Greater Than an Individual

Giving Back on 9/11

“When I found out I was having a daughter, I said ‘She’s going to be a Girl Scout!’” Jen Mitchell said. This reaction sums up the passion for Girl Scouting that runs deep in this alum. For Jen Mitchell, Girl Scouting has been a family affair that provided countless opportunities. Girl Scouts also ties her to a tragic period in recent US history – the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.

Jen Mitchell’s Girl Scout life began when she was in 1st grade and her mom started a troop. “Both my parents were extremely involved and as my troop got going, my grandmother said ‘well, I’ve got to get in on this.’ Then, of course, my grandfather said ‘well, I’ll have to drive her, so I’m getting involved’ and it ended up being an entire family affair for about 17 years,” Jen said. Her dad later became her troop’s co-leader and even joined the Board of Rolling Hills Council in New Jersey.

With a support system like this, it’s no wonder Jen became close with her troop. They took trips to places like New York City and Niagara Falls. With travel and sisterly love in their hearts, they went to London after a troop member moved there. “One of our troop members came to a meeting and said ‘my dad’s job is moving and you guys are my best friends and I’m never going to see you again’ and we go ‘That’s not true, we’ll come see you!’” Jen said. And in true Girl Scout form, they did.

Throughout their troop years, they stayed active in service projects as well. They completed their Highest Awards, including a Silver Award project where they collected yarn and took it to a retirement community, then collected completed scarves and hats made by the residents and took them to a local cancer center. They volunteered with the VFW, and local high schools as well.

During her senior year service took on a new level of meaning for Jen. On September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack just 45 minutes away from her home, Jen had the most impactful Girl Scouting experience she could imagine – giving back to a country in crisis.

Jen’s words best describe the experience:

“Even though we were high school seniors, coming to the end of our troop years, we wanted to do something together. The aunt of one of our troop members was a Port Authority officer and told us they needed supplies for the morgue, including things like Chapstick for the workers who were spending all day in cold rooms, and that need wasn’t being addressed.

Our troop started collecting items and took them to those in need. A couple of times when we would make the drop-offs we were able to go to places normal volunteers couldn’t. Security was high, but because we were Girl Scouts, we had the credibility we needed to be able to help.

It was Girl Scouts that let me be part of helping families get closure. It was such an emotional thing to be 17 and have volunteers and workers so excited to see us and get the supplies. There were a couple instances where a fallen first responder was brought in while we were there and we were able to be part of that and help the family. It brought our troop closer together. Girl Scouts gave us the opportunity to do something so much bigger than we could have ever done as individuals,” Jen said.

Left & Right: Jen with daughter Ellie in Ireland; Center: Ellie at a G.I.R.L. Event!

Today, Jen is excited to be a Girl Scout mom to Ellie, her brand new Daisy. She went to a New G.I.R.L. Event and couldn’t be more excited to help Ellie on the same path that she, her mom and grandmother have taken.  And while we all hope Ellie doesn’t have to experience tragedy like 9/11 again, we know she will find connection and meaning through service like her mother did.

As the anniversary of 9/11 comes once again, we remember and honor the victims, families, first responders, volunteers and city workers who came together to bring New York City and the country together. We thank Jen and her troop for being part of that recovery and for being Girl Scout Strong in one of the darkest moments our country has experienced.

Hollywood Dreamin’

Girl Scout Senior, Patricia Smith is no stranger to travel. Her mother and leader, Arjean Smith is in the Army and the Smith family has been stationed all around the world. Patricia originally joined Girl Scouts in Virginia, they then moved to Germany where she was part of a Girl Scouts on-base program. While there, Patricia and Arjean traveled to London to visit Pax Lodge, and made three trips to Our Chalet in Switzerland!

“It’s a new experience to go different places and see how people do things differently. It’s also cool to meet new people,” Patricia explained.
The Smiths’ moved back to Fort Leavenworth in the summer of 2016 and Patricia has stayed involved in as an Indy Girl Scout.
With a love of travel instilled in her, Patricia researched ways she could continue to see the world as a Girl Scout, and ultimately decided she wanted to go on a Girl Scout destination to Hollywood and learn about filmmaking. Over the past two years, she set goals for her cookie business and earned enough money to pay for the trip herself!

On July 1, Patricia boarded a plane in KC and took her first solo flight to Los Angeles, CA where she met up with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the country for their Hollywood Dreamin’ Destination!

Her trip started out with tours of production studios and the city of Los Angeles. At Warner Bros Studio, they learned how sets and scenes work and saw that some shows actually share set pieces. One of the highlights for Patricia was seeing the Fuller House set and seeing some of the props being constructed for a future episode.

“When I’m seeing all this, I’m like oh my gosh! I’m kind of star struck!”


After learning about the industry as a whole, Patricia got to work in a small group to write, direct, produce and edit a short film of their own! They even hired and paid actors from the budget they were given. “Union actors cost more. Non-union actors are cheaper but they haven’t been in as much stuff.”

They had a few prompts to choose from for their concept, and Patricia’s group chose to create a film about what happens when two people are stuck in an airport together. The film itself couldn’t be more than four minutes long or use more than two actors.

“What surprised me was the emotion that the actors gave us. I didn’t think they would be so emotional in their role,” she explained. “Also there are more angles than what you see in the film. Shots are harder to get than what you would think!”

This destination gave Patricia a glimpse into what career in the film industry would be like and it’s now a career path she’s interested in!
“It was definitely something different because I didn’t go out of the country. We had downtime compared to other trips I’ve been on and we got to get to know each other, and had a lot of fun times!”

2019-2020 Girl Scout destination programs are being added through September. Check them out and submit your application to our council by Nov. 15 to be included in the first round of consideration!