You can be a part of the Girl Scout difference

Girl Scouts is an organization with more than 100 years dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Despite our storied history, many misunderstand the purpose of our organization or consider it irrelevant in today’s world.

In reality, the need for Girl Scouts has never been more apparent.

Far from the stereotypes of cookies and crafts, Girl Scouts is the preeminent leadership organization for girls. We have decades of research showcasing the need for a single-gender environment and why it’s the best place for girls to grow. Beyond our research, we have the proven results seen in the lives of our alumnae:

statistics

This past election, more than 110 women won seats in the US House of Representatives. Already hitting a record for female candidates, it’s important to note that at least 58% of the women who won were Girl Scouts.

When you support Girl Scouts, you’re investing in the future of our girls. You’re building our future leaders, visionaries, and game-changers. You’re telling all girls, no matter who they are or what path they choose in life, that they’re important and capable. You’re helping them achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Our program makes a difference because it’s designed by girls, for girls. Through our Four Pillars: Outdoors, STEM, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship, we want to give every girl the opportunity to find her passion and pursue it with confidence. We don’t tell a girl what she should do; we let her choose.

Everyone is familiar with how delicious Girl Scout cookies are, but few realize it’s the largest girl-run business in the world and designed to teach five financial literacy skills, including money management, decision making, and goal setting.

Beneath the Girl Scout stereotype is an organization dedicated to raising girls up and showing them that no matter what society says or does, they are equal and they matter. Be a part of the difference we make in the lives of our girls today. 

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Shelby: part tomboy, part football player, all Girl Scout

As competition for your girl’s time heats up, it’s easy to dismiss Girl Scouts as not being right for her. Your girl isn’t the girly-girl type, so she wouldn’t enjoy an organization where that’s a big deal. She’s more of a tomboy, so she likely wouldn’t have a good time.

We have news for you: every girl is right for Girl Scouts.

When you’re a Girl Scout, it doesn’t matter if you’re part trendsetter, part change-maker, part athlete, part engineer, part artist, or part go-getter, because you know who you are and where you want to go next. You’re all Girl Scout, and that makes the difference.

Pictured above is Shelby, a self-proclaimed ‘tomboy,’ football player, and Girl Scout Junior. She doesn’t fit the mold of what so many assume Girl Scouts is, yet our program fits her perfectly.

She’s learned practical skills like camping, fire building, and knot tying, but it’s the intangible skills that stand out. As a Girl Scout, Shelby has learned about caring, leadership, giving back, and working together.

Shelby, far right in the back row, with the rest of her troop

Shelby first joined Girl Scouts because it seemed like it would be fun and her mother, Kathy, wanted her to try something new. Since then, Kathy has watched her become independent, gain leadership skills, make friends, and enjoy many opportunities she wouldn’t have had the chance to experience without Girl Scouts. Even more, her confidence has increased.

Because of her interest in ‘boy things,’ Shelby can sometimes feel out of place in school and like she doesn’t fit in. When she’s with her troop, she feels comfortable to be herself.

If someone told Shelby they weren’t the ‘right kind of girl’ to join, she’d let them know it’s a perfect program for them because of all the activities they can do, like camping, crafting, caroling, and more. In fact, girls can pick from an array of different activities, events, and skills they want to achieve.  

Shelby’s favorite thing about Girl Scouts is Camp Timbercrest, where she’s met new friends who are like family

Even though she’s only nine years old, Shelby is already thinking about college. It’s one of the things she’s most excited about Girl Scouts. Through our Spring Renewal program, girls who renew their membership by May 30 receive SAGE Tuition Rewards Points. This translates into $2500 for college every year she renews.

Our partnership with SAGE was one of the things about Girl Scouts that surprised Kathy. She didn’t realize how it could help with Shelby’s future college dreams, or how the Girl Scout Gold Award can help increase a girl’s rank in the military. Another surprise was the number of companies that offer Girl Scouts opportunities, like Apple and Disney.

Both Kathy and Shelby are very active in Girl Scouts because of their belief in the program. For Shelby, it’s about learning about things she doesn’t know.

“She has had so many experiences and more just waiting for her,” Kathy said.  “She and her troop have done volunteer work at our local soup kitchen; they are working on their Bronze Award with a nonprofit little animal rescue; they’ve done beach clean ups to name a few of their projects. She will be able to not only save for college but visit some through the offerings they have at St. Bonaventures and Fredonia State.”

For girls and parents who aren’t sure about Girl Scouts, both Kathy and Shelby believe they should do their research and give it a try.

“As a parent, I would encourage them to do research on what Girl Scouts has to offer,” Kathy said. “Girl Scouts can help in a number of ways, including college through SAGE, travel opportunities, educational experiences, life skills, leadership, and to be in an environment that will help her grow.”

Girl Scouts is for all girls because we know no two are alike. Every girl has her own interests, talents, hobbies, and dreams, and we want to make sure she has the right opportunities to pursue them all. It’s not about what kind of girl you are, as long as you’re all Girl Scout.

Shelby is a lot of wonderful things and she’s all Girl Scout.

Holiday Spirit Week at GSWNY!

Last week, the staff at Girl Scouts of Western New York embraced the holiday spirit with a themed week complete with ugly sweaters, crazy headwear, and hot chocolate! Each day had a unique theme and all the offices were invited to participated. 

Monday – “Photo Booth” Day – we had fun with a twist on the traditional booth! Instead of setting up something official, we went around our offices and took cheery photos of what we had to commemorate 2018! 

Tuesday – Holiday (Ugly) Sweater Day – no explanation need for this tradition

Wednesday – Holiday Flair – this takes the sweater game up a notch with socks, scarves, hats, and bling to really celebrate the holidays

Thursday – Holiday Craft Day – Girl Scouts is way more than just crafts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy doing them!

Friday – Cookies and Cocoa Day – because what feels more like the holidays than some delicious cookies and hot chocolate

Check out the gallery below for highlights from the week!

Why I Give to Girl Scouting

[The post below was written by Donna Dolce, a lifelong Girl Scout]

I have always been a Girl Scout and Girl Scouting has been my life blood since joining as a 7 year old Brownie in 1958!

Girl Scouting made me the person that I am and contributed to all that I have accomplished both professionally and personally.  My mother was my first Brownie Leader and what better role model can a child have than her own mother demonstrating leadership, courage, confidence and character to an impressionable daughter.  Through her leadership and the values gained in Girl Scouting I immediately learned that I could, in fact, be whatever I wanted to be, achieve whatever I set my mind to do and learn that service for others could be both a vocation and avocation.

I remained in Girl Scouting throughout High School because of the leadership of Celia Beckmann.  As the leader of the Senior Troop in our community, those of us that stayed knew that adventures would await us.  Mrs. Beckmann had a reputation that all the girls in her troops would travel.  In my case it was a 10 day bus trip to Philadelphia, Washington, DC and New York City.  As a young girl growing up in a small town in Western New York this was the first opportunity to visit not one, but three metropolitan cities in less than two weeks.  Little did I know that one day I would in fact find myself working in one of those cities!

Upon graduation from college, I returned to Fredonia to serve as Mrs. Beckmann’s co-leader and was ultimately recruited by the Executive Director to a paid position in Girl Scouting becoming the Director of Program, Property and Training, including serving as the Director for Camp Timbercrest for more than 7 years.

Experiencing enormous gratitude and success, I than accepted a similar position with a much larger council in New Jersey, which ultimately led to a position on the National Staff of GSUSA in New York City!  I marveled daily that this young girl from Western New York who had experienced the Big Apple as a younger Girl Scout, was now living the dream.

I subsequently left professional Girl Scouting to work with other National non-profits (YWCA of the USA and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson), but remained active as a member of the Board of Directors of a local New Jersey Council.  In addition, I parlayed my knowledge by seeking and serving two terms as a municipal council woman, utilizing many of the skills I had learned through Girl Scouting.

I returned to professional Girl Scouting in 2005 as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Washington Rock Council and provided the staff leadership and support to the merger of three New Jersey Council’s retiring in 2008.  I subsequently relocated to Delaware and continue to serve on a county advisory committee for the Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay and provide consultative services to several local non-profit organizations.

Although I have no children of my own, I am blessed to have hundreds of younger girls and women who continuously share their stories and thank me because of the impact that Girl Scouting has had on their lives….and who can ask for more than that as a reward for a life well lived.

So, why you may ask, do I give……how can I not?  Girl Scouting has brought me a career, many friends far and wide and values that have led me to serve others no matter where I live.  What a better world we would be if EVERY girl could live the same life and benefit from this extraordinary program.

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Election 2018: Girl Scouts Then, Leaders Now

The 2018 midterm elections gave women a reason to celebrate: out of the 266 women who ran for office, nearly half of them won their seats for a record-setting number of women in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. 

Even better? Of those elected to the 116th Congress, 60% were involved with our program. An impressive 74% of our women senators and 57% of women representatives and delegates are Girl Scout Alums.

The number of women governors in the United States increased by 6% and 56% of them were Girl Scouts. 

More than just numbers, 2018 boasted many historic firsts for women:

  • Kyrsten Sinema became Arizona’s first female senator, defeating Martha McSally. Both are Girl Scout alums.
  • Ayanna Pressley, Girl Scout Alum, is Massachusetts’s first black congresswoman.
  • Texas has its first Latina congresswomen with Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar, Girl Scout Alum. 
  • Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first woman senator. 
  • The first Muslim women EVER were elected to Congress – Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. 
  • We also have the first Native American women in Congress – Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. 
  • Kristi Noem was elected as South Dakota’s governor, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
  • Both Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Girl Scout Alum, and Abby Finkenauer were elected to Congress and stand as the youngest women ever to serve. 
  • Jahana Hayes is Connecticut’s first black congresswoman. 
  • Stacey Abrams, Girl Scout Alum, was narrowly defeated in the Georgia gubernatorial race, but stands as the first black woman to be a major-party gubernatorial nominee in the United States. 

We’re so proud of what our sisters accomplished this year and how they’re continuing to break the boys club mold. But our work isn’t done. 

Even with this year’s exciting statistics and stories, the gender gap is still an issue in our elected offices. Between governors, senators, and representatives, there are 591 offices. Only 136 are currently held by women, meaning they hold less than 25% of the positions available. 

The reason women don’t hold more positions is because they aren’t running as frequently as men. More than 65% of girls say they’re interested in politics, yet something stops them from running for office as adults. Some of those reasons include:

We know our Girl Scouts gain the confidence they need to succeed in their lives. The 2018 midterm election results are proof that Girl Scout show’s girls they’re capable of more by encouraging them to be leaders and sure of themselves. 

Here’s to working toward an equal future, where women being good enough or smart enough to run for office isn’t even a consideration because they know what they’re capable of. The future is female. 

Girl Scouts Learn to Lead with Fire Safety

This article originally appeared on Prevention1st.org

This fall Prevention 1st trainers delivered the first sessions of the Leadership Development program in fire safety which they developed for the Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY). Sessions held in Rochester and Buffalo, NY, drew 34 Girl Scout Cadets, from 6th-graders to 12th graders, eager to learn leadership and fire safety skills. They will each now present 3 training sessions with younger Daisy and/or Brownie troops.

“This is a chance to up their leadership skills and be role models for younger girls,” said Lauren Bush, Assistant Director of Girl Experience for GSWNY. “And fire safety is so important, it’s good for them to hear it from their peers. As leaders, as adults, we can tell kids these things about fire. But when they hear it from their slightly older peers, it really sticks.”

“They were so enthusiastic and committed to playing a role in their community,” said Bob Crandall, Prevention 1st trainer. “For that age group it was very impressive.”

The Prevention 1st training will count toward the senior Girl Scouts’ leadership awards, and toward the younger Scouts’ play safe! be safe! Fire Safety Education patch. Training sessions were held on a day off from school, with some entire troops attending as well as individual girls interested in the training. The Rochester session was sponsored by the John F. Wegman Fund and the Buffalo session by Prevention 1st.

Molly Clifford taught the girls strategies for teaching younger children and presentation skills to keep their audience engaged and learning. Bob Crandall presented the specific fire safety skills they would need to teach the younger Girl Scouts, drawn from the curriculum of the play safe! be safe! fire safety program. The girls then worked in small groups to develop and rehearse their own presentations.

“They came up with creative ways to be “hands on” with skills,” Crandall recalled, “like using newsprint to make “smoke” and then demonstrating the correct way to Stay Low and Go under smoke.”

Bush hopes that as the younger Girl Scouts learn, they will later step up to do the same training for others:

“There’s no better way to show their leader skills. It’s a “pay it forward” skill.”

Prevention 1st is dedicated to preventing injury by educating and/or hazard proofing the environments of those most at risk: older adults, young children and people with disabilities. Learn more >>>