Riding into Adventure and Sisterhood!

Adventuring for friendship and education! A Girl Scout Destination lets a girl explore the world, find herself and meet new friends like no other experience. For Girl Scout Seniors Alyssa Carney (Olathe, KS), Abby Riebel (Iola, KS) and Lilli Smith (Prairie Village, KS) who attended an awesome Destination to Nebraska for two weeks of horseback riding became the learning adventure of a lifetime. These girls went on the “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” Destination in Nebraska in July 2017 and came back with a deep appreciation for nature conservation and A LOT of new Girl Scout sisters.

 

The 14 day adventure included horseback riding across the Nebraska landscape, visiting a zoo and learning about ecology from experts. On riding days, the girls would wake-up, ride horses, have a lunch and free time, enjoy dinner together, then ride back and race for the showers! While on the trail, they saw some beautiful expanses and breath-taking sights. “You’d ride up an ascent…and see the most amazing views. Most people think Kansas and Nebraska are just flat, but they’re not all flat…and at the top of some of those hills, you experience incredible views,” Abby Riebel said.

For the most part, embarking on a Girl Scout Destination is a completely solo experience. For Lilli, it was, she knew no one leaving for the trip. Abby and Alyssa, however, were best friends and took the adventure together. “When Alyssa asked me to go with her, I said ‘best friends, horses and more girls to hang out with?  WHY NOT?!” Abby said.

Left: Abby and Alyssa in Nebraska; Right: Alyssa gearing up for a day of riding.

All three girls left with friendships that span the entire country once they met the 14 other girls on the trip. “I met my friend Rachel, who lives in New Jersey, on the Destination. It’s cool to say ‘oh, I’m texting my friend in New Jersey’ when my friends here ask who I’m talking to!”  Lilli Smith said.

Alyssa remembers bonding with several girls on the trip when they stopped along a river to share and learn about each other. “We sat there on our horses and talked about what we learned and what we liked about each other. I wrote a speech about our adventures and the friendships we made in a short amount of time…it was emotional,” Alyssa Carney said.  Just the thought of strong G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM getting to share an amazing moment out in nature makes US emotional! Wow, what an experience.

Left & Right: Riding along the trail with the girls; Center: Lilli with new Girl Scout sisters!

For each girl, the Destination provided a learning experience that extended beyond traditional learning about the environment or horses…girls learned about trust, friendship and self-confidence.

Alyssa: “I learned how to ask for help on this trip. I was recovering from surgery, so my stamina wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I needed help lifting my saddle. I’m someone who gives it her all, but sometimes you have to have others help you…and I learned that it’s okay.”

Abby: “When you push yourself out of your comfort zone and spend time away from family for two weeks, it makes you realize how much you love your family and that you shouldn’t take them for granted. You also experience some amazing stuff when you push yourself and trust yourself.”

Lilli: “Living in such close quarters with 16 girls you don’t know really teaches you to learn to share and learn to handle different personalities. Plus I learned a lot about the Nebraska landscape and water systems.”

 

The Girl Scouts of “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” 2017!

A Girl Scout Destination is one of the best ways for a girl to push her limits, learn about something she’s passionate and meet new friends. We’re thrilled that THREE Girl Scouts from our council got to take this awesome adventure and make friendships that are still thriving today. If you’re interested in learning about taking your own Destination, visit Girl Scout Travel today!

Tips for Being a Bling Your Booth Champion!

Bling Your Booth is officially HERE for 2018 and we’re ready to see your booths based on the theme “Cookie Pros SHINE!” We’ve pulled together some awesome tips from TWO TIME Grand Champion Bling Your Booth experts, Troop 484 from Chillicothe, MO! They’ve shared some awesome tips to help YOUR troop have the brightest, blingiest booth around!

When it comes to Bling Your Booth, Troop 484 has it down. Amanda Hall, troop leader for 484 said the biggest focus for their winning booths have always been 1. Girl-led design and 2. Market to friends and family. Combine that with troop creativity and you have a serious recipe for success. Here’s our list of top tips to make your booth stand out!

  1. Be Girl-led

“Focus on being girl-led in choosing a theme and building the booth with adult guidance when needed. It’s ok to fail and learn from it!” Amanda says. By letting girls pick the theme you’re helping them grow AND they’ll have a greater passion for what they’re creating.

  1. Marketing

“Market your booth via social media and at your booth for future booth locations,” Amanda says. By spreading awareness, people know when and where to go to support your girls. You never know what co-worker may want to stop by! Giving out a schedule of booths and locations can help people plan to grab some cookies and support your little CEO’s on a drive home from work.

  1. Keep it Simple and about the cookies.

“Try using $4 a box or 5 for $20. It works. The wording sounds like you’re getting a deal, when in reality the girls are up-selling the product!” This little tactic is used by a lot of troops, and really makes a difference for the sales. People are used to hearing similar offers in stores, so they think it’s a deal, when really, it’s just bundling.

 

  1. Etiquette

This is sales training 101 and one of the best parts of the Cookie Program. By teaching girls sales strategies that include kindness and respect early on, you’re preparing them for future interviews, school presentations and careers. It’s not just about selling. This etiquette training includes “always being kind to customer, but also to the business you are partnering with. Always say thank you,” Amanda says. Teaching girls to build relationships and show appreciation will help them sell themselves in the future.

  1. Let Girls Sell

“Train your Girl Scouts on selling etiquette and remember it’s about the girls selling, not the leaders.” Customers LOVE to see girls using those skills and they’re always patient as a girl builds her confidence. The girls that thrive the most in the Cookie Program are the ones who learn to sell to strangers. Let the girls take the lead!

  1. Be Thankful!

“Be thankful for your co-leaders and volunteers! Their time is valuable!” By showing your appreciation to the adults who are helping, everyone involved is happier and customers can feel that. Have a mom who helped with power tools to build the booth? Show her some appreciation! What about the dad who helped organize your cookie orders? Give him a round of applause! Working together, volunteers and leaders can make this the BEST Cookie Program possible for their girls!

Now that you’ve gotten the inside scoop on awesome booths, go out and let your girls design! We can’t wait to see our 2018 Bling Your Booth entries! Week 2 entries can begin to be submitted on Feb. 23rd (booth sales from Feb 19-25) through 11:59p on Feb. 26, 2018, so get those photos in!! You can go vote for the Week 1 entries now by visiting our Facebook Page and clicking the “Bling Your Booth” tab on the left side bar. See you there!

Cookie 5K Run/Walk

When Girl Scouts have big goals, innovation happens! Thanks to a super, supportive dad with special expertise, Girl Scout Junior Troop 1052 from Blue Springs, Missouri is working hard toward their troop goal of taking a trip together to St. Louis. And, Kansas City is getting its very first Girl Scout Cookie 5K Run/Walk. On March 3, 2018, you can run for cookies and celebrate G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.

Scott Chilcutt manages runs for a living, working with KC Running Company. He’d seen Girl Scout cookie runs in other cities and when his daughter’s troop had ambitious goals for their trip, he saw it as a perfect fit to bring a Girl Scout cookie run to KC! It was a unique way he could contribute his own skill set to improve the troop experience for his daughter, Addy, and her Girl Scout sisters.

Troop 1052 has been together since 1st grade and they’re now awesome 5th grade Girl Scout Juniors. Scott loves having Addy in Girl Scouts because of the skills she learns and the things they get to do together.  “Girl Scouting gives Addy a lot of rewards. She has a community with her Girl Scout sisters, they have a lot of community involvement and I like the direction the troop has gone,” Scott said.

 

Left: Scott and daughter, Addy; Right: Troop 1052 at their 2017 St. Louis trip!

While his wife, Cassy, volunteers a lot with the troop, he still gets to be involved and help Addy with some of her new skills. “Girl Scouts is about getting back to the basics of what it is to be a dad and daughter. It’s an opportunity to work on skills that are starting to fall by the wayside,” Scott said.

Scott is hoping this run will become an annual event and hopes to involve more troops as it grows in size. He especially loves that it’s combining physical fitness with Girl Scout cookies – which are so very yummy and tempting to eat! “The Cookie Run will let people come support girls in a way they haven’t before. It’s a healthy initiative, which is new to combine with cookies. It’s teaching girls that it’s okay to eat the cookies when you’re pairing it with something healthy,” Scott said.

The run will take place in Independence, MO, near the Bass Pro Shop and with Girl Scout volunteers on hand, we know this is going to be an exciting celebration of girls! With Girl Scout Cookies as the prize and samples of each flavor available for runners, what better way to spend a Saturday? This run will feature food/celebrations at the end, runners getting to pick their favorite GS Cookie to celebrate finishing the race, a t-shirt for the day and much more.

 

Here’s a special sneak peek at the T-shirt design for the run!

If you’re inspired to support girls in a healthy, fun way, join us on March 3 as we cheer on everyone who stands with girls! You can register here – $34 for adults, $12 for kids (until March 1, when prices increase). You can also help the troop by sharing their facebook event for this run!

 

We LOVE Kappa Deltas!

5th Annual Kappa Delta Girl Scout Cookie Challenge Yields Record-Breaking Results

The hustle of boxes, the speed of sale, and the awesome energy of Kappa Delta women paired with Girl Scouts – it’s the annual Kappa Delta Girl Scout Cookie Challenge!

For the past five years Girl Scout troops have partnered with the Kappa Delta chapter at Kansas State University and the Kappa Delta chapter at University of Kansas for a friendly competition to see which school can sell the most Girl Scout cookies in a few hours!

It’s more than just a (coveted) Golden Thin Mint trophy, it’s a whole different kind of bragging rights between these schools. One that puts sister against sister!

What started out as a little game in 2014 has grown into the #KDGSCookieChallenge, with the Golden Thin Mint residing in both chapter houses twice. The fifth year, however, would mean that one school would be able to declare more wins over the other… and this year was another for the record books – with both schools selling more than they ever have in the history of the competition!

“I think what our chapter loves about this challenge is being able to see the impact we make directly with the Girl Scouts. It’s unique to be able to impact people at a local level and not just donate to an organization. We love being with the Girl Scouts and being able to spend time with them to hopefully build their confidence! It’s also really cool to see so many Kappa Deltas supporting them and seeing friendships made at the event,” K-State Kappa Delta VP-Community Service said!

This year, the KU Kappa Delta Chapter and Senior & Ambassador Troop 7579 sold 150 cases while the the K-State Kappa Delta Chapter and Cadette Troop 467 sold 158! Not only is this the most cookies ever sold, it’s also the narrowest margin in #KDGSChallenge history!

If you’re keeping total, that’s 3,696 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sold at both schools in just three hours!!

School 2015 2016 2017 2018
KU 1,187 1,462 1,364 1,800
K-State 624 768 1,579 1,896

“For the house it’s a great opportunity to hang out with Girl Scouts more. We can develop more of a friendship with these girls and give them a glimpse into sorority life since they’re older girls we’re working with,” KU Kappa Delta VP-Community Service Cassidy Hild said. “I feel like with increased numbers by both schools it just shows the passion and effort we give this challenge each year!”

Both troops have big plans for the proceeds they earned while working with the Kappa Deltas. Troop 467 believes that their dream of a trip to a National Park will be made a reality this year and Troop 7579 is planning an international trip before they graduate next year!

Every year we’re blown away with the hospitality, enthusiasm, energy and effort that the women of Kappa Delta put into making the #KDGSCookieChallenge a huge success with the troops who are selected to sell at their houses. This is one sweet partnership and we are forever grateful!

Tell Your Butterfly Story!

“Resilient, determined, courageous and beautiful… You have the qualities to transform your world…” –Susan Lordi (artist).

These words – resilient, determined, courageous, beautiful – all describe not only the life journey of the monarch butterfly, but also our own G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM Girl Scouts. When you think about the journey a butterfly goes through – from caterpillar to cocoon to breaking out of its shell to becoming one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet – its resilient strength only gets amplified. It’s no wonder this creature was the inspiration for the Kansas City based, internationally known artist behind Willow Tree®, Susan Lordi.

Strongly influenced by nature, art history, architecture, ballet and her family, Susan conceives and creates each Willow Tree piece at her studio in Kansas City, MO, surrounded by the robust art scene of the Crossroads district. After Susan sculpts and carves the original, it is then cast in resin that perfectly captures each of her knife marks. Each piece is then hand-painted, based on coloration and techniques unique to Willow Tree.

Many of us have strong memories with one of Susan’s creations. Her gesture-focused figures, with their elegant simplicity, invoke memories for anyone who has received one as a gift. Maybe it was a graduation gift, maybe a brother gave it to a sister, maybe a mother gave it to her daughter at her wedding. No matter the occasion, if you have a Willow Tree sculpture, it has meaning for you.  In Susan’s words, Willow Tree isn’t so much about the tangible piece. It represents an emotion, or it marks a memory”.

For 2018, Susan Lordi created a very special sculpture that combines the power of a girl with the resilience of the monarch butterfly…all accented with gold. Inspired by her love of the prairie, butterflies and the strength of women, “Butterfly” the sculpture was born. Girls. Strength. Gold.

“Butterfly” beautifully captures the essence of being a Girl Scout. The journey a monarch goes through sounds very similar to the growth of a Girl Scout from Daisy to Ambassador – finding strength and becoming more beautiful as she learns to spread her wings and fly. Because Willow Tree sculptures are all about the personal stories behind them…Willow Tree, DEMDACO and Girl Scouts invite YOU to tell YOUR butterfly story!

Beginning TODAY, February 12, Girl Scout Junior, Cadette, Senior & Ambassador troops and individual (Indy) Girl Scouts are invited to submit their “Butterfly” story for an awesome contest. Your story will want to embody what it means to you to be resilient, determined and courageous. How do you take action to change the world? How have you grown or will continue to grow into the beautiful monarch butterfly? We want this to be a girl-led activity, include plenty of creativity (submit artwork, a powerpoint, a video, etc.) and show others the power of being a Girl Scout!

Our story submission process will end on Girl Scouts’ 106th birthday – March 12th, with winners announced on Tuesday, March 20th, the first day of Spring. Our friends at Willow Tree and DEMDACO will select the winning entries – including Susan herself!

What do the winning “Butterfly” storytellers receive? Each Girl Scout in the troop and her leader(s) will receive her/his own “Butterfly” sculpture AND complimentary entry to April 14th’s Inspire a Girl! We will also feature the winning stories at Inspire a Girl and get a special photo opportunity.  A minimum of two troops or Indy Girl Scouts will be selected from each region (Central, East, West & North).

Learn more and submit your entry here between Feb. 12 – Mar. 12, 2018. We can’t wait to see these awesome “butterfly stories” from our amazing Girl Scouts!

Watch this special message from Susan! 

A special thanks to DEMDACO for their incredibly generous donation of the “Butterfly” sculptures, and to Susan and Karen Lordi (artist and writer sisters behind Willow Tree) for making this contest possible. Stay tuned for more exciting “Butterfly” announcements coming soon!

Going Gold in the North & West Regions

The projects are done, the paperwork is in and excitement is brewing for Inspire a Girl! On April 14 we will honor sixty, (6-0!!!) Girl Scouts who completed their Gold Award Project and earned the highest award in Girl Scouting this year! This is the largest Gold Award Girl Scout class in recent history and it includes nine Girl Scouts from our council’s West & North regions!  This group of young women have spent more than 800 hours giving back to their communities. From creating literacy programs to community improvement projects and educational programs, these Girl Scouts have achieved the highest honor she can earn, the Gold Award!


NORTH

Skylar Clark, Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

Train Depot  – For her Gold Award project, Skylar Clark wanted to encourage local children to learn about their town’s history and have fun while doing it! She worked with the Atchison Chamber of Commerce and the Northeast Kansas Railroad Association to breathe new life into Atchison’s Train Depot. With the help of some friends and family members she did some painting at the depot and planted a brand new garden. After that, she hosted an educational workshop for children to learn about trains.

“I feel more connected to my community through the service that I’ve done for it.”


Werthen Gass, 
Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

NomNom ReadRead – Werthen Gass saw a need for additional literacy programs for young children, specifically those living in poverty. In her experience, those children were not prepared to become readers because they lacked resources in their life to provide the necessary equipment. To address the issue, she created the NomNom ReadRead YouTube channel in conjunction with the Trenton High School Key Club and Jewett Norris Library. She shared this resource with teachers and got their support to use the program within their own classrooms. To-date, she has 1,144 subscribers to the channel and nearly 1 million views!

“Through this project I realized that some kids never see any print in their homes. As a result, I developed a deeper sense of the world around me and I resolved to give the gift of reading to others.”

 

Latorrie Johnson, Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

Recycling on a Rural Community Level – Over the past few years, Latorrie Johnson noticed that the recycling had decreased in her rural town of Trenton, MO. To promote recycling on a local level she collected old bins and repurposed them into recycling bins and encouraged attendees to use them at community events. Latorrie also created a flier and passed it out at the local health fair and ran an article in the local newspaper to raise awareness about the importance of recycling!

“I have developed values such as persistency, determination, to work hard and never give up.”

 


Katelyn Kesinger, 
Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

American Flag Etiquette – Katelyn Kessinger wanted to educate her community on how to properly dispose of an American Flag. She worked with the Daughter of the American Revolution to create an education program that taught others how to hold an American Flag Retirement Ceremony and created a brochure that people could take away and refer to in the future.

“I learned that I just need to be more confident in myself and everything will go just fine!”


E’Lizabeth (Elle) Neal, 
Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

Preserving Trenton High School – Elle Neal saw a need for the digitization of her high school’s past yearbooks. The district didn’t have the capacity to do the work, so Elle stepped up. She collected yearbooks and scanned the thousands of pages to create a digital version of each one. She then created a website where the yearbooks would be accessible to alumni who are now living all around the world!

“I felt accomplished with the simple difference I made and I will try to continue to make a difference, no matter how little or big.”

 

Miranda Wagner, Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

Forest of Friendship; Make It KnownIn Atchison, KS is an International Forest of Friendship that was a gift from the City of Atchison and the international organization of women pilots, the Ninety-Nines that had been neglected by the community for quite some time. Miranda took it upon herself to  not only revitalize it, but create programming around the history of the forest and educate her community. She planted perennial flowers, created fact sheets and an educational scavenger hunt and installed a weather-proof box to make her resources available to all visitors. She promoted her project on the local radio station and held an event during the forest’s annual flag ceremony!

“Through my project I have shown how much one person can impact the world.”

 

WEST

Samantha Hall , Manhattan, KS
Troop 7189, Service Unit 704

Conversation about Conservation – Samantha Hall’s Gold Award project focused on the conservation of animals by focusing on the ways humans unknowingly harm the environment around them. She created a program centered around the palm oil crisis. Palm oil is a common item in household cleaning products that displaces and harms animals every day.  She worked with the Manhattan Sunset Zoo, creating backpack kits that visitors can check out and learn about ways they can easily help with animal conservation!

“I developed a stronger sense of self throughout this project. It made me take charge in ways that I haven’t before, prompting me to figure out how I work with people and the best way to get things done.”

 


Samantha Edwards, 
Sabetha, KS
Troop 7200, Service Unit 714

Birds of Prey Awareness – Samantha Edwards wanted to change the negative perception birds of prey have by educating people on the positive ways they impact the environment and ecosystem. Samantha created a presentation and website with interesting facts, benefits of their existence and how humans can help them thrive. She also created bird swag bags containing bird seed and trading cards. Her presentation and information will continue through efforts of her school and community library.

“I feel that my confidence will grow tremendously because this project showed me that I can speak my mind and that anything is possible of you put your mind to it. I set a goal and I accomplished it.”


Kelly Wichmann
, Manhattan, KS
Troop 7189, Service Unit 704

Bike to School Day
– Kelly Wichmann’s Gold award project started when she realized that her school parking lot was overflowing. She thought about the impact that all those cars had on the environment and decided to create a Bike to School day to help the environment while encouraging her peers to be active. Included in her project was work to update and better the bike racks at her school to encourage her classmates to consider bicycling as a form of transportation every day, not just on one day!

“I know the assertiveness in which I built upon during the project will definitely be of great importance as I move on to my college years.”

 

Make plans to join us at Inspire a Girl on April 14 at the Overland Park Convention Center as we celebrate our entire 2018 Gold Award Girl Scout Class with a hands-on Expo and Honors Ceremony where they will officially receive their Gold Award Pin!

Did you receive the highest award in Girl Scouting?! We want to know! Drop us a comment below or send an email to prdept@gsksmo.org!

A Golden Heart for Girl Scouts

Meet Girl Scout Alum Bernadette “Bernie” Murray

An alumna with a golden heart for Girl Scouts! Meet Bernadette “Bernie” Murray, a Highest Award Girl Scout Alumna, proud member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society AND Daisy’s Circle! Investing in the future of girls has become a passion for Bernie because of the impact the program had on her own life. Being a champion for women has been a lifelong goal – and it all started in a troop.

“I’m constantly working to building up women and to be a champion for women because we’re a minority in my line of work. But it’s something I’ve been doing my whole life and it started with Girl Scouts,” Bernie said, who currently works in cyber security – a male dominated industry.

Bernie entered the Girl Scout world as a Brownie and quickly found herself trying exciting things. She learned to drive a manual transmission car, did winter survival and travelled all over the world. In fact, she’s been to every World Center except India – what an impressive Girl Scout travel resume! Bernie even had a pen pal from one of her Destinations that she reconnected with on LinkedIn recently.

 

Bernie at National Center West in 1984.

Outdoor adventure became a passion as she entered her teen years and she served as a Counselor-In-Training and various other outdoor positions. She travelled to National Center West on a council sponsored trip called “Wyoming Trek.” To this day, she’s still an avid camper and credits a lot of that passion for the outdoors to Girl Scouts. She’s still in touch with girls from her Girl Scout camping days thanks to an outdoor program Facebook group!

“As a teen, Girl Scouts kept me on the straight and narrow. Without Girl Scouts, I would not be the same person I am today,” Bernie said.

This love of camping inspired her Gold Award project, which was creating a camp aid training program. “Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors would go through this training to learn to work with troops who had leaders who didn’t have a strong background in the outdoors,” Bernie said. The program helped ensure that Girl Scouts got a great outdoor experience, even if their leader was learning alongside them! Today, leaders go through training at our council, but being a true Innovator, Bernie’s program was ahead of its time.

 

Bernie as a CIT at Camp Prairie Schooner

Fast forward several years and Bernie is still camping and finding Girl Scouts popping up in her life. At a work meeting she realized that the presenter was her Gold Award advisor! Those connections with other Girl Scouts and mentors have truly lasted a lifetime for this awesome Girl Scout.

Today, Bernie is a proud member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, a special group of donors who have included Girl Scouts in their estate plans. Investing in girls was at the top of her list because of the impact the program had on her own life. “In Girl Scouts, I wasn’t told I couldn’t do something. I just did it. Because of that, I thrived. I want to make sure that the next generation continues to have those experiences without financial constraints,” Bernie said.

Thanks to donors like Bernie, Girl Scouts continues to be the top leadership organization for girls in the world. It’s because of dedicated alumna, donors and volunteers that we can build a bright future for girls!

Do you know a special alum like Bernie? Share the story with us using the comments below.