Remembering Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally observed to honor the men lost during the Civil War. Throughout our history this holiday has changed to honor both the men and women that we have lost in all wars, including World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Over the years, the traditions of honoring those we have lost have evolved. Since Girl Scouts traditions and ceremonies are so important to us, we heard from Girl Scouts across the nation for ideas of ways to celebrate Memorial Day. Even though COVID has changed the way we are able to do some things, honoring our fallen soldiers can still be done. If your troop needs ideas for how to observe Memorial Day this year, check out these ideas from other troops!  

  • As a troop, visit a cemetery to clean trash and debris 
  • Contact your local American Legion to look into placing flags on soldiers graves, or holding a flag ceremony 
  • Work with local Women Veterans of America, VFW’s, Veteran Affairs or military posts to not only honor those who have fallen, but also to help those dealing with the loss of their comrades 
  • Hold a flag retirement ceremony 
  • Participate in a local parade that commemorates fallen soldiers 
  • Contact your local American Legion to find and attend a salute at a monument 

Other ideas could include holding a troop flag ceremony for the girls and their families to honor family members who served and are no longer with us. Honoring the men and women who have fought for our country and are no longer with us is important, no matter how little or big the ceremony or parade.

For troops who choose to take this time to learn more about Memorial Day and our soldiers, leaders can use the resources below to help their girls learn more.  

 
Is your troop commemorating Memorial Day this year? Let us know in the comments how you will be honoring the men and women who died serving our country! Don’t forget, we love to see what your troop is up to. Fill out a Mission Moment form so we can see the great things your girls are doing in and for their communities. 


Written by Colleen Sypien

Happy Mother’s Day from GSHPA!

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the women in our lives who are mothers or have been mother figures to us. I’m sure we are all accustomed to this holiday, and usually spend it giving flowers, gifts or even allowing the women in our lives to spend the entire day relaxing. We celebrate this holiday every year, but have you ever heard how Mother’s Day came to be?  

In the late 1800’s, several women around the United States tried to inspire local Mother’s Day celebrations, and are considered to be early Mother’s Day pioneers. It wasn’t until 1905, with the death of one of those pioneers that the official Mother’s Day holiday that we celebrate today really took off. After the passing of her mother, Anna Jarvis worked with a Philadelphia department store to hold the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908. Thousands of people attended, and this inspired Anna to fight to have the holiday added to the national calendar. Her argument was that American holidays were biased toward male achievements. She worked to organize a letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians to adopt a special day to honor motherhood. Finally, after persisting for several years, President Woodrow Wilson officially signed Mother’s Day as we know it into existence in 1914.  

Mother’s Day is also widely celebrated around the world, though not always on the same day as here in the states. For example, in Thailand Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of their queen. In Ethiopia families gather in the fall to celebrate mothers with a large feast that lasts several days! In France, Mother’s Day is at the end of May or early June, and is typically celebrated very similarly to the way we celebrate.  

Daises: Jeannette, Genevive S., and Rosalina S. 

GSHPA Troop 70304 in Lancaster worked together to create handmade cards to give to their moms!  

No matter how you celebrate Mother’s Day, it is important to recognize and thank the women in our lives for all that they do for us. If you’re still looking for ideas of what to give for Mother’s Day, check out a list of my favorite ideas below! 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas 

  • A handmade card or letter 
  • A fresh, summery scented candle (you could even make this yourself!) 
  • Breakfast in bed 
  • A pressed flower card or framed arrangement  
  • A day of relaxation – doesn’t have to be at a spa, this could be letting her enjoy a day to herself at home! 

Let us know in the comments what your favorite Mother’s Day gifts to give or receive are! 


Written by Colleen Sypien

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

On March 12th we will be celebrating the 109th anniversary of when Juliette Gordon Low registered the first 18 Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.  I’m sure Juliette could have never imagined the impact she would have on Girl Scouts, over a century later. With the organization turning 109 years old this year, has anything changed from Juliette’s original vision? 

During a time when women still could not vote in 1912, Juliette wanted to defy standards of the time, and give girls the chance to gain skills, and become more independent.  Skills including knot tying, harvesting food, and canning goods.  The first Girl Scouts were encouraged to get outdoors, to camp, to hike and to play basketball. Community service projects and Take Action projects became a huge part of Girl Scouts especially when the Great Depression and World War II started.  The cookie program was also started by Juliette, as a way to raise funds for her Girl Scout troops.   

Looking at the Girl Scout values of today, not much has changed.  Girl Scouts continue to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  Girl Scouts can explore interests and learn new skills while working on badges that center around STEM, outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship.   The organization empowers girls to make connections so that they can make a difference in their community.  All these years later, you cannot mention Girl Scouts without someone asking about buying Girl Scout cookies.  We want girls to continue to chase their curiosity and dream big, in a girl only safe space. 

The only changes we have seen in the last 109 years is the number of Girl Scout members, going from the original 18 in 1912 to over 2 million today. We need to celebrate not only because Girl Scouts is turning 109 years old next week, but also because our values and goals have changed very little since Juliette Gordon Low first registered the original 18 members.  During the next week, take the time to celebrate this achievement.  Leading up to March 12th, your troop could celebrate by having a small party at their troop meeting.  What would a party be without eating some cake or cupcakes (maybe try incorporating your favorite Girl Scout cookies like this S’more campfire cupcake recipe from Little Brownie Bakers)? During your party your troop could sing their favorite Girl Scouts songs like “Make New Friends” and “Princess Pat”.  To end this celebration, play a game of pin the petal on a daisy.  No matter how you decide to celebrate this year, take the time to reflect on the Girl Scout first meeting, all those years ago.  

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts! We hope you had the BEST Girl Scout week. We want to see how you celebrated. Tag us on Facebook or on Instagram. You could be featured in an upcoming blog post!


Written by Gina
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Alumni Spotlight – Amy Beamer

Girl Scouting Sows the Seeds of Community

I met Amy Beamer Murray through a former colleague, Michele Engle, when I was busy with publishing work at the Central Penn Business Journal. Michele told me that I was going to love Amy immediately. She was not wrong.  

Amy is smart, kind and has a dry sense of humor that is perfect for late fall afternoon porch conversations. During her daylight hours, Amy is the COO at Pavone Marketing Group, which has its headquarters in Harrisburg and other offices in Philadelphia and Chicago.  

Amy is a prolific letter writer and I just recently found out that she was Girl Scout.  

I just joined the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization in early November. Part of what I want to do with the GSHPA is find former Girl Scouts to share their stories about leadership and the impact Girl Scouts had on their lives. 

Here is snapshot of my friend, Amy Beamer Murray.  

Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Your schooling and how you ended up in the career that you have now with Pavone? 

I grew up in a small town – Newport, Pennsylvania – which is about 30 miles northwest of Harrisburg. From there, I went to Elizabethtown College and graduated with a degree in business administration. When I graduated in 1990, the country was in the midst of a recession, and, while I’d love to be able to say I had some grand plan, the truth is I just wanted to find a job that was interesting to me, get some experience and figure it out from there. I started working at an advertising agency in Harrisburg, working in traffic and project management. When the creative team left the agency to start their own shop, I followed about a year later as their first employee. And the rest is history. I’ve been with Pavone Marketing Group for 29 years and am currently its chief operating officer, working with almost 100 marketing and communications professionals. 

What are some of your favorite memories regarding your Girl Scout experience? 

My mom got me involved in Girl Scouting as a way for me to be more social. Even at an early age, I was an introvert who was in my own head and who enjoyed the company of adults . . . “that Amy, she’s eight going on 80,” they’d say.  

So, my mom thought it would be good for me to interact more with kids my own age. As Brownies, we did all kinds of arts and crafts, learned patriotic songs, and made sit-upons and foil packets for our day camp excursions.  

We were lucky to have the picturesque Little Buffalo State Park in our backyard – and we did hiking, picnicking and swimming activities there. As Girl Scouts, we did more of the same, but also started volunteering in different ways around the community and we went to overnight camp.  

I remember winter camp especially well because I took a transistor radio with me so we could hear if the US hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics (that seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?). Cadettes and Senior involvement meant more opportunities to earn badges and volunteer. And there were cookie sales at each level!  

Has your experiences in Girl Scouting affected your leadership style/experience now? If so, can you explain? 

I think those experiences sowed the seeds of community service at an early age. When you grow up in a small town, many of the town’s activities center around the school, churches and community groups. In Newport, the adults were involved in the Lions’ Club, Jaycees, and the volunteer fire company and EMS service, and youth sports. And, for the kids, church youth groups and Girl and Boy Scouts were our vehicles for volunteerism. There was a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie within our troops, while instilling the responsibility to give back to the community by identifying needs (like picking up litter, packing food for distribution, visiting nursing home residents and organizing activities for younger kids) and doing something about it. In my role as COO, that’s pretty much the ball game – identifying needs and doing something about it! 

You are a prolific letter writer (which I love about you) How did this habit start and why is it important for you. Also, share, on average, how many letters that you write a month? 

My mom was always sending greeting cards to sick people and shut-ins in our church and I picked up the knack early on. Once I got to college, writing letters was the only way other than telephone calls to stay in touch with my friends (remember the days of no email or internet?), and so that’s when it really took off. And now I do it because I know people really appreciate it because it’s so uncommon in this day and age. It really has become something between and ministry and an obsession for me. On average, I probably send between 20 and 40 cards per week for a myriad of reasons – birthdays, thank you, thinking of you, get well, sympathy. And I send cards for all holidays and occasions. I’ve become a connoisseur of all different card companies and have even befriended a few of their owners and artists along the way. I simply can’t imagine not doing it! 

A few years ago, you started sharing publicly how practicing mindfulness has helped you mentally and physically. Can you explain that and elaborate a little? 

About a decade ago, I was dealing with some serious issues with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I started looking at alternative therapies as a way to manage it. Having a mindfulness practice has certainly helped. I think a lot of times people think mindfulness means doing meditation, but that’s only a small part of it. And a form of meditation can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend or your dog. Our pets are wonderful teachers when it comes to mindfulness, in that being mindful really means being present in the current moment – not thinking about the past with regret or the future with anticipation or dread. I do devotions and prayer each morning and try to take time throughout the day to move/walk and do some intentional breathing. I also seek out periods of silence (no tech/media) which is also helpful in calming the mind. And an opportunity for gardening is just around the corner! I believe that having a mindfulness practice has been essential to my ability to deal with the pandemic and the anxiety and uncertainty that it has brought to so many folks. 

What are some ways you can recommend participating in the Girl Scouts as a volunteer? 

Being a leader has to be a wonderful and fulfilling way to get involved. Working as a part-time chaperone is also a way to be involved. And as Girl Scouts are pursuing a variety of badges, I would imagine there are opportunities to volunteer as a subject matter expert as well. In the past, I volunteered as part of a partnership with Junior Achievement to work with Girl Scouts who were pursuing their business badge. 

I know you are big fan of cats. Tell us about your kitties. Their names and personalities. 

My husband, Paul, and I are parents to six cats. I always joke that three of them were unplanned, but we couldn’t say no when a kitty was in need. We have two pair of tiger brother/sister siblings and they’re our oldest and youngest cats. So, those four are Jasper (who is Paul’s boy) and Frances, age 12, and Ollie (who is a total train wreck) and Maude, age three. Sandwiched in between them are our two black cats, Otis Jones, age 6, who is totally a momma’s boy, and Fiona, age 10, who is our deaf girl and sleeps 23 hours a day. Truth be told, Frances and Maude are probably the best archetypal house cats that we have. The others are all just a little nuts. 


Post by Cathy Hirko

Happy International Women’s Day!

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? What an amazing chance to celebrate the amazing things women have done! Not only is March a great month to learn about incredible women, but we also have a chance to celebrate as Girl Scouts during Girl Scout Week (March 7-13), including celebrating Girl Scouts’ Birthday on March 12. Perhaps the icing on the cake of Girl Scout Week is that International Women’s Day also falls during that time, on March 8.  

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the achievements of women. The very first celebration of International Women’s Day was held in 1911, over 100 years ago! In the early 1900’s there was a lot of movement by women to overcome the gender oppression and inequality they were experiencing. In 1908, women really started to become more vocal in coming together to champion change on issues such as better pay and voting rights. The rise of women challenging inequalities was seen across the globe, and spurred the idea of celebrating an International Women’s Day.  

As a young girl I loved watching the Disney movie Mary Poppins, and in that movie there is a scene where Mrs. Banks comes home in a whirlwind singing about fighting for women’s rights. I used to feel so empowered by her excitement and passion for the cause, even before I truly understood what the suffragettes stood for. Now as an adult, I understand the inequalities that women faced, and still do face. I felt similar energy and passion when taking women studies courses in college, when reading about incredible women in history and in the news today, and I feel that energy every day as a Girl Scout celebrating the achievements of girls. 

The theme of International Women’s Day for 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”. The International Women’s Day website says “A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change. So let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.” What a great reminder of where this day started and where we are now. Without our ancestors choosing to challenge voting rights and pay gaps and so many other inequalities, we as women would not have nearly as many opportunities as we do now. Their challenge to society has given us so much, but there is so much more we as women can do for the generations to come. I have a few favorite women that I would recommend learning about, who are continuing the work that generations before us started, and are creating new history every day.  

Greta Thunberg 

Greta is an 18 year old who has been making big waves. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three times…three times! She has caught the attention of many leaders worldwide by speaking up about climate and environmental concerns. Gaining the attention of important world leaders may seem daunting, and I’d have to agree. But what is incredible about Greta is that her platform started with convincing friends and family to make changes to lessen their carbon footprint. From there she organized strikes at school and gave speeches to rally more people. Greta also has Asperger’s Syndrome, and I think she is the perfect example to show girls that they are capable of achieving great things, no matter what type of hurdles they may think they have to overcome.  

Emma Gonzalez 

Emma survived the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. It would have been so easy for her to never go back to public school, to let the fear of her experience run her life. Instead, she managed to funnel the anger, sadness, fear and confusion that she and her classmates felt into not just a single speech, but into creating an entire movement advocating for gun control. She, along with a few classmates, co-founded the group Never Again to continue the fight for gun control. Regardless of political views, I think it is incredible that Emma took such a horrifying experience and channeled the energy she felt from that experience into doing something to help other students and schools.  

Sonita Alizadeh 

Sonita is currently 24 years old, but her incredible work to help girls started when she was only 16. Living in Afghanistan, she very narrowly avoided being sold into marriage, by her own family. Unfortunately, her situation is not unusual in many countries. In protest of this practice, Sonita wrote a rap song called “Brides For Sale” and shared it on YouTube. Her video went viral, and has since created international buzz, and prompted girls to speak out about their own similar experiences. Sonita continues to spread awareness about forced child marriage, and while it is an upsetting topic to learn about, her work empowering other girls to fight for an end to this practice is so inspiring! 

Malala Yousafzai 

In 2012, Malala was very seriously injured in an assassination attempt. The Taliban had taken control of her small home town in Pakistan, and banned many things, such as owning a TV, playing music, and girls attending school. There were extremely harsh punishments if anyone defied them. Malala loved going to school, and started to speak up against the ban keeping girls from going to school, and even found ways to continue going to school. On her way home from school one day, a gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head. Instead of this experience silencing Malala, she worked closely with her dad to create the Malala Fund, and has worked to fight for every girl’s right to go to school ever since. More than 130 million girls worldwide are not in school today, and I love this quote from Malala, stating that she tells her story “not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls”.  

Danielle Boyer 

19 year old Danielle found her passion in designing circuits and animatronics. When she realized that STEAM education isn’t available to everyone, she founded STEAM Connection, an organization to provide affordable and accessible STEAM materials to underserved students. Her robot, EKGAR (Every Kid Gets a Robot) has since been given to 4,000 kids at no cost! Danielle says of her passion, “I want girls to know they can find their superpowers, pursue what they love and help others.” 

Anna Lumsargis- York County GSHPA Girl Scout 

Anna worked with the York History Center to update their archives on past women’s history in York County as well as address the role of women in York County play in the present in all aspects of leadership, cultural awareness, and service. The York History Center identified that they needed help providing updated information and accessibility to the information, so she created a website focused on highlighting the women of York County in history, and created a documentary-style video highlighting current influential women in York County. 

Influential Women in York County 

Website

York Daily Record Article 

These girls are incredibly inspiring, and I encourage you to read more about the work that each of them are doing to help girls and women across the world. I think it is so important to celebrate their achievements on International Women’s Day, but also to celebrate that we as girls and women are capable of so much. Even the smallest action starting at home can turn into worldwide change, as many of the girl’s above demonstrate! Happy International Women’s Day, don’t ever lose sight of the incredible things women can do! 


Post by Colleen

Faith Like a Girl Scout

Happy almost Girl Scout Week GSHPA Blog Fam!  We are so excited to be gearing up for the 2021 Girl Scout Week which kicks off on Girl Scout Sunday, March 7th.  Make sure you keep an eye on the Blog next week, because there will be so many exciting posts celebrating Girl Scout Week as we lead up to our 109th Birthday!   

I would be remiss if I did not also wish you a Happy International Women’s month!  We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, the second day of Girl Scout Week.  There are so many exciting things happen in March I can barely stand it!  

Now, let’s talk about the first day of Girl Scout Week, the kick off for a full week of celebration that girls across the country celebrate, Girl Scout Sunday!  (Stay with me, there is a little bit of a history lesson before we get into the good stuff!) 

As we all know, Juliette Gordon Low (JGL), met and worked with Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts while in London.  She worked with him on creating the female equivalent while in London.  Together, they then came to America to build the Girl Guides of America movement.  Juliette learned so much from Lord Baden-Powell; how to run a youth organization, activities that were important for girls to learn including confidence, courage, and character, and the importance of creating a space for girls of any religion to participate together, as a unit.  Lord Baden-Powell made it a point to never tether the Boy Scouts to a specific Religion, and JGL followed suit.   

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low hosted the first Girl Guides of America meeting (later the Girl Scouts of America) in her carriage house (it was the early 1900’s version of a garage).  There were 18 girls in attendance, that Juliette invited herself.  Some were from families of prominence in Savannah, and some from the local synagogue!  The mixing of religions was something that was seldom done in the early 1900’s.   

When the time came to recruit Troop Leaders for the newly established Girl Guides of America, JGL asked four women to lead the first troop.  Three of those four women were Jewish.  Two of the three of those original leaders went on to hold high ranking positions within the Girl Scouts of America in the first established councils.  Again, the mixing of religions was not something that was commonplace in the early 1900’s, but JGL did not care about the social norm, she cared the girls who joined her organization had the best possible experience, and she knew that would come from powerful female leaders.  

Random Fun Fact! Did you know that the first commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies were made in a Jewish Bakery?  Bonus points if you know what year the first cookies were made commercially!  (If you need a helping hand for your guess, take a look at this article!) 

Juliette Gordon Low was a woman of faith.  She was progressive in her thinking about religion and the relationship it should have in your social engagements, which made her an outcast.  However, her church, the Christ Church of Savannah, was no stranger to being ahead of the times.  The Christ Church was the first Georgian church to have a female ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons.  (To learn more about Susan W. Harrison take a look at the Christ Church of Savannah’s historical timeline!) 

While the Girl Scouts are still a non-denominational organization, and we welcome girls of any and all faiths. Girls are encouraged to recognize that faith can be a driving force for many.  What you put your faith in is where we all differ, and that’s what makes this such a great organization.   

Now, let’s talk about some of the awards girls can earn based on their faith! 

Girls are able to earn multiple different faith based awards.  The official Girl Scout awards include the My Promise, My Faith Pins.  These pins are able to be earned annually from first year Daisys through Graduating Ambassadors.  These pins are earned by choosing a line from the Girl Scout Law and studying how that line corresponds to their faith.  The girls are tasked with researching poems, songs, or stories in their faith that also show the line they’ve chosen from the Law.  They are also tasked with researching inspirational quotes from women and in talking to women within their faith or outside of their faith to discover how they live the line from the law.   

What makes this award unique is that it is not denominational.  Girls of any faith could earn these awards.  In our thirty county foot print we have had girls earn this award in almost every religion.  We currently have a troop finalizing their award in the Hindu Religion!   

Girls can also earn awards specifically focused on their individual religion.  To Serve God awards are created by members of Faith Based organizations who are also Girl scouts.  Girls work with advisors, whether spiritual or Girl Scout, to earn their religious award.  There are more than 29 different denominations with advanced awards offered through the Pray Pub organization in partnership with the Girl Scouts.   

These awards, like all of our awards, are unique to the girls who earn them.  No two projects ever look the same and no two girls ever bring the same experiences to their Girl Scout Experience.   

To learn more about the My Promise, My Faith Pins or the awards offered through the Pray Pub Partnership, check out here, or here, your place of worship, or your Girl Scout Handbook!  


Post by Erica

Site Teams

Since I arrived at GSHPA in the summer of 2019, I have been amazed and humbled by the passion of our members for our four camp properties.   

I quickly got involved with the Camp Furnace Hills site team, hearing their questions and ideas for the future use of the camp, and sat in on phone calls between GSHPA and Supporters of Camp Archbald on a monthly basis, dialoguing about areas of priority focus in maintaining the second oldest Girl Scout camp in the United States. 

My holiday season in 2019 kicked off with the Foxfire Open House at Camp Furnace Hills.  Foxfire House is a Swiss German bank house, built in the 1800’s.  The volunteer led Foxfire Team cooked goodies for the open house, arranged for a string duo to perform in the living room, and conducted tours of the house for attendees.  Foxfire House programming and tours are a gem, and true resource for Girl Scouts to learn about the life of girls long long ago. 

At the Foxfire Open House I met a number of lifetime Girl Scout members who all shared their story of connection with Camp Furnace Hills and now I’ve gotten to know them all well through monthly site team meetings.  This group of volunteers has compiled a detailed excel spreadsheet of projects at Furnace Hills, ranging from repairing fascia, to removing dead trees, and blazing new trails.  Through a network of relationships we’ve now found new vendors for accomplishing work at Camp Furnace Hills and connected troops for Bronze and Silver Awards.   

The Furnace Hills Camping Association and GSHPA are partnering together for an open house on May 16th at camp.  The details are still being finalized but tours of Foxfire House, the chance to practice archery, learn about the history of Camp Furnace Hills, and plant trees are all on the list of possibilities for the afternoon event. 

The second site team I’ve had the delight to get to know, passionately cares for Camp Archbald.  This amazing group of volunteers has shared the history of the beginning of camp, and their personal stories of how camp impacted their life over the years, culminating in the time they’re now bestowing to repair Greenwood and the Caretaker’s House, along with numerous other projects on property.  Beginning in September of 2020, the Archbald site team arranged twice monthly work days, ranging in attendance from 10 to 60!  Their excel spreadsheet of projects, with a tab for every single building on property, is an inspiration for any project manager!  Supporters of Camp Archbald execute a sold out resident camp experience each summer, and planned a yearlong acknowledgement of camp’s 100th anniversary with a celebration scheduled for the weekend of September 18, 2021. 

The paragraphs above cannot begin to describe my awe and respect for the volunteers passionately involved with Camp Furnace Hills and Camp Archbald.  Next, I hope to tap into the passion of volunteers who are connected to Camp Small Valley and Camp Happy Valley, to re-invigorate site teams at those camp properties.  If anyone wants to join the site teams for any of our properties, please reach out to me at leberly@gshpa.org or 717-461-6947. 


Post by Lutricia Eberly

SWAPS

Girl Scouts is an organization with a rich history of traditions. One of my personal favorites is the tradition of exchanging, “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere,” also lovingly known as SWAPS. These “Special Whatchamacallits” have been a part of our Girl Scout history since they first appeared in the 1950s and 60s at national Senior Roundup events. These items are small in nature but serve as the perfect reminders of Girl Scout memories and friends. Typically, SWAPS are small enough to pin to a hat or backpack, and have a tag that shares contact information for the troop or girl that is exchanging the SWAPS.  

In my experience as a young Girl Scout, I most often saw SWAPS exchanges while at summer camp or large events. Nowadays there are ways to send SWAPS nationwide, similar to a pen pal connection. Back in September of 2020, one of our GSHPA volunteers told me of how her troop had spent all summer exchanging SWAPS with troops not only nationwide, but worldwide! After hearing that, she and I agreed that a SWAPS exchange within GSHPA would be a fun way for girls to connect safely during the pandemic, and thus the GSHPA SWAPS Exchange event was born!  

We had 9 Juliettes and 66 troops participate in our first GSHPA SWAPS exchange. Now not only did participants get to connect with troops across our council footprint, they also got to show their creativity in more ways than one! Our girls thought of some very creative SWAPS ideas to fit our winter theme, but they also used their creativity to find a way to make these SWAPS during the pandemic, at a time that in person troop meetings were not allowed. Again and again throughout the pandemic I have been amazed at how well our girls handle the ever-constant change, and adapt to our new virtual way of life. With Zoom meetings happening for school and other extracurricular activities like Girl Scouts, it is so great to see the girls’ creativity continue to shine through! I don’t know about you, but it makes me super proud to be a Girl Scout! 


Post by Colleen Sypien, Volunteer Support Coordinator

Gold Award- Myth vs Fact

Written by Brynne Hall

The Girl Scout Gold Award is something that most Girl Scouts have heard at least once in their time as members, but only a small group end up achieving. It is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve has a girl member. One piece of the Gold Award is to address a root issue in the area of a girl’s choice. The root issue they will tackle could be anything from food insecurity to intergenerational relations to social injustice and everything in-between. The ultimate goal of a Gold Award project is to not only address a root issue, but to also allow girls to build and demonstrate their leadership skills in a positive way so they can continue to be leaders into adulthood.

Sounds pretty amazing right? On top of the benefits already mentioned, Gold Award Girl Scouts can receive special scholarships when pursuing secondary education. And Gold Award Girl Scouts interested in join the military are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade. Additionally, this distinction impresses many potential employers who are looking for individuals with initiative, creative problem solving skills and established leadership abilities.

While there are so many great things about earning your Gold Award as a Girl Scout, there are also many myths and misconceptions about the Gold Award and how to earn it.

So let’s break down a few of those to help our girls and volunteers better understand the world of Gold Award…

Myth: Girls can only earn their Gold Award if they have been a member of Girl Scouts since Daisies (K-1st grade).

Fact: Girls can join Girl Scouts at any time and still earn their Gold Award! We recommend starting your Gold Award in 9th or 10th grade (as a Senior Girl Scout) so you have plenty of time to complete the prerequisites (see next Myth) and your Gold Award project. We are happy to help girls who start later in their Girl Scout journey complete their Gold Award as well.

Myth: Girls have to earn their Bronze and Silver Awards before starting the Gold Award.

Fact: We have two prerequisite paths and girls must choose one of these paths before starting their Gold Award project:

            1. Two Senior or Ambassador-level journeys

            1. One Senior or Ambassador-level journey and Silver Award

Girls are given these options to ensure every Girl Scout can pursue their Gold Award if they way even if they have not received any previous higher awards. The goal of both journeys and the Silver Award is to teach girls the difference between community service and a Take Action project, which is the foundation of a Gold Award project. Girls need to understand how to identify and address a root issue and how to build that into a project, and through completing journeys and/or the Silver Award, they will progress much more easily into the Gold Award project expectations.

Myth: Girls can earn the Gold Award as a troop or group project.

Fact: The Gold Award is an individual award and therefore each Girl Scout must choose their own Gold Award project. While troop members and troop leaders can be a great support and are more than welcome to join a girl’s “Gold Award Team” it is important to note that the Gold Award is an individual award rather than a group project.

Myth: Girls can just choose their parent or troop leader as their Project Advisor

Fact: A Project Advisor should be a “subject matter expert” on the issue or topic being explored in a Gold Award project. We strongly encourage girls to connect with someone in their community to fill this role so they can find someone who can best support them throughout their project. Additionally it give the girls the opportunity to network outside of her immediate family and Girl Scout circle. 

Myth: Girls can raise money for another existing organization that they care about as their Gold Award project.

Fact: No, due to federal IRS regulations GSHPA has to follow as a non-profit organization, our members cannot raise funds for an outside organization. While they can collect physical items to donate (coats, toiletries, animal food, etc.), they cannot solicit monetary donations for an outside organization. The overall goal of the Gold Award is for girls to find creative and unique solutions for their project and show their leadership skills to address a root issue and this goes beyond collecting resources.

Myth: Girls have until their 18th birthday or high school graduation to complete their Gold Award projects.

Fact: Girls have until September 30th of the year they graduate high school to complete their project. Graduation year of 2021? You have until September 30th 2021 to complete your project.

Myth: You do not need prior approval to start your project and only need to submit a Final Report.

Fact: All Gold Award candidates MUST use GoGold for every step of their project, starting by submitting a Gold Award Project Proposal. Once submitted each proposal is reviewed by GSHPA’s Gold Award Management team. The team will then connect with the Gold Award candidate for a short interview to ensure she is set up for success. During this interview the GSHPA Gold Award Management Team will either approve the proposal or share feedback/suggestions needed to add before approval. Once the Gold Award project is formally approved the Girl Scout can begin! After completing her Gold Award project the girl will submit her Gold Award Final Report in GoGold for final review and approval before she is officially named a Gold Award Girl Scout. 

Myth: Girls and families have to be financially responsible for your project’s expenses.

Fact: No, there are many ways to fund your Gold Award project! The GSHPA Fund Development department can help create a plan for each girl pursuing her Gold Award to help her fundraise and find creative fundraising solutions. Girls can also use money earned through the Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs as well as approved additional money earning opportunities (the Gold Award Management team can help guide you on this).

Myth: Since the Gold Award is an individual project, the girl has to do everything alone.

Fact: No! It is important to note that there are many people who are there to support each Girl Scout through her Gold Award journey. While developing a Gold Award project girls will create a team of multiple individuals helping them along the way allowing them to further their leadership skills! The Gold Award team can include family, friends, fellow Girl Scouts, community members, etc. Additionally, the Project Advisor is there to help guide girls through obstacles and issues that may arise during their project. And don’t forget about troop leaders, parents, etc. which will be a Gold Award Girl Scout’s biggest cheerleaders along the way! And last, but not least the GSHPA Gold Award Management team is here to help! We can answer any questions you have, we will coach you throughout your project and can help you strategize if you have to change your project along the way. We will also be here to celebrate with you when you cross the finish line of your project!

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what Gold Award is all about!

Learn more and how to get started here .

And to reach out to the GSHPA Gold Award Management team, please contact mygoldaward@gshpa.org or 800-692-7816.

Fall Traditions: Girl Scout Promise and Law

Girl Scout Traditions provide both girls and adults with a sense of history, connection and belonging. One tradition at the very center of Girl Scouting is following the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law. Both the Girl Scout Promise and Law guide Girl Scouts through the mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  

Reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law can be easily included in most meetings, ceremonies, special events and virtual gatherings. They serve as great ways to check in with the troop about the true meaning of being a Girl Scout. While it is important to help the girls learn the Girl Scout Promise and Law it can also be a fun way to complete a step towards the Girl Scout Way badge as well!  

The Basics 

When saying the Girl Scout Promise you should start by making the Girl Scout Sign. To begin raise three fingers of the right hand then use your thumb to hold down the pinky finger. The three fingers represent the three parts of the promise.  

Girl Scout Promise (Learn and follow along with GSHPA Girl Scouts here)

On my honor, I will try:  
     to serve God* and my country, 
     to help people at all times,  
     and to live by the Girl Scout Law

*members can substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs  

Girl Scout Law (Learn and follow along with GSHPA Girl Scouts here)

   I will do my best to be 
       honest and fair, 
       friendly and helpful, 
       considerate and caring,  
       courageous and strong, and 
      responsible for what I say and do,  
     and to   
      respect myself and others,  
      respect authority, 
     use resources wisely, 
     make the world a better place, and  
     be a sister to every Girl Scout.
  

Here are 3 fun activities you can do to help your girls learn the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law!  

Girl Scout Paper Sign 

Materials: construction paper, GS Promise trefoil cut outs, scissors, tape/glue, pencils, and markers/crayons. 

Directions:  

  1. Each girl will need 1 piece of paper to start. They place their hand flat on the paper then begin tracing their hand with the pencil. Once traced they will want to cut it out.  If easier you can provide your girls with a preprinted/traced hand they can simply cut out instead!  
  1. Then fold/bend the pinky and thumb until they meet in the middle to create the Girl Scout Sign.  
  1. After that have your girls cut out and decorate trefoil cut outs which include the GS Promise.  
  1. Then tape/Glue both the hand and trefoil onto a piece of construction paper. After everything is attached they can also decorate their creation! 
  1. Afterwards have them over the promise individually or together so the girls learn it by heart. 
  1. Try making the hand gesture/symbol with their own hands, now that they see how it’s supposed to look with the paper! 

Girl Scout Law Popsicle Hanger 

Materials: 12 Popsicle Sticks (per girl), ribbon, colored pencils/crayons, a marker, and glue.  

Directions: 

  1. Once each girl has her materials, have her write the Girl Scout Law on the 12 Popsicle sticks with her marker.  
  1. After the writing out the Girl Scout Law, color each stick a different color. 
  1. When the Popsicle sticks are colored you will then glue them onto a piece of ribbon in the order they are said when reciting the Girl Scout Law. If you would like hang up your Girl Scout Law simply make a “U” shape out of the ribbon with the round curve at the top. Then add your Girl Scout Law sticks!  
  1. After the glue has dried encourage your girls to hang/place their creations somewhere at home!   

Girl Scout Law SWAPS  

While this activity will help your girls learn the Girl Scout Law, it also allows them to participate in another longtime Girl Scout Traditions: SWAPS. The term “SWAPS” is short for: a Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere and is an amazing Girl Scout tradition! Each Girl Scout will make their own SWAPS to exchange with other Girl Scouts promoting friendship and connection.  

Materials:  beads, safety pins, string, and a card with the Girl Scout Law (you can make your own or use this). We recommend using the corresponding bead colors included on this print out.  

Directions: 

  1. Each girl will get a copy of the Girl Scout Law, beads, a key ring and string. The girls should begin placing their beads on the string in the order they appear on the card. As they do this, explain each color and its corresponding line of the Girl Scout Law.  
  1. Once all the beads are in place, tie off the string and attach a safety pin to the top of the chain.  
  1. Afterwards encourage girls to hang onto their Girl Scout Law SWAP or try swapping it with other members in the troop!  

Post by Gabby Dietrich