Thursday, July 30, 2015

Navy Volunteers Lend a Helping Hand at A Place for Girls

This summer, volunteers from Afloat Training Group, Norfolk have been making improvements to A Place for Girls, our regional program center and headquarters, located in Chesapeake. These improvements are essential to helping us maintain a safe environment for girls who attend summer camp and participate in outdoor activities at A Place for Girls, as well as for community groups that rent the facilities.

In June, the 22 volunteers painted two picnic shelters located in The Outback, a nearly nine-acre nature area behind A Place for Girls, and applied a fresh coat of paint to a storage shed. They also cleaned out the gutters at The Lodge, a program annex building. In July, the volunteers made repairs to and pressure washed the boardwalk in The Outback and painted the handrails at The Lodge.

For LSCS Nikita Collins, who was part of the volunteer team in June, being in the natural setting of The Outback brought back some of her own memories from her days as a Girl Scout.

“I was a Girl Scout while growing up in Chicago and have some great memories from going camping,” Collins said.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast relies on volunteers all year long to not only serve as mentors and guides for nearly 14,000 girls across the region, but also to help maintain camp properties and program facilities. For more information about volunteering with Girl Scouts, visit

Friday, July 24, 2015

Girl Scout Experience is a PLUS

Emily, a Girl Scout Senior from Virginia Beach who has earned her Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Awards and is currently serving on the Teen Advisory Group for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, was one of the area’s youth to be selected to participate in the eXcel Leadership Academy sponsored by LEAD Hampton Roads. Emily says her Girl Scout background and her leadership experience gained through Girl Scouts, played a role in her being accepted into the Academy!

eXcel offers youth, rising high school seniors, an opportunity to build strong leadership skills through hands-on activities and projects with area leaders. Modeled after LEAD Hampton Roads, the region’s oldest and well-known business leadership program of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, eXcel is designed to identify, educate and prepare future leaders by providing development tools, opportunities and experiences of the inner workings of our rich and diverse region. eXcel places students in a network of regional youth and adult leaders which will form a strong foundation for their future success in college and the working world.

“The eXcel Leadership Academy taught me that leadership is not just about directing people, it’s about making connections,” Emily said. “Even if you are not directing people, you can still have a leadership role in whatever activities you do. I also learned that team work is key to getting things done and getting other people’s input and perspective helps drive collaboration. We do a lot of this in Girl Scouts, whether it’s putting up a tent or planning a cookie rally, we all work together. I loved the program and would recommend it to others."

Emily is a rising junior at Princess Anne High School and in September, will begin the Advanced Technology Center’s Digital Design two year program.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gold Award Spotlight: Youth Hallway Revamp

Girl Scout Ambassador Katherine from Virginia Beach has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Katherine organized fellow members of the youth group at St. Nicholas Catholic Church to paint murals depicting the Salvation Story and Bible-inspired quotes along the hallways where youth meet at the church. She also painted an accent wall inside the main religious education classroom and hung an events calendar for youth.

For her project, Katherine organized fellow members of the youth group at St. Nicholas Catholic Church to paint murals depicting the Salvation Story and Bible-inspired quotes along the hallways where youth meet at the church. She also painted an accent wall inside the main religious education classroom, hung an events calendar for youth and placed strips of cork along the walls in the religious educations classrooms so that students could display artwork.

“I hope that by brightening the hallway with murals and uplifting quotes that I could inspire and encourage more youth at my church and in the community to come to youth activities and grow in their faith,” Katherine said.

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 Katherine to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Making a Difference at Summer Camp

The winter holidays may be months away, but Girl Scouts are already preparing to make a difference during the season of giving. On July 9, girls at Camp Imagimazing Summer Fun, a Girl Scout day camp in Chesapeake, welcomed Heather Tebbenhoff, volunteer and donation drive coordinator with the Salvation Army, to camp.

When Tebbenhoff arrived at camp, she asked the girls what they know about the Salvation Army. Girls talked about the family stores and the holiday kettles, which Tebbenhoff said are the two most commonly recognized functions of the organization. She then talked to the girls about the mission and services of the Salvation Army and gave them the opportunity to ask questions and share some of their own community service stories.

Tebbenhoff also talked about the Salvation Army’s stocking program and Angel Tree program. She shared that last year, the Salvation Army Hampton Roads Command gave out 6,000 gifts through the Angel Tree program.

“We do a lot for people in the community, and the holidays are the time when we are the busiest,” Tebbenhoff said. “We make a difference by helping people change their lives.”

After talking to the girls, Tebbenhoff led them in a community service project to make snowflake holiday cards that will be placed in the stockings distributed by the Salvation Army to families this holiday season. Girls enjoyed using their creativity to design and cut snowflakes and decorate greeting cards.
Heather Tebbenhoff with Girl Scouts Liberty, Aspen and Hannah
Camp Imagimazing Summer Fun runs through August 21 at A Place for Girls, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast regional program center and headquarters in Chesapeake. Camp is open to all girls whether or not they are currently registered members of the organization. For more information about summer camp or about joining Girl Scouts, visit

Friday, July 17, 2015

Moyock Girl Scouts Have a Wild Week at Camp

This week, the Moyock Library was crawling with slithery critters, furry pets and feathered friends as nearly 30 girls attended a wildlife and animal-themed camp for hosted by Girl Scouts. The five day camp was organized by Girl Scout volunteers to teach girls about wildlife and introduce them to a variety of unique career paths related to animals.

Girl Scouts Allison, Courtney, Jasmine, Rachel and Bethany
with Samantha Iulo of Mane and Taill
On Tuesday, July 14, Girl Scouts welcomed a special guest speaker to the camp, Samantha Iulo, the director of Mane and Taill, a nonprofit therapeutic horsemanship academy in Poplar Branch. Iulo is a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Certified Instructor and talked to the girls about how she uses horses to help children and adults with a wide variety of special needs. Iulo talked about the unique personalities of each of her horses and how people with special needs benefit from not only learning how to ride horses, but also seeing how the horses interact with people and with one another.

“I’m not always focused on making someone the best rider, but I am focused on making them the best person that they can be,” Iulo said.

Iulo also talked to the Girl Scouts about ways that they can help Mane and Taill and learn about horses by volunteering at her academy. Following her presentation, Iulo invited Girl Scouts outside to participate in a mock-horseshow using stick horses. The girls walked, trotted and cantered their way across the field.

In addition to hearing from Iulo, Girl Scouts welcomed guests during the week from a variety of local animal groups, including Sacred Friends Wildlife Rehabilitation, Network for Endangered Sea Turtles, Canine Companions and JB’s Rattles Traveling Reptile Show. The girls also made a variety of animal-themed crafts, including ladybug bookmarks and owl door hangers.

Girl Scout Allison, Jesse Richardson, CIT II Becky and
Girl Scout Trinity
Jesse Richardson, a Girl Scout volunteer who organized the camp, chose the theme for the week after attending Girl Scout National Convention last year and being inspired to host a camp for girls that would encourage them to get involved in more outdoor activities. During the week at camp, Richardson wanted girls to learn that animals are more than just pets and be informed about what creatures they may encounter in their own backyards.

Last month, in an effort to provide additional outdoor programming for girls, Girl Scouts of the USA launched a new set of outdoor badges. Richardson is looking forward to continuing to offer outdoor experience for girls by helping the Girl Scouts in her troop earn the new badges in the fall.

Gold Award Spotlight: Church of the Holy Family Prayer Garden

Girl Scout Ambassador Emily from Virginia Beach has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Emily revitalized an area at Church of the Holy Family that was used to dump tree branches and extra dirt and turned it into a prayer garden. Emily began her project by reaching out to the Lynnhaven River Project to choose native plants and natural soil products to place in the garden. She then built wooden benches and planters and purchased a concrete statue of Mary that she sealed and placed in the garden.

“I knew that I wanted to do something at my church for my Gold Award project,” Emily said. “Previously there was no space for quiet contemplation on the church property, and I wanted to change that.”

After completing the garden, Emily met with Girl Scout Troop 442, which meets at the church, and arranged for the members to maintain the garden. She also invited members of the church community to attend a ceremony where Father Gaudencio Pugat blessed the garden.

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 Emily to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Camp Fury 2015

The youngest firefighting trainees in Hampton are at it again— climbing 85 feet up a ladder, rappelling down a four-story tower and racing against the clock to open fire hydrants and get the water flowing. But, these trainees aren’t the newest recruits in the fire academy. They’re a group of 24 Girl Scouts participating in a unique summer camp session, Camp Fury, at the City of Hampton Division of Fire & Rescue Station 9.

In addition to challenging themselves to reach new heights and try new things, the girls learned a variety of firefighting skills during their week at camp. They participated in fire extinguisher training, took part in search and rescue drills and learned how to use a self-contained breathing apparatus. They also practiced ladder carry techniques, competed in a bucket brigade drill and learned how to roll, connect and empty fire hoses.

Camp Fury is designed to not only teach girls about firefighting, but to also introduce them to a variety of women who work in fields typically dominated by men, including military and law enforcement. During Camp Fury, the girls visited the United States Coast Guard Base Portsmouth, welcomed a female crime scene investigator as a guest speaker and got to hear from a woman who works on the Nightingale helicopter, after the craft was landed on the field next to the fire station. By introducing girls to women in nontraditional careers for females, the girls are able to better picture themselves in similar positions in the future, and give them the confidence they need to pursue their career interests, no matter what they may be.

“It’s so great to see the girls pushing themselves and trying new things,” Medic Firefighter Jami Salvio said. “Last year, one of the girls didn’t make it all the way up the ladder during the aerial climb, but this year she came back, pushed herself and made it to the top.”

Salvio, along with Lt. Denee Nichols, brought Camp Fury to Hampton after learning about a similar camp while attending a conference for women in fire service in 2011.They traveled to Arizona to see the camp in action, and then partnered with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to bring the camp to Hampton Roads. The goal of Camp Fury is to immerse girls in a supportive, all-girl environment where they can develop leadership skills, build self-confidence and are more likely to try new things, take risks and discover what they are capable of.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Attorney General Herring Visits Camp Apasus

Attorney General Mark R. Herring got a chance to be a camper today at Girl Scout Camp Apasus. As part of his tour of camps using the Virginia Rules curriculum, he spoke to both girls and boys attending a camp being sponsored by the Sheriff Bob McCabe Foundation.

Attorney General Herring autographed T-shirts for the campers
During his visit, he spent some time getting to know the campers and heard about their week-long experience which included camp favorites such as archery, swimming and canoeing, as well as a bike safety course and a trip to the Virginia Zoo.

“We’ve had a super week,” said Deputy Debbie Vogler who served as a camp counselor for the camp and is a Girl Scout alumna. “ The Virginia Rule module is a program that covers a wide range of subjects and issues that kids are facing today. I know it has made an impact on the kids just by listening to them during our discussions on gang violence, bullying and internet safety. ”

Maranda White, a Girl Scout alumna who attended Camp
Apasus and is will be entering the Norfolk Sheriff's Office
Academy, and  Deputy Debbie Volger were camp counselors.
The Attorney General thanked the Sheriff and his team for holding the camp and said that the work they do is very important.

“When kids spend time with local law enforcement officials it builds a sense of community, helps prevent crime and gives kids the tools they need to make good decisions," Attorney General Herring said.

This is the third year that the Sheriff Bob McCabe Foundation has partnered with Girl Scouts to offer a summer day camp aimed at building relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The special camp will continue to be offered for another week. A Girl Scout day camp will be offered at Camp Apasus in August.

Mad Science Camp

Girl Scout Camp Apasus was abuzz with young scientists who were experimenting, discovering and analyzing during a weekend-long summer camp session at the end of June. The camp was designed to engage girls in a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities and allow them to explore their interests in the STEM fields.

During their two days at camp, girls participated in 12 different science experiments. They conducted density experiments as their made their own lava lamps, learned about the states of matter by making their own slime and experimented with light refraction through prisms. The girls also explored solubility and properties of matter as they used permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to tie dye T-shirts. A favorite activity for the girls was the egg drop experiment for which the girls had to engineer a container to protect an egg that was dropped by a Girl Scout volunteer from a roof at camp.

“It’s important to teach girls that science can be fun,” Kim Dewitt, the Girl Scout volunteer who organized the camp, said. “I want girls to see that you don’t have to be in a laboratory with expensive equipment to explore and discover.”

In addition to planning special events and summer camps for girls, Dewitt is also the leader of Girl Scout Troop 436 in Virginia Beach, which is made up of 13 first and second graders. As the girls get older, Dewitt looks forward to introducing them to more science activities, including learning about electricity through snap circuits.

In today’s world, women hold only about 25 percent of STEM careers. The Girl Scout Research Institute found that girls are interested in the process of learning, asking and problem solving, but about half of girls feel that STEM isn’t a typical career path for girls. In fact, 57 percent of girls say that if they went into a STEM career, they would have to work harder than a man just to be taken seriously. Girl Scouts is working to fill this gap providing girls with fun and comfortable environments where they can solve problems, learn about how things work and do hands-on science projects.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pool Dedication at Camp Burke's Mill Pond

Girl Scouts dedicate the new pool
On Tuesday, June 30, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast hosted a dedication for a new pool at Camp Burke’s Mill Pond in Gloucester. Girl Scout alumnae and friends from the community gathered to dedicate the new pool, tour the camp and share Girl Scout memories. A group of Girl Scouts also attended to conduct a flag ceremony and try out the new pool. Girl Scouts were able to add the pool, as well as a deck around the pool, thanks to generous donations by Marion S. Kaurup and A. Kenneth Scribner, Jr.

For over 40 years, Girl Scouts from southeastern Virginia have been going to Camp Burke’s Mill Pond to enjoy the outdoors and participate in a variety of activities, including canoeing, archery and swimming. Lorna Wass, a Girl Scout volunteer who was instrumental in obtaining the camp property for the Girl Scouts, was just one of the Girl Scout alumnae who attended the pool dedication.

Lorna Wass
In the 1970s when Wass was volunteering at a Girl Scout day camp down the street from Burke’s Mill Pond, she met Fred Mason, the owner of the property, who had retired in Gloucester with his wife after a career as the owner of a candy manufacturing company in New York. Mason’s wife had passed away and he told Wass that he was in the process of making decisions about his estate and wanted to find a way for the community to be able to enjoy his land. He invited the Girl Scouts to come swimming at Burke’s Mill Pond and Wass brought them the very next day.

“Right away, Mr. Mason saw how much the girls enjoyed the pond,” Wass said. “Pretty soon after, he decided that he would leave his property to the Girl Scouts.”

By 1973, Burke’s Mill Pond was open for troop camping and Girl Scouts ran summer camps at the property as well.

Today, Camp Burke’s Mill Pond has 11 camp sites, a nature trail and Treakle Cabin for indoor activities and camping. Girls still enjoy the pond for swimming and canoeing. The camp facilities, including the new pool, are also available for members of the public to rent. For more information, visit

View more photos from the day here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Meet the GSLI Keynote Speaker: Tori Molnar

From July 31 to August 2, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will be hosting a regional leadership conference in Norfolk for high school girls. The special guest speaker for the weekend in Tori Molar, an 18 year old entrepreneur, writer, professional speaker and blogger. She is also the executive producer and co-host of an upcoming entrepreneurship reality television show, House of Business.

Tori was 13 years old when she officially founded her first company, Utoria, an entrepreneurship empowerment company for young women. Looking back on her childhood, however, Tori sees that she has been business-minded her entire life. When she was four years old, she remembers setting up a candy stand at her grandmother’s flea market.

“In a day, I ate all of my inventory, and I didn’t know how to count change, so anyone who bought something got a quarter back,” Tori said.

Although she didn’t profit much from that experience, it was moments such as those at the flea market that inspired Tori to become a business woman. Tori went on to become the youngest member of the Direct Selling Association and continues to be the youngest CEO in the organization. At a young age, she also joined Girl Scouts, the premier leadership organization for girls.

Tori recognizes that her success is, in part, due to the support of other entrepreneurs who supported her early on in her career. She often talks about her first mentor, Tory Johnson, an entrepreneur and contributor to Good Morning America. Today, Tori spends a lot of her time tasting snacks for her start-up company, Bars & Bites, for which she curates all-natural food products from small producers. She also works as the editor-in-chief for Bites Media, the sister company of Bars & Bites.

In her life, Tori has had to overcome numerous obstacles, including the early death of her father and being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but she has never let that hold her back from reaching her goals.

“My life’s mission is to help other young people live their entrepreneurial dreams and their best life as a result,” Tori said.

In addition to working with Tori to develop their leadership skills, girls who attend the conference will have the opportunity to learn about developing their personal brand, being responsible social media users and how to choose a career path. Girls will also have the opportunity to attend a session on business etiquette and meet local women leaders in business. Find more information about the Girl Scout Leadership Institute and register here.