Silver Award Passion in Action

Summer 2019 was one for the Girl Scout memory books for Girl Scout Seniors Parker V. and Emily N.! After traveling to Savannah, GA with their troop, then on the GSKSMO council-sponsored trip to Belize, Parker and Emily hopped on a plane back down to Central America for their Girl Scout Destination trip for two weeks of scuba diving, volunteering and working with sea turtles in Costa Rica and Panama!

This trip was inspired by their Silver Award where they worked to eliminate plastic waste polluting the ocean and endangering sea turtles. Parker and Emily partnered with Kindcraft turning bags into yarn that was used to create sleeping mats for the homeless, doubling the impact of their project!  

“I remember the day you told me about the trip!” Parker said to Emily. “We were at the first Girl Scout meeting of the year and we went to get something to drink and you said you heard about this thing you get to do where you go somewhere in the Pacific and to help sea turtles!”

Upon arrival they stayed overnight Outward Bound Costa Rica’s home base then traveled Bocas del Toro Panama where they stayed with a host family for seven days and earned their NAUI Scuba Certification.

Their countless scuba sessions included a 67 foot dive (their deepest), a shipwreck exploration where they saw nurse sharks and sand sharks under the boat and a night dive where they activated bioluminescent plankton!

“You go in the water and it is pitch black, but when you move around it glows green around you,” Parker explained. “Essentially they’re specks of dust that glow when you touch it,” Emily added. “It was so cool.”

When the girls weren’t scuba diving, they were volunteering at a K-8 school playing volleyball with kids during recess and doing beautification projects around the campus and community, ziplining through the rainforest, swimming on a hidden beach and bonding with their new Girl Scout friends and sisters.

The highlight of the first part of their trip was the cultural immersion experience sleeping on a dock over the pacific ocean of their host family. It was a very different experience from their time in Belize staying at resorts!

Sunrise view from the dock!

“We got there and there was no air conditioning, we made our own food and there was no electricity and the bathroom was a bucket bathroom. At night it was dark so dark but it was so beautiful,” Parker said. “We got to sleep on a dock under the stars!”

For the second half of their trip they headed to the San San-Pond Sak where they worked on sea turtle conservation efforts.

Their group arrived after nests had been moved from the beach and were being kept safe until the eggs hatched, and their job was to make it possible for the turtles to emerge after hatching.

Preparing nests to hatch successfully!

“You dug until you saw white, which were the little baby eggs, and then you loosely put the sand back in so they’re covered, but they can easily get out when they hatch,” Emily explained.

When the eggs hatched, they transported the sea turtles back down to the beach and helped release them into the ocean!

“You pick up a sea turtle and you lay it down and it just knows where to go, it’s awesome,” Parker said!

“We learned the faster you go, the more sea turtles you get to touch,” Emily added. “I released 13!”

Parker in the middle, pink; Emily second from the right in the back.

Throughout their 15 days together, Parker and Emily developed deep bonds with the six other Girl Scouts on the destination and their two guides. Each day girls would rotate jobs that helped the group function and bond. They ranged in duties from carrying the medicine bag to educating the group on cultural experiences to summing up the day with a powerful phrase, quote or words.

“Ohana means family and family means no one is left behind,” Emily and Parker said in unison. “That was one of our favorites.”

Their destination group. Emily in the middle in teal, Parker in the back in pink.

Each night they would pass around a string of eight wooden sea turtles, express their highs and lows of the day then give the necklace to someone who did something great for the group that day. At the end of the trip, the guides disassembled the string and created a necklace for each individual girl with one sea turtle on it. Their guides explained that they were all like a pack of baby sea turtles at the beginning of the trip, but by the end they had developed and grown and were ready to go out into the ocean on their own.

Parker and Emily have been back for three months but they’ve continued this nightly ritual, everyone texting the group with their highs and lows of the day.

Are you interested in exploration, service and sisterhood like Parker and Emily?! Learn more about Girl Scout Destinations and apply by the first deadline on November 15!  Don’t forget, you can use Cookie Dough, Cookie proceeds and there are scholarships available!

The Perfect Girl Scout Destination

Spotlight on Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Her Voice and Blazing Her Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camp Fury – Tucson, AZ, 2018

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

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

 

Traveling Far and Wide with Girl Scouts

Spotlighting Girl Scout Volunteer Extraordinaire Chris Hrdy

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Hrdy traveling with Girl Scouts!

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

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

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

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

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

Hollywood Dreamin’

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Blasting Off on a Girl Scout Destination

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie with the Troop from New Zealand

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

Jenna and Molly in Mission Control!

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

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

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

Jenna at graduation from the program receiving her Flight Wings

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

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

Molly in anti-gravity gear!

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

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

Breaking Boundaries and Busting Barriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

-Camping is fun

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wildlife, Geysers & Mountains: An Unforgettable Adventure between Sisters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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?!