How Girls Can Change the World: the Gold Award

Let’s take a trip back in time together. Are you buckled up? Okay. Let’s go. model-t-ford

The year is 1916. The highest selling car is the Model T Ford, although horse pulled carriages still outnumber automobiles. Long dresses graze the cobblestone, and after a long day of time travel, I say we should head over to the cinema and relax!

A night out at the movies will cost us around a nickel each- it’s my treat. “Talkies” aren’t really a thing yet, so the film tonight is going to be silent in black and white. Totally retro! Like all the other movies out in 1916, the major theme is going to be the damsel in distress. You won’t see a brave Katniss Everdeen or commanding Wonder Woman daring to write her own story. In fact, the leading lady will do little more than be rescued by the masculine hero and then fall into his arms. silent-movies

In 2016, it’s easy to say, “we support the empowerment of girls.” After all, women can hold public office, sit on the Supreme Court, be doctors, lawyers, or astronauts. But when the founder of Girl Scouts created the highest award in Girl Scouting, female empowerment was highly controversial.

In 1916, when women didn’t yet have the right to vote, Juliette Gordon Low created the Gold Award. The Gold Award has held several names throughout the course of a century; Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar Award, and First Class. But the mission and purpose of this award remains the same. The Gold Award gives girls the opportunity to be the hero of their own stories. They use the bravery, valor, and compassion of a hero to reach out and help others to do the same.

girl-scouts-in-the-40s

In the midst of WW2, Girl Scouts worked to collect scrap metal, grow Victory Farms, and operate bicycle courier services to aid in the war efforts.

Maybe you are reading this and you’ve never heard of the Gold Award before. Don’t worry, you are just in time to learn for the 100th Anniversary of the Gold Award! Let’s get started!

The first thing you should know is earning the Gold Award isn’t easy. Girls who pursue the Gold Award must spend at least 80 hours planning, presenting, and working their project.

girl-scouts-60s

Girl Scouts held “Speak Out” Conferences to aid the fight for racial equality.

 

What kind of project is it, you ask? Girls must identify a critical issue in their communities such as homelessness, illiteracy, domestic violence, or any number of issues.

Amber woods Gold

Local Girl Scout Alumni, Amber Woods, earned her Gold Award by building a privacy fence for a battered women’s shelter.

 

Once they find an issue they are passionate about, they take action to address the topic and make their community a better. Our Gold Award Recipients have established libraries, created after school programs, connected foster children with scholarships, and so much more.

We believe, and teach the girls in our program, that leadership is more than merely being “in charge” of others. A real leader takes risks, uses creativity, and always reaches back to make the world a better place. The Gold Award represents the heart of a true leader. That’s how Girl Scouts are changing the world; through revolutionary leadership. Through the Gold Award.

This year we celebrate the revolutionary vision of Juliette Gordon Low and the courage it took to follow her heart. We celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts changing the world through the Gold Award. We celebrate 100 years of life changing leadership.gold-gala-invite-mt

Now that we’ve taken you back in time to where it all started, we would like to invite you to our Gold Award Centennial Celebration. Whether the award you earned was named Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class, or Gold Award, we are so excited to honor you at our Gold Centennial Gala. The Gala will be held at the South Carolina State Museum on the 4th of November, and will begin at 7pm. We invite the entire community to come celebrate leadership at its finest.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Have you earned the Gold Award? We are in search of Gold Award stories that will inspire and encourage. If you have earned the Gold Award and want to tell your story, please reach out to me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org. I would love to hear from you!

 

 

Living Beyond Yourself: The Zainab Bhagat Story

Children emulate the world around them. When you respond with kindess, they notice. When you respond in anger, they see. They are mirrors that reflect the very best and worst of us. Tragically, they so often imitate the cruelty they see in the world; the prejudice and hatred. But children also represent the purest of hearts and the fullness of hope for the future.

zainab-as-a-junior-with-troop

Zainab pictured with her Girl Scout Troop

Zainab Bhagat has always reached out to the hurting, even when she didn’t realize she was practicing philanthropy. As a child in elementary school, she noticed one of her friends often went without. Her friend never seemed to have school supplies or a complete lunch. Without a second thought, Zainab shared everything she had to offer.

“There is so much more to life than yourself.” -Zainab Bhagat

We so often view philanthropy as a charitable donation. But do you know the actual definition of philanthropy? Simply put, it is the love of humanity. Philanthropy is not born in a wallet or bank account. Philanthropy is born in the heart, fostered by compassion, and given freely with love.

zainab-best

Zainab as a senior in high school

The moment you realize the world is much bigger than yourself, something beautiful happens; your heart becomes connected to billions of other hearts across the world. Eyes that were once blind to the struggles and triumphs of others, now see every moment as an opportunity to change the world.

 

“The opportunities I have, I want every girl to have.” -Zainab Bhagat

When Zainab had the opportunity to earn the Gold Award in high school, she never questioned if she should pursue it or not. She felt it a moral obligation to share her time, talent, and treasure with the world.

Zainab saw the Gold Award as so much more than an accolade in a frame. The Gold Award represents the true heart of philanthropy. It represents the very best of all of us. She knew the project would take her full devotion. She would have to spend at least 80 hours researching, planning, and working her project. She would have to present her concept before a committee, and her project would have to address a real issue in her community. But anything worth doing is rarely easy. zainab-in-vest

Zainab created a documentary about homelessness in her hometown of Irmo, South Carolina. She interviewed and became fast friends with a local teen who had endured incredible hardship. Watch her hard-hitting and inspirational documentary at the bottom of this article.

“Throughout my project, so many other people volunteered to help me create the documentary. It was amazing  to work together with others to make a change and help people.” -Zainab Bhagat

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Gold Award. An award that was created in 1916, when women didn’t even have the right to vote. But even in a time where a girl changing the world seemed impossible, girls were taking action to make the world a better place. Today, in 2016, girls like Zainab are still working towards that goal. Talk about a legacy.

“Helping others and looking beyond yourself- that’s what Girl Scouting means.” -Zainab Bhagat


“Stop the Cycle”, A documentary by Zainab Bhagat

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Have you earned your Gold Award? I would love to hear about your project! Email me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org to tell your story!

 

7 Travel Tips and Tricks for your Girl Scout Adventures

Girl Scouts inertly crave adventure. We love to learn new things, experience different cultures, explore nature, and travel the world. Just as you plan meetings or create a strategy to earn a badge, the key to having the best travel experience is a little planning. Check out these simple travel tips and tricks that will make your planning easier, and your trip unforgettable. Whether you are going camping, road-tripping it across country, or taking on the world abroad, these friendly tips will help you get the most out of your travels!

 

1.Over the Seat Car Organizer travel-tips-5-shoe-organizer-fun-hanging

From snacks and drinks, to wet wipes and crayons, keep your travel essentials easy to access and organized in your car. A simple over the door shoe hanger on the passenger or driver side seat will create an in-car organizer for your trip. No more mess!

2. Tennis Shoe Packing Hack travel-tips-4-breakables-in-shoes

Sometimes you have to fit the luggage of an entire troop in a van or SUV- along with the troop. This can be a huge challenge. Sometimes you have to fit a week’s worth of essentials into one small suit case and a carry-on. Protect your valuables from damage, and make the most of the space by placing smaller items inside of your shoes!

3. Never Dig for Toiletries Again!

travel-tips-1

Don’t you hate it when you are camping or in the hotel and you have to dig for your toiletries? The lighting is often less than ideal and you are gathering all your supplies for the shower. Never again. Fill travel size containers with your favorite products, and hook to a lanyard. Once you have everything on your lanyard, just hook it over the shower head. No stepping over bottles along the side of the tub, and it’s ready to go whenever it’s time for you to move on.

4. Food on the Go

travel-tips-8-eating-in-car

Having a burger or taco in the car on the way to camp, vacation, or just around town can be disastrous to our cars. The kids are trying to balance everything on their laps, and by the time you glance behind you there is a burger laying across your floorboard. Not any more. Pickup some inexpensive hand baskets at your local bargain store for the perfect “food caddy”. Kids will be less likely to spill and drop, and you might go a little longer between cleaning!

5. Earrings and Buttons Trick

travel-tips-2-buttons-for-earrings

Keeping up with earrings and their tiny backs during the bustle of travel can be difficult. Never lose your backs or favorite earrings again! Grab a handful of buttons and secure your earrings through the holes!

6. Coin Collector

travel-tips-6-coin-storage

So you’ve hit a toll road or are just craving a Coke at a vending machine, but you have to dig around the bottom of your purse only to find out you don’t have enough quarters. Keep your change organized and easy to access by storing them in an m&m tube or something similar.

7. Easy Clean Cup Holders

travel-tip-7-clean-car

After a long trip, our cars and houses are usually in need of cleaning. Don’t be stuck cleaning the crevices of your cup holders. Simply place a cupcake liner in each cup holder. Once you return from your travels (or even just around town) you can pop the liner out and there is no mess!

Pack your bags, make the reservations, and get ready for adventure! We hope these simple travel tips and tricks make your travel a little easier. Are you interested in traveling with Girl Scouts? Use your Cookie Money to go on amazing trips, go camping with your troop, or go on unforgettable Destinations! Start your adventure today and become a Girl Scout.

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Do you have a story or an idea for our blog? I would love to hear from you! Email me at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org to be featured on our blog!

How Girl Scouts Can Help You Travel the World: The Kristyn Winch Story

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Something beautiful happens when we step out of our comfort zone; when we seek to understand the unknown, or conquer the unmastered. If you are a Girl Scout, it’s in your DNA to take every moment of your journey captive and create your own path. To lead your own adventure. Seeing the world and endeavoring to understand cultures other than your own opens the mind and expands every horizon. Kristyn Winch is a Girl Scout Alumni who uses her Girl Scout Experience to achieve her dreams and live with the heart of an adventurer.

switzerland-hero

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

The flight is long and quiet. Kristyn may have started her day at home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, but she is now somewhere high above the Atlantic Ocean. All she can see for miles is water, but she only focuses on what is ahead of her; great adventure. Anticipation is high as she and her troop soar through the sky for more than 12 straight hours. The troop has been carefully planning and saving for this trip for years.

kristyn-switzerland

Kristyn with her vest at Our Chalet in Switzerland

 

After what seems like days, the pilot announces the final decent. When Kristyn Winch steps off the plane, she is in Switzerland and it is like stepping into a dream. Mountains much higher than those of South Carolina rise into the clouds, capped with white snow. The countryside is dotted with little cottages, like something out of a fairytale. She feels something completely surreal, and completely worth the wait; wonderment.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

The highlight of the trip was visiting one of four World Centres for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. “Our Chalet” is an incredible gathering place for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides to meet and discover new cultures and ideas. Nestled high in the Swiss Mountains, “Our Chalet” has been fostering adventure, leadership, and friendship since 1938.

our-chalet-1

“Our Chalet” Girl Scout and Girl Guide World Centre in Switzerland

 

Kristyn grew up in Girl Scouts and took advantage of every opportunity this worldwide sisterhood offered her. She traveled to Switzerland with her troop. She was a program aid, camp councilor, and earned her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  After Kristyn graduated high school as a Girl Scout, with that same wonderment and fervor she discovered in her travels, she followed her dream to the University of South Carolina to study journalism. Kristyn wanted to tell life’s most amazing stories through words, design, and photography. Kristyn is currently living out her dream as Editor of an online and print publication in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We couldn’t be more proud of Kristyn for following her dreams, and pursuing new adventures every day.  Never stop believing in yourself, adventure is out there.  kristyn-currently

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost

 

Girl Scouts teaches leadership and character by providing unique and meaningful experiences. Make the most of every moment by becoming a Girl Scout. Take amazing Destinations or travel with your troop using cookie profits!

Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

What is your Girl Scout story? I want to hear from you. Send me an email at mtaylor@gssc-mm.org to be featured on our blog or call me at 864.770.1419.

5 Creative Meeting Ideas for the Fall: Younger Girl Edition

1. Story Hour at the Animal Shelter (FREE)girl-reads-to-dog-4

Everyone in the class has their books open to page 352. You’re waiting for instructions when the teacher picks you to read the first paragraph aloud, and suddenly you can’t find your words. We all know this feeling. Give your girls a safe environment to practice reading aloud by taking a trip to your local animal shelter for a story hour.

  • Contact your local animal shelter about any existing programs or just bringing the girls to read to the animals
  • Take the girls to the library to pick out a book that can be read in about half an hour.
    • This is a great opportunity to get them comfortable in the library and show them how to find books.
  • Have the girls report about their experience and their book at the next meeting!

2. Homemade Halloween Party (FREE)

costumeThere is just something magical about putting on a costume and being transformed into a superhero, princess, or ninja! But as I am sure you have noticed, costumes can be extremely expensive. Treat your girls to a night of make-believe and celebrate the fall season by having a Homemade Halloween Party!

  •  Have each girl pick a character, profession, or object to dress as
  • Bring simple items from home like old dresses, jackets, and hats, worn pots and pans, cardboard boxes, fabric, and craft supplies
  • Then have each girl present their costume before the group in a fashion show

The girls will learn to put their creativity to the test as they enjoy fanciful fun! (p.s. The Homemade Halloween Party makes for the BEST photo opps!)

3. Minute to Win it Game Show (Minimal Cost)  minute-to-win-it

Who doesn’t love watching people go all-in as they play silly games for a big prize? We all love screaming for our favorites when they win it big. Thrill your girls with a night of healthy competition and fun by hosting a Minute to Win it Game Show! What does this include?

  • Minute to Win it games are quite simple. What makes them difficult is that they have to be completed in under one minute! So supplies needed range from disposable cups, dice, and ping-pong balls, to Kleenex containers and popsicle sticks!
  • Games like Minute to Win it are not only exciting to younger girls, but also teach fine motor skills
  • As for the prize? Have the girls create a trophy that they will present to the champion!

Check out these awesome Minute to Win it game ideas!

4. Fun on the Farm ($5-$12 per person) chicken

The air is becoming crisp, and the leaves are exploding with color. Give your girls the best of fall by taking a field trip to the farm! Girls will get to learn about agriculture, animals, and enjoy some of our favorite traditions.

Check out this list of awesome, family friendly farms in our area:

  • Mini Miracles Farm– Greenville, SC
    • Pumpkin patch
    • Petting Zoo
    • Hay rides
    • Play area
    • Offers group rates
  • Lever Farms– Pomaria, SC
    • Pumpkin patch
    • Pumpkin bowling
    • Corn Maze (Not scary)
    • Hay rides
    • Offers group rates
  • Stewart Farms– Enoree, SC
    • Pumpkin Patch
    • Petting zoo
    • Hay rides
    • Honey bee observatory
    • Corn Maze (Not scary)
    • Offers group rates

5. Fall Foods Sampler (Minimal Cost) apple-pie-cup

If your troop meets after school, you know that the girls have one thing on their minds: Food! Treat your girls to a Fall Food Sampler- no oven required! This yummy meeting idea will teach girls basic measuring skills, how to follow a recipe, and team work! Check out these yummy recipes:

apple-pie-cup-tutorial

Apple pie cups

  • Graham crackers
  • Apple slices
  • Whipped creammonster-bites

 Monster Fruit Bites

  • Apples
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate chips
  • Small marshmallows
  • Strawberries

Click here for more fun recipes!

Did you try one of our meeting ideas? Let us know what you think, or tell us what you would like to see on our blog by emailing mtaylor@gssc-mm.org! Blog_WrittenBy_Michelle

Teach your girl what it means to be a leader by becoming a Girl Scout. We build girls of courage, confidence, and courage, who make the world a better place!

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.

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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.

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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.  

 

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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