Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Toiletry Shelving and Healthy Recipe Book

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

For her project, Megan focused her efforts on improving the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center (JCOC), an organization that works to empower homeless families and individuals. Megan built four shelving units to improve the area where the JCOC stores toiletries and other donated items. She also created a labeling system so that donated items stay organized and can be accessed easily.

“Through my church, Lynnhaven United Methodist Church, I have volunteered at the JCOC over the years,” Megan said. “For my Gold Award project, I was naturally drawn toward working with the JCOC because I love what they do to help break the cycle of homelessness in Virginia Beach.”

In order to make an even bigger impact on the JCOC, Megan then shifted her focus to the kitchen. Oftentimes, groups visit the JCOC as volunteers to cook meals for those who are homeless. Megan created a recipe book with healthy meal options to help guide the groups when choosing a meal to prepare. Megan worked with JCOC staff to make sure that her book will be passed along to volunteers and the book will be updated annually with new recipe options.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six 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. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Sand Dune Conservation and Restoration

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

For her project, Dana installed sand fencing at Little Island Park in Sandbridge to help conserve and restore the sand dune line that has been damaged over the years by hurricanes and other coastal storms. She worked with the City of Virginia Beach to ensure that the fencing will be maintained until it is buried under the sand, at which point it will help to maintain the dune line.

“I grew up in Virginia Beach, and I have seen coastal storm damage to our local beaches,” Dana said. “Not only will the sand fencing help repair the dune, but it will also help to conserve it against future damage.”

Dana also wanted to educate the public about the importance of erosion control. She conducted research of local beaches to identify which areas would benefit most from erosion control programs. She then developed targeted email campaigns for civic leagues in those areas, in which she included photographs of their beach, a summary comparing erosion control methods and information about the benefits of sand fencing. Her emails went out to coastal residents across the region, including those on the Southside, Peninsula and Eastern Shore.

Over the summer, Dana hosted an informational booth at the Virginia Aquarium, where she was able to teach families from all around the world about the benefits of sand fencing to conserve and repair beaches.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Dana to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Leadership in Action

Girl Scout Ambassador Emily Rogic was a special guest at a luncheon held at Town Point Club and hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Board Chair Cheryle Mack. The luncheon, the President’s Lunch, is held each year by the current Council’s board chair and is a way to help former leadership members stay connected with Girl Scouts and hear from a girl member who is an up and coming leader.

Emily is striving to earn the Gold Award, the highest award a girl may earn in Girl Scouts. She’s been a Girl Scout for 10 years and has been involved in many leadership building opportunities, including the Hampton Roads Chamber’s eXcel Leadership program. Her Gold Award project, Diamonds in the Rough, was approved in August. She plans to carry out activities throughout most of the school year to complete the project which will make more people aware of the human impact on Diamondback Terrapin turtles.

“I would like to educate our community on the simple things that it can do to help reduce the human impact on Diamondback Terrapin turtles,” Emily said. “I am planning on holding workshops and being at events - two Lynnhaven River NOW events, next spring's Earth Day event at Mt. Trashmore and workshops at Bayside library and the Virginia Aquarium. To help promote my initiative beyond the events, I will post photos, facts and update on the local Terrapins on Twitter and Facebook.”

Diamondback Terrapin turtles are a species of concern. Today, they face many threats, some of which can be easily controlled by our community. Emily wants to convey to the public that by changing some personal habits, we can make a tremendous impact on the species survival.

“Turtles mean so much to me. I grew up vacationing at Bald Head Island learning about the threatened loggerhead sea turtles. I want to make sure Terrapins have a chance.”

While girls going for the Gold do amazing projects, girls of all ages in Girl Scouts are involved in making the world a better place through their community service and take action efforts - living the Girl Scout Promise in their daily lives!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Powerful Celebration of G.I.R.L.

Here at Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, girls are being empowered to empower themselves, and encouraged to try new things, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and take the lead in their communities.

We’re excited to announce a new brand platform that tells just how these girls are empowering themselves! The “I’m Prepared” PSA celebrates every girl’s inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. Applauding girls who never give up, who try new things, and who make their ideas a reality, the PSA is a visual representation of how Girl Scouts prepares every G.I.R.L. to practice leadership like a Girl Scout––uniquely encouraging girls to cultivate grit, problem-solving, risk-taking, and leading with empathy. It is a call for girls to embrace their leadership potential and empower themselves through Girl Scouts and for consumers to invest in the future of girls for the betterment of our world.

Best of all, the PSA is set to Girl Scouts’ new powerful pop anthem, “Watch Me Shine,” co-written by songwriters Liz Rose and Emily Shackelton, and performed by Shackelton with Girl Scouts singing backup vocals. The song exemplifies how Girl Scouts empowers girls to find the strength and confidence they need to take the lead every day and to create impactful change in themselves and in their communities. Both songwriters, as Girl Scout alumnae, are go-getters and risk-takers themselves: Rose is a two-time Grammy Award winner who has collaborated with well-known female artists like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, and Jewel; Shackelton’s songs have been featured on TV shows like American Idoland Nashville. “Watch Me Shine” will be available to stream or download on iTunes, Amazon Music and Google Play.

If you have a G.I.R.L. story to tell, we want to hear it! Email marcyg@gsccc.org.

GSCCC Honors Jerry Hansen

This blog was written by Tracy Keller, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast

Tracy Keller and Nellie Hayes- both members
of the Great Bridge Rotary
This time of year is a time to reflect and to thank those who made 2016 a great year. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast (GSCCC) wants to extend a thank you to the Great Bridge Rotary for the support they have given Girl Scouts over the years. From helping build boardwalks and small bridges to connect our properties to donating funds for girl programs, Rotary members have provided hands to work and hands to care.

I’m proud to be part of this collective leadership who gives their expertise to make the world a better place, and who tackle challenges, such as getting kindergarteners, especially from families in need, ready for school with health checks, supplies and other support. I am also proud of the fact that they have chosen Girl Scouts as one of the organizations they regularly support, with many of their members prioritizing their volunteer time to advance Girl Scouts. Jerry Hansen was one of those members.

Jerry's family and friends
Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast honored Jerry Hansen on October 24, 2016. Jerry was charter president of the Great Bridge Rotary Club which started 22 years ago. He and past GSCCC CEO Nellie Hayes were instrumental in raising funds for A Place for Girls, the headquarters and program center located on Cedar Road. To celebrate his life, the Jerry Hansen Tagalong Trail in The Outback- an 8.5 acre nature area that lies behind A Place for Girls- was named after him. On what would have been his 75th birthday, Jerry was also honored by the Great Bridge Rotary Club.with a bench in his name.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Library Beautification and Reading Appreciation

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

For her project, Brooke focused on helping students at Bayside Elementary School increase their appreciation of reading. The first part of her project was building a new set of bookshelves for the school library. She then worked on planning a Reading Celebration for more than 30 students at the school who had been identified as needing financial assistance. With the help of her fellow members of Troop 372, Brooke made video book reviews that were shared on the school’s morning announcements during the week leading up to the Reading Celebration. During the celebration, students made bookmarks, listened to a story, picked out books to take home and decorated their own shoebox bookshelves to house their new reading collection.

“At the beginning of the school year, my AP English teacher suggested we purchase our own copies of the books we would be reading throughout the year because it was important for each of us to develop our own personal libraries,” Brooke said. “Recognizing the value in this, I reflected upon how not all students are able to have their own libraries. I am an alumna of Bayside Elementary, and I felt the school would be a great place for me to give back.”

Thanks to members of the community, Brooke collected hundreds of books that she was able to give to the students to keep at home and to the library for all students at the school to check out. In order to make a sustainable impact, Brooke has arranged for students at Virginia Wesleyan College to continue hosting the Reading Celebration for students at Bayside Elementary School each year.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Brooke to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Always a Girl Scout

Since 1912, millions of women have had their lives positively influenced, and sometimes even transformed, by their Girl Scout experience. Girl Scout alumnae are forever connected to a rich and vibrant movement—one that builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. And, that’s why Girl Scout alumnae are so important. They know firsthand how transforming a positive program can be in a girl’s life.

There are so many ways for Girl Scout alumnae to reconnect and rediscover with the organization. And, there’s an easy way to start—introduce yourself! Sign up to join the Alumnae Association and receive updates from Girl Scouts of the USA just six times per year.

Want to be more involved? Become a Girl Scout volunteer! Teach girls outdoor skills, share your talents at a workshop or become a troop leader. You can also volunteer to be part of a committee that plans events, help promote Girl Scouts in the community or lend a hand organizing the cookie program—the possibilities are endless!

We also welcome Girl Scout alumnae to attend special events throughout the year. Save the date for our Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event using Girl Scout Cookies, on March 25 at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016 Girl Scout Famous Formers Luncheon

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast recognized seven local women leaders as Girl Scout Famous Formers today at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club. This special recognition given out annually not only salutes Girl Scout alumna who are women leaders making a difference in their communities, but it draws attention to the ongoing need for more leadership opportunities for girls to be molded into our future leaders.

The luncheon’s guest speaker was author and Girl Scout alumna Janine Latus. Her talk was based on her book, If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation. Janine travels around the world speaking about the spectrum of relationship abuse and her writing has appeared in O, Parents, Fitness, More, Family Circle and in flights of major airlines.
Barbara Hamm Lee and Janine Latus

Following Janine, Girl Scout Ambassador Savannah Williams from Yorktown spoke about her Girl Scout Gold Award project, which centered on raising awareness about teen dating violence.

“I applaud Girl Scouts for empowering girls, such as Savannah, to take action on issues that are important to them,” Janine said. “It’s good to know that Girl Scouts are stepping up and tackling tough issues like domestic violence, teen dating violence and relationship aggression of all kind.”

Barbara Hamm Lee, host of WHRO’s Another View and a past recipient of the Famous Former recognition, served as the MC for the event and introduced a video which showcased Savannah’s project. She also introduced each recipient who received a certificate from the Council’s Board Chair Cheryle Mack.
Back row: Kirkland Kelley, Esq., Partner at Kaufman & Canoles; Carolyn Tyler, Ed.D., Technical Trainer at ICF International; Middle row: Eileen Livick, Transportation Assistant at Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic; Mariah Rule, Commander in the United States Navy; Front row: Mary Kate Andris, Ed.D., President and CEO of the YWCA of South Hampton Roads; Linda Rice, Ph.D., Vice President of Grantmaking and Community Engagement at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation; and Terri Hathaway, M.A.Ed., Marine Education Specialist at the North Carolina Sea Grant.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Girl Scouts Go for Gold and Change the World

The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn. It’s an accomplishment earned by girls who are top achievers who demonstrate their ability to take on and successfully complete a project to make the world a better place. From introducing young girls to computer programming and educating teens about the dangers of distracted driving to showing children the importance of fitness and raising awareness about chronic illnesses, local Girl Scouts are making a big impact through their Gold Award projects.

Here are a few more examples of how local Girl Scouts earned the Gold Award:
  • Linda, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, started a program brings together volunteers who recycles flower arrangements from special events into new arrangements to give to cancer patients at a local hospital. 
  • Maya, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, refurbished rooms at a women’s shelter and helped raise awareness about homelessness in the community.
  • Carla, a Kitty Hawk Girl Scout, built garden beds to teach local elementary school students about native plants. 

The Girl Scout Gold Award is something special, and so are the girls who earn it. Learn more about the highest achievements in Girl Scouting here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Our Country Needs Right Now Is You

As we move forward together as a country during this post-election period, it is more important than ever that we continue to observe and model Girl Scout values like respect for others, inclusiveness, and civic participation. During this time, parents and volunteers need to be aware that some girls might be experiencing feelings of anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty.

For volunteers and parents who may need support in how to talk with girls, here are some resources starting with the article “What Our Country Needs Right Now Is You." Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Andrea Bastiani Archibald, gives advice.

In addition, consider revisiting the following Raising Awesome Girls pieces, which can serve as conversation starters:

Girl Scout parents and troop leaders may also want to reference the Girl Scout Promise and Law and our Girl Scout program to help girls recognize that we all have a role to play in the democratic process, even before we’re old enough to vote. Initiating general, age-appropriate discussions about the Girl Scout Promise and Law and their application (being considerate and caring, respecting yourself and others, helping people at all times) is timely and beneficial.

If girls have not already earned their Citizen badges (see below), that is an option.

Citizen Badges
Brownies: Celebrating Community
Juniors: Inside Government
Cadettes: Finding Common Ground
Seniors: Behind the Ballot
Ambassadors: Public Policy

Daisies can participate in discussions about the Promise and Law—including the importance of respecting others through our words and actions and by accepting differences.

Other resources - Girl Scout Journeys:
  • Your Voice, Your World: The Power of Advocacy (Ambassadors; public policy)
  • Mission: Sisterhood (Seniors; girls/women and public policy)
  • GIRLtopia (Seniors; girls/women and public policy)
  • aMAZE! The Twists and Turns of Getting Along (Cadettes; relational aggression and peaceful conflict resolution)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Famous Former Girl Scouts

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. We’re excited to be honoring seven outstanding women this year on November 16 at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club. Everyone is invited to attend to honor these influential women, meet like-minded professionals and connect with Girl Scouts, the premier leadership organization for girls.
Janine Latus, author of the international bestseller, If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation, will be the guest speaker at the luncheon. Latus travels around the world speaking about the spectrum of relationship abuse. She serves on the board of directors of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her writing has appeared in O, Parents, Fitness, More, Family Circle and inflights of major airlines. Best of all, Latus is a Girl Scout alumna!

Following Latus, Girl Scout Ambassador Savannah Williams from Yorktown will talk about her Girl Scout Gold Award project, which centered on raising awareness about teen dating violence.

This year’s honorees are: Mary Kate Andris, Ed.D., president and CEO of the YWCA of South Hampton Roads; Terri Hathaway, M.A.Ed., marine education specialist at the North Carolina Sea Grant; Kirkland Kelley, Esq., partner at Kaufman & Canoles; Eileen Livick, transportation assistant at Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic; Linda Rice, Ph.D., vice president of grantmaking and community engagement at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation; Mariah Rule, commander in the United States Navy; and Carolyn Tyler, Ed.D., technical trainer at ICF International.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for girls. For more information, call 757-548-3809.

This event is sponsored by WHRO, Coastal Virginia Magazine, Tidewater Women Magazine, Inside Business, Realtor Tricia Hudson with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, and Kaufman & Canoles.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Girl Scouts Building Responsible Citizens

Girls can’t be what they can’t see. A phrase I use often when speaking about the need for more women leaders and more mentors for girls. Well, the view for girls has just become a little brighter this year as more women have stepped up to leadership. This year is truly THE year for women in politics. We have the highest number of female senators ever – 29. There’s a female running for the highest office in the United States!

While that in itself it reason enough to throw confetti, there’s still room for improvement and that’s why Girl Scouts continue their mission of helping girls build courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. Studies show that when women are given leadership positions in companies, the companies do better. It’s safe to assume that government and society as a whole will do better with more women leaders. To make it a reality, there must be more women in the pipeline to take on leadership roles.

According to the 2014 Girls and Political Pulse Poll released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 67% of American girls between the ages of 11 and 17 are interested in politics. But only 32% believe society encourages women to be politicians, and, perhaps most dismaying, 74% believe that if they were to go into politics, they would have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously. Girls who responded to the survey had some suggestions for how to change the perception by girls that politics is not for them. Among the suggestions – they want more mentors, more support from teachers and other adults and better images of women in the media. A small list that would create a big change.

While organizations such as Girl Scouts can begin to address some of these issues and give girls more mentors and encouragement, based on a study from researchers at American University, Girls Just Wanna Not Run The Gender Gap in Young Americans’ Political Ambition, it will take parents, educators, peers and organizations such as Girl Scouts working together to give girls the message that choosing a seat in the House or Senate is a good thing.

Here are five factors outlined in the AAUW study that hinder young women’s political ambition.
  • Young men are more likely than young women to be socialized by their parents to think about politics as a career path.
  • From their school experiences to their peer associations to their media habits, young women tend to be exposed to less political information and discussion than do young men. 
  • Young men are more likely than young women to have played organized sports and care about winning. 
  • Young women are less likely than young men to receive encouragement to run for office – from anyone. 
  • Young women are less likely than young men to think they will 13 be qualified to run for office, even once they are established in their careers.
We’re in a pivoting place in our world’s future and in so many ways girls represent our future. There is great potential there and the possibility of building a new global leadership paradigm. Whether it's in politics, business, science, academia, or elsewhere, girls can change our world. We just need to lift the barriers open a space where girls are inspired and empowered to bring their talents to the political arena.

By Tracy Keller, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast

Monday, October 24, 2016

Stand Beside Her

From a very young age, girls are inundated with negative messages about behaviors that prevent them from building healthy relationships and ideals about their potential. In fact, research has shown that at nine years old, girls’ self-esteem peaks and then takes a nosedive. The unhealthy self-image that girls develop follows them into adulthood and can prevent them from reaching their fullest potential.

In an effort to show girls that they can be anything they want to be, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast (GSCCC) has partnered with Girl Scouts Heart of the South and Girl Scout councils across the country to take part in the Stand Beside Her Movement, which culminates every year with National Stand Beside Her Week. This year, the week will be celebrated from October 30 to November 5, and the week includes the birthday of the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, on October 31.

Stand Beside Her is a call-to-action to find mentors, support and development opportunities for girls and women. At the current rate of change, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles in the United States. And, a study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that only 21 percent of girls believe that they currently have key qualities required to be a good leader. Girl Scouts are working with the Stand Beside Her Movement to end comparison and competition and create a more collaborative and supportive world so that girls and women can succeed.

Here are some ways that you can celebrate Stand Beside Her Week with your girls:
  • Take the pledge. Visit the Stand Beside Her website and fill out the pledge form to commit to making a change for girls.
  • Chalk It Up to Being a Girl Scout. Girls can come up with messages of encouragement and write them with chalk out in the community. Be sure to get permission first!
  • Start the conversation. Use Leadership Tips for Girls from Ban Bossy, to start the conversation with girls about taking initiative and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone.
  • We’re a Pair Sock Project. Ask each girl to bring a pair of new socks to a troop meeting. Girls can decorate the socks and should add encouraging messages on the bottom of the socks. Use the free, downloadable sock wrap and have girls exchange socks to remind each other “where you go, I go.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Scouting for Food

When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, she ensured that community service was an important part of the experience for girls. Just like Girl Scouts today, the first Girl Scouts were eager to offer a helping hand to those in need, and they worked together to improve their corner of the world.

This fall, Girl Scouts are asked to participate in Scouting for Food, a collection drive to help stock the shelves at local food banks. What better way to honor our founder than by kicking off this project on her birthday, October 31?

Girl Scouts throughout the region are asked to collect food in a variety of ways. From setting up collection boxes at schools and churches from going door-to-door with a parent asking neighbors to contribute, there are many ways that girls can collect food. Girl Scouts are being asked to bring their donations to drop-off locations on the Southside or Peninsula for the Mayflower Marathon Food Drive on Saturday, November 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For Girl Scouts in North Carolina, we ask that you give your donations to the Foodbank of the Albemarle or one of their participating pantries.

Girl Scouts are encouraged to take part in activities listed in the GSCCC Food Drive patch program during Scouting for Food. Food drive patches can be purchased in the GSCCC shops for $.50. For more information, visit www.gsccc.org.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Help People at All Times

Community service has been a cornerstone of the Girl Scout experience since the organization was founded more than 100 years ago. This fall, GSCCC has plenty of opportunities for girls to make a difference in the lives of others, in addition to troop service projects.

Public Service Survival Kits 
Girls of all ages are invited to help put together kits made to honor police and fire public service personnel. During the event, local emergency responders will be on hand to speak about their careers. After the event, girls can take the kits they make to hand deliver them to police officers and firefighters in their communities. This event will be hosted on November 13 at two locations—A Place for Girls in Chesapeake and Hidenwood Presbyterian Church in Newport News. Get more information and register here.

Scouting for Food
Kick off this food collection drive on October 31 in honor of Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday! Our founder loved helping others and made sure that community service was a part of our movement. Throughout the region, Girl Scouts can collect food in a variety of ways, and then, bring donations to the Mayflower Marathon Food Drive on November 19. Get more information here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Girls Who Code- Yes We Can!

Macallan, a Poquoson Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Macallan started a club at Poquoson Elementary School where she taught girls basic computer programming techniques. Using a variety of software programs, Macallan developed activities to make learning fun for the girls in the club. She started teaching them using a “drag and drop” method, and then moved to a program where girls learned to type commands.

Macallan also used other activities to engage the girls in skills need for computer programming. They learned binary code through a bracelet-making activity and learned the importance of being overly specific while writing commands during a sandwich-making scenario.

“Many girls drop out of higher level classes around middle school so that they are not labeled as a nerd by their peers,” Macallan said. “The girls I have worked with see me as a role model, and they see that dropping out of high level classes is not their only option. They love coding, and I believe that this club will influence their career choices in the future.”

Macallan’s club will be sustained by teachers at Poquoson Elementary School with support from the principal. Many of the girls who took part in the club last year are planning to join again to continue developing their coding skills.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Macallan to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Portsmouth Girl Scouts Help Humane Society

Terra, a Portsmouth Girl Scout, has had a busy summer making a difference in her community. With the help from fellow members of Troop 5125, Terra led a beautification project to benefit the Portsmouth Humane Society. The biggest part of her project was building two picnic tables that she placed at the shelter. They will be used by potential adoptive families to get to know dogs outdoors, as well as by Portsmouth Humane Society volunteers and staff to rest while training and exercising dogs. Terra also helped to fix doors to dog kennels that were in need of repair.

James McLaughlin, administration and special events manager at the Portsmouth Humane Society, shared the shelter takes in more than 2,000 lost, stray and surrendered animals each year. As they help these animals find a new home, it is helpful to have community members, such as Terra and her fellow Girl Scouts, support the Portsmouth Humane Society.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Go Native

Carla, a Kitty Hawk Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Carla created a native plant garden at Kitty Hawk Elementary School. She then presented a lesson to third graders about native plants and why they are important, and led them in a scavenger hunt in the garden to learn how to identify native plants. Third grade teachers at the school have adopted the lessons created by Carla and integrated them into their annual plans.

Carla also created a brochure about native plants that is distributed through house rental agencies in the region to teach new residents and visitors about why native plants are important, how to identify a variety of native plants and what invasive species people should avoid planting. In addition, Carla created a video that she placed online to be used a public resource.

“I chose this project because my hometown, the Outer Banks, has a very fragile ecosystem and our maritime forest needs to be preserved and protected via native plants,” Carla said.

In order to make sure that the garden serves as an educational resource for years to come, Carla arranged for fellow Girl Scouts from the Outer Banks to maintain the space.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Carla to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Suffolk Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award

Cree Diggs-Brown and Allison Maurice, members of Girl Scout Troop 4312 from Suffolk, have earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement earned by Girl Scouts. For their project, the girls focused on helping the Girl Scout Movement by hosting activity tables at the Suffolk Parks and Recreation TGIF Summer Concert Series to help recruit new Girl Scout members.

For each concert, the girls set up tables with crafts and activities for girls, as well as information about the Girl Scout program for their parents. The girls were eager to share their own Girl Scout experiences with Suffolk families and encourage them to join the organization.

“We chose this project because we wanted to invite more girls to be Girl Scouts so that they can have some of the same amazing opportunities that we have had as Girl Scouts,” Allison said.

The girls also put together a book about their project so that fellow Girl Scouts can carry out similar events in the future.

“I hope that more girls join Girl Scouts because of our project,” Cree said. “And, once they join, I hope that they will benefit from the many opportunities and experiences that Girl Scouts has to offer.”

The Silver Award is the highest award that middle school-age Girl Scouts can earn.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Volunteers Make It Happen

Big bright smiles, fierce dedication, no-limits kindness—that’s the spirit we find in our Girl Scout volunteers. We kicked off the new Girl Scout year on September 10 at Old Dominion University. The day was full of making new friends, sharing ideas and spreading excitement about preparing for another year of fun and adventure with the future leaders of our world—girls.

The kickoff started with a welcome from Tracy Keller, our CEO, who talked about exciting changes happening that will improve the volunteer experience. Volunteers then took part in a variety of workshops that covered topics including event planning, community service and using volunteer experience to land a job. Volunteers also enjoyed visiting with community partners to learn about opportunities for girls.

A highlight of the day was the opportunity to test drive the Volunteer Toolkit, a web app that helps volunteers save time and plan for success with online troop planning.

A huge thank you to all our Girl Scout volunteers! Every little bit that you do makes a huge difference to the girls that you help shape, inspire and fill with confidence.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Northeastern North Carolina Girl Scouts Exhibit Talents at Art Gallery

By Guest Blogger Sandra Warren, with Troop 2119 in Camden

A casual conversation about how to help a Girl Scout Senior finish her GIRLtopia Journey led to an amazing opportunity for all the Girl Scouts the Heart of the South Service Unit in northeastern North Carolina. Troop Leader Deborah Verhofstadt worked with the staff at the Arts of the Albemarle Gallery in Elizabeth City to arrange an exhibition of work for not only the Senior, but also for all girls in her service unit.

The message went out that any Girl Scout who was interested could submit a painting, photograph, drawing or collage piece. They were encouraged to base their pieces off of their Girl Scout badges and Journeys. Twenty girls took the opportunity to have their work put on exhibit.

Darlene Tighe, the gallery manager at Arts of the Albemarle Gallery, was so excited about the idea of the girls displaying their work that she wants to make the exhibit an annual event for the Girl Scouts. She was very impressed with the quality and variety of the submitted pieces, and she shared that members of the public even inquired about purchasing some of the artwork, and she explained that the pieces were just for display.

During a reception at the gallery on August 26, Girl Scouts from the Heart of the South Service Unit presented Tighe with a Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Community Award, which is given to show appreciation to organizations and individuals in the community who support the Girl Scout movement. Impressed and inspired by the turnout at the reception, Tighe will be creating a community art wall for other community groups to use to display artwork.

The Girl Scout Art Exhibit will be on display through the beginning of October at the Arts of the Albemarle Gallery at 516 East Main Street Elizabeth City, NC 27909/

Monday, September 12, 2016

Keep the Girl Scout Party Going

Camp is over, but the party never stops in Girl Scouts! Have you renewed your membership for another year of fun? We just can’t wait for what the next year will bring! But first, let’s recap all of the amazing fun and adventure at summer camp this year!

Seventeen Girl Scouts started off summer camp “horsing around” at Grubb Grove Horse Farm. This new day camp experienced introduced girls to the equestrian world, from grooming to riding!

Girl Scouts enjoyed two weeks of overnight camp sessions at Camp Darden in June. During the second week at camp, GSCCC hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new archery range at the camp. Activities at Camp Darden included horseback riding at nearby Ballyshannon Equestrian Center, adrenaline-pumping adventures and water sports and games.

Camp kicked off at Camp Skimino in July. Archery, canoeing, swimming and the ropes course were all part of the run. A highlight of the week was Camp Fury Hampton, an opportunity for girls to learn firefighting and emergency preparedness and be introduced to nontraditional careers for women.

As August rolled around, Camp Outback, located at A Place for Girls, started up. Girls enjoyed a performance from Atumpan- The Talking Drums and spent a lot of time outdoors canoeing, shooting archery, swimming, hiking in The Outback and more. During Camp Outback, Camp Fury Chesapeake took place for the first time. Favorite moments from Camp Fury Chesapeake included an aerial ladder climb and rappelling at Chrysler Hall.

Before the end of the summer, campers enjoyed two weeks of day camp at Camp Apasus. August 10, National S’mores Day, was a highlight for campers. They welcomed guests from the Sertoma Club of Norfolk, a longtime supporter of the camp, for a special luncheon. Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander stopped by for lunch, too. In true Girl Scout tradition, s’mores were on the menu for dessert.

The outdoor fun doesn’t stop with summer camp! Service unit encampments, troop overnights, outdoor adventure group trips and Council events are all on the calendar this fall. Get more information at www.gsccc.org.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Girl Scouts Help Wildlife Program

Emily, Grace and Chloe from Girl Scout Troop 176 in Norfolk have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. For their Silver Award project, the girls worked with the Virginia Beach SPCA Wildlife Program, which provides care for orphaned, injured and displaced wildlife.

The girls started their project by talking to staff and volunteers at the SPCA about their needs for the wildlife program. After learning that the SPCA was in need of more animal habitats, the girls got to work right away. They built 15 birdhouses and five bat boxes. They also sewed 25 pouches, which are used to mimic the natural environment of young, orphaned opossums. In order to make an even bigger impact, the girls raised money to purchase supplies, including birdseed and other animal feed, that they donated to the SPCA.

“The girls are all very fond of wildlife,” Girl Scout Troop 176 leader Jennifer Kodolitsch said. “They know that all animals, no matter how big or small, impact the planet in one way or another.”

After building the animal habitats and collecting supplies, the girls visited the SPCA Wildlife Program to drop off their donations. While there, they had a tour of the facility to see some of the animals that they were helping through their project.

In addition to directly helping animals in need, the girls wanted to expand their project and added an educational component to teach local children about wild animals and their impact on the environment. In order to do this, the girls led activities at the Pretlow Branch Library and Slover Library, where they shared information handouts, stories, games and crafts with children there.

The Silver Award is the highest award that middle school Girl Scouts can earn. To earn the award, Girl Scouts have to identify a need in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Scout Ready

Instilling safety and emergency preparedness in the nation’s youth has been a growing priority. To help make emergency planning and safety education part of people’s everyday habits, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have teamed up to host Scout Ready, a safety education and awareness event, on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach. This free event is open to all families to learn about emergency preparedness and sign up for scouts. Current scouts can participate if they bring a friend to join.

Being prepared has been part of Girl Scouting since the organization was founded in 1912. In fact, “Be prepared.” is the Girl Scout motto. While being prepared today has changed from those earlier years, it is still just as important. Girl Scouts are called upon to be role models for their peers and practice good safety habits. It is essential for them to know how to do a job well, even in an emergency.

A 2012 survey conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that only 39 percent of individuals reported having a household emergency plan. Preparation for a potential emergency or disaster makes a real difference for people to make quick and informed decisions in the face of emergency situations. At Scout Ready, families can visit with local first responders and law enforcement to come up with their own emergency plans, have their child fingerprinted as part of the Child Identification Program and learn about natural disaster preparedness from WAVY TV 10 Meteorologist Deitra Tate. Other exhibitors, including the American Red Cross, Bon Secours, GEICO, the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney, Spectrum Puppets and Tidewater Family Magazine will also be on site with fun and informational activities for families.

For more information about attending Scout Ready or joining Girl Scouts, visit www.gsccc.org.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Girl Scouts Improve Suffolk Softball Field

Five members of Suffolk Girl Scout Troop 5292, Emily, Mia, Katherine, Michelle and Kylee, have earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. For their project, the girls focused on improving the Bennett’s Creek Little League fields in Driver.

Two members of the troop played softball at the Bennett’s Creek fields, but noticed that their team did not have a specific place to store batting helmets. The team would rest the helmets on the shelf above the bench where they sat, but the helmets were hard for some team members to reach and on occasion, the helmets would fall on to the girls. The two Girl Scouts on the team shared the issue with their fellow troop members, and the girls sprang into action.

With the help of the girls’ softball coach, Dan Eckstrom, the girls designed, built and painted a wooden cubby to hold helmets and bats. To get started on the project, the girls visited a local hardware store and learned about lumber and paint to determine what supplies they would need. With help from parents in the Girl Scout troop, the girls measured and cut the wood they had picked out and built the cubby. They then painted it and delivered it to the field, where it can be used by any team to safely and conveniently store helmets and bats during games and practices.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Soda Bottle Greenhouse

Gabriella, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Gabriella constructed a greenhouse made entirely of recycled soda bottles at Yorktown Elementary School. Gabriella also made laminated teaching aids for students to use in the greenhouse to help them learn the parts and lifecycle of plants. Teachers at the school will be incorporating the greenhouse and teaching aids into their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum for students to have the opportunity to learn in creative, hands-on ways outside of the classroom.

“A teacher at Yorktown Elementary was looking for someone to build a greenhouse at the school to enhance their STEM program,” Gabriella said. “Now, with this outdoor learning space, students will be able to grow plants all year round.”

After completing the greenhouse, Gabriella created a video about how to create a soda bottle greenhouse that she placed online for anyone to use as a guide. She also gave a presentation at the Virginia Living Museum to talk to members of the community about building a soda bottle greenhouse.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Gabriella to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Erase the Waste

Sorenna, a Williamsburg Girl Scout, has earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Sorenna, who is a student at Lois S. Hornsby Middle School, noticed that a large amount of recyclables was being placed in trash bins at her school. For her Silver Award project, Sorenna implemented a recycling program at her school, which included a recycling center in the cafeteria, recycling bins for each classroom and monitored recycling at school events, including dances and plays. To promote the new program, which she titled Erase the Waste, Sorenna hosted a recycling poster contest and displayed the winning entry in the school.

Sorenna was inspired to make an impact on the environment when she worked on completing the Girl Scout Breathe Journey and learned about pollution and what can be done to prevent it. She wanted to find a place in her community where there was an opportunity to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill.

“At Hornsby, a little more than 900 kids were disposing recyclables the wrong way,” Sorenna said. “I wanted to change that one recyclable at a time.”

Sorenna also started a Recycling Club at her school, and the members will be responsible for monitoring the recycling program, collecting recyclables from classrooms, making posters to promote recycling and making sure that recyclables are collected at special events held at the school.

“My project impacted our community by lowering the amount of recyclables being put in local landfills and also impacted my school by helping it be more environmentally friendly,” Sorenna said. “It also helped students and staff have a different thought process each time they throw away a recyclable.”

The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award earned by Girl Scouts in middle school. To earn the award, Girl Scouts have to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action Project to address the matter through leadership work.
The winning entry of Sorenna's poster contest

Monday, August 22, 2016

Building a Stronger Bond

Last winter when Girl Scout Troop 365 in Moyock visited the Currituck House, an assisted living facility, they realized visiting the center and helping residents wasn’t the only service the Currituck House needed. While putting a smile on residents’ faces during a holiday craft activity, they noticed two children who were there visiting their grandmother. They were just itching to get into the action. Looking around, members of Troop 365 realized there wasn’t much in the activity room to entertain children visiting, so they began brainstorming ideas to change that.

The troop decided that they would like to build some shelves that they could fill with games, books and DVDs that would not only keep children occupied during visits, but also facilitate more enjoyable interactions across generations. After gaining permission to complete their project from the activities director at the Currituck House, the girls sprang into action. They visited local hardware stores, learning about wood and materials they would need to build shelves. They took multiple trips to the Currituck House to measure the space, keeping in mind that they would need to leave plenty of room for wheelchairs and walkers to get around in the activity room. The troop members ended up designing and building three low, rectangular shelves.

“Talented parents and family members brought their tools to show the girls how to measure, cut, sand, prime and paint,” Brittany Orosco, the leader of Troop 365, said. “The shelves took the girls and the help of their parents every weekend from April until June. Every meeting was a lesson in effort and doing a job well.”

To collect items to stock the shelves, the member of Troop 365 placed boxes in their schools and asked people to donate gently used books, games, puzzles and movies.

On June 16, after the final clear coat on the shelves had dried, the troop moved the shelves from Orosco’s garage to the activity room at the Currituck House. The girls brought in all of the donations they had collected and organized everything to neatly fill the shelves.

“Through the project, the girls learned the value of hard work, networking and community service,” Orosco said.

For their project, the members of Troop 365 earned the Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School, Back to Troop

By Shirley Bergstrom, guest blogger

Shirley with her daughters, Marcelina and Gabriella
I have two daughters. One is a first year Junior and the other is a first year Cadette, and they have both been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. Girl Scouts has been such a great experience for them and maybe even more so for me because I have been able to help not just my girls, but a whole troop of girls, grow and expand their horizons. Some of my daughters' most memorable experiences wouldn’t have happened if they weren't Girl Scouts... camping, friendships, learning about conserving resources, serving their local community and who could forget about igniting their entrepreneurship fire!

We’ve only been in Girl Scouts for a few years but here are a few tidbits for getting back into the swing of things with Girl Scouts and school I’ve learned along the way…
  • Renew your membership! It will make things easier for your troop leader to get ready for Fall product sales.
  • Stay in touch with your troop’s co-leader(s). Ask for a schedule of meetings for the year, at least up to Christmas. My daughters are in the same troop with girls from Daisies to Cadettes. I keep in touch with each level’s co-leader.
  • Get Girl Scout bag to carry your daughter’s Journey books and Guides to Girl Scouting.
  • For newly bridged girls, have the vest ready to go with all your patches and troop numbers and patches earned during the summer. The GSCCC shop staff is very knowledgeable with handling all our vest/sash and uniform needs. And, if you’re new and can’t remember your troop number, the shop staff can look it up for you!
  • I could go on and on about ideas for organizing everything, but having your Girl Scout meetings and events scheduled into your calendar (paper or electronic) with location is important! I like to color code my calendars to distinguish work, personal, Girl Scout and family events.
  • Sign up as a troop helper or driver! This gives co-leaders extra helping hands to make meetings and events run more smoothly… it takes a village!
  • Read all publications and emails from Council. I'm always sure to keep up with the monthly enews, Volunteer Connection and the GSCCC blog. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Carolyn F. Bernard Stadium Renewal Project

Juliette, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

To earn the Gold Award, Juliette completed a renewal project at the Carolyn F. Bernard Stadium at Grassfield High School. The first part of her project was to create a memorial garden out front of the stadium honoring Anne McKim, the first athletic trainer at Grassfield High School, who passed away in 2010 at the young age of 29. Juliette assembled a team of volunteers to place native plants in the garden and arranged to have organizations at the school maintain the garden. She also chose a special stone that she had a memorial message engraved in to mark the garden as a place of remembrance.

The second part of Juliette’s project was founding and implementing a recycling program at the stadium. She installed signs about the recycling program throughout the stadium, and with the help of the Ecology Club at Grassfield High School, Juliette placed bins out for the football games. She conducted waste audits after the games to weigh the amount of trash and recycling to show the impact that her project is having on the environment. She collected approximately 20 percent of the waste as recycling and hopes to increase that number during the upcoming football season.

Juliette also worked with staff at Grassfield who knew Anne McKim to create a memorial book about her, and Juliette created guides about how to start a recycling program and about how to maintain the native plants in the garden at the school.

“I chose this project because I feel strongly about the need to recycle, and I felt it was important to remind future Grassfield students about the legacy of Anne McKim,” Juliette said.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Juliette to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Brick Dedication at A Place for Girls

Nearly 30 guests gathered at A Place for Girls, the regional Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program center and headquarters, on August 18 to dedicate a plot of commemorative bricks purchased by donors in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the building. The Buy a Brick campaign was launched in April, and nearly 60 thoughtful donors purchased bricks. Many of the bricks were purchased to honor volunteers, girl members and alumnae.

Kay Byrd, a volunteer from Ahoskie, was surprised with a brick of honor. When her daughter Melanie heard about the Buy a Brick campaign, she contacted her fellow troop members from years ago, and they purchased a brick in Kay's honor. Kay's daughters Melanie and Jennifer, along with six girls from Troop 1702, the troop Kay currently leads, told Kay to dress in her Girl Scout uniform and picked her up for a surprise trip to A Place for Girls for the brick dedication ceremony on Thursday.
The members of Girl Scout Troop 615 from Virginia Beach pooled their money to purchase a brick for their troop leader, Beth Goldblatt. The troop members, who are all in high school, told their leader that they purchased a brick for her at their bridging ceremony. They waited until the dedication ceremony to reveal the brick message, commemorating her as the "Best Troop Leader Ever."
Avery Berge, a member of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board of directors, commemorated her family's Girl Scout history on a brick. She had the names of her grandmothers and great aunt, all three of whom were Girl Scouts, printed on a brick. Avery said that all three women were very influential on her upbringing and she thought that a brick in their honor would be a special way to recognize their impact on her.

The dedication ceremony was followed by a reception and social with the Council's Board of Directors.

If you were not able to purchase a brick for someone special this year, you'll have another chance next year. The Buy a Brick initiative will be an annual effort!

View a list of the 2016 brick donors here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sea Turtle Endangerment Awareness

Carsan, Virginia, Abby, Maggie, Ava
Five Williamsburg Girl Scouts from Troop 1270, Abigayle, Ava, Carsan, Margaret and Virginia, have earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. For their project, Troop 1270 focused on raising awareness about sea turtle stranding and what can be done to protect sea turtles in our region. The girls were inspired to do this project after a trip to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Facility.

To raise awareness about sea turtle, Troop 1270 planned and hosted an activity night for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors to teach them all about sea turtles. During the event, Troop 1270 shared what they’ve learned about sea turtles over the past year, including their visit to the Virginia Aquarium. They then read an informational book about sea turtles and led the girls at the event in an educational game about sea turtle eggs to show them how most eggs do not survive in the wild.

Next on the agenda, Troop 1270 led the girls through activity stations, which included decorating a sea turtle cupcake, making sea turtle crafts and creating a sea turtle mural that will be hung at the local library. During the event, Troop 1270 also had the girls sign a thank you card that they had created for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team volunteers.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award requires girls to make a difference in the community through leadership work. It is the top achievement earned by Girl Scout Juniors—fourth and fifth graders.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Receives $50,000 Grant from Alcoa Foundation

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast received notice on August 16 that the organization will receive $50,000 from Alcoa Foundation to fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities for girls in southeastern Virginia. Leadership from Alcoa Foundation will present the check to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast on September 10 during the Volunteer Kickoff.

Over the past three years, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast has received funds from Alcoa Foundation that they have used to provide enriching STEM experiences to at-risk girls living in Hampton, Va. With this year’s increased funding, Girl Scouts will expand the success of that program throughout the region, intending to serve 400 girls in grades K-12 through “fun with a purpose” STEM programs. Activities are designed teach girls flexible and practical approaches to problem solving, as well as encourage them to develop critical thinking and teamwork skills. Funding will also allow Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to connect girls with community partners who offer STEM opportunities, including Nauticus and Norfolk State University, and provide STEM learning kits for troops to use at meetings.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will continue to use funding from Alcoa Foundation introduce girls in at-risk communities to STEM. The United States Census Bureau reports that 11.3 percent of the population in Virginia lives below the poverty line, and Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast serves several cities in Virginia where the number of individuals living below poverty line are much higher. According to Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study, girls who participate in Girl Scout programs, even for a brief period of time, report that the experience had a significant, positive impact on several key indicators, including sense of self, leadership, community involvement, commitment to social causes and civic engagement. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is dedicated to reaching out to girls in at-risk areas of the community to offer them supportive role models and leadership opportunities framed in the STEM programming provided through Alcoa Foundation funding.

Alcoa has a long history of supporting Girl Scouts, starting with a national partnership formed in 2012 to honor the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. Alcoa gave a major gift to support Forever Green, an environmental initiative encouraging Girl Scouts to complete projects focused on waste reduction, energy conservation and rain gardens. Since then, a special Gold Award scholarship has been instituted and more funds to support special STEM program have been presented to councils.

In today’s world, where only about 25 percent of STEM careers are held by women, it is more important than ever to expose girls to a world of possibilities through STEM. In the comfortable, all-girl environment of Girl Scouts, girls are more likely to ask questions, try new things and take risks. With funding from Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts will be able to deliver STEM activities framed in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which allows girls to discover what they are capable of, connect with one another to work as part of a team and take action as resourceful problem solvers to make a difference in the world.

In addition to the funds from Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is challenging donors and friends in the community to help match the $50,000 gift. To contribute, contact Stacy Nixon, philanthropy director for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, at stacyn@gsccc.org or 757-549-0641.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, with assets of approximately $480 million. Founded 64 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $635 million since 1952. In 2015, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2015, 47 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,000 events across 24 countries, benefitting more than 300,000 people and 400 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit www.alcoafoundation.com or follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl Scout Bronze Award Garden

The members of Newport News Girl Scout Troop 1539 are on the mission to make the world a better place, one project at a time. Recently, the girls earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouts, for their sustainable gardening project at the Newport News Family YMCA. The YMCA had received a grant from askHRgreen.org to create gardens that the facility’s new spray park, and the girls partnered with a troop member’s older brother, David Wells, who was working on his Eagle Scout project, to make the garden plans a reality.

While Wells worked on designing, building and installing four raised garden beds, Girl Scout Troop 1539 got to work learning about native plants, drought tolerant landscapes and animal habitats with the help of Amy Henry, the health and wellness program director at the YMCA and a Virginia Master Naturalist. The girls studied a variety of plants and learned about their uses. They decided to create a theme for each of the garden beds—sensory, wildflower, edible and butterfly.

Next, some of the troop members visited a local nursery to pick out the plants. When planting day arrived, the girls arranged each bed and learned how to properly plant the greenery. After the beds were planted, the girls made diagrams of each, recording the plant names and types. The diagrams were used to make teaching cards that are now used to explain the characteristics and benefits of the plants to preschoolers and campers at the YMCA. Watering duties have been taken on by the preschoolers at the YMCA, who also pick and enjoy the fruits and vegetables from the garden bed with edible plants.

In addition to earning the Bronze Award for their project, the troop members also earned the Flowers, Gardening and Animal Habitats badges.

The Girl Scout Bronze Award requires girls to make a difference in the community through leadership work. It is the top achievement earned by Girl Scout Juniors—fourth and fifth graders.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sertoma Club at Camp Apasus

A dip in the swimming pool, yoga under the shade of trees– Girl Scouts know how to have fun at camp while staying cool! Last week at Camp Apasus, more than 50 Girl Scouts enjoyed a week of fun and adventure in the outdoors, including a special celebration in honor of National S’mores Day on August 10.

As part of the celebration, campers welcomed guests from the Sertoma Club of Norfolk for a luncheon program. The Sertoma Club is a long-time supporter of the camp, and Girl Scouts host the club annually to thank members for their contributions and support of the camp During the luncheon, Girl Scouts announced their newest cookie flavor, Girl Scout S’mores, and campers shared some favorite songs with guests. Mayor Kenneth Alexander joined everyone for lunch and enjoyed hearing the campers talk about their best camp experiences.

After lunch, Bobby Baker, president of the Sertoma Club of Norfolk, presented Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast with a check for $5,000.

“We thank you for what you do for girls,” Baker said. “We value being a part of the outdoor experiences for girls at Camp Apasus.”

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast plans to put the funds towards building a new shelter at the camp, after they receive approval from the City of Norfolk. Over the years, funds from the Sertoma Club of Norfolk have allowed Girl Scouts to make updates and repairs to the camp, build fire pits, purchase a new pool and more.

Before the end of the event, guests were invited to make s’mores around the fire and take tours of the Camp Apasus property.

Since the 1930s, Girl Scouts have been attending Camp Apasus, where they make lasting friendships, have new experiences, develop leadership skills and gain self-confidence as they try new things. Thanks to the generous support of the Sertoma Club and other community organizations, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast can continue to serve girls, building courage, confidence and character among them, one girl at a time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Camp Fury Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Fire Department has a group of young recruits this week—20 local Girl Scouts are taking part in Camp Fury, a firefighting and emergency preparedness camp for girls. This is the first time that the Chesapeake Fire Department has hosted the camp, which is made possible through a partnership with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

On Monday, August 8, the girls kicked off camp with an introduction to fire service, learning how to don turnout gear and forming squadron groups for the week. By the afternoon, the campers were taking on real firefighter challenges, including an aerial climb on a ladder truck, using a Halligan bar to make forcible entry through a door and carrying and operating a fire hose. The girls also took part in a first aid session, where they learned about caring for injuries and dealing with emergency situations, including wounds, sprains and anaphylactic shock.

“Getting to do the aerial climb on the ladder truck has been my favorite part so far,” Mackenzie Tate, a Chesapeake Girl Scout, said. “But there’s so much more we’re going to be doing this week, it’s hard to say what the best part will be.”

Later in the week, the campers will get the opportunity to try rappelling, take part in fire extinguisher training, participate in a vehicle extrication demonstration and spend a night at a fire station. The girls will also be introduced to nontraditional careers for women outside of firefighting through a tour of Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, a visit from Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and guest speakers from the military.

The goal of Camp Fury is to introduce girls to firefighting as a career and give girls the chance to meet women in fields typically dominated by men, as well as give girls the opportunity to try new things and build self-confidence and teamwork skills. During the rest of the week at Camp Fury, girls will take part in search and rescue and fire extinguisher training, tour Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, get a visit from Nightingale, and hear from guest speakers from the FBI, Navy and more.

Camp Fury was brought to Chesapeake by Firefighter Paramedic Mandy George with the Chesapeake Fire Department. George volunteered at Camp Fury Hampton for the past three years and wanted to create a similar opportunity for girls on the Southside.