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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating the Awe-Inspiring Volunteers of the East Region

It takes a village to raise G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, and thanks to Girl Scout volunteers, girls haven an amazing circle of support! On Thursday, May 4, we were able to honor and thank the incredible volunteers across our East Region.

2017 East Region Volunteer Award Recipients

The East Region Volunteer Celebration was a Mad Hatter event! Everyone arrived in their wackiest hats or made them there at the hat creation station. Girl Scouts enjoyed our G.I.R.L photo booth, and there were plenty of goodies for everyone to eat in the reception following the awards ceremony. It was a night of fun, celebration and appreciation! We love our East Region volunteers!

At the awards ceremony, we presented the President’s Award to 10 incredible service units who are providing girls with amazing experiences in the East region (SU 604, SU 605, SU 607, SU 618, SU 620, SU 646, SU 648, SU 649, SU 654 and SU 655 – way to go!).  These service unit awards show the power of working together for girls.

We honored 29 outstanding individuals with the Appreciation Pin, an award that recognizes outstanding service given to at least one service unit. Every one of these volunteers has shown incredible dedication, passion and service to the girls in our community and they’re changing lives every day. Thank you to these amazing volunteers!

In addition to these awesome Appreciation Pin and President’s Award recipients, we were able to honor volunteers who have contributed to the success of Girl Scouts in the areas of STEM, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Service. To name just a few, we presented the Recruitment Award to the Recruitment Team of Service Unit 604 (Heather Cooper, Chessie Hernandez, Lindsay Peterson, Paige Rahman and Katherine Stitt). The Rising Star Award was given to Barbara Schlesinger for her work with her troop!  Erica Johnson was honored not only as an Appreciation Pin recipient, but also with the G.I.R.L Brand Ambassador Award for her mission-focused storytelling and volunteer work. You all ROCK – THANK YOU!

Philanthropy is a huge part of Girl Scouts, and we wanted to thank a couple of incredible philanthropists that contribute to Girl Scouts! Tara Scherer was honored as the Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist, Ron Grode was honored with the Philanthropist Award and Hallmark received the Corporate Philanthropist Award. Way to go, philanthropists! Thank you for investing in girls!

What an incredible night honoring our East Region team. We can’t thank our incredible volunteers enough; you all are making an incredible impact on girls. Because of you, we are growing G.I.R.L.s who will lead tomorrow! THANK YOU!!

To see a full list of awardees and photos from the night, click here to view our program and gallery.

Leading by Example Through Giving

Spotlighting Girl Scout Cadette & Philanthropist Maddie Gaines

Each year, tens of thousands of hours of service are done by Girl Scouts for nonprofits serving every sector of life. It takes a special Girl Scout to see that sometimes the most important service is done behind the spotlight. Meet Maddie Gaines, a 12 year old Girl Scout Cadette from Independence who knows that leading by example and giving back changes the world.

Maddie has a natural desire to help wherever she can.  At events, she’s always ready to step up and takes the jobs that don’t always get a lot of praise, but have to be done. As Maddie said, “I don’t have a specific motivation to help. I just know that helping others can make them happy and I like making people happy.” It’s this sort of selfless drive to give that made take a new approach to giving by becoming a member of Daisy’s Circle while at a Girl Scout event!

If there’s one thing Maddie really loves, it’s STEM! She eagerly signed up for Cookie Construction and became a member of team Alpha Builders with HOK. For months, she worked with a team of Girl Scouts and mentors to design their creation that would come to life on Build Day (March 4, 2017). During that Build Day, Maddie learned about Daisy’s Circle and knew she wanted to give back.

 

Maddie and Team Alpha Builders work on their creation for Cookie Construction.

By talking with her mom, she agreed to exchange extra chores at home to cover the monthly commitment she wanted to make to girls just like her. Now, Maddie is a proud member of Daisy’s Circle and a philanthropist at the age of 12. “I wanted to join Daisy Circle because I know that it will help other girls in Kansas City have experiences they might not have if we didn’t have Girl Scouts. I think everyone should be giving back no matter how old they are,” Maddie said.

Maddie selected Girl Scouts as her philanthropy because of all the friendships and opportunities it has afforded her personally. “I wouldn’t have learned about STEM if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts [and in the program] you’re given a way to learn things you wouldn’t otherwise. You make friends for life and you will ALWAYS have a sister girl scout no matter where you go.  You learn to be a better person by following the Girl Scout promise and law,” Maddie said.

This awesome Girl Scout is already working on her second Highest Award, her Silver Award, after earning her Bronze Award with Girl Scout sister, Alexis. For their Bronze Award project, the girls collected toys and stuffed animals and delivered them to police and fire stations. The toys will be given to kids during emergencies to help ease fear while the first responders address a crisis. She attended Inspire a Girl in 2016 to learn more about the Highest Award and even met former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez, which her mother said was one of the highlights of her Girl Scouting experience.

 

Maddie at camp; Maddie with her family and Maddie meeting GSUSA Former CEO, Anna Maria Chavez at Inspire a Girl 2016.

“Girl Scouts gives me a balance with all the other activities I do and keeps me focused and grounded. [My troop leader and Girl Scouts] encourages us to learn new things and to remember to be ourselves. I try my best to live every day by the promise and law,” Maddie said.

By becoming a member of Daisy’s Circle, she’s allowing other girls the opportunity to do the same and sees the benefit of investing in girls while they are young. “If you learn early it is likely to carry on into adulthood, which can help make the world a better place,” Maddie said.

Thank you to Maddie, her mother and troop leader, Heather, and all the Girl Scouts who give back in such a big way. Maddie is an example of how to be an amazing Girl Scout and citizen. By investing as a girl as well as finding ways to serve throughout her life, Maddie is creating a better tomorrow for everyone.

Know a Girl Scout making a BIG difference in her community? Share her story with us using the comments below.

That Amazing Feeling of Giving Back

Spotlighting Girl Scout Ambassador & Daisy’s Circle Member Katlyn Morris

For anyone who’s had “that moment” giving back, it’s something you want to keep doing because of the amazing feeling you get being part of a global community of good. For some Girl Scouts, giving back in a BIG way starts early. Meet Katlyn Morris, a Girl Scout Ambassador from North Kansas City, MO who gives back to girls! This awesome Girl Scout did something only one other group has done – she joined Daisy’s Circle as a girl in Girl Scouts!

If you read our blogs regularly, you know the story of Brownie Troop 879 from Grain Valley, MO – the small Girl Scouts who give back to their Girl Scouts sisters in a BIG way! Katlyn took the lead first and joined last April at Inspire a Girl while helping a friend set-up her Gold Award presentation.

After learning how Daisy’s Circle provides consistent, dependable income for Girl Scouts to provide programming, awareness and financial support for local girls in need, Katlyn decided it was something she wanted to be part of. “What they were saying about needing support to get the word out about Girl Scouts, that definitely hit home. Even though I joined young, I wish I had known about Girl Scouts earlier. I wanted to help with that and give back,” Katlyn said.

Katlyn joined Girl Scouts as a 2nd grade Brownie, but still wishes she had been able to join earlier. She loves the opportunities Girl Scouts provides, the friendships, Day Camp and service. “I love getting out in the community and doing things I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t in Girl Scouts,” said Katlyn. She even met her best friend in Girl Scouts! Now as a high school junior, Katlyn can look back and see all the positive things that have happened to her because of Girl Scouts. “It’s nice to have people who understand where you’re coming from, but that you don’t see every day,” Katlyn said.

Giving back is one of her favorite things about being in Girl Scouts. For her Silver Award, she and a couple of her troop sisters sent boxes of supplies and gifts to children in need overseas. She remembers the amazing feeling she had when the child she sent a gift box to wrote back!  “The kid said ‘thank you so much, it’s so nice that my friends and I can share these!’ I thought it was amazing that something as simple as crayons could impact someone’s life in the way that it did. It felt so amazing,” Katlyn said. Those are the experiences that turn philanthropy and service into a lifestyle.

By joining Daisy’s Circle, Katlyn knows that she’s making a monthly contribution to girls just like. With wisdom beyond her years, Katlyn said: “If we can impact girls when they’re young, who knows what kind of global impact it has and the types of girls we’re putting into the future.” What an incredible investment Katlyn is making, not only in herself, but in the future.

“If you’re thinking about joining, just go for it. [As a Girl Scout] it’s investing in you. It’ll help you be a better person in society and other girls in your community,” said Katlyn. We can’t wait to see where Katlyn goes! She’s currently preparing to submit her Gold Award proposal, so hopefully we see her walk across the Inspire a Girl stage in 2018 as a Gold Award Recipient!

Thank you to Katlyn and all the incredible Daisy’s Circle donors in our council! If you’re interested in making a difference for local girls, join Daisy’s Circle today! It takes less than two minutes to make a difference. If you know of an awesome Girl Scout donor, please share their story in the comments below!

A First Class Girl Scout and Volunteer

Spotlighting Claudia Boosman

G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ are capable of anything. One of the best parts of being in Girl Scouts is being surrounded by people who never set limits on what you can dream to be. Meet Claudia Boosman, a Highest Award Girl Scout, former troop leader, proud alumna and member of Daisy’s Circle who learned in Girl Scouts that she could be anything she wanted to be. As a mom, she knows more than ever, that Girl Scouts helps girls be the best G.I.R.L.s they can possibly be!

Claudia began her Girl Scout journey in the 1960s when her mother and a friend started a troop. All her friends joined and Claudia found herself enjoying the experience of selling cookies door-to-door and trying new things. She loved primitive camping at Camp Oakledge and the challenges Girl Scouts let her conquer. “It was a whole world of trying and learning something,” Claudia said. Most importantly, Claudia found Girl Scouts to be a place where she could be anything.

“No matter what I did with Girl Scouts, I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. This was pre-feminism, so I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms, but there was so much positive reinforcement and I was constantly told ‘you can do that,’” Claudia said.

As a naturally driven girl, Claudia became a Highest Award recipient, earning her First Class Award in the 1970s. “I was driven and liked to accomplish things, I could do all of that with the First Class Award,” Claudia said. That sense of accomplishment has made her a proud alumna who supports the program today, especially since it encourages team and individual skill building. “Girl Scouts matters because it’s one of the few activities where a girl can explore and learn as an individual […]there’s a balance of group and individual activities – especially with the Highest Awards,” Claudia said.

After getting a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Claudia entered the corporate world and became a mom of twin girls. Her girls, Jo and Kate, became Girl Scouts as Daisies with Claudia serving as leader for Troop 439 in Lee’s Summit. As a leader and a mother, Claudia got to experience time with her daughters that she wouldn’t otherwise have.

When the girls were Daisies, Claudia remembers a project on kindness that showed her the skills Girl Scouts was teaching. The troop drew pictures of their friends and said nice things. Claudia showed them her drawing then crumpled it to show the power of negative words. “The shock on all of their faces was incredible. The message was: ‘this is what happens when you say hurtful things.’ It was a great moment and message that Girl Scouts can provide to show girls a life skill,” Claudia said.

While in Girl Scouts, Claudia and her daughters travelled with the troop and had incredible experiences together. They even won an award in a Lee’s Summit parade! Girl Scout life is about experiences, and the Boosman family certainly lived those to the max! “Girl Scouts is all about the experiences you can’t get anywhere else. It gets girls in the door and into experiences they just won’t get anywhere else,” Claudia said.

Though Claudia is no longer a troop leader, she’ll never forget the power of seeing a girl’s eyes light up. “Any mom that’s thinking about being a leader – just jump in and do it. You’ll get all the support you need and the excitement of the kids makes it so worth it. It’s the hugs. The kids would hug me after we did something and it always blew me away. You just don’t get that in the corporate world,” Claudia said.

In addition to her service as a volunteer, Claudia joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program, to make sure Girl Scouts is available to any girl who wants to join. “I want to be part of making sure Girl Scouts is as widely available as possible, for any girl who’s interested,” Claudia said. “You put your money where your heart is, and Girl Scouts is where my heart is.”

We can’t thank Claudia enough for her continued support of Girl Scouts as an advocate and member of Daisy’s Circle. I think it’s safe to say Claudia is a prime example of what it means to be a G.I.R.L.!

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Alumna or member of Daisy’s Circle – share their story in the comments below. Were you part of Claudia’s troop? Share your favorite memory!

Troop 879 is Standing with Sister Girl Scouts

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Introducing our inaugural troop to join Daisy’s Circle

Being a sister to every Girl Scout is so important, it’s in our law. Not only does it stress the importance of kindness, but also supporting sister Girl Scouts. Troop 879 from Grain Valley, MO is taking the law to heart by becoming the first Daisy’s Circle troop! In a girl-led decision on budgeting, the girls decided to use half of their cookie money to help other Girl Scouts succeed. You might think a troop with this much heart must be in high school – but they’re actually 2nd grade Brownies. Troop 879 is setting the bar for giving as a troop.

In November 2016, Troop 879 welcomed Melissa Bondon, Donor Relations Manager for GSKSMO, to do a special pinning ceremony where each girl received a Daisy’s Circle pin. Just like adults who join, the pin is a way to show they make a monthly gift to Girl Scouts. The girls also received a special patch to mark their achievement. Shiloh P described her pin by saying, “we earned [the Daisy’s Circle pin] by doing the Girl Scout law, being a sister to other Girl Scouts and giving to the community.”

Troop 879 with Melissa Bondon from GSKSMO at their Daisy’s Circle pinning ceremony

Troop 879  at their Daisy’s Circle pinning ceremony

Philanthropy has been an important part of troop life from the beginning. Leader Michelle Twyman has a passion for giving and noticed the girls were naturally inclined to help the community. “We are living in an entitled world where kids believe things are owed to them. We want our girls to have a different mindset. Last year’s girls all had that giving mentality and as first graders, they were driving philanthropy, not the leaders,” Michelle said.

Troop 879 has a constantly changing membership from year to year. It’s a school district with particularly high turnover, so 7 out of the 9 girls from last year have since moved and left the troop. Now, the troop has 12 Brownies and the job of educating 10 new Girl Scouts about philanthropy has largely been left to the two from the previous year. Aubrey and Shiloh, the two girls who have been with the troop from day 1, are up for the challenge because they believe in giving.

“It’s important to give to other Girl Scouts because some girls don’t get to do the things we do, so we give money so they can do it too,” Shiloh P. said. She proudly wears her Daisy’s Circle pin to meetings as a reminder of her giving.

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Aubrey T, the other original member of the troop, thinks it’s the right thing to do as a Girl Scout: “[My troop] gave to other Girl Scouts because that’s what good Girl Scouts would do.” She found courage in herself to advocate for philanthropy and already the rest of the troop is on board.

At a mid-November meeting, the girls voted to give some money they raise in fall sales and cookie sales to philanthropic efforts. This year they voted between giving to people in need or animals in need. People in need won. Some girls really still wanted to help animals, so the troop decided to go read to animals at a shelter as an activity while their funds would go to helping others in their community.

November 2016 – Troop 879 being silly & discussing their philanthropic efforts for the year.

November 2016 – Troop 879 being silly & discussing their philanthropic efforts for the year.

By giving to others, Troop 879 is also learning the value of their own experience in Girl Scouts. Alia is new to the troop, but already wanting to share the lessons of courage she’s getting with other girls. “Some people don’t have the courage to do stuff like we do, so it would be nice to give money so that other girls can have courage too,” Alia B. said.

Troop 879 is looking forward to using some of their fundraising money to help others in their community, even as they continue to give to Daisy’s Circle this year. Every dollar makes a difference and this troop is a great example of the power of giving that lives in Girl Scouts. In addition to giving, the troop uses funds to do activities, crafts (sometimes led by Girl Scout dad, Tony Twyman!) and leadership experiences.

At the end of the day, Michelle and the other parents and leaders want the girls to grow up to be good people. “We don’t want our girls to be so focused on things. We want them to learn that people are important. Everyone can give in some way. Some can give with money, some with time, and we talk about that with the girls. We are trying to show our girls how they can support others, not just entitled to help themselves,” Michelle said.

If you or your troop is inspired by Troop 879’s dedication to the Girl Scout promise of being a sister to every Girl Scout, contact MelissaBondon@gsksmo.org or click here to become a member of Daisy’s Circle! If your troop has a great philanthropy story, share in the comments below.

Don’t forget – Giving Tuesday is on Tuesday, November 29th and will kick off our season of giving at Girl Scouts. We invite you to follow, share and like our Giving Tuesday stories and help us continue to empower girls by investing in girls.

Leading by Example and Growing the Circle

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A Daisy’s Circle Spotlight: Diana Fabac

Leading by example – that’s what Daisy’s Circle member, troop leader and Girl Scout mom, Diana Fabac does every day for girls. Not only did Diana become a leader more than 10 years ago, but she recently became a member of Daisy’s Circle. By showing her girls, parents and community what an impact being a monthly donor to girls does for the community, she’s helping to change the culture of philanthropy.

 

Troop 1807’s Halloween party with family and leaders!

Troop 1807’s Halloween party with family and leaders!

Diana Fabac was a Blue Bird as a young girl and her mother was her leader. As a mom, it was important for Diana to make sure her daughter had some of those same experiences, so they got involved in Girl Scouts. When Megan (Diana’s daughter) asked her to lead the troop, Diana remembered the impact of her mother’s leadership and it gave her the courage to take on the job. At the first meeting another woman, Dawn, offered to be the co-leader. Together, more than a decade later, Diana and Dawn lead the seven girls of Troop 1807 from Kansas City, KS.

“As a troop leader, I’ve learned I can be as strong and courageous as we are teaching our girls to be,” Diana said.  “I wouldn’t be successful without my troop.” This boost of confidence shows that many times, the power of Girl Scouts goes far beyond just the girls – it touches the families as well.

Troop 1807’s “Gratitude Tree” project in fall of 2014.

Troop 1807’s “Gratitude Tree” project in fall of 2014.

Caption: Troop 1807’s “Gratitude Tree” project in fall of 2014.

In April 2016 Diana attended the Inspire a Girl Expo where she learned about Daisy’s Circle. When she realized the power of monthly gifts and how it could support girls in all walks of life, she decided to become a member. It set an example of giving for her girls that she’s proud of.

  “Girl Scouts has given me so much; I want to continue to give back and give more girls opportunities. I can’t give much, but Daisy’s Circle is my way to make a bigger difference,” Diana said. It’s all the power of the circle and gifts working together to make change.

During Inspire a Girl, new Daisy’s Circle members were entered in a drawing for a prize that included a free week of camp for a Girl Scout. Diana was the lucky winner! It was a touching moment because sending Megan to camp was proving to be financially challenging, so the prize was a wonderful surprise. Megan ended up having a conflict, but the Fabac family was happy to pay it forward to another Girl Scout. What an amazing moment of generosity.

Troop 1807 enjoying Halloween (2016) and a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium (2015)

Troop 1807 enjoying Halloween (2016) and a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium (2015)

Diana continues to be an advocate for girls and lead Troop 1807 with Dawn at her side. Four of the girls have been on this amazing Girl Scout journey together since Daisies and the troop of seven Girl Scout seniors is stronger than ever! They enjoy service projects, Halloween costume parties and adventures as a troop. You can feel the power of sisterhood in Troop 1807 and the connections with the parents who get to experience Girl Scouts with their daughters.

As Diana says, “I’m proud I gave of myself; I wouldn’t change a thing. Life as a Girl Scout Troop Leader has brought me so much joy, as much or more than I could ever give.”

We thank the Fabac family for their advocacy and continued support of Girl Scouts. When volunteers become donors, they truly bring giving full circle. If you’d like to be like Diana and join the circle of giving that provides countless opportunities for girls, right here in our council, please visit www.daisyscircle.org to get involved!

Know of another amazing Daisy’s Circle donor? Comment below and share their story!

Building Change from the Ground Up

Denise Mills Stands with Girls

Building girls of courage, confidence, and character to change the world – not only is that the mission of Girl Scouts, it’s the reason GSKSMO donor, Denise Mills, has become a supporter. As a philanthropist, entrepreneur, former GSKSMO Board Member, grandmother of a Girl Scout and one of Kansas City’s “Most Influential Women,” Denise Mills is shaping the women of tomorrow by investing in girls.

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Denise Mills in the workplace building courage and reading with her Girl Scout granddaughter.

As an executive coach and business consultant, Denise consistently sees women in all walks of life struggling with confidence. “Over 90% of the women I talk to […] in some way, don’t feel confident. The two big issues are: ‘help me build confidence and use my voice’ and ‘help me overcome fear of what others think.’ So courage and confidence are the two biggest issues I see in some of the most accomplished, incredible women you’ll meet,” Denise said.

After hearing these concerns repeatedly, Denise was asked to work with a domestic violence shelter as part of her philanthropic work. At the core, she realized that confidence was an issue for both her clients and the victims. The two connected and she decided to combat both problems with an alternative approach, by supporting Girl Scouts to empower young girls and stop the problem before it began.

“I started asking ‘why is the issue of female abuse continuing to grow?’ and I tried to think about the root causes. Part of it is a lack of confidence, courage and self-esteem in women that prevents them from getting out of unhealthy relationships before they become abusive.  I was looking around to see who offered a solution by building courage and confidence in young girls through positive affirmation,” said Denise. Having worked with Girl Scouts in a professional setting as a consultant, it all just came together. “It just made sense to give because Girl Scouts can impact a bigger social change the lives of adult women by building courage, confidence and character in them as girls.”

Denise made the decision to become a supporter of Girl Scouts and joined the Board of Directors in 2008. She served as a Board Member until 2014 and has continued her support through gifts and volunteering through today. She even joined Daisy’s Circle because “as a Daisy’s Circle Member, every month, I’m reminded that I’m contributing to helping a girl build their courage, confidence and character. It’s a feeling I get when I see that monthly gift and I think ‘yeah! This is good.’” She’s also a proud member of the Trefoil Society.

Most recently she gave a generous gift to support STEM programing and joined GSKSMO at the Inspire a Girl event in April of 2015. STEM became a recent interest because it played into the same issues of societal change that brought her to the organization in the first place.

“Society conditions girls with messages that STEM isn’t a good fit for them, even today. Even though there’s an emphasis on STEM right now, when women get to college they’re advisors question them about it. ‘Why are you taking computer science? Usually guys take that,’” Denise said. By investing in STEM within Girl Scouts, it’s connecting courage with STEM in young woman – the perfect recipe for inspiring strong women with an interest in STEM in the future.

Now her giving has come full circle as Denise’s first granddaughter, Kenlee, is a new Girl Scout Daisy this fall! The whole family is excited about the new journey, especially Denise. She intends to stay very involved with Kenlee as she lives her Girl Scout dream.

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Denise Mills with Former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez and with her granddaughter, Kenlee.

Denise Mills knows that by supporting Girl Scouts, she’s making impact for more than just the girls, she’s making a change in the world. “While on the Board I heard about Girl Scouts impacting the lives of mothers as well as the girls. If a mother struggles with confidence, but does activities side-by-side with her daughter in Girl Scouts, those messages are infused into the mother as well,” Denise said. It’s amazing what empowering a girl can do.

Without donors like Denise Mills, Girl Scouts and the programming it provides would not be possible. Thank you to Denise and all the incredible donors who make Girl Scouts possible for more than 23,000 girls in our council. You make a difference every day. To learn more about giving, Daisy’s Circle or how you can support Girl Scouts, visit our website.

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!

RTC15

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.

Heather Magee - 4 Generations

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.

Heather Magee - Cookies

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!