Ensuring Girls Reach for the Stars and Beyond

Spotlight on STEM Volunteers, Joe & Rita Wright

What do you get when you combine a retired postal service worker and a mechanical designer? Two EXTRAORDINARY Girl Scout Outdoor STEM Program volunteers, of course! Joe and Rita Wright are and they have been sharing their love and vast knowledge of astronomy with Girl Scouts in our council for over 10 years!

You might call Joe and Rita Professional Amateur Astronomers. Joe oversees the UMKC Observatory and both he and Rita have impressive resumes, accolades and honors for this only being a hobby of theirs!

Joe attributes his initial fascination with astronomy to his father who was a plane mechanic for TWA. He remembers earning his Astronomy Badge at Boy Scout camp and that year his parents bought him a telescope. He would take that telescope to Boy Scout camp outs and would teach others about astronomy. This was just the beginning for Joe! As for Rita, she was fascinated by everything she learned from Joe and it became a passion of hers as well!

Just as fascinating as their path to interest in astronomy is their involvement in Girl Scouts! When Joe relocated the Boy Scout troop he was leading (and the troop he earned is Eagle Scout in) to a new church, the church asked what they were going to do for girls. So, they formed a multi-level Girl Scout troop! While they have a son and a daughter, neither was involved in Scouting. Joe and Rita chose to lead these groups because they felt like it was important to their community.

Combining their love of astronomy and Scouting programs, Joe and Rita were invited to a training at the University of Arizona to learn how to bring more astronomy programs to Girl Scouts in 20114. They worked with other Girl Scout trainers and under Dr. Don McCarthy developing programs to bring back to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri.

Every spring and fall Joe and Rita put on multiple STEM in the Outdoors Programs at Camp Tongawood for Girl Scouts of all levels. Joe and Rita ensure each program is progressive so that girls can continue building on their knowledge, if they choose. Girl Scouts who attend one of their programs will use Joe and Rita’s incredible equipment like telescopes, infrared cameras, specialized lights and measurement tools that Joe and Rita haul out to Girl Scout camp in an old converted scout trailer! Girls will get to see and touch unique artifacts such as meteoroids and dessert glass. But most importantly, they will be challenged to answer their own questions by two very passionate and caring volunteers who hope to inspire just a little interest into the field of astronomy.  “We want girls to learn from their peers if they don’t understand. We don’t just give them the answers, we try to weasel it out of them!” Joe said.

Since 2004 they have participated in eight different astronomical education trainings in their spare time, often writing applications and proposals and securing the funding themselves to cover the costs of their attendance so they can further their knowledge to share with community.

This summer they will travel to Greenbelt, MD to the Goddard Space Flight Center with two Girl Scout Ambassadors from our council for “Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts.” We are just one of 10 councils selected to participate in the new 5-year space science education program that will bring together Girl Scouts with scientists, engineers and educators at NASA and beyond! They will help create a new series of Space Science badges for Girl Scouts nationwide and the groundwork to create a council-wide astronomy club!

Also this summer, Joe and Rita have been invited to be part of the staff for the first-ever Girl Scout destination at the University of Arizona-Steward Observatory! As if their summer wasn’t busy enough, they’re also coordinating community events around the Kansas City area for the solar eclipse that will happen on August 21, 2017!

“Most of our joy is in the programs we do for Girl Scouts. It’s seeing the lightbulb for the girls come on. It clicks and that’s what inspires us and rejuvenates us,” Joe said.

Joe and Rita are truly life-long learners who are inspired by Girl Scouts to continue pursuing and sharing their passion for astronomy, and we are so lucky to have them as volunteers!

Be sure you follow our social media channels as we share what Joe, Rita and the two Girl Scout Ambassadors are up to in Goddard, MD this summer at their NASA training!

More Than Just S’mores

 

School is winding down and the temperatures are warming up! As you plan your summer, is camping like a Girl Scout on your summer to do list?! You know that Girl Scouts and the outdoors go together just like that perfectly toasted marshmallow goes between graham crackers and chocolate! And everyone knows that s’mores taste the best at Girl Scout Camp!

But, Girl Scout Camp is about SO much more than just s’mores. Girl Scout camp is where your G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout.

Because at Girl Scout camp, she will:

Be determined to succeed. Honest. Fair. Ambitious. = She’ll try new things, learning more about herself as well as her strengths and weaknesses.

Think outside the box. Experiment. = She will use her resources wisely and be a creative problem-solver.

Try new things. Be courageous. Embrace the unfamiliar. = She’ll discover how one decision she makes impacts her and the world around her.

Empower others. Be empathetic. Advocate. = She will lead with integrity and practice grit.

When she camps like a Girl Scout, she will empower herself for life.

There are still several open spots at Girl Scout Camp this summer for you to be a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader!

Did you know that monthly outdoor exposure contributes to girls’ challenge seeking and problem solving? Or that an overwhelming majority of girls really enjoy outdoor activities in Girl Scouts? How about that Girl Scouts who get outdoors are twice as likely to connect with and care for the environment that non-Girl Scouts?

Below are some new and exciting programs and sessions that we want to make you aware of!

Teens Only Session – Session 4 (July 6 – 14 & July 9 -14) features programs just for girls going into 6th grade or higher! Teens will rule Camp Daisy and will enjoy connecting with other teens!

Extended Programming – throughout the summer are some extended programs, mostly for teen Girl Scouts, to build skills and friendships that will last a lifetime!

Journeys! – Complete your Sow What Journey (9 – 12 grade) or Breathe Journey (6 – 8 grade) at camp this summer!

Excursions – Learn skills at Camp Daisy, then take them offsite with our resident camp staff and do adventure activities, kayak on a lake (Kayak Kansas), problem solve on a high ropes course (Challenge Accepted) and more!

Mini Camp – for Brownies & Juniors who are new to outdoor experiences and overnights away from home. These two-night experiences will give her a taste of summer camp and leave her wanting more!

We know that choosing to send your Girl Scout to resident camp is a big decision for both you and your girl, so take sure that you both take the Camp Readiness Quiz on page 4 & 5 in our 2017 Summer Camp Digital Guide! If the results indicate that either one of you aren’t quite ready, think about going to camp WITH your Girl Scout!

You & Me: Ladies is for Girl Scouts in K-3 grade and a female caregiver in her life!

You & Me: Gentlemen is for Girl Scouts of all ages and male role model in her life

S’mores & More is for the whole family! Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends!

So, will you make that perfect s’more at and enjoy it at Girl Scout Camp this summer?! Learn more and register today!

We are Girl Scouts, We are Innovators – Part 2

Spotlight on 2017 Cookie Construction Teams

The 3rd Annual Cookie Construction program is in full swing! The seven teams are having their final meetings and preparing for Build Day on March 4 at Crown Center when all their planning comes to fruition, each team transforming 1,000 Girl Scout Cookie boxes into intricate, elaborate and structurally sound constructions!

This year’s theme is We are Girl Scouts. We are Innovators. Each team spent their first meeting in September talking about what innovation means to them as young women and as Girl Scouts.  Over the past month, we’ve been visiting with each of the teams to see how their initial concepts have transformed to visions and building plans leading into Build Day!

Today we bring you the second half of the story, spotlighting the work of our final three teams! Check out the first part of the story that published on Feb. 7!

STEAM Team

Throughout the last six months, the STEAM team (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) has really embraced what team work is. While they’ve been working in sub-groups to design and build their structure, they all step up when a group needs a helping hand. A life skill that will benefit them long after build and participation in Cookie Construction is complete. Their mentors, Jaimie Swanepoel and Shelby Eagleburger with Actavo Engineering Services, Melissa Petrie with J Price Architecture and Jamie Picow with Hockenbergs Equipment & Supply are also being positively challenged by the Cookie Construction program. “The girls have reminded me to not let the constraints of the ‘building blocks’, or cookie boxes in this case, limit your design concept. The creative and fun aspect of design is figuring out how to make your design concept come to life,” mentor Melissa said.

Butterfly Dream Squad

The Butterfly Dream Squad is all about innovation and distribution! While we can’t tell you exactly what they’re building, they have really analyzed the theme and have a great build planned! When we caught up with them, they were working on putting their Build Day game plan together, making sure they are prepared for March 4 and strategic with the five hours they’ll have to assemble their structure! Led by mentors Erin Mumm of The Clark Enersen Partners, Ellen Hailey and McKenzie Liebl with International Architects Atelier and Grace Phillip with El Dorado Inc., they are ready to see their creation come to life! Mentor Ellen Hailey has enjoyed seeing her team evolve over the course of the program.  “I think it’s a great experience for the girls about collaborating with others. A lot of our girls didn’t know each other before this and it’s a lot of personalities working toward one idea. They do a great job respecting each other’s opinions – and the Butterfly Dream Squad is very opinionated! I love that they’re never afraid to speak their minds and I’m always impressed with their consideration to each other.”

TL²

While the theme revolves around innovation, TL² has some team members that have truly been innovative with their construction methods (and their team name)! TL² is our team working out of the West Region and has members from Topeka, Lawrence and Lansing – hence the L². This year mentors Jacquelyn Rakoski-Diediker with Architec One, Inc, Resa Kemper with Tevis Architects and Shira Kohn have developed a team strategy that has not only fostered the innovation, but fostered an amazing environment for these Girl Scouts to work and play.  Team Member Elizabeth decided she wanted the boxes to be more malleable and thought that a little bit of water might just do the trick. “I knew that water molds paper, but rips it, so I thought it might have the same effect on cardboard, but would stay intact.” And boy does it! She is working on constructing the pieces for their structure that need to have more of a spherical shape, rather than the traditional box shape!

The seven structures will be on display at Crown Center from March 4 – 24 and we need YOU to visit and cast your ballot for People’s Choice Award!

The 2017 Cookie Construction Program is a partnership with AIA Kansas City and made possible with the support of McCownGordon Construction, HOK, Centric Projects, Mark One Electric Co. and SFS Architecture.

GSKSMO Goes to the Nation’s Capital

Guest Bloggers: Sara Babcock and Roxie Cody, Girl Scout Ambassadors

Long before any primary or convention, we planned a trip where Girl Scouts could experience history and democracy in action. And, they could have robust conversation, learn from one another and know their voice matters. Last Thursday – Sunday, these 14 Girl Scouts traveled to Washington DC together, united as Girl Scout sisters. Thank you to Sara and Roxie for documenting their incredible experience.

We had the opportunity to witness the Inauguration of the 45th president of the United States through Girl Scouts and EF Tours with 12 other sister Girl Scouts. The trip was not only about the inauguration but about getting to know Girl Scouts from other service units, visit the Smithsonian Museums, monuments and memorials in and around DC. Before the trip Regan gave a very funny speech about group dynamics that had us all laughing and two of the younger girls helped us prepare for safety on the trip as well as airport etiquette.

On Inauguration Day, it took us 4 hours to walk to the National Mall. We were surrounded by tons of people while standing in the security line to enter the National Mall. There were a lot of security and military personnel from all over the US, even some from Alaska!

The audience was a mix of supporters, protesters, and those just wanting to witness history in person as we watched the Inaugural speech of the 45th President of the United States of America on a JumboTron next to the Washington Monument. What we witnessed were many speeches that recognized importance of the peaceful transfer of power to President Trump. It was ironic to be standing next to the Washington Monument, remembering a class lecture where we learned how George Washington shocked the entire world when he peacefully transferred the power of the presidency, starting the tradition we have today.

The next day we visited the Capitol Building; the Mall was so overwhelmed with people that they had closed the Capitol Building and we had the opportunity to see the Women’s March first hand. Everywhere we looked there were people holding signs and supporting the Women’s March. Some were holding signs, but not all. Those that didn’t made us curious as to what they were there support specifically. Everything during this trip was very interesting to see and to experience.

During the trip girls prepared and gave small speeches about the places we were visiting when we arrived, including the Vietnam and Korean War memorials, well as the Lincoln Memorial.

An older girl in our group, Annaleigh, said that her favorite part of the trip was our first day when we visited with Congressman Kevin Yoder. “He was very kind and willing to answer our questions not just briefly, but he gave very descriptive answers”

Overall he was a very kind and accepting person. He took our questions seriously and didn’t talk down to us.

Fellow group members Naomi and Courtney both said that they “liked making new friends and that the trip as a whole was low drama!” We walked a lot every day (11 miles on Inauguration day, alone); so in addition to having a good pair of shoes, having a low drama group was very important. Especially when everyone, was tired, sleepy, and a bit cranky!

When asked why she wanted to come in this trip, one of our group members, Riley said “I wanted to try something new.” Which we personally think exactly describes everything we did on this trip. It was all new and exciting. Some of us had never ridden a plane, the metro (subway), or been to a food truck before.

We were complimented multiple times by our bus driver and the tour director for being attentive and so well behaved. Overall, it was a very engaging and interesting learning experience for all of us involved.

“This trip was important because I got to witness an inauguration, a crucial part of our nation’s politics. The most important thing I got to do on the trip was attend the Women’s March. Dissent is also a very important part of our country; attending the march made me feel like I was part of something bigger.” Lillie said.

Thanks to Girl Scouts and EF Tours we were able to try new things, met new people, and had experiences we will never forget.

All the Reasons to Camp Like a Girl Scout this Summer!

Camping has long been an aspect of Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Camp is where your G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout.

Because at Girl Scout camp, she will be:

A GO-GETTER: Determined to succeed. Bold. Honest. Fair. Ambitious.

An INNOVATOR: Creative. Will think outside the box. Use resources wisely. Experiment.

A RISK-TAKER: Try new things. Be courageous. Step up. Discover. Embrace the unfamiliar.

A LEADER: Confident. Responsible. Empathetic. Advocate. Empowers others.

Because when she camps like a Girl Scout, she empowers herself for life.

We’re excited to announce that registration for 2017 Summer Camp is now open! We have some new and exciting programs and sessions that we want to make you aware of!

Badges – In most programs, girls will complete steps and earn a badge at resident camp. In all programs, girls will complete steps in additional badges that coincide with girl-led activities!

Teens Only Session – Session 4 (July 6 – 14 & July 9 -14) features programs just for girls going into 6th grade or higher! Teens will rule Camp Daisy and will enjoy connecting with other teens!

Extended Programming – throughout the summer are some extended programs, mostly for teen Girl Scouts, to build skills and friendships that will last a lifetime!

Journeys! – Complete your Sow What Journey (9 – 12 grade) or Breathe Journey (6 – 8 grade) at camp this summer!

Excursions – Learn skills at Camp Daisy, then take them offsite with our resident camp staff and do adventure activities, kayak on a lake (Kayak Kansas), problem solve on a high ropes course (Challenge Accepted) and more!

Mini Camp – for Brownies & Juniors who are new to outdoor experiences and overnights away from home. These two-night experiences will give her a taste of summer camp and leave her wanting more!

We know that choosing to send your Girl Scout to resident camp is a big decision for both you and your girl, so take sure that you both take the Camp Readiness Quiz on page 4 & 5 in our 2017 Summer Camp Digital Guide! If the results indicate that either one of you aren’t quite ready, think about going to camp WITH your Girl Scout!

You & Me: Ladies is for Girl Scouts in K-3 grade and a female caregiver in her life!

You & Me: Gentlemen is for Girl Scouts of all ages and male role model in her life

S’mores & More is for the whole family! Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends!

We asked our Resident Camp Director Marley Parsons (aka Ferris) why she is so passionate about camp and why it’s so beneficial for girls to go to Girl Scout Resident Camp. As a lifelong Girl Scout and lover of the outdoors, she passed along some great resources to reference when considering summer camp!

 

More than S’mores – In 2014, Girl Scouts of the USA published a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute called More than S’mores. For this study they talked to nearly 3,000 Girl Scouts in fourth-through-eighth-grade about their outdoor experiences

American Camp Association (ACA)-  Camp Daisy Hindman is accredited by the American Camp Association. The ACA is a community of camp professionals who, for over 100 years, have joined together to share their knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. On their website is a great article called The Case for Camp- Why Kids Need it Now More Than Ever.

So what are you waiting for?! Get your Girl Scout registered for Summer Camp! The first 400 girls who register for any camp program (You & Me, S’mores & More, Mini or Resident Camp) will receive this limited edition Camp Daisy bandana!

Four Generations of Girl Scouts

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Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumnae and Volunteers Doris Frost, Janet Pelton, Becky Blankenship and Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship

There’s a special bond that Girl Scout mothers and daughters have. From sharing stories of badge earning decades ago, teaching the newest Girl Scout about how to cook on an open fire, to traveling together to the birthplace of the organization that you all hold so dear to your heart, Girl Scouts brings women even closer together who are already connected through their family tree.

Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship is a fourth generation Girl Scout in her family. You might say that she was destined to be a Girl Scout that it’s in her DNA. After all her mother, Becky Blankenship was a Girl Scout. Her Grandmother, Janet Pelton was a Girl Scout. Even her Great Grandmother, Doris Frost was a Girl Scout!

As Doris recalls her own Girl Scouting experience, it doesn’t sound much different from the ones her great granddaughter Katie is having today. She remembers having awesome leaders, going camping, earning badges and just generally being a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™.

Today, Becky and Janet are both troop leaders, and Doris is a retired troop leader. Between the four of them they have over 100 years of Girl Scouting experiences and stories!

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Doris (front), Janet (left), Becky (center), Katie (right)

Katie’s grandmother, Janet, went through all the Girl Scout levels herself then when her daughter Becky was old enough, she volunteered to lead her troop of Girl Scout Brownies (the first level of Girl Scouting in the 1980s) and saw them all the way through earning their Gold Award! When Becky left for college, Janet started all over again, with a brand new troop of Girl Scout Daisies, but this time she recruited Doris to join her on the troop leader adventure, and oh what an adventure Doris had with her daughter and the group of girls they led!

After 12 years of Girl Scouting, in Janet & Doris’s troop embarked on an 8-day cruise to culminate their Girl Scout experience before life took them in all different directions. That Girl Scout trip is what got Doris on an airplane for the first time in her life, at 84 years young.

“That trip was wonderful, the best time I ever had,” Doris said!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

After that trip, Doris hung up her Girl Scout volunteer hat, but Janet decided to dive right back in and start all over again with her third troop; all while still continuing to serve as Service Unit Manager for Service Unit 661.

While Doris and Janet were leading their troop in Leavenworth, Kansas, Becky was stepping up for troops who were without leaders in Emporia, Kansas, while also going to school full time at Emporia State University!

After graduating college, Becky moved back to the Kansas City area, got married and had Katie! In January, before Katie was set to go to Kindergarten, Becky called her area service unit manager and let her know that she could count on her to lead the Daisy troop where Katie would go to school that fall!

Becky always dreamed of giving Katie the opportunities through Girl Scouting that her mother, Janet, had given her.

“Girls have opportunities they wouldn’t have without Girl Scouts,” Becky said.

This past summer, Janet and Becky took Katie’s troop on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. A trip that was important for Becky to experience with her mom. “She gave me my start in Girl Scouts and I wanted to have the experience of going to the birthplace with my family,” Becky explained.

“It was really neat that we got to do that last trip together,” Janet said of the cruise with Doris. “I’ve gotten to do so much with Becky now.”

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

For this family, Girl Scouting truly is in their DNA. Through all the things that life has thrown at them, they credit Girl Scouts for keeping them going. “Being a Girl Scout leader was a lifesaver during the times that my parents were sick. Most people quit being a volunteer when those things happen but it kept me sane,” Janet explained. “Girl Scouts is what keeps me happy.”

Girl Scouting has come full circle for these four women. Doris loves hearing what Katie is accomplishing through Girl Scouts and what exciting activities and trips Janet and Becky are doing as leaders for their girls. The memories that the four of them have all overlap and constantly remind them of what they’ve experienced not only as Girl Scouts, but as a family.

“All of the things Girl Scouts get to do are good. Everything is a learning experience for them,” Doris said.

Thank you Doris, Janet and Becky for all you’ve done to empower girls and instill the Girl Scout leadership experience in their DNA!

 

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A Girl Scout Gem

Celebrating 60 Years of Hidden Valley Camp

Tucked away in the heart of Lawrence, Kansas sits 40 acres of wildlife terrain where thousands of Girl Scouts have grown as G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers, Leaders)™ for 60 years! Hidden Valley Camp sits in what used to be a secluded part of Lawrence in 1956. Throughout the years, significant city developments have taken place all around the property, but Hidden Valley has remained a wilderness area and semi-primitive campsite, living up to the “hidden” part of its name!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Girl Scouts at Hidden Valley Camp in 1982 on the left, and in 2016 on the right!

Hidden Valley is one of the few privately owned and operated camps in the region. The land was purchased and Hidden Valley Camp was established with funds from the estate of the late Alfred Bromelsick who passed away in 1950. Mr. Bromelsick was a longtime advocate of outdoors programs for youth, specifically those of the Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and 4-H organizations. Today, Hidden Valley Camp is owned and managed by the locally-based Lawrence Hidden Valley Committee (LHVC) Inc., a nonprofit organization comprised of adult Girl Scout members living in the greater Lawrence community.

Many additions and improvements have been made to Hidden Valley in the past 60 years to keep up with the growing needs of Girl Scouts! In 1996, Friends of Hidden Valley was created to keep up with those improvements. This separate committee supports LHVC in programming, maintenance and establishing and meeting the goals of the property today, and for the next 60+ years.

Hidden Valley has seen so much love from many dedicated Girl Scout volunteers over the past six decades. One of those volunteers was the late Mariana Remple. Mariana was a co-founder of Hidden Valley Camp along with Carolyn Blaas, and was active with Girl Scouts of the USA for 50 years! In addition to Mariana’s work with Hidden Valley, she served as troop leader for Troop 660 for over 40 years and as assistant troop leader until her passing.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

Carolyn Blaas and Mariana Remple, two of the Co-founders of Hidden Valley Camp.

As a treasured Girl Scouting experience for girls, those who once experience this camp as a young Girl Scout are now coming full circle serving on the LHVC and the Friends of Hidden Valley Board or serving in other capacities as adult Girl Scout members.

Durand Reiber remembers going to a very rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley with her troop when she was just a Girl Scout Brownie. In 2002 she was hired as Camp Manager – the camp’s first paid employee, a role she still serves in today.

“I was a Girl Scout through my senior year, canoeing and camping away with Mariana Remple’s Mariner Troop 660, which had a profound impact on my life. I continued to travel, camp and canoe, often leading my women friends on trips. My love of all things natural, and my college and career choices are an extension of all those experiences, beginning with that rainy Day Camp at Hidden Valley,” Durand said.

Kyra Flummerfelt was a Girl Scout growing up in Lawrence, living right down the street from Hidden Valley, but didn’t experience it herself until she found herself leading her daughter’s Girl Scout Brownie troop! In 2008 she was asked to join LHVC board and oversee the reservations and equipment checkout process and now she also serves as the zip line and archery facilitator.

“I love getting to meet leaders and help make camping easier by providing them with pretty much everything they need to camp out.  When we decided to add the zip line to camp I signed up to be a facilitator.  I am afraid of heights but chose to overcome it so that I could not only help others experience the wonders of zip line but so I could do it too.  I now love to zip line,” Kyra said!

Today, the wondrous 40 acres of Hidden Valley boasts hiking trails, diverse habitats of the prairie, woods, rocky hillsides, wetlands and streams, a challenge course with two zip lines and archery range. It also has a tree house, Yurt (really big tent) and a cabin with a kitchen making it the perfect place for seasoned campers as well as young troops to experience the great outdoors!

One thing that hasn’t changed about Hidden Valley is that it has a profound impact on those who still visit it today, no matter their age.

“This easy year round access means many troops routinely go there and the girls and adults alike get to know it well, developing a deep love for it over the years…and over time, it just becomes one of those special places in life you always remember,” Durand said.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

Girl Scouts celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Hidden Valley Camp at the Fall Frolic.

While Girl Scouts in the greater Lawrence, Kansas area have first priority in reservations, Hidden Valley is open to all Girl Scouts and other groups who wish to take advantage its amenities.

“I can assure you that the experiences Girl Scouts and Hidden Valley offers girls make a difference and gives them a place to practice courage, confidence, and character,” Kyra explained. “Hidden Valley has been a place to make memories for so many people for the last 60 years and hopefully with help from the girls, leaders and community volunteers we can keep it that way for many more to come.”

If you would like to make a reservation at Hidden Valley for your troop, visit their website at www.lhvcamp.org and click on the reservations and equipment tab!

Camp Like a Girl Scout

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Spotlight on CIT II Olivia Aractingi aka “Puffy”

When Girl Scout Ambassador Olivia Aractingi went to summer camp for the first time in 2007, she left feeling empowered.

Empowered to embrace her unique qualities.

Empowered to believe in herself.

Empowered to make friends wherever she went.

“Even at 8 years old I knew. I met tons of different people and I loved the diversity between us. That experience made me who I am,” Olivia said.

Camping has long been an aspect of Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Camp is where every G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ will lead like a Girl Scout, like Olivia.

Over the past nine years, she has been to three different camps, participated in a variety of programs and formed countless friendships with campers and counselors. Through her experiences at camp, Olivia has found her passions and challenged herself.

One summer her mom signed her up for a horse program. “I tried something new, realized that I didn’t like to ride horses, but I like to help out with them. The beauty of camp is that its challenge by choice,” she explained. “Camp shows yourself your boundaries. You explore what you do and don’t like – it’s perfect because if you don’t want to do one thing, there’s always something else.”

As Olivia has grown through camp each summer, so have her leadership skills. She’s earned both her Counselor-in-Training (CIT) I & II pins and works to ensure that younger campers have an experience as memorable as her first one was.

“My goal every summer is to get to know everybody at camp – learn one thing about every person. That does great things for building friendships!”

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Olivia knows that her experiences and skills she builds at camp stay with her even when she’s not there. During the school year she her camp experiences and recruits girls of all ages to join Girl Scouts to join her the next summer!

“Going to camp has helped me communicate with people in the real world. It has turned me into a leader and a problem solver,” Olivia said.

Because she camped like a Girl Scout, Olivia is empowered for life.

What program will empower your G.I.R.L. this summer?! Our 2017 Summer Camp Guide is now live and registration opens on January 5, 2017 at 9:00 am!

Taking a Risk and Finding Your Passion

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Evelyn Peat’s Girl Scout Destination to Rock-N-Wilderness

With dozens upon dozens of Girl Scout Destinations to choose from, there is trip for every Girl Scout.

If she wants to be a go-getter, honing her photography skills while hiking through a national park, she can.

If she wants to discover more about herself as a leader while backpacking through Peru with a pack of llamas, she can.

If she wants to be a risk-taker, canoeing through the boundary waters, she can.

Evelyn Peat did.

Evelyn is a Girl Scout Senior and one of five girls in troop 3394 out of Topeka, KS. Just like any other troop, #3394 is girl-led. They choose what activities they will do each year, together. But, one of the great things about being a Girl Scout is that you can also do things outside of your troop that have particular interest to you – like a Girl Scout Destination!

You see, Evelyn loves the outdoors – camping, exploring and taking risks as a Girl Scout. So when her mom told her about a trip called Rock-N-Wilderness that would take her up to Minnesota to canoe through the various lakes that make up the Boundary Waters and through Canada, she was sold.

Through her experiences on Lake Odonata at Camp Daisy Hindman, Evelyn knew that she liked canoeing and that she wanted to do more of it!

Her Destination started out at a Girl Scout Camp in Duluth, MN where she was put into a group with six other Girl Scouts from around the country and two guides. The first two days they did team building exercises and learned the ins and outs of canoeing. They also did a small kayaking expedition, something Evelyn had never done before!

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For the next seven days, Evelyn and her group canoed over 50 miles through Minnesota into Canada and back, camping and cooking their meals along the way. During those seven days Evelyn learned more about herself as a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk taker and leader.)™

“I really liked the since of accomplishment I felt each day. I learned that I can always push myself to go farther; even if I think I can’t,” Evelyn said.

 

Throughout the trip their guides were constantly monitoring the weather, determining the best time for the group to be out on the water, completing their trek. This meant that some days they canoed in the early mornings, some in the afternoons and once, during the night! They were prepared for whatever they might encounter and had supplies and food packed for those seven days in the wilderness.

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There are three roles in a canoe – the bow (front), the stern (back) and princess (middle). The guides quickly realized that Evelyn was an excellent bow and often looked to her to navigate the choppy waters, not only for her own canoe, but for the entire group.

While out on the Boundary Waters, something really special happened to Evelyn. She crossed paths with her brother who happened to be on a Boy Scout expedition himself!

At the conclusion of her destination, Evelyn met back up with her family for a mini-vacation in Minnesota while they waited for her brother’s expedition to conclude. During that time she convinced her family to go kayaking out on Lake Superior!

Since she has returned, her passion for canoeing and kayaking has remained steady. The Peat family has been out to Eisenhower State Park where they can rent canoes and kayaks by the hour. Other families have joined in on these outings and Evelyn has been teaching others how to properly and safely be out on the water!

She’s even taught her 10-year old brother how to canoe!

Melissa Peat, Evelyn’s mom, sees a difference in Evelyn since she’s returned. “I’ve realized how much more confidence she has and she is communicating better,” Melissa explained. “When we have gone out kayaking and canoeing with friends, she is a leader and teaches people what to do!”

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Evelyn took risks and discovered a new passion that she is now sharing with those all around her!

November 15 is the first application deadline for 2017 Girl Scout Destinations! Where will you travel as a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Going Gold with STEM

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Introducing Senior Girl Scout Jolly Patro’s Take Action Project

When most girls have a Friday off from school they’re ready to spend time with friends or spend the day relaxing. For Jolly Patro, an aspiring Gold Award Girl Scout, it’s a day to do something she loves – service. On this particular Friday in September, Jolly spent her day off at Children’s Mercy Hospital handing out her first STEM kits for her Gold Award project. This awesome Girl Scout Senior from Troop 107 in Olathe, KS is on her path to Gold by combining her love of helping kids, STEM and education.

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Jolly Patro is a sophomore at Olathe North high school and a girl of many talents. She’s involved in Science Olympiad, works at Kumon, plays the viola, is an officer in her school service club, a member of student council and volunteers at Children’s Mercy! Talk about a go-getter! Yet no matter how busy she is, she always finds time for Girl Scouts and most recently, for her Gold Award project.

She began working on her Gold Award after going to Inspire a Girl in April 2015. “One of my friends got her Gold Award at Inspire a Girl, so I started mine after that ceremony. I thought ‘this is something I can do’ after talking with the other recipients that day,” Jolly said. Seeing the other projects and having earned her Bronze & Silver Awards, Jolly knew it was something she wanted to earn.

While Jolly’s path is STEM focused now, her favorite things to do as a younger Girl Scout involved camping and her friends. “My favorite part [of Girl Scouts] was camping because I got to spend the night with my best friends and camp in cool places like the Zoo or Timberlake,” Jolly said. As she got older she became interested in careers where she could help people and turned her sights to medicine.  “I want to be a pediatrician […] and I want to work with kids,” Jolly said.

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Her Gold Award project consists of creating STEM kits for the children at Children’s Mercy. They include activities that require common components (string, aluminum foil and tape), so they can easily be reused in the future. For Jolly, it was the perfect combination for her interests. “I started my Gold Award project and knew I wanted to do something with science, medicine and kids. So I thought of Children’s Mercy and we worked together to come up with the idea for STEM kits for the kids,” Jolly said.

These kits not only give the kids something to do while they spend time at the hospital, they inspire them to learn about a variety of STEM-focused areas. “The kits we currently have are a robotic hand kit, parachute challenge kit, zipline challenge kit, structure challenge kit and an adventure kit,” Jolly said. It’s truly engaging the children of the future. Jolly even talked about the power of STEM, Girl Scouts and her project at the GEHA Golf Tournament in September where $100K was donated to Girl Scouts! Jolly’s inspiring story as a driven Girl Scout had the audience on their feet, applauding her success.

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Just as her Gold Award project is hoping to inspire kids to learn more about STEM, she believes that giving to Girl Scouts does the same thing – creates a better next generation. “Girl Scouts tackle all topics, not just one area, like STEM. Girl Scouts conquer everything. You know that you’re shaping the women of tomorrow [by supporting Girl Scouts]. If someone donates, they’re helping girls for a better tomorrow, a better next generation,” said Jolly. “You’re helping the next generation when you give to Girl Scouts, that’s the most important thing,” Jolly said.

This inspiring young woman plans to stay active in Girl Scouts because of the bonds she has with her Girl Scout sisters and the unique opportunities that Girl Scouts offers. “By sticking with your troop, you get to stay with girls you’ve been with for years, you meet new girls and you all bond over Girl Scouts. With busy schedules you don’t always have time to see each other, but when you’re in Girl Scouts, you always have that one time you’re together during Girl Scouts. It also gives you so many opportunities. That’s why I stay with Girl Scouts,” Jolly said. “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Her biggest piece of advice to other girls planning to do their Gold Award is to pick something you’re really passionate about. “Pick something you’re passionate about because that’s the only thing you’ll be willing to spend that much time doing,” Jolly said. She found her passion and is thrilled to be sharing it.

What an inspiring young woman! We thank Jolly for all her amazing work and for being an inspiring young woman. Know another awesome Girl Scout working toward Gold?  Share her story in the comments below!

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