Crafting a Home for Small Fairy Visitors

By Colleen Sypien, GSHPA

As children we save our lost teeth to give to the tooth fairy, and they leave us something in return. When Tinkerbell needs us to believe, we clap and say “I do believe in fairies!”

I think a lot of us dreamed about having a fairy godmother like Cinderella! Or maybe you know that the best time to see fairies is during a Midsummer’s Eve, thanks to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

For thousands of years there have been stories and folklore of fairies, or fey, as they are also known. Those stories can bring about superstition, and a desire to try to see fairies for oneself.

Maybe these stories resonate with us because they allow our imagination to explore the magical lands and fairy mystique.

For several decades now the craft of creating fairy gardens has become increasingly popular.

A fairy garden is meant to be a place for a fairy to live or visit. They can simply be a little house, or they can be as elaborate as having little furniture, small wishing wells, or even ponds.

Fairy gardens are meant to be little fairy worlds created in any inside or outside space. A flower bed corner, at the base of a tree, anywhere!

The steps below share how to create your very own fairy garden! There are so many supplies you could use for your fairy garden, so I recommend seeing what you have in your house that you can use. Remember to think about what will hold up in different weather if you will be putting yours outside. I love crafting, so all of my materials were recycled from past projects. Get creative and find ways you can recycle items!

I used moss, tiny rocks, puffy paint, terra cotta paints, a tray and craft sticks from the dollar store, old spools, string and a tiny felt flower I made for my supplies. There are so many options!

My supply list.

Once I gathered all of my supplies, I started creating the fairy house first. I built my fairy home and garden on top of the dollar store tray, so that I could easily move it around to find the best spot for it. My materials are best kept out of weather elements, so it will either sit on my front porch by my door under cover of the roof, or inside! After adding some moss and tiny rocks to my fairy home, I started to lay out the tray. If you are only making a fairy house, you might want to spend more time on it and make it more elaborate. If you are planting an actual garden outside for your fairy, your steps will look a little different than mine!

Have fun creating your design!

Once I planned out and covered my tray with moss and a little walkway for my fairies, it was time to add a few extra touches to this garden. I used old spools to create a little outdoor seat or table. I also used a little felt flower that I made a long time ago to add some florals to this garden. I also had a tiny little frog friend that I added to my fairy garden, but I did not glue him down, so that he can hop around to different spots of the garden! Can you spot him in my finished garden?

A walking-path has taken shape.

Fairy Gardens are wonderful ways to connect nature and the imagination together. Your garden could take up just a corner of the flower beds in your backyard, or as much space as the entire backyard! These are meant to be resting places for our fairy friends, and if you’re lucky you might just spot one. If you make your own fairy garden, be sure to share pictures with us!

It’s fun to see it come together.

If you loved our fairy garden craft, you might also love checking out the upcoming Enchanted Fairy Festival happening right in our council footprint in York! On Sept. 19, you can come in everyday attire or dress up as your favorite mythical creature and become part of the enchantment. There will be live music, strolling minstrels, magic, face painting, a unicorn, giants and so much more. You can do crafts, learn to belly dance, be a part of a drum circle, or visit some of the unique craft vendors.

Tickets can be purchased here, or if you would like to volunteer as a Girl Scout to help with decorations or to be day of help, please reach out to Claire at cgilbert@gshpa.org. We cannot wait to see all of the magical fun that day!

A Fortnite at the Farm in Felton, York County

Dozens of Girl Scouts, friends and families joined GSHPA at the teaching museum in Felton Pennsylvania for a fun afternoon of Fortnite activities! Girls participated in archery, structure building, healing by the campfire and meeting some of the farm animals including llamas. No wait… they weren’t llamas, they were alpacas! Girls learned the differences between llamas and alpacas at the event as well.

For more information about fun upcoming GSHPA fun visit our events calendar!

Photos: Planting Trees for a Promise

The Elliott Wildlife Values Project, American Forests and Girl Scouts have launched a tree planting and conservation initiative, and GSHPA Girl Scouts are stepping up.

Girl Scouts is setting out to plant five million trees around the country in the next five years. Girl Scouts here in Central Pa have already started! Girls had the opportunity with their family and volunteers to plant trees at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County and Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County this summer.

Join our mission to protect the plant and the effects of climate change and learn more.

Click on the photo to view larger.

One Small Step and One Giant Impact

Samiya Henry, Gold Award Recipient, Dauphin County

When you hear the phrase “Girl Scouts,” what do you think of? Do you think about the troop leaders who inspire their girls to break boundaries and discover the beauty of the world in everything they do? Or do you think about the endless number of badges there are, each badge being a brick that helps Girl Scouts who are trying to make the world a better place? What about the Girl Scout cookies? Even my mind goes straight to the $4.00 box of Thin Mints when I hear “Girl Scouts.” But it also makes me think of leadership and opportunity. I have been a Girl Scout with the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) for over ten years. GSHPA was the first organization I joined after moving to Harrisburg, PA from the Philadelphia area. 

The Girl Scouts not only helped me adjust to my new school and make new friends within my troop, but it helped me understand more about my new found Harrisburg community. Girl Scouts taught me the importance of leadership, community, and service, three very important skills that can guide you in life. These skills began to take root with my journey from being a Brownie (in my elementary school) troop to a Senior (as a one-girl troop (AKA: a Juliette)). These skills, along with the traits of volunteerism, understanding, trustworthiness, and business management are what make Girl Scouts unstoppable.  These skills are empowering and allow us to fulfill projects to the best of our abilities. The one project many Girl Scouts strive to complete is the Girl Scout Gold Award. I completed my Gold Award, entitled “One Small Step,” in July of 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I based my Girl Scout Gold Award around STEM.  I merged my passion for space exploration with my passion for serving and educating others about space, science, and law.  It all began at a conference I attended.  My decision to draft a Space Bill of Rights was sparked by one of the speakers from the National Space Society convention I attended in 2019. 

The speaker talked about Neil Armstrong’s footprint and how there are no laws in space protecting ownership of his footprint.  Thus, my idea to draft a Space Bill of Rights for those who plan to live on Mars or on the moon one day.  This same speaker would open my eyes to a very important fact: space is not owned by anyone.  No person, nor nation.  Therefore, when I began to think about a Space Bill of Rights, I decided to review various constitutions throughout the world.  

When drafting my Bill of Rights, I sought community involvement.  The “community” consisted of people from all around the world:  Africa, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Philippines, and the United States of America.  Starting in May 2020, I was able to engage the community by asking them to participate in two surveys I created.  The survey questions were generated from the constitutions I reviewed from various countries and my research concerning medical ethics.  By responding to the survey questions, the “community” of citizens from all around the world were able to help me identify the elements they deemed most important for the Space Bill of Rights. 

I was able to submit my Final Report titled: “One Small Step,” on July 20, 2020 and I was approved to receive my Gold Award in no time!  Not only did I achieve the highest Girl Scout honor, but I was able to engage the global community with a project involving space, medical ethics, and law.  Just imagine:  The possibility of being able to see the Girl Scout flag being placed on the Moon or Mars next to the U.S. flag one day! It is possible. With the accomplishments of Space-X and NASA’s rover exploration on Mars, it is possible.  In fact, the space race to the moon and Mars makes my project timely and relevant.  

I have a website up and running where people can learn more about the history and purpose of my Gold Award, while also having the ability to take the two surveys. The link is here: https://smilin632.wixsite.com/sbor20

Samiya and her project advisor, Mrs. Rebecca Lowe.

You can also reach for the stars.  If you are a Girl Scout, stay the course and follow your dreams.  The Gold Award is the perfect platform to help you follow your dreams.  Never give up. Show the world what you can do. 

The Girl Scouts has played a major role in shaping my character and my outlook on life.  For ten years, I have learned to set goals, give back to my community, lead others, and dare to dream.  It has been an honor for me to be a Girl Scout, to earn my Gold Award, and to receive a scholarship from GSHPA.  As I prepare for the next phase of my educational career, I will carry my Girl Scout experiences with me for life.  My Lifetime Membership will serve as a constant reminder that becoming a Girl Scout was one of the best decisions I could have made.  Being able to complete my Gold Award during a world -wide pandemic was humbling.  Meeting new people and being able to help others was a Blessing.  

By the words of the Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are the makers.”  Thank you GSHPA for helping to prepare me to conquer the world.  Thank you, for everything!  

Backyard Camping

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to get outdoors this summer is by traveling to your own backyard! You’ll save time and money, but can have just as much fun planning your backyard camping adventure as you would planning a trip away. Keep reading for some fun ideas for a summer backyard campout!

Shelter

First you’ll want to decide what kind of sleeping arrangements you’d like to have. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Setting up a tent: if you choose this option, you could sleep on the ground in your sleeping bags just like you might on a camping trip in the woods. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a more comfortable arrangement, you could set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows for more of a “glamping” experience!
  • Create a tarp tent: all you need is a tarp and rope! This option would be more open-air than a tent, and allows you to sleep under the stars while still being protected from the elements. 
  • No shelter: if the weather is going to be nice overnight, you could choose no shelter at all! Remember to make sure this is a safe option – think about what kind of animals might come through your yard in the middle of the night

Remember that whatever shelter you choose to set up, you can make it as fun as you’d like! Adding extra blankets or stuffed animals will make the space nice and cozy. Some fairy lights strung up will provide you with light once it’s dark. Or if you want to imagine you are hiking through the mountains with only the items you can carry on your back, maybe your setup looks a little more rustic with just your shelter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a lantern. This camping adventure is completely up to you!

Activities

After your shelter is set up for the night, don’t forget to plan some camping activities! Some of our favorite Girl Scout activities include:

  • Singing songs around a campfire (don’t forget to have some fire starters on hand, as well as an adult!)
  • Going for a hike – this could be a walk through your neighborhood, where you listen for the sounds of nature, or if you have a hiking trail near your house you could explore that too!
  • Have an outdoor Soundscape Scavenger Hunt and listen to all of the different sounds nature has. 
  • Learn about the Leave No Trace principles, and make a plan to follow those principles both on your backyard camping adventure, as well as on future trips into the outdoors. 
  • Learn about the stars in the sky through GSHPA’s Constellation series. Remember to wait for the sun to set completely. You can use the app SkyView Lite (with parent permission), and watch the first video of the series here.
  • After the sun has set and you’re getting ready to sleep, another camping favorite you can do is storytelling!  Each person can take turns telling a story they’ve heard or have made up. Or you could make it a game by having each person say only one sentence of a story. Popcorn stories can be super silly since everyone only gets to say one sentence at a time!

Now that you have your shelter set up, and activities planned, we can’t forget one of the most important parts of a camping adventure…the food!

Backyard Cooking

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: the food! We are going to be talking about all the fun and interesting ways to cook outside! Did you know that you can actually bake brownies in your backyard? How about a full chicken or a whole pie? Well you definitely can and we’re going to show you how!

Box Oven:

Kicking off our outdoor cooking adventure is a box oven! As the name suggests it is made with a cardboard box!

To create your Box Oven you will need:

  • A Cardboard Box (extra thick/sturdy if possible)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4-6 Empty Soda Cans
  • A Grill Rack (must fit inside box)
  • Charcoal
  • Small Aluminum Pan

You will want your box to have a flap to cover the opening like a door. The remaining flaps can be removed. Then start by covering your cardboard box in aluminum foil – shiny side out! Be sure to cover every inch of cardboard in foil to ensure it doesn’t burn!

Once covered place your empty soda cans on the sides to hold up your grill rack. After your box oven is all set up begin putting hot charcoal in your aluminum pan! Keep in mind each brick of charcoal will be around 50 degrees, so add enough to reach your desired temperature with that in mind!

Just let your box oven preheat – then start cooking! We recommend making brownies or pizza! And don’t forget a potholder or other heat protection!

Flower Pot:

Did you know you can grill using a flower point? You can – let’s talk about how!

To create this unique grill, you will need:

  • 10 Inch Ceramic Flower Pot (please use a plain undecorated flower pot)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Perlite
  • Charcoal

Start by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the inside of your flower pot – shiny side out! Once the inside is fully coated add your pearlite. Perlite is a mineral that reduces moisture and insulates heat which can be commonly found in any garden center or store. You will want to pour perlite to fill your lined flower pot about halfway. After this has been added place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the perlite. Top the aluminum foil with hot charcoal and you are ready to roll!

Once hot you can use your flower pot just like a grill! We recommend roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to start! It is a great option for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts to try! You can even add a grilling rack to the top for more cooking options!

Tin Can Cooking:

Cooking on top of a tin can is great for camping, especially for breakfast! It is a great option for french toast and pancakes!

To create your own you will need:

  • #10 Tin Can (make sure the inside is not lined with plastic)
  • A Buddy Burner

Yes, that’s all you need! Before we talk about how to set up your tin can, let’s talk about how to make a Buddy Burner!

To create a Buddy Burner, you will need:

  • A Tuna Can (or similar – freshly washed)
  • Strips of Cardboard, Paper or Wood Shavings
  • Melted Wax

When making your Buddy Burner start by emptying, washing and drying your tuna can. After that fill the can with strips of cardboard, paper or wood shavings – this will be your fuel. When filling the can try not to pack your too tight to ensure air can circulate. We recommend making sure a few edges are sticking out for easy lighting.

Once you have filled your can simply pour melted wax inside about 2/3 of the way and allow to set! Once dry you are ready to get started!

So now that you have a Buddy Burner, let’s talk about your larger tin can! Start by washing and drying it. After that you should take a can open and create small holes along the top edge of the can, like the image above, to help with ventilation. And that’s it – you’re ready to get cooking!

Simply light the Buddy Burner and place your Tin Can Stove on top. Once hot you can use it to cookie pancakes, French toast and much more! After you’re done cooking we recommend flipping the top of your stove onto the Buddy Burner to extinguish it – just be careful, it will be hot!

We hope you enjoyed learning all about our favorite backyard cooking and camping methods! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments below!

Important Lessons in Sign Language

Rachel Skoczynski, Troop 15089

Hello, my name is Rachel, I am from Troop 15089 in Mechanicsburg, PA.  We are working toward earning the Speaking in Sign badge, and we started the first half of this badge by doing a Zoom meeting with my Troop 15089 and Troop 20078 in York, PA.  

During this Girl Scout meeting with my deaf mom, I got the chance to teach the Girl Scouts about the deaf culture. We also taught them how to sign the letters of the alphabet, Pledge of Allegiance, and the Girl Scout Promise.   

At the second half of the meeting, we even had a Sign Language interpreter join our call and talk about a career as an interpreter. With all of the new skills we taught, I hope they will be able to inform other people one day and share the importance of the deaf culture. 

Your shirt, attention and personalities matter  

The top 3 things to know when meeting a deaf person is to wear a solid color shirt, talk to them not their interpreter, and to not cover your mouth.   

You should always wear a solid shirt so when signing to them they can easily understand the signs. It is important to look directly at someone and not at the sign language interpreter and lastly you should be careful not to cover your mouth when speaking to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.  

Personally, I have been signing since I was a toddler, and my mom gave me a sign name showing the first letter of my first name and first letter of my middle name.  

Later on I realized everyone else’s sign name had a fun and creative meaning or had to do something with their personality.  So, I asked my mom if she could change it and therefore my new sign name incorporated the sign of happy and brave to reflect my personality!  

In the next portion of our badge we will be completing the take action portion and I will be teaching American Sign Language at the Joshua Program in Harrisburg this summer.  

I am looking forward to this and grateful for the experiences I’ve had with Girl Scouting. 

Troop 20078’s video inspiring others to learn to sign.

Tips and Tricks For Girls Scout Camp

Meet Buzz and Dazzle, two of GSHPA’s summer camp staff and learn how to make this summer at camp your best yet!

Buzz, left, and Dazzle are two of amazing staff you will see at GSHPA camps all summer.

Buzz: Hey, my name is Buzz!

Dazzle: And I’m Dazzle!

Buzz: We’re two counselors for the 2021 summer camp season for GSHPA!

Dazzle: Recently we have been getting a lot of questions from incoming campers about what they need to pack, how to make friends, and so much more.

Buzz: As people who have been going to camp for many years, we have the answers to all of your questions! Dazzle, do you want to take the first one?

Dazzle: Sure! The first question we have is about packing. When packing, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pack your items in a tote or bin, rather than three or four backpacks.
  • Label the inside of your items in case they get lost.
  • Find a way to keep everything organized. Some campers will separate their outfits so they can just grab and go each morning!
  • Bring a draw-string bag or backpack for daily activities.
  • Remember to pack only the items you need! Camp is a big place where items can be lost easily.

Below is the link to our premade packing lists. Make sure to check it out! The lists can be found in the link below under the About Summer Camp heading, and under the Get Ready for Camp tab!

https://www.gshpa.org/en/camp/summer-camp.html

Buzz: Those are some great tips! And don’t worry if you forget to pack something! We have extra sunscreen, bug spray, hand sanitizer, and books for rest hour!

Dazzle: What if someone doesn’t want to read a book during rest hour?

Buzz: Well that’s where we come in! Rest hour doesn’t have to be full of books and naps. Counselors are there all day to play games, have conversations, or supervise. At camp, you’ll always have someone to talk to! Remember, staff members are not only your counselors, but also your friends.

Dazzle: Didn’t we have a question about friends?

Buzz: We sure did! Our next question is from someone who is a little worried about coming to camp alone. “What can I do to make friends at camp?”

Dazzle: Making friends at camp can be easier than you think. Most of the time you are spending quality time with the same counselors and campers.

Try things like:

  • Being yourself. This will allow you to have the most fun!
  • Finding other campers with similar hobbies!
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone. Trying new things can be scary, but they can also lead to the best camp memories.
  • Take a deep breath. Making friends on camp can be overwhelming, but keep in mind there are counselors and staff members here to support you.

Buzz: Exactly! All of the staff members make sure every camper gets included! Being a part of the group and having fun is something that automatically comes with camp! If there ever is an issue, remember that you’re always welcome to have a chat with a counselor. Did I miss anything?

Dazzle: Sounds like you covered it all. We are so excited to have all of you at camp this year. Don’t forget to bring your loud singing voices and camp spirit!

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!  

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!