Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is excited to recognize and celebrate its 2022-2023 S’mores Executive Club (SEC) members! Our S’mores Executives hit it out of the park during the Fall Fundraiser and Girl Scout Cookie programs in 2021-2022 and have earned themselves some awesome exclusive gifts and rewards. Get to know these savvy entrepreneurs in the photo galleries below!
Ambassador S’mores Executives
Ambassador S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Mikayla M. from Troop 70220
Senior S’mores Executives
Senior S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Rebecka D. from Troop 30406
Rebekah W. from Troop 20404
Sritanvi K. from Troop 11436
Cadette S’mores Executives
Cadette S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Alina S. from Troop 50252
Aviana G. from Troop 20078
Emily K. from Troop 52141
Roxie M. from Troop 71518
Jean M. from Troop 60073
Junior S’mores Executives
Junior S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Abigail H. from Troop 80181
Anna M. from Troop 32725
Charley C. from Troop 20387
Kayleigh W. from Troop 20376
Kileigh K. from Troop 70430
Nicole M. from Troop 80160
Brownie S’mores Executives
Brownie S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Geneva-Nichole Z. from Troop 61117
Lena K. from Troop 20672
Rylie C. from Troop 70050
Shilo F. from Troop 50843
Daisy S’mores Executives
Daisy S’mores Executives Not Pictured:
Aria D. from Troop 50603
Aubree K. from Troop 31167
Brenna I. from Troop 11111
Clara M. from Troop 32105
Elena G.-V. from Troop 20365
Kendra B. from Troop 10495
Lyndsay M. from Troop 33203
Congratulations SEC members for your hard work and dedication this year! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next through Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) recognized and celebrated its Gold Award Class of 2022 on June 12, 2022, at Bucknell University.
More than 150 family members and friends joined GSHPA to honor its Gold Award Girl Scouts at a reception and ceremony. The afternoon event highlighted the important projects completed by the honorees, honored the Girl Scouts with a formal pinning ceremony and gave girls a chance to meet their Gold Award classmates. Attendees also heard from Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO, and Adrienne Vicari, GSHPA Board Chair, on the significance of the Gold Award.
This year, 68 Girl Scouts earned their Gold Award, and 40 attended the program to receive recognition for the differences they made in their communities. This year’s Gold Award class represents 20 of the 30 counties in GSHPA’s council footprint.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. The award provides Girl Scouts in high school the opportunity to select a community issue important to them and use their passion to make a difference. Eligible Girl Scouts are required to devote a minimum of 80 hours to problem-solve, plan and implement their ideas for change to earn the Gold Award.
Girl Scouts use their Take Action Project to help individuals with disabilities in the Pine Grove community.
By Catherine Amoriello
At Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), we are always encouraging girls to use their voices and speak up for themselves and others in their communities. But for some, certain ways to communicate can be challenging.
Girl Scout Troop 32840, based in Schuylkill County, decided to advocate for individuals who struggle to communicate through their Take Action Project: Communication Board. Their project resulted in two communication boards being installed at Pine Grove Township Recreation Park and Pine Grove Elementary School in early May. The communication boards display simple pictures and words to help non-verbal individuals communicate with others in a public setting. This includes people with disabilities, children who are shy, and young children who aren’t able to fully communicate yet.
The troop, comprised of 20 girls ranging from Daisies to Juniors, found inspiration in a girl from the Pine Grove School District who has Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes delays in development and problems with speech. And with many of the troop members having some form of special needs themselves, they understand what it’s like to struggle to effectively communicate with others.
“We wanted something that would help girls like themselves because we had a lot of issues at the beginning of the Girl Scout year communicating with adults and each other,” said Lindsay Strouphauer, one of the troop’s leaders.
The six-month long project required the girls to do research, problem-solve, and test out their idea using non-verbal communication. The girls raised all the money needed to fund their project through cookie season and fundraising proceeds, and they received support from a local sign-maker who helped them create the final sign.
“A lot of people’s minds are just blown because this is something that you see from Seniors,” Strouphauer said of her troop’s efforts.
Throughout the process, the girls learned about acceptance, how to be helpful to others, and the importance of showing patience. But maybe most importantly, the troop learned how good it feels to help someone.
“To see a project like this with how much uncertainty and anger there is in the world really gives us a lot of hope,” Strouphauer said. “These girls came up with a project to not only better people, but benefit people with disabilities and have acceptance for others.”
Girl Scout Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa share their experience with gun violence to inspire others to create a safe community.
By Catherine Amoriello
It’s a chilly Saturday in April as I make my way up the steep slopes of Reservoir Park in Harrisburg. I follow the narrow, winding roads until suddenly the park pavilion comes into view. As I approach, the wind is brisk and biting and the clouds threaten rain. The only reprieve comes from brief bursts of sunlight through the clouds.
Despite the very unspring-like weather, a large group of adults and children assembles outside the pavilion. As I weave my way through the assemblage and reach the steps of the building, my eyes finally find what I’ve been seeking – a Girl Scout Cookie booth.
Not far from the booth I spot its owner, her identity given away by her bright blue Daisy vest which she wears proudly over a pink and purple ombré coat and a purple headband to match. Seven-year-old Aubriella darts about the pavilion, eager to join the group forming outside. Although selling Girl Scout Cookies is important work, Aubriella is also at the park to participate in a “lead by example” community cleanup.
The cleanup has brought Harrisburg community members together, many of them children, to disperse throughout the city streets to pick up trash. Tone Cook, founder of anti-gun violence group Michael’s Memory, organized the event to give children a safe space to socialize and show them they have power to influence change in their communities, including helping to decrease gun violence. It provides adults the opportunity to show their younger counterparts how to make an impact, which the children can then pass along to their peers.
I join Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa at a picnic table covered with snacks and treats for the volunteers. Aubriella sits between us, and while she’s straining to keep the cleanup crew in her sights so as not to miss her opportunity to join them, she kindly gives me the time of day (much in thanks to Landolfa’s prodding). After proving to Aubriella that I can indeed spell her name with my eyes closed, we take a more serious turn to explore one of the reasons she and Landolfa are in attendance at the cleanup event today – to share their own recent experience with gun violence.
In early March, Aubriella and Landolfa set up their first cookie booth outside of a store in Steelton. As they were selling cookies, gun shots rang out nearby, prompting Landolfa to rush Aubriella inside the store for cover.
There was fighting in the parking lot and then someone had a gun, Aubriella recounted.
One would think this act of violence would cause Aubriella to host her booth elsewhere, or maybe even close up shop for good. But in true Girl Scout fashion, Aubriella tapped into her bravery and returned to the store another day to reestablish her booth.
“She was scared, but we had made a commitment. It’s her first year in Girl Scouts,” Landolfa said of their decision to return to the site. “I felt like that wasn’t something that normally happens in our community. We set a goal so we had to go back out.”
Landolfa was unprepared for the community support Aubriella would receive. With an initial goal of selling 50 boxes of cookies during her first Girl Scout Cookie Season, Aubriella sold more than 3,200 boxes.
“We had the mayor come out, the fire department…We received very overwhelming support. They [Steelton community] have such a huge heart. They came out and really supported her,” Landolfa said.
I’m hardly surprised when Landolfa tells me she’s also a former Girl Scout. Upon meeting her she holds her tall frame with confidence, rocks her edgy teal hair slicked back in a chic ponytail and her brown eyes are bright with kindness and warmth. Her own experience as a Girl Scout and a lack of available local programming for children is what brought her and Aubriella to Girl Scouts.
“She’s really young, not a lot of schools have much programming for inner city kids. That’s why we got involved,” Landolfa said. “She’s really grown so much since she’s been in Girl Scouts.”
As our conversation nears its end, volunteers begin gathering inside the pavilion. Cook takes a moment to speak about how the cleanup is one of many stepping stones to creating a safe and beautiful community. He reminds the adults of their responsibility as role models to not just tell children to make a difference, but to show them how to make a difference. Many in the crowd nod their heads and audibly confirm their agreement.
Eventually, Cook waves Aubriella forward to stand before the volunteers. He asks her to share why she’s at the cleanup today. Her eyes dart across the crowd, taking in the faces and cell phones all pointed in her direction. She shifts nervously on her feet, and although quiet, she speaks.
“I’m going to be a good example. I’m going to clean up the park.”
Cook further clarifies Aubriella’s intent. “She’s going to be cleaning up to make a safe space for other kids in the community.”
Other children are then called to stand alongside Aubriella. Some appear as young as 2 years old, others are in their teens. Cook motions to the young group.
Girls, volunteers and parents/caregivers of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) – WE DID IT! We made it through yet another successful Girl Scout Cookie Season. And not only did our girls persevere through challenges thrown their way, but they increased their total number of packages sold from last year!
In March, GSHPA asked girls to share their cookie booth adventures with us on social media and girls delivered! What better way to end the sweetest time of the year than through a recap of all the amazing cookie booths our girls led this season?
Autism has its challenges, but one York mom sees how Girl Scouts has opened up opportunities for her daughter.
By Catherine Amoriello
Since Girl Scouts’ inception in 1912, the organization has been focused on inclusiveness, encouraging girls to be confident in themselves and their abilities and to support and lead one another. Years later this sentiment still rings true, and 10-year-old Junior Girl Scout Mara is just one of thousands of girls who has benefitted from the welcoming environment of Girl Scouts.
Mara joined Girl Scouts in 2019 as a Brownie at the suggestion of her third grade autistic support teacher. Mara has high-functioning autism, which her mother Becca Thiec described as facing certain challenges with communication but being able to function with minimal assistance in a general education classroom. When Mara joined Girl Scout Troop 20484 in York County, she was welcomed by her troop mates who encouraged her and helped her overcome those challenges.
“We were doing fun patch work for the 110th celebration. One of the activities was doing puzzles which can be a difficult thing for her,” Thiec said. “The girls encouraged her and got her involved with the activity.”
The girls in Mara’s troop have become genuine friends. Mara said seeing her friends every other week is her favorite part about being in Girl Scouts, and after listing off a stream of names when asked who her friends are, Thiec confirmed Mara had just named every girl in her troop.
“Rose and Jazz in particular will literally say, ‘Hey Mara, what’s up?’ ‘Mara come on!’ They made sure she was along with them for whatever we were doing as a troop that the other girls then saw how to get Mara more involved and help boost her confidence,” Thiec said.
Along with many friendships, Mara has also gained confidence, independence and communication skills since joining her troop. Thiec credits the Girl Scouts.
“She has opened up more socially than before, which is related to autism. We did a skating party at the beginning of February and she saw a couple that fell. I think between maturity level and the Girl Scouts, she actually went out and said, ‘Are you OK?’ She wouldn’t have done that before,” Thiec said.
Thiec is a big supporter of her daughter’s Girl Scout experience. She usually stays at the troop meetings to provide one-on-one assistance for Mara if needed, but Mara has become increasingly more independent.
“There’s times she’s pushing me away – that’s a good thing if she’s pushing me away. She doesn’t want mommy’s help for certain tasks that’s being asked of her in troop meetings or troop functions,” Thiec said.
Through Girl Scouts, Mara has been able to participate in a multitude of activities she wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. From completing a Take Action Project with her troop where they collected donations for a homeless shelter, to visiting Foxfire House at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County, to going indoor camping, Girl Scouts has provided Mara the opportunity to challenge herself. She even went horseback riding.
“She was definitely afraid,” Thiec said of her daughter’s first introduction to equestrianism. “[But] she actually got on a horse and did horseback riding. If there wasn’t somebody there that she already knew, she wouldn’t have done it.”
Thiec is looking forward to seeing Mara continue to apply the life skills she’s learning in Girl Scouts in her everyday life.
“[I’m] just hoping that with what she has gained social-skill wise, [she] keeps pushing forward, that she doesn’t regress which I don’t think she will,” Thiec said. “Overall I can see social interaction growth, and overall growth. She’s doing so well.”
While Mara’s Girl Scout experience may differ from others because of her autism, Thiec believes the inclusiveness of Girl Scouts reaches all girls.
“It doesn’t matter if a girl has a disability or not,” Thiec said. “As long as you can find the troop that is open-armed, like mine is, they’ll accept her no matter what.”
It may only be February, but spring has arrived early with the bloom of Girl Scout in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s (GSHPA) Daisy recruitment and kindergarten preparation programming initiative Kindergarten Readiness.
The Kindergarten Readiness program provides girls the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten, as well as provides parents/caregivers the tools they need to help support their girls. With focuses on socialization, learning and building relationships both within Girl Scouts and with the broader community, Kindergarten Readiness lays the foundation girls need to find success in their first year of school.
“Starting school in general is tough for parents of kindergarten kids. It’s a whole new world,” said Claire Gilbert, GSHPA’s Membership Coordinator. “Girl Scouts are in a prime position to swoop in and help out with that.”
But the program is more than just kindergarten prep; it’s an easy way for girls to get involved with Girl Scouts as Daisies.
“Girls that enter at the Daisy level stay longer and they have better experiences,” Gilbert said. “This is a great time to start having those one-on-one experiences with your daughter. It’s something we want to get people involved in.”
Although Gilbert has been involved with GSHPA’s kindergarten programming in the past, this will be her first year coordinating the readiness campaign. Gilbert knows first-hand the advantages of getting involved in Girl Scouts at a young age, as she began her own Girl Scout journey as a Daisy.
“I just had such a formative experience. My troop members are still my best friends,” Gilbert said. “I love the cooperation aspect of it. You don’t have to be good at Girl Scouts–you can just do the activities and immerse yourself.”
From participating as a Daisy to working as a summer camp staff member to joining GSHPA’s ranks officially as a Volunteer Support Coordinator (VSC) in 2013, Gilbert’s Girl Scout resume speaks for itself. And although her history and experience are qualification enough to take on Kindergarten Readiness, she has one other trick up her sleeve–she is a mother to her own kindergartener and Daisy, Thora.
“Having my daughter in the program has been great. It was an easy process for me,” Gilbert said. “She’s coming home telling me things about her experience and learning about the Girl Scout Law. Listening to this narrative come out of her is the cutest thing. It’s an extenuation of my own time with the Girl Scouts.”
Learning the beginning elements of Girl Scouting is just one aspect of the Kindergarten Readiness experience. Girls will also learn about life skills, making new friends and socialization. These fundamental basics will be especially important for girls to be exposed to after having spent their developmental years in a COVID-lockdown environment.
Gilbert said her own daughter felt the impacts of COVID-related isolation, and through Girl Scouts she has been able to establish a sense of community with other little girls participating in the program.
“I’ve really liked Girl Scouts because it gives her that socialization outside of school where she’s having fun but learning those key morals,” Gilbert said. “It’s going to give her those strong building blocks. Helping your community, taking pride in your community, learning how to talk to people in your community–that’s important.”
While Kindergarten Readiness serves Daisy-level girls, the program’s impact reaches future Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. Today’s Daisies are tomorrow’s Gold Award earners. The long-term success of girls depends on Daisy involvement and retention.
“We want them to start growing a strong sense of self, start making new friends [and] having new experiences. That’s why it’s called Daisy Launch, because they’re starting their Girl Scout adventure,” Gilbert said.
As for Gilbert, she’s excited to pass the Girl Scout torch and watch her own Daisy sprout from the ground and reach for the sky.
“[Girl Scouts] opened doors for me,” Gilbert said. “[I hope] it can have even a smidgen of effect on my daughter in the same way.”
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!
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!
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!!!
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 T. 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 G. loves the fact that we used our fundraiser money to help animals because of her love for animals.
Elliette W. 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 O. 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?
Dozens of Girl Scouts, friends and families joined GSHPA at the teaching museum in Felton Pennsylvania for a fun afternoon of Fortnite activities! Girls participated in archery, structure building, healing by the campfire and meeting some of the farm animals including llamas. No wait… they weren’t llamas, they were alpacas! Girls learned the differences between llamas and alpacas at the event as well.