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!!

Back to Troop Season

Fall activities for Girl Scouts and Troops

It’s a great time to be a Girl Scout! The leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, so it’s time to enjoy all that fall has to offer -and it has SO MUCH for our Girl Scouts, their families and troops!

Hispanic Heritage Month, Cops & Bobbers – Oct. 13
Kids will enjoy outdoor fishing fun with law enforcement while building strong bongs of respect for each other and the environments.  Fishing poles and supplies will be provided on a first come first serve basis.

Girls in Aviation Day – Oct. 13
Get up close and personal with aircrafts and meet female aviation professionals at this annual event with the Museum of the Kansas National Guard and Combat Air Museum.

Girl Scout Night at the Rangers – Oct. 14
Swope Park Rangers invite the Girl Scouts to Children’s Mercy Park this fall for the annual Girl Scouts Night at the Rangers! Come out and see the Sporting of tomorrow take on the LA Galaxy II then participate in a post-match clinic with the pros!

Kansas City Ballet, The Wizard of Oz – Oct. 17 & 20
Girl Scouts, get your discounted tickets to the Kansas City Ballet’s production of the Wizard of Oz on October 17 or 20!

Honeywell Spark Event – Oct 18
Honeywell Manufacturing & Technologies invites Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors to their Spark Event on Oct. 18 to hear from female professionals in the industry, get creative and use their minds to create and their hands to build! Deadline to register is Oct. 16.

Ernie Miller Nature Center, Haunted Kansas – Oct. 20
As darkness falls, walk through the trails of Ernie Miller Park and listen to the stories of long ago! Characters from the past will share legends around the campfire. Expect a shiver down your spine and a mild case of goose bumps for those who dare enter the forest on this autumn evening.

LabConco Spark Event – Oct. 26
Make great use of the day off school on Oct. 26 (Park Hill, Blue Springs, Liberty, Center – just to name a few!) at LabConco’s first-ever Spark Event! Girls will tour their plant, talk with female STEM professionals and do several hands-on science projects! Deadline to register is Oct. 24.

STEM Expo Day at Camp Tongawood – Nov. 3
Girl Scout Juniors & Cadettes! Are you interested in the diversity of life and learning about organisms, mysteries of the universe, or going back in time sifting through the remains of prehistoric organisms? Investigate our world — from tiny micro-organisms to the vast Kansas blue skies at our STEM Expo on with experts from the University of Kansas & Kansas Dept. of Wildlife & Parks.

HappyBottoms + Henderson Engineers – Nov. 10
Henderson Engineers need YOUR HELP to collect diapers for HappyBottoms and bring them to their wrapping event on Nov. 10! During the event at Henderson, girls will hear from guest speakers, enjoy snow cones and fill the bust with diapers donated for the community!

Arrowhead Takeover – Nov. 16
The Kansas City Chiefs are hosting Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors for an Arrowhead Takeover event on Nov. 14! Girls will do Play60 activities with the Kansas City Titans (Kansas City’ female football team!), learn about sports training, Chiefs History, chat with a Chiefs reporter and hang out with the Chiefs Cheerleaders and leave with a fun patch!

Harvesters, Juliette Gordon Low Birthday Celebration – various dates
Give back and honor our founder, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday by helping sort and pack food at the Kansas City or Topeka Harvesters locations!

See all our 150+ Community Partner Programs at gsksmo.org/community!

Traveling Far and Wide with Girl Scouts

Spotlighting Girl Scout Volunteer Extraordinaire Chris Hrdy

When you understand the power of Girl Scouts, it’s hard to walk away from living that GS Strong life. Meet Chris Hrdy, a Girl Scout Alum, mom, former troop leader, member of Daisy’s Circle and travel volunteer who found a way to continue giving back after her daughters graduated. After developing a love of travel in Girl Scouts herself, Chris has decided to give back to girls by serving as a volunteer on our council-sponsored trips. This awesome volunteer shows what it means to give as part of a lifestyle.

Chris has fond memories of her time in Girl Scouts and her little green sash she got to start filling with badges. She was involved through middle school, but found her journey start back again years later when she became a mother. The program really mattered to her because it gave her daughters the chance to be themselves. “Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to be weird, to be unique, to be involved and be in a space where there are no parents and no boys!” Chris said.

Chris and Ann Marie Hrdy at the 2016 Inspire a Girl Ceremony!

Chris’ daughters, Ann Marie and Melinda, were both Girl Scouts and benefitted from Chris’ involvement. For Melinda’s first years, she served as cookie mom, so by the time Ann Marie was in Kindergarten the next year, she was ready to lead. For all of Anne Marie’s Girl Scouts years – through senior year of high school – Chris served as troop leader.

Troop 110 had a wonderful experience, traveling to places like Costa Rica and earning highest awards. Both daughters earned their highest awards and served our council, Melinda as a Teen Board Member and Ann Marie a part of the Teen Leadership Circle – so this is a high achieving family of G.I.R.L.s! Chris also served as Unit Leader for Day Camp and Service Unit Manager for SU 678. Once Ann Marie graduated though, Chris wasn’t ready to give up her Girl Scout adventures and emailed us to find opportunities.

Chris Hrdy traveling with Girl Scouts!

Fast forward two years and Chris has adventured with girls to the 2017 Inauguration in Washington DC, Chicago (2018) and plans to join them for the Belize trip in 2019 as well as the next Girl Scout National Convention! The change that Chris gets to watch when girls experience travel is what keeps her engaged.

“When girls are out of their element and their parents aren’t around, they’re so different. They’re open to learning new things, seeing new things, and the changes that can place in just a week during travel is mind-boggling. It’s the most fun thing to watch and I LOVE IT!” Chris said.

Because of the travel adventures, highest awards and other experiences Melinda and Ann Marie got to have, they’re now living pretty amazing lives. Melinda just finished culinary school and Ann Marie is a sophomore in college with goals of becoming a home economics teacher, a career path inspired by her Gold Award project! Though all three ladies are now alums, they’re still giving back to the world and living the life of true Girl Scouts.

The Hrdy family became members of Daisy’s Circle because of their belief in the program and wanting to give that to girls who might not otherwise be able to have some of the same experiences Ann Marie and Melinda had. “Girl Scouts is very important to me, it opens up the personalities of the girls and when they get older, it opens up doors through opportunities. I like the idea of being able to offer that to a girl who might otherwise not be able to have those opportunities,” Chris said.

Thank you to Chris and the entire Hrdy family for giving to Girl Scouts and for leading the way for other girls by being brave G.I.R.Ls! Learn more about Girl Scout Travel or Daisy’s Circle by visiting our website – www.gsksmo.org.

Cooking Up a Great Volunteer Experience: Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, Jason Sonderman

Man enough to lead a Service Unit! Meet Jason Sonderman, an exceptional Girl Scout dad who’s taken his leadership to the next level as Service Unit Manager for SU607. Growing in leadership just like his Girl Scout Junior daughter, Riley, Jason has gone from parent volunteer to Appreciation Pin honoree to Service Unit Manager and member of Daisy’s Circle! Talk about some serious G.I.R.L. dedication!

Jason started like most Girl Scout parents – new and unsure where volunteering would take him. When Riley was a Daisy, her mother, Micah, became the co-leader and Jason found himself picking up a variety of tasks. “It took 3-4 years for me to find my place in volunteering outside of building things and helping with carpools. Around Brownies I started finding a need in Day Camp and a place to help,” Jason said.

He found a love of working at Day Camp and started coming a couple days a week to help with the cooking program. With the guidance of fellow volunteers, he found his stride and started feeling confident in his leadership. “Working a Day Camp really opened my eyes to how parents can get involved,” Jason said. He served as unit leader for 2 years, then took over the cooking program.

To put a personal touch on his Day Camp leadership, he developed a persona named “Cookie.” “Cookie is larger than life and memorable,” Jason said. Together, Riley and Jason worked on the cooking program and as she grew as a leader, he felt pride and was even more motivated to be involved.

During cookie booth season, parents were talking about the Service Unit Manager position that was opening up. While there was a lot of interest, Jason joked about putting his hat in the ring and no one thought it was a joke, in fact, they thought it’d be great. “When no one laughed, I was surprised, but when we talked about it, it just made sense. I don’t lead a troop, so I don’t have other things vying for my attention, I can just focus on the service unit,” Jason said.

As a dad, he knows he’s in the minority as a male volunteer, but thinks that makes his service important so both genders are being represented in the organization. “Girl Scouts needs to see both genders represented as volunteers and in leadership to help them understand life outside as well as see both parents just giving back,” Jason said. Throughout all of it, the best part of giving back is being part of the Girl Scout world with Riley and Micah.

“Girl Scouts gives me something to do with my daughter and wife. I understand it, I can be engaged and participate rather than it just being their thing,” Jason said. He and Micah love the program because of the opportunities it provides for Riley.

Riley has developed her own way of expression, giving back and leadership through filming Day Camps and creating recruitment videos for them, as well as helping with the cooking program. “Girl Scouts is a full environment where girls can build a sisterhood and at the same time, learn things. They’re learning about life, leadership, and skills they’ll need to excel in our society and be respected,” Jason said.

The Sondermans not only give of their time, they give financially through Daisy’s Circle as well. “In our hearts, giving follows our faith and my wife and I have that extra amount to give to help someone be involved. We can help remove the barrier of maybe a $25 membership fee that might be preventing a girl from having this experience,” Jason said.

We thank the Sonderman family for giving so fully to Girl Scouts and believing in the power of all G.I.R.L.s. We are thrilled to see Riley grow her skills and become the best G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) she can be! If you’d like to learn more about Daisy’s Circle, visit www.daisyscircle.org.

Greater Than an Individual

Giving Back on 9/11

“When I found out I was having a daughter, I said ‘She’s going to be a Girl Scout!’” Jen Mitchell said. This reaction sums up the passion for Girl Scouting that runs deep in this alum. For Jen Mitchell, Girl Scouting has been a family affair that provided countless opportunities. Girl Scouts also ties her to a tragic period in recent US history – the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.

Jen Mitchell’s Girl Scout life began when she was in 1st grade and her mom started a troop. “Both my parents were extremely involved and as my troop got going, my grandmother said ‘well, I’ve got to get in on this.’ Then, of course, my grandfather said ‘well, I’ll have to drive her, so I’m getting involved’ and it ended up being an entire family affair for about 17 years,” Jen said. Her dad later became her troop’s co-leader and even joined the Board of Rolling Hills Council in New Jersey.

With a support system like this, it’s no wonder Jen became close with her troop. They took trips to places like New York City and Niagara Falls. With travel and sisterly love in their hearts, they went to London after a troop member moved there. “One of our troop members came to a meeting and said ‘my dad’s job is moving and you guys are my best friends and I’m never going to see you again’ and we go ‘That’s not true, we’ll come see you!’” Jen said. And in true Girl Scout form, they did.

Throughout their troop years, they stayed active in service projects as well. They completed their Highest Awards, including a Silver Award project where they collected yarn and took it to a retirement community, then collected completed scarves and hats made by the residents and took them to a local cancer center. They volunteered with the VFW, and local high schools as well.

During her senior year service took on a new level of meaning for Jen. On September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack just 45 minutes away from her home, Jen had the most impactful Girl Scouting experience she could imagine – giving back to a country in crisis.

Jen’s words best describe the experience:

“Even though we were high school seniors, coming to the end of our troop years, we wanted to do something together. The aunt of one of our troop members was a Port Authority officer and told us they needed supplies for the morgue, including things like Chapstick for the workers who were spending all day in cold rooms, and that need wasn’t being addressed.

Our troop started collecting items and took them to those in need. A couple of times when we would make the drop-offs we were able to go to places normal volunteers couldn’t. Security was high, but because we were Girl Scouts, we had the credibility we needed to be able to help.

It was Girl Scouts that let me be part of helping families get closure. It was such an emotional thing to be 17 and have volunteers and workers so excited to see us and get the supplies. There were a couple instances where a fallen first responder was brought in while we were there and we were able to be part of that and help the family. It brought our troop closer together. Girl Scouts gave us the opportunity to do something so much bigger than we could have ever done as individuals,” Jen said.

Left & Right: Jen with daughter Ellie in Ireland; Center: Ellie at a G.I.R.L. Event!

Today, Jen is excited to be a Girl Scout mom to Ellie, her brand new Daisy. She went to a New G.I.R.L. Event and couldn’t be more excited to help Ellie on the same path that she, her mom and grandmother have taken.  And while we all hope Ellie doesn’t have to experience tragedy like 9/11 again, we know she will find connection and meaning through service like her mother did.

As the anniversary of 9/11 comes once again, we remember and honor the victims, families, first responders, volunteers and city workers who came together to bring New York City and the country together. We thank Jen and her troop for being part of that recovery and for being Girl Scout Strong in one of the darkest moments our country has experienced.

Hollywood Dreamin’

Girl Scout Senior, Patricia Smith is no stranger to travel. Her mother and leader, Arjean Smith is in the Army and the Smith family has been stationed all around the world. Patricia originally joined Girl Scouts in Virginia, they then moved to Germany where she was part of a Girl Scouts on-base program. While there, Patricia and Arjean traveled to London to visit Pax Lodge, and made three trips to Our Chalet in Switzerland!

“It’s a new experience to go different places and see how people do things differently. It’s also cool to meet new people,” Patricia explained.
The Smiths’ moved back to Fort Leavenworth in the summer of 2016 and Patricia has stayed involved in as an Indy Girl Scout.
With a love of travel instilled in her, Patricia researched ways she could continue to see the world as a Girl Scout, and ultimately decided she wanted to go on a Girl Scout destination to Hollywood and learn about filmmaking. Over the past two years, she set goals for her cookie business and earned enough money to pay for the trip herself!

On July 1, Patricia boarded a plane in KC and took her first solo flight to Los Angeles, CA where she met up with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the country for their Hollywood Dreamin’ Destination!

Her trip started out with tours of production studios and the city of Los Angeles. At Warner Bros Studio, they learned how sets and scenes work and saw that some shows actually share set pieces. One of the highlights for Patricia was seeing the Fuller House set and seeing some of the props being constructed for a future episode.

“When I’m seeing all this, I’m like oh my gosh! I’m kind of star struck!”


After learning about the industry as a whole, Patricia got to work in a small group to write, direct, produce and edit a short film of their own! They even hired and paid actors from the budget they were given. “Union actors cost more. Non-union actors are cheaper but they haven’t been in as much stuff.”

They had a few prompts to choose from for their concept, and Patricia’s group chose to create a film about what happens when two people are stuck in an airport together. The film itself couldn’t be more than four minutes long or use more than two actors.

“What surprised me was the emotion that the actors gave us. I didn’t think they would be so emotional in their role,” she explained. “Also there are more angles than what you see in the film. Shots are harder to get than what you would think!”

This destination gave Patricia a glimpse into what career in the film industry would be like and it’s now a career path she’s interested in!
“It was definitely something different because I didn’t go out of the country. We had downtime compared to other trips I’ve been on and we got to get to know each other, and had a lot of fun times!”

2019-2020 Girl Scout destination programs are being added through September. Check them out and submit your application to our council by Nov. 15 to be included in the first round of consideration!

Cool New G.I.R.L.s!

Summer might be over, but there are so many things to look forward to as a returning or a brand new Girl Scout and we have a feeling this is going to be THE. BEST. YEAR. EVER!

At Girl Scouts, G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) unleash their strong and become SUPERHEROES and the world can always use more superheroes so we’re sharing the Girl Scout experience all around our council with New G.I.R.L. Events!

Natalie T. & Lily helped prep and test the activities to get them ready for girls!

At these events families can see what Girl Scouting is all about. With hands-on activities in each of our four program worlds, GS staff, adult volunteers and current Girl Scouts like Lily W. and Natalie T. from Lenexa, KS are helping future Girl Scouts unleash their STRONG!

Girls will wear Innovator cape on in the world of STEAM;

Girls make a balancing robot, learning about weight distribution.

Put their Risk-taker powers into action in the world of Outdoor Experiences;

Using the very sling shots she’ll use at camp, girls take aim at the target and match native animals to their tracks

Showcase their business savvy skills as the ultimate Leader in the world of Entrepreneurship;

In this play Cookie Booth, girls get to handle cookie boxes and make their initial Cookie sale!

And put their Go-Getter heart, voice and hands to work in the world of Civic Engagement!

Girls complete their very first service project, decorating bags to be used by Meals on Wheels.

These free, open house style events are girl-tested, girl-APPROVED! “They’re learning about cookies, how to do sling shots, and about giving back,” Lily explained. “The coolest part of being a Girl Scout is getting to help people!”

After exploring all the different worlds, we hope that all girls leave as brand new Girl Scouts ready for even BIGGER ADVENTURES!

Help in spread the word! Find an event in your area and share with families that you want to learn more about Girl Scouting!