50 years of serving G.I.R.L.s!

Girl Scout volunteers are at the core of a great Girl Scouting experience. For three generations of Girl Scouts in the Sommers family, one woman has been at the center of it all, Velma Sommers. This amazing volunteer has been serving the mission for more than 50 years and was the troop leader for her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. In addition to leading troops, Velma has served in almost every major volunteer role and propelled the mission of Girl Scouting to new heights by lending experience and wisdom to today’s girls.

In 1967 Velma Sommers found herself as a new volunteer with Girl Scouts. She took the lead of her daughter’s troop and found a love of serving. After holding a long list of Girl Scouting volunteer positions, it’s no wonder that she holds both the Thanks Badge 1 & 2, along with several other recognitions for her service. All this because she believes in the power of girls!

“I enjoy being a troop leader because of the girls. It’s my biggest love about volunteering – getting to work with the girls and seeing them grow,” Velma said.

Left: Velma presenting the Silver Award with one of her Girl Scouts; Right: Velma and her troop at a flag ceremony at Camp Meadowlark.

One of her biggest projects has been working on Day Camps and all that goes in to coordinating those events. Despite not being a big fan of the outdoors and camping, something happens when Girl Scouts are involved and Velma is able to find courage in herself to face fears for the girls. Inspiring the younger generation empowers her just as it does the girls!

“The truth is, I’m not an outdoors person, but you put me out there, with the girls, and you’d think I knew it all! I’m terribly afraid of snakes, but when the girls are there and we see a snake, I’m able to be calm and we talk about it…but if I was by myself, it’d be a different story,” Velma said.

 

Velma being recognized for 50 years of service at the North Region Volunteer Appreciation event  (2017); Right: Velma being honored with a spot at Camp Meadowlark named “Grandma’s Grove” in her honor.

One of the most meaningful projects she did with her Girl Scouts was creating stepping stones for their local camp; Camp Meadowlark. They used molds, mortar and Velma had her kitchen covered in a tarp while the girls worked. It’s a fond memory of the mess they made and the beautiful, lasting additions to camp that came out of that experience. It is memories like this that make Girl Scouting such a sweet part of Velma’s life.

“Girls get to do things that they would never get to do if it wasn’t for us getting them involved in Girl Scouting. Think about camp, [for girls from lower income communities], getting to go to camp is an experience they might never get if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts,” Velma said. Being able to provide these opportunities has been an extra special part of serving for this devoted volunteer.

The skills girls learn in Girl Scouting truly last a lifetime. Velma helped her granddaughter’s troop with a part of the Silver Award that had the girls create a quilt block. While the girls struggled a bit, they loved the project and felt pride in their blocks. That Christmas, her granddaughter asked for a sewing machine, which she received. Fast forward a few decades and Velma’s granddaughter, Brandi, now a Gold Award recipient, gave Velma a quilt she had made of all the Day Camp shirts she had as a gift. Talk about coming full circle!

Giving back to girls truly does last a lifetime and for Velma, those moments where girls reconnect help her see the impact that troop leaders have. “Some of the girls in my troops still ask me for references, and it makes you feel good. It makes you realize that you really did have an impact on their lives,” Velma said. Through years of Girl Scouting, she knows that a great troop leaders and volunteers in any job make the Girl Scouting experience what it is. You can change the world by inspiring a girl.

“I just wish I could live to be 150 so I could go on and on being a Girl Scout volunteer,” Velma said.

Thank you to Velma and all our incredible volunteers for years of hard work and service to girls. You are helping create a better tomorrow! If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Girl Scouting volunteer like Velma, check out our volunteer opportunities!

 

National S’mores Day: New Twists on a Classic

New twists on a classic. We’re sharing 5 exciting recipes with a new ingredient or two that really spice up the traditional s’more recipe. While the core ingredients of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate remain the same, we wanted to give you some ways to make this traditional treat.

…and speaking of a twist on an original…we have an exciting announcement! The delicious S’more Girl Scout cookie is OFFICIALLY RETURNING FOR 2018!! That’s right! You’ll be able to enjoy this popular new cookie all over again during the 2018 Cookie Season!

 

Grilled S’more Banana Packets

Who’s made bananas with chocolate over a campfire while camping with Girl Scouts? Well, you’ll love this one then! Just take a banana, slice down the middle, fill with marshmallows and chocolate, wrap in foil and after 10 minutes in the fire, you’ve got a great dessert. Once it’s cooled enough, unwrap the foil, top with graham crackers and enjoy. Full recipe here!

Image and recipe from Neighborfoodblog.com

S’more Hot Chocolate

In the winter, sometimes you just want something warm in a mug. Make up your favorite hot chocolate then top with a layer of toasted marshmallows (they have some tips for how to do this), drizzle chocolate and graham crackers on the top. Yum.

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

 

“The Elvis S’more”

Put on your blue suede shoes and try out this salty and sweet combination! The addition of bananas, Reese’s peanut butter cups and bacon makes this sound like a treat that’ll make you dance the night away.

Image and recipe from TheKitchn.com

 

Mason Jar S’more Cakes

Need something you can distribute easily but packs a punch? Check out these delicious S’more Cakes served in a mason jar. A graham cracker crust layered with chocolate cake and marshmallow topping – WOW! It’s a perfect nod to summer and the toasted marshmallows on top have that ooey-gooeyness of camp. We suggest putting a piece of chocolate as a garnish on the top.

Image and recipe from HowSweetEats.com

 

S’more Cheesecake

Slice and servable option for s’mores! With a graham cracker crust, chocolate and topped with marshmallows, the addition of cheesecake is simply brilliant. Make ahead for your next event!

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

BONUS RECIPES

For Girl Scouts and families with dietary restrictions, we have some cool twists for you too! While many of the treats above can be made with substitutions (like specialty graham crackers, etc), we wanted to highlight a few options that offer more flexibility.

Gluten-Free S’mores Krispie Treats

Substitute gluten-free rice krispies for the tradition graham cracker and whip up some s’mores krispie treats! You can find the full recipe here.

Image and recipe from DishingDelish.com

Gluten-Free S’more Parfaits

A make-ahead dessert that’s gluten-free?! Yes! Check out this parfait that’s even better when prepared a day ahead. The recipe includes everything you’ll need, including a recipe to make a gluten-free cookie (or use your favorite type).

Image and recipe from GlutenFreeOnAShoeString.com

How creative can you get, Girl Scouts? Let us know what s’mores concoctions you’ve created by commenting below! We’d love to hear what you’ve made and if you’ve tried any of these recipes. Don’t forget, you can also get to thinking about all the great ways to use the S’more Girl Scout cookie – returning for the 2018 Cookie Program!

G.I.R.L.ing in the Rocky Mountains

Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders. The 15 Girl Scout Cadettes who went on our Rocky Mountain Park Excursion are truly G.I.R.L.s. They hiked over 15 miles in three days, summited a mountain, restored a trail in the National Park, camped in black bear country while using the skills they learned through Girl Scouting.

“Try new things, work hard, and always help out are things I’ve learned in Girl Scouts,” Leah Perila said.

That’s exactly what Leah and 14 other Girl Scouts did during their six days in the Rocky Mountains!

A week in the Rocky Mountains is challenging for anyone, Girl Scout or not. You have to be prepared physically and mentally for this kind of experience; prepared to be away from home with others you’ve only just met and without cell service for unknown periods of time, prepared to contribute to the group at all times and prepared to trust in adults who are committed to the safety and enjoyable experience of all involved.

As a Girl Scout, Paige Hwang feels ready for anything to happen and was totally prepared for a week in the Rocky Mountains. “This trip exceeded my expectations. We got to climb a mountain, meet cool people, do trail work and make food over a fire,” she said.

For many of the girls, the afternoon spent doing trail restoration in the Rocky Mountain National Park was their favorite part of the trip. The group met two National Park Service Rangers, Ben and Marika (a Girl Scout alumna!), and hiked a quarter of a mile up the mountain with shovels, pick axes, crow bars and tarps to narrow a trail that had grown too large. The work process involved prying large rocks out of the side of the mountain and rolling them down to the trail to create a natural barrier on the trail that was popular for equestrian rides. Holes had to be dug for the large rocks in the trail and smaller rocks placed and crushed around it to keep it in place. Then girls gathered tuff, a combination of pine needles, twigs and dirt to scatter on the outer part of the new trail to make it look as naturally occurring as possible. At the end of the afternoon, they were asking if there was more work to be done! Ben and Marika had nothing but the highest praise for the amount of work that our Girl Scouts did!

The group collectively felt challenged during their three major hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park; the first at Bear Lake, the second to The Pool and the final one to the summit of Deer Mountain. Each hike a little more difficult than the previous one. They talked about how discouraged they felt during the long ascents, but how they were inspired by the scenery and thought of accomplishment that they were able to empower themselves to keep moving forward.

“I was challenged mentally by thinking I couldn’t do it, but once I thought positive I did better,” Zoey Christensen said.

The views at the end of the hikes did not disappoint!

“The beauty and wonder of the mountains met my expectations, but the wonderful friends I made exceeded them. Girl Scouts has taught me to socialize and talk to new people. Without Girl Scouts, I would be one of the most lonely and socially-awkward people on the face of the Earth!” Cassidy Freeman

We are excited to challenge, inspired and have girls make new friends at our next council-led excursion to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota in July 2019! Stay tuned to our social media for registration details!

 

4 BIG Reasons to Register for the New Girl Scout Year

How is your back to school list coming? Have you been to back to school night yet? Purchased new school supplies and clothes? What about register for the new Girl Scout year?

Well what are you waiting for?! There are big things in store for all of our G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ this new membership year!

  1. Volunteer Toolkit
    Save time and energy this year using our brand new Volunteer Toolkit! The Volunteer Toolkit helps parents and volunteers easily plan meetings and activities; keep track of important information; and, ultimately, make it easier to support amazing experiences for girls!

    In the toolkit, most programming for girls in grades K–5 is auto populated so troop leaders can view activity plans and necessary materials, customize meetings, and track troop finances all in one place. Plus, the instructions included throughout make subjects that might otherwise intimidate some volunteers! The best part? It’s accessible on mobile devices!

  1. New Badges
    Did you hear that Girl Scouts of the USA has released the largest badge update in over a decade?! Girl Scouts of all levels can now earn a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) badges to proudly display on the front of their vest/sash!

    See what local Girl Scouts have to say about them on KSHB 41 and in the Kansas City Star!


  2. Fall Outdoor Experience Programs
    When you register for the new Girl Scout year, you are also able to register for Fall Outdoor Experience Programs! Get your first choice of Low Ropes sessions, register for one of our new Excursions or reserve space at one of our properties, just to name a few things! See all the new programming at GSKSMO.org/outdoors!

  3. On-time Tee
    Girl Scouts (adults and girls!) who register by Sept. 28 are eligible to purchase this super soft tee. This is THE GSKSMO shirt of the year and you don’t want to miss out on your chance to get it!

So what are you waiting for?! There is a year full of go-getting, innovating, risk-taking and leading when you register for the new Girl Scout year as a G.I.R.L.!