Get Outdoors with Badges

June is Great Outdoors Month! With summer here, it’s the perfect time for a Girl Scout to take on an adventure in the outdoors! And, we encourage our Girl Scouts to take on earning a badge or two with the support of her parent / caregiver. Getting a head start on planning for the new GS Year? Here’s some great information on how to support your Girl Scout(s) in focusing on an outdoor badge.

Girl Scouts are the true vision of “work hard play hard.”  Through their badge and journey requirements, getting girls outdoors teaches them about the environment that surrounds them, leadership skills and social bonds and problem solving skills.

Here are the badges that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk Takers, Leaders)™ can earn through outdoor activities!

  1. Go camping. We’re all about learning, having fun, and making friends—the perfect combination for camp. Camping is a great way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Whether for a day, a week, or longer, camp gives girls opportunities to grow, explore, and have fun under the guidance of caring, trained adults. There are a variety of ways for girls to get involved like: day camps, troop camping or a resident camp experience at one of our sister councils. See all the ways you can camp like a Girl Scouts this summer!  Did you know: girls at ANY age can earn badges for camping?  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.

 

  1. Take on an outdoor adventure. Consider climbing a hill or mountain so high you’ll be yearning to snap a selfie on top of it to capture the memory. Grab a friend or team up with your Girl Scout troop to explore your neighborhood at night or buddy up to set up a tent in a nearby park or your backyard. If you’re a Brownie these are just some activities you’ll try out when you challenge yourself to earn the Outdoor Adventurer badgeDid you know: our older girls can complete something BIG through our Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge?  For the girls who have already mastered camping, hiking, and canoeing, earning your Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge might be perfect for you!

 

  1. Try your hand at geocaching. Here’s your chance to play part global explorer, part detective when you search for treasure chests known as “geocaches” using GPS. By the end of your search, you’ll not only have had an exciting geocaching adventure but also have learned how to prepare for future quests- a perfect way to connect STEM to the outdoors. If you’re a Junior, you’ll be taking the steps to earn the Geocacher badge, too. Did you know:  you can set up a Geocaching session with our trained staff at Camp Tongawood and Camp Prairie Schooner?!  You can also checkout necessary equipment and download the resources to lead the session yourself! Learn More!

 

  1. Ride Horses. Are you up for a challenge? Why not try horseback riding? This exciting sport engages all ages! You will improve your strength, focus, and form. This is also a unique way to earn badges.  Be sure to prepare. Learn about our community partners like Pine Dell Horse Farm or S&S Stables to book your own equestrian trip. Simply follow the safety activity checkpoint guide for horseback riding and fill out the activity and troop approval application prior to the activity!

 

  1. Outdoor Art? Why not! Whether it be through photography, painting, jewelry making or music, experiment with new ways of expressing your love of nature. Let it move you to create art inspired by the outdoors. Seniors can earn the Art Expert badge once their masterpiece is complete.

 

  1. Plan a trip to the beach, river, or lake. Have an adventure on the water! We have many bodies of water in our landlocked region that girls can explore! Just be sure that you’re following the safety activity checkpoints or using one of our community partners like Living Water Canoe/KayakHey Girl Scout adults did you know: that you can become certified to lead water excursions with your troop?  The next Small Craft Safety training is June 2 and Moving Water training is June 9!

Prepare for great adventures, Girl Scout style! Get your outdoor gear at the Girl Scout shop. The badges don’t stop here. Check out more Girl Scout badges you can earn when you show the outdoors some love.

Travel Like a Girl Scout – Cookie Construction Build Day 2018

7 teams, 30 female design professionals, 105 Girl Scouts, 7,000 Girl Scout Cookie boxes and 5 hours to build 7 seven structures out of said Cookie boxes was Cookie Construction Build Day, 2018!

After six months of planning, practicing and prepping, the Cookie Construction Teams descended upon Crown Center on March 3 for Build Day. The theme this year was “Travel Like a Girl Scout” and each team was given an 8×8 space to build their structures. After five hours of build time, a panel of jurors evaluated each structure on creativity in design, structural design, use of colors/labels, craftsmanship and adherence to rules & regulations. After deliberation, one structure was presented the with the Juror’s Choice Award. Our Juror’s said that this was the closest completion in the four years of Cookie Construction!

Pop-Up Adventures – Cookie Monsters

This build is a story of a Girl Scout’s journey through the vast world. Through the pages of this pop-up book she travels the globe. She scales the Great Wall of China, climbs the Eiffel Tower, and explores the Pyramids of Giza. Traveling all over the world, she discovers her own adventurous spirit and a love for learning and exploration. All starting with a book and her moral compass. What will she discover next by traveling the world?

 

Around the World with the Cookie Queens – Cookie Queens

Traveling around the world! What might a Girl Scout see? We have builds from lonely islands to big cities. Our display shows many old and modern technologies from, you guessed it, around the world! The Coliseum, which was built between 70-80 ACE, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was built between 1173-1372 ACE, the Pyramids of Giza, which were built between 2580-2560 BCE, and the Easter Isle Statues, which were constructed between 700-1100 ACE. Our modes of transportation include two types of boats, taxis, and an airplane. We chose these because they are from three different eras and mediums. We practiced teamwork, perseverance, and gained experience as young architects through this design/build process. Overall, this design was challenging, but the Cookie Queens powered through and came up with something truly amazing!

 

Girls Connect the World – North Packers

Our design includes four destinations, Savannah, Georgia, Mexico, England, and South Africa. We picked these locations because we wanted to show amazing girls from around the world. We travel throughout these destinations enjoying the different landscapes and buildings as we go. We start in the United States, traveling by ferry to the home of Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scouts. Our next stop is Mexico. Traveling by car now, we meet the Girl Scouts of Mexico at the Cabaña. We move on to South Africa. Traveling by train, we find The Slab, which is a frequently used meeting spot for Girl Scouts. Last on our trip, we stop in England at the Pax Lodge, a world center for Girl Scouts. We made it here by double-decker bus. The flags of the Pax Lodge inspired the use of flags in the project to represent the countries and the Girl Scouts. The globe represents the connection of the girls across these countries.

 

Time Travel: Girl Scouts Past, Present and Future – The Rainbow Time Keepers

The build will center around a large rainbow. The girls imagine the rainbow as a bridge that spans across time. There will be three to five nodes along the rainbow that represent Girl Scouts growing from Daisies to Cadets. Each node will have an emblem that symbolizes their path. The ground plane will be a field of grass with a meandering river.

 

Traveling to Landmarks Through Time – The Scouts

Our group, The Scouts, came up with natural and manmade landmarks spanning over several centuries in time based on our theme “Traveling to Landmarks Through Time.” We are building methods of transportation to show how you would have traveled to each monument in the era the monuments were built. The landmarks we are planning on building are The Eiffel Tower, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben, The Great Pyramids, Kansas City’s own Shuttlecocks, The Boundary Waters, Mount Fuji, Mount Everest, The Redwood Forest, and The Niagara Falls.

 

Around the Universe in 80 Days – Space Nerds

Celebrating the advancements in history and those to come, “Around the Universe in 80 Days” takes you on an inspiring journey. Travel through ancient times at the pyramids, gaze and the gateway that inspired travel to the west, explore a new colony on Mars, and discover the fantastic world of Oz with our new Girl Scouts revelation rocket. You’ll see the faces of inspired girls traveling the universe in the window of the rocket, following the path paved for them by pioneers throughout history.

 

Seven Wonders of the World – Team Tired

We may be called ‘Team Tired’, but our excitement for learning is anything but! For the theme “Girl Scouts Travel”, we quickly developed the idea of showcasing Seven Wonders of the World—with a twist! We were drawn to places that inspire us: The Great Wall of China, The Eiffel Tower, The Colosseum, Big Ben, Machu Picchu, The Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. Throughout this process we learned the importance of teamwork, relying on the history of each of these places to demonstrate the need to work together to achieve a goal. Using the same kind of collaboration that created these structures, we worked together to create a vision for our design. The Seven Wonders of OUR World represent different cultures, overcoming challenges, and the commitment to do something wonderful—the same elements that create a strong community of Girl Scouts! By working towards a shared goal and supporting each other, we can create something we’re all proud of.

 

Ultimately, Cookie Monsters was presented with the Juror’s Choice Award.  The jurors loved the composition and the theme of the book and how they built the world to come out of it. They also gave them high marks on their use of detail, using words found on the boxes themselves to tell a story on the pages of the book.

Thank you to our Jurors, Laura Beth Cochran, Sonya Jury, Galen Lif, Andrew Pitts, Jean Stoverink and our event Emcee Amy Slattery!

This program wouldn’t be possible without the support and dedication of our 30+ female design professionals throughout the Kansas City, Topeka 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 23!

The 2018 Cookie Construction Program is a partnership with AIA Kansas City and made possible with the support of Crown Center, Mark One Electric Co. and Summit Homes.

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!

Gearing up for Cookie Construction 2018

For the past six months, Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors have been working alongside female design professionals to design and create a structure to be made solely out of Girl Scout Cookie Boxes! Cookie Construction will culminate at Build Day on March 3 at Crown Center!

This annual program is a partnership between Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri and AIA Kansas City. The 4th annual program is made possible thanks to our sponsors Crown Center, Summit Homes and Mark One Electric.

The 2018 Cookie Construction theme is “Travel like a Girl Scout” and each of the seven teams have had conversations planning sessions to identify what that phrase means to them and how they want it represented in their build using 1,000 Girl Scout Cookie boxes. Once they had a vision, they began drawing, planning and building scale models of their ideas, learning and tweaking their plans along the way.

Cookie Construction isn’t just about designing and building. The teams are made up of Girl Scouts of all different troops, with different ways of working and doing things. Throughout the program they’re learning the soft skills that you need no matter the career you choose.

“I’m very independent [but in cookie construction] I have to work with others. I think ‘if I do this build by myself, it’s going to look exactly how I want it to and it’s going to look great in my opinion.’ So when I have another person, I have two different points of view and that’s an extra challenge to me, Girl Scout Cadette Emily Stubbings said.

This program wouldn’t be possible without the nearly 30 female design professionals who are taking time out of their personal lives to mentor our Girl Scouts. For some, they’re involved because Girl Scouting played a role in their lives growing up and they want to give back. For others, it’s because they want to empower young girls to pursue a career in the design industry. For others, they’re looking to develop their own leadership skills!

Mentor Erin Hylton has been involved in the Cookie Construction program for the past three years. “Helping girls learn more about an industry where there aren’t a lot of women is unique and hard to find,” she said.

When the teams arrive at Crown Center on March 3 they will have four hours to officially build their structure that will then be evaluated by a panel of jurors and one team build will receive the “Jurors Choice Award.” After the presentation, we need YOUR help in deciding the People’s Choice Award that will be awarded when the structures come down on March 24! So, make plans to visit Cookie Construction at Crown Center March 4 – 23 and cast your vote for your favorite structure!

Riding into Adventure and Sisterhood!

Adventuring for friendship and education! A Girl Scout Destination lets a girl explore the world, find herself and meet new friends like no other experience. For Girl Scout Seniors Alyssa Carney (Olathe, KS), Abby Riebel (Iola, KS) and Lilli Smith (Prairie Village, KS) who attended an awesome Destination to Nebraska for two weeks of horseback riding became the learning adventure of a lifetime. These girls went on the “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” Destination in Nebraska in July 2017 and came back with a deep appreciation for nature conservation and A LOT of new Girl Scout sisters.

 

The 14 day adventure included horseback riding across the Nebraska landscape, visiting a zoo and learning about ecology from experts. On riding days, the girls would wake-up, ride horses, have a lunch and free time, enjoy dinner together, then ride back and race for the showers! While on the trail, they saw some beautiful expanses and breath-taking sights. “You’d ride up an ascent…and see the most amazing views. Most people think Kansas and Nebraska are just flat, but they’re not all flat…and at the top of some of those hills, you experience incredible views,” Abby Riebel said.

For the most part, embarking on a Girl Scout Destination is a completely solo experience. For Lilli, it was, she knew no one leaving for the trip. Abby and Alyssa, however, were best friends and took the adventure together. “When Alyssa asked me to go with her, I said ‘best friends, horses and more girls to hang out with?  WHY NOT?!” Abby said.

Left: Abby and Alyssa in Nebraska; Right: Alyssa gearing up for a day of riding.

All three girls left with friendships that span the entire country once they met the 14 other girls on the trip. “I met my friend Rachel, who lives in New Jersey, on the Destination. It’s cool to say ‘oh, I’m texting my friend in New Jersey’ when my friends here ask who I’m talking to!”  Lilli Smith said.

Alyssa remembers bonding with several girls on the trip when they stopped along a river to share and learn about each other. “We sat there on our horses and talked about what we learned and what we liked about each other. I wrote a speech about our adventures and the friendships we made in a short amount of time…it was emotional,” Alyssa Carney said.  Just the thought of strong G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM getting to share an amazing moment out in nature makes US emotional! Wow, what an experience.

Left & Right: Riding along the trail with the girls; Center: Lilli with new Girl Scout sisters!

For each girl, the Destination provided a learning experience that extended beyond traditional learning about the environment or horses…girls learned about trust, friendship and self-confidence.

Alyssa: “I learned how to ask for help on this trip. I was recovering from surgery, so my stamina wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I needed help lifting my saddle. I’m someone who gives it her all, but sometimes you have to have others help you…and I learned that it’s okay.”

Abby: “When you push yourself out of your comfort zone and spend time away from family for two weeks, it makes you realize how much you love your family and that you shouldn’t take them for granted. You also experience some amazing stuff when you push yourself and trust yourself.”

Lilli: “Living in such close quarters with 16 girls you don’t know really teaches you to learn to share and learn to handle different personalities. Plus I learned a lot about the Nebraska landscape and water systems.”

 

The Girl Scouts of “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” 2017!

A Girl Scout Destination is one of the best ways for a girl to push her limits, learn about something she’s passionate and meet new friends. We’re thrilled that THREE Girl Scouts from our council got to take this awesome adventure and make friendships that are still thriving today. If you’re interested in learning about taking your own Destination, visit Girl Scout Travel today!

A Horse Trip of a Lifetime

Spotlight on Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F.

For Girl Scouts who are go-getters, love adventure, want to explore the world around them and make new friends – Girl Scout Destinations is where it’s at!

This summer Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F. spent a week in the Rocky Mountains with Girl Scouts of Colorado on the Colorado Horseback Adventure – considered the horse trip of a lifetime! She flew into Denver International Airport and spent the day at a Girl Scout Camp in Woodland Park, CO where she got to zipline, shoot archery and participate in some low ropes activities getting to know others on her Destination!

The group then traveled to Bear Basin Ranch in Westcliffe, CO where their days were full of trail rides, white water rafting and rustic cowgirl camp outs! The Destination culminated with an overnight horse pack trip in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range 12,000 feet above sea level!

“I really like horses and I wanted to travel somewhere else. I looked into it during the school year and [Colorado Horseback Adventure] looked the most fun so I chose that one! I really wanted to go on [a Destination] to explore new places.”

Studies have shown that Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to practice goal setting, problem solving, risk taking, and leadership—key skills for the 21st century. Through Girl Scouting, girls realize their leadership potential through a variety of experiences, skill-building opportunities, and connections.

This Destination experience was something that Kylee worked really hard for. It took financial goal setting and preparation to make this trip a reality. Kylee used her Destination to help market her babysitting business, applied for (and received!) a scholarship through Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri and more money earning activities. By the time Kylee returned from Colorado, she had met her goal of funding her trip!

In fact, while waiting to board her plane home, an older woman engaged in conversation with Kylee about her experience in Colorado. Through conversation, the woman shared that she had owned horses in the past. And this wonderfully kind woman made a gift toward Kylee’s trip as well.

Being a Girl Scout not only helped Kylee prepare for the trip financially, but mentally and physically as well. Going to Colorado she already knew first aid, how to pack, put up a tent and build a fire. But most notably Kylee credits Girl Scouts with giving her the skills to make new friends and carry conversations with people she’s never met before.

“Destinations help you get out of your house and off your technology to see what’s actually out there. I would recommend this adventure to all Girl Scouts so they can experience adventures that they may not be able to normally,” Kylee said!

The second round of Girl Scout Destination applications are due Feb. 15. Where will you #TravelLikeaGirlScout?!

 

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 they’re 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, 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 learn more!

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.