Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: The Doom of Distracted Driving

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

For her project, Samantha focused on educating people in her community about the dangers of distracted driving. She began her project by conducting research about driving distractions and state laws pertaining to distracted driving. She then put together a PowerPoint presentation that she shared with classes at her school, local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the Grassfield High School PTSA, the staff at a local State Farm office, the Greenbrier DMV and other community members. At the end of each presentation, Samantha invited participants to pledge to drive conscientiously. She also put together baskets with information that she delivered to banks, libraries, YMCAs and other places frequently visited by members of the public. Each participant at Samantha’s presentations received a small token to remind them to drive safely.

“I chose this project because I wanted to warn people of the dire consequences that can result from distracted driving,” Samantha said. “My project impacted not only new drivers, but also drivers who have been on the road for many years.”

In order to ensure that her project has a sustainable impact on the community, Samantha has arranged for the orchestra director at Grassfield High School to share her presentation with his students each year. He will also host discussions about distracted driving with his students.

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 Samantha 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, March 29, 2016

Girl Scouts Donate Cookies to USS Eisenhower

When the members of Girl Scout Troop 1211 got together to plan this year’s cookie program, they made a couple of goals. They talked about how many boxes of cookies they wanted to sell, and they brainstormed community service projects and activities they could fund using their cookie money. They also decided that they would donate some cookies to the men and women serving on the USS Eisenhower through Gift of Caring, a national community service project through which Girl Scouts ask customers to buy extra cookies to donate to their chosen cause. The last decision was an easy one for the troop members. A majority of the girls in the troop have a family member who serves in the military, including Hannah, whose father is an officer on the USS Eisenhower.

Dani. Rebecca, Megan, Nicole and Hannah
On Tuesday, March 15, the troop members packed up the nearly 100 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that they had sold through Gift of Caring and headed to Naval Station Norfolk, where they boarded the USS Eisenhower and distributed cookies to the sailors. The girls had worked diligently all cookie season asking customers to donate cookies, and they were proud to see their hard work pay off as their cookies brought smiles to the faces of everyone who received them.

“The sailors were very happy to receive the cookies,” Marisol Chontos, the leader of Girl Scout Troop 1211, said. “The girls enjoy delivering the Gift of Caring cookies that they sell, and they will definitely not forget this experience.”

After giving out the cookies, Hannah's father brought the girls on a tour of the Eisenhower. For the girls, the tour was an eye-opening experience, as they got a glimpse of what it is like to live on a ship. The Eisenhower will soon be deploying for at least six months, and after visiting the ship, the girls were even more satisfied that they were able to perform a nice gesture for the sailors.

Last year, Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina donated more than 20,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to members of the military through Gift of Caring. On April 9, Girl Scouts will be taking over the plaza outside of Scope in Norfolk to load approximately 19,000 boxes of cookies into a truck to donate to Soldiers’ Angels, an organization that provides aid and comfort to men and women in the military, their families and the growing veteran population.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Buddies, Bits and Bridles

“No selfies on horseback!”

It’s a new rule at Ballyshannon Equestrian Center in Courtland, one that owner Maura Britt never imagined she would have to enact when she opened Ballyshannon in 2008. But, for Britt, the safety of the riders—and horses—is always a priority, and distractions have to be minimized. This is just one of the many safety points that Britt will teach to nearly 60 girls this June through her summer camp partnership with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

This is the fourth summer that Britt will be running the horseback program for Girl Scouts, during which she teaches girls about horse care, stable management, riding and safety. This summer, there will be five sessions of the horse-themed camp for girls in grades four through 12, who will stay at nearby Girl Scout Camp Darden during the week. The camp, although typically attended by Girl Scouts, is open to all girls.

Maura Britt helps Erica get her horse up to a trot during a 2013
Girl Scout summer camp session at Ballyshannon.
“On day one of camp, the girls have a tour of the barn, and we teach them a how to put on a halter and lead rope, and groom, saddle and bridle the horses,” Britt said. “They also learn how to mount, walk, turn and dismount the horse. The next day, we introduce trotting. By Thursday, they go on a trail ride, and Friday will be horse show day.”

The Girl Scout Juniors—fourth and fifth graders— who attend the camp will earn the new Horseback Riding badge, which was introduced last June as part of an effort from Girl Scouts of the USA to further encourage girls to be active outdoors.

Through her riding lessons, Britt is committed to providing that hands-on learning experience that girls want. She shows the girls how to groom the horses, and then they work in small groups to groom the horses on their own. After Britt teaches them how to saddle and bridle the horses, it is up to the girls to saddle and bridle the horses each day, of course with Britt and her staff nearby for guidance when needed. She wants girls to be safe and know what they are doing, but it is important to her that the girls also have a lot of fun.

And, for the pictures, girls may not have horseback selfies, but Britt is sure to photo-document each week of camp and place the pictures on Facebook for the girls and their parents to download and share when they get home from camp.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Girl Scouts Honor Longtime Volunteer Helen Kattwinkel

Helen Kattwinkel with Girl Scout volunteer and
Gold Award Committee member Susan Ramsland,
who, along with GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller, presented
the legacy plaque to Helen during the reception.
Girl Scouts love to celebrate! This year as we observe the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award, we honor those in our Council who have helped girls reach that pinnacle. One very special volunteer deserving of recognition is Helen Kattwinkel. She has spent more than three decades serving on the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Gold Award Committee. Helen, who started in Girl Scouts in 1964 as a leader overseas in Turkey, has gone on to serve in many roles – leader, cookie chair, trainer, delegate and others. But she says serving as one of the leads on the Gold Award Committee has been the most satisfying.

“Earning the Gold Award is hard work,” Helen said. “Girls come with great ideas but don’t always know the depth of the work it takes. It’s our job to help them through the process. It’s rewarding to see them complete their projects and the confidence they have gained along the way.”

A celebration reception was held in Helen’s honor on March 20 at Wycliffe Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, the church Helen attends regularly. Girl Scout friends who have known Helen over the years attended and paid tribute to her. A plaque was presented to her and will find a place in the church’s exhibit case alongside a plaque that was presented to Helen’s late husband, Frank.

Girl Scout Alumna Amy Godby and Helen Kattwinkel
Among the guests was Amy Godby, the volunteer coordinator for alumnae relations for GSCCC. Amy earned her Girl Scout Gold Award seven years ago while living in Surry County.

“Earning the Gold Award meant more to me than earning my college degree,” Amy said. “I ended up doing a project that was close to my heart. My project focused on domestic violence and I spent time helping a shelter and doing advocacy work to educate others on the subject. My mother is a survivor of domestic violence, so I know the impact it has on a woman and the family. I’m passionate about Girl Scouts. It has done so much for me. Being part of the alumnae group is giving me an opportunity to connect with others who earned their Gold Award. It’s fascinating to hear their stories and share them with today’s girls. I am so proud to be part of an alumnae group that includes passionate women like Helen.”

Amy along with other guests chose to donate at the celebration to the Helen Kattwinkel Endowment Fund, which when fully funded, will support awarding Gold Awardees with lifetime memberships. As a lifetime member, young women who have earned the prestigious award will receive a welcome letter and lifetime member certificate signed by the chair of the GSUSA National Board of Directors, a lifetime membership card, Girl Scouts bimonthly alumnae e-newsletter, lifetime membership pin and additional benefits, such as invitations to events. More important, they will remain connected and continue to be a cherished part of the Girl Scout family.

Please consider making a donation and support Girl Scout Gold Awardees!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Change in Scenery

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

For her project, Megan painted a mural in The Hoy Center, a nursing care facility, in Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Megan’s mural updated a wall where a mural had been painted 10 years ago, but had begun to deteriorate. Megan chose a bright beach scene for her mural to be a fun and uplifting sight for residents at Westminster-Canterbury.

Megan also donated adult coloring books for the residents at Westminster-Canterbury and taught art classes for any of the residents who wanted to participate.

“I have helped do volunteer work before, but this was the first project I was in charge of,” Megan said. “I enjoyed the responsibility and will continue to work with the residents at Westminster-Canterbury.”

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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Skin Sun Safety

Anna, a Girl Scout Senior from Yorktown, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Anna addressed the issue of sun exposure and the rising number cases of skin cancer. Anna began her project by doing research about skin cancer and the best ways for people to protect themselves from harmful sun rays. She then made a display board and video that she presented around the community, including four presentations at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church movie nights, five presentations at Ken Matthews Garden Center, four presentations at swim clinics and a presentation for the Grafton cross country team. She also partnered with the Kiln Creek Swim Team, where she made a presentation to the team, and during home meets, she distributed sunscreen samples and made announcements about sun safety.

“I have pale skin, and I have to use sunscreen often,” Anna said. “I wanted to spread awareness to people who do not use sunscreen as much as they should.”

Anna also placed her video online so that people around the world can use it as a sun safety resource.

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 six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Anna to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Monday, March 7, 2016

2016 Samoa Soiree

On Saturday, March 5, more than 500 guests attended the 8th annual Samoa Soiree, a unique tasting event hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, where top chefs use Girl Scout Cookies as a key ingredient to make desserts and appetizers. This year, 14 restaurants participated in the culinary competition, which took place at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk.

The culinary delights were judged by local celebrities and foodies, including WVEC Reporter Ashley Smith, who also served as the emcee for the evening, Angela Blue, editor-in-chief of Coastal Virginia Magazine; Don London, vice president of operations at Entercom Communications; Marisa Marsey with VEER Magazine; and Steve Parnell, account executive with Little Brownie Bakers.

This year’s winning dishes were:

Dishes by Gourmet Gang and HomeGrown
Best Dessert: Thin Mint Cake Pops by RJ's Cafe at the Salvation Army Kroc Center

Best Savory: Make Your Own Do-si-dos Salad by Now You're Cooking Culinary Studio

Best Presentation: Thin Mints Blackberry Cheesecake with Samoas Crust by Gourmet Gang

Most Creative Use of a Girl Scout Cookie: Rah Rah Raisins Sausage with Lemon Cream Sauce by HomeGrown

Best in Show: Spicy Thin Mint Beef Pad Thai and Tangelo Ice Cream with Rah Rah Raisins Waffle Cone by Cyprus Grille at Embassy Suites Hampton

People’s Choice for Best Savory: Savannah Smiles Chicken by Tap It Local

People's Choice for Best Dessert: Thin Mints Blackberry Cheesecake with Samoas Crust by Gourmet Gang

This year’s participating restaurants included: Anchor Allie’s Bistro, The Butcher’s Son, Cyprus Grille at Embassy Suites, Farm Fresh Supermarkets, Freemason Abbey Restaurant, Gourmet Gang, HomeGrown, Now You’re Cooking, The Press Norfolk, RJ’s CafĂ© at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, Tap It Local, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Twisted Sisters Cupcakes and The Vineyards Trattoria.

In celebration of the 80th anniversary of the national Girl Scout Cookie Program, guests at Samoa Soiree enjoyed live entertainment from 504 Supreme Band, a local ensemble known for their high-energy swing and jazz music.

Proceeds from the event will support the Opportunity Fund, which provides financial assistance to girls whose families need help with Girl Scout membership, summer camp and program fees.

A huge thank you to this year's sponsors: PRA Group, TowneBank, Little Brownie Bakers, Greenbrier Dodge, Patrick Cvitanovich and Suzanne Aldridge of UBS, Wall, Einhorn and Chernitzer P.C., The Miles Agency, Kaufman and Canoles, Farm Fresh Supermarkets, Top Guard Security, Nathan and Co. Real Estate Team, WVEC-TV 13, The New 101.3, Yelp, Coastal Virginia Magazine, VEER Magazine and Tidewater Women Magazine.

View more photos from the event here.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Girl Scouts Learn The ABCs of Bullying Prevention from the Harlem Globetrotters

The internationally-acclaimed Harlem Globetrotters made a stop in Norfolk this weekend as part of their 90th anniversary tour. Prior to their game on Sunday afternoon, more than 200 Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts met with Sweet J, the 12th female member of the team, for a special program—The ABCs of Bullying Prevention.
Girl Scout Troop 615 with Sweet J
The program, which was designed in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV), focuses on teaching children about Action, Bravery and Compassion. During an interactive workshop, Sweet J talked to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts about how to take a stand against bullying behaviors.

“It’s important to stand up for one another and show others that you care about them,” Sweet J told the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Yorktown Girl Scout Abriannah learns
ball-handling skills from Sweet J.
She also went over the types of bullying, including physical, verbal and cyber, and gave the children in the audience an opportunity to share ways that they can take action against bullying behaviors that they witness or experience. Before the end of the workshop, Sweet J gave some lucky audience members the chance to try out some of the ball-handling skills she shared with them. After the workshop, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts enjoyed watching the Harlem Globetrotters take on the World All-Stars.

An estimated six out of 10 teens witness bullying at least once a day. Both the Harlem Globetrotters and the Girl Scouts believe that reaching children with bullying prevention tips early in their lives can teach valuable lessons in character and empathy. Through The ABCs of Bullying Prevention, the Harlem Globetrotters hope to show children that they can offer support to one another to help stop bullying.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

2016 Legislative Day

Virginia Girl Scout councils hosted their annual Legislative Day on Monday, February 22 at the General Assembly Building in Richmond. This day was an opportunity for legislators to hear about what is going on in the seven Girl Scout councils in the Commonwealth of Virginia who serve nearly 100,000 girls with the help of 40,000 volunteers.

Amanda, GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller, Anne, Lieutenant Governor Northam,
Lily, Dana and Pam Northam
During Legislative Day, select girls from each council who have earned or who are working on earning the Girl Scout Gold Award— the highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting— attended a special reception to share their community service projects with local legislators. The reception took place in the General Assembly Building in the fifth floor west conference room, where an exhibit recognizing the centennial celebration of the highest award in Girl Scouting has been placed. The exhibit will be on display throughout the session. Following the reception, Girl Scouts were introduced in the House and Senate by Girl Scout alumnae Delegate Daun Hester and Senator Janet Howell.

In the afternoon, the Girl Scout were led on a tour of the Governor’s Mansion by Pam Northam, wife of Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, in honor or the Centennial Gold Award year. They then attended a tea hosted by Lieutenant Governor Northam at his offices. There, they met some additional prestigious Girl Scout alumnae: Secretary of Education Anne Holton; Secretary of Administration Nancy Rodrigues; Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and honorary Girl Scout, Secretary of Natural Resources and former Hampton City Mayor Molly Ward.

In addition to the learning experience for girls, members of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Advocacy Committee visited with legislators to discuss House Bill 942. The bill, which was introduced by patrons Delegate Tony Wilt who serves the 26th District and co-patron Delegate Brenda Pogge who serves the 96th District, was drafted to help patriotic organizations such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts gain access to schools during the school day to make students and their families aware of the unique community programs that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer. The bill was passed and approved by the House and the Senate on February 29 and is awaiting Governor Terry McAuliffe’s signature.