Shooting for the Stars Starts at Home

By Elizabeth Bodvin

Elizabeth Bodvin was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania High US 2021 in July.

Hi.  My name is Elizabeth Bodvin and I’m a Juliette Girl Scout in South Central, PA.  One thing that I have always taken from my Girl Scouts experiences is to always leave the world a better place than when you arrived.  This phrase ties in and fosters my love of community service and giving back to society. 

In 2016, I partnered with the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, PA for my Bronze Award and filled their Toy Treasure Chest right before the holidays.  I worked with my school, my dance studio and some organizations my parents and grandparents were involved with to make this happen.  This endeavor did require me to work on my speaking skills and get over those “nervous jitters” when talking to larger groups.  The Ronald McDonald House was so thankful for my efforts I knew I wanted to help them more! 

In 2019, Elizabeth created “Glam Bags” for girls utilizing the Ronald McDonald house, helping them feel special.

The next big impact I had on the Ronald McDonald House Organization was in 2019, when I partnered again with the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, PA and also Baltimore, MD for my Silver Award creating “Glam Bags” for pre-teen and teenage girls who are utilizing the Ronald McDonald House for either their treatment and/or a family member’s care. 

The Glam Bags contained makeup, hair products and nail care products, all placed in a cosmetic bag for the girl to help them feel special about themselves.  In doing so, I also educated the attendees at my function about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which was a hereditary disorder that a pageant friend of mine suffers with on a daily basis.  The Glam Bags were so well received at both locations and I was told that a lot of times the older kids don’t have things to comfort them because many of the toy donations are for the younger children.  When I returned several months later to serve a meal at the Baltimore facility, they remembered me as the girl who brought the makeup bags.  It put a huge smile on my face knowing that I did make an impact.

I began participating in pageantry as well because of the community service opportunities and passion that each woman has around their personal platforms and helping others.  Not many people understand the amount of work someone competing in a pageant must do, it’s not all about being a pretty face.   I started my pageant journey as a princess with the Miss Maryland system.  A princess is mentored by one of the older girls and gets to go along with them to appearances, community service events and even cheer them on when they compete for the title of Miss Maryland or even Miss America! 

Elizabeth collected thousands of can tabs to help raise funds for her local Ronald McDonald House in 2020.

After I became too old to participate in the Princess and Pre-Teen programs at Miss Maryland, I found myself looking for a pageant system that had the same foundation of community service.  It was then that I found The National United States Scholarship Program which also supports the Ronald McDonald House by collecting soda pop tabs for them!!!  My first year with the National United States Pageant I was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania Junior High United States 2020.  I served an entire year representing the State of Pennsylvania and Junior High Students and when I competed at the National Pageant, I received a first runner up placement to the National Title of Miss Junior High United States. 

The motivation to serve continued and had me requesting an additional year to serve under the National United States Scholarship Program and in 2021 I was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania High United States 2021.  In July 2021, I competed for the title of Miss High School United States 2021 and I won the National Title.  Not only did I win the National Title and get to represent High School students all across the country but I also won Best Interview, the High School Overall Community Service award, the High School Academic Award and the President’s Gold Level Volunteer Service Award among others. 

Girl Scouts provides such a wonderful foundation for young women of all ages.  The encouragement that they provide to get involved in your communities, speak to others in your community, achieve academically and strive to be the best version of yourself has helped me reach the goals I have achieved for myself. 

What’s next?  I will continue serving as Miss High School United States until July 2022 when I will have the pleasure of crowning the next young woman to have this title.  After that, I’ll likely turn my focus on obtaining my Gold Award, applying for colleges and seeing what lies ahead in my future!  Always remember, you can shoot for the stars but it’s likely you are already among them!!! 

Sharing What They’ve Earned

Every fall Girl Scouts here in Central PA have the opportunity to start building on their entrepreneurial, communication and teamwork skills. The Fall Fundraiser Program, which includes nuts, candy, and magazines, provides girls with bonding fun that also generates important funds to support troop activities throughout the year. 

We checked in with Troop 52287 in Mount Pocono to see what they have been working toward and some of their favorite parts of participating with Fall Fundraiser Program.  Troop leader, Alexandra Mepham, shared that her troop made up of Daisies and Brownies worked hard to help pay for fun experiences like renting out a movie theater, snow tubing and maple syrup tour. The girls also decided that they wanted to use their money to help others, including local animals and those with medical challenges. 

Here is what the girls have to say about their experiences.

Cara Turk said her favorite part was getting orders ready for her friends and seeing the customers’ excited faces. She was happy to donate to animals and have some money for art supplies and a yummy pizza party.

Brianna Granberg loves the fact that we used our fundraiser money to help animals because of her love for animals.

Elliette Wilcox loved taking orders from friends and family. And she enjoyed helping the animals and getting to do fun things with her friends like snow tubing and learning about syrup.

Olivia Opris loved delivering to people including one of her mom’s coworkers with brain cancer. The treats made her happy and she is now cancer free and looking forward to more goodies.

What fun and amazing things have you done with your Girl Scouts?

One Small Step and One Giant Impact

Samiya Henry, Gold Award Recipient, Dauphin County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samiya and her project advisor, Mrs. Rebecca Lowe.

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

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

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

Important Lessons in Sign Language

Rachel Skoczynski, Troop 15089

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

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

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

Your shirt, attention and personalities matter  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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