Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy 99th Birthday Girl Scouts!

I was out West recently, visiting my daughter in Arizona and my parents in California.  When people I met asked me what I do – I answered that I work for Girl Scouts.  The reaction among women was always the same.  They all gave me a big smile and burst out “I was a Girl Scout!”.  And then they told me about being a Brownie, or selling cookies, or going camping, or about their troop leader, or about their friends.  All these women spoke about how being a Girl Scout was a wonderful part about growing up.

99 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low made her famous phone call to Miss Nina Anderson Pape – “Come right over, I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah and all America and all the world and we’re going to start it tonight!”.

More than 50 million American girls have become Girl Scouts since that phone call.  99 years ago, that message was a telephone call.   Today, Juliette might have used Facebook, Twitter, or a text message.  Many things have changed since that phone call – but the core of Girl Scouting has not changed.  The Promise and the Law (both updated slightly) are still the foundation of Girl Scouting.

According to How Girls Can Help Their Countrythe Girl Scout handbook published in 1916, girls were encouraged to think about their future, about Careers!  And some of those first badges are still relevant:  Artist, Cook, First Aid, Civics (Citizenship), and Naturalist.  Some are not, such as the Telegraphy badge which required that a Girl Scout be able to read and send a message in Morse Code or the Dairy badge which required that a Girl Scout know how to milk a cow, test the milk, and make butter.  We may smile at those “old-fashioned” badges, but we have similar skill building badges today.  What all of these Girl Scout badges, past, current or future, have in common is that girls learn new skills and build upon those skills.
We are excited about the National Leadership Journeys that have been developed for each level of Girl Scouts: It’s Your World – Change It!; It’s Your Planet – Love It!; and It’s Your Story – Tell It!  Journeys are focused on helping girls build leadership skills through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.  Each Journey has specific Journey Awards – but these Journey Awards are not meant to replace the badges that we all know and love.  Remember the women that were telling me about being Girl Scouts?  Many of them still remember some of the badges that they earned.  Stay tuned for the next exciting update to the Girl Scout program.

The updated The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting will be coming out this fall, in time for the new membership year.  Each Girl’s Guide (by level: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador) includes a Handbook Section and a Badge Section.  Some of these badges are Legacy badges, focused on topics that have been important since 1912 – and are still relevant to girls today - Artist, Cook, First Aid, Citizenship.  There are still many skill building badges, focused on building skills in many areas of interest to girls today (but probably not Telegraphy or Dairy!).  Other badge categories are focused on Financial Literacy (teaching girls how to use money wisely) and Cookie Business, where girl’s financial literacy skills are put into practice during the Girl Scout cookie sale.  And of course, Make Your Own, where girls can create and complete a badge of their very own.

Remember – Journeys help build leadership; badges help build specific skills.  The Journeys and badges are designed to work together to deliver a rich, wonderful Girl Scout experience at all levels.

We will be heading into our 100th Anniversary with the fresh face of Girl Scouting, honoring our past and our traditions, and updated for the future!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World Thinking Day - 2011

Our way is clear as we march on
And see! Our flag on high
Is never furled throughout the world
For hope shall never die!
We must unite for what is right
In friendship true and strong
Until the earth
In its rebirth
Shall sing our song! Shall sing our song!

World Thinking Day.  What does it mean to us as Girl Scouts?  Our voices are a beautiful part of over 10 million girls’ voices around the world – all of us sister Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, as members of WAGGGS, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 
We are so lucky here in the United States.  We know that we can make our voices heard.  Our girls, through the Girl Scout Leadership experience Discover themselves and the world around them, Connect with others in the community, and Take Action to make the world a better place.
We watch the news and we see countries where people are discovering their voices and their voices can bring about peaceful change.  WAGGGS helps girls and young women discover their voices.
So today, on World Thinking Day, let our voices speak out clear and strong and support our sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Make New Friends... But Keep the Old

Friends and friendships.  We don’t always take the time to think about them.  Over the holidays, I’ve been thinking about friends and why we remain friends with certain people and not others.  Perhaps to have good friends, we also need to be a good friend.

Friends see us through all of life’s events – the major ones like love, birth and death – as well as smaller events.

How do we become friends?  We start off by sharing something in common – a dorm room; recognizing at a public event that we share similar views and seeking that person out; the commitment to helping people; or just by having fun together.  These small sparks are carefully tended and over time grow into the flame of friendship.

Sometimes, these small sparks of friendship become dormant for many years, but then can burst into the full flame of friendship once again.  Over the holidays, I was spending time with a friend and we were discussing friendship.  She told me that she recently attended a 55-year reunion of her Brownie troop!  And they all visited their Brownie leader.  What’s amazing is that these women had not really maintained contact throughout all of these years.  However, all it took was a puff of air, blowing on the dormant sparks of friendship, for it to bloom again.  They realized that their shared experiences as Brownies really were the foundation for a long-time friendship.  My friend also told me that she should have reached out to them earlier.  It doesn’t take much to maintain friendships – just keeping in contact.

My friends are scattered around the world.  We’re friends because of shared experiences – school, work, and Girl Scouts.  Facebook and email make it so much easier to stay in touch; to celebrate life’s events and to help each other through the tough times.

So as we go about our busy lives, let’s resolve this year to take time to remember old friends.  But also, make new friends.  Who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone who shares your passion for female detective novels!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Your Story!

Digging wells, building log cabins and furniture, growing corn and potatoes - not activities you would think Girl Scouts participate in, but Anna Shaw did all this and much more. Anna Howard Shaw was born in England and came to America when she was four years old. She travelled to Grand Rapids by train in 1859 when she was twelve years old. When she got to Grand Rapids with her family, they then went by wagon to a log cabin just north of Big Rapids. She came with her mother and four other siblings.
How did I find out about Anna Shaw? She is mentioned in the 1920 edition of Scouting for Girls – Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts. Anna is held up as an example of “our own early history… sprinkled thickly with brave, handy girls, who were certainly Scouts, if ever there were any, though they never belonged to a patrol (troop), nor recited the Scout Laws.”
Anna Howard Shaw went on to do so much more. She was the first woman to be ordained as a minister in the Methodist Protestant Church; she received a M.D. degree from Boston University. And she was a vocal advocate of political rights for women, becoming a confidant of Susan B. Anthony in the woman’s suffrage movement.
You can read about all of this and more in her autobiography, The Story of a Pioneer.
And now you’re probably asking why I’m blogging about Anna Howard Shaw? She told her story to us. Reading her words, I’m immediately transported to pioneer days in the Big Rapids area. 
The new Girl Scouts JourneyIt’s Your Story – Tell it! is launching at GSMISTS in January. You can learn more about the new Journey here. All of us have interesting stories – tell them – people LOVE to hear stories!
During this holiday season, as you spend time with family and friends, encourage them to tell you THEIR stories. Perhaps those stories will inspire you to tell your own.
The very warmest of holiday seasons to all of you. Be safe, travel safely, enjoy your family and friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can Math and Science be fun?

Robotics!  How can I talk about it without sounding like a total geek.  Yes – I am a closet geek about technology and really LOVE robotics.  I was so thrilled to find out that GSMISTS sponsored two LEGO Robotic teams (with support from Motorola), one from Alpena and one from Grand Rapids.  While I was not able to make the competition in Saginaw this past weekend, I have been to FIRST Robotics competitions than my daughter participated in when she was in high school.   Many girls ARE becoming involved in the robotics competitions, both the FIRST LEGO League (for grades 4 to 8) and the FIRST Robotics Competition (grades 9 to 12). 
Did you know that one of the top FIRST Robotic teams is made up entirely of Girl Scouts from the Greater Los Angeles Council?  And that they were recognized by President Obama at the White House Science Fair this past October.  Our very own teams’ picture is featured on the Girl Scouts of the USA blog.
So for those of you who don’t think that math and science can be exciting – go to a FIRST Robotics competition.  You will never look at robots the same way!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Greetings

The winter was brutal in New England, especially that first winter of 1620.  The Pilgrims had landed in Plymouth (which they named Plimouth) in December 1620.  They nearly starved and they had no shelter.  A year later, after a plentiful harvest, the Pilgrims gathered with the Native Americans that had shown them how to harvest the bounty of this new land.  Thanks was given for them having survived that first year and for the harvest that would allow the Pilgrims to thrive in this new country.

We still gather with family and friends to give thanks that we are still together, or to remember loved ones.  We all have many things to be thankful for, some large, some small and personal. 

But do you know how this unique American holiday became a national holiday?  Most of the credit for the establishment of an annual Thanksgiving holiday may be given to an amazing woman, Sarah Josepha Hale.  Editor of Ladies Magazine and Godey's Lady's Book, she began to campaign for such a day in 1827 by printing articles in the magazines.  She also published stories and recipes, and wrote scores of letters to governors, senators, and presidents.  After 36 years of effort, she won her battle.  On October 3, 1863, buoyed by the Union victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln proclaimed that November 26, would be a national Thanksgiving Day, to be observed every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah took action to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  She never gave up.  You can learn more about Sarah Josepha on the following site:

That’s what we’re doing with our girls – teaching them and giving them opportunities to Take Action in their communities – to make a world a better place.

Warmest Thanksgiving greetings to all of you and safe travels.