Happy National Siblings Day!

In honor of National Siblings Day we asked GSHPA staff to share their stories! Be sure to share your favorite sibling stories in the comments!  

What is a favorite memory with you and your sibling(s)?  

“The time we spent growing up together with my older sibs were the best days.  Laughing in the summer in our backyard pool with friends, or wintertime ice skating at a local pond were times I’ll never forget and experiences we love to talk about when we get together.” – Tom Long (Major Gifts Officer)  

Becoming an aunt with my older brother and watching my youngest brother become a US Marine. – Caitlyn Ridge (Fund Development Data Specialist)  

“Going to Lake Wallenpaupack every summer!” – Rebecca Spencer (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

“Going to Hilton Head Island every summer!” –  Erika Carpin (Troop/Group Banking Specialist)  

“Easter basket hunts at our grandparents!” – Adia Walker (Regional Director)  

“I have three younger brothers. All four of us were born within five years. We are lucky to all be friends and enjoy each other’s company. Camping is our favorite way to all get together!” – Jenny Boyles (Member Registration Specialist)  

“My brother was younger and we fought all the time.  However, once I got my license, my parents didn’t allow me to drive with friends.  I decided my brother was good for something and he could be my sidekick.  He was willing to tolerate it because he got to go places.  One favorite memory was going to the drive in.  We’d take all the cushions off the couch, throw them in the back of the truck, and go watch the latest release.”  – Lutricia Eberly (Director of Outdoor and Program Experiences)  

“My favorite memory with my siblings was waking each other up really early on Christmas morning to go see what Santa brought. I’ll always be thankful for those magical memories!” – Kelly Simonelli (Marketing Communications Coordinator)  

“I am the baby of nine siblings. I have five brothers and three sisters. Christmas morning was the best. We all waited at the top the stairs until Mom and Dad gave the OK for us to come down and open presents. It was mad dash to our basement/rec room. Fun chaos.” – Cathy Hirko (Director of Marketing and Communications)  

“Going on adventures.  My brother and I used to run around the neighborhood and make up different adventures we were on.  One time we went to the coal mines and got lost.  That one was scary.  But other than that one, our adventures were always fun.” – Angela Jefferies (Director of Human Resources)  

“It’s rare as we get older that we can get together often, especially being spread out across PA. Last year I got married and was able to hang out with them for a full weekend! We caught up on what was going on in our lives, enjoyed the quaintness of my at-home wedding reception, laughed, and played games! We’ve become closer as adults which has been a huge help as I navigate my way through “adulting”! We were even able to plan a week-long trip to Eagle’s Mere, a lake we visited every summer as kids, for this summer.” – Olivia Novak (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

“Five of my siblings are from my father to a previous marriage so they are much older than me and didn’t live in the same country as I did. My fondest memory with them was always having them come to visit when I was little and staying for several weeks with us because they traveled from so far away. My other sister from my mom was put up for adoption before I was born. My mom spoke of her to me from a very young age so the best memory I have was meeting her mother’s day weekend the year before my mother passed away. She was pregnant with her first child and it was so special to not only celebrate her first mother’s day with her, but to be able to see the joy on my mom’s face to have both her girls with her on mother’s day when we didn’t know how many more she would get to celebrate.” – Sheri Kline (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

“The memory of how I used to despise my sister. When I was younger we were mortal enemies. We are 13 months apart so she would steal my clothes, my friends, and hobbies. After growing up and realizing that she is my built in best friend, we can finish each other thoughts, know what we are thinking with a look, and laugh at the silliest things for hours. I could not live without her and we talk every day. I still can’t believe I used to despise her but I guess that is a part of growing up! I wish I would have realized she was my built in best friend sooner for then we could have had so many more memories.” – Jordan Lowe (Member Services Specialist)  

“My brother and I are both big sports fans, so we always make time to go to Hershey Bears games and Harrisburg Senators games!” – Brynne Hall (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

“My sister is 5 years younger than me. We fought all the time as kids. For my birthday when I was about 8 years old I got a sparkling pink magic wand. It was long, made of plastic, and had a star at the top. It even lit up! One day our mom heard me yelling outside and looked out the window to find my toddler sister beating me up with my magic wand. I am sure I said something to instigate it. Our mom ran outside to stop it, but also laughed about my little sister’s behavior, especially the image of the sparkling wand being used as a weapon. My sister and I share this story ALL THE TIME. We are so close now that we are older and love to reminisce about the ‘good old days’.” –  Jess Delp (Director of Product Program and Retail) 

“My brother is the reason I only ever wanted 1 child; we fought a lot as kids.  We get a long much better now as adults.  But one of my favorite memories was almost every Christmas morning, we would get up early and just talk.  For hours.  It was like a flag of truce was up for that time and we talked about everything and anything.  I really liked that.” – Diane Bateman (Member Services Specialist)  

“Over the last year we have stayed very connected through Facetime and have done weekly ‘Masterminds’ conversations where we talk about books we’re reading, listen to philosophy podcasts and then discuss the topics, and just have deep-thinking conversations. It’s been a really fun way to stay connected with my siblings even though we live all over the country. It will be a very special memory for life! – Caroline Jaegar (Product Program Specialist)  

When we were between the ages of 4 and 10 – my three sisters and I waiting for my Dad to return from work to to take us every Friday for our weekend movie treats, and sitting all together watching a movie, munching on the treats and enjoying each other’s company!  – Raksha Authar  (Executive Assistant to the President and CEO)

We can’t wait to hear your favorite sibling stories!


Post by the GSHPA Staff

Fun Patches to Earn this Spring

Fun patches are a great way to celebrate the adventures and activities girls participate in, outside of badge work. While badges help girls explore their interests and learn new skills by completing specific steps to earn the badge, fun patches are just that, for fun! Patches are always displayed on the back of girls’ uniforms, and a great way for girls to remember the fun things they did with their troop. There are fun patches out there for anything you could imagine, from outdoor experiences, to STEAM activities and events, and even virtual activities.  There is something for everyone! 

With so much of this past year being spent more virtually than before, it has allowed us to learn and do things that we may never have experienced otherwise. For example, touring museums across the world from the comfort of our own couch, how cool is that? Fun patches are similar. Troops now have access to the world at their fingertips, and girls can display their adventures on their uniforms as a reminder of the exciting experiences they’ve had in Girl Scouts. 

I connected with Senior Girl Scout Leah Hilton from troop 70569 to hear more about her favorite fun patch. “My favorite fun patch that I have earned is the Girl Scouts Love State Parks patch. I love exploring the outdoors with my Girl Scout friends, so this patch was perfect for me. To earn this patch, I went to Ricketts Glen State Park. We met a State Park Ranger who told us about the park history, the local geography, and how they test the water quality in the park.  She then led the group on a really cool hike where we got to see a lot of amazing waterfalls.  She also gave us a book that showed ways to identify the different trees in the park, and then we practiced identifying trees. I can now identify white pines by the number of pine needles in a cluster, birch by its peeling bark, and black oak trees by the leaf growth pattern.   

This fun patch helped grow my love for the outdoors, and I have since visited other state parks.  Each time I visit a state park I look to see if they sell any patches that I can add to my collection! 

Here are a few ideas for fun patches you can do with your girls this spring: 

Road Trip Patch 

–          Plan a virtual road trip together 

–          National Parks Virtual Tours 

Game Night Patch 

–          Virtual Game Ideas 

–          How To Plan a Virtual Game Night 

Earth Day Patch 

–          Celebrating Earth Day With Your Troop 

–          Oil Spill Activity 

Yoga Pose Patch 

–          Girl Scouts Love Yoga 

–          Yoga At Home with GS Spirit of Nebraska 

Backyard Camping Patch 

–          Family Backyard Camping Ideas 

–          Camp like a Girl Scout at Home! 

–          Outdoor Experience – Girl Scouts at Home 


Posted by Colleen Sypien

April Fools, Girl Scout Style

March is a busy month filled with all sorts of activities, but as we say goodbye to March it is time to say hello to spring weather, the end of Cookie Season and APRIL FOOLS DAY.  

Yes, today we will be talking all about April 1st and sharing some of our favorite pranks with you!  

Green Milk & Cookies! 

Bring your friends and family a sweet surprise – delicious Girl Scout Cookies. So where’s the prank in that? We have used food coloring to dye the milk an unusual color to shock them! 

Girl Scout Cookie Swap! 

Since everyone is stocking up on those delicious Girl Scout Cookies it is the perfect time to swap out those cookies with veggies for some April Fools fun! 

Jello Toothbrush! 

Who doesn’t love Jello? Well your friends and family might not after this prank! Start by making your favorite jello (we recommend green jello for an extra Girl Scout twist!) and pour it into a small cup then add their toothbrush. Once it is set, simply place it where they brush their teeth and wait! 

Balloon Bang! 

Take on April Fool’s Day with a BANG! Just take a few balloons, blow them up really full and attach them to the back of a closed door! When your friends open the door it will hit the wall and pop the balloons! 

Juliette Gordon Low Prank! 

As you may know Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of Girl Scouts what better way to remind your friends and family members than by showing them? We printed out a bunch of tiny cartoon Juliette Gordon Lows to stick around the house – you should try the same! 

Unreachable Girl Scout Cookies! 

Instead of opening the package and swapping out the cookies inside, this prank will be on the outside of the box! Just take a box of their favorite Girl Scout Cookies and wrap it in tape, bubble wrap, etc. to ensure it is nearly impossible to reach the delicious cookies inside! 


Post by: Rebekah Stefl

STEAM Snack: March

Welcome back to our monthly series bringing you STEAM activities to do at home or with your troops. 

March can be a tricky month, is it Winter? No, Spring, wait, it’s Winter again!  We have an activity for you to bring some order to the randomness of March through math and art.  

A tessellation is a pattern of flat shapes that fit together so that there are no gaps.  I’m sure you’ve seen them before but maybe didn’t realize it.  Here are a couple examples from nature.  

Take a look at the snake’s skin and you will see a collection of scales that fit together like puzzle pieces.  

The veins on a dragonfly’s wings also outline an irregular puzzle-like collection clear cells.   

The honeycomb cells built by bees also fit together very regularly.  They are all the same size and shape.   

All these natural patterns can be modeled with a mathematic technique known as a Voroni Tessellation. Feel free to research that more.  Here we are just going to talk about the math behind the basic definition of tessellation.  

Why Math?  

Math gets a bad reputation sometimes, but I love it and even if you don’t love it you can have fun with it.  Here are three reasons why… 

  1. A girl who tries to solve a math problem quickly learns that she needs to follow a specific series of steps without making a mistake.  If there is an error, she will learn to trouble shoot, and try it again until she gets it correct.  This is an important lesson for our daily lives, where we do a lot of stuff that can be improved and corrected for efficiency and productivity.  
  1. Math helps produce problem solving skills that will assist in real life situations and arriving at logical solutions.  Think of the dreaded “word problems”, I know we all groaned when our teachers gave us one, but they are the problems that apply most to real live situations.  
  1. Math teaches us important skills that we use every single day, even if we don’t realize it.  An example:  fractions are used while reading road signs that tell us the distance we still have to go to our destination. Being good with numbers makes telling time much easier.  Percentages help us when reading nutrition labels or shopping discounts.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

We have all heard “I’m not a math person.” We are all math people, it is around us everywhere, you don’t have to be an expert/genius to be able to get girls interested, or at least accepting of math.   

First, we don’t want anyone to feel forced into math, we want to show the girls how math is connected to our daily lives. This is not school, they are not being graded! 

Second, focus on the other things we learn through math. Share with your girls that it will create opportunities for cooperation, it will be a change to struggle and succeed, and that it is ok to not get it right the first time, very rarely do we get things correct the first time.   

Also, remind the girls that math is like a language and easier to use once you learn the words.  

How do I get started? 

So the first step in starting is to make sure to do this activity yourself before doing it with the girls.  There are some detailed parts that you will want to have tried before teaching the girls, lining up the sides to tape and such, you will recognize them. If you google “Tesselations for Kids” images you will see many more examples and inspiration. 

Along these lines, if you are working with younger girls it will be handy to have extra adult hands around to help.  

Once you have the girls in front of you, do not tell them they are going to be doing Math, or  you will get eye rolls and groans. Instead, lead with “we are doing Art!!!!” And then mention the math in the art. Patterns, angles, spacing are all art and math terms.  

The Badges: 

Daisy: Outdoor Art Maker – Step 1, See the colors of nature 

Brownie: Outdoor Art Creator – Step 1: Find art ideas outdoors and Step 2: Make something 

Junior: Outdoor Art Explorer – Step 1: Explore outdoor art and Step 2: Make something 

Cadette: Outdoor Art Apprentice – Step 1: Explore outdoor art and Step 2: Make something 

Senior: Outdoor Art Expert – Step 1: Explore outdoor art and Step 2: Make something 

Ambassador: Outdoor Art Master – Step 1: Explore outdoor art and Step 2: Make something 

The Activity! 

What to say when you start the activity: Tessellation is a big word for fitting shapes together so there are no gaps between the shapes and none of the shapes overlap. Think of a jigsaw puzzle, tiles in your bathroom or a brick wall. There is a bit of math involved even if not obvious at first, it is all about the angles.

Tetris is a good example of tessellation, fitting shapes together with no gaps. Other places you will see tessellation is in the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher and in Islamic art, the Alhambra Palace in Spain.

Tessellation has one important rule: whenever lines meet, the angles have to add up to 360 degrees. Back to the Tetris example, it works because the corners on all the shapes are 90 degrees so when the four corners meet you end up with no spaces, 360 degrees.  This also works with other shapes, equilateral triangles (60-degree corners) and hexagons (120-degree corners.)

Activity: Tessellation 

We will be designing a translation tessellation, this can be thought of as sliding the shape along a plane, creating the repeating pattern. Follow the steps and see what you can imagine.  

Step One:  

Label your 3×3 inch paper with A and B 

Step Two:  

Draw a simple shape on one side A and one side B

Step Three:  

Carefully cut side “A” out and slide it to line up with the other “A”. Secure with tape.

Step Four: Optional  

Optional for a bigger challenge: Repeat Step Three with side “B”.

Now you have a template, you can use it as is or trace it onto a heavier piece of paper like card stock or cereal box.  

Step Five:  

Place your template somewhere on your blank piece of paper and trace it.  Then place the template so that it fits into itself and trace again.  Repeat until your page is covered.  Trace the patter with a black marker or pen.

Step Six:  

Choose Colors for your design and color in with crayons, colored pencils, markers, or paint. 

Wrap up:  

How can changing the colors change your pattern? How did you work through your challenges working with the template?  

Congratulations you did it! You deserve a snack, an edible tessellation! 

5 Ingredient Monkey Bread  

easy monkey bread recipe 2

There are so many more STEAM projects out there and if you have a favorite or a new topic you’d like to see please let us know in the comments. 


Written by: The GSHPA Program Team

What is a Cookie Drive-thru?

Introduction 

It goes without saying that the way we receive product has exponentially altered over the course of these last 12 months. Whether it’s selecting curbside delivery for restaurant orders or having your groceries delivered to your door, we’ve all had to adjust our expectations about how we receive the products we are accustomed to having. The same holds true for how customers will receive their cookie orders during the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie Program. 
 

What is a Cookie Drive-thru? 

A Cookie Drive-thru is somewhat self-explanatory. Girl Scouts will arrive onsite with Girl Scout Cookies in hand. Customers will be able to drive up to the Girl Scouts station, pay for their order and receive their cookies without having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. Today’s Girl Scouts recognize the importance of creating an effortless experience for the customer, which is why you’ll see many girls utilizing contactless payment features through mobile devices.   
 

Why is a Cookie Drive-thru Important? 

The Cookie Drive-thru presents a way to keep Girl Scout Troops safe as they participate in the Cookie Program and engage with the customers. The Cookie Drive-thru is not a new concept to the Girl Scout Cookie Program and we anticipate they will become much more prevalent during this year’s program. 

Closing 

For over a century, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has adapted and persevered in the face of certainty and uncertainty. It is without a doubt that the repercussions of this global pandemic will have a permanent impact on how Girl Scouts sell cookies but if we know anything about these aspiring entrepreneurs, it is that they are up to the challenge and will continue to use courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place for years to come.  

Call-to-Action 

To find where Girl Scouts are selling cookies near you, visit girlscouts.org/findcookies 


Post by Jess

A Pot O’History for St. Patrick’s Day

While Girl Scouts associate March with Girl Scout Cookie Season there is another holiday to consider: Saint Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated on March 17th annually! As we approach this special holiday it has us wondering, what is the best way to celebrate? Outside of wearing green, searching for leprechauns and chasing rainbows to find a pot of gold, there is so much more to this famous Irish holiday. We want to take this opportunity to dive into Saint Patrick’s Day and share all the amazing things to come from Irish Culture today!  

St. Patrick’s Parade

Ireland is a small island located just west of the United Kingdom with a very rich heritage. Many of our traditions and celebrations have come from Ireland, including Saint Patrick’s Day. Traditionally Ireland celebrates this national Irish holiday with parades, festivals and much more! So, who was Saint Patrick exactly? Saint Patrick was actually born in England, but arrived in Ireland around 430 A.D. and quickly made his way across the country. Saint Patrick explained Catholic religious beliefs using the three-leaf clover, making many of these teachings much more accessible to the public. He is also credited with banishing snakes from Ireland before his death on March 17th.  

While Ireland wholeheartedly celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day there is much more to Irish Culture than this famous holiday. Today, Ireland is a bustling country filled with kindhearted people, delicious food and traditional folklore tales.   

Believe it or not, the culture of Ireland has had a large impact on the world today and our traditions. Did you know that Halloween actually started in Ireland? Halloween was first celebrated over 2,000 years ago in Ireland to honor and celebrate the souls lost throughout the year. The day was celebrated with bonfires, carving pumpkins and even trick-or-treating!  

Ireland has also had a huge impact on our sense of humor throughout the years! As you may be able to guess Ireland was the birthplace of having a good time and showing your love by teasing your friends and family! If you ever visit Ireland don’t be surprised if they welcome you by teasing you. Additionally, when in Ireland they use the term “craic” (pronounced crack) constantly. Craic simply means to have fun!  

 Irish Culture is heavily rooted in having fun, but the food is just as important to the people! So many Irish dishes are rooted in tradition and simplicity.  I think two of the most common (and delicious) dishes would be Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread. However, they have many more delicious dishes to try including; Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish Pie and Irish Apple Cake. And we definitely recommend you try out some of the recipes found here (https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/classic-irish-recipes/)  

Now last, but certainly not least we have Irish Folklore. Ireland has celebrated the tradition of folklore and storytelling for over 2,000 years. Long before history and events were recorded in writing they were passed down through story telling. While Ireland has its very own set of folklore tales, believe it or not, many of our fairy tales today have been heavily influenced by these Irish traditional tales!  

An example is actually fairies! While stories of fairies can be found across the globe the fairies we know today and the term “fairy tale” originated in Ireland! Irish Folklore states that the first fairies were believed to be a part of the “Tuatha de Danann” one of the first tribes in Ireland. The story goes that they were magic people that loved Ireland so much they decided to shrink themselves and move underground. Yes, the stories have evolved over the years, but many Irish people, especially those living in the countryside believe in fairies. The fairies are considered Ireland’s tiny protectors, so the Irish people still honor fairy trees, fairy rings and much more – “just in case”.  

Fairy Circle
Fairy Tree

Speaking of fairies, there are more than just folklore fairies in Ireland. A “fairy” is actually a common nickname for Irish Girl Guides at the Brownie level. As you may know, Girl Scouts are part of the W.A.G.G.G.S organization which stands for the “World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.” Well Ireland is also a part of this organization, but they are called Girl Guides instead of Girl Scouts!  

Girl Guides across Ireland celebrate their very own ceremonies and traditions, including having their very own promise and law. And did you know that Irish Girl Guides even sell their own cookies? Yes, but they only sell one flavor for a short time every year:  a chocolate cookie with milk chocolate chunks inside. You can learn more about Irish Girl Guides by visiting their website here (https://www.irishgirlguides.ie/)  

We hope you learned something new, just in time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! And don’t forget to share your Irish knowledge, traditions and celebrations in the comments below!  


Post Written by Rebekah Stefl

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

On March 12th we will be celebrating the 109th anniversary of when Juliette Gordon Low registered the first 18 Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.  I’m sure Juliette could have never imagined the impact she would have on Girl Scouts, over a century later. With the organization turning 109 years old this year, has anything changed from Juliette’s original vision? 

During a time when women still could not vote in 1912, Juliette wanted to defy standards of the time, and give girls the chance to gain skills, and become more independent.  Skills including knot tying, harvesting food, and canning goods.  The first Girl Scouts were encouraged to get outdoors, to camp, to hike and to play basketball. Community service projects and Take Action projects became a huge part of Girl Scouts especially when the Great Depression and World War II started.  The cookie program was also started by Juliette, as a way to raise funds for her Girl Scout troops.   

Looking at the Girl Scout values of today, not much has changed.  Girl Scouts continue to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  Girl Scouts can explore interests and learn new skills while working on badges that center around STEM, outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship.   The organization empowers girls to make connections so that they can make a difference in their community.  All these years later, you cannot mention Girl Scouts without someone asking about buying Girl Scout cookies.  We want girls to continue to chase their curiosity and dream big, in a girl only safe space. 

The only changes we have seen in the last 109 years is the number of Girl Scout members, going from the original 18 in 1912 to over 2 million today. We need to celebrate not only because Girl Scouts is turning 109 years old next week, but also because our values and goals have changed very little since Juliette Gordon Low first registered the original 18 members.  During the next week, take the time to celebrate this achievement.  Leading up to March 12th, your troop could celebrate by having a small party at their troop meeting.  What would a party be without eating some cake or cupcakes (maybe try incorporating your favorite Girl Scout cookies like this S’more campfire cupcake recipe from Little Brownie Bakers)? During your party your troop could sing their favorite Girl Scouts songs like “Make New Friends” and “Princess Pat”.  To end this celebration, play a game of pin the petal on a daisy.  No matter how you decide to celebrate this year, take the time to reflect on the Girl Scout first meeting, all those years ago.  

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts! We hope you had the BEST Girl Scout week. We want to see how you celebrated. Tag us on Facebook or on Instagram. You could be featured in an upcoming blog post!


Written by Gina
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Alumni Spotlight – Amy Beamer

Girl Scouting Sows the Seeds of Community

I met Amy Beamer Murray through a former colleague, Michele Engle, when I was busy with publishing work at the Central Penn Business Journal. Michele told me that I was going to love Amy immediately. She was not wrong.  

Amy is smart, kind and has a dry sense of humor that is perfect for late fall afternoon porch conversations. During her daylight hours, Amy is the COO at Pavone Marketing Group, which has its headquarters in Harrisburg and other offices in Philadelphia and Chicago.  

Amy is a prolific letter writer and I just recently found out that she was Girl Scout.  

I just joined the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization in early November. Part of what I want to do with the GSHPA is find former Girl Scouts to share their stories about leadership and the impact Girl Scouts had on their lives. 

Here is snapshot of my friend, Amy Beamer Murray.  

Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Your schooling and how you ended up in the career that you have now with Pavone? 

I grew up in a small town – Newport, Pennsylvania – which is about 30 miles northwest of Harrisburg. From there, I went to Elizabethtown College and graduated with a degree in business administration. When I graduated in 1990, the country was in the midst of a recession, and, while I’d love to be able to say I had some grand plan, the truth is I just wanted to find a job that was interesting to me, get some experience and figure it out from there. I started working at an advertising agency in Harrisburg, working in traffic and project management. When the creative team left the agency to start their own shop, I followed about a year later as their first employee. And the rest is history. I’ve been with Pavone Marketing Group for 29 years and am currently its chief operating officer, working with almost 100 marketing and communications professionals. 

What are some of your favorite memories regarding your Girl Scout experience? 

My mom got me involved in Girl Scouting as a way for me to be more social. Even at an early age, I was an introvert who was in my own head and who enjoyed the company of adults . . . “that Amy, she’s eight going on 80,” they’d say.  

So, my mom thought it would be good for me to interact more with kids my own age. As Brownies, we did all kinds of arts and crafts, learned patriotic songs, and made sit-upons and foil packets for our day camp excursions.  

We were lucky to have the picturesque Little Buffalo State Park in our backyard – and we did hiking, picnicking and swimming activities there. As Girl Scouts, we did more of the same, but also started volunteering in different ways around the community and we went to overnight camp.  

I remember winter camp especially well because I took a transistor radio with me so we could hear if the US hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics (that seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?). Cadettes and Senior involvement meant more opportunities to earn badges and volunteer. And there were cookie sales at each level!  

Has your experiences in Girl Scouting affected your leadership style/experience now? If so, can you explain? 

I think those experiences sowed the seeds of community service at an early age. When you grow up in a small town, many of the town’s activities center around the school, churches and community groups. In Newport, the adults were involved in the Lions’ Club, Jaycees, and the volunteer fire company and EMS service, and youth sports. And, for the kids, church youth groups and Girl and Boy Scouts were our vehicles for volunteerism. There was a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie within our troops, while instilling the responsibility to give back to the community by identifying needs (like picking up litter, packing food for distribution, visiting nursing home residents and organizing activities for younger kids) and doing something about it. In my role as COO, that’s pretty much the ball game – identifying needs and doing something about it! 

You are a prolific letter writer (which I love about you) How did this habit start and why is it important for you. Also, share, on average, how many letters that you write a month? 

My mom was always sending greeting cards to sick people and shut-ins in our church and I picked up the knack early on. Once I got to college, writing letters was the only way other than telephone calls to stay in touch with my friends (remember the days of no email or internet?), and so that’s when it really took off. And now I do it because I know people really appreciate it because it’s so uncommon in this day and age. It really has become something between and ministry and an obsession for me. On average, I probably send between 20 and 40 cards per week for a myriad of reasons – birthdays, thank you, thinking of you, get well, sympathy. And I send cards for all holidays and occasions. I’ve become a connoisseur of all different card companies and have even befriended a few of their owners and artists along the way. I simply can’t imagine not doing it! 

A few years ago, you started sharing publicly how practicing mindfulness has helped you mentally and physically. Can you explain that and elaborate a little? 

About a decade ago, I was dealing with some serious issues with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I started looking at alternative therapies as a way to manage it. Having a mindfulness practice has certainly helped. I think a lot of times people think mindfulness means doing meditation, but that’s only a small part of it. And a form of meditation can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend or your dog. Our pets are wonderful teachers when it comes to mindfulness, in that being mindful really means being present in the current moment – not thinking about the past with regret or the future with anticipation or dread. I do devotions and prayer each morning and try to take time throughout the day to move/walk and do some intentional breathing. I also seek out periods of silence (no tech/media) which is also helpful in calming the mind. And an opportunity for gardening is just around the corner! I believe that having a mindfulness practice has been essential to my ability to deal with the pandemic and the anxiety and uncertainty that it has brought to so many folks. 

What are some ways you can recommend participating in the Girl Scouts as a volunteer? 

Being a leader has to be a wonderful and fulfilling way to get involved. Working as a part-time chaperone is also a way to be involved. And as Girl Scouts are pursuing a variety of badges, I would imagine there are opportunities to volunteer as a subject matter expert as well. In the past, I volunteered as part of a partnership with Junior Achievement to work with Girl Scouts who were pursuing their business badge. 

I know you are big fan of cats. Tell us about your kitties. Their names and personalities. 

My husband, Paul, and I are parents to six cats. I always joke that three of them were unplanned, but we couldn’t say no when a kitty was in need. We have two pair of tiger brother/sister siblings and they’re our oldest and youngest cats. So, those four are Jasper (who is Paul’s boy) and Frances, age 12, and Ollie (who is a total train wreck) and Maude, age three. Sandwiched in between them are our two black cats, Otis Jones, age 6, who is totally a momma’s boy, and Fiona, age 10, who is our deaf girl and sleeps 23 hours a day. Truth be told, Frances and Maude are probably the best archetypal house cats that we have. The others are all just a little nuts. 


Post by Cathy Hirko

Happy International Women’s Day!

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? What an amazing chance to celebrate the amazing things women have done! Not only is March a great month to learn about incredible women, but we also have a chance to celebrate as Girl Scouts during Girl Scout Week (March 7-13), including celebrating Girl Scouts’ Birthday on March 12. Perhaps the icing on the cake of Girl Scout Week is that International Women’s Day also falls during that time, on March 8.  

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the achievements of women. The very first celebration of International Women’s Day was held in 1911, over 100 years ago! In the early 1900’s there was a lot of movement by women to overcome the gender oppression and inequality they were experiencing. In 1908, women really started to become more vocal in coming together to champion change on issues such as better pay and voting rights. The rise of women challenging inequalities was seen across the globe, and spurred the idea of celebrating an International Women’s Day.  

As a young girl I loved watching the Disney movie Mary Poppins, and in that movie there is a scene where Mrs. Banks comes home in a whirlwind singing about fighting for women’s rights. I used to feel so empowered by her excitement and passion for the cause, even before I truly understood what the suffragettes stood for. Now as an adult, I understand the inequalities that women faced, and still do face. I felt similar energy and passion when taking women studies courses in college, when reading about incredible women in history and in the news today, and I feel that energy every day as a Girl Scout celebrating the achievements of girls. 

The theme of International Women’s Day for 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”. The International Women’s Day website says “A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change. So let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.” What a great reminder of where this day started and where we are now. Without our ancestors choosing to challenge voting rights and pay gaps and so many other inequalities, we as women would not have nearly as many opportunities as we do now. Their challenge to society has given us so much, but there is so much more we as women can do for the generations to come. I have a few favorite women that I would recommend learning about, who are continuing the work that generations before us started, and are creating new history every day.  

Greta Thunberg 

Greta is an 18 year old who has been making big waves. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three times…three times! She has caught the attention of many leaders worldwide by speaking up about climate and environmental concerns. Gaining the attention of important world leaders may seem daunting, and I’d have to agree. But what is incredible about Greta is that her platform started with convincing friends and family to make changes to lessen their carbon footprint. From there she organized strikes at school and gave speeches to rally more people. Greta also has Asperger’s Syndrome, and I think she is the perfect example to show girls that they are capable of achieving great things, no matter what type of hurdles they may think they have to overcome.  

Emma Gonzalez 

Emma survived the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. It would have been so easy for her to never go back to public school, to let the fear of her experience run her life. Instead, she managed to funnel the anger, sadness, fear and confusion that she and her classmates felt into not just a single speech, but into creating an entire movement advocating for gun control. She, along with a few classmates, co-founded the group Never Again to continue the fight for gun control. Regardless of political views, I think it is incredible that Emma took such a horrifying experience and channeled the energy she felt from that experience into doing something to help other students and schools.  

Sonita Alizadeh 

Sonita is currently 24 years old, but her incredible work to help girls started when she was only 16. Living in Afghanistan, she very narrowly avoided being sold into marriage, by her own family. Unfortunately, her situation is not unusual in many countries. In protest of this practice, Sonita wrote a rap song called “Brides For Sale” and shared it on YouTube. Her video went viral, and has since created international buzz, and prompted girls to speak out about their own similar experiences. Sonita continues to spread awareness about forced child marriage, and while it is an upsetting topic to learn about, her work empowering other girls to fight for an end to this practice is so inspiring! 

Malala Yousafzai 

In 2012, Malala was very seriously injured in an assassination attempt. The Taliban had taken control of her small home town in Pakistan, and banned many things, such as owning a TV, playing music, and girls attending school. There were extremely harsh punishments if anyone defied them. Malala loved going to school, and started to speak up against the ban keeping girls from going to school, and even found ways to continue going to school. On her way home from school one day, a gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. Instead of this experience silencing Malala, she worked closely with her dad to create the Malala Fund, and has worked to fight for every girl’s right to go to school ever since. More than 130 million girls worldwide are not in school today, and I love this quote from Malala, stating that she tells her story “not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls”.  

Danielle Boyer 

19 year old Danielle found her passion in designing circuits and animatronics. When she realized that STEAM education isn’t available to everyone, she founded STEAM Connection, an organization to provide affordable and accessible STEAM materials to underserved students. Her robot, EKGAR (Every Kid Gets a Robot) has since been given to 4,000 kids at no cost! Danielle says of her passion, “I want girls to know they can find their superpowers, pursue what they love and help others.” 

Anna Lumsargis- York County GSHPA Girl Scout 

Anna worked with the York History Center to update their archives on past women’s history in York County as well as address the role of women in York County play in the present in all aspects of leadership, cultural awareness, and service. The York History Center identified that they needed help providing updated information and accessibility to the information, so she created a website focused on highlighting the women of York County in history, and created a documentary-style video highlighting current influential women in York County. 

Influential Women in York County 

Website

York Daily Record Article 

These girls are incredibly inspiring, and I encourage you to read more about the work that each of them are doing to help girls and women across the world. I think it is so important to celebrate their achievements on International Women’s Day, but also to celebrate that we as girls and women are capable of so much. Even the smallest action starting at home can turn into worldwide change, as many of the girl’s above demonstrate! Happy International Women’s Day, don’t ever lose sight of the incredible things women can do! 


Post by Colleen

Prioritizing Appreciation

The past year has brought about MANY changes, of course… you know that.  It’s changed the way we work, socialize, even grocery shop, (again, not breaking news).  What it has not changed is the need to encourage and recognize employees.  If anything, it’s even more important to show our employees that they are appreciated.  So, how do we do that?  

Recognizing employees can come in many different forms.  For example, I am a gifter.  I love to give gifts as well as receive them.  My first draft of this posting was done with a pen I received as a valentine from GSHPA’s Staff Appreciation Committee.  While I’m a gifter, not everyone is.  Some people thrive on one to one interaction, some people prefer to receive hand written letters, and some people prefer activities.  How we all feels our best is different between each person.  So how do we show appreciation to each employee when there are so many with so many different needs?   

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Well that is the real question and is something that the Staff Appreciation Committee struggles with at each meeting.  We know the importance of engaging our staff in different ways to ensure each and every one of our 56 employees feel appreciated.  While we are a smaller organization, some of our efforts can be duplicated amongst bigger, or even smaller, workplaces as well.   

Check out some examples of what we at GSHPA have done to appreciate our staff;  

  1. We sent Valentine’s to everyone.  A stress taco and a heart pen!  
  1. We held a virtual holiday party with 6 different activities for everyone to participate in.  
  1. We spent an afternoon choosing our words of intention for the year and the SAC is creating printable reminders for each staff person.  
  1. Each staff member receives cards for their birthdays and work anniversaries in conjunction with the leadership team.  
  1. We have two very active social groups that meet monthly after work.   
  1. Currently, we are hosting a step challenge for any staff members who wanted a little extra support in hitting their daily and weekly step goals.  

One of the items mentioned above is the social groups that meet monthly after work.  We’re really excited about this newly formed aspect of the Staff Appreciation Committee!  In December we started a Craft Club.  Each month, a club member “hosts” a Zoom event and teaches the rest of the club how to do a craft, typically one that matches the season.  Our other social club, the Book Club, began at the end of January.  Each month we choose a book and read throughout the month.  When we are able to meet, we spend some time discussing the book and also then choosing a book for the next month.  The best part of each of the clubs though, the socialization and bonding that happen while were crafting or discussing the book.   

While these ideas can all be implemented into the workplace, they can also be used engage your troop members.  Planning a troop meeting, whether in person or virtually, you can create some activities for your girls to participate with.  A platform that has been a huge hit with our staff, and free to use, is Kahoot.  It can be used in person or virtually and it makes creates a fun, competitive activity for your girls. Another way to show your girls how much you appreciate them and how much they are going through, reaching out individually. Give them a call or a text to chat with them about their day or their current goals.

Another way to show them your appreciation is to recognize them individually during a virtual (or in person) troop meeting. Create awards for each of your girls that are leader judged. For example, Best Zoom Background, Funniest Pet Story, Best Quarantine Skill, or anything you can imagine!

What are some ways your employers have shown you their appreciation?  Have you done anything to show your girls your appreciation of them?  


Post by Erica