Thank you for a wonderful Girls Scouts Love State Parks Weekend!

Last weekend, Girl Scouts of the USA held the first ever Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend! More than 100 of our councils participated, welcoming girls into nearly 400 state in parks in 48 states and Puerto Rico.

In Western New York, we had welcome centers at four of our state parks and encouraged girls to go to others as well. Nearly 350 of our Girl Scouts signed up to visit a park in New York state!

We spent the weekend at Allegany, Letchworth, Buffalo Habor, and Beaver Island. It was amazing to see all the girls and their friends and families who came outdoors to experience these amazing locations practically in our backyards.

A Junior and Cadette Girl Scout at Beaver Island State Park
A group of Girl Scouts and their families ready to go on the Excalibur Boat Ride at Buffalo Harbor State Park
This Girl Scout got to meet Juliette Gordon Low at Allegany State Park
A Girl Scout visiting our welcome center at Letchworth State Park

To view more photos from these four state parks, check out the full album here. To see parent submissions from these and other parks, click here.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for next year’s event, happening September 12 and 13, 2020!

Congratulations to Taylor C.!

Taylor, C. – Completed the Girl Survey for Outdoor Programming

Run by the Outdoor Department, this survey was designed to learn from girls what they want when it comes to outdoor programming. Whether it was a fun idea or more of something they wanted to do, they were invited to participate through the survey to win a prize! Taylor C. was the winner, and her prize was a bag of camp goodies! Since Taylor loves Girl Scout camp, we know these will come in handy.

The STEMtastic Summer Challenge has started!

Most troops have slowed down for the summer, but that doesn’t mean the Girl Scout fun has stopped. Yesterday, July 1, kicked off the STEMtastic Summer Challenge, this year’s special summer patch!

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) isn’t just a school activity. In fact, summer is the perfect time to explore it and try new things! The STEMtastic Summer Challenge combines the fun of summertime with the excitement of science.

All you have to do is complete the minimum number of activities between July 1 and August 31, 2019. Once you’ve hit your minimum, you can come into any GSWNY shop to place your patch pre-order by September 30, 2019.

There are a total of 68 activities, and here are the numbers required per grade level:

  • Daisy: 20
  • Brownie: 25
  • Junior: 30
  • Cadette: 35
  • Senior: 40
  • Ambassador: 45

Download the complete checklist here

Every Girl’s Ultimate Summer Bucket List

[This post originally appeared on GirlScouts.org]

It’s finally here—weeks upon weeks of gorgeous weather, lazier mornings, maybe a part-time job, pool parties, and ideally, buckets of free time. Summer is a magical time of year, and it would be an absolute waste to just sleep through it, so we’ve put together the ultimate summer bucket list that will make these warm weather months even more memorable (and give every girl something incredible to tell her friends about when she goes back to class in the fall).

All of these summer ideas work for both independent older girls, who can take on most challenges on their own—and for younger girls who can try their hand at these activities with the help of a parent or other caring adult.

Ready for your best summer yet? Let’s go!

Create Something Beautiful 
Take your Instagram to the next level with some artsy shots, create a cool collage from your favorite magazines, or even try your hand at painting. The way you see the world is unique and cool, so share that vision with the world!

Sleep Under the Stars 
No campground or plans to go camping on the horizon? Set up a tent in your own back yard. No back yard? Cut out paper stars and hang them from your living room ceiling with string and tape, then invite your crew over for an indoors campout. And don’t forget the S’Mores—they’re delish whether they’re made over a roaring campfire or in the microwave!

Do Something Scary 
Test your skills on a ropes course, audition for a play, or try learning a cool skateboarding trick. There’s no need to be perfect—or even good—at whatever it is, the point is to just put yourself out there, try something new, and walk away with a cool story to tell your friends.

Daydream Under a Tree 
Sure, the A/C inside feels good, but so does a nice summer breeze under the shade of a big tree. Take your headphones off, put your phone away, and let the birds serenade you as you dream up even more fun plans for you and your crew.

Make a New Friend 
Chances are, you already know almost everyone in your neighborhood, so introduce yourself to a girl from a different community—maybe a girl at camp, at the pool in the next town over, or even get to know a friend’s cousin when she visits from out of town. New perspectives and ideas will make your summer a lot more interesting.

Get Lost in a Book 
You always hear that the book is better than the movie, and nine times out of ten that’s true—but when school’s in and there’s so much assigned reading, it’s hard to find time to read anything else! Not sure where to start? Head to your local library. The staff there know all the latest and coolest in young adult titles as well as children’s books. Tell them what kinds of things you typically like, and they’ll deliver some solid suggestions.

Take a Hike 
Whether you’ve got a rustic trail nearby or are in the middle of the concrete jungle, lace up your sneakers and check out all the snap-worthy sights. Bonus points? Pack a lunch and find a bench or shady park to have a mini-picnic.

Make a Family Tree 
All families look different, and half the fun of creating a family tree is discovering what shape yours will take! Start with you and your siblings if you have any, then branch out to your parents or caregivers and their brothers and sisters, then to their parents and caregivers, and on and on as far as you can go. Dive deep and add some personal details to your tree, like photos, fun facts, and favorite memories. You’ll get to spend some prime quality time with the people you love the most, and might uncover a surprising or funny story or two along the way.

Be a Hero 
Standing up for something you believe in doesn’t just help change the world, it feels really awesome, too. Learn more about organizations that support the causes you believe in, then volunteer, join a rally, or call your local government and speak up for the issues that matter to you. This is your world, and you can change it.  

Get Cooking 
Learn how to make one delicious meal—something that you love and that will totally impress your family and friends. Ask a relative to teach you their favorite recipe, hunt through cool cookbooks at the library, or just do a quick online search for simple and yummy ideas. Throw a bright table cloth on a picnic table at the park and dig in. Top Chef’s got nothing on you.

Send an Old-School Letter 
Get yourself some cute stationary (or make your own) and write a letter to one of your besties or a relative you don’t get to see too often—then think of how psyched they’ll be to find your note in among the junk mail.

Give Back 
If you think volunteering is boring, you’re doing it wrong. To give back (and have an amazing time, too) think about the things you like doing most. Chances are, those skills and activities could be turned into a cool community service project. Love singing or acting? Put on a show at the senior center or to raise money for your favorite cause. Obsessed with cute cat videos online? Sign up to help at the local animal shelter. Coding’s your thing? Help a younger girl (or, heck, even one of your parents!) learn how to set up her own website. Basically, you’ve got skills for days and the world needs them now.

Master One “Magic” Trick 
This one might seem silly, but trust us on this one—knowing how to pull off one good trick will add a bit of fun to parties and other random hangouts for the rest of your life! Go online and research one simple card trick or other fun illusion. Practice it over and over until you can do it seamlessly, then test it out on family and friends. Presto! You’re ready for the spotlight.

Put Together a Cool Vision Board 
Grab a bunch of old magazines and cut out words and pictures that represent the types of things you want to do or have in your life in the future. Include anything that inspires you—whether it’s fireworks in the night sky, cool pictures of hiking trails you’d love to explore, an adorable kitty, or portraits of athletes you look up to—then use tape, rubber cement, or a glue stick to attach them in any order you like on a poster board or piece of construction paper. Hang it in your room to motivate you and remind you of all the fun your future holds.

Make a Splash 
Head to the beach, the lake, or the local pool to show off your backstroke, or even just dash out to the front yard or the driveway for an impromptu water balloon fight. On a hot day, there’s not much that feels better or that’s more fun.

Explore the Farmer’s Market 
Check out your local farmer’s market with a friend and pick out a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t like it? There’s no need to have it again. Love it? As foodies would say, you’ve just widened your palate. Basically, the world is delicious. Get out there and take a bite!

Earn Some Cash 
Although some of the best things in life are, in fact, free—other good things (like, say, ice cream and trips to the movies) cost money. Get down to business and make some cash of your own with a simple lemonade stand or bake sale, through babysitting or dog walking, by mowing lawns, or even teaching an elderly neighbor how to use her new tablet. You’re a natural entrepreneur!

Learn a Language 
Set aside a couple hours each week and learn the basics of another language—either the one spoken in the part of the world you’d like to visit most, or one that you’re simply interested in, like American Sign Language. Check out free apps, online videos, and your local library for books and other resources. You’ll impress friends when you show off your new skills and will be able to communicate with so many more interesting and cool people throughout your life.  

Check Out Some Live Music 
You don’t have to have tickets to that sold-out stadium show to hear some awesome music this summer. Chances are, your town or one nearby will feature live bands during community barbeques, fireworks, and other local events. So head out, discover some cool new music, and maybe even get inspired to start your own band while you’re at it.

Keep a Journal 
You’ll want to remember all the epic fun you’ll have this summer for the rest of your life— so jot down your memories, funniest moments, inside jokes, random thoughts, and most exciting adventures in a journal each night before you go to bed. If you’re on social, you might post some of this there, too, but there’s something really special about a journal that’s just for you that you can keep and cherish forever. Not so into handwriting things? Make a video or audio journal instead, or think about creating a visual scrapbook and fill it with ticket stubs and other mini-souvenirs of your summer.  

Daisies and Brownies recently learned outdoor skills at ‘Tents Up’

Daisies and Brownies from around council gathered Saturday, June 8, for our annual Tents Up training! This is the first of our Outdoor Progression Series designed to turn girls into master campers.

View the Complete Tents Up Album

Each level of the Outdoor Progression Series takes Girl Scouts from Daisies to Ambassadors and builds on their skills along the way. The first, Tents Up, brings Daisies and Brownies to Camp Piperwood where they begin learning skills like fire building, tent pitching, outdoor cooking, knots, and more.

Juniors and Cadettes go to Camp Timbercrest where they can participate in Ready Set Camp, the second level of the series that allows the skills to be built and honed further. Finally, Seniors and Ambassadors go to Camp Seven Hills the final weekend of September for Skills and Chills, the final step and friendly competition where girls can show what they’ve learned.

7 Ways Summer Camp Brings Out Her Best

[This post originally appeared on GirlScouts.org]

Summer is when some of the most fun childhood memories are made, but did you know that it’s also an awesome opportunity for your girl to grow, learn, and become her best self? Here are seven amazing benefits your girl will get from her summer camp experience.

1. She’ll make new friends 
There’s nothing quite like giggling over games in the bunk or singing songs with new besties around a campfire. That’s why it’s actually good to send her to camp where she might not know many (or any) other girls! Having a diverse group of friends, not just kids she knows from school, will broaden her horizons and help her see her own worth, too.

2. She’ll see all she can be 
In an all-girl environment like Girl Scout summer camp, girls are more comfortable trying new outdoor activities, and they get to take the lead every single time—meaning there’s plenty of room at the top for your girl to take charge and flex her muscle, both when it comes to outdoor adventure and crucial leadership skills that will last her a lifetime.

3.  She’ll turn off her phone and tune in to nature 
Getting out in nature, soaking up the sun, or dashing inside during a sudden downpour is way more exciting than any app she might have on her phone and is all part of the adventure of camp. Unplugging for a while will keep her more present and truly enjoying every moment instead of simply watching it from a screen.

4. She’ll grow her grit 
The truth is, she might scrape a knee or elbow while she’s away—and that’s a good thing! When she learns to get back up after minor setbacks, like scrapes and bumps, she’s building her resilience and learning that she’s a lot tougher than she thinks.  

5.  She’ll meet new mentors 
Having a variety of awesome role models will help your girl see the many ways to be successful and happy in life. And the incredibly supportive staff and counselors at your girl’s summer camp are ready to step up to the plate and inspire!

6. She’ll gain independence 
Being away from home—especially if that’s a new thing for her!—might be a bit intimidating to both your daughter and you. But having that time away to explore and try activities on her own will make her more self-reliant and able to discover new things to share and teach you when she returns home.

7. She’ll have tons of time for play 
Playtime is anything but a waste of time. In fact, studies show that play allows the neurons in a child’s brain to form new connections—and that this rewiring helps boost emotional intelligence, decision-making skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

The truth is, sending your girl off to camp is one of the best gifts you can give her. The fun, outdoor adventure, and friends will enrich her life and—perhaps without her even noticing—give her the courage, people skills, and leadership chops to succeed at whatever she sets her mind to.   

Learn More About GSWNY Summer Camp

Join us for an epic State Parks adventure July 13 & 14!

GSWNY is excited to be participating in the national Girl Scouts Love State Parks event, July 13 to 14! This weekend long event has the goal of getting  every Girl Scout outdoors and into a state park. GSWNY will have events at 4 locations across council but Girl Scouts will be able to participate by visiting any State Park!

Registration is open now!
Park Entrance is free with Girl Scouts attire!  

On Saturday, July 13, check out:

  • Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East” and hike some of the 66 miles of trails and check out the three major waterfalls in the park, attend a ranger talk about the geology of the park, or visit the Nature Center or the Mary Jemison House. You could even try out whitewater rafting!
  • Allegany State Park, NY’s largest state park, with 65,000 acres to explore. You might visit natural caves, swim in Quaker Lake, visit the old Quaker store, attend a ranger program and learn about the critters living in the streams at the park, or climb the fire tower.
  • Buffalo Harbor State Park, one of NY’s newest state parks. You might join a 1 hour boat trip on Lake Erie, bike along the bike trail, learn about invasive species, or stroll along the beach.

On Sunday, July 14, check out:

  • Beaver Island State Park, on Grand Island on the Upper Niagara River. You could visit the nature center, play a game of disc golf, swim, bike, or hike, or take a tour of the historic River Lea House. You could also attend a ranger program and create your very own nature journal!

Can’t make it to one of these locations on this weekend? Visit any state park and enjoy the day. Also be sure to check out the NYS Parks Connect Kids Program to participate and get an additional patch on these days or any other days of the year!