A trip of a Girl Scout Lifetime

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Troop 110 Experiences Costa Rica

Do you remember watching your group of wee little Daisies navigate Girl Scouts their first year? The tiny vests, loving demeanor, imagination as big as the universe? That was Troop 110…12 years ago.

This group of five Girl Scout Ambassadors from Olathe, KS has been together since elementary school. Growing together and becoming girls women of courage, confidence and character. Led by longtime volunteers Chris Hrdy and Marcia Woodard, Troop 110 kicked off their final year of Girl Scouting with a trip that has been 12 years in the making – a nine day adventure throughout Costa Rica.

For Danni Park, Ann Marie Hrdy, Rachel Woodard, Clar Groff and Kimberly Fenton this was the pinnacle of their Girl Scout experience; something that they have been working together to earn for the past 12 years.

Each year they would participate in product sales programs, spending 70% of their proceeds on activities for that year, donating 10% and saving 20% to take a big trip when they were older. In the beginning, they had their sights set on a trip to Disney World (every little girl’s dream), but as they grew, so did their vision for their trip. They next thought about a sightseeing tour of Europe but then realized that they were girls who like to do things and were back to the drawing board. “Were not a sightseeing kind of troop, we’re into activities,” Danni said.

Then, Costa Rica was brought up. A place that Ann Marie’s older sister (and Girl Scout alumnae) had been and loved. The research was done and they made a unanimous decision – they were bound for Costa Rica June 10 – 18, 2016 with EF Tours, Girl Scouts’ leading travel partner!

Those nine days were jam packed with adventure, just what they all wanted. Troop 110 traveled throughout the country of Costa Rica, never staying more than two nights in any town. They went on day and night hikes through the rain forest, traveled up and down volcanoes, visited coffee and cacao plantations, kayaked on Arenal lake, ziplined through the canopies of the rain forest, visited La Fortuna waterfall, swam in the hot springs, experienced all the wildlife, had fresh strawberry shakes in the strawberry fields, went horseback riding in Monteverde, and the list goes on.

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They also totally submerged themselves in the Costa Rican culture. The country’s traditional dish was available to them at nearly every single meal – rice and beans. Most of the places they stayed were small family owned inns; very different from the typical hotel experience that they were accustomed to in the states. This allowed them to get to know the owners personally and really appreciate and truly enjoy the places in which they were staying.

They spent one afternoon at a local elementary school, a one-room schoolhouse in Monte Verde and played soccer with the kids. This school, in particular, relies on assistance from local farmers and donations from individuals to stay operating. Each year they receive less government funding and are trying to provide meals to every student on less than $8 a day. Troop 110 came with supplies and donations to support the efforts of the school.

During their afternoon with the students is when the learned about some of Costa Rican ways of life. “You get a skirt when you’re young and keep that skirt for your entire life. They just add ruffles at the bottom as they grow up so they don’t have to buy another skirt,” Ann Marie explained!

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While all of these adventures and experiences were amazing, their tour guides and leaders put together the ultimate surprise experience for them – an evening with a fellow Costa Rican scout troop. Scouting in Costa Rica is part of the Asociación de Guías y Scouts de and is a co-ed program.  “You don’t say ‘you guys’ to them because there are girls too,” Rachel explained.

They spent the evening sharing their scouting experience with each other; the scouts from Costa Rica speaking in Spanish, Troop 110 in English, with Rachel translating for both groups. One of the many similarities they discovered was their shared love for the infamous s’more.

The Costa Rican troop built a large bonfire and provided the girls with small skewers to roast their marshmallows…they never quite got the hang of the Costa Rican way of roasting the mallow while not roasting their arms as well!

“We’re from different worlds, but the one thing we have in common is our curiosity,” Danni said.

At the conclusion of their time together, they exchanged friendship bracelets, knots and patches and each group sang a closing goodnight song to the other. “I’ve never cried more in my life than I did that night,” Danni said.

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All in all, their experience exceeded their wildest dreams from when they first envisioned taking this trip together when they were wee little Daisies.

“We would have had fun anywhere, but we loved Costa Rica. It was ‘Troop 110-style,’ we went out with a bang,” Danni said!

To round out their final Girl Scout year together, they are doing a series of flashbacks – repeating their favorite activities from the past 12 years of Girl Scouting! This month they hiked around their old campsite at Timberlake and are headed to Build-a-Bear next month! Next year they’re all headed off to different colleges, but have committed to reuniting after they all finish undergrad to do a “Troop 110 Legacy Trip” together.

They credit their tenure in Girl Scouting to their leaders. “100% it has been Miss Chris and Marcia. They have gone out of their way to find things to keep us interested. They cared about what we wanted to do and facilitated those activities for us,” Danni explained.

Troop 110 is the epitome of what Girl Scouting is all about. To hear these girls and their leaders talk about their trip and Girl Scouting experience as a whole will likely bring a tear to your eye.

“I have seen over the past 12 years excited little girls grow into confident women who can express themselves and have become great leaders. Girl Scouts has allowed them to be themselves while trying things they might not have otherwise tried,” Chris said.

A trip like theirs is doable for any troop! You just have to set goals and work your way towards achieving them – in true Girl Scout fashion. Ann Marie encourages all troops to dream of having an experience like theirs. “Work hard because it’s so worth it in the end.”

To learn more about trips coordinated specially for Girl Scouts, visit the EF Tour website.

Tell us the dreams your troop has in the comments below!

 

Giving Back Goes Full Circle

Meet a Special Group of Women from Silvercrest at Deer Creek

 

If you’re a Girl Scout donor, you’re probably familiar with the birthday cards that come, hand addressed, to your mailbox once a year. These cards, signed by Girl Scouts from our council on the inside are addressed on the outside by a group of volunteers at Silvercrest Retirement Community at Deer Creek. The team of four residents, Carol Hollander, Anne Roane, “Dot” Sime and Harriet Copus, and activities coordinator, Diane VanBuskirk, address the cards by hand as part of a monthly service project.

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In January 2016, Diane was looking for a service project the residents. As a strong advocate of residents having a choice of activities, she knew service was something that many wanted to have the option of doing. After trying several organizations that didn’t quite have the right project for the community, she remembered being a Girl Scout leader and reached out to GSKSMO. Virginia Pennington, Administrative Assistant for the Fund Development department knew the birthday card project would be a great fit.

Each month GSKSMO drops off birthday cards already signed by one of many volunteer Girl Scout troops and a list for the ladies at Silvercrest. Sitting together at a table over the course of a few days, the ladies chat and address the cards together. In all, the ladies spend about 7 hours a month each working on the cards – that’s around 35 hours of volunteer time for Girl Scouts between the five of them! The ladies enjoy giving back to the community and having a social activity each month. “We enjoy helping the community because it gives us a feeling of accomplishment,” Carol said.

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While they write they discuss their lives and sometimes are intrigued by last names or places they’re addressing to. “I remember writing ‘Napoleon, Missouri’ and none of us knew where that was! So I got out my atlas and found it,” Dot said.

For Anne, Diane and Dot, their history with Girl Scouts goes back to their childhood or time raising children. Anne was a Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader in the early 1970s and remembers doing unique activities like dissecting frogs. “To be honest, we dissected frogs with the girls because I was leading the Boy Scouts and ordered too many frogs. When I got them in, I thought, ‘well, the girls are going to do it too!’ When we went to dissect them, I think the girls were better. They were more curious. One of the boys wouldn’t even get the knife close to the frog,” said Anne. As a child welfare worker, Anne said “I felt like I worked for the Girl Scouts before I even had daughters. When I would help foster parents I told them to put the foster child in scouting because it was a really good thing.”

From her Girl Scout experience, Dot remembers camping when she was the leader of her daughter’s Brownie troop in Illinois. “[When we were camping] one time, I remember one of the girls turned over a rock and there was a snake under there…I don’t remember if the girls were scared, but I was!” Dot said. Diane also remembers camping with her daughters, Aubrey, Caitlin, Kelsey and Rebecca, who were all Girl Scouts. She was the leader for Caitlin and Kelsey’s troop and volunteered for Aubrey and Rebecca’s troop.

Carol was a Boy Scout Den Leader Coach when she lived in Iowa with her three sons, Bill, Scott and Todd. Bill became and Eagle Scout, but all three were in scouting because her husband and father were Boy Scouts and supported the boys being part of it. As Diane says, “Carol was handpicked for this group, I thought she’d like it.” There’s a definite sense of pride that Carol and all the ladies have for working on a community project.

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The work these women continue to do is invaluable to the Girl Scout organization. By taking the time to hand address envelopes every month, they’re supporting the efforts of Girl Scouts to thank our donors during their birthday, a special time of the year. During the rest of the month the team is busy with personal hobbies and activities. Harriet is a baker who makes Norwegian cuisine that everyone raves about (we are really interested in the cinnamon rolls and lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread she told us about)! Dot enjoys chatting with other residents about their careers and learning interesting stories.

When asked why the like this project, Harriet summed it up very well, saying “I love volunteer work and I like that it helps girls.” This team of ladies truly enjoys just spending time together and helping where they can. The work they’re doing truly makes a difference and they know they’re having a direct impact on girls in their community. We cannot thank them enough for their incredible work!

If you’ve received a hand addressed card from one of these ladies, comment below! We’d love to see how far their impact reaches.

Standing Atop the Medal Podium with Courage, Confidence, and Character

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While everyone knows that Michael Phelps has 28 medals and is the most decorated Olympian of all time, you may not know that our council also has a decorated swimmer in our Girl Scout family. Allison VanHoesen qualified and competed in the Trisomy Games this summer.

We brought you Allison’s very special story back in February while she was still training at the Blue Springs YMCA. For Allison, The Trisomy Games are her Olympics and the competition to be in if you have Down Syndrome.

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Allison, her Coach, Julie and Mother, Kindra all headed to Florence, Italy last month for Allison’s first international competition. Their trip got a bit of a rocky start when one of their domestic flights was cancelled, causing them to miss their connecting flight overseas and the airline subsequently cancelling their return tickets home. You may have seen the story on FOX4.

While blissfully unaware that she was essentially stranded in Italy, Allison swam her heart out.

Just like any other Mom, Kindra just wants to see her daughter have fun. “When we decided to go my hope was that she wouldn’t come in last.  After the first day it was apparent that she has a lot of potential to do very well internationally.”

While winning medals is exciting, Allison is more interested in competing with herself. She is always trying to break her personal records. While at the Trisomy Games, she did just that – breaking her 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke records.

“To see her go compete against other women twice her age (or more) and do well was amazing.  She finished 12th in the world for the 50m backstroke and 13th in the 100m backstroke,” Kindra said.

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Thanks to FOX4 Problem Solvers and Expedia, the three ladies were able to make it back to the states. This was an experience of a lifetime for Allison, Julie and Kindra. A high-stress experience for the adults, but one that Allison blissfully swam through. She is coming home with new personal records, silver and bronze medal and with a new appetite for Italian food – especially gelato.

Now home, Allison has been watching the Olympics just like the rest of the nation, paying special attention to Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin! She’ll start swimming again in September with her eyes on the next world championships in Truro Nova Scotia in July 2018. Allison will have to work to qualify for the Trisomy Games again, but we know that won’t be a problem for her!

 

Leave your congratulatory messages for Allison in the comments below!

 

 

Welcome Back to Girl Scouts!

The Start of Something Great – Girl Scouts 2016-2017

Troop meetings, friends, traditions and sisterhood – everyone is ready for this time of year! It’s the start of a new Girl Scout year and we couldn’t be more excited! Joining Girl Scouts means that the entire family is helping their Girl Scout become a woman of courage, confidence and character. You’re also joining a global movement to make sure girls have a voice and the ability to do anything she wants. From teambuilding in troop meetings, the leadership that develops as girls try new skills to the courage that builds when girls go outdoors, being a Girl Scout is an adventure waiting to happen!

As your troop looks for new Girl Scout sisters and everyone is re-registering, here are 7 things every troop should do to get you excited about the year!

 

  1. Meet at least 10 times per year

Girl Scout troop meetings are one of the best things about the beginning of the new GS year. Girls get to work together on badges, service projects and set goals as a team. Troops like 1552 from Eudora, KS work on projects like their ENERGY STEM project last year, Troop 890 from Overland Park, KS will startup their new troop executive board that runs their meetings and Troop 1945 from Kansas City, MO will likely start planning their next awesome service project or trip! New troop leader? Here are some tips to help get you started. We can’t wait to see what great ideas will spring up as girls get together and work to change the world!

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Girl Scout Troop 1552 says the promise before a troop meeting, spring 2016.

 

  1. Complete at least one activity plan from each skill-building area

Oh the things a Girl Scout can do! Trying new things and doing skill-building activities are at the heart of Girl Scouts. Older Girl Scouts can help younger Girl Scouts pick out the types of skills they want to learn and plan activities. Check out the online Badge Explorer with your Girl Scout to pick some of the badges she’d like to earn.

 

  1. Deliver badges to girls when they earn them

Girls love to showing off everything they’ve accomplished and badges are a great way to do that. Sewing on the patches themselves (or with help if they’re a Daisy or Brownie) can add another skill – sewing! Need badges? Get them at our store! Retiring a vest? Check out our past blog post on creative ways to preserve GS memories.

 

A Daisy Girl Scout shows off all her badges at a World Thinking Day in 2016.

A Daisy Girl Scout shows off all her badges & patches at a World Thinking Day in 2016.

 

  1. Participate in the Cookie Program

The sweet feeling of success! Introducing girls to business and financial literacy skills early on is a great way to help them be in control of their financial future. The Girl Scout Cookie Program gives girls the opportunity to run their own business, raise funds for troop activities and develop public speaking skills. Participation in the program is one of the best ways to get your Girl Scout – and family – involved. 2017 will introduce a BRAND NEW cookie too – read the GSUSA blog post here!

 

  1. Attend or hold a family celebration event

Girl Scouts really is a family affair, so we should celebrate together! Invite families to celebrate the successes of their Girl Scouts together. Many troops say that their troop families are their extended family, so make sure to get to know yours.

Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff proudly poses for a photo with her family at the Inspire a Girl ceremony in April 2016.

Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff proudly poses for a photo with her family at the Inspire a Girl ceremony in April 2016.

 

  1. Participate in at least one summer outdoor experience

When the weather is hot, so are the opportunities to explore the great outdoors through Girl Scouts! Whether your troop loves camping, wants to take on an adventure program, or just ready to cook some s’mores at one of the Council properties, there are so many ways to enjoy the outdoors.

 

  1. Learn Girl Scout Traditions

Speaking of s’mores and camping – Girl Scouts is full of rich traditions that we want every Girl Scout to share in. Ceremonies, the Promise, making SWAPS, eating S’mores and joining in a Friendship Circle are all ways to be part of the rich history that is Girl Scouts. If you’re a new troop leader, you can learn more about ceremonies in the Volunteer Essentials Handbook!

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Girl Scouts from Service Unit 639 show off the SWAPS they got from other Girl Scouts at Day Camp in July 2016.

 

 Want to go the extra mile and be a LEAD Troop? Learn about the Ten Essential Elements of a Girl Scout troop and get the checklist here! This program helps recognize awesome troops who do everything they can to create an amazing experience for girls.

These are just 7 suggested things for Girl Scouts to do – but there’s a whole WORLD of opportunity open to girls. There really is no better time to be a Girl Scout. If you register by 10:59p on Sept. 28, 2016, you’ll be eligible to purchase this year’s ON TIME T-shirt! Already have a registered Girl Scout? Consider donating or joining Daisy’s Circle to help provide other girls with the opportunity to be Girl Scouts or sign-up to be a Girl Scout volunteer! Together, we’re going to have the best year of Girl Scouts EVER!

Comment below with what you’re MOST EXCITED for with the new Girl Scout year!

 

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A Day Camp Season in Review

We saw some outstanding day camps this year led facilitated by dedicated volunteers and led by some seriously creative teen Girl Scouts! Below we bring you some of the highlights from around our council –  from camps that saw rain every day, to ones who utilized outside partners to bring programs to Girl Scouts; camps who took creative photos to those that traveled the world – we saw it all!

 

605 – Camp Tongawood – Parkhill School District

Out-Of-This-World

Houston, we have lift-off! Service unit 605’s space themed day camp was a hit with girls! They made alien snot (glittery slime), created galaxy tshirts, shot off 2-liter bottle rockets with just girl power, made “space rocks” by heating the rocks then coloring on them with crayons that would melt. They also did a spacewalk using buckets and did an astronaut game where they tried to unscrew lids with gloves in a box – like astronauts handling dangerous chemicals.

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611 – Wilderness Camping & Retreat Center – Excelsior Springs, Kearney & Liberty

Made the Most of the Weather

Service unit 611 hosted their day camp at Wilderness Camping and Retreat Center in Lawson, MO for the first time this year! The grounds were perfect for their Olympic themed activities, however the weather was less than ideal – it rained at some point every day of their camp! The girls didn’t let that dampen their spirits though! They played games, made goo, canoed, swam in the pool, cooked over hobo burners, and geocached!

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631 – Camp Tongawood – Shawnee, KS

Awesome Teen Leadership

Teens from service unit 631 have been planning their day camp since September (read their blog story here)!  Well their hard work and planning paid off for their “Once Upon a Girl Scout” themed camp at Camp Tongawood! Girls enjoyed this renaissance theme camp by whittling whistles, zip lining, archery, fishing, building edible campfires (and real ones for Juniors), learning a the closing flag ceremony and doing a science experiment!

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632 – Camp Tongawood – Shawnee Mission

Beat the Heat

When the heat index reached 100+, Girl Scouts in service unit 632 didn’t really notice. They were too busy partaking in all the water activities that were available to them at their day camp at Camp Tongawood! There were stations set up all over camp that girls could beat the heat, run through a sprinkler, a human car wash or have an old fashioned water fight!

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634 – Camp Tongawood – July 2 – Overland Park, KS

Historical Skills

This “Little Camp in the Big Woods” themed day camp had girls in service unity 634 seein gif they could have lived in the pioneer days! They learned to make soap, how to weave, gardened, worked with leather, learned how to square-dance!

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637 – Camp Prairie Schooner – July 9 – Lenexa, KS

Awesome Ambassador Recognition

Service unit 637 was focused on going back in time – to many different decades! Each group had a decade that they decorated a flag in and represented. At this day camp they played GAGA ball, learned acting skills, played water games, rappelled and did a “Skywalker Hike.” The girls also did a service project at camp where they helped stain new wooden tables! This Day Camp gave a special recognition of those graduating in their service unity by decorating signs with their names and placing them throughout camp!

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638/639 – Camp Prairie Schooner – July 14 – Overland Park & Leawood, KS

Best Showcase of a Community Leader

Service unit 638 & 639 was all about the red, white and blue! This Day Camp had a special speech from Mayor Kay Barnes who talked about Girl Scouts, leadership and how important courage is. When asking the girls how many wanted to be president someday, most of the girls raised their hands! This camp had a lot of other great activities like GAGA ball, cooking, star craft making and of course, LOTS of SWAPS!

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645 & 646 – Camp Prairie Schooner – Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Oak Grove, Missouri

Great use of Community Resources

Girls in service unit 645 & 646 enjoyed their Dare to Dream day camp at Camp Prairie Schooner and were led by a group of dedicated teens the entire week! In addition to their traditional camp activities, Girl Scouts got to learn new computer skills on the Blue Springs School District’s W.E.E. Bus!

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649 – Camp Prairie Schooner – Lee’s Summit, MO

Most Delicious

At service unit 649’s day camp themed “Cooking up Some Mystery,” Girl Scouts made traditional and STEM inspired culinary creations. They learned about healthy eating, easy ways to cook healthy treats and munched on organic fruits throughout the camp. The girls cooked over a campfire and did some awesome STEM activities. They even combined a Girl Scout tradition of campfires with STEM exploration of learning what makes fire burn and how to make their own fire starters.

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671 – Camp Tongawood – DeSoto & Shawnee, KS

Most Passport Stamps

Girl Scouts went around the world in ust a few days at service unit 671’s day camp at Camp Tongawood! They made pretzels in Germany, rocket launchers from the Russian Space Station, had a tea party in Great Britain, made masks at the Carnival of Brazil and Churros in Mexico. Oh, and this was all led by teens in the service unit!

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701 – Camp Daisy Hindman – Topeka, KS

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Girl Scouts learned about Japan, Germany, Australia & Brazil at their Olympics/Around the World themed day camp. They had hands-on experiences learning to polka dance, use chopsticks, make a rain stick and wore grass skirts!  For other activities they canoed, did a STEM study of Lake Odonata and did an obstacle course. The day ended with them taking a photo in grouped colors representing the Olympic Rings

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808 – 4-H Groups in Troy, Missouri –– St. Joseph/Wathena/Troy, Missouri

Outstanding use of the Rainbow

The theme of service unit 808’s day camp was color war! They went fishing and did a STEM activity where they made the colors to be used in their color war. They also made color candy necklaces and did an obstacle course where they got covered with colored powder.

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And, these are just a few of our council’s awesome day camps! Share your day camp with us below, and we will add your camp to our calendar next year!

While day camp season is officially over, it’s not too soon to start thinking about Summer 2017! What do you wish for your girl’s summer adventure next year?!

 

History of S’Mores – A Girl Scout Tradition

Today we celebrate National S’mores Day, so we’re sharing a special edition blog post to celebrate a Girl Scout favorite. The ooey, gooey treat so many of us have had over a campfire is more than just yummy – it’s a Girl Scout tradition! Did you know that Girl Scouts are credited with coming up with the recipe for the infamous campfire treat – the s’more? Learn more about this history of this treat and check out three modern variations on the same three classic ingredients that make up a S’more!

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Marshmallows in some fashion have been around since ancient times – with the first form being the sap of a plant called the “marsh mallow” that was used as a sore throat remedy, then in the middleages the roots were candied and used an cough drop. In the 1800s the French turned the sap into something close to the treat we know – whipping it together into a meringue using sugar and egg whites. Sadly, they took so long to make, they were really expensive, so they weren’t considered something to eat by a campfire! By the late 1800s someone replaced the marsh mallow sap with gelatin and we the world saw its first mass produced, affordable marshmallow!

Chocolate also has a rich history. It started as a drink as early as 1900 BC! That’s a LONG TIME AGO! Through history chocolate (or cocoa beans) were used as currency, a religious icon, a sweet drink for royalty and finally a candy for the masses. The chocolate bar as we know it was first produced in 1827. Graham crackers have a more recent history. While they were likely first created in the early 1800s, it wasn’t until the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) decided to add honey to them for the Honey Maid line in 1925 that they became really popular.

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In 1927, the first “Some Mores” recipe appeared in a Girl Scout publication called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. No one seems to know when they became “S’mores” – although they seem to use the name “Some Mores” in Girl Scout publications until 1971. The recipes were usually accompanied with proper campfire etiquette, making sure the girls were being safe. Today, Girl Scouts and families still love making s’mores by the campfire. Talk about a lasting Girl Scout tradition!

*Breaking News* And in 2017, we will combine our rich history for the S’more and our beloved Cookie Program. We will celebrate 100 years of the GS Cookie Program with a brand new cookie – you guessed it, the S’mores cookie will debut this season. We can’t wait!!

But before you can purchase and taste the new cookie, how about trying a variation on the S’more. We’ve included three modern takes that you’ll definitely want to check out. Our only rules – they had to look yummy and had to contain the three original ingredients. Make some of these with your Girl Scouts and be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram (@gsksmo) or Facebook! Comment below with your favorite recipe or s’mores memory.

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3 Modern S’mores Variations Using the Classic Ingredients

 S’Mores “Poptarts” – Made with a puff pastry, cookies & cream chocolate, marshmallows, chocolate sauce and a graham cracker crumble on top – these would make awesome desserts at your next Girl Scout event. This dessert is portable, easy to serve and looks amazing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT9HCRkwJF8

 

S’Mores Waffle – Want this gooey treat at breakfast? Surprise your Girl Scout one morning with her favorite camp treat for breakfast! We love how they incorporated graham crackers right into the batter!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhcG7nRTLx8

 

3 Layer Nutella S’Mores – A giant s’more WITH Nutella and toasted marshmallows? We’re sold. This recipe makes a giant s’more in an 8”x8” pan and uses 3 layers of graham crackers, 2 full chocolate bars, ½ cup of Nutella and a whole lot of mini marshmallows. This recipe sounds absolutely divine and would make an awesome family dessert!

http://theblissfulbalance.com/4-ingredient-oven-baked-nutella-smores/

 

Gold Award to MD

 

A Spotlight on Girl Scour Alumna Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan

When Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan and her family moved to the United States from Australia at the age of 9, she didn’t really know what all was in store for her. Upon their arrival to the states, her mother accepted a job as graphic designer for an organization called Girl Scouts of the Mid-Continent Council and all of a sudden Sanushi was an Australian in America and a Girl Scout, whatever that meant.

Sanushi joined Girl Scouts as a Cadette and her troop consisted of six other girls, led by a very committed volunteer, Jayne Vehlewald. Jayne made sure that her troop did the typical Girl Scout activities like camping and travelling, but one of Sanushi’s fondest memories was their annual Christmas “Bake-Off.”

“For a teenager, we didn’t think that being a Girl Scout was necessarily the ‘coolest’ thing to do, but we never got flack for it and we loved it,” Sanushi said.

As the girls in the troop grew older, Jayne made sure that every girl knew about the Highest Awards and encouraged each one of them to earn her Gold Award. Sanushi was totally on board. For her project, Sanushi collected school supplies and distributed them to students who would otherwise go without.

In addition to earning her Gold Award in 2005, she also received the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year. “I knew I wanted to go to a big name school which meant it would be a lot of money and I wanted to be able to pay for it on my own,” Sansuhi said. “It meant a lot to me, having that be a memory of Beth Winters, I hope that I have done her family proud.”

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Sanushi went to that big name school; the University of Michigan to be exact. While there, she studied cultural anthropology and was a pre-med student. During her freshman year, she continued to stay active in Girl Scouts and served on the Mid-Continent council’s board of directors as a girl member. She was invited back to speak at the 2006 Honors Ceremony which recognized and celebrated that years’ Gold Award recipients and she got to help present Victoria Immethun with the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year.

While moving to new places was something Sansushi was familiar with, it didn’t necessarily make it easy. “I owe the ability to move to a new state and make new friends to character building of Girl Scouts.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2009, Senushi returned to the Kansas City area to further her education at the University of Kansas Medical School keeping all that she had learned as a Girl Scout at the forefront of her mind.

“I was raised to be kind and respectful and sometimes, as woman, that can be take advantage of. Girl Scouts taught me that you can be kind and nice, but that you can also be assertive,” Sanushi explained. “That helps a lot especially when you’re in a male dominated field like I am.”

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Sansushi graduated from KU Med this spring and is now an intern in a residency program in Oklahoma. She is the only female in her class.  “It’s really important to me now to have that sense of self I developed in Girl Scouts!”

We love seeing all the great things that our Gold Award alumnae are accomplishing and learning how Girl Scouts has impacted their lives thus far. If you’re a Highest Award recipient, we want to hear from you – let us know in the comments below!

Goal Setting to Give Kids the World

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Spotlight on Troop 1945

It’s pretty safe to assume that when a Girl Scout sets a goal, she is going to achieve it. It’s even more likely when a troop sets the goal together and works as a team to achieve it. And that’s exactly what Cadette Troop 1945 from Kansas City, MO did.

When troop member Logan Rader went on a mission trip to Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, she left knowing that she wanted to return and knew just who to return with –  her Girl Scout troop. 

And it didn’t take much convincing of her Girl Scout sisters.

Logan, Christina, Lauren and Tehya have been in Troop 1945 since they were Brownies. While others have come and gone, this tribe of four has remained together.

Like any big trip, this was going to cost money so the girls and their leaders made a plan – they would participate in the product sales programs (Candy, Nuts & Magazines and Cookies) and save their troop proceeds every year until they had enough money to pay for the trip. They estimated that it would take them at least three years. They did it in two.

At the end of Cookie season 2015, they realized that they had beaten their goal by a year and that they would be able to take their trip this summer. So in true Girl Scout fashion, they sat down again to plan their trip all out. From where they would stay, how they would travel and what other activities they would do in addition to their service work at Give Kids the World Village. Taking into account that Walt Disney World is only 30 minutes from Give Kids the World; they didn’t have a hard decision to make when it came to choosing their extracurricular activities!

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All in all, Troop 1945 was in Florida for six days, working three at Give Kids the World and having a couple days of fun at the theme park. Their work at Give the Kids the World involved working food and snack stations and interacting with the kids.

“It was amazing to help them just be kids even though we knew they were dealing with so much more,” Logan said.

This troop is an excellent example of what being in a Girl Scout troop is all about. They have identified each other’s strong suits and each bring something different to the group. Christina is an amazing artist and she designed the girls’ shirts for the trip. Logan is the facilitator and helps guide the girls to making decisions. Tehya is the caregiver, making sure everyone is all set and on the same page; and Lauren is the energizer, always keeping everyone in high spirits.

As new Girl Scout Seniors, they still have four more years to set and accomplish more goals together and you better believe that they are dreaming BIG with their goal – like out of the country, BIG!

“Whatever we do, we know we want it to involve a service project” Logan said.

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And if you’re wondering about their plans for the Gold Award projects – they are all in the process of thinking and planning – don’t you worry!

What Troop 1945 did is just one story of how Girl Scouts are leading like a G.I.R.L (Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk-takers and Leaders)™. “Any troop can do this,” troop leader Marian said.

How is your troop leading like a G.I.R.L.? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Harvesting Change

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Spotlight on National Young Women of Distinction Nominee, Blayre Messner

“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” That’s was the philosophy behind Gold Award Recipient, Blayre Messner’s project: “Hometown Harvest: Growing Together.” Working with her community, she created a community garden that provides fresh produce to those in need. The project also earned her one of three GSKSMO nominations for National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD).

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Blayre Messner joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in Albany, MO. Growing up on a farm, she was surrounded by livestock and learned to grow her own food. The Messner family is instilled the love of service in her from the start. “Our family Christmas tradition is to go serve at the hospital on Christmas morning and pack meals for those in need. We do it on Thanksgiving too. Growing up and serving others is what I learned to love and Girl Scouts is the best way to promote that,” Blayre said. Her older sister, Courtney is a Lifetime Girl Scout and her mother is also a Girl Scout Alumna.

Her community has a population of 1,700, so the small town didn’t see many Girl Scouts. While Troop 8724 started with 22, by high school, Blayre was on her own. But that didn’t stop her! She earned her Bronze award by packing backpacks for a program called “Backpack Buddies” and her Silver Award by setting up a day camp for 1st – 5th graders. For her Gold Award, she knew she wanted to get the community involved and saw a lack of fresh produce being available to low income families and the elderly population. “Poverty is a major issue [in my community]. Different organizations provide food stamps or money to purchase food, but what they end up buying is fast, cheap, ready-to-eat meals and I saw that there was a lack of produce in the diet of those in poverty,” Blayre said.

Blayre got to work and established a community garden. While she tilled, seeded, weeded and fertilized the garden to start, she wanted to make sure she was building skills that would last rather than just providing food for one year. “I wasn’t just going to grow it for them and give it to them, because then they’re not learning! So in order to get produce at the end, they had to come in and work,” Blayre said. The community worked together and taught the “lost art of gardening” as Blayre calls it, to a new generation. People also exchanged extra hours of work for those who physically couldn’t work but needed produce (like the elderly population).

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After the harvest, they hosted a community dinner where everyone brought a dish made with food they had learned to grow. The Messner family provided chicken breasts and cous-cous, but otherwise, everything they made was from the garden. It fed over 75 people, a lot for this small town! In all, Blayre’s project provided a 5-10week supply of produce to 40 families, 23 individuals and 2 businesses! JUST IN THE FIRST YEAR! Talk about harvesting change!

Blayre has already encouraged her little sister, Kayce, to build on the “Hometown Harvest” project by building raised gardening beds for her Silver Award project. In the fall, Blayre will head to Columbia, MO to study agricultural business at the University of Missouri with hopes of going into agricultural pharmaceutical sales. With her project going strong again this year, they look forward to a second community dinner in the fall and will add a fall crop rotation this year! Way to go, Girl Scout!

We are proud of Blayre for her achievements and dedication to service. We wish her the very best as Girl Scouts of the USA selects 10 ladies from all the nominees to earn the National Young Women of Distinction honor! Good luck to Blayre, Teresa Shockley and Alyssa Klinzing, the three nominees from GSKSMO!

If you know of an incredible Gold Award story, share in the comments below!

 

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5 Fun Things to do with the Last Weeks of Summer!

Summer is winding down and it’s almost time to start back to school…and to another awesome GS Year! While we are busy getting ready for the start of a new Girl Scout year, we know families want to get the most out of the few weeks we have left of summer. Here are 5 great things to do across our council with those last days of summer break!

Region: East

Event: Madagascar: The Musical

Location: The Coterie Theatre located in Crown Center, Kansas City, MO

Dates/Times: Now – August 7

Tickets/Cost: $12.00 – $17.00 (group discounts available)

Best for: Ages 5+ (humor for the whole family)

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Move it! Move it! Wanting to beat the heat this summer? Take your Girl Scouts to see a world premiere stage musical of a favorite children’s movie: Madagascar! It’s a fun, high energy show that kids may already know, so it’s a wonderful way to introduce young women to theatre. Shows do sell out, so they recommend purchasing tickets in advance online. Taking a whole troop or group of 10+? Call the box office at 816.474.6552 and ask about group pricing.

 

Region: Central

Event: Brain: The Inside Story

Location: The Museum at PrairieFire (5801 W. 135th Street Overland Park, KS 66223)

Dates/Times: Now – September 5

Tickets/Cost: $8.00 – $14.00

Best for: All ages (variety of exhibits to engage all age groups)

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Think about it! Explore the part of the human body that’s more complicated than even the best super computer! The Museum at PrairieFire has a limited time exhibit that’s all about the human brain. From 3D printed models, interactive exhibits, and demonstrations. Explore five ways to look at how the brain functions as it relates to senses (Your Sensing Brain), emotions (Your Emotional Brain), thoughts (Your Thinking Brain), how the brain ages (Your Changing Brain), and how technological advances may change our brains in the future (Your 21st Century Brain). Check website for events, tickets and details!

 

Region: West

Event: The Urban Slide

Location: 4th & S Kansas Ave., Topeka, KS 66603

Dates/Times: July 30 & 31

Tickets/Cost: $15.00 – $21.00 (varies by number of rides)

Best for: Ages 5+

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Grab your fellow Girl Scouts for some real fun in the sun! Summer is all about exhilarating activities and what’s better than sliding down a 1000ft waterslide? One of the world’s longest slip & slides is coming to Topeka, KS for just 2 days. You can get a 3 ride wristband or unlimited wristbands to enjoy the fun for hours. This is a great event for the whole family and talk about a great way to finish off the summer fun. The slide does require an inflatable tube to ride, but you’re welcome to bring your own or buy one at the location ($5 online, $8 at the event).

 

Region: North

Event: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp

Location: Northwest Missouri State University (800 University Dr, Maryville, MO 64468)

Dates/Times: July 30, 31; Aug 5,6,7 & 18

Tickets/Cost: Varies (July 30 & Aug 6 are $5.00)

Best for: All ages

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Support our hometown team, the Kansas City Chiefs and gear up for football season! Join the Chiefs for the First Practice, “American Family” Fun Day and Military Appreciation Events running between July 30 & August 18th! It’s a fun way to grab your favorite Kansas City gear and cheer on this awesome team. Show them just how much you love KC, spend some time with the family and get ready for fall. The event takes place on the campus of Community Partner, Northwest Missouri State University! Check website for event information and be sure to click the “Maps & Directions” button for some really helpful information!

 

Region: East

Event: Jurassic Garden: A Prehistoric Adventure

Location: The Powell Gardens (1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061)

Dates/Times: Now – October 3

Tickets/Cost: $4.00-$10.00 (festival admission may apply on certain days, check website for schedule)

Best for: All ages

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Take your Girl Scout for an adventure millions of years ago! For a short time the whole family can enjoy the beauty of Powell Gardens AND explore the lost world of dinosaurs and prehistoric plant life! You will encounter incredibly realistic dinosaur replicas, designed by Missouri’s Guy Darrough, a well-known fossil collector, fossil preparation expert and illustrator. From his Lost World Studios in Arnold, Mo., Guy creates realistic models of prehistoric animals using fossilized bones and other materials.  The lifelike dinosaurs, large and small, will be placed throughout the Gardens and include a 32-foot T Rex, 30-foot Hypsibema—Missouri’s state dinosaur, and many more!

BONUS TIP: If you love this exhibit and you love butterflies, check out the 2016 Festival of Butterflies (Aug 5-7 & 12-14). Admission price does increase a few dollars per ticket (some as low as a $1 increase), depending on age, but you’re getting two events for almost the price of one!

 

Do you have a summer fun tip? Share in the comments below! Don’t forget, you only have until Sept 28th to register and be eligible for the “On Time” t-shirt! Now is a great time to reregister for another awesome year of Girl Scouts!