Send a Girl to Camp by donating at: girlscoutshh.org/GirltoCamp
Send a Girl to Camp by donating at: girlscoutshh.org/GirltoCamp
Girl Scouts Make a Difference
Prepare your girl for a lifetime of leadership.
By: Jahnvi Mundra
In April this year, I was invited as a special guest to make a speech and present an award at the Girl Scout Leadership Luncheon in Westchester. The speech was about my Girl Scout experience, and I was to present a Community Service award to a leader in the community. I was to make the speech in front of about 200 people. I have been on stage many times to perform my Indian classical dances, but I had never made a speech before. I was pretty nervous.
When it was time for me to make my speech, my hands were sweating. I had practiced at home, but that was only in front of my family. When I was making my speech, everyone was looking at me, but with interested faces. It made me feel more relaxed. At the end when I sat back down, I felt satisfied with what I had done. When the luncheon was over, people said I had done a great job. At first, I didn’t believe them, but then my mom showed me my video, and I realized that I had done my best. This experience made me more open to the world and more confident.
When I had received the invitation letter for the event, I had immediately told my mom that I wasn’t going to do it. However, my mom encouraged me, and I went ahead with it. The lesson I learned from this experience was that you can’t judge something until you experience it. I had a great time there! It was inspiring to hear people’s stories about how Girl Scouts had shaped them. I got to meet important leaders like the CEO of Girl Scouts. A TV celebrity who was a Girl Scout in her childhood spoke to us about her girl scout experience through a video recording. The food was really good and the country club setting with beautiful table decorations made it an experience of a lifetime for me. I was also interviewed on the radio, which was a first-time excitement too.
Girl Scouts is the chance to take healthy new risks you’ve never taken before. If something new is given to you, you should try it. Those experiences can bring you places!
Guest blogger, Amelia Chikota is an Ambassador Girl Scout in Troop 01033 from Chappaqua. She is a member of the GSHH Media Team. She shares her story on 10 years of community service through Girl Scouting.
For roughly ten years, I have been a committed Girl Scout. It’s hardly just about the cookies. Our focus early on was building a community and learning what it means to be a “sister” to other girls. We did arts and crafts at our leaders’ houses and planted flowers in local gardens. We sang songs and went on camping trips with the rest of our local Girl Scout community, uniting as one girl.
With time, the focus shifted towards expanding on that friendship in order to better the lives of others, and our service projects have grown dramatically in significance. Instead of doing projects from the comfort of our leaders’ house, enjoying our creations but never really letting them see the light of day, now we are eager to share our work, and most of it proves very hard to hide, as we are always out in the community making a visible difference.
As I’ve grown older alongside my troop, the number of Girl Scouts my age has dwindled continuously. This group of older Girl Scouts has been whittled out to a few strong survivors. I wish the girls who left Girl Scouts could see, could feel, the rewarding nature of continuing the Girl Scout program even when you are much older, when your mind is more developed and your perspective on the world is wider.
Every year since joining high school, with my troop, I’ve visited local veterans on Veterans’ Day each year to let them know they’re appreciated, and cooked three-course dinners with local produce for nearby homeless people.
Continuing Girl Scouts has also allowed me to work on the most rewarding project of my life. Starting in my junior year, I’ve collected thousands of books for my Gold Award, a final project for Girl Scouts to which I’ve committed over 80 hours of service. I have worked with the worldwide organization of United Way, where I have found great mentors and guidance.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that in giving, you receive. This almost lifelong activity is a part of my identity, and if I were to relinquish this activity, I would feel void of some part of myself.
If you’re interested in going for your Bronze, Silver or Gold or community service, check out Girl Scouts Highest Awards.
Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte
Our first innovator, Susan La Flesche Picotte, was born in 1865 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Northeast Nebraska. Her interest in the medical field was ignited from a young age as she witnessed the poor living and health conditions of those in her community. Susan knew she had to discover a way to help. In 1886, she attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania after receiving a scholarship from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs—at the time, Susan was the first person to receive federal aid for professional education. Three years later, she graduated at the top of her class, and after completing a one-year internship, she became the first Native American physician in the United States.
Susan immediately took her education back home, where she advocated for cleanliness and air ventilation to prevent the spread of disease. She was paid only $500 a year as the reservation doctor, and many times, she was forced to pay for her own supplies or create new ways to care for her community members. However, Susan diligently persevered in an effort to care for as many patients as possible.
In 1894, she married Henry Picotte, a Sioux Indian from South Dakota, and moved to Bancroft, Nebraska. There she raised two children and opened her own private practice, despite the criticism she received for being a working mother. Throughout the rest of her life, Susan championed many causes that benefited Native Americans—from advocating for modern hygiene and disease prevention standards to securing land rights for her people to challenging a woman’s role in the family.
Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, Louise Erdrich was the first of seven children. Her mother was a Chippewa Indian (half Ojibwe and half French), and her grandfather served as tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Louise’s love of writing started young when her father paid her a nickel for every creative story she wrote.
In 1972, Louise was part of the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth College, where she earned a degree in English. There she met Michael Dorris, an anthropologist, writer, and director of the college’s Native American Studies program. Through this program, Louise deepened her interest in her own culture and began writing innovative literary work that featured Native American characters and settings. Years later, Louise and Michael began to collaborate on short stories, many of which received national accolades.
Louise became one of the most influential writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. Her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, and in 2012 she was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Today this innovator is still writing and has opened her own independent bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which focuses on Native American literature and the community.
Even before she launched Girl Scouts of the USA, Juliette Gordon Low was setting goals and overcoming obstacles. When she was just 16, she prodded her cousins to start the Helping Hands Club. Their goal? Learn how to sew and make clothing for a recently immigrated family. Though the club didn’t do very well, it was Daisy’s first foray into organizing and inspiring girls to make the world a better place. [Go-getter]
As our founder, she was breaking the mold and solving a problem in society by creating an outlet for girls to develop leadership skills. From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Daisy broke the conventions of the time—reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure that Girl Scouts offered all girls a place to grow and develop their leadership skills. [Innovator]
She made personal sacrifices along the way and took dramatic steps to help the organization grow. Launching the Girl Scout Movement was not without challenges. Daisy worked tirelessly to grow the new organization and for many years used her own money to pay expenses, even selling her valuable pearl necklace when she was short of funds. In 1920, when she was 61, she launched a fundraising campaign in a daring flight over Manhattan in an old-fashioned biplane, leaning out to drop Girl Scout flyers on the crowds below. It was a spectacular launch for Girl Scout Week, which also included a 6,000-girl parade and a pageant in Central Park. [Risk taker]
And finally, she demonstrated the epitome of leadership through empathy, passion, and advocacy. Using her innate talent for fundraising and public relations, combined with her vast network of high-profile friends and supporters, Daisy led Girl Scouts with passion and determination—ensuring it was, and always would be, an experience that was “girl led.” In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, in recognition of her “remarkable vision,” and to celebrate “her dedication to empowering girls everywhere.” [Leader]
Happy Birthday to Juliette Gordon Low – the ultimate, the original, go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader.
In June, hundreds of Girl Scouts gathered to drop off hundreds of thousands of boxes of Girl Scouts cookies – each box donated to Operation Cookie Drop, so active and retired military personnel could receive a small taste of home. Those cookies have now been every where from Yonkers to Qatar and Hawaii to Syria. They’ve been taken by car, naval ship, and plane to military bases and hospitals all around the world.
As of Sunday, August 13th, the following cookies had been delivered to the following locations…
Military Bases in the US:
Veterans Centers/Programs and Hospitals:
Events and Honor Flights:
Total Boxes Donated: About 105,000
Total Boxes Already Delivered: About 74,000
From sleeping in and eating cereal for dinner to working hard and taking classes at universities, summer break provides girls with some extra time for a wide variety of activities. And as Girl Scouts, summer is the perfect time to give back to the community, because unlike your girls, your community’s needs don’t get to take a break!
Whether it’s hosting a food drive to helping struggling communities or even building houses with Habitat for Humanity, Girl Scouts of all levels can engage in community service, gain leadership experience, build connections, and prepare for a future of making the world a better place. So, whatever service your girl chooses, help her see the bigger picture, and remind her that her compassionate service can one day lead to a life-changing project and higher award (maybe even a cool story for her college admission essays, too)!
The Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn and are awarded to girls who take action to change their community through coordinate projects. Surprisingly, many girls who begin the process of earning these awards have not actually had very much in-person experience with the community issues they’re trying to solve! It’s not uncommon for girls to have participated in a donation drive or volunteered with a local organization when they were younger, but it’s rare that girls go the extra step to gain a more in-depth understanding of the community they’re serving.
With a little extra time and effort, your girl’s summer community service can easily develop into a meaningful project as she strengthens her understanding of and connection to the community, the organizations involved, and the issues they face. That’s why it’s no surprise that some of our most successful Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects often come from girls who discovered a passion for solving an issue through direct, hands-on community service!
And by earning these awards, girls also expand their personal knowledge of what’s going on in the community, build their critical thinking skills, and develop a stronger sense of commitment that both colleges and employers will admire. So even though girls must be a certain age in order to earn these awards, it’s never too early to encourage your girls to take action and get involved in their communities now. By laying the foundation for her passions today, your girl can take her time envisioning a project that she’s genuinely interested in and truly proud of when the time comes.
Pro Tip: When the new membership year starts, check out our webinar trainings in our Activity Finder, where girls and adults can tune in from home to learn the basics of these higher awards from GSNorCal experts.
So whatever your girls have planned this summer, have them take a break from their busy schedules, gain service hours, connect with new causes, make new friends, and most importantly, make a difference in their community. Whether your girls decide to set aside a few hours a week or a few hours a day, remind them that their service this summer can lead to a worthwhile project in the future!
Looking for Girl Scout events that can inspire higher awards or Take Action project ideas? Check out these amazing projects:
32 Girl Scouts just returned from an incredible trip to Costa Rica , where Girl Scouts were able to help preserve the coast line through a mangrove tree farm service project.
“This trip will be forever engrained on all of us and personally speaking has been a life enriching journey that will always be cherished! My favorite parts of the trip were the hard hours of service and how rewarding it all was to see the results.” – Michelle S
When they weren’t working there was plenty of time for fun as well. They went zip lining and kayaking, hiked to a waterfall, relaxed in some volcanic hot springs, made their own chocolate, and toured a coffee plantation.
They also had the chance to explore Costa Rican culture through dance—meeting up first with local high schoolers who taught them four traditional dances, including salsa and swing cuillo, and then attending a professional folklore evening—partaking in traditional food, dance, and music.
“The trip was an amazing experience, I made so many important memories and great friendships and was able to really immerse myself in
another culture.” – Katie K
Girl Scouts is continuing our exciting partnership with the National Park Service and the “Girl Scout Ranger Program,” a joint venture connecting girls with National Park Service sites throughout the United States, including monuments, seashores, and urban sites.
Through this program, girls are invited to play outdoors, learn about national parks and why they’re preserved, and develop essential leadership skills. Even better, girls have the opportunity to earn patches, complete journeys, and achieve Take Action and Gold Award projects!
So, how exactly do you earn your Ranger patch? It’s simple!
Ready to learn more about becoming a Girl Scout Ranger? Click here to read FAQs!