Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reading Rocks

Earlier this spring, four members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 805 in Chesapeake set out on a mission to make an impact on literacy rates in their community. The two fourth graders, Kiersten and Zoe, and two fifth graders, Kailie and Elizabeth, brainstormed ways that they could give children access to books all summer long. During the planning process, Zoe’s mother Stephanie Martin, who volunteers with the troop, shared with the girls about the population of children she worked with when she was a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in South Norfolk. After learning about the lack of resources faced by many of her students, the members of Troop 805 came up with a solution and their project, Reading Rocks, was born.
Zoe, Kiersten, Kailie and Elizabeth 
The girls got to work right away contacting libraries, local businesses and friends seeking donations of new and gently used books. After a generous response, the girls had enough books to distribute at least five to every kindergartner and first grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. Each of the four Girl Scouts also made 50 file folder games so that each student could have fun and educational activities to occupy some of their time over the summer. The Girl Scouts had Reading Rocks backpacks made for each student to carry their new books and games in and also gave some crayons to each student.

On May 23, the Girl Scouts loaded up their mothers’ cars with the backpacks and made their way to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. It was just after school, and the girls made a presentation to all of the kindergarten and first grade teachers to explain their project and leave all of their backpacks to be distributed before the end of the year. The teachers applauded the work of the Girl Scouts and thanked them for their efforts. Giving students their own books to read over the summer can make a big impact on the literacy skills they retain from the school year.

“The most challenging part of the project was making all of the file folder games because it was time consuming,” Kiersten said. “But it was an important part of the project because they will help the students practice important skills like vowel sounds and contractions.”

Each of the four Girl Scouts put in nearly 40 hours each to complete the project. For their work, the girls will earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Newport News Girl Scout Gives Back to the Military for Silver Award Project

Jazzlyn, a Newport News Girl Scout, has earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Jazzlyn has been a Girl Scout for four years.

Jazzlyn understands firsthand the sacrifices made by members of the military and their family. Both of her parents are veterans and her mother was deployed to Iraq to care for injured soldiers. For her Silver Award project, Jazzlyn wanted to give back to the military community and decided to create community book exchanges at USO Welcome Center at the Norfolk International Airport and local veterans’ medical centers.

“Reading helps me escape reality and go on an adventure,” Jazzlyn said. “My hope is that it will help the military members do the same so they don’t have to think about bad stuff going on in the world.”

To complete her project, Jazzlyn collected books, CDs and movies that soldiers can borrow for any amount of time to enjoy while they’re traveling or at their destination and return to the book exchange when they come back.

Through the work that she did with her Silver Award project, Jazzlyn also became a Wounded Warriors Student Ambassador. In this role, Jazzlyn helps to raise awareness about the work that the Wounded Warriors Project does to help injured service members recover and readjust.

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.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Camp Skimino Miniature

A simple cabin nestled in the woods— marshmallows toasting over a campfire out front, a lantern sitting on a nearby picnic table. It’s a scene right out of Williamsburg’s Girl Scout Camp Skimino— with a twist. For two years, the eight members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society, based in Newport News, have been building a one-inch scale model depicting a scene from their memories of Camp Skimino. On May 23, the group presented the miniature to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to place on display at their Peninsula Service Center in Newport News.

For Patti Delimpaltadakis and Ina Wapples, two members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society, creating a scale model of Camp Skimino brought back a wave of fond memories. While both spent time as a Girl Scout while growing up, it was the time that they spent as volunteer leaders on the Peninsula that had the biggest impact on their lives. During these years, they helped girls earn badges, mentored them as they earned the highest awards in Girl Scouting and introduced them to the great outdoors, which included trips to Camp Skimino. A favorite memory that Delimpaltadakis and Wapples share took place on a cold November weekend in the 1990s when they attended an outdoor training at Camp Skimino.

“At the end of the first day, everyone else headed off to a hotel for the night, but we wanted the true camp experience,” Delimpaltadakis recalled. “We were layered in all of our clothes and tucked in tight to our sleeping bags. Much to our dismay, we ended up discovering that the warmest place at camp was under the 100-watt bulb in the rustic latrine.”

For Delimpaltadakis and Wapples, Girl Scouting has been a big part of their lives and the lives of their daughters, which is why they chose Camp Skimino for their subject of their “Over the Hill Retreat” project, a theme chosen by the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME). During the presentation of the miniature to the Girl Scouts, they talked about how Girl Scouts influenced their lives and how mentoring girls helped them find their own voice and confidence.

“Believe it or not, I used to be shy,” Delimpaltadakis shared with a laugh. “But, as a Girl Scout leader, I learned that I had leadership potential.”

Delimpaltadakis and Wapples continue to work with local Girl Scouts by sharing their skills and passion for creating miniatures with the girls. They recalled visiting a troop and using recycled objects to make miniatures—one project was creating a table out of discarded single-serve coffee pods. Delimpaltadakis and Wapples are also able to integrate a lesson in mathematics into the fun when they work with Girl Scouts, as the girls measure objects and calculate the measurements of their scale models.

With the Camp Skimino miniature complete, the members of the Peninsula Heritage Miniature Society still have a myriad of other projects that they are working on. They also hope to continue working with Girl Scouts, and they connected with some new Girl Scout leaders to partner with at the presentation of their Camp Skimino miniature.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Top 10 Benefits of Girl Scout Camp

1. It's all girls! 

Girls have unique needs and interests, different from boys. They need a special place in their developmental years where they can discover their talents and learn to succeed. Girl Scouts offer such a place at camp. 

2. It's a confidence builder. 

The experience of being among friends—a sisterhood—who are cheering each other on and giving each other encouragement to succeed will make a lasting impression on the confidence level of each camper.

3. It fosters leadership skills. 

When it comes to leadership, girls are more likely to seek cooperation and consensus rather than top-down management. At Girl Scout camp, teamwork and cooperation are at the center of every activity.

4. It's all about fun with friends. 

Camp friends become best friends. At camp, girls are drawn together. Without the social pressures they face at school, they can relax and make friends easily.

5. It's the foundation for a healthy life.

Unlike most indoor environments, the outdoors offers open space where girls are able to be messy, make noise and move in more physically intense ways. This allows them to develop their movement capability and confidence—both of which create foundations for physically active lifestyles and general health.

6. It can help girls thrive in school.

Time in nature promotes attention restoration. In fact, spending time outdoors has been shown to improve concentration and creative reasoning. 

7. It's a chance for girls to gain a sense of independence. 

During their time at camp, girls learn to care for themselves and strengthen their sense of self-reliance. They learn to make decisions for themselves, and they have the chance to manage their own choices in the safe and caring environment of Girl Scout camp.

8. It's an opportunity to unplug. 

At camp, girls unplug from technology and gain a respect for nature as they become more aware of their surroundings. They also rediscover their own creativity and engage with the real world- real people and real activities.

9. It fosters environmental awareness.

Studies have shown that children who have had meaningful experiences in nature are more likely to prefer spending time outdoors, express concern about environmental issues and express interest in studying the environment or pursuing an environmental career.

10. It teaches resiliency. 

Girls feel comfortable at camp. It's a place where girls encourage one another to take risks and try new things. And, when they face setbacks, they learn that improvement comes from giving something another try.

Learn more about summer camp with GSCCC.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Unsinkable Girl Scouts

This post was written by guest blogger Jonée Lillard.

What happens when you give six teenage girls three months to build an underwater robot?

Amazing things…

Such is the story of Unsinkable Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast’s first ever ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team, of which I was a member in early 2016. Participating on the team and in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) ROV competition was enjoyable and rewarding, and an invaluable opportunity to learn about engineering, professionalism and teamwork.

Mary, Peighton, Elizabeth, Kaylee, Jonée and Nancy
An ROV is a remotely controlled aquatic robot, connected by a tether to a control mechanism on the surface. ROVs are used for various underwater tasks too dangerous for humans to perform. The MATE Center is an organization dedicated to advancing ocean science, including marine robotics education. In the premise of the competition, our team was a company with the ROV as its product, so our assignment involved not only building and operating the ROV to perform underwater “demonstration” tasks but also making a marketing display board and presenting our company and product to a panel of MATE representatives and engineers.

During a preliminary workshop at Nauticus, we experienced firsthand what the competition would involve. We experimented with different ROV designs in their test pool and decided that a cubic model would work best for our group. At subsequent meetings, we assembled the control box from a kit purchased from MATE, replicated the props to be used in the competition, such as corals and CubeSats, and constructed the ROV’s frame from PVC pipe after determining appropriate dimensions that would fit into a compact 40-centimeter circle. The practice props were helpful in designing the ROV, as we tailored the retrieval tool to fit them, and in testing, which allowed us to improve the design, including adjusting buoyancy and replacing and reinforcing motor mounts.

Besides learning practical skills such as soldering and drilling, we also gained experience in delegating and communication. We chose our positions in the “company” based on our skills, from CEO (Mary), Operations Manager (Peighton), CFO (Kaylee), R&D Engineer (Elizabeth), Marketing Manager (Nancy), and Safety Manager (Jonée) in the first few meetings to ROV operators and tether handlers during testing.

The regional competition at Old Dominion University on April 30 was the crowning moment of our experience. Seeing the product of our efforts perform exactly as it was designed and presenting it to the judges was immensely rewarding. We won the competition-wide award for Best Team Spirit and placed second overall in the Scout (beginner) level.

The assistance of our engineering mentor, Mr. Lee Scarbrow, was invaluable throughout the process: he helped us enormously with the design, taught us technical skills, and allowed us to use his backyard pool for testing. Many thanks also to Mrs. Donna Farnham, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program event specialist, for helping us with supplies and venues; Mrs. Emily Balke, for motivating and encouraging us every step of the way; Ms. Susie Hill and Nauticus, for their invaluable help and for encouraging us to begin the team; the American Society of Engineers, for the funding to make this program possible; and the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast for their support.

Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors who would like to be a member of the 2017 ROV team can contact

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wonders of Water Journey Presented by Troop 292

Two years ago, the teen members of Girl Scout Troop 292 decided that they wanted to plan an international adventure. Together, they would be able to explore a new place and immerse themselves in a new culture. Choosing a destination, however, wasn’t such an easy task. Thinking about where they wanted to go and how much money they would need to get there has been a big part of the planning process. Recently, the four members of the troop decided to save up for a trip to the Caribbean to be their culminating experience as Girl Scouts before starting college.

Since they decided on their trip, the girls have been working to earn the funds to pay for it. They’ve sold cookies each year, and have saved the proceeds to put towards their trip. Recently, they planned a special fundraising event where they led 79 Brownies to earn their Wonders of Water Journey. The girls worked together to come up with the activities for the day, develop a budget for supplies and advertise their event. Through the event, each Brownie completed their It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey, even completing the Take Action portion of the requirements.
Troop 292 used the Wonders of Water Journey, which was designed to give Girl Scouts the opportunity to learn about environmental issues, to give girls the chance to interact with issues affecting the planet. Each member of Troop 292 was responsible for a specific activity, from teaching the water cycle to leading a brainstorming session about how to save water. Water fun was also part of the agenda. Girls talked about their favorite water activities and learned how to take trash found in waterways and turn it into treasured craft projects.

To round out the fun, Troop 292 led the Brownies in an activity to make painted fish out of plastic water bottles. Together, all of the girls enjoyed fish-themed snacks before the end of the day.

Through their hard work, Girl Scout Troop 292 earned $850 to put towards their Caribbean trip. The girls are planning to replicate the Wonders of Water Journey event early next year to raise more funds. In the meantime, they are also planning an overnight camp for Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors this fall as a fundraiser for their trip.

Post by Chris Ramos-Smith, guest blogger

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Straw Bale Gardening for The Welcome Table's Meals

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

For her project, Shannon worked to supply fresh vegetables for The Welcome Table, a program at First Christian Church where a free meal is provided for approximately 100 people in need each week. In order to do this, Shannon planted a straw bale garden at the church. After setting up the bales and conditioning them for planting, she planted lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and herbs. After her first harvest, Shannon had more than 27 pounds of produce.

“I am passionate about gardening and helping to fight hunger,” Shannon said. “By creating a straw bale garden, the church can cheaply and easily grow their own fresh produce for those facing food insecurity.”

As part of her project, Shannon also wanted to inform community members about how they could reduce their own fresh food expenses by building straw bale gardens at home. She taught three classes, made up of more than 35 people in all, about how to start and maintain their own straw bale gardens.

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 Shannon 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.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Girl Scouts Celebrate Military Volunteers: Mariah Rule

Mariah Rule and her daughter Amelon at Troop 45's
coding event.
Each year, Americans recognize May as National Military Appreciation Month to focus attention on the individuals who serve in the armed forces and their achievements. Many members of the military serve their communities in more ways than one—including as volunteers for nonprofit organizations. One of these volunteers is Commander Mariah Rule, who is the Naval Integrated Fires Wargame lead at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, and a Girl Scout leader for a group of Brownies at Saint Patrick Catholic School.

Commander Rule got her start in Girl Scouts at a young age. She has fond memories of outdoor adventures at Camp Skimino in Williamsburg—learning about the outdoors, singing around the campfire and learning the value of teamwork as she and her troop members relied on one another to set up camp and cook meals. At camp, she found encouragement, independence and empowerment.

“I remember going to a volunteer, Barbara Mettler, while working on a badge,” Commander Rule recalled. “I thought I was pretty terrible at identifying mushrooms and types of trees. I wanted her to just guide me through the badge, but she gave me two books and sent me into the woods. I remember feeling very proud when I completed the badge, and I’ll never forget her smiling face when I finished.”

Years later, working as a bureau chief at a small ABC affiliate news station in a Marine Corps town, Commander Rule had a nagging feeling that she wasn’t making the impact on the world that she wanted to. Reflecting on the values that she learned as a Girl Scout and impressed by the women and men she saw in uniform, Commander Rule had a wakeup call of sorts and drove to the recruiting office. Two months later, she was in Officer Candidate School in Pensacola. Courage, confidence, making the world a better place—these are the Girl Scout values that helped shape Commander Rule and guide her to making a difference as a member of the armed forces.

In 2008, Commander Rule had a daughter, Amelon. She knew that when Amelon was old enough, she wanted her to have the same great experiences in Girl Scouts that she had had. Last year, when Commander Rule learned about a newly formed troop at Saint Patrick Catholic School, where Amelon is a student, everything came together. Although she didn’t intend to become a troop leader, she stepped up to become a leader for the Girl Scout Brownies in Troop 45, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I read more and more about the national Girl Scout program and reflected on my own experiences that I wanted to share,” Rule said. “The Girl Scout mission statement is about building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. That is motivating! Who wouldn’t want to connect with that message?”

Commander Rule and Amelon’s first year with Troop 45 has been a whirlwind of adventure and excitement. They kayaked on the Lafayette River, picking up trash along the way. They volunteered with a mobile food pantry to help hand out food during the holidays. They even visited the Virginia Zoo and made enrichment toys for the zoo animals. No matter the activity, Commander Rule has made sure that everything they do is girl-led and girl-driven. Each girl in the troop has had an opportunity to share her passions and lead her fellow troop members in badge-earning activities.

“We have a girl in our troop, Jane, who wants to be a doctor,” Commander Rule shared. “She helped us build a first aid kit. Another girl in our troop, Reese, along with her mother who is a vice president at TowneBank, guided us through cookie season and helped us earn the Meet My Customers badge.”

In addition to community service and earning badges, the troops has also had plenty of fun outings. They have gone skiing, ice skated at MacArthur Center, planned a mother-daughter movie night and expressed their creativity at Color Me Mine while earning painting and pottery patches. The girls have also supported one another by going to each other’s sporting events, school plays and musicals to cheer on their fellow Girl Scouts.

For Commander Rule, just as she bonded with her mother who was her Girl Scout leader, Girl Scouts provides a place for her to spend quality time with Amelon. She enjoys seeing her daughter, and all of the troop members, push themselves to try new things, understand who they are and think about how to change the world—all while having fun.

“The girls are having fun this year, and I think they are better for it,” Commander Rule said. “I know I am better for being involved in Girl Scouts again.”

Despite a busy year, Girl Scout Troop 45 still has big plans. They will soon be traveling to the Eastern Shore for a camping trip at Kiptopeke State Park. Then, they plan to take a short break for summer as they gear up for another year of adventure when the new school year starts.

To find out more about Girl Scouts or to reconnect with the organization, visit

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Girl Scouts Celebrate Military Volunteers: Brittney Webb

Each year, Americans recognize May as National Military Appreciation Month to focus attention on the individuals who serve in the armed forces and their achievements. Many members of the military serve their communities in more ways than one—including as volunteers for nonprofit organizations. One of these volunteers is Coast Guard Officer Trainee Brittney Webb of Moyock, who can trace her community involvement back to her days as a Girl Scout.

For OT Webb, Girl Scouts was a big part of her childhood. Some of her fondest memories come from camping with her Girl Scout troop— canoeing on the lake, cooking over a campfire and singing with friends. Girl Scouts was a place where she was encouraged to try new things and where she learned about the value of teamwork and power of friendship. It was through Girl Scouts that she learned the importance of giving back to the community.

Years passed since her time in Girl Scouts, and OT Webb went on to graduate from high school and join the Coast Guard. Then, earlier this winter, she was asked by her command if she would be willing to attend a Girl Scout troop meeting to help girls earn a military patch. All of her great Girl Scout memories came flooding back, and she eagerly volunteered to help out.

In January, OT Webb traveled to Chesapeake to meet with Girl Scout Troop 805. She was one of eight representatives from four branches of the military who talked to the girls about the differences between the branches, what their daily work lives are like and what it takes to serve in the military. After the troop meeting, OT Webb had the opportunity to chat with the troop members and really enjoyed reconnecting with the organization that had made such a positive impression on her as a child.

“After coming to the meeting, the troop leader asked if I wanted to continue with the troop,” OT Webb said. “Thinking back to all of my own wonderful Girl Scout memories, I agreed.”

Just days after her first meeting with Troop 805, OT Webb ran alongside her new Girl Scout friends in the Girl Scout Cookie Classic, an annual fundraising 5k hosted at Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake. She has also been supporting the troop members as they complete projects to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.
OT Webb, far right, with Troop 805 at the Girl Scout Cookie Classic Run
“Girl Scouts is a valuable program because it gets girls involved in things they would never do otherwise,” OT Webb said. “The biggest impact Girl Scouts had on me was teaching me the importance of friendship, doing good for the community and empowerment for girls."

OT Webb is just one of the many Girl Scout volunteers who give their time and talents to make a difference in the lives of girls despite the demands of their career in the military. For more information about volunteering with Girl Scouts, visit

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Don't Quit, Get Fit!

Madison, 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, Madison created a physical fitness curriculum for children who attended the Chesapeake Parks and Recreation Summer Blast Program. Her goal was to show the children in the program, who ranged in age from six to 12, that physical fitness and exercise can be fun. During each day of Madison’s two-week program, she introduced children to warm up exercises and fitness activities and asked them questions to get them to think about what activities they enjoy most and how they could exercise at home. Her curriculum included themed days, such as Track and Field Tuesday, during which students participated in running relays, long jumps, sprints and other track and field events.

“One third of children in America between the ages of six and 17 do not engage in any form of physical activity,” Madison said. “Children should want to participate in fitness, and learning fun and exciting ways to exercise is just what they need.”

Madison assembled a manual with directions and supply lists for running her program that she donated to Chesapeake Parks and Recreation so that her program can be replicated in the future. She also created pamphlets about the importance of physical fitness for children that she handed out at local elementary schools and daycare centers.

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 Madison 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.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Girl Scout Weekend at Ocean Breeze Waterpark

Summer is almost here, and we’re all thinking about the fun that comes with this season. Swimming is one of the season’s pleasures, whether it’s at camp or at a fun water park like Ocean Breeze Waterpark! Start the fun this season at Ocean Breeze during Girl Scout Weekend taking place on June 11 and 12 – you pick a day to go with friends and family. Make your reservation today and learn about Girl Scout special rates! You’ll be on your way to gaining real health and fitness benefits when you add swimming and water sports, such as canoeing, to your schedule. If you’re an accomplished swimmer, all the better and an opportunity to strengthen your skills. Not a swimmer? Take time to register for a camp session that will help you learn to swim or find opportunities in the community to take lessons. No matter what you do or where you go to splish and splash, make sure you follow safety rules and guidelines while having fun. Here’s just a few safety tips to think about:
  • Learn to swim to stay safe in and around the water.
  • Parents, never leave children unattended.
  • Read all posted signs and follow safety rules and warnings at swimming pools.
  • Always swim with a buddy and never swim in unsupervised places.
  • Wear a life jacket if you are canoeing or boating – or if you are a weak or non-swimmer. 
  • Going to the beach? Look for areas that are supervised by lifeguards.
  • The American Red Cross recommends nine feet as a minimum depth for diving or jumping, so check the water depth before you try diving or jumping. Be on the alert, some places do not allow diving or jumping.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts.You may need to stop swimming if there is bad weather on the way.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Girl Scouts Experience Life as an EVMS Medical Student for a Day

The halls of the Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) are typically quiet on Saturdays. The mock hospital rooms sit empty—medical equipment and manikins untouched until classes resume on Mondays. But, on Saturday, May 7, a group of teen Girl Scouts had a unique opportunity visit Lester Hall and experience life as medical students for the day.

The Girl Scouts were welcomed to the medical school by Sasha Edwards, senior simulation specialist at EVMS. With a background as an EMT, Edwards gave girls an overview of CPR, including its history and the current standards for administering the lifesaving technique. She also talked about the wide range of careers in the medical field, introducing two simulation assistants, Matthew Weaks, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, and Devan Gambo, who started working at EVMS as a standardized patient as a teenager.

The girls then separated into groups for some hands-on medical school experiences. In a classroom set up to look like an emergency room trauma bay, Girl Scouts learned about airways and breathing before trying their hands at intubating a manikin. Working with a physical teaching associate, the girls learned how to take a blood pressure reading and check for neurological function with a tuning fork and reflex hammer. In a darkened lab, girls used otoscopes and ophthalmoscopes to examine manikin ears and eyes. They also got to practice their CPR skills on manikin-based simulators that reported metrics on their chest compressions.

“In a way, it was a two-fold experience for the girls,” Edwards said. “They got to participate in some activities that our medical students complete, possibly leading them to a career in the medical field. They also got some insight into the growing field of medical simulation and learned that you don’t necessarily have to have a medical background to work in the field.”

While women do make up a majority of healthcare employees, they have yet to reach parity as key decision makers in the industry. Women are nurses, working in doctor’s offices and home healthcare workers, but just 38 percent of the full-time academic medicine workforce is female and less than one-third of practicing physicians are women. The event that EVMS hosted for Girl Scouts gave the girls an opportunity to learn about the wide variety of medical careers, as well as interact with female role models who work in healthcare. 

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is committed to working with community partners, such as EVMS, to provide girls of all ages with opportunities to explore and discover the world of science and technology. On September 17, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is partnering with Norfolk State University to host Science Alive, a day of hands-on learning in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. This event is open to all girls in grades two through 12, whether or not they are currently Girl Scouts.

View more photos from the day here.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Girl Scout Troop 630 Holds Investiture Ceremony

For Girl Scouts, uniforms are an iconic part of their identity. Although the design of the Girl Scout uniform has changed since the organization was founded more than 100 years ago, the significance remains the same. Girl Scout uniforms symbolize the high ideal for which Girl Scouting stands and unite members as representatives of Girl Scouts.

Two newly invested members of Troop 630-
Trinity and Kendra
On April 7, the members of Girl Scout Troop 630 at Ruffner Academy in Norfolk used their regular meeting time to recognize just how special Girl Scout uniforms are by hosting an investiture ceremony. During the ceremony, each girl received an official Girl Scout membership pin and sash, adorned with the first badge they had earned earlier in the year—Girl Scout Way. Led by troop leader Betty Boone, at the ceremony, the girls used battery-operated candles to signify how Girl Scouts brighten their own lives and the lives of others. The girls also recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which they had learned as part of the requirements to earn the Girl Scout Way badge.

“At our third troop meeting, I introduced the Girl Scout Law to the girls in a song,” Boone said. “They surprised me by practicing the words on their own. That made my heart proud to be there with them.”

Thanks to funding from the United Way of South Hampton Roads Women’s Leadership Council, the members of Troop 630 have a lot more to look forward to as Girl Scouts. They have numerous field trips planned, including a golf outing, college tours and an outdoor skills day at A Place for Girls, the regional Girl Scout program center in Chesapeake. They’ll also be taking a day trip to Washington D.C. in June, which all of the troop members are looking forward to.

“It can be hard to get middle school girls interested in something,” Boone said. “I started this troop hoping to show them that Girl Scouts is fun, and I have.”

Girl Scout Troop 630
The girls also have plans to earn more badges to fill out their new uniforms. At a recent meeting, they worked on the requirements to earn the Field Day badge. They organized teams and events for an exciting, do-it-yourself field day, complete with historical and science-themed games. Members of the troop also recently attended Girl Scouts Fly, where they learned about aviation and nontraditional careers for women, at the Chesapeake Regional Airport.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Take Our Daughters to Work Day

April 28, 2016, marked the 23rd year of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. On the fourth Thursday of each April, working parents all across America take their children to work with them so they can experience the work world. Some companies have organized activities for youth as well. Such was the case on April 29 when BB&T offered five area teen Girl Scouts a career day at their regional headquarters in Virginia Beach in honor of the national observance.

Senior Vice President and Regional Business Deposits Officer III Cheryle Mack, who is also board chair of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, put this on the bank’s calendar months ago when she and the Council’s CEO Tracy Keller had a discussion about offering more leadership opportunities for teen members.

“I think it is vital for young women to have an opportunity to explore a number of careers before they set their career compass,” Mack said. “I think the one thing they will learn from today’s experience will be the willingness to be flexible and to be open to possibilities. I didn’t set out to be a senior vice president of a bank. There were a lot of twist and turns along the way.”

Cheryle Mack and Genesis
The day of exploration started early for the five teens who were selected based on their demonstrated leadership experience and their interest in the banking field. Mack welcomed the girls with a briefing in one of the banks conference rooms where on any other day important clients would be meeting with bank managers or officers. She shared her own career background and told how finding her voice and taking thought-out risks helped her earn promotions at BB&T. Mack also spoke about the struggles that she as a woman faces in the business arena and how while things have gotten better there still is a lot of room for improvement.

Three women managers who are Mack’s coworkers and had volunteered to mentor girls for the day followed her opening: Beth Reid, employee benefit agent and officer; Jenna Mackay, vice president and wealth management advisor; and Stacy Wells, vice president and small business specialist team leader. Each woman talked about their journeys to leadership, obstacles they faced along the way and what they enjoy about their jobs.

“There is so much that goes on in a bank,” Mack told the girls. “It’s more than the tellers and branch managers. I want today to be about you seeing all sorts of opportunities in the banking industry.”

Based on their career interests for the future, the Girl Scouts split into small groups to meet with the mentors from BB&T and gain an in-depth understanding of their jobs.

Jenna Mackay and Lily
Lily, a Girl Scout Senior from Chesapeake, spent the morning with Mackay, where she learned about strategies for managing wealth and investments. Mackay told Lily about how she worked her way up in the banking industry, after first working as a personal banker in 1999. She also talked about the certifications and licenses she has to maintain in order to do her job.

“I never knew that there were so many different ways to manage personal finances,” Lily said.

The group reconvened for lunch, where they had candid conversations with their BB&T mentors that included discussing important topics such as building credit and protecting themselves against fraud and identity theft, along with some “girl talk” that led to sharing information on favorite vacation spots.

In today’s world, women hold just 14.2 percent of the top five leadership positions at companies. Girl Scouts are working to fill this gap by giving girls opportunities to interact with female role models who are leaders in business so that girls can picture themselves in similar roles in the future.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Girl Scout Helps Military Canine Companions to Earn Silver Award

Girl Scout Cadette Morgan from Virginia Beach has earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Morgan sewed 10 dog beds to donate to Landing Zone Grace, a nonprofit organization that provides a retreat for veterans returning from deployment to transition in a relaxing and stress-free environment. Some of the veterans have service dogs, and after learning that the kennels at Landing Zone Grace have concrete floors, Morgan wanted to provide a comfortable place for the canines to spend time.

To make the dog beds, Morgan used donated materials to sew covers. She then met with a younger Girl Scout troop to tell them about her project, and the troop members helped fill the beds with stuffing.

“I chose this project because my dad is a Navy veteran, and I love animals,” Morgan said.

As a result of her project, neither the founder of Landing Zone Grace, Lynnette Bukowski, nor the veterans with service and companion dogs have to invest money in bedding for the dogs. For Morgan, the best part of her project was delivering the beds to Landing Zone Grace and seeing how grateful Bukowski was for her project.

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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Car Care Workshop

For many teens, turning 16 is a milestone, as they look forward to obtaining their driver’s license and the accompanying sense of freedom. But, with the new feeling of independence that comes with getting behind the wheel, also comes a new set of responsibilities. To help new and soon-to-be drivers learn about car care and safety, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast and GEICO teamed up to hold a workshop for nearly 40 Girl Scouts on May 4 at Elite Auto Body in Norfolk.

As the girls arrived at the auto shop, they had the chance to mingle with a member of the GEICO sales team to learn about insurance, as well as with representatives from RK Chevrolet, who shared tips about purchasing a car. After a welcome message from Toiya Sosa, regional public affairs and community relations with GEICO, and Tracy Keller, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, girl split into groups and rotated through four activity stations. Each station was run by members of the GEICO auto damage department from across Virginia and North Carolina.

The first two stations were hands-on opportunities for girls to learn about maintaining a vehicle. They checked the air pressure in car tires, learned about checking the depth of tire treads and practiced changing a car tire. They also looked under the hood of a car, where they checked oil levels and learned how to connect jumper cables to restart a car battery. Finally, while learning about why it is important to maintain their vehicle, the girls looked at examples of clean and dirty air filters.

“In driver’s education at school, we learn about some of these things, but we never actually do them, which is why I learned a lot tonight,” McKenna, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Chesapeake, said.

At the two other stations, girls participated in an interactive game to learn about the dangers of distracted driving and learned about the crash risks associated with young drivers. The girls also got a quick lesson in insurance, during which they learned about liability and different types of coverage.

“It’s important for girls to learn these life skills,” Sosa said. “They’ll feel empowered and confident on the road, and sharing this information with them is beneficial for traffic safety in general.”

The workshop concluded with a ceremony, where each girl received a GEICO Car Care Program patch. The Girl Scout Seniors, who are ninth and tenth graders, also earned the Girl Scout Car Care badge, which is designed to help prepare teens to become safe drivers.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast and GEICO will offer the car care program for teen girls in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina again this fall. For more information about opportunities with Girl Scouts, visit

View more photos from the event here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Meet the Newest GSCCC Board Members

GSCCC would like to extend a warm welcome to the newest members of our board of directors! These three women were installed as members at our Annual Council Meeting in February and have completed their board orientation. We are excited to have their experience, insight and expertise to help govern Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. Meet our new members:

Dr. Ann Campbell is the associate dean for student affairs and professor of microbiology and molecular cell biology at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She earned her postdoctoral fellowship at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and her doctorate in microbiology at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Campbell wants to raise awareness among girls and young women about how they can impact STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), as well as introduce them to their options for future careers and leadership roles in these fields.
Maria Chenault-Herbert is the president and CEO of MCH Consulting Services, an innovative small business that provides high quality technical, analytical, management, administrative and training support services for government and private sector customers. She received her Bachelor of Science in computer science from Christopher Newport University and is a former employee of Raytheon and Science Application International Corporation, where she managed multiple information technology projects for the Navy.
Lucinda (Lu Ann) Klevecz is the general counsel and managing director for Harbor Group International, LLC, a commercial real estate investment company. She is also the chief compliance officer for Harbor Group International affiliates. She holds a law degree from Regent University and a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University. She has been active in many volunteer roles, holding leadership positions in Cub Scouts, band and sports booster clubs and spouse organizations affiliated with US Army installations.

In June, these new members will join the rest of the board members for their next scheduled meeting at A Place for Girls, the GSCCC regional program center and headquarters. During their term, they will help to establish policy, approve budgets, set direction for GSCCC and monitor progress. Learn more about our board of directors here.