We are Thankful

This time of year is full of warmth, family and food…but we also know it’s full of busy schedules.  Packing in family events, holiday cooking and battling stores can make the holidays seem like a race to get everything in.  So we want to say THANK YOU for taking a few moments in this busy time of year to think about Girl Scouts and how, as a team, we are empowering girls.  In this season of thanks and of giving, we want to say thank you to the volunteers, parents / caregivers, donors and friends who make the world a better place for girls.

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We are thankful for Girl Scouts. Our girls are inspiring. Every day Girl Scouts are making a positive impact on the world around them and in their own lives. The creative ideas that are generated in girl-led activities show us that the future is full of promise. We say thanks to the girls who have picked a path of Courage, Confidence, and Character and the dedication that requires. You are making the world better for all of us.

We are thankful for the volunteers. Our volunteers are change-makers. These individuals help us create amazing opportunities for more than 20,000 girls in 47 counties across Kansas and Missouri. What an incredible team we are together. We thank all of you! Every troop leader who shows a Daisy her first service project. Every caregiver who makes Girl Scout meetings a priority in the life of their Girl Scout. Every community member who volunteers their time and resources to a troop. Every Girl Scout Cookie Mom or Dad who spends countless hours organizing, learning and supporting their troops. Together, we are changing the world for girls.

We are thankful for the donors. Every dollar raised helps to support girls from all walks of life get the best experiences Girl Scouts can provide. In Girl Scouts, many girls get to camp for the first time, do a service project that teaches them the joy found in giving and meet friends who push them to succeed. The gifts received each year help us develop innovative programs to engage girls, provide support for volunteers and create opportunities. We thank you for not only financially supporting this organization, but for being an advocate to help us encourage more donors to join our circle of giving.

Everyone who is part of the Girl Scouts family knows the power of giving. As in previous years, Girl Scouts is a proud partner of the #GivingTuesday global movement that celebrates giving. You can check out our exciting event that will take place in just ONE WEEK – on Dec. 1 (Giving Tuesday)! The Facebook Event is a great place to learn about Giving Tuesday.

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From now through Dec. 1, we will be accepting gifts through a special donation page. Every dollar received through this page will help us show the world how much of an impact one day of giving can have. Be part of this celebration of giving by changing your profile photo on Dec. 1, posting a #UnSelfie of yourself giving to Girl Scouts and by sharing the Facebook event!  More details can be found on the event page and we hope you join us for Giving Tuesday!

Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING from your family at Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri! We’d love to hear what you’re thankful for as well. Comment below to share!

Creating a Magical Outdoor Experience

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Camp is a place many would describe as “magical.” Surrounded by nature, friends and activities, it’s a place where girls learn to explore, make new friends and become self-reliant. Our council is fortunate enough to have great camps around the region that open Girl Scouts to a world of outdoor adventure.  Camp Daisy Hindman, located in our Western Region, is a favorite among campers because of its history and location in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. This is where students from K-State have been working on a project with us to determine the health of the lake on property and create a proposal for improvements as part of a capstone class.

When we began exploring options for making environmental changes to Lake Odanata at Camp Daisy, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to involve college aged women in a STEM field. Through a connection with a community partner, we reached out to K-State for help and the team of four female students answered the call. Students Erica Schmitz, Margaret Spangler, Kayla Wehkamp and Laura Wilson are all seniors at K-State majoring in Biological Systems Engineering. Kari Bigham, a graduate student at K-State, also assisted on the project.

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The project is aimed at assessing the current state of Lake Odanata, recommending ways to maintain lake health and suggesting environmentally friendly ways to make improvements (like a beach entrance). The analysis and design will be the students’ senior project – the biggest undertaking in their college career. Erica, Margaret, Kayla and Laura picked the project because it was so environmentally focused. “This was an environmental project and it suited out interests,” K-State senior Kayla Wehkamp said.

The first trip to Camp Daisy took place at the end of the summer, where the team examined erosion rates from streams connecting to the lake. They wanted to know if there was an abnormal activity. For this task, the girls trekked up the streams and took measurements in mud and water. They also analyzed a problem with the invasive plant species called milfoil. This beautiful little plant, if left to grow uncontrolled, can block sun from getting to other plants and animals that call the lake their home. The team analyzed the situation for Girl Scouts and recommended environmentally friendly ways to keep the plant in check (introducing a new fish species was one of their early ideas).

The second trip to Camp Daisy was an insect scouting trip in mid-September that allowed the group to assess the health of the lake. Covered in mud and waist-high in the water, the team started digging for bugs. “We could just take water quality data, but that only gives you one point of data where as these bugs give you a longer timeline,” Kayla said.

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There was a great deal of excitement as they found certain insect species that indicated the lake was in great health – like damselflies and dragonflies. These little bugs not only indicate the lake is healthy, but they’re also the namesake for the lake! Odanata means Dragonfly!

The final trip to Camp Daisy took place in October and involved taking a boat out on the lake and collecting data that would allow the team to create a map of the bottom of the lake. If you’re wondering how they did this, we will tell you it wasn’t with fancy equipment!  The girls got out into the lake themselves and measured from the top of the water to the bottom using a measuring stick. Using a grid system, they logged the measurements and will develop a general map of what Lake Odanata looks like on the bottom. This is the amazing type of hands-on work that we know girls love to do!

For these scientists, getting dirty is part of the job. “Scientists aim to study the world around us and the real world is messy!  We’ve got to get out there to fully understand it and sometimes that means getting a little dirty,” Erica Schmitz said. We love seeing women in a STEM field working to help girls get the best camp experience possible!

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This team still has a few more tests to run in the lab before finalizing their design, but we can’t wait to see their recommendations! Girl Scouts is all about inspiring women of all ages and providing unique opportunities to learn. The fresh eyes of these excited young scientists was exactly what the design piece of the project needed – and we’re so appreciative of their work! Thank you to the team at K-State for not only being an amazing partner, but for helping us make a more beautiful place for girls to discover who they are – AT CAMP!

If you have a Lake Odanata memory you’d like to share, comment below!

Community Partner Spotlight: Wayside Waifs

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Did you know that for every child born in the world, there are 45 cats and 15 dogs born?!

We are incredibly honored to work with 100+ Community Partners to enhance the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. One of those partners is Wayside Waifs, Kansas City’s largest no-kill animal shelter and pet adoption campus!

Wayside Waifs has been working with Girl Scout troops for years, long before the Community Partner program officially began! Amanda Smasal, Community Involvement Coordinator at Wayside estimates 1,000 Girl Scouts lend their time to Wayside annually, the largest group they work with (yay Girl Scouts)!

The Girl Scout/Wayside Waif partnership goes all the way back to 1944! This is a Brownie Girl Scout troop after they completed some activities and service at Wayside Waifs!

The Girl Scout/Wayside Waif partnership goes all the way back to 1944! This is a Brownie Girl Scout troop after they completed some activities and service at Wayside Waifs!

Girl Scout troops of all levels can visit the shelter and receive a tour of their facility. From animal intake and rescue to the state-of-the-art Veterinary Medical Center, the Adoption Center and adoptable pets, the 5-acre Bark Park and Memorial Gardens  – Girl Scouts (and accompanying adults) will see it all! Troops can make it an extra special trip and spend an hour after the tour helping with projects at the shelter such as making animal treats and toys!

The newest program at Wayside Waifs is called “Paw-ettiquette for Pooches & People: Dog Safety.  In this program, a Humane Educator with the shelter brings his or her dog out to troop meetings to teach girls the proper way to interact with a new or unfamiliar dog! Humane Educator, Ashley Stanley has been taking her dog Maisy to Girl Scout troops as part of this program. She teaches them  7 “Never -Evers” about interacting with new or unfamiliar dogs in Paw-etticquette!

You should never ever:

  1. Pet a dog while it is eating or drinking
  2. Take a puppy from mama dog
  3. Pet a dog while its sleeping
  4. Tease it
  5. Put your fingers in fences or windows where a dog is
  6. Put your face in the dogs face
  7. Take a toy out of its mouth

Ashley and Maisy teach the girls that while you may be able to do these things with your own dog, it’s because it knows you. Each dog has its own personality, like each of us, and they will tolerate certain things from certain people!

Maisy, and the other dogs in this program have been through extensive animal temperament tests, ensuring the safety of all those engaged in the program!

In 2014, one group took their involvement with Wayside Waifs to the next level and worked with the shelter for their Silver Award project! A few Girl Scouts in Troop 990 from Overland Park, Kansas created nearly 1,000 cat scratch posts out of blocks of wood and sisal fabric!

Troop 990 assembling and delivering nearly 1,000 cat scratchers!

Troop 990 assembling and delivering nearly 1,000 cat scratchers!

For Amanda and Ashley, they are seeing the long-term impact that Wayside Waifs’ programming has on the girls and the adults. While some Girl Scouts end up leaving with a new four-legged family member(!), girls and adults are coming back to the shelter, sharing their experience with other troops and sponsoring the adoption of a pet, just to name a few. Other Girl Scouts like Troop 990 are continuing their support of the shelter, making supplies, holding item drives and coming back to volunteer.

“Not everyone knows why we have animal shelters. Having Girl Scouts and their parents come to Wayside and learn, see the lightbulb click for them, is the best,” Amanda said.

As for Ashley, her favorite part about working with Girl Scouts and Wayside is seeing people get more comfortable with animals. “Sometimes I see the kids and adults who are scared, aren’t familiar or have had a negative experience with animals get educated and see animals in a different light, that’s amazing to me.”

Daisy Girl Scout Troop 256 from Lenexa, Kansas visited Wayside Waifs and learned all about the responsibility it takes to be a good pet owner in February!

Daisy Girl Scout Troop 256 from Lenexa, Kansas visited Wayside Waifs and learned all about the responsibility it takes to be a good pet owner in February!

To learn more about Wayside Waifs visit their Community Partner Page! Has your troop or Girl Scout been involved with Wayside Waifs?! Share your story in the comments below!

Happy International Girls Day!

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We know that today’s girl is tomorrow’s leader.

However, only 18.5% of Congressional seats are held by women today and only 4.6% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.

Together, Girl Scouts of the USA and Kappa Delta Sorority partner with a goal of raising those percentages tomorrow. One of the efforts by both organizations is the celebration of International Girls Day.

International Girls Day is a project of the Confidence Coalition created by Kappa Delta Sorority in 2009 as an international movement that encourages women and girls to stand up to peer pressure and media stereotypes, say no to risky behavior and abusive relationships and put an end to relational aggression such as bullying – on the playground and in the office.

As an official partner and national philanthropy of Kappa Delta Sorority, we join Kappa Delta in celebrating this exciting day. Through this partnership, Kappa Delta members are making great things happen in the lives of Girls Scouts across the country and we are lucky to partner with two Kappa Delta Chapters at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.

While the two KD chapters are hosting events for Girl Scouts on November 15 (K-State) and November 18 (KU), we’ve come up with…

5 easy-peasy ways to celebrate International Girls Day right now:

  1. Write notes to your girlfriends describing the qualities you see in them.
    Do they command the room? Are they empathetic? Who always puts a smile on your face?
  2. Try something new you’ve always wanted to do!
    How about skateboarding? Make dinner for your family. Learn how mobile apps are created!
  3. Watch a girl empowering movie with your family!
  4. Research a woman who made a historical impact!
    Who exactly was Jane Goodall? Who was the original face of the $1 coin, Susan B. Anthony? What did Zora Neale Hurston do?
  5. Commit to believing in yourself!
    Sign the confidence pledge.

See more ways on how you can celebrate International Girls Day as a girl, adult, group or company and retail business!

However you celebrate being a girl today, or any other day, let the world know by using #YouCAN!

 

New Experiences and a World of Girl Scout Sisters

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According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, 90% of parents say their daughter has more new experiences through Girl Scouts than other after school activities. While these activities come in all different types, we know many of them are in the form of outdoor adventure and learning opportunities such as archery, zipline, rappel and equestrian encounters!

This past weekend we caught up with the Brownie and Junior troops from the Islamic Center in Johnson County who were experiencing horses for the first time through our Equestrian Program!

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For Girl Scout Brownie Fatima, this was her first time ever being around horses. Assigned to a horse named Jack, Fatima spent a good amount of time grooming him while they each got comfortable with each other before the riding session. While Fatima was patiently holding his reigns and awaiting further instruction, she was asked if she was excited to ride. She took a deep breath, and her eyes opened wide and she softly and calmly said, “I’m nervous.”

The the great thing about trying new things as a Girl Scout is that you’re not alone. You have a great support system of fellow Girl Scout sisters including staff, leaders and troop members encouraging you to conquer your fears and succeed!

As it came time to move Jack from the stall to the arena, Fatima bravely walked him in a line of horses all being led by her Girl Scout sisters. In the arena, she carefully listened to instructions and then climbed onto her horse. While nestled safely on Jack’s back, emotions started to come over her. For the first time that afternoon, Fatima became visibly nervous. One of the Wranglers took notice and within moments had Fatima’s nerves calmed. The Wrangler stuck by Fatima and Jack’s side for a couple laps around the arena. As Fatima’s smile grew larger with each lap, the Wrangler knew that all was well and that Fatima was ready to ride Jack all by herself.

Fatima gets ready to take Jack into the arena!

Fatima gets ready to take Jack into the arena!

Fatima’s troop at the Islamic Center of Johnson County is only in their second year of Girl Scouting. Last year troop leader Nilofar Yasmin utilized our Community Programs taking Girl Scouts to Sealife aquarium, martial arts classes and the Coterie Theatre just to name a few! This year they are excited about the outdoor adventure and learning opportunities, such as the Equestrian Program, and have big plans to zipline and attend family camp!

“They’re learning and having so much fun building their confidence as a group of just girls,” Nilofar said. “In Girl Scouts, it’s girl led and empowering our girls to be leaders.”

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While new adventures can be scary, they can also be some of the most rewarding experiences that girls like Fatima have. When girls try new things through Girl Scouts, they are supported by those they can trust. Tackling one new experience gives them the courage to say “yes” to the next new adventure because they have built confidence within themselves thanks to the support from their Girl Scout sisters.

Sisterhood might be the thing that Nilofar loves the most about Girl Scouts. “Our Girl Scouts are sisters to each other, all Girl Scouts all over the world. That is amazing to me.”

Is your troop trying something new? We would love to come along with you and share your story. Leave your comments below or email prdept@gsksmo.org to share photos and tell us more!

 

Forever a Girl Scout

 

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Did you know that more than half of the women in business are Girl Scout alumnae? And, 57% of these alumnae credit the Girl Scout Cookie Program in the development of their skills today. Meet Casey Simmons, a Girl Scout alumna who exemplifies these statistics.

Casey Simmons is one-half of the dynamic duo who own STUFF, a store located in Brookside that caters to one’s creative spirit and unique personality. We would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to the other half of the STUFF duo, S. Sloane Simmons. That’s right, Casey and Sloane are sisters in business, together for more than 20 years. Well, if you go back to their Girl Scout Cookie business, it’s like 40+ years in business!

Casey remembers her Girl Scout experience fondly. Like many younger sisters, Casey’s experience started before she was officially a Girl Scout as she watched (and yes, took part in some of the activities) that her older sister was doing. Casey’s mom and dad played an active volunteer role in supporting Sloane’s troop, which meant as a younger sister she tagged along too.

“There was always Girl Scout stuff going on in our house,” Casey said. “Girl Scouting was just a part of our family.”

When Casey became a Girl Scout, she remembers building new friendships facilitated by the girls only and learning how to make decisions. However, her fondest memories are all about camping. As Casey describes, getting to go to camp was “everything” and such a privilege. There were summers where she and her sister went to multiple sessions of resident camp. She would spend several years following writing to her new camp friends.

“I earned the privilege to go to camp, and once I did that the experience changed me,” Casey said. “I literally came home a new person, because at camp I had to learn to do things for myself like work as a team to lift a metal canoe overhead, walk it down to the shoreline and launch it.”

It was at camp that Casey learned she could try something new and overcome a challenge. Girl Scouts gave Casey an incredible perspective first by coming together with girls from different walks of life at camp. Then, it was seeing Girl Scouts as a worldwide sisterhood.

“My first global view came from Girl Scouts,” Casey said. “I was in awe to learn we were everywhere and together could do great things to change our world.”

"This is the reason I believe so much in Girl Scouts!” Junior Girl Scout Troop 678 takes part in a self-esteem activity with the UMKC Women’s Center.

“This is the reason I believe so much in Girl Scouts!” Junior Girl Scout Troop 678 takes part in a self-esteem activity with the UMKC Women’s Center.

To fund her new experiences and community service, Casey learned early about the impact participating in the Cookie Program could have. She fondly remembers first supporting her sister by unloading and lining up the orders in the living room. Running a business was something that came naturally, after all Casey grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. She watched her parents develop and set up several businesses throughout her childhood.

“The Girl Scout Cookie business was just another small business for our family, but this time I had a chance to run it,” Casey said.

As Casey remembers, the Girl Scout Cookie Program was the very first business that she and Sloane did together.

So let’s fast forward… Today, Casey and Sloane run an incredibly successful business together, as sisters. They each bring a set of skills that together facilitate every aspect needed. Casey loves the marketing side while Sloane loves inventory. Brilliant! And just think it all started in the family living room! Can’t you see it – Casey developing the marketing plan to meet their goal while Sloane makes sure orders are sorted and ready for delivery?

In addition to their business savvy, Casey and Sloane’s Girl Scout “make a difference” mantra continues. These women want to give back to the community that raised them. They want to lift up the creative individuals in our community. 70% of the items STUFF sells is made by individuals in the Kansas City community. In addition, they host parties to benefit local non-profits. Most of these parties are held during the holiday season through their Season of Giving.

“We want to raise awareness and much needed funds for these difference-makers across our community,” Casey said.

It is with great excitement that we announce STUFF has selected our council as one of its charity partners. We hope you will join us from 5:30 – 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 18. Come meet these incredible Girl Scout alumnae and buy a gift or two for a friend or family member. It’s time to start that shopping and just think 15% of all purchases during this special time will be donated to GSKSMO.

Running a business is hard work, but these two incredible sisters continue to make time to help others. They serve on community boards and advise others in business and marketing. We are thrilled that Casey is on our Board of Directors. And even better, she is a co-troop leader for Junior GS Troop 678 with a special member, her daughter. Yes, Girl Scouting continues to the next generation!

Thank you, STUFF and Casey & Sloane Simmons for all you do! We are so proud to have you as Girl Scout alumnae! Don’t forget to stop by STUFF on November 18!

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Kevin Harrill

 

blogHeader-ManEnoughIf you’ve been to a Girl Scout event, you know how exciting it is to engage with girls and watch them learn something new. As you’re talking with girls, do you ever stop and think about the person who set the event up, put the tablecloths on and made sure the event started on time?  The exceptional volunteers who work at the least glamorous job, the behind-the-scenes work, are critical to the overall success of Girl Scout.

This is where Girl Scout dad, Kevin Harrill, found his niche. “[Set-up] was where I saw the biggest shortage for volunteers. You can get people to come to an event to talk with the girls, but you can’t get anyone to help set-up,” said Kevin. He found that working to make an event run is how he could make the biggest impact on creating great experiences for his girls and their fellow Girl Scouts.

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As the father of a 13-year-old Cadette Girl Scout, Katrina (Troop 971) and 18-year-old Ambassador, Kaela (Troop 761), Kevin has had quite a bit of experience running Girl Scout events. He and his wife, Stephanie, have played an active role in their daughters’ Girl Scout experience since Kaela joined at the age of 5. Both strongly believe in being part of the journey their girls are taking.

“If I had boys, I’d be involved in Boy Scouts. As a parent, I feel you should be involved and active in your kids’ lives,” Kevin said. That’s why he worked to find the niche where he felt he could contribute his unique skill set.

Kevin was a chef for 17 years, so he found his Girl Scout home in the kitchen. “It’s natural and I don’t have to pull a lot of other people away. I cook 450-500 hot dogs at Day Camp, and it’s easy. Cooking isn’t work for me,” Kevin said. Since cooking is such a passion, the family has become a major part of Service Unit 645’s annual event – Rolling in the Dough.

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Rolling in the Dough is a service event and fundraiser hosted by Service Unit 645 in Blue Springs, Missouri. For a small fee, Girl Scouts come together and each girl makes two dozen rolls from scratch. After prepping the dough, they send them to Kevin for baking. Each girl takes one dozen home to their family and the second dozen is donated to local charities.

The event takes about six months of planning and “the month before, it’s our whole focus,” Kevin said. In 2014 Kevin baked 4,800 rolls for the event in just one day! “We maxed out last year with a little over 400 girls. We are there at 7:30 in the morning and we don’t get home until 9:30 at night,” Kevin says about the wildly successful event.

These events bring the family together and Kevin gets to see his daughters develop into leaders. “Girl Scouts teaches them that they can do things for themselves. They don’t have to be dependent on parents or even other people. They can achieve. They learn to think for themselves,” Kevin said.

One of the moments where Kevin knew he had his girls in the right organization was when his oldest daughter, Kaela, applied to be a Junior Counselor at Juliette Low camp. “When she found out she could work with disabled girls – it was the most excited I’ve ever seen her. It was from being in Girl Scouts and learning how to lead that brought her to that point. When you see results like that…you go ‘okay, you’re doing something [right],” Kevin said.

What an amazing moment – his daughter was so thrilled about an opportunity to serve. That is an example of a true Girl Scout. Not only was she being the leader Kevin has always wanted, but it was in a way that makes the world a better place. It is his dream to see his daughter’s succeed in whatever makes them happy, and Girl Scouts is helping the girls discover what those passions are.

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Because of the support of volunteers like Kevin, Girl Scouts is able to offer unique experiences that empower girls to become the leaders of tomorrow. As a parting piece of advice, Kevin wanted other dads, uncles and caregivers to find a way to jump in and be part of the Girl Scout experience. “I think most guys don’t know what they can do because it’s girls. What I tell all the guys that see me at everything is, ‘find a niche.’  Find something that you’re capable and comfortable with doing and do that for them,” Kevin said. We love this encouragement for other men to be involved in Girl Scouts!

What an inspiring story. Thank you, Kevin, for all your work and for helping create amazing Girl Scout events possible for over a decade. Have a story to share about Kevin Harrill or another amazing guy who’s Man Enough to be a Girl Scout?  Comment below!

The Power of Perseverance

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One in two women was a Girl Scout at some point in her lifetime. And for many of these Girl Scout alumnae, they choose to become lifetime members of our organization. These lifetime members are a cherished part of the Girl Scout family. They advocate, open doors to new opportunities and give their time, talent and treasure to support the next generation of leaders.

Meet Connie Davis, one of our cherished lifetime members. Like many lifetime Girl Scouts, Connie is deeply rooted in the mission of Girl Scouts. She has had experiences only found in Girl Scouts, credits these experiences to her career advancement and wants to support more girls to have this same edge.

“I credit Girl Scouts with helping me find the confidence and leadership ability that have served me well throughout my life,” Connie said.

Connie’s Girl Scout story began in Wichita, Kansas when she joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie. Like many Girl Scouts, Connie fondly remembers her younger years. These experiences in growing friendships or taking on new challenges in the outdoors prepared her for what was to come in Girl Scouts and in life.

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Connie as a middle school Girl Scout in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1960s.

 

Two common themes for Girl Scout alumnae: friendships that last a lifetime and the power of a troop leader. Connie experienced both. First, she met her best friend Marilyn at age 12 in Girl Scouts. And you guessed it…Connie and Marilyn continue their friendship today. That’s an impressive 50 year friendship!

Now to the power of a Girl Scout troop leader. As Connie continued her experience into high school, she joined a troop led by a Wichita State University professor. This troop became one of the largest and most well-known troops in the city.

“She was the best troop leader and encouraged us to try things we had never done before,” Connie said. “She loved to camp and made sure service to our community was a priority.”

Connie’s troop leader inspired her Girl Scouts to apply for a Reader’s Digest grant to start up a summer day camp for underserved children. The troop was awarded the grant, and they were off and running to set up their camp. These Girl Scouts set up this camp from scratch and then successfully operated it. The skill development for these girls could be found no other place but Girl Scouts and made possible because of an innovative, energetic, motivational role model.

Connie’s troop leader would continue the encouragement and door opening. During the summers, Connie would go to Turkey Creek, a GS camp near Pratt, Kansas. When it came time to become a counselor-in-training, Connie applied, was interviewed but not accepted. All of her friends would be at Turkey Creek, but Connie would not.

Connie’s troop leader would not let her stay at home and instead made a call to the director of Camp Pin Oak located near Osage Beach, Missouri. After that phone call, Connie’s troop leader encouraged her to apply at Camp Pin Oak.

“It was a very scary thing to do, but I did apply and was selected,” Connie said. “Going to Pin Oak was the best thing that could have ever happened, because I was forced out of my comfort zone to make new friends.”

While Connie was a counselor at Pin Oak, she had another opportunity to apply for the Girl Scout National Roundup to be held in Idaho the following summer. Again, all of Connie’s closest friends were selected yet she was chosen as an alternate. As it turned out, Connie got to go when of the selected girls broke her leg. It was truly a memorable experience for Connie!

“I was a shy teenager and confidence in my leadership abilities clearly did not come through during interviews,” Connie said. “These disappointments didn’t signal the end of opportunities because other doors would be opened.”

And other doors certainly opened. Connie’s Girl Scout experience prepared her for a career of barriers to break through and extraordinary achievements to have. Connie went to college at Pittsburg State and studied elementary education. As she began her student teaching, she courageously stood up to say that teaching wasn’t the right career path for her.

It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the amazing teachers she had, especially her troop leader. At this time, women didn’t have many options to pursue for their secondary degree.

“I believe that if there were career interest tests at the time I would fit perfectly doing something using math skills,” Connie said.

Connie moved with her husband to Kansas City and began her career as a secretary. She then went to work for TWA as a statistical clerk. In just nine months, Connie had proven herself that she applied for a mid-level manager position and got it. Connie had to endure much conversation, including an article written in the corporate newsletter about her gender and age. She proved all the naysayers wrong, worked hard and spent 15 years at TWA.

At 41, Connie decided she needed to leave TWA and go to graduate school. She received her Masters of Science in Business degree and then went to work for 9 years as the Director of Purchasing for La Petite. Connie continued her career path as the Director of Purchasing managing a 50+ member team at Seaboard Foods. She retired in 2013.

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Connie enjoys a little archery at Camp Prairie Schooner at the Trefoil Luncheon earlier this spring. She also received her Juliette Gordon Low Society pin for including Girl Scouts in her estate plans.

As a Girl Scout alumna and lifetime member, Connie wants other girls to have the same opportunities she did. Girl Scouts was life-changing for Connie, and she knows that when Girl Scout lifetimers like her lift other girls up, our world will be forever changed.

Today, marks a special day as Connie is hosting our very first lifetime member luncheon. She invited lifetime members across Greater Kansas City 45 years and older to come together and share stories, express appreciation and connect to support future leaders.  Thank you, Connie for your leadership in hosting our inaugural luncheon!

We would love to host lifetime member luncheons across our council – would you be willing to host and/or help us plan and connect with others? Do you know a lifetime member like Connie who we should spotlight? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

A Look Inside Cookie Construction: Team Top City

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Cookie Construction 2016 is well underway! Teams are meeting, trying out ideas and learning tricks of the trade when it comes to designing buildings…out of Girl Scout Cookie boxes!

We caught up with Team Top City who is working in Topeka, Kansas with mentors Resa Kemper, Jacquelyn Rakoski-Diediker and Mariah Scott.

These mentors are volunteering their time to expose Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts to the build world. While the mentors are participating in the program for the first time this year, they have some Cookie Construction veterans on their team.

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Sarah C. participated last year, and the program left her yearning for more.

“I learned a lot about architecture and I’ve decided I want to be an engineer when I grow up,” Sarah said

According to James, Sarah’s dad, she is really interested in the STEM programming through Girl Scouts.

“Sarah likes the social aspects of Girl scouts but she is hungriest for additional academic and intellectual stimulation. She is fascinated by that stuff so the opportunities for technical information and hands-on activities really interest her,” James said.

Sarah is taking her idea digitally and building it in Sketchup!

Sarah is taking her idea digitally and building it in Sketchup!

Of course the mentors hope that more girls will have a career discovery like Sarah, but that’s not their ultimate goal.

“No matter what they want to do when they grow up, I want to help empower them to know they can become amazing at it,” Resa said.

Mentor and Girl Scout Alumna Jackie sees how being on a Cookie Construction team benefits girls beyond the built world. “I hope that the girls learn how to be an integral part of a large team and about compromising for the benefit of the entire group,” she said.

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Resa shows girls drawings of some projects shes worked on!

This year’s theme for Cookie Construction is Dream. Design. Do. Outdoor Adventure.

Each meeting, 10+ team members are coming to the table with tons of great ideas of how to create a structure out of cookie boxes that fit the theme. As in any situation, it’s tough to incorporate them all into one design. The mentors work with their team to discuss each idea and guide the group to make a collective decision on these design details. But ultimately, it’s the girls’ decision.

Team mentor Mariah is looking forward to seeing it all come together. “In all likely hood that won’t happen until build day, but it is always fascinating to see things come together and see where assumptions were right, and where they weren’t,” she said.

So what exactly does Team Top City plan to build? Well, we can’t tell you, it’s top secret. You’ll have to join us at Crown Center on March 5 for Build Day, when all 7 teams will build their structures using Girl Scout Cookie boxes!

Anna is sketching out some of her design ideas onto grid paper - getting an idea for the scale of the structure they are building!

Anna is sketching out some of her design ideas onto grid paper – getting an idea for the scale of the structure they are building!

Follow Top City and the other teams along on their Cookie Construction journey – we’ll be bringing you stories from each of the teams on the blog as we lead up to the culminating event, Build Day!

Don’t forget to join in on the conversation using #GSCookieBuild!