Girl Scouts is the Place for All Girls – Mermaids Included!

Meet Irena, a super-outgoing seven year old Girl Scout Brownie from Service Unit 625. Irena is just like any other Girl Scout her age: she enjoys reading, ziplining at camp, and pretending to be a mermaid gliding through the pool with her magnificent tail. To us, Irena is one of the coolest and most courageous soon-to-be third graders we’ve ever met.

At just a year old, Irena’s father, Chris Johnson, was told she had a medical condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  SMA is a rare condition that affects parts of the nervous system as it relates to voluntary movement.  Most children with SMA are not able to walk, have trouble breathing, and often are more susceptible to fatal illness.  Our Irena has Type II, so unlike many other cases of SMA, Irena is able to walk on her knees allowing for some lower body movement. Irena is so strong!  She visits specialists all over the country for treatment and surgery to help improve her mobility and work toward a cure.

This summer has been extra special for Irena and her dad!  During Irena’s time at Camp Prairie Schooner for Service Unit 625’s weekend camp-out, Chris was able to come along to assist. This gave dad and daughter a unique experience together.

“Girl Scouts allowing me to stay at camp with Irena meant the world to me to be able to provide her with the care she needs while getting to see her have the ability to do the things other kids do,” Chris said. “Irena isn’t 100% fearless, close though! At Girl Scouts, she is getting the support to take on those new challenges.”

With the expertise and encouragement of her dad and our Outdoor Adventure staff team, Irena took on one of those Girl Scout “challenges of choice” – ziplining. Irena had an awesome cheer squad led by her super enthusiastic (and from Irena) extra LOUD Troop Leader Miss Tiffany and backed up by all her Girl Scout sisters. She flew across that zipline with a big smile on her face and mastered a brand new skill.

Of course for Irena after completing the zipline, she declared it was no big deal. It was just another challenge that she faced and conquered. It was like when she puts on her Mermaid tail and she can glide through the water with ease. For others who watched Irena conquer this challenge, watching her glide across that zipline brought tears of joy.

This is what Girl Scouts is all about. Girls of all abilities are welcome to learn new skills, grow their friendships, take on challenges, fail, try again and succeed in a girl-powered space. And of course, dads who are “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” are always encouraged!

Irena says her favorite parts of camp were the fun science activities she did, sleeping in a bunk bed- top bunk, and getting to be with her friends.

Chris and Irena can’t wait for the new Aquatics Center at Camp Prairie Schooner to open.  Part of Irena’s physical therapy exercises in making her legs stronger include swimming- with that magnificent mermaid tail!  The motion helps her hips grow strong, and makes it easier for her to be able to walk in water.

So what’s the future hold for this super G.I.R.L.(Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™? Nothing but BIG goals, of course! Irena wants to become a chemist so she can find a cure for SMA and other diseases and be able to help kids just like her. We’re also pretty glad she has several more years to keep conquering those Girl Scout challenges!

Irena is most definitely a G.I.R.L.!  Way to go, Irena!  We love having your bright smile in Girl Scouts!

Day Trips and Community Partners: The Perfect Combo – Part 3

Fun Summer Excursions for Troops & Families

Today on the blog we’re helping your family plan excursions around our West Region area!  We hope to bring a perfect balance between fun-in-the-sun and sightseeing.  Here are our top must-dos to check off for the perfect summer!

  1. Perry State Park

Venturing first into one of our favorite West Region state parks, we believe our Girl Scouts will be able to create several different memories here: from boating, to hiking, camping in cabins, to fishing!  Perry State Park incorporates the perfect amount of summer learning to keep our girls sharp over the summer through a variety of enrichment opportunities; your girls can learn more about the wildlife that surrounds Perry!

  1. Flint Hills Discovery Center

One of our featured community partners, Flint Hills Discovery Center, aims to educate, celebrate and explore care for Flint Hills.  Daisy and Brownies can schedule trips here for $9 a girl.  In addition, the special exhibit for the summer is Be the Dinosaur- an exciting experience for any girl!  Be sure to plan your own trip there throughout the school year as well to work on various Daisy and Brownie Journeys!

  1. OZ Museum

Have your G.I.R.L (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk Taker, Leader) explore her imagination for a day!  This museum features over 2,000 artifacts from OZ  from the classic The Wizard of OZ!  Children can tour the Oz Museum for 7 dollars!

  1. Kansas Museum of History

It’s important for all girls to know the history of where they live and where they’re from!  The Kansas Museum of History aims to accomplish just this- telling the history of the people of Kansas, girls can learn everything from historical events, geography and also enjoy interactive exhibits.  Join them “After hours” for special exhibits half price.

We hope you enjoyed our summer travels series for this summer, hopefully this inspires you to sightsee and explore near and far!  Don’t forget to use #gstravels as you and your G.I.R.L. enjoy your summer!  This just gives a small start to all the cool opportunities in the West. Do you have a favorite place? Share in the comments below.

Girl Scout Strong

Spotlight on GS Alum & Volunteer Becky Estep

Becky Estep, from Cameron, MO is lifetime Girl Scout Member, Highest Award Alum, Daisy’s Circle Founding Member, Troop Leader, Service Unit Manager and has over 45 years of experience with Girl Scouts. This summer Becky will retire from her role as Service Unit 814 Manager after serving in that role more years than she can count!

Becky’s Girl Scout story began when she was in 2nd grade. Her troop met weekly after school. “We wore our uniforms so proudly with sashes, beanies, ties, flashers on our socks, and dues pouches on our belts!” When she was 13, she was selected through written essay and interview to go on a trip to Europe, 7 countries in 13 days! This experience led to many new adventures for her including research, community-wide Fundraising, packing, traveling and presentations. She spent her Girl Scout summers as counselor and program director at Camp Woodland where she I learned life skills, fostered a love for the outdoors and made lifelong friends!

“There is so much joy in watching girls and adults learn and grow to become leaders and role models for others and to use those skills & their voices to help build girls with courage, confidence, & character to make our world a better place!”

Becky has been using her Girl Scouting background and education as an Environmental Scientist with the EPA to help make our world a better place! Throughout these past 45 years Becky’s Girl Scout roles have included camp counselor and program director at Camp Woodland, service unit product sales manager, day camp director, council trainer/facilitator, events manager and troop leader for her daughter Amanda’s troop through high school graduation and now her niece’s Cadette troop.

“I truly want to give back, to be there for our girls to help them achieve their goals and dreams and to enjoy Girl Scouts as much as I have over all these years! Our girls face so many wonderful choices and challenges on their journey through life and need our Girl Scout program and leaders like us more than ever to help them on their way!”

Becky, thank you so much for all your commitment, dedication and passion to Service Unit 814 and our entire council over the past umpteen years! We are thrilled to have you stay connected as a troop leader and as a mentor for the next service unit manager!

Day Trips and Community Partners: The Perfect Combo – Part 2

Enjoy Some Fantastic Places in Our North Region & Beyond

Today we’re highlighting summer trips in our North Region and beyond! Join us as we take you on a virtual tour through the Region’s best State Parks, museums, and day trips! These trips are sure to excite all of the travel bug G.I.R.L.s (Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk Takers, and Leaders) out there!

Wallace State Park

First up, we’re taking your family on a nature trip in Cameron, Missouri. Wallace State Park is a large private campground with shaded hiking trails and a few large ponds. Other activities include fishing, boating, and bird watching. Girl Scouts from ages 5-12 can enjoy Kid’s Fishing Day on June 16th.

Robidoux Resident Theatre

Next, we’re taking you on an afternoon out with one of our CommunityPartners, Robidoux! Located in St. Joseph, Missouri, this theatre has a lot of productions coming this summer from: Mamma Mia!, The Wizard of Oz and Newsies. Teens can also enjoy their summer theatre camp program!

Shatto Milk Company Tour

Then, there’s Shatto Farms is located in Osborn, Missouri. This Midwest classic, local, farm-fresh milk has an amazing tour opportunity to bring the whole family to. Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30 families, groups or individuals can reserve a tour of their farm for only six dollars per person.  When you’re there, remember to try more than just the milk; Shatto also offers yummy treats for summer like ice cream!

Walt Disney Hometown Museum

For our last stop, we’re landing in Marceline, Missouri- the original Main Street USA! Walt Disney called Marceline home while he attended grade school there. Take a stroll through Main Street and find the charming Walt Disney Hometown Museum where you’ll find the most knowledgeable tour guides who remembered Walt as a child. After the tour, you can take a trip to Mr. Disney’s family barn to enjoy a little piece of special Missouri history.

We hope you enjoyed our tour around some highlights of our North Region! Share your experiences this summer with us in the comments below. Visited a place you want us to feature? Comment below! Stay tuned for our special feature on the West Region and Beyond next week!

Day Trips and Community Partners: The Perfect Combo

Part 1 – Exploring the KC Metro Area

Memorial Day Weekend is here and that means the unofficial start of SUMMER! There are so many great things to do in the Kansas City area. Here are a few of our faves.  Whether you enjoy some fun in the sun, or stay cool exploring a historic site, we hope you have a memorable summer!

Find Adventure

Get your adrenaline pumping this summer with Zip KC through their 143 acre park. Passing over and through their beautiful forest canopy, this is a must-see breathtaking site this summer. Whether you’re attending with just your family or looking for a fun troop summer trip, remember to follow safety activity checkpoints!

Visit Historic Places

Stay cool or take a day inside for a rainy day by stepping back in time to appreciate the history of Kansas City by visiting the famous 18th and Vine sites! The American Jazz Museum is a highlighted museum featuring The Blue Room, a Kansas City Jazz Club. The Negro League Baseball Museum is another special museum to tour, which is directly next to the Jazz Museum.

Feast Outdoors

There’s nothing that reminds us of summer more than perfect picnic weather! Whether you’d like to go see Shakespeare in the Park or enjoy the scenery on the lawn of The Nelson-Atkins Museum, both are great places for a picnic! They both allow you to bring your own food and blankets to enjoy the night. Girl Scout Night at the Shakespeare Festival is June 21st at 6 p.m.; all Girl Scouts will receive a free button, a tour and a workshop.

Family Day at the Beach

Shawnee Mission Park Beach is a community park area for all ages! Enjoy your hot days here cooling off and enjoying the lake!  Perfect for Memorial Day, the brand new beach opens May 26th for the summer!

We want to know how you’re getting outdoors this summer so drop us a note in the comments below or share on social media using #gsoutdoors!

And, we will be bringing you favorite places to visit in the West & North Regions of our council next Friday and the Friday after that. It’s our three-part Friday Summer Fun Series. Visited a cool place you think we should feature? Comment below to help us get ready for our next two blogs.

Get Outdoors with Badges

June is Great Outdoors Month! With summer here, it’s the perfect time for a Girl Scout to take on an adventure in the outdoors! And, we encourage our Girl Scouts to take on earning a badge or two with the support of her parent / caregiver. Getting a head start on planning for the new GS Year? Here’s some great information on how to support your Girl Scout(s) in focusing on an outdoor badge.

Girl Scouts are the true vision of “work hard play hard.”  Through their badge and journey requirements, getting girls outdoors teaches them about the environment that surrounds them, leadership skills and social bonds and problem solving skills.

Here are the badges that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk Takers, Leaders)™ can earn through outdoor activities!

  1. Go camping. We’re all about learning, having fun, and making friends—the perfect combination for camp. Camping is a great way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Whether for a day, a week, or longer, camp gives girls opportunities to grow, explore, and have fun under the guidance of caring, trained adults. There are a variety of ways for girls to get involved like: day camps, troop camping or a resident camp experience at one of our sister councils. See all the ways you can camp like a Girl Scouts this summer!  Did you know: girls at ANY age can earn badges for camping?  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.  Learn more about Daisy-Ambassador camping badges.

 

  1. Take on an outdoor adventure. Consider climbing a hill or mountain so high you’ll be yearning to snap a selfie on top of it to capture the memory. Grab a friend or team up with your Girl Scout troop to explore your neighborhood at night or buddy up to set up a tent in a nearby park or your backyard. If you’re a Brownie these are just some activities you’ll try out when you challenge yourself to earn the Outdoor Adventurer badgeDid you know: our older girls can complete something BIG through our Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge?  For the girls who have already mastered camping, hiking, and canoeing, earning your Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge might be perfect for you!

 

  1. Try your hand at geocaching. Here’s your chance to play part global explorer, part detective when you search for treasure chests known as “geocaches” using GPS. By the end of your search, you’ll not only have had an exciting geocaching adventure but also have learned how to prepare for future quests- a perfect way to connect STEM to the outdoors. If you’re a Junior, you’ll be taking the steps to earn the Geocacher badge, too. Did you know:  you can set up a Geocaching session with our trained staff at Camp Tongawood and Camp Prairie Schooner?!  You can also checkout necessary equipment and download the resources to lead the session yourself! Learn More!

 

  1. Ride Horses. Are you up for a challenge? Why not try horseback riding? This exciting sport engages all ages! You will improve your strength, focus, and form. This is also a unique way to earn badges.  Be sure to prepare. Learn about our community partners like Pine Dell Horse Farm or S&S Stables to book your own equestrian trip. Simply follow the safety activity checkpoint guide for horseback riding and fill out the activity and troop approval application prior to the activity!

 

  1. Outdoor Art? Why not! Whether it be through photography, painting, jewelry making or music, experiment with new ways of expressing your love of nature. Let it move you to create art inspired by the outdoors. Seniors can earn the Art Expert badge once their masterpiece is complete.

 

  1. Plan a trip to the beach, river, or lake. Have an adventure on the water! We have many bodies of water in our landlocked region that girls can explore! Just be sure that you’re following the safety activity checkpoints or using one of our community partners like Living Water Canoe/KayakHey Girl Scout adults did you know: that you can become certified to lead water excursions with your troop?  The next Small Craft Safety training is June 2 and Moving Water training is June 9!

Prepare for great adventures, Girl Scout style! Get your outdoor gear at the Girl Scout shop. The badges don’t stop here. Check out more Girl Scout badges you can earn when you show the outdoors some love.

Daisies for Daisy’s Circle

Spotlighting Some of Our Youngest Philanthropists – GS Troop 4350

Spend. Save. Give. Three simple words that start financial literacy education in young Girl Scouts. When these lessons turn into action, it creates real change and a sense of accomplishment for girls. Meet Girl Scout Daisy Troop 4350, our newest Daisy’s Circle troop! These powerful little philanthropists decided to give back to fellow Girl Scouts after talking to Kara Lineweber, Donor Relations Manager for GSKSMO. As leader Amanda said, “once they talked to Kara, the vote was unanimous to give to Daisy’s Circle with part of their cookie proceeds.”

Troop 4350’s awesome first year of Girl Scouting!

Troop 4350 is just in their second year and hit the fast forward button to catch up to other troops. They started meeting in March of 2017 and decided to hold meetings throughout the summer and twice per week to earn all 10 petals. They also fit in camping twice per year and more activities to keep the troop active and learning all they can handle!

Troop 4350’s badge station and some fun troop time together!

It was during the lesson for the “Talk It Up Leaf” that troop leader Amanda Boyers had Kara come in and talk to the girls about philanthropy. Amanda talked to them about how they helped hurricane victims, the homeless and animals, and asked how they felt about helping sister Girl Scouts through Daisy’s Circle. That’s when it all came together, the girls voiced their decision to support fellow Girl Scouts and they received their own Daisy’s Circle pins.

As Girl Scout Daisy Joye said, “I like to help other Girl Scouts like me.” She proudly held up her pin, smiling as she talked about it. Troop member Phoebe said her favorite thing about Girl Scouts is camp, so she liked helping other girls get to camp too. “[Being a Girl Scout means] I help people, so this is how I can help other Girl Scouts,” Phoebe said.

 

Troop 4350 Girl Scouts Ruby (left), Joye (center) & Phoebe (right)!

Through the experience of giving back through financial gifts as well as time and service, these young Daisies are learning the fundamentals of the Girl Scout program. As Girl Scout Daisy, Ruby said “to be a Girl Scout, you have to be nice, kind and polite.” Learning to give back is certainly a great way to learn to be those things!

So many life experiences, so much fun – that’s what makes Girl Scouting so very special. On top of all the amazing skills girls learn and opportunities they have, troop leader Amanda sees the power in Girl Scouting as a family affair as much as it is beneficial for the girls. “It’s a great way for mothers and daughters alike to form relationships with peers as the troop continues to mature. It’s an opportunity for girls to have ownership both financially and in the decision making. I can’t think of another extracurricular activity that can provide this unique combination,” Amanda said.

 We can’t thank Troop 4350 and their leader enough for their support of Daisy’s Circle. By giving back, they’re helping empower sister Girl Scouts right here in their community. If you’d like to learn more about this giving program, visit www.daisyscircle.org or contact Kara Lineweber at klineweber@gsksmo.org to get started!

Gold Standard for Change

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Ingraham

Winters in the Midwest can wreak havoc on communities. It doesn’t take much rain, ice or snow for individuals to be impacted by the unfavorable conditions. Unfortunately, life must go on and we find ourselves cautiously navigating our surroundings.

For Girl Scout Ambassador Lauren Ingraham, all it took was one Midwest winter in her very own neighborhood for her Gold Award project to be born.

Lauren lives in what was anticipated to be small subdivision in Kansas City, MO. When the road was built, the city didn’t anticipate it serving more than one neighborhood. As the community grew, so did the use of the road, which rapidly became unsafe, especially in winter conditions.  It was that one mild winter storm that Lauren realized that something needed to be done. There were too many cars that had gone off the road and slid into the ditches on either side of the road.

The winter storm and hazardous road conditions that inspired Lauren’s project.

“Seeing these accidents made me want to take action and help my neighborhood. I decided the best solution to this problem was to see if the road itself could be improved because it has no curbs or sidewalks,” Lauren said in her guest blog post with KC Healthy Kids. “The only way I would be able to fix the road was to convince the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to improve them. In order to do this, I would have to petition the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC).”

PIAC is a group of 13 individuals representing six Kansas City council districts appointed by the mayor and City Council.

While many might find this task daunting, Lauren did not! She got to work gathering data, writing letters and gathering support with the help of KC Healthy Kids. She presented her proposal at the PIAC meeting and received a positive response, including one from of Sara Loar, daughter of council-woman Teresa Loar. Sara was inspired by Lauren’s proposal and coached Lauren through her speech and the process of working with her local government.

Left: Lauren & Sara Loar. Right: Lauren presenting at the PIAC meeting.

Lauren’s proposal was ultimately supported by the PIAC committee and was sent to the City Council where they just recently approved the project and granted funding for the road to be repaired. Construction on the road will start sometime this summer or fall and is slated to be completed by next year!

“Even though I am a teenager and not yet old enough to vote, everyone has been genuinely supportive that I was speaking out for something that makes my neighborhood unsafe. I encourage all kids to do the same. If you see a problem in your neighborhood, speak out and get help to get it fixed!”

Lauren’s Gold Award project has inspired her to become more involved and use her voice in the political arena. She’s now volunteering on a Missouri State senate campaign and plans to be involved in a U.S. Senate campaign this fall!

Civic engagement is one of Girl Scouts’ four focus areas. Through the G.I.R.L. Agenda, Girl Scouts of the USA is providing tools and support to encourage Girl Scouts, like Lauren, to be a catalyst for change within their own communities. The Civic Action Toolkit is available for Girl Scouts of all ages as well as volunteers!

“Because of Girl Scouts I have learned that you don’t have to be an adult or someone in a position of power to make a difference in your community,” Lauren said.

On April 14, 2018 we celebrated and recognized 60 Gold Award Girl Scouts! You can read about all of their projects here!

 

An Alum who Inspires Girls to Blaze New Trails

Meet Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer & GS Alum Michele Pritchard

When Michele Pritchard was in 2nd grade, she joined an organization that would change her life – Girl Scouts. Looking for a place to have more outdoor experiences, Michele discovered more than a group of girls to explore nature with – she found a sisterhood that inspired her passion. This awesome Gold Award alum is also a proud member of Daisy’s Circle Trailblazers, continuing to support the organization that helped shape who she is today.

Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Michele had some pretty amazing experiences thanks to Girl Scouts. She learned about Native American culture, medicinal uses of things like tree bark, camping skills and more that filled her desire to explore. But it didn’t stop there. Michele also learned to code, earning a badge in it, with her dad leading the programming the troop participated in!

“It was so fun to accomplish one of those badges because you came out with such a great understanding of whatever topic the badge covered. That exposure, that exploration girls get…I think that’s why it’s so important for people to continue support Girl Scouts,” Michele said.

These early badge projects turned into a wonderful survey of all the career options available – something girls don’t always get in school. “Girl Scouts was career exploration for me,” Michele said.

In 1990, Michele turned her sights on the Gold Award and a problem right in her neighborhood. During a sidewalk renovation project, many trees in the area get severe damage to their root systems, which eventually caused them to die. Michele grew saplings and replanted them, filling the area with trees once again. “Hundreds of little trees in little pots all over my mom’s house!” Michele said.

Michele with the tree she planted in 1979, then got seeds from for her Gold Award project.

 In fact, the tree she got the seeds from to grow the others is still growing in her mom’s backyard! Not only did Michele make an impact on her neighborhood, she learned invaluable life skills and leadership qualities she uses in everyday life. “It was because of Girl Scouting that I discovered what my passions are and that helped drive my career choices as an adult,” Michele said.

As an Alum, Michele has turned her sights on supporting the next generation of Girl Scouts by becoming a proud member of Daisy’s Circle as a Trailblazer. “I want to support the program that helped me find out what my passions are,” Michele said. There are many ways to support organizations you care about and Michele has been able to find many ways to give.

“I give of my time, but it was also important to me to give financially too. You can’t rely on free volunteers for everything, so you have to have a funding source to help girls do everything they need to do in Girl Scouting to give them the upper hand,” Michele said. Thank you, Michele, for giving back to Girl Scouts and supporting the next generation of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) just like you!

To learn more about becoming a Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer, email KaraLineweber@gsksmo.org.

STAND UP FOR GIRLS

A Message from CEO Joy Wheeler

Today, the intent of Boy Scouts of America was made crystal clear in the launch of their national marketing campaign ”Scout Me In”  designed to entice parents to enroll their girls and boys into “Scouting” through Cub Scouts of Boy Scouts of America.

Most of you are probably aware Boy Scouts have begun recruiting girls in our markets; an example yesterday evening when girls leaving their Girl Scout meeting were greeted with Boy Scout recruitment flyers.  We are aware of many more examples and they will continue to increase and become more aggressive.

I want to assure you, Girl Scouts remains firmly committed to the girl only space as we are the BEST Leadership organization for Girls.  Girl Scouts offers a safe place where girls lead, feel free to explore new things outside their comfort zone, and develop new skills that builds courage and confidence without the distractions of the gender and stereotype bias that still exists in co-ed environments. With 106 years of experience in serving only girls gives us the right to claim we have the expertise and knowledge on how to BEST develop girls to achieve their aspirations and take leadership roles.

Our girl specific leadership development program in addition to our intentional program focus areas of STEM, Entrepreneurship, and Civic Engagement are in addition to the broad experiences she gets in Outdoor activities, high adventure, and exploration.  Indeed we are developing girls; the largest untapped resource to meet the workplace needs of the 21st century. And never before has the need for female leadership been more obvious.

I get to STAND UP FOR GIRLS every day as we develop girls to meet their full potential.  You will hear more from me and I want to hear from you!  Contact me and join us as we Stand Up For Girls…. because she deserves it.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Joy Wheeler

G.I.R.L. and Chief Executive Officer

 

Want more information? Check out:

No Contest: Girl Scouts is the Best Leadership Organization for Girls

The Girl Scout Difference

The Case for Girl Scouts: Research & Data