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.
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November 11, 2013 at 02:27pm
Carla Lasky is a Girl Scout Troop Leader from Duluth. Recently she sent in a letter showing appreciation for sister volunteer Shirley Balgaard who introduced her to new international aspects of Girl Scouting.We thought you might enjoy hearing some of the insights she shared.
"... Eleven years ago, I started my troop. We ran our meetings, did some of the council events and went to Camp Roundelay. Then I met Shirley Balgaard! She opened up the world of Girl Scouts to me. She taught me what Roperunners and SWAPaloozas were by letting me help her run one of each. She showed me how to have an International Festival for World Thinking Day. She signed our troop up with hers for Our World, Our Family camp, which is amazing!
She also exposed me to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. If you have attended the Duluth area World Thinking Day program, your girls have earned world badges and are on their way to earning their Global Action Theme badge. This is a curriculum put together with the help of the United Nations. This is an excellent program for all ages and works on issues related to the world.
She got me involved with the Greenblood news which has sooo much information and ideas. We even got our GS penpals from around the world here. Through this site we got involved with a SWAP group and exchanged swaps from all around the world. Tessa and I have had dinner made for us by three Taiwan leaders, who shared with us how GS is done in their country. We have done exchanges with Austraiian troops of cookies and patches.
I could go on. I just want leaders to know that there is so much out there for your girls. It takes a leader to expose them to all that is available. And a huge thank you to a great leader and friend, Shirley.
Send in your Girl Scout story.
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
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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