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!

Girl Scouting for Girls

Boy Scouts of America officially announced its plan to bring girls into its organization.  Girls can enter as Cub Scouts in 2018, and then by 2019 at other grade levels including high school girls who will be allowed to earn the Eagle Scout Award.  Girls and boys are not the same. Therefore, we do not agree that the Boy Scout Program meets the unique and specific needs of a girl’s leadership journey.

Girl Scouts has 105 years of experience in supporting girls to develop leadership skills in a girl-only supportive environment.  A girl’s life is primarily experienced in a coed environment.  Significant data and research suggests that girls thrive in an environment where they can experiment, take risks, succeed, fail and learn in the company of other girls.  Girl Scouts offers that in an outside the classroom experience. This extensive research guides our programs delivered in the unique way girls learn. Our focus on leadership skills development and preparing girls to meet future workplace demands offers progressive girl led opportunities throughout her Girl Scout experience.

We are incredibly proud to offer our more than 23,000 Girl Scouts opportunities for adventure, inspiration, and valuable mentoring. We offer hands-on, girl-centered learning in STEM, the outdoors, and entrepreneurship, and abundant opportunities to develop invaluable life skills. Girl Scouts helps all girls take the lead early and often.  Our highly valued volunteers and community leaders serve as role models and mentors for guiding girls in these experiences.

Our girls need even more opportunities to take the lead. Our girls need a girl-only safe space where they can grow their courage, confidence and character. Our girls need adult role models; women and men who will support them every step of the way.

A Girl Scout Dad Perspective

Jared Bixby, Education Professional from Manhattan, KS

Jared with his Girl Scout daughter fishing.

“As a father of a girl and a boy, I stand with Girl Scouts!

As a parent, my daughter does not come second.

As a parent, my son does not come second.

As a parent, I make sacrifices for the development of my kids because I want them to grow up to be strong, caring, successful individuals.

It’s not about convenience, Boy Scouts of America.

Let me repeat, it’s not about convenience, parents.

Our family is involved in soccer, 4-H, gymnastics, etc. These are things that our kids want to do and we make them happen for them. We take the interest of our kids and we find activities that match their interest and make them work. That’s what parents do.

It’s what’s best for your girl. I will not provide even the glimmer of thought that my daughter is second to my son because of convenience, Boy Scouts of America. My daughter deserves the best I can provide, and I trust in Girl Scouts and the 100+ years of research that guides their girl leadership development approach to do just that. That’s what I want for my daughter.

I challenge all dads of girls: Are you #ManEnoughToBeAGirlScout?

I AM!

My family strongly believes in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a space for girls to learn and thrive. Girl Scouts works and we’re committed to preparing our daughter as a next generation woman leader with Girl Scouts.”

Want more information? Check out:

Girl Scouts is the Girl Leadership Expert

The Girl Scout Difference

The Case for Girl Scouts: Research & Data

From Gold Award to the Silver Screen

Spotlight on Filmmaker and Gold Award Alumna, Morgan Dameron

Morgan Dameron has known that she wanted to make movies ever since she was old enough to figure out what a movie was. As a young Girl Scout Brownie, she remembers being fascinated with the coveted Polaroid camera and the camcorder that that was just as big as she was. “I used to make my family members and pets re-enact scenes from Disney animated films in my living room,” Morgan said!

When Morgan was in high school in the early her passion for film grew and the arts scene in Kansas City was only beginning to blossom into what it is today. With the leadership skills she learned through Girl Scouting, Morgan influenced the film scene for women and teens. She was an honorary board member for Kansas City Women in Film, founded the youth division of the Kansas City Independent Filmmakers Coalition and started the first ever film festival for the Kansas City Teen Star.

“Having that idea of being a leader, following my dreams and having a support system of other strong-willed girls and leaders of our troop really influenced me growing up.”

It’s no surprise that when it came time to think about her Gold Award, making a movie was what Morgan knew she wanted to do for her project. With some help from the Women in Film Commission, Morgan wrote and produced a short-film called Finding Harmony; a story about a young woman and older man who formed an unlikely friendship through music.

“I had to raise the money, cast, shoot and do everything. The amount of hard work that is required is a lesson I was able to learn so young is a result of my Gold Award project.”

That lesson has paid off, ten-fold.

Morgan graduated from Pembrooke High School in 2007 and attended University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts on a full-ride scholarship. While at USC, she made short films that played in film festivals all around the world. When she graduated, she landed a job with a production company in Los Angeles where she worked on movies including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Yep, she worked with the amazingly talented Film Director J.J. Abrams.

Now at the age of 28, Morgan’s first-ever feature full length film Different Flowers is being screened in theatres across the United States.

“I had always wanted to tell stories since I was little girl. I had gone to USC to film school and worked in the industry for 5 years and the time was right to make this movie. I was just bursting at the seams to make my first film and nothing was going to get in my way,” Morgan said.

Morgan made a plan. Plan A was to make a movie; there was no plan B.

“It’s been a year!” Morgan said.

Different Flowers is a dramedy feature film full of kooky characters, and real heart inspired by the relationships and surroundings of Morgan’s childhood, growing up in Missouri. Characters, Millie and Emma are sisters with a rocky past who are each stuck in their ways and bring out the best – and worst – in each other. When Emma helps Millie run out on her wedding, they embark on an adventure neither could have anticipated. It’s a story about following your heart, and how, sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And that’s okay.

Shot on location in Kansas City and surrounding areas, Different Flowers isn’t only about women but it’s powered by women too. Something that was important to Morgan as a female filmmaker. “I really wanted it to feel authentically Kansas City and authentically mid-western. I wanted it to be infused in every element.”

Morgan spared no detail in achieving that feel. The cinematographer is from Kansas City, many of the sound tracks are by local musicians including Sarah Morgan, Darling Side and Brewer and Shipley, one of the necklaces worn by a cast member is made by a Kansas City jewelry artist and Millie’s wedding dress was designed by Kansas City Designer, Emily Hart.

This project was a family affair for all of the Damerons and they were promoted from their home movie roles they played in the 90’s for Morgan’s first feature-length film! Morgan’s younger sisters and fellow Gold Award recipients Natalie and Mallory have cameos in the film in the bridal suite, her Dad is the reverend and Mom plays Chef Suza.

Different Flowers also has some connections to Morgan’s Gold Award project film, Finding Harmony. The lead actor from that film, Ari Bavel, has a supporting role as a Boulevard Delivery Man in Different Flowers.

“The Gold Award has stuck with me. Even though you know it’s going to be so much work, you know that it’s going to be so rewarding to do what you know you love to do,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s sister Natalie also got to use skills she learned through her own Gold Award project, serving as the on-set photographer for the film!

Photos by Gold Award Alumna, Natalie Dameron.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to give yourself permission to follow your dreams. Don’t wait for someone else to give it to you. You have the tools you need to tell your story, you can make it happen. The Gold Award is a good experience to just try it,” Morgan said!

We love that Morgan’s Gold Award project inspired her to follow her dreams and that she’s using the leadership skills she gained through her Girl Scouting experience to continue empowering adult women to pursue theirs!

Different Flowers is being shown at AMC Town Center in Overland Park, KS and AMC Barrywoods in Kansas City, MO beginning Sept. 29, check their websites for show times. Want to meet the Leader and filmmaker Morgan Dameron?! She’ll be doing a talk-back on Oct. 1 at AMC Town Center following the 5:10pm showing and at AMC Barrywoods following the 7:00pm showing!

Check out the trailer for Different Flowers!   And, make plans to join us! Let’s pack the theater with Girl Scouts!!

A Troop of Innovators

Girl Scout Junior Troop 1287 Brings Energy-Efficient Upgrades to Owl’s Nest

INNOVATOR – Thinking outside the box is her specialty. She’s always looking for a creative way to take action. She knows how to get things done.

When you think of an innovator, are these some of traits that come to mind? There couldn’t be a better example of innovation than Girl Scout Junior Troop 1287 from Independence, Missouri. These Girl Scouts ROCK!

Troop 1287 from Independence, MO needed to complete an energy audit to complete their Get Moving Journey, and of course one of their favorite places at Camp Prairie Schooner came to mind. What is this special place that many Girl Scouts call a favorite? Owl’s Nest, of course! This building is perfect for a troop camp-out whether in the spring, fall, summer or winter.

As Troop 1287 completed their energy audit, they discovered that Owl’s Nest needed a little TLC to make it more energy efficient. These Girl Scouts had a plan… what if they took on some of the energy efficient upgrades as a Take Action project? And going even bigger, what about if it was their Bronze Award project?

The girls knew this would be a HUGE undertaking. It would take a lot of support from their troop leaders, family members and definitely some financial resources. These challenges did not stop this troop of innovators.  They went BIG & BOLD and began gathering their resources and talking with Site Manager Zac and the property team.

What’s super cool about this project is that every girl had a role and then they used that troop teamwork to make the changes a reality. And, every Girl Scout used their innovator skills to think about who they could ask or what resources they could bring.

“My dad is an electrician so he helped us install the fans and add new outlet plates,” said Kadence. “I loved working alongside him and learning how to do some of the electrical work.”

The talent pool on this project was tremendous: a grandma with incredible sewing ability to show the girls how to make the new curtains, a dad with plumbing skills, parents who opened doors to in-kind gifts of rock and other supplies and all family members who gave these Girl Scouts the support they needed to finish a project like this. Girl Scouting is a family affair, and we are so thankful that Troop 1287 and our entire council has awesome adults like these!

These Girl Scouts were able to do so much for Owl’s Nest because of a generous micro grant they received from KCP&L and a few other donations from local supporters. To prepare to write the grant for KCP&L, two Girl Scouts (Cecilia and Isabella) met with our Philanthropy team. Then these Girl Scouts went to work sharing all about their project and how it was going to have a huge impact. Yep, these two awesome Girl Scouts wrote and submitted a grant. Not many 5th graders can say that!

And guess what? Troop 1287 was one of 23 recipients of the 2017 KCP&L micro grants!

“I felt so excited when we found out that we got the grant,” Cecilia said. “I felt such a sense of accomplishment!”

Now that these Girl Scouts had their resources, it was time to roll up their sleeves and get to work. And work they did! These Girl Scouts caulked windows and behind the fireplace, they created and put up signs throughout Owl’s Nest sharing of its new energy efficiencies, they sewed and hung up new curtains, they installed an exhaust fan and four ceiling fans in the main room, they put in new rock and solar lights at the fire circle, painted cabinets and doors, added a microwave, put in a new shower head and toilet seat and bought new plastic cups and plates with owls. And coming soon – two new doors and a glass top oven. Wow!

These Girl Scouts used every resource they had to bring incredible improvements to Owl’s Nest. And, these Girl Scouts won’t let anyone tell them that girls can’t do these renovations. They are strong, innovators and know they can accomplish anything.

“We can do anything that boys do and if anyone says differently than showing them the results of this project proves them wrong,” Isabella said.

That’s right, Isabella!

So what’s next for Troop 1287? Well, they will officially bridge to Girl Scout Cadettes in October and then we hope they will start thinking about the Silver Award and onto Gold.

Troop 1287, you are AWESOME! We are so appreciative of your hard work and know your Girl Scout sisters are going to love the energy efficiency you have brought to Owl’s Nest. Does your troop want to take on a project at one of our camps? We would love it! Let us know in the comments below.