Making the world a better place
Girl Scouting has inspired generations of girls and women to make the world a better place for more than 100 years. This blog is dedicated to sharing leadership stories. Stop by regularly for ideas and inspiration.
Is Girl Scouting a part of YOUR story? Have the actions of a Girl Scout member inspired you? Join in the conversation by making a submission today.
May 2, 2013 at 01:34pm
Holding up the Girl Scout sign, I began the Promise confidently: “On my honor, I will try…” But, I stopped suddenly to swallow an unexpected lump in my throat. Looking down at the tiled floor of the church basement, I was a bit embarrassed by the sudden trickle of tears the words brought to my eyes: “To help people at all times…”
Finishing in a whisper, I juggled my presence of mind to recite the Law along with the other attendees of the New Leader training and the sudden, overwhelming memories of Girl Scouts in my younger years: beautiful, shining years of meetings and field trips and overnights. Leaders who declared “great job” no matter how badly you did. Camping trips hilariously punctuated by wet tents and burnt food. Hundreds of cases of cookies piled in our family’s barn when my mom once volunteered as Community Cookie Coordinator. Now, standing in a circle with other young mothers whose Kindergartners, like mine, were chomping at the bit to don the little blue vests, I would bestow these beautiful, shining experiences on my own girls.
Experiences gaining confidence. Growing up in New England, I attended Camp Wind-in-the-Pines in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the camp song begins “Some call it fun, while some may call it ma-a-a-dness! A ham by nature, I was never afraid to sing the loudest or get up on stage, but I was shy about being athletic. I preferred not to sweat “ever” and I cramped up in the first 20 yards of a jog. But, the swim coach at Camp Wind-in-the-Pines (Sunshine was the only name I knew her by, of course) didn’t buy it. Slapping the green swim cap of an intermediate swimmer in my hand, she pushed me to bend my knees deeper to dive further; to relax yet engage my muscles to float on my back; to kick and stroke in harmony to actually move along in the water, not just make a splashy show.
Sunshine wasn’t the only person who contributed to my confidence then; wrapped in their grungier-by-the-day beach towels, my tentmates patiently waited through my sluggish laps, leafing through a wrinkled Sassy magazine at the edge of the greenish-goldish water.
Experiences shaping character. Seniors in high school, my troop saved money fiendishly for years to get ourselves - and an assortment of mothers, aunts, and sisters - to London for a European excursion. Donning windpants and backpacks in the sunny but chilly English spring, we stayed in the Lord Baden Powell Scout Center, ate fish and chips, and snapped 35mm photos of ourselves performing cheerleading stunts in Trafalgar Square. One afternoon, in the shadow of Kensington Palace, there occurred a moment of disagreement about the palace’s tour hours or cost or some other logistical cog in our day’s schedule. Frustrated, I vented my opinion on the problem loudly, brattily, to our troop leader. Rather than telling me I was rude (I was rude!) or solving the problem for the group of girls, she gently pointed me toward two, red-clad guards wearing classic plumed helmets. Culpable for my childishness, I gulped and approached the guards slowly to ask them our question. No one gloated as I sheepishly repeated the information to the group, and our leader gave me her standard, but sincere, “great job!”
Experiences showing courage. I am now a fourth-year Daisy leader; having accompanied my older daughter and nine other Daisies through two years of scouts and bridged them to Brownies, I turned back to begin Daisies anew with my younger daughter and nine fresh Daisies. Last year, in the small lobby of a retirement home, the girls entertained the residents with holiday songs. My nerves were piqued. Having recently moved to our town and begun a new troop in Minnesota & Wisconsin Lakes & Pines, I’d never been to this retirement center; I had no reputation as a good leader (or not) here; I didn’t actually know the girls that well yet. Still, the visit went smoothly until a resident seated in a wheelchair next to the Christmas tree shook his head and croaked “no” to one of our girls when she offered him a Christmas card. Perhaps other small children would have become shy or even scared. But, the man, clearly unaware of his surroundings, didn’t rattle this Daisy at all; she offered the card a second time and asked sweetly, “don’t you want a Christmas card?”
This is where my grand plan to hand down the beautiful, shining experiences of Girl Scouts to my daughters leaves off. That is, rather than see the Girl Scouts in my life - leaders, friends, my mother, my sister, my daughters, and their friends, and their mothers - as parts of a big, happy memory, I see them as contributors to a continuing experience that expands, turns a corner, and grows a new dimension every time I hold up the Girl Scout sign to start a meeting or take a silly photo of the girls (on my phone now rather than a 35mm).
Girl Scouts has not imbued me with special talents or abilities that make me courageous, confident, or of strong character; on the contrary, Girl Scouts in my past like my supportive friends and patient leader as well as those in the present, like the courageous, confident Daisy who showed immense character through kindness to an aging man, encourage me to pursue these things every day.
Girl Scout Volunteer
Written in 2012
May 2, 2013 at 12:42pm
Reflecting back to when I began searching for an internship, I never imagined I’d end up at the Girl Scouts. Social work is about identifying social justice issues that affect people’s quality of life; cookies, crafts and camp didn’t seem to qualify as a social justice issue. However, during my internship I saw first hand that Girl Scouts isn’t just about having fun, it’s about breaking down barriers that prevent girls from being able to reach their full potential such as; economic disadvantages, cultural differences, and media influence. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with the girls to teach them financial literacy skills that they will be able to utilize in the future.
As my time at the Girl Scouts comes to an end I am able to look back on my first day and see the changes not only in the girls that I’ve worked with but in myself as well. While implementing the Girl Scouts in ACTION curriculum I not only taught the girls but I learned so many new things from them that I will use in my future career. Every girl needs a role model to look up to and I’m so glad that I was given the chance to be that for some girls.
Girl Scouts in ACTION Intern
Waite Park Regional Center, supervisor Leah Voss
Student at St. Cloud State University
May 2, 2013
May 1, 2013 at 04:14pm
Before I began my internship at Girl Scouts I was very unsure about my leadership skills. I have always been the type of person that shied away from taking initiative and playing the role of a leader. I am grateful to the Girl Scouts organization for providing me with this opportunity and allowing me to be a Girl Scouts in ACTION leader. I have developed skills needed to become a great leader by working with diverse groups and implementing a curriculum that focused on teaching the girls about financial literacy. It has also pushed me to step up and take charge when unexpected situations arise. That is something that I never would have done before this experience.
I would highly recommend volunteering at Girl Scouts if you are a person who loves to work in group settings and would like to enhance your leadership skills. This is such a great opportunity to build your confidence when it comes to working with small groups. It pushes you to do things that you never would have thought you could do. Not only will it help you develop leadership skills but you always get a chance to build strong relationships with the girls who are apart of the program. You become their role model in a sense. It is such an empowering feeling to know that these girls look up to you for guidance. Volunteering at Girl Scouts is truly a rewarding experience!
Girl Scouts in ACTION Intern
Waite Park Regional Center, supervisor Leah Voss
Student at St. Cloud State University
May 1, 2013
April 29, 2013 at 01:07pm
Her strategy was twofold. She sold at a "bunch" of Booth Sales and went door to door. Door to door was her favorite. When I asked Audrey about going door to door, she said, "Sometimes I'd trip and fall [in the snow]. I'd get up and say, 'keep on selling, no matter what.'"
Audrey's mom Nancy is the adult volunteer guiding the troop. According to Nancy, the troop has voted to use a portion of their product sales proceeds to participate in a service activity every month. Last month the girls went to the Tri County Humane Society (TCHS) and bathed dogs, made bandanas for the dogs, and refresh the newspaper on the floor. They learned that volunteers put a bandana on the dogs who have been bathed so they don't give them two baths. The girls also donated pet supplies to the TCHS which they purchased with their troop funds.
Another service project Audrey did with her troop was called Hearts for June. June is a 3 1/2 year old girl from Minneapolis with a rare disease called Aicardi Syndrome. June's parents want to decorate her hospital room with hearts. Audrey's troop made hearts with glitter on them. Then the girls went to school and told their teacher what they'd done in Girl Scouts and the school did the project, too. There have been other individuals and groups also participating in this project and Audrey's mom Nancy believes that June now has more than 20,000 hearts!
The girls have also done service projects for Anna Marie's and Toys for Tots.
In addition to the money for her troop account, Audrey earned 'Cookie Dough' coupons to use herself. She can use these at the Girl Scout Shop or at upcoming programs. Audrey's currently deciding whether she's going to go to 3 or 5 days at camp -- she can afford to do both. She's also looking forward to going with her troopmates this fall to a Girl Scout program called "Our World, Our Family" which happens in Nisswa every September. The girls attended this event last year and Audrey really enjoyed making bird houses and learning about plants.
In addition to Girl Scouts, Audrey is involved in Dance, Piano, Soccer, and Gymnastics. In school she likes math, art gym, and music. She also enjoys reading.
When she grows up, Audrey would like to be a Veterinarian and work for the TCHS.
Before she left, I asked Audrey if she had any advice for other girls who might have their sites on being the Girl Scout Top Cookie Seller. She offered the following, "Keep on trying, no matter what... and, say thank you, even if they say no."
On behalf of the 8,240 girl members of Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines, thank you to everyone who supported the Girl Scout Cookie Program this year.
Submitted by Tauna Quimby, Girl Scout staff
April 23, 2013 at 12:45pm
We asked participants to write about their experience on Girl Scout canoe trips through Lakes and Pines' Northern Lakes Canoe Base in Ely, MN. Here is what Janice Hamachek (Girl Scouts of Manitou; Participant 2008, 2009, 2010; Guide-In-Training 2011, 2012) had to say:
We came as strangers, and left as friends.
As I drive up in the van, I am surrounded by people I have known for only a couple hours. We make small talk, but no deep conversations. After this ride, I know everyone’s name, where they are from, and a couple random facts about them. As we make the final turn into camp, I see the Northern Lakes Canoe Base and the road is filled with a bunch of people jumping, screaming, and waving. I think to myself, “What have I signed myself up for?”
After unloading the van, we move into the Program Center. They give us a little time to talk at first, but it is still awkward. I look around who to sit with and I decide to sit by the people I sat by on the van. They seemed pretty nice. We don’t say much and it is small talk. The people who were lining the roads come into the Program Center. They introduce themselves, and I realize that they are from all over, just like this group of people is. I notice how close they seem to be, but I think that is farfetched from how close this group will be. “They have spent more time together than we will,” I think to myself. Then, they say that I will be spending the next 10 days in the woods with these people, and I will be led by two guides. As I look at them, they seem like they have two completely different personalities.
That night, we crawl into our tents. We divide up randomly, because none of us are close enough to make up our mind, besides the two people that came together. We get into the tent and arrange ourselves. We keep everyone’s stuff separated because we don’t want to touch anyone else’s stuff. We sit and talk, and begin to find out more about each other. We begin to learn about every one’s family and where they came from. I begin to find similarities between us, and it is nice to know this. Eventually, we all fall asleep.
The next morning we are woken up with songs sung by the energetic guides. As I crawl out of my sleeping bag, I am half asleep. I have no idea how people can be so awake this early in the morning. As I get ready, I begin to talk to the person that I slept next to. We don’t say much, but it is understandable because neither of us are awake. We go to breakfast, and we begin to talk more to everyone else. We find out how they slept, and how much experience they have had with this stuff. I learn that no one has done much, just like I have. Then, the guides tell us we will be having a training session today, so it does not matter that we do not know what to do!
While we are doing our training, I begin to get a feel of how everyone else is going to do. When it is my turn to put the canoe on my shoulders, I do not think I can do it. The canoe looks heavy, and I do not think I am strong enough to do it. When I am about to say I can’t do it, someone whispers to me, “I know you can do it!” I walk up to the canoe, and get it put on my shoulders for the first time. It feels heavy and I can’t balance it properly. As I take steps, I stumble. However, the person who told me I can do it once again tells me to keep going, that I am doing a great job. Everyone else chimes in, and I continue on. I take a couple more steps and I feel more confident. As training continues, I talk more to everyone and learn more about them. By that night I am talking to everyone. I still am not 100% comfortable with everyone but it has improved since the night before. When we go to bed that night, everyone is talking and we have to be told multiple times to go to sleep because we have a long day ahead of us. It is the first day of our trip and we need to be well rested.
The next morning, we begin our actual canoe trip. I am extremely nervous, but I don’t show it because I don’t want to seem weak in front of anyone else. When the guides ask us who wants to do what, no one volunteers. Everyone just stares at them. Eventually they assign jobs, and we begin our trip. Some of the staff we met yesterday will stay back at the base. We say goodbye and begin to paddle away. With three of us in each canoe I begin to learn more about the other people. I learn about where they go to school in San Diego and Washington D.C. I find it interesting because my school has less people in it than they have in their grade. When we get to our first portage (a trail between two lakes) everyone gets out. People begin to volunteer for the easy jobs, and I do too because I do not think I am ready to carry the canoe. I volunteer to be a partner for the person carrying the canoe to help them out if they need it. When they need help I help them, and I continued to encourage the whole time. Eventually, we had to switch because the person carrying the canoe was tired. Even though I didn’t think I could do it, with encouragement I was able to. As I got to the end of the portage, I felt extremely accomplished. I felt a bond to the person who helped me through because we had pushed through it together. The first lunch was interesting. Everyone was still careful about interrupting each other and putting input into others conversations. By the time we got to our first camp, we were talking more and remembering what happened throughout the day.
The next couple of days were just like the first, but better. We saw some amazing sights, went through some difficult portages, and had some long paddles. However, we did it all together. No one person did more than another and no one’s job was less important. When someone felt they were not doing enough to help because they were not strong enough to do something and started crying, everyone tried their best to make that person feel better. We encouraged her and made sure that she felt like she was contributing the same as everyone else. Everyone contributed in their own way, and it each was different. We all found what we were best at, and everyone encouraged each other in the jobs that they did.
Layover day, the day without paddling, was a real bonding time for everyone. After sleeping in this day, we made brunch. We cooked over the fire and even though it took longer than normal, we told stories and kept it interesting. We took turns and all chipped in. We went swimming, played cards, and ate all day. We bonded over this telling stories and finding out more about each other. We had fun together and helped each other forget about all the pressures that we had left in the outside world.
After layover day, everyone was well rested again and ready to go. We all were ready to get back on the water, and it showed once we left. We made great time, and had a blast. Everything seemed to be going great, until I tripped on a portage. My nose was bleeding and I was crying. When this happened, everyone ran over and made me laugh while the guides worked on getting it patched up. Throughout the day, everyone checked up on me making sure I was still okay. It was nice to know that I was with people who cared about me. The nights that continued, we stayed up with the campfire looking at the stars in awe. We couldn’t believe the beauty.
The last day on the water was a sad one. No one wanted to say it, but everyone knew that we were to be separated later that day. However, we all kept positive and talked so much. Our last portage, we remembered how much trouble we had on our first one. We laughed about how far we have come, and how much easier it was now. Everyone was fighting over who could carry the canoe, because everyone wanted to do it one last time. We were cheery across the portage laughing, singing, and poking fun at one another. When we finished the portage, we were back on Moose Lake, which is where we started. We made it to our last planned stop to have lunch. We had a very interesting lunch which was comprise of many leftovers from the trip. As we began our final paddle, we were happy and cheery! We took our time coming in and it took longer than usual because of wind, but we laughed through it and pushed on. We had to make an extra stop to switch paddlers because we were tired, but we made it in! We sang the song we wrote and began to tell stories of what had happened with our trip. We seemed to have more energy than we had the whole trip! We had gotten so close and talked with everyone that was there.
The time came when we had to go. It was full of tears and was very sad. As we went our separate ways, we vowed that we would stay in touch and that somehow we would see each other again. When we got home, the pictures were sent back and forth, along with many, “Remember when’s.” We talked about meeting up again, but the idea seemed like it would be impossible. However one year later, our dream became reality when 5 out of 7 of us went back as Guide in Training’s at the camp. They probably heard us for miles screaming when we were reunited again. I began this trip along with a bunch of strangers, and left with a bunch of friends.
April 12, 2013 at 11:38am
Past participants and Guides from our Northern Lakes' Canoe Base have come together to share stories about the amazing impact this program has had on their lives. Below they have put together a (somewhat humorous) list of the Top ten signs you’ve been on a Boundary Waters Girl Scout canoe trip through the Northern Lakes Canoe Base:
- You measure distances in rods, or the length of a canoe. 10 rods? Not too bad…but could be steep or swampy. 300 rods? Ooh, that's nearly a mile! You go, girl!
- You pause near the Ry Krisp when you go grocery shopping. Something about it sounds so good right now. Next decision: PB&J, cheese, or all three? With mustard?
- Every January you dig out your trail clothes and wonder what the lifeguards will say if you wear your wet boots to the pool.
- When a friend casually mentions a “bridge” in conversation, you instantly throw off your backpack, run in front of her, swing your arms up and say “I’m ready!” followed by “I’ve got it!”
- You never go anywhere without a buddy. And we mean anywhere!
- You lost count of your mosquito bites. Who cares, you’re having too much fun to worry about them up anyway!
- You put soap on your pots before making dinner. Old habits are hard to break!
- When things get rough (say, hard test at school), you break out into a song! “A is for apples we leave back in town…”
- You can carry anything, across any portage!
- You know the power of teamwork when headwinds blow, canoes need to be carried across portages, and camp chores need to get done. You know that if you set your mind to do something, it will get done! You know the beauty of the wilderness, the call of the loon in the morning, and the joy of singing around a fire with Girl Scout friends under the northern lights. You know that a Girl Scout canoe trip is an adventure like no other experience!
Want to go on a Girl Scout canoe trip? Crews are forming now. Registration open to all girls ages 13+ and adults. Girls can come alone or with adults. No previous experience necessary.
February 22, 2013 at 02:00pm
Sarah attended Lakes and Pines destination, North Country Rock and Wilderness in 2011. The following year she returned to the Northern Lakes Canoe Base as a Guide in Training. Sarah shares how she experienced teamwork and unity through the experience. Excerpts from Sarah's story ...
"This is teamwork to a whole new dimension."
"Everyone should come out of their shell just to see it [the wilderness] and appreciate what nature and wilderness there is still left. From the crazy thunderstorms that light up the night sky, to the occasional northern lights, and the sunsets full or oranges and purples and reds, I can honestly say that I have never seen such beauty in my life."
"Another part of this incredible experience is the lack of stuff."
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Wonders in the Woods
Heath Bozine, a Girl Scout alumnae from St. Cloud, shares a story she wrote and illustrated after taking her daughter to Camp Shingobee Timbers a few years ago. Click on the graphic to read the book.
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