Leadership in the Andes

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Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is no stranger to travel. As a freshman in high school, her passport already dons more stamps than many grown adults. This summer, she added Peru to that stamp collection when she traveled with Girl Scout destinations on a Leadership in the Andes trip!

For 12 days, Amanda was fully immersed in the Peruvian culture with 15 other Girl Scouts from all over the United States.

The leadership skill building aspect of this trip is what really caught her attention – and the fact that it was in the mountains of a foreign country. “I knew I wanted to do another destination [after Space Camp last year]. I wanted to expand my boundaries and further myself,” Amanda explained. “I thought this would be a cool experience; you’re out of the county and you have to lead yourself and other girls!”

And what a cool experience Amanda had.

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Her and the group toured cathedrals, an alpaca farm, salt mines, Sacred Valley, volunteered at an orphanage and visited Machu Picchu; but, the bulk of the trip was a four-day, 20 mile backpacking trek through the Andes Mountains.

To prepare herself for the physical aspects of her destination, Amanda speed hiked with 15 lbs. in her backpack in her neighborhood every day. Her mom, Terri jokes that the neighbors started to wonder if she was practicing running away!

Amanda and the group hiked the Lares Trek, a more difficult path than the famous Inca trail. Each girl was responsible for carrying a day pack that held items they wanted immediately available to them, while over 20 llamas carried all their camping gear! They camped at various sites each night and had guides that would setup the campsites and cook dinner for the group. “We had a lot of freedom to search and explore,” Amanda said. Over the course of four days, they climbed from 9,000 feet to over 15,000 and even got a clear view of the Milky Way one night.

“It was hard work but it was so worth it!” Amanda said.

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A lot of the leadership development for the Girl Scouts happened during the trek. “I learned that while that I’m a very rough and tough person, that I’m not really that rough and tough,” Amanda explained. “I have limits and I have to accept that. It’s hard to be able to ask for help and say that you need a break, when you think you’re putting your pride on the line but you have to see your limits, accept them and love yourself for who you are.”

The pinnacle of the trip for Amanda was her visit to Machu Picchu. The group spent nearly six hours touring the ancient ruins and soaking up every bit of information the guides gave them.  One of the things they learned was that unfortunately Machu Picchu won’t last forever. First, because its sits on a fault line and second because of all the foot traffic. While there is some regulation of visitors, they’re not always followed or enforced.

Amanda was particularly fascinated with the tourism industry in Peru and had the opportunity to speak Spanish and converse with older girls at the orphanage they visited about it.

“The positive is that tourism improves their economy, the negative is that they’re losing some of their culture because of the tourism,” Amanda said.

Their guides taught them about sustainable tourism and what to look for in items they were purchasing. She learned how to tell the difference between foreign items and those which were locally sourced and produced in Peru. Amanda made it her mission to only purchase these sustainable items and came home with sweaters, socks, ponchos and more for her family!

She even bought every girl on the trip a friendship bracelet and wrote them a letter at the end of the trip. “I had a personal bond with every single girl in the group, even the leaders; I thought that was so cool.”

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Amanda’s experience in Peru expanded her horizons and she realized that a major part of being a leader has to do with being true to yourself. “The leadership development they did with us was a lot more on the emotional side of things and how you feel.  You have to love yourself to ultimately lead others.”

Is your Girl Scout interested in an experience like Amanda’s? The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout destination trip is Nov. 15! Domestic trips begin at the Junior level and international travel opportunities are available to Girl Scout Cadettes and older – find out more!

Living United – United Way of Atichson’s Terry Knopke

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Every year Girl Scout councils receive funding from generous donors and organizations. Among these is the United Way – an organization that pools financial resources within communities and distributes it to areas of need. All the funds given to United Way stay local. Leading the Atchison Area United Way is Terry Knopke, a Girl Scout Alumna, a driven fundraiser and woman dedicated to service as a way of life.

Terry Knopke is the only full time employee at the United Way of Atchison and works tirelessly to support the organizations that benefit from the funds within the community. The United Way not only supports Girl Scout troops in Atchison, but other organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, KS Legal Service, and YMCA. In all, they support 19 deserving organizations and are committed to providing equal funding for children of both genders. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts always get the same amount of money from us to ensure equal opportunities,” Terry said.

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While Terry is the only staff member, she has the support a Board of Directors. Because of their support, her efforts don’t fall on deaf ears. “I have a wonderful Board of Directors […] We try to have board members from different areas because when they invite me into the board rooms…I know that when I leave…if the bosses are part of it, they’ll talk about it and say ‘this is something we need to support,’” Terry said. It’s a small community where the Board makes a real difference.

That small town feeling of community that keeps the Board dedicated, along with the beautiful, historic homes, was what drew Terry to Atichson in 1999. She even has her own piece of history – a “painted lady” home from 1883 with a special room she created with kennels for feral cats in recovery.

As someone passionate about helping animals, Terry helps with the local humane society. Her love for service is infectious, with her daughter saying it changed her perspective on life. “My daughter told me ‘Mom, I wanted to thank you for teaching me to love animals, it changed the way I look at everything.’ It  made me feel good, but I also thought ‘this is something we need to keep passing on,’” Terry said.

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Left: Terry collecting donations for the humane society, Center: Girl Scout troop 8021 building feral cat houses, Right: Terry and volunteers gathering donations.

Animal care is where Terry sees some of the impact that United Way funding makes for Girl Scouts first hand. “We have a list we hand out for the humane society, collecting money and donations, and Girl Scouts helps me with that. It’s a win-win-win, United Way has a directive to help the Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts help me and we give to the Humane Society,” Terry said.

Jolleen Graf, leader for Troop 8347 sees the impact of the United Way and Girl Scouts every day. “[The United Way and Girl Scouts] help develop future leaders […] It helps break the stereotype of ‘… like a girl’ is a negative thing. We embrace ‘Hit Like a Girl, Fight Like a Girl, Throw Like a Girl,’ but we want that to be a compliment, not an insult,” Jolleen said.

Terry loves that Girl Scouts is included in the United Way family because of the support it gives to girls, like her daughter (a woman in STEM and GS Alumna) and shows them that it’s okay to be themselves. “Girl Scouts, which I love, is trying to teach young girls to get out there and that they can do anything,” Terry said.

We appreciate the great work that Terry and the other staff members of United Ways that support our Council do each day to support girls. Without the support of organizations like the United Way, we couldn’t continue to offer the great programs that change the lives of girls. Click here for full list of the United Ways that benefit Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri or click here to find the United Way near you!

Kicking off the Year with Money in the Bank

September, one of our favorite months of the year! It’s when Girl Scouts are reconvening, new troops are forming and girls are making big plans for what they want their Girl Scout year to look like!  Most of those big plans also come with a price tag, that’s why troops participate in the fall product sales program, Candy, Nuts and Magazine!

fb-cnm2016With the Candy, Nuts and Magazine program, you don’t have to wait for cookie season to get here for your troop to start earning money or your girl to earn funds to help cover the cost of your big Girl Scout plans.

Here are the 3 ways to put money in the bank with your program participation:

  1. Camping Credit:

For every $500 in sales your troop has a whole, you will receive 10% of that in camping credit to be used at any of our council properties! For example, if your troop sells $1,000 worth of items, they will receive $100 to use towards renting a permatent, a-frame or building starting Nov. 1, 2016!

  1. Troop Proceeds:

Troops receive proceeds for every item sold! For every candy or nut item the troop receives $1, for each magazine subscription/renewal you earn $2 and for all photo keepsake item sold, the troop earns $2.50!

  1. Fall Funds and/or Recognitions:

Similar to the Cookie Program, girls can earn recognition items and/or Fall FUNds! Recognition items start at just 2 magazine/photo items sold and each level is cumulative so the sky is the limit on what girls can earn!

In 2015, Daisy Troop 3468 sold $3,238 in the Candy, Nuts and Magazine Program! This earned them $300 worth of camping credits and $403.50 in troop proceeds; that’s over $700 they had to pay for activities throughout the year! For troop leader Dr. Becky Bruce, this was a welcomed influx of funds.

Her troop used their camping credit to camp, not once but twice and then used their troop proceeds to cover the cost of food at those campouts and for a winter party at Skate City!  “If we hadn’t participated in the Candy, Nuts and Magazine Program last year we would likely not have been able to have a winter party and would have had to wait until we received cookie proceeds before we could have a camp out. Since we had the proceeds from these two fundraisers we haven’t had to charge the girls for anything at all this year!”

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For Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship, participating in the program helped her and three of her Girl Scout sisters in Troop 773 travel with GSKSMO to Savannah, GA – the birthplace of Girl Scouting! These Girl Scouts used their Fall FUNds they individually received as well as their troop proceeds!

“In heading towards Savannah, GA this past summer, we were looking at a huge amount of money to raise to take four girls and three adults,” troop leader Becky Blankenship explained. “Having the fall funds meant a little less that we had to worry about, it was truly a help!”

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So what will your troop do with all that they earn this year? Will they take multiple campouts like Troop 3468 or go on a council-sponsored trip like Troop 773? Maybe they’ll use your troop proceeds to try a new adventure program or cover their new level materials from the shop!

Whatever it is you want to do, don’t delay in participating! Orders should be submitted to troop leaders by Oct. 12 and turned into the service unit product sales manager by Oct. 14. Products will be delivered to service units and troops the week of Nov. 9.

5 Inspiring Women to be for Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, we’re sure that your Girl Scout has already started thinking about what she wants to dress up as! Well, we’re here to give you some additional ideas to throw into the mix – because your girl is one of courage, confidence, and character and she needs you to make sure that she knows all her options to show those characteristics on Halloween, and EVERY day of the year!

If she’s thinking about being a zoologist…

goodall_38Jane Goodall

In 1960, Jane Goodall set out to study the chimpanzee community in Tanzania. When Jane was only in her 20s, she was doing research that many scientists didn’t think was possible and doing it without a formal college education. Her major finding was that chimpanzees are capable of rational thought and emotions like humans. Today Jane is 82 and still fighting and standing up for the primates that she has grown and taught others to love.

“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves” – Jane Goodall.

 

If she’s thinking about being an artist…

“Frida on White Bench,” photograph by Nickolas Muray, 1939. Submitted image

Frida Kahlo

One of the most famous Mexican painters, Frida Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits. She was a brave woman who was met with many health challenges, always painting her way through them and using art to bring her joy and tell her story. More than 50 years later, her paintings continue to inspire and inform.

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.” – Frida Kahlo

 

If she’s thinking about being a race car driver…

danicaDanica Patrick

Danica has been a professional race car driver since 2005 when she was just 23 years old. She is the most successful woman in the history of open-wheel racing and is the only woman to win an IndyCar Series Race. Today Danica competes in NASCAR races. You have a chance to meet and talk to Danica on Oct. 15 at Girl Scout Day at Kansas Speedway!

“Find what you enjoy – whether it’s racing, flying a helicopter, being a doctor, or stitching clothes together. Once you’ve done that, you have the passion you need.” –Danica Patrick

 

If she’s thinking about being a ballerina…

270082_245837052095786_4866735_n-1Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland is one of the most revered dancers of her generation. She started taking ballet classes at the Boys and Girls Club she attended when she was 13. Her teacher at the club noticed that Misty was a natural when it came to performing choreographed movement and dancing en pointe after minimal training. In 2015 she became the first African-American woman appointed principal with the American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States.

“The path to your success is not as fixed and inflexible as you think.” –Misty Copeland

 

If she’s thinking about being a princess/queen…

07_30_2012_queen-elizabeth-larping1Queen Elizabeth I

When she assumed the throne in 1558, she was only 25 years old and unmarried which was very uncommon at that time. Her coming to rule is a fascinating story. Queen Elizabeth spoke 5 languages when few women were even taught to read and led a nation when men were considered superior. Her reign is known as the “Golden Age,” a time that saw the birth of Shakespeare, the defeat of the Spanish Armada and England’s emergence as a world power.

“A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing.” –Queen Elizabeth I

 

Looking for more great costume ideas? Check out A Mighty Girl’s Girl Empowerment Halloween Costume Guide!

An Out-of-This-World Girl Scout Experience

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Girl Scout Katie Blankenship communicates with the International Space Station

Did you know that we have more than 100 Community Partners who have programs available to Girl Scouts of all ages?! Some Community Partner programs tie into Journeys while others help you complete steps in various badge work. Then, there are programs that are just unique, fun and give girls an experience of a lifetime, like Katie Blankenship.

While Becky Blankenship was perusing the Community Partner Program webpage for activities for her troop, she came across the Lawrence Public Library page and saw an opportunity that she couldn’t ignore – the chance to talk directly with an astronaut living on the International Space Station!

While it didn’t work out for other members of her troop to participate, it did for her daughter Katie.

Katie is a fourth generation Girl Scout and is willing to try anything out, as long as Becky talks with her about it before signing her up – you know, like any other teenager! Even though Katie isn’t particularly fascinated with space, she agreed that this was a unique opportunity!

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On Sept. 7, the International Space Station was mapped and scheduled to be flying over the Lawrence Public Library, putting it within communication range for approximately 10 minutes. The Library partnered with the Douglas County Amateur Radio Club to make this event possible – using hand radios to talk with the International Space Station – how cool is that?!

Katie was just one of the teens, and only Girl Scout, who actually got to talk to astronaut Takuya Onishi and asked over the hand radio, “how do you deal with mental health issues in space?”

Onishi’s response, “astronauts are very good at coping with stress and we can talk with psychiatrists every other week, so I think we are OK!”

The whole experience was pretty quick. About 7 minutes later the space station had traveled over the horizon and was no longer within communication range.

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Click the image above and start at 58:47 to see Katie’s communication with Onishi!

Even though Katie wasn’t particularly interested in space coming into this, she left with a desire to find out more. “I’m interested in learning what it takes to be an astronaut and what kind of schooling they have to do,” she said.

We are so lucky and proud to partner with organizations all around our council that provide experiences to Girl Scouts that peak their interest and get them interested in things they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise!

So what Community Partner Programs will you register your Girl Scout or troop for? Will she take the stage at one of our Arts & Culture partners, learn the science behind sports at the Arrowhead Take-Over, give back to her community volunteering with nonprofit or just have fun attending the Tour of Gymnastic Champions or the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus?! Let us know in the comments below!

Education for ALL Starts with ONE

A CHAT with Nobel Prize Recipient, Malala Yousafzai

When Malala Yousafzai came to Kansas City in July, she delivered a CHAT of a lifetime to our Girl Scouts in the audience. As the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and activist for human rights and female education, Malala inspired us all that night at the Chat Series 2.0.

If you’re not familiar with Malala’s story, take the time to learn more about her, she’ll inspire you too.

From the age of 10, Malala was advocating for girls’ right to education in Pakistan when the Taliban was banning them from attending school. At the age 12, while traveling home from school, Malala was shot by the Taliban. She was transported to Birmingham, United Kingdom where she received treatment and made a remarkable recovery. Just a year later she was able to return to school in the UK and has been speaking out on behalf of girls and children everywhere for worldwide access to education.

To say her resume is impressive is an understatement. It includes multiple Nobel Prizes, Anne Frank Award for Courage, Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice, 2012 Person of the Year shortlist, Clinton Global Citizen Award, 2013 Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year, Honorary Doctor of Civil Law at King’s College and the list goes on – about 43 awards and accolades in the past four years, roughly.

Malala was also the subject of the documentary He Named Me Malala and the author of “I Am Malala.” Both of which also had their fair share of recognitions and awards.

During her address at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on July 19, Malala spoke eloquently and candidly. The beauty of the series in which she spokes is that the audience has the opportunity to ask questions on the spot.

One Girl Scout got up and very bravely and simply asked “does anything still scare you?” Malala’s response – “balloons… and dogs.”

Malala’s casual demeanor impressed Girl Scout Ambassador Ann Marie Hrdy. “She doesn’t get very nervous to talk to world leaders, but at the same time she is afraid of smaller things!”

For a young woman who has experienced so much in her relatively short life, she is courageous. She isn’t afraid of encountering these things again; she’s a person who has simple fears, just like the rest of us!

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Thanks to a generous offer from our friends at Hallmark, Girl Scout Cadette Natalie Martinez got to participate in a youth-only roundtable prior to the Chat and actually meet Malala!

“Having the opportunity to meet Malala was a once of a life time experience. Meting her was exciting and fun, and I learned that no gender is superior.” Natalie explained. “What inspired me about Malala was that she stood up for what she believed in – no girls left behind. We all have the right to go to school.”

Malala had so many inspirational quotes that really resonated with girls and adults alike that evening.

“I raise up my voice not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

“I did not wait for anyone, I said my voice matters.”

“Education is a right, not a privilege.”

“Even death supported my campaign and told me to go back to living.”

“If I am young, that doesn’t mean my voice should be ignored; If I am a woman, that doesn’t mean my voice should be ignored.”

“Politicians ask me if I get nervous. I think they should be nervous.”

“We are all going to work together to make this world the best we can.”

“We share feelings as humans– this is something that connects us. We need to appreciate all we can give each other.”

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We were so honored to be a sponsor for this event and bring more than 30 Girl Scouts to this once-in-a-lifetime evening! Let us know which of the above quotes stands out to you in the comments below. Have you seen her documentary or read her book? What inspires YOU about Malala Yousafzai?

 

 

 

 

 

6 Reasons Girl Scouts Volunteers ROCK!

We all work together to make the world a place for girls to thrive. Because of Girl Scouts, girls are learning to be leaders, learning business skills and developing self confidence that will carry them through life. But without the dedicated volunteers who create these experiences, girls would not be able to have the awesome Girl Scout experience that changes lives. From August to October GSKSMO is holding 4 regional events to celebrate and recognize our adult volunteers. The Central Region event was held at the end of August and a wonderful time saying THANK YOU for all our Central Region volunteers do (check out photos here)! We hope you join us at the regional events for the North, West and East regions – RSVP today!

While there are thousands of reasons to love our volunteers, here’s six reasons we think Girl Scout volunteers ROCK!!

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Central region volunteer, Nikki Medlock, with her four troops from Fort Leavenworth.

  1. They dedicate their time and resources to girls.

Girl Scout volunteers are incredibly resourceful and that often comes with hours of planning, crafting, organizing and/or coordinating to make experiences happen for girls. Our council is constantly working to bring exciting programs and community partner events to girls, but leaders, parents and volunteers make those experiences come to life. Whether it’s a dad driving a carpool to the Swan Lake at Kauffman Center or a mom taking the lead on a nature hike, volunteers make it happen.

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Central region volunteer, Tori Hirner, a founding member of Daisy’s Circle, with co-leader and troop.

  1. They provide financial gifts in addition to time and energy.

Without volunteer donors, Girl Scouts would not be able to offer innovative programs and experiences that girls need to thrive. Thanks to generous donors and members of Daisy’s Circle, our council is able to keep up with the changing needs of girls and give them the support they need to excel. Donors also make the dream of Girl Scouting a reality for girls all over our council with financial barriers that would otherwise prevent them from being a Girl Scout. That’s thousands of lives changed because of volunteers who give.

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West region volunteer, Joy Wilcock, with her high school Girl Scouts.

  1. They’re fun!

Girl Scouts are happy because they’re surrounded by caring volunteers who make the experience fun. Whether it’s travelling together, visiting Day Camp, learning a new STEM skill or attending a theatrical performance together, volunteers who have fun make girls smile. When an adult cares, girls care about their future. For the millions of smiles and giggles – thank you, volunteers!

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West region volunteer, Yolanda Huggins, with Girl Scouts in St. Louis, MO.

  1. They’re innovative!

Some of the best ideas come from volunteers. As a group that works directly with girls, volunteers see things that improve the experience for girls and speak up! We appreciate the suggestions, focus groups and teams volunteers join to improve the overall Girl Scout experience and keep ideas fresh for girls.

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North region volunteer, Rob Barnett, with his troop in St. Joseph.

  1. They’re Man Enough to be a Girl Scout

Girls need positive male role models and we’re happy to see more men declaring that they’re “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout.” From troop leaders to cookie dads, these male volunteers show girls that men are invested in their future. Thanks to all the guys who step up for the Girl Scouts in their lives.

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East region volunteer, Christina Roth, out on the water.

  1. They’re dedicated.

There’s nothing like a Girl Scout volunteer who sees the power of the program and spreads the word about the amazing things girls are doing. Girl Scout volunteers wear shirts like badges of honor, find ways to incorporate trefoils in everything and wear more green than anyone else! Their excitement is infectious and inspires new volunteers to help the next Daisy troop with their first cookie sale or a Gold Award Girl Scout with her project. Thank you for the dedication you show to girls.

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who make the Girl Scout experience what it is. Because of you girls are learning to love STEM, being inspired by a ballet performance, experiencing nature and taking the lead in their own lives. Thank you for all you do!

Don’t miss our remaining regional events:

West Region – Saturday, Sept 10 – Capitol Plaza Hotel, Topeka, KS

North Region – Saturday, Oct 1 – First Baptist Church, Chillicothe, MO

East Region – Thursday, Oct 6 – Hilton Garden Inn, Independence, MO

 

How Cookies Got Weebles to Camp

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Spotlighting GS Alumna Elizabeth Bourquin

Girl Scout cookies – delicious and full of tradition. What many people don’t realize is the lifetime skills (goal setting, money management, decision making, people skills and business ethics) instilled in girls. One Girl Scout shows just how far cookie sales can take you with hard work and goals. Meet Elizabeth Bourquin, or “Weebles” if you met her at camp, from Topeka, KS. This Girl Scout alumna used her brains and business skills to have experiences that otherwise would have been out of reach.

As a 1st grader, Elizabeth begged her mother, Dora Lee, to let her and her sister become Girl Scouts. “None of the parents wanted to be the leader, but I begged the hardest, so my mom did,” Elizabeth said. As a single mom, leading Troop 428 wasn’t always easy, but it was important to her because of the experience it provided. “[My mom] grew up on a farm and didn’t get many experiences outside of school and farming. She wanted me and my sister to have experiences she didn’t get,” Elizabeth said.

Throughout their Girl Scout years, Troop 428 did “Try It” badges and community program events. As they got older, they set their eyes on a bigger adventure – travel. Enter the Cookie Program. As younger girls, they began planning trips and budgeting. To use their resources wisely, the troop planned trips to Kansas City, Leavenworth and the Kansas City Zoo and budgeted to stay at camps rather than hotels.

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With a goal in mind, the girls worked hard and raised funds through cookie sales to travel to Nebraska, Mall of America, Chicago and a big trip in high school to California (San Diego Zoo), Arizona (Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Four Corners), Oklahoma and Colorado (camped in Garden of the Gods). In addition, they funded smaller troop activities and projects. They sent a teddy bear to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City as part of a multi-council program and found creative ways to get the most out of their troop experience (their bear came back home with special patches and awards).

The troop’s annual cookie booth in Goodyear’s parking lot became a popular spot in Topeka. More than a decade later, people still ask Goodyear when Girl Scouts will be selling cookies there. “One year radio V100 did a live broadcast from our booth and I did a sales pitch. A car salesman came by and said when I turned 16 he wanted to offer me a job,” Elizabeth said. What a way to show her leadership skills!

Dora wanted the girls to take full advantage of the business skills they could learn from the Cookie Program, so she insisted they learn by doing. “It was important to my mom that we were able to manage money, do the math and get customers all by ourselves. She was there and watched, but she wanted us to learn,” said Elizabeth. They had to make connections in the community and work as many booth opportunities as possible. When it was freezing and other troops stayed home, Elizabeth had personal goals that kept her selling even when it was hard.

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Beyond troop trips, Elizabeth’s personal goals of getting to camp and travel motivated her to go above and beyond. And by beyond we mean 3,700+ boxes of individual sales in one year! Some days she would be the only girl working the booth for hours before and after everyone else would take a shift. This dedication paid off. A former cookie funds program at Camp Daisy Hindman earned her an average of 1.5-2 weeks per year at camp because of her sales. This turned into a passion and Elizabeth became “Weebles,” a camp counselor at Camp Daisy from 2007-2009. At camp she wanted to give younger girls the same experiences she had at the camp she calls her second home.

In 2006 cookie funds took her even farther. By selling over 3,700 boxes of cookies she was able to go on two Wider Opportunities to a Kentucky horse ranch and to Boundary Waters in Minnesota. One year she travelled to a horse ranch and learned even more about the power of hard work. “There was work with the fun, which I find really important for girls to learn. If you work hard, you achieve great things. That’s what I took out of Girl Scouts doing the hard work to sell cookies so I could do fun trips,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth is now a manager at Payless at a young age, a testament to her business skills. She also has a cosmetology degree, showcasing that blend of creativity and business sense that she developed as a Girl Scout. As a passionate Alumna, Elizabeth participates in camp reunions and plans to begin volunteering. For her, Girl Scouts is more important than ever for girls to be in. “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,” Elizabeth said.

Thank you to Elizabeth for proving that with hard work, anything is possible. Your story is an inspiration! If you knew Weebles at camp or want to share a story, comment below!

 

Golfing for Girl Scouts

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GEHA generously supports GSKSMO with proceeds from annual golf tournament

There are many companies and individuals who make awesome leadership opportunities possible for our Girl Scouts. We are appreciative of their generosity and commitment to girls! Today, we are honored to be a part of a special opportunity that involves 18 holes and some incredible men and women.

GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc.), the second-largest national health plan and the second-largest national dental plan serving federal employees, federal retirees and their families has chosen GSKSMO as their 2016 golf tournament beneficiary. GEHA is the 6th largest private company in the Kansas City area with more than 1,300 employees and a strong commitment to its community.

For several years now, GEHA has held a golf tournament as a relationship-building opportunity with their vendors and way to raise funds for their selected charity. This year, GEHA generously chose Girl Scouts and what a great fit. GEHA’s CEO Julie Browne is an incredible role model for girls. She started with the organization 25 years ago as a market analyst before making her way through the ranks to CEO last April.

In addition to Browne, who is also a mom to a Girl Scout, GEHA has several Girl Scout volunteers and parents on staff. These staff members include GSKSMO Board Member Sherry Gibbs and Lead Senior Attorney and GS mom Belinda Thompson.

Belinda is mom to Girl Scout Daisy Carolina, a member of Troop 1992 in Lee’s Summit, MO, and also to two boys. She knows first-hand the power of Girl Scouts and how its leadership programming is benefiting her daughter.

“Girl Scouts is a great foundation. It gives my daughter an opportunity to try new things and grow her life skills,” Belinda said.

For the Thompson family, Girl Scouts is a family affair. Belinda knew that her daughter would be a Girl Scout after hearing all the great things from her sister-in-law Andrea who is a troop leader in Lee’s Summit.

GS Daisy Troop 1992 at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center participating in a Monarch Butterfly class.

GS Daisy Troop 1992 at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center participating in a Monarch Butterfly class.

Belinda is also a fantastic role model for her daughter and other girls. Before coming to GEHA this past February, she spent 12 years in private practice. Law firms traditionally don’t have a high number of female partners. Typically, three to four out of the 16 to 17 partners are female. There is also a great deal of turn –over among the female attorneys. Belinda has found a great home at GEHA and feels her voice is heard as their business continues to grow.

“I love that GEHA chose Girl Scouts this year with our golf tournament proceeds, and I look forward to the impact this gift will have on future opportunities for my daughter and other Girl Scouts,” Belinda said.

Golfers tee off for the GEHA Golf Tournament at noon. Some of our Girl Scouts will be onsite as golfers come off the course. Thank you to Troops 3090, 3114 and 3144 from Kansas City, MO and Jolly Patro from Olathe, KS. Jolly will share her Girl Scout story during the closing dinner. And during this dinner, we will be presented the check from the tournament.

Thank you to all of the incredible employees at GEHA for selecting GSKSMO and putting such hard work into today’s golf tournament! Watch our Facebook page later tonight for photos from the day and the big announcement.

Share your appreciation with GEHA in the comments below.

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!