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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GSKSMO Takes Savannah!

On June 27th, 22 Girl Scout Cadettes, volunteers and GSKSMO staff left Kansas City for a trip of a Girl Scout lifetime – to visit Savannah, Georgia with EF Tours!

It was an early morning for this group following Girl Scout Day at the K; they convened at 5:30 am but that didn’t dampen their excitement! When they arrived in Savannah that afternoon they hit the ground running…literally…on a scavenger hunt! This took them all around the historic district, visiting the district squares and the Federal Courthouse. That evening they had a hearty dinner at The Pirate’s House and then took a Trolley Tour that highlighted Savannah’s unique historical past and the events that have pegged Savannah as “America’s Most Haunted City.” They heard many stories of Savannah’s historically dark background from war, burnings (Savannah has burned down THREE times), pirates, illness (yellow fever), and other tragedies. They were fascinated!

Day1

On their second day in Savannah, they traveled to Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace for an art session on self-portraits and learned more about female artists like Frida Kahlo and Judith Leyster! They discussed self-expression as well as themes and symbolism in some famous female self-portraits and made personal collages reflecting themselves!

Following the art lesson they went on a tour of Juliette’shome and saw her extensive art collection. The tour concluded with an interactive exhibit called “a library reimagined” where they experienced inclusive books, listened to videos and wrote poetry.Day2

After exploring the city a bit and eating lunch, the group reconvened to visit the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum where they learned about the USS Juliette Low and earned a Rogues & Rouge Patch that involved the history of female pirates like Anne Bonney and Mary Read!

 

Their third day in Savannah took them out on the Atlantic Ocean for a visit to Tybee Island! They encountered marine life in tide pools like crabs, mussels, clams and also on the beach with starfish and horseshoe crabs. They also went on a dolphin cruise along the coast where they saw over 20 dolphins!

That afternoon they visited Old Fort Jackson for a lesson on the Militia Program! They participated in a role play workshop where they were taught marching, saluting and about life as a soldier during the Civil War and saw a cannon actually fire!

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The fourth and final day was no less exciting than the first three; EF Tours did a great job sending them out of Savannah with a bang! Their final hours included a tour of the Andrew Low House and photos outside the front gate with the lions that Juliette petted everyday while she lived in the house. They also visited the first Girl Scout Headquarters which started out as a Carriage House, then was Juliette’s garage and eventually the first Headquarters building! The tour guides talked to them about the history of the uniform (the green didn’t come along until after Juliette’s passing) and Girl Scout programs like cookies and outdoor adventure (and they found out what the new cookie will be for the 100th anniversary)- shh… we can’t tell you quite yet, but get ready for National S’MORES Day on August 10th!

The group made it back safely to Kansas City the evening of June 30 with stories to tell for a lifetime!

Have you visited the birthplace of Girl Scouts?! Tell us about your trip in the comments below!

We’re going to be announcing our next set of Council-Sponsored Trips soon so be sure to keep an eye on all our social media channels (@gsksmo) or on our Council-Sponsored Trip webpage!

Meet Me in St. Louis

What do you get when you combine 33 Junior Girl Scouts, 12 adults, 1 GSKSMO staff member put them on a motor coach?! Our first council-sponsored trip to St. Louis!!

On Tuesday, June 16, Girl Scouts and chaperones loaded up and began the adventure across I-70 for 3 days of good ol’ Girl Scout Fun! We knew things were off to a great start when a Girl Scout proclaimed that it was already the “best trip ever” at the first rest stop outside of Kansas City.

Upon arrival into St. Louis, the first stop was at the Old Courthouse where Virginia Minor fought for women’s right to vote. Each girl earned a badge reenacting her court case – they played lawyers, judge, bailiff, witnesses and plaintiff. They also learned about other historically significant women through games and activities!

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Next up was a trip to the top of the Gateway Arch! Girl Scouts (and some chaperones) were a little nervous about travelling the 660 feet to the tippy top. However, they channeled all their Girl Scout courage and every single girl made it to the top!

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upinarchAfter a great night’s rest, our group headed out Wednesday morning for an adventure at the City Museum and Aquarium! Girl Scouts enjoyed climbing and sliding around so much they didn’t mind needing to spend some extra time while the weather wasn’t cooperating!

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Once the weather cleared up a bit, they headed off to Grants Farm, an ancestral home of the Busch family, where Ulysses S. Grant happened to work for some time. While there they took a tour, fed farm animals and rode the carousel! They wrapped up their day with a yummy dinner and games back at the hotel.

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On their final day, they headed off to the St. Louis Zoo. While there, they saw a sea lion show and caught Frisbees that the animals threw to them!

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Keeping with the animal theme, the final stop on the trip was a visit to Warm Springs Ranch. Warm Springs Ranch is also owned by the Busch Family and is where they raise the Clydesdale horses. The girls learned all about them and what it takes to be a Clydesdale horse for the Busch Family!

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The group arrived back at the council office Thursday evening with new knowledge, great memories and few new patches and some new Girl Scout confidence!

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“I learned how to work things out when I am on my own,” Junior Girl Scouts Elena said!

Not only was the trip great for our girls’ confidence, but the chaperones got to see the Girl Scout experience first-hand.

“My daughter got to be independent and make good choices regarding gift shop purchases and food choices and also make stronger bonds with girls in her troop as well strengthen her feelings toward others in her troop,” Michelle Andrew said.

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There is another trip to St. Louis planned for later this summer and we’re excited for council-sponsored trips for our older girls to Savannah Georgia in 2016 and then to Europe in 2017!