Girl Scout Myths, Debunked – Part 2

Get to Know the Safety Activity Checkpoints, Trip & Activity Request Form and Supplemental Insurance Purchase

On Friday, we brought you Girl Scout Myths, Debunked – Part 1. It was full of information for caregivers and volunteers, setting the record straight on some old and false information that has been floating around! In part 2 of this blog series, we’re debunking myths that are more relevant to troop leaders around policies and procedures!

This post references the Safety Activity Checkpoints. When preparing for any activity with girls, always begin with the Safety Activity Checkpoints (SACs) written specifically for that particular activity. If SACs do not exist for an activity you and your Girl Scouts are interested in, don’t worry. We are here to help you navigate. You can connect with your Troop Support Manager or email us at customercare@gsksmo.org.

Myth: Troops can only camp at Girl Scout properties.
Truth: Camping is a great Girl Scout tradition and one of the very first activities that Girl Scouts’ founder Juliette Gordon Low encouraged for girls! Girl Scouts can camp at any public* area following Camping SACs! Just make sure you complete a Trip & Activity Request 6 weeks prior to your overnight camping experience at a non-council property. There are so many amazing places for camping in and around our council. Reserve America is a great resource for planning camping locations!

*GSKSMO recommends that GS meetings and troop activities take place in public areas. Overnights are never approved on private property like individual’s basements, backyards or open fields.

 Myth: Daisies can’t go camping.
Truth: A Daisy troop may participate in an occasional overnight camping experience. Daisies who have completed kindergarten may independently participate at day camp and in resident camp experiences lasting up to three nights. Daisies who have completed first grade may independently participate in resident camp experiences lasting four or more nights. Just make sure you’re following all Camping SACs and complete the necessary paperwork letting GSKSMO know and you’re good to go!

Myth: We need insurance for everyone attending an event and it can be purchased the day of the event.
Truth: Every registered girl and adult is covered under a Girl Scout insurance plan. Additional insurance must be purchased for all non-registered person(s) attending GS events. To purchase additional insurance, complete and submit this form with the appropriate fee at least 2 weeks before the event date. Forms can be submitted by mail, fax or email to ProgramApprovals@gsksmo.org.

Myth: You need council approval for any activity you do with your Troop or Service Unit.
Truth: You only need council approval for high risk activities, discussions of sensitive topics, day trips outside the council boundaries and overnights at non-council properties. To obtain approval submit an Activity & Trip Application according to the following schedule:

  • High-Risk/Sensitive Topics/Day Trips outside council boundaries OR overnights of 1-2 nights not at a council-property– 6 weeks in advance or prior to any fundraising.
  • Extended Travel (3 or more nights) – 6 months or prior to any fundraising.
  • International Trips – 1 year in advance or prior to any fundraising.

Remember that Girl Scouting is girl-led, but as the troop leader or volunteer you’re there to help make sure that girls (and adults) are following safety procedures. Communicate with council and parents. Inform your Girl Scout council and girls’ parents/guardians about the activity, including details about safety precautions and any appropriate clothing or supplies that may be necessary. Follow GSKSMO procedures for activity approval, certificates of insurance, and guidelines about girls’ general health examinations. Make arrangements in advance for all transportation and confirm plans before departure and arrange for transportation and adult supervision.

If you ever have questions about following Safety Activity Checkpoints or proper procedures, please email programs@gsksmo.org.

Girl Scout Myths Debunked – Part 1

Girl Scouts is a 105 year old organization and over the course of those 105 years, Girl Scouts has evolved to suit the needs of girls where there at, at that point in time. Badge programs have come and gone, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities have increased, outdoor experiences have expanded, and Journeys have been streamlined just to name a few.

Those changes and our evolution to always meet the needs of today’s girls is why Girl Scouts is the girl leadership expert! However, with such a rich history and a large alumnae network, it’s not surprising that there are (more than) a few myths around how Girl Scouting works today! So, we’re here to set the record straight in this two-part blog series! Part 1 (what you’re reading now!) are general Girl Scout myths, debunked. On Monday Nov. 20, we’ll bring you part 2 – Girl Scout myths around policies and procedures with information geared more toward troop leaders.

Myth: There isn’t anything in Girl Scouts like the Eagle Scout Award.
Truth: Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn the highest award in Girl Scouting called the Gold Award. This prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities-and beyond. Gold Award Girl Scouts spend 1-2 years on their projects as a Girl Scout Senior and/or Ambassador. Those who choose to join the armed forces enter at one rank higher than other recruits and university research indicates that adding Gold Award to a college application is a critical element in the admissions decision process. Over the course of 100 years, more than a million girls have earned their Gold Award or its equivalent.

Myth: Girl Scouts can only attend Girl Scout activities as a troop.
Truth: Many Community Partner Programs, Outdoor Experiences and Spark Events are open to all Girl Scouts. Troops may choose to go as a group, or caregivers can register their Girl Scout individually to participate on their own (supervised, of course). This is a great way to take advantage of the thousands (yep) of activities that are available to Girl Scouts all year long. Attend Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcraker as a family, participate in adventure activities that appeal to your Girl Scout’s interest that the troop as a whole may not be interested in, or learn more about careers in STEM on a more personal level at Spark Events.

*Spring dates for Adventure Programs and Spark Events will be announced after the first of the year!

Myth: Girls must belong to a troop to be a Girl Scout.
Truth: Girls K-12 can be a registered member without being affiliated with a troop or troop leader. They still complete Girl Scout activities – badge earning, cookie sales and more with the guidance of an adult mentor. These girls are called Indy Girl Scouts. This is a great option for especially Junior or older Girl Scouts who live in a rural area, are having trouble finding a troop or want to continue in Girl Scouting on their own.

Myth: I’m not a Girl Scout Alumna because I was only a Daisy/Brownie/Junior
Truth: Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout! No matter the level or how long you were a Girl Scout, you are a Girl Scout Alumna – one of 59 million women around the world! That’s one in every two adult women. Whoah. As an alumna, make sure you’re staying up-to-date on alumna-specific activities at Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri by joining the GSKSMO Alumnae Facebook group!

Myth: Girls have to join Girl Scouts at the beginning of the school year/Girls can’t join until First Grader/it’s too late to join Girl Scouts.
Truth: Girls can join Girl Scouts year-round and as a Kindergartener through High School Senior! Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri works year-round to form troops and place girl and adult members! And, it’s never too late to join Girl Scouts in your life.

Myth: Dads can’t go camping or be troop leaders.
Truth: #ManEnoughToBeAGirlScout! We LOVE Girl Scout Dads and they are invited and encouraged to be troop leaders, co-leaders or serve in any other volunteer capacity with Girl Scouts. As any volunteer, they must follow our Safety Activity Checkpoints and when it involves camping or an overnight activity, they just sleep in separate sleeping quarters nearby!

Myth: The only way to volunteer with Girl Scouts is to be a troop leader.
Truth: There are a plethora of ways you can volunteer with Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri. Yes, we’re always looking for troop leaders but you can also volunteer with a troop as more of a supporting adult –  helping drive, plan activities and snacks, money management or other tasks that keep the troop running smoothly! Or, as serve as a service unit volunteer mentoring adult volunteers as they work with girls, a Cookie volunteer coordinating the logistics for the largest girl-led business in the world or in a seasonal or episodic opportunity with the council! See them all and learnmore!

Do you have a Girl Scout myth you want to make sure we debunk? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to come back on Monday for Part 2 in Girl Scout Myths, Debunked where we look at some misinformation around policies and procedures for troop leaders.

Taking the World by Storm

Meet Girl Scout Junior & Inventor Julia Luetje

From class project to world class design, our very own Girl Scout Junior Julia Luetje’s Storm Sleeper is taking the world by, well, storm! Julia is one of just five finalists in Frito-Lays national Dreamvention Competition!

You see, Julia has always been afraid of storms and living in the Midwest, the storms can be pretty loud and crazy. So when her 4th grade science competition came around, she was inspired to officially create something that might help others who were also afraid of storms. Using a lot of hot glue, a couple of bulky pillows, a blanket and a blue tooth speaker, the Storm Sleeper was born. Think of it as a specialized, high-tech pillow fort that not only blocks out the sights and sounds of storms, but obnoxious siblings and snoring parents, too!

A couple months later she was watching EllenTube and saw a call for Innovation submissions for the Dreamvention Competition and she was compelled to enter.

The Dreamvention competition has been an exciting whirlwind for the entire Luetje family! Mom and Dad found out early on that Julia was selected as a finalist, but they had to keep it a secret from Julia until she flew down to Austin, TX for what she thought was a semi-finalist meeting in early September. Upon her arrival with just four other young inventors, she was presented with a professionally made prototype and the news that she was among the top 5!

As a finalist she received $10,000, a professional prototype of her invention as well as support to patent and trademark the Storm Sleeper.

Throughout the process, Julia has sought support from her fellow Girl Scout sisters. She used troop meetings to test early prototypes and drew from projects she had done in Girl Scouts to help her actually construct the Storm Sleeper.

But now, she really needs her Girl Scout sisters’ support!

“I need votes,” Julia says!

The Dreamvention with the most votes by November 27 will win big – they’ll win a one-hour mentoring session with a celebrity mentor and $250,000.

Simply visit www.mydreamvention.com every day through November 27 on all your devices and vote for her Storm Sleeper!

Ultimately, Julia just hopes that her invention helps others – people and pets alike! Whether they’re scared of storms, or have sensory sensitivity the storm sleeper is going to make a difference in the lives of others and she’s plans to take it to market, no matter the outcome of the competition!

Julia with her parents Chucker Luetje and Susan Bernstein Luetje and her prototype and the finalists meeting.

“Winning would be crazy because I never would have thought that I would be doing this especially since I’m 10 and helping out other people is just something everyone should do and that’s really kind. It’s exciting to know that it can help other people and that my ideas are coming to life,” Julia said in a story with Fox4 Kansas City.

Gymnast. Student Council President. Inventor. Girl Scout. Let’s help Julia add Dreamvention Champion to that already impressive resume!

Don’t forget to vote every day, on all your devices for the Storm Sleeper and share with your network!

Stepping up for Girls

blogHeader-ManEnough

*This story originally published on June 30, 2016.

In loving memory of Jason Coppedge, 1979 – 2017. 

Jason Coppedge is Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!

When it came time to choose extra-curricular activities for their daughter and son, there was not much discussion between Jason and Shana Coppedge – Scouting was #1 on their list. Shana is a Girl Scout Alumna and Jason is a Boy Scout Alum with a lot on that resume. He is a former staff member of Camp Nash, attended National and World Boy Scout Jamborees, hiked Philmont and earned his Eagle Scout Award!

Jason and Shana registered their daughter Piper for Girl Scouts when she was in first grade and she joined an established Daisy Troop. At the end of that amazing year, Piper’s leader stepped down. However, Jason was there to step up. He eagerly took on the troop of seven year old Girl Scout Brownies and officially declared himself Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!

“Some of my fondest memories involved Scouting and I wanted her to be able to have that same experience and keep the girls together,” Jason said.

JCoppedge

And he’s done just that. Over the past five years Jason and his co-leaders have led Troop 3145 on some amazing experiences and adventures. They are a troop that absolutely loves camping, building fires, learning survival skills and generally experiencing the outdoors.

One of Jason’s favorite memories is from one of the first troop campouts. After the girls helped cook dinner and cleaned everything up, they found themselves with some extra time on their hands.  Jason challenged them to find something to do. Before he knew it the girls were playing Zombie Tag, a game they came up with all on their own.

“Scouting teaches a lot of values that are sometimes missed with today’s technology. It gets you back to the basics in life like camping, how to start a fire and fix things.”

The only difference the girls of Troop 3145 see in having Jason as a troop leader is that his craft skills aren’t quite up those of some of his co-leaders…

“It’s definitely entertaining to see him try to do the crafts,” Piper said!

“I know when to ask for help!” Jason said!

To close out their final year as Girl Scout Juniors, the girls headed down to Jason’s “office,” South Metro Fire Department in Raymore, MO to work on their Take Action Project – a video on gender stereotypes in male-dominated professions. On Jason’s shift is a female firefighter and paramedic who graciously answered all their questions on camera and led them through some training drills!

collage

As Troop 3145 bridges up, Jason sees himself and his co-leaders stepping back more. “Next year the girls are leading –it’ll be a different boat. They’ll work together and we will help them organize.”

In fact, Piper already has her eyes set on earning her Gold Award in the future. It’s easy to tell that she looks up to Jason as her dad AND as her troop leader.

“I can definitely confide in him if I have problems. I don’t get my word heard first; he makes it fair so everyone gets their word heard,” Piper explained.

In addition to leading Troop 3145, Jason is also involved in Boy Scouts as Advancement Chair, Trainer and Assistant Den Leader for his son’s Boy Scout troop.

Jason describes being Piper’s troop leader as “total enjoyment,” and something that he encourages every dad to think about.

Jason overseeing Troop 3145 build garden beds at Camp Daisy Hindman for their Bronze Award Take Action Project!

Jason overseeing Troop 3145 build garden beds at Camp Daisy Hindman for their Bronze Award Take Action Project!

“I don’t think [being her troop leader] should be that big of a deal. Dads shouldn’t be afraid to step up for their daughters and help them out.”

Thanks for all you do for girls, Jason! Do you know a man that has declared himself Man Enough to be a Girl Scout?! Let us know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Go-Getter

A Gold Award Alumna Spotlight

Gold Award Girl Scouts are go-getters to the ultimate degree. Through the Gold Award, they spend over 100 hours solving a problem in a sustainable way that positively impacts their community. It’s no wonder that these Girl Scouts go on to achieve some pretty remarkable things! Meet Amanda Stanley, a Gold Award alumna who turned tremendous personal obstacles into a profession and life of positivity.

Amanda started Girl Scouts as a Junior in Wichita. As the first Girl Scout troop at the school, she got to help younger girls learn the ropes…Sometimes, quite literally! One of her favorite annual service projects was teaching Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies  to camp – how to tie knots, pitch a tent and cook over a campfire. It’s no wonder that this love of service translated into an awesome Gold Award project.

During high school, Amanda saw a need for a better way to organize volunteers at a living history museum she volunteered at. This was before digital databases were common (early 2000s), but looking forward, Amanda knew this would be a good solution to the problem. “My biggest challenge was all the places they had volunteer data. You’ve got paper data and data in excel sheets and word documents and jotted on pieces of paper and trying to put that into a usable system was difficult,” Amanda said.

Amanda and her troop at a camping event – one of her early service projects; Amanda as a Cowtown volunteer; Receiving her award for her Gold Award project.

Her project produced a usable database for the Old Cowtown Museum, allowing the organization to find volunteers with those unique “living history” skills, when they needed them. It’s not always easy to know who can play a blacksmith or teach kids to churn butter! But the database let them find those volunteers – all thanks to the work of a Girl Scout!

“What I love about the Gold Award, and why I think it’s important for girls now, is that it makes you look at a problem and see if you can come up with a solution. You then plan it out, work on time management and figure out how your project will create good,” Amanda said.

During high school she also got to participate in Girl Scout Destinations, including one to Washington D.C. focusing on art. “We went to art galleries, stayed with a Girl Scout family for a night, did art projects that I still have hanging on my wall. It was a great way to see the monuments and city,” said Amanda.

Amanda and her mother who served as troop leader; Amanda’s troop at a horse riding event.

Completing her Gold Award earned Amanda two scholarships and she attended Newman University in Wichita where she got a degree in Biology. From there she went to the KU Med, on her way to becoming an MD. After her first year of medical school she was diagnosed with cancer and, always the fighter, she had surgery, it went into remission and she returned to school. After her second year, the cancer came back, she had another surgery and decided to take a year off to focus on her recovery. During that year, she decided life was too short to not be in a career she completely loved…so she took the LSAT and enrolled in law school! Talk about a driven G.I.R.L.!

“I knew I wanted to leave all through my second year, but was too scared because I didn’t have a backup plan. Plus…no one drops out of medical school. But during my year off and almost dying…I realized life was far too short to go to work and hate your job every day,” Amanda said.

In 2014 Amanda graduated from KU Law and is now working for the League of Kansas Municipalities. She travels around Kansas, teaches classes to city officials and loves her job. She is also a lobbyist for local governments to the KS legislature, meaning she testifies in front of committees and really makes an impact on the Kansas government.

As a Girl Scout alumna, she sees the benefits of the program for today’s girls, just like it positively impacted her. Girl Scouting gave her the courage and more importantly, gave her people “in her corner” who were there to support her. “We are in a unique time in history where girls have come a long way, but there are still implicit biases, discrimination and stereotypes – like girls aren’t good at science – that Girl Scouts gives you the tools to combat. It teaches that a stereotype is just a stereotype and if you’re motivated, you can do whatever you want,” Amanda said.

We couldn’t be more proud of this incredible G.I.R.L.! She’s recently decided to become a volunteer at Girl Scout Day at the Capitol, helping girls learn more about the KS government she loves so much. Thank you, Amanda, for continuing to support girls and for being such a great example of a Girl Scout alumna!

6 Ways to Give Back to Girl Scouts This Holiday Season!

It’s that time of year! The weather is getting chilly and soon we’ll be celebrating friends, family and the holidays. As you gear up for holiday shopping and giving, we wanted to give you a few tips on ways to give to Girl Scouts WHILE you go about your holiday routine! Seriously, some of these ARE FREE WAYS TO GIVE BACK! Check out our 6 ways to give back this holiday season and help us create women of courage, confidence and character all year!

#1 #GivingTuesday – Her Vest. Her Story. Join us Nov. 28!

Double your gift!  November 28, 2017 is #GivingTuesday, a holiday celebrating giving back following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What’s so special about our 2017 #GivingTuesday campaign? Your gift is DOUBLED, thanks to a generous match from Sylvia Wagner and E. R. Pullman. So help us spread the word on November 28th and give!

You can also post an #UnSelfie of yourself giving and tag #gsksmo! www.gsksmo.org/givingtuesday

#2 Amazon Smile – FREE FOR YOU, $$ for GSKSMO!

Give while shopping – it’s FREE FOR YOU! Do your holiday shopping today and give at the same time. All you have to do is use the link here: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/43-0892926 or go to smile.amazon.com and type “Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri” into the Charity search. Once you designate your charity, .5% of all your purchases goes back to Girl Scouts. Same Amazon, just giving back! Make sure to use smile.amazon.com whenever you shop to active the giving.

#3 United Way/CFC – Give to the Community!

Live United and/or give as a federal employee. These two awesome programs use funds from generous donors who give to United Way or CFC and in turn, the funds are distributed to critical organizations in their communities. When you give to either United Way or the Combined Federal Campaign, you are part of a mission of giving that generates thousands of dollars for important organizations each year. Click here to find your local United Way.

If you’re a CFC donor – please consider directing your CFC contribution to GSKSMO (#35109)

#4 Corporate/Workplace Giving – Get YOUR Business Involved!

Does your employer have a VIP (Volunteer Incentive Program)? Many organizations provide incentives for employees to give of time or money to a charitable organization. By selecting Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri as your organization, you’ll make a real difference in the lives of girls! Plus, you may get rewarded in return. Your company can also sponsor Girl Scout events like Inspire a Girl or the Volunteer Recognition Events. Sponsorships are a great way to show how much a company cares about the community and supports girls. Each company is different and we’re here to help. Contact the VirginiaPennington@gsksmo.org if you have questions!

 

#5 Charity Fundraisers – Fundraise for GSKSMO!

Are you part of an organization, club or group that does an annual fundraiser for charity? If so, we need YOU! Advocating for GSKSMO to be the recipient of your group’s fundraiser can make a real difference in our community. In 2016, thanks to Board Member Sherry Gibbs advocating for girls, GEHA selected GSKSMO as the recipient of funds raised from their annual golf tournament. This was a $100,000 investment in girls – how incredible! You can read the full story here and if you’d like to make incredible change like this, contact the VP of Philanthropy, Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela (Vanessa@gsksmo.org).

#6 Join Daisy’s Circle – Give ALL Year!

Ready to make a monthly commitment to girls? Joining Daisy’s Circle is one of the best ways you can support Girl Scouts and our mission! Investments of any size are appreciated and now small businesses AND TROOPS can become members of Daisy’s Circle! This special group of supporters helps Girl Scouts plan for the future by providing predictable, monthly income that supports programming, the outreach program and so much more. Learn more at www.daisyscircle.org or contact Kara Lineweber (klineweber@gsksmo.org) for more information.

Every Girl Scout vest is a story, and you can help a girl tell her story by investing today. Together, we can help girls build their first resumes (their vests) and learn skills that will last them a lifetime. It only takes a few minutes to use any of these tips to give back and your gift of any size can make a huge difference for girls right here in your community. Thank you and we hope you share this post to inspire friends and family to give to Girl Scouts!

Did you use our Amazon Smiles link? Maybe encouraged a friend to join Daisy’s Circle? Share how you used these tips in the comments below!

#givingtuesday #givingtuesdaykc #gsksmo #girlscouts

Travel Like a Girl Scout

Travel. Something Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is incredibly passionate about. She’s been on three Girl Scout Destination trips since she was old enough to apply. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL in 2015,
Leadership in the Andes in Peru in 2016 and STEM: Energy Solutions in Germany in 2017; a progression of location, skills and experience in true Girl Scout fashion.

Left: Taking the view in at Neuschwanstein Castle. Center: Amanda at Our Chalet. Right: Enjoying the Girl Scout energy at Our Chalet!

Over the course of 13 days this summer, Amanda, along with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the United States traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland learning about sustainable and renewable energy and global energy policies.

“I’ve always know that I wanted to work with sustainable energy, something that’s good for the environment. I knew this Destination would further my knowledge and passion and give me real life experiences that weren’t just isolated in the United States,” Amanda said.

This Destination, like her others, was an eye-opening experience for Amanda.

Before they left the country, the group of 16 Girl Scouts spent two days in Boston getting to know each other and learning about sustainable energy in the United States so they would understand the differences when they were learning Germany and Switzerland. One perspective they gained was how other countries value their energy sources more than the United States because unlike the United States, they’ve experienced a loss of them. As a young country, the United States just can’t relate in that way.

 

Left: Turbines at a power plant in Germany. Center: Wind turbine in Switzerland. Right: Green living project.

This Girl Scout Destination experience, like her others, diversify her learning and expand her studies outside of school.

“Destinations are a great outlet for girls to not only extend their education, but extend themselves as people,” Amanda explained. “You can take a girl and give her Google, or give her a ticket to go to Peru or Germany and the education is completely different. My generation wants to just watch things on YouTube; stepping outside of their comfort zone will give them life. It’s an impact that is completely unfathomable.”

This Destination had a significant impact on Amanda as a Girl Scout as well. While in Switzerland they had the opportunity to visit one of the World Centers, Our Chalet in Adelboden. As if they hadn’t bonded as Girl Scouts already, they were once again reminded of the national and global Movement they all belong to. While at Our Chalet they met British Girl Guides and Amanda describes the bond as almost instant.

Amanda’s Destination group at Our Chalet.

As recognition of her passion for travel and education through Girl Scout Destinations, Amanda was nominated as Girl Scout of the year by EF Girl Scouts, the travel partner of Girl Scouts of the USA. As part of her nomination, she had to write about her Destination experiences.

Standing below a towering windmill you take a deep breath of air and look out across the valley.  Chalets sprinkled across the hillside open their windows to welcome in the fresh summer air.  Some people don’t understand just how essential travel is to developing one’s self.  To me, travel is important because it affords me the opportunity to experience other cultures in a way that I would not be able to inside of a classroom.  The life lessons you can learn just by getting on an airplane and walking around a plaza in Peru, or a museum in Germany, or a Koi pond in Japan can never be replicated.  So I encourage you to travel.  See things like you have never seen before, live life through a lens of curiosity.

 These experiences can be even more impactful when going on a trip with a group of strangers. After just a few days of friendship you will start to feel like you have known your new acquaintances for your whole life.  As a group of Girl Scouts I developed deep ever-lasting bonds with young women from all areas of the United States.  While touring Our Chalet in Switzerland my American group met British Girl Guides, and the bond was almost instant.  Within minutes we were singing songs, shared social media handles, and told stories of our experiences as Scouts. Whether visiting abroad or within the borders, meeting a group of Girl Scouts is like finding long lost sisters, and the adults, parents.  The experience I received on the trip helped to form my world view, and I hope that you will love it as much as I did.

Amanda is truly a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) when it comes to travel!

Applications are now open for 2018 Girl Scout Destinations and the first deadline to apply with preferential placing is November 15. Don’t wait, plan your trip to #travellikeagirlscout!

G.I.R.L. 2017 – That’s a Wrap!

A GSKSMO Point of View

Earlier this month, Girl Scouts of the USA held their National Council Session and Convention – G.I.R.L. 2017. Thousands of Girl Scouts, and those who support them, came together for the largest girl-led event in the world! But, you didn’t have to look far to spot a member of our council! Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri was well represented with four girl delegates, six adult volunteer delegates, a staff member on the planning team and a girl member on the G-Team (the nickname for the girl-led planning team). To top it off, our own Gold Award Alumna and Miss Teen USA, Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff was a G.I.R.L. speaker among other women including Gabby Douglas, Chelsea Clinton, Mae Jemison and Barbara Pierce Bush!

Over the course of four days, Columbus, OH was turned Girl Scout green. This national event kicked off with the 54th National Council Session where delegates were responsible for influencing the strategic direction of the Movement  by providing guidance to the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors, in the form of electing new board members, amending the Constitution and proposing positive change. After the official business was done, G.I.R.L. 2017 truly kicked off with inspiring speakers, entertaining performances and a celebration of all G.I.R.L.s (go-getters, innovators, risk-takers & leaders).

For our girl delegates Akela C., Aidin M., Lauren M., and Amanda M. and G-Team Member, Caroline S., this was a Girl Scout experience of a lifetime!

Left: Delegates and Staff of GSKSMO. Right: Delegates Lauren , Aidin & Amanda with G-Team Member Caroline (2nd from Left).

What was it like to be a Convention delegate?

Being a delegate was pretty scary at first. But once I really understood what I was doing, it felt like a proud commitment that I could remember.
   -Akela C., Delegate

Being a delegate at convention was a wonderful experience. I learned about parliamentary procedure and how the voting process works.
   -Aidin M., Delegate

To be a convention delegate was a once in a life time opportunity to meet new people and get a say in the decisions of tomorrow. Some of the discussions were long during the voting process but every new speaker brought up a new and unique point that added to the conversation of pros and cons and even long term implications.
   -Lauren M., Delegate

It was amazing and such an empowering experience!  Being in the presence of some of the most amazing and accomplished women in the world was awing.
   -Amanda M., Delegate

What was it like to be on the G-Team, Caroline?

Being a part of the G-Team was being a part of a sisterhood. Through countless hours of work during the year and a half we had to plan G.I.R.L, we worked as a pack, even when we got no sleep. Helping each other up and cheering each other on with every step we took.  Each girl on G-TEAM was on a different sub-team. I was on the Marketing and Design team, and I worked with four other girls to reach people on social media, design the look of convention, and also run girl spaces at G.I.R.L. As an entire G-Team we went to Columbus the summer before Convention in 2016, and went to Edith Macy conference center in New York and GSUSA in NYC in August of 2017. Through these two trips we had conference calls, meetings, and more than anything we bonded as a team. The special thing about the women on my sub-committee was their drive towards something bigger than themselves. Each time we met, they inspired me to go further, to reach as high as possible, and be a woman of confidence and kindness.
   -Caroline S., G-Team

Describe G.I.R.L. 2017 in 280 characters or less.

G.I.R.L. 2017 was an inspiring experience that showed me how to be a G.I.R.L. and opened up new experiences for me.
   -Akela C., Delegate

 very girl at Convention had the opportunity to meet other girls from around the world through breakout sessions, SWAPS, or simply talking to many different people. G.I.R.L was a hub of girl power. Everywhere you turned the event fostered creativity and excitement, and every girl came out of the event feeling proud to be a G.I.R.L.
-Caroline S., G-Team Member

G.I.R.L. 2017 was a wonderful, life-changing experience that I will never forget; bringing girls from all over the nation together to make decisions for the future of Girl Scouts. I made lifelong friendships at convention and have irreplaceable memories. I’m so honored that I was a part of this experience.
   -Aidin M., Delegate

G.I.R.L. 2017 was an event to include and inspire girls and women from all walks of life to be Go-Getters, Risk Takers, Innovators, and Leaders.  Speakers from all over the world flew into Columbus, Ohio to launch the next generation of leaders.  In less than a week Girl Scouts of the USA changed thousands of lives, forever.
   -Amanda M., Delegate

GSKSMO Delegates with GSUSA CEO, Sylvia Acevedo.

What inspired you or surprised you about G.I.R.L. 2017?

Convention had several surprises and inspiring moments. The biggest surprise to me was that I went into this event thinking the role I played in planning G.I.R.L would be the most inspiring and exciting aspect of the trip. While it was exciting to see our hard work put into action, it was more so all the other women I met that inspired me the most. I met women from all over the world who were determined to make a positive impact on the Girl Scouting Movement.
   -Caroline S., G-Team Member

I loved the feeling of being included and knowing that I had friends everywhere I went in both the city and the event hall, we really did turn Columbus Girl Scout green!
-Amanda M., Delegate

I was inspired by all the speakers that shared their stories and careers. The speakers taught me that it is okay that I am not set on my future (none of them were). Sally Jewell, the 51st Secretary of Interior, originally was going to be a dentist. She went on to work on an outdoor clothing line and was appointed by President Obama which is pretty cool.
   -Aidin M., Delegate

At convention, one of the things that inspired me were how brave some of the girls were to get up and challenge ideas, even when they weren’t popular. It showed me that while many people adhere to the status quo, we don’t have to. We can challenge ideas when we see fit.
   -Akela C., Delegate

 What speaker resonated the most with you? Why?

The speaker that resonated with me the most was Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, Miss Teen USA. She is from my hometown, and she’s not only Miss Teen USA, but a Gold Award recipient as well. She said that she was Sophia first, and everything else second. This was inspiring not only because it shows anyone can make an impact, but that your achievements don’t have to become your identity.
   -Akela C., Delegate

NASA Astronaut, Mae Jemison resonated with me because she asked us, “What do you INTEND to be?” instead of “What are you going to be?” Which I answered with I intend to be a good student, to go to college, and become a lifetime Girl Scout. Also Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff was awesome to hear speak because she had earned her Gold Award, is Miss Teen USA, graduated high school and going to college a year early… all at 17. Just one year older than me. That’s crazy!!! Also she was just super nice in general; being from her council made us feel more connected.
   -Aidin M., Delegate

Gold Award recipient Vilmarie Ocasio resonated the most with me because while presenting her Gold Award she spoke with contagious passion and inspired me to take a step forward in my community and make a change for the better.
   -Amanda M., Delegate

As an emcee at the opening ceremony, I got the chance to introduce Mae Jemison on stage and ask her a couple of questions. I was absolutely astounded by her story. I am inspired because as a woman who would like to go into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field, she inspires me to never give in to the setbacks that may come in my way. Mae had a passion for something bigger than herself, and she never took no for an answer on her path to success.
   -Caroline S., G-Team

GSKSMO Girl Scouts with Gold Award Alumna & Miss Teen USA, Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff.

What did you learn at Convention that you want to bring back to your troop, service unit or council?

At G.I.R.L I learned that women can achieve the impossible if we are working as one. From my role on the G-Team and listening to other speakers talk, I saw firsthand the work that we can accomplish if we bind together. I also realized how important it is for all Girl Scouts to encourage other girls to join the Girl Scouting Movement. In my life and in the lives of many other girls I have met, we would not have had the same learning experiences if we had not been in Girl Scouts, and this is something we need to share with the world! Girl Scouting is so powerful and positive, it should be spread to all!
   -Caroline S., G-Team

It’s vital that we keep girls and women in Girl Scouts, and doing so will change the world for the better.  By encouraging girls to go outside, learn about the world, and explore new places and ideas we can foster a new generation of Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, and Leaders!
   –Amanda M., Delegate

One thing I learned at convention that I wanted to bring back was how many amazing opportunities there are for Girl Scouts. Many people tend to think of Girl Scouts as sitting quietly at a table sewing and making baskets, but we have the opportunities to go rock climbing, hiking, camping, diving, swimming, and so, so much more.
   -Akela C., Delegate

I learned about how big the Girl Scouts is; that we have so many sisters around the United States and world. I will take back my excitement and passion for the future of Girl Scouts back to my service unit and troop.
   -Aidin M., Delegate

Is there anything else you want to share about your Convention experience?

For any girls who have the opportunity to go as a Delegate or just attend convention, you should. You might have to travel far but you will meet people from all over the world and as a Delegate you will get to leave your imprint on Girl Scouts. You might meet people with opposing views or people that have a different life path than you but being able to share this Girl Scout experience with so many other people is extremely inspiring. At convention, you are not only told how the world is your oyster but how you can make the work as your oyster and they encourage you to do so.
   -Lauren M., Delegate

I would encourage anyone if they have the opportunity to go to the 2020 National Girl Scout Convention in Orlando, FL. This event was truly life changing for everyone who attended, and the next convention will be too.
   -Caroline S., G-Team

Thank you, Girl Scouts, for representing GKSMO so incredibly well!

STEMing Ahead with Community Partners

Full STEM Ahead!! When it comes to STEM experiences, no organization offers girls the wide range of opportunities that Girl Scouts does. Just ask Girl Scout Troop 5571 from KCMO! This Brownie troop has taken full advantage of the many programs available through the Girl Scout Community Partner Program! In fact, the troop was so active and showcased so many cool things that at recruitment night, they grew from a troop of 6…to a troop of 22! WOW!

“The Community Partner [program] is great. Because we did so many last year, my troop grew from 6 to 22,” Renita Hudson, leader for Troop 5571 said.

Troop 5571 delivering cookies to Fire Station 37 in South KCMO, as a service project.

Showing photos from all their service projects and Community Partner programs really made a difference for parents who weren’t sure what exactly a Girl Scout troop experience was like. Renita was able to show that Girl Scouting is girl-led and that being in a troop gives girls access to experiences they would never be able to have outside the program. Where else can girls get on field experiences with the KC Chiefs, like Troop 5571 did just last month?! Only in Girl Scouts!

This was Renita’s first year leading the troop on her own and the Community Partner opportunities help her create a full troop experience without having to plan every detail. Last year, they participated in  events at Google Fiber, Avila University and the Belger Art Center, just to name a few. It certainly was a busy year of learning for these Brownies.

Renita Hudson and her daughter, Veronica at Inspire a Girl 2017 and participating in STEM activities.

In addition to Community Partner STEM programming, Renita received STEM training from GSKSMO trainer, Kate Hood. “Trainings with Kate were great. She said she was there for us beyond class. Since this is the first time leading on my own, it’s good to know I have someone who can help,” Renita said. The troop even received books to help the girls along their STEM journey. Once the training was over, Renita took the books to her girls and watched their faces light up.

“Just getting the Journey books and seeing all the choices they had made my girls so excited,” Renita said. “[Girl Scouts] is about building our girls up […] and STEM experiences led by women give them confidence.”

As a troop leader, Renita gets to see firsthand the interest in STEM spark in her young girls. For some, incorporating STEM programming can be intimidating, but as Renita has shown, by taking advantage of the programs already available through Girl Scouting, there’s no better place for a girl to grow as a leader in STEM and in life.

Thank you, Renita, for leading girls through STEM adventures. When parents see unrivaled opportunities and want their daughters to be G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, the future looks BRIGHT for Girl Scouts! If you’d like to know more about the Community Partner Program or have an organization that would like to create opportunities for girls, check out our Community Partners page here!

Rock Chalk, STEM Hawks!

It’s fall and that means it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and get your hands dirty! For Girl Scouts, this included an exciting STEM day at Camp Tongawood, hosted by KU’s Biology department (the Ecology & Entomology graduate program students), who wanted to do their part in inspiring the next generation. As Andrew Mongue, a grad student lead on the project, said “One of our big motivators with these STEM activities is to provide encouragement and re-spark interest in girls at the critical ages.” Thanks to their work and innovative activities, girls were laughing their way to a love of science.

The University of Kansas (the Jayhawks), worked with Girl Scouts to create a program that not only inspires girls, but provides their grad students an opportunity to interact with kids. With grad programs taking 5-6 years, this community engagement helps keep the students motivated and gives Girl Scouts unique STEM experiences in the most critical time in their lives.

“…it really is a two-way street; I get encouragement from the girls’ excitement. A PhD is a long-term goal (5-6yrs) and at times I can lose sight of the passion that set me down this path. Working with kids who have nothing but pure wonder for the sciences and natural world helps remind me of my own passion for Biology,” Andrew said.

This year KU hosted a bug event where girls were able to capture bugs, look at them up-close and get guidance from Andrew (AKA “Ant-Man”) and Kaila Colyott (AKA “Wasp”). They ran around with nets, got into the creek and captured bugs on the ground. One of the most exciting parts for girls was watching normally sweet dragonflies eat prey in the enclosure!

In October, a larger project with more students from KU joined together for this rotation style STEM expo. Girls got to experience wide range of activities from looking at worms, fish and fungi under microscopes to changing colors with acids and learning about genetics! It was quite the experience for girls.

“…it’s important to develop and promote STEM learning outdoors, like Camp Tongawood. There is a lot of great ecology (read: really cool bugs among other things) in the countryside of Kansas that most people won’t interact with going about their daily routine. These places are great to explore nature are crucial nurturing that curiosity in kids,” Andrew said.

One of the favorite projects was an art project using fish specimens! That’s right! Girls picked a dead fish that had patterns/textures they found interesting and used paint to transfer the patterns on to pieces of white cloth, creating their own art pieces! What a cool way to explore animals and learn about what makes fish so interesting.

The acids and bases activity was a bubbly experience with some real chemistry magic! Adding either a base or an acid to a solution let girls watch it bubble, change colors and even smoke when dry ice was added. Girl Scouts learned about ocean acidification that is a concern for scientists and ways we can go about preventing it. What a colorful way to learn about chemistry.

Thanks to the KU Biology department for their hard work on this expo. Girls were raving about it and were clearly inspired! Together, we can keep inspiring young women to love science and create a bright future in science.