The Perfect Girl Scout Destination

Spotlight on Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.

Imagine having a passion for the arts, a love of the outdoors a desire to travel and then being presented with the opportunity to go on a Girl Scout destination called “Ohio: The Arts Connection.” Seems pretty fitting, right? It surely was for Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.!

Natalie is a violinist, a ballerina, a musical theatre actress, enjoys going to art museums (especially the Nelson-Atkins) and absolutely loves getting outdoors with Girl Scouts. When she was just 10 years old, she went to her first sleep away camp at Camp Tall Chief in Oklahoma and learned that she wasn’t afraid to travel by herself and make new friends. So when she learned about this destination trip, she knew she wanted to go!

For eight days and seven nights, Natalie was immersed in the arts and culture realm in and around Cleveland, Ohio. The destination was in partnership with Girl Scouts of Northeastern Ohio and Natalie, along with 17 other Girl Scouts, stayed in cabins at a local Girl Scout camp.

Every day was a little different. All in all, they visited the Cleveland Art Museum and took an art class, saw Oklahoma (which just so happens to be Natalie’s favorite musical) and took a dance class where they mixed able dancers with those in wheelchairs and got to experience what it was like to dance in a wheelchair. They also took a trolley tour of Cleveland, learning about the murals that dominate the city.

“I really liked going to see Oklahoma in person and I thought that was a really cool experience to see that right there, up close!”

The camp they stayed at was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Natalie was able to earn the Girl Scout Ranger patch from the National Park service by doing service project within the park! She also got to zipline, canoe and hike throughout the park where she learned that she prefers to be the first if she’s doing something new so she can face her fears and conquer them first!

While the entire trip was memorable for Natalie, July 23 was her favorite day of the trip because that’s the day she turned 13 and was celebrated by her fellow Girl Scout sisters and they explored the Cleveland sign!

“This destination made me want to travel more and go on different trips,” Natalie said!

Natalie’s mother, Lauren,  also saw a transformation in Natalie when she returned.

“It really took a lot of bravery and courage to do it but she went and she had a lot of fun. She came home, seemed older, more mature, more independent I just think in general it was good experience for her,” Lauren said.

Natalie is now planning her 2019 summer adventures and has her sights set on our excursion to the American Southwest where Girl Scout Cadettes and older will road trip, camp and visit at least 5 National Parks!

Are you interested in a Girl Scout destination? The next application deadline is February 15!

Blending Art and Science in a STEAM career

A Check-In with Girl Scout Alum Allison Jones

If you’ve been to a show at the Kansas City Zoo, odds are you’ve seen Girl Scout Alum and Lifetime member, Allison Jones!  This show stopping Girl Scout has found a way to blend performance art with science. Working both as a professional actress and as an Education Instructor at the Kansas City Zoo, Allison has found a way to incorporate two worlds in her career.

Allison started Girl Scouts as a Girl Scout Daisy in St. Louis, MO and moved to Lee’s Summit, MO in 2nd grade where she joined Troop 1609. “When we moved to Kansas City, my Girl Scout experience shifted to being very service oriented,” Allison said. As part of this focus on service, she earned her Silver Award by leading a Toys for Tots collection drive.

Growing up in Girl Scouts, Allison learned a diverse set of skills, including how to use her voice and the magic of science. It started with a normal Girl Scout activity – being at camp. “I played outside as a kid, but there was something different about Girl Scout camp. Being around the woods and animals and water and mysterious things in the dirt was so inspiring for me,” Allison said. She went on to become a counselor, helping other girls learn about nature and science.

Alison at camp; Allison with former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez; Allison with animals at the zoo.

The other Girl Scout activity that inspired a love of science was a program called “INVENTure University” where Girl Scouts were challenged to invent something. “The program lasted a week and we stayed at Rockhurst University in the dorms. We had a week to invent, build and present something. My invention was a peanut butter jar you could open from both ends,” Allison said.

While Girl Scouts helped develop her love of science, it was a family trip to Sea World where Allison saw trainers working with animals and knew that’s what she wanted to do. From there, she went to the Alabama A&M University to study Biology. While there, she got back to her Girl Scout roots by helping lead a local troop during her junior year of college.

Since graduating, Allison has been working at the Kansas City Zoo and proudly representing what it means to be a Girl Scout! In the past few years, she also started her acting career and has been cast in professional shows around KC, including lead roles in Once On This Island with Spinning Tree Theatre and My Fair Lady with Girl Scout Community Partner, Musical Theatre Heritage. She’s currently performing in the Quartet in A Christmas Carol with the Kansas City Reparatory Theatre.

Allison Jones in…A Christmas Carol at the KC Rep; …Sister Act at the Barn Players; …Once On This Island as Ti Moune at Spinning Tree & My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle at Musical Theatre Heritage.

When presenting for the Kansas City Zoo, Allison sees the biggest crossover of arts skills in science. “Every animal has a story, so it’s fun when you can make their story animated and fun for kids,” Allison said. On stage, Allison uses her experience training animals to sometimes get co-stars to cooperate “as far as science in the arts goes…positive reinforcement works for people too!” Allison said.

This woman in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) believes that it’s important to have girls represented in the diverse fields of science. “Girls need to understand that science is more than medical school, labs and engineering. There are so many facets of science and we need diverse thinkers to create science. We wouldn’t have the science we have now without diversity,” Allison said.

One of the things she loves most about presenting for the zoo and doing “talk backs” (after performance Q&A opportunities with actors and the audience) is being able to represent women of color in both arenas. Whether she’s the lead in a musical or presenting an animal, it’s important to her that girls see themselves represented in various careers.

Thank you, Allison for showing what it means to be a versatile and talented G.I.R.L.! Learn more about Girl Scout STEAM opportunities by visiting www.gsksmo.org!

GS Alum Leadership in Action

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alum Angela Bennett

Leadership in action – that’s what living a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM life is all about. Meet Girl Scout Alum, former GSKSMO board member and member of Daisy’s Circle and the Juliette Gordon Low Society, Angela Bennett! This Girl Scout has been a leader in the KC community for years, serving on boards around the city, becoming the first black attorney at her law firm and as a Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Now retired, Angela is dedicated to improving her community through volunteerism!

Angela Bennett with Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Catherine Pestinger and former GSKSMO Board President Libby Allman at the Juliette Gordon Low Society Luncheon in 2014.

Angela Bennett was raised in Kansas City, MO and started Girl Scouts in second grade. She remembers her first overnight campout was at Camp Timberlake and from her 2nd year of Girl Scouts on, she attended Camp Oakledge, well into her high school years. At camp, Angela learned critical networking and relationship building skills that would help her in future careers.

“When I was at camp, I had the opportunity to meet new people. I met girls from other communities that I wasn’t always exposed to and that was a good experience,” Angela said. Attending camp in the mid-1960s meant Angela was sometimes faced with racial prejudice, but at camp, she found those stereotypes and prejudices changed by the end of resident camp more often than not. That’s the power of getting girls together in a common activity away from the city and societal pressures – they can learn about one another in a safe space.

Beyond camping, Angela learned business skills through the Cookie Program. Her leader, Connie, made a large impact on her life and helped motivate her to succeed in the Cookie Program. “Our living room would be filled with cookie boxes before we could deliver them,” Angela said. These skills translated into adulthood as Angela attended UMKC for undergrad and Law School!

After graduating law school, Angela Bennett worked in a variety of occupations, blazing trails along the way. She served in the County Council office, worked for the Missouri Attorney General in the Consumer Protection division, in Army Corp of Engineers and Lathrop Gage. “I went to law school because I wanted to help people. My parents and Girl Scouts instilled in me a strong sense of giving back, so that’s always been important in my career,” Angela said.

With that motivation to give back, Angela accepted a position as the Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and served in that role for 17 years before retiring in 2014. In this role she was able to make a major impact on the lives of children in the education system. She also served on the Board of Curators for University of Missouri system. When you talk about a Girl Scout giving back through life, Angela Bennett is a prime example of leadership in volunteerism!

Her devotion to Girl Scouts remained strong well into adulthood. She served on the GSKSMO Board of Directors in the early 1990s learned a lot about the organization. “Being on the Board was a good experience because I got to learn about the needs of the organization,” Angela said. She was also actively involved in the 75th Girl Scout anniversary celebration, working to find local Girl Scout alums to attend and bringing out memorabilia like her “lemy stick” and Girl Scout Brownie Book!

She has continued to invest in Girl Scouts because of the positive experiences she had as a girl and because she knows that it helps build girls for a better future. “Giving to Girl Scouts is one of the best ways to support girls as they grow to become contributing members of society,” Angela said.

Thank you to Angela Bennett for not only investing in girls, but for being a strong example of the type of woman Girl Scouts helps empower! Learn more about the Juliette Gordon Low Society and Daisy’s Circle to give back like Angela.

Oh What a Match for G.I.R.L.s

The Van Blaricum Family’s #GivingTuesday Gift

Investing in a bright future for their daughters and Girl Scouts all over the GSKSMO region! Meet the Van Blaricum family – Mark, Jackie, Julia (5th grade Girl Scout Junior) and Sylvie (3rd grade Girl Scout Brownie). This generous Girl Scout family not only made a $5,000 gift for #GivingTuesday, they support the Girl Scout program through volunteerism and as a Community Partner! Thanks to their support, along with Sylvia Wagner & E.R. Pullman’s $5,000 matching gift and gifts from donors all over the country, a total of $21,341 was raised for girls on #GivingTuesday! That made it our biggest #GivingTuesday yet and will provide hundreds of girls with the support they need!

The Van Blaricum family is a great example of a Girl Scout family giving of time, talent and treasure! Not only do the girls share their skills with their community, but Mark & Jackie support the mission as well as active parents in their daughters’ Girl Scouting experiences. Mark is on his 3rd year as a Cookie Dad for the Troop 414 (Julia’s troop) and their food truck, Pita For Good, is a community partner.  “Being a Cookie Dad is a great way to me to be involved,” Mark said.

For the Van Blaricums’, it’s important to have their daughters involved in Girl Scouting today because they feel the world is opening for girls, and the program prepares them for anything. “The world is being set-up for girls, our future women, to thrive. I would love nothing more. The parents we know see it as something more meaningful than just an activity and we all want to support that,” Mark said.

One of the things the Van Blaricum family values most in Girl Scouting is the consistency and sense of community between the families. Both daughters have had the same girls and leaders stay with the troop for multiple years, letting them build meaningful friendships. It’s also a place where Mark sees amazing parent involvement. “There are always parents willing to help with things like cookie booths and there’s always someone willing to step in and help,” said Mark. He notices that not all organizations have that connection and that’s one thing that makes Girl Scouting extra special for them.

The best part about Girl Scouting for the Van Blaricums’ is the variety in experiences their daughters get to have. From selling cookies (and getting to go to Girl Scout Day at the K) to adventures with their troops and badge earning, it’s an activity where the girls never get bored. “You never know when your kids will just be done with an activity, but I’ve never gotten that sense about Girl Scouts. I don’t think they’ll ever be ‘done.’ Every time they come home from camp or a function with their troop, they’re just pumped and talk about the great experiences they had. As a parent, that does it for me,” Mark said.

This amazing Girl Scout family gives more than time and talents to Girl Scouts, they also made a financial investment in the future for their daughters. For #GivingTuesday (a global giving movement), the Van Blaricum’s provided one of two generous matching gifts that had a major impact on giving. Joining Sylvia Wagner & E.R. Pullman, the Van Blaricum’s offered a $5,000 matching gift, which helped Girl Scouts blow past a $20,000 goal – absolutely incredible!

“In Girl Scouts, parents invest with more than just financial gifts, they give of their time too. It all is an investment in the program and we’re thrilled to see the response of parents willing to help with our troops. So many parents find ways to invest and we’re thrilled to invest for Giving Tuesday,” Mark said.

We send a huge thank you to the Van Blaricum family for their volunteerism, for sharing their skills through the Community Partner program, for their financial gifts and for their dedication as an active family. With Girl Scouts like this, it’s no wonder the Girl Scout Family is a strong one!

If you’re interested in making a matching gift to help us make #GivingTuesday 2019 even bigger, please contact Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela at vvangoethempiela@gsksmo.org.

Finding Her Voice and Blazing Her Path

Spotlight on Camp Fury Participant and Future Firefighter, Autumn H.

Most of us can’t imagine running into a burning building, but for Girl Scout Senior Autumn H., that is exactly what she dreams of doing for her future career.

Autumn is a sophomore and a part of the Olathe West Public Safety Academy, a program where students gain the knowledge and skills necessary for post-secondary experiences in the professions of fire rescue or law enforcement through a partnership between Olathe West High School, Olathe Public Safety Department and Johnson County Community College. Autumn enrolled in the program during her freshman year of high school. After a semester learning about the various public safety fields, she chose to continue to the program on the fire rescue tract.

When Autumn learned about the opportunity to further her knowledge and gain experience from female professionals in the field through a Girl Scout Destination, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought it would be a great step in the direction of what I want to do, gain experience outside of Olathe, KS and learn how other city’s public safety departments function,” Autumn said!

In May, Autumn packed her bags and headed to Camp Fury in Tucson, AZ, a high adventure immersion experience for Girl Scouts, led by elite women of the fire and police services. Over the course of a week, Autumn and 40 other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world participated in real-life drills and practice scenarios with female professionals in fire rescue, EMT, EMS, police, border patrol, FBI and SWAT fields.

Girls stayed at a local Girl Scout camp outside of Tucson and would bus to the Tucson Public Safety Academy by 7am each morning. Their days started out with physical training (PT) then they would break off and do field specific training each day. Fire rescue happened in the middle of the week, and it was (no surprise), her favorite.

“I’m kind of biased to the fire side! Day three or four we started off the morning with a controlled car fire instead of PT. We got to gear up and put out a car fire, which was kind of cool! We also did hose relays, climbed to the top of the aerial ladder on top of engine and did a blind search and rescue to find a person in the house that is filled with smoke,” Autumn explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only about 4 percent of firefighters are women nationwide. That figure has risen to about 14 percent in police work and the military.

“I was worried about sexism in the field in the general; seeing that these women can do it made me realize that I can do it too. They were so encouraging. They wanted us to do our best and I feel like that really helped me,” she said.

When she returned from her Camp Fury Girl Scout Destination Autumn joined Fire Explorers, another program in her community that will enhance and compliment the experiences she’s having in her Public Safety curriculum at school. Each week in the Fire Explorers program – a male dominated program, she draws on her experiences at Camp Fury this past summer.

“Sometimes it can be a little stressful; the guys will try to step in while you’re doing something even though you have it. Other times they trust you,” she explained. “You have to declare your presence and try and fit in as much as possible but let them know you’re still a woman. You can’t have fear and you can’t second guess yourself. If they see you second guessing yourself, they’ll second guess you.”

Autumn also returned from Camp Fury feeling confident about her future career plans.

“After school ended, I was still hesitant about going down this [fire rescue] career path. I knew I would finish the program, but I didn’t know if I wanted to run into burning building and save people on the worst day of their lives,” Autumn explained. “Camp Fury convinced me.”

When Autumn graduates from Olathe West 2021, she’ll do so with Fire 1 & Fire 2 credentials. “I’ll be eligible to be hired onto a department right out of high school.”

Thanks to Camp Fury, Autumn has a network of Girl Scout sisters all around the world who are also passionate about a career in the public safety sector and working to close the gender gap in their desired field.

“I have a friend in Poland! Another friend from Milwaukee started the process of joining the Air Force the day after she flew back home and a friend from Tennessee is now a volunteer firefighter!”

As for her advice if you’re thinking about a Camp Fury experience?

“Do it! Absolutely do it. I definitely found my voice there [at Camp Fury]. It was a great experience and over that week you bond so much with other girls it’s unbelievable.”

Camp Fury – Tucson, AZ, 2018

We are excited to announce that Camp Fury is coming to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri through a partnership with the Kansas City MO Fire Department, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, Kansas City MO Police Department and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s office! Catching Fury will take place in the summer of 2019 and will be for Girl Scouts entering 8th and 9th grades. Then in 2020, Camp Fury will take place and be open to Girl Scouts entering 10th – 12th grade!

If you can’t wait or want to fill your time while you do, you can apply for the Girl Scout Destinations program that Autumn did in Tucson, AZ. The first round of applications is due Dec. 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full.

 

Easy ways to STRETCH your Girl Scout Giving!

#GivingTuesday is just one week away and everyone in the Girl Scout family is gearing up for an exciting holiday season with family and friends. With Thanksgiving just two days away, there’s no better time to prepare for another very important holiday established in 2012 – #GivingTuesday! This celebration of giving back is the IDEAL time to show girls that you’re STANDING UP for them and willing to invest in their future.

Did you know that a girl’s very first resume is her Girl Scout vest? Think about it! A resume shows your skills and shares a story of victories and failures overcome. The same can be said about a Girl Scout vest brimming with badges – all showing skills Girl Scouts have learned. On #GivingTuesday you can say “I Stand Up for Girls” by investing in their future.

…Plus – for 2018 #GivingTuesday there’s an even bigger reason to give – DOUBLE YOUR DOLLAR (up to $10,000)!

In addition to the celebration of #GivingTuesday, you can give all throughout the holiday season AND year with these easy ways to give back to Girl Scouts!

 

1. Employer Match – INCREASE YOUR GIVING POWER

Did you know many employers in our region offer giving matches or volunteer incentives? When you give back, your company may support your efforts in a variety of ways! Contact your HR department to see if they offer giving matches, incentives for volunteer hours or paid volunteer time. Your financial gift or volunteer time + your company’s incentives could help us grow the giving power of our community!

Check out this list of known employers in our council who offer incentives and email rberg@gsksmo.org if your company is missing from this list!

 

2. AmazonSmiles – FREE MONEY FOR GIRLS!

What’s better than getting free money for girls? When you shop on Amazon, be sure to use AmazonSmiles girls get a special .5% back on qualifying purchases. That means every time you shop, you can feel good knowing that Amazon will make a donation to Girl Scouts! What’s better than that? Just be sure to make ALL your purchases on a web browser and use “https://smile.amazon.com” to have the purchases count.

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/43-0892926

OR: visit https://smile.amazon.com and type “Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri” into the Charity Search.

 

3. #GivingTuesday – DOUBLE THE POWER OF YOUR DOLLAR!

If you’re planning to make a gift to Girl Scouts this holiday season, there’s truly no better time to give than #GivingTuesday (November 27, 2018). Thanks to TWO very special matches from Sylvia Wagner & E.R. Pullman and the VanBlaricum Family, all donations up to $10,000 will be MATCHED on #GivingTuesday! Learn more: www.gsksmo.org/givingtuesday

PS: You can give TODAY and have it qualify if you visit our #GivingTuesday page! All gifts received on THIS PAGE qualify as a #GivingTuesday Early Bird and will be matched, up to $10,000!

 

4. Join Daisy’s Circle – JOIN A NETWORK AND GROW GIVING!

Our last tip on how to make your giving dollars go even further this holiday season is to join Daisy’s Circle – GSKSMO’s monthly giving program. By joining this network of Girl Scout supporters, your monthly gift, of any size, works together with other donors to provide consistent, reliable income for girls. Plus, with opportunities to advocate and promote as a member of Daisy’s Circle, you can help us GROW THE CIRCLE! Learn more: www.daisyscircle.org

Thank you for standing up for girls this holiday season and making your giving dollars go even further! Join us on social media all day on  November 27, 2018 (#GivingTuesday) and help us advocate for girls by sharing, liking and posting (with the #GivingTuesday and #GSKSMO)!

From Girl Scouts to Nonprofit Leadership

Girl Scout Alum Dani Wiles is in her third year at William Jewell College, studying nonprofit leadership and organization. Dani was matched with us for Nonprofit Connect’s annual Shadow Day this year and after spending a day with the GSKSMO Brand & Marketing Department, she reflected on the opportunities she had as a young Girl Scout, realizing that those experiences put her on her career path she’s pursuing today.

“Leading up to kindergarten I remember telling my mom how badly I wanted to be a Girl Scout. I was a shy, outdoors-loving, and creative child. I remember wanting to be a Girl Scout because of my friend’s older sister’s involvement with the organization. The vest, the badges, the friendships, and the activities were all I could ever ask for when joining an organization at such a young age. Once I was old enough to become a Girl Scout I joined the troop at my elementary school. Joining that troop not only gave me something to talk about with my peers, but allowed me to make life-long friends with the girls! I was very lucky that my parents became heavily involved with the organization to support my dream of being a successful Girl Scout. My mom went to every troop meeting, and my Dad made phone calls to all of his friends during the cookie season! My parents’ efforts to see their child succeed didn’t go unnoticed by me. When I sold nearly the largest number of cookies in my troop, I thanked my parents first thing! To this day my mom and I still talk about how fun it was to participate in Girl Scouts.

Dani as a young Girl Scout.

Troop meetings were my favorite part of being a Girl Scout. I loved getting the opportunity to see all my friends outside of school, do arts and crafts, and play games. The games and activities that my troop participated in during meetings actually helped me to develop into the confident young-woman I am today. Before Girl Scouts, I was horribly shy around my peers. At my first troop meeting I didn’t plan on speaking to anyone because I was so nervous. Thankfully, they all spoke to me and welcomed me with open arms. Those girls helped me to grow and come into my own. At meetings and in school I no longer kept to myself, I wanted to be social and explore the opportunities I was given through Girl Scouts and my new-found confidence!

It’s been 15 years since I first joined Girl Scouts, which sounds so wild to me! I am a Junior at William Jewell College (Go Cards!) studying Nonprofit Leadership and Organization! When I first went to college I wasn’t sure what I should major in or what career to pursue. This caused me to do a lot of self-reflection about the times in my life I was really passionate about an activity or organization I was involved in and how I could turn those passions into a career. This self-reflection led me to realize the three things that I was truly passionate about are photography, the outdoors, and Girl Scouts. After a few discussions with my mom and my close friends, I realized that I could pursue all of those passions with a career in Nonprofit Leadership! It wasn’t until college that I realized the Girl Scouts was a nonprofit organization (silly, right?) or how much the community engagement, leadership encouragement, or entrepreneurial spirit the Girl Scouts instilled in me had an impact on the woman I am today.

Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that Girl Scouts gave me the confidence to know that I can be a leader on my campus, in the Kansas City area, and in the nonprofit sector. Girl Scouts was the first time I had been exposed to women and girls in leadership roles. Seeing these women and girls being strong, kind, and courageous leaders helped me to develop my own leadership skills and follow my dreams.

I now realize that the skills I utilize every day in the classroom are the skills I learned in Girl Scouting. My experience playing leadership games, getting to explore my creativity, selling cookies, and building relationship skills in the Girl Scouts prepared me to present ideas during nonprofit board meetings, create marketing plans and think of ways to engage volunteers! I am thankful for my experience in Girl Scouts which has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams fearlessly!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Dani! We have no doubt that you’re going to great things in the nonprofit sector!

Giving Back to Her Country and G.I.R.L.s

Meet Sgt. Lauren Swensson, proud member of Daisy’s Circle, Girl Scout mom and active duty member of the Army National Guard, stationed in Leavenworth, KS! Sgt. Swensson has dedicated her life to serving others as a medic and supporting her own G.I.R.L., Juliette Girl Scout, Layla!

Helping others is a big motivator for Sgt. Swensson and what has led her down a path of serving our country. While stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, she found a passion for volunteering in the surgical shock and trauma platoon and helping fellow servicemen and women. She serviced back-to-back tours in Iraq and decided to go back to school in Kansas City, eventually becoming a surgical technician.

Sgt. Swensson joined the Army National Guard and found herself the mom of a proud Girl Scout starting when her daughter, Layla, became a Daisy in the Skyline Council in Virginia around 2015. They were living in Virginia and had great family support, but the Girl Scouts became a second, critical family for these awesome women. It’s a network that Sgt. Swensson is proud to have Layla in.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson, a proud military family.

“Girl Scouts supports at a local level, as close knit to home as it can be by providing experiences for your child, but it also supports women on a national and global level. Girl Scouts helps mentor women and puts them on a path to succeed and gives them a foundation,” Sgt. Swensson said.

As a military family, moving was part of Layla’s life and they found Girl Scouts to be a great home for both of them. Girl Scout sisters became Layla’s dear friends and troop leaders provided Lauren some much needed help getting Layla to and from Girl Scouts.

“It’s so nice to have something for Layla that’s a constant [between moves]. She takes pride in it and the troop leaders she’s had understand her experiences as a military child,” Sgt. Swensson said. She’s been able to watch Layla grow in confidence through the Cookie Program and as a leader when she worked with younger Girl Scouts. These important moments get to be shared through the program.

Because of the second family feeling and the great programming that Girl Scouts provides, Sgt. Swensson and Layla have joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program.  “It’s important to me to support something that my daughter is a part of, personally, but also, the mission of Girl Scouts and what they do is something I absolutely want to support that,” Sgt. Swensson said.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson surrounded by military care packages created by Daisy’s Circle troops in October 2018.

This past weekend, Sgt. Swensson and Layla attended a celebration for Daisy’s Circle troops and Girl Scouts at Camp Prairie Schooner. It was double special because the service project was creating care packages for servicemen and women overseas. Sgt. Swensson got to speak to the troops about how much these packages mean to those serving.

We thank Sgt. Swensson, Layla and all the members of Daisy’s Circle for providing consistent, reliable support that provides programming and opportunities for girls all over our Council. To learn more about Daisy’s Circle, visit www.daisyscircle.org.

From Cookie Seller to State Senator

Girl Scout Alum Senator Lauren Arthur

When Lauren Arthur started knocking on doors as a state senate candidate in her hometown, Kansas City, MO, memories of selling cookies as a Girl Scout in those neighborhoods came flooding back. For this go-getter, selling cookies did more than teach her business skills, it helped her develop core skills that helped her run a successful political race as an adult. Girl Scouts was more than a place for opportunities, it created a passion for connecting with other women and the belief that every girl has the power to change the world. Elected in June 2018 to serve in the Missouri state senate, this G.I.R.L. is proudly representing the Northland’s 17th District!

Senator Lauren Arthur being sworn into the Missouri State Senate, 2018

Lauren’s started as a Girl Scout Brownie in KCMO in 2nd grade and fondly remembers her troop experience. Her troop leader offered her a welcoming community and encouraged the girls to support one another. “The most important aspect of Girl Scouts in my life has been its ability to connect me with other young women,” Senator Arthur said.  She loved getting to know her Girl Scout sisters at Day Camp and experiencing the outdoors with them.

“As a city girl, I don’t know that I would have had similar opportunities to be outdoors […if not for Day Camp]. Things like archery, horseback riding and just the opportunity to be outside,” Senator Arthur said. She remembers making up jokes and cheers at camp and all the positive experiences there.

One of the other things Lauren did in Girl Scouts was actively participate in the Cookie Program. “I was old school, I went door to door and sold cookies the hard way! But that was a great experience for someone who was shy because it made me go outside of my comfort zone,” Senator Arthur said. These risks and learning to be bold catapulted her to her current service as a state senator! In fact, she realized as she was campaigning that some of the houses she was knocking on as a candidate were the same doors she’d knocked on to sell cookies as a child.

Right: Senator Lauren Arthur serving in the Missouri State Senate; Left: Candidate Lauren Arthur working with children during her campaign.

Senator Arthur knew she had a passion for helping kids and spent time working for Teach for America, which helped inspire her to run for office. It became a big part of her campaign – wanting to advocate for education and seeing the potential in girls. During her political race, she loved getting to visit schools, see Girl Scout troops and watch firsthand how much these young girls had to offer the world.

Senator Arthur believes in the power of inspiring children during the most formative years, a time when Girl Scouts can be incredibly beneficial. “The world is in desperate need of women leaders. I think that those early years are so important for girls. It’s when you instill character, values and develop skills that can translate into accomplishment and helping them become good people,” Senator Arthur said.

For her, the power of the Girl Scouting program rested in the relationships and confidence she developed that still influence her life today. “I developed friendships in Girl Scouts that continue today […and] it has translated into relationships and networking opportunities and it feels wonderful to be part of a network of enterprising, high achieving women, both in Kansas City and across the country,”  Senator Arthur said.

Lauren Arthur is a wonderful example of the determination of an inspired G.I.R.L.! She saw problems she wanted to address and felt the need for female leadership…so she decided to do something about it! What a truly inspiring alum! Thank you, Senator Arthur, for your service in the Missouri State Senate and for advocating for girls just like you! We’re proud to have alums serving in public office and having a voice in the development of future policies.

Earning the Highest Awards in Girl Scouting

What you need to know & expanded criteria

In Girl Scouting, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award are the highest honors a girl can achieve. Each award gives girls a chance to identify an issue they’re passionate about and create lasting change within their community!

The highest awards are progressive. The earlier a girl starts the process in their applicable level, the better prepared she is to go for the next level – and the better prepared you are to support her!

As Juniors, girls work together on their Bronze Award as a troop, sharing responsibilities and practicing group decision making.

Troop 3327 from Topeka, KS made comfort kits for children undergoing cancer treatments at Children’s Mercy Hospital after one of their fellow troop member’s sister went through cancer treatment herself. After the troop did some initial research, they invited the sister to the troop meeting to help them brainstorm care package items and make a shopping list. They created five different packages based on age and included blankets and homemade cards in each kit.

Left: Guest speaker talking about her cancer treatment experience at Children’s Mercy. Right: girls making blankets for comfort kits.

As Cadettes, each girl increases her level of responsibility and can work in small groups of one to three girls to complete their Silver Award Project.

In Troop 2041 in Kansas City, MO, three Girl Scouts identified three issues that they cared about. Emma S. wanted more children to experience the joy of art so she created and sold her own pieces to purchase supplies for children at Mattie Rhodes Art Center. Avery W. educated her community on water pollution and how to keep water clean and water bills down, earning her Citizenship award in the process! Andra B. became interested in the issue of light pollution after traveling to a national park and seeing the true night sky for the first time then created a website article and is initiating conversation on the issue of human caused pollution of light.

Left: Snip it of Emma’s flier. Center: Avery selling her art. Right: Light Pollution image on Andra’s article (Photo Credit: chungking / Fotolia).

Then, as a Senior or Ambassador, a Girl Scout is ready to lead a project on her own and earn her Gold Award – the most prestigious award in the world for girls. Each year we recognize Girl Scouts who have achieved this honor and present them with their Gold Award Pin at Inspire a Girl – Expo & Gold Award Ceremony.

Taylor Edwards from Troop 506 in Lansing, KS earned her Gold Award last year after creating the Young Voters Committee at Lansing High School. She worked with her State Representative and History Teacher to create workshops educating her peers on political issues that are affecting their community and it is now a recognized school club that meets monthly reviewing issues on upcoming ballots with elected officials attending as guest speakers!

“Because of Girl Scouts I was able to find myself as a leader not only in my troop or school, but in my community,” Taylor said.

Left: Taylor with Debbie Deere, State Representative 40th Ditto, during Gold Award project. Center: Receiving her Gold Award Pin from troop leader, Carla Wiegers at Inspire a Girl. Right: Taylor in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Girl Scout Day at the K.

When girls are introduced to and practice the components of the highest awards as Juniors and Cadettes, they are best prepared to Go Gold! However, Bronze and Silver are not prerequisites for the Gold Award.

As of October 1, 2018 Girl Scouts of the USA expanded the criteria for Silver and Gold Award projects to no longer exclude Girl Scouts from being the beneficiary of a Silver or Gold Award project. It is still important for girls to go through the process of identifying and selecting the cause that is important to them. Silver and Gold Award projects should only serve Girl Scouts if the girl(s) decide that is the best audience for their project! Any projects benefiting our council or Girl Scout property will need to be approved by a GSKMO Vice President. For more information, contact TracyHull@gsksmo.org.

The Bronze and Silver Awards are approved at the troop level, there is no paperwork required on the council level once the project is complete; but we do ask that you complete the tracker so we know about your project and can potentially share your story! Upon project completion you’ll want to visit the Girl Scout Shop to get all the swag that shows your accomplishments, especially the Bronze or Silver Award pins!

Beyond sharing your troop or girls’ story with us, help them share it within their community and beyond. On social media use #gsBronzeAward, #gsSilverAward, #gsGoldAward and #gsksmo. If you have media inquiries during or after the project is complete, contact prdept@gsksmo.org so we can work with you to tell the story in those mediums.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service and honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities. This is a great opportunity for girls who have achieved earned any of their highest awards to potentially be recognized. In 2017, we had two Girl Scouts receive honors! 2018 applications are due November 6.

Earning these highest awards and leadership achievements is a BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT! We want all our Girls Scouts to be proud and share their accomplishments far and wide!!