Why do you love camp?

By Cathy Hirko

Brylea Starr is a 10th-grader who lives in Lycoming County, one of the 30 counties in our GSHPA footprint.

She is a Girl Scout in Troop 60041 and she loves to travel, sell Girl Scout cookies—she has a healthy competitiveness about her—and is a big fan of attending camp at Camp Small Valley in the summer.

older girl scout laughing while talking about camp.
Brylea Starr visits our GSHPA Harrisburg office to share why she loves camp.

She’s part of an elite group of GSHPA campers known as VICs: Very Involved Campers.

What’s a VIC, you ask? A VIC is a girl who participated in a GSHPA summer camp experience. You get the opportunity to earn VIC swag and provide feedback on camp themes, sign up with early registration, and get a snazzy VIC rocker for your Camp Small Valley patch.

Basically, you are kind of an insider camp expert.

Brylea and her mom visited the GSHPA Harrisburg office last year so Brylea could share her thoughts about camp and why she loves it. She had a ton of reasons, and wasn’t shy about expressing them. I loved talking to her for the recordings.

We captured this first one below. It’s short and sweet. Look for many more to come that feature Brylea.

And a big thank you to Brylea and her mom for helping us out. Your support and contribution to the Girl Scouts are the very reasons we love what we do here at GSHPA.

Get Creative! Girl Scouts shine as entrepreneurs

By Cathy Hirko

This time of year my social media feeds have been BLOWING UP with all things Girl Scouts. From customers looking to buy Girl Scout Cookies to members sharing their favorite Girl Scouts memories, the digital world is pulsing with Girl Scout life.

Our Girl Scout Entrepreneurs are also using online platforms to market their cookies and demonstrate the fun of our Cookie Program.

Take this gem of a video:

It 100 percent will make you smile. The music, the fun, the creativity — the cookie shopping!

It all resonates with anyone who is passionate about what they do. And as the days grow more hectic and busy, we need to remember to breathe, and remember that having fun should always be a part of our day.

If you know of a Girl Scout, or Girl Scouts who you think we should highlight on the blog, please reach out. We would love to share their story or stories, and their videos!

That’s it for this post. Short and sweet.

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend. Soon, you will be enjoying Girl Scout Cookies!

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.

New Year, New STEAM Activities

By Colleen Buck

Happy New Year Girl Scouts! With cold winter weather comes spending more time indoors. But time indoors doesn’t have to be boring! Try out these fun Winter Science Experiments to embrace the winter weather inside.

Create Fake Snow

You will need:

  • A deep baking dish or foil baking dish
  • 3 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup white conditioner

Instructions:

  1. Mix ½ cup conditioner with 3 cups baking soda
  2. Mix until well blended and moldable texture is achieved

Snowball Launchers

This project can be found on the Little Bins for Little Hands site, and is a great experiment in physics for girls of all ages. Girls will learn about Newton’s 3 laws of motion by creating force using the balloon, testing acceleration when different amounts of force are used, and finding that with our actions in this experiment there will be equal and opposite reaction.

Snow Volcano

You will need:

  • 2 spoonful’s of baking soda
  • 1 spoonful dish soap
  • A few drops of food coloring of your choice (red makes a good lava color)
  • 30 ml vinegar
  • Spoon
  • Snow
  • Small container

Instructions:

  1. Add everything except the vinegar to the container and stir well.
  2. Carefully shape a volcano around the container using snow – don’t forget to leave the opening of the volcano at the top!
  3. Add your vinegar through the opening and watch as the volcano erupts! For a larger eruption, add more dish soap, stir, then pour more vinegar.

How does this work?

Vinegar is an acid, and when mixed with baking soda (an alkali) they react together to neutralize each other. This reaction releases carbon dioxide, a gas, which is the bubbles that you see. The bubbles of gas make the dish soap bubble up to make a thick “lava”!

Reindeer Pipe Cleaner Circuit

Karyn at the Teach Beside Me blog shows readers how to create a reindeer circuit This electrical circuit project is perfect for the season, and teaches that an electrical circuit is made up of a source of electrical power, wires that can carry the current, and a light bulb. It is also a great way for girls to experiment with what happens when the circuit is intact versus broken.

Home Grown Crystals

You will need:

  • Borax, sugar or salt
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wooden spoon
  • String
  • Tall glass or mason jar

Instructions:

  1. First use your pipe cleaners to make shapes. Simple shapes work best, such as hearts, spirals or circles. Tie your shape to a wooden spoon that is longer than the opening to the glass or jar you will use.
  2. Pick whether you will use borax, sugar or salt.
  3. Boil a couple cups of water (WITH ADULT SUPERVISION). Add your crystal substance (borax, salt or sugar) until it dissolves. Then add more….and more….and more! You will be making this a supersaturated solution, which means that you will keep adding your substance and letting it dissolve. You will know that you have added enough when a small bit remains at the bottom of the pot/jar that will not dissolve.
  4. Once your supersaturated solution is ready, pour it carefully into the glass or jar, leaving about an inch at the top. If you would like to add color you can add a few drops of food coloring.
  5. Add your wooden spoon to the top of the glass/jar with the pipe cleaner shapes hanging in the solution. Make sure the shape does not touch the bottom of the container.
  6. Borax will make the crystals grow quickly, sugar takes about a week to fully form, and salt will take a few days.

This project is a great way to develop an experiment to see how the different substances react and what other variables such as sunlight or fans blowing air might do to the crystal growing process!

Don’t forget to document your experiments with pictures and send them in to us as a Mission Moment!

Colleen is a Program Coordinator for GSHPA

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!

What a Yummy Adventure!

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, its members, family and friends attended a number of Open House celebrations in September that highlighted Girl Scouts’ newest member of the Cookie family: Adventurefuls!

The brownie and salted-caramel Girl Scout Cookie was the star of the show for parties that we held in York, Scranton and Hershey. Attendees were able to sample the Cookie and try Cookie-inspired recipes.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the parties:

Didn’t get a chance to attend? We have another party coming up in Gettysburg on Nov. 7. Hope to see you there!

4 Traditionally Girl Scout Recipes

Blog written by Rebekah Stefl

Traditions are a huge part of Girl Scouts! They can be found in the uniforms we wear, the songs we sing and even the food we eat! Now every Girl Scout will have their own personal twist on all these classic dishes and they might even have other food traditions of their own, but check out some of our favorites!

Jungle Breakfast – one of my personal favorite Girl Scout traditions!

You will need:

  • Small Boxes of Cereal
  • Granola Bars
  • Packs of Muffins or Donuts
  • Fruit
  • Small Bottles of Juice
  • Milk
  • Twine/Yarn

While the girls are sleeping the adults will gather the supplies and begin tying them into the trees! We recommend setting up early in the morning to avoid attracting critters, but you can do all the prep work the night before. When the girls wake up they will have to “hunt” for their own breakfast in the trees! They have a blast! Just be sure to collect any leftovers, string, etc. before moving on to your next activity.

Ants on a Log – quick and fun snack for all ages!

You will need:

  • Celery
  • Peanut Butter (alternate nut butter or nut free butter can be used)
  • Raisins, Berries or Chocolate Chips

Simply start by washing and cutting your celery into logs about 6 inches long! Once ready fill your celery will your preferred nut or nut free better then top with your “ants” and enjoy! 

Foil Packs – sweet or savory and easy to make over a fire, on the grill or in the oven!

Savory: Chicken & Vegetables

You will need:

  • Heavy Duty Foil
  • Chicken
  • Your Favorite Vegetables (recommended: onions, zucchini, potatoes and bell peppers) 
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning Salt and/or Spices
  • Salt and Pepper

Start by cutting your chicken and vegetables into bite sized pieces. Once ready lay out your foil (shiny side down) then add your chicken and vegetables. Add enough oil to coat and sprinkle with your preferred spices then toss gently to coat. Simply fold your foil to create a package – be sure to tightly seal all those edges to nothing leaks out. Then add to your fire, grill or oven and heat until chicken is cooked through! Tip: if you need to put names on your foil packs use yellow mustard, it won’t burn off!

Sweet: Cinnamon Apples

You will need:

  • Sliced Apples
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • Toppings: Raisins, Chopped Nuts, etc. (Optional)
  • Heavy Duty Foil

These apples are an easy fall treat for all ages! Start by rolling out your foil then top with sliced apples. Once ready add the cinnamon and brown sugar then toss to coat the apples. We recommend chopping up the butter into little cubs to sprinkle throughout the apples. Add toppings if desires and seal up the foil pack tightly! Heat until apples are warm and soft.

Be sure to share your favorite Girl Scout foods with us in the comments!

Rebekah Stefl is one of GSHPA’s Volunteer Support Coordinators.

A Fortnite at the Farm in Felton, York County

Dozens of Girl Scouts, friends and families joined GSHPA at the teaching museum in Felton Pennsylvania for a fun afternoon of Fortnite activities! Girls participated in archery, structure building, healing by the campfire and meeting some of the farm animals including llamas. No wait… they weren’t llamas, they were alpacas! Girls learned the differences between llamas and alpacas at the event as well.

For more information about fun upcoming GSHPA fun visit our events calendar!

Photos: Planting Trees for a Promise

The Elliott Wildlife Values Project, American Forests and Girl Scouts have launched a tree planting and conservation initiative, and GSHPA Girl Scouts are stepping up.

Girl Scouts is setting out to plant five million trees around the country in the next five years. Girl Scouts here in Central Pa have already started! Girls had the opportunity with their family and volunteers to plant trees at Camp Furnace Hills in Lancaster County and Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County this summer.

Join our mission to protect the plant and the effects of climate change and learn more.

Click on the photo to view larger.