as we are here on the GSHPA program team.  Reading can be the ideal summer activity, it is portable, can involve the whole family and will help the girls stay learning through the dreading summer brain drain!

We have put together this short list of book with inspiration from our personal bookshelves and local libraries.  They are organized by ages, but please do not feel like you can’t jump categories, I love a good pre-teen book, check out number 3 on the list!

Birth – 2

  1. Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
  2. Anne’s Colors by Kelly Hill
  3. Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim and LeUyen Pham
  4. Future Engineer by Lori Alexander and Allison Black

Preschool 3-5

  1. Because by Mo Willems and Amber Ren
  2. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez
  3. Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
  4. Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

Elementary 6-8

  1. Just Ask!, Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael Lopez
  2. Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: the Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez and Felicita Sala
  3. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
  4. Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro and Marion Lindsay

Pre-Teen 9-12

  1. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
  2. Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan
  3. The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz
  4. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Teen 13+

  1. Cinder: Book one of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Erin Siu
  2. Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights by Deborah Kops
  3. I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka
  4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

What other books are on your summer list, what is your favorite that you think everyone should read? Let us know in the comments below. Happy Reading!

Summer, Simply the Best

Summer is simply the best! No school means late nights for the kids, parents do not have a choice, looser schedules with more time to play and hang out, nice weather means we can do everything outside, play, read, explore, eat, and so much more. GSHPA has a plethora of ways for you to fill your lovely long summer days, a bucket list if you’d like.  We have created a Summer Scavenger Hunt that you can complete that will take you through all of the areas that Girl Scouts love.   

Summer Scavenger Hunt 

Between June 1st and August 31st, girls who complete 25 activities from our Summer Scavenger Hunt, may purchase the summer patch from our council store.  Girls who complete 50 or more activities will be entered to win a special prize! 

You will have all summer to collect the variety of activities, from making s’mores, to earning new badges, to climbing a tree, to creating an electromagnet, and so much more! 

Find the Scavenger Hunt on the Summer page at gshpa.org 

STEAM Summer Kick-off 

Kick off your summer right! Join us for a week jam packed with activities, special guests, live events, and fun to get your summer jump started in STEAM.  During the week we will be joined by guests from NASA, Pennian Bank, Da Vinci Science Center, Byrnes Health Education Center, Dickinson College Farm and more.   

Visit our webpage to register for events and find out more information! Check back throughout the summer for independent activities and more ways to participate! 

STEAM with the Program Team 

We have new topics for our favorite GSHPA virtual series! Join us every Wednesday to explore STEAM topics with our program coordinator, Liz Bleacher.  We will be engineering shoes, try some homemade chemistry, practice self-care, challenge each other with bottle flipping and much more.  Is there a topic you’d like to explore let us know at lbleacher@gshpa.org.  

GSHPA Girls Go Summer Club 

We are offering a free and unique opportunity for ALL girls to participate in a brand new experience – membership not required.   Each week we will work together to discover what it means to be a GIRL, through activities focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), nature, life skills, and friendship all summer long.   

We will be meeting virtually so you can join us from where ever you happen to be at the time. We are looking forward to hosting some from our own backyards, we love the nice weather!  

Register Here 

GSHPA Outdoor Challenge

If you are looking for examples of what to do outdoors in nature this summer, GSHPA Girls Scouts are going to have the opportunity to participate in the second year of the Outdoor Challenge.  Take the time to really challenge yourself by identifying animal tracks, geocaching, lighting campfires, and so much more from the 2021 list.

Once again, this year the service unit with the highest percentage of participants will win a Troop Adventure Day, exclusively for their Service Unit.

Get the Challenge Here

Family Camp

Sometimes the best kind of camp is with family, our outdoors team is offering two family camp experiences at Camp Archbald and Camp Happy Valley this summer.  The entire family or just mom (or aunt, grandma, ect.) and daughter can come enjoy fun filled days and nights at camp.  Themes this year are “Mom and Me”, “Splash Spectacluar”, and “Around the World”, these are open to girls of all levels and their families.

Register Here

So what do you do if you have a full summer, but still want to experience camp? Well take a look at the brand new series of day experiences at Camp Happy Valley.  This is a great way for girls with a busy summer to have the change to still enjoy a summer camp experience, led by GSHPA Summer Camp staff of course. 

Summer Reading List

The GSHPA Program Team went on a search of our shelves and our local libraries to find some fun book for you to read this summer. Check out this post for some summer time book adventures, remember to try something new.

It is a full list to keep anyone busy this summer, please share with us what your plans are and the adventures you are having below in the comments.