800 Miles Away From Home: Taking a Risk to Follow a Dream

It’s your first night alone in a new city. Unpacked boxes are stacked all around the apartment, there is no food in the pantry, and your family is about 800 miles away in South Carolina. Once you settle down from the move, the reality of being on  your own begins to sink in. Was following your dream to New York City really worth the risk?

Absolutely. Taking big risks to follow big dreams is just in the Girl Scout DNA.

“New York City is a city I always dreamed of living in one day… Being a Girl Scout, I feel like we all inertly crave new adventures and new challenges.”- Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly NYC w mom

Erin Kelly and her mother in New York City, NY

Erin’s dream to make a name for herself in one of America’s most iconic cities began when she was just a child. With a smile, a brown sash, and an earnest promise, Erin Kelly became a Girl Scout in the first grade. This is where she learned to dream big. With a troop of new friends, unlimited opportunities to discover, and her mother at her side, she was ready to conquer the world.

“My mom is my absolute best friend. She is such an organized, creative, passionate, courageous, hardworking woman and seeing her play out these amazing characteristics as our troop leader was such an inspiration.” -Erin Kelly

Erin’s mother nurtured and encouraged her passions. Even though she knew Erin’s dream was to move away to New York, she didn’t try to hold her back. Instead, she used every opportunity to give Erin the confidence and character to make it on her own in the world. She gave her daughter Girl Scouts.

In Junior High, Erin’s time was stretched thin between school related activities and Girl Scouts. After debating for a while, Erin nervously approached her mother about leaving Girl Scouts and the troop.

Erin said she would never forget her mother’s response, “You are free to do what you want, but I will be there at every meeting because I made a promise to the troop. As long as they are interested in coming to the meetings, I will be here in this organization.”

A promise made, and a promise kept. Doing the right thing no matter what everyone else is doing. The message of her mother’s decision resonated in her heart. Erin never thought about leaving Girl Scouts again. From that moment on, she decided to take full advantage of every opportunity Girl Scouts could give her.

Erin became a Camp Counselor. She traveled to Switzerland with her troop. She earned her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award. She even worked at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace while attending college at The Savannah College of Art and Design.

Erin Kelly in Switzerland with troop

Erin Kelly with her troop in Switzerland

“We are way more than just cookies. We are a group of young girls and women (and men) who are passionate innovators. We truly want to make the world a better place through whatever means that interest us.”- Erin Kelly

Every lesson in leadership, compassion, and dedication has given Erin the courage and resolve to never settle for what’s comfortable. Because of the risks she has taken, Erin is now living out her dream. She is an Art Director at an advertising firm in New York City and loving every moment of life.

“I feel like I’ve been in so many situations in Girl Scouts where I feel I’m about to tackle an impossible task, but with courage I take risks. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, but Girl Scouts has given me the confidence to try.” – Erin Kelly erin kelly

Erin misses her family, especially her mom, but she is doing exactly what her mother prepared her to do; to live without regret. To live like a Girl Scout.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Are you raising your daughter to be a dynamic and fearless leader? Do you want her to chase her dreams and make the world a better place? Become a Girl Scout. Give her an edge by joining a worldwide sisterhood devoted to courage, confidence, and character. Give the gift of Girl Scouts.

 

5 Creative Meeting Ideas for the Fall: Older Girl Edition

 

Who doesn’t love fall? The air is cool and crisp, the company is warm, and the South Carolina country side is exploding with gorgeous color. With the Girl Scout year in full swing, it’s the perfect time to keep your girls excited by spicing things up! Keep reading to discover 7 creative meeting ideas that will leave your girls excited and ready for more!

1.Arm Knit Gorgeous Fall Scarvesarm knit

 

Pull on a pair of boots, button up your flannel, and slip on your scarf for the perfect fall outfit. We all know that scarves are to fall what sandals are to summer. Now, I know what your thinking- this sounds like a Pinterest disaster waiting to happen. Not so fast:

  • Arm knitting is based on a basic and repeated pattern
  • Doesn’t require knitting needles at all
  • Once you get the pattern down, most scarves can be completed in less than 30 minutes!  
  • The only supplies you will need are yarn and creativity!
  • Service project tie-in: Winter can be a devastating time to the homeless. Consider knitting these super easy scarves for those in need!

Get your girls excited by teaching them how to create their own scarves! Or better yet- have one of the girls learn and teach it to the rest of the troop.

Watch the tutorial to learn more!

2.Apple Cider and Acrylicshappy fall yall

Treat your entire troop to a paint and sip (apple cider, of course) class during a meeting!

  • Have your girls vote on a relatively simple painting to all do together
  • Print a copy of the agreed picture for each girl
  • You only have to use around 5 colors!
  • Service project tie-in: Take the class to a local nursing home, and let the girls teach seniors how to paint the picture.  The girls will get the opportunity to lead, and the residents will enjoy some much needed affection.

Supplies:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Basic paint brushes
  • Small canvas
  • Paper towels and water

Although the entire troop looks at the same picture, they all see it differently. Each girl goes home with an entirely unique painting that celebrates our differences.

3.Fun Run (or walk)5k

The moderate temperatures of the fall make it the perfect season to get outdoors. Whether you run, jog, or walk, participating in a Fun Run (or walk) will teach girls how to set a goal, work as a team, and the value of hard work and dedication.

  • Have your troop research Fun Runs in your area (There is at least one almost every weekend in the fall.)
  • Once your troop agrees on a 5k, make a training plan
    • Is the troop going to run, jog, or walk? What time does the group want to finish in?
  • Have girls train on their own, and dedicate a portion of your meeting to training as a group
  • Make sure to celebrate together after the run is finished!
  • Service project tie-in: CORRECTION:Many Fun Runs are devoted to a good cause. Participate in a Fun Run that helps someone else, or even volunteer. However, keep in mind- we can only raises funds for Girl Scouts!

Check out this list of Fun Runs in South Carolina!

4.College Visits

dorm room

The thought of leaving old friends and going away to college can be intimidating for middle and high school girls. They are excited for the future, but trepid of the unknown. Help ease them into transition, and build their confidence by visiting colleges as a troop.

  • Have the girls research local colleges based on what they are interested in
  • Once they have decided where they would like to visit, have the girls call the admissions office to schedule a tour
  • Make a day of it!
  • After the tour, have the girls evaluate the key areas of the college:
    • Campus
    • Programs
    • Size
    • Location
  • Service project tie-in: Have the girls gather scholarship information from each college they visit and donate it to a local Boys and Girls Club or their school.

 

 5.Girl Scout Book Club

books

Do your girls love to read? Enhance your meetings by forming a Girl Scout Book Club!

  • Have the group research books, and decide on what to read
  • Have the girls plan how many pages should be read between meetings
  • Create a rotation, where a different girl leads the discussion each time
  • Once you are finished with the book, have a party themed around your latest read
  • Service project tie-in: Once you are finished with your books, donate them to your local library or school!

 

Did you try some of our creative troop meeting ideas for older girls? Do you have ideas? Let us know what you think by emailing me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org! Watch our GSSC-MM blog for the younger girl edition!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Give your girls life-changing leadership experiences with a worldwide sisterhood of support! Become a Girl Scout today!

What it Means to be a Southern Girl: A Guest Post by Lita Waggoner

Discover. Connect. Take action.

I heard these buzzwords again and again as a Girl Scout, but now I realize they have carried over into my adult life. When I became a Girl Scout in 2002, I was a curious but shy first grader who was unaware of my own leadership potential. My twelve years as a Girl Scout were a time of discovery, not just of new places, people, and ideas, but a time of discovering myself. I discovered things that I never would have in school because I learned by doing in Girl Scouts. Whether I was working on my cookie sales pitch, meeting with advisors for my Silver Award project, or trying to reach the top of the camp climbing wall, Girl Scouts encouraged me to take risks, work hard, and improve my skills. I visited Savannah, Georgia on a council trip to see Juliette Gordon Low’s hometown; to Houston, Texas for the Girl Scout Leadership Institute as part of the 2011 Girl Scout National Convention; and to Chicago, Illinois to the 2012 Girls World Forum, hosted by WAGGGS. No other program has been as important to my development or given me more opportunities than Girl Scouts.

Which is why I have to give back.

Since graduating from high school in 2014, I have remained an involved member of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, my home council. I joined a Girl Scout alumnae organization at The University of Alabama, called Crimson Carnations, where I volunteer with my local service unit and serve as a liaison between girls and higher education. Crimson Carnations connected me to young Girl Scout alumnae from across the country who wanted to continue taking action as college students. So far we have put on programs for girls about women’s sports, STEM, and career development. This fall, I will be the president of Crimson Carnations.

This summer, I am a content intern for al.com’s Southern Girls Project, a partnership of journalists, organizations, and creative talent across the South listening to girls tell us what it’s like to be a Southern girl in 2016. No longer am I a little girl afraid to talk to strangers on the phone; now I am a woman, interviewing Southern girls about their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their passions, and their aspirations. I want to make sure your girls have a voice in the conversation. If you know any extraordinary girls who would like to contribute to the project, please email southerngirlsproject@al.com about setting up a time to talk. I know Southern girls have the courage, confidence, and character needed to make the world a better place; I want to hear all about it.

For more information, check out our Instagram @re._.belle and our Tumblr.Written by Lita JPG

Lita Waggoner is a lifelong Girl Scout, writer, and Southern culture enthusiast from Pelham, Alabama. She is a student at The University of Alabama, majoring in Public Health with a minor in Civic Engagement and Leadership. Currently, she serves as a content intern for al.com’s Southern Girls Project.

Learn by doing. Realize your full potential. Become a Girl Scout and experience leadership first hand. Join today.

 

The Squishy Sandwich Day: A Girl Scout’s Guide to Freezing Time

Our fondest memories tend to be the simplest; like jumping off the diving board with reckless abandon for the first time, or the smell of freshly cut grass in summer. For Kathy Silverman, it’s eating squishy sandwiches on the side of the hiking trail. The memory doesn’t produce a nostalgic smile because the sandwich was noteworthy. The memory is one of her favorites, however, because in that moment Kathy was able to do the impossible. With one Girl Scout troop, a couple of squishy sandwiches, and countless smiles, Kathy Silverman learned how to freeze time. sandwich

Kathy has always loved the outdoors. She remembers going “car camping” with her family as a child, and the awestruck wonderment that came from being surrounded by nature. Summer time seemed like Neverland. As if the world stopped spinning just for her to take in all of its’ beauty.   

In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Kathy had grown into a woman and married her sweetheart, Michael. And when Kathy had children of her own, they began to grow up much too quickly; as so many children do. Kathy found she couldn’t slow time down, but she could make the most of it. So while her daughter Sarah still had the wide eyes of a child, Kathy enrolled her in Girl Scouts and volunteered to be her troop leader.

That’s where the squishy sandwich memory comes in. After a long day’s hike, with a troop of dragging girls, the group stopped for lunch. They plopped down on whatever they could find; logs, rocks, or just the soft earth. Sore feet got a rest as they all pulled sandwiches out of their backpacks. As always, the peanut butter and jellies were all squished up, but in those moments, they were a delicacy. On the side of the trail, Kathy saw herself in her daughter, and all the joy of her own childhood came flooding back. In that moment, time stood still.

The local hiker

Michael and Kathy Silverman on the trail

 

As their children grew, Kathy and Michael found they had to travel each time they needed equipment or supplies for their outdoor adventures. The couple dreamed of opening their own outdoor outfitting store in downtown Spartanburg, but the dream seemed too large to tackle. IMG_1724

One December day in 2012, they happened upon a newspaper article called “The Main Street Challenge.” The three winners of the contest would receive premier space in Downtown Spartanburg. Ironically, one of the locations was the exact space which the Silverman’s had set their heart upon almost a year earlier.

The application process was rigorous. Michael and Kathy dedicated themselves entirely to making their dream a reality. They presented their concept before a selection committee, and waited anxiously for the announcement in May 2013. 

In May 2013, Michael and Kathy won the “Main Street Challenge” and their dream became a reality. The Local Hiker was born. Not just a store, but a place of learning, encouragement, and incredible adventure. IMG_1679

In our recent interview, Kathy told me her Girl Scout story. How being a troop leader prepared her for being a business owner. In Girl Scouts she learned how to plan better, understand different personalities, and lead with courage. But most importantly, Girl Scouts gave her the opportunity to make squishy sandwich memories with her daughter. For the only way to freeze time, is to create memories that are so inexplicably  wonderful, they have no choice but to live on in our hearts forever. 

What is your squishy sandwich day?

Don’t let time slip away. Take every moment captive and freeze time with your girls by becoming a Girl Scout.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

The Local Hiker will be represented at the Spartanburg Volunteer Resource Fair on August 13 from 10am to 2pm. They also offer FREE outdoor training and workshops to the community, as well as a Girl Scout discount! Sburg Flyer JPG

The Tie that Binds: Four Girl Scout Generations

The world looked quite different when Dodie Anderson was born, 88 years ago. Not even a year after Dodie’s birth the American stock market crashed. As a result, the United States was sent spiraling into the Great Depression. Cities that were primarily dependent on industry were devastated, as industry almost came to a halt. Dodie lived in Chicago at the time.

IMG_2196 (2)

Dodie holding her “Girl Scout family photograph” including her late husband, and four daughters

 

Forged in the fire of adversity, Dodie grew strong and resilient.  

In 1950, Dodie moved to South Carolina where she would later attend USC Upstate. It was in South Carolina that she completely devoted herself to Girl Scouts and building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who are making the world a better place. Dodie Anderson, much like Juliette Gordon Low, is a visionary. Dodie has always looked to the future with a profound sense of purpose, and belief that girls can change the world. She believes Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunities to truly shine.

It was important to Dodie that her daughters be totally immersed in the Girl Scout Experience. That included sending all four of them to Camp WaBak as much as possible. Each summer, she would send the sisters off with a kiss and a promise that they would return stronger, and more confident than before. As a testament to her vision, the Anderson sisters thrived at camp.

Driving through the winding camp roads, Dodie’s daughter Nancy was transported to a much simpler time when she was a camp counselor at WaBak. She could see herself stepping out of the platform tents with a gaggle of young campers at her heels as if she were their mother duck. Passing the docks, she remembered that first time feeling of launching herself from the platform into the cool water below. It was somewhere during those long summer days that she learned to be independent, confident, and strong. Where she learned to be a leader. Where she would later send her own daughter, Erin, to learn those life lessons that must be experienced first-hand, and where her granddaughter Maddie had just completed her first week at Camp WaBak.

Dodie and Nancy relished the nostalgia of days passed as we drove through the camp, but both couldn’t wait to see that same excitement on young Maddie’s face. As we neared the Rambler Lodge for pick-up, anticipation filled the air.

As much as it pained Maddie to say goodbye to her camp friends, she couldn’t wait to tell her family of her adventures at camp, and all she learned. The moment Maddie caught a glimpse of her parents, she ran into their arms and quickly began recounting her stories of friendship, discovery, and adventure.

IMG_2072

Maddie sharing her camp stories with her family

Four generations later, growing up in an entirely different America, what do Dodie, Nancy, Erin, and Maddie share that remains constant? The Girl Scout Experience. They are all united by the bonds of a worldwide sisterhood that is devoted to making the world better for the next generation to come. For every girl like Maddie, who learns leadership, compassion, and fearlessness, the Girl Scout legacy of the Anderson Family lives on.  

 

IMG_2214 (2)

The four generations of the Anderson family to attend Camp WaBak (pictured left to right) Erin, Dodie, Maddie, and Nancy

 

In true Girl Scout fashion, Dodie transformed her beliefs into action as she donated the funds to build the Administration Building at Camp WaBak. We are so thankful to Dodie, and her family for their continued support of the Girl Scout mission in our community and around the world.

 

Begin your Girl Scout legacy today. Join a sisterhood that reaches around the world and unites us all in courage, confidence, and character. Give your girls the gift of Girl Scouts. Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle