3 Amazing Life Lessons from a High Adventure Girl Scout

high adventureVictoria, 16, is a Girl Scout Ambassador who participates in a high-adventure program through Girl Scouts Heart of Central California.

It sounds kind of major, but it’s true: my life would be totally different without Girl Scouts. I used to get so ahead of myself—feeling in a rush to act without really knowing what I was doing—or just doubting my own abilities. But going on outdoor adventures with Girl Scouts has changed all of that. I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon and crawled through underground tunnels formed by lava. I’ve helped other Girl Scouts battle elevation sickness and cheered them on as they climbed to the tops of mountains in Yosemite. When you’ve done those things, you kind of take a step back and think, “What can’t I accomplish?!” And yeah, I’ve gotten tons of love on my Insta from all the amazing shots I’ve taken along the way. But most of all? I’ve learned three huge life lessons that I want to share with the world. I hope they inspire you to reach higher.

1. Work Together to Rise to the Top
Real leadership isn’t about one person leading and everybody else just doing whatever they’re told—it’s actually way more about collaboration and coming together as a team. On our eight-day trip through the Grand Canyon, each of us Girl Scouts had a pack of gear to carry, and they were pretty heavy—about 35 pounds each. At one point, we noticed one girl was really struggling with the weight of her gear, and it was making it hard for her to keep up. We all wanted to help, so we stopped and decided we’d take a bunch of stuff out of her bag and redistribute it among the rest of us. In the end, each of us just had a little more to carry—my pack honestly wasn’t that much heavier— but it made a huge difference for the girl who’d been lagging behind. In fact, once her pack was more manageable, she moved to the front of the group and set the pace for the whole troop. So maybe she wasn’t as physically capable of carrying as much weight as the rest of us were, but she turned out to be an awesome navigator! Everybody has different strengths and talents, and when we take the time to see them and make the best use of them, we all end up doing better.

2. Know Where You Are on Your Map
You know how everybody says life is a journey? Well, it is, but it doesn’t do much good to know that unless you can also see exactly where you are on that journey. And to do that, you’ve got to ask yourself some questions. Where have you come from? What have you learned? Where have you failed? What can you work on and improve? And the big one—where are you trying to go?

When you start answering these questions, you can start getting ready not just for what you hope is up ahead, but also for the unexpected. Just like when you’re hiking, you’ve got to keep track of where you are and of what might come up ahead. The weather might be bad. There might be a downed tree in your path. Maybe your friend scrapes her knee. If you don’t even have a clue where you are, any one of these situations is going to be ten times worse. But if you do know where you are, and have a handle on which tools are available and which skills you’ve got, you can take a deep breath and handle just about anything the world puts in your way.

3. Disconnect to Stay Charged
I love my phone, but one of the main reasons I love being out in the woods on these big adventures is that there’s absolutely no cell service a lot of the time. I’ll admit, the first couple times I went out and noticed I had no bars and couldn’t use my phone, it kind of freaked me out a little bit. I’m so used to checking social all the time! But then I realized it was actually really freeing.

I guess day-to-day, I didn’t really notice, but there’s all this pressure to be on Insta, to be texting, to keep up with everybody and everything all the time—and although it can be fun, it’s also really stressful. But when you can’t access it, it’s like this huge weight has lifted, and instead of staring at your phone, you can actually appreciate nature, what’s in front of you, and who’s actually right there with you. It’s a deeper level of connection in a way, because you have to really focus and be present. You end up having really great conversations, achieving things you never dreamed of, and even just seeing the world around you differently. I wouldn’t want to give up my phone all the time, but going on trips with my High-Adventure Girl Scouts and having that break from being constantly connected is always a much needed breath of air.

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Want to learn more about High-Adventure and other local outdoor opportunities Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road has to offer? Visit our camp website, and get outdoors!

Guest Contributor, Victoria via The Girl Scouts of the USA 

Honoring Female Leadership: The Case for a Juliette Gordon Low Bridge in Savannah

ac5d0ca4-2826-4baa-9d70-5eb0d3b6a98eOn October 31, we celebrated the birthday of Juliette Gordon Low, a pioneering woman from Savannah, Georgia, who more than a century ago started the Girl Scout Movement. As the founder of the largest girl leadership development organization in the world, Juliette had, and through her legacy continues to have, an extraordinary influence on the lives of millions of girls across the country.

To honor this remarkable Savannah native and original G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader), Girl Scouts is asking the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Nathan Deal to change the name of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah to the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge.

As background, on September 28, 2017, the Savannah City Council passed a resolution proposing that the state of Georgia rename the Talmadge Memorial Bridge the Savannah Bridge, to be more inclusive and reflective of modern-day Georgia.

Girl Scouts believes that this iconic bridge, which serves as the gateway to the city, should instead be renamed after our trailblazing founder who, beginning with a gathering of 18 girls in Savannah on March 12, 1912, broke the limiting conventions of her time—reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls had a place to grow and develop their talents and leadership skills.

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The legacy that Juliette Gordon Low left is Girl Scouts, an organization that has nearly 2 million girl members and 800,000 adult members, including volunteers who help set girls up for a lifetime of leadership and success. Indeed, our alumnae, currently more than 59 million strong, are high achievers: all three female U.S. secretaries of state were Girl Scouts in their youth, as were the majority of women in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures nationwide, most women in business, and the first American woman to walk in space.

At Girl Scouts’ recent convention in Columbus, Ohio—G.I.R.L. 2017—thousands of attendees signed our petition (and an accompanying banner) in support of renaming the bridge after our founder, and we currently have almost 4,000 signatures and counting. In January, Girl Scouts from across the state will hand-deliver the petition to members of the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Deal.

We are deeply proud of Juliette Gordon Low, whose life mission was to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, and we are grateful for her enduring impact. We ask that everyone who values girls and their incredible leadership potential join with us to elevate the legacy of Girl Scouts’ founder—sign our petition at advocate.girlscouts.org. And be sure to encourage others to sign, too!

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Contributed by Lauren Wallace

U.S. House Approves Tax Reform Bill (H.R.1), What Does This Mean For Girl Scouts and Other Nonprofits?

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This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their version of tax reform legislation (H.R.1) while the Senate begins to consider its own version of the bill–see markup of the bill here. Both bills stick closely to the Tax Framework negotiated by congressional leaders and White House officials, and will generate dramatic, negative consequences for charitable organizations in the United States and their constituents.

 

This sweeping overhaul of the tax code doubles the standard deduction and shifts millions of taxpayers who currently itemize to taking the standard deduction. Consequently, as many as 30 million taxpayers who itemized in 2016 will no longer have the charitable giving incentive available to them and will be taxed on their gifts.

This provision alone could result in a staggering loss of up to $13.1 billion in contributions annually, undermining charitable organizations, such as Girl Scouts, and our country’s extraordinary tradition of philanthropy. The charitable deduction would be available to only 5 percent of all taxpayers, causing this significant drop in contributions and 95 percent of taxpayers to be taxed on their gifts to charity.

When Americans invest in Girl Scouts through charitable giving, they are committing to support a generation of girls who will develop into the leaders of tomorrow. This legislation puts those investments in jeopardy.

For a comparison of the key provisions in the House and Senate bills from the National Council of Nonprofits, click here.

Join us—take action now! As Congress debates tax reform, help Girl Scouts take a stand for a strong and vibrant charitable community before it’s too late. 

Contact your senators today about this vital issue to our Movement!

 

Contributed by Lauren Wallace

Girl Scouts launches a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls to lead positive change through civic action.

HNJ_Maplewood15_0097The Girl Scout Movement is made up of individuals who hold beliefs as varied as our nation itself. And because all girls have a home at Girl Scouts, we encourage each and every one in our Movement to form her own ideas, opinions, beliefs, and political ideology.

At our core, Girl Scouts aims to inspire girls to be leaders in their own lives by building the courage, confidence, and character to raise their voices and be advocates for the issues and ideas important to them.

Girl Scouts use their determination to lead every day in the fight for a clean environment, racial and gender equality, safety issues, local concerns, and so much more.

Leadership is why the effect of Girl Scouts remains so long after a girl leaves her troop meetings behind and moves on in the world.

So, to celebrate more than a century of Girl Scout civic engagement, we’re launching the G.I.R.L. Agenda, a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls and those who care about them to lead positive change through civic action.gs_girl_agenda_marks_1-06-e1510687119289.png

As we continue to instill the importance of civic engagement for girls, we invite all girls, adults, and friends of Girl Scouts to make your voice heard—with bold moves like advocating for positive change in your community, standing up against everyday injustices, mobilizing others to donate or volunteer for causes, meeting with public officials and community leaders to educate them about important issues, and more.

Every girl has a voice; every girl’s voice is important, and at Girl Scouts every girl’s voice will be heard.

 

 

 

Contributed by Lauren Wallace

How to talk to your kids about natural disasters, and how to help.

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In times of natural disaster, it’s everyone’s responsibility to come together to support and provide aid and comfort to those directly affected. And although it’s simply human to get caught up in the harrowing news coverage, it’s also important to note that the youngest members of our families and communities—your children—are watching and taking all of this in, too.

“Of course we all want to stay abreast of current events,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but when kids see footage of boys and girls their own age or even people who look like their grandparents in dire situations, it can be confusing and frightening.” But rather than brushing off catastrophic events as “nothing to worry about” or something that didn’t really happen, Dr. Bastiani Archibald suggests discussing the disaster in an age-appropriate way with your daughter. “Limit her access to the news, but if she’s already seen or heard about it, let her lead the conversation,” she suggests. “Stay calm—kids, especially younger ones, take their emotional cues from parents—and ask her what she thinks happened. But most of all, ask how she’s feeling. If she says she feels sad or frightened for the people affected, it’s absolutely fine to tell her that you feel sad and frightened for them, too. These feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, and knowing that you feel similarly will help her feel less alone.”

Respond to her questions as best you can with age-appropriate, short answers and limited information. Very young children might not have many or any questions, but older girls might ask about the particular type of weather or natural disaster. Do your best to use words your daughter might already know, like storm, rain, and wind—but explain that these are much stronger and heavier than usual and quite rare.

Let her know that you’ll always do everything you can to keep her safe. And although you don’t want to give her false assurances that a natural disaster like the one she’s witnessing could never happen in your region, it’s also not helpful at this moment to dwell on the fact that it could. If she’s old enough to understand, let her know about the emergency preparations and procedures already in place for your family, your community, and even her school that could keep her out of harm’s way in case of an emergency. These plans are a “just in case” and will likely never be necessary, but her safety is your top priority, and so you make sure you’re prepared for any situation.

If your girl asks about family or friends who were directly affected, answer honestly but in short, direct answers. “If you’ve been in touch with loved ones in the area of the disaster, let your child know that and reinforce the positive—that they’re safe—if there’s positive information to report,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “In the case that you’re still trying to reach family and friends, let her know that you’re doing your best to connect with them and that there are good people on the ground in the affected area who are helping those in need. In fact, your loved ones might be busy helping take care of others right now.”

Beyond that, it’s helpful to explain to your girl what you and your community have already done or plan to do to help the people hardest hit in the disaster. Perhaps you’ve sent money to an aid organization to help families in need, or maybe a family member has traveled to the scene to offer medical assistance. “If your daughter is old enough, you might even want to have her help you research ways to lend a hand and give back,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “We know donating money is often best, so she could play an active role in fundraising or researching organizations accepting donations. Additionally, she could look into alternative ways of helping—like fostering pets who may have been displaced in the disaster.”

Talk to her about the kinds of things people might need in the months and even years after a disaster. Perhaps a school that was heavily affected could use new books to stock its library. Or a Girl Scout troop in the disaster zone might appreciate replacement outdoor gear, art supplies, or even just notes of friendship and support in the months to come.

Getting involved, giving back, and making a difference are actions we all can and need to take when disaster strikes. Involving your daughter will not only potentially expand the impact you can make but also teach her about empathy and give her a sense of her power to do good in the world.


Girl Scouts of the USA is lifting fundraising restrictions to enable girls to raise money for recovery efforts at councils impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. And anyone can donate right here, today.

reliefpatchFundraising 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. The four impacted councils are: 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.

Girls can earn the Texas Girl Scout Hurricane Relief Patch. Details are available here. Once earned, patches can be ordered online, with a minimum of five patches, and shipped directly to you herePatch orders close Monday, January 15, 2018.

Four Ways Girl Scouts Can Help Now

Communities affected by Hurricane Harvey are still in need of our help and support.

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Make an immediate contribution to Girl Scouts of the USA to support the Disaster Relief Fund. DONATEYou can also text HurricaneHarvey to 41444.
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The San Jacinto council has established a Troop to Troop connection to help fulfill wish list items of Girl Scouts in need.HELP SISTER GIRL SCOUTS

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Give your time at Trusted World of Dallas to help sort donated items at their local donation warehouse. DONATE YOUR TIME

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Print and decorate a Trefoil with a special note of encouragement and mail it along with a donation check to:

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, Attn: Development – Help for Harvey
3110 Southwest Fwy.
Houston, TX 77098.

Download a trefoil to decorate here

 

 

Share your story at media@gsnetx.org or #GSRespond

 

Contributed by Lauren Wallace, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

Girl Scout STEM badges and programs teach girls to think critically to solve key economic and environmental issues.

It’s no secret that there are fewer women than men in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields today. In fact, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs, despite filling close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy. And women who do hold STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in other industries—making the gender wage gap comparatively smaller in STEM fields.

At Girl Scouts, we’re more than ready for a change—and STEM leaders start here, with us. Since our founding in 1912, Girl Scouts has introduced girls of all ages, from five-year-old Daisies to high school Ambassadors, to these important fields to help them see for themselves how they can improve the world using valuable STEM skills.

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This past weekend girls in grades 4-12 were able to engage in a fully hands-on STEM experience at Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council 13th annual G.E.M.S. (Girls in Engineering, Math & Science) event. This spectacular program was located at the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, where over 650 girls from all over Kentucky were in attendance.

The all-day event on Saturday November, 11th gave girls a glimpse into the world of STEM careers through a series of workshops that included computer programming, robotics, mechanical engineering, phlebotomy and many other fields. This was also the first year that the event was open to the general public, not just registered Girl Scouts.

At Girl Scouts, we are the foremost experts in preparing the next generation of female STEM leaders. Need more proof? According to a recent Girl Scout Research Institute study, Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non–Girl Scouts to participate in STEM activities (60 percent versus 35 percent), and 77 percent of girls say that because of Girl Scouts, they’re considering a career in technology.

IMG_2824It all starts with a badge. Girl Scouts has more than 35 of them—many introduced earlier this year—that challenge girls to stretch their STEM skills to make the world a better place. And because everything behind our badges is girl-led and girl-approved, we believe each badge can be an important step a girl takes to help close the STEM gender gap once and for all.

Discover more about Girl Scout STEM badges (and other badges) via our Badge Explorer. And this is just the beginning! Over the next two years, Girl Scouts will launch 18 Cybersecurity badges and a series of Space Science badges.

In related news, GSUSA announced a brand new initiative to reduce the gender gap in STEM fields by bringing millions of girls into the STEM pipeline over the next eight years. The Girl Scout STEM Pledge is an initiative that seeks to raise $70 million by 2025, affecting 2.5 million girls. To support the Girl Scout STEM Pledge, visit www.girlscouts.org/STEMpledge.

 

 

Contributed by Lauren Wallace

National Stand Beside Her Movement challenges girls & women to take action in their communities.

The Stand Beside Her Movement culminates each year with National Stand Beside Her Week, October 29 – November 4, 2017 to encourage people to commit to supporting girls and women in their lives, their home, their office and in their community. This week was chosen to commemorate Girl Scouts’ founder, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday on October 31. Low’s life work was about supporting, developing and mentoring strong girls and women.

Stand Beside Her

Created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South, the National Stand Beside Her Movement is a call to action initiative to mentor, support and develop women and girls; to end comparison and competition and create more collaboration and support for one another.

Girls at every grade level can participate in the patch program individually or as a troop by engaging in activities that highlight a part of the Girl Scout Law. Not only do girls learn how to develop their own strengths throughout the program, but they also gain invaluable experience in combating bullying and lifting others up in the process.

Throughout the program women mentors are challenged to be a role model for all of the girls around them. Mentors are encouraged to reflect on ways that they can create a safe environment for girls to develop their sense of self, discover their talents and interests, and explore their strengths and uniqueness.

The Stand Beside Her Movement truly embodies what it means to be a Girl Scout, and lead a life of courage, confidence, and character in order to make the world a better place.

 

For more information about the Stand Beside Her Movement and patch program got to www.standbesideher.org, or visit Girl Scouts Heart of the South for details.