Breaking Boundaries and Busting Barriers

The Boundary Waters account for over 1 million acres and 1,000 lakes of the Superior National Forest in the northeastern most part of Minnesota. With those statistics, it’s no wonder why Girl Scouts from all over the country head to Ely, MN every summer to experience the great outdoors camping, hiking, canoeing, porting and even making their way into Canada! This summer, seven Girl Scout Cadettes and two volunteers made the 10-hour road trip to the State Park with our Outdoor Experiences Excursion program!

Upon their arrival at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes & Pines camp, they started learning what to expect over the next five days and four nights! In true Girl Scout fashion, girls packed light using their resources wisely. Each canoe had one Duluth pack that contained clothing, sleeping bags and hygiene items for two girls! Girls took two changes of clothes – one dry set for at night and a wet set for during the day. FYI, getting into wet clothes in the morning can be a little cold!

The groups also had a food pack, weighing about 75lbs that carried all their nutrition and supplies for the 5 days. In the State Park, all food must be packed out or eaten. They would build a fire every morning and evening to cook – making pizza, pancakes, macaroni, brownies, burritos and cheesecake! After each meal, they had to wash dishes and dispose of the water 150 feet from the lake to avoid contamination. For drinking, they gathered water directly from the lake and purified it with iodine through a gravity filter.

One of the volunteers who traveled with our Girl scouts was Girl Scout Alum, Katelyn Clark, who actually went on this very trip herself when she was a young Girl Scout!

“It was amazing to see the girls grow. Most were nervous when going through training and spending the first night at base camp in the woods.  The last day as we were paddling in they were discussing that they can do anything and that they felt that they accomplished a lot,” Katelyn said.

Their trip wasn’t without its challenges. During their R&R day they took a short paddle and hiking trip to get a better view of the lake. On their way back they were met with a thunderstorm and had to pull over and spend time with another group out of the water who felt the need to instructions and guidance. As they disembarked, Girl Scout Cadette Autumn got out and moved the metal canoe all on her own. The other group was impressed and acknowledged that these girls were Girl Scout STRONG!

On their final day, they had to take some long portages (carrying the canoe above their head) to get to the some of the final lakes, going up and downhill for a mile and quarter with all their gear in tow too.  “The girls were so empowered after we finished. It was personally the highlight of my trip to see each one of them so self-confident after we completed them,” Katelyn said.

In total they went about 26 miles, crossing into Canada and have the arm muscles, mosquito bites and wet boots to prove it!

 

At the end of the trip, the girls reflected and had some of the following takeaways:

-You can do anything you mentally put your mind to, your body has few limitations.

-Everyone has their own strengths and you need to accept them and use your team to make everything work.

-It’s good to disconnect from technology and your to do list and just listen to your body every once in a while.

-Everyone has different bodies and different ways of being fit – it is important you listen to yours and find your own ways.

-Camping is fun

-Get to go to school saying they carried a canoe for 1.25 miles, lived in the woods for a week, canoed 26 miles and went to Canada!

-Girl Scouts teaches you how to be a leader through experiences like these. You don’t feel like you are learning but you learn things like teamwork, communication, perseverance and acceptance through trips like these.

“It was such an amazing experience to see the girls go through the same process as I did 20 years ago – nervous, self-doubt, confident and empowered. Paddling back in on the last day and listening to them talk about their takeaways made me tear up because I knew I was sending home 7 ladies that felt like they could conquer the world,” Katelyn said. “At its core this is truly why I volunteer, to help girls have experiences that empower them and inspire them to carry on the values they have learned.”

This is just one Outdoor Experience, of many, that girls can have when they’re a Girl Scout! As she grows, so do her skills. Each experience will prepare her to thrive physically, emotionally and intellectually.

See all the Outdoor Experiences available to Girl Scouts this fall at outdoor.gsksmo.org.

 

Wildlife, Geysers & Mountains: An Unforgettable Adventure between Sisters

Jump aboard for an unforgettable adventure trip shared between two sisters! Miranda and Emily Nitz from Olathe, Kansas recently partook in a life-changing Destination trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park with other Girl Scout sisters from all over the United States.

“Girl Scouts really prepared me for camping; all of my interest for the outdoors started with my troop,” Miranda said.  Emily agreed that the large undertaking of Yellowstone was mostly possible because she felt confident in the outdoors. These Girl Scouts were more than ready to put their risk-taker skills into action!

From resident camps and planning day camps to past family excursions, these Miranda and Emily were looking for something completely out of the ordinary.  Having already been to Yellowstone before, this time around the girls were really able to be one with nature and got to enjoy the challenge of camping for a whole week.

“At the very beginning, we were ready to get rid of our cell phones for a week, being disconnected felt natural, actually, it really helped us enjoy trip,” Miranda said.

Although both sisters admit to being a little nervous at the start because they did not know anyone, after the first night they were ready to start new adventures with new friends.  “I realized that all the girls there were accepting and had the same Girl Scout values.  Even though the other girls came with friends, I felt very welcome,” Emily said.

The Girl Scout Destination trip was guided by the field instructors of Teton Science Schools.  The counselors taught the girls how to practice naturalist skills and give back through service with other Girl Scouts from across the nation.

“The counselors were SO cool!  They were each graduate students that brought forward their knowledge to our camp before they graduated,” the Nitz sisters said.

The nightly programs would help prepare the 25 Girl Scouts about everything they would need to do during their day excursions: packing a hiking bag, setting up camp, and even how to use bear spray!

“I was really nervous I was going to wake up at night and hear a bear next to me, so I was really glad to have bear spray, even though I didn’t have to use it,” Miranda said.

Emily and Miranda were all smiles when reflecting back on their day excursions.  “Every single day was packed with something unique and different, but the counselors made all the activities easy and fun- our hike, for example, was only a mile long, but we felt fully prepared and packed for anything, like, you get dehydrated a lot easier so we had to pack more water that I was used to and we were so glad we brought rain coats!” Miranda noted.

They had half a day of hiking and half a day of canoeing in String Lake.  Then Emily joined in, “it was so cool to see a different landscape than Kansas; there weren’t small hills but large mountains that were much harder to hike and when you canoed, the water was completely clear from the mountain springs, it was cold but worth it!”

The next day the girls set out early for a wildlife day.  Seeing native Yellowstone animals like bison, buffalo, bald eagles, elk and bears were definitely a major highlight for both of them.  Miranda laughed, “It was crazy seeing elk so close to our cabin we’d never been so close before!”

Miranda and Emily had quite a bit of driving to do on their trip to make sure they saw all of the landmarks: Old Faithful, Dragon’s Mouth and mud spots.  Emily remembered that “[The muds spots] smelled like rotten eggs, kind of.  So every day when we smelled eggs for breakfast I remembered that!”

The last day in Yellowstone was dedicated to service.  The girls had the unique experience to give back by making much needed repairs on The Murie Ranch that needed some love!  “what made service project so cool,” Miranda said, “is that the Murie Family founded the Teton Science School, which is who supported a large part of our trip.  We definitely got lucky being able to make such a large impact like fixing a trail!”

The Destinations program most definitely gave these girls the travel bug!  Emily has future plans to visit Savannah, Georgia with her troop.  She is also excited for the 2019 Belize trip.  Miranda is already excited for another trip and loves planning day camp for her service unit.  She is ready to start planning her troop’s trip to Europe soon.

When reflecting, Emily noted that, “the coolest thing about this trip is that all of us girls talk still every day and we really want to plan another Destination trip together!”  Being split up during the trip ended up being one of the biggest learning lessons for them both; making new friends is a corner stone of what Girl Scouts is all about.  This trip allowed these girls to step out of their comfort zone to come together to learn about STEM, and further their outdoor knowledge.  Way to go, girls!

Learn more about Girl Scout Destination travel today to find new ways to enhance your Girl Scout summer!

 

Girl Scouts Inspire Girl Scouts

Spotlight on Girl Scout Cadette, Channing Saint Onge

Do you remember the story we told you last year about FIRST LEGO League Participants, Troop 1987?! Girl Scout (newly bridged) Cadette, Channing Saint Onge sure does. Troop 1987 inspired her to take lead like a Girl Scout and establish a FIRST LEGO League team within her own troop…but that’s just the beginning!

From Troop 5177 out of Lawrence, KS, “Sleep Squad” was formed. A team of five Girl Scouts and their troop leader and coach, Kristi Kamm got to work learning all they could about FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and preparing for their first season of competition! In their first year of local competition, they finished in the top 30 teams, and even got to meet their inspiration (turned now competition!) the J. Gordon Low Resistance!

Teams J. Gordon Low Resistance and Sleep Squad at the local FIRST LEGO League Competition

Channing fell in love with robotics through this program and wanted to continue working with Ollie (their robot) after competition wrapped up last December.

“I like that I get to work with a team and I really like programming. It’s not super hard for me and it’s not super easy, either.” Channing said.

She founded Egno Robotics – a passion project and nonprofit-in-the-making to introduce robotics to other Girl Scouts and it’s become a family affair (Egno is part of Channing’s last name, backwards)!

Having watched his big sister have all the fun, Thurston wanted to join in too so Channing, Thurston and Kristi developed a three station workshop for elementary girls to learn the basics of robotics. Kristi leads a station teaching girls (and adults) about FIRST LEGO League, Thurston teaches circuits and Channing brings it all together showcasing Ollie and leading girls through building a robot!

“We figured we could help troops trying to earn these robotics badges. They don’t have the robots, but we do! It’s been fun to learn how to teach girls and be patient,” Channing said!

Left: Channing with robot, Ollie. Right: Channing teaching Girl Scouts about Robotics.

Egno Robotics piloted the program in their own troop, helping all girls earn their Junior Robotics badge and it has expanded from there! Channing presented Egno Robotics at a Service Unit meeting and has since conducted the workshops to five more troops in just the last six months with the hopes of visiting more troops this fall.

Channing has big dreams for Egno Robotics, hoping to turn it into a nonprofit exposing as many girls as possible to the world of robotics. She has already designed her own mat (like what FIRST LEGO league uses) based on Hidden Valley Camp and envisions using it with Girl Scout troops for their own mini robotics competitions!

The Robotics mat Channing has designed for future Girl Scout competitions.

Channing loves talking robotics and teaching others. Since founding Egno Robotics, she has been tweaking the workshop to be relevant to the ages she’s working with and has helped girls’ complete steps in all the levels of the Robotics badges!

“It was kind of hard to teach juniors, because I would be teaching them at the same age [I am]. Brownies are the easiest! I might be able to teach juniors better now [that I’m a Cadette],” she said.

Kristi, an engineer herself, has loved watching Channing take to the robotics world and seeing her passion for sharing it with others. “You gain a lot of confidence and the skills to each other people and feel a sense of mastery. They [Channing and Thurston] show others that they can do this!”

Is your troop interested in earning their Robotics badges with Egno Robotics? Leave a comment below with your name and troop number and we’ll put you in contact!

Girl Scouts is the Place for All Girls – Mermaids Included!

Meet Irena, a super-outgoing seven year old Girl Scout Brownie from Service Unit 625. Irena is just like any other Girl Scout her age: she enjoys reading, ziplining at camp, and pretending to be a mermaid gliding through the pool with her magnificent tail. To us, Irena is one of the coolest and most courageous soon-to-be third graders we’ve ever met.

At just a year old, Irena’s father, Chris Johnson, was told she had a medical condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  SMA is a rare condition that affects parts of the nervous system as it relates to voluntary movement.  Most children with SMA are not able to walk, have trouble breathing, and often are more susceptible to fatal illness.  Our Irena has Type II, so unlike many other cases of SMA, Irena is able to walk on her knees allowing for some lower body movement. Irena is so strong!  She visits specialists all over the country for treatment and surgery to help improve her mobility and work toward a cure.

This summer has been extra special for Irena and her dad!  During Irena’s time at Camp Prairie Schooner for Service Unit 625’s weekend camp-out, Chris was able to come along to assist. This gave dad and daughter a unique experience together.

“Girl Scouts allowing me to stay at camp with Irena meant the world to me to be able to provide her with the care she needs while getting to see her have the ability to do the things other kids do,” Chris said. “Irena isn’t 100% fearless, close though! At Girl Scouts, she is getting the support to take on those new challenges.”

With the expertise and encouragement of her dad and our Outdoor Adventure staff team, Irena took on one of those Girl Scout “challenges of choice” – ziplining. Irena had an awesome cheer squad led by her super enthusiastic (and from Irena) extra LOUD Troop Leader Miss Tiffany and backed up by all her Girl Scout sisters. She flew across that zipline with a big smile on her face and mastered a brand new skill.

Of course for Irena after completing the zipline, she declared it was no big deal. It was just another challenge that she faced and conquered. It was like when she puts on her Mermaid tail and she can glide through the water with ease. For others who watched Irena conquer this challenge, watching her glide across that zipline brought tears of joy.

This is what Girl Scouts is all about. Girls of all abilities are welcome to learn new skills, grow their friendships, take on challenges, fail, try again and succeed in a girl-powered space. And of course, dads who are “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” are always encouraged!

Irena says her favorite parts of camp were the fun science activities she did, sleeping in a bunk bed- top bunk, and getting to be with her friends.

Chris and Irena can’t wait for the new Aquatics Center at Camp Prairie Schooner to open.  Part of Irena’s physical therapy exercises in making her legs stronger include swimming- with that magnificent mermaid tail!  The motion helps her hips grow strong, and makes it easier for her to be able to walk in water.

So what’s the future hold for this super G.I.R.L.(Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™? Nothing but BIG goals, of course! Irena wants to become a chemist so she can find a cure for SMA and other diseases and be able to help kids just like her. We’re also pretty glad she has several more years to keep conquering those Girl Scout challenges!

Irena is most definitely a G.I.R.L.!  Way to go, Irena!  We love having your bright smile in Girl Scouts!

Student. Volunteer. Go-Getter.

Spotlight on Lifetime Member and Gold Award Girl Scout, Sara Huelskamp

Leading by example and taking a chance, Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Sara Huelskamp has shown her desire to help others and influence the girls around her.

Sara’s Girl Scout journey didn’t stop after she received her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award in the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Council. As a sophomore at Kansas State University studying construction engineering, Sara was called back to her passion when she found out her neighbor’s troop was losing their troop leader and disbanding. Like any good Girl Scout, Sara stepped up and reorganized Troop 2081 in Manhattan, Kansas. “I didn’t want them to not have a troop, I knew what Girl Scouts did for me and I didn’t want them to miss out on that,” Sara said.

Left: Sara’s troop in front of the mural they painted for their Bronze Award. Center: Sara and her troop at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. Right: Sara carrying a banner in the Rose Parade, which only Gold Award Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts have the honor.

As a Girl Scout Junior, Sara’s troop worked with a local youth shelter to do renovation projects and paint an inspirational mural inside the cottage to earn their Bronze Award. Through that one project, Sara’s troop built a long-lasting relationship with the shelter.

“The troop worked clean up days, raked leaves, would help at events, meals, fairs and festivals. It was one of those places we were just at all the time,” Sara said.

When it came time to do her Silver and Gold Award projects, she had a cause she was passionate about and a long list of projects she knew would have a sustainable and lasting impact. “Girl Scout highest awards give you a sense of accomplishment. You get to know more about yourself and your community,” Sara said.

Through the Girl Scout experiences Sara facilitates, she’s helping girls identify their strengths and teaching them that they shouldn’t be afraid to accomplish anything, in hopes of encouraging them to earn their Gold Award.

“Girls who earn their Gold Award have a desire to help others,” she said. “It’s not a selfish goal to have.”

Sara with Girl Scouts from Troop 2081 at various events.

Next month, Sara will be graduating from K-State and is moving back to Los Angeles where she plans to find a full time job and continue volunteering with Girl Scouts. She has been working with and training parents to keep the Girl Scout Brownie troop going when she moves back home.

“There are a couple girls in my troop who are already talking about what they want to do for their Gold Award!”

Thanks for leading like a Girl Scout, Sara and inspiring more girls to #gogold! We wish you the best as you pursue your dreams!

The Power of Being a Girl Scout Lasts a Lifetime

Meet GSKSMO Alum Katherine Anderson

Leadership, teamwork and confidence to try, all things a Girl Scout learns along her leadership journey. Meet Katherine Anderson, a Girl Scout alum and proud member of a cool group of women who work in a STEM field. Katherine is a Subcontractor Manager for Black & Veatch and has developed a real passion for inspiring girls to get hands-on with STEM. Thanks to her Girl Scouting experience, Katherine developed the confidence in herself to try new things and thrive as team manager to accomplish tasks from personal home improvement to $100 million power plant projects.

Being a Girl Scout was a family affair for Katherine. Her grandmother was troop leader for her mother and aunt, and Katherine’s mom because her troop leader. Growing up in Lawrence, KS, there was no shortage of volunteer opportunities for Katherine’s troop, Troop 691. They made improvements to local parks, volunteered for a variety of organizations and had their own adventures. “I did everything to camping, to learning to roast a turkey in the snow, to how to reroute pipes under our kitchen sink. Most of us knew how to reroute plumbing before we could spell ‘hot’ and ‘cold!’” Katherine said.

 

Katherine and her troop in Lawrence as a Brownie Girl Scout.

Most importantly, Katherine learned teamwork from Girl Scouts. “My troop leader – who happened to be my mom – taught us that the success of a manager is measured by the success of their team. That has become a driving force behind how I now manage my team at Black & Veatch,” Katherine said. She feels that her early troop experiences, working in a team to complete tasks, gave her the opportunity to use her voice in a group of strong, independent personalities. “Girl Scouts was a safe space where you learn to speak up and you have this team of people working with you to tackle projects. We learned that we have a voice,” Katherine said.

Today, Katherine leads subcontract teams that have to work together to create massive power plants, working with any type of energy you can imagine! She credits many of her day to day skills to Girl Scouts because of those early experiences working in a troop to complete a project. They worked on a wide variety of tasks, which has given her the confidence to try new things, even if they fail.

As an alum, she continues to represent Girl Scouts through speaking opportunities with Black & Veatch at their “Thinking Outside the Box” event with GSKSMO. Proudly displaying her troop flag, she presents the power of the lessons she learned in Girl Scouting to today’s generation of amazing G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM. “There’s a lot I learned that I didn’t even realize at the time. As a kid, I was just hanging out and doing projects, I didn’t realize I was learning to be a manager and other life skills I still use every day,” Katherine said.

Girl Scouts at “Christmas in October” 2017.

Katherine even integrated Girl Scouts into Black & Veatch’s “Christmas in October” service event where they make needed additions or renovations to homes from those in need. Reaching out to local Girl Scout troops, she let the girls act as project managers for the day and try all types of jobs they could do in a career in construction. It was an amazing experience for the girls and let the engineers and contractors work faster!

Thank you, Katherine, for your continued dedication to Girl Scouting and for inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders! If you have an alum story you’d like to share, post in the comments below!

A Horse Trip of a Lifetime

Spotlight on Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F.

For Girl Scouts who are go-getters, love adventure, want to explore the world around them and make new friends – Girl Scout Destinations is where it’s at!

This summer Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F. spent a week in the Rocky Mountains with Girl Scouts of Colorado on the Colorado Horseback Adventure – considered the horse trip of a lifetime! She flew into Denver International Airport and spent the day at a Girl Scout Camp in Woodland Park, CO where she got to zipline, shoot archery and participate in some low ropes activities getting to know others on her Destination!

The group then traveled to Bear Basin Ranch in Westcliffe, CO where their days were full of trail rides, white water rafting and rustic cowgirl camp outs! The Destination culminated with an overnight horse pack trip in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range 12,000 feet above sea level!

“I really like horses and I wanted to travel somewhere else. I looked into it during the school year and [Colorado Horseback Adventure] looked the most fun so I chose that one! I really wanted to go on [a Destination] to explore new places.”

Studies have shown that Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to practice goal setting, problem solving, risk taking, and leadership—key skills for the 21st century. Through Girl Scouting, girls realize their leadership potential through a variety of experiences, skill-building opportunities, and connections.

This Destination experience was something that Kylee worked really hard for. It took financial goal setting and preparation to make this trip a reality. Kylee used her Destination to help market her babysitting business, applied for (and received!) a scholarship through Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri and more money earning activities. By the time Kylee returned from Colorado, she had met her goal of funding her trip!

In fact, while waiting to board her plane home, an older woman engaged in conversation with Kylee about her experience in Colorado. Through conversation, the woman shared that she had owned horses in the past. And this wonderfully kind woman made a gift toward Kylee’s trip as well.

Being a Girl Scout not only helped Kylee prepare for the trip financially, but mentally and physically as well. Going to Colorado she already knew first aid, how to pack, put up a tent and build a fire. But most notably Kylee credits Girl Scouts with giving her the skills to make new friends and carry conversations with people she’s never met before.

“Destinations help you get out of your house and off your technology to see what’s actually out there. I would recommend this adventure to all Girl Scouts so they can experience adventures that they may not be able to normally,” Kylee said!

The second round of Girl Scout Destination applications are due Feb. 15. Where will you #TravelLikeaGirlScout?!

 

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!

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!

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!