Operation Sweet Treat – GSKSMO Cookie Program Partners with the USO for Cookie Share

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What Can a Cookie Do: Spotlighting GSKSMO Volunteer Jessica Shalita

Middle school can be a time of awkward transition for young girls. For most it means changing schools and maybe even changing friends. We’ve all been there and for many of us, it’s not an easy time in our lives.

Jessica Shalita, lifetime Girl Scout member, remembers that feeling all too well. She promised herself in high school that when she became an adult she would come back to Girl Scouts in order to volunteer with older girls going through the teenage stage of life.

Jessica kept that promise and is now a co-leader for Cadette Troop #5289 in Knob Noster, Missouri. As a leader she’s a bit atypical as she’s not a mom of a Girl Scout. But that didn’t stop her from volunteering the first chance she got!

“I always knew I wanted to be a troop leader,” Jessica said. “As soon as I got settled after graduation in 2013 I called the council and told them I wanted to volunteer.”

And she didn’t stop there. Jessica specifically requested to be placed with a troop of older girls because she knows what an important and challenging time the teenage years can be.

“I wanted to work with older girls because I had a great Girl Scout experience as an older girl myself,” Jessica said. “I went on a GS Destinations trip to Mexico and also earned my Gold Award in 2007.”

With a Girl Scout success story like hers, it’s no surprise that Jessica is still impacting the world in BIG ways. Jessica is an Air Force Captain in the United States Air Force. She is currently an Active Duty 509th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist and is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base. That’s right – Jessica is rocking a military STEM career!

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry

“I joined the military because I wanted to serve my country and protect our freedoms,” Jessica said. “I also wanted to broaden my leadership capabilities.”

ostFBGirl Scouts has always been passionate about supporting our troops. That’s why we’re so excited about this weekend’s Operation Sweet Treat! We have partnered with the USO and local malls to create a Cookie Share initiative that lets girls ask customers if they would like to buy a box or more to be donated back to the three military bases located in our council (Whiteman AFB, Ft. Riley an Ft. Leavenworth).

Jessica thinks Operation Sweet Treat is an easy way to say “thank you” to those in uniform.

“Receiving a box of your favorite Girl Scout cookies really makes you feel like you’re remembered,” Jessica said. “You know you’re in the thoughts of your community.”

She also adds a great selling point for troops asking customers to buy an extra box – it’s like a box of calorie-free cookies when you donate! Can’t beat zero calories 😉

While Jessica leads a busy life with career and other activities, she feels making time to be a Girl Scout volunteer is one of her best decisions.

“I want to set a good example for these girls and be the moral, responsible woman they can look up to,” Jessica said. “I often joke that even though I’m not a mom I’m so busy being a part of these girls’ lives! It always brightens my week.”

We’re sure you brighten their week as well, Jessica! Thank you for all you do to serve our country and make the world a better place for teenage girls!

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Operation Sweet Treat (Feb. 27 – March 1) is a special weekend to honor our Cookie Share partnership with the USO through community booth sales. This year’s Operation Sweet Treat Weekend coincides with National Cookie Days. We invite you to buy a box or more for a soldier by visiting one of the booth locations below or any of the booth locations across our 47 counties.

Find out more about Operation Sweet Treat.

Cookie Conundrums – The Cookie Booth Encounter

It’s a Saturday morning, the alarm goes off and you’re up and at ‘em. You have a list of places to go and things to get that’s a mile long. You head out the door, focused on the tasks at hand. First stop, coffee. You have the liquid gold, the radio is playing all the great songs and you are focused. Nothing, absolutely nothing is going to get in your way today!

Second stop, Westlake Ace Hardware – that leaky faucet has leaked its last day today. Car door shut, coffee in hand, determined, the doors to the store open.

“WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY SOME GIRL SCOUT COOKIES?!”

You look up in a daze, you’re confused. There are three, three-foot tall, real-life Girl Scout Cookies approaching you. Their faces are sweet, warm, welcoming. Their cookie costumes are far too big for their little stature. Before you can answer their question, each girl starts naming the different cookies for sale; Caramel DeLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Thin Mints, the list goes on but your attention is captured.

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Leaky faucet? What leaky faucet? It doesn’t matter that you’ve already bought and eaten three boxes before they got home to your spouse and kids. You see this as the universe’s way of redeeming yourself.

These little Girl Scout Daisies are tricky, you see. They use their charm and impress you with their quick math skills.

With redemption in your mind, you ask “how much is a box?” (Already fully aware that a box is $4).

“$4” they exclaim back in unison!

You want to make it harder for them, see how much they reallllllly know. “How much would it be for 4 boxes?”

They ponder and look at each other. Then count – “4, 8, 12, 16! Four boxes is $16!”

Thoroughly impressed, you tell them you’ll take 4 boxes (that’ll make up for the three you already consumed, plus one, you’re in the clear with your family)!

They help select the four kinds of cookies you want, place them in a bag and hand them to you. Telling you, politely, “that’ll be $16, please.”

You hand them a $20 bill and from behind the table a little voice pops out, “you could make it 5 boxes for an event $20,” you hear from a brave Girl Scout.

All of a sudden a flood of memories comes back, you’re remember being that Girl Scout, the one who found her voice at the Cookie Booth when you were a mere little Daisy. You remember using the money you earned to go on your very first campout, eating your first s’more, chasing fireflies with your fellow Girl Scouts.

Proud of that Daisy for speaking up, you agree to her deal. You are five boxes of cookies richer, and your heart is full, knowing that you just supported the largest girl led business in the world.

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Find a cookie booth near you and make your next weekend of errands a whole lot sweeter!

 

Happy World Thinking Day!

Do you want to travel around the world? For most of us, the answer is YES! Now, let’s go!! So then it sets in, you don’t have the time or resources to make this dream a reality. But wait, you can travel around the world by participating in Girl Scout Thinking Day activities. In just a couple of hours, you can go to France, Malaysia, Italy, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Norway, Ireland, Kenya, Brazil , India and so many more amazing places!

When you’re a Girl Scout, you’re part of something much bigger than just your troop or group. Your “network” stretches across your state, throughout the nation, and to more than 150 countries in the world where Girl Scouts or Girl Guides are found. Together, you’re a powerful force!

Every February 22 on World Thinking Day, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world unite in purpose to focus on one issue, or theme, to make the world a better place and celebrate our worldwide sisterhood.

For many Girl Scouts across our council, they celebrate sisterhood with international fairs. Troops and individual Girl Scouts select a country to focus on. The girls spend weeks preparing their vivid displays, planning their clothing choice, making food and fun trinkets and learning all about their chosen country to share with others. On the day of the event, girls receive a passport and they travel from booth to booth learning all about the various countries, tasting food and purchasing the small trinkets. So in essence, they travel the world in just a couple of hours!

Thinking Day events will take place across our council over the next couple of weeks, and you better believe this is a Girl Scout favorite activity! In most areas, first year Daisy Girl Scouts will just come to the event to fill their passport, but they are bubbling with anticipation for the next year when they get to select their own country to represent.

If you spend a little time with these Girl Scouts, you will be blown away by what they have learned about their country and how excited they get to share. Quite simply, after experiencing a Thinking Day event you will feel that you have traveled the world with these awesome Girl Scouts and can add stamps to your passport!

Wishing Girl Scouts throughout our 47 counties and beyond a Happy World Thinking Day!

Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout – Mark Webster

When Mark Webster and his wife Venus started their daughter Abigail in Girl Scouts as a Daisy they quickly realized they had made the right decision.

“Being a part of Troop 3704 has made a big difference in my daughter’s life,” Mark said. “She likes that there are always lots of activities. She always has something to look forward to doing each month.”

Mark also looks forward to the fun opportunities Girl Scouts provides for him to spend time with his daughter. He definitely thinks more dads should feel welcome to participate as a volunteer or participant in whatever their daughters are doing.

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“From one man to another, it’s fun to see your daughter get excited about the activities,” Mark said. “When I see her smiling I always feel like – WOW – we made a great decision having her in Girl Scouts.”

Not only is Mark a Girl Scout Dad but he also happens to be certified through the American Culinary Federation (ACF) as both an Executive Chef and Culinary Educator and is a member of the World Association of Chefs Societies. He works at Hy-Vee as the Executive Chef. Being a certified culinary educator presented an awesome opportunity for Troop 3704 to learn more about what he does.

“I brought in different exotic fruits for the girls to see and taste,” Mark said. “I told them all about where they come from and how you can use them.”

As for telling the girls about his career in cooking, they all thought it was pretty cool. During Mark’s career as an award-winning chef he traveled all over the world discovering new foods and dishes. But his biggest fan is definitely his daughter!

“My daughter and I work together on recipes,” Mark said. “She loves to help me in the kitchen.”

That’s a very good thing because we recently asked Chef Mark to create some original scrumptious recipes using Girl Scout cookies in unconventional ways! As it turned out, Abigail had some great ideas to share with her dad!

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Have you ever thought to use Lemonades with fish or Cranberry Citrus Crisps with chicken? Probably not! But believe us when we tell you his creations are simply delicious and definitely worth a try!

“My daughter loves selling Girl Scout cookies,” Mark said. “She started talking about it two months before it began!”

But Mark knows it’s about much more than selling cookies. He sees his daughter as being a piece of a larger puzzle and credits Girl Scouts for helping his daughter branch out and not be afraid to try new things.

We spent some time with Chef Mark while he chopped, sautéed and grilled in the Hy-Vee kitchen and are so excited for Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Weekend and Mark’s recipe demonstration at 12:00 noon, Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Ward Road – Lee’s Summit, Mo. Hy-Vee.

 

Bling Your Booth!

Cookie season is in full force and that means the ever-popular Bling Your Booth contest is right around the corner! Let the decorating begin, take a photo and participate in the contest! Highly visible cookie booths can result in more sales and are a fun way for Girl Scouts to engage in the cookie booth experience!

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It’s simple – pick an interest area like sports, cooking, outdoors or another and create a booth display around it. Remember to showcase the 5 skills!

There are four weeks of competition of Facebook voting and weekly prizes for 1st – 3rd place like Cookie Dough and patches! The contest will culminate with a contest between each of the first place booths to win the ultimate grand prize, a BLING party! There will be a “green carpet” experience, great food, swag bags and a visit from CEO Joy Wheeler and MORE for the most blingin’ booth this cookie season!

While Junior Girl Scout Troop 3591 from Gladstone, Missouri has done booth sales before, this is their first year participating the in the Bling Your Booth contest (you wouldn’t know that by looking at their sweet setup this year)!

Blinging their booth has been a true group effort! The girls in Troop 3591 collectively decided to use the 2015 Cookie Program theme “Lead the Change” and the polar bear as their inspiration for booth décor. They brainstormed what they wanted incorporated into the booth and then broke into groups to create each element!

The results:

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They took their booth to Cookie Kick-Off weekend hosted by Service Unit 604 on January 3, won first place in the booth decorating contest and are looking forward to participating in the council-wide Bling Your Booth contest!

Troop 3591 is hoping their snazzy booth wins them some prizes but also increases cookie sales this year. The goal is for the troop to average 150 boxes sold per girl and divide their cookie proceeds in half – donating 50% to Harvesters and using the other 50% to go on the council-sponsored trip to St. Louis this summer.

We have no doubt that they’ll achieve their goal, and then some, with their attention grabbing booth and great Girl Scout saleswomen!

Good luck to Troop 3591, we can’t wait to see your booth in action during Bling Your Booth!

It’s not too late for your troop to design a sweet setup up (pun intended) for their cookie boot this year! Check out the contest rules and dates!

Don’t limit your competition to just our council, participate in the National Bling Your Booth contest!

Hosting a booth sale is an important sales technique in girls’ cookie businesses. If you are outside the KC metro and/or set up your own booth sale following guidelines in your Troop Cookie Manager manual, make sure that you follow the directions to get your booth sale in SNAP. We upload all booth sales in SNAP to the national booth locator.

Cookie Construction

Build Day – Presented by Time Warner Cable – Connect a Million Minds

 

What do you get when you combine Girl Scouts, 5,000 Girl Scout cookie boxes and female professionals working in the design industry? Girl Scout Cookie Construction, of course!

On March 7, a collaboration between The American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA KC), Women in Design Kansas City (WiD KC), Time Warner Cable and Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri will culminate with Cookie Construction Build Day at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

For the past six months, Girl Scouts have been working on five different teams to design three-dimensional structures solely out of Girl Scout cookie boxes. Each team, led by a group of female professionals in the design industry, has learned the ins and outs of the architecture and design process!

“By learning how to design, engineer and build structures out of Girl Scout cookie boxes, girls are able to engage in real-world challenges that designers, engineers and architects encounter in their careers,” said Perry Watson, Time Warner Cable’s Area Vice President of Operations.

Samantha McCloud, WiD KC, also sees girls learning about communication, collaboration and innovation. “Beyond design-thinking skills, the young women that participate in this program gain the opportunity to learn and develop many soft skills that will help them succeed throughout their lives,” she says.

Girl Scouts are learning from the best of the best in Cookie Construction. The team leaders are respected professionals and accomplished architects, interior architects and design engineers in the community who want to see more women join them in their field in the coming years.

Phaedra Svec, architect at BNIM and team leader got involved with this program to show the Girl Scouts that architecture is a viable career option and a diverse field. “I didn’t have many mentors suggesting architecture and design as a possibility when I was a girl and I certainly had few female mentors coming up the ranks of the profession.  No two women are architects in the same way, so it is important for each of us to model what that diversity looks like to give young women more choices.”

March 7, Build Day, the teams will have four hours to assemble their designs. Judging begins at 1 p.m. and the award for best overall design will be given during a presentation at 2 p.m. Structures will be on-view at Crown Center through March 27 and you can vote for your favorite to win the “People’s Choice Award”!

We hope to see you there!

(No cookies have been harmed in the making of these structures!)

 

Winter Survival Campout – Always Be Prepared

What better way to learn to live the Girl Scout motto Be Prepared than camping in Missouri in the middle of winter?!

Troop leader Michele Fowler from Service Unit 640 in Raytown, Missouri has been taking Girl Scouts primitive camping in the winter for 6 years now. She calls this adventure “Winter Survival Campout” and each year she hosts the event at a different state park for girls to navigate terrain that they’re not familiar with.

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The setting:

February 7-8, 2015. Knob Noster State Park. 14 Girl Scouts, troop leaders and parents.

Girl Scout Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors from Troop 1754, 1721 and 2002. Temperature 70 degrees!

While the temperature was uncharacteristically warm for a February day in Missouri, girls still learned plenty about being prepared!

Dwight Fowler, troop leader for Girl Scout Seniors walked everyone through how to find and setup the ideal camp. Using only tarps and rope, they built a shelter for themselves that would keep them warm, dry and as comfortable as possible in the elements.

After camp was set up, they all gathered for lunch. Some brought their food, but most were open to trying an MRE or Meals Ready to Eat; a self-contained individual food ration that is commonly used by the military. Another food option , a classic camp choice – fried Spam, cooked up by veteran camper and Girl Scout Senior, Cecilie Fowler!

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Cecilie is the daughter of Michele and Dwight Fowler, and for her just a normal weekend with her outdoor-inspiring parents. It didn’t matter if the temperature was 70 degrees or 7!

Cecilie has been a Girl Scout for 11 years and has four older brothers all of which she saw participating in in outdoor adventures through Boy Scouts. It was natural for Michele and Dwight to make sure that their daughter was having the same opportunities and experiences that their sons had.

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Michele looks to Cecilie for her experience and leadership to get the girls into some fun and safe mischief! Last year on their hike, she was leading the group across a small shallow frozen stream (what girl doesn’t want to walk on ice at least once?!). On Girl Scout was wearing rubber rain boots and while crossing the ice, slipped and her leg went into the stream. Unharmed, she stood up, dumped out her boot from the water and found that she had caught a fish!

Its adventures like winter survival camping with Girl Scouts that give girls the courage and confidence to try things in a safe environment and make memories that last a lifetime.

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If you’re looking to take your girl or troop on an outdoor winter survival weekend, here are the top 5 things that Michele says are a must:

  1. Layers, layers, layers. Bring plenty of clothes to change in an out of. You never know when you’ll fall in a stream!
  2. Pocket knife/multipurpose tool. You’ll need to cut rope, pull hot items off the fire, etc.
  3. Sleeping bag. This simple item can make all the difference. If you’re not comfortable, it will be a very long night!
  4. High protein foods. You want to stay fuller, longer.
  5. Solid boots/shoes. Mud, water, sticks, leaves, holes, etc. are all possible when you’re camping and hiking. To go above and beyond, wear boots that protect your ankles.

Does your girl want to try her hand at building shelter and cooking her own meals while camping? Sign her up for primitive camping this summer at Camp Daisy Hindman with an Outpost session!

Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout – Kerry Baker

As with many parents who show up for Girl Scout informational meetings they never expect they will leave as a new troop leader.

But their excited daughters who want to join look up at their parents, hoping they’ll take a chance and say, YES! That’s exactly what Kerry Baker did that day. He became the leader for Troop 559 at Cedar Creek Elementary in Olathe, Kansas.

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“It never even occurred to me that I had the opportunity to lead a troop,” Kerry said. “But I have a more flexible schedule than my wife so it made sense for me to do it.”

Kerry is in his 19th year as a career law enforcement officer currently working as a federal agent. He admits that being a troop leader for his fourth grade daughter, Paige, is the complete opposite of what he does for a living.

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“When I started it was a new troop of ten Daisies. I wasn’t sure how my experiences would translate,” Kerry said. “But one of the things we did was have the girls take a self-defense seminar. They learned the basics and ended up loving it.”

Kerry realized that although he is a man he is passionate about teaching girls that there are no limits to what they can achieve.

“I want them to know, nobody ever has the right to restrict their possibilities in life,” Kerry said. “I think it’s so important to stop gender stereotypes.”

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Kerry is now in his fourth year of volunteering with the Girl Scouts. This year, as the assistant leader. He has come a long way from the first year when he didn’t know how parents would react to a male troop leader. He briefly contemplated stepping aside for this year but parents contacted him to personally ask him to stay on with the troop. Not to mention his daughter telling him, “No way, dad!”

Although he already spends a lot of time with his daughter, he likes the special activities that allow them to truly interact. The troop recently stayed overnight at Camp Tongawood. Kerry challenges all Girl Scout dads to volunteer for the overnights at camp.

“Sometimes, even though you’re at home with your family, there can be so many distractions,” Kerry said. “It’s important to spend quality time connecting with my daughter and Girl Scouts provides that. Even if I were the only male troop leader in the country I would still do it because I love it so much.”

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We like the sound of that, Kerry! Thank you for all you do for your Girl Scout and so many others. In addition to his troop leader responsibilities, Kerry is also serving on the new Outdoor Experiences Task Force.

Do you know a great GS man we should spotlight? Tell us his story!

The Power of the Outdoors

Building courage, confidence, and character that lasts a lifetime

Some will say that today’s girls are so different than in generations past. Sure, that is true with new technologies, learning from past accomplishments and failures and a unique societal landscape. However, there are similarities that all Girl Scouts share – the biggest, a yearning to try new things, especially in the outdoors.

An outdoor experience helps girls learn new skills, overcome challenges and ultimately grow into a confident leader. This is Joan Wagnon’s Girl Scout story. A story she shares with thousands of other Girl Scout alumnae. Joan’s leadership journey began in her troop and the outdoor opportunities she experienced with other girls.

Joan Wagnon

She recalls her outdoor path fondly. The time the family pastor came to her home to help answer questions her father had about what she would be experiencing in the outdoors. How she felt when she built her first campfire. The fun she had in building a buddy burner using tuna fish cans. The badges she earned in astronomy, hiking and conservation. The laughs, stories and skill-building she experienced with her Girl Scout sisters. The outdoors became a part of Joan early, and it led her to want to take on even more adventure. No different, than what today’s Girl Scouts want – more adventure, the bigger, the better!

So for Joan, more adventure meant primitive camping and taking on challenges in the water. As part of an eight girl patrol, Joan headed to a great national GS primitive camp out in Kerrville, Texas. This was a true primitive experience down to the girls having to haul water to their campsite. In 1956, Joan was selected to attend another national experience in Pontiac, Michigan with 6,000 Girl Scouts camping together. Hiking, fishing, fire building and more challenges was giving Joan those critical skills that would serve her later in life.

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Primitive camping was great, but Joan wanted more. She loved the water. At that time, girls could choose different focus areas called Mounted, Wing or Mariner Girl Scouts. Joan chose Mariner. She learned water safety, recanvased a canoe and enjoyed outings navigating the water.

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As Joan became a Girl Scout alumna, she didn’t say goodbye to Girl Scouts. She mentored a whole new generation as a Mariner troop leader in the places she resided, Columbia, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas and Topeka, Kansas. As she led her troop in Topeka, she supported girls as they built a sailboat and eventually supported an every other year trip to the Boundary Waters.

Joan continues to pay it forward leading the charge for national and local outdoor opportunities for girls. It is such an honor for us to have a past Girl Scout National Board member and outdoors expert like Joan lead our new Outdoor Experiences Task Force. The work of this Task Force is exciting as it will help bring bold outdoor experiences to girls across our 47 counties and hopefully beyond. Just imagine what is possible, our council’s outdoor experiences could be a destination for girls around the country!

Getting outdoors is healthy! It is important for girls to go unplugged! The outdoors builds self-reliance, teamwork and of course courage, confidence, and character!

There are incredible outdoor stories across our council. Maybe it is taking a hike for the first time, learning about the wonders of water, ziplining, horseback riding or… Share your story with us. You may be a future blog feature of spotlighted through our social media sites.