#BecauseOfGirlScouts

#BecauseOfGirlScouts

When I sat down to write about all that Girl Scouts has meant to me, I was surprised at how hard it was to start. It didn’t seem possible to filter through all that I had done and choose just a few important events. Every picture I looked at brought with it a swarm of memories. Every patch that I’d earned had a novel’s worth of stories to tell.

Girl Scouts has given me so much more than just patches and memories. It has given me more than skills, camping trips, and cookies. More than all these things, Girl Scouts has given me confidence in who I am and all that I can accomplish.

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Throughout my years as a Daisy, Brownie, and Junior, Girl Scouts taught me to explore new things. Each meeting we would earn a new patch or go on a field trip and learn something new. Thanks to Girl Scouts, I discovered my interests in music, cooking, and exploring the outdoors. Girl Scouts provided me a place to try new things, learn skills, and discover who I am.

As I grew, my Girl Scout experience grew with me. We started to talk less about what we could do in Girl Scouts and more what we could do as Girl Scouts. Somewhere along the way, my Sisters and I had found a sense of empowerment, and that sense of empowerment changed everything.

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Rather than being told what to do like at school, Girl Scouts gave us the opportunity to take control. We decided as a troop what badges to earn and how to earn them, organized our own service and Take Action projects, and planned our own outings and camping trips. Girl Scouts provided me a place where I could be accountable for my learning and experiences.

I became empowered to speak up about what mattered. Girl Scouts was a place where I knew what I said would be heard and wouldn’t be taken lightly. I found a place where I could express my opinions and ideas and not be dismissed as a kid. Having even one place where I trusted that my voice mattered taught me to keep speaking up and to never back down from what I believed in.

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It gave me faith that someday my voice would be heard in the rest of the world. Just as important, I learned how to listen to others and to value their opinions and beliefs no matter how greatly they may have differed from my own. In speaking up, I learned the power of acceptance. In listening, I found the importance of being heard.

Even more than giving me a place to be in control or to express myself, Girl Scouts gave me a place to just simply be. After a long week at school, I couldn’t wait to unwind with my Sisters at our Sunday night meetings.

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Being in an all-female environment I never felt the pressure to “perform” or to be anything other than myself. Our meetings were a place where we could talk about anything from sexism to s’mores and from Take Action Projects to tough times at school. It was at these meetings that I learned to be confident, for it was at Girl Scouts that I always felt accepted for just being me.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Girl Scouts taught me to be a person of integrity, confidence, honesty, and character. Yes, I learned how to sew and babysit, but I also learned how to change oil, pitch a tent, and save a life. Thanks to Girl Scouts, I learned how to change the world in big and small ways and to believe that I could accomplish anything. Because of Girl Scouts, I am a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader) , and thanks to Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Katie Daehler has been a Girl Scout for the past 13 years and is now a lifetime member. She is a Freshman at Northwestern University, and is working on starting a Daisy troop to continue her Girl Scout experience as a volunteer. 

To learn more about Girl Scouts, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Paying it Forward with Girl Scouts 

Paying it Forward with Girl Scouts 

For Nicole Burgess, a 21-year-old college student in Chicago, becoming a Girl Scout volunteer is a full-circle moment. Growing up, Burgess was a member of Shalina Hampton’s troop at the now defunct Nathan R. Goldblatt Elementary School and today she’s preparing to give back to the organization that gave so much to her.

“I love kids and it’s kind of like paying it forward,” said Burgess. “I’ve just always wanted to give back to this great organization. I love volunteering with Girl Scouts. I hope to touch someone’s life like Ms. Hampton touched mine.”

In middle school, Burgess was teased for being one of the top students, but she said Hampton and Girl Scouts made a positive impact on her life.

“I was always a curious person and I was able to experience new things with Girl Scouts,” she said. “What Ms. Hampton did for me and her Girl Scout troop was help us recognize our value. She made me feel important.”

Hampton, who was also Burgess’s science teacher at the time, remembers Burgess as a quiet and shy student.

“But when she got to Girl Scouts, she was not the same,” Hampton recalled. “She took on a leadership role within the troop and she made friends with the other girls.”

Burgess describes volunteering with Hampton as a “full-circle moment.”

“I really love Ms. Hampton, I don’t know how else to explain it,” Burgess said. “It all goes back to her showing us our value and helping us find our voices. As a child, I didn’t really have a voice, but Ms. Hampton helped me discover mine. Being back with her and her troop, it’s amazing.”

And the feeling is mutual.

“I can’t describe how happy I am to have Nicole come back. A lot of leaders don’t realize the impact they have on these girls and that’s what motivates me to continue,” said Hampton, who was a Girl Scout growing up and also helped with her daughter’s troop. “Volunteering with Girl Scouts is about me giving back to the community. It doesn’t matter how big or small your contribution is, you can make a difference. You can encourage a girl to become a leader.”

For anyone curious about volunteering with Girl Scouts, Hampton encourages them to give it a try.

“It takes nothing but time,” she said. “These girls are eager to explore new things, like going camping and doing archery. Girl Scouts really does encourage girls. We embody the mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character. It’s obvious in everything we do.”

Know someone who would make a great volunteer? Invite them to join Girl Scouts today! For more information, click here.

Five Fun, Easy Ways to Appreciate Girl Scout Volunteers

Five Fun, Easy Ways to Appreciate Girl Scout Volunteers

As summer winds down and children head back to school, we’re gearing up for another exciting year of Girl Scouting! But we can’t do it without our hard working, enthusiastic team of adult volunteers. Whether they’re chaperoning a troop at summer camp or leading troop meetings, these dedicated men and women are committed to empowering the next generation of women leaders.

At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, we have a few fun ways you can show your appreciation for the countless volunteers who work tirelessly to make every Girl Scout’s experience a memorable and life-changing one.

1. Send a thank-you note or card. When’s the last time you received a handwritten thank-you note? This simple, sincere gesture can go a long way in letting your volunteer know how much you value their time and admire their leadership.

2. Join our “Just Say Thanks” initiative. Did you know that our council’s CEO, Nancy Wright, will send a personal note to special Girl Scout volunteers? Anyone can submit a request through our website to receive this very special token of appreciation. Click here to get started.

3. Get crafty. Visit our council’s Pinterest page for creative handmade crafts and gifts to thank your troop leader.

4. Deliver a certificate of appreciation. Say thanks the Girl Scout way with a personalized certificate of appreciation. Get started here.

5. Nominate them for a Girl Scout award. Show the volunteers in your life how much you appreciate them by nominating them for council awards, such as Hidden Heroine and New Found Treasure, or Girl Scouts of the USA national awards, such as the Appreciation Pin and the Thanks Badge. For more information about the awards and to nominate your favorite volunteer, click here.

What are some ways you show love to the volunteers you know? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

What I Love About Being a Girl Scout Volunteer

What I Love About Being a Girl Scout Volunteer

As the infamous saying goes, “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!” Growing up, I was a Girl Scout and I have wonderful memories of my mom being a volunteer for my troop. We’d go on our Brownie camping trip, sing songs and make S’mores.

My mom was so funny and had everyone laughing because instead of wood she picked up a mouse and she screamed. She was always sewing on different patches and making sure my uniform was always washed and ready to go. She also went rollerskating with us. My mom is a people person and everyone just loved her.

So when my 6-year-old daughter, Jenna, asked to be a Girl Scout Daisy, of course I said yes! I knew the troop leader well as both our daughters attended preschool together. I want the best for my daughter, as every parent does.

Being a volunteer has given me the opportunity to witness my daughter practice the skills that Girl Scouts has taught her firsthand.

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As a volunteer for her troop, I was able to go caroling with the girls and help them make Christmas cards for a local nursing home. I used to work with the elderly and I swelled with pride as my young daughter showed kindness and compassion and got it back tenfold!

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, I was able to teach my daughter money management and people skills during booth sales. We shared many laughs as I stood on the side of the road waving the cookie sign!

Girl Scouts goes beyond the badges and the pins. Girl Scouts is about girl power … that anything is possible, to be kind and to help others. Just like a Daisy, my daughter and the wonderful girls in her troop are blossoming into wonderful girls. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

A former dancer and dance instructor, Jessica Barnes is a first-year Girl Scout volunteer in Elk Grove Village. When she’s not busy helping the Daisies, she is enjoys having fun with her two daughters, Jenna and Emilee, spending time with her family and friends and baking.

Don’t miss out on the fun, renew your Girl Scout membership today! Troop leaders who renew their troop members through the online Member Community now until June 30 will be automatically enrolled in our brand new GS Plus Loyalty Program, which includes exclusive discounts, a free Girl Scout planner and much more.

Guest Blog: Why I Love Being a Girl Scout Volunteer Part 2

Guest Blog: Why I Love Being a Girl Scout Volunteer Part 2

Behind every Girl Scout is a dedicated and passionate volunteer showing her the way. This month, we’ve asked two of our amazing troop leaders to share why they love Girl Scouts and how you can influence the next generation.

Being a Girl Scout is a tradition in my family. When I was a Brownie, my mom and grandma shared with me pictures and stories from when they were Girl Scouts. My favorite part about being a Girl Scouts was earning rewards during Cookie Season. My sister and I were always BIG cookie sellers in our troops.

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As an adult, I’d forgotten all about this experience until one day I was at a community service project with another organization and saw one of my friends with all these young girls with her. I asked who they were and she told me it was her Girl Scout troop. I immediately wanted to get involved and give back to the organization that’d helped me so much.

That was five years ago in February and by Christmas, I had attended my first meeting as a Girl Scout troop leader. I love volunteering with Girl Scouts because it gives me a chance to interact with kids as I’m not a mom yet. I love talking to the girls to find out what they are thinking and helping to mold them into young ladies.

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Sometimes, the girls enter Girl Scouts very timid, but after a few meetings, they have so much to say! I remember the first year we sold cookies at a local grocery store. The girls were so shy they barely wanted to speak to the customers.

But that all changed by the third weekend when they had their sales pitch in place and we sold so many cookies! Perhaps my favorite moment as a troop leader is passing out the cookie rewards to the girls because they work so hard to sell as many cookies as they can.

Since I’ve become a Girl Scout Daisy troop leader, I’ve met some wonderful women and I’ve also taken on leadership roles within my council as a delegate and product manager for our service unit.

We need more people to volunteer with the Girl Scouts so we can all mentor and mold more young girls into remarkable women. Every day, these girls teach me so much about myself. I love being part of an organization that is more than 100 years old and has helped develop numerous amazing female leaders. I believe it is my honor to serve God and my country and to live by the Girl Scout law.

Dr. Renee WHITE COAT

Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as, The Oprah Winfrey Show and TVOne’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin where she discussed different health topics. Dr. Renee also hosts The Ask Dr. Renee Show, a weekly show to motivate and inspire viewers to “live the life they deserve.”

She’s been a contributing health writer for numerous websites such as MadameNoire.com, BlackandMarriedwithKids.com and BlackDoctor.org, as well as a sought after speaker for various health organizations and schools. In addition to writing about health, Dr. Renee conducts speaking engagements on social media, branding, motivation, and becoming an entrepreneur.

To read part one of our volunteer guest blog series, click here. To learn more about Girl Scouts or sign up as a volunteer, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Stock photos courtesy of Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Guest Blog: Why I Love Being a Girl Scout Volunteer

Guest Blog: Why I Love Being a Girl Scout Volunteer

Behind every Girl Scout is a dedicated and passionate volunteer showing her the way. This month, we’ve asked two of our amazing troop leaders to share why they love Girl Scouts and how you can influence the next generation.

All of my best stories come from being a Girl Scout leader. I can entertain any audience at parties with tales from my three troops – the adventures of the girl who went to camp with no shoes, the girl who couldn’t wait to ride a horse until she actually had to get on a horse, and the one who never listens to instructions until she is literally inches from falling into a creek.  But the most rewarding thing is hearing the girls tell stories.

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Our Brownies are bright, peppy second and third graders, for whom everything is new and exciting.  “We sold cookies last year, and we get to do it again?!  That’s great!”

Meanwhile, our Cadettes are in junior high and they are constantly on the lookout for new experiences and interesting places. “Chinatown this weekend to learn to make dumplings. And then woodworking, and then chemistry day, and then Ronald McDonald House, and then …”

Our Seniors are high school freshmen and sophomores are busy defining their interests and looking for adventures that appeal to their growing sense of independence. Their desire to do service projects is pretty inspiring.  When they’re all together, though, the giggling may lead you to believe you’re back with the Brownies.

DSC_0172Last year, I took five of the Cadettes along on a Brownie camping trip – girls from four different schools and three different grade levels. I thought the older girls would be helpful and maybe have some fun leading songs or crafts. At every turn, they astonished me.

From kitchen duty and nature hikes to games and badge work, I watched the Cadettes lead the way for the Brownies.  And then they sat around a campfire, which they built, and laughed themselves silly telling stories and sharing memories from their years in Girl Scouts. That is when it occurred to me exactly what it means to be a Girl Scout volunteer.

IMG_0442We give girls the chance to lead, to learn, to make friends, and to know they have an advocate cheering them on along the way. Years from now, these girls are going to find themselves in a position to make a decision, make a change, or make a difference, and they’re going to do it with confidence because they were Girl Scouts and had positive adult role models show them how.

Become a Girl Scout volunteer and mentor young girls. You can lead a troop or share your skills and interests with a troop a few times a year. If you’re like me and you love spreadsheets, you can help out with the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Enjoy being outdoors? Volunteering at a Girl Scout camp may be the perfect option for you. There are flexible opportunities available for everyone. And I promise you’ll have fun along the way and plenty of stories to share.

Alisia (Ally) Eckert has been a Girl Scout troop leader since 2001. She also serves as a regional volunteer for the product team and has been awarded the Leader of the Year, Outstanding Volunteer, Woman of the Century, Honor and Appreciation pins from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  Ally works as the senior planned giving officer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation (formerly Children’s Memorial). She loves to travel, dabbles in photography, and is a rabid ice hockey fan.   

Check back on Nov. 11 for part two of our volunteer guest blog series. To learn more about Girl Scouts or sign up as a volunteer, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Photos courtesy of Ally Eckert