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.

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 helped Jaylah raise her voice

Our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place is more than just words; we see it in action. Girl Scouts throughout Western New York continually live out our mission. 

Consider Jaylah’s story, the Girl Scout pictured above. 

As a Girl Scout Junior, this 11-year-old saw an issue in her community and decided to do something about it. When Jaylah heard plans to turn an out-of-business restaurant into a liquor store, she immediately took action. 

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Courageously speaking to elected officials at a community meeting, Jaylah said “We don’t want people building businesses in our neighborhood that don’t care about what is good for us.”

Her determination continued and she met with officials and obtained their signatures on a petition to shut down what would become the second liquor store in her community. 

Her dedication paid off – soon after the liquor licenses was denied and there are no plans to move forward with that type of establishment. 

Jaylah embodied all that we value in Girl Scouts through her courage to speak up for what’s right, her confidence to talk to groups and elected officials, and the character to stand her ground for what was right for her community. 

Girls with confidence are more likely to speak their mind, believe in their intelligence, and desire to be a leader. Unfortunately, there’s a crisis of confidence happening among our girls. More than 60% of girls say they like to be in charge, but 33% admit to being afraid about leading so they aren’t perceived as bossy. 

We live in a world where if a girl or woman asserts herself or her authority, she is being bossy. It’s a negative word based on gender stereotypes that strips everything good away from being a leader. As a young girl, being told you’re bossy is something to shy away from and you learn to act in ways that keep you from being labeled so harshly. 

With self-confidence, you can disagree with a friend and not be concerned, but nearly 50% of all girls won’t say what they’re thinking or if they disagree because their desire is to be liked. Girls with the highest GPAs are the ones most likely to report feeling this way. 

Help us change this. 

With your support, we reach more and do more to turn this crisis of confidence around for our girls and help them realize just how smart and important they are. We work every day to create a space where they can grow and fail without judgement. We want to keep hearing stories of our girls being unafraid to stand up for what’s right even if it’s an unpopular opinion. 

When you invest in Girl Scouts, you’re doing more than support an organization where girls do crafts and sell cookies. You’re helping to build the future generation of leaders. You’re changing the world. 

Donate Today

Because of Girl Scouts, Maria realized all she could accomplish

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Girl Scouts is more than just an activity for your girl. It can have life-changing effects on who she becomes and what she believes she can achieve. Take Maria’s story, for example.

Maria’s journey with Girl Scouts began in Puerto Rico, when she joined as a Daisy. Five years later, she’d leave her home and troop to move to the United States. Starting a new life in a country with strange language were only some of the obstacles facing Maria.

Research shows that a girl’s confidence sharply declines by more than 25% between fifth and ninth grade. Almost 50% of high school girls don’t believe they’re smart enough for their dream career. Even when a girl experiences the academic success of a 4.0 or higher, 1 in 3 will feel they aren’t good enough to pursue their passion.

Fortunately for Maria, she had Girl Scouts.

Once she arrived in Buffalo, her mother looked for a Girl Scout troop in the area. Finding none and understanding the importance, she started her own troop so Maria could develop the friendships she needed.

With her troop, Maria was able to enjoy experiences she never imagined would be possible, like white water rafting, learning how to code, walking on ropes courses, and discovering more about how the brain works.

Her fellow Girl Scouts became her community and support, and with the help of them and their leaders, she was able to learn English and graduate high school. Now in college, the distance doesn’t get in the way of the friendships she made as a Girl Scout. These relationships are one of a kind and even if they don’t talk for awhile, they always have each other’s backs.

The confidence Maria gained did more than help her learn English, take on the impossible, and form new friendships; it helped direct the course of her life.

The lack of women in STEM-related fields is no secret, but it’s alarming when you consider that 75% of girls believe they’re good at math and science, but only 45% consider it for a career.

It’s illogical to assume that most girls simply aren’t interested when you learn girls’ interest in math and science increases as they get older, despite the decline of girls believing they’re good at these subjects.

Despite these odds, Maria had the confidence to pursue her passion. After attending a Girls Go to Neuro School event at the University of Buffalo, Maria was able to learn more about the mind and brain. This sparked an interested so she began doing more research on her own.

Now she’s a freshman psychology major on the pre-med route at Albany College.

Because of Girl Scouts, Maria realized she was smart enough, good enough, and confident enough. The activities she enjoyed were more than just fun excursions – they helped shape the course of her life.

You can help make a difference in the lives of our Girl Scouts. 

Girl Scouts takes the potential of girls and combines it with robust skill-building programs that allow them to enjoy experiences outside of their comfort zones, like building a robotic arm, learning to survive outdoors, and growing a cookie business.

Your donation makes building girls of courage, confidence, and character who makes the world a better place possible. Thank you.

Donate Today

One month left of On-Time Registration Prizes!

It’s hard to believe there’s only one month left of our current membership year. Looking back, 2017-18 was filled with so many amazing programs, events, and opportunities, but we know 2018-19 is going to be even better.

With the new year starting up soon, it’s important to make sure you and/or your girl have renewed their Girl Scout membership by September 30. To learn more about why this is important, check out this video from Christine Kirwan:

 

Don’t forget about the prizes

If you watched the video, you heard about the drawing for the last August Target gift card as well as the upcoming surprises for those who have renewed. Yes, that means you still have chances to win! Plus, even if you renewed your membership prior to September or even in the spring, you can still win! How cool is that?

2018 Registration Incentives

Don’t let your membership lapse and miss out on all of the amazing rewards that come with being in a Girl Scout. It’s more than just the prizes we give out, too. As the preeminent leadership organization for girls, we build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We want to give her the opportunities to experience new and exciting activities that help her discover her strengths so she can grow into a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader).

Renew your Girl Scout membership today!

Girl Scouts of WNY learn about car care and safety

1Caption: The girls broke into groups to discuss topics that affect driving such as bad weather, construction, personal distractions, and more. 

On Sat., April 2, the Girl Scouts of Western New York partnered with GEICO car insurance to deliver a car maintenance and safety program called Car Care with GEICO. The event was targeted at Girl Scouts that are about to become new drivers or have only been driving for a short period of time.

Melanie Bloodworth, Director of Program at GSWNY, commented, “All the girls are earning their Car Care badge. That’s including an opportunity to learn some basic car maintenance skills, how to jump a car, how to change a tire, how to check your oil. They’re also participating in activities around safe driving and how to drive for a greener Earth. At the very end, they’re coming up with safety jingles that they’re sharing with everybody.”

This is the second year that GSWNY has offered the program with GEICO. Last year, the program was only available in Buffalo, but because of its success, it was brought to the Rochester area. Approximately 40 girls along with parents and troop leaders attend the programs.

“These are some basic life skills that girls often don’t learn at school or maybe even at home if their parents aren’t comfortable with car maintenance,” said Bloodworth. “These are very important things for girls to learn as they become drivers, so that they can be safe and do some basic checks to make sure their cars are in good working condition. I think it’s something about Girl Scouts that’s unique. We provide girls these opportunities to learn these skills that they really don’t have another venue where they would be learning this in an organized program that’s also fun and interactive.”

A team from the Management Development Program in the GEICO Claims Department led the event at the Al Sigl Center in Brighton. At GEICO there is a committee for Girl Scouts that gets together to ensure that all the requirements for the Car Care badge are met. The team then takes that information and puts their own twist on it to make it even more fun.

2Caption: The GEICO staff explained what tools and safety equipment are great to have in your car. They explained that it is better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it.

Erin Dorozynski from GEICO had her first experience working with Girl Scouts at the event.

“Their creativity is just amazing,” she said.” It’s nice to see them thinking outside the box and taking a different look at distractions or ways to be more safe as drivers.”

Katherine Warth, an Ambassador Scout from Monroe County troop 60420 commented, “I learned a lot about what kind of tools you need to keep in your car, how to change a tire, when your battery dies how to jump your car. My dad recently had to do and I was like ‘Oh my gosh! I never want to be stuck in that situation and not know what to do. So it’s good things to know as a new driver. I learned some things at home, but it was a little bit here and there. This put everything together in one cohesive place.”

The parents and troop leaders in attendance also had some questions and contributed to the discussion providing their insight from their own driving experience.

3Caption: The Girl Scouts came up with funny jingles to better remember how to be safe and aware on the road and protect the environment.

Dorozynski said, “It’s incredibly important to be prepared. I know that’s something the Girl Scouts live on, but especially as drivers, you can’t be unprepared, especially in the weather we have in Western New York. Being prepared and having everything you need is of the utmost importance.”

She added that awareness is a huge factor in safe driving. Not only awareness of your own actions, but being conscious of what other vehicles around you are doing as well. She also wants girls to feel like it’s okay to ask passengers for help. They can help give directions, respond to messages and calls so that the driver can stay focused.

Joelle Maurer from troop 60835 in Monroe County, said, “They’re just 16 and new drivers. I wanted them to become a little more aware of road safety, as well as awareness. Growing up I didn’t do this, and I still wouldn’t have a clue how to change a tire, so giving them an opportunity to learn this from someone besides mom and dad is a really good tool for them.”

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.