Girl Scouting Goes Full Circle

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumna, Katelyn Clark

Like most kindergarteners, Girl Scout Alumna Katelyn Clark had no clue what she was getting into when her mom signed her up for Girl Scouts. What she does remember from being a Girl Scout Daisy is being asked by her troop leader, Kim Harrington, what she wanted to do, what badges she wanted to earn and when she wanted to bring in snacks for the troop.

“I had a phenomenal troop leader. Even at that young age, she ensured a girl-led experience. That inspired me at a young age to be confident and self-led,” Katelyn said.

She also remembers making snow globes out of baby food jars to learn about the different winter holidays celebrated around the world; an activity that would influence her Gold Award project ten years later.

Katelyn as a Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie.

There are many life lessons learned and passions discovered that Katelyn credits to her time as a Girl Scout in the Spirit of Nebraska Council.

In middle school that Katelyn started to realize the opportunities available to her because she was a Girl Scout. At the age of 13 she went on her first destination trip to the Boundary Waters and fell in love with travel. “My mom put me on a little prop plane and I flew up to Ely, MN. I spent a week canoeing and I think that sealed the [Girl Scout] deal! I realized that I loved camping and that at 13 years old I could fly by myself, I could pick up a canoe and carry it over a portage and camp. It was really empowering to meet all these Girl Scouts from all over the United States that had such cool stories” Katelyn explained.

Katelyn during her Girl Scout Destination trip to the Boundary Waters.

Almost immediately upon her return from her Boundary Waters trip, Katelyn started planning her next adventure; she wanted to go to Costa Rica.

To raise funds, she and a Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington planned a lock-in for over 40 Brownies complete with workshop rotations and followed Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints! They even recruited non-Girl Scouts to help with programming! It was so successful that it not only raised the funds they needed to go on their destination, but also inspired their Gold Award projects.

Drawing on that first Girl Scout memory with the snow globes, Katelyn created a half day Holiday Fun Fair for girls to learn about five different winter holidays celebrated around the world. Instead of charging admission to the event attendees were asked to bring an item like diapers, formula, etc. to be donated to KidsTLC, a local nonprofit in Nebraska. At the end of the Fun Fair, Katelyn delivered two car loads of items to KidsTLC!

“To go from a Daisy to earning your Gold Award is so fulfilling. At the time though, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it.”

As she grew through Girl Scouting, Katelyn wasn’t really thinking about the Gold Award. It was her progression through the program when it just kind of happened for her.  “I thought the Gold Award was something I wanted to do for me and thought it was just something you did in Girl Scouts,” she said.

After completing her project, Katelyn recalls receiving her Gold Award congratulatory packet in the mail. It contained letters of support and recognition from community members, elected officials and even the President of the United States and she thought “holy cow, this is a big deal!”

“I was more appreciative of my Gold Award actually after I earned it. It became something I put on my college applications, on resumes.”

Left: Katelyn with troop leader Kim Harrington. Center: Katelyn collecting items for KidsTLC during her Gold Award Project. Right: Katelyn with Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington.

Those college applications and essays earned her admission into Rockhurst University’s international business administration program and Katelyn moved from Nebraska to Kansas City to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree. Girl Scouting was never out of mind though, she returned to Nebraska every summer and worked as a Girl Scout camp counselor.

“Girl Scouts taught me I am who I am. I lived in middle school and high school as my most authentic self for who I was. Girl Scouts taught me that other people can be different as well and that everyone has a story. It also taught me to be compassionate, to look at those around you and see how you can make the world a better place.”

Today, Katelyn’s Girl Scouting experience has come full circle and she has remained in KC working for a senior living marketing company and is a Gold Award advisor and travel volunteer with our council, inspiring and empowering Girl Scouts through her own experiences!

Katelyn on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with GSKSMO Girl Scouts!

Katelyn’s advice to Girl Scouts? “I know it gets hard in that 5th, 6th and 7th grade time frame, but hang in there and look at what you can do as a teen Girl Scout. There are so many opportunities to travel, sit on teen advisory councils, sit down with mentors and business leaders. That’s a unique opportunity you can’t get anywhere but in Girl Scouting in your teen years. Know that while not every badge is the most fun or every Journey the best, look around and at the people you’re meeting. Some of these girls will be lifelong friends. You’ll have a moment that you change your perspective. Maybe you’ll be inspired and it’ll lead to a career. You’ll be surprised at where Girl Scouts will take you!”

You’re a Girl Scout Rock Star, Katelyn! We appreciate all you do for girls in our council!!

Don’t miss out on these upcoming opportunities available to teen Girl Scouts!
The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout Destination trip is Nov. 1, you can take a domestic or international tirp with Girl Scouts from all over the US!
– Want to travel to the Boundary Waters, canoe and camp for a week? We’re taking a council-sponsored trip in July, 2018!
– Thinking about Going Gold?! Learn more about the steps and requirements!

 

Camp Tongawood: A Powerful Place to Empower Today’s G.I.R.L.s

In preparation for our 2017 Alumnae Reunion Weekend and Lifetime Member Picnic (Sept 23 – 24), we’ve been taking a look at the histories and folklore that make our Girl Scout camps so special. At Camp Daisy Hindman we learned about a community that came together to support girls through volunteerism and philanthropy. At Camp Prairie Schooner, we learned how Girl Scout volunteers fought for the camp and proved to everyone that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can do anything. The story of the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni showed us the power of the Girl Scout camping experience and the lasting legacy alumnae leave on camps.  Today, we’ll explore the third camp in our Council – Camp Tongawood – and how it is empowering the G.I.R.L.s of today through unparalleled leadership experiences during those awesome day camps.

Camp Tongawood is a special, outdoor sanctuary in Tonganoxie, KS where girls can zipline, fish and create memories that last a lifetime. In addition to awesome programming on site, Camp Tongawood serves as home to day camps throughout the summer. These camps offer incredible leadership experiences for teens. Most day camps allow teens to have innovative leadership experiences for their younger Girl Scout sisters and the creativity is always inspiring. For some teens, it’s the first time they are taking on a leadership role.

As a Day Camp Teen Leader, older Girl Scouts get to transition into a role of leadership and learn the basics of planning and running a large event. Considering some Day Camps have hundreds of attendees, these are impressive events that Girl Scout teens put on! With the support of their leaders, they plan events, coordinate volunteers and help run the operations. At Camp Tongawood, girls are able to offer fishing, STEM activities, crafts, fire camp bonding, ziplining and a wide variety of other opportunities.

What’s especially beautiful about Camp Tongawood is the wide variety of multifunction spaces (both inside and outside) that allow girls to come up with unique experiences in the outdoors. Have a space-themed Day Camp? Girl Scouts planned a slime STEM activity that helped younger Girl Scout learn about mixing ingredients to create something gooey! Ready to take a leap? Day Camps are able to offer ziplining that help build confidence for girls.

In a world where girls are getting less and less time outdoors, Day Camps often offer Girl Scouts a chance to just be girls in the outdoors. As Alumnae, Elizabeth Bourquin (aka “Weebles”) said, “I think it’s really important for girls, especially in society right now, to learn outdoor stuff because we are becoming an indoor society. Girls have to know they can do whatever they want – it’s not man’s world anymore, it’s a woman’s world.” Day Camps help girls push their limits in ways that being indoors just simply doesn’t allow.

Camp Tongawood has also been home to some really amazing STEM experiences. From stargazing to geocaching, girls have had the chance to explore this property using science. Where else are there outdoor places completely dedicated to empowering G.I.R.L.s except for Girl Scout camps? We can’t think of any!

Thank you to all the alumnae, volunteers, teens and staff that have made Camp Tongawood an extra special place for today’s girl. Your dedication to Girl Scout programming make Day Camp leadership experiences possible for teen girls. If you’ve had a Day Camp at Tongawood, we’d love to hear your camp experiences in the comments below! Share with us how this property inspired your own G.I.R.L.s (or your own experience).

Don’t forget to join us Sept 23 – 24 for our GSKSMO Alumnae Reunion Weekend and Lifetime Member Picnic! Registration is now closed, but contact VirginiaPennington@gsksmo.org to see if any spots are still available. Visit www.gsksmo.org/reunion for more information.

 

Using the NEW Volunteer Toolkit

By now you’ve probably heard of the new Volunteer Toolkit – also known as the VTK! As back to troop season is here, we want to make sure you know about some of the awesome features of this new digital planning tool that will make your Girl Scout year a total success!

The Volunteer Toolkit is a new digital planning tool that gives volunteers resources and program content to get the year started—and keep it going smoothly! Fully customizable, the toolkit is digitally responsive so volunteers can plan and prepare practically anywhere (yes, from your mobile device too)!

Girls have more fun when they can shape their own experience, do hands-on activities, and work together as teams. With the new toolkit, girls and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together, and follow the fun as they plan their Girl Scout year!

Here are some highlights of the Volunteer Toolkit!

Year Plan Options – When you log in for the first time as a Daisy, Brownie or Junior troop leader, you will see year plan options for you and your troop that includes badges and journeys. They’re prepopulated in system and you can pick the one that your troop wants to do! But don’t feel like you’re confined to that year plan, they’re totally customizable and moveable. You can also mix different badges in with your Journey work, just click on the Year Plan Library tab.

 

Setting Troop Meeting Times & Locations – You can configure the date time and meeting locations for the year. You will also be able to see national holidays and schedule your meetings around those you choose. For meeting locations, each meeting can be customized, so if you’re participating in one of our Community Partner Programs, you can customize the address for that meeting.

 

Meeting Plan Overview – After you’ve selected your meetings from the Year Plan Library, you can click on Meeting Plan and see all the details for each meeting. Under the Planning Materials section are three resources for leading a successful meeting! The Meeting Overview is a high-level look at that meeting, the Activity Plan has the meeting activities planned out, including duration time for each activity. Lastly, the Material List is like your shopping list. It has all of the items you’ll need for the meeting that week.

 

Communicate with Caregivers – Through VTK, you can communicate and remind caregivers about upcoming Girl Scout meetings and activities! As girls register and join your troop, their contact information is saved in your My Troop tab. Then, each meeting you have the option to email out a reminder and information about that week’s meeting to all caregivers.

Resources Search Tab – The Resources Search tab lets you search for a robust search engine that lets you search for VTK content like meeting aids, meeting overviews and additional supporting materials and info you’ll need as a troop leader. You can add these materials to any meeting of your choice to supplement your planning for that meeting!

Have you been utilizing the VTK?! Let us know some of your favorite features in the comments below!

 

 

Built by G.I.R.L.s for G.I.R.L.s: A Look Inside the “Magical” Camp Prairie Schooner

Frolicking with the Prairie Fairy and adventures out in Farmer’s Field – those are experiences that Girl Scouts who call Camp Prairie Schooner home are very familiar with. For more than 70 years, Girl Scouts have taken pride and ownership in this beautiful camp located near the Little Blue River in Kansas City, MO. It’s also the location of our upcoming Alumnae Reunion Weekend, Lifetime Member Picnic and Trefoil Society Pinning Ceremony on Sept 23 – 24! Today we’ll take a look how this camp came to be and the women whose tenacity made it a reality.

Camp Prairie Schooner patch (left); Flag ceremony and patches (center) and early sign (right).

In the early 1940s, the Independence Council of Girl Scouts decided they wanted a camp for Kansas City Girl Scouts. A leader in that initiative was Mrs. Dewitt, who was active in the community and knew about a war time fund that had unallocated money. During World War II, the War Chest fund had been active in raising funds and by 1945, the remaining money was in limbo, ready to be reorganized.

Mrs. Dewitt, advocating for girls, approached the War Chest Board about the funds before they reorganized and the leadership wasn’t sure if they could trust ladies to establish and run a camp. As we know, G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can do anything, and the Girl Scout Council knew they could achieve their goal, even if the Board doubted them.

The Council found the land where Camp Prairie Schooner currently sits and decided it was an ideal location. With a train stop just a short hike away, wooded areas and space for camp, they advocated for the funds. Despite pushback from the War Chest Board, Mrs. Dewitt was a hard woman to say “no” to and the Board sent the Jackson County Planning Commission to look at the land and make a recommendation. They had planned to use this as a stalling technique, hoping the women would give up before getting the funds.

Jerry Manning was sent to inspect the site and as he visited, he met the team behind the camp plan. It included community leaders and strong women who knew this would be a success. He realized this was a project backed by serious people wanting to create a better world for girls, not a whim that ladies had. He made the recommendation that the War Chest

Camp Prairie Schooner staff from 1988 (left) and approx. late 1970s (right).

funds should be given to Girl Scouts, and they were. After they acquired the land, the Council asked Mr. Manning to become the Camp Chairman, which started many years of service he gave to Girl Scouts, including serving as President of the Pioneer Trails Council!

Cookie money and funds from the War Chest paid the $4,000 for 127 acres of land that is now Camp Prairie Schooner. Still having reservations about the project, the War Chest Board held the title to Camp Prairie Schooner until the Council proved the camp was successful. After the installation of a pool and successful management of the property, they realized that these G.I.R.L.s meant business and the title was officially given to Girl Scouts.

Camp Prairie Schooner philanthropy! Girl Scouts from SU 638 & 639 built a Gaga Pit in 2015 (left) and Burns & McDonnell host annual work days at camp (right).

Today, Camp Prairie Schooner stands as a living testament to the power of G.I.R.L.s who wanted to make the world better for young women. We thank those early pioneers for their vision and tenacity that brought that camp to life as well as the current day donors who add to camp each year! Businesses, donors, and girls have added new facilities and games to camp, creating more opportunities and adventures (read our blog post about girl donated projects). Thank you!

We invite you to join us at Camp Prairie Schooner for our Alumnae Reunion! Registration closes SOON, so register today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion! See you at camp!

A New Home for the Oakledge Ish-Ki-Ti-Ni

The most recognizable symbol from Camp Oakledge was the totem pole (or “Ish-ki-ti-ni” for more recent Girl Scouts) that stood near the dining hall. Its image was on badges and shirts, serving as a friendly face for campers. When Camp Oakledge was decommissioned, the Ish-ki-ti-ni was moved to Camp Prairie Schooner. Now renamed the “Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni,” the rebuilt totem pole will be rededicated during the Alumnae Reunion and Picnic on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner. We wanted to share the story of this symbol of camp history and celebrate its new life!

The name Ish-ki-ti-ni comes from a Native American mythology of the owl. While the whole totem pole has come to be known as the “Ish-ki-ti-ni,” it is started as the name of the owl that symbolically sits at the top of the totem. According to Oakledge camp legend, you can sometimes see Ish-ki-ti-ni flying over camp at night, watching over Girl Scouts.

Below the Ish-ki-ti-ni are symbols – the Girl Scout Trefoil, the frog, the turtle, the butterfly and the gnomies (pronounced “ga-no-me” for this totem). Each represents a part of the camping experience.

 

For alumnae and younger Girl Scouts alike, the Ish-ki-ti-ni serves as an important part of childhood. “In 2013, we pretended it was a time traveling machine. We wrote a song and we would hold onto it while singing it and it would take us to different summers. Kind of like a ride down memory lane. The song went: ‘Ishkitini Ishkitini take us way back when / Show us all the memories that you hold within,’” Girl Scout camper, Olivia (AKA Puffy) said.

Marley Parsons (AKA Ferris), resident camp director and alumna, feels the Ish-ki-ti-ni is a symbol of her Girl Scouting life. “The Ish-ki-ti-ni was a huge representation of my childhood. From whispering in the Green Gnomie’s ear to help find lost times, to peeping in the hole in the back to try to see the Red Gnomie, it was all part of my camping experience,” Ferris said.

Since the Ish-ki-ti-ni is made of wood, it needs to be remade about every 10-15 years, meaning a new group of Girl Scouts gets to give new life to the totem. Currently, the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni is being rebuilt for the 2017 Alumnae Reunion, retaining as much of the original as possible.

“In 2004, the totem pole I grew up with fell into disrepair. While I was heartbroken that we had to build a new one, I loved that Bean and Beaner had us write wishes on the back of the new feathers [on the owl at the top]. It made it really special. Part of me was now a part of the Ish-ki-ti-ni. It makes me really happy to know that I am also here now, in 2017, helping rebuild it for another generation of campers,” Ferris said. She’s also part of the rebuilding team that’s preserving the memories of the totem.

In the process of being rebuilt, the Ish-ki-ti-ni is also finding a new home at Camp Prairie Schooner. “I’m happy it is being rededicated to Prairie Schooner because, for me, that’s where it all started. My very first camp was Schooner. So because the journey to camping at Oakledge started [at Camp Prairie Schooner] for me, it’s giving me a sense of closure,” Puffy said.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner where we will rededicate the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni at Camp Prairie Schooner and create a time capsule with it! Registration closes on September 8th, so get registered today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion.

 

Total Solar Eclipse of the Girl Scout Heart

August 21, 2017 the date of the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 99 years. It was hyped up to be a natural phenomenon, one that had everyone preparing and planning for the day well in advance of the actual eclipse. According to four of our Girl Scouts who experienced totality while on a Girl Scout destination, it far exceeded the hype!

Girl Scout Cadettes Ashleigh Beabout from Gardner KS and Belle Reed from Blue Springs made the trip to Total Eclipse of the Heartland in Carbondale, IL for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ five day destination. They stayed at council property but ventured into St. Louis, MO for some unique learning opportunities then watched the eclipse on the football field at Southern Illinois University.

Left: Belle waiting to see the shadowbands on the white tarp. Center: Ashleigh with her Girl Scout sisters and NASA staff. Right: Ashleigh waiting to see the shadowbands on the tarp.

The second destination location was in Columbia, MO with Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland (GSMH). Katie Blankenship from Gardner, KS and Emilie Sula-Goff from Lee’s Summit spent 3 days learning about astronomy, touring the University of Missouri and experiencing total solar eclipse at GSMH’s Silver Meadows Program Center with their families!

All four girls were extremely interested in astronomy going into their destination. Katie has talked with an astronaut in outer space and Emilie is fascinated with supernovas! But, an eclipse was something entirely new to them since there had yet to be one in the United States during their lifetime.

“I didn’t know what to expect because nobody here has experienced it before,” Ashleigh said.

This natural phenomena united adults and children, scientists and educators and the entire country. It was an experience that can truly be once in a lifetime. For Emilie her eclipse destination reunited her with her Girl Scout sister Alexandria who lives in California, where Emilie is originally from.

They had been waiting for the time when they were old enough and could agree on a location and apply together. The Great Eclipse Adventure with GSHM was the perfect fit for these astronomy and mythology loving Girl Scouts.

“It was so neat that they got to go on this destination together; then I got to bring their brothers and experience the actual eclipse with them.” Emilie’s mother, Erin said.

Left: Emilie (far right) with Alexandria and other Girl Scout sisters. Center: Katie & Becky Blankenship. Right: Emilie, Alexandria and their brothers during the eclipse.

While the total eclipse itself was only about 2 minutes, it left a lasting impression on each of them.

“I felt very lucky that I got to experience this at age 11 when other people don’t get to experience their entire life,” Belle said.

There are so many environmental factors that play into a person actually being able to see a total solar eclipse, which is why they’re considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, while it’s been 99 years since the United States saw a total solar eclipse, it’ll only be 7 more years until we experience it again and these Girl Scouts are already thinking about where and how they’ll see it…when most of them are seniors in High School.

Girl Scouts of the USA is rolling out their destination programs for the 2017-2018 year. To have an experience like Katie, Emilie, Ashleigh and Belle, check out the GSUSA Destination page. The first deadline to apply is in November!

Camp Daisy Hindman: G.I.R.L.- Built

Summer is coming to a close and we are taking a look back at the histories and stories that make up the camping experience at GSKSMO to gear up for our 2017 alumnae reunion (Sept 23 – 24, 2017). Today, we’re looking at the early history and community support that brought Camp Daisy Hindman to life. As with Girl Scouting today, the story of Camp Daisy Hindman is truly one of community, girl support, female leadership and a dedication to empowering girls.

1925 – The Search Begins

Daisy Hindman is elected Girl Scout Commissioner of Topeka with her main focus on finding a camp property for area Girl Scouts. The Council trampled across a lot of land whenever they got a lead on a potential campsite until they found their future camp property.

Left: Girl Scouts outside a cabin at Camp Daisy in 1929; Center: Daisy Hindman; Right: Helen Zimmerman, director of Camp Kee-Wah-Kee in 1926 conferring with Daisy Hindman.

 

1929 – Camp Comes to Life

20 acres for camp were leased to Girl Scouts by Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Ross. The couple lived across the road and provided support to the mission. When word got out that a Girl Scout camp was being built, the community came together to make it a reality. Cabins were sponsored by donors, tradesmen donated time and skills, local companies and clubs donated materials, all in an effort to build the best facilities for girls. Girl Scouts hosted a marionette show that raised $2,000 and sold cookies for four years fund construction. In 1929, the first year camp sessions were held, with the camp unfinished. In fact, some cabins were completed the night before girls arrived. At the time, the camp was known as “Dover Camp” or “Established Camp.”

FUN FACT: L.G. Ehols, a local carpenter whose wife was on the Council, organized local tradesmen & carpenters to donate time to the project as a community project. The Council members cooked meals for the workers so they could go straight from work on Friday to working on camp.

1930 – Camp Officially Opens

10 more acres were acquired and camp officially opened in 1930. At the time, it had four cabins, a partially constructed lodge, hospital, office, outdoor kitchen and shower house. The units original were named Juliette Low, Ipesi (now Sleepy Hollow), Trails End (original end of the property) and Peter Pan.

1934 – Camp Gets Its Name

When Daisy Hindman relinquished office (with the debt for camp paid off and camp being considered one of the excellent Girl Scout camps in the country), Mrs. J R Borrow took office. The Council voted unanimously to officially name the camp “Camp Daisy Hindman” in honor of the former Commissioner.

Left: Girl Scouts at Camp Daisy dining hall (1940s); Right: News clippings describing girls leaving for camp (1934) and fundraising efforts for camp (1962), Troop leaders gathering firewood (photo courtesy of Velma “Fae” Dinkle).

 

 1930 – 1948 – Camp Expands and The War

Between 1930 – 1943, an additional 70 acres of land were added, making it 100 acres total. Over the years campers got to experience an International Camp (1936), horses on property and scholarships for girls in need. The 114th cavalry provided horses in 1938 and in 1940, horses from the Mott Riding Academy in Lawrence came to camp for the summer. During the war years of 1944 – 1948, no camp was held due to a gas shortage that made it too difficult to get girls to camp. In 1948, Girl Scouts sold over 20,000 boxes of cookies to make repairs to camp that allowed it to serve girls once again in 1949.

1949 to Today – Honoring Daisy Hindman and G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM

In the late 1950s, the song “Camp Daisy Hindman” was composed by Martha Adams, a camp director, and it is still in use today. In July 1962, the staff celebrated the 50th birthday of Girl Scouting and Daisy Hindman returned to camp. The campers were honored by her presence and celebrated this leader who made their camp a reality.

FUN FACT: Donors Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Springer said of their gift: “Our contribution was wholly unsolicited, but we have to many starry eyed little cookie sellers in our neighborhood, it was a matter of enlarging our pantry or sending a contribution.”

Left: Girl Scout with a horse (1970s/80s); Center: 2017 Girl Scout camp staff; Right: Campers in the pool at Camp Daisy (1970s/80s).

 

 

Today, Camp Daisy Hindman is a home to more than 2,000 Girl Scouts each year for a variety of camping opportunities. Girls can experience archery, geocaching, canoeing, kayaking and summer camp, thanks to the tireless efforts of donors and alumnae who continue to support the camp. Camp Daisy Hindman continues to offer a place for  G.I.R.L.s to grow  thanks to the hard work of Daisy Hindman, the Council and the community that came together to build this camp.

Thank you to the leaders who made our camp properties a reality, the donors who continue to fund improvements, the alumnae who keep history alive and the G.I.R.L.s who give life to the campsite each year. Camp Daisy Hindman truly is a special place.

We hope you’ll join us for the 2017 alumnae reunion to share camp stories, celebrate our Lifetime members, participate in adventure programming and rededicate Neal Lodge and the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni! Registration closes September 8, so register today at https://www.gsksmo.org/reunion!

6 Activities for the Total Eclipse of the Heartland

Tomorrow, Monday, August 21st, a rare event will occur where the moon will pass between the Earth and Sun, creating a solar eclipse! What’s even better? Our council, NE Kansas and NW Missouri, has a few places where we’re in the path of totality, so we get some of the best views in the country! We want to give Girl Scouts some fun to learn how the solar system works and use STEM skills to learn about a real time natural event.

Note of caution: Looking directly at the Sun, at any time, is extremely dangerous for your eyes and the effects aren’t immediate, they often take a few hours for you to realize there’s been damage. Here’s a great video to help you know what’s safe and what’s not. The safest way to view the eclipse would be on TV. If you are opting for an in-person viewing, make sure you have eclipse viewing glasses (here’s an approved list of vendors with safe glasses from the American Astronomical Society). Also, don’t wear glasses, and use unfiltered binoculars, because according to the AAS, without filters on the binoculars themselves, your glasses can melt since the rays are more concentrated. You can also read some great safety tips for viewing on NASA’s eclipse website.

…Now that we’re all safe, let’s look at some fun STEM activities to do during the eclipse mania!

  1. What is a solar eclipse? Learning ahead of the eclipse

Take this opportunity to help Girl Scouts learn about the solar system and what exactly a solar eclipse is! We found some great, short videos for Girl Scouts to check out to learn about this eclipse and why it’s so special:

  1. Decorate your solar glasses

Many glasses already have some solar decoration on them, but Girl Scouts can be very creative! If your Girl Scouts have glasses, they can decorate them after the eclipse with what they saw! It’s a great way to keep a memory of the event.

NASA glasses decoration gallery and hashtag

  1. Make a Pin-Hole Camera

Can’t find solar eclipse glasses? Make your own pin hole camera in just a few minutes that will keep your eyes safe during the viewing. It’s a great activity for Girl Scouts who like hands-on activities.

How to Make a Pin Hole Camera

Bill Nye & the National Park Service Video on Creating a Pin Hole Camera

  1. Visit St. Joseph, MO!

Visit Girl Scout sisters (or if you live in St. Joe, invite Girl Scout sisters from other cities) to come view the eclipse! Since St. Joseph, MO is in the path of totality, it’s one of the few places in the world you can get the best view of the eclipse.

Information on the Eclipse in St. Joseph, MO

  1. Solar Eclipse Paper Plate Activity (for Daisy & Brownie Girl Scouts)

Let younger Girl Scouts decorate their own solar eclipse. This activity will help girls understand how the moon is blocking the light of the sun in a fun art project!

Total Eclipse Paper Plates

  1. Become a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer!

Bill Nye’s Planetary Society and the National Park Service have teamed up to create some great resources for kids all about the solar eclipse! You can either call a national park if you have one nearby to see if they have any booklets, or print your own book! It’s packed with activities and information! There’s also a 4 part video series featuring Bill Nye about the event.

Junior Ranger Eclipse Explore Book & Videos

These are just a few suggestions on ways to learn about STEM and get excited about the Great American Solar Eclipse! What did your troop do to celebrate? Post photos and comments below!

50 years of serving G.I.R.L.s!

Girl Scout volunteers are at the core of a great Girl Scouting experience. For three generations of Girl Scouts in the Sommers family, one woman has been at the center of it all, Velma Sommers. This amazing volunteer has been serving the mission for more than 50 years and was the troop leader for her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. In addition to leading troops, Velma has served in almost every major volunteer role and propelled the mission of Girl Scouting to new heights by lending experience and wisdom to today’s girls.

In 1967 Velma Sommers found herself as a new volunteer with Girl Scouts. She took the lead of her daughter’s troop and found a love of serving. After holding a long list of Girl Scouting volunteer positions, it’s no wonder that she holds both the Thanks Badge 1 & 2, along with several other recognitions for her service. All this because she believes in the power of girls!

“I enjoy being a troop leader because of the girls. It’s my biggest love about volunteering – getting to work with the girls and seeing them grow,” Velma said.

Left: Velma presenting the Silver Award with one of her Girl Scouts; Right: Velma and her troop at a flag ceremony at Camp Meadowlark.

One of her biggest projects has been working on Day Camps and all that goes in to coordinating those events. Despite not being a big fan of the outdoors and camping, something happens when Girl Scouts are involved and Velma is able to find courage in herself to face fears for the girls. Inspiring the younger generation empowers her just as it does the girls!

“The truth is, I’m not an outdoors person, but you put me out there, with the girls, and you’d think I knew it all! I’m terribly afraid of snakes, but when the girls are there and we see a snake, I’m able to be calm and we talk about it…but if I was by myself, it’d be a different story,” Velma said.

 

Velma being recognized for 50 years of service at the North Region Volunteer Appreciation event  (2017); Right: Velma being honored with a spot at Camp Meadowlark named “Grandma’s Grove” in her honor.

One of the most meaningful projects she did with her Girl Scouts was creating stepping stones for their local camp; Camp Meadowlark. They used molds, mortar and Velma had her kitchen covered in a tarp while the girls worked. It’s a fond memory of the mess they made and the beautiful, lasting additions to camp that came out of that experience. It is memories like this that make Girl Scouting such a sweet part of Velma’s life.

“Girls get to do things that they would never get to do if it wasn’t for us getting them involved in Girl Scouting. Think about camp, [for girls from lower income communities], getting to go to camp is an experience they might never get if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts,” Velma said. Being able to provide these opportunities has been an extra special part of serving for this devoted volunteer.

The skills girls learn in Girl Scouting truly last a lifetime. Velma helped her granddaughter’s troop with a part of the Silver Award that had the girls create a quilt block. While the girls struggled a bit, they loved the project and felt pride in their blocks. That Christmas, her granddaughter asked for a sewing machine, which she received. Fast forward a few decades and Velma’s granddaughter, Brandi, now a Gold Award recipient, gave Velma a quilt she had made of all the Day Camp shirts she had as a gift. Talk about coming full circle!

Giving back to girls truly does last a lifetime and for Velma, those moments where girls reconnect help her see the impact that troop leaders have. “Some of the girls in my troops still ask me for references, and it makes you feel good. It makes you realize that you really did have an impact on their lives,” Velma said. Through years of Girl Scouting, she knows that a great troop leaders and volunteers in any job make the Girl Scouting experience what it is. You can change the world by inspiring a girl.

“I just wish I could live to be 150 so I could go on and on being a Girl Scout volunteer,” Velma said.

Thank you to Velma and all our incredible volunteers for years of hard work and service to girls. You are helping create a better tomorrow! If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Girl Scouting volunteer like Velma, check out our volunteer opportunities!

 

National S’mores Day: New Twists on a Classic

New twists on a classic. We’re sharing 5 exciting recipes with a new ingredient or two that really spice up the traditional s’more recipe. While the core ingredients of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate remain the same, we wanted to give you some ways to make this traditional treat.

…and speaking of a twist on an original…we have an exciting announcement! The delicious S’more Girl Scout cookie is OFFICIALLY RETURNING FOR 2018!! That’s right! You’ll be able to enjoy this popular new cookie all over again during the 2018 Cookie Season!

 

Grilled S’more Banana Packets

Who’s made bananas with chocolate over a campfire while camping with Girl Scouts? Well, you’ll love this one then! Just take a banana, slice down the middle, fill with marshmallows and chocolate, wrap in foil and after 10 minutes in the fire, you’ve got a great dessert. Once it’s cooled enough, unwrap the foil, top with graham crackers and enjoy. Full recipe here!

Image and recipe from Neighborfoodblog.com

S’more Hot Chocolate

In the winter, sometimes you just want something warm in a mug. Make up your favorite hot chocolate then top with a layer of toasted marshmallows (they have some tips for how to do this), drizzle chocolate and graham crackers on the top. Yum.

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

 

“The Elvis S’more”

Put on your blue suede shoes and try out this salty and sweet combination! The addition of bananas, Reese’s peanut butter cups and bacon makes this sound like a treat that’ll make you dance the night away.

Image and recipe from TheKitchn.com

 

Mason Jar S’more Cakes

Need something you can distribute easily but packs a punch? Check out these delicious S’more Cakes served in a mason jar. A graham cracker crust layered with chocolate cake and marshmallow topping – WOW! It’s a perfect nod to summer and the toasted marshmallows on top have that ooey-gooeyness of camp. We suggest putting a piece of chocolate as a garnish on the top.

Image and recipe from HowSweetEats.com

 

S’more Cheesecake

Slice and servable option for s’mores! With a graham cracker crust, chocolate and topped with marshmallows, the addition of cheesecake is simply brilliant. Make ahead for your next event!

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

BONUS RECIPES

For Girl Scouts and families with dietary restrictions, we have some cool twists for you too! While many of the treats above can be made with substitutions (like specialty graham crackers, etc), we wanted to highlight a few options that offer more flexibility.

Gluten-Free S’mores Krispie Treats

Substitute gluten-free rice krispies for the tradition graham cracker and whip up some s’mores krispie treats! You can find the full recipe here.

Image and recipe from DishingDelish.com

Gluten-Free S’more Parfaits

A make-ahead dessert that’s gluten-free?! Yes! Check out this parfait that’s even better when prepared a day ahead. The recipe includes everything you’ll need, including a recipe to make a gluten-free cookie (or use your favorite type).

Image and recipe from GlutenFreeOnAShoeString.com

How creative can you get, Girl Scouts? Let us know what s’mores concoctions you’ve created by commenting below! We’d love to hear what you’ve made and if you’ve tried any of these recipes. Don’t forget, you can also get to thinking about all the great ways to use the S’more Girl Scout cookie – returning for the 2018 Cookie Program!