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!

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!

 

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!

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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!

 

The Great European Adventure – Girl Scout Style

Part 1 – London, England

“Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on deep and permanent in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Do you remember the first big trip of your adult life? The one where you were equal parts nerves and excitement because you were finally going somewhere that only existed in text books and movies? Were you worried that it wouldn’t live up to your expectations? Or maybe you left feeling personally challenged seeing things in all new ways and maybe wanting more?!

Girl Scouts from our council are having that experience. Right. Now.

For over two years we have been planning and preparing for our fist council-sponsored trip abroad with EF Tours. This trip was open to all Girl Scouts in high school and volunteers at the time of travel in our council and girls worked their Cookie and Candy, Nuts and Magazine businesses to supplement the cost of the trip using proceeds as well as Cookie Dough! Finally, on July 1, 11 Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors and two volunteers left the USA with two GSKSMO staff members for an 11 day adventure to three countries in Europe – England, France and Switzerland!

A slight delay in Atlanta didn’t dampen our spirits! Passports in hand, peace out USA!

After a full day of travel they landed at London Heathrow airport where they met their tour guide, Andrea, and Girl Scouts from three other councils and begun immersing themselves in the culture even before they left the airport! (When you order a coffee, you get espresso. When you order water, you have to specify tap water. And don’t expect to get ice with it!)

After checking into the hotel, Andrea explained how to navigate the Tube (mind the gap!) and they were off to Trafalgar Square, to dinner and then spent time in Leicester square where they were all captivated by a unique street performance!

Day 3 was their first full day in London and it was chalked full of information! The group met up with tour guide Keith, who was equally knowledgeable as he was hysterical. He spent the day showing everyone around London and spouting off fast facts, comical jokes and stopping at some of the notorious landmarks and activities like the Changing of the Guard, Westminster Abbey and touring Windsor Castle.

  • The city of London is actually only one square mile? Greater London surrounds it and is 600 square miles!
  • Most of London burnt down in 1666.
  • The Tower Bridge is the most photographed bridge in the world and is named after the Tower of London, which it sits next to.
  • The Queen of London doesn’t live at Buckingham Palace, but that is where she does 75% of her work.

Their final day in London began with an educational morning at Pax Lodge, one of Girl Scouts’ World Centers. Each girl received the official Pax Lodge Pin, a pin you can only get by personally visiting! They joined Girl Scouts from other councils and for special programming led by a Girl Guide from Nigeria!

In the afternoon they went on a river tour on the Thames, rode the London Eye and a double-decker bus (a bucket list item for many), had the traditional fish and chips dinner and then some revisited Leicester Square and Chinatown while others saw Wicked!

London was a whirlwind, but everyone had a great time and checked those “must-dos” off their travel bucket-list!

Next up, they’ll take the Eurostar, also known as the Chunnel, under the English Channel and head to France where they will spend three days in Paris!

For them, this trip is just getting started. These 11 girls didn’t know each other are now forming friendships among themselves, as well as with the Girl Scouts from three other councils who are travelling with them.

This is the first of a three part installment that we’ll bring you after each country! If you want to keep up with their trip along in real time, follow us at www.instagram.com/gsksmo for photos, InstaStories and LIVE videos (you’ll get a notification) or search #GSKSMOabroad2k17!

We want to know about your travel experiences, with or outside of Girl Scouts so let us know in the comments below!

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.

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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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)?

Leadership in the Andes

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Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is no stranger to travel. As a freshman in high school, her passport already dons more stamps than many grown adults. This summer, she added Peru to that stamp collection when she traveled with Girl Scout destinations on a Leadership in the Andes trip!

For 12 days, Amanda was fully immersed in the Peruvian culture with 15 other Girl Scouts from all over the United States.

The leadership skill building aspect of this trip is what really caught her attention – and the fact that it was in the mountains of a foreign country. “I knew I wanted to do another destination [after Space Camp last year]. I wanted to expand my boundaries and further myself,” Amanda explained. “I thought this would be a cool experience; you’re out of the county and you have to lead yourself and other girls!”

And what a cool experience Amanda had.

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Her and the group toured cathedrals, an alpaca farm, salt mines, Sacred Valley, volunteered at an orphanage and visited Machu Picchu; but, the bulk of the trip was a four-day, 20 mile backpacking trek through the Andes Mountains.

To prepare herself for the physical aspects of her destination, Amanda speed hiked with 15 lbs. in her backpack in her neighborhood every day. Her mom, Terri jokes that the neighbors started to wonder if she was practicing running away!

Amanda and the group hiked the Lares Trek, a more difficult path than the famous Inca trail. Each girl was responsible for carrying a day pack that held items they wanted immediately available to them, while over 20 llamas carried all their camping gear! They camped at various sites each night and had guides that would setup the campsites and cook dinner for the group. “We had a lot of freedom to search and explore,” Amanda said. Over the course of four days, they climbed from 9,000 feet to over 15,000 and even got a clear view of the Milky Way one night.

“It was hard work but it was so worth it!” Amanda said.

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A lot of the leadership development for the Girl Scouts happened during the trek. “I learned that while that I’m a very rough and tough person, that I’m not really that rough and tough,” Amanda explained. “I have limits and I have to accept that. It’s hard to be able to ask for help and say that you need a break, when you think you’re putting your pride on the line but you have to see your limits, accept them and love yourself for who you are.”

The pinnacle of the trip for Amanda was her visit to Machu Picchu. The group spent nearly six hours touring the ancient ruins and soaking up every bit of information the guides gave them.  One of the things they learned was that unfortunately Machu Picchu won’t last forever. First, because its sits on a fault line and second because of all the foot traffic. While there is some regulation of visitors, they’re not always followed or enforced.

Amanda was particularly fascinated with the tourism industry in Peru and had the opportunity to speak Spanish and converse with older girls at the orphanage they visited about it.

“The positive is that tourism improves their economy, the negative is that they’re losing some of their culture because of the tourism,” Amanda said.

Their guides taught them about sustainable tourism and what to look for in items they were purchasing. She learned how to tell the difference between foreign items and those which were locally sourced and produced in Peru. Amanda made it her mission to only purchase these sustainable items and came home with sweaters, socks, ponchos and more for her family!

She even bought every girl on the trip a friendship bracelet and wrote them a letter at the end of the trip. “I had a personal bond with every single girl in the group, even the leaders; I thought that was so cool.”

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Amanda’s experience in Peru expanded her horizons and she realized that a major part of being a leader has to do with being true to yourself. “The leadership development they did with us was a lot more on the emotional side of things and how you feel.  You have to love yourself to ultimately lead others.”

Is your Girl Scout interested in an experience like Amanda’s? The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout destination trip is Nov. 15! Domestic trips begin at the Junior level and international travel opportunities are available to Girl Scout Cadettes and older – find out more!