Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest blogger: Girl Scout for life

by Brittany McCartney

Imagine this: A six-year-old girl with short blonde hair and bright blue eyes entering Neason Hill Elementary School on a Tuesday night in September of 2003. That would be the start of something that would change her life. That Tuesday night, was the first Girl Scout meeting she ever attended. 

The meeting began by saying the Girl Scout Promise and Law, making crafts, singing Girl Scout songs, eating delicious snacks and then the meeting ended with the Friendship Circle. She was hooked. 

The little girl had talked about the Girl Scout meeting every day and every night until the following Tuesday evening when she would be able to walk through those doors again. Those doors opened her to a world of courage, confidence, and character. 

The little six-year-old who had walked into her first Girl Scout meeting started off lacking all three, she was shy, she was timid, and she was terrified. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one. The amount of courage it had taken her to stand in front of the family and friends of her troop during her first Girl Scout awards ceremony was immense. That ceremony had taught her that anything was possible. She knew that she would be able to talk in front of the five girls in her troop or the nearly five hundred adults, girls, business leaders, and community members during the 100th year Anniversary Celebration. 

Courage does not come alone; undoubtedly courage comes is hand-in-hand with confidence. 

Confidence is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. This sweet and lovable six year old starting her Girl Scout experience had begun with the smallest amount of self-confidence, since she was afraid of what others would think about her. 

After years of being told of the astounding things she has accomplished in Girl Scouts and what an asset she has become to the organization, she had finally gained the confidence to stand up for herself and for those around her. Courage and confidence stand as the foundation to a person’s character. 

Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. She will do what is right, even when she is the only one doing it. She stands up against those who do not follow the Girl Scout Promise and Law or are not acting as a Girl Scout should. Her leaders and fellow Girl Scouts have taught her to use the courage, confidence and character that was instilled within her to always be the best her that she could be. 

Fast forward twelve years and that little six-year-old girl is now an eighteen-year-old young adult with long blonde hair and hazel eyes who entered through the doors of United Methodist Stone Church one Monday night in June of 2015. 

That Monday night, was the last Girl Scout Meeting she will ever attend. 

The meeting started with her showing up late with dinner in her hand, sitting around the tables talking with the younger girls in her troop, tears streaming down her face and then for the last time, her mom passed out the badges, the Journeys and the patches she had earned throughout the year. 

That girl is me. I was a Brownie. I was a Junior. I was a Cadette. I was a Senior. I was an Ambassador. However, I will always be a Girl Scout. 

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout.

You can help even more girls build courage, confidence and character with your donation to GSWPA.

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Girls benefit from time spent outdoors

According to a study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute (GSRI), Girls who regularly spend time outdoors eclipse their peers who spend less time outdoors in environmental stewardship, challenge seeking and problem solving—all important traits in twenty-first century leadership.

But camp gives girls benefits beyond problem-solving and leadership skills—here are what Girl Scouts had to say about their camp adventures:

“Camp helped me be brave. It was the first time I was on my own and away from my parents for that long.”—Libby H. 
“Going to camp has helped me make new friends, become more adaptable to change, become a leader and talk more and not be shy.”—Cheyenne R. 
“The thing I love most about Girl Scout camp is meeting new people and getting to go on a mini-vacation! Each time I go camping I come back with a thousand new memories.”—Brittany M.
Girl Scouts keeps up-to-date with the interests of today's girls, which is evident in its wide range of camp offerings— everything from beginner horse camps to high-adventure rafting trips.

GSWPA is committed to pursuing its mission through the camp experience, offering an astounding array of innovative, fun, and memorable camp activities that allow girls to build courage, confidence, and character, and make the world a better place.

You can help preserve camp experiences for girls with your donation to GSWPA.

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Source: National Study of Girls & the Outdoors (Girl Scouts Research Institute, 2014)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Support the next generation of female business owners and leaders

Investing in girls through the Girl Scouts will support financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs that empower girls through the development of five essential skills: goal setting, money management, people skills, decision-making and business ethics. 

Did you know? Eighty-five percent of girls developed money management skills through the Girl Scout Cookie program, the largest girl-run business in the world.

Planning pays off

Troop 50099
Troop 50099 created a two-year business plan for selling Girl Scout Cookies at a workshop hosted by The Hill Group, and increased their sales to “Super Troop” status in that year's Cookie Program. 

This summer, the girls got to enjoy the result of their hard work. Just as they planned, the troop saved Cookie Program proceeds for two years to fund a five-day trek in the Great Smoky Mountains!
Purposeful product

Cheyenne Rhone, a Senior Girl Scout from West Mifflin, was recently featured as a young Pittsburgh entrepreneur.

Cheyenne started Hopes for the Best, her own business where she creates and sells bracelets that double as survival tools.

She made similar bracelets with her Girl Scout troop which inspired her to create her own business.

Help girls succeed

Girls envision a future where they are financially independent and empowered. Help them get there by donating to Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania today.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Who says science is just for boys?

Sophia explores the exciting activities at a local STEM event.
Women are still underrepresented in higher-paying positions, especially in science and engineering. Despite the higher earning potential, many girls don’t see themselves in STEM careers.

Girl Scouts introduces girls of every age to STEM experiences relevant to everyday life. We help every girl see that STEM careers can help fulfill their desires to make the world a better place.

Hands-on STEM

Girl Scouts participated in exciting science experiments, met women engineers/scientists and learned more about what it takes to pursue a STEM career at an event hosted by Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation.

Cinzia Gagetta raved about the experiences her daughter Sophia enjoyed at the program. 

“The activities they had really opened her mind on the possibilities of what she can do. I can tell you she has already made it clear that she wants to be a scientist! She also went on to say how happy she is to be a Girl Scout,” she said.

Girl Scouts from troop 54481 ask questions about STEM
Cadette troop 54481 from West Allegheny learned how circuit boards were produced, were educated on various manufacturing technologies, and held discussions on career opportunities in STEM fields at Industrial Scientific.

Kim Wagner, one of the troop leaders, works as the Director of People & Leadership for Industrial Scientific. Paula Yeager, Senior Quality Engineer, volunteered her time to provide the troop with a tour of the Pittsburgh facility.  

Following the tour, the girls had a hands-on activity called the "Marshmallow Challenge" where they had to construct a tower using spaghetti sticks, a marshmallow, string, and tape. 

The goal was to build the tallest tower using only the materials provided, and the marshmallow had to be at the top without falling over. Marshmallows aren't just for s'mores anymore for these Girl Scouts!

You can help give girls more amazing STEM experiences with your donation to GSWPA.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Girl Scouts help communities prepare for fire emergencies

The American Red Cross is teaming up with Girl Scouts to spread the word about fire safety basics that can help make homes and families safer.

Through their Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross aims to canvas more 7,000 homes by June 30, 2016 to distribute fire-preparedness information and brand new smoke alarms. 

That’s where the Girl Scouts come in.

There are two ways Girl Scout can help:

Canvassing Preparation—Junior through Ambassador level
Girls will be responsible for preparing materials for the canvassing teams to take to high risk fire areas. The Red Cross volunteers can bring the materials to troop meetings if desired or girls can come to other locations to help compile the items needed.

Canvassing Teams—Cadette through Ambassador level
Girls will be responsible for distributing the smoke detectors and campaign materials within the specific neighborhoods or targeted high-risk fire areas along with Red Cross volunteers.

If your troop is interested in participating, please contact Geoffrey Domowicz at the American Red Cross.

Bonus! The community partnership and service can be used toward girls' Bronze and Silver awards!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Father-daughter dance creates memories

Jenna and Jason Shultz
More than 200 Girl Scouts and their dads—or uncles, grandpas, or stepfathers—will enjoy a night of food, fun and dancing at a special father-daughter dance hosted by Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) on Friday, Nov. 20, 6-9 p.m., at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 4376 West Lake Road, Erie.

Girls and their dates will enjoy a delicious catered dinner and dancing to music provided by a local DJ. A King and Princess of the ball will be randomly selected from everyone in attendance. Dads, girls and friends can commemorate the evening with pictures from the photo booth.

The event offers girls more than just a fun Friday night dance. It’s a chance for fathers and daughters to connect and make great memories. “We want to encourage strong father-daughter relationships and provide a quality experience to spend time together,” said Amber Carson, Girl Experience Specialist at GSWPA.

Jason Shultz, father of Girl Scout Jenna Shultz, enjoyed the dedicated time with his daughter when they attended last year. “We generally don't get a chance to do things together without her brothers there,” he said. “This allows me to spend one-on-one time with her.”

Jenna loved having a great time with her father along for the fun, noting her favorite moments were “dancing with my friends and dad” and being crowned King and Princess. Both are looking forward to going again this year.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

West Allegheny Girl Scouts take action

Cadette Girl Scouts in troop 54481 recently volunteered to pack surplus medical supplies to send to resource-poor countries through Global Links, a medical relief organization.

Their efforts not only provide vital healthcare supplies to those in need, but they also help the environment by eliminating waste.

According to the organization's website, Global Links has been working to redirect still-useful materials away from U.S. landfills to support public health programs in targeted communities throughout the Western Hemisphere. See more at:

Rachel Main, the troop's leader, says the girls are always looking for new ways to help others and learn skills. In December, the girls will collect donated gifts for Toys For Tots. They also plan to participate in an upcoming STEM program.

Keep up the great work, Girl Scouts!

Girl Scouts Emma Main, Hannah Wagner, Myka Wright, Alyssa Keefer and Alyssa Brajdic.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Girl Scouts receive Religious Emblems

Front row: Colleen Barnett, Haley Gray, Korena Behe. 
Back: Lily George, Bishop Bartchak, Allura Nesbella and Monica Behe.
Girl Scouts from Lilly, Pa. received their Religious Emblem Awards from Rev. Mark Leonard Bartchak, Bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, on Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. The Girl Scouts also participated in the Mass. Lily George and Allura Nesbella were altar servers. Monica and Korena Behe were greeters.

Well done, girls!

Celebrate Faith

Religious recognition programs reinforce many of the values inherent to Girl Scouting and help girls grow stronger in and learn more about their chosen faith. 

You can find details about religious recognition programs and other resources for collaborating with faith communities at P.R.A.Y. Publishing.

Give the gift of Girl Scouting on #GivingTuesday

You've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but do you know about Giving Tuesday? 

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania is excited to be participating in this year's #GivingTuesday, a national effort to inspire personal philanthropy and charitable giving during the holiday season.

Starting on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and extending through the holidays, GSWPA will be joining charitable organizations from across the country to show that the world gives as good as it gets. 

Why support GSWPA on #GivingTuesday?

It costs an average of $300-$500 per year for one girl to have the full Girl Scout experience, and last year more than $77,000 in scholarship assistance was awarded to girls in western Pennsylvania so they could have these life-changing experiences with Girl Scouts.

We rely largely on the generosity of our donors to make this possible.

Please consider kicking off your holiday giving season with an end-of-year charitable gift on or before #GivingTuesday, and help us bring Girl Scouting to more girls. We appreciate your support!

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