Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: The Next Step

Here’s a Girl Scout who is paving the way for a better tomorrow! Girl Scout Ambassador Mary recently earned her Gold Award by completing a project she titled, The Next Step. Mary created an online video series that is geared toward female domestic violence survivors which details life skills with the intent of developing viewers’ confidence throughout the program. 

Mary began her research by working with Leslie Jingluski of the Avalon Center, a regional nonprofit organization that works to end domestic and sexual violence by breaking the cycle of abuse through prevention, education, shelter, and support services in Williamsburg and Middle Peninsula communities. Before starting her project, Mary wanted to understand the needs of survivors and to get the information necessary to make informed decisions when creating her own program. To do so, she completed eight training modules offered by the Avalon Center that covered topics from setting boundaries to recognizing abuse. 

“Through my research, I learned that the root cause of missing life skills in domestic violence survivors is isolation of the survivor by their abuser. The isolation prevents the acquisition of basic life skills,” Mary said, “It was necessary to address this issue in a respectful way that honored the dignity of the target audience.”

She went on to create a YouTube video series named, The Next Step, which includes nine video lessons. Wells’ video lessons cover life skills topics like how to jump a car, how to replace door locks, how to snake a drain, and other tasks survivors may need to know. 

“This project is meant to empower survivors by giving them the information needed to fix things around the house,” Wells stated.

The Avalon Center periodically released Mary’s videos in their e-newsletter to subscribers. She met her initial goal of reaching 100 video viewers and her YouTube channel is publicly available for viewing here.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Storytelling by Jay Johnson and Open Mic Night at Zeider's American Dream Theater

What better way to celebrate National Women’s History Month than by hosting a storytelling event! That’s just what Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast did when they partnered with the Zeiders American Dream Theater on March 5 for the opening of their month-long celebration, “She’s a Brick House.” Following an open-mic session, where girls and adults were able to tell their unique stories, a concert, the concert "Youth, Truth, and Wisdom: A Song Cycle About Women," was held.   

Professional storyteller and Girl Scout alum, Janice (Jay) Johnson, also performed and told how she had an amazing experience growing up as a Girl Scout in Mary Jackson’s troop in Hampton, Jackson was one of the three NASA mathematicians in the film, Hidden Figures. Among the many unique experiences Jay shared was the time Mary Jackson designed and sewed Jay’s prom dress. “She didn’t much like the outdoors, but she taught us so much about life, was the reason I passed Algebra and was like a second mother to me.” Jay said. “ Just like today, we met and did activities, but we also as teens would meet at Miss Jackson’s house and just talk. I’m sure what we talked about was quite different from what teen girls talk about now, but we had a chance to ask questions and open up discussion on things that were important to us.”


The celebration also included meeting Girl Scout Alum Renee Calway who as a Girl Scout for twelve years in a troop led by Kathy Bennet. They met at the St. Pius Church in Norfolk, VA. “Mrs. Bennet was such an inspiration to me,” she said. “She was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to and we did so much in her troop. She loved camping and made sure we had that opportunity.”


A talented artist, Renee works within the community to facilitate dynamic, interactive healing arts experiences. As an educator, she teaches studio school classes to all ages at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and engages with the community through The ViBe Arts District at the oceanfront. On your next visit, check out her murals! Her exhibit at the Zeiders American Dream Theater was titled, Beyond the Body, pulls upon multi-media on canvas where the names of those women important to our society and lives are inscribed. The name, Leader Kathy Bennett, was on one that was trimmed in a royal blue netting.


After sharing on stage and speaking with Girl Scouts, Renee said, “It’s really important for all of us to hear the stories of women in our lives. The challenges they faced, their sorrows, and their achievements. Their stories have a huge impact on how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Listening to women and learning from them can give us opportunities to see the world differently and find our passion in life.”

Jay and girls who all did storytelling on stage.

GSCCC Famous Former Cathy Fox, manager of Adventure Park in VB, with her daughter and Zeiders American Theater Community Liaison Sibel Galindez front of one of Renee’s multi-media pieces.

Girl Scout alum and artist Renee Calway on stage

Interested in storytelling? Consider working on one of these fun Girl Scout badges!

Brownie My Family Story Badge: Find out more about your family—the people you love and who love you. When you’ve earned the My Family Story badge, you’ll know how to tell your family story.

Brownie | My Family Story

  1. Explore family stories
  2. Know where your family is from
  3. Make a story tree
  4. Find an object that means something to your family
  5. Share your family story

Junior Scribe Badge: Explore what you can do with words and find out how you can encourage, entertain, and excite people with your writing. When you’ve earned the Scribe badge, you’ll know how to write different kinds of stories—both true tales and ideas from your imagination.

Junior | Scribe

  1. Start with a poem
  2. Create a short story
  3. Use words to share who you are
  4. Write an article
  5. Tell the world what you think

Cadette Screenwriter Badge: Try your hand at writing for the big (or small) screen. When you’ve earned the Screenwriter badge, you’ll know how to create a screenplay for a show or movie.

Cadette | Screenwriter

  1. Decide what makes a good script good
  2. Come up with an idea for a story
  3. Get to know your characters
  4. Build the plot
  5. Write a 12-page script—and share it!

Senior Novelist Badge: Experience the fun of a novelist’s career and learn the steps involved in writing a novel. Then, write your own work of fiction. When you’ve earned the Novelist badge, you’ll know what it takes to write a great novel and you’ll have written at least 20 pages of your own.

Senior | Novelist

  1. Deconstruct a novel
  2. Create great characters
  3. Develop a plot
  4. Write at least 20 pages
  5. Edit your pages

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: H Squared

Girl Scout Ambassador of Troop 1356, Virginia, recently earned her Gold Award by completing a project she titled, H Squared! To earn her Gold Award, Virginia created an herb garden using Hugelkultur gardening methods in the Williamsburg Community Growers (WCG) community garden. In addition to the garden, she provided education opportunities for Williamsburg residents to learn about the herb garden and Hugelkultur methods, as part of her project. 

After deciding on a project plan, Virginia worked with Liz Callan, volunteer coordinator for WCG, throughout the process to bring her vision to life. WCG is a nonprofit organization located in Williamsburg, VA with a mission to educate the public regarding the benefits of producing and consuming locally grown produce, provide gardening space for individuals and organizations and demonstrate and promote conservation practices. They were the perfect partner for Virginia’s vision!

Once the herb garden was established, Virginia’s hands-on education opportunities were open to the public. During the sessions, she discussed how to use Hugelkultur gardening methods and some of the benefits of using herbs like the ones grown in the H Squared garden.

“Hugelkultur is a specific type of permaculture method that uses logs, twigs, and other natural resources,” Olson said. “This type of gardening allows the herbs to grow while using organic resources, which makes it more accessible to people of all income levels.”

After the two workshops were held and the herb garden had grown, it was time to harvest!

“The herbs were donated to Williamsburg House of Mery which helped address food insecurity,” she said. “Herbs may not be very filling but they can enhance the quality and taste of food which is important and something that everyone deserves.”

WCG donated wood, soil, hay and other supplies throughout the project to build the garden. WCG has pledged to proceed with the garden’s routine maintenance and to maintain a relationship with Williamsburg House of Mercy to continue Virginia’s mission.

Congratulations, Virginia!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Gold Award Spotlight: The Discovery Garden Outdoor Classroom

Girl Scout Ambassador Claire Pittman, recently earned her Gold Award by developing a creative way for preschool students to learn while getting outdoors. She completed a project she titled, The Discovery Garden Outdoor Classroom, and created a new hands-on learning area for the students of Peake Early Childhood Development Center (PECD), a not for profit preschool in Hampton, VA. PECD’s mission is to “nurture young children by providing affordable, quality preschool programs that develop the “whole child” and foster school readiness.” Claire has a passion for watching children grow through interacting with the world around them and knew that she could make a big impact for the preschoolers at PECD. 

The outdoor classroom is inside of a fenced playground area at PECD and features play kitchens, raised garden beds and a portable drawing station to help make the preschoolers’ learning experiences more fun! 

“My project enhances learning outcomes for students by giving them the opportunity to learn outdoors and also provides teachers with an expanded range of curriculum,” Claire said. “Learning only indoors deprives students from the greater stimulation that is found outdoors. Research also indicates that experiences in nature foster positive attitudes towards learning and fosters improvements in physical and social development.”


Claire’s project was funded completely through donations and she received enough materials to build an extra outdoor play kitchen with the surplus. 

“I was very skeptical about my ability to get building material donations because of supply shortages due to the global pandemic, but that didn’t stop the generosity of all the wonderful sponsors I gained, particularly the local sponsors,” she said.

Claire’s outdoor classroom is a permanent fixture at PECD and is available for students and teachers to use for lessons and play. She unveiled the classroom in October 2021 and students at the ceremony at PECD got a first look at their newest school addition.

From Claire's October 2021 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Cookie Season Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Gary

We thank ALL the volunteers and parents who have stepped up to support our go-getters during this year’s cookie booth season. We’ve had some awesome booths to showcase our Girl Scout Cookies AND our program! Because of you, girls are gaining important skills to refine their leadership abilities. The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a great way to help girls of all ages to earn money towards all of their fun Girl Scout adventures… and it's a hands-on, leadership and entrepreneurial opportunity which teaches girls the five skills needed in both life and business.

Amy Gary, service unit coordinator for Town Shores Service Unit, reorganized her schedule when she received a SOS call. Volunteers and girls were needed to cover a cookie booth at Latitude Climbing and Fitness in Virginia Beach. The business, owned by Girl Scout alum Marisa Beck, is a supportive GSCCC program partner with locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. While it was a full-day commitment, Amy found a way to put it into her busy schedule and recruit girls and parents to help that included her daughter Amber and co-leader’s daughter, Shyann – both regularly sell 1,000 boxes plus during past seasons and are hitting their target again this year.   

“On Thursday afternoon, I was contacted asking if I could work the 1-4 shift at Latitude, as they had asked through council to have a booth inside for their big event," Amy said. “I shuffled my folks around, cancelled booths and said ok. On Friday, I was asked to also cover the 10-1 shift.  I cancelled more booths and got it all covered for this “high visibility” booth for a council partner.  Latitude was having a Bouldering Competition attended by hundreds of people that came from many places out of state.”  

While the goal was to sell cookies, Amy, a seasoned recruiter, also treated the cookie booth as a recruitment opportunity.  Amy was excited to report, “There were a lot of families there.  We passed out the regular council items that we are given, but also added some of our own things.  We taught booth visitors to tie square knots, with left over items from a Camp Skills Day that we ran, and we created pony bead necklaces that represented the Girl Scout Promise and Law.  We also taught fire safety, helped kids make bracelets and keychains from paracord, and had supplies for them to make friendship bracelets.”


The Friday shift which was to be three hours turned out to be more than six hours, but Amy said it was worth the time and that the girls had a lot of fun. In addition to selling cookies and doing hands-on activities with guests, the girls were eager to share their Girl Scout stories and to showcase their current Teddy Bear community service project. Town Shores, in conjunction with Marian Mano, is doing a teddy bear collection and donating the cuddly ambassadors to first responders who help children.

“It was a very long day, but our girls were happy to do it,” Amy said. “ They got to sell some cookies, make some crafts, fall in love with bouldering and climbing, work on some service projects, talk about how awesome Girl Scouts is, and meet some really wonderful people!

Girl Scout Cadette Amber walking younger girls through activities

Cadettes Amber and Shyann helping customers at the event

Girl Scout Cadettes Amber and Shyann at their Latitude cookie booth