Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: STEM for Them

Madeline, a Smithfield Girl Scout, has earned the Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Madeline created an educational program designed to introduce children to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) through engaging, hands-on activities. Madeline led workshops at Quality Time Child Care and Preschool and Main Street Baptist Church in Smithfield, where she worked with children ages one to 12 to increase their interest in STEM. Activities that Madeline organized for the children included cleaning up a simulated oil spill, making rubber band catapults, building simple machines using household objects and creating a rain cloud in a cup.

Madeline also coordinated her lesson plans with Virginia Standards of Learning and shared them with elementary school teachers in Isle of Wight schools. Many teachers are incorporating her activities into their lesson plans.

“I wanted to create a STEM program that would be fun for kids to participate in, but also coordinate with the Standards of Learning,” Madeline said. “Working with the kids and watching their excitement for STEM grow was the best thing I could have asked for.”

Madeline also created a series of how-to STEM activity videos that she placed online to encourage people to try STEM activities with children at home or at school. She has coordinated with the National Honor Society at Smithfield High School to offer her workshops in the future.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Madeline to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rock on, Girl Scouts!

Go-getter Girl Scouts of the Lynnhaven Shores Girl Scout Service Unit raised $10,000 that they donated to build a climbing wall at Camp Skimino, a camp located in Williamsburg and operated by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast (GSCCC). A check was presented to the Council’s Property Director John Morgan and Philanthropy Director Stacy Nixon on Friday, June 2, during an evening bridging program organized by the Lynnhaven Shores Service Unit Girl Scouts. The service unit is one of 23 service units, geographical service areas, within the council. Susan Ramsland, a lifetime Girl Scout who volunteers to oversee the unit and an avid outdoor program advocate, spearheaded the fundraising effort and led the ceremony, which included several girls from the service unit’s Girl Advisory Board, who carried the check to the podium.

This is not the first time that the Lynnhaven Shores Service Unit has united to raise money for improvements to Girl Scout camps. Last year, they funded the new archery range at Camp Skimino. Many members of the service unit attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the archery range, and it was an exciting moment for them to see all of their fundraising efforts come to fruition and put the new archery range to good use.

“While sitting in the dining hall with John after the archery range dedication, reflecting on what other things girls might like to have at camp, an indoor climbing wall was mentioned,” Ramsland said. “Several adults chatted about it that weekend and decided to see if that was something the girls would indeed enjoy at camp.”

Before the end of last summer, the Girl Advisory Board from the Lynnhaven Shores Service Unit held a meeting to make plans for the upcoming Girl Scout year. On their agenda was a discussion of the climbing wall, and all of the girls voted “yes” in support of building it. Ramsland informed the girls that the service unit would need to raise $10,000 to have the climbing wall built, and they launched a fundraising campaign.

With full funding for the Camp Skimino climbing wall provided by the Lynnhaven Shores Service Unit, construction can begin. Morgan is projecting that the climbing wall, an indoor wall that can be used year-round, will be completed sometime in August.

“We are committed to making sure we provide outdoor activities that are relevant to today’s girls and what they want,” John said. “Girls want to be challenged and they want adventure in a safe and all-girl environment and that’s what Girl Scouts is able to give them.”

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

When Jad Domachowski’s daughter, Alexandra, joined Girl Scouts three years ago, he knew from the start that he wanted to be involved. Initially, he volunteered with Troop 508 in Virginia Beach in order to spend more time with Alexandra, but once he got involved and got to know the girls and parents in the troop, he was eager to take on a bigger volunteer role. He officially registered as a Girl Scout and is now a proud member of Troop 508.

Jad cherishes the time that he has to spend with Alexandra. His career in the Navy affects the time that he has at home, whether he is deployed on a ship, in the office or traveling for training missions. Girls need, and want, their dads in their lives just as much as their mothers, and Girl Scouts provides opportunities for Jad and Alexandra to try new things, meet new people and have fun together.

“Girl Scouts has allowed me to spend more quality time with my daughter,” Jad said. “We take part in enriching and productive activities that teach life skills with other girls and their parents.”

For both Jad and Alexandra, Girl Scouts has been a great place to meet new friends. They also really enjoyed building a car together to race in a powderpuff derby, putting their engineering and design skills to the test to build a wooden racecar. They have had so many fun experiences that Jad’s younger son can hardly wait to be a Boy Scout and will be when the school year starts.

Before taking a break for the summer, Jad, Alexandra and the rest of Troop 508 will be working on a community service project in support of Operation Smile. They are also exploring cuisines from around the world, taste testing new dishes as each troop meeting.

Girls need both women and men to show that they can be anything they want to be—from athlete to astronaut, from CEO of their own business to CEO of their own household. In fact, studies show that if we want girls to view themselves as strong, self-reliant and resilient, it is essential that the men in their lives—fathers, brothers and other caring adults who help mentor her—show her that they view her in this way. As a dad in Girl Scouts, Jad is playing an important role in Alexandra’s life, as well as in the lives of her fellow troop members, to help them believe in themselves.

Girl Scouts is in need of women and men volunteers to be a part of the organization and help build the next generation of go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders. Girl Scouts offers both short- and long-term opportunities for caring adults to make a difference in the lives of girls. For information about volunteering with Girl Scouts, visit

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Outer Banks Service Unit Bridging Ceremony

Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout's life. It is a defining moment when a girl becomes aware of her achievements and is ready for new adventures and responsibilities.

On June 6, the Outer Banks Service Unit hosted their bridging ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of nearly 30 Girl Scouts, as well as the volunteers who give their time and talents to Girl Scouts. Carolene Goodwyn-Harris, chair of the board of directors for GSCCC, was excited to attend the special celebration.

“I had a wonderful time meeting the girls and volunteers in the Outer Banks Service Unit,” Carolene said.

Carolene cheered for each of the Girl Scouts who bridged to the next level of Girl Scouting as they crossed the stage at the Wanchese Community Building.

Rylee and Carolene
As part of the celebration, Rylee, a Girl Scout Cadette in Troop 2432, was recognized for earning the Silver Award, which is the second highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Rylee worked with the Outer Banks History Center to earn the award.

Amanda Grubbs, leader of Girl Scout Troop 2109, and Julie Tortelli, leader of Girl Scout Troop 2512, were recognized with Volunteer of Excellence Awards.

In addition to recognizing current members, the service unit was eager to welcome two new members to Girl Scouts. Peyton and Remington, who will be starting kindergarten in the fall, became Girl Scout Daisies during the ceremony.

Still need to renew your membership? Keep the adventure going! Renew now.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Adventure Awaits in Costa Rica

By Girl Scout Senior Kilani from Moyock

This summer I’ll be attending the international trip to beautiful Costa Rica. I’m looking forward to the memorable moments that I’ll have and all the stunning views. I chose to travel with Girl Scouts because the opportunity came up, and I made the adventurous decision to go.

Quite frankly, at first I never even thought about going to Costa Rica. But then I saw the flier and decided that I had to go. It honestly still surprises me to hear that I’m actually going. Imagine going on about your day and then someone brings it up and you just sit there stunned because it’s actually going to happen. 

This is my first ever international trip. It’s exciting to anticipate what this trip will bring me. I’ll meet new people, eat new foods and see new places. It’ll be like a whole new world with new culture and adventures. 

The trip will be here before I know it, so I have to prepare myself. We’ve already discussed some items that we should pack including some very odd items, such as doggy bags. You may be wondering why, and the answer is simply that in Costa Rica you cannot flush toilet paper. You’re probably wrapping your mind around the idea of not being able to flush toilet paper and instead disposing it, but we’ll see how it goes when we get there. I’m not to worried about it though. It’s hard for me to worry about anything when I’m so ecstatic to just go.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Girls Rule the World

The 9th Annual Hampton Roads Conference for Girls and Young Women: Girls Rule the World was held on Saturday, May 20 in the Webb University Center at Old Dominion University. During the conference, which aims to inform and empower girls and young women to become productive citizens and leaders, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast held a STEM (science, technology, mathematics, and engineering) workshop, Girls Go Techbridge: Power it Up!.

During the Girl Scout workshop, Thalessa Billups, a community outreach coordinator with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, led the girls in an activity with snap circuits to help them learn about electronics and circuitry. Working in pairs, girls chose circuit board projects out of an instruction book and snapped together plastic modules to create a flow of electricity. One pair of girls created a flow of electricity to power a radio.

"One of the most beneficial things about STEM activities is that they allow girls to work together to accomplish the same goal while having fun," Billups said.

According to How Girl Scout STEM Programs Benefit Girls, a report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 77 percent of girls said that after participating in STEM activities with Girl Scouts, they want to know more about careers in science, math and the arts. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is committed to providing opportunities for girls to engage in hands-on STEM and scientific reasoning activities, allowing them to apply concepts learned in school in new ways. Check for information about an annual STEM event, Science Alive, scheduled for September at Norfolk State University.

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Gold Award Celebration

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast recognized the 41 local Girl Scouts who earned the Gold Award during the past year at a celebration on June 4 at Virginia Wesleyan University. The Gold Award is the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Gold Award recipients and guests were welcomed by Heather Lowe, a Girl Scout alumnae and former Gold Award recipient from Chesapeake, who served as the emcee for the event. Jordan Thomas, a 2013 Gold Award recipient and a student at Virginia Wesleyan University, delivered welcoming remarks from the university. Carolene Goodwyn-Harris, chair of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, congratulated the awardees on their accomplishments.

“I am inspired every time I reflect on the leadership opportunities offered through the Girl Scout Movement, especially the opportunity to earn the Gold Award,” Goodwyn-Harris said.

Lea, Angela and Shannon were recognized as the three local Girl Scouts nominated to be honored as National Young Women of Distinction. Every year, Girl Scout councils from across the country nominate exceptionally inspiring Girl Scout Gold Award recipients to be selected as one of the 10 National Young Women of Distinction.

Each Gold Award recipient was then recognized, and Tracy Keller, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, pinned each recipient with the Gold Award pin. A summary of each girl’s project was shared with guests in attendance. This year’s projects addressed a number of issues in the community, including: food insecurity, bullying, childhood obesity and literacy rates.

In her closing remarks, Keller congratulated the girls for the hard work they put into earning the Gold Award.

“You have made meaningful, sustainable change in your communities,” Keller said. “You are changing the world.”

Since 1916, the best and brightest Girl Scouts have completed projects to improve their community and the world while earning the highest award in Girl Scouts. Girls who pursue the Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results. The experience of earning the Gold Award gives girls great lifetime benefits. In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute has found that Gold Award recipients soar when it comes to providing service to others through volunteerism and positive attitudes about themselves and the lives they lead. Gold Award recipients are courageous go-getters, visionary innovators and confident leaders.