Making the World a Better Place

Girl Scouts Give Back with 690,000 Hours of Service This Year!

It’s a season of giving, and Girl Scouts are the BEST at giving back to their community! In fact, Girl Scouts of the USA estimates that every Girl Scout does 30 hours of service per year. With 23,000+ Girl Scouts in our 47 county region, that adds up to an amazing amount of volunteer work for your favorite charities – 690,000 hours of service to be exact!

Take a look at how some of the troops and service units in our council have given back this holiday season!

Girl Scout Junior Troop 78 from Liberty, Missouri had their favorite troop meeting of the year where they turned into Christmas elves by adopting a family with two little girls in their community. As a troop they give some of their troop proceeds and also ask their families to support this feel good project too. And, that’s not all – these Girl Scouts add some skill-building in there as well. They determine needs versus wants, came up with a good mix of each, made a budge and decided as a team what to get to stay in their budget. They then bought their presents at TJ Maxx in Liberty (their 3rd year assisting Troop 78) and wrapped presents for delivery!

 

Girl Scout Senior Troop 1169 from Lee’s Summit, Missouri collected baby books and donated them to the moms and babies at Mother’s Refuge. After an inspiring tour of this awesome organization, the girls are now brainstorming other ways they can make a difference.

 

Girl Scout Brownie Troop 5681 from Junction City, Kansas knows that giving back feels oh so good and they were all smiles!! These awesome Girl Scouts saved some of their 2016 Cookie Program proceeds just to buy special toys to be donated to the Salvation Army to ensure other kids have gifts under the tree this Christmas!

 

Girl Scout Daisy Troop 5116 from Mission, Kansas had a great meeting where they heard how Della Lamb supports others & presented gifts to their guest speaker for the organization’s Operation Santa Program. Each Girl Scout in the troop made two Blessings Bags; one to give to the VA Hospital and the other bag to keep and give to someone they want to bring blessings and good will to.

 

Girl Scouts at Heartland Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas joined their Boy Scout brothers to package 4,000 meals for the Something to Eat program. These Girl Scouts are always serving others, but we love that they did this special project on Giving Tuesday.

 

We were thrilled to be a part of KMBC Channel 9 and the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family Day again this year! We had 10 troops from our council adopt 10 families, spreading holiday cheer for over 40 individuals this holiday season! Those troops delivered their gifts and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of KMBC’s studio in November.

 

Ten Girl Scout troops at Mission Trail Elementary School in Leawood, Kansas hosted a Give-A-Palooza and invited their family members to participate too. Together, they collected and sorted clothing and pull-ups for SAFEHOME, made cards for patients at Menorah Medical Center, and collected travel-sized toiletries for the Ronald McDonald House!

 

Girl Scout Junior Troop 7112 from Lawrence, Kansas gave back and used their creativity by making some fleece blankets for Douglas County CASA. These blankets will be put to great use!

 

Turkey and all the trimmings! These Girl Scouts are showing their appreciation for all they have by supporting others in their community. More than 250 Girl Scouts of all ages in Service Unit 648 from Lee’s Summit, Missouri participated in the “Thanks for Giving Fun Drive”. Girl Scouts brought food donations to fill 36 bags with a complete Thanksgiving dinner including the turkey! The girls made scarecrows and cards for each Thanksgiving bag that will be distributed this Saturday to Coldwater Lee’s Summit families. Thanks for giving, Girl Scouts! You are making such a difference and ensuring a fantastic Thanksgiving for others!!

 

A STEM lesson + teamwork = Caring & Kindness! What a fantastically, creative kindness project Girl Scout Troop 177 from Overland Park, Kansas just completed. These Girl Scouts learned all about soldering & computer coding to illuminate LED lights and make them display different colors. Then, they went to Topeka to donate a really cool, hand crafted, animated LED-lit rainbow Christmas tree to Planting Peace’s Equality “Rainbow” house. The girls learned a lot and had tons of fun together. Wow, what big hearts these Girl Scouts have! They chose the project and are committed to spreading kindness all year long! You can learn more about how Troop 177 created the tree here!

Troop 879 is Standing with Sister Girl Scouts! Introducing our first Daisy’s Circle troop… Being a sister to every Girl Scout is so important, it’s in our law. Not only does it stress the importance of kindness, but also supporting sister Girl Scouts. Troop 879 from Grain Valley, Missouri is taking the law to heart and became the first Daisy’s Circle troop! In a girl-led decision on budgeting, the girls decided to use half of their cookie money to help other Girl Scouts succeed. You might think a troop with this much heart must be in high school – but they’re actually 2nd grade Brownies. Troop 879 is setting the bar for giving as a troop. 

How have your Girl Scouts made a difference this holiday season?  Let us know in the comments below!

Four Generations of Girl Scouts

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Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumnae and Volunteers Doris Frost, Janet Pelton, Becky Blankenship and Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship

There’s a special bond that Girl Scout mothers and daughters have. From sharing stories of badge earning decades ago, teaching the newest Girl Scout about how to cook on an open fire, to traveling together to the birthplace of the organization that you all hold so dear to your heart, Girl Scouts brings women even closer together who are already connected through their family tree.

Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship is a fourth generation Girl Scout in her family. You might say that she was destined to be a Girl Scout that it’s in her DNA. After all her mother, Becky Blankenship was a Girl Scout. Her Grandmother, Janet Pelton was a Girl Scout. Even her Great Grandmother, Doris Frost was a Girl Scout!

As Doris recalls her own Girl Scouting experience, it doesn’t sound much different from the ones her great granddaughter Katie is having today. She remembers having awesome leaders, going camping, earning badges and just generally being a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™.

Today, Becky and Janet are both troop leaders, and Doris is a retired troop leader. Between the four of them they have over 100 years of Girl Scouting experiences and stories!

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Doris (front), Janet (left), Becky (center), Katie (right)

Katie’s grandmother, Janet, went through all the Girl Scout levels herself then when her daughter Becky was old enough, she volunteered to lead her troop of Girl Scout Brownies (the first level of Girl Scouting in the 1980s) and saw them all the way through earning their Gold Award! When Becky left for college, Janet started all over again, with a brand new troop of Girl Scout Daisies, but this time she recruited Doris to join her on the troop leader adventure, and oh what an adventure Doris had with her daughter and the group of girls they led!

After 12 years of Girl Scouting, in Janet & Doris’s troop embarked on an 8-day cruise to culminate their Girl Scout experience before life took them in all different directions. That Girl Scout trip is what got Doris on an airplane for the first time in her life, at 84 years young.

“That trip was wonderful, the best time I ever had,” Doris said!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

After that trip, Doris hung up her Girl Scout volunteer hat, but Janet decided to dive right back in and start all over again with her third troop; all while still continuing to serve as Service Unit Manager for Service Unit 661.

While Doris and Janet were leading their troop in Leavenworth, Kansas, Becky was stepping up for troops who were without leaders in Emporia, Kansas, while also going to school full time at Emporia State University!

After graduating college, Becky moved back to the Kansas City area, got married and had Katie! In January, before Katie was set to go to Kindergarten, Becky called her area service unit manager and let her know that she could count on her to lead the Daisy troop where Katie would go to school that fall!

Becky always dreamed of giving Katie the opportunities through Girl Scouting that her mother, Janet, had given her.

“Girls have opportunities they wouldn’t have without Girl Scouts,” Becky said.

This past summer, Janet and Becky took Katie’s troop on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. A trip that was important for Becky to experience with her mom. “She gave me my start in Girl Scouts and I wanted to have the experience of going to the birthplace with my family,” Becky explained.

“It was really neat that we got to do that last trip together,” Janet said of the cruise with Doris. “I’ve gotten to do so much with Becky now.”

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

For this family, Girl Scouting truly is in their DNA. Through all the things that life has thrown at them, they credit Girl Scouts for keeping them going. “Being a Girl Scout leader was a lifesaver during the times that my parents were sick. Most people quit being a volunteer when those things happen but it kept me sane,” Janet explained. “Girl Scouts is what keeps me happy.”

Girl Scouting has come full circle for these four women. Doris loves hearing what Katie is accomplishing through Girl Scouts and what exciting activities and trips Janet and Becky are doing as leaders for their girls. The memories that the four of them have all overlap and constantly remind them of what they’ve experienced not only as Girl Scouts, but as a family.

“All of the things Girl Scouts get to do are good. Everything is a learning experience for them,” Doris said.

Thank you Doris, Janet and Becky for all you’ve done to empower girls and instill the Girl Scout leadership experience in their DNA!

 

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A Girl Scout Gem

Celebrating 60 Years of Hidden Valley Camp

Tucked away in the heart of Lawrence, Kansas sits 40 acres of wildlife terrain where thousands of Girl Scouts have grown as G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers, Leaders)™ for 60 years! Hidden Valley Camp sits in what used to be a secluded part of Lawrence in 1956. Throughout the years, significant city developments have taken place all around the property, but Hidden Valley has remained a wilderness area and semi-primitive campsite, living up to the “hidden” part of its name!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Hidden Valley is one of the few privately owned and operated camps in the region. The land was purchased and Hidden Valley Camp was established with funds from the estate of the late Alfred Bromelsick who passed away in 1950. Mr. Bromelsick was a longtime advocate of outdoors programs for youth, specifically those of the Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and 4-H organizations. Today, Hidden Valley Camp is owned and managed by the locally-based Lawrence Hidden Valley Committee (LHVC) Inc., a nonprofit organization comprised of adult Girl Scout members living in the greater Lawrence community.

Many additions and improvements have been made to Hidden Valley in the past 60 years to keep up with the growing needs of Girl Scouts! In 1996, Friends of Hidden Valley was created to keep up with those improvements. This separate committee supports LHVC in programming, maintenance and establishing and meeting the goals of the property today, and for the next 60+ years.

Hidden Valley has seen so much love from many dedicated Girl Scout volunteers over the past six decades. One of those volunteers was the late Mariana Remple. Mariana was a co-founder of Hidden Valley Camp along with Carolyn Blaas, and was active with Girl Scouts of the USA for 50 years! In addition to Mariana’s work with Hidden Valley, she served as troop leader for Troop 660 for over 40 years and as assistant troop leader until her passing.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

As a treasured Girl Scouting experience for girls, those who once experience this camp as a young Girl Scout are now coming full circle serving on the LHVC and the Friends of Hidden Valley Board or serving in other capacities as adult Girl Scout members.

Durand Reiber remembers going to a very rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley with her troop when she was just a Girl Scout Brownie. In 2002 she was hired as Camp Manager – the camp’s first paid employee, a role she still serves in today.

“I was a Girl Scout through my senior year, canoeing and camping away with Mariana Remple’s Mariner Troop 660, which had a profound impact on my life. I continued to travel, camp and canoe, often leading my women friends on trips. My love of all things natural, and my college and career choices are an extension of all those experiences, beginning with that rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley,” Durand said.

Kyra Flummerfelt was a Girl Scout growing up in Lawrence, living right down the street from Hidden Valley, but didn’t experience it herself until she found herself leading her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop! In 2008 she was asked to join LHVC board and oversee the reservations and equipment checkout process and now she also serves as the zip line and archery facilitator.

“I love getting to meet leaders and help make camping easier by providing them with pretty much everything they need to camp out.  When we decided to add the zip line to camp I signed up to be a facilitator.  I am afraid of heights but chose to overcome it so that I could not only help others experience the wonders of zip line but so I could do it too.  I now love to zip line,” Kyra said!

Today, the wondrous 40 acres of Hidden Valley boasts hiking trails, diverse habitats of the prairie, woods, rocky hillsides, wetlands and streams, a challenge course with two zip lines and archery range. It also has a tree house, Yurt (really big tent) and a cabin with a kitchen making it the perfect place for seasoned campers as well as young troops to experience the great outdoors!

One thing that hasn’t changed about Hidden Valley is that it has a profound impact on those who still visit it today, no matter their age.

“This easy year round access means many troops routinely go there and the girls and adults alike get to know it well, developing a deep love for it over the years…and over time, it just becomes one of those special places in life you always remember,” Durand said.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

While Girl Scouts in the greater Lawrence, Kansas area have first priority in reservations, Hidden Valley is open to all Girl Scouts and other groups who wish to take advantage its amenities.

“I can assure you that the experiences Girl Scouts and Hidden Valley offers girls make a difference and gives them a place to practice courage, confidence, and character,” Kyra explained. “Hidden Valley has been a place to make memories for so many people for the last 60 years and hopefully with help from the girls, leaders and community volunteers we can keep it that way for many more to come.”

If you would like to make a reservation at Hidden Valley for your troop, visit their website at www.lhvcamp.org and click on the reservations and equipment tab!

Standing with the Next Generation of Girl Scouts

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The Taliaferro family is a shining example of a Girl Scout family who does more than participate as volunteers – they’ve become members of Daisy’s Circle to support the next generation of Girl Scouts. Girl Scout dad Henry, Girl Scout alumna, Kathryn and Girl Scout daughter, Caroline, believe in the power of Girl Scouting because of the opportunities it provides for girls to thrive. Kathryn is the troop leader for Caroline’s Girl Scout Junior Troop 3084 from Blue Valley and sees firsthand the work that Girl Scouts does to help girls become G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders.)TM.

Troop 3084 love to take advantage of all the opportunities our council offers. “The opportunities that are available now are amazing, especially with community partners. You have everything there for you. [Girl Scouts] has already reached out and made connections with organizations that have resources that we need,” Kathryn said. The troop has attended the Girl Scout night at the Lyric Opera, rock climbing and many other activities.

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Troop 3084 had their first camping experience at Camp Prairie Schooner this fall and Kathryn saw Caroline face her fears in a way she didn’t expect. When the troop went ziplining, Caroline was a little nervous about the experience. Despite her fears, she was able be take a risk thanks to the support of her Girl Scout sisters and the camp staff member who reminded her that it was a “challenges of choice.”

“My daughter is a little more shy and reserved, so she did not want to do zipline at all. The staffer handled it really well. He told her ‘this is a challenge of choice,’ which communicated to her that there wasn’t pressure. Because of that, the girls didn’t make fun of each other for not doing it, and eventually, after watching all the other girls go, she was able to do it,” Kathryn said.

At the core, Kathryn wants the troop to have a traditional Girl Scout experience that includes things like camping – just like she had. As an alumna, Kathryn remembers enjoying the Girl Scout experience as a girl and the unique opportunities she was able to experience. She also sees the power of the sisterhood Girl Scouts creates. While the Taliaferro family has two adult children who live in other states, Caroline doesn’t have any siblings living at home, so Girl Scouts gives her a sisterhood that Kathryn and Henry feel are important to her overall development.

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Having been a Girl Scout in the past, Kathryn sees a resurgence of the program and she wants to be part of it. “We enjoy giving and we’ve had such a good experience with Girl Scouts. Plus, I feel like Girl Scouts is really making a comeback, so the chance to be involved in something that gives opportunities to girls of all economic and social backgrounds is great,” Kathryn said.

As members of Daisy’s Circle, the Taliaferro family went on a site visit to Emerson Elementary, home to Outreach Girl Scout troops supported in part by Daisy’s Circle.  “I’ve never had anyone reach out to me to show me the direct impact of our gifts. You sign up for something…but this is the first time I’ve been invited to see how it works. I try to get ideas from other troops, so while I was there I was learning about some things to bring back to my troop and seeing the impact was great,” Kathryn said.

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Giving to help the next generation of Girl Scouts is important to the whole family. “[We give because] Girl Scouts has a great synergy within the community with all the connections it makes and the opportunities our daughter has. Plus, the organization is well managed, there are good people involved and the money goes to good use,” Kathryn said.

What an incredible example of a troop leader and Girl Scout family who stands by girls! Not only do they give selflessly of their time as volunteers, but of financial gifts that propel programming forward and provide opportunities for girls all over our council. If you’d like to learn more about Daisy’s Circle, check out www.daisyscircle.org. Thanks to the Taliaferro family for all they do and a big “WAY TO GO” to Caroline for conquering her fear of the zipline!

Do you know an awesome Daisy’s Circle Girl Scout family or have a great story to share about Girl Scout opportunities? Share in the comments below!

An Officer and a Gentleman

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Troop Leader, Police Chief Tom Alber is Man Enough to be a Girl Scout

When it comes to leadership, there’s no bigger advocate than new Girl Scout troop leader, Chief Tom Alber. As a proud Eagle Scout, leadership guru and police chief, there’s no wonder why Tom and his wife have their girls in the best female leadership program around – Girl Scouts! Talk about “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!” Chief Tom knows that along with co-leader Monica, they can help the girls in Troop 1346 in Kansas City, MO find their voice and become the leaders of tomorrow.

When we say Chief Tom Alber’s leadership resume is impressive…we mean it. He’s the Police Chief for Garden City, 1st VP of the FBI LEEDA Executive Board of Directors (he helps pick teens for FBI leadership training), and a retired U.S. Army Officer – just to name a few! “Our young women need to develop leadership skills, and that’s what Girl Scouting does. I’m a military retiree and in my service I could see a real difference between those who had been in scouting programs and those who had not,” Tom said.

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Scouting is important to both Tom and his wife, Kathleen, who’s also a police officer. Tom’s family was involved in Scouting and Kathleen is a Girl Scout alumna. “Scouting has always been important in my family and we had active troops that kept us involved. When my girls expressed interest, it was a no-brainer. Of course you’re going to be a Girl Scout,” Tom said.

Troop 1346 is a multi-level troop of Daisies through Cadettes. Tom’s daughter, Emma, is a proud Cadette who already has a multi-page list of activities she wants to do. A goal Tom has for the troop is for them to lead each other. “The #1 thing that keeps people form leading is public speaking. That’s why I want our Cadettes to lead the Juniors, the Juniors to lead the Brownies and so on,” Tom said.

Every day, the Albers go to work serving the community and they want to instill that sense of service in their girls. At their first troop meeting, Troop 1346 was asked by their school principal to participate in a hygiene bag drive. Of course, the Girl Scouts were eager to jump on board.

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Troop 1346; Right: Emma leading the Promise at their first troop meeting.

Pulling from Tom’s own experience as a Boy Scout, the troop is working to increase membership with a recruiting technique that’s also a public speaking exercise. The girls are encouraged to wear their uniforms to school the day of the meetings and leaders are helping them learn how to talk to people who ask about Girl Scouts. Not only will this help the troop, it’ll help the girls learn to be an advocate.

In addition to their volunteerism, leadership and advocacy, the Albers family supports the ambitions of their daughters. Their youngest, Samantha (GS Junior), is an aspiring Vlogger (video blogging), so the Albers family let her participate in a PSA they created. This gave her experience using video to create a message. Tom was proud to say “I’m a Girl Scout leader…I really am a Girl Scout leader!” in the video.

What do Emma and Samantha think about their dad being her leader? Samantha said: “I hope he doesn’t embarrass me, but I’m really excited!” Emma was excited not only because it’s her dad, but because she likes his leadership style. “I wanted him to be a troop leader so bad. I like things structured, and he’s good at that… he’ll do meetings that are structured where we can get things done,” Emma said.

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As Chief Tom says, leadership is vital to the long term success of girls. “We always think about leadership development of the boys, but not always about the girls. It’s important to me that my girls develop those skills because that might be the next president, congresswoman, CEO or police chief [sitting in my troop meeting] and they need that development just like the boys.”

We can’t wait to see all the amazing things Troop 1346 is going to do in the coming years. With Chief Tom, co-leader Monica and the other parents and volunteers, we know they’re destined for greatness. You can follow Chief Tom on Twitter @ChiefTomAlber! If you have a great story about a guy who’s “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout,” share in the comments below!

Camp Like a Girl Scout

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Spotlight on CIT II Olivia Aractingi aka “Puffy”

When Girl Scout Ambassador Olivia Aractingi went to summer camp for the first time in 2007, she left feeling empowered.

Empowered to embrace her unique qualities.

Empowered to believe in herself.

Empowered to make friends wherever she went.

“Even at 8 years old I knew. I met tons of different people and I loved the diversity between us. That experience made me who I am,” Olivia said.

Camping has long been an aspect of Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Camp is where every G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout, like Olivia.

Over the past nine years, she has been to three different camps, participated in a variety of programs and formed countless friendships with campers and counselors. Through her experiences at camp, Olivia has found her passions and challenged herself.

One summer her mom signed her up for a horse program. “I tried something new, realized that I didn’t like to ride horses, but I like to help out with them. The beauty of camp is that its challenge by choice,” she explained. “Camp shows yourself your boundaries. You explore what you do and don’t like – it’s perfect because if you don’t want to do one thing, there’s always something else.”

As Olivia has grown through camp each summer, so have her leadership skills. She’s earned both her Counselor-in-Training (CIT) I & II pins and works to ensure that younger campers have an experience as memorable as her first one was.

“My goal every summer is to get to know everybody at camp – learn one thing about every person. That does great things for building friendships!”

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Olivia knows that her experiences and skills she builds at camp stay with her even when she’s not there. During the school year she her camp experiences and recruits girls of all ages to join Girl Scouts to join her the next summer!

“Going to camp has helped me communicate with people in the real world. It has turned me into a leader and a problem solver,” Olivia said.

Because she camped like a Girl Scout, Olivia is empowered for life.

What program will empower your G.I.R.L. this summer?! Our 2017 Summer Camp Guide is now live and registration opens on January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am!

Getting Her Adrenaline Rush

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Emily Pine’s Girl Scout Destination Experience

There is something so incredibly special that happens when a girl goes on a Girl Scout Destination trip. She comes back a go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader. She returns as a G.I.R.L.!

Girl Scout Senior Emily Pine did…twice.

This summer Emily embarked on her second Destination trip – Adrenaline Rush. For eight days she traveled with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the country and three adult guides through Georgia and North Carolina doing all kinds of activities that most definitely got her adrenaline going!

She soared on a 30-foot long zipline.

Canoed, kayaked, did archery and riflery activities.

Tried her hand at woodworking.

Let loose on a giant swing.

Toured a cave and went spelunking.

White water rafted.

Climbed a 20-foot tree.

And more.

While Emily was looking forward to all these experiences, she was most intrigued about the spelunking adventure – something she had never done before. She embraced the close quarters, followed the guides lead and got her exploration on – proclaiming herself the dirtiest in the group from climbing, crawling and slithering her way throughout the cave!

“It was fan-tab-umazing! Yes, I know that’s not a word….”

(We think she is saying that it was fantastic, fabulous and amazing all at once!)

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Emily knows that she has grown as a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader) from her first Destination experience to this one. “Last year I didn’t really want to talk to anybody. This year I put my stuff away immediately and went out and started talking to girls.”

Her mother, Janet also sees that growth in Emily.

“I think Destinations are really good for her and gets her out of her comfort zone. She’s more timid when I’m around, but when I’m not there she blossoms. The more experiences like that she can have the better for her,” Janet explained.

Emily still has three summers to fill with Destination experiences, if she chooses! Along with thinking about her Gold Award and other activities where she will lead like a Girl Scout – like working at a camp and teaching younger girls about adventure activities!

“I enjoy Girl Scouts more because of Girl Scout Destinations. These trips show me there are adventures in the world to be had,” Emily said!

There is still time to apply for a Girl Scout Destination for summer 2017 – the next deadline is Feb. 15!