Friday, January 31, 2020

Local Girl Scout Lifetime Member will Compete in 2020 Samoa Soiree

Meet Kianna Bair the assistant manager at Quintin's Tea Emporium in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Kianna began with Girl Scouts in 2002 as a Girl Scout Brownie and is now a lifetime member. She will bring the flavors and health benefits of high-quality teas to the 12th annual Samoa Soiree on February 20 at the Westin- Virginia Beach Town Center.

What is a favorite or fond memory you have of Girl Scouting?

My favorite memories as a Girl Scout include selling over 1,000 boxes of cookies and getting a commemorative brick with my name on it at Camp Pamunkey Ridge north of Richmond. I also had a week of equestrian fun at summer camp. There, I was a Program Aide and I loved leading other Girl Scouts along the way. Another time, I went to Savannah, Georgia, and visited Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace.

My number one favorite memory is of working a special needs camp. I was later chosen to give a speech about leadership and working with special needs individuals. I then gave an overview at church on Scout Sunday about what I learned. That experience was the gift that kept on giving.

Why do you feel it is important for today’s generations of girls to receive Girl Scouting?
Girl Scouts instills in young women compassion, leadership, skill acquiring, and patience. Still to this day, I leave a place better and cleaner than when I got there. I continue to uphold the Girl Scout Promise and Law in my daily life.

What are you looking forward to as a chef participating in Samoa Soiree?
At the heart of tea it really promotes stillness, companionship, and being present in the moment. I am looking forward to sharing this passion with all in attendance and letting them try our delicious samples and custom tea blends we are working on specially for this event.

Cookie lovers 21 and up should attend the 12th Annual Samoa Soiree for a one-of-a-kind tasting experience. Guests can expect chef-prepared savory dishes, delicious drinks, and tantalizing desserts all using a very special ingredient: Girl Scout Cookies.

Get your tickets today:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Gold Award Spotlight: Chesapeake Bay Oyster Gardening

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Oyster Gardening

Laney, a Girl Scout from Troop 411 in Chesapeake, Virginia, has earned the highest honor and achievement a Girl Scout can earn, her Gold Award. She devoted her Gold Award project to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

Growing up, Laney spent her summers in the Outer Banks and developed a love for our waters and sea life. She learned the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem is dangerously out of balance due to pollution and a changing climate, and she wanted to take action in a way that would help the ecosystem. Laney focused her service project on oyster gardening. She supported the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center (VAORC) programs by gathering oyster shells from local Chesapeake seafood restaurants and placing them in a collection bin for processing and cleaning by VAORC in Gloucester, Virginia, at her high school previously installed by other Girl Scouts.

Along with collecting shells, Laney went on to provide training and education to the community on oyster gardening and recruited volunteers to build oyster cages. The cages are used by oyster gardeners to grow baby oysters, using the cleaned shells she collected as a foundation. Laney also asked people in the community to sign a letter that she sent to Governor Northam, asking him to enhance funding for local agricultural management and state agencies that are responsible for land management. In so doing, Laney hoped the letter would prompt action to sustain oyster restoration program in the region.

Thank you, Laney! Congratulations from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Run with the Cookies: 6th Annual Cookie Classic

5k participants at the starting line
More than 500 people ran with the cookies at this year’s Cookie Classic Run hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. The sixth annual run took place on January 18 at the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail in Chesapeake. 

Three race levels were offered: 1-mile, 5k, and 10k, and had over 560 participants total. In addition to the races, fun family games and exhibits were available that included samples from Panda Express in Chesapeake.  

The Cookie Classic is not only inclusive for runners of all abilities but it is also the only race in Hampton Roads where you get to enjoy Girl Scout Cookies along the way. New this year was the Finisher Festival with music, dancing, games, an awards ceremony and refreshments. Also at the Finisher Festival was the costume contest judged by a returning Cookie Classic sponsor Sweet Briar College. 

Girl Scout Junior Makayda from Chesapeake won the costume contest and was dressed as a Lemon-Ups stand (resembling a lemonade stand) paying homage to the Girl Scout’s brand new zesty and inspirational cookie Lemon-Ups.
Makayda, winner of 2020 Cookie Classic costume contest with
volunteer Mara Bates also participating

Prizes were awarded to the top three winners in each age group male and female for the 5k. First place of each age group for males and females were awarded a prize for the 10k. 

All 1-Mile finishers received an official 2020 Girl Scout Cookie Classic keepsake patch. Overall first place winners were Lindsey Bruns of Virginia Beach and Erik Velazquez of Chesapeake for the 5k. Christin Hoffstadt of Norfolk and Eric Fonville of Chesapeake won first place for the 10k race.

Overall through Girl Scout Cookie Classic participants and gifts from sponsors and donors, the event raised $25,685 to support the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Many thanks to those sponsors who included:  Sweet Briar College, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Practical Dental Assisting of Virginia Beach, Panda Express, and Club Pilates. A special shout out to volunteers Mara Bates and Lisa Mcivor who once again helped lead the Cookie Classic planning team! 

Monday, January 13, 2020

2021 First Day Patch Design Contest

Have you met last year’s First Day Patch Contest winner? Ella, a Daisy from troop 1422 in service unit 140 was voted the number one design in last year’s competition. Ella, along with lots of other submissions were received and narrowed down by council staff. Once the top 10 designs were selected the polls were open for fan-favorite voting. Her patch is now worn by around 2,000 Girl Scouts in our council!

Ella’s design received the most votes and was then turned into a real Girl Scout patch! Her submission featured a Girl Scout climbing a snow-capped mountain.

Every girl who renewed registration on the first day for membership year 2020 received Ella’s beautiful patch as an early-bird keepsake. This year the tradition continues with the 2021 First Day Patch Design Contest. 

Girl Scouts are highly encouraged to participate in this year’s contest. To enter click here to find the submission document. Print the document, fill out the entry form, and have a Girl Scout use her artistic talents to create an awesome design. We can’t wait to see what Girl Scouts in our council dream up. 

Submissions must be received by Friday, February 14. Final selections by staff will be completed Friday, February 21. Voting will take place between noon February 24 and will end at noon on Monday, march 2. Winner will be contacted March 3. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Cookie Season Kicks off a Wave of Girl- Powered Leadership

This year, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) released a new lemon-flavored cookie in addition to their lineup of classic flavors to celebrate young female leaders and entrepreneurs. The new Lemon-Ups are sweet glazed lemon cookies that are described as crispy and feature baked-in messages inspired by the Girl Scout core mission. Yummmm! It’s exciting to have a new cookie to help promote all the G.I.R.L. wow things that girls do in Girl Scouts! It was super cool to have the new cookie – and our program – highlighted in the media that included all the national news.

Locally, GSCCC Product Program Manager Erica Chavez along with Girl Scout Cadette Hannah promoted the new cookie today with a Facebook live stream at 7 a.m. and that was followed by Erica and more of our awesome girls doing a shout out about the new cookie on the Hampton Roads Show with hosts Kerri Furey and Chris Reckling. You can read their post here. Then it was off to 13News Now for an interview with WVEC Anchor Ashley Smith and Meteorologist Tim Pandajis – Tim will be our emcee for this year’s Samoa Soiree! Check out a link to the 13News Now Segment here. To add to the buzz, GSCCC Program Director Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer was interviewed on 97.3 The Eagle and 92.9 The WAVE. Coming up, we’ll have guests on WTKR’s Coast Live and WVEC ‘s Coastal Connections.

If you ask a Girl Scout what they plan to do with their cookie earnings you will hear some inspiring ways that the Girl Scout Cookie Program is encouraging leadership and community service within our region. 

Here is an example: Girl Scout Junior Makayda from Chesapeake shared with us some of the ways cookie money has fueled her ability to grow as a leader and give back to her community. In her interview she explained that proceeds from her troop’s earnings allowed them to fund their Bronze Award in which they updated garden landscaping, provided grooming, and made pet treats for the Suffolk Humane Society. Makayda said the most impactful part of her experience was   that “It was hard to prepare for something I have never done before but it was great to help each other and to be able to lead in a new environment.”

Makayda has some advice for other Girl Scouts working in a team this cookie season, "It's great to learn how to lead while also being nice to other kids."

Cookie season is just kicking off! Stay tuned as the cookie program progresses to hear more inspiring, girl-powered stories from our awesome Girl Scouts.

Friday, December 13, 2019

For New Troop Leaders: How To Make A Good Impression with Parents

Whether you’re greeting a group of old friends or friendly new faces, your first parent/caregiver meeting is your opportunity to deepen the bonds among all members of your troop.

It takes a village to lift up the next generation of leaders, and to set the stage for a successful troop year for your girls, you need to set the tone for parents and caregivers. By helping the adults understand the roles they play in the troop, you’ll empower them to stay engaged and enhance the entire group’s Girl Scout experience.

What’s the best way to launch this initial meeting? Here’s how our Volunteer Experts have run their first parent meetings:

Give a Girl Scout welcome

Kick off your meeting by introducing yourself and any co-leaders you’ll be working with, and have each parent/caregiver introduce themselves. Depending on the size of your group, you might also have the parents say what they hope their girl will gain through Girl Scouting. It’s an opportunity for you to not only get to know the adults in your troop, but to also get a sense of the kinds of activities that excite the larger group.

One of the best parts about Girl Scouting is the inclusive, welcoming environment, and as the troop’s leader, you can set that tone for parents. “As we went around the room with introductions, the parents fell into a pattern of leading off with whether they had been a Girl Scout, and we observed some shyness or hesitation among some parents who were unfamiliar with Girl Scouts,” shares Denise Montgomery of Girl Scouts of San Diego. “We now proactively emphasize that it doesn’t matter whether or not parents were involved in Girl Scouts growing up. My co-leader, who is new to Girl Scouts, tells parents that she did not have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout growing up and that she feels very much a part of the organization now and is so glad that her daughter is having the experience.”

Introduce the world of Girl Scouts

Explaining the Girl Scout mission and the breadth of experiences the girls will enjoy is a great way to get all adults on the same page. “At our parent meetings we make sure to discuss that Girl Scouts is a leadership development program,” says Denise. “We meet in our school’s library, which we prearrange with the librarian, and show a short video by GSUSA on the three Girl Scouts processes: girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning. We share that over time, the girls will take on increasing responsibility for making decisions and for running the troop.”

Lila Barlow, a troop leader with the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland council, draws on volunteer training materials like the Volunteer Essentials handbook to explain Leadership Journeys to parents who aren’t as familiar with the programming. “It has been helpful to show parents how troop meetings are organized and how the girls earn badges,” she says.

Set aside time for paperwork

You’ll want to have enough copies of the Girl Health History & Emergency Medical Authorization, Meet My Daughter, Girl Membership Registration, and Photo Release forms for caregivers to complete at the meeting. Some experienced troop leaders have also found success in sharing a “troop contract” or “troop year charter” that tells parents exactly what to expect during the year. “I share a document that covers meeting dates, fees, supplies, parent involvement, year plan, and our Facebook share site,” says Kara Johnson of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. “I also give instructions for how to register as an adult Girl Scout or volunteer, because registered adult members can attend meetings or help with transportation, overnights, or field trips. Parents are usually very grateful for the information and impressed with the organization and planning.

Parents and caregivers will inevitably ask about dues, so have a list of costs ready, including dues, sash or vest, handbooks, and any other materials the girls may need during their troop year. If your troop is participating in the cookie program, let parents know how cookie sales work and how sales can help fund troop activities. “Once we reassure the parents that cookie sales are fun and the troop works together, everyone seems to relax,” says Lila.

For Denise, the dues conversation connects back to the inclusivity Girl Scouts is known for, and she’s happy to make arrangements as needed. “We state that dues should never get in the way of a girl participating in Girl Scouts and that we are happy to talk with a family and work something out together,” she says.

Set expectations

Teamwork makes the dream work, and your parent volunteers can help your troop dream big. Be prepared to share a list of specific tasks that you’ll need help with throughout the year—troop snacks, carpooling, managing the troop’s social media and communications—and note the time required for each so parents know what to expect. Some may be surprised that some recurring tasks will only take about 15 minutes of their time each week! “It seems that when we can outline things three to four months out, parents feel more [confident] that they can manage the time commitment,” says Lila.

You can also take this opportunity to specify how parents can use their unique skills and strengths to pitch in. “If you’re a money person, a craft person, an outdoors person, there’s always something a parent can do,” says Tanya Schwab of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “I tell people that everyone brings their gift to the troop; the leader can’t do everything and that’s OK. Girls will get a variety of experiences if everyone pitches in.”

“We ask everyone to consider ways that they might want to contribute to the troop, and we ask for specific skills, so: ‘we are looking for someone who can help us with the geocaching badge,’” says Denise. “Later we follow up by email to get people to sign up for specific tasks such as helping plan and lead a badge or bring snacks for a field trip.”

And while you might not go as far as setting up a Kaper chart for the caregivers in your troop, the principle is the same. “Rotating volunteer tasks eases the burden on specific people and spreads the work evenly,” adds Cheryl Lentsch of Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska.

Close your meeting, with intention

Leave time for any questions before you officially close the meeting, and let parents and caregivers know how you’ll stay in touch. Remind the group that by actively sharing in troop life, they’re also modeling what leadership looks like for their girls!

More troop leader pro tips

Need a few more tips for meeting a success? Our Volunteer Experts have you covered!

  • Decide when to hold your meeting. Sound too obvious? Not so! “I prefer to hold the parent meeting after the girls have selected their badges, Journey, and council events,” says Cheryl. “Then I can let the parents know what the girls selected so they get excited about the upcoming Girl Scout year.”
  • Explain adult membership to the caregivers in your group. “I think the biggest discrepancy occurs when parents don’t understand that they also have to register for Girl Scouts if they want to attend meetings and events,” says Kara.

  • Make individual troop policies clear. “I encourage parents to be on time when picking up their daughters and to escort them into and out of the meeting location for safety,” says Cheryl. “I also discuss our illness policy: if a girl or adult is too sick to attend school or work, then they are kindly asked to miss the meeting that day so that the others can stay healthy.”

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Supporting Female Excellence: GSCCC Scholarship Awarded

Girl Scout Ambassador Jazzlyn Childs of Troop 4020 is the first recipient to be awarded funds from the She Believes She Can, So She Does Scholarship. The fund was launched two years ago with a gift from Kate Godby, a Girl Scout alum and member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society. Jazzlyn was presented a scholarship certificate at the 2019 Famous Formers Luncheon.

The She Believes She Can, So She Does Scholarship fund was launched two years ago with a gift from Girl Scout Alum Kate Godby. It is available to girls who have been a Girl Scout for the past three membership years and have plans to pursue higher education or vocational training, fueling the leadership and workforce pipeline.

“I was thrilled to be able to award the very first She Believes She Can, So She Does Scholarship,” Kate Godby said.

As part of her scholarship application, Jazzlyn wrote an essay and included what receiving the scholarship would mean to her.

“If awarded this scholarship, it will allow me to continue to grow, mature and continue to walk the path of the Girl Scout Law and Promise. This scholarship will assist me in going to college so that one day I can be an adult capable of strength in the face of adversity, capable of giving back to the community, capable of being an example to others as my mom is to me. I don't expect the college experience to magically transform me into a wise and all-knowing adult. But I am relying on it to help me explore the world of ideas.”

Congratulations, again, to Jazzlyn who is also working on her Girl Scout Gold Award!

See photos from the 2019 Famous Formers Luncheon >>