Daisies bloom through GSHPA’s Kindergarten Readiness campaign

By Catherine Amoriello

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.

Girls participate in an activity at a Girl Scout outdoors camp.
A group of Girl Scout Daisies gather for an activity during a Mom and Me camp experience at Camp Happy Valley.

“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.

Girl scout and her mom smile for a picture.
Claire Gilbert and her daughter Thora pose for a selfie during one of GSHPA’s Mom and Me camp sessions.

“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.

“As a Daisy, I know Thora is getting a positive, affirming social experience with girls her age and women mentors. That is invaluable to me as a parent.”

GSHPA MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR CLAIRE GILBERT

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.

Little Girl Scout has fun at camp.
Thora takes a water break during her first Girl Scout experience at Camp Happy Valley. Through GSHPA’s kindergarten readiness programming, Thora seamlessly joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy.

“[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.”

Claire Gilbert shares why she wanted her daughter to be a Girl Scout.
Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

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?