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!

Becoming a Woman of Confidence

Spotlight on Alumna & Donor Chris McClain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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 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.