Monday, June 27, 2016

Williamsburg Girl Scout Earns Silver Award

Paige, a Williamsburg Girl Scout has earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. For her project, Paige used her woodworking skills to make improvements at Williamsburg Montessori School, a nonprofit private school.

The first part of Paige’s project was building shelves in a shed used by school faculty for storage. The shed was disorganized, and some items had been damaged because of how they were piled into the shed. Paige built new shelves, inventoried the contents of the shed and organized everything into boxes that she clearly labeled.

After completing the shed project, the principal of the school mentioned to Paige and her father about a garden that the school was trying to cultivate to create an outdoor learning space for preschoolers and kindergartners. However, the school needed a fenced area to start the garden. With the help of her father, Paige spent her spring break cutting wood and putting together a fence for the garden. That same week, Paige also completed the third part of her project, building a balance beam at the school’s playground.

“The newly-organized shed will give the teachers and administrators a safe place to put their materials, which are a core part of the Montessori teaching method,” Paige said. “The garden will allow kids to learn about the earth and the balance beam is a new piece of playground equipment sturdy enough to bring joy to kids for decades.”

For Paige, the most successful part of her project is the longevity of the impact. The items that she built, along with the help of her father, will last the school a long time. She is proud to have made a difference in her school before graduating. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mane-ly Horses

With boots on their feet and the sun shining overhead, 17 local Girl Scouts traipsed through the grass toward the barn at Grubb Grove Horse Farm each morning during the week of June 20. The girls were taking part in a new day camp experience, offered by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast in partnership with the farm.

After grabbing a helmet from the barn and clasping the strap under their chin, the girls waited outside for the horses to be brought out for grooming. The girls helped brush the three horses—Fancy, Lucy and Lilly—and comb their manes and tails. They also helped with other grooming tasks, including cleaning out the horses’ hooves that had filled with mud after an evening romping through the fields. The girls then saddled up the horses and led them into the ring for riding lessons.

For most of the Girl Scouts at the camp, who range in age from seven to 12, this was their first experience with horseback riding.

“The first day we learned how to walk, stop and turn the horse,” Girl Scout Junior Abigael said on the third day of camp. “Yesterday we tried to going faster and let the horse jog. We’re still working on that because we’re new at riding and still getting the feel for it.”

After morning riding lessons and a lunch break, the girls reconvened in the riding ring for friendly competition each afternoon. The girls, who are worked with the same horse and team of fellow riders for the week, were challenged to earn points through the competition, vying for a prize at the end of the week. The competition included leading the horses to walk and weave in between poles and test some of the skills they learned during the morning sessions.

“This is the first summer that we have partnered with an organization to run a camp just for them, and it’s going really well so far with the Girl Scouts,” Grubb Grove Horse Farm Camp Director Shaolin Mosley said.

Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will be hosting an additional four weeks of day camp in Chesapeake this summer in August at Camp Outback.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Suffolk Girl Scout Selected to Join Girl Scout National Convention Planning Team

Every three years, Girl Scouts from across the country convene for National Convention. It’s a four-day experience where the national board is elected, governance decisions are made, female leaders deliver empowering keynote speeches and Girl Scouts get to meet new friends and swap program ideas. Preparations are already underway for the next Girl Scout National Convention, scheduled to take place in Columbus, Ohio in 2017. And, for the first time ever, Girl Scouts of the USA has put together a movement-wide team of girls to help plan the big event. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast is proud to announce that Suffolk resident Cree has been selected to participate on this 21-member team of Girl Scouts from 17 different Girl Scout councils in the country.

Cree and GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller
Cree, who has been a Girl Scout for seven years, is an active member of her troop and learned about applying for the Convention planning team from her troop leader, Dina Crewe. As a member of the planning team, Cree will take part in virtual monthly meetings and three face-to-face meetings, including one in Columbus this July. Next summer, the team will be meeting at the Girl Scout central office in New York City, and their third meeting will be at the convention.

“Now, we are primarily working on the Hall of Experiences, which is where we’ll have interactive activities and vendors, as well as programs and evening events,” Cree said. “We are also helping to approve other aspects, such as the design of the logo for Convention.”

For Cree, being a Girl Scout is an important part of her life. She attributes Girl Scouts to helping her build self-confidence, make great friends and provide her with opportunities to make a difference in her community. In the past year alone, Cree has accomplished many things as a Girl Scout. She earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, which is the second highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. She has also participated in numerous community service projects, including a pajama collection, multiple food drives and laying wreaths on veterans’ graves before the holidays. As a member of Troop 4312, Cree has had time for fun activities as well, including a trip to Roanoke Island Festival Park in the Outer Banks, a tour of the USS Eisenhower, a dolphin watching excursion, a night at Harbor Park for Tides baseball and a technology workshop at the Apple Store. Cree is looking forward to sharing all of her Girl Scout experiences with her fellow planning team members to make the 2017 Girl Scout National Convention the best one yet.

“I am most excited about the actual National Convention, where I can see the work and time we put into planning come to fruition,” Cree said.

Girl Scouts will convene in Columbus, Ohio in October 2017 for their 54th National Council Session and Convention. For more information about taking part in unique experiences in Girl Scouts, visit

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Gold Award Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Girl Scout Ambassadors Anne and Darden, both from Virginia Beach, were selected to attend a special Gold Award Celebration event hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA in Washington D.C. as part of the 100th anniversary of the highest award in Girl Scouts. In addition to attending a reception that was held on Capitol Hill in the Cannon Building where legislators spoke, including Virginia’s Senator Kaine, the girls were able to hear from Girl Scouts of the USA national CEO Anna Maria Chávez at a luncheon held at the National Press Club where she was the guest speaker.

Tracy Keller, Anne, Anna Maria Chávez, Darden
Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller, a former Gold Awardee who earned the award while in high school in Virginia Beach, and the council’s board chair, Cheryle Mack who is a senior vice president for BB&T Bank, accompanied the girls. More than 400 Girl Scouts representatives from nearly all of the 112 councils nationwide were present for both events, which gave attention to an award that the Girl Scouts hope gains more awareness among legislators, educators and those in the public. Compared to the Boy Scout Eagle award, the Girl Scout Gold Award requires more than 80 hours of dedicated time to a community service project that makes an impact on a girl’s community and is sustainable.

Purrington, who earned the Gold Award last August, shared her STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math) project, which involved the development of an app for sailors. Fentress is still working on her Gold Award project, which involves advocacy efforts to end cosmetic testing on animals. Both girls had the chance to share their projects with legislators and fellow Girl Scouts from around the country.

Darden, Representative Scott, Anne, Cheryle Mack, Tracy Keller
“It was very inspiring to see all of the Gold Award projects and to see our accomplishments recognized and valued by such powerful women in leadership positions,” Anne said. “It was really great to feel like my voice was heard when I talked to our leaders in Washington.”

In a study released this year, the Girl Scout Research Institute confirmed the lifetime benefits for girls who earn the Gold Award. Researchers found that girls who earn the Gold Award display more positive life outcomes than non-Girl Scout alumnae. Gold Award recipients soar when it comes to seeing themselves as a leader, providing service to others through volunteerism and positive attitudes about themselves and the lives they lead. In fact, more than 90 percent of Girl Scouts not only attributed their success in life to Girl Scouts, but also said that they could not have had access to the same experiences elsewhere.

Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls do as Girl Scouts. For more information about joining or volunteering, visit

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Girl Empowerment Camp

Brooke, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, has earned the Silver Award, the second highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Brooke has been a Girl Scout for six years.

For her project, Brooke, in conjunction with fellow members of Troop 917, developed a girl empowerment camp for peers in their Virginia Beach community. The troop members chose this project because they wanted to break down gender stereotypes and show girls that they can do anything they put their minds to.

Each member of the troop took on the responsibility of creating activities for a different station. Brooke was responsible for a cultural awareness station, where she led an engaging discussion about cultural differences among people, even sharing details about her own Filipino ancestry. This led Brooke into giving a brief lesson about Spanish influence on the Filippino culture, followed by a basic Spanish lesson. Brooke taught the girls at the camp simple greetings and phrases and provided the girls with worksheets and vocabulary to study at home. Brooke wanted to teach a Spanish lesson because she studies Spanish in school and has learned about how knowing a foreign language can be beneficial, especially when looking for a job in the future.

“My station at the camp taught girls useful knowledge of a foreign language to help them communicate with others who may only speak Spanish,” Brooke said. “I hope that I encouraged them to pursue a second language, which can provide them with an advantage when they apply for a job in the future.”

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.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Being a Catalyst for Hope and Transformation

Maya, 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. Maya has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and is a junior at Oscar Smith High School.

For her project, Maya refurbished four rooms in the women’s dormitory at Judeo Christian Outreach Center (JCOC) in Virginia Beach. Maya cleaned each room, added a fresh coat of paint and replaced rugs, curtains, décor and bedding in the rooms. Maya also created a flier to raise awareness about homelessness and made a Facebook page to update supporters as she worked on her project.

“Homelessness is an issue across the United States,” Maya said. “Through my project, I wanted to create a better living environment for the women who stay at the JCOC.”

In order to make sure that her project is sustainable, Maya arranged for the Virginia Beach Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to monitor the condition of the rooms that she renovated at the JCOC and update them as needed.

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 Maya 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, June 10, 2016

It's Time for Summer Camp!

Tesi Davis Strickland, the outdoors adventure manager for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, is packing up to head to Camp Darden near Franklin for summer camp. Strickland, who has served in a number of roles in Girl Scouts, both as a volunteer and staff member, will spend the summer overseeing fun and adventure for girls, managing staff and providing unique opportunities for girls to grow and discover in the outdoors. She will be managing four camp properties this summer but she says Camp Darden is her favorite camp.

“I remember as a little girl going to pick up my uncle from Camp Darden back when it was a Boy Scout camp,” Strickland said. “As a badge requirement, the Boy Scouts had to bring something back from the camp experience and my uncle chose to teach us how to make foil dinners. This foil dinner, or the “Darden Special” as we called it, became a family tradition for us.”

Although traditional camp activities, including singing around the campfire, canoeing and swimming remain at the core of the program at Camp Darden, other activities have been added. This summer, girls will be able to use a newly-constructed archery range that can be utilized rain or shine, and will have use of a new sailboat that was donated. Girls will also have a chance to fish and use the low-ropes course.

While all these activities are great ways for girls to build skills and have fun, Strickland says making friends and being in an all-girl environment are still the most important reasons why girls come to Girl Scout camp.

“Camp is a place where there is no competition and girls can feel free to be themselves and try new things,” Strickland said. “Most of my staff were campers as girls and know the value of the experience. They have worked their way through Counselor in Training programs and now some of them are in management roles. They continue to benefit from having women role models who oversee the Council’s camp program.”

Registration is open through June 12 for girls to attend Camp Darden. All girls, including those who are not currently registered members, are welcome to attend Girl Scout camp. Following summer camp at Camp Darden, sessions will be taking place at Camp Skimino in Williamsburg. For more information and to register, visit

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Girl Scout Daisy Sets Her Sights High

First-grader Brogan is a Girl Scout with her sights set high. At just seven years old, she has also set some ambitious long-term goals, which include earning the Girl Scout Gold Award and becoming a Girl Scout chief executive officer. Last year, when she learned that selling 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies would mean that she would be invited to a special lunch hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller, she worked hard to meet that benchmark. This year, she accomplished it again, selling 1,019 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Brogan looks up to Keller as a role model and has enjoyed the opportunities to meet her at each of the cookie luncheons.

Tracy Keller and Brogan
On May 26, Brogan visited A Place for Girls, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast regional program center and headquarters for a special one-on-one meeting with Keller. Like Brogan, Keller was a Girl Scout while growing up in Virginia Beach, and she shared her scrapbook and some of her favorite Girl Scout memories with Brogan. Brogan then had the opportunity to take over CEO duties and share her visions for Girl Scouts, which included adding more amenities at the Girl Scout camp properties. She also gave two thumbs up after reviewing some marketing materials currently in development.

Keller then led Brogan and her mother, Stacie Beall, on a tour of A Place for Girls. They visited The Lodge, a program annex building that Girl Scout troops can rent for overnight trips, and The Outback, a nearly nine-acre nature area behind A Place for Girls. There, Brogan tried out the fitness course and earned the Girl Scout Fitness Trail patch. After a visit to the Girl Scout shop, Brogan had a special lunch with Keller.

“Brogan is a go-getter, problem solver and doesn’t let people get her down,” her mother said. “She loves Girl Scouts and aspires to become the CEO when she gets older.”

In addition to selling cookies, Brogan is a busy member of Troop 14. The troop members have completed community service projects, including cleaning up the school where the troop meets. Brogan has also earned all of the Girl Scout Daisy petals, which lead girls through activities to learn the tenets of the Girl Scout Law, which include being honest, fair, friendly, helpful and resourceful.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Outdoor Skills Day

Kaitlyn from Troop 759 shows Jadyn how to tie a square knot.
In preparation for Great Outdoors Month in June, 15 members of Chesapeake Girl Scout Troop 759 hosted an outdoor skills day for 70 younger Girl Scouts on May 21 at A Place for Girls, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program center in Great Bridge. The girls, who are fourth and fifth graders, recognized that few opportunities exist for younger Girl Scouts to receive outdoor training, and they wanted to teach them skills they need for camping.

During the event, Troop 759 taught important lessons, such as knife safety, knot tying and gear needed for camp, as well as fun camp songs and games. They also shared information about animal habitats, taught girls how to wash dishes at camp and led an activity station with nature crafts. A favorite activity for the afternoon was learning how to cook outdoors. Girls learned how to build a campfire and roast marshmallows to make s’mores and built box ovens to cook pizzas.

Girls prepare a pizza to cook in a box oven.
Troop 759 planned the outdoor skills day with the help of their troop leaders, including Carolyn Engler and Kevin Wilkinson, both of whom are active duty military and dedicate off duty time to supporting their daughters through Girl Scouting. For their project, the members of Troop 759 will earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the third highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

“Helping the girls earn the Bronze Award has been a rewarding experience,” Engler said.

In addition to the outdoor skills day, Troop 759 is active serving the community. Eight members of the troop will receive recognition for the hours they have committed to community service with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award this year.

Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Gold Award Celebration

When people think of Girl Scouts, many think of cookies and camping, which are both important components of the Girl Scout experience. But, for Girl Scouts, the most impactful experiences are those that make a difference in the community. This includes the projects that girls complete to earn the Gold Award, the highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. This year, 39 local Girl Scouts earned this top achievement, and they were recognized during a celebration held in their honor on June 5 at Virginia Wesleyan College. The celebration not only recognized the achievements of these girls, but also celebrated a centennial of Girl Scouts positively impacting their communities, as 2016 marks 100 years since the establishment of the highest award in Girl Scouts.
2016 Gold Award Recipients
Guests and awardees were welcomed to the celebration by Emcee Nancy Rogan, director of community engagement at WHRO, who earned the highest award in Girl Scouts, known as the First Class Award at the time. Jordan Thomas, a 2013 Gold Award recipient and a student at Virginia Wesleyan College, offered welcoming remarks from the college and Cheryle Mack, chair of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, congratulated the awardees on their accomplishments. Rogan then introduced the keynote speaker, Alexia Rochester, Cadet Second Class at the United States Air Force Academy and a 2013 recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Keynote speaker Alexia Rochester with
Candice George, a member of the
Gold Award Committee
Rochester shared her personal Gold Award journey, which focused on raising awareness and providing resources about teen depression and suicide, an issue that she personally related to after losing someone close to her. Rochester talked about how overcoming challenges along the way helped shape her into the person she is today. One of her key takeaways from earning the Gold Award was the communication skills that she gained. Now, as an instructor pilot, she sees how important it is to be able to express herself clearly and confidently.

“After taking some time to reflect upon how much time and effort I put into this project, I realize just how well it captured the kind of person and leader that I am at heart,” Rochester said. “The beauty of the Gold Award is that it is just as wonderful and impactful as the woman working on it.”

Following the keynote address, each Gold Award recipient was recognized and her project was shared with guests in attendance. This year’s projects addressed a number of issues in the community, including food insecurity, teen dating violence and childhood obesity rates.

Three of the Gold Award recipients, Elizabeth, Merly and Darden were awarded lifetime Girl Scout memberships in recognition for the outstanding projects that they completed. The memberships were given through the Helen Kattwinkel Endowment Fund, which was started this year in honor of a volunteer who has spent more than three decades serving on the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Gold Award Committee. Kattwinkel was in attendance at the celebration to present the lifetime membership certificates.

Since 1916, the best and brightest Girl Scouts have undertaken projects to improve their communities and the world. Girls who pursue the Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results. The experience of earning the Gold Award gives girls great lifetime benefits. In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute has found that Gold Award recipients soar when it comes to seeing themselves as a leader, providing service to others through volunteerism and positive attitudes about themselves and the lives they lead. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.

Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as Girl Scouts. For more information, visit

Friday, June 3, 2016

Girl Scouts Explore the Coastal Ecosystem in the Outer Banks

On Saturday, May 14, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast hosted Coastal STEAM in the Outer Banks, a day of fun and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Girl Scouts enjoyed a warm, sunny morning near the beaches in Wanchese, while taking part in hands-on activities at the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute.

Kathy Mitchell, conservation horticulturist for the
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, teaches
 Girl Scouts Chase and Dorian about connections between
native plants and wildlife.
Throughout the morning, Girl Scouts interacted with women scientists from Jeanette’s Pier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the North Carolina Aquarium and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute as they took part in workshops focused on learning about different aspects of the coastal environment. The workshops included opportunities for Girl Scouts to learn how to use renewable resources to generate energy, identify connections between native plants and wildlife and use equipment for acoustic ecology, which involves studying the relationship between living beings and their environment mediated through sound.

The favorite activity for the day was a workshop with Dr. Kate Brodie from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where the girls learned about how scientists use drones and lasers to create 3D maps to help predict potential weather crises, such as hurricanes.

Girl Scouts construct a wind turbine.
“The girls were great and seemed very excited,” Dr. Brodie said. “A lot of them live in coastal communities so they were already familiar with hurricanes and their potential impact. I think that learning how we use drones and cameras to make 3D maps was a tangible experience for them.”

In today’s world, where women hold only approximately 25 percent of STEM careers, Girl Scouts is working with community partners, such as the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, to expose girls to a wide variety of career option in STEM. With 74 percent of teen girl expressing interest in STEM, Girl Scouts works to create experiences for girls to increase their confidence in their STEM-related abilities, educate girls about careers in STEM and introduce girls to female STEM professionals, which will inspire girls to envision themselves in STEM careers in the future.

This event was funded with grants from the Currituck-Dare Women’s Fund and the Northeastern North Carolina Research and Environmental Education Fund. The Northeastern North Carolina Research and Environmental Education Fund, established in 2014 by Bill and Peggy Birkemeier, long-time Girl Scout who served as the lead volunteer for this event, supports charitable uses in the field of coastal scientific research and environmental education in the northeastern counties of North Carolina. Coastal STEAM in the Outer Banks has been a yearlong planning process between the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, North Carolina Sea Grant and UNC Coastal Studies Institute.