Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tidewater Park Girl Scout Troop Hosts Black History Month Read-a-Thon

When Ernecia House thinks back to her time as a Girl Scout, she has some of her fondest childhood memories. She met some of her best friends through Girl Scouts—some of whom she still stays in contact with today. She also made great memories with her mother, who was also her troop leader. Now in her 30s, Ernecia and her mother Jan decided it was time to get back to Girl Scouting, and they have embarked on a new adventure together as the leaders of Girl Scout Troop 5161.

Girl Scout volunteer Ernecia House with Jykera, Naja and
Sa'Miya from Troop 5161.
When this mother-daughter team decided to get involved with Girl Scouts again, they learned about a new troop of Girl Scouts at Tidewater Park Elementary School who were in need of volunteers. The troop, which is funded by a grant from the United Way of South Hampton Roads Women’s Leadership Council, will help Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast provide girls at Tidewater Park with opportunities to build leadership skills, give back to the community and develop a sense of self-empowerment.

Although the troop just started meeting in January, under the guidance of Ernecia, Jan and longtime Girl Scout volunteer Toni Taylor, girls have already started forming new friendships, learning about responsibility and citizenship and setting personal goals to make themselves and their community a better place.

“Anything that you want to do, you can do it in Girl Scouts,” Taylor told the girls. “Girl Scouts is a positive place. It’s a sisterhood where we welcome all girls.”

Girl Scout volunteer Frederica looks
through a Black History Month book
with Girl Scout Daisy Sa'Miya during a
read-a-thon held by Troop 5161.
On February 23, the members of Girl Scout Troop 5161 hosted a Black History Month Read-a-Thon for their classmates who stay after school in the Boys and Girls Club at Tidewater Park Elementary School. During the read-a-thon, girls read Black History Month-themed books and then completed a variety of literacy activities, including creating an award for the book they read, writing an alternate ending and summarizing the plot. The read-a-thon was a fun and informal way to reinforce the literacy skills girls are learning in school.

Prior to the read-a-thon, the members of Girl Scout Troop 5161 already earned their first badge—Girl Scout Ways, which taught them about the history of Girl Scouting, its founder and the meaning of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. The troop members also talked about personal goals for 2015 and made vision boards, and they are selling Girl Scout Cookies.

“It’s a joy to be back volunteering with Girl Scouts after nearly 20 years,” Jan House said.

Next up, the troop has planned a field trip to Nauticus, and they will soon be working on the requirements to earn the First Aid badge.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Decoding Digital Cookie

As reported far and wide, Digital Cookie is a groundbreaking new addition to the Girl Scout Cookie Program that creates a fun, safe, interactive space for girls to sell cookies. Digital Cookie is the first national digital platform in the history of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Check out the below Q&A for answers to some of the most common Digital Cookie questions.

What exactly is Digital Cookie?
Digital Cookie is a digital layer to the traditional Girl Scout Cookie Sale, which puts girls in the driver’s seat of their own digital sales experience. Digital Cookie allows Girl Scouts nationally to sell cookies digitally for the first time in the program’s history, giving girls valuable twenty-first-century entrepreneurial skills.

How does it work—Do I just go online, order cookies and then they arrive?
No. Like the traditional sale, Digital Cookie is a girl-driven and girl-led business, designed with each girl's safety in mind, and therefore she must initiate contact with people she knows to sell cookies.

With Digital Cookie, girls will market their own online cookie business by inviting you via email to visit their personalized cookie websites. There, you can order cookies from the comfort of your living room.

What about shipping costs?
Shipping rates are optimal for folks who buy the maximum amount of cookies available for a set rate. Ordering one box online is possible, but the best value is to order a minimum of 6.

All shipping costs associated with Digital Cookie are in line with industry standards set by many reputable delivery services. The cost associated is comparable to what a customer would pay when buying Girl Scout Cookies at a booth sale and shipping the cookies themselves.

Neither Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) nor Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast make any money from shipping and handling charges through Digital Cookie or booth sales. GSUSA has worked closely with our councils to ensure all cookie revenue—every penny after paying the bakers—stays with the local Girl Scouts and their council, and is reinvested into programming and activities that benefit girls.

How safe is Digital Cookie?
Digital Cookie emphasizes the safety of both girls and customers. Girls and their parents/caregivers take an Internet safety pledge before using the web-based platform, and parents/caregivers must approve all updates and changes girls make when customizing their Digital Cookie site. Girls using the mobile platform will adhere to the same safety standards as those participating in traditional Girl Scout Cookie sales.

As a customer, your personal information will not be shared outside of the Girl Scout organization.

Both Digital Cookie systems are fully Payment Card Industry compliant and consumers can feel absolutely confident that their financial information is not stored. Both the online and mobile platforms of Digital Cookie transmit financial data to the respective credit card processors and "scrub" credit card and other identifiable information from the systems.

Girl Scout Troop 629 Earns Silver Award

Members of Girl Scout Troop 629, Talia, Nicole, Darielle and Alyssa of Chesapeake, have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement that girls can earn in Girl Scouting. The members of the troop, who share a love of history, realized that they do not learn much about the history of Chesapeake in school. For their project, in coordination with the 50th anniversary of the City of Chesapeake, the girls decided to make sure that the history of Chesapeake is not lost upon its citizens.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 629 with
GSCCC Board Chair Cheryle Mack after presenting their
project at a GSCCC board of directors meeting.
For their project, the girls visited the historical markers in Chesapeake, did research about the historical events and people that are commemorated on the markers and put together a video about the information they learned. The girls then visited local civic leagues, community centers and Girl Scout events to share the history of Chesapeake with members of the community. They presented their project at a meeting of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board of directors and set up a display at a Girl Scout volunteer retreat. The members of the troop also created bookmarks with facts about Chesapeake, as well as coloring and activity pages to leave with children so that their project left a lasting impression.

“I enjoy giving back to the community,” Talia said. “Making a positive impact on the people around us helps us to feel more connected to where we live.”

The members of Girl Scout Troop 629 spent approximately 60 hours on their project to earn the Silver Award.

In addition to this work, the girls in Troop 629 have spent time at Dominion Village Assisted Living Facility in Chesapeake, where they read to the residents, lead games, conduct musical performances and more. The troop also participates in the annual food drive at Deep Creek United Methodist Church and the annual Girl Scout Helping Hands Food Drive.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is a girl-led endeavor and the highest achievement earned by Girl Scouts in middle school.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cookies are here!

Over the weekend, more than one million boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, and six other varieties of Girl Scout Cookies arrived in the region. On Saturday, over 2,200 cases—that’s over 26,000 boxes of cookies— were delivered to the home of Girl Scout volunteer Cathy French, who will be responsible for helping York County Girl Scouts fill their cookie orders.

Cookie coordinator Cathy French takes a well-deserved
Thin Mints break after receiving over 26,000 boxes of
Girl Scout Cookies on Saturday.
French, who has already placed an additional order to restock her inventory of cookies, got involved with the Girl Scout Cookie Program over 30 years ago when her daughter first joined Girl Scouts. As a military spouse, French moved all over the world and she helped out with the cookie program wherever she went. It was the early 1990s when she first started to help organize the cookie shipments in Poquoson and just a few years later, she took on the volunteer role of cookie coordinator. Throughout cookie season, she is responsible for helping to track the cookie inventory and move cookies around to make sure girls have what they need to meet their sales goals.

“I do this for the girls,” French said. “Being a cookie coordinator takes a lot of flexibility, but I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure that girls have the cookies they need all season long.”

By 2000, French also opened up her home to be a cookie cupboard—a place where troop leaders and other Girl Scout volunteers could come to pick up cookies for girls to sell.

French works with fellow cookie coordinators on the Peninsula to shuffle cookies around and help fill orders. She is a dedicated volunteer who makes sure that girls get what they need when they need it. French knows firsthand that troops are dependent on their cookie proceeds in order have fun and educational experiences all year long, and she makes it a point to ensure girls never run out of cookies to sell.

Girl Scouts will be selling cookies at booths across the region through March 22. Cookie customers can use the Cookie Finder app or visit to enter their zip code to find cookie booths nearby. Members of the public can also enjoy Girl Scout Cookies at the upcoming Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event where top chefs in Hampton Roads use Girl Scout Cookies to make unique desserts and appetizers. More information can be found at

View photos from the Virginia Beach cookie delivery here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet Samoa Soiree Participant: Home Republic Brewpub

With a winning smile and a solid handshake, Barbara McElroy, co-owner of Home Republic Brewpub in Virginia Beach, regularly stations herself  near the front door to greet guests. It’s not hard to figure out why this young entrepreneur is a success, but helping run an up-and- coming restaurant and brewery isn't the only job she shoulders. By day, Barbara holds a pharmaceutical sales position and squeezes in graduate courses at The College of William and Mary where she intends to earn a MBA next year.

Barbara McElroy
Like most entrepreneurs, she seems to have “power ups” racked up for future use and endless energy. That impression has a solid foundation. She says it takes a lot of organizational skills, determination and planning to make it all work–  skills she says were learned in Girl Scouts.

“Selling Girl Scout cookies definitely taught me skills I’m using today,” she said emphatically. “ I used cold call sales techniques even back then. I'd research my neighborhood and surrounding area, get phone numbers and then start calling going from top to bottom on the list. I had a sales pitch to use on the phone, and I had one that I used when I went door to door or at cookie booths. It was a great way to learn how to speak to customers and it gave me confidence in public speaking that I used in school. Now, I’m using those same skills in my job!”

Barbara grew up in the Richmond area and was a Girl Scout until she graduated from high school. Selling Girl Scout Cookies is a big part of her memories, but having fun with her troop and the good feelings that community service brought to her are also part of her internal scrapbook. Her community service included time spent with disabled children in an equestrian program where children had an enjoyable experience while developing muscle tone, balance and coordination. Her work in community service helped her earn the second highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts, the Silver Award.

Barbara also recalls the great times she had as a teen in Girl Scouts where she was challenged by white water rafting and other high adventures. Skill building, good times and the relationships she built, are all part of the memories she took away from those years as a Girl Scout.   

“My mom was my leader for most of my years in Girl Scouts,” Barbara recalls. “My sister is just one year younger than me and was a Girl Scout, too. It was nice to have something we all shared. I think we’re closer because of Girl Scouts. “   

Chef Jeremy Wallace
Barbara and her fiance, Joe Curtis, who earned the rank of Eagle as a Boy Scout, opened Home Republic Brewpub last June. Their smoky burger and King Kolsch beer that is brewed on the premises are winning selections and have had great reviews, but many say the She Crab soup is the best on the menu. They’re excited to be part of Samoa Soiree, and their lead chef, Jeremy Wallace, has been experimenting with Girl Scout Cookies to come up with a winning recipe. Jeremy will be in competition with 18 other top chefs from Hampton Roads at this year’s event taking place on Saturday, March 7 at the Half Moone in Norfolk. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online here.

You can watch Barbara and Jeremy on The Hampton Roads Show on February 25 at 11 a.m. on WAVY-TV 10. Jeremy will be cooking up a savory dish using Samoas.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Betty Hoover Receives Dorothy Barber Lifetime Achievement Award

GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller and Betty Hoover
At this year's Adult Awards Luncheon, which was held on February 7, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast honored Virginia Beach resident Betty Hoover with the Dorothy Barber Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is given annually and honors a woman who has achieved success in her personal and professional life, contributed to her community and Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast and is a role model and mentor to other Girl Scouts.

Hoover joined Girl Scouts at the age of 10 in Portsmouth, Va. in the 1930s. She was the youngest of 17 children, and with five brothers between her and her older sister, Girl Scouts gave her the connection that she needed with girls her own age.

Hoover and her day camp unit in 1957
As an adult, Hoover served in several volunteer roles over the course of 16 years, including troop leader and day camp director. In 1958, her family moved to Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela and there was no Girl Scouting for her daughters. Betty set upon the task of starting Troop 1, and she became instrumental in recruiting and helping more than 3,000 girls become part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in Venezuela. This wasn’t the only place that Hoover went to work to get Girl Scouts started for girls on foreign soil. When the family moved to Mexico, once again she organized troops where there were none.

Upon returning to the United States, Betty eventually became a professional staff member with the Lake to River Girl Scout Council in Ohio—first in volunteer services and later as the executive director. When Hoover retired, she kept active as an alumna and in recent years, has volunteered her time with the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast archive committee.

“Girl Scouting has been a tradition in my family for years and years,” Hoover said.

In fact, Hoover’s family now has four generations of Girl Scouts in it. Her daughter Barbara Tierney is currently a member of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cosmic Cuisine and Galaxy Grub

On Friday, February 13, it was a night of experimenting and exploring for over 800 Girl Scouts who attended a special Girl Scout-only event at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton. The event was organized by Girl Scout volunteers in Community One, a membership area of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast that encompasses the cities on the Peninsula.

Girl Scout Brownies Maddie and Alison discovering
the power of the Tesla coil
Throughout the evening, girls had the opportunity to explore the museum exhibits at the Virginia Air and Space Center, as well as participate in special Girl Scout activities. They took part in extracting DNA from strawberries and bananas, taste tested space ice cream and built marshmallow catapults. They also earned about electricity as they harnessed the power of a Tesla coil and made their hair stand on end by placing a hand on a Van de Graaff generator. Older Girl Scouts also learned about engineering as they constructed a shock absorbing system using Styrofoam cups, cotton balls and other household items to protect two “astronauts,” or marshmallows, as they dropped them two stories down over the stair railing.

Girl Scout Cadettes Sara and Covanna in the cockpit of a
DC-9 aircraft on display at the Virginia Air and Space Center
During the event, Girl Scouts were transported deep into space as they watched the giant-screen documentary adventure, Hidden Universe, in the IMAX theatre at the Virginia Air and Space Center. They also learned about a day in the life of an astronaut.

This event was a fun and informal way to give girls the opportunity to explore and discover in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields in the supportive, all-girl environment of Girl Scouts, where girls feel more comfortable asking questions and trying new things. In today’s world, where women hold only about 25 percent of STEM careers, Girl Scouts is working to fill the gap by engaging girls in opportunities to learn from female STEM leaders who inspire girls to envision themselves in similar careers.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is committed to giving all girls the opportunity to participate in STEM experiences. Upcoming STEM events for girls include a nanotechnology day at Port Discover in Elizabeth City, Fun, Sun and Wind, a day of energy and ecosystem exploration at Jeanette’s Pier in Nags Head and Science Alive, an annual day of hands-on science at Norfolk State University. These STEM events are open to all girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Legislative Day

Each year, Girl Scout representatives from various Girl Scout councils in Virginia gather in Richmond to hold an annual Girl Scout Legislative Day. The day helps raise awareness of the issues important to girls and young women and helps educate legislators on what Girl Scouts are doing to address issues and prepare girls for the future. Another important goal is to help demonstrate to policymakers that Girl Scouts is a resource and an authority on issues affecting girls.

Girl Scout Ambassador Lauren, GSCCC executive assistant
Sunny Smith, First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe and
Girl Scout volunteer Dee Miner at Girl Scout Legislative Day.
Girls and volunteers helped host a Milk and Cookies reception in the General Assembly Building and were later introduced in the House and Senate. Part of the day’s schedule included a tour of the Governor’s home where they were greeted by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe who proudly told the girls she is a Girl Scout alumna.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Tracy Keller joined other council CEOs in the afternoon to meet with Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Maurice Jones, and Virginia Secretary of Administration, Nancy Rodrigues. Rodrigues, who lives in Surry, Va. and who is a former Girl Scout, discussed ways to help make policy makers and leaders in the community more aware of the leadership aspect of Girl Scouting and was eager to hear how women in government could help mentor the next generation of leaders.

“We’re more than cookies, crafts and camps,” GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller said. “We’re about helping girls build courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. When we accomplish that, we accomplish giving the world more responsible and caring leaders.”

Friday, February 13, 2015

Girl Scout Sunday in Suffolk

Each year, Girl Scouts across the country celebrate Girl Scout Sunday as an opportunity for girls to be recognized as Girl Scouts in their place of worship. On Sunday, February 8, members of Girl Scout Troop 5357 took part in a similar recognition during Scouting Ministries Sunday at Main Street United Methodist Church in Suffolk. For the special day Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts worked together to integrate the youth into the service.

Girl Scout Troop 5357
The service began with a processional of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, who then led the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. Each scout group also recited their respective promises. During the service, Girl Scout Senior Paris read the day’s scripture and Girl Scout Junior Claire read the prayer of dedication. The youngest scouts worked together to perform choreography during a song written for the centennial celebration of Main Street United Methodist Church, Joy! Girl Scout Brownies Kate and Claire served as ushers for the offering.

Girl Scout Cadette Maggie
During the service, Pastor Myrtle Hatcher invited all Girl Scout and Boy Scout volunteers to kneel at the altar and then led a prayer in their honor as the scouts came forward and placed a hand on the shoulders of their adult mentors. Pastor Hatcher also talked about the rich history of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts at Main Street United Methodist Church and the benefits of these leadership organizations for boys and girls.

Prior to the service, both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts shared the history of their organizations with the congregation through the display of archive materials, including old handbooks, uniforms and patches.

If you're planning an upcoming Girl Scout Sunday or Girl Scout Sabbath event, you can find bulletin covers or inserts for this special occasion here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guest Blogger: Girl Scout Cadette Michaella

In January, a group of more than 30 Girl Scouts took part in a travel adventure to New York City. The trip was planned by girls and volunteers from Community Two. Girl Scout Cadette Michaella from Troop 475 in Virginia Beach wrote about her favorite parts of the trip:

I have always wanted to go to New York City, and for my thirteenth birthday, I asked for a trip. My mom saw this opportunity through Girl Scouts and thought it was the perfect fit to go everywhere I wanted to visit, and have a fun mother/daughter experience. I raised all of the money for the trip selling jewelry, hair clips, photo cards and other crafts I create. I was super excited to go, and finally the day arrived. The bus trip was long, but worth it when I first saw the New York City skyline. It was amazing! We saw and did so much it is really hard to believe it was all in one weekend.

Michaella at the top of the Empire State Building
My favorite moment was going up in the Empire State Building at night. I was really anxious because I don't like heights, but when the elevator doors opened I could see all the city lights. It was breathtaking! It was so cold but I didn't want to leave because it was so beautiful. I also really loved the Statue of Liberty and took some cool pictures. Miss Eileen, our leader, challenged us to take a photo that looked like we were holding Lady Liberty between our thumb and finger. I got a great shot! I also loved the Broadway show Aladdin! The genie was so incredible and even got a standing ovation during the show. I also had a fun time taking pictures with my mom in Times Square. We even bought some New Year’s 2015 glasses to take silly photos.

This trip was the best and I hope to travel more with Girl Scouts. Our leader, tour guide, and bus drivers did a great job and took care of everything we needed. Thank you to Girl Scouts for offering this adventure!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Girl Scout Cookie Classic Run

On Saturday, January 31, over 250 people braved the cold and took part in the Girl Scout Cookie Classic Race at Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake. The race, which included a 5K and 1-mile option, was organized by Girl Scout volunteers from Community 3, a membership area within Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast that includes Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk and surrounding cities.

The 5K race started at 9 a.m., following the Girl Scout Promise and Law led by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller and an air horn blast from Chesapeake Mayor Alan Krasnoff. Racers were decked out in cookie-themed costumes that included a mother-daughter duo in Thin Mint outfits. Participants in the 5k ranged in age from 6 to 76 and everyone was awarded with a Cookie Classic medal at the finish line.

The 1-mile Samoa Stroll started just after 10 a.m. and had over 100 people participate. Racers were awarded with a participation patch at the end of the race. The Cookie Classic also featured a virtual race option for those who could not attend the race but wanted to support Girl Scouts.

Over 20 Girl Scout troops participated in the races as organized teams and with their family members. Girl Scouts who participated in either race completed a portion of the requirements to earn badges for their age level, including the My Best Self badge for Girl Scout Brownies and the Staying Fit badge for Girl Scout Juniors.
Following both races, prizes were awarded for best costume, best team spirit and to the top finishers in each age category.

Proceeds from the event will help provide the Girl Scout Leadership Experience for local girls, by providing them with camp and outdoor experiences, leadership training, special events and more.

Members of the public can support the Girl Scout Cookie Program by purchasing cookies from local Girl Scouts. Booth sales begin on February 22 and the cookie program runs through March 22. When booth sales start, cookie customers can find nearby cookies by using the free Cookie Finder app, available in both the iTunes Store and Android Marketplace. Another opportunity to support Girl Scouts is at Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event where top chefs create original desserts and appetizers using Girl Scout Cookies as the key ingredient. Samoa Soiree will be held on March 7 in Norfolk. Details and ticket information here.

View more photos from the day here.