Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reading Rocks

Earlier this spring, four members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 805 in Chesapeake set out on a mission to make an impact on literacy rates in their community. The two fourth graders, Kiersten and Zoe, and two fifth graders, Kailie and Elizabeth, brainstormed ways that they could give children access to books all summer long. During the planning process, Zoe’s mother Stephanie Martin, who volunteers with the troop, shared with the girls about the population of children she worked with when she was a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in South Norfolk. After learning about the lack of resources faced by many of her students, the members of Troop 805 came up with a solution and their project, Reading Rocks, was born.
Zoe, Kiersten, Kailie and Elizabeth 
The girls got to work right away contacting libraries, local businesses and friends seeking donations of new and gently used books. After a generous response, the girls had enough books to distribute at least five to every kindergartner and first grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. Each of the four Girl Scouts also made 50 file folder games so that each student could have fun and educational activities to occupy some of their time over the summer. The Girl Scouts had Reading Rocks backpacks made for each student to carry their new books and games in and also gave some crayons to each student.

On May 23, the Girl Scouts loaded up their mothers’ cars with the backpacks and made their way to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. It was just after school, and the girls made a presentation to all of the kindergarten and first grade teachers to explain their project and leave all of their backpacks to be distributed before the end of the year. The teachers applauded the work of the Girl Scouts and thanked them for their efforts. Giving students their own books to read over the summer can make a big impact on the literacy skills they retain from the school year.

“The most challenging part of the project was making all of the file folder games because it was time consuming,” Kiersten said. “But it was an important part of the project because they will help the students practice important skills like vowel sounds and contractions.”

Each of the four Girl Scouts put in nearly 40 hours each to complete the project. For their work, the girls will earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Newport News Girl Scout Gives Back to the Military for Silver Award Project

Jazzlyn, a Newport News Girl Scout, has earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Jazzlyn has been a Girl Scout for four years.

Jazzlyn understands firsthand the sacrifices made by members of the military and their family. Both of her parents are veterans and her mother was deployed to Iraq to care for injured soldiers. For her Silver Award project, Jazzlyn wanted to give back to the military community and decided to create community book exchanges at USO Welcome Center at the Norfolk International Airport and local veterans’ medical centers.

“Reading helps me escape reality and go on an adventure,” Jazzlyn said. “My hope is that it will help the military members do the same so they don’t have to think about bad stuff going on in the world.”

To complete her project, Jazzlyn collected books, CDs and movies that soldiers can borrow for any amount of time to enjoy while they’re traveling or at their destination and return to the book exchange when they come back.

Through the work that she did with her Silver Award project, Jazzlyn also became a Wounded Warriors Student Ambassador. In this role, Jazzlyn helps to raise awareness about the work that the Wounded Warriors Project does to help injured service members recover and readjust.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award earned by Girl Scouts in middle school. To earn the award, Girl Scouts have to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action Project to address the matter through leadership work.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Camp Skimino Miniature

A simple cabin nestled in the woods— marshmallows toasting over a campfire out front, a lantern sitting on a nearby picnic table. It’s a scene right out of Williamsburg’s Girl Scout Camp Skimino— with a twist. For two years, the eight members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society, based in Newport News, have been building a one-inch scale model depicting a scene from their memories of Camp Skimino. On May 23, the group presented the miniature to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to place on display at their Peninsula Service Center in Newport News.

For Patti Delimpaltadakis and Ina Wapples, two members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society, creating a scale model of Camp Skimino brought back a wave of fond memories. While both spent time as a Girl Scout while growing up, it was the time that they spent as volunteer leaders on the Peninsula that had the biggest impact on their lives. During these years, they helped girls earn badges, mentored them as they earned the highest awards in Girl Scouting and introduced them to the great outdoors, which included trips to Camp Skimino. A favorite memory that Delimpaltadakis and Wapples share took place on a cold November weekend in the 1990s when they attended an outdoor training at Camp Skimino.

“At the end of the first day, everyone else headed off to a hotel for the night, but we wanted the true camp experience,” Delimpaltadakis recalled. “We were layered in all of our clothes and tucked in tight to our sleeping bags. Much to our dismay, we ended up discovering that the warmest place at camp was under the 100-watt bulb in the rustic latrine.”

For Delimpaltadakis and Wapples, Girl Scouting has been a big part of their lives and the lives of their daughters, which is why they chose Camp Skimino for their subject of their “Over the Hill Retreat” project, a theme chosen by the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME). During the presentation of the miniature to the Girl Scouts, they talked about how Girl Scouts influenced their lives and how mentoring girls helped them find their own voice and confidence.

“Believe it or not, I used to be shy,” Delimpaltadakis shared with a laugh. “But, as a Girl Scout leader, I learned that I had leadership potential.”

Delimpaltadakis and Wapples continue to work with local Girl Scouts by sharing their skills and passion for creating miniatures with the girls. They recalled visiting a troop and using recycled objects to make miniatures—one project was creating a table out of discarded single-serve coffee pods. Delimpaltadakis and Wapples are also able to integrate a lesson in mathematics into the fun when they work with Girl Scouts, as the girls measure objects and calculate the measurements of their scale models.

With the Camp Skimino miniature complete, the members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society still have a myriad of other projects that they are working on. They also hope to continue working with Girl Scouts, and they connected with some new Girl Scout leaders to partner with at the presentation of their Camp Skimino miniature.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Top 10 Benefits of Girl Scout Camp

1. It's all girls! 

Girls have unique needs and interests, different from boys. They need a special place in their developmental years where they can discover their talents and learn to succeed. Girl Scouts offer such a place at camp. 

2. It's a confidence builder. 

The experience of being among friends—a sisterhood—who are cheering each other on and giving each other encouragement to succeed will make a lasting impression on the confidence level of each camper.

3. It fosters leadership skills. 

When it comes to leadership, girls are more likely to seek cooperation and consensus rather than top-down management. At Girl Scout camp, teamwork and cooperation are at the center of every activity.

4. It's all about fun with friends. 

Camp friends become best friends. At camp, girls are drawn together. Without the social pressures they face at school, they can relax and make friends easily.

5. It's the foundation for a healthy life.

Unlike most indoor environments, the outdoors offers open space where girls are able to be messy, make noise and move in more physically intense ways. This allows them to develop their movement capability and confidence—both of which create foundations for physically active lifestyles and general health.

6. It can help girls thrive in school.

Time in nature promotes attention restoration. In fact, spending time outdoors has been shown to improve concentration and creative reasoning. 

7. It's a chance for girls to gain a sense of independence. 

During their time at camp, girls learn to care for themselves and strengthen their sense of self-reliance. They learn to make decisions for themselves, and they have the chance to manage their own choices in the safe and caring environment of Girl Scout camp.

8. It's an opportunity to unplug. 

At camp, girls unplug from technology and gain a respect for nature as they become more aware of their surroundings. They also rediscover their own creativity and engage with the real world- real people and real activities.

9. It fosters environmental awareness.

Studies have shown that children who have had meaningful experiences in nature are more likely to prefer spending time outdoors, express concern about environmental issues and express interest in studying the environment or pursuing an environmental career.

10. It teaches resiliency. 

Girls feel comfortable at camp. It's a place where girls encourage one another to take risks and try new things. And, when they face setbacks, they learn that improvement comes from giving something another try.

Learn more about summer camp with GSCCC.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Unsinkable Girl Scouts

This post was written by guest blogger Jonée Lillard.

What happens when you give six teenage girls three months to build an underwater robot?

Amazing things…

Such is the story of Unsinkable Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast’s first ever ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team, of which I was a member in early 2016. Participating on the team and in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) ROV competition was enjoyable and rewarding, and an invaluable opportunity to learn about engineering, professionalism and teamwork.

Mary, Peighton, Elizabeth, Kaylee, Jonée and Nancy
An ROV is a remotely controlled aquatic robot, connected by a tether to a control mechanism on the surface. ROVs are used for various underwater tasks too dangerous for humans to perform. The MATE Center is an organization dedicated to advancing ocean science, including marine robotics education. In the premise of the competition, our team was a company with the ROV as its product, so our assignment involved not only building and operating the ROV to perform underwater “demonstration” tasks but also making a marketing display board and presenting our company and product to a panel of MATE representatives and engineers.

During a preliminary workshop at Nauticus, we experienced firsthand what the competition would involve. We experimented with different ROV designs in their test pool and decided that a cubic model would work best for our group. At subsequent meetings, we assembled the control box from a kit purchased from MATE, replicated the props to be used in the competition, such as corals and CubeSats, and constructed the ROV’s frame from PVC pipe after determining appropriate dimensions that would fit into a compact 40-centimeter circle. The practice props were helpful in designing the ROV, as we tailored the retrieval tool to fit them, and in testing, which allowed us to improve the design, including adjusting buoyancy and replacing and reinforcing motor mounts.

Besides learning practical skills such as soldering and drilling, we also gained experience in delegating and communication. We chose our positions in the “company” based on our skills, from CEO (Mary), Operations Manager (Peighton), CFO (Kaylee), R&D Engineer (Elizabeth), Marketing Manager (Nancy), and Safety Manager (Jonée) in the first few meetings to ROV operators and tether handlers during testing.

The regional competition at Old Dominion University on April 30 was the crowning moment of our experience. Seeing the product of our efforts perform exactly as it was designed and presenting it to the judges was immensely rewarding. We won the competition-wide award for Best Team Spirit and placed second overall in the Scout (beginner) level.

The assistance of our engineering mentor, Mr. Lee Scarbrow, was invaluable throughout the process: he helped us enormously with the design, taught us technical skills, and allowed us to use his backyard pool for testing. Many thanks also to Mrs. Donna Farnham, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program event specialist, for helping us with supplies and venues; Mrs. Emily Balke, for motivating and encouraging us every step of the way; Ms. Susie Hill and Nauticus, for their invaluable help and for encouraging us to begin the team; the American Society of Engineers, for the funding to make this program possible; and the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast for their support.

Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors who would like to be a member of the 2017 ROV team can contact

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wonders of Water Journey Presented by Troop 292

Two years ago, the teen members of Girl Scout Troop 292 decided that they wanted to plan an international adventure. Together, they would be able to explore a new place and immerse themselves in a new culture. Choosing a destination, however, wasn’t such an easy task. Thinking about where they wanted to go and how much money they would need to get there has been a big part of the planning process. Recently, the four members of the troop decided to save up for a trip to the Caribbean to be their culminating experience as Girl Scouts before starting college.

Since they decided on their trip, the girls have been working to earn the funds to pay for it. They’ve sold cookies each year, and have saved the proceeds to put towards their trip. Recently, they planned a special fundraising event where they led 79 Brownies to earn their Wonders of Water Journey. The girls worked together to come up with the activities for the day, develop a budget for supplies and advertise their event. Through the event, each Brownie completed their It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey, even completing the Take Action portion of the requirements.
Troop 292 used the Wonders of Water Journey, which was designed to give Girl Scouts the opportunity to learn about environmental issues, to give girls the chance to interact with issues affecting the planet. Each member of Troop 292 was responsible for a specific activity, from teaching the water cycle to leading a brainstorming session about how to save water. Water fun was also part of the agenda. Girls talked about their favorite water activities and learned how to take trash found in waterways and turn it into treasured craft projects.

To round out the fun, Troop 292 led the Brownies in an activity to make painted fish out of plastic water bottles. Together, all of the girls enjoyed fish-themed snacks before the end of the day.

Through their hard work, Girl Scout Troop 292 earned $850 to put towards their Caribbean trip. The girls are planning to replicate the Wonders of Water Journey event early next year to raise more funds. In the meantime, they are also planning an overnight camp for Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors this fall as a fundraiser for their trip.

Post by Chris Ramos-Smith, guest blogger

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Straw Bale Gardening for The Welcome Table's Meals

Girl Scout Senior Shannon from Hampton has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Shannon worked to supply fresh vegetables for The Welcome Table, a program at First Christian Church where a free meal is provided for approximately 100 people in need each week. In order to do this, Shannon planted a straw bale garden at the church. After setting up the bales and conditioning them for planting, she planted lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and herbs. After her first harvest, Shannon had more than 27 pounds of produce.

“I am passionate about gardening and helping to fight hunger,” Shannon said. “By creating a straw bale garden, the church can cheaply and easily grow their own fresh produce for those facing food insecurity.”

As part of her project, Shannon also wanted to inform community members about how they could reduce their own fresh food expenses by building straw bale gardens at home. She taught three classes, made up of more than 35 people in all, about how to start and maintain their own straw bale gardens.

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 Shannon to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.
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