Writing Letters to Seniors and Caretakers: National Girl Scout Service Project

Serving our communities is part of how Girl Scouts lead, especially in times of our country’s greatest need. During World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic, Girl Scouts collected peach pits to be ground up and used in making soldiers’ gas masks, rolled bandages for the Red Cross, educated their communities about food production, and sold U.S. Treasury Bonds. On the home front in World War II, Girl Scouts planted victory gardens; conducted scrap drives for rubber, metal, and nylon; and trained with the Red Cross on first aid. They sent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt a “check” documenting 5.4 million hours of service.

Girl Scouts have always stepped up in times of need, and our current COVID-19 crisis is no different. All across the country, Girl Scouts have leapt to the aid of others by engaging in wonderful acts of service and kindness. Now your troop can get involved too!

The idea is simple: girls write letters to people in nursing homes, senior centers, and assisted living facilities, including the dedicated staff and caregivers. This long-distance hug is a way to share your good thoughts with these vulnerable and loved community members.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask your girls (and their friends!) to write letters using the Tips for Writing Letters to Seniors and Caretakers below. You can share this handout with your girls before you write letters or during your virtual troop meeting.
    1. Send a long-distance hug with a heartfelt letter to seniors, their caretakers, and other people who can benefit from knowing that you’re thinking of them. See below for some recommendations on how to write and share these notes.
    2. What should I know before I write my letter?
      • Write it by hand. Giving your message a personal touch can show your reader how much you care. Plus, it’s your unique stamp! No one has your handwriting but you.
      • Make it neat. Make sure your recipient can read the wonderful words you write to them!
      • Make it personal. Let your creative side shine with bright colors, glitter pens, drawings, and other personal touches!
      • Don’t write the date. While we often want to mark the date that we write letters, it may take longer than normal for this letter to be delivered. Leaving off the date will help your reader feel special and remembered even if they receive it late.
    3. What should I write about?
      • “Thank you” or “Thinking of you”—pick one! Are you writing to a resident at a nursing home? Want to thank a caregiver? Decide what type of note you’re writing and let the message guide your writing.
      • Be kind and thoughtful. When you begin to write, think carefully about what you want to say and how you can spread kindness. Consider how you can craft a unique message that comes from your heart. How can you make the card extra special?
      • Be creative. Use your creativity, imagination, and talents to make your note fun and unique! Consider drawing a picture, decorating your note, or adding in a puzzle that you create or a game you love.
      • Start with “Dear Friend.” Even if you don’t know your reader by name, starting with “Dear Friend” will make them feel special and cared for.
      • Introduce yourself. Let your reader know who you are and why you’re writing.
      • Send positive thoughts. Share your positivity and well wishes. What do you hope for your reader right now? Is there anything you’d like to thank them for?
      • Give some personal flair. Share something that only you can. Is there something you’ve been doing that you want that person to know about? Can you share a story that will make them happy?
      • Avoid religion and personal views. Since we don’t know exactly who will receive your letter, make sure that your note is kind and broad—so that anyone who receives it will feel that it is meant for them.
      • Sign your first name. Sign your name to the letter to show your reader it’s coming from a kind and genuine person: you. While it’s important that this letter come from you, don’t share more personal information (like your last name, home address, or phone number)—if the reader knows your name and that you’re a Girl Scout, that’s more than enough.
  2. You can mail letters to one of the locations ready to receive letters from Girl Scout troops. The list is available on the National Service Project page. Or you can reach out to a local assisted living center or nursing home and find out how they would like to receive your troop’s letters.
  3. Decide how to collect and deliver your troop’s letters. You could collect the letters (using no-contact practices) and mail them or drop them off as a packet, have girls mail them individually, or even deliver them via email. Do whatever is easiest and safest for you and your troop. If you decide to have girls mail them on their own, provide the council office address as the return address.
  4. Include a letter or note to the facility staff explaining who your letters are for, along with suggested ideas for sharing your letters (for example, adding a letter to meal trays or decorating a nurse’s station). A sample letter to the facility can be found here.
  5. If your troop wrote both “thinking of you” notes for residents and “thank you” notes for staff and caregivers, make sure to organize your package so that it is easy for staff to deliver letters to the right recipients.
  6. Take a picture of your letter packet and post it to your social media networks using #GirlScoutsGiveBack (and be sure to tag us @girlscouts). You can also tag GSWNY on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
  7. Don’t forget to visit GSUSA’s National Service Project page and log the number of letters you send to add them to the national campaign. Let’s see how many letters of love and care our Movement can send!
  8. If you wish to recognize your troop’s participation with a patch, we recommend this community service patch.
Featured image: drobotdean

Join the Stargazers Astronomy Club!

Are you a Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador Girl Scout who loves science? Are you curious about stars, space, and astronomy? If you answered yes to either of those questions, we have the club for you!

Last June, local Girl Scouts boarded a plane and began their NASA journey to the Goddard Space Center in Maryland. They spent a week learning about the stars, the sun, space, and how to start – and run – an astronomy club. They worked through the summer to outline a series of meetings and activities to start up this fall, and now they’re ready to share this information with you!

Join us on Thursday, November 21, at 6 p.m. at the Buffalo Central Library in Downtown Buffalo where you can meet your NASA-trained Girl Scout “Mission Control” team.

As a founding member of our inaugural club, you will: Meet girls who share your interest, expand your knowledge of the cosmos, keep up with the latest news from NASA, learn to operate our awesome club telescope, hear from guest speakers, participate in hands-on activities, and more!

Meetings will be held the third Thursday of the month at the Buffalo Central Library in Downtown Buffalo from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Non-Girl Scouts who would love to join this club are invited, but must register to be a Girl Scout either at a Stargazers meeting or online at gswny.org/join.

The cost is $25 and includes a t-shirt, supplies, membership to the Buffalo Astronomical Association, and a discounted membership to the Buffalo Museum of Science.

2019-2020 Meeting Schedule:

  • November 21
  • December (no meeting – Happy Holidays!)
  • January 16
  • February (no meeting)
  • March 19
  • April 16
  • May 21
  • May 30 – Explore the Sky and S;more at Girl Scouts Camp Windy Meadows
  • June – End of year celebration, details TBD

If you have any questions, please contact Sheila Waker at 1-888-837-6410 x.6510 or sheila.waker@gswny.org.

Troop 30789 – Ace Adventure 1 training and overnight at Camp Piperwood

[The post was submitted to us by Troop 30789. To submit your troop story, email communications@gswny.org]

This past weekend our Junior Troop, 30789, traveled to Victor, NY to attend the Ace Adventure 1 camp training at Camp Piperwood. We also decided to take advantage of the option to spend the night in one of the camp lodges so that we could explore the grounds of the camp at our own pace.

During the training the girls practiced reading a map, they learned how to care for and safely use sharps (including knives and saws), and they made hot cocoa using a camp stove and then practiced proper dish washing procedures. 

The girls also talked about the elements that are necessary to make a fire and then they were given the opportunity to work in teams to collect materials and safely build and light their own fire. The girls finished out the training by creating their own pocket-size first aid kits, and they practiced what to do in the event of various emergency situations.

Rebecca, one of our trainers, remained behind so that each of the girls could practice safe knife use while whittling their first piece of wood.

A shout out to Rebecca, Carla and Joelle who made this training not only an educational experience, but a fun, hands-on training that truly engaged the girls (and leaders) who participated. 

After the training and a brief break to haul in our overnight gear, our troop set out to explore the grounds of Camp Piperwood. We also used this opportunity to enjoy a 2 hour hike through the locally marked trails, while we searched for and located our first cache using a a geocaching app.

We cooked dinner inside, but later ventured out again to practice our fire building skills and to make s’mores. It was a night full of laughter and memories.

Troop 30789 closed out their training and overnight with a Friendship Circle!

The 2019-2020 Membership Year is off to a great start!

The beginning of October marked the start of our new membership year (which reminds us, if you haven’t renewed, it’s not too late!). We’re just about a month in but already we know it’s going to be a great year.

Women of Distinction technically happened during the last membership year, but it’s still worth celebrating! Nine amazing women from our communities were honored and had so many girls come out to help with this girl-led fundraiser.

We closed out the year with the 50th Skills & Chills at Camp Seven Hills. We love this event and it was amazing to see all the girls and volunteers come out to make this another great year.

We officially kicked off our year with our first annual Girl Scout Spirit Day October 4!

Even our staff got involved!

The following day, we had our Pathways to Health Pro at SUNY Brockport program.

A week later, we went to Maker Mania at JCC!

This is just the start of what will be our best year yet! If you’re not currently a Girl Scout, it’s not too late to join. We still have a year filled packed with programs and opportunities to help your girl grow.

Learn more about Girl Scouts today

We have more than 200 reasons why you should renew

With September days away and the new membership just beyond that, the time has come for On-Time Renewal. This is when our members are invited to renew their memberships with us for another year of Girl Scouts.

Coming back means another year of making new friends, going on adventures, learning new skills, and so much more. Even better, we have more than 200 reasons we can give you about why you should return.

In our Program and Outdoor Guides, you’ll find more than 200 opportunities for our Girl Scouts. Whether they want to pursue science, fashion, history, the outdoors, and everything in between, we have something for them.

Our goal is to provide our girls (and adults!) with amazing experiences they can’t get anywhere else. We keep adding more to make sure every girl can pursue her passion, whatever it looks like.

Don’t miss out on all our amazing programs! Renew your membership today!

GSWNY Staff Celebrate Skills and Chills!

Every year, girls gather at Camp Seven Hills for the culmination of their Outdoor Adventure Training Sequence. It begins for Daisies and Brownies at Tents Up and continues for Juniors and Cadettes at Ready, Set, Camp, all leading to Skills and Chills for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors.

What began as a Niagara Legacy Council program has turned into one of our most cherished traditions. This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of Skills and Chills! While the weekend is sure to be incredible, GSWNY council staff wanted to take some time to experience the event like our Girl Scouts.

Keeping with tradition, we formed teams, picked themes, and dressed for the occasion!

Pictured are a few of our themes, including the ‘Spice’ Girls, Wonder Women, Time Travelers (they were our timekeepers!), Terrible Twos, Space Cadettes, and Sharks (think the ‘Baby Shark’ song).

We competed in four of the activities found at Skills and Chills, including knot-tying, cookie-box stacking, fire-building, and tent-pitching. A special Tug-of-War was held at the end to be a tie-breaker!

After a day filled with laughter and friendly competition, we ended our Skills and Chills with a Friendship Circle.

Not only did we enjoy a day of team-building at one of our beautiful camps, we all gained a new appreciation for everything our girls learn in preparation for the real Skills and Chills. We did less than half of the events they do and had much easier rules. It’s truly amazing to see what our Girl Scouts can do!

If you’re interested in learning more about Skills and Chills or registering for the 50th anniversary event happening September 27-29, 2019, visit gswny.org.

The 2019-2020 Program and Outdoor Guides are here!

The new membership year also means new programs for our Girl Scouts! We had so many exciting opportunities this year, we had to split them into two guides. This year, for the first time ever, we have both a regular Program Guide and new Outdoor Guide!

The Program Guide is still your resource for all our STEM, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship-based programs. In it you’ll also find information about GS Destinations, our High Awards, Fall Product Program, and Cookie Program.

View and Download the Program Guide

The Outdoor Guide takes a detailed look at all our outdoor experiences throughout the year. There are helpful quizzes to evaluate current levels of camping so you can make sure you’re prepared. You can also learn more about our upcoming Outdoor Celebration, Outdoor Champions program, and equipment rentals.

View and Download the Outdoor Guide

We hope you enjoy all the programs we have available this year! Happy Girl Scouting!

World Thinking Day is February 22

In February 1926, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world gathered at Camp Edith Macy – now known as Edith Macy Conference Center – and created a special day for members worldwide. The delegates designated February 22 as World Thinking Day.

Now promoted by both Girl Scouts and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), World Thinking Day has been a treasured tradition for more than 90 years. Girl Scouts and Girl Guides alike spend the day doing activities dedicated to changing the world for the better.

The theme for 2019 is leadership and we’re so excited to see what everyone does. For activity ideas, check out the Girl Scouts website for resources geared to help girls at every level.

World Thinking Day Resources

If you want to purchase this year’s World Thinking Day patch or other accessories, check out our online shop or visit one of our service centers!

Plan to participate?

If you or your troop plan to do any World Thinking Day activities, we’d love to see the photos! Email your pictures to communications@gswny.org.

Snow Much Fun Recruitment Contest: Deadline Extended!

We’re in the middle of our second annual Snow Much Fun to be a Girl Scout Recruitment contest and we have exciting news – the deadline to participate has now been extended to March 31! This means you have more time to plan your events and build your troops for your chance to win our amazing prizes!

As a reminder, the contest has two pieces, one for new troops and one for service units. On the SU side, they receive one entry into a drawing for a Glow Party Dance Kit for every recruitment event they hold through March 31.

For the first 10 new troops formed through March 31, they’ll receive a $50 gift card to the retail store of their choosing or our GSWNY shops. A new troop must have at least five girls and two registered adults.

How can you help us? Share this information with members of your SU! You can help the new troops forming in your area and hold events to help your chances of winning a Glow Dance Party Kit for your SU!

To enter the SU Challenge, fill out this form.

It’s Snow Much Fun to be a Girl Scout 2019 Recruitment Challenge Rules

Criteria for the Service Unit Challenge

  • Hold at least one new member recruitment event between January 7 and March 3, 2019.
  • For each recruitment event you host you earn one entry to win. The more events you hold, the more chances you have of winning! You must fill out one Wufoo form to be entered. The form can be found here: https://gswny.wufoo.com/forms/su-recruitment-contest-2019
  • We will choose one winner of our prize which is a Glow Dance Party Kit for you to use as a Service Unit event. Glow dances are increasingly popular, and with the kit it will be very easy to host an amazing event for your girls. The kit includes black lights, glow in the dark body paint, glow sticks, and everything else you would need! You can host the party as a standalone event, as part of a SUCO, or as a yearend celebration.
  • Please reach out to your SU’s CES for any support you will need including flyers or promotional materials.

Criteria for the New Troop Challenge

  • The goal of this challenge is to form 10 new troops across GSWNY between January 7 and March 3, 2019.
  • The first ten troops to form with at least five girls and two registered, trained, and approved co-leaders will receive a $50 gift certificate to the GSWNY shop or a retail store of their choosing.
  • Please promote this challenge at any recruitments you host during the Snow Much Fun period so new troops in your SU can be eligible. New troops will be added to the Opportunity Catalog prior to January 7 and they will be clearly marked for this promotion. We can give you the eligible troop numbers prior to any event you host if you’d like. Please reach out to your CES with questions.

Girl Scouts are making smiles bright in March!

During the month of March, we’re focusing on dental health! Girl Scouts who participate will increase their knowledge of dental health and take action to provide dental hygiene supplies to other children in their communities.

Girls of all levels are invited to participate in the Dental Health Collection and Patch Program and earn this exclusive patch!

Requirements:

Learn about teeth. What are the parts of a tooth? In a book or online,
find a diagram of a tooth and learn about its parts. Find the crown, root, enamel, pulp, and cementum. What is the importance of each part?

Find out why it is important to brush and floss every day. Make a personal brushing and flossing chart to record when you brush and floss for two weeks.

Discover how our diet helps or hurts our teeth. A healthy diet means healthier teeth but some foods like sugar can harm them. Learn about a balanced diet. Make a collage or draw a picture that shows which foods are either good or bad for our teeth.

Find out about careers related to dental health. For Daisies and Brownies and Juniors – Draw a picture of what you think a dental health professional looks like. For Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors – Find out about college programs, that are offered at nearby schools, in the field of dental health.

Help others keep their teeth healthy too! Collect dental hygiene items such as toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste to donate to community dental clinics in Western New York. Bring your donations to your nearest GSWNY Service Center during the month of March.

Our GSWNY Dental Hygiene Collection will benefit local children through Western New York Community Dental Providers.

The patch will be available for sale in our GSWNY Council Shops. Count the number of items you collect so we can see how many smiles we’ll make brighter!

Download the flyer here