Firsts with FIRST LEGO League and KC STEM Alliance

Last year, Girl Scout Brownie Troop 4070 participated in the FIRST LEGO League Jr. (FLL) program thanks to support from KC STEM Alliance and IBM! These go-getters split their bi-weekly meetings up, alternating between traditional Girl Scout meetings and working on the FLL Jr. curriculum which is designed to introduce kids to STEM concepts. From September through March Troop 4070 worked in three sub teams to build and program their WEDO 2.0 robots and design an outer space city. The program culminated with the FLL Jr. EXPO where they showcased all they learned and what their robot could do with a little friendly competition!

Troop leader Alanna Beare was instrumental in facilitating the program in collaboration with KC STEM Alliance and additional material funds provided through IBM, where she works. Through FLL Jr., Girl Scouts earned badges in both Think Like a Programmer and Think Like an Engineer journeys.

“The FLL program is directly aligned to the new STEM programs developed by Girl Scouts of the USA. Overall the skills they learn by working in small teams lends itself to Girl Scout Mission,” Alanna said. 

Troop 4070 enjoyed their experience so much, they are going to do a second year with the program with new challenges and more LEGO robot programming next year!

“The KC STEM Alliance is pleased to partner with GSKSMO by embarking on a new strategy to engage girls in creative problem solving through the development of STEM skills. The core values of FIRST LEGO League are directly aligned with the mission of Girl Scouts. The KC STEM Alliance partnership with GSKSMO provides an opportunity to reach more girls helping them create their own future and building a talent pipeline for Kansas City,” Martha McCabe, Executive Director of KC STEM Alliance said.

Is your troop interested in participating in the FLL program? The KC STEM Alliance will be sponsoring additional teams this year and your troop could be one of them! For more information, contact our STEM Community Program Manager, Kate Pankey at kpankey@gsksmo.org. There will be an informational meeting on Aug. 24 for those interested in learning more!

Under Water Adventure – Cookie Construction Build Day 2019

The 5th Annual Cookie Construction Build Day is a wrap! After six months of planning, practicing and preparing, seven Cookie Construction teams comprised of 30 female design professionals and 100 Girl Scouts descended upon Crown Center to finally bring their “Underwater Adventure” builds to life on March 2. Each team was given an 8×8 space to build their structures and after 4 ½ hours of build time, girls dropped the glue guns and tape, stepped away and marveled in their completed builds!

Frost Bite
By: Antarchitects

Mentor Firms: Klover Architects

Brr… Welcome to the icy waters at the ends of the Earth! You might think that due to the frigid temperatures and harsh conditions here that there isn’t a lot to do or much to explore, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! While there is a lot of fun happening above water, just like icebergs, there is even more to explore under the surface! Penguins, seals, whales, fish and even plants have found ways to make these icy waters their homes.

A Surprising Discovery
By: Jaws Squad
Mentor Firm: Hollis + Miller Architects

Our team wanted to make a major statement with our build and focus on a few bold elements that would catch the viewer’s attention. We were most inspired by underwater discovery in movies, the goggles left by a scuba diver from the movie “Finding Nemo” and the shocking and powerful shark from the movie “Jaws”. Through the process of sketching and brainstorming as a team, we found that we could put a creative spin on these two major elements. By playing with scale and creating a lens for the viewer, the design is meant to make the viewer feel like they are an underwater explorer making a surprising major discovery. In Girl Scouts and in life, you never know what you might discover!TEAM PHOTO + BULD

Treasure Untold
By: Let’s Get Kracken
Mentor Firm: International Architects Atelier

Our team, Let’s Get Kraken, decided to make “Treasure Untold:” a beautiful piece made of different colors and types of cookie boxes. The piece shows a purple octopus opening a treasure chest that has many items to represent treasure. Around the octopus and treasure is colorful vibrant coral. On the bottom of our display are shredded boxes to represent sand. The whole piece represents an underwater exploration. The creators are showing how Girl Scouts all work together and how we can come to an agreement. When you have teamwork, you can accomplish BIG THINGS!T

Shipwreck of the North
By: Oops, I Inked!

Mentor Firms: Midland Steel Company, Tompkins Architects, Ellison-Auxier Architects, River Bluff Architects

The Girl Scout Pirates of the North had to deliver Girl Scout cookies to SpongeBob. They set out on a stormy night. Then, lighting struck the side of the ship. The ship fell down to the bottom of the sea, hit the rocks and broke in half. SpongeBob wanted his cookies, so he decided to go on an adventure to find them. He hopped on a turtle for a ride, but the turtle got stuck in seaweed. The turtle had to eat the seaweed to make his way out. He then followed a school of fish to a colorful coral reef. There, SpongeBob found part of the ship, but also saw a shark guarding it! The turtle helped him out by distracting the shark. SpongeBob ran into the ship and found a treasure chest. Inside he found the cookies he had been searching for!T

A Window to the Sea
By: Queens of Argentine
Mentor Firm: BRR Architecture

Our build showcases a picture window to the ocean with all the unique creatures of the sea living in harmony. Our main structure implies the frame of a picture box with many different tiers featuring a wide variety of sea creatures swimming together through colorful underwater plant life. The structure is formed using a stair step method in order to achieve the highest visibility for all the creatures and to give them the illusion of floating through the water. The largest element of our build is the Girl Scout octopus who pushes the boundaries of her container, climbing out and fearlessly setting off to explore other worlds outside her own. Wearing her Girl Scout sash and her crown as a Queen of Argentine, she sets off to find new adventures and new friendships.

T

Mer-Catopolis
By: Team MerCats
Mentor Firms: Populous, All Tile CCS, Roth Living, Built Interiors

Our team invites you to explore the depths of the ocean and the fantastic ruins of Mer-Catopolis. This underwater world is home to mythical hybrid creatures named Mer-Cats. Mer-Catopolis inspiration comes from ancient Greek and Roman architectural elements such as ionic columns, arches, and monumental buildings. The city is full of colors and textures that are derived from many types of coral and algae. This lively environment and flora attract fish and sea life of different varieties and sizes. The main square has a fountain displaying Poseidon’s trident, where Mer-Cats gather to meet their friends. Everyone in Mer-Catopolis feels happy and safe, as magical narwhals guard the doors to the city. These guards protect the residents and the coveted treasure of the ocean, which hides in a cave located at the edge of town. Welcome to Mer-Catopolis!

T

Life Lost
By: Absolutely  Remarkable Things
Mentor Firms: Scott Rice Office Works, DLR Group, Treanor HL, Working Spaces

Our sculpture represents life lost by depicting an underwater plane crash as well as various stages of sick coral reef. The plane is thought to have traveled around the world exploring until it crashed in to the ocean, ending up on the ocean floor. Shown are various forms of sea life and plants interacting with the crashed plane and other depictions of past life are represented through other elements such as the helmet. The dying coral is also thought to show past life because a coral reef is a living organism that is an important part of the ocean ecosystem. Throughout our research we discovered that we know more about parts of space than we do about the ocean floor.T

While the panel of Jurors evaluated each build, 41 Action News Meteorologist Lindsey Anderson emceed program and Master Lego Builder Joe Nunnink entertained the audience by speed building a seahorse out of Legos!

A panel of Jurors evaluated each structure on creativity in design, structural design, use of colors/labels, craftsmanship and adherence to rules & regulations. While all the builds had incredible details, personality, and were creative in their own right, the MerCats were presented with the Juror’s Choice Award! They loved their unique interpretation of the theme, use of narrative and their demonstration of knowledge of the history of architecture. The MerCats created depth and vignettes utilizing ionic arches to frame the scene, and incorporated the 2019 Cookie Program Mascot into those arches!

Juror’s Choice Award: MerCats

Thank you to our Jurors, Nick Lawler, Meredith Stoll, Whitley S. Fields, Andrew Pitts and Samantha McCloud and Amy Slattery!

This program wouldn’t be possible without the support and dedication of our female design professionals in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, expertise and time with our Girl Scouts!

The awards aren’t done yet; you can still cast your ballot for People’s Choice Award! Visit Crown Center and see these impressive builds yourself and vote for your favorite structure through March 22!

The 2019 Cookie Construction Program is a partnership with AIA Kansas City and made possible with the support of Crown Center, BRR Architecture & McCownGordon Construction.

Want to see more? Check out photos from Build Day on our Facebook Page. Want to participate?! Cookie Construction is open to Cadettes, Seniors & Ambassadors and registration will open this summer!

The Perfect Girl Scout Destination

Spotlight on Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.

Imagine having a passion for the arts, a love of the outdoors a desire to travel and then being presented with the opportunity to go on a Girl Scout destination called “Ohio: The Arts Connection.” Seems pretty fitting, right? It surely was for Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.!

Natalie is a violinist, a ballerina, a musical theatre actress, enjoys going to art museums (especially the Nelson-Atkins) and absolutely loves getting outdoors with Girl Scouts. When she was just 10 years old, she went to her first sleep away camp at Camp Tall Chief in Oklahoma and learned that she wasn’t afraid to travel by herself and make new friends. So when she learned about this destination trip, she knew she wanted to go!

For eight days and seven nights, Natalie was immersed in the arts and culture realm in and around Cleveland, Ohio. The destination was in partnership with Girl Scouts of Northeastern Ohio and Natalie, along with 17 other Girl Scouts, stayed in cabins at a local Girl Scout camp.

Every day was a little different. All in all, they visited the Cleveland Art Museum and took an art class, saw Oklahoma (which just so happens to be Natalie’s favorite musical) and took a dance class where they mixed able dancers with those in wheelchairs and got to experience what it was like to dance in a wheelchair. They also took a trolley tour of Cleveland, learning about the murals that dominate the city.

“I really liked going to see Oklahoma in person and I thought that was a really cool experience to see that right there, up close!”

The camp they stayed at was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Natalie was able to earn the Girl Scout Ranger patch from the National Park service by doing service project within the park! She also got to zipline, canoe and hike throughout the park where she learned that she prefers to be the first if she’s doing something new so she can face her fears and conquer them first!

While the entire trip was memorable for Natalie, July 23 was her favorite day of the trip because that’s the day she turned 13 and was celebrated by her fellow Girl Scout sisters and they explored the Cleveland sign!

“This destination made me want to travel more and go on different trips,” Natalie said!

Natalie’s mother, Lauren,  also saw a transformation in Natalie when she returned.

“It really took a lot of bravery and courage to do it but she went and she had a lot of fun. She came home, seemed older, more mature, more independent I just think in general it was good experience for her,” Lauren said.

Natalie is now planning her 2019 summer adventures and has her sights set on our excursion to the American Southwest where Girl Scout Cadettes and older will road trip, camp and visit at least 5 National Parks!

Are you interested in a Girl Scout destination? The next application deadline is February 15!

Finding Her Voice and Blazing Her Path

Spotlight on Camp Fury Participant and Future Firefighter, Autumn H.

Most of us can’t imagine running into a burning building, but for Girl Scout Senior Autumn H., that is exactly what she dreams of doing for her future career.

Autumn is a sophomore and a part of the Olathe West Public Safety Academy, a program where students gain the knowledge and skills necessary for post-secondary experiences in the professions of fire rescue or law enforcement through a partnership between Olathe West High School, Olathe Public Safety Department and Johnson County Community College. Autumn enrolled in the program during her freshman year of high school. After a semester learning about the various public safety fields, she chose to continue to the program on the fire rescue tract.

When Autumn learned about the opportunity to further her knowledge and gain experience from female professionals in the field through a Girl Scout Destination, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought it would be a great step in the direction of what I want to do, gain experience outside of Olathe, KS and learn how other city’s public safety departments function,” Autumn said!

In May, Autumn packed her bags and headed to Camp Fury in Tucson, AZ, a high adventure immersion experience for Girl Scouts, led by elite women of the fire and police services. Over the course of a week, Autumn and 40 other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from all over the world participated in real-life drills and practice scenarios with female professionals in fire rescue, EMT, EMS, police, border patrol, FBI and SWAT fields.

Girls stayed at a local Girl Scout camp outside of Tucson and would bus to the Tucson Public Safety Academy by 7am each morning. Their days started out with physical training (PT) then they would break off and do field specific training each day. Fire rescue happened in the middle of the week, and it was (no surprise), her favorite.

“I’m kind of biased to the fire side! Day three or four we started off the morning with a controlled car fire instead of PT. We got to gear up and put out a car fire, which was kind of cool! We also did hose relays, climbed to the top of the aerial ladder on top of engine and did a blind search and rescue to find a person in the house that is filled with smoke,” Autumn explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only about 4 percent of firefighters are women nationwide. That figure has risen to about 14 percent in police work and the military.

“I was worried about sexism in the field in the general; seeing that these women can do it made me realize that I can do it too. They were so encouraging. They wanted us to do our best and I feel like that really helped me,” she said.

When she returned from her Camp Fury Girl Scout Destination Autumn joined Fire Explorers, another program in her community that will enhance and compliment the experiences she’s having in her Public Safety curriculum at school. Each week in the Fire Explorers program – a male dominated program, she draws on her experiences at Camp Fury this past summer.

“Sometimes it can be a little stressful; the guys will try to step in while you’re doing something even though you have it. Other times they trust you,” she explained. “You have to declare your presence and try and fit in as much as possible but let them know you’re still a woman. You can’t have fear and you can’t second guess yourself. If they see you second guessing yourself, they’ll second guess you.”

Autumn also returned from Camp Fury feeling confident about her future career plans.

“After school ended, I was still hesitant about going down this [fire rescue] career path. I knew I would finish the program, but I didn’t know if I wanted to run into burning building and save people on the worst day of their lives,” Autumn explained. “Camp Fury convinced me.”

When Autumn graduates from Olathe West 2021, she’ll do so with Fire 1 & Fire 2 credentials. “I’ll be eligible to be hired onto a department right out of high school.”

Thanks to Camp Fury, Autumn has a network of Girl Scout sisters all around the world who are also passionate about a career in the public safety sector and working to close the gender gap in their desired field.

“I have a friend in Poland! Another friend from Milwaukee started the process of joining the Air Force the day after she flew back home and a friend from Tennessee is now a volunteer firefighter!”

As for her advice if you’re thinking about a Camp Fury experience?

“Do it! Absolutely do it. I definitely found my voice there [at Camp Fury]. It was a great experience and over that week you bond so much with other girls it’s unbelievable.”

Camp Fury – Tucson, AZ, 2018

We are excited to announce that Camp Fury is coming to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri through a partnership with the Kansas City MO Fire Department, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, Kansas City MO Police Department and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s office! Catching Fury will take place in the summer of 2019 and will be for Girl Scouts entering 8th and 9th grades. Then in 2020, Camp Fury will take place and be open to Girl Scouts entering 10th – 12th grade!

If you can’t wait or want to fill your time while you do, you can apply for the Girl Scout Destinations program that Autumn did in Tucson, AZ. The first round of applications is due Dec. 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full.

 

Back to Troop Season

Fall activities for Girl Scouts and Troops

It’s a great time to be a Girl Scout! The leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, so it’s time to enjoy all that fall has to offer -and it has SO MUCH for our Girl Scouts, their families and troops!

Hispanic Heritage Month, Cops & Bobbers – Oct. 13
Kids will enjoy outdoor fishing fun with law enforcement while building strong bongs of respect for each other and the environments.  Fishing poles and supplies will be provided on a first come first serve basis.

Girls in Aviation Day – Oct. 13
Get up close and personal with aircrafts and meet female aviation professionals at this annual event with the Museum of the Kansas National Guard and Combat Air Museum.

Girl Scout Night at the Rangers – Oct. 14
Swope Park Rangers invite the Girl Scouts to Children’s Mercy Park this fall for the annual Girl Scouts Night at the Rangers! Come out and see the Sporting of tomorrow take on the LA Galaxy II then participate in a post-match clinic with the pros!

Kansas City Ballet, The Wizard of Oz – Oct. 17 & 20
Girl Scouts, get your discounted tickets to the Kansas City Ballet’s production of the Wizard of Oz on October 17 or 20!

Honeywell Spark Event – Oct 18
Honeywell Manufacturing & Technologies invites Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors to their Spark Event on Oct. 18 to hear from female professionals in the industry, get creative and use their minds to create and their hands to build! Deadline to register is Oct. 16.

Ernie Miller Nature Center, Haunted Kansas – Oct. 20
As darkness falls, walk through the trails of Ernie Miller Park and listen to the stories of long ago! Characters from the past will share legends around the campfire. Expect a shiver down your spine and a mild case of goose bumps for those who dare enter the forest on this autumn evening.

LabConco Spark Event – Oct. 26
Make great use of the day off school on Oct. 26 (Park Hill, Blue Springs, Liberty, Center – just to name a few!) at LabConco’s first-ever Spark Event! Girls will tour their plant, talk with female STEM professionals and do several hands-on science projects! Deadline to register is Oct. 24.

STEM Expo Day at Camp Tongawood – Nov. 3
Girl Scout Juniors & Cadettes! Are you interested in the diversity of life and learning about organisms, mysteries of the universe, or going back in time sifting through the remains of prehistoric organisms? Investigate our world — from tiny micro-organisms to the vast Kansas blue skies at our STEM Expo on with experts from the University of Kansas & Kansas Dept. of Wildlife & Parks.

HappyBottoms + Henderson Engineers – Nov. 10
Henderson Engineers need YOUR HELP to collect diapers for HappyBottoms and bring them to their wrapping event on Nov. 10! During the event at Henderson, girls will hear from guest speakers, enjoy snow cones and fill the bust with diapers donated for the community!

Arrowhead Takeover – Nov. 16
The Kansas City Chiefs are hosting Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors for an Arrowhead Takeover event on Nov. 14! Girls will do Play60 activities with the Kansas City Titans (Kansas City’ female football team!), learn about sports training, Chiefs History, chat with a Chiefs reporter and hang out with the Chiefs Cheerleaders and leave with a fun patch!

Harvesters, Juliette Gordon Low Birthday Celebration – various dates
Give back and honor our founder, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday by helping sort and pack food at the Kansas City or Topeka Harvesters locations!

See all our 150+ Community Partner Programs at gsksmo.org/community!

Traveling Far and Wide with Girl Scouts

Spotlighting Girl Scout Volunteer Extraordinaire Chris Hrdy

When you understand the power of Girl Scouts, it’s hard to walk away from living that GS Strong life. Meet Chris Hrdy, a Girl Scout Alum, mom, former troop leader, member of Daisy’s Circle and travel volunteer who found a way to continue giving back after her daughters graduated. After developing a love of travel in Girl Scouts herself, Chris has decided to give back to girls by serving as a volunteer on our council-sponsored trips. This awesome volunteer shows what it means to give as part of a lifestyle.

Chris has fond memories of her time in Girl Scouts and her little green sash she got to start filling with badges. She was involved through middle school, but found her journey start back again years later when she became a mother. The program really mattered to her because it gave her daughters the chance to be themselves. “Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to be weird, to be unique, to be involved and be in a space where there are no parents and no boys!” Chris said.

Chris and Ann Marie Hrdy at the 2016 Inspire a Girl Ceremony!

Chris’ daughters, Ann Marie and Melinda, were both Girl Scouts and benefitted from Chris’ involvement. For Melinda’s first years, she served as cookie mom, so by the time Ann Marie was in Kindergarten the next year, she was ready to lead. For all of Anne Marie’s Girl Scouts years – through senior year of high school – Chris served as troop leader.

Troop 110 had a wonderful experience, traveling to places like Costa Rica and earning highest awards. Both daughters earned their highest awards and served our council, Melinda as a Teen Board Member and Ann Marie a part of the Teen Leadership Circle – so this is a high achieving family of G.I.R.L.s! Chris also served as Unit Leader for Day Camp and Service Unit Manager for SU 678. Once Ann Marie graduated though, Chris wasn’t ready to give up her Girl Scout adventures and emailed us to find opportunities.

Chris Hrdy traveling with Girl Scouts!

Fast forward two years and Chris has adventured with girls to the 2017 Inauguration in Washington DC, Chicago (2018) and plans to join them for the Belize trip in 2019 as well as the next Girl Scout National Convention! The change that Chris gets to watch when girls experience travel is what keeps her engaged.

“When girls are out of their element and their parents aren’t around, they’re so different. They’re open to learning new things, seeing new things, and the changes that can place in just a week during travel is mind-boggling. It’s the most fun thing to watch and I LOVE IT!” Chris said.

Because of the travel adventures, highest awards and other experiences Melinda and Ann Marie got to have, they’re now living pretty amazing lives. Melinda just finished culinary school and Ann Marie is a sophomore in college with goals of becoming a home economics teacher, a career path inspired by her Gold Award project! Though all three ladies are now alums, they’re still giving back to the world and living the life of true Girl Scouts.

The Hrdy family became members of Daisy’s Circle because of their belief in the program and wanting to give that to girls who might not otherwise be able to have some of the same experiences Ann Marie and Melinda had. “Girl Scouts is very important to me, it opens up the personalities of the girls and when they get older, it opens up doors through opportunities. I like the idea of being able to offer that to a girl who might otherwise not be able to have those opportunities,” Chris said.

Thank you to Chris and the entire Hrdy family for giving to Girl Scouts and for leading the way for other girls by being brave G.I.R.Ls! Learn more about Girl Scout Travel or Daisy’s Circle by visiting our website – www.gsksmo.org.

Hollywood Dreamin’

Girl Scout Senior, Patricia Smith is no stranger to travel. Her mother and leader, Arjean Smith is in the Army and the Smith family has been stationed all around the world. Patricia originally joined Girl Scouts in Virginia, they then moved to Germany where she was part of a Girl Scouts on-base program. While there, Patricia and Arjean traveled to London to visit Pax Lodge, and made three trips to Our Chalet in Switzerland!

“It’s a new experience to go different places and see how people do things differently. It’s also cool to meet new people,” Patricia explained.
The Smiths’ moved back to Fort Leavenworth in the summer of 2016 and Patricia has stayed involved in as an Indy Girl Scout.
With a love of travel instilled in her, Patricia researched ways she could continue to see the world as a Girl Scout, and ultimately decided she wanted to go on a Girl Scout destination to Hollywood and learn about filmmaking. Over the past two years, she set goals for her cookie business and earned enough money to pay for the trip herself!

On July 1, Patricia boarded a plane in KC and took her first solo flight to Los Angeles, CA where she met up with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the country for their Hollywood Dreamin’ Destination!

Her trip started out with tours of production studios and the city of Los Angeles. At Warner Bros Studio, they learned how sets and scenes work and saw that some shows actually share set pieces. One of the highlights for Patricia was seeing the Fuller House set and seeing some of the props being constructed for a future episode.

“When I’m seeing all this, I’m like oh my gosh! I’m kind of star struck!”


After learning about the industry as a whole, Patricia got to work in a small group to write, direct, produce and edit a short film of their own! They even hired and paid actors from the budget they were given. “Union actors cost more. Non-union actors are cheaper but they haven’t been in as much stuff.”

They had a few prompts to choose from for their concept, and Patricia’s group chose to create a film about what happens when two people are stuck in an airport together. The film itself couldn’t be more than four minutes long or use more than two actors.

“What surprised me was the emotion that the actors gave us. I didn’t think they would be so emotional in their role,” she explained. “Also there are more angles than what you see in the film. Shots are harder to get than what you would think!”

This destination gave Patricia a glimpse into what career in the film industry would be like and it’s now a career path she’s interested in!
“It was definitely something different because I didn’t go out of the country. We had downtime compared to other trips I’ve been on and we got to get to know each other, and had a lot of fun times!”

2019-2020 Girl Scout destination programs are being added through September. Check them out and submit your application to our council by Nov. 15 to be included in the first round of consideration!

Blasting Off on a Girl Scout Destination

Three innovators from our council set out on a Girl Scout destination to Space Academy this summer!  Molly, Jenna, and Katie might’ve gone to the same camp with an extreme love for space exploration, but all three came back with different takeaways and experiences on their space missions.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I hoped to go more in depth with what I learned in school in a new environment,” Katie said.

For most of the girls, this was their first long trip away from home, and Girl Scouts was able to push them out of their typical troop traveling comfort zone.  Each girl prepared in different ways for their trip!

“I thought it would be really helpful to look over my past school notes and brush up on current relevant events in the news to make sure I was ready for a tough week at the Space Academy,” Molly said.

Once the girls arrived, they all noticed how cool it was to be surrounded by Girl Scouts from all over the country, some from around the world.  “Everyone brought swaps from near and far, I thought that was a cool Girl Scout tradition that we kept going,” Jenna said.

“It was neat learning how everyone had a different perception and experience with space exploration based on where they were from,” Molly explained. “The Girl Scouts from New Zealand were near iconic landmarks that I had never seen.  Even though we all see the same sky at night, Girl Scouts from all over were surrounded by different Space Museums than I was.”

Katie with the Troop from New Zealand

On the second day of Space Academy, the girls went through lesson and mission training.  Each girl got a specific role to play that they trained for.  Molly was a Module Commander, Jenna was a Mission Specialist and Katie was in Mission Control. “Mission prep was a very big deal.  It was how we got to figure out how our simulations would actually go and the lingo we needed to learn. Understanding screen operations and commands while following a script was very difficult,” explained Katie.  One of Jenna’s favorite parts of her first day was making rockets.  “We had to use general supplies found in our kit to learn more about the physics behind space, it was so neat!” Jenna remarked.

Jenna and Molly in Mission Control!

The third day was completely filled with simulating their mission!  “They really set us up to succeed.  It would have been hard for us to completely fail, with how much prep we did. We learned so much,” Katie said excitedly!  Molly read through her journal and remembered how cool it was to work with Girl Scouts for this mission.  “The difference in working with Girl Scouts during our space mission was that we all really wanted to learn.  In class, people get frustrated too early, but when I worked with Girl Scouts, we were open communicators, learned how to adapt and tried harder to get along.  I liked that,” Molly laughed.

Days four and five mimicked the same activities on the previous days, and the girls got new roles for their new mission!  “The second mission went MUCH smoother,” Jenna remembered, “we had adjusted and knew how to better handle space anomalies.”  Jenna was in Mission Control this time, Katie was the Commander, and Molly was a trained GNC (a weather specialist).

Each girl had their own unique experience as well that was slightly different than the rest.  Jenna got to meet a female astronaut, Wendy, who had previously held records for trips to space and LOVED that it was a woman who held these records.  Alternatively, Katie got to meet the founder of Space Academy during their graduation.  She received a book and was able to have it autographed! Molly’s favorite part was realizing that a career in STEAM, specifically space exploration, was very possible for her someday.

Jenna at graduation from the program receiving her Flight Wings

All the girls expressed their desire to go on another destination in the future!

“We just love Girl Scouts because no other organization for girls has grander travel opportunities like this organization does,” Becky Blankenship, Katie’s Mother, said.

Molly in anti-gravity gear!

What an empowering experience!  These innovators are certainly well on their way to a world of more travel possibilities, learning about new careers along the way!

2019-2020 Girl Scout destination programs are being added through September. Check them out and submit your application to our council by Nov. 15 to be included in the first round of consideration!

Breaking Boundaries and Busting Barriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

-Camping is fun

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wildlife, Geysers & Mountains: An Unforgettable Adventure between Sisters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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