Go Gold!

This weekend we celebrated the amazing accomplishments of 48 Girl Scouts who have earned the highest award in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award, at our annual Honors Ceremony. Their Take Action projects addressed everything from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to domestic violence awareness and prevention, community gardens and food pantries. However, they all had one common theme – make their community a better place.

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The Honors Ceremony opened with an expo of the projects completed by the Gold Award recipients. Younger Girl Scouts beamed as they went table to table talking to our inspiring women about their projects and completing a Gold Award Bingo card in order to earn a patch!

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Girl Scout Troop 4306 from Topeka, Kansas kicked off the Honors Ceremony with a traditional flag ceremony and Girl Scout Brownie Cordelia McNabney from Troop 1746 rocked the house with her performance of the National Anthem.

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This year Joyce Termini awarded the 20th scholarship in memory of her late Girl Scout daughter, Beth Winters, to Gold Award Recipient Lindi Oyler for her community efforts, school involvement and performance and her work in earning her Gold Award. Former scholarship recipient Lindsay Albracht presented Lindi with the award.

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Each Gold Award recipient in attendance was awarded the official Gold Award Pin during the ceremony by a troop leader, family or an important role model in their life. Hearing the stories and seeing the admiration exchanged from honorees to families was remarkable.

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Our 2014 National Young Woman of Distinction and 2013 Gold Award Recipient, Paige Young empowered our awardees to go through the next stage of their life with 10 fundamental thoughts in mind, including taking risks and making time for themselves. Honestly, they were 10 fundamental thoughts we ALL should keep in mind.

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Thank you to all who made this wonderful event a success! Our Gold Award Advisory Board, you were there with the girls each step of the way through this intense process. Gold Award family and friends, these girls couldn’t have done it without your support. To our troop leaders, thank you for guiding and encouraging girls to pursue the highest award.

It really is ALL about that GOLD!

Well, don’t just take our word for it, read about each of our Gold Award Recipients and their projects and learn about their amazing accomplishments for yourself!

2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Gold Award – attend a Gold Award workshop and make plans to earn the highest award in Girl Scouting during this anniversary year!

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout – Lauren Raibble

For Lauren Raibble, the outdoors is her oasis. It doesn’t matter where she is – Kansas City or Utah, she thrives with the dirt beneath her feet and the wind in her hair.

Lauren grew up in the Outdoor Adventure and Learning Program in our council and her Girl Scout experiences have taken her to all sorts of adventures in the great outdoors. From backpacking in Arkansas to being an aquatics instructor in Japan, participating in the Outdoor Educator Semester in the Rocky Mountains to now serving as a the Outdoor Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of Utah – Lauren has quite the “outdoor resume!”

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It was 1998, in first grade, when Lauren had her first outdoor experience at resident camp. Lauren attended resident camp every summer after that, and in 2007 she participated in the CIT (Counselor in Training) Program. “My CIT summer was my favorite summer! It was great getting to learn more about our camps, more about working with girls, and learning more about myself in the process,” Lauren said. “It was during this summer that I decided that being a camp counselor was what I wanted to do for a very long time. I even started brainstorming different jobs that would allow me to have the summers off to work camp.”

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Lauren worked as a resident camp counselor at GSKSMO 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2011 she embarked on an exciting opportunity to work as an aquatics counselor for children of military families on a naval base in Japan. She then returned to GSKSMO in 2012 as a Unit Leader/CIT Director. “It was great to be able to take all I learned throughout the three years of being a counselor to help new staff members and train future staff members for our camps!

In 2013 Lauren went to Camp Cloud Rim, a camp property at Girl Scouts of Utah, as an Assistant Camp Director for an internship to complete her undergraduate degree. She returned to Camp Cloud Rim in 2014 for a second summer as the Assistant Camp Director.

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Her favorite memory from working at camp the past six years is from that summer of her internship. Due to camper/staffer ratios, Lauren had to be a counselor for a week-long leadership program. At first she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to fulfill all of her duties as Assistant Camp Director, but she ended up having the best week of her entire summer. “I loved being able to be back in the units interacting hands-on with the girls again. I was able to see that same passion in the girls that I had when I was a CIT of wanting to work with younger girls in a camp setting. These teenagers wanted to give girls the same experiences at camp that they were given themselves. I was able to see once again how much of a difference camp can make in a girl’s life,” Lauren said.

Lauren completed her degree in Leisure, Youth and Human Services with emphasizes in Outdoor Recreation and Nonprofit and Youth Administration from Northern Iowa University. In 2013 she participated in an Outdoor Educator Semester in the Rocky Mountains through the National Outdoor Leadership School and also earned her Leave No Trace Master Educator certification. Lauren is also a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

“For me, many of my ‘firsts’ in different outdoor activities came from Girl Scouts – horseback riding, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, ziplining, rappelling, archery, caving, and more! Girl Scouts is the organization that sparked my passion for the outdoors. I love more than anything that I get to give those same experiences and develop the same passion in other girls.”

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Today, Lauren calls Girl Scouts of Utah council home, where she works full time as the Outdoor Program Specialist.

“I wanted to be able to take everything that Girl Scout camp had given me and give the same great experience to other girls. With every additional program I attended/worked and with every summer that passed, my love continued to grow and grow.”

Give your girl the opportunity to experience the great outdoors through our Resident Camp program this summer! Spots are still open, including in the CIT Program!

Best Girl Scout Friends Forever (BGSFF)

Spotlight on GS Alumnae & New Leaders Kristen McDaniel and Kassie Peters

Surely you’ve heard the new age term, BFF, which stands for Best Friends Forever. Well, how about this new term BGSFF, which stands for Best Girl Scout Friends Forever?

If not, we’re about to introduce you to two young women who happen to be the perfect example of BGSFF!

Kristen McDaniel and Kassie Peters both grew up as best friends and joined Girl Scouts together in Independence, Missouri. They started as Daisies and continued through Junior Girl Scouts.

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“Both our moms were our troop leaders,” Kristen said. “Our moms were so excited and proud of us when we told them we were going to be leaders!”

That’s right! Kassie and Kristen, both just 21-years-old, decided that they wanted to volunteer their time to the organization that brought them together and helped keep their bond strong throughout the years. So they reached out to our council and said, “We want to volunteer”!

Kassie and Kristen both took part in a recent New Leader Express Training, which gave them the perfect starter course in all things troop leader! They both got a chuckle out of the fact that they already felt comfortable with a lot of the information shared. That’s what happens when Girl Scouts makes a lasting impact on your life. You take it with you as you go out into the real world!

They formed Daisy Troop 1647 in Independence, Missouri.

“We didn’t take over a troop as we wanted to start completely fresh and grow with our girls,” Kristen said. “Our first meeting was just last week and we will meet throughout the summer too.”

Although as leaders they know they are still in the very beginning stages, Kristen and Kassie are both hopeful for the future of their troop. Together, they imagine their troop, comprised of four girls right now, expanding in August as the new school year starts.

“We obviously want our troop to be active with volunteer work,” Kristen said. “We want our community to see how awesome Girl Scouts are and how much they can help others.”

They also have some fun activities planned such as the upcoming Girl Scout Day at The K and a scavenger hike at Burr Oak Woods, one of our many community partners.

One of the biggest lessons that Kristen and Kassie learned during their own Girl Scout days was that of respect. Respecting themselves and respecting others! They hope to focus on teaching the girls life skills and virtues that will last a lifetime.

Kristen and Kassie – thank you for dedicating your valuable time to helping girls in your area! We realize there are many things you could have chosen to do and we are thrilled that you chose to continue in Girl Scouting now as adult volunteers!

Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout – Mark Quintana

For more than 12 years, Mark Quintana has been volunteering with Girl Scouts in Topeka, Kansas where his family resides. As a longstanding volunteer, he has seen many Girl Scouts grow from Daisies all the way to Ambassadors.

His oldest daughter, Payge, is now a freshman in college. But when Payge became a Brownie he felt the pull to get more involved.

“When you take an active role in your kids’ lives it pays off,” Mark said about volunteering as the Cookie Manager, then and now. “It’s good for me and for them.”

Mark’s middle daughter, Molina, is a Brownie in troop #7008 and his wife, Karri, is the troop leader.

“I like being an ear and a reference for my wife who also serves as the Service Unit Event Coordinator,” Mark said. “It was her idea for me to get involved as a volunteer.”

Thankfully, Mark said yes and has been an avid supporter of Girl Scouts for as long as his daughters have been involved. As Cookie Manager he is an integral part of the organization and dedication it takes to have a successful cookie season. He is also a great cheerleader for girls as they set their goals. He wants to see them not only meet that goal – but exceed it!

“I always get a little weepy-eyed when I see girls come alive while selling cookies,” Mark said. “There was a girl who set a goal to sell 30 boxes but I believed she could do more than that.”

With Mark’s positive coaching, the Girl Scout was able to sell 350 boxes! We know that sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in us. Or maybe, someone to tell you to believe in yourself, which is exactly the way Mark thinks.

Mark watches as Girl Scouts perform a science experiment.

Mark watches as Girl Scouts perform a science experiment.

 

He believes that Girl Scouts opens doors for girls to accomplish things they never expected to. “When they get a chance to do things that their parents didn’t even know they could do – that’s powerful,” Mark said.

Mark’s already got his “Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout” t-shirt and wears it loud and proud. He thinks it is important to stimulate discussion so more men know they can and should get involved in Girl Scouts.

“We need to let them know that there are plenty of roles out there for them,” Mark said. “You can help girls. You can help the council. Girls will be stronger and build confidence because of you.”

Some of his favorite memories include traveling to Savannah, Georgia and Omaha, Nebraska, as well as teaching Girl Scouts how to change a tire. He says it’s most exciting when you see a girl and the light comes on. You can really see them figuring out “I can do it!”

“Yes, there may be limits out there for women,” Mark said. “But your limits are only what you impose on yourself. Just because someone tells you no, it doesn’t have to stop you.”

Wow – isn’t it wonderful for Girl Scouts to hear these things from such an amazing male role model?

Mark, thank you for being Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout and for helping girls learn that they have value in this world!

Do you know a great man we should spotlight for this feature? Let us know by emailing prdept@gsksmo.org.

A Very Lucky and Fun Day at Camp Winding River

Friday the 13th was anything but unlucky for 57 Girl Scouts and 11 volunteers from the North Region’s St. Joseph Initiative program! Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes loaded up buses Friday morning, armed with lunch and their curiosity and headed out for a day in the great outdoors at Camp Winding River in Dearborn, Missouri.

Upon arrival, Daisies and Brownies teamed up for a meet and greet with our horses while the Juniors and Cadettes did STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities. After enjoying a picnic style lunch in the beautiful 65 degree weather, the groups switched activities!

Girls loved learning about all of our horses, comparing their sizes, grooming and even giving them a treat! While riding the horses wasn’t in the schedule, many of them talked about going back to Winding River and saddling up on one of their “new friends!”

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A Girl Scout’s favorite treat is obviously a Girl Scout Cookie, but we have strong evidence that the close second is ice cream! After building solar activated bracelets and learning how sunscreen works, girls tried their hand at making their own frozen creations. They combined ingredients, used a little elbow grease paired with a lot of patience (10 minutes worth, to be exact) to shake up cream in a bath of ice and rock salt to get a frozen final product! The girls were quite pleased seeing the culinary arts and science combine for a delectable and refreshing final product!

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Girl Scouts who attended this fun getaway to Winding River are part of the St. Joseph Initiative, a new program we offer in some of our Title 1 schools across St. Joseph. Thanks to generous donors, we are connecting more girls to awesome Girl Scout experiences like this Camp Winding River getaway. For many of these girls, it was their first time to camp and meeting a horse up close and personal.

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The Impact of Daisy’s Circle

What an amazing time we’ve had so far celebrating Girl Scout Week! Today is also a special day as it’s Daisy’s Circle Day!

If you haven’t heard of Daisy’s Circle yet – it’s our council’s easy monthly giving program. So what does that mean exactly? It means you can choose the amount you want to give each month to support programs for Girl Scouts in our 47 counties.

In its first year, Daisy’s Circle had 190 members join! Members like Matthew and Crystal Briskey of Independence, Missouri.

When their daughter, Julie, was about to begin Kindergarten they decided to have her join Girl Scouts. For many families the choice to join an extra activity is easy. But Crystal was a bit hesitant due to her daughter’s autism diagnosis. She put her worries aside and decided to let her daughter try it out. And even volunteered as a troop leader!

Can you guess what happened next? Julie began to flourish in her Girl Scout troop!

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Being outside had always induced extreme anxiety for Julie. But with her friends and mom by her side, Julie felt safe to explore the new situation while attending day camp for the first time.

“She got so dirty that weekend,” Crystal said with a smile. “She is getting exposure to new experiences and that is so important to build social skills.”

School is often a struggle for her daughter but Girl Scouts has opened a whole new world for her. This past summer she was even able to go to overnight camp! Although there were a few calls home at first – Julie ended up having a blast and says she can’t wait to go back for a whole week this summer.

Girl Scouts serves as a bonding experience for Crystal and her daughter that she said didn’t exist before. Not only that but Crystal, who is a stay-at-home mom to three children with special needs, said Girl Scouts has given her a chance to make friends too! She serves as a troop leader, recruiter and Daisy consultant for the council.

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Matthew and Crystal attended the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon last year and heard about Daisy’s Circle there.

“They asked if anyone wanted to become founding members,” Crystal remembered. “My husband and I looked at each other and we both knew it was something we were going to do.”

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Crystal admits that as a one-income family, donating is a sacrifice. But for something that is so important to their daughter’s well being, it is just one thing they can do to give back.

“You have no idea the huge impact your donation can have,” Crystal said. “I know for certain that this troop has changed my daughter’s life.”

You, too, can change lives for girls just like Julie by becoming a member of Daisy’s Circle. On Daisy’s Circle Day – help us make a BIG impact in the lives of girls in our community.

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

Close your eyes for a moment and let’s take a trip down memory lane.

It’s March 12, 1912, 103 years ago today. You are one of the first 18 members joining Girl Scouts and Juliette Gordon Low, our founder, is there to witness what would someday become the inspiring organization it is today. Can you imagine the excitement, the emotions, the hope those girls felt?

We easily forget what a bold endeavor it was for Juliette to start what would become a worldwide movement. Our National Girl Scout CEO said it best.

Girl Scouts is such an iconic organization that it’s easy to overlook how daring an idea it was for founder Juliette Gordon Low to gather those first 18 girls in that troop in Savannah, Georgia. It was 1912, after all, and women wouldn’t earn the right to vote for another eight years.” Anna Maria Chavez

We’ve gone from 18 Girls to 2 Million Girls and 800,000 adult volunteers – Juliette would be proud of all Girl Scouts has done to carry on her legacy, don’t you think?

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Whether you’re a Girl Scout volunteer, parent, caregiver or supporter – you’ve helped move girls forward to the bright futures ahead of them.

So today, on the 103rd birthday of Girl Scouts, we ask you to share some Girl Scout memories with someone you know. Take the time to tell someone about how Girl Scouts has impacted you or your loved one.

After 103 years the first 18 members still have a story to tell – and so do you!

Cookie Construction Build Day

Nearly 6 months of ideas, learning and hard work came to fruition on the morning of Saturday, March 7! Nearly 50 Girl Scouts ascended upon Crown Center, armed with glue, tape, scissors, hot glue guns, paint brushes, visions and plans to finally bring their ideas to life at Cookie Construction Build Day.

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!

Participating in Cookie Construction has been no easy feat. This program has been intensive, demanding and at times possibly taxing…similar to what being a real life architect is like. Cookie Construction encourages Girl Scouts to stretch out of their comfort zone, give and take in a team environment and put their creative minds to work. Our Girl Scouts triumphed and their work was reworded ten-fold on the Build Day when the public, the press, the Girl Scout council, their mentors and families finally were able to witness and appreciate all their hard work in person.

Much like in the professional design field, the reward is in the final product.  But, for these girls the reward was also in the entire process. They made new Girl Scout friends outside of their troop, built student/mentor relationships with female professionals, learned about themselves and their abilities, gained an understanding of how to work with different abilities, opinions and personalities and developed courage and confidence in themselves.

During the Award Ceremony, Mayor Sly James commended these young women on their hard work and dedication to the Cookie Construction program. He even made them take an oath that they would grow up and use their talents to better and strengthen the Kansas City community!

“I, do hear by promise that regardless of where I go to school and whether I become an architect, engineer or generally a good person, and whether I decide after college to go spend a couple years someplace else, even though that’s not a good idea, I promise to return back to Kansas City, build great things, do great things, make my community better, and make parents and grandparents extremely happy.”

“I expect to see each and every one of you back here!” Mayor Sly James said.

So, what did these teams do with 5,000 Girl Scout Cookie boxes and the prompt of “I can’t wait to…”?? Take a look for yourself:

Discover the World

By: The Creative Innovators

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See the Amazing Cookie Race

By: The Cookie Cadettes

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Be the Real Me in KC

By: The Lady Royals

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Get to the Candy Castle

By: The Designing Divas

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Explore Girl Scout Cultures of the World

By: Team Chantilly

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So how was just ONE winner chosen? It wasn’t easy, just ask our five jurors: Kennetra Pulliams, Time Warner Cable Sports Channel Anchor/Reporter; Susan Richards Johnson, AIA, Senior Principal, Susan Richards Johnson & Associates; Laura Lesniewski, AIA, Principal, BNIM; Carol Hallquist, President at Hallmark Corporate Foundation; and, Richard Wetzel, AIA and former Girl Scout Board Member, Partner, Centric Projects.

Using a rubric, these judges evaluated each structure on several elements and aspects including creativity in design, structural design, use of color/labels, craftsmanship and adherence to rules and regulations. Ultimately, the Juror’s Choice Award winner were The Lady Royals for their structure depicting Kansas City. They loved the creativity of including important aspects of the city, as well as including additional elements that were important to the members of the team such as a culinary institute and homeless shelter. They loved the quality of the structure overall and one judge even said “had I built Union Station like that in grad school, I would have received an ‘A’!”

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Anne Johnston, Manager of Community Partners said “It was inspiring to see what our Girl Scouts worked so hard on over six months and built in four short hours. Their creativity and teamwork throughout this entire process has amazed me.”

This program wouldn’t have been possible without our presenting sponsor Time Warner Cable , and our program partners The American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA Kansas City),Women in Design Kansas City (WiD KC),  and  Crown Center.

A very special thank you goes out to the Team Leads and design firms who worked with our Girl Scouts for the past six months: Samantha McCloud & Lillian Cooper, Gastinger Walker Harden + BeeTriplett Buck; Megan Kenna, Atlantic Engineering Group; Allison Vandever & Whitley Fields, SFS Architecture; Jessica Symons & Meredith Dabney, HTK Architects; Kate Dale, Essence of Australia; Alexandra Connors, Populous; Kirby Thomas, DLR Group; Cassiday Love; Phaedra Svec & Emily Thompson, BNIM; Rosemary Nelson, ACI Boland; Laura Nies, Burns & McDonnell; Tori Jarquio, MM Property & Remodeling; Hannah Grbavac, Lisa Schmitz Interior Design.

Structures will be on display at Crown Center through March 27. Be sure to cast your vote for “People’s Choice Award” before the structures come down!

We are happy to announce that Cookie Construction will be an annual event! Registration for 2016 will be open late this summer!

See more photos from the event on our Facebook Page!

2nd Annual Kappa Delta Girl Scout Cookie Challenge

College students + Girl Scout Cookies = a match made in heaven. Especially at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University!

On Thursday, March 5 the Kappa Delta chapters at KU and K-State each worked with a Girl Scout troop to see which Kappa Delta chapter could sell the most cookies in a three hour period in the 2nd Annual Kappa Delta Cookie Challenge!

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“This is the best day of my life!” Said Chris Reusz, a K-State student.

In its inaugural year, K-State claimed the title, selling nearly 400 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in a two hour period.

This year, KU channeled their disappointment and used it for good, working with Troop 1915 and selling 1,199 boxes (yes, you read that right) of Girl Scout Cookies and bringing home the coveted Golden Thin Mint!!

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Troop 7569 and K-State finished strong, selling 624 boxes!

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“This event has inspired me to have confidence in the goals that we are striving to achieve each and every day,” said Katie Proctor, K-State Kappa Delta.

Combined, the schools sold 1,823 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. That’s enough to provide girls more dollars for fun activities, trips and community service, two months of food for our horses at Camp Winding River, safety helmets for our Adventure Program and financial assistance for at least 200 Girl Scouts’ participation.

MollyPatt Horan, KU Kappa Delta said “I have loved seeing the Kappa Delta’s have so much fun with promoting the event and making it fun for the Girl Scouts!”

We are so grateful for the partnership with Kappa Delta. Thank you all for being great role models and working with our Girl Scouts on their 5 skills!

Celebrating 50 Years in Girl Scouting

Ellen & Jim Westerhaus Making a Difference in the Lives of Girls

There is a popular saying among many long time Girl Scout alumnae and volunteers. I am a proud Girl Scout; I bleed GREEN. This powerful phrase exemplifies the commitment Ellen and Jim Westerhaus have for Girl Scouts.

Ellen and Jim Westerhaus from Junction City, Kansas are the super couple that everyone knows and tries to emulate. They have served in nearly every volunteer role and continue to be extraordinary advocates for Girl Scouting in their community and beyond.

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Volunteering for one organization for 50 years is a tremendous milestone, so of course we must celebrate. As many know, Ellen and Jim quietly give back and don’t want a fuss made. But, March 8 begins Girl Scout Week and what better way to celebrate a fantastic milestone while making sure the event stays girl-focused.

So we crossed that hurdle, and the celebration is on. What is even better? Ellen and Jim have an opportunity to reflect on their years of service. Of course, their camping stories are countless. They are committed to getting girls outdoors and feeling such pride when they overcome challenges. Favorite stories include a three day covered wagon camp-out in the 1960s or the many times girls would just stare in awe at the night sky or go on moonlit hikes. These activities didn’t cost much, but they certainly provided priceless memories for girls.

In addition to the awesome camping knowledge she shared with girls, Ellen also served as a troop leader taking her daughter’s troop from Brownie to Senior Girl Scouts. She served as the service unit day camp director for 12 years, Thinking Day coordinator and caretaker for the Girl Scout House. Ellen doesn’t take all the credit for bringing great things to girls.

Jim enthusiastically joins her in service. He is constantly making improvements and performs routine maintenance at the Girl Scout House. He makes sure that troop and day camps are ready to go for Girl Scouts.

Ellen and Jim wish for so much for today’s Girl Scouts. They want the girls to enjoy their experience and make memories that they will hold dear just as they have. For 103 years, the Girl Scout mission has been strong – building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Our mission would not be possible without compassionate and committed volunteers like Ellen and Jim Westerhaus.

On Sunday March 8 as we kick off Girl Scout Week, we are so proud to honor Ellen and Jim. In fact, Ellen and Jim will show off their hard work at the Girl Scout House and girls will complete traditional activities like learning the parts of a flag ceremony. And of course, there will be learning and earning of a patch. Not just any patch, a special 50 years in Girl Scouting patch honoring Ellen and Jim!

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Thank you, Ellen and Jim Westerhaus for all you have done to make Girl Scouting possible! Your generous and selfless service has done so much to further our mission. Congratulations on this incredible milestone!!