Monday, June 30, 2014

Day Camp at Burke's Mill Pond

Girl Scouts had the chance to learn archery
for the first time at Burke's Mill Pond this
During the week of June 23, nearly 75 Girl Scouts who live in the Gloucester area had the opportunity to experience Girl Scout camp during a volunteer-led day camp at the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Camp Burke’s Mill Pond. During the week, girls honed their observation skills as they earned a badge in the Investigation category for their age level. From code names to invisible ink, they practiced the art of detection, followed clues and put all five senses to the test. The girls also enjoyed all of the activities that camp has to offer, including canoeing, swimming, and for the first time this year, archery.

Each day at camp, the girls started the day with a flag ceremony, which is a tradition in Girl Scouting. They then rotated through activity stations, working on badge requirements in the lodge, taking to the lake to learn canoeing techniques and heading out to the field for archery and the swimming pool. Girls were guided through activities to earn badges by older Girl Scouts volunteering as Program Aides, a leadership program for Girl Scouts in middle school to share their interests and experiences with younger girls. Many of the Program Aides attended day camp at Burke’s Mill Pond when they were younger and were eager to serve in leadership roles this summer.

The camp was led by volunteer director Kelly Hall, who was the assistant director for this day camp last year. Hall, who has two daughters in Girl Scouts, has fond memories of camping at Burke’s Mill Pond while growing up.

Camp Director Kelly Hall
“I had so many great experiences here as a child, and I enjoy being able to continue to offer the camp experience for girls in Gloucester today,” Hall said.

In addition to the day camp experience, Hall arranged for the girls to be able to spend the night and camp out on Thursday so that girls could make s’mores, sing songs and share skits around the campfire, all traditional Girl Scout camp activities.

Shannon Williams, whose daughter is a Girl Scout Daisy, also volunteered her time at the day camp. Williams enjoys participating in Girl Scouts with her daughter because it is a way for them to experience new things together.

Girl Scout volunteer Shannon Williams, left, went canoeing for
the first time last week at Burke's Mill Pond.
“This week is the first time either of us have been canoeing, and we both love it,” Williams said. “My daughter thought swimming would be her favorite activity, but we have both enjoyed canoeing each day.”

Girl Scout camp offers an all-girl environment where girls develop self-confidence, try new things, learn to work as part of a team and gain social skills as they connect with their peers and the adult volunteers who serve as role models. Girls also gain a respect for nature as they unplug from technology and become more aware of their environmental surroundings.

Girl Scouts paddled out into the lake and learned self-rescue
skills during their time at day camp.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Environmental Education

Megan, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Poquoson, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting. For her project, Megan focused on educating preschool and elementary school children about life and environmental sciences through a partnership with the Poquoson Public Library Butterfly Garden.

Megan worked with Girl Scout Junior Troop 1010 to help them paint shadow boxes depicting the life cycle of a butterfly that she placed in the garden as an informational resource for visitors. She also led the butterfly-themed week during the Poquoson Public Library summer reading program, where read stories, made crafts and sang songs with the children who attended.

Megan purchased live caterpillars that she placed in a net cage near the entrance of the library so that children visiting the library could watch them grow. When they emerged as butterflies, she and a group of children released them into the garden, which was a new learning experience for many of the children. She also created educational materials pertaining to the life cycle of a butterfly that are available as a community resource at the library’s circulation desk. 

Megan releases butterflies into the
garden at the Poquoson Public Library
with the help of local youth.
“Through my project, I introduced young children to the natural world and fostered in them a respect and curiosity for science, an appreciation for the environment and hopefully the desire to pursue careers in science,” Megan said.

Following her educational programs, Megan organized a fall and a winter clean up in the butterfly garden, and volunteers trimmed bushes, weeded and raked to help maintain the space for everyone to enjoy.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Megan to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Girl Scout Famous Formers

Each year, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast honors local women as Girl Scout Famous Formers. These women have distinguished themselves as outstanding role models for girls and women through individual excellence and high levels of achievement in their professional activities and volunteer efforts.

Last November, we recognized seven women from southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina who continue to exemplify values of Girl Scouting through their leadership roles in the community. Guests at last year's celebration had the opportunity to hear from guest speaker Betty Shotton, CEO of LiftOff Leadership and a previous Girl Scout Famous Former honoree. Shotton shared how Girl Scouts helped to shape her life and also talked about the qualities of a good leader, which are traits that girls learn in Girl Scouting.

Currently, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is accepting nominations for women to honor at this years Girl Scout Famous Former celebration, which will take place on Thursday, October 30. Nominees must exhibit the qualities of the Girl Scout Promise and Law in their lives, have a direct and powerful impact on those with whom they are associated, exhibit a high degree of professionalism and leadership, demonstrate a commitment to the southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina community and impact their community in the course of their volunteer or civic activities.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, August 1 at 5 p.m. and can be submitted online here

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Suffolk Girl Scouts Earn Bronze Award for Literacy Project

Suffolk Girl Scouts Madison, Jessica, Amber, Sarah, Layne and Caroline from Troop 5563 recently earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest award in Girl Scouting, and the top award Girl Scouts in grades 4 and 5 can earn. Through their project, the members of Troop 5563 sought to promote literacy among children in their community.

The girls were inspired to do their project while planning their World Thinking Day event, which is an annual event celebrated by Girl Scouts to recognize their sister Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in other countries around the world. The theme for World Thinking Day this year centered on the idea that education opens doors for children. With this in mind, the girls decided to make a difference in education through literacy.

The members of Troop 5563 hosted book drives at several schools, businesses and churches in Suffolk, through which they collected over 200 books. One of the organizations that they supported through their book drive was the West End Baptist Church Book Buddies program, which is an afterschool tutoring program for children who struggle with reading. The girls were invited to a tutoring session to see how students were learning and how their book donation would make a positive impact on the program.

The girls had also collected adult reading level books that they decided to donate to the USO of Hampton Roads to give to soldiers. The troop members were already familiar with the mission of the USO after donating Girl Scout Cookies to the organization earlier in the year, and they were eager to show support for the military again.

The girls hope that their donations make a difference in the lives of the children in the Book Buddies program and make someone’s day a little better through their donation to the USO. Through this project, the troop has learned about teamwork, commitments and appreciating what they have.

Sarah, Jessica, Layne and Caroline from Troop 5563.
Not pictured: Madison and Amber

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hampton Youth in Government Day

Last month, a group of Girl Scout Cadettes had the opportunity to attend Hampton Youth Government Day at Hampton City Hall. This annual event gives youth in the City of Hampton the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of local government up close and personal.

The day began in the city council chambers where the girls met Hampton City Manager, Mary Bunting, who explained her role in city government. Later in the day, the youth participants participated in a mock emergency drill. They were given a scenario and then broke out into groups to learn what each department does to support disaster operations. Following the drill, the group boarded a bus and made their way to Norfolk Port Authority to learn about the role the port plays in emergency situations.

“We have held this event for as long as anyone can remember,” Clerk of Hampton City Council and former Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board member Katherine Glass said. “Our goal here is really to just give young people a nontraditional experience that’s hands on; hopefully introducing them to public service as a career choice.” 

You can read more about Hampton Youth in Government Day in the upcoming edition of CoastLine this fall.

Girl Scouts visited the City of Hampton Division of Fire and Rescue
during Youth in Government Day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Navy Volunteers Improve A Place for Girls

Ten local Navy chiefs gave a helping hand to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast today as part of their monthly volunteer efforts. The volunteers spent the day at A Place for Girls, the headquarters and program center for the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, where the group worked to replace boards along the 400 foot boardwalk in The Outback, an 8.5 acre nature area situated behind A Place for Girls. This project was essential to helping GSCCC prepare for the nearly 500 girls that will use the facility during day camp this summer.

The Outback, which meanders through tidal wetlands, is a central part of the Girl Scout camp experience at A Place for Girls. All summer long, girls travel along the boardwalk to reach the picnic pavilions, health and fitness trail and boat docks along Bells Mill Creek, which girls use for canoeing and kayaking. The Outback, which was added as an official site on the Virginia State Birding Trail in 2004, also has an observation tower that girls use to learn about the natural environment around them.

This volunteer effort helps Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast provide a safe and fun experience for their members and friends from the public who visit the property all year long.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Girl Scout Troop 294's First Camping Trip

A group of 20 Girl Scouts from Troop 294 in Norfolk recently packed their bags for their first outdoor camping adventure. The girls, led by Girl Scout volunteer Candice George, headed to Camp Apasus, a Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast property in Norfolk, for a weekend of fun and new experiences.

During the weekend, the girls had the opportunity to experience all of the great things that camp has to offer. They sang songs, played games and made crafts. With the help of Corporal Fawn Faulks from the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, who also volunteers with Girl Scouts, the girls had the chance to canoe on Mason Creek during the afternoon. As they got the feel for balancing in the boat and synchronizing their paddling efforts, they also learned a lot about teamwork skills. They also honed their outdoor cooking skills as they learned how to build a campfire and roasted hot dogs. For dessert, they roasted marshmallows and made s’mores—a first time experience for many of the girls.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 294 prepare for their first canoeing experience.

Each of the girls in Troop 294 are students at Coleman Place Elementary School and joined Girl Scouts for the first time last fall, thanks to a grant through the United Way of South Hampton Roads, funded by Regent University. During the past year in Girl Scouts, the girls have improved their financial literacy skills through their participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, learned about being good citizens with a visit to the local fire station, developed friendships with their fellow Girl Scouts and more.

Girl Scouts has a long, storied and successful history of getting girls outdoors. In fact, in a recent study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 49 percent of the nearly 2,000 girls surveyed described camping trips as one of the most positive aspects of their Girl Scout experiences—ranking just behind fun and friendships. Through outdoor experiences, girls build self-esteem, try new things and develop a sense of discovery. These experiences help girls, including those in Troop 294, to build leadership skills that will last them well beyond their time at camp.

After learning how to build a campfire, the girls roasted hot dogs. 
The girls learn about how to enter and exit a canoe before hitting the water.

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 Gold Award Celebration

On Sunday, June 8, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast hosted a celebration at Norfolk State University for the 40 local young women who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award during the past year. The Gold Award is the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

2014 Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Gold Award recipients

Guest speaker Kirsten Talken-Spaulding
 with Gold Award recipient
Jasmine from Newport News.
Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument, was the guest speaker for the celebration. Talken-Spaulding, who was honored by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast as a Famous Former Girl Scout last year, is a Girl Scout alumna and a former recipient of the Gold Award. During her keynote address, she spoke to the girls about the impact of their accomplishments and the importance of understanding the traits of good leadership. 

“What you have done is truly outstanding,” Talken-Spaulding said to the Gold Award recipients. “Make no mistake that you will be leaders in the future because you are already leaders today.”

The girls also received congratulations from Pam Northam, wife of Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who recognized the work that the girls have already done to make the world a better place.

Each girl received a letter of congratulations from Senator Mark Warner. They were also presented with certificates from the Marine Corps League by David Hord, commandant of Marine Corps League Detachment 322 and Don Coons, senior vice president of Marine Corps League Detachment 322.

Gold Award recipient Stephanie from
Virginia Beach with Shannon Kendrick,
congressional district director for
U.S. Representative Scott Rigell.
Shannon Kendrick, congressional district director for U.S. Representative Scott Rigell, Dottie Holtz, member of the Virginia Beach School Board, and Denise Goode, Hampton Roads regional director for U.S. Senator Mark Warner, were also in attendance to offer congratulations to the Gold Award recipients.

Each recipient of the Gold Award was recognized on stage, and her project was shared with all of those in attendance. This year’s projects addressed a number of issues in the community, including low literacy rates among children, pollution in local waterways, bullying among youth athletes and more. To complete her project and earn the Gold Award, each girl created a sustainable solution to an issue in the community.

Gold Award recipient Meredith from Virginia Beach with guest
speaker Kirsten Talken-Spaulding and Pam Northam, wife of
Lt. Governor Ralph Northam.
The Gold Award celebration is held annually to recognize the girls who earn the top award in Girl Scouting. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, adding these 40 young women to an elite group of female leaders from across the country with the honor.

View more photos from the celebration here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Girl Scouts "Konneckt" with STEM

As part of a push among organizations such as Girl Scouts to encourage girls to pursue interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related activities, Konneckt Science Mobile Technologies, in partnership with Bricks 4 Kidz, presented an interactive workshop last month at A Place for Girls, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast regional program center in Chesapeake. This event was designed especially for Girl Scouts in grades four and five.

Girl Scout Junior Kalani from Virginia Beach constructed
 a functional tilt-a-whirl model out of LEGO® bricks. 

During the event, girls worked with a variety of LEGO® bricks to build and animate a series of amusement park rides, including a tilt-a-whirl. With the aid of laptops, girls learned basic programming to bring a LEGO® frog model to life. They also created a mini-movie featuring the changing colors of a stoplight through an animation software program. All of these activities go towards the requirements for girls to earn the Entertainment Technology badge, which is designed to teach girls about the science behind the world of entertainment.

The workshop in May was the third out of a series of workshops by Konneckt Science Mobile Technologies made available to the Girl Scouts, and nearly 30 girls have participated. The workshop itself was designed to help girls see themselves in STEM careers and give girls the opportunity to learn new skills and develop-self confidence in a supportive environment. Today, women only hold 26 percent of available STEM jobs and just 11.5 percent of engineering jobs, so the Girl Scouts are working to fill the gap by giving girls the opportunity to engage in STEM activities so that they are inspired to envision themselves in STEM careers.

This summer, girls can enjoy STEM activities at a variety of Girl Scout camps, including Mad Science for Girl Scout Brownies at Camp Skimino in July and Imagine Your STEM Future for girls in grades 6-12 at Camp Darden in August. Our camps are open to all girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts. View a complete list of our summer camps here

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Meet GSCCC Camp Director- Ashley Taylor

When Ashley Taylor put on her Girl Scout Brownie uniform for the first time as a second grader while growing up in Stafford, Va., she could have never guessed that Girl Scouting would still be such a big part of her life today. Ashley, who works as a school counselor in Caroline County, Va., has reconnected with Girl Scouts and taken on a new role this summer as the camp director for Camp Darden and Camp Skimino.

This summer, Ashley is especially looking forward to making sure that girls who are coming to camp for the first time have a fun summer experience that keeps them coming back. She has been working through the spring to help develop fun and interactive experiences for girls to take part in during the summer. From camp sessions centered on science and engineering to ultimate adventure activities, such as rock climbing and the high-ropes course, Ashley makes sure that there are ways for girls with all sorts of interests to be engaged at camp. 

Ashley, who attended Girl Scout camp while growing up, knows just how beneficial the all-girl camp environment can be, as girls try new things, gain practical life skills and develop lasting friendships. Even the youngest campers have the opportunity to take part in decision making and teamwork to discover their own personal leadership skills. Ashley values Girl Scout camp because it is a special place where girls, especially during their developmental years, can discover their talents and learn to succeed.

In the supportive, all-girl environment of Girl Scout camp, girls build social and emotional skills that they will use after camp—throughout the school year and beyond.

View this summer's camp opportunities with GSCCC here.