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!

A New Home for the Oakledge Ish-Ki-Ti-Ni

The most recognizable symbol from Camp Oakledge was the totem pole (or “Ish-ki-ti-ni” for more recent Girl Scouts) that stood near the dining hall. Its image was on badges and shirts, serving as a friendly face for campers. When Camp Oakledge was decommissioned, the Ish-ki-ti-ni was moved to Camp Prairie Schooner. Now renamed the “Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni,” the rebuilt totem pole will be rededicated during the Alumnae Reunion and Picnic on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner. We wanted to share the story of this symbol of camp history and celebrate its new life!

The name Ish-ki-ti-ni comes from a Native American mythology of the owl. While the whole totem pole has come to be known as the “Ish-ki-ti-ni,” it is started as the name of the owl that symbolically sits at the top of the totem. According to Oakledge camp legend, you can sometimes see Ish-ki-ti-ni flying over camp at night, watching over Girl Scouts.

Below the Ish-ki-ti-ni are symbols – the Girl Scout Trefoil, the frog, the turtle, the butterfly and the gnomies (pronounced “ga-no-me” for this totem). Each represents a part of the camping experience.

 

For alumnae and younger Girl Scouts alike, the Ish-ki-ti-ni serves as an important part of childhood. “In 2013, we pretended it was a time traveling machine. We wrote a song and we would hold onto it while singing it and it would take us to different summers. Kind of like a ride down memory lane. The song went: ‘Ishkitini Ishkitini take us way back when / Show us all the memories that you hold within,’” Girl Scout camper, Olivia (AKA Puffy) said.

Marley Parsons (AKA Ferris), resident camp director and alumna, feels the Ish-ki-ti-ni is a symbol of her Girl Scouting life. “The Ish-ki-ti-ni was a huge representation of my childhood. From whispering in the Green Gnomie’s ear to help find lost times, to peeping in the hole in the back to try to see the Red Gnomie, it was all part of my camping experience,” Ferris said.

Since the Ish-ki-ti-ni is made of wood, it needs to be remade about every 10-15 years, meaning a new group of Girl Scouts gets to give new life to the totem. Currently, the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni is being rebuilt for the 2017 Alumnae Reunion, retaining as much of the original as possible.

“In 2004, the totem pole I grew up with fell into disrepair. While I was heartbroken that we had to build a new one, I loved that Bean and Beaner had us write wishes on the back of the new feathers [on the owl at the top]. It made it really special. Part of me was now a part of the Ish-ki-ti-ni. It makes me really happy to know that I am also here now, in 2017, helping rebuild it for another generation of campers,” Ferris said. She’s also part of the rebuilding team that’s preserving the memories of the totem.

In the process of being rebuilt, the Ish-ki-ti-ni is also finding a new home at Camp Prairie Schooner. “I’m happy it is being rededicated to Prairie Schooner because, for me, that’s where it all started. My very first camp was Schooner. So because the journey to camping at Oakledge started [at Camp Prairie Schooner] for me, it’s giving me a sense of closure,” Puffy said.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept 23 -24, 2017 at Camp Prairie Schooner where we will rededicate the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni at Camp Prairie Schooner and create a time capsule with it! Registration closes on September 8th, so get registered today at www.gsksmo.org/reunion.

 

Total Solar Eclipse of the Girl Scout Heart

August 21, 2017 the date of the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 99 years. It was hyped up to be a natural phenomenon, one that had everyone preparing and planning for the day well in advance of the actual eclipse. According to four of our Girl Scouts who experienced totality while on a Girl Scout destination, it far exceeded the hype!

Girl Scout Cadettes Ashleigh Beabout from Gardner KS and Belle Reed from Blue Springs made the trip to Total Eclipse of the Heartland in Carbondale, IL for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ five day destination. They stayed at council property but ventured into St. Louis, MO for some unique learning opportunities then watched the eclipse on the football field at Southern Illinois University.

Left: Belle waiting to see the shadowbands on the white tarp. Center: Ashleigh with her Girl Scout sisters and NASA staff. Right: Ashleigh waiting to see the shadowbands on the tarp.

The second destination location was in Columbia, MO with Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland (GSMH). Katie Blankenship from Gardner, KS and Emilie Sula-Goff from Lee’s Summit spent 3 days learning about astronomy, touring the University of Missouri and experiencing total solar eclipse at GSMH’s Silver Meadows Program Center with their families!

All four girls were extremely interested in astronomy going into their destination. Katie has talked with an astronaut in outer space and Emilie is fascinated with supernovas! But, an eclipse was something entirely new to them since there had yet to be one in the United States during their lifetime.

“I didn’t know what to expect because nobody here has experienced it before,” Ashleigh said.

This natural phenomena united adults and children, scientists and educators and the entire country. It was an experience that can truly be once in a lifetime. For Emilie her eclipse destination reunited her with her Girl Scout sister Alexandria who lives in California, where Emilie is originally from.

They had been waiting for the time when they were old enough and could agree on a location and apply together. The Great Eclipse Adventure with GSHM was the perfect fit for these astronomy and mythology loving Girl Scouts.

“It was so neat that they got to go on this destination together; then I got to bring their brothers and experience the actual eclipse with them.” Emilie’s mother, Erin said.

Left: Emilie (far right) with Alexandria and other Girl Scout sisters. Center: Katie & Becky Blankenship. Right: Emilie, Alexandria and their brothers during the eclipse.

While the total eclipse itself was only about 2 minutes, it left a lasting impression on each of them.

“I felt very lucky that I got to experience this at age 11 when other people don’t get to experience their entire life,” Belle said.

There are so many environmental factors that play into a person actually being able to see a total solar eclipse, which is why they’re considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, while it’s been 99 years since the United States saw a total solar eclipse, it’ll only be 7 more years until we experience it again and these Girl Scouts are already thinking about where and how they’ll see it…when most of them are seniors in High School.

Girl Scouts of the USA is rolling out their destination programs for the 2017-2018 year. To have an experience like Katie, Emilie, Ashleigh and Belle, check out the GSUSA Destination page. The first deadline to apply is in November!

Camp Daisy Hindman: G.I.R.L.- Built

Summer is coming to a close and we are taking a look back at the histories and stories that make up the camping experience at GSKSMO to gear up for our 2017 alumnae reunion (Sept 23 – 24, 2017). Today, we’re looking at the early history and community support that brought Camp Daisy Hindman to life. As with Girl Scouting today, the story of Camp Daisy Hindman is truly one of community, girl support, female leadership and a dedication to empowering girls.

1925 – The Search Begins

Daisy Hindman is elected Girl Scout Commissioner of Topeka with her main focus on finding a camp property for area Girl Scouts. The Council trampled across a lot of land whenever they got a lead on a potential campsite until they found their future camp property.

Left: Girl Scouts outside a cabin at Camp Daisy in 1929; Center: Daisy Hindman; Right: Helen Zimmerman, director of Camp Kee-Wah-Kee in 1926 conferring with Daisy Hindman.

 

1929 – Camp Comes to Life

20 acres for camp were leased to Girl Scouts by Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Ross. The couple lived across the road and provided support to the mission. When word got out that a Girl Scout camp was being built, the community came together to make it a reality. Cabins were sponsored by donors, tradesmen donated time and skills, local companies and clubs donated materials, all in an effort to build the best facilities for girls. Girl Scouts hosted a marionette show that raised $2,000 and sold cookies for four years fund construction. In 1929, the first year camp sessions were held, with the camp unfinished. In fact, some cabins were completed the night before girls arrived. At the time, the camp was known as “Dover Camp” or “Established Camp.”

FUN FACT: L.G. Ehols, a local carpenter whose wife was on the Council, organized local tradesmen & carpenters to donate time to the project as a community project. The Council members cooked meals for the workers so they could go straight from work on Friday to working on camp.

1930 – Camp Officially Opens

10 more acres were acquired and camp officially opened in 1930. At the time, it had four cabins, a partially constructed lodge, hospital, office, outdoor kitchen and shower house. The units original were named Juliette Low, Ipesi (now Sleepy Hollow), Trails End (original end of the property) and Peter Pan.

1934 – Camp Gets Its Name

When Daisy Hindman relinquished office (with the debt for camp paid off and camp being considered one of the excellent Girl Scout camps in the country), Mrs. J R Borrow took office. The Council voted unanimously to officially name the camp “Camp Daisy Hindman” in honor of the former Commissioner.

Left: Girl Scouts at Camp Daisy dining hall (1940s); Right: News clippings describing girls leaving for camp (1934) and fundraising efforts for camp (1962), Troop leaders gathering firewood (photo courtesy of Velma “Fae” Dinkle).

 

 1930 – 1948 – Camp Expands and The War

Between 1930 – 1943, an additional 70 acres of land were added, making it 100 acres total. Over the years campers got to experience an International Camp (1936), horses on property and scholarships for girls in need. The 114th cavalry provided horses in 1938 and in 1940, horses from the Mott Riding Academy in Lawrence came to camp for the summer. During the war years of 1944 – 1948, no camp was held due to a gas shortage that made it too difficult to get girls to camp. In 1948, Girl Scouts sold over 20,000 boxes of cookies to make repairs to camp that allowed it to serve girls once again in 1949.

1949 to Today – Honoring Daisy Hindman and G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM

In the late 1950s, the song “Camp Daisy Hindman” was composed by Martha Adams, a camp director, and it is still in use today. In July 1962, the staff celebrated the 50th birthday of Girl Scouting and Daisy Hindman returned to camp. The campers were honored by her presence and celebrated this leader who made their camp a reality.

FUN FACT: Donors Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Springer said of their gift: “Our contribution was wholly unsolicited, but we have to many starry eyed little cookie sellers in our neighborhood, it was a matter of enlarging our pantry or sending a contribution.”

Left: Girl Scout with a horse (1970s/80s); Center: 2017 Girl Scout camp staff; Right: Campers in the pool at Camp Daisy (1970s/80s).

 

 

Today, Camp Daisy Hindman is a home to more than 2,000 Girl Scouts each year for a variety of camping opportunities. Girls can experience archery, geocaching, canoeing, kayaking and summer camp, thanks to the tireless efforts of donors and alumnae who continue to support the camp. Camp Daisy Hindman continues to offer a place for  G.I.R.L.s to grow  thanks to the hard work of Daisy Hindman, the Council and the community that came together to build this camp.

Thank you to the leaders who made our camp properties a reality, the donors who continue to fund improvements, the alumnae who keep history alive and the G.I.R.L.s who give life to the campsite each year. Camp Daisy Hindman truly is a special place.

We hope you’ll join us for the 2017 alumnae reunion to share camp stories, celebrate our Lifetime members, participate in adventure programming and rededicate Neal Lodge and the Oakledge Ish-ki-ti-ni! Registration closes September 8, so register today at https://www.gsksmo.org/reunion!

6 Activities for the Total Eclipse of the Heartland

Tomorrow, Monday, August 21st, a rare event will occur where the moon will pass between the Earth and Sun, creating a solar eclipse! What’s even better? Our council, NE Kansas and NW Missouri, has a few places where we’re in the path of totality, so we get some of the best views in the country! We want to give Girl Scouts some fun to learn how the solar system works and use STEM skills to learn about a real time natural event.

Note of caution: Looking directly at the Sun, at any time, is extremely dangerous for your eyes and the effects aren’t immediate, they often take a few hours for you to realize there’s been damage. Here’s a great video to help you know what’s safe and what’s not. The safest way to view the eclipse would be on TV. If you are opting for an in-person viewing, make sure you have eclipse viewing glasses (here’s an approved list of vendors with safe glasses from the American Astronomical Society). Also, don’t wear glasses, and use unfiltered binoculars, because according to the AAS, without filters on the binoculars themselves, your glasses can melt since the rays are more concentrated. You can also read some great safety tips for viewing on NASA’s eclipse website.

…Now that we’re all safe, let’s look at some fun STEM activities to do during the eclipse mania!

  1. What is a solar eclipse? Learning ahead of the eclipse

Take this opportunity to help Girl Scouts learn about the solar system and what exactly a solar eclipse is! We found some great, short videos for Girl Scouts to check out to learn about this eclipse and why it’s so special:

  1. Decorate your solar glasses

Many glasses already have some solar decoration on them, but Girl Scouts can be very creative! If your Girl Scouts have glasses, they can decorate them after the eclipse with what they saw! It’s a great way to keep a memory of the event.

NASA glasses decoration gallery and hashtag

  1. Make a Pin-Hole Camera

Can’t find solar eclipse glasses? Make your own pin hole camera in just a few minutes that will keep your eyes safe during the viewing. It’s a great activity for Girl Scouts who like hands-on activities.

How to Make a Pin Hole Camera

Bill Nye & the National Park Service Video on Creating a Pin Hole Camera

  1. Visit St. Joseph, MO!

Visit Girl Scout sisters (or if you live in St. Joe, invite Girl Scout sisters from other cities) to come view the eclipse! Since St. Joseph, MO is in the path of totality, it’s one of the few places in the world you can get the best view of the eclipse.

Information on the Eclipse in St. Joseph, MO

  1. Solar Eclipse Paper Plate Activity (for Daisy & Brownie Girl Scouts)

Let younger Girl Scouts decorate their own solar eclipse. This activity will help girls understand how the moon is blocking the light of the sun in a fun art project!

Total Eclipse Paper Plates

  1. Become a Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer!

Bill Nye’s Planetary Society and the National Park Service have teamed up to create some great resources for kids all about the solar eclipse! You can either call a national park if you have one nearby to see if they have any booklets, or print your own book! It’s packed with activities and information! There’s also a 4 part video series featuring Bill Nye about the event.

Junior Ranger Eclipse Explore Book & Videos

These are just a few suggestions on ways to learn about STEM and get excited about the Great American Solar Eclipse! What did your troop do to celebrate? Post photos and comments below!

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!

 

National S’mores Day: New Twists on a Classic

New twists on a classic. We’re sharing 5 exciting recipes with a new ingredient or two that really spice up the traditional s’more recipe. While the core ingredients of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate remain the same, we wanted to give you some ways to make this traditional treat.

…and speaking of a twist on an original…we have an exciting announcement! The delicious S’more Girl Scout cookie is OFFICIALLY RETURNING FOR 2018!! That’s right! You’ll be able to enjoy this popular new cookie all over again during the 2018 Cookie Season!

 

Grilled S’more Banana Packets

Who’s made bananas with chocolate over a campfire while camping with Girl Scouts? Well, you’ll love this one then! Just take a banana, slice down the middle, fill with marshmallows and chocolate, wrap in foil and after 10 minutes in the fire, you’ve got a great dessert. Once it’s cooled enough, unwrap the foil, top with graham crackers and enjoy. Full recipe here!

Image and recipe from Neighborfoodblog.com

S’more Hot Chocolate

In the winter, sometimes you just want something warm in a mug. Make up your favorite hot chocolate then top with a layer of toasted marshmallows (they have some tips for how to do this), drizzle chocolate and graham crackers on the top. Yum.

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

 

“The Elvis S’more”

Put on your blue suede shoes and try out this salty and sweet combination! The addition of bananas, Reese’s peanut butter cups and bacon makes this sound like a treat that’ll make you dance the night away.

Image and recipe from TheKitchn.com

 

Mason Jar S’more Cakes

Need something you can distribute easily but packs a punch? Check out these delicious S’more Cakes served in a mason jar. A graham cracker crust layered with chocolate cake and marshmallow topping – WOW! It’s a perfect nod to summer and the toasted marshmallows on top have that ooey-gooeyness of camp. We suggest putting a piece of chocolate as a garnish on the top.

Image and recipe from HowSweetEats.com

 

S’more Cheesecake

Slice and servable option for s’mores! With a graham cracker crust, chocolate and topped with marshmallows, the addition of cheesecake is simply brilliant. Make ahead for your next event!

Image and recipe from Delish.com

 

BONUS RECIPES

For Girl Scouts and families with dietary restrictions, we have some cool twists for you too! While many of the treats above can be made with substitutions (like specialty graham crackers, etc), we wanted to highlight a few options that offer more flexibility.

Gluten-Free S’mores Krispie Treats

Substitute gluten-free rice krispies for the tradition graham cracker and whip up some s’mores krispie treats! You can find the full recipe here.

Image and recipe from DishingDelish.com

Gluten-Free S’more Parfaits

A make-ahead dessert that’s gluten-free?! Yes! Check out this parfait that’s even better when prepared a day ahead. The recipe includes everything you’ll need, including a recipe to make a gluten-free cookie (or use your favorite type).

Image and recipe from GlutenFreeOnAShoeString.com

How creative can you get, Girl Scouts? Let us know what s’mores concoctions you’ve created by commenting below! We’d love to hear what you’ve made and if you’ve tried any of these recipes. Don’t forget, you can also get to thinking about all the great ways to use the S’more Girl Scout cookie – returning for the 2018 Cookie Program!

G.I.R.L.ing in the Rocky Mountains

Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders. The 15 Girl Scout Cadettes who went on our Rocky Mountain Park Excursion are truly G.I.R.L.s. They hiked over 15 miles in three days, summited a mountain, restored a trail in the National Park, camped in black bear country while using the skills they learned through Girl Scouting.

“Try new things, work hard, and always help out are things I’ve learned in Girl Scouts,” Leah Perila said.

That’s exactly what Leah and 14 other Girl Scouts did during their six days in the Rocky Mountains!

A week in the Rocky Mountains is challenging for anyone, Girl Scout or not. You have to be prepared physically and mentally for this kind of experience; prepared to be away from home with others you’ve only just met and without cell service for unknown periods of time, prepared to contribute to the group at all times and prepared to trust in adults who are committed to the safety and enjoyable experience of all involved.

As a Girl Scout, Paige Hwang feels ready for anything to happen and was totally prepared for a week in the Rocky Mountains. “This trip exceeded my expectations. We got to climb a mountain, meet cool people, do trail work and make food over a fire,” she said.

For many of the girls, the afternoon spent doing trail restoration in the Rocky Mountain National Park was their favorite part of the trip. The group met two National Park Service Rangers, Ben and Marika (a Girl Scout alumna!), and hiked a quarter of a mile up the mountain with shovels, pick axes, crow bars and tarps to narrow a trail that had grown too large. The work process involved prying large rocks out of the side of the mountain and rolling them down to the trail to create a natural barrier on the trail that was popular for equestrian rides. Holes had to be dug for the large rocks in the trail and smaller rocks placed and crushed around it to keep it in place. Then girls gathered tuff, a combination of pine needles, twigs and dirt to scatter on the outer part of the new trail to make it look as naturally occurring as possible. At the end of the afternoon, they were asking if there was more work to be done! Ben and Marika had nothing but the highest praise for the amount of work that our Girl Scouts did!

The group collectively felt challenged during their three major hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park; the first at Bear Lake, the second to The Pool and the final one to the summit of Deer Mountain. Each hike a little more difficult than the previous one. They talked about how discouraged they felt during the long ascents, but how they were inspired by the scenery and thought of accomplishment that they were able to empower themselves to keep moving forward.

“I was challenged mentally by thinking I couldn’t do it, but once I thought positive I did better,” Zoey Christensen said.

The views at the end of the hikes did not disappoint!

“The beauty and wonder of the mountains met my expectations, but the wonderful friends I made exceeded them. Girl Scouts has taught me to socialize and talk to new people. Without Girl Scouts, I would be one of the most lonely and socially-awkward people on the face of the Earth!” Cassidy Freeman

We are excited to challenge, inspired and have girls make new friends at our next council-led excursion to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota in July 2019! Stay tuned to our social media for registration details!

 

4 BIG Reasons to Register for the New Girl Scout Year

How is your back to school list coming? Have you been to back to school night yet? Purchased new school supplies and clothes? What about register for the new Girl Scout year?

Well what are you waiting for?! There are big things in store for all of our G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ this new membership year!

  1. Volunteer Toolkit
    Save time and energy this year using our brand new Volunteer Toolkit! The Volunteer Toolkit helps parents and volunteers easily plan meetings and activities; keep track of important information; and, ultimately, make it easier to support amazing experiences for girls!

    In the toolkit, most programming for girls in grades K–5 is auto populated so troop leaders can view activity plans and necessary materials, customize meetings, and track troop finances all in one place. Plus, the instructions included throughout make subjects that might otherwise intimidate some volunteers! The best part? It’s accessible on mobile devices!

  1. New Badges
    Did you hear that Girl Scouts of the USA has released the largest badge update in over a decade?! Girl Scouts of all levels can now earn a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) badges to proudly display on the front of their vest/sash!

    See what local Girl Scouts have to say about them on KSHB 41 and in the Kansas City Star!


  2. Fall Outdoor Experience Programs
    When you register for the new Girl Scout year, you are also able to register for Fall Outdoor Experience Programs! Get your first choice of Low Ropes sessions, register for one of our new Excursions or reserve space at one of our properties, just to name a few things! See all the new programming at GSKSMO.org/outdoors!

  3. On-time Tee
    Girl Scouts (adults and girls!) who register by Sept. 28 are eligible to purchase this super soft tee. This is THE GSKSMO shirt of the year and you don’t want to miss out on your chance to get it!

So what are you waiting for?! There is a year full of go-getting, innovating, risk-taking and leading when you register for the new Girl Scout year as a G.I.R.L.!

Becoming a Woman of Confidence

Spotlight on Alumna & Donor Chris McClain

 Girl Scout Lifetime member and Camp Prairie Schooner alumna, Chris McClain found her voice in the great outdoors at camp as a Girl Scout. Through Girl Scouting, Chris was able to discover who she was, learn acceptance and become the strong woman she is today. Growing up in the 1950s, Chris was given unparalleled opportunities because of Girl Scouts.

Now a resident of Vermont, Chris found herself back among the Prairie Fairy and familiar trails of Camp Prairie Schooner last winter when she was visiting Kansas City. While on a walk through memories and trails of camp, Chris happened upon the GSKSMO Philanthropy team as they were having a meeting. After some introductions, she was able to reconnect with the council and camp of her childhood.

Chris McClain (third from the left), with GSKSMO Philanthropy team in December 2016.

Camping was a huge part of Girl Scouting for Chris. She remembers working at Camp Prairie Schooner and getting to know new girls every time she went. It was a place of discovery where she was able to push her limits and explore possibilities.

During the 1960s, camp was a place where she learned acceptance and social inclusion as race riots in Kansas City changed the dynamics of camp. During the riots, there was a particular push to get Girl Scouts of color to camp, not only for their protection, but to give them a chance to just be girls and focus on their own development. For Chris, this gave her new opportunities to meet girls she’d never met before and see that everyone was accepted. At camp, everyone was a Girl Scout, no matter the social climate in the city.

“[Girl Scouts gives you] the confidence to try stuff outside your comfort zone and to stand up for what you believe is right,” Chris said.

A highlight of her experience was attending a Girl Scout Roundup in Vermont during high school. After applying with thousands of other girls from around the country, she and her troop were accepted and jumped on a train for Vermont. She and 10,000 other Girl Scouts camped together and made new friends. One of the best parts? A closing campfire with the real life Maria Von Trapp!

This Roundup group continues to hold reunions every other year, reuniting Girl Scout friends from around the country. Chris is an active member of planning these reunions and loves the chance to reconnect with one of the most life changing opportunities she had in her childhood.

 

Chris McClain in her home in Vermont and enjoying bagpiping – a hobby and profession for this alumna!

Today, Chris is a proud Girl Scout Lifetime member, an active community member and periodic volunteer for Girl Scouts in Vermont. She loves having opportunities to inspire young girls and give back to the organization that helped her grow into the woman she is today. She’s also become a member of the Trefoil Society, giving back to Girl Scouts through her estate. “After all Girl Scouts did for me, I can finally give back,” Chris said.

Thank you to Chris and the other Trefoil Society members who are leaving a legacy and making a better tomorrow for girls. If you’d like to share a powerful Girl Scouts story from Camp Prairie Schooner, leave a comment below!