A Girl Scout Gem

Celebrating 60 Years of Hidden Valley Camp

Tucked away in the heart of Lawrence, Kansas sits 40 acres of wildlife terrain where thousands of Girl Scouts have grown as G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers, Leaders)™ for 60 years! Hidden Valley Camp sits in what used to be a secluded part of Lawrence in 1956. Throughout the years, significant city developments have taken place all around the property, but Hidden Valley has remained a wilderness area and semi-primitive campsite, living up to the “hidden” part of its name!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Hidden Valley is one of the few privately owned and operated camps in the region. The land was purchased and Hidden Valley Camp was established with funds from the estate of the late Alfred Bromelsick who passed away in 1950. Mr. Bromelsick was a longtime advocate of outdoors programs for youth, specifically those of the Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and 4-H organizations. Today, Hidden Valley Camp is owned and managed by the locally-based Lawrence Hidden Valley Committee (LHVC) Inc., a nonprofit organization comprised of adult Girl Scout members living in the greater Lawrence community.

Many additions and improvements have been made to Hidden Valley in the past 60 years to keep up with the growing needs of Girl Scouts! In 1996, Friends of Hidden Valley was created to keep up with those improvements. This separate committee supports LHVC in programming, maintenance and establishing and meeting the goals of the property today, and for the next 60+ years.

Hidden Valley has seen so much love from many dedicated Girl Scout volunteers over the past six decades. One of those volunteers was the late Mariana Remple. Mariana was a co-founder of Hidden Valley Camp along with Carolyn Blaas, and was active with Girl Scouts of the USA for 50 years! In addition to Mariana’s work with Hidden Valley, she served as troop leader for Troop 660 for over 40 years and as assistant troop leader until her passing.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

As a treasured Girl Scouting experience for girls, those who once experience this camp as a young Girl Scout are now coming full circle serving on the LHVC and the Friends of Hidden Valley Board or serving in other capacities as adult Girl Scout members.

Durand Reiber remembers going to a very rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley with her troop when she was just a Girl Scout Brownie. In 2002 she was hired as Camp Manager – the camp’s first paid employee, a role she still serves in today.

“I was a Girl Scout through my senior year, canoeing and camping away with Mariana Remple’s Mariner Troop 660, which had a profound impact on my life. I continued to travel, camp and canoe, often leading my women friends on trips. My love of all things natural, and my college and career choices are an extension of all those experiences, beginning with that rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley,” Durand said.

Kyra Flummerfelt was a Girl Scout growing up in Lawrence, living right down the street from Hidden Valley, but didn’t experience it herself until she found herself leading her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop! In 2008 she was asked to join LHVC board and oversee the reservations and equipment checkout process and now she also serves as the zip line and archery facilitator.

“I love getting to meet leaders and help make camping easier by providing them with pretty much everything they need to camp out.  When we decided to add the zip line to camp I signed up to be a facilitator.  I am afraid of heights but chose to overcome it so that I could not only help others experience the wonders of zip line but so I could do it too.  I now love to zip line,” Kyra said!

Today, the wondrous 40 acres of Hidden Valley boasts hiking trails, diverse habitats of the prairie, woods, rocky hillsides, wetlands and streams, a challenge course with two zip lines and archery range. It also has a tree house, Yurt (really big tent) and a cabin with a kitchen making it the perfect place for seasoned campers as well as young troops to experience the great outdoors!

One thing that hasn’t changed about Hidden Valley is that it has a profound impact on those who still visit it today, no matter their age.

“This easy year round access means many troops routinely go there and the girls and adults alike get to know it well, developing a deep love for it over the years…and over time, it just becomes one of those special places in life you always remember,” Durand said.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

While Girl Scouts in the greater Lawrence, Kansas area have first priority in reservations, Hidden Valley is open to all Girl Scouts and other groups who wish to take advantage its amenities.

“I can assure you that the experiences Girl Scouts and Hidden Valley offers girls make a difference and gives them a place to practice courage, confidence, and character,” Kyra explained. “Hidden Valley has been a place to make memories for so many people for the last 60 years and hopefully with help from the girls, leaders and community volunteers we can keep it that way for many more to come.”

If you would like to make a reservation at Hidden Valley for your troop, visit their website at www.lhvcamp.org and click on the reservations and equipment tab!

Lifting up G.I.R.Ls through Giving

Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna Mary McMichael

Creating G.I.R.Ls – what’s more important in the world today? It takes a village to support Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers and Leaders, and there’s a super team that make a huge difference in the lives of girls – alumnae who know firsthand the power of Girl Scouts. Meet Mary McMichael, a United Way donor and Girl Scout alumna who gives to make the next generation of Girl Scouts strong and brave. Today, Mary invests in girls by designating her United Way giving to Girl Scouts.

Growing up in Des Moines, IA, in a family of seven, Mary didn’t participate in many activities, but she found a home in Girl Scouts as a Brownie. “When I was growing up, everyone was a Girl Scout. My mom didn’t normally volunteer, but she signed up to be my leader and met her best friend because they were co-leaders together,” Mary said. She enjoyed the challenges of earning badges and adventures in the outdoors.

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“Back then, if you sold so many boxes of cookies, camp didn’t cost you a cent; it was motivation for me. It was something I could do that my family didn’t have to pay for if I worked hard,” Mary said. From grades 4th to 8th, Mary looked forward to summers at Camp Sacagawea in Boone, IA, where she learned to work hard, make friends and be brave. “When I went to camp….it was wonderful. Stomping through the woods, singing, meeting people from outside of Iowa…it made me brave,” Mary said.

After high school, Mary attended college at NWMSU in Maryville (which happens to be an awesome Girl Scout community partner!). Once she graduated, she used her bravery to follow friends to Kansas City where she’s been ever since. Today, Mary works for P&G in Kansas City, KS and proudly gives to Girl Scouts through United Way each year.

Memories from Camp Sacagawea, mid-1970s, including a letter from her grandmother.

Memories from Camp Sacagawea, mid-1970s, including a letter from her grandmother.

“I support Girl Scouts because it’s something I did, that I experienced, that probably doesn’t get a ton of money. Hopefully what I give can help get a girl get there that might not otherwise get there,” Mary said. That’s not where service stops for this alumna! Mary and her friends get together for birthdays and instead of gifts, they pick a service activity. Recently, the group packed 50 sandwich lunches and distributed them to homeless individuals for a 50th birthday in the group. How inspiring!

Mary has been giving for years to United Way, but feels the giving to girl-focused organization is critical right now. “I think now is more important than ever to keep girls courageous, brave and hopeful. We have to keep them up there and moving forward. If I can give to help that and go back to my friends and ask them to give, as women, to move girls along, I think it’s important,” Mary said. She knows that giving NOW will keep girls moving forward, motivated and showing them that they can be amazing leaders.

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It’s incredible to see philanthropy coming full circle. By giving to Girl Scouts through United Way, Mary is helping girls develop leadership skills, get to camp and learn to be brave – just like her. We can’t thank Mary enough for her continued service and for living life as a G.I.R.L. by being a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker and Leader herself! The DNA of a Girl Scout lives in every alumna.

If you’d like to learn more about United Way giving, find your local United Way by clicking here. You can also join our circle of giving that directly impacts girls in our Council by joining Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program. Together, every dollar we raise is helping us create the brave leaders of tomorrow.

Do you have a donor story you’d like to share or want to give a shout out to Mary? Comment below!

A Gold Standard of Girl Scouting

Spotlighting GS Alumna Vickie Trott

Warm campfires, s’mores and service – those words often revive fond memories for Girl Scouts. Meet Vickie Trott, a proud Girl Scout lifetime member, former troop leader, donor, Gold Award advisor and Trefoil Society member who continues to help girls go for Gold. Recently she won the “Philanthropist Award” at the Central Region’s Volunteer Appreciation event for her awesome work supporting girls – including getting her troop of six to all earn their Gold Awards. Thanks to donors like Vickie, Girl Scouts are continuing to create lasting change in their communities and reach for the stars.

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Vickie Trott started Girl Scouts in 2nd grade as a Brownie and volunteered her mother to be the troop leader. She fondly remembers adventures to Camp Oakledge and Timberlake and doing day camp with her troop. Her mother strongly encouraged camping and loved being outside with her girls.

After college, Vickie went on to become a successful business woman who holds a Bachelors in Accounting and her MBA, cofounding a family business along the way. Once kids entered the picture, her life turned back to Girl Scouts and Vickie became a leader of Troop 196 for her daughter, Anne and later her stepdaughter, Kelly. Her daughter’s school started with two troops for the grade and as time went on the other troop merged with Troop 196, eventually becoming a troop of 6 girls from three different high schools.  The troop loved camping, service and travel. Following in the footsteps of Vickie’s own Girl Scout experience, Troop 196 went camping often, sometimes Vickie’s mother, Gerry, would even join the adventures – three generations creating Girl Scouting memories.

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

“I learned camping skills as a Girl Scout, so we took our girls camping a lot. We had rules like ‘no makeup’ and joked that we could guarantee rain in whatever area we decided to camp in,” said Vickie. Four of the girls in the troop went on to become wranglers at Camp Winding River, wanting to inspire the younger girls. The troop adventured beyond the campsites with trips to Chicago and St. Louis as well as a float trip. On one of the float trips they encountered a Boy Scout troop who offered to help them set-up camp. As camping veterans, the girls assured the boys they were confident in their abilities to make their own campsite.

During the years of leading Troop 196, Vickie was an active volunteer, working as a troop organizer, Service Unit manager, Day Camp manager, Product Sales Manager for her Service Unit and taught a leadership institute for Senior Girl Scouts! Talk about keeping busy!

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

One thing Vickie knew was that she wanted to help her girls get their Gold Awards…and she succeeded! All six in the troop earned their Gold Award as a troop, as that was part of the program in the mid-1990s. For their project, the girls built tables, benches and racks out at Camp Winding River. “This was a time before the internet, so the girls went to the library, researched how to do it, how much wood they would need and raised money. We had to have adults actually cut the wood with the power tools, but we told the dads ‘only cut on the lines the girls drew’ and the girls did everything else,” Vickie said.

Today, Vickie continues her service to Girl Scouts as a Gold Award advisor and donor. She’s dedicated to the work of Girl Scouts because of the role models it provides. “Girl Scouts is the only all-female organization that I belong to because I think it’s really important that girls have a place where they’re in charge, where women are leaders,” Vickie said. Because of her passion for the mission of inspiring girls, Vickie decided to generously include Girl Scouts in her estate plans, ensuring her legacy lives on.

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Caption: Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

“[My husband and I] each picked an organization that we believe in and an organization we jointly decided to give to in our estate plans. I think it’s important, if you have the means, to support organizations you believe in in that way,” Vickie said. With a continued inequality in funding for girls organizations compared to boys organizations, it was especially important to Vickie to support Girl Scouts in both a volunteer and financial capacity to allow girls to thrive.

We thank Vickie Trott and her family for their continued advocacy of girls and for making a difference every day. By supporting Girl Scouts, Vickie is paving the way for generations of leaders, just like her own family. Watch for new Gold Award Girl Scouts that Vickie will be leading as an advisor in the future! We’re excited to see new girls going for gold. To learn more about the Trefoil Society, contact Vanessa@gsksmo.org.

If She Can See It, She Can Be It

Did you know girls are statistically more likely to aspire to be and do things if they see women currently in those roles? Think about that for a second…

You may have heard the phrase “If She Can See It, She Can Be It” when Geena Davis came to Kansas City as part of the CHAT Series last year. This phrase and campaign is part of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. While with the original research focusing on the inequity of women in entertainment, we know that this issue extends far beyond the media industry thanks to Girl Scout Research Institute and the research of many others.

At Girl Scouts we’re working to break those gender stereotypes and show girls EXACTLY what they can be when they grow up. Like a football player or a race car driver.

Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors descended upon Arrowhead Stadium for the first-ever Girl Scout takeover on October 7. Nearly 150 girls went behind the scenes at Arrowhead, scoping out the press and locker rooms, designing team logos, learning the history behind the Chiefs and NFL and doing Play60 activities. However, the most inspiring part of the evening for many of them was actually participating in football drills with the Liberty North High School Quarterback, Brooke Liebsch and the women of the KC Titans football team.

Yes, a real-life female football player and the all-woman tackle football team in Kansas City.

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Brooke has been playing football since 2010 in a Pop Warner league where she was a Wide Receiver and Cornerback. After a little game of catch with her coach in 2013, she was moved to Quarterback and has been playing that position for the past four years. Brooke has only played on all-boys teams, but that doesn’t bother her.

“My whole football career I have had doubters, but that has never stopped me from playing the game I love.”

The KC Titans set up a series of drills for Girl Scouts to go through. Girl Scouts suited up with pads and helmet and ran drills. They worked on their passing game with Brooke, tried some defensive moves on an artificial field and tested their agility with some ladder runs!

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Brooke shared a quote from her mentor, Atlanta Falcons staff member, Katie Sowers, “stay humble, stay true and always believe. Go out there and follow your dreams, and NEVER GIVE UP!”

Girls left that evening with hugs galore from the women of the KC Titans, an autographed card from Brooke and the knowledge and experience to know that they can be anything they want to be – even a football player.

Now, fast forward a week to Girl Scout Day at Kansas Speedway on October 15.

Girl Scouts, troop leaders, moms and dads came from all around our region to see XFINITY race that and attend a Girl Scout-only Q&A with Danica Patrick.

The Girl Scout alumna fielded all sorts of questions from Girl Scouts about what it’s like to be one of the only females competing in a male-dominated sport, like:

“What’s your fastest time or speed?”

“When you get older do you still want to do race car driving?”

“When did you know that you wanted to be a racecar driver?”

And

“Do people make fun of you because you’re the only woman who is racing?”

Girls are asking these questions because they’re genuinely curious. They want to know what they’ll encounter if they choose to do something that is stereotypically considered a “boys activity.” They want to know that there are people out there that will support them and offer them encouragement and guidance to pursue their dreams and that maybe the idea isn’t as scary as it might seem.

Danica answered our girls’ questions honestly and with warmth and kindness.

“I’m sure they do [make fun of me for racing]. But some people to make fun of things because it’s something different and they’re scared of it, or jealous of it or don’t know what to think of it; But I like to be different. You just have to have confidence, believe in yourself and go after your goals.”

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Both Brooke and Danica are breaking the glass ceilings in their professions and showing girls that they can be anything they desire as long as they first believe in themselves and second put the hard work in to meet their goals.

See all the photos from Arrowhead Takeover and Girl Scout Day at Kansas Speedway!

 

Living United – United Way of Atichson’s Terry Knopke

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Every year Girl Scout councils receive funding from generous donors and organizations. Among these is the United Way – an organization that pools financial resources within communities and distributes it to areas of need. All the funds given to United Way stay local. Leading the Atchison Area United Way is Terry Knopke, a Girl Scout Alumna, a driven fundraiser and woman dedicated to service as a way of life.

Terry Knopke is the only full time employee at the United Way of Atchison and works tirelessly to support the organizations that benefit from the funds within the community. The United Way not only supports Girl Scout troops in Atchison, but other organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, KS Legal Service, and YMCA. In all, they support 19 deserving organizations and are committed to providing equal funding for children of both genders. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts always get the same amount of money from us to ensure equal opportunities,” Terry said.

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While Terry is the only staff member, she has the support a Board of Directors. Because of their support, her efforts don’t fall on deaf ears. “I have a wonderful Board of Directors […] We try to have board members from different areas because when they invite me into the board rooms…I know that when I leave…if the bosses are part of it, they’ll talk about it and say ‘this is something we need to support,’” Terry said. It’s a small community where the Board makes a real difference.

That small town feeling of community that keeps the Board dedicated, along with the beautiful, historic homes, was what drew Terry to Atichson in 1999. She even has her own piece of history – a “painted lady” home from 1883 with a special room she created with kennels for feral cats in recovery.

As someone passionate about helping animals, Terry helps with the local humane society. Her love for service is infectious, with her daughter saying it changed her perspective on life. “My daughter told me ‘Mom, I wanted to thank you for teaching me to love animals, it changed the way I look at everything.’ It  made me feel good, but I also thought ‘this is something we need to keep passing on,’” Terry said.

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Left: Terry collecting donations for the humane society, Center: Girl Scout troop 8021 building feral cat houses, Right: Terry and volunteers gathering donations.

Animal care is where Terry sees some of the impact that United Way funding makes for Girl Scouts first hand. “We have a list we hand out for the humane society, collecting money and donations, and Girl Scouts helps me with that. It’s a win-win-win, United Way has a directive to help the Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts help me and we give to the Humane Society,” Terry said.

Jolleen Graf, leader for Troop 8347 sees the impact of the United Way and Girl Scouts every day. “[The United Way and Girl Scouts] help develop future leaders […] It helps break the stereotype of ‘… like a girl’ is a negative thing. We embrace ‘Hit Like a Girl, Fight Like a Girl, Throw Like a Girl,’ but we want that to be a compliment, not an insult,” Jolleen said.

Terry loves that Girl Scouts is included in the United Way family because of the support it gives to girls, like her daughter (a woman in STEM and GS Alumna) and shows them that it’s okay to be themselves. “Girl Scouts, which I love, is trying to teach young girls to get out there and that they can do anything,” Terry said.

We appreciate the great work that Terry and the other staff members of United Ways that support our Council do each day to support girls. Without the support of organizations like the United Way, we couldn’t continue to offer the great programs that change the lives of girls. Click here for full list of the United Ways that benefit Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri or click here to find the United Way near you!

How Cookies Got Weebles to Camp

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Spotlighting GS Alumna Elizabeth Bourquin

Girl Scout cookies – delicious and full of tradition. What many people don’t realize is the lifetime skills (goal setting, money management, decision making, people skills and business ethics) instilled in girls. One Girl Scout shows just how far cookie sales can take you with hard work and goals. Meet Elizabeth Bourquin, or “Weebles” if you met her at camp, from Topeka, KS. This Girl Scout alumna used her brains and business skills to have experiences that otherwise would have been out of reach.

As a 1st grader, Elizabeth begged her mother, Dora Lee, to let her and her sister become Girl Scouts. “None of the parents wanted to be the leader, but I begged the hardest, so my mom did,” Elizabeth said. As a single mom, leading Troop 428 wasn’t always easy, but it was important to her because of the experience it provided. “[My mom] grew up on a farm and didn’t get many experiences outside of school and farming. She wanted me and my sister to have experiences she didn’t get,” Elizabeth said.

Throughout their Girl Scout years, Troop 428 did “Try It” badges and community program events. As they got older, they set their eyes on a bigger adventure – travel. Enter the Cookie Program. As younger girls, they began planning trips and budgeting. To use their resources wisely, the troop planned trips to Kansas City, Leavenworth and the Kansas City Zoo and budgeted to stay at camps rather than hotels.

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With a goal in mind, the girls worked hard and raised funds through cookie sales to travel to Nebraska, Mall of America, Chicago and a big trip in high school to California (San Diego Zoo), Arizona (Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Four Corners), Oklahoma and Colorado (camped in Garden of the Gods). In addition, they funded smaller troop activities and projects. They sent a teddy bear to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City as part of a multi-council program and found creative ways to get the most out of their troop experience (their bear came back home with special patches and awards).

The troop’s annual cookie booth in Goodyear’s parking lot became a popular spot in Topeka. More than a decade later, people still ask Goodyear when Girl Scouts will be selling cookies there. “One year radio V100 did a live broadcast from our booth and I did a sales pitch. A car salesman came by and said when I turned 16 he wanted to offer me a job,” Elizabeth said. What a way to show her leadership skills!

Dora wanted the girls to take full advantage of the business skills they could learn from the Cookie Program, so she insisted they learn by doing. “It was important to my mom that we were able to manage money, do the math and get customers all by ourselves. She was there and watched, but she wanted us to learn,” said Elizabeth. They had to make connections in the community and work as many booth opportunities as possible. When it was freezing and other troops stayed home, Elizabeth had personal goals that kept her selling even when it was hard.

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Beyond troop trips, Elizabeth’s personal goals of getting to camp and travel motivated her to go above and beyond. And by beyond we mean 3,700+ boxes of individual sales in one year! Some days she would be the only girl working the booth for hours before and after everyone else would take a shift. This dedication paid off. A former cookie funds program at Camp Daisy Hindman earned her an average of 1.5-2 weeks per year at camp because of her sales. This turned into a passion and Elizabeth became “Weebles,” a camp counselor at Camp Daisy from 2007-2009. At camp she wanted to give younger girls the same experiences she had at the camp she calls her second home.

In 2006 cookie funds took her even farther. By selling over 3,700 boxes of cookies she was able to go on two Wider Opportunities to a Kentucky horse ranch and to Boundary Waters in Minnesota. One year she travelled to a horse ranch and learned even more about the power of hard work. “There was work with the fun, which I find really important for girls to learn. If you work hard, you achieve great things. That’s what I took out of Girl Scouts doing the hard work to sell cookies so I could do fun trips,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth is now a manager at Payless at a young age, a testament to her business skills. She also has a cosmetology degree, showcasing that blend of creativity and business sense that she developed as a Girl Scout. As a passionate Alumna, Elizabeth participates in camp reunions and plans to begin volunteering. For her, Girl Scouts is more important than ever for girls to be in. “I think it’s really important for girls, especially in society right now, to learn outdoor stuff because we are becoming an indoor society. Girls have to know they can do whatever they want – it’s not man’s world anymore, it’s a woman’s world,” Elizabeth said.

Thank you to Elizabeth for proving that with hard work, anything is possible. Your story is an inspiration! If you knew Weebles at camp or want to share a story, comment below!

 

Giving Back Goes Full Circle

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Meet a Special Group of Women from Silvercrest at Deer Creek

 

If you’re a Girl Scout donor, you’re probably familiar with the birthday cards that come, hand addressed, to your mailbox once a year. These cards, signed by Girl Scouts from our council on the inside are addressed on the outside by a group of volunteers at Silvercrest Retirement Community at Deer Creek. The team of four residents, Carol Hollander, Anne Roane, “Dot” Sime and Harriet Copus, and activities coordinator, Diane VanBuskirk, address the cards by hand as part of a monthly service project.

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In January 2016, Diane was looking for a service project the residents. As a strong advocate of residents having a choice of activities, she knew service was something that many wanted to have the option of doing. After trying several organizations that didn’t quite have the right project for the community, she remembered being a Girl Scout leader and reached out to GSKSMO. Virginia Pennington, Administrative Assistant for the Fund Development department knew the birthday card project would be a great fit.

Each month GSKSMO drops off birthday cards already signed by one of many volunteer Girl Scout troops and a list for the ladies at Silvercrest. Sitting together at a table over the course of a few days, the ladies chat and address the cards together. In all, the ladies spend about 7 hours a month each working on the cards – that’s around 35 hours of volunteer time for Girl Scouts between the five of them! The ladies enjoy giving back to the community and having a social activity each month. “We enjoy helping the community because it gives us a feeling of accomplishment,” Carol said.

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While they write they discuss their lives and sometimes are intrigued by last names or places they’re addressing to. “I remember writing ‘Napoleon, Missouri’ and none of us knew where that was! So I got out my atlas and found it,” Dot said.

For Anne, Diane and Dot, their history with Girl Scouts goes back to their childhood or time raising children. Anne was a Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader in the early 1970s and remembers doing unique activities like dissecting frogs. “To be honest, we dissected frogs with the girls because I was leading the Boy Scouts and ordered too many frogs. When I got them in, I thought, ‘well, the girls are going to do it too!’ When we went to dissect them, I think the girls were better. They were more curious. One of the boys wouldn’t even get the knife close to the frog,” said Anne. As a child welfare worker, Anne said “I felt like I worked for the Girl Scouts before I even had daughters. When I would help foster parents I told them to put the foster child in scouting because it was a really good thing.”

From her Girl Scout experience, Dot remembers camping when she was the leader of her daughter’s Brownie troop in Illinois. “[When we were camping] one time, I remember one of the girls turned over a rock and there was a snake under there…I don’t remember if the girls were scared, but I was!” Dot said. Diane also remembers camping with her daughters, Aubrey, Caitlin, Kelsey and Rebecca, who were all Girl Scouts. She was the leader for Caitlin and Kelsey’s troop and volunteered for Aubrey and Rebecca’s troop.

Carol was a Boy Scout Den Leader Coach when she lived in Iowa with her three sons, Bill, Scott and Todd. Bill became and Eagle Scout, but all three were in scouting because her husband and father were Boy Scouts and supported the boys being part of it. As Diane says, “Carol was handpicked for this group, I thought she’d like it.” There’s a definite sense of pride that Carol and all the ladies have for working on a community project.

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The work these women continue to do is invaluable to the Girl Scout organization. By taking the time to hand address envelopes every month, they’re supporting the efforts of Girl Scouts to thank our donors during their birthday, a special time of the year. During the rest of the month the team is busy with personal hobbies and activities. Harriet is a baker who makes Norwegian cuisine that everyone raves about (we are really interested in the cinnamon rolls and lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread she told us about)! Dot enjoys chatting with other residents about their careers and learning interesting stories.

When asked why the like this project, Harriet summed it up very well, saying “I love volunteer work and I like that it helps girls.” This team of ladies truly enjoys just spending time together and helping where they can. The work they’re doing truly makes a difference and they know they’re having a direct impact on girls in their community. We cannot thank them enough for their incredible work!

If you’ve received a hand addressed card from one of these ladies, comment below! We’d love to see how far their impact reaches.

Gold Award to MD

 

A Spotlight on Girl Scour Alumna Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan

When Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan and her family moved to the United States from Australia at the age of 9, she didn’t really know what all was in store for her. Upon their arrival to the states, her mother accepted a job as graphic designer for an organization called Girl Scouts of the Mid-Continent Council and all of a sudden Sanushi was an Australian in America and a Girl Scout, whatever that meant.

Sanushi joined Girl Scouts as a Cadette and her troop consisted of six other girls, led by a very committed volunteer, Jayne Vehlewald. Jayne made sure that her troop did the typical Girl Scout activities like camping and travelling, but one of Sanushi’s fondest memories was their annual Christmas “Bake-Off.”

“For a teenager, we didn’t think that being a Girl Scout was necessarily the ‘coolest’ thing to do, but we never got flack for it and we loved it,” Sanushi said.

As the girls in the troop grew older, Jayne made sure that every girl knew about the Highest Awards and encouraged each one of them to earn her Gold Award. Sanushi was totally on board. For her project, Sanushi collected school supplies and distributed them to students who would otherwise go without.

In addition to earning her Gold Award in 2005, she also received the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year. “I knew I wanted to go to a big name school which meant it would be a lot of money and I wanted to be able to pay for it on my own,” Sansuhi said. “It meant a lot to me, having that be a memory of Beth Winters, I hope that I have done her family proud.”

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Sanushi went to that big name school; the University of Michigan to be exact. While there, she studied cultural anthropology and was a pre-med student. During her freshman year, she continued to stay active in Girl Scouts and served on the Mid-Continent council’s board of directors as a girl member. She was invited back to speak at the 2006 Honors Ceremony which recognized and celebrated that years’ Gold Award recipients and she got to help present Victoria Immethun with the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year.

While moving to new places was something Sansushi was familiar with, it didn’t necessarily make it easy. “I owe the ability to move to a new state and make new friends to character building of Girl Scouts.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2009, Senushi returned to the Kansas City area to further her education at the University of Kansas Medical School keeping all that she had learned as a Girl Scout at the forefront of her mind.

“I was raised to be kind and respectful and sometimes, as woman, that can be take advantage of. Girl Scouts taught me that you can be kind and nice, but that you can also be assertive,” Sanushi explained. “That helps a lot especially when you’re in a male dominated field like I am.”

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Sansushi graduated from KU Med this spring and is now an intern in a residency program in Oklahoma. She is the only female in her class.  “It’s really important to me now to have that sense of self I developed in Girl Scouts!”

We love seeing all the great things that our Gold Award alumnae are accomplishing and learning how Girl Scouts has impacted their lives thus far. If you’re a Highest Award recipient, we want to hear from you – let us know in the comments below!

A Team Approach to Raising a Troop

Spotlighting Troop Leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright

For most troops, summer time is when you’re hitting the pool with friends, heading out to day camp or packing your bags for vacation. For Troop 545 and the dynamic duo co-leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright, summer time is still active troop time, with a more flexible schedule! These two awesome co-leaders are showing that just because school takes a vacation, Girl Scouts doesn’t have to! Planning hikes, summer take home activities and adventures, Troop 545 never takes a vacation from building woman of courage, confidence, and character.

Tori & Jessica have been leading the 23 Brownies of Troop 545 in Overland Park, KS since the girls were in kindergarten and have watched the entire troop get close. In fact, they’ve had almost 100% retention because of their amazing leadership and the bond the girls share. They especially love how close their daughters have become as Girl Scout sisters. “Our daughters are best friends, they call each other ‘sister,’ they hold hands and tell each other ‘you’re my bestie,’ we just love it,” Jessica said.

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As alumnae, Tori & Jessica also know firsthand the impact Girl Scouts had on their own lives and want to share those lessons with their daughters. “Girl Scouts is all about empowering women – that’s what I want for my daughter. In a world where we still have gender bias, don’t have equal pay and don’t have equality in STEM fields, I want my daughter to know that she can do it and that she’s worth it,” Tori said.

Something the troop loves is all the awesome programming Girl Scouts makes available to troops. They have taken advantage of Community Partner programs, STEM activities and donor sponsored events like Girl Scout Night at Swan Lake in spring 2016. They also plan independent troop activities like rock climbing, hiking and swimming – trying to keep the girls moving and active. “As a former teacher, I know that giving kids experiences is the best way to get them to learn. We want our girls to have experiences they may not be able to have without Girl Scouts,” Tori said. These experiences make a real difference and the leaders see what supporting Girl Scouts can do for girls.

One of the unique approaches to troop management this team has developed is the use of stations in troop meetings. Rather than trying to get all 23 Brownies working on one activity at the same time, they are fortunate enough to have amazing parent support that allows them to have multiple stations and break the girls up into various activities and rotations. They find it keeps the girls more engaged, allows parents to be part of the process and keeps the energy up. The leaders also utilize parent support to run their wildly successful cookie program (100% participation in 2016) and daily activities. What an awesome network these girls have!

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After seeing the impact of Girl Scouts in her own life, Tori Hirner became a Founding Member of Daisy’s Circle, giving a monthly financial gift to Girl Scouts. These two proud Alumnae also give of their time to Service Unit 638, serving as service unit manager (Tori) and service unit treasurer (Jessica).

Seeing the light in the eyes of their “Girl Scout daughters” every time they participate in an event, Tori and Jessica know that their contributions of time and financial gifts are making a difference. Thank you to the incredible Girl Scout volunteers, like Tori and Jessica, who are empowering women, one Girl Scout at a time.

If you know of an awesome Girl Scout volunteer story, share in the comments below!

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The sweet success of being a Girl Scout

Gold Award Alumna Spotlight – Heather Magee

When Girl Scouts runs in the family, girls know they are destined for greatness. Meet Heather Magee, a 3rd generation Girl Scout, Gold Award Alumna and volunteer who is passionate about the leadership and business programs Girl Scouts offers. She’s also the artist behind the floral arrangements at the 2016 Inspire a Girl event that made the room beautiful. A dedicated Product Sales Manager, Heather Magee shows that when Girl Scouts is in your blood, you never grow out of it.

Heather grew up in Stewartsville, MO where she joined as a Brownie and was one of the first Girl Scouts in her town. Of the original troop, three of the girls continued through high school and completed their Gold Award, setting the bar high for any girls who followed in their footsteps. The troop camped at Camp Woodland in Albany, MO and were in charge of the “work and play weekend” where they helped get the camp ready for the spring and helped close the camp in late fall. It was one of her early introductions to a life of service that she fondly remembers.

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4 Generations: Sheryl (Mother), Heather, Twila (Grandmother), Kinley (Niece), Erin (Sister) & Allie (Niece)

As a Scouting family, Heather’s siblings often accompanied her at day camp and other events. Her sister, Erin, is also a 3rd generation Girl Scout (her daughter  Allie is a 4th generation Girl Scout) and brother, Adam, is a 3rd generation Boy Scout (2nd generation Eagle Scout) and his sons, AJ & Ryan, are following in his footsteps to start the next generation of Eagle Scouts. “My sister and brother were always tagalongs at events and camping. We have [Scouting] in our blood. My grandma was even our cookie manager at the time, which I do in Oak Grove now,” Heather said. Both Erin and Heather earned their Gold Award and their mother earned her First Class Award. Talk about a family of achievers!

For her Gold Award project, Heather did improvements to the softball field at her high school. Her project entailed building stairs and a railing to help fans get to the field safely as well as planting flowers and doing general improvements. While the Gold Award project wasn’t easy, she feels like she learned a lot. “It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do that you’ll also have the most appreciation for. It’s hard, it’s stressful, but you learn a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise. When you’re a shy person, having to get out and talk to people, it drew things out of me,” Heather said.

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The process of completing a Gold Award can be daunting, and Heather knows how scary it can be to look at all the work that has to go into it. However, as someone who completed the project, she knows just how valuable completing the project was to her life. “I think what scares a lot of people is that it is a lot of work and some people take that the wrong way. But just doing all that work and going through the process, it’s so rewarding at the end and you don’t see it until you get there,” Heather said.  Completing the project helped her have the courage to face her next big life step – attending Graceland University in Iowa to study Commercial Design.

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Today, Heather loves getting to be involved as a Girl Scout volunteer and watching her nieces embark on their Girl Scout journey. Her main volunteer role is as serving as Product Sales Manager for Service Unit 644. “I like everything about Girl Scouts and I call cookie season ‘Cookietopia’ because I just love it so much. The organization, the colors and the program, I love it all. I think I got it from my grandmother because she served as cookie manager for 15 years,” Heather said.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the personal benefits that service has for Heather. “Giving back, volunteering, that changes a person. I think that helps you, just in general, become a better person by giving back to the community,” Heather said. This dedication is exactly what Girl Scouts learn by being in a program focused on service.

The Cookie Program is an incredible experience for girls but takes a lot of work for our volunteers, so we can’t thank Heather enough for her service. In addition to her gift of time, Heather gives financial gifts through Daisy’s Circle, the monthly giving program through GSKSMO. She’s even a Founding Member of the program! In addition, Heather is also a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. Thank you, Heather for inspiring the next generation and for living a life of service.

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Highest Award Alumna, share her story in the comments below!