Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Adults can do for the Girls

I was going through the mail this week, and as I sorted the bills from the holiday cards from the magazines, I noticed that I had a pile of year-end donation requests.

March of Dimes, Alzheimer's, Girl's Inc., American Heart Association, Human Options and Girl Scouts, to name a few.  My knee jerk response to the GSOC request was sort of, "well, I already give time and talent to the organization, that's enough."  

But then I got to thinking, no, that isn't enough. Sure, I participate on council and other volunteer committees, interview girls for the Gold, work on series, help train. But that doesn't help the council provide service to the girls we serve.  The girls sell cookies, and a percentage of each box goes to council operations.

And here's the rub, that's not enough money to provide service to over 25,000 members in Orange County.  It's not enough to provide additional outreach to underserved communities.  It's not even enough to open the doors every day at the service centers and the headquarters.  It's true, it takes funding from corporations who give back to a community.  It takes funding from older Girl Scouts who want to give back to a program they've loved with all their hearts for 30-40-50+ years.

And it takes funding from every adult who believes in the Girl Scout program.  Every adult like me, who had the absolute BEST time growing up in Scouting. Every adult who knows that Girl Scouting saves lives.  Every adult who sees his/her daughter growing up strong, and seeing that some of that strength comes from the Scouting program.

Don't we have a connection to see every girl succeed?  And doesn't she deserve an opportunity to grow up with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place?  Don't we want each of these girls to have the HUGE benefits of the Journey Leadership Experiences, badges, Awards, travel opportunities, destinations, and the proud distinction of being a Girl Scout?  I do. And I bet there are many more of you who do too.

As you're sorting the holiday mail, please consider a donation of any amount to Girl Scouts of Orange County.  Please make a difference in a girl's life. Not only your own daughter's, but for every girl who stands up tall and proud, and says, "On my honor, I will try..."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Labyrinth for their Silver Award

(Excerpted from the December 11, 2012 GSUSA blog)

Regis Middle School eighth graders Jenna Ampulski, Megan Korbel and Isabelle Canney built a labyrinth and prayer garden at St. Pius X Catholic School to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award.

For 14 months, the trio worked to create a prayer garden and labyrinth at their former elementary school. The project was to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award — the highest a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.
There was a time, they said, it seemed it would never be finished.
“It was more prep work than I realized,” Isabelle says.
They researched labyrinths by visiting examples at Xavier High School and Indian Creek Nature Center.
They raised more than $7,000 by submitting a grant application to and preparing a PowerPoint presentation for Megan’s mom, Kristen Korbel, to share with area organizations, businesses and individuals.
“There were a lot of businesses that, after we told them what we were doing, just donated the items or sold them at cost,” Megan says.
A landscaper and botanist helped create a design. Midwest Lawn and Landscaping excavated the site at St. Pius X in June, delivering limestone, river rock and pavers to the site.
Throughout the summer, more than 60 volunteers — including Boy Scouts from Troop 42 and Girl Scouts from troops 5049 and 8979 — helped transform an unused courtyard to a peaceful area for reflection and education.

Nice Silver Award Take Action Project!  And a nice way to give back to a school they loved. And for once, I really don't have much to add to the article!  The girls found a need, created a project, gathered their team and used resources wisely.  In some ways, this is closer to a Gold Award Project than a I can hardly wait to hear what they do for the Gold!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silver Award Project

(This from the GSUSA blog December 7)

CLINTON TWP. – Township Girl Scout Troop 81285 has been busy performing an important service for the community: Cadet Scouts Elizabeth Kapral, Kathleen Hogan, Daniela Roman and Camryn Burns have been marking storm drains that direct untreated stormwater into the water supply. The girls, who are in grades 6 through 8, are working toward achieving their Silver Award, the highest a cadet can earn in the Scouting program.
In a presentation to the Township Council at its Nov. 28 meeting, Hogan explained that as part of their Silver Award project, the Scouts first had to identify a problem and then develop an action plan to correct it. They chose local stormwater pollution, which they said kills fish, wildlife, contaminates drinking water and closes beaches. “Human activity is largely responsible” for such issues, said Hogan.

“We are trying to educate the public by labeling all drains in the township that lead directly into pathways without treatment,” she said, noting this is required by state law.  To date, the Scouts have labeled more than 200 drains in Clinton Township, but more labels are needed for them to continue the program.
Councilman James Imbriaco said the Environmental Commission is planning to use its budget to purchase about 300 additional markers for the girls to use.

I think I like this project!  Why?  Because it really does meet the requirements of the Silver Award Take Action Project, if I make some assumptions about what the girls also did!

The issue:  stormwater pollution

The root causeignorance or lack of care by the residents

The Project:  educate the residents and label the drains for all to see in order to reduce contamination down the line

The team:  4 girls from a troop. I am hoping that each of the four took a leadership role in this project.  Perhaps one was in charge of publicity - getting the word out.  One gathered information to hand out to residents about the need. One was a liason to the city. And one helped build the team of peers to help.

Their action:  Labeling the storm drains.  It sounds like there were actual plaques that were affixed to the drains.   It sounds like the city helped them with this.  And in order to get more, perhaps the girls took a leadership role in soliciting funds from a grant? or from another city department? to help. I hope they also had information available to the residents about this issue.  Perhaps they used the City Website to post info? or had other articles written by the girls in the newspaper?  or presented the info at school? linked to the school websiteThose actions would have given them a more direct connection to the community they were serving:  not just putting up signs.

Sustainable:  Their work goes on for as long as the plaques are there.  And hopefully, the city took over the care and maintenance of them.  Hopefully, the Environmental Commission was able to build on the girls' work and continue it as an ongoing project.

Global:  What if they could do EVERY drain in their town?  What if every city/town in their county did it?  What kind of impact could that have?  That would be one conversation I would have with the girls, to be sure they understand the global nature of this work.  


Saturday, December 15, 2012

BFF and the aMaze Journey

(This from the Girl Scouts Research Institute, from GSUSA)

Building Healthy Relationships at Girl Scouts of the USA

BFF (Be a Friend First)
In October, Girl Scouts of the USA launched an innovative bullying-prevention initiative for middle-school girls. BFF, which stands for “Be a Friend First,” is based on the popular aMAZE! Leadership Journey. Working with volunteers, girls learn relational and leadership skills to short-circuit bullying behavior and to prevent it from happening in the first place. BFF uses role playing, creative writing, and discussion exercises through which girls explore thorny issues like peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip, and cliques. As part of BFF, girls also create and lead projects in their schools and communities to tackle bullying issues. BFF can be easily integrated into existing health or character education classes, can serve as an after-school program, and can even be offered during a holiday break. Girl Scout councils across the country will be launching this important initiative in their communities this winter. Check out the BFF webpage, and stay tuned for more!

What a great program that ties in directly with the leadership Journey!  One of the things we talk at length about in our Cadette Essentials Trainings is about the Journeys.  Which to take? How to do it?  How to incorporate it into the year?  Consensus usually comes with 6th graders, new to their middle schools, getting the most benefit from the aMaze Journey.  This Journey tackles what they are dealing with in school, and helps them work their way through the twists and turns of pre-tweendom.  (Is that really a word?)

I've had advisors say this was the best thing for the troop:  that it went smoothly, girls jumped at the chance to participate, and they really bonded as a troop.  I've also had those who said it was torture to get through:  too much talking, too much touchy-feely, too hard to make it through all the pages.  It's best when I have both groups in the room at the same time!!!  The ones who have the great experiences are overwhelmingly forthcoming about how to make it work!  They have great tips and stories to share, including my favorite:  once a quarter? couple of months?  The girls come for their Friday night meeting at 5. Have dinner, chat, clean up.  6pm is the prompt start of the meeting.  It's over at 8pm. And then from 8pm that night, til 8 am the next morning, it's all girl time to do what they want!

This advisor used her family/bonus room, and let the girls loose.  Some nights they were all asleep by 10, and others by 2.  She said this was also the time the girls would put a fire in the fireplace, get into jammies and crawl into their sleeping bags, and then chat about issues.  Girl Scouts is a safe place for girls, and this place was no exception!  The advisor said that this was the time they had the best sharing, the best talking about the issues and the best girl time.  She said it felt like the pressure was off, and the girls could just share.  That they happened to complete a Journey, was a bonus!

And then they left at 8!  No group fixing breakfast....just grab a muffin or bagel, and go!  The girls still had the weekend to do all their "stuff", and so did the advisor!