3 Tips to Help You Prepare for Your Upcoming Girl Scout Year

 

1. Set Clear Expectations Ahead of Time

Talk-With-PeopleHow can you get the most out of a trip if you don’t know where you are going? Sure, you might have some fun along the way, but you will miss so many opportunities (plus be more stressed) if you don’t have a clear destination in mind. The same applies to planning your Girl Scout year.

Try these few tips to chart a smart course ahead, and to decrease potential friction between parents and volunteers:

  • Try sending an email, or text to all your parents and volunteers asking them what they want their daughter to get out of this Girl Scout year. Miscommunication is one of the leading causes of conflict, and an easy way to avoid future tension is to lay everything out in the open.
    • Do they want their daughter to focus on the outdoors? STEM? Career exploration? You will never know unless you ask, and once you have a feel for what the troop as a whole is expecting, you will be planning as a community rather than a lone wolf.
  • If you are the troop leader, let the parents and volunteers know what is expected of them. How often do they need to provide snack? Who needs to be available transportation? If the adults are going to be put on a schedule, perhaps make a chart letting each parent know what dates they are responsible for the next semester.
  • If you are a parent, engage in open communication with your troop leader. Trying to make the girls and adults happy is no easy task, and they need you to voice your opinion. That being said, try to be flexible, and supportive of your leader as he or she plans for the group as a whole.

2. Get the Girls Involved

four cute girls with their arms around each other smilingIn the tip before, we talked about getting the other parents and volunteers involved, and you may be thinking, “That’s great, but there is no way that I can make everyone happy!” And you don’t have to, because ultimately, Girl Scouts is about letting the girls lead and choose their own paths.

  • Once you have spoken to the parents and volunteers about what they are hoping their daughter gets out of this Girl Scout year, compile their suggestions, along with your own, and match the suggestions up with programs and badges.
  • Whether you just write the programs and badges down on a piece of paper or print out photos that represent them, have the girls vote on which programs or badges are most appealing to them.

3. Use Your Resources

Whether you are new to Girl Scouting, or bleed green because you’ve been with us so long, getting help and learning more is never a bad thing. So check out our resources coming up that will help you plan the best Girl Scout year yet:

Volunteer Kickoff– This event takes place right as the Girl Scout year kicks off in early August. Council staff facilitate key learning sessions that will help you plan, lead, and grow. Bonus: Attending the Volunteer Kickoff gives you first dibs on the new FOCALPoint!

The Volunteer Resource Fairs– Ever wonder what there is to do in your area that is Girl Scout friendly? Look no further! The resource fairs offer local vendors who either offer programming for Girl Scouts or offer discounts for the girls in green.

The FOCALPoint– Our programming for the entire year offered in print and digital. The FOCALPoint will makes its’ debut at the Volunteer Kickoff and will be available after.

G.I.R.L. Talk– Our weekly eNewsletter that comes out every Wednesday will catch you up on everything important going on in the council. If you aren’t subscribed already, click here to subscribe.

What planning tips do you have that we don’t have here? We would love to know so we can share them with your fellow volunteers! If you have a suggestion, send it to mtaylor@gssc-mm.org!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

A Father’s Dream for his Daughter: The Gerald Vanlandingham Story

Gerald Vanlandingham has a dream for his daughter. A dream so many of us have for our own children. To have an unforgettable childhood, to have opportunities to discover their full potential, to become the kind of adult who makes the world a better place. More than just a hope, Gerald decided early on to do everything he could to make this dream happen for his little girl, Elizabeth. See, Gerald shares our Girl Scout DNA. When he saw the experiences the Girl Scout Leadership Program would allow his daughter to have, he didn’t stop at signing her up, he signed up as well. Gerald Vanlandingam is #manenough to be a Girl Scout.

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Gerald and his daughter Elizabeth

 

“I have this goal for my daughter to be independent and self-reliant. To be open to new ideas. As much as possible, I want to prepare her to stand on her own as a woman that is unafraid to speak up and chase her goals. If I can have some small part in helping her, and helping other girls grow into self-reliant, empowered women, I will be happy.” – Gerald Vanlandingham, Elgin, SC

Initially, Gerald thought he would play more of a “behind the scenes” role in the troop- making supply runs, driving the girls, etc. Until one day when the troop leader couldn’t make the meeting and Gerald had a decision to make. He could tell Elizabeth and the other parents that the meeting would be cancelled, or he could step up and take the lead. Can you guess what Gerald did? Though unsure of himself at the time, and a little nervous, Gerald showed his daughter that leadership isn’t just defined as being the president of the United States or becoming a rocket scientist, leadership lives in those everyday moments where we choose to step up and be heard.

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Gerald hasn’t gone back to “behind the scenes” since. When we asked Gerald why it was that he chose to give so much of his time and lead, his response was immediate and simple: “Because there was a need.”  This is the very essence of leadership the Girl Scout way. From the Gold Award Recipient who identifies a need in her community and makes a plan to address it, to the Daisy who asks the new girl to sit at her table, Girl Scouts use those everyday moments to create a lifetime of leadership. Gerald V 3

“The world is changing and these girls are the future of it.” -Gerald Vanlandingham, Elgin, SC

Gerald is getting ready for another year of Girl Scouts with Elizabeth, and the girls in her troop. In Girl Scouts, he has found a community of other volunteers who share the Girl Scout DNA and share that same dream for their girls. Gerald is constantly looking for new trainings or classes he can take so he can bring new skills and opportunities to his girls. All year round, but especially on this Father’s Day weekend, we are so thankful for our Girl Scout Dads, like Gerald, who are #manenough to be a Girl Scout.

Are you #manenough to join the Movement? Click here to become a Girl Scout today!

 

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

The Journey of Volunteering: A Guest Blog from Katy Sides

Some of my fondest memories growing up were from being a part of a Girl Scout troop in the Big Bend region of Florida. My mom was our troop leader, my best friends were in my troop, I loved selling Girl Scout cookies at my dad’s office and we went on wonderful trips to the beach, mountains and theme parks. I loved working on new projects and earning badges. Whenever I think about my time and experiences as a Girl Scout, it always puts a smile on my face. Katy Sides 3

Throughout my professional and volunteer career, I am driven to give back. The mission of the organizations I work for and volunteer with inspire me to work hard and to do my part in making my community a better place. One organization I have enjoyed volunteering with most recently is the Junior League of Greenville (JLG). I have worn several hats in the JLG throughout the years, including chairing the Grants Committee, Recording Secretary of the Board of Directors in addition to being a community agency volunteer. I am thrilled to be the Board’s critical connection between the community and the League during this coming year as Community Vice President.

The League does amazing work, focused on three Community Impact areas – Families & Children, Health & Wellness and Education. We focus on promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving our community. Due to the JLG’s Mission and Impact Areas, I knew that it was an organization I wanted to join.  I believe that through the power of volunteerism, women can come together and truly impact the significant areas of need in our community. I am inspired by our Impact Areas and the vast amount of work that can be done within them and still left to do. Since joining the JLG, I have been able to volunteer with community organizations, help foster partnerships between the League and nonprofits and witness the expansion of several of the JLG’s community-based programs.Katy Sides 2

Much of my League career has been focused on our grants to other organizations in the community. I have loved serving on that committee because you get to learn about amazing nonprofit organizations from across all of Greenville County that are working to make our community a better place, including the Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands. It is incredible to learn about the challenges facing Greenville, many of which may be below the radar and the great organizations and the dedicated people that are working to address those issues. The JLG is honored to partner with those organizations and our grant funding model is truly unique. Not only do we give of our money through grant dollars, but we also give of our time through volunteer Placements. Every organization that receives a JLG grant also receives volunteers who support their organization through a commitment of 40 hours of volunteer service. This is an incredible view of grant-making that ties together our financial support with the man power and incredible skill sets of our League Members. So many nonprofits are not functioning at full capacity due to limited resources, and the JLG is uniquely addressing that challenge in a two-pronged approach.  Katy Sides 4

As I reflect on the development of my drive to make my community better, I must think that my time in Girl Scouts shaped me into the woman I would become. I learned there the true meaning of friendship, how to carry myself as a young woman, that hard work and commitment pay off, and how even the smallest projects can combine with the hard work of others to truly make the community in which you live a little brighter. This is a lesson I continue to learn daily through my volunteering at the Junior League of Greenville.

Now that I am raising two young daughters of my own, I look forward to their involvement in the Girl Scouts and one day the Junior League, so that they too can be part of something bigger than themselves.

To find out more about the JLG, our grant process and how to apply please visit: www.JLGreenville.org.

To learn more about Girl Scouts, click here.

The Bonds of Love: A Tribute to Mothers

 

Can you think of a woman who has poured encouragement, understanding, and love into your life? Maybe in this very moment, you can rattle off a long list of the women who have mentored, loved, and shaped you into the person you are today.

Motherhood isn’t always perfectly pressed or neatly folded, rather, motherhood is more  often messy and loud. It is a daily practice of patience, perseverance, and most importantly love. And it is this very love that makes one a mother, not just the bond of blood, but the ties of the heart. Mother's day quote 1It is this literal labor of love that drives you to reach for more for your daughter. It is love that compels you to take her entire troop camping even though you aren’t an “outdoor person”, because you know she deserves that leadership opportunity. It is this undying affection that causes you to drive her across town after a long day at work to step up and lead at her troop meeting.

“I know my mom doesn’t like camping, but she tries not to show it. She takes us anyway, and she teaches me not to be afraid. I want to be like that.” -Bailey, Columbia 1152 in 2013 tbt.jpg

Everyday you put in the work to prepare her to empower herself. You refuse to sit on the sidelines because you know her world is a better place with you in it. I recently had the opportunity to speak with a volunteer who leads a troop, though she has no daughters of her own in Girl Scouts- and she has done so for the past 6 years. This volunteer shared that she didn’t have an involved mother growing up, and she didn’t have a long list of strong and loving women from her childhood. So when she grew into an adult, she vowed that she would be the difference for young girls. Her name would be on their list of role models and mentors. This volunteer asked to remain anonymous, but her selfless love is part of what makes Motherhood so special.

So to all the mothers and mother-figures out there who press on through the challenges- we admire you. To the women who give love and encouragement- we commend you. To the moms who give the gift of Girl Scouts to your girls- we thank you.

From all of us at Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to Midlands, Happy Mother’s Day.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

 

3 Creative (and easy!)Troop Meeting Ideas for the Spring

Cookie season has officially come to an end, and I for one, find myself needing a little bit of a breather.  Growing up, my mom was always the Service Unit Cookie Manager. And I mean always.  So I know the triumphs,  glory, and sometimes the struggles of cookie season.

With summer still a few months away, you may be looking for some fun, fairly easy to put together, and budget-friendly meeting options that the girls will still enjoy and learn from. Here are a couple ideas!

  1. DIY Spa Day   bath-salts-recipe-lavender-mint-homemade-3-of-18-2

Not only does this project leave skin soft and smooth, but it also makes a great gift! Fairly quick, easy, and inexpensive- here is what you will need (5-7 jars):

  • Small mason jars with lids
  • 5 cups of coarse sea salt
  • 3 cups coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of rosemary
  • Your favorite essential oil (lavender, mint, etc.)
  • Twine or ribbon and construction paper to make a tag

Instructions:

  • Get all your mason jars ready and make sure they all have lids!
  • In a large bowl, combine sea salt, then coconut oil, rosemary, and 10-15 drops of the essential oil. Mix well, and then spoon into each mason jar.
  • Once the girls have filled their jar, have them tie the ribbon around the top and cut out a piece of construction paper to make a tag with their names.

And Ta-Da!  You have the beginnings of a great spa day (or afternoon).

Now that you’ve gotten a little messy, and made some awesome scrub, it would be the perfect time to talk to the girls about dealing with stress. Even better- have the girls lead the discussion!

Here are just a few ideas of managing stress:

  • Yoga
  • Journaling
  • Reflection and quiet time

2. Stop and Smell the Flowers flowers

While our weather may not agree lately, Spring is officially upon us! And that means that South Carolina is in full bouquet. Did you know that there are several FREE botanical gardens within our council?

Check out some of these awesome resources:

  • Wells Japanese Garden in Newberry
    • The garden features a Temple, Torri Gate, Moon Bridge and Tea House. The posts of the Tea House originally held up the balcony at the Newberry Opera House prior to renovation of that structure in 1930!
  • South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson
    • The South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG), located on the campus of Clemson University, is a diverse 295-acre garden of natural and manicured landscapes within the South Carolina Piedmont ecosystem.
  • The Gardens at Furman University
    • The Furman University Asian Garden is a Asian garden located on the campus of Furman University at 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, South Carolina. It is open daily without charge.

Taking these breathtaking trips may be the perfect opportunity for girls to learn about ecosystems and plant science. While visiting the gardens, I would encourage you to have the girls pick out several unfamiliar plants and look up the plants once they are home!

3. DIY Scrapbook Partyscrapbook

Spring means a couple of things for the school-going Girl Scout. While summer is always welcomed, the end of the school year can be a great time to look back on the year and record some of the best moments!

The best part about DIY scrapbooks are that you can make them as simple, or fancy as you want them to be. You are more than welcome to buy pre-made scrapbooks and fill them with memories, but for the sake of DIY, I will be listing the materials needed to make one from scratch.

What you need:

  • Heavy construction paper
  • A hole punch
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Photos
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Twine or other sturdy string
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Photos (provided by each girl)

Instructions:

  • Talk with the girls and decide how many pages each scrapbook should have
  • Punch holes in all pages of the scrapbook
  • Let the girls decorate their pages
  • Tie the pages together with your twine or string and- TaDa!

This is a great opportunity to have the girls present their scrapbook in front of the troop. Have each girl explain why she chose each photo and what the memories mean to her. This is a great confidence building exercise.

Whether you’ve finished your Badge series with a few meetings left, or you are just looking for something fun and different, these meeting ideas are sure to create fun and impactful memories for your girls.

What meeting ideas do you love or use? Send them to me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org to be featured on our blog!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

 

 

 

The Summer of her Life and the Leadership to Last a Lifetime

Camp is about more than just friendship bracelets and bonfires. Camp is a place where girls can truly learn how to be independent, take risks in a safe environment, and practice the everyday leadership skills that are the cornerstones of success. Every girl deserves this kind of opportunity to grow, learn, and lead. Unfortunately, sometimes families are unable to afford the cost of camp, or even the Girl Scout membership- this is where our Outreach Program comes in.

Our Outreach Program takes the Girl Scout Experience to community centers, Title 1 schools, and public housing authorities. Because of generous grants, and donations from partners like YOU, girls in our underserved communities have the opportunity to experience Girl Scouts- and that includes Girl Scout Camp. Take a look at some of their stories:

CAPTURING A SPARK

Trinity wants to be a photographer when she grows up. As soon as her camp group would take a break from the trails, horseback riding, or canoeing, Trinity would pull out her small silver camera to snap a few photos. The snapshots she captured weren’t just of her friends, but of a butterfly perched on a petal, an intricately woven spider web, or a salamander lying in a creek. Trinity has real talent. The excitement on her face when she saw a new creature, beautiful flowers, or a small creek was contagious.

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Trinity practicing her photography skills

With the view finder of her camera up to her eye, Trinity said,” I love to take pictures. I usually take pictures of people, but I really love taking pictures of the woods and animals. There are so many pictures I want to take here. I want to remember all this when I get home!” Camp may just seem like a lot of summer fun, but this short time at Camp WaBak ignited the spark of curiosity and passion for a little girl named Trinity. Because of her enthralling adventure at WaBak, Trinity aspires to be a nature photographer.

 

BUILDING CONFIDENCE AT CAMP

Tatiana is a shy 4th grader with impeccable manners and kind demeanor. You can often find her gazing off in thought or writing down her ideas in a small pink notebook. This summer was a season of “firsts” for Tatiana. Her first experience camping. The first time she rode a horse. The first time she jumped into a pool without holding her nose. Tatiana’s favorite first was canoeing, even though she really didn’t think she would like it at first. The canoe

tatiana-outreach

Tatiana getting ready for her turn on the lake

seemed larger than life, and she was wary about working on a team. Worried she may be left out because she is so quiet. But when she stepped aboard the canoe, with paddle in hand, she took a chance. Once the canoe set off on the lake at Camp WaBak, the other girls began to praise Tatiana on guiding them. In an instant, the girl who was afraid and timid on the shore became confident and sure on the lake. Once Tatiana returned to the dock, she grinned ear to ear, “I really hope I get to come back next year. I didn’t think I would like canoeing, but I really want to do it again now!”

 

MAKING NEW FRIENDS: TWO- AND FOUR-LEGGED

Maritza has been a Girl Scout for quite a while now. The Outreach Team comes to her school at least once a month to meet and teach the girls how to lead with courage, confidence, and character. Maritza counts down the days until she can meet with her Girl Scout sisters again. She is extremely proud to recite the Girl Scout Promise for anyone who will listen. This summer was Maritza’s first summer camp experience. She loved the swimming, canoeing, and hiking, but she was set on riding a horse for the first time.

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Maritza preparing to ride a horse for the first time

When it was finally time for her group to head to the stables, her feet couldn’t move fast enough. Maritza listened to the instruction with all the focus she could muster. She tugged on the helmet and buckled the strap. Then the time came. Maritza walked into the riding ring. It was her first time riding a horse, but she was absolutely fearless. She reached out her palm to the horse’s nose and let out a jubilant giggle as the horse gave a little nudge. Maritza made a new friend that day, “I’ve always wanted to ride a horse. It was even more fun that I thought it would be! I just want to hug him!”

 

These are real stories, of real girls who have experienced new adventures, gained confidence, and have been given the opportunity to lead because of Girl Scouts. When you give to Girl Scouts of South Carolina- Mountains to Midlands, girls like Maritza, Tatiana, and Trinity get to have life-changing experiences. They get to experience Girl Scouts.

Want to sponsor a girl and prepare her to empower herself through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience? Click here to be her hero.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Being a Go-Getter: A Guest Post Written by Sierra Hollinsed from Troop 1605

go-getter

We’ve been talking a lot lately about being a Go-Getter- someone who is bold, motivated, persistent, and determined. Why? Because without the Go-Getters, where would we be? The phrase, “Go-Getter”, immediately makes me think of inspiring women like Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightengale, and Juliette Gorden Low who blazed the path before them and were never afraid to take the lead. Bold leaders do so much more than unite a group towards a purpose- they lay the foundation for new generations to build upon.

I would like you to meet a very young Go-Getter. Her name is Sierra Hollinsed and she is part of Troop 1605. When U.S. karate champion, Sabrina Martinez spoke at Sierra’s troop meeting she found herself inspired. No one told or asked her to write about what she had heard, but using her own initiative, Sierra wrote an article telling Martinez’s story.

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Just telling you about Sierra’s everyday leadership does her an injustice. Read Sierra’s article below and see exactly what the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is doing for our girls.


Who Inspires Me: The Sabrina Martinez Story

Written by Sierra Hollinsed

“Sabrina Martinez is a young lady who has exceeded all expectations when it comes to wado-ryu, the type of karate she competes in. Her career has been successful and she is currently on the U.S. karate team, a team that looks forward to the 2020 Olympics. Martinez is an athlete worthy of recognition and will most definitely succeed in karate.

Martinez started karate in middle school when her little brother partnered with her in karate buddy week. She is trained in wado ryu by sensei Hood. When Martinez got her green belt she participated in a South Carolina open, but lost to someone in her dojo. This however, was against the rules and wasn’t counted. Later on, Martinez made it to the finals and was tied. She was punched in the throat by her opponent and ended up winning the competition. In 2015, Martinez competed in the nationals in Fort Lauderdale and finished 3rd out of 20 competitors. Her first match was against a girl who had trained forever, but Martinez won. She won her 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (semi final) matches that included a cocky girl, a girl whose mom told her everything to do, and a girl whose mother attacked Martinez (with words) after she won. In the finals, Martinez was up against a girl who won gold in the last year. Martinez stated that the girl said “good luck” to her before the match began. The girl was obviously confident that she would win… but she lost: 9-1. Because Martinez won, she had to start raising money for a competition in Bolivia. While in Bolivia, Martinez’s team did not have to fight the first day. The first match that Martinez fought in was “against a girl from Canada who was probably 6 feet tall, but fouled herself out in about 10 seconds” says Martinez. Her second match was against a girl from Brazil who had a lack of stamina and of course, Martinez won. Martinez’s last match (4th) was against Venezuela and no points were scored on her thanks to her dads’ supportive cheers.

“You need to be focused… it’s learned”. Martinez says,” in order to be a good teammate you need to reflect on yourself.” (This helps your sportsmanship increase) Martinez’s story is about perseverance and how you can achieve great things with it. Since Martinez was confident as well as a good teammate, she was able to achieve wonderful things. In turn, you can see what good sportsmanship and effort can do for you!”sierra-h-written-by


It’s clear to see how Sierra is a Go-Getter. She found herself inspired, she took the initiative, and she pursued her goals. How are you a Go-Getter Innovator, Risk-Taker, or Leader? We want to hear about your everyday leadership! Email me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org to share your story. You could be featured on our blog too!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

 

Why Girl Scouts LOVE to sell Cookies: An Inside Look

If you haven’t heard, Girl Scout Cookie season is officially upon us and pre-orders have begun. Girls in sashes and vests are knocking on doors, passing out order forms, and pitching the yummy-goodness of Girl Scout Cookies to anyone who will listen. We all ask when the cookies will get here, but do you every wonder WHY Girl Scouts sell cookies? Even more, do you wonder why they seem to LOVE selling the irresistible treats? Let’s take a look:

Girls get to run Their own Business

Did you ever run a lemonade stand when you were younger? You probably spent all night juicing lemons, adding sugar, and rehearsing your pitch. Whether it was lemonade or not, most of us have experienced the joy of making our first sell. Yeah, we may have only made a quarter off that glass of lemonade, but boy did it feel good. tx_marcomm14_304150

Girl Scouts learn everyday leadership, and they crave the opportunity to use their skills. Girls set goals for their cookie sales, they man cookie booths, they courageously pitch their product, make change, and make plans for their earnings.

When you see a Girl Scout out selling cookies, you are really looking at a #CookieBoss.

Cookies Fund Travel

Do you ever wonder why your neighborhood Girl Scout is so relentless and fearless in her pursuit of selling cookies? The most likely reason is that her cookie earnings are going to fund any number of activities or trips. That’s right- 100% of the profits stay local between the council and the troops.

Troop 1445 at Beach

Troop 1445 used their cookie earnings to travel to Tybee Island, GA together

 

 

The girl you buy those Thin Mints from may use her cookie money for anything from a trip to Carowinds, Myrtle Beach, New York, or perhaps on an international adventure abroad.

A Little Friendly Competition

Just because you are working on a team doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy a little friendly competition. A Girl Scout troop is the perfect environment to take the risks necessary to succeed. Girls often grow up with their troop, and their bonds are like that of sisters- competitive nature included.

Girl Scouts value the benefit of competition, but they also understand hotx_marcomm14_206121w to be happy for others, be a good sport, and work on a team. Girls cheer each other on as they work towards their goals, and strive to do their very best. And when one girl succeeds, everyone wins.

Cookies Power Service Projects

Sometimes service projects require more than just time. Girls will often use their cookie earnings to fund their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards (awards earned by Girl Scouts for intensive community service projects) and buy supplies for take-action projects. Our girls have used cookies earnings to purchase blankets for the homeless, build a helicopter pad for an outlying area, buy books for children’s hospitals, and so much more.

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A Girl Scout building benches for a local park

 

At Girl Scouts, we don’t believe leadership can be defined as merely holding a position of authority. True leadership isn’t selfish or pretentious. A true leader lifts others up, and continually gives back to their community. That’s what we are teaching our girls. Every Girl Scout is a Go-getter, Risk-taker, Innovator, and Leader.

Cookies Send Girls to Camp

For many Girl Scouts, camp is made possible for them by cookies. While camp is traditionally thought of as tents, hiking, and canoeing, we offer an array of unique and specialty camps. Do you have a girl who wants to learn more about science or math? We have STEM camps for that! Is your girl interested in space and engineering? We have camps for that too! Does she absolutely love horses? You guessed it! We have camps for that too!

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Girls mapping out the periodic table at a STEM camp

 

When you buy a box of your favorite cookies, you are helping a girl have the summer of her dreams!

 

Cookies are so much more than a time-honored tradition for so many girls. They don’t love selling cookies because the treats are just so yummy, but because selling cookies powers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for them.

Thank you for supporting Girl Scouts!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

A New Year of Opportunity: A Guest Blog from the Mary Black Foundation

At this time of year, I try to spend some time reflecting on significant moments in the past year and areas of focus for the upcoming year. Sometimes a single word comes to mind, and I take it on as my “theme” for the year. Currently, this word is opportunity.

natalia professional.jpg

Natalia Swanson of the Mary Black Foundation

 

This coming month of March will mark my second year working at the Mary Black Foundation. My time at the Foundation has truly been an incredible gift – an opportunity to continue serving the community of Spartanburg, which I have come to love. Specifically, I get to support the community in efforts that create greater opportunities for all people to be physically active and to access healthy foods.

The path to where I am now is a long one; briefly, I was born in Ecuador, moved to Kenya when I was six years old (I was a Brownie and Girl Scout in Kenya!), moved to Mexico when I was 12, moved back to Ecuador when I was 14, and moved to the United States when I was 18. I have been living in the United States since then and have been working in Spartanburg for a couple of years, after completing my master’s degree at Clemson University. Go Tigers! These were some of the opportunities that built my character, courage, confidence, and ambition: being able to travel and go to international schools all over the world, to live in different cultures and learn to appreciate the beauty in differences, to go to college on a generous full ride scholarship, to obtain a master’s degree, to work at a local foundation whose mission is to invest in the community for improved health and, most recently, to mentor a young girl.Natalia w girl.jpg

Many of us have been given incredible opportunities. These opportunities, along with our families, friends and other supporters around us help us develop our character and help us take advantage of and grow with these opportunities. However, not everyone has that support system and encouragement. This is where I think that the Girl Scouts play a significant role in the lives of young girls. The Girl Scouts believe in girls. The Girl Scouts strive to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Girls need to hear that someone believes in them; they need to believe that they are valuable. Will we take the time to communicate these truths to the girls around us? You can do that through your support to the Girl Scouts, mentoring a girl/young lady, supporting your own child at home, and so many other ways. My hope is that we will be generous with our time and our resources so that other girls can also have an opportunity to live a healthy and confident life.

natalia-swanson

Are you ready to explore new opportunities this New Year? Join Girl Scouts and help your daughter become the leader she was meant to be!

Maybe it IS Rocket Science: An Interview with NASA’s Michelle Thaller

Some of Michelle Thaller’s earliest memories consist of gazing at the night sky in her backyard. Just a child in the early 1970s, Michelle felt something strangely magnetic pulling her to explore the worlds beyond our own. This intense curiosity sparked her passion for science and ignited her mind.

“I always wanted to go out and look at the stars. It’s something that runs deep inside me.” -Michelle Thaller, NASA

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Michelle Thaller (right) in her Space Camp suit

Over time her curiosity only intensified. Michelle loved to study math and science in school. And sure, those subjects weren’t popular for women. While no one particularly discouraged her to pursue her interest in science, no one really encouraged her passion either. That didn’t stop her. Michelle refused to settle for what was average or comfortable. She refused to give up on her dream just because others couldn’t see it.

Michelle dedicated herself to school and the pursuit of knowledge. By the time she graduated from her small rural high school, Michelle Thaller had been accepted to Harvard University. She decided to major in astrophysics.

In her small high school, Michelle had been a big fish in a small pond. But Harvard was more like the ocean. Michelle found herself struggling in her classes. She felt ill-prepared for the challenges she faced. Family and friends all encouraged her to consider changing tracks. They asked why she wouldn’t choose something a little easier.

“Anything worth doing hardly ever comes easy.” -Michelle Thaller, NASAmichelle-thaller-nasa-1

Michelle decided they would have to kick her out before she would leave. She would study relentlessly. She would defy expectations. She would boldly take the necessary risks in order to achieve her dream.

“Just because something isn’t easy, doesn’t mean that you aren’t meant to do it.” -Michelle Thaller, NASA

Michelle Thaller is now a graduate of Harvard. She holds a masters from Georgia State University. She narrates the show, How the Universe Works. She is the Director of Science Communication for NASA. She is living proof that your dreams can become your reality. michelle-thaller-nasa-hat

“The bias is that scientists aren’t warm and emotional people. But people might be surprised to know that I love shopping and dancing. I am silly and enthusiastic. I put a lot of effort into my personal life and my family. If you love something, do it. You don’t have to fit into a certain type.” -Michelle Thaller, NASA

Do you have big dreams of your own? Do you have even bigger dreams for your girl? Then the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is exactly what you need. Teach your girl to be a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, and Leader. In other words; a Girl Scout.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle