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.
We want a new patch for our council and we’re asking the best designers we know – YOU! Girls of all levels, Daisies to Ambassadors, are invited to submit a hand-drawn design to represent Western New York.
The theme is Western New York, meaning your design should feature something that makes you think of the local area. Be careful not to use branded items, like the Buffalo Bills, restaurant names, etc.
When you hand-draw your design, you can make it any shape you want, but we’re asking for a maximum of eight colors, including black and white. Any utensils can be used to design, including markers, crayons, paint, and colored pencils.
Once done, you must mail or hand deliver your design to council so we can have the original artwork to consider in the contest. If you win, there may be changes to your design in the translation to patch, but the concept will remain.
Oh yeah, we also have prizes! The winner will receive:
• (1) new council patch of her design (shipping from the patch vendor may take several weeks)
• (1) $50 GSWNY Gift Certificate
• (1) framed print of the patch design
• A photo taken with the CEO and a press release to the media in the girl’s local area, plus a GSWNY blog post of the press release
• (1) new GSWNY CEO patch
Good luck, Girl Scouts! The learn more or download the form, click here.
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!
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.
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!
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!
With heavy hearts we say farewell to our fearless leader, Judy Cranston. She joined us in 2009 as our COO and helped navigate our merger from several councils around our nine counties to the organization we are today, Girl Scouts of Western New York.
For the last three years she’s been our CEO and continued to lead by example and push us to further success. Her passion for our mission was displayed by the way she led every day.
During her farewell celebration, there was hardly a dry eye in the house as staff members shared stories of the impact she had on their lives. She wasn’t an unavailable CEO; she gained our respect by relating to us and most importantly, caring about us.
Leader, mentor, and friend are three of the best words to describe Judy, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t more. Pulling from the Girl Scout Promise and Law, you see how she’s friendly and helpful; considerate and caring; courageous and strong; responsible for what she says and does; respects herself and others; and is a sister to every Girl Scout.
Staff submitted words like encouraging, inspirational, supportive, kind, leader, welcoming, inclusive, thoughtful, wise, hilarious, and fun-loving. When you think about a person who embodies all those characteristics, it’s easy to understand while she’ll be so missed.
Fortunately, we can comfort ourselves knowing we’re still in wonderful hands.
Alison Wilcox has served as our COO for three years and will now become our CEO. With 17 years of global experience in organization leadership and experience with Girl Scouts both at the national and local levels, Alison has channeled her passion for championing women and girls into a successful career. We’re thankful to have Alison, an alumna, as our new CEO.
To access all of Judy Cranston’s tweets while she was our CEO, click here (Excel Spreadsheet)
The story below comes from Theresa Kasper, a 40-year volunteer with Girl Scouts in Western New York. While she explains the difference Girl Scouts made in her life, we wanted to explain the difference she’s made to us.
With a four-decade history, it isn’t surprised that she’s well known around our council. As soon as you mention her name, most staff have something great to say. Usually it involves the fact that she won’t say no to a girl.
Theresa believes so passionately in Girl Scouts that she makes room when a girl needs troop. To accomplish this, she has meetings twice a week just to accommodate all of her girls. She seeks out girls who need Girl Scouts and gives them opportunities to do whatever they want to learn about, including camping and kayaking. Coming from Niagara Falls, a lot of her girls have never been to camp and likely wouldn’t without Girl Scouts.
Her work with the girls doesn’t end when they age out. Theresa makes an effort to keep in touch with her girls and many leader now as a result. When you’re in the community, it’s likely you’ll run into someone who asks about Theresa because she was in one of her troops.
Kelly Garrow is a Service Unit Support Specialist who was leading a troop in Niagara Falls before becoming an employee. When it was time to make the transition, she needed someone to take over her troop of older girls. Theresa was so excited for Kelly that she took all her girls.
Stories like this are what make Girl Scouts and our council shine. We wouldn’t be nearly as successful without leaders like Theresa who are dedicated to our mission and making sure that every girl has the opportunity to become a girl of courage, confidence, and character.
My Story by Theresa Kasper
There was no such thing as a sleeping bag in 1962. I was tagging along with my big sister Joyce and her friend Maryann as we rolled blankets, clothing and toothbrushes into a bedroll for Joann’s first campout at Windy Meadows.
Joyce and I begged our parents to allow us to join but to no
avail. With 6 children in the house and one on the way there was no
chance of joining. There was just not enough money.
Fast forward 16 years later, a marriage, several
relocations, a daughter and a son, a nasty divorce and a return home to Niagara
Falls. My mom is now a Girl Scout Leader and she suggests I join scouts
for the summer and take my children to day camp. They need
volunteers. There is a pixie unit for my son and I can head the unit for
A week in the woods with other volunteers. Lots of fun and
activity distancing me from the stress of my new divorcee status and my
unemployment. Not to mention the stress of potentially leaving my children to
be employed and all that goes along with it.
A wonderful experience never to be forgotten. Edward
and I had a walk in the woods a thick brush at that time. We made our own
path and eventually were at the end of the property in a field of cows.
He was 4 years old and it was awesome.
Not having raincoats when it rained we donned black garbage
bags and kept dry. It was an adventure. Sarah made many new friends and
learned the girl scout way.
In the Fall my daughter was in Second Grade. There was
a girl scout troop and we signed up. In the middle of the year the leader
quit. I was in the church basement with 20 children and no leader. I
improvised and kept them busy until the parent’s showed up. Having had all
those little sisters, I knew a bit about crowd control.
That day no one stepped up to take the troop. I was
without employment, a car or resources but told the parents if they would help
I would take the lead.
I would always sing and play games with my siblings, so it was all fun for me. A neighborhood Girl Scout mom called me and I started training. Somehow there was always a ride and someone to take care of my children. My friend Pat said, “If it is for the kids it will all workout.” And it did work out.
Over the past 40 years, the training I received in GirlScouts led me to better positions at work. Yes, I got a job the first year I started scouts. I retired three years ago from work, but I hope to be a Girl Scout leader to the day I pass away! The experience led me to be abetter person always giving me new learning to this day. The girls andparents never cease to amaze and inspire me.
And with the ongoing changes in the girl scout experience I have never ever been bored with the program. Today I lead 5 troops. And there are six fantastic women who love Girl Scouts in the troops that help me.
I reluctantly gave up the Daisy troop this year. There wasonly one girl left after flyups. Everything changes. Today my largestgroup is the Cadettes with 21 registered. Amazing. This is usually the smallestgroup.
In Girl Scouting, our mission doesn’t end at building girls of courage, confidence, and character. We empower them to take it one step further and help make their world a better place. For Troop 30143, the difference they want to make is related directly to one of their co-leaders.
In working towards a Bronze Award, the troop chose to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease. While many have never heard of this rare disease, they have a direct connection to it through one of their co-leaders.
Ann Marie Lesnewski, called ‘Miss Annie’ by her girls, has a lifelong history with Girl Scouts, from her days as a Girl Scout at Kenmore Presbyterian Church to leading troops in the Ken-Ton Service Unit for seven years.
“I wasn’t really there for what I received to put on my uniform, but for how it made me feel. It was a place that I could go to feel that I belonged, that my thoughts mattered, and where I’d be told that my dreams were attainable. I want girls to feel confident, and I want them to know that they’re valued, that their opinions matter, and that I believe that they can change the world for the better. I think girls don’t really get that message all the time in life. Kids are told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and they’re not really given the opportunity to think. That’s what Girl Scouting really offers them is the opportunity to think, and to dream big.”
Troop 30143 embraced this opportunity to dream big and change the world for the better through their Bronze Award project, called “Mito Never Sleeps.” One of the main components was to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease in their community.
On Sunday, September 16, the girls began a 24-mile bike ride to represent how the disease affects people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the long ride, the girls and their decorated bikes made it the entire journey.
Another leader tweeted this touching message about the ride:
“Today I was honored to support my Girl Scouts as they rode 24 miles to bring attention to those who battle Mitochondrial Disease, 24 hr/day. These amazing girls planned, organized, made phone calls, & hit a goal that was big and scary! Troop #30143”
During the week of the bike ride, the girls also:
Asked the principle to have a Go Green Day at school
Made a presentation to their science class about Mitochondrial Disease
Talked to people about the disease and gave them an awareness ribbon
Wore seven pounds of weight on their arms and legs for 24 hours to simulate the feeling of someone who has a muscle disease
Wrote a letter to seven politicians to spread awareness, ask for donations for Mito research, and explain the burden the insurance companies place on the person with the disease
Made rocks about Mito Awareness
The troop explained their passion for their Bronze Award project:
“Mrs. Annie is an inspiration to us and she has taught us to be strong, independent, and confident girls. In return we want to help spread awareness for this horrible disease. And we also want to get the Pharmaceutical companies to stop the burden on the patients who need medical supplies.”
The project ended on a fun note at the 49th Annual Skills and Chills Event at Seven Hills. Keeping with the festivities, Troop 30143 wore their green Mito Awareness shirts and were adorned with different forms of power, including batteries and electricity, because the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The girls decorated their tent with awareness information and even had SWAPs to help spread the word.
The Girl Scout difference is exemplified in troops like these who show that Girl Scouts make a difference. Through their co-leader Miss Annie, they recognized a need for awareness around Mitochondrial Disease and took action to help with the pharmaceutical companies that take advantage of patients who need supplies.
This is just one of many amazing stories that happen around our council. We’re so proud of our girls and the work they do to help make their community a better place, and the passion they show for helping friends and family.