Experience the magic of camp

By Catherine Amoriello

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is gearing up for another action-packed season of summer camp adventure. With themes like Fairy Garden Discovery, She’s Crafty, Survival Games, and Vintage Girl Scout, there’s an activity for every girl of any age and interest.

The magic of camp does not manifest overnight, but is carefully crafted by the GSHPA Outdoor Program team all year long. Led by Outdoor Program Manager Sarah Baldwin, the camp staff works tirelessly to put all the pieces together to create a camp experience girls will never forget.

“The outdoor movement is all across Girl Scouts right now, [and] camp is a huge part of that,” Baldwin said. “Camp is the tradition that people hang on to. It’s what they think of when they think of going outdoors.”

This rings especially true for Baldwin, who was once herself a Girl Scout.

“I was lucky that both my troop leaders wanted to do programs outside of the meetings,” Baldwin said of her time as a scout. “I really enjoyed getting to do those camping trips and I’ve always loved the outdoors. Being able to have those experiences was amazing.”

Baldwin in her element during an outdoor escapade.

Shortly after graduating college, the Massachusetts native took her passion for the outdoors across the U.S. From a wolf conservation in Indiana to a 4-H camp in South Carolina, she has traveled the country working at a variety of outdoor education centers and camps. With the skills and experiences she has gained throughout her career, Baldwin breathes life into camp at GSHPA’s four camp properties.

“We’ve seen over and over again that a girl-only environment allows our Girl Scouts to reach higher and discover more about themselves.”

GSHPA Outdoor Program Manager Sarah Baldwin

Baldwin unites with a predominantly female camp staff, on par with GSHPA’s unique girl-only camps and events. She said being able to have a camp where girls can see adult women be successful and get to connect and learn with them is an invaluable experience for campers.

“We’ve seen over and over again that a girl-only environment allows our Girl Scouts to reach higher and discover more about themselves without that peer pressure,” Baldwin said. “They find they’re succeeding in activities they wouldn’t associate with girls as much.”

Baldwin teaches a group of girls outdoor skills during one of GSHPA’s camp programs.

Success is also found at camp by girls who may struggle with learning in a traditional classroom setting. With new themes like Mystery Investigation, where girls will travel to Harrisburg University’s new forensic science lab and solve a mock-crime scene, and Potions & Wands, where campers will learn about aquaponics and make their own “potions” at Commonwealth Charter Academy’s (CCA) AgWorks lab, girls can take an outside-the-box approach to learning something new.

“Those kids who can’t learn in a classroom environment thrive,” said Baldwin. “The person the teacher calls the ‘troubled kid’ is shining at camp. They’re learning outside with a different hands-on approach.”

Although summer camp only lasts a few weeks, the acquired skills, moments of triumph, and newfound friendships last well beyond when the last camper leaves the property for the season.

“I got a letter from a camper in 2019 that was from a Senior girl scout. Basically it was her journey of camp and how much she appreciated our camp,” Baldwin said. “Camp has always been her home away from home. I read the letter to staff every year to show the impact of camp on the girls.”

Baldwin supervises swimmers at Camp Archbald during a 2021 summer camp.

These success stories from GSHPA’s camp program are what energize staff to plan impactful adventures, give their full time and attention to campers, and brave the elements, year after year.

“We are not a five-star hotel. It’s hot. We’re in the down pouring rain half the time. And they’re handling it like pros,” Baldwin said. “Every day is exhausting, but every day is worth it.”

Camp registration opens to Very Involved Campers (VICs) this week and to the general public Feb. 1. Check out GSHPA’s four camp properties Camp Archbald, Camp Happy Valley, Camp Furnace Hills, and Camp Small Valley.

GSHPA Volunteer Conference Preview

By Colleen Buck

January is fast approaching, and with the new year comes the Virtual Volunteer Conference! GSHPA is excited to offer this virtual opportunity for volunteers across our 30 counties to learn, grow and network together. We connected with two staff members who are leading the team responsible for this event to learn more. Jess Mislinski, Regional Director, and Janelle Brewer, Volunteer Training Manager, have spent this year working with a team of other staff members to bring this event to fruition.

GSHPA: Why is it important for GSHPA to hold a Volunteer Conference?

Jess & Janelle: Holding a Volunteer Conference provides our volunteers the opportunity to learn more about how they can provide the best experience for our Girl Scouts, as well as the opportunity to network with fellow volunteers from across our council. Hosting the conference virtually arose out of necessity due to the pandemic, but we quickly saw the benefits of providing a virtual conference. It allows so much flexibility for our volunteers who already devote so much of their time to Girl Scouts and other activities. We wanted to make learning and networking as easy as possible for as many people as possible, regardless of geographic location.

GSHPA: What are some of the topics volunteers can look forward to from our conference speakers?

Jess & Janelle: This year we will be featuring specialized tracks on a variety of topics including Product Program, Outdoors, Service Unit, New Troop Leader, Girl Support, and Girl Programming. Each track has several sessions available for volunteers to choose from. There is something for everyone. And the best part is that all attendees will have access to recordings of all of the sessions! The learning can continue beyond the day of the conference!

Sharmi Albrechtsen, creator of SmartGurlz
Sharmi Albrechtsen, creator of SmartGurlz

GSHPA: Who is the featured speaker, and why did we choose them?

Jess & Janelle: We are so excited to feature Sharmi Albrechtsen as our Featured Speaker. While Sharmi may have closed on a deal on Shark Tank in 2017 for her creation of SmartGurlz, we are most excited about Sharmi’s journey as an entrepreneur, just like our Girl Scouts! Why did we choose Sharmi?  Sharmi is a female entrepreneur that founded a robotics company out of not having a toy that worked for her daughter.  After watching Sharmi speak on a Ted Talk, we knew she was the one!  Watch it here: https://youtu.be/zkK0TlJr8Co

GSHPA: What is the draw of this conference that volunteers can be excited for?

Jess & Janelle: We are so excited about so many aspects of this conference! This year we have Sharmi as our keynote speaker and we have no doubt she will inspire our volunteers! In addition to our keynote speaker, we have so many incredible presenters for this year’s conference. Our volunteers will get to learn directly from their peers, current volunteers who have years of Girl Scout experience. We even have some outside speakers who are experts in their field, such as Michelle Fox from Olivia’s house who will be presenting resources for Grief & Loss and Anne Norgren from Little Brownie Bakers, who is an expert on eBudde.

In addition to the learning opportunities this conference provides, our volunteers will get the opportunity to network with one another! We know how important it is for our volunteers to feel connected and this is a great opportunity to make new friends and share ideas!

The 2nd Virtual Volunteer Conference is on Saturday, January 15, 2022, 9am-2pm. Virtual doors will open at 8:30am, with Opening Remarks kicking things off at 9am. Registration closes January 8th, so register today: https://www.gshpa.org/en/sf-events-repository/2022/virtual-volunteer-conference.html

Comment below if we will see you there!

STEAM Saturday Robotics

At the beginning of December the GSHPA Program Team ran our STEAM Saturday Robotics program, and we had so much fun! Girls from across council joined us at Camp Small Valley and we got to not only learn about robots, but also design our own robots! Daisy through Junior Girl Scouts got to learn about coding with Botley the Robot, while older Girl Scouts had the chance to build and code their QScout Robots. If you missed our December STEAM Saturday Robotics, we would love to see you in February at Camp Happy Valley or Camp Archbald. We will have a morning and an afternoon session each day, and everyone is welcome to reserve time on property overnight or spend the day at camp!

Collective Community – Adia

Adia Walker is a Regional Director at GSHPA.

Girl Scouts have many opportunities to serve their communities and learn to be stronger leaders. Our staff is no exception to that advice.

Adia Walker, one of GSHPA’s Regional Directors, is a part of Leadership Harrisburg Area this year and has taken some time to share in her words about her experience.

GSHPA: What gets you excited about your new group?

Adia: I really love connecting with these amazing leaders in the Harrisburg area who are passionate about serving their community. Collectively we have such diversity of experiences and insights that I know will help me grow professionally and personally. 

GSHPA: How did you get involved? 

Adia: I have heard about this Community Leadership Series for many years, and participated in other leadership programs in the area.  This year I was at a place in my career where it was a good fit for both me and my organization to join this group and continue growing my leadership skills.

GSHPA: What are the goals for you and this group? 

Adia: The mission of LHA’s Community Leadership Series is to teach servant leadership and effective community service through discussion, demonstration, and experiential practices. 

They stress that leadership is a journey, not a destination, and my goal is to learn as much as I can throughout this journey, while also giving back to those who are on the journey with me.

GSHPA: What can GHSPA learn from your experiences? 

Adia: We can learn more about how other organizations in the community give back as well as some ways we can work together to support each other while making the world a better place.

Adia (backrow, right) and her class at Leadership Harrisburg.

GSHPA: What are you looking forward to most about your work with this group? 

Adia: I am really looking forward to working on my team project – a dozen of us will be working directly with a dynamic local leader to help her transform her nonprofit organization from a personal passion to a high-functioning organization with governing documents and a board of directors.

GSHPA: What advice do you have for girls who want to get involved with their communities? 

Adia: Ask trusted adults and role models about organizations they recommend.  Do some independent research and focus on groups whose mission you feel a connection with.  Try new things and don’t let setbacks keep you down – you’ve got this! 

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!!! 

Women in STEAM: Dr. Joe Hill-Kittle, NASA

By Liz Bleacher

Today we are talking with Dr. Joanne (Joe) Hill-Kittle, Deputy Director Engineering and Technology Directorate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Joe and I have been communicating back and forth for a while now for GSHPA events, she has joined us to talk engineering and space a few times and we thought it would be fun to get a little more in-depth about what inspired her to get into STEM.

GSHPA: First and most important questions, when did you first become interested in STEM? Bonus points if you were in Girl Scouts. Was there a moment where you knew you were going to go into STEM?

Dr. Joe: I have a clear memory of sitting on the gate to the farmers field across from my house with my best friend at the age of 7 stating I wanted to be the first woman on the moon. I remember being worried that by the time I was old enough lots of people would be at the moon. Now I hope to play a part (however small) of putting the first women and first person of colour on the moon. I knew this dream would mean I would have to study hard in STEM. I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide (kind of a UK equivalents to Girl Scouts) for many years and learnt a lot about leadership and perseverance which helped me on my path.

GSHPA: With your early start with STEM and dreams of the moon, what is your favorite memory of STEM at school?

Dr. Joe: It’s hard to say as I loved all the classes that were STEM. I was good at Maths, so I always enjoyed those classes and projects. In one class we were devising an experiment to measure the acceleration of a rocket and then launching the rocket to test it which was really cool.

Dr. Joe studying early on in her STEM life.

GSHPA: What is your current career and how do you use your interests on a day-to-day basis?

Dr. Joe: I trained on the edge of Physics and Engineering, building and designing instruments for new missions. This got me started in the Science area and just recently I move to help lead the Engineering organization. My job now is to help decide what technologies are needed to answer science questions of the future, like are we alone and to help understand our own planet. All of this is fascinating, looking for answers to questions.

Dr. Joe Hill-Kittle at the launch site (Cape Canaveral) for the Magnetic Multiscale Mission (MMS)

GSHPA: Working with rockets, and new technology is pretty exciting for us to hear about. What gets you excited about what you do?

Dr. Joe: Who doesn’t like launching rockets, trying to save the planet and learning about the whole universe? I love all of it. We get to design missions that will help us understand climate change and provide early disaster warnings for fires and hurricanes, missions that will help us understand the very beginnings of the universe and search for other Earth’s outside of our Solar System, build instruments that will look for life on planets in our solar system and help us understand our Sun.

GSHPA: What is your favorite thing about your current job and what do you find the most challenging?

Dr. Joe: My favourite thing is thinking about what we can do in the future and how we get there. The biggest challenge is bringing change to a big organization. It can be very slow and frustrating but if you have a team around you to rally each other on, it can also be very rewarding when you start to see the results of your efforts.

Dr. Joe standing in front of the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard, which will launch in December of this year.

GSHPA: Girls are facing challenges and successes every day in their STEM journeys. What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in STEM?

Dr. Joe: Study hard, look for opportunities like internships to get some experience so you can figure out what you like and don’t like and what interests you.

GSHPA: What can we do to have more girls/women in science like you?

Dr. Joe: Dream big! Encourage each other. Believe in yourselves. I was fortunate to have mentors encouraging me along the way. Look for opportunities and encourage girls and women to apply.

GSHPA: For girls who are now starting in STEM, what skills will help them in their journeys?

Dr. Joe: There are so many opportunities for everyone at NASA, from turning wrenches, writing software to model the Earth, building instruments. One of the common skills that is important, and you will get from Girl Scouts is team leadership and building teams. Understanding how to listen to everyone’s inputs before making a decision. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room but you do have to be smart enough and open enough to listen and value everyone’s ideas to get the best solutions

GSHPA: How does your work at NASA and in the community, help encourage more diversity in STEM fields?

Dr. Joe: I hope by sharing my story people will see their own opportunity. I also spend time advocating for diverse applicant pools for opportunities and look for leadership opportunities for minorities to get the experience needed to move into more senior positions.

GSHPA: Would you say that the environment has changed since you started in STEM? What would be different for girls now?

Dr. Joe: There are already more women in STEM than when I started and that’s great. There is also recognition that barriers do exist, and we need to break them down. We are not done yet but at least there is awareness of the challenges so we can start to address them.

GSHPA: What message do you have for girls and women in STEM?

Dr. Joe: Don’t hold back, you can do more than you think!

GSHPA: Thank you Dr. Joe we look forward to watching the launch of the the James Webb Space Telescope this December and thinking about all the things we steps we can take to do fun and exciting things in the STEM world.

Our Leaders Within GSUSA

Two of GSHPA’s amazing staff members have been chosen to participate on GSUSA committees — committees that will help influence future programs and expand girl’s experiences nationwide.

Jess Delp is our Director of Product Program and Retail and Lutricia Eberly is our Director of Outdoor and Program Experiences. Both women have a love for Girl Scouts and their jobs. Here, in their own words, are what they have been doing with the GSUSA committees.

First up is Jess, a member of GSUSA’s Product Sales Advisory Team.

GSHPA: What gets you excited about your new group? How did you get involved?

Jess: The Product Sales Advisory Team is a great group of Girl Scout professionals from across the country. They help mold the product programs for Girl Scouts all over the world! I am looking forward to having an influence on these programs and helping to shape the future of the product programs. My goal is to have product programs be fun and meaningful for our girl members.  

GSHPA: What are the goals for you and this group?

Jess: The team plans future programs, finding ways to better support volunteers and exciting ways to teach girls the 5 Key Skills. We also create trainings for new product program staff across the country, and provide support to the national product program conference(s).

GSHPA: What can GSHPA learn from your experiences?

Jess: As the PSAT rolls out new cookies and new program participation initiatives, it will be wonderful to see GSHPA members engage in the new endeavors.

GSHPA: What are you looking forward to most about you work with this group?

Jess: I am looking forward to partnering with Girl Scout colleagues from around the country, learning how they run their programs, and enhancing the overall product program experience for all Girl Scouts.

GSHPA: What advice do you have for girls who want to get involved with their communities?

Jess: Girl Scouts make the world a better place; it’s in our mission statement for a reason. And making the world a better place starts right at home, in our local communities. Never think that your action is too small to make a difference.

Now for Lutrica Eberly, who is a new member of the Property Strategy Advisory Committee.

GSHPA: What gets you excited about you new group? How did you get involved?

Lutricia: I am excited about the chance to both weigh in on property related conversations at the national level, as well as learn from others on the committee.  The committee is comprised of CFOs, CEOs, VPs of Property and myself as the Director of Outdoor and Program Experience.  I got involved because I saw the opportunity on an email from GSUSA and submitted 300 words about why I thought I was an ideal candidate for consideration on the committee.

GSHPA: What are the goals for you and this group?

Lutricia:  The goal of the Property Strategy Advisory Committee is to ensure that both GSUSA and councils are working together effectively to achieve overall sustainability and mission success.

GSHPA: What can GHSPA learn from your experiences?

Lutricia:  GSHPA as a whole will benefit from having a voice at the national table in conversations about service centers, office buildings and camps, and best practices related to each.  GSHPA will also benefit from the Director of Program and Outdoor Experience having an increased network of resources to gain insight from as we consider how best to support our leaders in providing fantastic outdoor and program experiences for girls.  GSHPA will also have access to results from national advisory panel results, and current trends related to girl leadership and development which will aid in guiding our decision making in providing the most relevant outdoor and program experiences for our girls

GSHPA: What advice do you have for girls who want to get involved with their communities?

Lutricia:  My advice is to think about areas you want to grow in, and what skills you want to learn/develop for the next phase of your life, and then look to where you can get involved that will help you learn those skills. 

Do you want to learn more about working with kids?  Sign up to help plan a community day at your local library and run one of the activities.  Or come to a GSHPA program for younger girls and help lead activities.  Do you want to learn more about construction?  Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and ask the leader if there’s an advisory committee you can shadow for a year.  Want to learn how people are making a difference in their local environment.  Find a watershed or trail group and ask how you can get involved with one of their events or serve on a committee to plan a work day.  OR, plan your own tree planting and earn your GSUSA Tree Promise Patch and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Clean Water Grows on Trees patch. 

People often say to get involved with the causes and events you’re passionate about.  I say to get involved with the causes and events that help you develop and refine a new skillset.  Get involved in your community in a way that allows you to practice new things that aren’t taught in a classroom.

Amy Wallace: Reaping the Benefits of Girl Scout Lessons

By Cathy Hirko

Amy Wallace

Amy Wallace is a former Girl Scout and now the Vice President of Learning and Development at Members 1st Federal Credit Union in Cumberland County. While chatting with Amy at a recent Members 1st Federal Credit Union employee/family function in Lancaster, I found out that she and her family have a rich history with Girls Scouts. She gladly agreed to share her story with us.

Amy now lives in Mechanicsburg with her husband and two children. In her day-to-day work with Members 1st, she said she has “the honor of focusing on associate growth and development each day.”

She originally grew up outside Boston, but the opportunity to play college basketball brought her to the Central Pennsylvania area.  After graduation, she decided to stay. She loves it here. 

“We still get all four seasons, but it’s a good bit warmer here than in New England!” she said.

GSHPA: Your parents (before they were your parents) have a unique connection to the oldest running Girl Scout Camp in the United States, Camp Bonnie Brae. What can you share about that?

Amy: This is such a neat story and one that is near and dear to my heart.  When my father was growing up, he served as the “Handy Man” for Camp Bonnie Brae.  The camp resides on the same lake where my parents have a summer home.  My dad grew up on the lake and spent many summers working at the camp.  My uncle (my mom’s brother) also worked at the camp as a cook.  My dad and my uncle became great friends.  When my uncle got married, my dad and my mom were both in the wedding, but they didn’t know one another yet.  The wedding was the beginning of my parents’ epic journey.  They have been married for 49 years! 

Now, during the summer, when we are sitting on the porch at the lake house, we can still hear the dinner bell at Bonnie Brae ring across the lake.  The camp is an active reminder that the Girl Scouts are alive and well as the waterfront is bustling and the campers return each year.  My parents continue to attend the Bonnie Brae reunions as there are many former workers, like my dad, who are still in the area and enjoy the chance to return to camp and see how the legacy continues. Bonnie Brae will always have a special place in the story of our family.

GSHPA: Share with us some of the memories/experiences that you had as a Girl Scout.

Amy:  It’s hard to choose just a few.  I began as a day camper at the former Camp Virginia and then graduated to sleep-away camp.  I had the privilege of attending Camp Wabasso in New Hampshire, which specializes in horseback riding and then Camp Favorite on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where I chose the overnight bicycling adventures. 

Girls Scouts has allowed me to try new experiences that I would have not encountered in my daily life.  From windsurfing to sleeping in a hammock in a tall stand of pines, I was always challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone and try new things.  Girl Scout camp afforded me the ability to tackle a ropes course with a team of people, to learn archery, to create and act in a camp skit, to go trail riding by horseback, to go sailing, to hike through cranberry bogs, to camp outside and cook over a fire …  The Girl Scouts are masterful at creating activities that not only allow you to try new experiences, but learn impactful life lessons.  At a young age, I didn’t appreciate those many life lessons, but today I reap the benefits of those experiences.

GSHPA: What skills or attributes did you learn from the Girl Scouts that you still carry with you today?

Amy: To know that stepping outside your comfort zone can bring growth, joy, and life lessons. I learned the value of teamwork.  As a dominant, outspoken personality, I learned the value of letting all the voices in the group be heard to solve problems and tackle challenges.  The high ropes course (for example) is an excellent place to solidify that sometimes it takes a group effort to achieve a tall feat.  I also learned about the value of communication, adventure, ingenuity, creativity, empathy, independence, encouragement and respect/appreciation for nature.  I know that my experiences as a Girl Scout helped to build the foundation that I draw from on a day-to-day basis in my current occupation and interactions.

Why is it important to mentor others? What can we learn about lifting others up and helping in our professional lives?

Amy: While at Camp Wabasso, I had the opportunity to go rock climbing.  In hindsight, it was not something I enjoyed, but I sure did learn a lot by challenging myself to climb a rock face in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

At one point, I fell.  I was dangling from the side of a mountain by a tiny rope, being anchored by a complete stranger (who turned out to be my biggest cheerleader in that moment) who was telling me to keep calm, get my footing, and try again.  Isn’t that the greatest metaphor for life?  Do you surround yourself with people who cheer on your crazy adventures?  Do they remind you to stay calm and find your inner peace in moments of panic?  Do they uplift you with words of encouragement and guidance when needed?  Do they remind you that inside yourself is a strength that sometimes you lose sight of?

Just like that counselor who had me anchored to the mountain and held my fate in their hands, I want to be that voice of reason and encouragement to others.  Self-discovery and growth can be challenging.  Pushing yourself into new situations can reap great rewards, but it can come with self-doubt and imposter syndrome.  The ability to be a cheerleader, motivator, and counselor is such an honor.  For someone to trust you enough to be vulnerable with you is an amazing gift.  Mentorship is a chance to give back to others and your community as a whole.

I can think through my life and career and name many people who took the time to mentor me.  In the same way, I want to give back to others. My counselors at camp cheered me on, wiped my tears, held my hand, offered encouragement, asked me about my worries/doubts, and helped me to see a strength inside myself that I didn’t even know was present.  THAT is the beauty of mentorship and that is the energy I want to put out into the world. Helping others to live their best lives and find their core strengths is truly a humbling experience.  There may be many things we can’t control in this world, but giving back to others with our time and guidance allows us to make the world a better place from our little corner of the planet.

GSHPA: If you had a top memory to share about your Girl Scout experience what would that be?

Amy:  My favorite memory, by far, is the overnight trip I took from Camp Favorite.  The two weeks of camp involved several days of progressively longer bike rides until we worked up our stamina to hit the Cape Cod rail trail.  We biked from the camp to Hyannis, MA, roughly a 20-mile bike ride, to catch the ferry to Nantucket.  Once on the island, we stayed at a youth hostel where we were responsible for chores to help maintain the daily operations of the hostel.  We spent time exploring the island by bike for a few days, before we returned to camp.  More than 30 years later and I still have vivid memories of the trip, the challenges, the ways in which in I grew, our cheerleader counselors, and the feeling of accomplishment when our entire group made it back to camp.  As a pre-teen girl, the thought of biking 60+ miles, while carrying all of my personal belongings seemed unfathomable.  The Girl Scouts structured an experience to help me see that I was capable of more than I realized. 

GSHPA: What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie and why?

Amy:  Ooooo… this is a tough one.  I’m going to go with the classic and say: Thin Mints.  Straight out of the freezer is my favorite way to enjoy them!

Cathy Hirko is the marketing and communications director for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email: chirko@gshpa.org.

Jess Delp: GSHPA’s Rising Star

By Cathy Hirko

A couple weeks ago the team here at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania found out that one of our own has been named to the 2021 Class of Forty Under 40 from the Central Penn Business Journal.

Jess Delp, our Director of Product Program and Retail, now stands with some of the brightest rising stars in our midstate community.

While we all happily congratulate Jess, we thought it was a perfect time to have Jess share a bit about herself, the award and all the goodness surrounding this honor.

Read on:

GSHPA: Congrats on being named to CPBJ’s Forty Under 40. You are now among a class of high-profile leaders in the Harrisburg business community. Tell us a little bit about your last couple years with GSHPA. What are some of your proudest moments? What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

DELP: Working for GSHPA has introduced me to some of the most incredible volunteers and girls. I am constantly inspired by all they do. During 2020 it was incredible to watch our Girl Scouts adapt to the ever-changing world to continue to build their cookie businesses, meet their goals and make the world a better place- all while staying safe!

GSHPA: Spill the beans on how you manage your workload with GSHPA. How do you stay on top of your projects and the new projects bubbling to the top every day?

DELP: I am full of energy so I am constantly working, connecting and creating. While completing one project I am already thinking of three other things I want to do. I am passionate about my work and that makes every day fun!

GSHPA: If you had a chance to share one need that GSHPA needs to fill, what would it be and how can your fellow Forty Under 40 class help out?

DELP: It is important to me that our community know how relevant and important Girl Scouts is. We love our history and traditions, but we also embrace the new world and work tirelessly to support our members and to make the world a better place. Having other community stakeholders speaking on our behalf and invested in our work is imperative.

GSHPA: I know the GSHPA team is very lucky to have you as a leader on our team and you inspire many. Want to give any shoutouts to those folks who inspire you, both in and outside the organization?  

DELP:  Lauren Linhard (Brittany Insider), Meghan Kahler (Northwestern Mutual) and Jen Hicks (Central Bark) are amazing entrepreneurs in the York community who I have the pleasure of working with and being friends with. JT Hand is the CEO of York Water Company and I love his work ethic and passion for the community. I also very much respect Jon Taffer. His business acumen is unmatched and he recognizes that the people are the most important piece of any business.

Cathy Hirko is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennyslvania. You can reach her at chirko@gshpa.org.

Lessons Learned: Empathy, mentorship and lover of furry friends

By Cathy Hirko

I met Bitsy McCann for the first time a few years ago at an awards program in Harrisburg. Long story short? We get each other. We connected almost immediately.

Some people you meet make relationship-building easy. Bitsy is one of them. Every time I have reached out to her for advice or for work-related reasons she always responds and is giving of her time and resources.

A few months ago I found out that Bitsy had been a Girl Scout and I asked her if she would want to share a bit about that experience on our blog. She happily accepted. During the workdays (or evenings in Bitsy’s case) she’s a designer of many things graphic. She runs her own company in the Harrisburg area and occasionally writes a column for Central Penn Parent. Her story is below.

But, before we learn more about Bitsy, I’d like to pitch our blog to all the women leaders in our 30-county footprint. We want to tell your words of inspiration to the Girl Scouts and others who are reading this blog. Your experiences and stories matter. Please contact me if you are interested in being profiled on the blog. Email me at chirko@gshpa.org. We are ready to tell your story.

Here are a few thoughts from Bitsy:

GSHPA: Night owl or early-morning person? Why?

Bitsy: I am definitely a night owl, hence this 11:06 p.m. email. The house is quiet, but more importantly, my creativity peaks during nighttime hours. I think it’s because I can fully focus in on something without client phone calls interrupting me or deadlines lurking. The evening is when I can give into that creative flow without being disturbed.
 
GSHPA: How are you keeping busy these days?

Bitsy: Obviously, being an entrepreneur will keep you extremely busy, but I’m also staying active with my live music performances, officiating weddings, and running Petapalooza. We are about a month away, and those registrations are starting to fly in! We always need volunteers, so if you’re interested, let us know!

GSHPA: What are some of your fondest memories of being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: My mother was a troop leader, so we always had the meetings at our home. (Thanks, Mom!) I loved being able to make so many creative things during my years as a Girl Scout, but I also loved the field trips!

One of my favorite memories was going to our local animal shelter and learning about all the animals there. I truly think that this started my passion for our furry friends, and I believe that this trip is what planted the seeds for today’s involvement with Petapalooza.

If I had never experienced that visit to an animal shelter, I might not have ever known how important it is to adopt our animals from a rescue.

GSHPA: Any examples of what you may have learned and carried with you from being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: Just to be nice to everyone all the time. You never know what anyone is going through in their personal life … Everyone is struggling with something, and because of that, I think it’s the most important thing for us to be nice to everyone and to try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to see where they’re coming from.

GSHPA: Tell us about your upcoming event, Petapalooza!

Bitsy: Petapalooza is a free, family-friendly pet adoption festival that features lovable, adoptable homeless animals from shelters and rescues in the Central PA area. We focus on all animals and feature dogs, cats, birds and more!

In addition to helping animal rescues, we also focus on being an animal-friendly festival with vendors, raffles, live music, and food trucks. Petapalooza will be held Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the beautiful campus of Central Penn College. You are welcome to bring your pets as long as they are vaccinated, well-behaved, and leashed!
 
GSHPA: Girl Scouts are always looking for volunteers and mentors. What are some ways that you find time to mentor others?

Bitsy: Anytime there is a woman or student looking for graphic design or entrepreneurship guidance, I love talking to them. I have probably mentored over a dozen girls and women since I started my business seven years ago, and it is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do.

I always wished that someone would have pulled the curtain away so that I could see behind the scenes of what it really means to run your own business. I freely give away how I run things, pricing, contracts – any and everything that’ll help another person get to where they want to go. I strive to be the mentor I wish I had had when I was first starting out.

Cathy Hirko is the marketing and communications director for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email: chirko@gshpa.org.