Sunday, September 30, 2018

Meet 2018 Famous Former Honoree Vickie Kearn

On Thursday, November 29, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will honor eight women at the Girl Scouts Famous Formers luncheon. This event is held annually to honor local women who continue to exemplify the values of Girl Scouts through their leadership roles in the community. Throughout the month of October and November, we will share the honorees’ Girl Scout stories on our blog. Vickie Kearn is one of the eight women being honored this year. She is the Executive Editor of Mathematics and Computer Sciences at Princeton University Press and a Girl Scout alum!

A Hampton Roads native, Kearn started her Girl Scout journey as a Brownie in Jacksonville, Florida. Her family moved to Venezuela when she was 10 and Kearn’s mother started a Girl Scout troop there so her daughters could continue being a part of the best leadership organization for girls. Her most vivid memories stem from her time spent in Venezuela as she remembered building campfires, hiking and cooking outside. One award that made her particularly proud was the Curved Bar Award- now referred to as the Gold Award. Her Girl Scout experience stayed with her as she went away to boarding school at the age of 15. Kearn is now a proud Girl Scout alum!

As a young girl, Kearn developed a strong interest in math despite women being underrepresented in that field- a reality many women still face today. She was empowered to pursue her passion for math with the help of the Girl Scout organization and her math teacher.

“I never gave a thought to the comment that ‘girls don’t do math.’ If I had not had that support of the Girl Scouts and my math teacher, I might not have had the confidence I have today,” she said.

After graduating from the University of Richmond, Kearn went on to teach for eight years, which allowed her to serve as a mentor to her students- something she feels every girl should have and something she knows Girl Scouts can provide girls with.

“Many young women do not have mentors and others are not aware of the many wonderful opportunities that exist,” she said. “Girl Scouts can provide all of these things.”

During her years as an educator, Kearn witnessed- what she deemed- an educational crisis: a lack of math skills. A true leader thanks to Girl Scouts and her mentors, she decided to help address the issue. In 1977, she moved to New York City to work in publishing and continues to do what she loves- making people aware of the power, fun and amazement of math through books.

Girl Scout alum like Kearn are so important to our communities. They show girls that with Girl Scouts, anything is possible! Help us celebrate Kearn’s accomplishments and our seven other honorees at this year’s Famous Formers luncheon on November 29 at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are on sale now.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The HERlead convention

A guest blog written by 2017 National Young Woman of Distinction, Lea Bonner

The HERlead convention, a fellowship that provides young women with mentors, leadership training and so much more, in New York City from June 26th-29th was an experience I will never forget. I learned amazing leadership skills from female leaders from companies such as Ascena, Ann Taylor LOFT, Lou & Grey, and NBC Universal. Hearing from these inspiring women about their experiences in the workplace made the other girls and me feel more confident in ourselves and our future. 

HERlead was put on by Ascena brands and Vital Voices. The program receives many applications and only has a 2% acceptance rate, with 30 girls out of 900 applicants being chosen. It is for rising junior and senior high school girls who have a desire to change a problem in their community. I believe I was chosen for several reasons. I think Girl Scouts being on my application showed my leadership skills and my belief in the power of girls and women which increased my chances of being accepted. I also think I was chosen because my Gold Award project focused on the environment, one of the four categories for HERlead- others being human rights, politics, and education. Additionally, I am planning to start a sustainable t-shirt company that promotes saving oyster shells. I can receive a grant to fund this project and I plan on donating the proceeds to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation which showed the panel of applicant reviewers that I am determined to continue impacting my community in a positive way.

While at the leadership summit, we were paired with mentors to inspire and teach us ways to create and execute our plans of action in our community. My mentor was Panmela Castro, a Brazilian woman who used her experience with domestic violence to shed light on the issue of dating violence by spray painting murals in Brazil. She holds workshops for young adults and teenagers to help them identify the signs of domestic violence and avoid it. Her workshop participants go on to design and spray paint murals in their co

mmunities to continue the work she started. She is an amazing artist who used her negative experience and turned it into a positive impact within her community.

The convention provided the participants with an amazing hotel in Times Square, meals, activities, and HERlead merchandise. We went shopping at the LOFT Times Square store with a $150 gift card given to each of us, went on a double decker bus tour of New York City and Brooklyn, and toured NBC studios. I met fellow girl leaders from Canada, California, and even a girl from Norfolk, Va! It was awesome to have someone from home with me and grow closer to her. We heard from amazing speakers and had Social media and public speaking training. This fellowship and leadership summit has taught me so much and I was lucky to attend. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Girl Scout Nicole has earned her Gold Award

Nicole Nguyen has earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. Nicole is a recent graduate of Maury High School and is currently studying at the United States Naval Academy.
For her project, “Rising Phoenix,” Nicole reinstated the recycling program at Maury High School and also created an environmental club called at her school. Alongside her club, Nicole raised awareness and promoted a healthy and sustainable environment by holding a Go Green Fair at the Slover Library, volunteering with Measure the Muck and partnering with Keep Norfolk Beautiful.
Nicole spent countless hours working on her Gold Award project. Her time was divided among her three main projects. She focused on recycling at her school on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the help of her club. They collected over 670 recycling bins and the group has collectively put in over 291 volunteer hours.
The Keep Norfolk Beautiful portion of her project focused on educating the community on how to be environmentally friendly and the various ways they can contribute to cleaning up Norfolk.
Nicole’s environmental club participated in Measure the Muck where they collected water samples to test for pollution and also mapped out flooding areas. The group also gained a better understanding of the types and effects of water pollution.
All of Nicole’s efforts were driven by the amount of waste her school created and the impact that pollution has on beaches, the air, and cities which can harm animal and human life. Nicole hopes that “by encouraging small changes, like planting seeds, recycling at school, using reusable water bottles etc., people can gradually become more eco-friendly”. Although she has graduated, this project has allowed Nicole to leave her legacy with the students and faculty at Maury High School.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Meet Girl Scout alum, Marsha

A guest blog by Khaila Blakney, marketing and communications intern for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience doesn’t stop once you pass the Girl Scout Ambassador level. The journey continues well into adult years and allows girls to continue making an impact on their communities each day. Girl Scout alum often apply the knowledge and skills they gained as young Girl Scouts to programs geared toward building the new leaders of tomorrow.
Marsha Riibner-Cady is one of those alum. She has fostered two after-school programs for Girl Scouts to further their education outside of the classroom.
For Marsha, being a Girl Scout was much deeper than wanting to gain the knowledge, skills and experience that the organization allows. Joining the sisterhood was also a way for Marsha to bond with her mother who was her Troop leader during her time as a Girl Scout. After high school, she went off to college and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Marsha’s accomplishments did not end in college. She later created her own laboratory equipment telemarketing business that she ran for three years.
As the years passed, Marsha’s love for Girl Scouts never went away. In 2006, she became a Membership Specialist for her local council in North Carolina. Her hard work in the position did not go unnoticed. She became the first recipient of the North Carolina Governor’s medallion award for Director of Volunteers in 2012 for her work with the Girl Scouts.
In 2016, Marsha put aside her membership job and became the Director of the After-School Enrichment Program for Dare County Schools where she now supervises 400 students at five different elementary schools. Her new position has allowed her to give back to the Girl Scouts in a new way. Marsha alongside Peggi Leonard have created two Girl Scout after school care programs at Kill Devils Hills Elementary School and Nags Head Elementary School. Marsha also enlisted the help of some community partners, including Lora Gilreath, Girl Scout Brownie Troop Leader and Community Policing Officer for Kill Devil Hills Police Department.  
All of the participants of her after-school programs are registered Girl Scouts. The program is designed to give the girls a different view of what Girl Scouts is while encouraging teamwork and personal responsibility. Marsha has worked with her Brownies on their “It’s Your World, Change It” journey and a variety of petals with the Daisies.
We are very thankful to have someone like Marsha in our Girl Scout community and hope that her story inspires many others to continue their Girl Scout journey for years to come.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Girl Scouts learned the power of being mindful this summer!

Girl Scouts at Lynnhaven Middle School have learned the value of being mindful with the help of an enrichment series of activities. The program which was offered over the summer months included five sessions led by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast staff. During the series, girls shared their future plans, created daily journals and bonded with the group through activities that showed the girls they were capable of achieving anything they set their minds to.

“I love these activities because I can be creative,” Girl Scout Love Tate said. Love also enhanced her leadership skills during the series by leading the group in reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law at the beginning of the day.

The program at Lynnhaven Middle School was organized in partnership with the Achievable Dream Academy, a partnership that has existed for the past six months, according to Director of Middle School Program, Rachel Sadler.

“The Girl Scouts provides our girls with the opportunity to learn about themselves and how to interact positively with others, as well as experiences that they may not otherwise get to have,” Sadler said. “Girl Scouts provides them access to resources and activities that they would not ordinarily experience in their communities.”

According to education researchers, mindful awareness helps students with self-regulation, optimism, and planning and organizational skills. Many schools report children are more optimistic and have enhanced self-concepts after mindfulness training.

Thanks to the partnership with the academy and support from Women United, part of United Way South Hampton Roads, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast was able to serve more than 100 girls through this summer mindfulness enrichment program.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Troop 679 has earned their Bronze Award

First Lady of Virginia, Pam Northam, congratulated Troop 679 on their Bronze Award project during a special ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, September 9, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach.

For their project, “Children’s Garden,” the girls created a garden complete with fruits, vegetables, herbs and other plants within the newly established “God’s Garden Path” at the church.

“God’s Garden was created by the church members, community support, and the Girl Scouts to protect our watershed,” Northam stated. She also referred to Troop 679 as explorers and innovators.

Maury Joy, a member of the church and a master gardener served as the group’s mentor during their project. Creating the garden helped the girls learn more about companion planting, the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests.

“This project brought us together as stewards of our Earth,” Joy said. “The garden provides a filter to slow and clean the water through the plants that are growing here.”

The girls also used their project as a teaching opportunity. They held a week-long summer camp at the church to educate kids on the watershed, run-off and other issues affecting our waterways.

Additionally, they gained communication and teamwork skills that will last a lifetime!

“We worked together to focus on different things,” Girl Scout Cadette Cailyn Gregory said.

The garden will continue to provide educational opportunities year round to students at the day school and vacation Bible school in the summer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Day of Caring 2018

A team of staff from Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, Chubb Insurance and Sentara Albemarle Medical Center spent the morning lending a helping hand to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast at Camp Skimino, A Place for Girls (APFG) and the Elizabeth City Field Center on September 7, for Day of Caring. The annual event, hosted by local United Way agencies connects local volunteers to nonprofit organizations for a fun-filled day of giving back to the community.

Volunteers were eager to get started and began their projects on Wednesday at Camp Skimino by re-doing electrical work, and replacing fascia boards and light fixtures. Work continued throughout the week as the group painted the interior and exterior of the main bathhouse, a “tiny house” (cabin) and the pool pump house. New benches were also built and a hard plumb water line for the pool shower was installed, all thanks to these dedicated volunteers!

Beth Davis, director of patient care services and co-chair for this year’s United Way campaign at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, helped organize the efforts at Skimino. Davis was a Girl Scout in GSCCC’s Council and even attended day camp at Skimino. The day allowed her to reflect on her time as a young Girl Scout camper and give back to the camp she remembered fondly.

“It’s awesome to give back and it’s nice to see how much it has grown,” Davis said.
At APFG, volunteers worked diligently to clear brush alongside Cedar Road. Thanks to their hard work, APFG is now more visible from the street! They also worked all throughout the morning to landscape other parts of the property.

Volunteers who had never been to Camp Skimino were also excited to help and talked about signing their daughter up for Girl Scouts so she could go to camp!
“In the group of gals I was painting with, a couple of them said ‘gosh I really want my girls to come here,’ they’ve just really had a great time today,” Davis said.

Elizabeth City Field Center received some TLC as volunteers there worked to remove carpeting. The landscape also received a facelift with the help of weeding and mulching!

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. Thank you to all of our hardworking volunteers who dedicated their time on Day of Caring!

Click here to view more photos from the 2018 Day of Caring.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Girl Scout Ambassador Katherine has earned her Gold Award

Katherine Welch has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. Katherine is a recent graduate of Grassfield High School. 

As a young woman with a love of art and a desire to help others, Katherine created her Gold Award project, “The Artist in You- Art Therapy for Differently-Abled Adults” to do just that. She conducted research that revealed art therapy could help in developing one’s motor skills and confidence; however, Katherine realized that art therapy was not easily accessible and was often too expensive for persons with disabilities. To offer the therapy to people in her community, she created a plan that used recycled and low-cost items for step-by-step projects for the campers at Eggleston. 

Her program did more than allow the adults to be creative and express themselves through art. It also enabled them to improve their fine motor skills. After completing tasks such as cutting and gluing, the adults displayed an increased amount of independence when it came to daily activities like brushing their hair or using utensils. 

After eight weeks, Katherine surveyed the adults who participated in the program. The surveys showed evidence of an increase in confidence and self-esteem after taking part in art classes she created.

“Sometimes individuals are unable to express their thoughts and feelings verbally, but art allows them to express themselves in a nonverbal way,” she said.

Katherine wanted to be sure that the difference she made didn’t end after she had completed her Gold Award project. To ensure that the adults with disabilities would still be able to benefit from her work, Katherine created a handbook of the art projects she made. She distributed the handbook to different locations in the Hampton Roads area that work with persons with disabilities, including Sentara Life Care, the Activity director of Civilian Acres and the Teacher Sponsor for the Beta Club at Oscar Smith HS. 

A Facebook Page named “The Artists in You- Art for Differently-Abled Adults” was also created to share her program with more people. Click here to visit the Facebook page.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Meet Pickles!

A guest blog by Sydney DeLuca, marketing and communications intern for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast

As the summer winds down, girls are gearing up for the start of a new school and Girl Scout year. For the past several weeks, the girls have been coming to Camp Outback to enhance their Girl Scout Leadership Experience by taking part in STEM related activities, life skill building programs and outdoor adventures. Many camp staff members pitched in this summer to make the girls’ experience memorable, including Camp Director Tesi Davis-Strickland, better known by her camp name, Pickles.

Her Girl Scout story goes back to when Pickles was a child and didn’t have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout. Fortunately, she had friends in her neighborhood who were. Every Wednesday they would meet in her driveway and they would teach her what they learned in their meetings. This started when the girls were Girl Scout Brownies and continued through their Girl Scout Junior level. A special moment Pickles recalled was the only Girl Scout outing she went on.

“I remember it very well, we went to the Botanical Gardens and we rode in glass bottom boats where you could see the fish,” she said.

Because of the sisterhood Girl Scouts creates, the girls in her neighborhood welcomed Pickles with open arms and considered her an honorary Girl Scout.

Not knowing she was able to volunteer even though she had never been a registered Girl Scout, Pickles waited to devote her time to the organization until she had a daughter.

“I have a Girl Scout,” she recalled shouting when she and her husband found out they were pregnant with a baby girl. Pickles knew she would be able to reconnect with the organization she grew to love so much as a kid.

Her daughter began her Girl Scout journey as a Girl Scout Brownie in a troop that mostly focused on arts, but Pickles quickly realized she and her daughter wanted to be outdoor adventurers. So, the two changed troops and set out on their outdoor excursions.

As an avid outdoor lover, it was only natural for Pickles to join GSCCC 30 years ago as a troop leader and later become a program specialist in 1992. Jackie Vigola, former program director, had another plan for Pickles though. Seen as a “pied piper” of sorts because of how the girls gravitated to her, Vigola knew Pickles would excel as a director.

Jackie contacted GSUSA and gave a recommendation that helped Pickles become the program director at GSCCC which allowed her to focus on the outdoor adventure opportunities available to girls.

“I will forever, be grateful for Jackie Vigola. She gave me that open door to allow me to explore what I consider to be the most exciting, and important job in the entire world,” Pickles said smiling with tears in her eyes.

After she retired from GSCCC in ‘99, Pickles rejoined her home away from home as a membership specialist in 2013. She served the city of Norfolk and Southampton County. A little more than year into her position, she was behind on her membership goal for new Girl Scouts. As a joke, the human resources director told her that if she met her goal before summer she could go and “play at camp.”

Pickles ended up meeting her goal and since then, she has led thousands of girls to explore the outdoors as the Outdoor Adventures Manager for GSCCC. It goes without saying that Pickles knows just how beneficial Girl Scout camp is for girls.

“I think one of the most important things is gaining the courage to try new things and at Girl Scout camp there’s no failure.The comradery and the peer-to-peer support that they get, I don’t know any other organization that offers that strength in an all-female setting. That’s why we’ve been doing it 105+ years. We know girls. Friendships and memories are made within these walls and that cannot be done without a good strong program, team and the young ladies that work with us during the summer,” she explained.

For more information on the outdoor adventures GSCCC offers, visit our website