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!


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

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

The Perfect Girl Scout Experience, Staff Stories.

I like to say I have had the perfect Girl Scout experience. My mom signed me up to join a troop as soon as I started Kindergarten, and Girl Scouts has been in my life ever since. I am a lifelong Girl Scout who has tried pretty much everything Girl Scouts has to offer. I earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards, helped run a troop my senior year of high school, served as a camp counselor, and am now interning with Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania as a Product and Retail intern. Even with all the ups and downs in life, I can confidently say Girl Scouts has always been my constant. Girl Scouts has truly come full circle for me and I have loved every minute of it. 

My troop in elementary school quickly became my closest friends. I found girls that I instantly clicked with and we almost immediately became friends. When I moved from California to Washington in middle school, I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was going to be friends with or what I was going to do; but Girl Scouts saved me again. I found a new troop and new friends. I learned that new things don’t always have to be scary if there are people who are there to support you. Girl Scouts has never failed to support me. 

I truly don’t think I would be the confident, intelligent, and compassionate leader I am today without the foundations Girl Scouts gave me. I learned confidence through empowerment seminars and observing the leadership of strong women above me. I learned how to balance my internal need for academic success with the necessity of breaks and flexibility. I learned leadership skills through the numerous opportunities Girl Scouts provided. Whether that be serving as a troop leader or a camp counselor, I learned the importance of leading with kindness and understanding. Girl Scouts also taught me how to be compassionate, even when it is hard to. 

I am so beyond grateful for everything Girl Scouts has done for me, which is why I was ecstatic to join the team at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. I selfishly wasn’t ready to lose the support system Girl Scouts had given me. Even still I continue to learn and grow because of the organization as a whole. Girl Scouts truly never ends; you will learn things you always use, and they will always be there for you. That is true loyalty, and precisely what it means to be a Girl Scout.


Written by: Samantha Griffin, GSHPA Product Program Intern, 2021

SPOTLIGHT: Wellness Wednesday

Welcome to our newest spotlight, Wellness Wednesdays! Each month we will be posting a health and wellness tip to help you be your best self! To start out this new series, we’re going to talk about our mental health, and how fitting, May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Mental Health Awareness Month and is devoted to recognizing the importance of mental health! In 1949 Mental Health Awareness Week was created! Throughout the years the awareness turned from being just a week to being a full month for hospitals and health-based institutions to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health and end the stigma around mental health needs.   

As the years progress, and as we have experienced a global pandemic and a year of unprecedented changes, we are continuing to recognize how important mental health awareness is for not just adults, but all ages, all genders, and how each person’s mental health varies greatly.  

How do we recognize Mental Health as Girl Scouts?  

There are a number of badges that girls can earn in which they focus on mental health with a main theme of overall wellness, but also with a specific mental health requirement:   

My Best Self – Brownie Try-It 

Staying Fit – Junior Badge 

Science of Happiness – Cadette Badge 

Women’s Health – Senior Badge 

If you’re like me, you are probably looking for additional ways to take care of your mental health.  There are so many resources out there for people to choose from.  The GSHPA Staff has been talking about the best ways that they care for their mental health.  One of our favorites has been a mid-day meditation session.  We followed along to this session and this one as well.  Another suggestion has been crafting!  There are so many craft kits and subscriptions services available to find a new crafting hobby you love.  Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find something that brings you joy!   

A favorite self-care method in my family is kayaking.  We spend our Sunday afternoons in our kayaks exploring new waterways or floating on old favorites.  It’s a great way to combine our mental health, the calm that comes from being in the water, and exercise to really have a great full body and spirit workout.   

Will you share your favorite mental health tips with us?  We can all benefit from trying new ways of relaxing and recentering to ensure our bodies, and our minds, stay healthy for a long time.  


Post by Erica Hildabridle

PA’s State Parks

As we gear up for a summer of camping and getting outdoors, I’m excited to share about some of our State Parks within our council footprint for Girl Scouts to check out this summer! Did you know that the parks of America go by many different names? The most common is usually a state or national park, but names can also include national forests, wildlife areas, recreation trails, natural areas, as well as many other names. Yosemite became the first national park in 1872, and not too long after Pennsylvania designated its first state park Valley Forge in 1893. Today Pennsylvania has 121 state parks, many of which can be found right inside our council. My list below is only a few of our state parks, but you can check out a full list here to plan your summer outdoors! 

Codorus State Park 

Located in the southern part of our council, the land of Codorus was originally used for industry, and had the first coal burning furnace west of the Susquehanna River. One of the founders of the area, George Ross, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and even introduced George Washington and Betsy Ross! With over 3,500 acres, visitors can experience fishing, bird watching, swimming, hiking, camping and more.  

Pine Grove Furnace State Park 

Also in the southern part of our council is Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Originally used as an Iron Works during the Civil War and beyond, John Birkinbine became the lead engineer for the company in 1878. Dismayed by the dwindling forests in Pennsylvania, Birkinbine eventually went on to be a founding member of the PA Forestry Association after the Iron Works was shut down. In 1913 the land was sold to the state and was turned into the state park we know today. Some of the original buildings from the Iron Works are still standing today and can be visited. This park is the halfway point of the Appalachian trail, so you can also hike the trail and visit the Appalachian Trail Museum! 

Rothrock State Forest 

Named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, also known as the “father of forestry” in Pennsylvania, this state forest boasts more than 96,000 acres! This is a great place to visit to see a forest “at work”. Protecting rare plant communities, timber harvests and gypsy moth containment are all examples of this.  

Frances Slocum State Park 

Located in the northern part of our council near Scranton, this park is named for Frances Slocum, a young girl from Wilkes-Barre who was kidnapped by a group of Delaware Indians in 1778. The Native Americans traveled north and west, and Frances traveled with them, eventually assimilating to life with the tribe, and even refusing to return home with her brothers when they finally found her 59 years later. This park features the Patrick J. Solano Environmental Education Center, which features ecology programming and an exhibit on the indigenous people of the area.  

Badges You Can Earn 

2021 Global Action Award 

  • This award has several steps to it, however visiting a state park to learn about how climate change has impacted the trees, wildlife, marine life, and other parts of the environment is one of the steps! 

Daisy Trail Adventure  

  • Girls will plan and go on a hiking adventure for this badge, and a short trail for beginners at a state park would be a great introduction to hiking and our state parks.  

Brownie Hiker  

Brownie Outdoor Art Creator 

Brownie Trail Adventure 

Junior Animal Habitats 

Junior Camper  

Junior Trail Adventure 

Junior Outdoor Art Explorer 

Cadette Trailblazing 

Cadette Primitive Camping 

Cadette Eco Trekker 

Cadette Trail Adventure 

Senior Adventurer 

Senior Trail Adventure 

Senior Paddling 

Ambassador Trail Adventure 

Ambassador Survival Camper 

Ambassador Ultimate Recreation Challenge 

This list contains only 4 of the many state parks available to us in Pennsylvania. This summer I challenge you to check out a few of our awesome state parks, and get outside and moving. You can even take your state park trip and use it as an experience toward earning one of the badges I mentioned above. Let us know in the comments which state park is your favorite to visit! 


Written by Colleen Sypien

SPOTLIGHT- Alumni, Always a Sister

Chloe Wegrzynowicz: Girl Scouts creates spark in building confidence in self and in helping others 

Taking the time to learn about some of GSHPA’s Alumni is probably, hands-down, one of the most favorite aspects of my work here in the marketing and communications department for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.  

The day-to-day duties are also rewarding, but when I get a chance to learn more and be inspired by our members, especially those Girl Scouts that have taken action to the next level, it’s the perfect reboot that I need.  

The story of Harrisburg native and recent high school graduate, Chloe Wegrzynowicz, is one such reboot. Here’s her story in the making. She speaks loudly for those who might need a voice. We are lucky to have her in our ranks.  

GSHPA: Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Your current schooling and your career track. 

CHLOE: I am from Central Pennsylvania, but was born in Harrisburg, PA.  I have a younger sister and three half-brothers. I am especially close with my sister Haley. I am currently enrolled at Emory University (Go Eagles!). I will hopefully be double majoring in Spanish (BA) and Philosophy, Politics, and Law (BA PPL) or Spanish (BA) and Anthropology & Biology (BS). After Emory, I aspire to continue my education and become an immigration lawyer or oncologist. I’m a little unsure yet but I definitely want to use my life to learn more and help others.  

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

CHLOE: Being a Girl Scout was one of my favorite things from high school. I made some of my best friends through Girl Scouts. Every fall we would go to a festival, which was especially memorable. My favorite memories are the ones in which I was with my sister scouts, which is just about all of my memories. But, I wouldn’t be where I am without their support and encouragement. 

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

CHLOE: Yes. Before I joined Girl Scouts I was incredibly shy. However, when I went to my first meeting everyone was kind and open to hearing what I had to say. Throughout the years, I learned to have a voice, which has helped me to be a better leader. Now, I have the confidence to be who I am, as I am, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.  

GSHPA: Tell us a bit about your Gold Award project. 

CHLOE: I wanted to address bullying, and more specifically peer pressure as it relates to self-validity amongst high school students. There was a great deal of bullying, peer pressure, depression, and party-culture at my high school, and I wanted to do something to address that. Confidence was something I also really struggled with, especially as a Type One Diabetic I often felt very self-conscious. After two of my peers passed away, I decided to dedicate my project to helping students “Believe” in themselves.  I painted a mural inspired by one of my favorite quotes by Dante Alighieri, “From a Little Spark May Burst a Flame”.  I also filmed a documentary addressing how exactly those issues affected students from three different schools/backgrounds. Lastly, I gave a speech in front of my student body about my experiences with confidence and the path to learning to not only love others but to love yourself, too.  

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

CHLOE: There are so many ways to volunteer with Girl Scouts. I think the best way to volunteer is to go through the Girl Scouts webpage.  Troops need help with field trips, cookie sales, and sometimes guest speakers for badges.  It’s also nice to give advice to younger Girl Scouts who are looking to work for a Gold Award.  

GSHPA: If you have any particular hobbies that you would like to share, we would love to hear about them! 

CHLOE: 

  • I love creative writing. It is one of my favorite things to do.  
  • I also exercise every day; I love lifting and yoga especially. My goal is to learn Titthibasana  
  • I play the piano for fun and am currently teaching myself the Ukulele.  

Written by Cathy Hirko