Cadette Troop 20173 pushed themselves, conquered their fears, and had fun at Splash Lagoon.

[The following was submitted to GSWNY from Troop 20173. To have your troop story featured, email communications@gswny.org]

Members of Girl Scout Cadette Troop 20173 are learning to push themselves to conquer their fears, and are having fun while they do it!

After selling more than 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies last year, the five girls earned tickets to Erie’s Splash Lagoon for exceeding 300 boxes per scout. They, along with leaders Patricia Bowen and Wendy Graham, spent the day there recently to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

“I was so proud of our girls for selling so many cookies!” Bowen said. “For a troop our size to sell that many is a real feat, and it helped us be able to take them to San Francisco in April. They are learning that hard work can earn rewards. I’m especially glad that our whole troop met their goal so we could all go to Splash Lagoon together.”

While they were there, some of the girls had to build up their courage to explore the water slides. At first, only a couple felt comfortable whooshing down, but as the day progressed, their sister scouts helped them conquer their fears. 

After hours of wet fun, the girls, Westfield’s Lilly Teeter, Brooke Luce,  Desiree Bowen and Grace Graham, as well as Cassadaga’s Lily Hafner, moved on to the next part of the challenge: the Tree Top Ropes Course.

“I was frightened at first because I don’t like heights,” Hafner said. “[I was] relieved at the end because I was uncomfortable.” She said she felt good about herself when it was all over.

All five girls climbed the ropes with large, frightened eyes, but slowly became more accustomed to the height. After a half hour of walking on narrow beams, wobbling planks, and thin ropes, the girls descended with grins and a sense of accomplishment. 

“I’m in awe of these girls,” Graham said. “I saw the looks on their faces and at times they were all scared out of their minds. But they pushed through the fear and talked each other through the rough spots. I watched them hold hands out to each other to help their friends, and I saw them strategize how to maneuver around the course. This is why I love Girl Scouts. Seeing these girls I’ve been with for three years grow like that is inspiring.”

Troop 20173 attends Golden Gate Bridging Event

Five Girl Scout Juniors from Troop 20173 had the experience of a lifetime as they joined 7,000 of their Girl Scouting sisters on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for the Girl Scouts of Northern California’s Golden Gate Bridging Event. 

The girls, Westfield fifth graders Brooke Luce, Lilly Teeter, Desiree Bowen and Grace Graham and Cassadaga’s Lily Hafner, joined leaders Patricia Bowen and Wendy Graham on a whirlwind trip across the country. The four-day adventure was a time of firsts: for many, it was the first time they had flown; for some, it was their first time away from family; and for all it was their first time amid so many of their Girl Scout peers.

“In Girl Scouting, when a girl moves up to a new level they call it bridging,” Patty Bowen said. “We’ve had bridging ceremonies over small local bridges before. When we found out girls on the west coast bridged over one of the Engineering Wonders of the World, we were in.”

The ceremony was only for 5th graders bridging from Juniors to Cadettes, which means all of Troop 20173 was eligible.

“Then we just had to find funds,” Wendy Graham said.

The catch: the event was just over 4 weeks away when the leaders found out about it. 

“Our small community just came together to make sure we could afford it. It gives me goosebumps to think of everyone who helped to make this happen. We received donations from our local American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, VFW, VFW Auxiliary, Women of the Moose, and Westfield Fisheries along with many personal donations people made when they heard about what we wanted to do and the opportunity we wanted to give these girls. We even had most of the money for our seven flights paid for by one individual donor. It was that one anonymous donation that got the ball rolling!” Bowen said.

In the end, the girls were able to see redwoods in Muir Woods, tour San Francisco by bus, visit Sausalito, take a ferry ride past Alcatraz, ride a cable car, and see the sea lions on Pier 39.

“And that’s all besides the main event!” Graham said. “Bridging day included walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, various Girl Scout stations set up in Chrissy Field, and our girls got to meet the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California and earned her special CEO patch.  The ceremonies closed with the largest friendship circle in the world, which was truly awesome to see and experience.”

A real bonus was that the girls got to meet the pilot on their return trip- herself a woman in a largely male-dominated industry!

Despite a few bouts of homesickness, all of the girls say they are eager to travel again. They are already looking toward their next scouting adventure, which was truly awesome to see.”

Girl Scouts Give Back To The Longridge Elementary School Community With A “Little Free Library” Service Project

Girl Scout Cadettes from Troop 60972 of Greece will make the Longridge Elementary School community brighter as they host a presentation in honor of their little free library service project where girls will also earn their wood working badge.

Ten Girl Scouts who attend three of Greece Central School District’s middle schools decided to give back to their local community with a literacy service project and worked with various groups including Greece Odyssey and others to help build the little free library and collect books for the school community at Longridge Elementary. Community service is an important component to the Girl Scout experience and empowers girls to take the lead and make the world a better place.

Girl Scouts in Action: Memorial Day 2019

This year, Girl Scouts from around Western New York marched in parades and participated in ceremonies honoring our fallen heroes. Check out some of the pictures below and see the full album on Facebook!

Memorial Day 2019 Photos

Troop 60098 Memorial Day Parade
Twin Lakes Daisies attended the Flag Laying ceremony in Mayville
Westfield Troops 20045, 20003, 20311, 20249, 20067, 20173, from the youngest Kindergarten Daisies to the Oldest of 5th Grade Juniors, took to the streets this morning and marched, biked and rode through town to honor any and all of our country’s veterans by proudly marching in the parade this morning wearing Red, White, and Blue with their Girl Scout uniforms!! They did it with a smile and a wave to everyone who lined the streets as we gathered to honor those who have served!
Several GS Troops from the Sweet Home Service Unit marched in the Memorial Day Parade in Williamsville yesterday
Mt Morris troops participated in the village’s Memorial Day parade and attended the Memorial Day ceremony. Cadette Troops 51027 and 51019 and Junior Troop 53090.
Girl Scouts from Lockport lining up for this years Memorial Day Parade march in Lockport this weekend.
Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes from the William Park SU walked in the Memorial Day parade
Pittsford Girl Scouts
Some of the first year Daisies from Troop 60532 marched in the Greece Memorial Day parade
Tekakwitha SU
KenTon SU in Town of Tonawanda parade

Girl Scouts of WNY participate in 47th annual Skills and Chills event

On Sat., Sept. 24, Girl Scouts from the Western New York council participated in the 47th annual Skills and Chills event. The event took place at Camp Seven Hills Goodyear located in Holland, NY.

Skills and Chills is a yearly competition in the GSWNY council that allows Girl Scouts that are sixth-grade Cadettes through twelfth-grade Ambassadors to test their abilities and earn awards. A committee organizes the event and chooses judges that are subject matter experts in each field. This year, ten new volunteers were trained as subject matter experts and added to the judging panel.

Nancy Grimes, chairperson of the outdoor committee, stated, “It’s important to know these skills. It gives girls a sense of strength in the outdoors. They can say, ‘I can do this. I can accomplish this. I don’t need to wait for someone else to do it.’ Part of the philosophy of this program is not just having the skills, but being willing to try and give it a shot.”
Ann Marie Lesnewski brought Cadette troop 30143 to the event. She commented, “We try to do the skills throughout the year. Whenever we go camping we try to incorporate fire building. With first aid, we talk about it all the time and what you should do if certain situations come up. It’s an ongoing process for us and we don’t just do this to prep for Skills and Chills.”

Troops collectively decide on a team name and often create costumes to match their theme. This adds to the fun and helps to unite the troop even further with a visual element of camaraderie.

Lesnewski explained how her troop chose their theme. “We came up with a Christmas theme because I ride in a scooter, so the girls were trying to figure out how we could incorporate that. I’m Mrs. Claus in a sleigh, the leaders are elves, and the girls are all reindeer.”

Girls face off in events such as archery, orienteering, canoeing, tent pitching, log sawing, knots and lashing, and field sports.

Grimes explained, “Points earned are based more on common sense and safety than speed. It’s about understanding what’s required to be safe if you use these skills while camping. We’re out here to make sure they enjoy it and can act as leaders to be able to light a fire or perform first aid. Team building and communication are important for the girls to learn and use, too.”

Teresa Buchner of troop 70400 said that her troop didn’t have access to canoes to practice, but came up with an alternate plan instead. They got paddles and set up dining room chairs to practice on, pretending they were in a canoe and working on skills such as turning and stopping momentum. She and teammate Josie Ostrowski earned second place in the canoe skills competition showing that a little Girl Scout ingenuity holds great value.

Dayonna Tester from troop 70923 said, “Today, I did archery, first aid, knots and lashing, and compass. My troop practices every week as part of our troop meetings. First aid was my best event. We had to wrap an arm with an ace bandage and make a splint. My team worked really well together.”

Tester had to step in for a troop member that was unable to make it to the competition. The girl that couldn’t attend the event had been signed up for archery. Tester had never touched a bow before, but was willing to do her best. Afterward, although she didn’t score any points, she said, “I want to take archery lessons! That was really fun!”

At the end of the evening, all the points were totaled and award ribbons were given out. Volunteers beamed with pride as all the girls cheered on the winners.

Grimes said, “Part of why this is a success is we keep doing what the girls need. This is about these kids having fun and having an experience they won’t forget.”

To learn more about Girl Scouts of Western New York, visit gswny.org

 

Girl Scouts of WNY connect with the world

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The event started off with high school-level Girl Scouts teaching younger girls fun camp songs.

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Ambassador Scouts Paula Brant, Miranda Mellan, Adeline Kofoed, Kelsey Lubecki, along with Senior scouts Ashley Whipkey and Gabrielle Gasiorek taught the girls the song “Bazooka Bubblegum.”

Girl Scouts from all over Western New York gathered together for the International World Thinking Day event on Sat., Feb. 27, 2016. The theme of the event was “Connect,” which focuses on understanding yourself, relationships with friends and family, and your part in the world and how to make it a better place. Girl Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide spent the day learning about other cultures and working together.

The Girl Scouts of Western New York spent the afternoon at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Buffalo. There were 150 Girl Scouts from 29 troops.

Bree Kramer, the lead volunteer at the event, said, “I wanted girls to have an opportunity to connect with other Scouts globally and learn about Scouting in other countries.  I was also hoping they could learn about the opportunities available to them as older Scouts.  I was fortunate enough to go on a Destination (then called Wider Opportunity) to Puerto Rico when I was 14 for an Ecology Education program in the rainforest and a Troop final trip around Europe.  Those memories have stayed with me and helped shape the person I am today.  I want other Scouts to know that there is so much more available to them outside their neighborhood and council.”

The Girl Scouts learned about Girl Guides, the International version of Girl Scouts, and their famous lodges which act as headquarters: The Pax Lodge in the United Kingdom, Our Cabaña in Mexico, Our Chalet in Switzerland, and Sangam in India.

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The girls decorated a craft featuring each lodge’s mascot animal using bird seed and crayons.

Another activity featured technology as a way to connect with the world. The Girl Scouts played GeoGuessr, a computer game where you are shown a random view from somewhere in the world and then you click a map to guess where you are. The closer you are, the more points you get. You can use clues from the scene such as the color of dirt, types of trees, style of vehicles, writing on road signs, and more as context clues about the location.

“I really hope the girls learned that even though people in other parts of the world are different, they are also similar to us. The GeoGuessr game they played helped the girls realize that there are many places in the world that look similar to the United States, despite being thousands of miles away,” said Kramer.

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Because STEM is important to the Girl Scouts, technology provided a fun way to get a view of random locations around the world.

The girls also participated in a series of games about working together. The Girl Scouts played a game where you had to keep a ball moving around the circle in a series of half tubes. They also passed a beach ball to each other without using their hands. The girls also played the traditional game of Telephone where the first girl says a phrase to the next and by the time it gets to the last girl you see if the message has become jumbled.

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Daisy Girl Scouts work together to help a ball travel down the line. The cooperative game taught them that tasks aren’t as hard when they solve problems as a group.

The last station the Girl Scouts visited was to learn meditation. Ken Stucynski, a professional martial arts instructor from 8 Tigers Academy of Tai Chi & Chi Kung, taught the Girl Scouts about finding their inner calm and learning how to diffuse stress through thoughtful breathing and carefully listening to the world around them. It helped the girls to connect with themselves, while also mentally reaching out to the world around them.

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Daisy Girl Scouts talk about breathing calmly to help their bodies relax. 

Stucynski commented, “As we get older, we lose more and more touch with what it means to be centered. If children get a glimpse of this and this became a part of learning experience with any regularity, this could create a new type of adult, someone who would be equipped with basic tools to survive and thrive much more than they could otherwise. They wouldn’t have to fix themselves later. It’s a way of dealing with stress instead of trying to Band-Aid it.”

At the end of the day the Girl Scouts earned their World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts USA World Thinking Day Badge, and they fulfilled requirements for their GSUSA Global Action Badge.

Kramer hoped the Girl Scouts enjoyed the event, adding, “I hope they learned that even if they stay locally, there are many new friends and new adventures waiting for them all over Western New York.”

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of Western New York, including opportunities to volunteer, please visit gswny.org.

Rochester Girl Scouts celebrate the world around them

Rochester, NY (Feb. 10, 2016) – On Sat., Feb. 6, the Girl Scout Tekakwitha Service Unit in Rochester held their 4th Annual International Festival at the Rochester School of Medicine to celebrate World Thinking Day. To earn the Girl Scout badge associated with the event the girls devoted time to learning about a country and its culture, then at the festival they shared their knowledge with other Girl Scouts.

Troop leader and event organizer Svanhildur Thorvaldsdottir stated, “It’s really nice for girls, especially in the world today, to learn a lot about things that are going on around them and learn about some countries that they maybe didn’t even know existed. They’ll hopefully gain some understanding of foreign cultures and practices.”

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A troop performs a traditional fan dance from South Korea.

Eleven countries were featured at the event including Jamaica, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Republic of Italy, Canada, Ethiopia, and China. The young Daisy Scouts learned about the United States.

Troop 60054 chose Canada for their World Thinking Day project. They learned about the general customs of the African diaspora, the Caribana celebrations in Toronto, language, and money.

“We picked Canada as a troop because our Junior troop leader is Canadian. Her daughter is a dual citizen in the United States and Canada,” said troop leader Aria Camaione-Lind. “We chose it because we had a resident expert and because the girls were really interested in learning more about one of their troop leaders and troop members.”

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Troop 60054 explains Canada’s love of hockey, their two official languages, and other interesting facts they learned about the country. The Girl Scout on the far left in the red hat and the woman in the moose hat are citizens of Canada.

Several troops took the project to a more interactive level. The Girl Scouts presenting South Korea and Ethiopia performed traditional dances, and the troop that presented Jamaica even sang a song that got the audience to join in and clap along. The Girl Scouts covering China, Italy, Canada, and Germany featured clothing from the countries. Many troops prepared a food from that country for attendees to taste, such as Irish soda bread.

Ambassador Scout Samantha Pollard recalled her trip to Europe for a Girl Scout travel program and how the experience was a great thing to think about for World Thinking Day.

“We first went to Edinburgh in Scotland and then we travelled to London,” she said. “We went to Pax Lodge, the International Girl Guide House. I’d love to do more of that in the future.”

Neely Kelly, a Peace Corps volunteer, spoke with the older girls about her experience traveling to a foreign country and offering assistance.

“The Peace Corps is a program that sends Americans all over the world to volunteer and ostensibly improve the lives of people in third-world countries. It’s like an ambassadorship program,” said Kelly. “It definitely changed me and helped me become a better citizen. I hope [the Girl Scouts] got an understanding about what Peace Corps is and what they do.”

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Troop 63064 explained the colors of the Italian flag mean hope, faith, and charity.

Avalian Rios, a Cadette from troop 63064, explained that her troop had chosen the Republic of Italy, which is the official name for what most people simply call Italy. Rios stated that World Thinking Day had been very eye opening and it was one of the many enjoyable parts of being a scout.

Rios added, “Being in Girl Scouts, you can meet other people, and you get to learn skills that help you move up in life and help you grow up.”

Over 146 countries worldwide participate through their own scouting programs such as the Girl Guides. The Girl Scouts of Western New York World Thinking Day is Sat., Feb. 27.

To learn more about Girl Scouts and the badges they earn, visit gswny.org.