Thursday, September 28, 2017

GSCCC CEO Recognized with Angels in Adoption Award

Tracy Keller, Senator Mark Warner, Dan Keller
Senator Mark Warner celebrated Dan and Tracy Keller of Chesapeake as 2017 Angels in Adoption awardees for their outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates Angels in Adoption, honored the Kellers at an awards ceremony on September 26 and a gala on September 27 in Washington, D.C.

After learning that they would not likely have biological children, Dan and Tracy Keller embraced foster care parenting in 2005 with the goal of adoption. In 2010, they became the proud parents of four adopted children, who are now ages 11, 12, 13 and 14. While they have faced many challenges on their road to adoption, the Kellers navigated it all and have expanded the definition of “family” by creating a support system for their children with grandparents, relatives and caring adults who understand what the children desire most—permanency.

“While our journey from foster care to adoption was an arduous one, it led to the amazing family we have today,” Tracy said.

As a result of the Keller’s commitment to advocating for adoption and foster care issues, other children have befitted. Tracy, who works as the chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, has led many efforts, including Backpacks for Foster Care. She also gives volunteer time with groups such as the Great Bridge Rotary and the City of Chesapeake’s Human Services Advisory Board—groups that have championed projects for underprivileged children. Tracy also speaks about foster care and adoption at community events.

“Angels in Adoption is a unique, annual opportunity to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children,” Becky Weichhand, executive director of CCAI, said. “Since the program’s inception, more than 2,600 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with members of Congress, highlighting the joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process.”

Angels in Adoption is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of children and orphans in the United States and abroad. The program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating with the awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top 5 Reasons New Volunteers Won’t Want to Miss the GSCCC Open House

Just like girls need mentors and role models, new Girl Scout volunteers need friends and guides to help them on their journey. A great place to find this support is at the bi-annual GSCCC Open House! The next one is scheduled for Sunday, November 19 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at A Place for Girls, the GSCCC regional program center in Chesapeake. Here’s why you won’t want to miss out:
  1. Tour GSCCC facilities. Did you know that we have a nearly nine-acre nature area in The Outback behind A Place for Girls—perfect for learning outdoor skills? And, did you know your troop can rent The Lodge or the Fun Room at A Place for Girls for an overnight experience? Check out all of our facilities during a tour at the open house.
  2. Meet GSCCC staff. Want to put a face to the name of the GSCCC staff members you communicate with via email and over the phone? Many staff members will be at the open house and would love to meet you face-to-face!
  3. Shop and save. During the open house, volunteers can receive 10 percent off of their purchases in the GSCCC shop. 
  4. Network with fellow volunteers. One of the most beneficial parts of the open house is the chance to share stories and swap tips with other Girl Scout volunteers. Share troop organization tips, talk about favorite spots for outings, discuss ways to engage parents and more!
  5. Take a class. Stick around after the open house for some Girl Scout learning. From 3 to 5 p.m., you can take one of the following classes: Girl Scout Program Basics, Part II; Girl Scout Songs, Ceremonies and Traditions; or Troop Organization Tips. Be sure to register ahead of time for these!
As you can see, GSCCC Open House is one event you surely don’t want to miss! We hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Core Camp

A guest blog by Camile Peter, Chief Operations Officer for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast

Core Camp is a special chance for Girl Scout troops to come together for a sampling of all the various activities that make Girl Scout camp one of the most fun and valuable experiences ever! If your girls and troop volunteers are camping novices, core camp’s experienced volunteer staff will help all of you gain the skills and find all the fun and excitement that camp has to offer. If your troop has been to camp before, core camp offers a variety of activities that may expand your horizons, while making your weekend worry-free.

When I first came to the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, I was amazed at how great our camps are. I fell in love with all of our camps and quickly volunteered to lead many core camp weekends. I found it to be truly the best that camp has to offer, rolled into a weekend where someone else coordinates everything!

Here are some of the things that made many fond memories for my daughters and me, and that are still offered at today’s core camps: hiking, archery, nature activities, outdoor skills and orienteering, crafts, canoeing, ropes, flag ceremonies, closing campfires, storytime, skits and sing-alongs, kapers, s’mores and more! All you have to do is bring your troop, pillows and blankets. We will do the rest! Ok, you might want to bring a couple more things. We really will do the rest!

Outdoors Adventures Manager Tesi Strickland, aka Pickles, and our fantastic outdoor volunteer staff combine their years of experience to lead the way so that you and your troop will have a wonderful time. Of course, core camp would never be successful without great food, and you can count on Pickles and our volunteer staff to make sure that no one goes hungry.

New this year, we have added opportunities for your troop volunteers to receive outdoor training while at core camp. Just think – if your troop volunteers are already going to be there, why not attend one of the trainings offered so that your troop can continue their outdoor adventures all year long!

This year’s core camps are already on the schedule, so plan ahead and join us for a chance to experience core camp magic!
  • March 9-11 (2 nights) at Camp Darden
The sky is the limit to the fun and good solid camp time you and your troop will have at our camps!

Register online, or contact us at for more information. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

G.I.R.L. 2017 Planning Team

G.I.R.L. 2017, the Girl Scouts of the USA National Convention, is coming soon! This event will draw more than 10,000 of the brightest, toughest and most capable girls and women in the world for an event that only comes once every three years. G.I.R.L. 2017, scheduled for October 6 to 8 in Columbus, Ohio, will offer one-of-a-kind fun, inspiring speakers and enlightening educational opportunities.

The G-Team meets with GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo
Of course, it takes a team to plan such an exciting event. And Cree, a Girl Scout from Suffolk, was chosen to join a small group of girls from across the country to be a part of the girl planning team, or the G-Team, as they call themselves.

“G-Team has been very fast-paced for the last couple of months,” Cree said. “Now that all of the speakers are in place, it’s time to put the finishing touches on special events and girl spaces. We’re also testing the app.”

Recently, Cree traveled to New York to meet with her fellow G-Team members. They spent time at both the Girl Scouts of the USA national office in New York City and the Edith Macy Conference Center, a Girl Scout center located 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. For Cree, a highlight of the experience was meeting Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Cree and members of the G-Team do some sightseeing while
in New York City for a meeting.
Cree, who has been a Girl Scout for eight years, has been a part of the G-Team for more than a year. She is eager to see all of her hard work pay off at G.I.R.L. 2017, now less than one month away.

“Something I am really looking forward to is Girls Got Talent,” Cree said. “It’s where Girl Scouts from across the country submit videos that we get to choose to be presented during a talent showcase at the convention.”

There is still time to register to attend THE event of the year. Tons of epic experiences are planned, including getting an introduction to scuba diving in a 25,000-gallon tank, riding in a mobile space simulator from Space Camp, creating your own comic book with a professional at your side and building and programming your own robot! G.I.R.L. 2017 is for every go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader who wants to stand up, take charge and change the world!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Science Alive 2017

Nearly 200 Girl Scouts spent the day exploring the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) during Science Alive, an annual event hosted by Norfolk State University. Now in its eighth year, Science Alive gives Girl Scouts the chance to explore and discover their own interests in STEM through workshops facilitated by Norfolk State University students and faculty.

A highlight of the day for the Girl Scout Brownies, second and third graders, was the chemistry workshop where they made color-changing milk with dish soap and food coloring and concocted their own slime. The Girl Scout Brownies also enjoyed making geometric shapes out of marshmallows and toothpicks and learning about nutrition. Older Girl Scouts participated in workshops where they explored the world of nanotechnology and learned about physics while folding and flying paper airplanes and building protective devices to house eggs for an egg-drop experiment. There was also a civil engineering workshop, where girls built wooden bridges.

Dr. Rasha Morsi, professor of electrical and electronics engineering and director of the Creative Gaming and Simulation Lab at Norfolk State University, took a lead role in organizing Science Alive this year. Dr. Morsi previously served on the board of directors for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, and she has remained an active volunteer with the organization through her assistance with Science Alive.

“I have a passion for education and getting girls interested in science,” Dr. Morsi said. “It is so rewarding to see girls’ eyes light up when they learn something new. I hope they get that spark at Science Alive and learn that they can do anything that they want to do.

In today’s world, where women comprise 48 percent of the U.S. workforce but just 24 percent of STEM workers, Girl Scouts is working to develop a more equitable perception of the relative abilities of men and women in STEM. Through hands-on STEM events, such as Science Alive, girls are developing self-confidence related to STEM, as well as their confidence overall. In addition, according to the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls indicate that their ability to build and design things, think of different ways to solve a problem and research a problem improved through their participation in Girl Scout STEM programs.

Girl Scouts is committed to providing opportunities to engage girls in STEM and scientific reasoning and allow them to apply concepts learned school in new ways. Upcoming STEM events hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast include Engineering Women on October 14 at the ODU Peninsula Center and Girls STEAM Ahead on October 21 at Nauticus in Norfolk. All girls are welcome to attend, even those who are not currently members of Girl Scouts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Birdies for Charity

GSCCC is excited to be taking part in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic Birdies for Charity this year to raise funds to help serve our girls. Birdies for Charity is designed to give local nonprofits an opportunity to generate contributions through flat donations or based on the number of “birdies” made by PGA TOUR Champions during the Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Here’s how you can help!
  • Make a fixed donation. Enter a one-time donation amount and designate Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast as your charity of choice.
  • Make a score-based donation. Enter an amount that you would like to donate to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast per birdie during the golf competition. A birdie is one stroke better than par. Last year, there were 584 birdies made by 54 players. So, a pledge of 10 cents per birdie would result in a $58.40 donation. This year, there are 72 players.
But wait, there’s more! The PGA TOUR will donate an additional 10 percent to participating charities up to $100,000 per charity or $1,000,000 raised for the entire program.

The Dominion Energy Charity Classic will be taking place October 19 to 22 at The Country Club of Virginia – James River Course in Richmond.

Through Birdies for Charity, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will receive all donations designated to us, minus any credit card fees.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Summer Camp Recap

Summer camp has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun in Girl Scouts is over! If you haven’t already, it’s that time of year to renew your Girl Scout membership for another year of taking the lead like a Girl Scout! We can’t wait to see the adventure that will come this year. But first, let’s recap the highlights of summer camp this year:

Reaching New Heights
In June, guests gathered at Camp Darden to dedicate a new climbing wall. The 22-foot high wall was built at the camp this spring thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, and Girl Scouts from the Suffolk Service Unit donated funds to purchase the auto-belay devices for the climbing wall. Following the dedication ceremony, guests were led on a tour of camp and enjoyed lunch with campers.

Camp Fury Norfolk
For the first time ever, GSCCC hosted Camp Fury in partnership with Norfolk Fire-Rescue. Highlights of the week included rappelling inside Chrysler Hall, climbing an aerial ladder on a fire truck and learning forcible entry skills. Girls also learned about other non-traditional careers for women, as they spent an afternoon with the Norfolk Police Department and traveled to Naval Station Norfolk, where they met with the Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM-14).

A New Addition
In August, GSCCC dedicated a screened-in addition to the Sertoma Lodge at Camp Apasus, which girls can use as an outdoor classroom all year long. The addition was funded by the Norfolk Sertoma Club, which has supported Girl Scouts and Camp Apasus since the 1950s.
Great American Eclipse
Girls at Camp Outback had the chance to view the solar eclipse on August 21. With special solar eclipse safety glasses, the girls went outside and looked up to the sky to view the rare phenomenon. During the rest of the day at camp, the girls took part in activities related to the eclipse that were sent to Girl Scouts from NASA. For one of the activities, the girls observed and recorded the air temperature outside before, during and after the eclipse, and they talked about the power of the sun.

And, remember, we have outdoor opportunities for girls all year long with the Wild Things of GSCCC, the Colonial Coast Girl Scout Cavers and, of course, GSCCC.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: Diamonds in the Rough

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

For her project, Emily educated members of the community about the simple things that they can do to help reduce the human impact on diamondback terrapin, a native turtle species. She worked with Lynnhaven River NOW to create an educational brochure and website. Emily also hosted workshops at community events, including the Lynnhaven River NOW Fall Arts Festival and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Winter Wildlife Festival, and she set up presentations at local libraries.

In addition, Emily delivered her brochure to local businesses and used social media to post facts and information about diamondback terrapins.

“These turtles face many threats, some of which can easily be controlled by our community,” Emily said. “Keeping dogs on a leash at the beach is one simple thing that people can do to protect turtle nests. Adding a Turtle Excluder Device to crab pots is another great way to make a difference.”

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Day of Caring 2017

A team of staff from Chubb Insurance spent the morning at A Place for Girls, the regional Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast program center, on Friday, September 8 for Day of Caring. This annual event, hosted by the United Way of South Hampton Roads, connects local volunteers to nonprofit organizations to a fun-filled day of hard work.

On the agenda for the day, the volunteers added a fresh coat of paint to the picnic shelters in The Outback, a nearly nine-acre nature area behind A Place for Girls. They also helped with landscaping around the property—weeding garden beds, trimming hedges and clearing paths along the nature trail in The Outback.

Helena Lecke-White, chair of the branch outreach committee for Chubb Insurance, organized the volunteer experience for herself and her coworkers. During Day of Caring, she helped with both the landscaping and the painting projects.

“Many of our staff members are already volunteers in the community, and Day of Caring is just one more way for us to give back,” Lecke-White said. “We have been taking part in Day of Caring for at least 15 years, and we enjoy getting to work with and learn about different organizations in the community.”

Athena Cash of Chubb Insurance was especially excited to be working with Girl Scouts for Day of Caring because she was a Girl Scout while growing up in Newport News. One of her fondest memories was learning how to roller-skate as a Girl Scout.

“I remember how much fun my sister and I had as Girl Scouts,” Cash said. “We loved earning badges to add them to our uniforms.”

Day of Caring was established in 1991 to promote the spirit of volunteerism, increase awareness of local human service organizations and demonstrate how people working together for the common good can accomplish great things. This year volunteers from almost 60 companies are tackled more than 100 service projects in South Hampton Roads for Day of Caring.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Relief

UPDATED 9/11/17:

Girl Scouts of the USA, with the support of the National Board, has lifted fundraising restrictions to enable girls to raise money for Girl Scouting recovery efforts at the four councils impacted by Hurricane Harvey: Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas, Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Girl Scouts of Louisiana-Pines to the Gulf.

Fundraising efforts will be undertaken with the sole intention of providing membership scholarships to impacted girls. Such scholarships are typically defined as dues, uniforms, credentials (e.g. insignia worn on uniforms) and Girl Scout materials.

To contribute to this effort, donate online or text HurricaneHarvey to 41444. You can give to the fund for all four councils, which GSUSA will distribute based on need, or you can choose a specific council.

The impacted councils remain so grateful for the outpouring of support. However, they are still assessing their specific needs to get back up and running at this time. For this reason, councils are not currently in a position to process and organize material donations.

And, while we are working to support our members and their families whom Hurricane Harvey has negatively impacted, GSUSA is also monitoring the needs of those affected by Hurricane Irma, and possibly Hurricane Jose. Updates will be posted as they are received. 

Original post:

We have all been stunned by the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the threat of Hurricane Irma. When disasters occur, Girl Scouts young and old want to help. Realizing that the after-effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for a very long time, we can look to offer our support once we are fully informed of the needs by our sister councils.

At this time, the San Jacinto Council (Houston and surrounding areas) and the Greater South Texas Council (which includes Corpus Christi, Victoria, Rockport) are assessing their members’ needs and will be letting Girl Scouts of the USA know how we can help as a Movement. In the meantime, if volunteers and girls would like to take some type of action today, the Texas councils have created the Texas Hurricane Relief Patch for this purpose. The patch was designed to encourage girls to participate in relief efforts and increase awareness and understanding of natural disasters and how to be prepared.

In addition, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council has directed their troops in need of supplies and encouragement to post on their Facebook page. Troops who would like to help can connect directly with those in need on the page. The Council will be setting up a financial assistance fund for those who would like to help affected troops replenish their Girl Scout supplies. Refer to the GSSJC Facebook page for updates.

Girl Scouts of the USA also has program resources with tips and examples for engaging girls who want to help— Girl Scouts and Disaster Recovery. There is also a helpful guide available about How to Talk to Your Kids About Natural Disasters.

We appreciate your desire to help your sister Girl Scouts during difficult times, and we will keep you informed as we learn more. Members of GSCCC have a long history of helping others, especially following natural disasters. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, GSCCC members came together to assemble children’s toiletry kits for storm victims. If you are aware of any local Girl Scouts taking action for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, share the story with us.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: Teen Driving While Under the Influence

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

Jennifer’s project addressed the issue of teens driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She developed a presentation that she shared with more than 200 students in their driver’s education classes at Deep Creek High School. She also made a presentation to the members of Students Against Destructive Driving at her school.

Jennifer also distributed fliers about the dangers of driving under the influence, as well as bumper stickers that she designed with the message, “Driving Impaired Causes Fatal Consequences.” She also designed a retractable banner about the issue that she displayed at her school and a local AAA Club.

“I know teenagers that drink alcohol, take drugs and huff household chemicals before or while driving,” Jennifer said. “I wanted to make them aware of the fatal consequences of their bad decisions.”

After presenting to students at her school, Jennifer sent a copy of her presentation to the principals at each of the high schools in Chesapeake. In an accompanying letter, she explained her project and asked that her presentation is shared with students at the schools. Jennifer also created a website, where she placed resources and information for anyone to use.

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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: Volunteer Transportation for the Sullivan House

Grace, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouts.

Already a volunteer at the Sullivan House, a subsidized apartment home for seniors, Grace asked a social worker there about further needs at the home. After learning that approximately 40 percent of the residents do not have a reliable source of transportation, Grace created a volunteer-run transportation program. Grace set up a system so that after volunteers apply to drive and are approved, they are given access to a secure website where they can sign up to give rides to the residents at the Sullivan House who have posted a ride need.

To recruit volunteers, Grace developed a presentation that she shared at churches and community group meetings in her community.

“Since my grandparents live far away, I have always enjoyed getting the opportunity to spend time with residents at the Sullivan House,” Grace said.

In addition to the residents at the Sullivan House gaining a reliable transportation system, both they and the drivers developed meaningful relationships with one another.

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