Cookie Season is Upon Us!

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Now, more than ever, the comfort and familiarity of biting into a delicious Girl Scout Cookie is needed. Our Girl Scouts are ready to build their business, reach their goals, and meet the cookie demand! 

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania will begin selling cookies on January 15th. Girls will have their order cards until February 12th to take orders AND will be creating their cookie website so customers can order online. Customers can even order online and skip the shipping fee by choosing in-person girl delivery until February 12th. (Those cookies will arrive in March) 

Cookies will arrive in mid-March. Girls will fulfill their orders and then can go out into the world, safely of course, to continue reaching their goals! Contactless payment and delivery is an option all season long!  

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The cookie season ends on April 11th. Customers should make sure to stock up! Girl Scout Cookies are great in various recipes (find some hereand they freeze well! 

Here is GSHPA’s Cookie Line Up for 2021:  

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Ready to buy some cookies?! Beginning Friday, January 15th, you can go to our website and found out where to get cookies in your area!


Post by Jess Delp

GSHPA 2021 Book Recommendations

Happy New Year! 

Do you have a resolution? Looking for one? Either way, reading more is always a good idea! We asked our friend and author, Laurie Morrison for a list of book recommendations. Perhaps you remember Laurie from the Author Career Chat! 

BOOK CLUB PATCH | Girl scout patches, Girl scout badges, Girl scout fun  patches

Whether you’re looking to laugh, cry, escape, or feel empowered, this list has something for every reader in 5th-8th grade! 

  • Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe 
  • The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert 
  • A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan 
  • Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison 
  • Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone 
  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim 
  • Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu 
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 
  • Up for Air by Laurie Morrison 
  • Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass 
  • Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga 

For younger readers, try these! 

  • The Derby Daredevils Series (Kenzie Kickstarts a Team and Shelly Struggles to Shine) by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse 
  • The Jasmine Toguchi books by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vucovik 
  • The Vanderbeekers books by Karina Yan Glaser 
  • The Yasmin books by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly 

High school readers might enjoy these! 

  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko 
  • The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen 
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson 
  • Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer 

Check out some of these titles and let us know what you think after you’ve read them!  


Post by Jess Delp

Exploring Goals with Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! It is officially that time of year, where we all make resolutions and set goals for the upcoming year. It can also be a reminder of the resolutions that didn’t stick or how our goals may have shifted throughout the past year. Regardless how you feel about setting New Year’s resolutions it is important to note that as Girl Scouts, setting and accomplishing goals can be done any time of year, not just in January!  

To start off 2021 we wanted to share some tips and tricks to help you explore and accomplish goals with your Girl Scout troop!  

  • Determine the goals that drive your troop! A large part of what makes Girl Scouting great is that we keep everything GIRL LED! So, whether you are talking about goals for your troop or an individual Girl Scout it is important that girls are involved and interested! It can be difficult to accomplish a goal that you are not personally invested in, right? So be sure to talk with your girls about what they hope to accomplish!  
    • Try getting your girls thinking with a fun and goal oriented ice-breaker such as wishing stars! In this activity the stars will be things that each girl does well, maybe selling cookies or STEM activities. They should each come up with 3 stars! Now that they have their stars, it is time to make a wish! The wishes should be thing the girls would like to work on throughout the year. If you want to add to the fun you can make this a drawing or guessing game with the girls as well! Once each star and wish has been discussed, talk with the girls about HOW they accomplished their stars and WHAT can be done to make their wish (goal) come true!  
    • Another way to gauge the girls’ interest in goals is by setting aside some time to rank their ideas. Start by creating a list of goals (potential accomplishments, activities, etc.) then have the girls choose their top 3-5 they want to work on this year! It can also be a great way to find common interests amongst the girls which can be helpful in goal setting and in choosing journeys, badges, Service and Take Action projects! 
If meeting virtually, prep a list of goals like the one pictured, share your screen, and have girls rank their favorites.
  • Be SMART with your goals! A well-known method for goal setting is using the SMART goal formula. It can be used with long- and short-term goals and is a great way to build goal accomplishing skills!  Set yourself up for success by following the SMART method and asking yourself these questions:   
    • S: Specific– can you clearly define or identify the goal?  
    • MMeasurable– How will you know when you accomplished your goal? What are the measurable terms of your goal?  
    • AAttainable– Is this a realistic goal? Do you have access to the needed resources to accomplish the goal? Are your expectations realistic?  
    • RRelevant– Does this goal make sense for you? Is it something that is important to you?  
    • TTime-bound– When will you achieve this goal by? What time frame do you have for accomplishing this goal? 
  • Map your goals out! Big goals can feel like a long daunting journey, but they don’t have to be. A new goal can be an exciting adventure full of learning experiences and endless opportunities. Get creative and explore goal setting with your Girl Scout(s) by creating a goal map! 
    • A goal map should start with an easy prompt for individual girls or troops as a whole. All you will need is paper and writing tools. Start by drawing a winding road across the paper, ending at the goal you have in mind! Would reaching your goal be a long or short trip? What will you need to get to your destination? What stops are needed along the way? Can you think of any roadblocks that might interfere with your route? Use the map to brainstorm and plan how you will reach your goal and what you can do to stay on track!  
  • Plan the steps needed to accomplish your goal! Another creative way to plan out what is needed to reach goals is by designing a goal ladder! Start by having your Girl Scout(s) write their goal in a star and below that, a ladder with 3-5 steps. Identify what steps are needed to climb the ladder and reach the goal. 
    • For example, if you want to sell 500 Girl Scout cookies, maybe the steps would be: 1) (first step at the bottom) make a list of 30 people that may buy cookies; 2) Make a list of 5 places to host cookie booths, 3) Get approval for cookie booths 4) plan and schedule time for making sales and cookie booths; 5) Design a poster/flyer promoting cookie sales. 
  • Vision boards! Get creative and visualize your accomplishments by making a vision board, which can be a fun activity for all ages! You can create a vision board for the upcoming year in general or a specific goal. Vision boards can be done as an individual or a group! If you are creating virtually you can have the girls design a vision board on google slides or PowerPoint. It is important to give the girls creative freedom when creating. Vision board materials can include cutouts from magazines, pictures, quotes printed out, clip-art, paint, and whatever else represents your ideas. Once the vision board is finished hang it somewhere that you will see often.  

Post by Gabby Dietrich

Juliette Spotlight

Can girls join Girl Scouts without becoming part of a troop? I hope you answered, yes! While participating in a troop is one way to join Girl Scouts, there are many other ways to be involved! One way is by becoming a Juliette! A Juliette is in an independent Girl Scout who can participate in Girl Scouting on an individual basis. Traditionally, girls opt to become Juliettes for a variety of reasons, such as she becomes too busy with extracurricular activities, there are no troop options in her area, etc. The Juliette program is a great way for girls in grades K-12 to participate in Girl Scouts on their own time!  

Mariska Robinson, first year Cadette Juliette

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA has a wide variety of resources and staff support to ensure Juliettes and their caregivers have a great Girl Scout experience! Today we would like to spotlight one of our current Juliettes, Mariska Robinson! Mariska is an amazing first year Cadette Girl Scout from Laurel Run, PA. As you can see from the story before Mariska is striving to be a true example of a Girl Scout who embodies courage, confidence and character who makes the world a better place! We connected with Mariska and her family to talk about their experience.  

When and why did you become a Juliette? 

Mariska: “I became a Juliette in 1st grade because it was easier on me due to a health condition and I wanted to work at my pace doing what I love to do. I am changing the world in my own way! I am also a martial artist and Pennsylvania Student State Representative and I wanted to have time for those activities as well.” 

Mariska helped twin brothers with Down Syndrome collect law enforcement patches from around the nation.

What are some of your favorite experiences as a Juliette? 

Mariska: “I have done some many extraordinary things as a Juliette and led the way through it all. My favorite things I have done so far, out of the many, are collecting law enforcement patches for two twin brothers who have Down Syndrome...as I get more patches, I make sure they receive them. Laying wreaths on fallen soldiers’ graves for Wreaths Across America was very meaningful. Making new friends, challenging myself to things I’ve never done and facing my fears have also been part of my Girl Scout Journey. 

Heather (Mom): “Some of my favorite experiences as a Juliette Mom are getting to attend our Service Unit camporees every year with Mariska and being on the Camporee committee. Another experience is getting to be a part of Mariska’s Girl Scout experience.” 

Mariska led a service project where she collected stuffed animals for the Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center.

Tell us about some of the Journeys or badges you have earned as a Juliette?   

Mariska: “I have earned all of the Girl Scout Journey’s and badges to date for each level I am in so far. One of the badges I earned is my Junior Aide award. I helped a Daisy troop earn a petal and learn about being courageous and being strong.  

For my Bronze award I did a presentation on the Ronald McDonald House and why it is important to me for what they did to help my family when I was born and I collected soda tabs that they use in machines and to cash in for money to help keep their facilities up and running. 

Right now, as a Cadette I have completed my Journey’s and I am guiding a Brownie Juliette through her Journey’s so I can earn my LIA awards. I will also be earning my Council award. Some of the fun patches I have earned are Helping Hands, Cookie Captain, a special Studebaker patch from cars shows my Gram and Pop attend.” 

Mariska led a service project collecting eye glasses for local Lions Club.

What is your favorite part of being a Juliette?  

Mariska: “I love to help change the world. Being a Juliette gives me the independence and self-confidence I need to get through life and all obstacles that come my way.” 

“My favorite part of being a Juliette Mom and leader is watching Mariska grow and learn new things all the time. Girl Scouts has helped build on Mariska’s confidence and self-esteem. Being a part of her Girl Scout Journey makes it all worthwhile because I get to experience her accomplishments and watch her overcome any obstacle that tries to get in her way.” 

Heather (mom)

Do you have any advice for girls who are thinking about becoming a Juliette?  

Mariska: “If I can change the world as Juliette you can too. Come join the fun, and help make a difference in the world around us.” 

Heather (Mom): “My advice is BE YOU and show what you can do.” If Mariska can be a part of changing the world so can you.” 

Mariska and Heather Robinson

If you would like to read more about Mariska’s accomplishments, please follow the links below!  

https://www.citizensvoice.com/lifestyles/community/junior-girl-scout-project-helps-twins-collect-law-enforcement-badges/article_929c7413-ad45-51e2-81d2-62398340ea13.html

https://www.citizensvoice.com/lifestyles/community/mariska-robinson-receives-bronze-award-the-highest-honor-for-a-junior-girl-scout/article_a4996d36-9274-5ef2-84da-b9570900ae9e.html

https://www.citizensvoice.com/lifestyles/one-little-girl-scout-makes-a-big-difference-one-plush-animal-at-a-time/article_9161461b-a30c-5365-8267-5c1dddbeeb6d.html

https://www.timesleader.com/features/746117/mariska-robinson-receives-girl-scout-bronze-award/amp.

https://www.citizensvoice.com/lifestyles/community/wyoming-valley/article_58c768d8-269a-5fdf-ada8-e656ef1d639b.html

If you or anyone else you know would like to be featured on the GSHPA Blog, please complete this form!

Post by Gabby Dietrich

Connecting Through Service

As Girl Scouts it is part of our mission to make the world a better place. So we are always looking for meaningful ways to impact our community. As a troop leader or volunteer you can help girls find ways to live out the Girl Scout mission by participating in community service and “Take Action” projects. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but there are plenty of fun ways to get your troop involved in making the world a better place!  

Getting involved in your local community not only makes the world a better place, but it can also positively impact your Girl Scouts! It is the perfect way for girls to learn about important issues, help them work towards their Highest Award, bring the troop closer together and so much more! We have put together a few tips and tricks to help you get started!  

Tip: Understand what type of project is right for your troop. In Girl Scouts, we have broken up our philanthropy into “Community Service” projects and “Take Action” projects. Check out the descriptions below to decide which type of project would be best for your troop!  

Community Service Projects can make the world a better place right now. They can be short-term projects, such as collecting hygiene products for local shelters. They can also be long-term or reoccurring projects, like volunteering every week at a local food bank. Overall these projects address an immediate need in the community.  

Take Action Projects bring addressing a need in the community to the next level and can often be called “service learning” as well. While the girls still identify the needs and issues they would like to tackle in their communities, a Take Action project really addresses the root cause to create a lasting effect. So girls may still collect hygiene products for a local shelter, but they will need to take it one step further to make it a Take Action project. An example of this could be to develop a program to educate the community about this need followed by creating an easily accessible pantry to be filled with hygiene products to offer continued support.  

Tip: Assess your community’s needs and connect to local organizations. What social service organizations exist within your community? Often times, we may not realize what community services exist until we need them. When looking to get involved start by researching what is available in your specific community. Does it have a “Meals on Wheels” program, homeless shelter, crisis center, or food bank? If not, another way to get started is to call local nursing homes or schools to ask how your troop can help. An easy way to connect to community organizations is through your local United WayYWCA, or community coalition.  

Tip: Keep the project girl-led. An important part of Girl Scouting is that everything is girl-led, meaning the girls should choose projects and activities based on their interests. Ask the girls what they think about volunteering in the community, and be ready to take notes! Then discuss what changes they would like to see in their community and what issues they want to learn more about. The more girl-led the project, the higher the chances that the girls will gain the most from the experience! 

Check out the guide of PA organizations below for ideas to help you get started!  

Poverty 

  • Healthy Steps Diaper Bank: Learn about the importance of diapers and the barriers that exist in affording them. If this topic interest your girls then learn how to lead a diaper drive or volunteer here
  • Dress for Success: This organization empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and life. Host a clothing drive or find other ways to volunteer here.  
  • Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness: This organization mobilizes its resources to help the region’s families and friends who are homeless, or are dangerously close to becoming homeless. Check out ways to advocate and volunteer here.  

Veterans 

  • Pennsylvania Department of Veteran Affairs: Find ways to give back to veterans by volunteering. The DVA is always looking for volunteers to help to organize outings and activities, or to spend an afternoon hanging out with our residents. Find out more here
  • Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors: PAWW provides support to Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Veterans in Crisis, and their families. They are always looking for volunteers and help, learn more here

Food Insecurity  

  • Central PA Food Bank: Find ways to advocate against hunger and volunteer for this food bank. Individuals and groups are welcome to sign up here.  
  • Department of Human Services, Hunger-free PA: Find ways to help fight hunger and locate contact information for your local food pantry here 

Animals 

  • Pennsylvania SPCA: Offers programming and support to organizations interested in service learning opportunities for their youth groups. You can also find other ways to get involved and volunteer to help animals on their website.  
  • Central Pennsylvania’s Humane Society: Volunteers are needed to assist with the shelter animals and everyday responsibilities of shelter life. There is no age requirement to become a CPHS volunteer and Girl Scout troops are welcomed! Find out more here.  

Environment 

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Pennsylvania: NRCSP offers many opportunities for anyone over the age of 14 who are interested in volunteering to improve the nation’s natural resources. Volunteers interested in conserving natural resources can join the “Earth Team” today! You can volunteer part-time or full-time and as an individual or form or join a group. Find out more here.   
  • PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: There are many ways to get involved with DCNR to help support, maintain, and care for our natural resources. Check out ways to connect to conservation efforts in your state parks and forests here.  

We would love to hear about a Community Service project or Take Action project that your troop participated in. Send us your story or ideas here!  

Post by Gabby Dietrich

National Brownie Day

Did you know December 8th is National Brownie Day? Well, now you know! Every year, the delicious desserts we recognize as brownies are celebrated on December 8th. As Girl Scouts, we know this tasty dessert is not the only “brownie” that deserves to be celebrated! Brownies, the second program level in Girl Scouts, is open to girls in grades 2-3. So why not take National Brownie Day to celebrate both the scrumptious and the scouting?   

Check out these 5 easy ways to celebrate National Brownie Day with your favorite Brownies this year!  

  1. Bake and eat brownies with a Girl Scout twist! Enjoy some warm, chocolatey brownies with your favorite Girl Scout cookie added to the mix!  
  1. Explore the history behind brownies! Have you ever wondered how brownies came to be? National Brownie Day is the perfect day to explore the history of each one! We recommend starting with the chocolatey dessert! You can take this time to research who invented them and how they became such a classic dessert! Can you guess the 5 ingredients that make up the classic brownie recipe?  

Additionally, you can have fun learning about how Girl Scouts became known as “Brownies”. Did you know that Girl Scout Brownies were originally called “Rosebuds,” but the name was later changed? The term “Brownies” was suggested by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a close friend of Juliette Gordon Low. The term was originally used in folktales to describe small individuals who were both helpful and magical, also known as fairies! Various versions of these classic stories have been included in the Brownie handbooks over the years, and they are the basis for the traditional Brownie investiture ceremony. Check out the Brownie Story here.   

  1. Learn a Girl Scout brownie song and make a new one! As Girl Scouts, we love to get together with our friends and sing. Learn the “Brownie Smile” song below and then try creating your very own song! Maybe you can even include lyrics about your favorite brownie desserts! 
  1. Make brownie inspired SWAPS! SWAPS stands for “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere”. Traditionally, these are made by Girl Scouts to exchange with others as tokens of friendship! So to celebrate National Brownie Day try making brownie inspired SWAPS. If you would like to recreate the one pictured you will just need a sponge, construction paper, brown paint, writing tool, and glue!  
  1. Recognize a special brownie in your life! It’s National Brownie Day? What better day to thank a Girl Scout Brownie with a nice treat! Make a card or write a letter for a helper making your life sweeter!  

Post by Gabby Dietrich

Happy Holidays Around the World

Happy Holidays! We hear that a lot this time of year and usually think about the holiday we personally celebrate, but what about all the others?  There are so many people in the world, 7.8 billion people, give or take. Do we all think and celebrate the same things with the same traditions? No way!   

Let’s take a look at some of the holidays celebrated around the world.   

Lunar New Year 

The Lunar New Year holiday is based on the lunar calendar, so it is celebrated at different times through the year depending on that year’s calendar. It is a time to make all things fresh and celebrate good luck and happiness.   

Traditions: Connect with family and friends, add scarlet red decorations (red represents prosperity), share wealth with others (usually given in red envelopes), participate in traditional dances or fireworks shows, declutter, and eat tasty treats. Some examples of these traditional tasty treats are: Dumplings from China, Tsagaan Sar from Mongolia, and Tteokguk from Korea.  Other foods like mandarin oranges, candied fruits and fish are eaten, displayed and gifted across all the cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year.  

Kwanzaa 

Kwanzaa is an African American holiday that celebrates culture and heritage. It begins on December 26, and lasts for 7 days, each day is dedicated to an important community principle. The seven core principles include: Umoji (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). 

Traditions: It is traditional to light the Kinara, which includes seven candles, to represent the seven principles. In addition to lighting these candles there are traditional practices as well. On the sixth day it is traditional to enjoy a large feast together with friends and family. And on the seventh day handmade gifts are exchanged. The seventh day is also a Day of Meditation or Assessment, it is traditional to use this day to reflect and set new goals.  

Resources: Kwanzaa video PBS Kids 

Books:  

Kwanzaa by M.C. Johnston  

Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Pinkney 

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn Otto 

Activities:  

Kwanzaa Wreath Craft 

Kwanzaa Unity Cup 

Diwali 

Diwali is considered India’s largest and most important holiday of the year.  The festival gets its name from the row of traditional clay lamps in India used light outside each family’s homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.    

Traditions: Diwali is comprised of a five day festival and each day has special and specific meaning.  

The Five Days 

  • Day One: People clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.  
  • Day Two: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.  
  • Day Three: On the main day of the festival, family gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.  
  • Day Four: This is the first day of the New Year, when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.  
  • Day Five: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.  

Resources: Diwali video from Culture Groove Kids 

Books: 

Let’s celebrate 5 Days of Diwali! By Ajanta Chakraborty 

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks by Deborah Heiligman 

Activities:  

Diwali Rangoli Craft 

Diwali Flower Lantern 

Hanukkah 

Hanukkah/Chanukah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE.  The eight-day festival, usually held in December, is celebrated by Jewish people around the world, and is also known as the Festival of Lights.  

Traditions:  Celebrations include the lighting of the menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum, special prayers, singing songs, playing traditional games like dreidel and giving Hanukkah gelt and gifts of money.  In addition people enjoy traditional food with family and friends such as potato latke with applesauce or sour cream, or sufganya, a jelly-filled doughnut.  

Resources: 

Hanukkah videos for Kids from PBS Kids 

Books:  

The Story of Hanukkah by David A. Adler 

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Hanukkah: With Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels by Deborah Heiligman 

Activities:  

Play dreidel 

Make a Duct Tape Purse 

Christmas 

Christmas Day is December 25th and is celebrated by people within the Christian faith around the world and symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ.  Many Christmas traditions are celebrated outside of the church as well and they include illuminating family homes with lights, decorating evergreen trees, and gathering together for parties and feasts with friends and family.  

Traditions: Many celebrate Christmas with traditional music and carols, exchanging presents, attending church services, watching holiday movies, and baking and eating traditional cookies.  Christmas decorations can include festive trees covered in ornaments and lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, holly, and Santa Claus with his elves.   

Resources:  

Video about Christmas from PBS Kids 

Books: 

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents and Peace by Deborah Heiligman 

Santa’s Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First Christmas by Hisako Aoki 

Activities:  

String Christmas Tree 

Popsicle Stick Ornaments 

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr 

Throughout the month of Ramadan people fast from sun up to sun down, it is a time to give and share with others. Eid al-Fitr is the Festival of Breaking the Fast and is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan.  

Traditions: After the sunset prayer, people gather with family and friends in their homes or mosques to break their daily fast with dates.  Some communities sound drums or ring bells before sunrise to remind others that it is time for the morning meal. Celebrating Eid al-Fitr – children wear new clothes, women dress in white, special food is prepared, gifts are exchanged, and people gather with family and friends.  

Resources:  

Video about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr 

Books:  

Ramadan by M.C. Hall 

Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi 

Activities:  

12 Ramadan Activities for all ages 

Throughout the holiday season we hope you have a chance to experience some of these activities and take time to learn about the traditions of others.  Below is a list of Girl Scout Badges that will allow girls to learn and experience new traditions and cultures through these activities. If you think of another let us know in the comments.   

Here are some badge step ideas: 

  • Brownie Celebrating Community Badge  
  • Brownie Snacks Badge 
  • Junior Simple Meals Badge  
  • Junior Musician Badge 

Post by Liz Bleacher

National Letter Writing Month

Staying connected with friends and family today can be as easy as pulling out of your cell phone. Many of our relationships are only a click and a Wi-Fi connection away. As the holiday season is approaching in a year as uncertain as 2020, these conveniences are appreciated even more and allow us to connect with our loved ones safely. With so many new and virtual ways to communicate, have you ever stopped to think of other ways to connect? As a fun example, did you know that you can actually mail a single potato with a message written on it to someone? While that’s a pretty silly example, think of all the other options! What about sending messages in a bottle? Morse code? Carrier Pigeons? Yodeling? All of these, at one time or another, were commonly used ways to communicate!  

At Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA we wanted to look for ways to keep troops connected outside of their computer screens and app-based communications. In Girl Scouts, we have a well-loved tradition of exchanging SWAPS to stay connected with new friends. GSHPA embraced this tradition and thought this fall was the perfect time to hold a council wide SWAPS event! The tradition of exchanging SWAPS, or “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere”, first became popular in the 1950s and 1960s at Girl Scout events. SWAPS can be a great way to share contact information to stay connected with new friends after largescale events and activities, like Girl Scout Camp! GSHPA’s council wide SWAPS exchange connected over 75 troops throughout our 30-county footprint who may not have otherwise met! In an age where much of our daily communication can be done virtually, it was such a nice change of pace to get crafty and connect in a different way by mail!  

Speaking of mail, did you know that December is “National Letter Writing” Month? While it might be easier to send a quick text, snapchat, or direct message, we want to challenge you to try writing three letters this month! Many readers may remember a time when the only way to connect with friends and family was by sending letters or using the landline phone to call and chat. While we have much faster ways of communicating now, there is something special about taking the time to hand write a letter to a loved one or friend. Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, many people are unable to visit their loved ones, but there are many ways that you can help! You may consider writing letters to those in nursing homes, overseas or try making cards to send to friends and family over the holiday season.  

If you are looking for inspiration, we have included a few ways to get involved by sending letters and cards below. Some of these organizations may have quickly approaching deadlines to ensure everything arrives in time for the holidays, but keep in mind that sending cards and letters is definitely not limited to this time of year!  

A Million Thanks: send a letter of appreciation and support for our military (active, reserve and veterans). 

Love for Our Elders: send fun and creative cards to those who are in nursing homes away from loved ones. 

Stay Gold Society, Happy Mail Program: send handmade cards to seniors in long-term care homes.  

Braid Mission, Cards of Hope: send cards to be distributed to foster youth who never receive birthday or “just because” cards. 

4 Civics Lessons Girls Scouts Should Know

In the United States, every four years, those 18 years of age or older are given the opportunity to go to the polls to vote and elect a president. Pretty exciting, right? Is today, November 3rd, the only date Americans get to participate in our government? I hope you are answering no!

It is our job as US Citizens to spend time learning and researching the issues impacting our communities. Yes, adults are able to vote, but this is so much more to our government than just the presidential elections.

Long before Girl Scouts are old enough to vote they can be engaged in their local and national governments.

Girl Scouts offer a wide variety of citizenship badges to help girls learn how the government works and how they can be involved. We have grouped these lessons into four important topics that will help every one of all ages understand and feel comfortable engaging and voicing their opinions.   

The Rule of Law:

The United States works within the idea that we all follow the rule of the law. When starting to have law oriented conversations with your troop it is important to explain it in a way they will understand. A good way to start is to discuss how the laws have been created and how the law is enforced.  A great way of explaining it to girls in your troop can be through Girl Scout Badges.   

  • Badges to explore: Junior Inside Government

The Three Branches of Government:

It is best to think of the United States Government as a tree that has three branches to keep it balanced. The three branches work together to keep the tree upright and strong. So what are these three branches? First, we have the legislative branch who makes the rules. Second, the judiciary branch, which is comprised of judges who decide individual cases. And third, the executive branch which includes the president and agencies who carry out and enforce these laws. The three branches work together to protect the law. Additionally, it is important to note that these branches can be found at all levels of government including federal, state and local.

  • Badges to Explore: Democracy for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors

Influences on Government:

Today we live in a world where news is available 24 hours a day. It can be found everywhere we look, from television and the radio to the internet, mail, billboards, etc. It is clear that those sharing information in the news are very passionate about their beliefs.  Traditionally these beliefs and influences have the ability to change what issues are up for debate. When discussing this topic with your troops it is important to give them an understanding of how things such as media, money, etc. may affect the information they are seeing. It is important to have a well-rounded view and the badges included below will help you start those conversations with your troop.

  • Badges to Explore: Cadette Finding Common Ground, Cadette Netiquette, Senior Truth Seeker

Everyone Can Be Involved

It is important for Girl Scouts to be familiar and involved with their local, state and federal governments. Voting is not the only way to have an impact. Girls of all ages can learn about the causes they care about to form their own opinions. They can also write letters, visit elected officials and volunteer in the community to make an impact.

It is important to keep in mind how valuable each and every individual can be. In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, said that the government as a whole is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

So it is important for Girl Scouts to have these discussions with their families, friends and troops to learn and practice participating the government. If you would like additional ideas on how to start this process, please check out the badges included below or visit www.gshpa.org.

  • Badges to Explore: Ambassador Public Policy, Brownie Celebrating Community, Daisy Good Neighbor

Post by Liz Bleacher

Happy Birthday, Juliette – Happy Birthday, Daisy!

A birthday message from GSHPA President and CEO

Close your eyes and make a wish!

Have you ever blown out the candles on a birthday cake?  Most of us have.  I can remember the single candle on our oldest daughter’s first birthday cupcake, and the cake in full blaze at my grandmother’s last birthday celebration.   I can remember my childhood birthday cakes; my mom always let each of us choose our favorite and she would bake it – even if no one else liked it.  It always came from a box – add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, and 2/3 cup oil, but it couldn’t have tasted better.  My childhood birthday cake was always Butter Brickle with Heath Bar.   

When I had my own children, I did the same for them.  For all three, their childhood favorite was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.   When they were old enough to help bake, they made my birthday cake – and, of course, it was covered from top to bottom with sprinkles.  

After dinner, the candles were placed on the cake, the lights turned out and the match was struck. Then each candle was lit and the singing began.  “Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you. . .” And then – the wish.  “Make a wish!  Blow out the candles!”   

I think back to what Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called Daisy, might have wished for in her childhood. Did she wish to see the day when women might vote?  Did she wish for a movement that would last a century?  I think back to my own childhood birthday wishes.  Honestly I don’t remember any of them, even birthday wishes as an adult.  I am sure there were definitely years when I hoped for a particular present when I blew out the candles, but generally, I remember being caught off guard when my mom said, “Make a wish and blow out the candles.”   How could that be?  Every year, it is the same.  The lights go out, the singing begins, and I have to make a wish, yet, I never felt ready to do so.  

Perhaps, it’s because even as a child, I understood that wishes were just that: wishes.  A dream so light, airy and fun, but not likely to come true without something more.  Even as a child I somehow understood the saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”   Somewhere along the line, I learned that wishing isn’t enough.  You need a vision and you need a plan.  I think Juliette Gordon Low came to understand that as well. Her vision to see young girls become resilient and self-reliant women and her plan to do that one girl at a time started in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls. Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

So how do we further today’s Girl Scout vision of creating girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place? We still do it with a plan – one girl at a time, one leader at a time.   We each bring new girls to the movement.  We each help every girl to experience all the pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience from life skills to entrepreneurship to the outdoors, to STEAM.  We each participate in projects throughout our own communities as reflected in our highest awards of Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  And all of us live by the Girl Scout Law.  So that is my wish, but that is also my plan.   

On this, what would have been Juliette Gordon Low’s 160th birthday, I wonder what she might wish.   Today, on Juliette’s birthday let’s every one of us close our eyes and make a wish that every girl gets to experience Girl Scouts.  Better yet, let’s close our eyes and make a plan.  I think that’s what Juliette would wish.   

A birthday message from Janet Donovan, GSHPA’s President and CEO