#GivingTuesday: Troop stories from around council

In our Facebook Lives today, we’re highlighting troop stories from around our nine counties. Here’s a closer look:

Genesee County

Troop 42115 participated in a Trick or Eat event in the East Pembroke neighborhood. Girls distributed flyers about their plan to support the local Corfu/Pembroke food pantry.

Just before Halloween, the girls in their costumes and their adult helpers collected the donations from the neighborhood. Check out all the food they collected!

Chautauqua County

Troop 20010 spent time learning about animals and went to the SPCA serving Erie County! The girls learned about animal habits, saw the wildlife hospital, and did presentations about endangered species and protecting animals. They also got to meet some furry new friends!

Niagara County

Troop 74148 completed their Community Badge by doing a scavenger hunt around their neighborhood finding symbols, monuments, and flags. They really liked the tribute to September 11.

They also had a special speaker: Megan Houseman. She spoke about being a woman in the military and showed them how to march and hold a flag.

Orleans County

Troop 82007 visited the Niagara Aquarium and Corning Museum of Glass in June.

This troop takes a ton of trips and have done things like camping on a beach in New Jersey! They also attend the vast majority of council programs offered for their age. They are almost always on an adventure!

Erie County

Troop 30677 took part in the Great Lakes Beach Sweep in September! A clean beach is an exciting thing and a great way to appreciate your neighborhood.

Cattaraugus County

Troop 10045 earned their Bronze Award building pollinator boxes for mason bees.

The bees nest in holes made by woodpeckers and beetles. The pollinator boxes include bundles of tubes where the bees can reproduce and lay eggs. The tubes are filled with eggs, nectar, and pollen, and sealed with mud plugs from which mature bees emerge in the spring.

Livingston County

Ashantee Troop 51063 and Rolling Hills Troop 51015 have been pen pals for the whole school year. They also co-hosted a party where they played games, tie-dyed t-shirts, and had ice cream sundaes.

Wyoming County

46 girls from Oatka Valley SU went Whitewater rafting in June with Adventure Calls Outfitters.

Monroe County

Pittsford Service Unit recently had a Pad Packing Party for their Period Insecurity Project. The Service Unit has worked with Scensibles the last 3 years. They provided the products and the Girl Scouts make the period packs for girls in the Rochester City School District.

Forty girls packed 2000 packs which contained: 2 pads, a liner, a hand sanitizer, and a Scensibles disposal bag. Additional menstrual care items were donated to the Pittsford food pantry. This project is great because it’s by girls for girls and it’s very empowering!

Hilton Girl Scouts earn Silver Award with new gaga ball pit

[The following story was shared with GSWNY by Troop 60437. To share your story, please email communications@gswny.org]

Three girls from Girl Scouts of Western New York’s Troop 60437 recently earned their Girl Scout Silver Award. Natalie Porter, Tiffany Wenzel, and Emily Richards created a gaga ball pit at their local park.

The Girl Scout Silver Award can be earned by Cadette Girl Scouts who are in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. The goal is for girls to identify an issue in the community that they care about then develop a sustainable project that helps to solve the problem. The goal is to find the root of the problem and create solutions that will have a lasting impact.

The girls learned how to play gaga ball at Girl Scout camp and they wanted to share their love of the game with others in their community. Originally they proposed a wooden pit to their town board. The town loved the idea, but requested the girls use composite lumber to create a low-maintenance and long-lasting project, which meant a higher cost. The girls raised money for their project by applying for a grant and also running a bottle drive. Local businessman,  Keith Wrisley of LJ’s Remodeling, Inc., saw their bottle drive and donated the remaining cost of the project, as well as some building materials. Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation also donated a concrete and rubber base to further ensure the project would remain low maintenance and sustainable. The girls were also able to add an ADA door to the pit so children of all abilities could access the pit and enjoy the game. The gaga ball pit is located at the Parma Town Hall.

The girls’ troop co-leader, Melissa Wenzel, stated, “We are so proud of the girls. This project had its challenges, and the girls got discouraged at points, but they persevered and were so pleased when the project was finished!”

Their other co-leader, Chrissy Porter, added, “The girls could not have completed the project without the generous sponsorships they received. The girls had a vision but it was the support of the town and our donor who made it possible.”

Girl Scout Tiffany Wenzel said, “The project was difficult but I had a lot of fun planning and working toward the final product. I am so glad we stuck it out and were able to accomplish something so big that the whole community can enjoy. I truly believe we have made a lasting impact on the community and I’m proud of what we have done.”

The Girl Scouts wanted to thank everyone who assisted with the project through donations and support.

Tom Venniro, the Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation Director, stated, “The Town of Parma is thrilled to have a brand new gaga pit at Parma Town Park thanks to the generous donations from Girl Scout Troop 60437 and a private funder. The troop came to me back in May of 2019 with a very impressive proposal and worked incredibly hard to support the project and ultimately complete all phases of installation. Parma Town Park has so many great amenities, but did not have a permanent gaga pit, so this adds such a great element as gaga has been one of the fastest growing games/activities over the past five to six years. Upon completion of the build, the troop members hopped in and started playing immediately and although we still look forward to some finishing touches, we have already seen children intuitively hop in the pit and play in the short time it has been up, despite colder weather conditions. It is our pleasure to be able to thank Troop 60437 for a new park amenity that will bring joy to our community for years to come.”

New Council Patch Contest for 2019!

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.

DOWNLOAD THE CONTEST FORM

My Experience at Skills and Chills: The Girl Scout Difference

[This is a guest post written by council staff member Chelsea Cummins]

Even though I’ve worked at Girl Scouts of Western New York for nearly a year, Skills and Chills was the first opportunity I’ve had to attend a true Girl Scouting event. Co-workers told me how much fun I would have, but honestly I wasn’t really prepared for how right they’d be in the end.

For those who aren’t aware, Skills and Chills is an annual event held at Camp Seven Hills. While it is a GSWNY program, it’s completely run by volunteers. It’s the third of our Outdoor Progression series, following Tents Up for Daisies and Brownies and Ready Set Camp for Juniors and Cadettes. The first two focus on the skills you need to compete in Skills and Chills.

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A glimpse of the teams after breakfast

When I arrived Saturday morning, I was immediately blown away. There were more than 200 people buzzing with excitement in the dining hall. Girls were dressed in costumes ranging from custom labels on a shirt to a full-on lumberjack outfit complete with a drawn on beard. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

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A team called the “Lucky Lemurs” passing the time together

The atmosphere didn’t change despite the long day spent outside. It was hard not to feel good around a group of people who were just so enthusiastic about what they were doing. And I’m not just talking about the girls competing.

I’ve seen a lot of volunteers who just show up and do what they need to do at an event. They’re more preoccupied with when it ends than really focusing on the kids in attendance. I didn’t come in expecting this level of apathy, but I assumed it would be a similar feeling of I can’t wait until this ends.

To all our Girl Scout volunteers, I’m so sorry I underestimated you.

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This volunteer drew faces for all the log sawing competitors, going as in-depth as they requested

What I found from the adults in attendance was something truly special. They were just all, without exception, so encouraging. The ones dressed up were just as into it as the members of their team.

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The two on the left dressed as Cruella de Vil and her henchman are leaders

The ones judging the events never looked exasperated for frustrated, even if a team was taking a long time to complete their task. They patiently watched and offered words of support. When acceptable, they gave little pieces of advice to help the girls without compromising the competition. It was clear they were having just as much fun.

I spent time listening to volunteers in certain areas and it was hard to leave. They guided the girls through and cared about their learning. Skills and Chills is a competition, but it’s clear it’s still a learning experience. It doesn’t matter if a girl has practiced for an event or this is her first day, the volunteers remained happy to guide however possible.

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This volunteer guided all the girls through the different knot knowledge they should have and spent the time after going over what they weren’t sure of and showing proper techniques

Because my experience as a Girl Scout lasted less than one year, I thought about interactions I’d had in similar situations as a child. It’s not like every volunteer I’d encountered was negative, but none stuck with me quite like the helpers at Skills and Chills.

 

As the day continued, I didn’t hear the girls becoming frustrated with each other. They didn’t get mad at teammates when something didn’t go as well as  they’d hoped. The spirit of competition was prominent, but it never affected how they interacted with each other. No one was cutthroat or tried to puff themselves up. It was simply a group of girls doing their best, trying to win, but most importantly having a blast.

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Girl Scout team members helping each other out

I believe in the Girl Scout Difference, but I haven’t always. I tried Girl Scouts when I was young but moved on quickly. Like too many people, I assumed they were all about crafts and cookies. Even when I was first hired, I told people I was conflicted about working here because I didn’t really believe in the organization.

It’s laughable how far I’ve come in a year. Actually, it only took about a day to realize Girl Scouts was so much more than I imagined.

Now I’m so into Girl Scouts I’ve signed up my niece and convinced my sister to become a co-leader. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of Girl Scouts and I want them both to experience the difference. I want my sister to help lead girls and watch her daughter grow. I want my niece to develop friendships in a space without competition and pressure. I want her to see that no matter what the world tells her, she’s capable of greatness in any area she wants.

I’ve believed in the Girl Scout Difference for awhile, but if I had any doubts, Skills and Chills erased them all. Never in my life have I experienced something like it, where the girls felt safe to succeed and fail and the volunteers cared about encouraging and making every girl feel important.

People are busy and there are other activities, but I know Girl Scouts is the best option for your girl. She gets to do a bit of everything and set herself up for a lifetime of leadership and success. Nothing is more important, because here’s the thing: we know success looks different for everyone. We don’t want to force your girl to do something she doesn’t want to or feels like she has to. We care that she finds her thing and never looks back.

That’s what motivates me every day at my job. That’s the Girl Scout Difference.

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!

Share Your #GirlScoutDifference Story!

Girl Scouts of Western New York just announced their new campaign, The Girl Scout Difference, with the goal of raising the voices of local Girl Scouts and female professionals (alumnae and Women of Distinction) about the difference Girl Scouts makes in the lives of girls, women, and the whole family.

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From August 1 through November 30, we’re going to focus on these stories and share our campaign across local television and radio stations as well as through print and social media. But the campaign doesn’t stop with the stories of our eight participants.

During the campaign, we want to hear from you! Girls, volunteers, alumnae, and members of the public are invited to tell us about how Girl Scouts is making or made a difference to them. Share your stories and photos with us online using the hashtag #GirlScoutsDifference so we can all see how powerful this movement is.

Here are some platforms where we’d love for you to engage:

We can’t wait to hear your stories!