Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meet Samoa Soiree Participant: The Vineyards

From server to restaurant owner, Shannon McConnell has shown that she can do anything she puts her mind to. This determination, she says, stems from her years as a Girl Scout, where she learned about the great sense of accomplishment that comes from working towards goals to earn badges. She has worked in just about every capacity in restaurants since her college days and has now owned The Vineyards, an Italian restaurant located in downtown Norfolk, for two years.

Shannon, who grew up in Atlanta, joined Girl Scouts when she was in third grade. Going on camping trips with her troop and selling Girl Scout Cookies were two of her favorite activities as a Girl Scout.

“I remember the friendly competition in my troop when it came to selling Girl Scout Cookies,” Shannon said. “Girls in my troop would team up, and we would really encourage each other reach our goals.”

Shannon McConnell and Ross Rogers from The Vineyards
Now, Shannon is excited to be reconnect with Girl Scouts, just in time for one of her favorite times of the year—cookie season. The Vineyards, led by Chef Ross Rogers, will be participating in the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast’s signature tasting event, Samoa Soiree. At this event, The Vineyards will be one of 20 restaurants competing to make unique desserts and hors d’oeuvres using a Girl Scout Cookie variety as the key ingredient.

Like Shannon, Chef Ross is no stranger to Girl Scouts. His daughters, who are now grown, spent time as Girl Scouts while growing up in the Hampton Roads area, so he knows firsthand the benefits of Girl Scouting. During his years as a Girl Scout dad, Chef Ross helped his daughters throughout the cookie program— hauling cookie boxes, helping them organize all of their orders and supporting their goals. He also took special outdoor and first aid training courses in order to ensure that there were enough volunteers to provide his daughters and their fellow troop members with unique outdoor experiences, including white water canoeing.

Chef Ross, who has been with The Vineyards for 10 months, discovered his true passion for cooking when he lived in Italy for three months while working as a computer tech. He would visit restaurants, enjoy a great meal and then go home to try to recreate the flavors in his own kitchen. With this background experimental and creative cooking, he already has a recipe in mind for Samoa Soiree.

“The training that I’ve gone through in the culinary arts program at Tidewater Community College taught me a lot about taste profiles,” Chef Ross said. “So when thinking about a recipe for Samoa Soiree, I started brainstorming about what foods would pair well with the different Girl Scout Cookies.”

He also says that it takes a lot of experience, research and trial and error to come up with unique recipes. Chef Ross is looking forward to sharing his recipe, which will feature one of the peanut buttery Girl Scout Cookies, at Samoa Soiree.

Everyone is invited to join Girl Scouts for an evening of tasting, live music, dancing and bidding on first-rate silent auction items at the Samoa Soiree on March 7 at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. Tickets are $60 each and can be purchased here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Volunteer Support Team Retreat

This weekend, nearly 70 volunteers and staff from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast gathered at Camp Skimino in Williamsburg for the 2015 Volunteer Support Team Retreat, an opportunity to network, learn about new resources and have fun. During the retreat, which took place Friday evening and all day on Saturday, volunteers had the chance to share ideas with one another about ways to best provide the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for girls, as well as get to know one another as they made s’mores and sang traditional Girl Scout songs around the campfire.

Learning about volunteering with
purpose from Latrece McKnight-Williams
The keynote speaker for the retreat was Latrece Williams-McKnight, who is the president of a leadership development and management strategy consulting firm, as well as a Girl Scout alumna. Williams-McKnight shared her own Girl Scout story, and inspired staff and volunteers with a powerful message about supporting girls with purpose.

“Be passionate, be unique, be optimistic,” Williams-McKnight said. “With your passion comes your purpose, and I know that all of you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of girls.”

Following the keynote address, volunteers took part in quick takes, or interactive learning experiences, where they found new activities to share with girls and discovered new volunteer resources. They also participated in workshops that covered topics ranging from social media to managing projects and planning events. By the end of the weekend, staff and volunteers alike felt more energized and full of ideas to bring back to their Girl Scout troops.

A social media workshop was just one of many learning
opportunities at the retreat

Girl Scout volunteers are always needed to introduce girls to new experience that show them they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. Girl Scout volunteers are cheerleaders, guides and mentors that help girls develop skills and confidence that will last them a lifetime. Find more information about volunteering with Girl Scouts here.

View more photos from the event here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Girl Scouts Hone their Culinary Skills at Cooking Workshop

Girl Scout Ambassador Imani with Chef Dedra
On Saturday, January 17, over 60 Girl Scouts put their culinary skills to the test as they participated in a workshop to learn cooking skills and explore careers in the culinary arts at Stratford University in Newport News. The workshop was led by Chef Dedra Blount and Debra Brabson, owners of Now You’re Cooking, a culinary studio in Chesapeake. From chopping and dicing to marinating and frying, Girl Scouts spent the day learning their way around the kitchen and honed their culinary skills.

During the workshop, middle-school aged Girl Scouts prepared chicken stir fry, kiwi and strawberry trifles and hummus as part of the requirements to earn their New Cuisines badge. This badge is designed to teach girls about how culinary possibilities are as diverse as the people around the globe who cook them. Girl Scouts in ninth and tenth grade made Mediterranean salads and pork chops, as they learned about the benefits of using locally-sourced seasonal foods and earned the Locavore badge. The oldest Girl Scouts, those who are juniors and seniors in high school, worked on earning the Dinner Party badge by creating a multi-course meal, including cream of broccoli soup, stuffed chicken breast and crepes.

Girl Scout Cadette Charlotte
In addition to teaching the girls culinary skills, Chef Dedra and Debra make it a point to help girls gain critical thinking skills and confidence. They want to help girls achieve their cooking goals and instill in them a sense of accomplishment and feeling of confidence that will last beyond their time in the kitchen. They also encourage girls to think about where their food comes from and how their food choices can affect their health, the environment and the economy.

“We want children to have a better appreciation for food,” Chef Dedra said. “We teach them the basics of food so that they can learn to eat well as they grow older.”

At the end of the workshop, Girl Scouts had the opportunity to taste test their dishes and enjoy a meal together.
Girl Scout Cadettes Alexandra and Allison
Chef Dedra and Debra will be supporting Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast as participants in the upcoming Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event where chefs use Girl Scout Cookies to create unique desserts and appetizers. Samoa Soiree will take place on March 7 at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. More information about the event and purchasing tickets can be found at

View more photos from the day here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Girl Scout Cookie Rallies

Girl Scout across southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina celebrated the start of this year’s Girl Scout Cookie Program at cookie rallies hosted across the region on Friday night. Cookie rallies are fun and high energy events designed for Girl Scouts and their parents to get a glimpse into the cookie program, learn super selling tips and share their enthusiasm for the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Kaia and Brianna made Samoas party hats
during a cookie rally in Virginia Beach
During the cookie rally, girls had the opportunity to taste test the cookies, including the new Rah-Rah Raisins cookie. Girls set their cookie sales goals for the year and talked about ways to reach their goals, along with their plans for using their proceeds from the cookie program.They also participated in crafts and other activities, including making Samoas-themed party hats in celebration of the 40th birthday of the Samoas cookie, safety pinwheels and pencil pennants. At some cookie rallies, girls also decorated cookie booth signs and thank you cards to use later in the cookie season.

At a cookie rally in Norfolk, girls were joined by former Girl Scout top cookie seller Katie Barrett, who is now an adult member of Girl Scouts and a volunteer. Katie, who sold over 4,000 boxes of cookies on an annual basis as a Girl Scout, shared selling tips with some of the girls at the rally.
Kristen, Riley and Charity taste tested cookies at a rally in Norfolk.
Girls in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina began taking cookie orders on Saturday. Cookies will arrive in the region during the third weekend in February.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the nation’s largest girl-led business and the leading financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls. Through the program, girls learn keys to leadership that will last them a lifetime, including goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. Learn more here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Girl Scouts Exhibit Archives Display in Kill Devil Hills

Debbie Martello of the Kill Devil Hills
Library stands along the Girl Scout archives
 exhibit currently on display. Martello is the
mother of a Girl Scout in Troop 4335.
During the month of January, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is displaying an archives exhibit at the Kill Devil Hills Library. The display shows the history of Girl Scout dolls, a popular collectible since the early years of Girl Scouting. The exhibit includes a wide range of Girl Scout dolls from over the years, ranging from a 1940s Girl Scout Brownie doll to the Girl Scout Barbie doll, which was released in 2014 in correlation with a career exploration program for girls.

The opening of the archive exhibit correlates with the beginning of this year’s Girl Scout Cookie Program, which begins on January 10 when girls will begin taking orders from customers. Girl Scout Cookies will arrive in the Outer Banks during the third weekend in February.

The Girl Scout doll collection currently on display includes two dolls that were issued with toy-sized Girl Scout Cookie boxes, depicting the importance that the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the nation’s leading financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls.

The display is free and open to the public to view during normal library hours: Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Find more information about the Girl Scout Cookie Program or joining Girl Scouts here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Chesapeake Girl Scouts Recognized at Award Ceremony

On January 7, Girl Scout Troop 5777 from Chesapeake hosted a ceremony at Oak Grove United Methodist Church to honor six Girl Scouts who have recently earned the highest awards in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.

Alexa, Alexandra and Emma
Girl Scout Juniors Emma , Alexandra and Alexa earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest award in Girl Scouting. For their project, the girls improved the garden at Greenbrier Intermediate School. They also learned about water conservation and attended a City of Chesapeake community outreach class where they made a rain barrel to donate to the school.

Gabby, Danielle and Jordan
Girl Scout Cadettes Jordan, Danielle and Gabby earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouting. Jordan completed a graveyard restoration project, in which she built a bench for visitors, made a cast iron sign to easily identify the site and researched local records to learn about the history of the graveyard. Danielle and Gabby’s project focused on raising awareness about diabetes among students at Greenbrier Middle School.

Christina was pinned with the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting, during the ceremony. Christina restored the Storer Family Graveyard by installing a pathway to reach the gravesites, resetting tombstones and making a wooden display case to inform others about those who are buried at the graveyard. She also created a historical record of the graveyard and published a manual for the care of the site.

GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller, Christina and Sandy Hunt, leader of
Girl Scout Troop 5777 and Christina's Gold Award project advisor
“At each level of Girl Scouting, these young ladies reached out to help others and became their very best,” Sandy Hunt, the leader of Girl Scout Troop 5777 said. “They believed in themselves, worked with others in the community and made the world a better place."

The highest awards in Girl Scouting are designed to help girls make a lasting difference in their communities. They also help girls develop important leadership skills, including time management, critical thinking, teamwork and communication that will last them a lifetime.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Currituck Girl Scouts Make a Difference through Fall Product Program

Each fall, Girl Scouts can participate in the Girl Scout Fall Product Program, a nut, candy and magazine sale that allows Girl Scout troops to earn money to start off the year and learn important business skills, such as goal setting and money management. For Girl Scout Troops 52 and 491 from Currituck, the fall product program was also an opportunity to give back to the community.

Last month, the Girl Scout troops visited the Lower Currituck Food Pantry, where they donated 284 packages of nuts and candies to help fill the shelves at the pantry. While there, the girls were also given a tour of the facility by Polly Gregory, the director of the pantry. The girls learned that even though they may not see signs of it, homelessness is an issue in their community. Gregory told the girls that in addition to food, people oftentimes come to the pantry seeking toiletry items in order to clean up for job interviews, but the pantry rarely has the items to fill this need. This has inspired the Girl Scout troops and they plan to host a collection drive to supply the food pantry with toiletry items.

Members of Girl Scout Troops 52 and 491 with
Polly Gregory, director of the Lower Currituck Food Pantry

Monday, January 5, 2015

Meet Allori: Cookie Entrepreneur Officer

Allori and Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast
CEO Tracy Keller at last year's luncheon to
recognize top cookie sellers. 
Girl Scout Junior Allori may just be in fourth grade, but she’s already established herself as a budding entrepreneur and her busiest time of the year has arrived—Girl Scout Cookie season. Allori, who sold over 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies last year, was the top cookie seller in Virginia Beach, an accomplishment she was recognized for in May at a luncheon hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller and TowneBank.

Thanks to the Girl Scout Cookie Program, Allori and her fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 4002, have had a busy year. All proceeds from the cookie program stay with local Girl Scouts, and the girls get to decide how to spend their portion of the proceeds earned from each box of cookies. Last year, Troop 4002 spent a large portion of their funds on community service projects. They put together birthday bags—kits with everything one would need to celebrate a birthday, including cake mix and candles—that they donated to Seton Youth Shelters. They also filled stockings with gifts that they donated through the Salvation Army for the holidays. These acts of service show how Girl Scouts Cookies are about much more than what is in the box. Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls are encouraged to identify needs in their community and make a difference.

This year, Allori hopes to once again sell over 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. She plans to contact all of her friends and family members and spend a lot of time selling cookies at booths outside of local businesses.

“It’s fun selling Girl Scout Cookies because I love setting a goal and working hard to meet it,” Allori said.

During cookie season, Allori and her troop will once again be asking cookie customers to buy extra boxes of cookies to donate to the military. Last year, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast donated over 10,000 boxes of cookies for members of the military to the USO, and Girl Scouts, such as the members of Troop 4002, will be helping to once again show Girl Scout support of the military through the cookie program. Allori and her troop members are also looking forward to earning the Girl Scout Bronze Award this year, the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

As participants in the nation’s leading financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls, Girl Scouts are learning skills that will last them a lifetime, including goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina will be taking orders for Girl Scout Cookies starting January 10 through both door-to-door and online sales. Cookie booth sales begin February 22. Find more information about the local Girl Scout Cookie Program here.