Built by G.I.R.L.s for G.I.R.L.s: A Look Inside the “Magical” Camp Prairie Schooner

Frolicking with the Prairie Fairy and adventures out in Farmer’s Field – those are experiences that Girl Scouts who call Camp Prairie Schooner home are very familiar with. For more than 70 years, Girl Scouts have taken pride and ownership in this beautiful camp located near the Little Blue River in Kansas City, MO. It’s also the location of our upcoming Alumnae Reunion Weekend, Lifetime Member Picnic and Trefoil Society Pinning Ceremony on Sept 23 – 24! Today we’ll take a look how this camp came to be and the women whose tenacity made it a reality.

Camp Prairie Schooner patch (left); Flag ceremony and patches (center) and early sign (right).

In the early 1940s, the Independence Council of Girl Scouts decided they wanted a camp for Kansas City Girl Scouts. A leader in that initiative was Mrs. Dewitt, who was active in the community and knew about a war time fund that had unallocated money. During World War II, the War Chest fund had been active in raising funds and by 1945, the remaining money was in limbo, ready to be reorganized.

Mrs. Dewitt, advocating for girls, approached the War Chest Board about the funds before they reorganized and the leadership wasn’t sure if they could trust ladies to establish and run a camp. As we know, G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can do anything, and the Girl Scout Council knew they could achieve their goal, even if the Board doubted them.

The Council found the land where Camp Prairie Schooner currently sits and decided it was an ideal location. With a train stop just a short hike away, wooded areas and space for camp, they advocated for the funds. Despite pushback from the War Chest Board, Mrs. Dewitt was a hard woman to say “no” to and the Board sent the Jackson County Planning Commission to look at the land and make a recommendation. They had planned to use this as a stalling technique, hoping the women would give up before getting the funds.

Jerry Manning was sent to inspect the site and as he visited, he met the team behind the camp plan. It included community leaders and strong women who knew this would be a success. He realized this was a project backed by serious people wanting to create a better world for girls, not a whim that ladies had. He made the recommendation that the War Chest

Camp Prairie Schooner staff from 1988 (left) and approx. late 1970s (right).

funds should be given to Girl Scouts, and they were. After they acquired the land, the Council asked Mr. Manning to become the Camp Chairman, which started many years of service he gave to Girl Scouts, including serving as President of the Pioneer Trails Council!

Cookie money and funds from the War Chest paid the $4,000 for 127 acres of land that is now Camp Prairie Schooner. Still having reservations about the project, the War Chest Board held the title to Camp Prairie Schooner until the Council proved the camp was successful. After the installation of a pool and successful management of the property, they realized that these G.I.R.L.s meant business and the title was officially given to Girl Scouts.

Camp Prairie Schooner philanthropy! Girl Scouts from SU 638 & 639 built a Gaga Pit in 2015 (left) and Burns & McDonnell host annual work days at camp (right).

Today, Camp Prairie Schooner stands as a living testament to the power of G.I.R.L.s who wanted to make the world better for young women. We thank those early pioneers for their vision and tenacity that brought that camp to life as well as the current day donors who add to camp each year! Businesses, donors, and girls have added new facilities and games to camp, creating more opportunities and adventures (read our blog post about girl donated projects). Thank you!

We invite you to join us at Camp Prairie Schooner for our Alumnae Reunion! Registration closes SOON, so register today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion! See you at camp!

50 years of serving G.I.R.L.s!

Girl Scout volunteers are at the core of a great Girl Scouting experience. For three generations of Girl Scouts in the Sommers family, one woman has been at the center of it all, Velma Sommers. This amazing volunteer has been serving the mission for more than 50 years and was the troop leader for her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. In addition to leading troops, Velma has served in almost every major volunteer role and propelled the mission of Girl Scouting to new heights by lending experience and wisdom to today’s girls.

In 1967 Velma Sommers found herself as a new volunteer with Girl Scouts. She took the lead of her daughter’s troop and found a love of serving. After holding a long list of Girl Scouting volunteer positions, it’s no wonder that she holds both the Thanks Badge 1 & 2, along with several other recognitions for her service. All this because she believes in the power of girls!

“I enjoy being a troop leader because of the girls. It’s my biggest love about volunteering – getting to work with the girls and seeing them grow,” Velma said.

Left: Velma presenting the Silver Award with one of her Girl Scouts; Right: Velma and her troop at a flag ceremony at Camp Meadowlark.

One of her biggest projects has been working on Day Camps and all that goes in to coordinating those events. Despite not being a big fan of the outdoors and camping, something happens when Girl Scouts are involved and Velma is able to find courage in herself to face fears for the girls. Inspiring the younger generation empowers her just as it does the girls!

“The truth is, I’m not an outdoors person, but you put me out there, with the girls, and you’d think I knew it all! I’m terribly afraid of snakes, but when the girls are there and we see a snake, I’m able to be calm and we talk about it…but if I was by myself, it’d be a different story,” Velma said.

 

Velma being recognized for 50 years of service at the North Region Volunteer Appreciation event  (2017); Right: Velma being honored with a spot at Camp Meadowlark named “Grandma’s Grove” in her honor.

One of the most meaningful projects she did with her Girl Scouts was creating stepping stones for their local camp; Camp Meadowlark. They used molds, mortar and Velma had her kitchen covered in a tarp while the girls worked. It’s a fond memory of the mess they made and the beautiful, lasting additions to camp that came out of that experience. It is memories like this that make Girl Scouting such a sweet part of Velma’s life.

“Girls get to do things that they would never get to do if it wasn’t for us getting them involved in Girl Scouting. Think about camp, [for girls from lower income communities], getting to go to camp is an experience they might never get if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts,” Velma said. Being able to provide these opportunities has been an extra special part of serving for this devoted volunteer.

The skills girls learn in Girl Scouting truly last a lifetime. Velma helped her granddaughter’s troop with a part of the Silver Award that had the girls create a quilt block. While the girls struggled a bit, they loved the project and felt pride in their blocks. That Christmas, her granddaughter asked for a sewing machine, which she received. Fast forward a few decades and Velma’s granddaughter, Brandi, now a Gold Award recipient, gave Velma a quilt she had made of all the Day Camp shirts she had as a gift. Talk about coming full circle!

Giving back to girls truly does last a lifetime and for Velma, those moments where girls reconnect help her see the impact that troop leaders have. “Some of the girls in my troops still ask me for references, and it makes you feel good. It makes you realize that you really did have an impact on their lives,” Velma said. Through years of Girl Scouting, she knows that a great troop leaders and volunteers in any job make the Girl Scouting experience what it is. You can change the world by inspiring a girl.

“I just wish I could live to be 150 so I could go on and on being a Girl Scout volunteer,” Velma said.

Thank you to Velma and all our incredible volunteers for years of hard work and service to girls. You are helping create a better tomorrow! If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Girl Scouting volunteer like Velma, check out our volunteer opportunities!

 

Celebrating our North Region Volunteers!

Celebrating our North Region Volunteers!

Volunteers are the foundation of an excellent Girl Scouting experience. Without volunteers to lead troops, organize events, manage cookie programs and inspire girls, we wouldn’t have Girl Scouts. On Sunday, June 11, we honored amazing volunteers from across our North Region at the 2017 North Region Volunteer Celebration.

The North Region event was held in St. Joseph, MO and was all about “flamingling!” What is “flamingling?” It’s mixing and mingling with a flamingo theme. There was plenty of pink, pineapples and tropical fun to be had at this event. We even had an awesome Girl Scout dad and sensational volunteer show up with a giant inflatable flamingo to celebrate the day! There’s definitely a lot of Girl Scout enthusiasm in the North.

After Girl Scouts, volunteers, staff and families mixed and flamingled a bit, it was time for the awards ceremony. We honored 5 Appreciation Pin recipients, Meaningful Mentor, Rising Star and Risk-taker Awards, just to name a few. We thanked 3 philanthropists for their investment in girls – Joleen Graf (Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist Award), Rick Berger (Philanthropist Award) and the Atchison Area United Way (Corporate Philanthropist Award). We honored many more amazing volunteers and you can see a full list of honorees using the link below.

There was also a special call out to Velma Sommers from Atchison who has been Girl Scout strong as a volunteer for 50 years! Talk about incredible dedication to girls!

The biggest honor of the event was the Thanks Badge, presented to Misty Coyle from Service Unit 808 in St. Joseph. This amazing volunteer received a standing ovation from her fellow Girl Scouts and family members, and it was an honor to give her this award. Congratulations to Misty and all the other honorees.

After the awards ceremony, there was a door prize drawing for fun goodies like gift certificates and a gold pineapple rolling cooler! When the event wrapped, girls and families had more time for chatting, taking photos at the G.I.R.L. photobooth and our CEO, Joy Wheeler, even tried on the inflatable flamingo for some photos with girls! How cool!

We are so honored to have these amazing volunteers as part of the Girl Scouting family. Because of their hard work and dedication, girls are changing the world and growing up to be incredible women.

See a full list of awardees and photos from the event, click here to view our program and gallery.

Thank you to all the volunteers we’ve honored over the past few months! You are SIMPLY THE BEST!

Check out blogs about the Central, East and West Region events here!

Celebrating the Awe-Inspiring Volunteers of the East Region

It takes a village to raise G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, and thanks to Girl Scout volunteers, girls haven an amazing circle of support! On Thursday, May 4, we were able to honor and thank the incredible volunteers across our East Region.

2017 East Region Volunteer Award Recipients

The East Region Volunteer Celebration was a Mad Hatter event! Everyone arrived in their wackiest hats or made them there at the hat creation station. Girl Scouts enjoyed our G.I.R.L photo booth, and there were plenty of goodies for everyone to eat in the reception following the awards ceremony. It was a night of fun, celebration and appreciation! We love our East Region volunteers!

At the awards ceremony, we presented the President’s Award to 10 incredible service units who are providing girls with amazing experiences in the East region (SU 604, SU 605, SU 607, SU 618, SU 620, SU 646, SU 648, SU 649, SU 654 and SU 655 – way to go!).  These service unit awards show the power of working together for girls.

We honored 29 outstanding individuals with the Appreciation Pin, an award that recognizes outstanding service given to at least one service unit. Every one of these volunteers has shown incredible dedication, passion and service to the girls in our community and they’re changing lives every day. Thank you to these amazing volunteers!

In addition to these awesome Appreciation Pin and President’s Award recipients, we were able to honor volunteers who have contributed to the success of Girl Scouts in the areas of STEM, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Service. To name just a few, we presented the Recruitment Award to the Recruitment Team of Service Unit 604 (Heather Cooper, Chessie Hernandez, Lindsay Peterson, Paige Rahman and Katherine Stitt). The Rising Star Award was given to Barbara Schlesinger for her work with her troop!  Erica Johnson was honored not only as an Appreciation Pin recipient, but also with the G.I.R.L Brand Ambassador Award for her mission-focused storytelling and volunteer work. You all ROCK – THANK YOU!

Philanthropy is a huge part of Girl Scouts, and we wanted to thank a couple of incredible philanthropists that contribute to Girl Scouts! Tara Scherer was honored as the Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist, Ron Grode was honored with the Philanthropist Award and Hallmark received the Corporate Philanthropist Award. Way to go, philanthropists! Thank you for investing in girls!

What an incredible night honoring our East Region team. We can’t thank our incredible volunteers enough; you all are making an incredible impact on girls. Because of you, we are growing G.I.R.L.s who will lead tomorrow! THANK YOU!!

To see a full list of awardees and photos from the night, click here to view our program and gallery.

Celebrating the Sensational Volunteers of the Central Region

Girl Scout volunteers grow G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM every day by dedicating countless hours, dozens of hugs and sacrificing sleep to help Girl Scouts thrive. On Sunday, April 23, we were able to honor several of the incredible Central Region volunteers who make a difference in the lives of girls. Without volunteers, Girl Scouts could not happen.

We presented the President’s Award to 5 incredible service units who are providing girls with a top rate Girl Scout experience (SU 632, SU 634, SU 642, SU 671 and SU 672 – way to go!). 22 volunteers received the Appreciation Pin, given for outstanding service to at least one service unit. Because of volunteers like the 22 we honored, the Central Region is on fire! We also presented several awards for excellence in STEM, Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship and other key areas where volunteers excel.

2017 Central Region Award Recipients

To name just a few, we presented the Innovator Award to Denisse Osorio de Large and Steven Large from Service Unit 672 for their work with Cerner to create a STEM Spark event that integrated Spanish into the program, so Spanish-speaking Girl Scouts and families could be included. Regina McCullum from Service Unit 661 was honored with the Growing Entrepreneurs Award for her years of service as a Product Sales Manager and her work creating future CEOs through the Cookie Program. Tori Hirner from Service Unit 638 was honored with the Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist Award for her inspiring work to grow the Circle. NIC was honored as our Corporate Philanthropist for their incredible financial and volunteer support to build the next generation of STEM innovators.

These are just a few of the incredible honorees that made the Central Region Girl Scouting experience absolutely spectacular. With over 10,000 girls in the Central Region, it takes some pretty special volunteers to make it happen!

At the end of the ceremony, we presented two incredible volunteers with the Thanks Badge – the highest honor a Girl Scout volunteer can earn. Linda Bradley was honored for her many years of service, her work as a trainer and dedication to G.I.R.L.s. Carla Redondo de Castillo was honored for her amazing work not only with her service unit, but with Spanish speaking Girl Scouts all over the council. She spends countless hours reviewing and translating manuals into Spanish for all our awesome Spanish speaking Girl Scout families. You can read more about Carla in her recent blog post here! Thank you, Linda & Carla, and congratulations on receiving the Thanks Badge for your work!

We can’t thank our incredible volunteers enough. Thank you for all you do! You make the Central Region what it is. Thank you for helping us grow G.I.R.L.s! View photos of the event, honoree digital photo frames and our event program by visiting http://www.gsksmo.org/celebrate.

Our 2017 Central Region Volunteer Honorees

President’s Award
Service Unit 632, Shawnee Mission
Service Unit 634, Overland Park
Service Unit 642, Olathe
Service Unit 671, Shawnee
Service Unit 672, Overland Park

Appreciation Pin
Marie Burger, Service Unit 671; Shawnee
Tonya Burke, Service Unit 671; Shawnee
Dayna Carney, Service Unit 679; Olathe
Jennifer Cheffey, Service Unit 632; Shawnee Mission
Marianne D’Amato, Service Unit 632; Shawnee Mission
Joslyn Dawson, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Tracey Fuller, Service Unit 678; Olathe
Susie Gilson, Service Unit 678; Olathe
Jennifer Gleason, Service Unit 716; Lawrence
Sydney Harrington, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Nikki Hokanson, Service Unit 675; Overland Park
Laura Logan, Service Unit 638; Overland Park
Craig Lybarger; Service Unit 642; Olathe
Melissa Lyons; Service Unit 642; Olathe
Tacey Mullen; Service Unit 680; Olathe
Melanie Nolker, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Gretchen Schmanke, Service Unit 679; Overland Park
Stacey Smith, Service Unit 635; Prairie Village
Nicole Wallerstedt, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Angela Wang, Service Unit 638; Overland Park
Nikohl Williams, Service Unit 680; Olathe
Jessica Wright, Service Unit 638; Overland Park

Recruitment Award
Kristen Brooks, Service Units 672, 674, 675 & 694; Overland Park

G.I.R.L. Empowerment Award
Mindie Paget, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

Meaningful Mentor Award
Betty Buchholz, Service Unit 661; Lansing

Rising Star Award
Katie Mclean Campbell, Service Unit 631; Shawnee

Risk-taker Award
Kyra Flummerfelt, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

 Go-getter Award
Nadine Nanko, Service Unit 674; Shawnee

Innovator Award
Denisse Osorio de Large & Steven Large, Service Unit 672; Overland Park

Community Partnership Award
Deer Creek Hen House Market; Overland Park
Journey Church; Paola
Master Suzan Crochet; Overland Park
Paola Inn & Suites; Paola
Paola Public Schools USD 368; Paola

Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist Award
Tori Hirner, Service Unit 638; Overland Park

 Philanthropist Award
Connie Davis; Lake Quivira

Corporate Philanthropist Award
NIC

Growing Entrepreneurs Award
Regina McCullum, Service Unit 661; Lansing / Leavenworth / Fort Leavenworth

Growing STEM Innovators Award
Jennie Cronin, Service Unit 635; Leawood

G.I.R.L. Brand Ambassador Award
Sheri James, Service Unit 694; Overland Park

G.I.R.L. In Action Award
Girl Scout Cadette Troop 890, Service Unit 631; Shawnee

Thanks Badge
Linda Bradley, Service Unit 635; Shawnee Mission
Carla Redondo de Castillo, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

Celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week

It takes a special kind of person to help empower G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM to be their very best. Just ask any Girl Scout and she’ll tell you that her adult role models (our awesome volunteers) are a major part of what makes her Girl Scout experience amazing.

To the more than 9,000 volunteers who make Girl Scouting possible across our 47 county council – THANK YOU! Thank you for encouraging young Go-getters to look for opportunities to be bold and succeed. Thank you for inspiring Innovators to see a problem and find a solution rather than giving up. Thank you for standing behind Risk-takers as they zipline or stand in front of an audience to give a speech for the very first time. Thank you for raising up Leaders to be cooperative, understanding and compassionate women who take charge. Thank you for making all this possible.

To celebrate, we’re asking girls, families and volunteers to help us celebrate our AMAZING volunteers and all they do for G.I.R.L.s! First, April 22nd is Girl Scout Leader’s Day! Then, April 23rd through April 29th, we’re celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week. We want to encourage girls, parents and caregivers to take a little time to say THANK YOU to the volunteers in your troop or service unit.

Need some creative ways to say “Thank you”? Here are 10 great ideas to get you started:

  1. Send an electronic or printed card – Download e-card | printable cards
  2. Deliver a special gift or card in person. We have many Girl Scout items that make really meaningful gifts in our GS Shop! Visit online or in-personGift ideas for volunteers
  3. Write your favorite volunteer a love letter. Imagine their surprise when they open their mailbox and find a love letter from you. Need a little inspiration? Check out the letter Girl Scouts put together for these amazing volunteers!
  4. Take your leader or other volunteer out for a special dinner.
  5. To honor the time they give, decorate a terracotta pot and plant thyme as a gift!
  6. Wrap an empty cookie box and fill with special notes from girls and parents – show them just how sweet they are!
  7. Organize a special outing to have the leader relax – spa, museum, movies.
  8. Give a mug full of chocolate hugs and kisses.
  9. Give your volunteer a shot out on social media! Post a photo, share a comment, and let them know they are the very best! Tag @girlscouts, @gsksmo and use the hashtag #NVW2017!
  10. Make a tribute gift in honor of your special volunteer to help more girls be a part of Girl Scouts.

Let’s make sure all Girl Scout volunteers know how much you appreciate them during National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Thank you to all our awesome volunteers for all YOU do!

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Terry Seymour

Spotlighting SU 687 PSM Terry Seymour

Quality Controller at the rock quarry by day; Girl Scout Leader for #1727 and Service Unit Product Sales Manager (SUPSM) for 687 by night.

Eight years ago Terry Seymour declared himself “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” when his daughter’s Daisy troop leader relocated. He didn’t know much about Girl Scouts at that point, but knew enough to make the decision to step up and co-lead this troop of young girls to ensure that his daughter Marissa and her Girl Scout sisters would continue growing through the program.

Over the course of eight years, Terry and his co-leader Angie Sutton have guided the 12 girls in Troop 1727 to practice leadership the Girl Scout way and to be G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™.

“I love it. I love the girls. I love being a Girl Scout Dad,” Terry said.

While outsiders may view Troop 1727 as having a usual Girl Scout experience with an unusual leader, there’s nothing unusual about it to the girls or their parents. They see a very dedicated, resourceful and brave mentor in Terry.

In fact, you might say that Terry is Man Enough to be a G.I.R.L.

“Our girls have been with us so long, they don’t think it’s unusual to have a male leader,” Terry explained.

Terry and Angie have taken Troop 1727 to Airport Day at the Ottawa Airport, slept with the polar bears at the Kansas City Zoo, managed countless GS Cookie Booths, hosted car washes and bake sales, and so much more.

Left: Terry working Cookie Delivery and Pickup for SU 687. Right: Terry working with girls at Day Camp.

Through Girl Scouting, Terry has also discovered that he has a very special skill. He has knack for using Girl Scout Cookies wisely in the kitchen! A few years back, he decided to change up the crust of his famous homemade cheesecakes…using Lemonades!

“Not to brag, but I make a killer cheesecake!”

This little bake sale experiment helped his troop raise the necessary funds to take a trip to Eureka Springs, AR!

Now they’re working towards taking a trip to Europe in four years. For Terry and Angie they want the girls to know that as go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders, anything is possible and they are there to support them.

Terry wants dads to know that there are various ways to be involved with their daughter’s Girl Scout troop – you don’t have to be the leader to contribute; think about what you are passionate about, and there’s a pretty good chance that it fits into Girl Scouts somewhere!

“I believe Girl Scouting has made Marissa and I closer,” Terry said.

And if leading a troop isn’t enough for him, he added the title of SUPSM to his Girl Scout resume your years ago and manages Cookie Program orders and delivery for all the troops in SU 687.

Had Terry’s wife Rosa not been working nights eight years ago, he likely wouldn’t be in the Girl Scout roles he is today and would have been what he refers to as “the typical Dad.”

“[Girl Scouts] is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.”

Troop 1727 is so lucky to have you, Terry!

Do you know someone who is “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout?” Share this story with them and drop us a note in the comments below!

Girl Scout Cookie Superheroes

Celebrating Our Longest-Serving Product Sales Managers – Part 2

 Earlier this week, we learned about our first five amazing, longest-serving Service Unit Product Sales Managers (SU PSMs) who have served our council for many years. Today, you’ll meet 5 more who have served as SU PSM for 11 to 35+ years. Wow. That’s some serious commitment to G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.

These volunteers have seen it all. From taking cookie orders on paper to moving to SNAP to increased recognitions for girls, they’ve been critical to improving the program year after year. Not only have they been vital in providing feedback for our council, they’re an invaluable resource for new cookie moms/dads trying to help their troops succeed. Without them, girls wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn these important business skills. We cannot begin to thank them enough for their incredible work and dedication!

Check out Part 1 of this blog here!

Mary Lang with volunteers at cookie deliver; Diana Nolan; Carmellya Anderson at the 2016 Volunteer Celebration and Lesma Whalon with her daughters’ troop.

 

Mary Lang – SU 635 – Prairie Village

“I am so proud to be part of this amazing organization that focuses on “Building girls [and adults] of courage, confidence, and character.”  I hope that my role as PSM helps other girls achieve these characteristics and, hopefully, enjoy their own treasured memories as a Girl Scout as I cherish mine.”

Years as a PSM: 11 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughter, Emily (Alumna)
  • Sister, Bev (Girl Scout & troop leader, leading her daughter’s troop through Bronze, Silver & Gold awards); Sister, Cindy (Alumna); Niece, Becca (Bev’s daughter, active Highest Award Alumna)
  • Mother, Gloria (Camp name was “M&M,” and a Girl Scout in the 1940s. Active volunteer even after graduating, including becoming Day Camp Director)

Her Girl Scout Story:

“Cookie Monster” – that’s the affectionate name passed from SU PSM to SU PSM in SU635! Mary became “Cookie Monster” after being asked by the Service Unit Manager.  Mary was eager to jump on board. With such an extensive GS family background – it’s no wonder! The thing she loves about the Cookie Program specifically is the skills that girls learn and her hope that she’s inspiring future “Cookie Monsters.” With all the changes she’s seen, the willingness of people to help and the inspiring stories of the girls are what keep her motivated. It’s really all about empowering G.I.R.L.s!

 

Diana Nolan – SU 611 – Liberty

“Girl Scouts is a great organization that helps to develop girls into tomorrow’s leaders.  I truly believe that Girl Scouts builds girls courage, confidence and character.  It’s an organization where girls have to opportunity to try new things that they may not have otherwise been able to do.”

Years as a PSM: 11 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Amanda, Shannon & Peyton (All 3 Girl Scouts K-12, now a Lifetime Girl Scouts)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Diana has never been the type of volunteer to pass up an opportunity to serve! After serving as Service Unit Registrar, Teen Manager, Day Camp Business Manager and various roles on Northland Owl Prowl committee, she wanted something that was consistent. “With Service Unit PSM position, everything is black and white, and as long as you follow the guidelines, it’s a piece of cake (at least for me).” When she began, everything was on paper, so she’s seen the growth of the program into a digital platform that eliminates manual math and double checking. Diana keeps up with this role because she believes in the power of the program and what it teaches girls about business and confidence. Her favorite thing about being a PSM, aside from watching the girls, is the friendships she’s developed in her community. Diana Nolan is awesome! She is stepping away from serving as a PSM to take on other GS volunteer positions.  We know Diana won’t be too far away and available for a cookie question or two from time to time. Thanks, Diana!

 

Carmellya Anderson; Mary Lang with mom, Gloria (Alumna) and GS daughter, Emily; Lesma Whalon

Carmellya Anderson – SU 641 (current) & SU 620 (part of her 18 years) – Kansas City

“I love the learning and program opportunities that cookies  provides to the Girl Scouts in our community. I especially love to see shy girls blossom into confident business women.”

Years as a PSM: 18 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Silver Award Alumna:

  • Daughter, Alana (Current Girl Scout Cadette)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Carmellya became a SU PSM after moving to Kansas City from Kentucky when she was looking for ways to meet new people. She tried serving as assistant leader, the scheduling for SU PSM worked much better for her. Fast forward 18 years and she’s still a dedicated volunteer. When she first started she “used to receive four pallets full of material to eye level. A whole lot of paper, paper, paper.” Luckily, technology has caught up to the growing needs of girls and now it’s mostly digital. What kept her motivated through mountains of paper work and years of serving was seeing girls reach their goals and establish skills that will last a lifetime. Between her volunteers and Girl Scouts, she’s found a community through serving and helping to empower G.I.R.L.s.

 

Lesma Whalon – SU 645 – Lee’s Summit/Raytown

“I love helping troop leaders order cookies and when I’m out at the stores, seeing girls selling cookies and the girls see me and go ‘yeah, I’m the cookie lady.’”

Years as a PSM: 20 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & First Class Alumna:

  • Dacia (Girl Scout K-5th), Shyra (Girl Scout K-12, earned Silver Award), Alyssa (Girl Scout K-12, was featured on cookie boxes from 3rd grade to 12th grade)

Her Girl Scout Story:

When it comes to working hard for girls, Lesma certainly has the years of experience to show she’s dedicated! She became SU PSM after a council staff member asked her to step in. Unlike many PSMs, Lesma had never served as a Troop Cookie Manager, but she was the Leader for her daughters’ troops. Still, she accepted the role like a true Go-getter.  As someone that works in technology, Lesma has watched the change from excel spreadsheets to SNAP and tries to integrate new technology often. When it comes to moving Girl Scouts forward, Lesma is right there to help new troop leaders and support girls. She even attends service unit meetings just to be there for advice! Even though she’s retiring this year, Lesma knows she won’t go far. This First Class Girl Scout is a prime example of leading like a Girl Scout! Thank you, Lesma for your incredible commitment to girls!!

 

Suzan – SU 701 – Topeka

“Over the years of being a SU PSM, I have watched girls go from Daisies to Ambassadors and troops go through the program saving for trips and then listening to their experiences after.”

Years as a PSM: 35+ years

Proud Girl Scout Mom

Her Girl Scout Story:

What started as her daughter raising her hand and volunteering her mother for a job has become over three decades of service to girls. Suzan began serving in Topeka and has made incredible contributions to the program over the years. She gained the nickname “Cookie Lady” after a Brownie stopped her in the store and said “You’re the Cookie Lady, right?” and since then, the name has stuck. With her knowledge, empathy and understanding, she’s able to connect with the long time cookie volunteers just as well as the brand new cookie parent who feels overwhelmed. As she says “I truly understand the first year cookie mom or dad who is overwhelmed by the program. I was there also.” Topeka’s “Cookie Lady,” has been making a positive impact on the lives of Girl Scouts for decades and inspiring generations of girls.

 

Thank you to the 10 awesome volunteers we’ve highlighted in this two-part blog and to everyone who makes the Cookie Program a reality. Thousands of hours of work, countless sleepless nights and lots of heavy lifting go into every cookie season and it’s all because of volunteers who believe in girls. Thank you for supporting our Girl Scouts with their cookie business!

If you want to share a special memory or shout out to any of these volunteers, please leave a comment below.

Girl Scout Cookie Superheroes

             

Celebrating Our Longest-Serving Product Sales Managers – Part 1

Who can carry 1000 boxes of cookies in a single delivery? Who can inspire and support thousands of troop cookie managers and leaders through every obstacle the season presents?  Who has the heart of a champion ensuring the groundwork is set for girls to have a fantastic cookie business. Service Unit Product Sales Managers (SU PSMs) of course! These volunteers are the superheroes behind every box of Girl Scout Cookies we buy to support young business leaders. This week, we’re celebrating amazing SU PSMs who have served GSKSMO for anywhere from 7 years to 35+ years! Talk about dedication. These ladies essentially work a second job during cookie season organizing orders, checking troop sales, helping new cookie moms/dads and inspiring their service unit along the way with their belief in the power of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.

Today we introduce our 7 – 10 year SU PSMs and celebrate their dedication to the Cookie Program. You’ll meet Gail Alvarez (SU 640), Beth McCreight (SU 678), Linda Christensen (SU 805), Lisa Simmons (SU 716) and Regina McCullum (SU 661).

These are the volunteers who spend their weekends stopping by booth sales to cheer on troops. These are the volunteers who advocate for enhancements to the program. These are the volunteers who care about every girl they watch grow from Daisy to Ambassador and transform from girl to businesswoman. These are the volunteers who make a life changing difference by supporting a program that empowers the women of tomorrow. Doesn’t that make each bite of Girl Scout Cookie just a little bit sweeter?

 

Gail Alvarez, Beth McCreight, Lisa Simmons and Regina McCullum

 

Gail Alvarez – SU 640 – Lee’s Summit/Raytown

“I love the Cookie Program because I love seeing the troops grow their business and finding out what they’re doing with their money.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years (3yrs in Lee’s Summit, 4yrs in Raytown)

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Two Girl Scout daughters (Girl Scouts K-12, now Alumnae)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Gail served as Troop PSM and was recruited by the retiring SU PSM to step into the role. She has loved being a volunteer so much she even offered to move over to Raytown’s service unit to help fill a need there. Her favorite part of the experience is getting to know the troops. “I enjoy working with my troops – both the newbies and the oldies!” She has also served on committees that evaluate the program each year and work on ways to improve. One piece of advice she gives to younger troops is to take advantage of Candy, Nuts and Magazine Program, because it gives them a financial bump right away to start doing great things. Gail loves being involved with Girl Scouts and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

 

Beth McCreight – SU 678 – Spring Hill / Olathe

“I love seeing girls accomplish things that they’ve never done before.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Daughter, Rebecca (Girl Scout Cadette)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Serving as troop leader AND SU PSM? That takes a special kind of volunteer. Meet Beth McCreight, Troop 0027 leader and SU PSM! This awesome Girl Scout mom loves leading her daughter, Rebecca, and the rest of the troop through the adventures of being teens while learning how to be G.I.R.L.s. When she was asked to be SU PSM, she stepped up to the plate and has enjoyed watching changes like the increase in recognition for sales. She says the best thing about being involved with Girl Scouts is “seeing my troop doing things that they probably would not do otherwise and watching friendships develop.”

 

Linda Christensen – SU 805 – Maryville

“I have enjoyed seeing my girls go from Daisies now to Senior and Cadettes and they know how to budget. I am very proud of these girls and this process of teaching.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Daughter, Errin (Alumna) & Zoey (GS Cadette)
  • Granddaughters, Alli (College Girl Scout), Bridget (GS Senior) & Taylor (Girl Scout)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Watching girls go from children to young women – that’s one of the best things about being a Girl Scout volunteer. Linda Christensen knows firsthand, having 2 daughters and 3 granddaughters who are all proud Girl Scouts! She accepted the role of SU PSM when there was a need for someone to fill the position and has stayed with it ever since. For her, change is constant in the Cookie Program, but as she says “As a Girl Scout, change is good.” Her absolute favorite thing about being SU PSM? Watching the girls grow into young businesswomen. Most importantly, she believes in the power of the program and the way it inspires leaders.

 

SU 716 cookie delivery; Regina McCullum with daughter and Girl Scout Daisy granddaughter, Dalaina; Lisa Simmons at camp.

Lisa Simmons – SU 716 – Lawrence / Eudora

“[Girl Scout volunteers] have a common belief or goal in helping girls and these other volunteers are such good people!  I’m blessed to know them!  Every year there are new leaders…New friends!”

Years as a PSM: 8 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughters, Sydney (Alumna & Lifetime Girl Scout) and Skyler (Girl Scout K-8th)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Girl Scout volunteer life doesn’t end after a Girl Scout daughter graduates. That’s definitely the case for Lisa Simmons, who didn’t want to stop giving back after her daughter graduated high school. Lisa noticed that the previous SU PSM was getting promoted at work and under increasing stress, so she offered to take over because she really enjoyed the job – especially the other volunteers. In 8 years, she’s gone from taking bundles of checks and cash to the bank over her lunch hour (imagine depositing money from 80 troops over your lunch hour!) to not handling any money, allowing her more time to focus on organization. Aside from loving the people, she loves the business skills that girls are learning and that moment when Girl Scouts make a sale and see a smile on the face of a customer. She knows that’s when girls see how businesses can positively impact customers.

Regina McCullum – SU 661 – Leavenworth / Fort Leavenworth / Lansing

“This program helps build confidence, character, and courage and in the end will develop confident, kind, and courageous women. The world could use more of that.”

Years as a PSM: 10 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughters, Daneen & Deondra (Girl Scouts K-12, now Alumnae)
  • Granddaughter, Dalaina (1st grade Daisy in SU 661)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Regina is an incredible advocate for Girl Scouts. After 10 years as SU PSM, it’s no wonder! After being a Junior troop leader, she answered the call when the service unit was looking for an SU PSM and as she says, “I never looked back.” Her passion? BOOTH SALES! She absolutely loves watching the excitement on the faces of girls as they make sales to customers at booth sales. On weekends, she makes the rounds to check on the troops and see how sales are going. Talk about dedication! We thank Regina for her years of dedication, experiences and friendships with volunteers and council staff.

What incredible stories of dedication to G.I.R.L.s! Thank you to all these incredible volunteers for their years of service. Check out Part 2 of this blog (11 – 35+years) on Thursday! If you want to share a special memory or shout out to any of these volunteers, please leave a comment below.

An Everyday Hero Standing with Girls

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout: Mark Jeffrey

It takes a special person to be a hero. Police officers, firefighters and EMTs risk their lives to protect us. Meet Mark Jeffrey from Grain Valley, MO, a dad to two amazing Girl Scouts, a police officer, former firefighter and EMT. Talk about a hero among! Most importantly, Mark is a proud Girl Scout dad and volunteer, making the world better for girls. He’s certainly Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!

Mark Jeffrey loves his community.  And, his decades of public service prove it. He served as an EMT and firefighter for 13 years before becoming a community officer then a police officer for Lake Latawana, where he’s served for 16 years. This devoted protector loves being out in his community and getting to know people. When he became a dad, he knew he wanted to have his children involved in organizations that would expose them to their community. “It’s important to be involved with your kids in activities that help us bond and make them into great people,” Mark said.

Mark and his wife, Erin, have three children – all involved in Scouting. Son, Chase (12) and daughters Alexis (9) and Elizabeth (5) have been in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts since kindergarten. Mark has recently become an assistant leader for Alexis and Elizabeth – helping with shirt designs, cookie sales and general troop support. “I was in Cub Scouts for one year and it really stuck with me, so when my kids were born, I saw it as an opportunity to get back involved with Scouting,” Mark said.

Scouting is important to the family because it lets the Jeffrey kids explore and do things outside the house. “Scouting provides life skills that help you become a good member of society. It teaches girls they can go as far as they want. Kids get the opportunity to explore, learn and discover their interests, so they grow up to be great men and women of society,” Mark said.

Alexis is part of Girl Scout Junior Troop 716 and volunteers with Girl Scout Daisy Troop 1854, Elizabeth’s troop (PS – Michelle Twyman, leader for Troop 879, has a daughter in this troop too!). Elizabeth was inspired to join Girl Scouts because of Alexis. The two have a very close relationship and as Mark says, they’re almost like twins. Having an older Girl Scout participate means the world to the new Daisies who are working hard on their first year selling cookies.

“Elizabeth’s troop is crazy about cookies. She’ll ask anyone she sees to buy them. She went to one of Chase’s Boy Scout meetings and started asking them to buy cookies,” Mark said. What a go-getter!

The Jeffrey family is active in PTA for Matthews Elementary, supported Service Unit 646’s Holly Jolly Jamboree and participates in Grain Valley’s Police Explorers. The Police Explorers is a program introduces kids to law enforcement careers through interactive activities like learning to use handcuffs and touring the police station. While his daughters are too young to officially join, they’ve participated in many activities.

Each year in the PTA, Mark is a driving force behind the annual carnival fundraiser for the school. He builds activities, helps organize and is very hands on with the event. For Mark, it’s all about getting to spend more time with his kids and make their life better. “As a dad, my kids are my world. To see my kids having fun and being part of that, I get to be a dad and having fun with them, be part of their life,” Mark said.

Girl Scouts in particular allows Mark to be a male role model and watch his daughters become G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.  “It’s important for girls to have good, male role models in their lives and a girl’s father should be the first one she sees,” Mark said.

Thank you to Mark, Erin and all the amazing supporters of Girl Scout Troops 716 and 1854 in Grain Valley, MO! Your hard work helps girls shine every day! THANK YOU! If you know of another amazing Girl Scout volunteer, share their story in the comments below.