Girl Scouting Goes Full Circle

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumna, Katelyn Clark

Like most kindergarteners, Girl Scout Alumna Katelyn Clark had no clue what she was getting into when her mom signed her up for Girl Scouts. What she does remember from being a Girl Scout Daisy is being asked by her troop leader, Kim Harrington, what she wanted to do, what badges she wanted to earn and when she wanted to bring in snacks for the troop.

“I had a phenomenal troop leader. Even at that young age, she ensured a girl-led experience. That inspired me at a young age to be confident and self-led,” Katelyn said.

She also remembers making snow globes out of baby food jars to learn about the different winter holidays celebrated around the world; an activity that would influence her Gold Award project ten years later.

Katelyn as a Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie.

There are many life lessons learned and passions discovered that Katelyn credits to her time as a Girl Scout in the Spirit of Nebraska Council.

In middle school that Katelyn started to realize the opportunities available to her because she was a Girl Scout. At the age of 13 she went on her first destination trip to the Boundary Waters and fell in love with travel. “My mom put me on a little prop plane and I flew up to Ely, MN. I spent a week canoeing and I think that sealed the [Girl Scout] deal! I realized that I loved camping and that at 13 years old I could fly by myself, I could pick up a canoe and carry it over a portage and camp. It was really empowering to meet all these Girl Scouts from all over the United States that had such cool stories” Katelyn explained.

Katelyn during her Girl Scout Destination trip to the Boundary Waters.

Almost immediately upon her return from her Boundary Waters trip, Katelyn started planning her next adventure; she wanted to go to Costa Rica.

To raise funds, she and a Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington planned a lock-in for over 40 Brownies complete with workshop rotations and followed Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints! They even recruited non-Girl Scouts to help with programming! It was so successful that it not only raised the funds they needed to go on their destination, but also inspired their Gold Award projects.

Drawing on that first Girl Scout memory with the snow globes, Katelyn created a half day Holiday Fun Fair for girls to learn about five different winter holidays celebrated around the world. Instead of charging admission to the event attendees were asked to bring an item like diapers, formula, etc. to be donated to KidsTLC, a local nonprofit in Nebraska. At the end of the Fun Fair, Katelyn delivered two car loads of items to KidsTLC!

“To go from a Daisy to earning your Gold Award is so fulfilling. At the time though, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it.”

As she grew through Girl Scouting, Katelyn wasn’t really thinking about the Gold Award. It was her progression through the program when it just kind of happened for her.  “I thought the Gold Award was something I wanted to do for me and thought it was just something you did in Girl Scouts,” she said.

After completing her project, Katelyn recalls receiving her Gold Award congratulatory packet in the mail. It contained letters of support and recognition from community members, elected officials and even the President of the United States and she thought “holy cow, this is a big deal!”

“I was more appreciative of my Gold Award actually after I earned it. It became something I put on my college applications, on resumes.”

Left: Katelyn with troop leader Kim Harrington. Center: Katelyn collecting items for KidsTLC during her Gold Award Project. Right: Katelyn with Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington.

Those college applications and essays earned her admission into Rockhurst University’s international business administration program and Katelyn moved from Nebraska to Kansas City to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree. Girl Scouting was never out of mind though, she returned to Nebraska every summer and worked as a Girl Scout camp counselor.

“Girl Scouts taught me I am who I am. I lived in middle school and high school as my most authentic self for who I was. Girl Scouts taught me that other people can be different as well and that everyone has a story. It also taught me to be compassionate, to look at those around you and see how you can make the world a better place.”

Today, Katelyn’s Girl Scouting experience has come full circle and she has remained in KC working for a senior living marketing company and is a Gold Award advisor and travel volunteer with our council, inspiring and empowering Girl Scouts through her own experiences!

Katelyn on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with GSKSMO Girl Scouts!

Katelyn’s advice to Girl Scouts? “I know it gets hard in that 5th, 6th and 7th grade time frame, but hang in there and look at what you can do as a teen Girl Scout. There are so many opportunities to travel, sit on teen advisory councils, sit down with mentors and business leaders. That’s a unique opportunity you can’t get anywhere but in Girl Scouting in your teen years. Know that while not every badge is the most fun or every Journey the best, look around and at the people you’re meeting. Some of these girls will be lifelong friends. You’ll have a moment that you change your perspective. Maybe you’ll be inspired and it’ll lead to a career. You’ll be surprised at where Girl Scouts will take you!”

You’re a Girl Scout Rock Star, Katelyn! We appreciate all you do for girls in our council!!

Don’t miss out on these upcoming opportunities available to teen Girl Scouts!
The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout Destination trip is Nov. 1, you can take a domestic or international tirp with Girl Scouts from all over the US!
– Want to travel to the Boundary Waters, canoe and camp for a week? We’re taking a council-sponsored trip in July, 2018!
– Thinking about Going Gold?! Learn more about the steps and requirements!

 

Built by G.I.R.L.s for G.I.R.L.s: A Look Inside the “Magical” Camp Prairie Schooner

Frolicking with the Prairie Fairy and adventures out in Farmer’s Field – those are experiences that Girl Scouts who call Camp Prairie Schooner home are very familiar with. For more than 70 years, Girl Scouts have taken pride and ownership in this beautiful camp located near the Little Blue River in Kansas City, MO. It’s also the location of our upcoming Alumnae Reunion Weekend, Lifetime Member Picnic and Trefoil Society Pinning Ceremony on Sept 23 – 24! Today we’ll take a look how this camp came to be and the women whose tenacity made it a reality.

Camp Prairie Schooner patch (left); Flag ceremony and patches (center) and early sign (right).

In the early 1940s, the Independence Council of Girl Scouts decided they wanted a camp for Kansas City Girl Scouts. A leader in that initiative was Mrs. Dewitt, who was active in the community and knew about a war time fund that had unallocated money. During World War II, the War Chest fund had been active in raising funds and by 1945, the remaining money was in limbo, ready to be reorganized.

Mrs. Dewitt, advocating for girls, approached the War Chest Board about the funds before they reorganized and the leadership wasn’t sure if they could trust ladies to establish and run a camp. As we know, G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can do anything, and the Girl Scout Council knew they could achieve their goal, even if the Board doubted them.

The Council found the land where Camp Prairie Schooner currently sits and decided it was an ideal location. With a train stop just a short hike away, wooded areas and space for camp, they advocated for the funds. Despite pushback from the War Chest Board, Mrs. Dewitt was a hard woman to say “no” to and the Board sent the Jackson County Planning Commission to look at the land and make a recommendation. They had planned to use this as a stalling technique, hoping the women would give up before getting the funds.

Jerry Manning was sent to inspect the site and as he visited, he met the team behind the camp plan. It included community leaders and strong women who knew this would be a success. He realized this was a project backed by serious people wanting to create a better world for girls, not a whim that ladies had. He made the recommendation that the War Chest

Camp Prairie Schooner staff from 1988 (left) and approx. late 1970s (right).

funds should be given to Girl Scouts, and they were. After they acquired the land, the Council asked Mr. Manning to become the Camp Chairman, which started many years of service he gave to Girl Scouts, including serving as President of the Pioneer Trails Council!

Cookie money and funds from the War Chest paid the $4,000 for 127 acres of land that is now Camp Prairie Schooner. Still having reservations about the project, the War Chest Board held the title to Camp Prairie Schooner until the Council proved the camp was successful. After the installation of a pool and successful management of the property, they realized that these G.I.R.L.s meant business and the title was officially given to Girl Scouts.

Camp Prairie Schooner philanthropy! Girl Scouts from SU 638 & 639 built a Gaga Pit in 2015 (left) and Burns & McDonnell host annual work days at camp (right).

Today, Camp Prairie Schooner stands as a living testament to the power of G.I.R.L.s who wanted to make the world better for young women. We thank those early pioneers for their vision and tenacity that brought that camp to life as well as the current day donors who add to camp each year! Businesses, donors, and girls have added new facilities and games to camp, creating more opportunities and adventures (read our blog post about girl donated projects). Thank you!

We invite you to join us at Camp Prairie Schooner for our Alumnae Reunion! Registration closes SOON, so register today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion! See you at camp!

A New Home for the Oakledge Ish-Ki-Ti-Ni

The most recognizable symbol from Camp Oakledge was the totem pole (or “Ish-ki-ti-ni” for more recent Girl Scouts) that stood near the dining hall. Its image was on badges and shirts, serving as a friendly face for campers. When Camp Oakledge was decommissioned, the Ish-ki-ti-ni was moved to Camp Prairie Schooner. Now renamed the “Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni,” the rebuilt totem pole will be rededicated during the Alumnae Reunion and Picnic on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner. We wanted to share the story of this symbol of camp history and celebrate its new life!

The name Ish-ki-ti-ni comes from a Native American mythology of the owl. While the whole totem pole has come to be known as the “Ish-ki-ti-ni,” it is started as the name of the owl that symbolically sits at the top of the totem. According to Oakledge camp legend, you can sometimes see Ish-ki-ti-ni flying over camp at night, watching over Girl Scouts.

Below the Ish-ki-ti-ni are symbols – the Girl Scout Trefoil, the frog, the turtle, the butterfly and the gnomies (pronounced “ga-no-me” for this totem). Each represents a part of the camping experience.

 

For alumnae and younger Girl Scouts alike, the Ish-ki-ti-ni serves as an important part of childhood. “In 2013, we pretended it was a time traveling machine. We wrote a song and we would hold onto it while singing it and it would take us to different summers. Kind of like a ride down memory lane. The song went: ‘Ishkitini Ishkitini take us way back when / Show us all the memories that you hold within,’” Girl Scout camper, Olivia (AKA Puffy) said.

Marley Parsons (AKA Ferris), resident camp director and alumna, feels the Ish-ki-ti-ni is a symbol of her Girl Scouting life. “The Ish-ki-ti-ni was a huge representation of my childhood. From whispering in the Green Gnomie’s ear to help find lost times, to peeping in the hole in the back to try to see the Red Gnomie, it was all part of my camping experience,” Ferris said.

Since the Ish-ki-ti-ni is made of wood, it needs to be remade about every 10-15 years, meaning a new group of Girl Scouts gets to give new life to the totem. Currently, the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni is being rebuilt for the 2017 Alumnae Reunion, retaining as much of the original as possible.

“In 2004, the totem pole I grew up with fell into disrepair. While I was heartbroken that we had to build a new one, I loved that Bean and Beaner had us write wishes on the back of the new feathers [on the owl at the top]. It made it really special. Part of me was now a part of the Ish-ki-ti-ni. It makes me really happy to know that I am also here now, in 2017, helping rebuild it for another generation of campers,” Ferris said. She’s also part of the rebuilding team that’s preserving the memories of the totem.

In the process of being rebuilt, the Ish-ki-ti-ni is also finding a new home at Camp Prairie Schooner. “I’m happy it is being rededicated to Prairie Schooner because, for me, that’s where it all started. My very first camp was Schooner. So because the journey to camping at Oakledge started [at Camp Prairie Schooner] for me, it’s giving me a sense of closure,” Puffy said.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner where we will rededicate the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni at Camp Prairie Schooner and create a time capsule with it! Registration closes on September 8th, so get registered today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion.

 

Becoming a Woman of Confidence

Spotlight on Alumna & Donor Chris McClain

 Girl Scout Lifetime member and Camp Prairie Schooner alumna, Chris McClain found her voice in the great outdoors at camp as a Girl Scout. Through Girl Scouting, Chris was able to discover who she was, learn acceptance and become the strong woman she is today. Growing up in the 1950s, Chris was given unparalleled opportunities because of Girl Scouts.

Now a resident of Vermont, Chris found herself back among the Prairie Fairy and familiar trails of Camp Prairie Schooner last winter when she was visiting Kansas City. While on a walk through memories and trails of camp, Chris happened upon the GSKSMO Philanthropy team as they were having a meeting. After some introductions, she was able to reconnect with the council and camp of her childhood.

Chris McClain (third from the left), with GSKSMO Philanthropy team in December 2016.

Camping was a huge part of Girl Scouting for Chris. She remembers working at Camp Prairie Schooner and getting to know new girls every time she went. It was a place of discovery where she was able to push her limits and explore possibilities.

During the 1960s, camp was a place where she learned acceptance and social inclusion as race riots in Kansas City changed the dynamics of camp. During the riots, there was a particular push to get Girl Scouts of color to camp, not only for their protection, but to give them a chance to just be girls and focus on their own development. For Chris, this gave her new opportunities to meet girls she’d never met before and see that everyone was accepted. At camp, everyone was a Girl Scout, no matter the social climate in the city.

“[Girl Scouts gives you] the confidence to try stuff outside your comfort zone and to stand up for what you believe is right,” Chris said.

A highlight of her experience was attending a Girl Scout Roundup in Vermont during high school. After applying with thousands of other girls from around the country, she and her troop were accepted and jumped on a train for Vermont. She and 10,000 other Girl Scouts camped together and made new friends. One of the best parts? A closing campfire with the real life Maria Von Trapp!

This Roundup group continues to hold reunions every other year, reuniting Girl Scout friends from around the country. Chris is an active member of planning these reunions and loves the chance to reconnect with one of the most life changing opportunities she had in her childhood.

 

Chris McClain in her home in Vermont and enjoying bagpiping – a hobby and profession for this alumna!

Today, Chris is a proud Girl Scout Lifetime member, an active community member and periodic volunteer for Girl Scouts in Vermont. She loves having opportunities to inspire young girls and give back to the organization that helped her grow into the woman she is today. She’s also become a member of the Trefoil Society, giving back to Girl Scouts through her estate. “After all Girl Scouts did for me, I can finally give back,” Chris said.

Thank you to Chris and the other Trefoil Society members who are leaving a legacy and making a better tomorrow for girls. If you’d like to share a powerful Girl Scouts story from Camp Prairie Schooner, leave a comment below!

For the Love of Girl Scout Camp

Spotlight on Resident Camp Director Marley Parsons

Girl Scout Camp. Where your girl gets to be the person she’s been taught to be. Where she tries new things, is curious, confident, embraces the unfamiliar and makes new friends. Friends that are as much different, as they are alike. Camp is where she has the opportunity to fall in love with something larger than herself.  Girl Scout camp is an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

For Resident Camp Director, Marley Parsons (aka Ferris), camp was all of those things and more; which is why she is so passionate about providing Girl Scouts with those experiences at Camp Daisy Hindman each summer.

Marely joined Girl Scouts when she was in third grade. Something she had always wanted to do after hearing her mother share stories of Girl Scout camps, badges and pins. For her first Resident Camp experience, Marley had to convince her mom to let her go to Oakledge where the programming was more advanced, because she wanted to be at the same camp her mother had attended and worked!

That first summer was just the beginning for Marley. She was at camp every summer after that, often for multiple sessions. At camp, Marley completed all three Treks – Canoe, Pack and Sail, which was a remarkable accomplishment for any Girl Scout.

“Camp was the place where I went to be included and be successful. Where I was encouraged to be strong and challenge myself,” Marley said.

In 2002, she completed the Counselor in Training (CIT) program and was on staff the following two years and then returned to camp staff for a summer after college in 2012. In 2016, Marley’s passion for Girl Scout Camp brought her to Girl Scouts full-time, as the Resident Camp Director.

“I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do so many amazing things if it weren’t for the skills of resilience, self-reliance, self-rescue, and bravery that I learned at camp. I wanted to be a Camp Director to teach girls these skills. Teach them how to be courageous, show them their strength, and help them grow into people who will run the world in the future.”

Just like her mother, Marley is telling her own stories to campers and the camp staff, instilling a love for this organization and its experiences that will continue for generations to come.

“In my opinion there is nothing better for youth development than Resident Camp. It’s a structured environment for girls to try new things in a safe and accepting place. For most youth, camp is the first experience away from a familiar environment. It’s the first experience young children have with adults who are not relatives or teachers who take a genuine interest in their lives. I’m a grown adult now, and those staff who helped me grow as a child are still heroines in my mind’s eye.”

What memories do you have from Girl Scout Camp? How has Girl Scout camp impacted your Girl Scout? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

The Love of Camping Becomes a Career

Meet Lifetime Girl Scout & GSKSMO Staff Member “Willow”

Girl Scout camps are magical places and the weeks Girl Scouts get to spend in the great outdoors each summer are often the highlights of their year. For some special Girl Scouts, the love of camp and inspiring the next generation of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, can become a life mission. Meet GSKSMO’s Outdoor Experiences Manager – Alli Bearly (aka “Willow”)! This Girl Scout Alumna, Lifetime Member and experienced camper has turned her love of camp into a career helping girls.

Alli joined Girl Scouts as a 1st grader and stayed with the program through her senior year. She loved getting to know her Girl Scout sisters, doing service and getting outside. It wasn’t until later in her Girl Scouting career, the last summer she could in fact, that she experienced the magic of resident camp.  “When I was younger, I was very shy. I loved camping, but the idea of doing it for a week with people I didn’t know stressed me out. The summer after my junior year, however, my friend convinced me to do this canoe track and told me ‘don’t worry, they’ll teach you how to canoe,’ so we went,” Alli said.

That experience was a turning point for Alli. They slept under the stars, canoed over 90 miles and she had independence like she’d never experienced. Not only did that inspire Alli to get involved with Girl Scout camp as a counselor, it was a foundational experience that gave her the courage to study abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, during college. All because of Girl Scout camp and pushing her limits.

The summer of 2012 was Alli’s first summer on staff and she joined the Adventure Staff, teaching rappelling.  Rewind several years to Alli being a 4th grader who watched rappel and made the choice to not complete the activity with her troop – a decision Alli feels was right for her at the time. “I love the ‘challenge by choice’ philosophy that we use at camp. I remember as a girl being able to make the choice not to rappel and no one telling me I had to go. It’s something I still use in my personal life and I think it’s a great model for girls to realize they’re the ones that make those decisions for themselves, even if the decision is no,” Alli said.

For Alli, the reason she’s decided to have a career with Girl Scouts is because she’s getting to change the lives of girls every day, just like her counselors gave her the courage to be a G.I.R.L. when she was a girl. “Camp is a place where there are no limits placed on you. Girls get to do whatever and try anything and I wanted to give back to a place and organization that gave so much to me by letting me try. It’s awesome to see girls face scary challenges every day and decide what they want to do,” Alli said.

As the Outdoor Experiences Manager, Alli directly works with adventure staff and helps develop new programs. In particular, she’s excited about the Low Ropes course at Camp Prairie Schooner because “it’s a great opportunity for troops to learn how to work together and improve their relationships,” Alli said. While many of the programs encourage personal challenges, like rappelling and zipline, she loves the group challenge that Low Ropes provides.

While summer is the highlight for Alli’s team, she loves every aspect of working with girls on adventure programming year round. “I love my job because I can see differences being made in girls. As someone who’s been on the other side, as a girl, I know how much these little things can impact a girl’s life,” Alli said.

With summer in full swing, Alli and her staff are out at camp and helping girls become G.I.R.L.s! Thanks to all our dedicated staff who makes a difference for girls! If you’d like to learn more about our Council Properties and adventure programs, visit our Outdoor Experiences page!

Inspiring the STEM G.I.R.L.s of Tomorrow!

Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna Emily Meyer

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math…STEM. It’s a term that we hear a lot today. Getting kids interested in STEM, especially girls, has become a focus for Girl Scouts so we can fill the STEM pipeline and change the statistics that report less than 20% of STEM jobs being filled by women. One Girl Scout alumna who’s making a difference is Emily Meyer! Emily is the STEM Education Program Manager at Science City (one of our awesome Community Partners) and has a passion for engaging girls in STEM! By showing girls how cool science, technology, engineering and math can be when they’re young, we can change the future and take advantage of the greatest untapped resource of the future – G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM!

Emily Meyer loved her Girl Scouting experience as a girl. She fondly remembers exploring the outdoors with her troop, spending time at camp and trading SWAPs. The memories of camp still fill her mom’s house with little blasts from the past still in daily use. “My mom still uses a popsicle stick napkin holder I made at camp. I’m not sure if she’s repaired it or it was made with really good glue, but she still has it. She also still has my SWAPs hat…that I’ve been able to share with my daughter’s troop,” Emily said.

 

Left: Cadence’s Daisy Troop 5006; Right: Emily and Cadence having fun

Fast forward a few decades from those camp days and Emily is now the proud Girl Scout mom to Girl Scout Daisy, Cadence. She decided to put Cadence in Girl Scouts because of the positive experience she had as a girl. “Girl Scouts was such a big part of my childhood. [With Cadence’s troop] I get to be really involved with planning activities and things like that,” Emily said. Recently she helped the troop plan, plant and maintain a butterfly garden full of daisies at their elementary school! The troop did everything, from planting the seeds to transferring them to the garden to agreeing to maintain the garden over the summer. What a cool way to introduce girls to STEM!

In addition to awesome projects like this, Emily is shaping the STEM experience for girls at Science City. After graduating with a degree in biology and chemistry she became a researcher and was asked to go to a school to talk about life cycles with children. That one trip was all it took for Emily to realize how much she loved STEM education and she went back to school to get a graduate degree in education!

 

Emily  (and Emily and Emily and Emily!) at Science City’s Genetics Exhibit: Unlock the Code, playing with the Duplication Station

Now, Emily gets to teach and inspire a love of STEM every day at Science City and create programming for groups like Girl Scouts! She was proud to see that the three of the top winners of the 2017 Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair were high school girls with truly inspiring projects. How inspiring to see girls making a statement in science so young!

Teaching STEM is more than just a career, it’s combating a global issue on a local scale. The more girls we can expose to STEM, the more we can fill the STEM pipeline of the future. More than that, it’s a way to develop skills that every G.I.R.L. needs – not just those going into STEM as a career. “Teaching STEM isn’t just about creating more scientists, because science isn’t for everyone. STEM education is about encouraging curiosity, developing critical thinking skills and learning that failure is okay,” Emily said. We couldn’t agree more!

Thank you, Emily, for all you do at Science City and for creating opportunities for girls all over Kansas City and beyond. We love the partnership with Science City and can’t wait to see the new, innovative ways we can come up with to inspire girls in STEM!

Click here to learn more about Science City events with Girl Scouts!

A Go-getter from Gold to Polar Bears

Spotlight on Go-Getter and Gold Award Girl Scout, Jenny Stern

A Go-getter. Someone who is bold, honest and determined to succeed. In her mind, failure is no reason not to get back up and try again, and again. That’s Jenny Stern, G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, 2012 Gold Award Recipient and graduate student at the University of Washington studying polar bears and how what they eat changes with climate change.

How cool is that?!

Her goal is to become a professor that focuses on research, education and outreach and she credits her Girl Scout experiences with her life aspirations.

During her senior year, Jenny volunteered as a childcare assistant for a local English Language Learners (ELL) class. Each week, she would play games with the children and read the few books that were in the space they were using. While volunteering, she saw an opportunity for a deeper experience and her Gold Award project took shape. Jenny organized a book drive and designed a free reading program for the children of the ELL attendees to learn English at the same time as their parents. To sustain the program, she coordinated and trained volunteers!

Jenny as a Girl Member with her troop!

“My Gold Award was my first experience designing and implementing a large project,” Jenny explained. “This experience prepared me for my coursework and research completed as an undergraduate as well as implementing my project as a graduate student.”

Not only is Jenny a Gold Award Recipient, but she’s a Beth Winters Scholarship recipient as well! As a Girl Scout Alumna, she now serves on the Beth Winters Scholarship Panel helping to select other Girl Scouts who have demonstrated an excellence in leadership and service to receive the same scholarship she did.

“Girl Scouts taught me the importance of service from a very young age. My troop focused on improving our community and demonstrated to me that one person can make large positive impacts,” Jenny said. “I attribute the development of my confidence and compassion to both Girl Scouts and how my parents raised me!”

Even with all the exciting STEM experiences that Jenny has had (remember, she studies polar bears!), she still considers her Gold Award one of her proudest experiences.

Jenny’s advice to Girl Scouts considering earning their Gold Award? “Choose a project you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

We can’t wait to see what this Go-getter accomplishes, learns and shares with the world through her research and career aspirations!

Do you have a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker or Leader story? Share with us in the comments below, and we might feature your G.I.R.L. in an upcoming blog.

The Gold Standard of Girl Scouting

Spotlighting Highest Award Alumna & Gold Award Advisor Mary Ellen Hughes

For Girl Scout girls and volunteers, Girl Scouting is more than an activity, it’s a family. This is definitely true for First Class Girl Scout, volunteer and Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen Hughes. Throughout her life, Mary Ellen has found ways to incorporate Girl Scouts into her world, always finding ways to give back. As a navy wife, Mary Ellen found a community in Girl Scouts. As a mom, she found a way to spend time with her daughter. As a Gold Award advisor, she’s found a way to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.

Mary Ellen started Girl Scouts as a Brownie in the 1960s and quickly fell in love with the program. As a Girl Scout Junior, she found herself without a troop, so her mother would drive her to another school for troop meetings. In high school, she earned her First Class award, preparing her to be the Gold Award advisor she is today. In a small world moment, her mom moved and who was her new neighbor? Mary Ellen’s old troop leader! The two are close and keep that Girl Scout connection alive today.

When it comes to volunteering, Mary Ellen just can’t get enough. After her daughter, Meredith, graduated, she thought she was done with troop life. However, in true Girl Scout fashion, when Mary Ellen heard that a troop needed a leader, she stepped up and became a leader for Troop 9. Originally, she had just 4 older girls, all of whom are graduating this year, but over time she added more girls. Now, she has four Ambassadors, three Cadettes and a Junior – talk about leading like a Girl Scout!

“As a troop leader, I get to watch these girls have adventures and journey with them. I feel it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of that,” Mary Ellen said.

For Mary Ellen, one of the most rewarding parts of Girl Scouting is being a Gold Award advisor. For both Meredith and Mary Ellen, getting their Highest Award was an accomplishment of a lifetime. “Earning Gold was one of the biggest accomplishments of Meredith’s life. Her project was for Catholic Charities since that’s where she was adopted from. She knew she wanted to give back to that organization,” Mary Ellen said. As a Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen gets to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.

“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the power of one girl,” Mary Ellen said.

For more than 15 years, Mary Ellen has been a Gold Award advisor and loves every minute. Girl Scouts Highest Award projects show how much a single girl can do, and Mary Ellen loves helping girls reach their potential. “To see a girl take an idea, carry it through to success and then be able to celebrate it with her…it’s an honor. Only a few girls accomplish the Gold Award and they are the gold girls of Girl Scouting,” Mary Ellen said. After years of projects, staying in contact with her advisees and too many hours to count, she has a few tips for achieving GOLD!

Mary’s tips for aspiring Gold Award recipients:

  • Start early. If you earn your Gold Award BEFORE applying for scholarships and colleges, you’ll be able to talk about it on an application and in interview. After years of doing this, Mary Ellen has found that colleges ask about it more than people realize.
  • Be open to change. Many projects have recommended changes after presenting. Girl Scouts want each other to succeed, so suggestions only make projects stronger.
  • Find a project that’s sustainable. Over time, Mary Ellen has found this is the most challenging piece of a project – sustainability. Think about that from day 1 as you brainstorm.

Thank you to Mary Ellen for your years of dedication to Girl Scouts. You truly are a G.I.R.L. who is inspiring the next generation of great Girl Scout leaders! You can catch Mary Ellen and some of her Gold Award Girl Scouts at the 2017 Inspire a Girl Expo and Honors Ceremony this Saturday! Don’t miss your chance to see these girls shine on April 1, 2017.

A Risk-Taker for Life

G.I.R.L. Spotlight on Alumna, Melinda Hrdy

What’s it take to graduate high school, move across the country, enroll in a culinary arts program and fast-track to graduation with aspirations of being an international chef?

A G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, of course.

And Girl Scout Alumna and Lifetime Member Melinda Hrdy is just that!

For the past year and half, Melinda has been studying culinary arts at the New Culinary Institute in Vermont. Born and raised in Olathe, KS Melinda was a member of Troop 334 for 13 years. During her time as a Girl Member, Melinda served on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & Northwest Missouri. She was the voice of 20,000+ girls, contributed to organizational decisions and saw first-hand what it’s like to run a business.

“It was an amazing experience to be part of the meetings, talk about the future of our council and make decisions to further the organization.”

Melinda did a little bit of everything through Girl Scouts. From primitive camping (or ‘roughing it’ as she calls it!) to volunteering, traveling and celebrating the Girl Scout Centennial in Washington D.C., Melinda has loved every moment of her experience.

“I feel that Girl Scouts has made me such a well-rounded and wholesome individual.”

And she credits Girl Scouting with giving her the opportunities to discover her full potential.

“Girl Scouts gave me the empowerment and leadership qualities to find myself and find what my passion was and to go get it.”

In fact, it was a Girl Scout trip to Costa Rica that inspired her career in the culinary arts. Emerging herself in that new culture sparked an interest. She returned to the states and began expanding her knowledge and emerging herself in other cultures…through food.

“Culture plays a huge role in cooking. I learn the history and origin of food in different regions and why different cultures use the spices they do,” Melinda said.

Melinda is on the fast-track to graduate in the Spring of 2018! Upon graduation, she wants to move to Spain and work in a restaurant.

“I want to do something big, I want to go overseas,” she said. “In Girl Scouts they say you can be anything you want to be, and you really can. You just have to reach for it.”

The risks Melinda took as an adolescent in Girl Scouting have prepared her to reach for whatever she dreams of.

We can’t wait to see where Melinda’s risks take her!

Do you have a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker or Leader story?! Drop us a note in the comments below! We love to feature our awesome G.I.R.L.s!