Saturday, October 18, 2014

More from 2014 Girl Scouts National Convention

The girls in Temple Square
On Thursday morning we visited the historic Temple Square, which is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s most popular tourist destination, and joined a tour with Sister Pipe and Sister Ryan. Everyone loved learning about the history of Temple Square but even more so loved the view from the 26th floor in the Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The view included the two mountain ranges surrounding Salt Lake City, the airport, and the Utah State Capitol Building. It was amazing! 

The view from the office of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The GSLI girls and chaperones then took off for the GSLI Opening Session where CEO Anna Maria Chavez and National Board President Connie Lindsay led the 900 girls to the Hall of Experiences.  The exhibit hall was awesome but a little bit overwhelming! So many options, so many vendors, so many people, no one knew where to start!

Some of the girls with "Juliette Gordon Low"
When we were finished with the Hall of Experiences, we started to develop our Take Action Projects by choosing from the 7 Issues: Hunger, Basic Needs, Education, Healthy Relationships, Teen Violence, Self Image, Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.  After everyone had chosen their issue, the topic of the outdoors was brought up for discussion.  It was almost unanimous that the girls wanted to go back outdoors in Girl Scouting. As one girl said, we need to put the “out” backing in Scouting!
After dinner the Opening Ceremony began. Anna Maria and Connie were so excited to start off the convention!  Alison Levine spoke about her journey as she climbed the highest mountains in the world. Several local groups preformed and we had a blast singing and dancing! (So did GSWPA’s Board President Lois!)  

Elizabeth Smart

Friday morning the Delegates headed over to the First National Council Session! The meeting ended at 12:30 when the Delegate girls joined the GSLI girls who had been busy all morning starting their Take Action Projects!  The GSLI program had arranged for speakers from all sorts of backgrounds to speak.  After the GSLI sessions we had a wonderful dinner speaker, Elizabeth Smart, whose abduction was one of the most followed child abduction cases. She shared her moving story about the abduction and her life since.  

After the speaker at dinner, the GSLI girls had reconvened again to work with their councils on their Take Action Projects.  After spending time working on our projects we relaxed at the hotel to prepare for another busy day! So far we’re having a blast!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

GSWPA arrives in SLC: Let the fun begin!

By Brittany McCartney
Ambassador Girl Scout, Meadville

Girl Scouts from around the world woke up bright and early, gathered their last few items, and took off to the airport on Wednesday for the Girl Scouts National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah!  Our first plane took off at 10:10 Wednesday morning out of Pittsburgh.  It was a quick flight to Chicago where we had a little over an hour to grab a bite to eat at an amazing bagel shop before we boarded our final plane taking us to Salt Lake City. 
The plane from Chicago to Salt Lake City was packed full of Girl Scouts from Western Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and even Germany! Several girls got a songfest going on the plane, leading the group in singing "Make New Friends." 
After we landed we took off to our hotel and then headed to Tucano's Brazilian Grill for dinner!  If you're ever in Salt Lake City and hungry, be sure to head to Tucano's. After stuffing ourselves to the point we could not walk, we went to the GSLI planning committee's Meet & Greet.  At the Meet & Greet we played Human Bingo, a "get-to-know-you" game as a way to meet Girl Scouts from all over. It was a fantastic way to make new friends! 
After the Meet & Greet we had a Western PA meeting with our chaperones where we received our SWAG bags with all sorts of new toys and gifts! Now we're ready to take on Temple Square and the first day of Convention!  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Live from convention: Meadville Girl Scout updates from Utah beginning Oct. 15

When Girl Scouts gather at the 53rd national convention this month in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, great things are going to happen! And thanks to Ambassador Girl Scout Brittany McCartney from Meadville, you don't have to board a plane or drive for days to stay up-to-date on the all the awesomeness!

Brittany will be updating her sister Girl Scouts on convention happenings, sessions, and stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the GSWPA blog!

Brittany McCartney
Brittany will post photos, share updates on our movement, and offer highlights from each energy-packed day starting Wednesday, October 15.

About Brittany:

School: Meadville Area Senior High
Grade: 12
Years of Scouting: 12
Service Unit 3611
Troop: 30026

Girl Scout activities: Singing Hills Camp Advisory Team, Singing Hills Property Site Team, Past Forever Green Team leader, Program Aide, troop helper for all of Service Unit 3611, Service Unit assistant for 3611, Ambassador Girl Scout, GSLI Girl, National Delegate.

Other activities: Key Club Lieutenant Governor for Division 1-2 of the Pennsylvania District of Key Club International, Yearbook Editor, Forensic and Debate, Volunteer at Child to Family Connections, National Multiple Sclerosis Society Walk MS Committee member, Volunteer at West Mead #2 VFD with the Auxiliary.

Why she can't wait to go to convention: "I am most excited about the opportunities that are ahead. I will have the chance to meet thousands of girls, leaders, and volunteers from across the nation and world. Just the thought of that is exciting, amazing, and impressive."

Brittany is a member of the GSWPA Media Team, so she'll be updating on more Girl Scouts news in the future!

Sponsor shout-out: GEICO

The company that makes all of those funny commercials that make our girls giggle has been providing all of us here at GSWPA with more than laughs! Each year, GSWPA partners with local and national corporations to ensure that more girls in western Pennsylvania are afforded the Girl Scout experience. From sponsoring specialty patch programs, to lending us volunteers for Day of Caring events, to supporting our educational school programs, our corporate partnerships with companies like GEICO are undoubtedly an invaluable asset to the western Pennsylvania Girl Scout experience.

GEICO has been deeply committed to supporting our Annual Awards of Distinction (AOD) reception in each of our regions. For four years, the corporation has sponsored our dinner in Johnstown, our luncheon in Pittsburgh and our mentoring day and luncheon in Erie. Our Annual Awards of Distinction events aim to honor women leaders in western Pennsylvania that have been exceptional role models for our girls. By sponsoring these events, GEICO stands with our girls and our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character.

This ongoing partnership with GEICO has had a direct impact on our girls. In 2014, GEICO generously donated all of their complimentary sponsorship tickets to local troops. At our AOD Johnstown dinner, GEICO donated their tickets Troops 40976 and 40921 from Windber. The troops came prepared to present their Breast Cancer Awareness video that earned them their Silver Award! The girls’ video even featured Mrs. Joyce Murtha, an inspirational Johnstown leader!

In the Pittsburgh area, girls were invited by GEICO to join our AOD luncheon while downtown working to earn their Breathe Journey badge. Girls learned about the effects of pollution on our five sensory systems. In between learning how to assess air quality from factors such as cigarette smoking, noise pollution and carbon dioxide output in the metropolitan area, girls were able to meet incredible women leaders and enjoy a lovely lunch!

At our Erie AOD in August, Girl Scouts and parents from Troop 36409 from Elk Valley Elementary school in Lake City were invited to join spend time with the distinguished female leaders in their local community. The girls were able to shadow women in local businesses as a part of our LeadHER mentor morning. Each girl was thrilled to be invited by GEICO to the luncheon and the troop was even awarded our top honor of the year – Troop of Distinction!

We value all of our corporate partnerships because we see direct results from the commitments made. GEICO’s support has had such a positive impact throughout western Pennsylvania. Thank you, GEICO for your continued partnership with GSWPA. We look forward to the work we can do together in the future!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Shop on AmazonSmile, help GSWPA

Attention Amazon shoppers: Did you know you can have a percentage of your Amazon purchases donated to GSWPA at no extra cost?

We’re participating in AmazonSmile. It’s a way for people to support their favorite nonprofit automatically every time they shop, at no cost and by taking just a few simple one-time steps. Awesome, right?

Just go to, log in to your Amazon account, and you’ll be asked to select a charity. Type in Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania and select it from the list. And if you’re already participating in AmazonSmile and want to change your charity to GSWPA, simply click on “Supporting” in the upper left side of the page when you’re logged in and select “Change your charity.”
After that, all you have to do is make sure you go to every time you shop and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase to GSWPA! Your account is the same as your account, so your shopping cart, wish list, registries and other account settings are the same no matter which one you use. Want to learn more? Here are some AmazonSmile FAQs.
Thank you for shopping—and supporting GSWPA!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tell us what you can't wait to do!

When a girl says, "I can't wait to," you know that what's coming next is something she's excited about. Whether she's talking about tomorrow's field trip or the big game next Saturday, that wide-eyed anticipation  is one of the best parts of childhood. And for our troop leaders and volunteers (who know the secret to staying young!), seeing that excitement--and feeling it themselves--is often the best part of being active with Girl Scouts.

So we want to know: What can't you and your girls wait to do this year?

Snap some pictures of yourself, other volunteers, or girls in your troop holding a white board explaining--in just a few words--what you can't wait to do this year along with #icantwaitto (just like the photos at right). Post the pics to our Facebook wall, email them to, or share them on Twitter or Instagram (just be sure to mention GirlScoutsWPA in the post so that we see it), and we'll share them on our social media channels. We want to tell the world how awesome it is to be a Girl Scout--and want our girls and volunteers to do the talking!

Please be sure to include your troop number and location (or just your location if you're an Indie Girl), and that any girls pictured have not opted out of the photo release at registration.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Volunteer shares favorite hobbies through Girl Scouting

For Girl Scout volunteer Jodi Sando, seeing the joy girls get from mastering a new skill is icing on the cake, especially since Jodi is the one who teaches them how to ice the cake.

Cake decorating is just one of the programs Jodi leads as a volunteer program facilitator. In addition to leading a multilevel troop, Jodi teaches girls cake decorating, outdoor cooking, geocaching, crochet and cross stitch to Girl Scouts through S’more programs by request.

Girls gain confidence from trying new things, and that’s what Jodi enjoys about leading programs. “I love watching them go from nervous about trying something new to excited about what they’ve accomplished,” she said. “I’m so proud of them. Every time.”

Even when things don’t exactly go as planned, girls still have fun and learn important lessons. During one outdoor cooking session, Jodi recalls, the rack in a cardboard oven fell, sending raw eggs sliding in all directions. “There was egg ooze on the picnic table and eggs frying right on the charcoal,” she said. “The girls loved it—they thought it was cool.” They cleaned up, started again, and made sure the cooking rack was secure. “Live and learn!” she said, smiling.

Jodi loves sharing her own skills and hobbies with girls, especially cross stitch and cake decorating. “I feel they are lost arts, so I’m glad they can still learn them in Girl Scouts.” They are also her favorite programs to teach. “Nothing can get burned,” Jodi laughed.

A volunteer for 32 years, Jodi loves the opportunities Girl Scouts offers her. “Girl Scouts keeps me young,” Jodi said. “I do things in Girl Scouts that I wouldn’t do on my own, because the girls want to do them.”

She is impressed with the adventures available to today’s Girl Scouts. Girls can try zip lining, archery, shooting sports, all things Jodi said she would have never considered trying as a child.

“And travel,” Jodi added, “These girls can go anywhere in the world.”

Jodi will travel with Ambassador Girl Scouts from her own troop in 2015 to Savannah, Ga., the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder Juliet Gordon Low. The girls will be presented with their Gold Award pins while visiting the place where Girl Scouting began.

“They are finishing their Girl Scouts years with a great moment,” Jodi said. “I can’t wait.”