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!!! 

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.

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?

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.

STEAM SNACK: Abstract Self

Abstract art can come naturally to those girls who love experimentation and creative expression.  As adults we spend so much time telling kids to color in the lines and use the right colors, abstract art allows girls to jump at the change to express themselves any way they want. 

Why Abstract Art?

Abstract art is more about the shapes and colors and the feelings it expresses, not about staying in the lines.  Abstract art encourages discussion about color, shares, lines, feelings and thoughts, all concepts children are learning.  This is something everyone can do.

What if I’m not an expert?

Start by explaining what abstract art is NOT, so examples of realistic or naturalist art.  These pieces look like replicas of what the subjects are, the subject is easily recognized in the art.  Examples can be paintings of fruit, a house or other objects the girls can identify. 

Now show the girls several abstract works of art, one at a time, ask the girls if they can identify what the subject of the art is.  This will take longer to get responses do to the obscurity of the art.  Ask the girls what colors and shapes do they see? Ask them what emotions they feel while looking at each art piece and what they are thinking about when they look at it.

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • White paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black marker/crayon
  • Coloring Materials

Tips and Tricks:

  • Prepare your self-portrait ahead of time add color and make it crazy.
  • Don’t show them examples of your self-portrait until after they draw theirs.  Children tend to make their work look just like the examples they see, we want them to let go of the control.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:

  • What are some colors that represent feelings?
  • How about shapes, what shape can represent happiness, sadness?
    • There is not right answer and will differ from girl to girl, abstract is all about what you want things to represent.

The Badges:

This activity can be adapted to fulfill the following badge steps.

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Painting Step 3 – Paint a mood
  • Junior:  Drawing Step 1 – Experiment with different materials
  • Cadette:
  • Senior: Collage Artist Step 3 – Create with color
  • Ambassador:

The Science             

Define abstract art in terms the girls will understand based on their levels.  Simply, abstraction in art is a non-lifelike portrayal of real world objects, people and scenes that are usually hard for other peope to recognize.  Abstract art portrays what an artist feels and thinks, rather that what they see.  An abstract artist will use colors and shapes to express their emotions and ideas. 

We don’t always know what people are thinking and feeling and we don’t always know what abstract art portrays. You could always ask the artist, it is about the conversation.

The Activity

Abstract Self-Portrait

Materials: Paper, ruler, pencil, black marker/crayon, coloring materials

STEP ONE: Make diagonal folds on your paper, you do not want even folds that create squares.  You want it random, make about 5-6 folds, then use a ruler or strait edge to trace the folds with your black marker or crayon.

STEP TWO: Explain to the girls that they are going to fill the page with their self-portrait, use the whole canvas.  Oh and they are going to be doing this with their eyes closed!  Tell them not to worry you will be giving them directions on what to draw and it is abstract art so it is ok if it doesn’t look just like them.

STEP THREE: Grab your canvas, your pencil and close your eyes. Remind the girls though out the process to keep their eyes closed, they will want to peek.

STEP FOUR:

  • Start with a nice large oval for your face, remember fill your canvas, no small faces in the middle.
  • Now add your hair, and a neck you don’t want to be a floating head.  Now add your eyes, lashes and brows.  Remember eyes closed!
  • Now we don’t want to forget your ears, make sure to add one to each side. 
  • How about your mouth, are you going to be smiling? Showing teeth?
  • And don’t forget your nose! 
  • Now add any accessories you want, jewelry, glasses, hair bows, etc.

STEP FIVE: Have the girls open their eyes, ask if their art looks like them.  When they answer no, let them know that is good, it isn’t meant to, this is abstract art.

STEP SIX: Trace the lines of your face with the black marker/crayon.  Your face will be split into many shapes from the fold lines creating all new shapes.

STEP SEVEN: Use your coloring materials to finish your portrait.  Think about what colors you will use and how.  Complementary colors, contrasting colors, all one color but different shades, only a few colors or all the colors in the box.  Think about how the colors make you feel and how they will make others feel when they see your portrait.

Wrap up:

After completing the self-portraits, ask the girls:

  • How did you feel about drawing with your eyes closed?
  • What do you like about abstract art?
  • What don’t you like about abstract art?

An Abstract Snack: Animal Portraits

Materials Needed: toast, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, cream cheese, banana, strawberries, apples, berries, any topping you want to create with.

Prepare your toast to your liking. Prep your fruit by slicing to create different shapes and sizes to create your art.
Add the soft layer, peanut butter/hazelnut spread/cream cheese.
Add your fruit toppings to create your animal portraits or other art.
Remember this is abstract art, your final piece does not need to look like anything in the real world.

Building a Positive Image: You and Your Body

Written by Melissa M. Brown, Psy.D, UPMC

Feeling insecure once in a while is normal.  But it should not be your norm.  Appreciating the body you have and refocusing toward positivity are steps you can take toward valuing yourself as a complex individual.

What if I asked you to name three things that you would change about your body? How quickly would you answer? And if I asked you to name three things you love about your body? Would you answer as quickly?

If you struggle with the positive answers, you are not alone.  American women have a much higher rate of distorted feelings about themselves than women from other countries and cultures.  In fact, in a survey by Body Image International, females in the U.S> had lower opinions about every body part they asked about.  And these same feelings extend from women to teens to adolescents – most of us struggle with our body image at different points in our lives. 

What is body image?

How do you see yourself and feel about your body when you look in the mirror? Your thoughts, perceptions and attitudes about your physical appearance are your “body image.” But your body image is more than how you feel about physical appearance, attractiveness and beauty.  How you perceive your body is your mental representation of yourself.  This “picture” can govern everything from your life plan to the plans you make each day.

While it may seem that we are making progress, our culture needs to continue to reshape what we see (think television and magazines) so that the majority of the models and actors represent the same diversity of bodies (among other attributes) that we have in real life.  As long as the “ideal” or “preferred” is portrayed as “thin” or some other unrealistic size or shape for most of us, we will continue to have unrealistic expectations about our own bodies. 

How does social media impact body image?

There are some social media “influencers” who use the platform to promote body positivity and self-acceptance.  Ashley Graham, Serena Williams, and Demi Lovato are just a few female celebrities who have taken a stand by posting un-retouched photos of themselves or challenging negative comments made to their social media accounts about their bodies.  As of yet, however, these actions are not counteracting the impacts of social media on most of us.

In fact, a study done by Rachel Cohen, PhD Candidate, UTS Graduate School of Health, in 2018 found “engaging in photo activities, (e.g. viewing friends’ photos or updating your own profile picture) on Facebook, was associated with concerns including greater “thin-ideal” internalization, self-objectification and body dissatisfaction.” The study also found that following appearance-focused accounts on Instagram, (i.e. health and fitness or celebrities like the Kardashians), was related to some negative body image outcomes and disordered eating.

So, if social media is showing more kinds of bodies, from thin to curvy to full-size, why do we still have a negative image of our own bodies?  As adolescents, we experience the height of self-consciousness and the need for peer validation. It’s normal in our growth and development.  But with the Internet as a new “peer,” the next question to ask is, “Is what I’m seeing real?” Air brushing, glittering light, posing, and filters are a few techniques that distort images and make what you see on social media quite different from reality.

What can I do to have a more positive body image?

Accept your body

  • Don’t body-share yourself. When you make harsh comments about your own body, it hurts your self-esteem.  That’s true whether you say it out loud or think it to yourself.  It hurts just as much as if someone else said it.  Be kind.  Respect yourself, even if you have things to work on.
  • Build a better habit. Do you have a habit of putting your body down? To break that bad habit, build a good one in its place.  Tell yourself what you like instead of what you don’t. Keep doing it until it is a habit.

Like your body

  • Find things to like about your looks. Do you like the way your hands move or what they create? What about your eyes or your smile? Tell yourself what you like and why.  If you aren’t sure, what do your friends tell you they like about you? Accept those things. Let yourself feel good.  There is a lot to like about you.
  • Focus on what your body can DO.  Celebrate all the things that your body does for you from breathing to dancing.  Your body is amazing. Think about all that it enables you to do. Be grateful.

Take care of your body

  • Eat healthy foods. Learn what foods are good for you, and how much is the right amount.  Eating right is about building strong bones, growing and having energy.  Being good to your body can help you feel good about yourself.
  • Move every day. Your body takes care of you. Take care of it and have fun.  What do you like to do to get moving? From walking, swimming, biking, hiking and so much more, movement is a gift. Moving also lifts our mood.  It can also disrupt negative thoughts and help us refocus.

How can adults help?

Adults can acknowledge their own insecurities and struggles.  In one study, 90% of teens who reported being unhappy with their body shape said their own mother had an “insecure body image.”  How adults talk about ourselves, how we look, our relationship with food, diet culture and our bodies, as well as how we speak about other women in the news and on social media can have a huge impact on how young people perceive themselves.

Adults should talk about social media. Having a conversation around social media and how it makes adolescents feel can have a big impact. Open, honest, frank discussions about social media and the potential impact it can have can help uncover any feelings of negativity (or positivity) it may be having on the well-being of young people.

Adults can encourage role models of all shapes and sizes. Many of the images we see in magazines and across various media platforms can give us a skewed view of what we should aspire to look like.  By highlighting different types of beauty, adults can help young people learn to recognize and overcome insecurities.

When should I talk with an adult?

Talk with a trusted adult after you have read this post.  Tell them you have negative feelings about your body and any concerns you may have.  Getting a different perspective and being reminded of how much you have to offer can help you feel confident and improve your self-esteem.

When we have negative thoughts and feelings about our bodies, these feelings may overflow into other areas of life.  If you think you may be depressed, tell someone right away. Other things to watch out for:

  • Constant comparison of your body with others
  • Feelings of guilt or shame about food
  • A fixation on losing weight or about specific parts of your body
  • Excessive exercise
  • Use of diet pills, diuretics, or laxatives
  • Periods of fasting, or extremely limited food intake
  • Changes in mood (irritability)

If you experience any of these, tell a parent, doctor, or therapist what you are going through.  Ask for help.  Body image and self-esteem can get better with help and care. 

Start on the path to positive body image

Getting to a positive body image is a journey that can take different lengths of time. Reading this article can be a first step from negative thoughts about your body toward positive body image.  Now you have an introduction to healthier ways of looking at your body.  If you think you need help to continue making changes, ask an adult.  The more you practice positive thought patterns, the closer you will be to loving the body you have and appreciating who you are as a whole.

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.