GSHPA Winter Challenge

The weather is starting to get chilly and we have even seen the first snow flakes of the year. This is the time of year we all start to think of staying warm and indoors. That does not mean that you need to get cabin fever and bored with the winter weather, GSHPA’s program team have a solution for you. Our 2021 Winter Challenge! This is a list of fun activities for all ages that will keep you busy indoors and out through the cold weather months.

Between December 1 and January 31 choose your adventure, try something new and get out and explore. GSHPA’s program team has collected 75 activities that cover a range on interests and badge requirements. This challenge is designed to be done independently, with your friends and family, or with your troop and is similar to the Summer Scavenger Hunt GSPHA Program hosted last year!

Adults can save and/or print the guide so their girls can cross off each activity as they complete their adventure. The number of activities girls will need to complete is based on their Girl Scout level- there is a number of activities required to earn the patch. When you have completed the activities, just fill out this form to submit your entry and purchase a snow fun patch for $3.

Many of the activities on the list can be completed by attending a scheduled GSHPA event or one hosted by our partners. Please check out our calendar to see what fun activities you want to try to fight of the winter blues!

Tag your photos and videos with @gsheartpa and add #gshpawinter2021 as you complete tasks so we can see what everyone is doing this winter. Stay warm and have fun!!!!!

Fall Fun with Friends

By Colleen Buck

Fall is a busy time of firsts – first day of school, first soccer practice, first time meeting new friends, the list goes on! With all of those firsts, it is also a great time for Girl Scouts to experience some firsts together while embracing the change of seasons and getting to know new and old Girl Scout friends. You can even add an additional layer of fun to your troop’s fall activities by incorporating a fun patch that goes along with the activity for the girls to remember the fun they had.

As you are thinking of fun fall activities to share with your girls, we have compiled a list of ideas for you to use. Some of our favorite well-known and not so well known ideas are listed. If your troop is extra-adventurous, you can take our challenge of completing all of these activities!

  • Experience a hayride
  • Go to an orchard to pick apples
  • Try some delicious apple cider at the apple orchard
  • Hold a troop investiture
  • Go to a pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins together
  • Have a pumpkin decorating showcase or contest
  • Attend a GSHPA program in person or virtually
  • Go on a nature walk to find items to use while working on your Outdoor Art badge!
  • Compile recipes for the best fall drink, shop for the ingredients, then have a taste test party
  • Plan and throw a big birthday party for Juliette Gordon Low (Oct 31)
  • Attend or participate in a fall community parade
  • Combine fun and community service, and offer to rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor
  • Plan and make a Troop “Friendsgiving” Dinner and invite families to join in the fun of eating it
  • If all of the girls in your troop celebrate Halloween, have a costume troop meeting and take lots of pictures
  • Plan a community service project together
  • Pair up with another troop to exchange SWAPS
  • Have a bonfire
  • Learn how to cook over a fire – s’mores or popcorn are good fall campfire snacks!
  • Go on a hike
  • Learn how to sew, knit or crochet
  • Visit a GSHPA camp property and get outdoors
  • Have a movie night
  • Have a fall themed craft party
  • Plan a Take Action Project

If your troop takes our challenge of completing all of these fabulous fall activities, you can use the attached PDF to keep track of what you have completed. If your troop is going to take the challenge, sound off in the comments to let us know what you are most looking forward to!

Colleen Buck is a Program Coordinator at GSHPA.

4 Steps to Plan a Successful Girl Scout Year

Fall is here, the weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to change and Girl Scout are heading back to school.  This means girls, parents and volunteers are starting to get crazy busy with their hectic schedules.  But have no fear, whether you are a brand new troop leader or a seasoned volunteer there are online and offline resources that will help you have conversations with your parents and volunteers and plan for the year, girl led of course.  Here are some easy and great ideas to help make your meeting planning smooth sailing.

Find your Troop’s Vision

Talk with your troop members, adults and girls, to discuss what their vision for the upcoming year is going to be.  What are your goals, what are they excited about, what are they dreading? Girl Scouts of all ages are able to come up with some SMART goals for the troop for the year to help them grow in their experiences.  Don’t fall into the temptation to plan it all yourself, I know sometimes it feels easier, but Girl Scouts is girl-led.  Having the girls participate in the planning will help the girls engage and be invested in the yearly agenda.

Flexibility is Key

That agenda you spend all the time and energy creating, it is a changing document.  You can spend as much time planning for the unexpected as you want and there will be something that pops up unexpectedly.  It is important to stay flexible and let the girls that it is ok to have changes to original plans, use it as a teaching opportunity.  For example, your troop has planned a hike that might need to be cancelled or moved because of the weather, a guest speaker had to cancel last minute leaving a gap in your nightly plans.  Check in with the troop throughout the year to make sure you are staying on track for your vision and see if any changes need to be made.

Brainstorming!

Think about how much time you are going to need to spend on planning, do you just need one meeting for the younger girls or a few meeting for the older girls to take the lead.  Keep the planning specific with a timeline so you can stay focused and keep the process moving forward.  You don’t want to spend all your year planning and not actually get to the fun stuff.

Depending on the attention span and interest of your troop, you can plan a couple meetings at a time or take on months or the entire year.  This is brainstorming so make sure to write down all the ideas from each member even if they are crazy and seem to be too big or out there.  These ideas can lead to something that would work for your group.

Ideas to keep track of your brainstorming session:

  • Write it down! Use poster board, butcher paper, whiteboard or you could use a Google doc if you are a more tech troop.
  • Have each girl brainstorm individually before coming back as a group to talk about it.  Some girls have a hard time sharing their thoughts in large groups so this will allow everyone to have input.
  • Make it a game: give the girls 5 minutes to write down as many ideas for each topic you need to plan. Examples, snacks, service projects, badges, journeys, fun trips, places to visit, etc.

Start Big, Add Details

Take a look at the list that you created and decide as a group what you are going to do.  For younger girls you may need to take the lead as the adult and with the older girls let them give it a try and be there to help as needed.  To narrow things down, talk as a group to come up with the favorites.  This can be done through voting, discussion, ranking, and more, it is important that everyone feels they are being included and their voice is being heard.

Once you have narrowed down the list to the top interested of the troop you can start filling in the details. This is where your network will come in handy to use your connections within and without Girl Scouts.  This can include your Service Unit, Troop Leaders, parents, your council, social media or community groups.

Online resources are a great place to go for you and your girls to research your plans.  Search engines, Pinterest, and blogs are great places to find if someone else has tried your idea, and you can build off what they had done. 

What to do next

Remember you don’t have to do it all yourself, have the girls, parents, and other volunteers help! Use your resources wisely, this includes people too! Make a plan, be flexible, and use what you have to make your upcoming year full of fun success!

Seven Ways to Spend Earth Day

Spring is finally here!  No more days of bundling up in half of your wardrobe just to walk outside.  We can see the ground, the flowers, the birds, and not under a foot of snow.  Now, how to celebrate the warmer weather?  With some Earth Day activities of course!  Earth Day is officially Thursday, April 22, but why not celebrate all of April?  Check out some of our favorite Earth Day activities and let us know what your favorites are in the comments! 

Nature Photography 

Grab your camera or phone and head outside to take some pictures of what the Earth has to offer.  Explore your backyard, neighborhood, local park or hiking trail and grab a shot of the beauty Mother Nature has for you.  

Cloud Watching/Star Gazing 

Find a blanket and pillows to spread out in your yard and see what shapes and animals you can find in the clouds.  Wait a few more hours and try it again with the stars, look for the Little Dipper, Orion and all the other constellations up in the sky.  

Egg Shell Planting 

Do you have any hard boiled eggs from Easter hanging around? Take the shells and plant them.  Fill the shell with some potting soil and a seed, and once the seed sprouts, plant the whole thing in the ground.  

Outdoor I Spy 

I don’t know about you but I Spy is a favorite game of my kids while on long or short car rides.  The great outdoors has so many things for the eyes to spy, you can sit in your back yard or go for a family hike and take a closer look at what surrounds you in nature.  

Recycled Art 

Take a look in your recycling bin and find some art supplies! Be inspired by the Earth and all that you can find in nature to create something to celebrate Earth day, Share your piece with family and friends to help inspire them.  

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt 

We are all about scavenger hunts, and now here is one for exploring outdoors on Earth Day. Here is a list we put together to hunt for, you can collect them in a bucket or even better take a picture and cross it off the list.  (Remember Principle 4 of Leave No Trace, leave what you find.) 

  •  Rock 
  •  Stick 
  •  Leaf 
  •  Grass 
  •  Litter 
  •  Flower 
  •  Spider Web 
  •  Dirt 
  •  Ant 
  •  Feather 
  •  Bark 
  •  Bug 
  •  Slug 
  •  Water 
  •  Worm 
  •  Cloud 

Earth Day Cookies 

We found this great post on how to make Earth Day Cookies!  Simple and tasty what could be better!? 


Written by Liz Bleacher