Girl Scout Myths Debunked – Part 1

Girl Scouts is a 105 year old organization and over the course of those 105 years, Girl Scouts has evolved to suit the needs of girls where there at, at that point in time. Badge programs have come and gone, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities have increased, outdoor experiences have expanded, and Journeys have been streamlined just to name a few.

Those changes and our evolution to always meet the needs of today’s girls is why Girl Scouts is the girl leadership expert! However, with such a rich history and a large alumnae network, it’s not surprising that there are (more than) a few myths around how Girl Scouting works today! So, we’re here to set the record straight in this two-part blog series! Part 1 (what you’re reading now!) are general Girl Scout myths, debunked. On Monday Nov. 20, we’ll bring you part 2 – Girl Scout myths around policies and procedures with information geared more toward troop leaders.

Myth: There isn’t anything in Girl Scouts like the Eagle Scout Award.
Truth: Girl Scouts have the opportunity to earn the highest award in Girl Scouting called the Gold Award. This prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities-and beyond. Gold Award Girl Scouts spend 1-2 years on their projects as a Girl Scout Senior and/or Ambassador. Those who choose to join the armed forces enter at one rank higher than other recruits and university research indicates that adding Gold Award to a college application is a critical element in the admissions decision process. Over the course of 100 years, more than a million girls have earned their Gold Award or its equivalent.

Myth: Girl Scouts can only attend Girl Scout activities as a troop.
Truth: Many Community Partner Programs, Outdoor Experiences and Spark Events are open to all Girl Scouts. Troops may choose to go as a group, or caregivers can register their Girl Scout individually to participate on their own (supervised, of course). This is a great way to take advantage of the thousands (yep) of activities that are available to Girl Scouts all year long. Attend Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcraker as a family, participate in adventure activities that appeal to your Girl Scout’s interest that the troop as a whole may not be interested in, or learn more about careers in STEM on a more personal level at Spark Events.

*Spring dates for Adventure Programs and Spark Events will be announced after the first of the year!

Myth: Girls must belong to a troop to be a Girl Scout.
Truth: Girls K-12 can be a registered member without being affiliated with a troop or troop leader. They still complete Girl Scout activities – badge earning, cookie sales and more with the guidance of an adult mentor. These girls are called Indy Girl Scouts. This is a great option for especially Junior or older Girl Scouts who live in a rural area, are having trouble finding a troop or want to continue in Girl Scouting on their own.

Myth: I’m not a Girl Scout Alumna because I was only a Daisy/Brownie/Junior
Truth: Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout! No matter the level or how long you were a Girl Scout, you are a Girl Scout Alumna – one of 59 million women around the world! That’s one in every two adult women. Whoah. As an alumna, make sure you’re staying up-to-date on alumna-specific activities at Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri by joining the GSKSMO Alumnae Facebook group!

Myth: Girls have to join Girl Scouts at the beginning of the school year/Girls can’t join until First Grader/it’s too late to join Girl Scouts.
Truth: Girls can join Girl Scouts year-round and as a Kindergartener through High School Senior! Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri works year-round to form troops and place girl and adult members! And, it’s never too late to join Girl Scouts in your life.

Myth: Dads can’t go camping or be troop leaders.
Truth: #ManEnoughToBeAGirlScout! We LOVE Girl Scout Dads and they are invited and encouraged to be troop leaders, co-leaders or serve in any other volunteer capacity with Girl Scouts. As any volunteer, they must follow our Safety Activity Checkpoints and when it involves camping or an overnight activity, they just sleep in separate sleeping quarters nearby!

Myth: The only way to volunteer with Girl Scouts is to be a troop leader.
Truth: There are a plethora of ways you can volunteer with Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri. Yes, we’re always looking for troop leaders but you can also volunteer with a troop as more of a supporting adult –  helping drive, plan activities and snacks, money management or other tasks that keep the troop running smoothly! Or, as serve as a service unit volunteer mentoring adult volunteers as they work with girls, a Cookie volunteer coordinating the logistics for the largest girl-led business in the world or in a seasonal or episodic opportunity with the council! See them all and learnmore!

Do you have a Girl Scout myth you want to make sure we debunk? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to come back on Monday for Part 2 in Girl Scout Myths, Debunked where we look at some misinformation around policies and procedures for troop leaders.

Travel Like a Girl Scout

Travel. Something Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is incredibly passionate about. She’s been on three Girl Scout Destination trips since she was old enough to apply. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL in 2015,
Leadership in the Andes in Peru in 2016 and STEM: Energy Solutions in Germany in 2017; a progression of location, skills and experience in true Girl Scout fashion.

Left: Taking the view in at Neuschwanstein Castle. Center: Amanda at Our Chalet. Right: Enjoying the Girl Scout energy at Our Chalet!

Over the course of 13 days this summer, Amanda, along with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the United States traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland learning about sustainable and renewable energy and global energy policies.

“I’ve always know that I wanted to work with sustainable energy, something that’s good for the environment. I knew this Destination would further my knowledge and passion and give me real life experiences that weren’t just isolated in the United States,” Amanda said.

This Destination, like her others, was an eye-opening experience for Amanda.

Before they left the country, the group of 16 Girl Scouts spent two days in Boston getting to know each other and learning about sustainable energy in the United States so they would understand the differences when they were learning Germany and Switzerland. One perspective they gained was how other countries value their energy sources more than the United States because unlike the United States, they’ve experienced a loss of them. As a young country, the United States just can’t relate in that way.

 

Left: Turbines at a power plant in Germany. Center: Wind turbine in Switzerland. Right: Green living project.

This Girl Scout Destination experience, like her others, diversify her learning and expand her studies outside of school.

“Destinations are a great outlet for girls to not only extend their education, but extend themselves as people,” Amanda explained. “You can take a girl and give her Google, or give her a ticket to go to Peru or Germany and the education is completely different. My generation wants to just watch things on YouTube; stepping outside of their comfort zone will give them life. It’s an impact that is completely unfathomable.”

This Destination had a significant impact on Amanda as a Girl Scout as well. While in Switzerland they had the opportunity to visit one of the World Centers, Our Chalet in Adelboden. As if they hadn’t bonded as Girl Scouts already, they were once again reminded of the national and global Movement they all belong to. While at Our Chalet they met British Girl Guides and Amanda describes the bond as almost instant.

Amanda’s Destination group at Our Chalet.

As recognition of her passion for travel and education through Girl Scout Destinations, Amanda was nominated as Girl Scout of the year by EF Girl Scouts, the travel partner of Girl Scouts of the USA. As part of her nomination, she had to write about her Destination experiences.

Standing below a towering windmill you take a deep breath of air and look out across the valley.  Chalets sprinkled across the hillside open their windows to welcome in the fresh summer air.  Some people don’t understand just how essential travel is to developing one’s self.  To me, travel is important because it affords me the opportunity to experience other cultures in a way that I would not be able to inside of a classroom.  The life lessons you can learn just by getting on an airplane and walking around a plaza in Peru, or a museum in Germany, or a Koi pond in Japan can never be replicated.  So I encourage you to travel.  See things like you have never seen before, live life through a lens of curiosity.

 These experiences can be even more impactful when going on a trip with a group of strangers. After just a few days of friendship you will start to feel like you have known your new acquaintances for your whole life.  As a group of Girl Scouts I developed deep ever-lasting bonds with young women from all areas of the United States.  While touring Our Chalet in Switzerland my American group met British Girl Guides, and the bond was almost instant.  Within minutes we were singing songs, shared social media handles, and told stories of our experiences as Scouts. Whether visiting abroad or within the borders, meeting a group of Girl Scouts is like finding long lost sisters, and the adults, parents.  The experience I received on the trip helped to form my world view, and I hope that you will love it as much as I did.

Amanda is truly a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) when it comes to travel!

Applications are now open for 2018 Girl Scout Destinations and the first deadline to apply with preferential placing is November 15. Don’t wait, plan your trip to #travellikeagirlscout!

Rock Chalk, STEM Hawks!

It’s fall and that means it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and get your hands dirty! For Girl Scouts, this included an exciting STEM day at Camp Tongawood, hosted by KU’s Biology department (the Ecology & Entomology graduate program students), who wanted to do their part in inspiring the next generation. As Andrew Mongue, a grad student lead on the project, said “One of our big motivators with these STEM activities is to provide encouragement and re-spark interest in girls at the critical ages.” Thanks to their work and innovative activities, girls were laughing their way to a love of science.

The University of Kansas (the Jayhawks), worked with Girl Scouts to create a program that not only inspires girls, but provides their grad students an opportunity to interact with kids. With grad programs taking 5-6 years, this community engagement helps keep the students motivated and gives Girl Scouts unique STEM experiences in the most critical time in their lives.

“…it really is a two-way street; I get encouragement from the girls’ excitement. A PhD is a long-term goal (5-6yrs) and at times I can lose sight of the passion that set me down this path. Working with kids who have nothing but pure wonder for the sciences and natural world helps remind me of my own passion for Biology,” Andrew said.

This year KU hosted a bug event where girls were able to capture bugs, look at them up-close and get guidance from Andrew (AKA “Ant-Man”) and Kaila Colyott (AKA “Wasp”). They ran around with nets, got into the creek and captured bugs on the ground. One of the most exciting parts for girls was watching normally sweet dragonflies eat prey in the enclosure!

In October, a larger project with more students from KU joined together for this rotation style STEM expo. Girls got to experience wide range of activities from looking at worms, fish and fungi under microscopes to changing colors with acids and learning about genetics! It was quite the experience for girls.

“…it’s important to develop and promote STEM learning outdoors, like Camp Tongawood. There is a lot of great ecology (read: really cool bugs among other things) in the countryside of Kansas that most people won’t interact with going about their daily routine. These places are great to explore nature are crucial nurturing that curiosity in kids,” Andrew said.

One of the favorite projects was an art project using fish specimens! That’s right! Girls picked a dead fish that had patterns/textures they found interesting and used paint to transfer the patterns on to pieces of white cloth, creating their own art pieces! What a cool way to explore animals and learn about what makes fish so interesting.

The acids and bases activity was a bubbly experience with some real chemistry magic! Adding either a base or an acid to a solution let girls watch it bubble, change colors and even smoke when dry ice was added. Girl Scouts learned about ocean acidification that is a concern for scientists and ways we can go about preventing it. What a colorful way to learn about chemistry.

Thanks to the KU Biology department for their hard work on this expo. Girls were raving about it and were clearly inspired! Together, we can keep inspiring young women to love science and create a bright future in science.

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!

A New Home for the Oakledge Ish-Ki-Ti-Ni

The most recognizable symbol from Camp Oakledge was the totem pole (or “Ish-ki-ti-ni” for more recent Girl Scouts) that stood near the dining hall. Its image was on badges and shirts, serving as a friendly face for campers. When Camp Oakledge was decommissioned, the Ish-ki-ti-ni was moved to Camp Prairie Schooner. Now renamed the “Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni,” the rebuilt totem pole will be rededicated during the Alumnae Reunion and Picnic on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner. We wanted to share the story of this symbol of camp history and celebrate its new life!

The name Ish-ki-ti-ni comes from a Native American mythology of the owl. While the whole totem pole has come to be known as the “Ish-ki-ti-ni,” it is started as the name of the owl that symbolically sits at the top of the totem. According to Oakledge camp legend, you can sometimes see Ish-ki-ti-ni flying over camp at night, watching over Girl Scouts.

Below the Ish-ki-ti-ni are symbols – the Girl Scout Trefoil, the frog, the turtle, the butterfly and the gnomies (pronounced “ga-no-me” for this totem). Each represents a part of the camping experience.

 

For alumnae and younger Girl Scouts alike, the Ish-ki-ti-ni serves as an important part of childhood. “In 2013, we pretended it was a time traveling machine. We wrote a song and we would hold onto it while singing it and it would take us to different summers. Kind of like a ride down memory lane. The song went: ‘Ishkitini Ishkitini take us way back when / Show us all the memories that you hold within,’” Girl Scout camper, Olivia (AKA Puffy) said.

Marley Parsons (AKA Ferris), resident camp director and alumna, feels the Ish-ki-ti-ni is a symbol of her Girl Scouting life. “The Ish-ki-ti-ni was a huge representation of my childhood. From whispering in the Green Gnomie’s ear to help find lost times, to peeping in the hole in the back to try to see the Red Gnomie, it was all part of my camping experience,” Ferris said.

Since the Ish-ki-ti-ni is made of wood, it needs to be remade about every 10-15 years, meaning a new group of Girl Scouts gets to give new life to the totem. Currently, the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni is being rebuilt for the 2017 Alumnae Reunion, retaining as much of the original as possible.

“In 2004, the totem pole I grew up with fell into disrepair. While I was heartbroken that we had to build a new one, I loved that Bean and Beaner had us write wishes on the back of the new feathers [on the owl at the top]. It made it really special. Part of me was now a part of the Ish-ki-ti-ni. It makes me really happy to know that I am also here now, in 2017, helping rebuild it for another generation of campers,” Ferris said. She’s also part of the rebuilding team that’s preserving the memories of the totem.

In the process of being rebuilt, the Ish-ki-ti-ni is also finding a new home at Camp Prairie Schooner. “I’m happy it is being rededicated to Prairie Schooner because, for me, that’s where it all started. My very first camp was Schooner. So because the journey to camping at Oakledge started [at Camp Prairie Schooner] for me, it’s giving me a sense of closure,” Puffy said.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner where we will rededicate the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni at Camp Prairie Schooner and create a time capsule with it! Registration closes on September 8th, so get registered today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion.

 

Total Solar Eclipse of the Girl Scout Heart

August 21, 2017 the date of the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 99 years. It was hyped up to be a natural phenomenon, one that had everyone preparing and planning for the day well in advance of the actual eclipse. According to four of our Girl Scouts who experienced totality while on a Girl Scout destination, it far exceeded the hype!

Girl Scout Cadettes Ashleigh Beabout from Gardner KS and Belle Reed from Blue Springs made the trip to Total Eclipse of the Heartland in Carbondale, IL for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ five day destination. They stayed at council property but ventured into St. Louis, MO for some unique learning opportunities then watched the eclipse on the football field at Southern Illinois University.

Left: Belle waiting to see the shadowbands on the white tarp. Center: Ashleigh with her Girl Scout sisters and NASA staff. Right: Ashleigh waiting to see the shadowbands on the tarp.

The second destination location was in Columbia, MO with Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland (GSMH). Katie Blankenship from Gardner, KS and Emilie Sula-Goff from Lee’s Summit spent 3 days learning about astronomy, touring the University of Missouri and experiencing total solar eclipse at GSMH’s Silver Meadows Program Center with their families!

All four girls were extremely interested in astronomy going into their destination. Katie has talked with an astronaut in outer space and Emilie is fascinated with supernovas! But, an eclipse was something entirely new to them since there had yet to be one in the United States during their lifetime.

“I didn’t know what to expect because nobody here has experienced it before,” Ashleigh said.

This natural phenomena united adults and children, scientists and educators and the entire country. It was an experience that can truly be once in a lifetime. For Emilie her eclipse destination reunited her with her Girl Scout sister Alexandria who lives in California, where Emilie is originally from.

They had been waiting for the time when they were old enough and could agree on a location and apply together. The Great Eclipse Adventure with GSHM was the perfect fit for these astronomy and mythology loving Girl Scouts.

“It was so neat that they got to go on this destination together; then I got to bring their brothers and experience the actual eclipse with them.” Emilie’s mother, Erin said.

Left: Emilie (far right) with Alexandria and other Girl Scout sisters. Center: Katie & Becky Blankenship. Right: Emilie, Alexandria and their brothers during the eclipse.

While the total eclipse itself was only about 2 minutes, it left a lasting impression on each of them.

“I felt very lucky that I got to experience this at age 11 when other people don’t get to experience their entire life,” Belle said.

There are so many environmental factors that play into a person actually being able to see a total solar eclipse, which is why they’re considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, while it’s been 99 years since the United States saw a total solar eclipse, it’ll only be 7 more years until we experience it again and these Girl Scouts are already thinking about where and how they’ll see it…when most of them are seniors in High School.

Girl Scouts of the USA is rolling out their destination programs for the 2017-2018 year. To have an experience like Katie, Emilie, Ashleigh and Belle, check out the GSUSA Destination page. The first deadline to apply is in November!

G.I.R.L.ing in the Rocky Mountains

Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders. The 15 Girl Scout Cadettes who went on our Rocky Mountain Park Excursion are truly G.I.R.L.s. They hiked over 15 miles in three days, summited a mountain, restored a trail in the National Park, camped in black bear country while using the skills they learned through Girl Scouting.

“Try new things, work hard, and always help out are things I’ve learned in Girl Scouts,” Leah Perila said.

That’s exactly what Leah and 14 other Girl Scouts did during their six days in the Rocky Mountains!

A week in the Rocky Mountains is challenging for anyone, Girl Scout or not. You have to be prepared physically and mentally for this kind of experience; prepared to be away from home with others you’ve only just met and without cell service for unknown periods of time, prepared to contribute to the group at all times and prepared to trust in adults who are committed to the safety and enjoyable experience of all involved.

As a Girl Scout, Paige Hwang feels ready for anything to happen and was totally prepared for a week in the Rocky Mountains. “This trip exceeded my expectations. We got to climb a mountain, meet cool people, do trail work and make food over a fire,” she said.

For many of the girls, the afternoon spent doing trail restoration in the Rocky Mountain National Park was their favorite part of the trip. The group met two National Park Service Rangers, Ben and Marika (a Girl Scout alumna!), and hiked a quarter of a mile up the mountain with shovels, pick axes, crow bars and tarps to narrow a trail that had grown too large. The work process involved prying large rocks out of the side of the mountain and rolling them down to the trail to create a natural barrier on the trail that was popular for equestrian rides. Holes had to be dug for the large rocks in the trail and smaller rocks placed and crushed around it to keep it in place. Then girls gathered tuff, a combination of pine needles, twigs and dirt to scatter on the outer part of the new trail to make it look as naturally occurring as possible. At the end of the afternoon, they were asking if there was more work to be done! Ben and Marika had nothing but the highest praise for the amount of work that our Girl Scouts did!

The group collectively felt challenged during their three major hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park; the first at Bear Lake, the second to The Pool and the final one to the summit of Deer Mountain. Each hike a little more difficult than the previous one. They talked about how discouraged they felt during the long ascents, but how they were inspired by the scenery and thought of accomplishment that they were able to empower themselves to keep moving forward.

“I was challenged mentally by thinking I couldn’t do it, but once I thought positive I did better,” Zoey Christensen said.

The views at the end of the hikes did not disappoint!

“The beauty and wonder of the mountains met my expectations, but the wonderful friends I made exceeded them. Girl Scouts has taught me to socialize and talk to new people. Without Girl Scouts, I would be one of the most lonely and socially-awkward people on the face of the Earth!” Cassidy Freeman

We are excited to challenge, inspired and have girls make new friends at our next council-led excursion to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota in July 2019! Stay tuned to our social media for registration details!

 

Girl Scouts Give Their Heart to Camp!

“We are always looking for places to help, but sometimes the person or place we need to help is right next to us. We have a tendency to look globally, which is great, but sometimes you need to learn to look locally for who you can help.” -Liz Gregoire, Girl Scout Junior Troop 173.

Girl Scout camps are places of adventure and opportunity. Thanks to the work of countless individuals, generous gifts from donors and members of Daisy’s Circle, and Girl Scouts, camps continue to grow to meet the needs of the girls they serve. This effort to keep improving camps has inspired girls to find ways to give back themselves. Check out these three inspiring stories about new opportunities added to camps for girls by girls!

GAGA BALL PIT

It all started with the GaGa Ball Pit! In 2015, Service Units 638 & 639 added a GaGa Pit to Camp Prairie Schooner as a Day Camp service project. Girl Scout dad, Bill Schneider worked with Site Manager, Zac Sibert, to plan the project and coordinated the teens on build day. While Bill handled all the cutting of the wood, girls helped assemble, stain and drill on the project to make it come to life.

“We wanted another experience for the girls…[a GaGa Pit] is competition, fun and not too physically demanding while still getting your heart pumping,” Mr. Schneider said. The GaGa Pit has since been a place where girls can go for free-form fun. It’s organic play that the girls can do during down time and where girls meet new people. This project has since inspired two troops to give back to camp and complete their Bronze Award projects!

9 SQUARE GAME

Junior Troop 173 from Lee’s Summit, MO gave back by building a 9 Square game in Farmer’s Field for their Bronze Award. The troop knew they wanted to give back to Girl Scouts, so they walked around Camp Prairie Schooner and made note of their favorite things and the GaGa Pit was the top option.

“What our girls love about the GaGa Pit is that they get to meet other girls, so we built something in Farmer’s Field that could do the same thing,” Liz Gregoire, Troop 173 leader said. Part of the appeal of 9 Square was that it was a structure the girls could build without a lot of adult help and they could be creative.

Through the process, the girls learned to write donation request letters and how to build the structure. They printed rules that hang by the game and can see the result of their work every time they visit camp. “By seeing an activity you did within Girl Scouting, you will see it year after year and how it gets utilized by your troop and other girls. While service projects for other organizations are great, you don’t get to see the lasting results like you do giving back to Girl Scouts,” said Liz.

OUTDOOR JENGA

Gaming fun! An outdoor Jenga set was added by Junior Troop 1963 from Shawnee Mission, KS, also as a Bronze Award project. The troop got supplies donated and with the help of parents, they measured, cut and stained the game. While the actual cuts were done by adults, the girls did all the measuring, wore all the safety gear and were taught about the tools that were being used for the project.

“Giving back makes their experience better and gives them ownership in the camp. They see immediately value in their service by seeing other girls enjoying their project,” said Barb Janssen, Troop 1963 leader.

While they originally planned to go to several stores to inquire about donations, they only needed to make one stop – Home Depot! Melissa from that store donated the wood, stain and sandpaper to make this project a reality. We love it when the community comes out to help girls.

“My favorite thing about the project was getting to build something that every girl in Kansas and Missouri is going to be able to use,” said Jessica Janssen, one of the Girl Scouts who built the Jenga set. The troop donated the game just before their Day Camp, so the Girl Scouts got to see other girls using the game right away. Thanks for this awesome addition to camp!

What an inspiring set of projects! These girls are giving back and making camp better than ever – thank you! Together, we are making camp an absolutely incredible place to be.

Do you love our beloved camps as much as our featured Girl Scouts? You can join us in continuing to support these awesome experiences. Right now, your gift has double the power to help girls get the outdoor experiences they need! The Feist Charitable Foundation is offering a matching investment of $10,000 to underwrite Outdoor Adventure Programming at Camp Prairie Schooner and enable program to develop and grow. Now is a great time to make your gift have twice the impact! You can give now by visiting www.gsksmo.org/Donate

Have you tried out one of these awesome girl-inspired and created activities? Share your experience using the comments below.

The Great European Adventure

Switzerland – Part 3

Read Part 1 – London here and Part 2 – Paris here!

What. An. Adventure. Our first council-sponsored international trip is a wrap!

Girls said au revoir to Paris and hit the (long) road to Adelboden, Switzerland on Day 8! It was an 8+ hour bus ride to Our Chalet, another of the WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) Centers! With the travel time, they wouldn’t make it to Our Chalet by dinner, so they stopped at a French supermarket on their way out of France. It was a cultural experience, for sure! The girls navigated the aisles and utilized their French speaking Girl Scout sister, Ruby J.! When they arrived in the Swiss Alps, they had a little GSKSMO potluck! It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with Switzerland!

The cool air, mountain views and slow pace were a welcomed change from the hustle and bustle of London and Paris! Our Chalet put together a great day of programming for the group. Everyone received their pewter Our Chalet pin that can only be received by visiting in person, toured the grounds and had the opportunity to do fire building or Swiss crafts. In the afternoon, they hiked nearly 4 miles round trip to Wanderfall in the Swiss Alps! They also got a chance to use all that rain gear they were told to bring (finally). The weather fluctuates so much in the mountains; the sun is shining one minute then the clouds roll in and there are chilly little rain showers! “I didn’t think Switzerland would be as beautiful as it is and that I would like it as much I do,” Katie W. said.

Their programming for the evening was a “Swiss Night” and there was a little concert by Alphorn players followed by Swiss Quiz Bowl game (the GSKSMO team won!) and fondue – one of the traditional foods of Switzerland!

The time at the two World Centers has been a once in a lifetime experience for our Girl Scouts. These Seniors and Ambassadors have participated in World Thinking Days year after year, researching and presenting what Girl Scouts looks like in others countries. Now, they have experienced it. Visiting the WAGGGS Centers has given them a whole new appreciation of the Girl Scout/Girl Guide sisterhood and some are considering working or volunteering at a WAGGGS Center now!

The next day, was their last full day in Europe. They left Our Chalet and had a two hour bus ride into Lucerne. After a visit to the monument dedicated to the Swiss soldiers who protected the Royal family during the French Revolution, a brief walking tour around the city square and a trip across the world’s oldest wooden bridge (built in 1365), they had their final excursion opportunity – a visit to Mt. Pilatus! A boat ride on Lake Lucerne brought them to the base of the mountain and the Cog Railway brought them up to the summit. It was fairly cloudy and rainy which made pictures difficult, but they were met with a rainbow on the cable car down! They ended the night, and trip with a traditional Swiss Folk Lore night complete with Alphorn playing, yodeling and dancing by our Girl Scouts!

It’s no surprise that GSKSMO girls made friends with other Girl Scout Sisters on this EF Tours trip from Silver Sage, Utah, NY Penn and Nation’s Capitol councils and were sad to part ways with them! Not only did they make friends with sister councils’ girls, but they made friends with each other. “It’s the people that are in Girl Scouts that made this trip memorable,” Kaitlin G. said. “The [Girl Scout] journeys teach you how to be a good person, so all the people here are nice!”

This wasn’t an overseas vacation for our Girl Scouts. It was an adventure that challenged, engaged and excited them. Girl Scout Senior Katie W. has always dreamed of living in Europe and this trip just validated those dreams. For Skylar, this was her first time visiting major a major city! “I don’t go a lot of places and I’ve never been a massive city. I feel like I adapted to every place easily,” Skylar said!

For all our Girl Scouts, this was a first good experience to ease into international travel, learning how to navigate the city and the different cultures.

“My favorite part of this trip was realizing that I can apply what I have learned from school and my French class and use it in real life.” Ruby J. said.  “This experience has helped prepare me for bigger adventures in the future.”

We are excited to announce that our next council-sponsored trip for Seniors and Ambassadors will be to Belize in the summer of 2019! Details will be posted to our website early next week so you plan your trip and travel like a Girl Scout!

The Great European Adventure – Girl Scout Style

Part 2 – Paris, France

Read Part -1 here!

Leaving London, you wouldn’t know that the group of 11 girls had only just met a few days before!

The group left London on the Eurostar bright and early on Day 5 and rode on the Chunnel under the English Channel. They arrived in Paris, France, the city of lights and the city of love just a few hours later and hit the ground running!

LOUVRE PHOTO

The bus dropped them off at the Louvre, the largest museum in the world, and the first one to ever open to the public. Among the 35,000 pieces in the museum are some of the world’s most famous such as the Mona Lisa, Venus di Milo and Winged Victory. Girls broke up into small groups and explored the museum hitting the highlights. To see every piece in the museum would take hundreds of hours!

That evening dinner was at Flamm. A French-styled pizza place and was the girl’s favorite meal so far!

The next morning they boarded the bus and made the drive into the city from the B&B Disneyland Paris hotel and got their first taste of Paris traffic, which would continue to impact their travels for the next two days! They picked up the tour guide and spent the morning seeing the Paris sights, trying to spot all the sailboats they could. Did you know that a sailboat is the official symbol of Paris?!

In the afternoon girls had the opportunity to do an excursion to the Palace of Versailles, the Royal Palace that King Louis XIV had built because he didn’t like the Parisians. The Palace only lasted a century before it closed during the French Revolution. While some toured the grandiose building and grounds, others had the chance to go up into the Eiffel Tower and visit the city’s most famous macaroon shop!

That evening there was the option to go up into the tallest building in Paris as well as go on a sunset river cruise on the Seine. Those two activities did not disappoint!

Day 7, was just as jam-packed as the previous day and there wasn’t a single second to be wasted their final day in Paris! The morning started out in the Latin Quarter of Paris at Notre Dame where Andrea, our awesome tour guide gave a brief history of the church. During the French Revolution the French beheaded the saints on the church because they thought they represented the Royal family. It wasn’t until The Hunchback of Notre Dame that the perception of the church changed and the statues were repaired!

Andrea walked our group around the area showing them the narrowest street in the city, Rue du Chat-qui-Pêche (The Street of the Fishing Cat). Named after an Inn that was on the street, it’s just over five feet wide! Also in the area was Shakespeare and Company, the first and oldest English bookstore in Paris (Hemingway was known to visit here)!

The group had another excursion option that afternoon to go to Disneyland Paris, just minutes from the hotel. While some chose to visit the most magical place on earth, others continued exploring the city of lights shopping and visiting Pompidou Centre, the modern art museum and going to Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur!

For all of the girls, this was their first time being in a place where English wasn’t the primary language. On their last night they were chatting and comparing the two cities they had visited thus far; liking both London and Paris for the own unique reasons. “I was surprised at how easy it was to still communicate with people who didn’t speak English,” Kaitlin B. said.

The next day the group will take 8-hour bus ride to Adelboden, Switzerland where there will be three different languages spoken – French, German and Italian and spend time at another WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts)!

How have you traveled like a Girl Scout? Let us know in the comments below!