A trip of a Girl Scout Lifetime

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Troop 110 Experiences Costa Rica

Do you remember watching your group of wee little Daisies navigate Girl Scouts their first year? The tiny vests, loving demeanor, imagination as big as the universe? That was Troop 110…12 years ago.

This group of five Girl Scout Ambassadors from Olathe, KS has been together since elementary school. Growing together and becoming girls women of courage, confidence and character. Led by longtime volunteers Chris Hrdy and Marcia Woodard, Troop 110 kicked off their final year of Girl Scouting with a trip that has been 12 years in the making – a nine day adventure throughout Costa Rica.

For Danni Park, Ann Marie Hrdy, Rachel Woodard, Clar Groff and Kimberly Fenton this was the pinnacle of their Girl Scout experience; something that they have been working together to earn for the past 12 years.

Each year they would participate in product sales programs, spending 70% of their proceeds on activities for that year, donating 10% and saving 20% to take a big trip when they were older. In the beginning, they had their sights set on a trip to Disney World (every little girl’s dream), but as they grew, so did their vision for their trip. They next thought about a sightseeing tour of Europe but then realized that they were girls who like to do things and were back to the drawing board. “Were not a sightseeing kind of troop, we’re into activities,” Danni said.

Then, Costa Rica was brought up. A place that Ann Marie’s older sister (and Girl Scout alumnae) had been and loved. The research was done and they made a unanimous decision – they were bound for Costa Rica June 10 – 18, 2016 with EF Tours, Girl Scouts’ leading travel partner!

Those nine days were jam packed with adventure, just what they all wanted. Troop 110 traveled throughout the country of Costa Rica, never staying more than two nights in any town. They went on day and night hikes through the rain forest, traveled up and down volcanoes, visited coffee and cacao plantations, kayaked on Arenal lake, ziplined through the canopies of the rain forest, visited La Fortuna waterfall, swam in the hot springs, experienced all the wildlife, had fresh strawberry shakes in the strawberry fields, went horseback riding in Monteverde, and the list goes on.

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They also totally submerged themselves in the Costa Rican culture. The country’s traditional dish was available to them at nearly every single meal – rice and beans. Most of the places they stayed were small family owned inns; very different from the typical hotel experience that they were accustomed to in the states. This allowed them to get to know the owners personally and really appreciate and truly enjoy the places in which they were staying.

They spent one afternoon at a local elementary school, a one-room schoolhouse in Monte Verde and played soccer with the kids. This school, in particular, relies on assistance from local farmers and donations from individuals to stay operating. Each year they receive less government funding and are trying to provide meals to every student on less than $8 a day. Troop 110 came with supplies and donations to support the efforts of the school.

During their afternoon with the students is when the learned about some of Costa Rican ways of life. “You get a skirt when you’re young and keep that skirt for your entire life. They just add ruffles at the bottom as they grow up so they don’t have to buy another skirt,” Ann Marie explained!

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While all of these adventures and experiences were amazing, their tour guides and leaders put together the ultimate surprise experience for them – an evening with a fellow Costa Rican scout troop. Scouting in Costa Rica is part of the Asociación de Guías y Scouts de and is a co-ed program.  “You don’t say ‘you guys’ to them because there are girls too,” Rachel explained.

They spent the evening sharing their scouting experience with each other; the scouts from Costa Rica speaking in Spanish, Troop 110 in English, with Rachel translating for both groups. One of the many similarities they discovered was their shared love for the infamous s’more.

The Costa Rican troop built a large bonfire and provided the girls with small skewers to roast their marshmallows…they never quite got the hang of the Costa Rican way of roasting the mallow while not roasting their arms as well!

“We’re from different worlds, but the one thing we have in common is our curiosity,” Danni said.

At the conclusion of their time together, they exchanged friendship bracelets, knots and patches and each group sang a closing goodnight song to the other. “I’ve never cried more in my life than I did that night,” Danni said.

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All in all, their experience exceeded their wildest dreams from when they first envisioned taking this trip together when they were wee little Daisies.

“We would have had fun anywhere, but we loved Costa Rica. It was ‘Troop 110-style,’ we went out with a bang,” Danni said!

To round out their final Girl Scout year together, they are doing a series of flashbacks – repeating their favorite activities from the past 12 years of Girl Scouting! This month they hiked around their old campsite at Timberlake and are headed to Build-a-Bear next month! Next year they’re all headed off to different colleges, but have committed to reuniting after they all finish undergrad to do a “Troop 110 Legacy Trip” together.

They credit their tenure in Girl Scouting to their leaders. “100% it has been Miss Chris and Marcia. They have gone out of their way to find things to keep us interested. They cared about what we wanted to do and facilitated those activities for us,” Danni explained.

Troop 110 is the epitome of what Girl Scouting is all about. To hear these girls and their leaders talk about their trip and Girl Scouting experience as a whole will likely bring a tear to your eye.

“I have seen over the past 12 years excited little girls grow into confident women who can express themselves and have become great leaders. Girl Scouts has allowed them to be themselves while trying things they might not have otherwise tried,” Chris said.

A trip like theirs is doable for any troop! You just have to set goals and work your way towards achieving them – in true Girl Scout fashion. Ann Marie encourages all troops to dream of having an experience like theirs. “Work hard because it’s so worth it in the end.”

To learn more about trips coordinated specially for Girl Scouts, visit the EF Tour website.

Tell us the dreams your troop has in the comments below!

 

Blast off to Space Academy

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A Girl Scout Travel Spotlight: Rebecca Hoff

It’s no secret that Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities of a lifetime. This is something that Amanda M. communicated at her service unit meeting when talking about her Girl Scout destination experience at the Space Academy in Huntsville, AL.

Lucky for Rebecca Hoff, her mom (and troop leader) was at that meeting. Like Amanda, Rebecca is a Girl Scout Cadette and is always on the lookout for new experiences. So after hearing Amanda speak, Trish knew that a trip like Amanda’s was just up Rebecca’s alley.

After doing some research on all the destination options for Rebecca, they both decided that the Space Academy was the perfect first trip to take.

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When Rebecca arrived at Space Camp, she didn’t know a single soul, but knew everyone at the same time – she was one of 84 other Girl Scouts from around the world!

Girls were split into small groups and Rebecca was assigned to team Ariel, with 14 other Girl Scouts. Throughout the week they learned to work together to accomplish tasks and complete missions. These missions were Rebecca’s favorite part of the experience. “It was so realistic – if you messed up, it actually mattered.”

For each mission the team was equipped with a book – kind of like a play. Each girl was assigned a role and was given lines to say. It was up to them to go through their lines and execute specific tasks; each task impacting those of another crew member.

For their first mission, Rebecca’s role was in mission control and she had to make sure that the people in the rocket ship had enough oxygen as well as survey the weather conditions of their landing spot. This was the only mission that her team performed without any incidents!

Their other missions included a task where Rebecca was strapped into a space suit to complete jobs that mimic those of real astronauts and one where she had to transfer ships in space and board a replica of the International Space Station!

In addition to the missions, Rebecca got to hear from astronauts, Jan Davis (female astronaut) and Jerry Ross (the record holder for the most space walks), participate in anti-gravity activities and go through several team building exercises! “I learned that if you’re going to be a leader, you have to lead but you have to give people the opportunity to express their ideas – it was challenging to get all 15 girls to agree!”

With all the fun Rebecca had, you wouldn’t have known that this was her first real trip away from home.

“Before she went she was very concerned about not knowing anyone there, it was a very big concern.” Trish explained. “Now I think she’ll be less apprehensive about doing something where she doesn’t know anyone.”

Not only did Rebecca come home with a new knowledge of all things space, she also came home with a ton of new Girl Scout friends!

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Left: Team Ariel; Right: Rebecca working on a mission.

“It was an amazing experience. I don’t think I would have that opportunity to do this had it not been for Girl Scouts,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca’s story is the first in a series of Girl Scout destination stories we’ll be bringing you throughout the summer as our other four Girl Scouts return from adventures in the Andes Mountains and Costa Rica, just to name a few!

Girl Scout destinations is a program from GSUSA and trips are being added to their website year-round. Is there a destination location that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new?!

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!

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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!

A Destination Perfect for a Horse Enthusiast

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When you grow up with horses and compete in horse competitions, it takes a special program to impress an elite equestrian.

Kellie Holm is a Girl Scout Senior and is an equestrian enthusiast, horseback riding since she was just 18 months old.  Her first horse was a gift from her aunt, and Kellie has been competing ever since. Kellie was so advanced for her age that competitions asked her to move from the youth division to the adult one. The first time she moved up, she took third place, at the ripe age of 7.

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So, when Kellie’s mom (and troop leader) came home with information on a destination that was equestrian- focused, Kellie wasn’t instantly sold.

However, Kellie wanted to participate in a Girl Scout destination. She is a well-versed traveler and was looking for a new experience through Girl Scouts, so she decided to go ahead and register for the Happy Trails destination at Camp Misty Mountain in Arumchee, Georgia.

Kellie flew into Atlanta and made the 2 hour trip north with staff from Misty Mountain (a Girl Scout Camp in the Greater Atlanta Council). Upon her arrival she met the 22 other Girl Scouts from all over the country that she would be riding with for the next week.

On the first full day of the destination, the equestrian staff met with each Girl Scout individually to assess their skill level. Naturally, Kellie was the most experienced rider at camp, but she wasn’t alone. This was the first time she had met other Girl Scouts who had the same passion and level of expertise when it came to horses.

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“I was little worried it would be like all the other camps for beginners. They were really great about catering it to everybody’s level,” Kellie explained.

The girls were divided into groups for the week, but each group interacted with each other during riding times.

“It was nice to have other girls there who could relate to things about horses! We could have conversations about horses and showing [them] that made sense to each other,” Kellie said.

While there aren’t many things that Kellie hasn’t done with horses, she did have an equestrian “first” while on her destination, she went on a horseback riding overnight!

One evening they packed overnight bags and saddled up their horses for a 2 hour ride out from camp. Her group set up a campsite for the night, tied their horses up in a pasture and they slept under the stars!  The next morning they made breakfast and rode the two hours back to camp!

Throughout the week Kellie got to ride and continue practicing her skills. One of her favorite things was seeing other girls, those who don’t have as much equestrian experience as her, work on their own horseback riding skills.

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“It was cool to get to see girls enjoying [their first] trail ride and mounting back up from the ground!”

At the end of the week Kellie found herself talking to the staff about returning next year and the possibility of her participating in a Wrangler in Training program!

After such a rewarding experience, Kellie hopes to see more girls travel and explore through Girl Scout destinations.

“Be yourself and talk about the things you like. People aren’t going to judge you there, it’s safe.”

The first round of applications for the destination program are due by November 15! There are over 35 domestic and international travel opportunities for Girl Scouts who are looking to expand their horizons, try something new, or learn more about something they’re already passionate about! See the full list!

Great Big Adventure in Yellowstone National Park

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For Girl Scout Cadette Emily P. from Olathe, Kansas, the idea of traveling and exploring new places was extremely intriguing. So naturally, she was very excited when she discovered the Girl Scout destinations’ program! Emily spent hours combing through all the location options and finally decided on taking a trip out west to explore the mountains, a natural landmark that she had never seen in person before.

“This was a chance to meet new people and learn more about nature,” Emily said.

Emily’s mom and friend were curious as well so they decided to make a trip of it with Emily! So the three ladies loaded up the car and spent 2.5 days driving across the US to Yellowstone National Park.

Emily arrived at Teton Science School at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and met up with 24 other Girl Scouts from all around the country. Prior to her departure, the group got an email thread going to virtually introduce themselves. These would be the girls that she would learn and explore with for the next six days.

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The first couple of days the girls stayed in little cabins at the school, got to know each other and learned more about the area and wildlife around where they were staying.

On the third day, they packed up their cabins and headed off to explore and camp in Yellowstone.

While in the park Emily and her group were exploring around the base of Devil’s Tower, one of the park’s most prominent rock structures. There were large boulders at the bottom, suitable for some impromptu amateur climbing and exploring. Before this trip, Emily wouldn’t have thought to explore, she didn’t consider herself much of a climber. However, at this particular instance she was surrounded by her Girl Scout sisters who mustered the courage to try it out and Emily found herself right along with them, and made it to the top of the boulder pile.

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“I feel more experienced and braver. I used to be scared about a lot of things, now I’m not as scared of them,” Emily explained.

Emily’s favorite part of the trip was learning how to canoe. Although she had multiple outdoor experiences with her troop, Emily had yet to experience this exciting outdoor activity!

“I was the motor in the front because I was the least experienced,” she said.

Through this activity, she learned how to work in a team, communicating when and where she was paddling with the more experienced canoe buddy in the back.

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“I have more knowledge to take back to my troop the next time we go on a camping trip,” Emily said.

The most challenging part of the trip wasn’t camping at night in the 50 degree weather, learning to canoe or pitching her tent; it was hiking the 4+ miles a day!

“I don’t think I was physically prepared for that much hiking!” Emily explained.

She didn’t let that stop her from keeping up with the group and experiencing all the awesome things that Yellowstone had to offer them, though.

“It was a great experience and I would love to do it again.”

Emily has already been on the Girl Scout destinations’ page browsing the trips for 2016 and is anxious to see the full list that publishes today! Another outdoor adventure program or possibly a trip that would put her on a plane and take her abroad for the first time in her life are both on her radar!

It was clear to Emily’s mother, Janet that Girl Scout destinations are the way to go. “I wanted her to get the experience of meeting other girls, trying new things and just to see the rest of the world. These are places I wouldn’t have been able to take her without the destinations,” Janet said.

See the full list of Girl Scout destinations and plan a trip that will forever change your girls’ life!

Exploring the Boundary Waters

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For Girl Scout Senior, Agnes “Kate” Nash, going on a Girl Scout destination trip was something she’s wanted to do ever since her older sister returned from a destination trip to Wyoming two years ago.

After looking over all the locations and options, Kate selected the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe trip. This adventure would take her up to Minnesota where she would canoe and camp for seven days into Canada.IMG_1440

Having never flown before, Kate’s Dad suggested a family road trip to Minneapolis that would include a baseball game! Wanting to have the complete travel experience like her sister and fly for the first time and by herself, Kate shot that idea down!

Kate met up with 20 other Girl Scouts from around the country in the Duluth airport for a full 12 days of adventure. The group spent a couple days in Duluth, exploring, learning and getting to know each other before being split into three groups for the expedition.

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“I was scared about the other girls liking me. Then I realized that all of them were just as worried about that as I was,” she said.

Due to the rules of the Boundary Waters, no more than 9 individuals can be in a group. It’s an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the land by limiting waste build up.

There was something special in store for Kate, whose real name is Agnes. She was pre-assigned to be in the group that would travel through her namesake, Lake Agnes!

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After receiving a full day’s training, Kate’s group was ready to take to the water. They were led by two guides, both of whom had been on this destination before and were Girl Scout alumnae! The first morning on the water the guides asked the girls to take off their watches. “It’s a better experience if you don’t have a watch,” Kate explained. “Go by the sky.”

Over the course of seven days, they traveled nearly 75 miles by canoe.

“It surprised me how big the lakes were and how quickly we could move,” she said.

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Each day they would port. Take the canoes out of the water, walk them across land and enter another lake. The distance would be anywhere from 7 rods to 80 (a rod is the length of one canoe). One day, they had eight portages!

“The port trips were hard and it [the canoe] was very heavy, Kate said. “It was tedious – take everything out and put it all back in.”

They traveled with everything they would need for seven beautiful days in the wilderness. This included food, shelter and three sets of clothes – a wet set that was worn during the day, a dry set they changed into when they set up camp and pajamas. Then cycle through the same clothes the next day.

“This is probably the best [Girl Scout experience] because I haven’t done anything like it. I got to do something different and all the girls actually wanted to be there. They were serious about it.”

Her group made it back to the base site and began to clean up their gear and themselves. In the spirit of preserving the land, the use of soap is prohibited outside the base because it kills the natural organisms.

“I learned that I am stronger than I thought and that I can make friends,” Kate said

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Kate has plans of making the trip again, only next time she wants to take her sister! The base will provide the guides, canoes, food and supplies for those who are interested in exploring without a group.

“This trip made me more aware of the environment and how we’re changing it,” Kate said.

Kate’s mom has now seen what Girl Scout destination trips do for girls, twice. “They come home and their so incredibly excited about their experience. One more step in that process of getting bigger and better and doing more exciting things,” Sarah said.

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Kate traveled with Silvias, a little cow that also accompanied her sister Eleanor on her destination!

Girl Scout destinations’ makes it possible for girls to safely travel the world and try new things. They can’t scuba dive with sea turtles, make a movie in California, get a taste of outer space or canoe in the wilderness, among many other things! Find a destination that will help build your girl of courage, confidence and character!

Houston, We Have Dream Liftoff!

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Girl Scout destination to Space Camp – Amanda M.

Ever since Cadette Girl Scout Amanda M. visited the Cosmosphere with her Girl Scout troop in 3rd grade, she has dreamed of being an astronaut.

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By attending The Barstow School, Amanda has also taken classes with Mr. Beier, who happens to also work for NASA studying black holes.

You might see a natural progression and growth of her desire to be an astronaut here.

This summer, Amanda’s dream came true in a big way. Through Girl Scout destinations, Amanda got to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama with 11 other Girl Scouts from around the county.

When the opportunity to go to Space Camp with Girl Scout destinations arose, it was a no-brainer for her mom, Terri Munsell. In fact, when Terri was a Girl Scout in the 70’s and 80’s she traveled with Girl Scouts through a similar program!

For six days, Amanda got to eat, sleep and breathe space!  Included in those days were two special simulated missions, one involving the International Space Station (ISS) and another a lunar mission to Mars. Both experiences gave girls the chance to play different roles such as commander, mission specialists, pilot, capsule communicator and more!

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On their first mission the girls got to work in the movie prop and simulator from “A Smile as Big as the Moon.”

Their first mission also happened to have a movie-type ending.

With five minutes to spare, Amanda and her team ran into a little snafu trying landing their spacecraft. The instructions said to ‘please see landing booklet,’ a very important book that they couldn’t locate. On approach, they realized that they were going to have to forget the landing booklet and land the aircraft manually! Now following verbal commands, they were to engage the landing gears. Once again they were unable to locate the switch!

“With one second left to go, we got the landing gear engaged!” Amanda said.

Not knowing if the gear had engaged in time, they asked if they had indeed survived this simulated mission. As baffled as they were, Houston informed them that they had in fact survived!

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Each morning at Space Camp started with a briefing – just like real NASA training. Then they would go to a training that involved hands-on science experiments with outer space and then eat lunch. For lunch, they were served space food from countries that have sent people to the International Space Station. Dishes were from Japan, Russia, the United States and several other countries.

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One afternoon during Space Camp, Amanda got to hear a special guest speaker, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. Dottie is a former Girl Scout and the first Space Camp alumni to actually travel into space! Originally a teacher, she was recruited by NASA in 2010 for a 15 day mission in order to bring supplies to the ISS and repair the air conditioner.

“She actually had to stay an extra day in space,” Amanda explained. “Oh you know, the heartbreak!”

Clearly she sees no problem with extending one’s time in space!

Dottie explained to the group how every space mission gets to design their own patch that they wear on their space suite. Keeping the similarities between Space Camp and actual NASA missions, each of the teams designed their own patch and Amanda’s team won for best design!

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Before she headed to Huntsville, Amanda watched the movie “Space Camp” to try and get an idea of what to expect.

“After [Space Camp] I wanted to be able to tell myself ‘ok Amanda you can do this.’ I wanted to be inspired; I wanted to learn how it all works. I didn’t want to just learn that [space missions] were a thing; I wanted to learn what issues it could have and how to fix those issues. And I did,” Amanda said.  I got all of my wishes fulfilled.”

To say that Amanda learned a lot at Space Camp is a bit of an understatement. Her and her team successfully completed two missions, which is impressive in itself.

“There are so many girls and people around the country who are interested in space. I’ve never met anyone, other than Mr. Beier, who is into space like I am,” she said. “When I went to Space Camp I got to meet people who will probably be my lifelong friends. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on missions with them one day if I’m an astronaut, no WHEN I’m an astronaut.”

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Ironically enough, virtually every female that’s gone into space is a Girl Scout alumna.

Although she’s only in eighth grade, Amanda knows that big dreams take big plans. Her sights are currently set on MIT or Stanford and after college she plans to gain experience being a fighter pilot before she becomes an astronaut.

We have no doubt that Amanda will achieve her dreams and continue the Girl Scouts in space legacy.

Destination locations for 2016 have just been announced on GSUSA’s website. Head over there and see how you could help your Girl Scout achieve her own lifelong dream!

Hollywood Dreamin’

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When you have a love of Girl Scouts, a desire to travel and a deep passion for the arts, choosing to go to Los Angeles, California with Girl Scout destinations is a no-brainer. At least it was for Ambassador Girl Scout Amanda Johnson!

Amanda will be a senior at Raytown South High School and has been in Girl Scouts since she was a Daisy. When she found out about the destination opportunity through Girl Scouts of the USA, she started looking into where she wanted to go! As an aspiring YouTube personality, a film camp-type of experience in Hollywood was the perfect fit!

In July, Amanda packed her bags and jetted of to California for a week of experiences that would end up changing her life.

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Flying into LAX was an experience in itself.  Worried about celebrity encounters, a lot of thought and planning went into her outfit! “I actually wore sunglasses so I could scope things out. You know, you have to play it cool!”

As she was celebrity-spotting, Amanda was also looking for her fellow Girl Scout sisters and quickly learned that the easiest way to identify them is to look for a friendship circle.

“Once I saw a couple girls sitting in a circle together, I was like ‘those are the Girl Scouts!’”

As each Girl Scout landed at LAX, that friendship circle grew bigger and bigger until all 12 had arrived.

Duffle bags, pillows and cell phones in hand, the girls headed to California State University with their leaders to get settled into the campus apartments that they would call home for the next seven days.

The girls spent the evening getting to know each other and their group leaders as well as learning more about what they could expect out of the trip. For many of them, this was the first time they had ever experienced a college campus!

The objective of the “Hollywood Dreamin’” destination in Los Angeles was to give Girl Scouts a real life experience of producing a short film.

amanda 5Filled to the brim with French Vanilla Cappuccino from the cafeteria, the girls got right to work learning about the film industry from the three professionals that they would work with throughout the week. They were instructed that they would divide into two groups to create a 3-2-1 film: 3 page script, with 2 actors in 1 setting. After discussing the prompts given, both groups elected to do a comedy.

Amanda’s group talked through a story line of a young adult male throwing himself a birthday party but the only person to show up is the pizza delivery girl. One they got their idea firmed up, they got to work on their script!

The next morning Amanda and the other girls got to tour Warner Bros. Studios and learn about “film magic”. They toured some popular TV sets including that of Pretty Little Liars. Amanda  loved touring the different pieces of the set and seeing how the show works. She made sure to share her experience with fellow show fans through snapchat!

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After the tour each group took their script into pre-production with a team of cinematographers. This is where Amanda learned the most about the industry. Professionals walked through the script with her group, blocking the actor’s movements and talking about the types of shots they wanted. They became familiar with industry terms and learned how various shot types impact what the audience feels!

“You have to take your time, there are details that will make or break it,” Amanda said.

While filming, Amanda got to do a little bit of everything. She directed, ran sound, operated the boom mic and various other tasks!

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“It was neat to see how the actors interpreted our work,” she said.

While their film was only 4 minutes, it took a full day of filming to get everything captured. Amanda learned about little details that you have to pay attention to, such as clocks that are on the set!

Their last full day was spent editing the video, touring LA and concluding with a screening party that night.

“Everyone was very impressed with each other’s work,” Amanda said

Amanda and her team’s work was so impressive that the professionals recommended they submit it with their college applications if they apply to film school.

“Basically I have a new passion. I now understand film more,” she said.

In just six short days these Girl Scouts did it all. They created 2 short films, toured Warner Brothers Studios, explored LA and built friendships with other Girl Scouts that will last a lifetime.

The whole destination experience was memorable for Amanda.

“Film is the production, the writing, thinking, creating, communicating, and advertising. It’s everything. I I’ll definitely use all the skills I learned in whatever career I choose.”

The group has plans to visit each other in the future, but for now they’ll keep their group chat active!

Be on the lookout for an Amanda Johnson YouTube Channel in the future!

We have no doubt that Amanda will be a sensation in whatever she chooses to pursue!

Check out Amanda’s video “Cry if You Want to” here!

There are domestic and international destinations for Girl Scouts who are 11 years old and up. Maybe your girl will fuel her passion on a trip of a lifetime, like Amanda. Destination locations for 2016 will be posted on the GSUSA webpage on August 15!

An International Trip of a Lifetime: Anna Vogts

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– All Because She is a Girl Scout!

Anna Vogts will tell you that she was born into Girl Scouts and that her passion for the organization has only grown as she has.

This summer, Anna, who is from Overland Park, Kansas took her very first international trip as part of the Girl Scout destinations’ program. She explored Central America and studied sea turtles.

On June 20, Anna and eight other high school Girl Scouts from around the country left home to explore Panama and Costa Rica and observe and study the habitats of sea turtles. Two weeks later, she returned home with an incredible story and 7 new friends. Enjoy a few excerpts from Anna’s travel journal.

Day 1

On the first day of my trip I traveled from Kansas City to San Jose, Costa Rica. I was nervous because it was the first time I flew internationally and by myself. I got into San Jose in the mid-afternoon and then met up with Outward Bound Costa Rica. Once we got to base camp, I started to get to know the girls who were going on the course with me.

Day 2

This morning we drove to the Panama/Costa Rica border. The six hour car ride included a trip through immigration and concluded with a boat ride to the beach and our arrival in San San Pons Sack where the sea turtle conservation area is.

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Once we got to the beach we started to learn about the type of conservation work we would be doing there. After touring the property, we began our conservation work by making covers for the sea turtle nest in the compound. My group was a little slow because none of us knew how to sew, but it all worked out! While working on the covers, the other girls and I got to know each other a lot more.

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Later that night, we got to work on a nightly patrol to try to find Leatherback Sea Turtles. The goal was to bring eggs that had just been laid to the compound where they would be safe from predators and increase their survival rate. Amazingly, within the first few minutes of patrol we found a turtle that was just beginning the laying process. We took measurements and checked for any injuries to guess age of the turtle and estimate number of eggs that will be laid. After taking the measurements for the turtle, I was picked to hold the bag that the turtle eggs dropped into. I was literally only inches away from the turtle, which I thought was amazing. Little did I know that the next day I would get to have an even more up close and personal experience with the Leatherback Sea Turtles.

 

Day 3

Today was our first full day in San San Ponsak. We started off with exhumation of sea turtle eggs that hadn’t developed and were left over in the nest in the hatchery. After digging them up from the ground, we had to and sort the undeveloped eggs to help the conservation workers know what the problem was. Although I really didn’t like smell of the eggs, I thought it was really interesting to see the amount of eggs that didn’t develop. When added to the number of turtles that hatched from the nest, it was 50-80 eggs total. The mothers know that not all the eggs will survive so they lay a lot, which just shows you how amazing the Leatherback Sea Turtles are.

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Next, we got exciting news that there was a batch of baby turtles that were ready to be released. I was super excited to get to hold the baby turtles. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and it really made me feel like I was making a difference in the world.

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Our sea turtle adventure continued that night when four other girls and I went on a night patrol. We spent most of the time walking the beach with no sight of a turtle; but, as we were on the way back to the nursery we spotted one. As done the night before, we worked together to gather the data needed to track the turtle and we successfully got the eggs to put in the nursery.

Day 4

Today we visited the pineapple plantation that is in San San Pond Sack. I found it really interesting to see how pineapples grow because we don’t have anything like that where I’m from.

 

After the eventful morning at the pineapple plantation, we packed up everything and took a boat back to the mainland to our journey to Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro was breathtaking; there is ocean for miles and giant looking mountains that tower over the vibrant city that would become my home for the next nine days.

Upon arrival to our hut we all got into our swimsuits and grabbed our scuba mask and started to explore the new underwater surroundings. The underwater life near our hut was amazing to interact with. The creatures were harmless and we could touch most of the wildlife we encountered! My personal favorite was the moon jellies and the starfish because I wasn’t expecting to get the opportunity to see these animals, let alone hold them.

 

Day 5

Today we went into the city of Bocas del Toro and took a biking tour of the city. The city had lots of vibrant colors and amazing architecture. My favorite part was biking on the beach and taking in the amazing scenery.

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After the biking tour, we stopped at a local beach where I got to boogie board for the first time.

 

When we got back to the hut, we went wakeboarding. At first, I had a difficult time because I couldn’t standup and ended up face planting more than I would have liked to, but I got the concept after about bazillion times! To my devastation, I face planted right after that.

Day 6

The first thing we did today was zip line at a local resort in the canopy of the rainforest. It was amazing how far away you could see; I could see the ocean, the mountains, and the rainforest. This helped me truly see the beauty of Panama.

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After our zip lining adventure, we went to the resort’s beach and hung out there for the afternoon. I boogie boarded again and I actually caught some real waves! While at the beach we also saw a sloth, this was one of the animals that I really wanted to see while on my destination!

 

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Day 7

On the seventh day of the destination we went into the city to shop and take a tour of the artisan area of Bocas del Toro. Bocas is very vibrant and colorful, which really reflected the chill vibes there. When we got back to our hut we geared-up and went snorkeling in the open water. It was so awesome because I got a closer look at what we would be seeing while scuba diving.

 

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Day 8

Today our instructors surprised us with a kayaking trip around the island on which we were staying. I was excited because I kayak all the time at home. We had seen a lot of Bocas del Toro, but little of the island we were staying on. My partner and I started out strong, but it began to feel like lunch was never going to come. I definitely learned that sea kayaking is for pros and lake kayaking is for me! Despite the hard work, I enjoyed myself and felt very accomplished for the day!  Once our instructors finally told us that we were stopping for lunch, we were overjoyed. For lunch we had PB&Js, but with guava and pineapple jelly, which was surprisingly really good! On our trip we saw everything, from the harbors of Bocas to the vibrant colors on the island. It was beautiful and amazing and definitely an image I will remember forever.  Right before we made it back home, the waves started to get rough and even white capping. We made it back to the hut and rested for the long days ahead of diving into the underwater world.

Day 9

Today was one of the most exciting days on our trip; it was the first day of scuba diving! Personally, I was a little nervous because I had a hard time snorkeling, but then again it was a challenge I knew I could concur. After getting all strapped into our gear, we got into the ocean and went over basic diving procedures. Once we had mastered the skills needed to be successful divers, we ventured under the water and practiced our skills again and again so we could past the skills test at the end of the week. While practicing, we toured some of the nearby coral. The underwater world was amazing to see for the first time and made me super excited for the rest of the week.

 

Day 10

No rest for the weary! We started of the morning with scuba diving skills practice  and took another coral tour  – but this time we went to about 40ft allowing us to get much closer to the coral. We even got to hold a moon jelly, a shrimp and a starfish, touch an amenamy, and see a lion fish and a sting ray!

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After scuba diving, we went wakeboarding again. Surprisingly, I actually got up on the wakeboard every time and had some pretty long rides. To me this was a major accomplishment because this is something I’ve never done before and I got to learn how to do it in Panama.

 

Day 11

Today was probably my favorite day of the whole trip because I made huge progress in my scuba diving. I passed the skills portion of the test and then got to do a shipwreck dive. The wreck dive is one of my best memories of the trip because it was something I was not expecting to do and was a lot different than the coral we had been exploring.

 

Later that night, we went on a night dive in a coral area of the ocean. The luminescence of the coral was really neat to see and we found a coral shark, which was a little terrifying at the time. However, now I can say I swam with a shark! For dinner that night we made empanadas, which is basically fried dough with cheese and beans in the middle. This ended up being my favorite meal and I’m pretty sure I had four or five. It was bittersweet because it was our last night, so we all slept outside our tents and fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean.

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Day 12

Today was our final day in Panama and was the day of the big scuba diving test. I was again nervous about the test because I really wanted to come home with my certification. After doing some last minute cramming, the beginner scuba divers took the NAUI scuba diving exam and the advanced divers went for a 90 ft. dive. I passed the test and am now a certified scuba diver!!!!!  After testing was over, we took in our surroundings one last time, in the hope of remembering the beauty of Bocas del Toro forever.

 

Right before we left, we sadly said goodbye to the family who owns the hut we stayed in.

 

After all the goodbyes, we left by boat. I was so sad to leave because my time in Bocas had taught me a lot about myself and about the world around me. I truly left a changed person. We journeyed back to base camp and continued to try to soak up as much Latin American culture before the end of the trip.

 

 Day 13

This was the final full day of our time together and our instructor surprised us with a trip into San Jose.

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We took a local city bus into the downtown area of San Jose and got to experience the city life.

 

We headed to a local market to do some shopping. The best thing I got was a wooden mug that has a sea turtle painted on it.  After that, we went to a local café and had lunch, including a traditional Costa Rican drink that is similar to a milkshake. Next, we went on a tour of downtown San Jose.

We ended the tour at an ice cream shop that had homemade ice cream that was amazing.

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The San Jose tour was a wonderful way to end the trip because it really showed how close our group had become and how hard the next day would be.

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Day 14

This day was the hardest day of our trip, the day I had to leave the place I was starting to consider a second home. It was hard for me to leave, I had really learned a lot about myself and the impact I can make on the world. The best part of the trip was the amazing friendships I had created with girls all throughout the country.

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Is your Girl Scout ready for an adventure of a lifetime just like Anna? There are many kinds of Girl Scout destination trips, both local and international. Learn more about the travel opportunities that you can give your Girl Scout today!

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!