Friday, April 21, 2017

National Volunteer Month: Kindness goes a long way!

Pam Bernardi from Bethel Park has been involved in Girl Scouts since beginning her daughter Violetta's Brownie troop seven years ago. Pam not only leads a troop, but she's also working to help more girls connect with the benefits of Girl Scouting.

"I am very passionate about sharing the Girl Scout experience, which is why I became a volunteer recruiter," she said. "I believe every girl should be in Girl Scouts!"

One moment that Pam will never forget is when her girls were working on finishing their Silver Award project. 

The memorable day began when the troop went shopping for vegetables at Giant Eagle for a local food pantry at South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM). The girls had just finished their Silver Award project "Gardening for Good" where they built and maintained a vegetable garden for SHIM over the summer. 

"Giant Eagle matched our donation of more than 100 pounds of food, doubling our donation to SHIM," she said. "Our shopping carts were full of fresh vegetables for local families, and my heart was full of pride."
Pam hopes that her Girl Scouts will remember how unique each of them are in their own way. "The girls have learned so many things along the way," she said. "As a mother of two sons with autism, I would hope that they remember that we are all different, and those differences are what makes each one of us so special."

Alida Skogsholm has been with the Girl Scout movement for five years. She is very involved with her troop of Girl Scouts. Alida said her favorite thing is "watching the girls grow and have fun together."

Alida counts a recent moment during a candle light ceremony for Camp Redwing among her most cherished Girl Scout memories. "The candle light ceremony held on Saturday night at Camp Redwing with the girls from our troop during the service unit encampement," she said. It was so beautiful." 

She wants her Girl Scouts to remember that "being kind has so many rewards." 

National Volunteer Month: Inspirational Leaders

Many leaders love to watch their Girl Scouts accomplish tasks and goals that they thought they couldn't achieve. Volunteer Nancy Lampert from Tarentum has been a leader for the past six years and worked on the service team for the last three years.

She said her favorite thing about her role is "watching all of the girls grow and getting to watch them bloom!"

Nancy couldn't pick just one unforgettable moment of her time in Girl Scouts. "My favorite moments would be the ones where the Girl Scouts are not certain that they can do something, but then they have the look of triumph when they not only do the task, but they do it well."

She wants her Girl Scouts to remember "all of the hard work that they have put in to achieve their goals and know that they did it just like I told them they could."

David Schwab has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for eight years. When asked what he likes best about his role with Girl Scouts, he said, "I like canoeing with the Girl Scouts. Some of them are scared, but I reassure them and in about five minutes, they're paddling around the pond and having a blast!"

Being a leader means working with girls who are nervous about doing new activities. A moment David will never forget is when he was working with a Daisy Girl Scout who was afraid to canoe with the other girls.

"She wouldn't get in the boat for any reason. So, I showed her how to catch fish with her bare hands right off the dock."

He hopes that his Girl Scouts remember from their experience "that they can do things, even if they've never done them before. I want to instill that there are no limits to what they can do."

National Volunteer Month: Carrie and Leah

Carrie Haney from Uniontown has been involved in Girl Scouts for the past seven years. She loves being able to teach the girls in her troop new skills, from camping and cooking skills to business and money skills.

Carrie fondly recalls many moments in Girl Scouts. "The look on the girls' faces when they accomplish something they thought they couldn't do is always priceless," she said.

Carrie hopes that her Girl Scouts will remember from their experience "to never give up and always do your best."

Leah Popson from Carmichaels has been a troop leader for three years and recently became a service unit manager, too. When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, she said, "I love working with the girls. Arts and crafts, camp, day trips, singing old camp songs from my days as a Camp Henry Kaufmann camper! The girls don't seem to mind that I can't carry a tune!"

Leah also grew up as a Girl Scout. "It was a little surreal when we had our first meeting in the same church where I had meetings as a Girl Scout 30 years ago," she said. "It really means a lot to me that I can help continue the tradition of Girl Scouts in our community."

She hopes her troop and Girl Scouts everywhere will enjoy the opportunities they have to see and do things they've never done before!

National Volunteer Month: Andrea and Amy

Andrea Shissler from Delmont has been a volunteer for the past 10 years. She loves watching the young Girl Scouts grow and use their talents, such as earning their Silver Awards.

A moment that Andrea will never forget was during their first Court of Awards ceremony and pinning. "A young girl, as she was getting pinned, jumped for joy and said to me,' What an honor!' as I gave her the petals and membership pin," Andrea recalled. "She is still in my troop six years later, working on her Silver Award. To see her grow and mature has been amazing."

Andrea wants her Girl Scouts to remember that she is always there for them, no matter how busy life can get.

"I am confident that they are learning skills that they will use for a lifetime. The greatest honor is to hear someone say, 'I can do this because I am a Girl Scout and I learned how to do this as a Scout.' Or to hear an adult say that Girl Scouting helped her get where she is today. This is the investment I am making each week, for the long term," she said. "And of course, every leader wants to know their troop had fun along the way, too!"

A Girl Scout volunteer for nine years, Amy Gotz  from Wexford is so proud of each girl in her troop and how much they have accomplished so far.

"I just love to help these amazing girls to discover their strengths, at their own pace," she said. "I am so grateful to them and their families for the opportunity to guide them along this journey."

One moment that Amy won't forget took place in May 2013.

Amy and her co-leader were with 14 Juniors and when they arrived, Amy and another mom were tending to a girl who got carsick, while the other girls were unpacking and checking out their camping area.

They came back to report that there were bees at their site. "That's when the chaos began," Amy said. With one girl sick, another girl came to report a bee sting, while the others were running about with excitement. Not long after, a third Girl Scout was stung, which was followed by immediate hives and a nose bleed. They contacted their service unit leader and medical advice, and the girl who broke out with hives was taken to the hospital by her mother, who was lucky enough to be on the trip with Amy! The young girl returned from the hospital the next day and completed a high ropes course with the other girls, even after all she had been through.

"It must have taken her 15 minutes, at least, to get across it. She did it. She was so happy! We were so excited for her that some of us were in tears," Amy said. "After all of the unexpected challenges that she, and we, faced, her accomplishment was all the sweeter. As a leader, a Mom, a sister, and a Girl Scout, I will never forget it."

Amy wants her girls to remember how strong they are and all of the endless opportunities they will have if they "love themselves, respect each other and nature, and work hard to make this world the wonderful place that it can be."

Goodwill and Girl Scouts "Give a Little Love"

Girl Scouts across western Pennsylvania showed their giving spirit by teaming up with Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Goodwill of Southern Alleghenies for the "Give a Little Love" clothing drive.

And give they did! Close to 30,000 pounds and 1,500 bags of donated items were collected by GSWPA Girl Scouts during the month of February!
Brownie Troop 28843 dropping off 38 bags of donations at the Butler Goodwill.
While all girls who participated should be proud of their hard work, three girls from each Goodwill area went above and beyond. Together, these six Girl Scouts collected almost 400 bags of donations! 

These six girls are the winners of a paid trip to camp, courtesy of Goodwill!
Goodwill Southern Alleghenies:
  • Jordan Straub- 57 bags
  • Keita DeRosa- 108 bags
  • Paige Kline- 17 bags

Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania:
  • Maddison DiMond – 84 bags
  • Naudia Zotter – 69 bags
  • Genevieve Brooks – 63 bags

National Volunteer Month: Kriss and Monique

Many volunteers grow up as a Girl Scouts themselves, like Kriss Svidro from Washington, Pa, She has spent eight years as a Girl Scout and has been an adult volunteer since 1989. Over the 28 years she has been a volunteer, her favorite thing about her role in Girl Scouts is watching the girls work hard to achieve their Gold Awards. Kriss also loves "working with the amazing adult awards committee to promote and encourage others to recognize those outstanding volunteers they come across every day."

One of Kriss's favorite memories is when the girls took action to plan a troop event. "One of my Senior Girl Scouts called to tell me the troop had planned the end of the year celebration without help from the troop leaders," she recalled. "She told me where and when to show up, what awards needed to be ordered, what we were eating, how the Court of Awards was planned, who and how much to make the check out to for the food and gifts. It was a proud moment to see how far they had come since Brownies."

Kriss hopes that her girls always remember how much they can achieve by putting one foot in front of the other and following through. She hopes they learn something new every day and realize that life is fun and needs to be enjoyed.

"I was just told by a leader today, she loves that she always learns something new every time we talk. That simple comment made my week. I try hard to help girls, less experienced leaders and volunteers learn about the customs, history, and traditions of the organization that Daisy founded. It's so wonderful to see girls grow into women in this marvelous organization." Thanks Kristin for all of your hard work!

Monique Powell from Wilkins Township has been with GSWPA for nine years and Girl Scouts for eleven. She was also a Girl Scout overseas!

Monique loves helping her girls realize their full potential and overcome obstacles they may come across. She relies on the wonderful support she receives from her troop, other leaders, and great parents to help the girls accomplish a lot. "Right now, all of our girls have the medals for their grade level or are candidates for their medals." This is a huge accomplishment since most of her troop are also involved in other extracurricular activities and high academic achievers!

A moment Monique will never forget is the teamwork her troop used during a work weekend at camp. The girls were the oldest there so they volunteered to build and set up the tents.  "It was amazing to see them work together to raise those poles and set up those tents," she said.

Monique hopes her girls remember to extend a helping hand, even if someone may not need it. She said, "They will remember the support or kind work heard from us and pass it on to others."

National Volunteer Month: Christy and Kim

Christy Uffelman tree climbing at Camp Skymeadow with her troop.
"I am scared of heights, but knew if my girls were doing it, I had to also!"
Christy Uffelman from Pittsburgh has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 30 years, as a Girl Scout in high school, a camp counselor, serving on various committees, and now, an assistant troop leader for her daughter's Cadette troop.

When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, Christy said, "I'd love to say that it's the opportunity to inspire and empower our next generation of fierce women, but the truth is, being with them inspires me."

She loves watching them being courageous and confident when making a case to ask for what they want, disciplined and hardworking when working on a service project, and creative and bold planning their next steps to impact their community and each other's lives. "I watch them in the quieter moments, too, when someone is having a tough time, how they encircle her and show their support," she said.

She hopes her girls learn how this experience will shape them into the amazing women and leaders they will become. She hopes they learn it is okay to fail, but to improve upon those failures.

Personally, Christy learned the "value of authentic connection. Not to just give to others, something most people think about when they think of Girl Scouting, but also how to receive."

"I learned how to be on the other side, to allow others to care for me. After all, that's what is at the heart of being human," Christy said. "No one has ever made it through life without the help of others. Girl Scouting is a magnificent web that has supported me and will always be a part of who I am."

A huge aspect of Girl Scouts is being willing to try and learn new things. That is exactly what volunteer Kim Watson from Austin hopes her girls learn and remember from their Girl Scout experience. Kim has been volunteering for 13 years now and loves watching the girls grow and accomplish many different types of tasks.

She will never forget the hard work her Daisy troop put into for a food drive. "They were so proud of the pyramid of food they collected for the food bank drive," Kim said. "They all worked so hard boxing all of it up." Kim loves seeing how her girls can relate to their own community and know they can make a difference.

National Volunteer Month: Chrissy and Tanya

In her eight years as a Girl Scouts volunteer, Chrissy Schaeffer from Greensburg has loved watching her girls grow as leaders themselves and helping them achieve their goals.

Chrissy also enjoys working with other fellow leaders. "Over the last eight years, I have developed so many lasting and strong friendships," she said. "When I started volunteering with GSWPA, I was relatively new to the area. My fellow leaders welcomed my family and I into their lives and families."

One moment Chrissy will never forget in Girl Scouts is when her service unit traveled to Savannah to see the Juliette Gordon Low house. "It was truly inspiring to walk through the house Juliette Gordon Low grew up in and walk on the same sidewalks that Juliette walked every day," Chrissy said. "I truly admire Juliette's determination and passion for Girl Scouts. I strive to be just like her."

Chrissy hopes her girls will remember and cherish the opportunities they have had in Girl Scouts. She works with other leaders and parents to help provide opportunities for the girls that they might not have had otherwise. "I want my girls to appreciate the time and dedication of all Girl Scout volunteers."

Tanya Gabel from Meadville has been with Girl Scouts for the past three years. She loves being a positive influence in the girls' lives and watching them grow and learn together.

A special moment she will never forget was during a field trip to the Carnegie Science Center. During this trip, they were able to tour a World War II submarine.

Going from section to section was not easy since I am disabled. I remember quite well how my Daisies were holding my purse and trying to help me over the dividers," she recalled. "We all had a great laugh about it and that trip was one that we will never forget!"

Tanya wants her girls to remember to push themselves and strive to be greater. "I want them to remember that it's not what you make or achieve, it's how you make it or get to your achievement. I want them to have fun and learn together, even if it means not getting first place."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hold your horses: Barn construction update

Barn-raising is underway at Camp Skymeadow! Thanks to nice weather, the new barn for Skymeadow is taking shape quickly. We can picture it now: happy horses waiting comfortably in the new structure for all the adventurous Girl Scouts coming to camp this summer!

There are still spots available for Skymeadow's awesome camp programs. They'll fill up soon, so be sure to reserve your Girl Scout's spot today! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Volunteer Month: Tanya and Susan

Tanya Burnsworth from South Park has been a leader since 2014 and she loves watching the girls take ownership of a project and have fun with it! She enjoys making meetings and other activities fun for the girls, no matter the topic or task at hand.

A moment Tanya will never forget was one in which her troop was having a debate over a very serious topic: powdered doughnuts!

"The girls argued their points with such seriousness, all along having powdered sugar all over their faces," Tanya said. "We had a good laugh over it and since then, we have always had powered doughnuts during our doughnut debates! Moral of the story, everything can be made fun!"

Tanya hopes her girls can have many opportunities to do adventures they normally wouldn't have if they weren't in Girl Scouts. She wants her girls to gain encouragement from their friends, build good memories, and know "not to let your abilities keep them from trying something new."

Susan Gold from Pittsburgh began as a troop leader in 1982. Over the years, she has volunteered in many different areas in Girl Scouts, such as a Service Unit manager, a delegate for her service unit, and even handling the registration and product sales up until 2014. Susan currently works with a second grade Brownie troop, in which she helps support their outdoor program and product sales. She has had the amazing pleasure of graduating out five troops of girls over the years!

When asked what she likes best about volunteering with Girl Scouts, Susan said, "In these roles, I can try to help others expand their knowledge of the world around them and push themselves to meet their potential. In doing so, I push myself to think about things I might not normally think of, as well as trying new things. To watch the joy in girls' faces as they succeed in doing something new is priceless."

An amazing moment Susan will never forget is when she visited Our Chalet in Switzerland, the first World Centre of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and saw pictures of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, Juliette Gordon Low, and Helen Storrow in the same place where she was standing. "My 15-year old daughter, who pinches pennies all the time, said to me,'Mom, I don't know what this is costing us to be here, but it's worth every penny.' To feel the wisdom and understand the gifts of those who came before us will always be in my heart."

She hopes her girls learn to be empowered, trust in themselves and their ability to do things, and understand the sisterhood of supporting each other. Susan wants her girls to remember to accept themselves and others and work with their weaknesses and strengths.

"I want them to always know my door is open to them," she said. "I am proud of who they have become on their own journeys."

Horses will be happy!

🐎 = ☺

Ken and Pat break ground for the new barn!
Spring has finally arrived! The snow has melted, birds are singing, and the bulldozer is bulldozing!

That’s right—work has just begun on the new barn at Camp Skymeadow!

The new barn will be the starting point of girls’ fun riding adventures at Skymeadow this summer, and for years to come!

Pat Burkart, CEO of GSWPA, Ken Thornton, vice president of property, and Dana Young (a.k.a. Coach), director of outdoor program, were on hand at Skymeadow to break ground on the new structure.

Coach even posed for a quick photo op in the bulldozer!

Make plans to horse around at Camp Skymeadow this summer. Spots are still available for girls in grades 2-12 for horse programs for all riding levels:

Horsin’ Around Level 1 (grades 4-8)
July 30-Aug.4

Back in the Saddle Level 2 (grades 5-9)
June 25-30

Blazing Saddles Level 3 (grades 6-10)
July 23-28 

Trail Boss Advanced Horse Session (grades 7-12) 
July 9-14

Boots and Boats, June 25-30 (grades 4-8)

Ride and Glide, June 25-30 (grades 4-8)

Pony Party Introduction Level, July 5-7 (grades 2-4)

Short Bits Introduction Level, July 5-7 (grades 2-4) 

Giddy Up Level 1, July 23-28 (grades 2-4)

We can't wait to see you this summer at camp! 

National Volunteer Month: Tonia and Lynnette

Tonia Seese from Girard is in her seventh year as a Girl Scout volunteer. She loves seeing the girls be brave when trying new things in Girl Scouts. Her favorite thing about her role is seeing the girls have fun together during activities and trips.

A moment in Girl Scouts Tonia will never forget is when her troop attended Camp Hawthorne Ridge to help during work weekend. They had been attending this camp for a few years and she loved to watch the girls give back.

"They were excited to wash dishes and clean the bathrooms! Any other time, they would rather not do these jobs, but at camp, they love helping to make it better," she said.

Tonia hopes that her girls will remember to "not take life so seriously and have fun no matter what they are doing." She wants them to know that they have the power to make a difference in their own lives, others lives, and the community around them. Thanks for being an inspirational volunteer Tonia!

Lynnette Pistner of Clearfield has been a Girl Scout nearly all her life, and a volunteer for more than 13 years, carrying on a tradition in her family as fourth-generation leader.

When asked what she likes best about her role, Lynnette said, "Knowing that I am able to make an impact, even in a small way, in the lives of all the girls I lead."

A very special moment that Lynnette will never forget was her own wedding day, when all of the girls in her troop were her junior bridesmaids.

"During the planning and prepping for my big day, the girls showed a level of maturity that you usually do not see for girls between the ages of 12 and 15," Lynnette said.

"They helped with everything from dress shopping to clean up. We are a very close troop and experiences like this and the numerous road trips we have had together make it feel more like a family then just a Girl Scout Troop."

Lynette hopes her girls learn a lot from their time in Girl Scouts, but most of all, she hopes they learn leadership skills.

"I have a mixture of girls and all with different characteristics and I strive to make them all leaders in their own way," she said. "Some are born with leadership potential and others have it hidden in them and just need that extra push to find it."  She hopes they all remember that herself and other volunteers helped them to hone their leadership skills and grow into amazing women.

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Dottie! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

National Volunteer Month: Two decades of awesome

Dottie Neal, from Indiana, has been a volunteer for 22 years since becoming a Brownie Leader in 1995. She is currently a leader of Junior Girl Scouts in troop 40804, as well as the Service Unit Manager, an Outdoor Trainer, and many other volunteer positions.

When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, Dottie said, "I love watching the girls grow in their self-confidence the most. It is a great joy to meet a girl as a Daisy and watch her progress through her Girl Scout experience." She loves watching the girls serve their community and learn new skills they can take with them into the future, such as camping or business skills.

Dottie's daughter, Jessica, grew up in Girl Scouts as well. While mother and daughter share many amazing Girl Scout memories, Dottie especially cherishes watching her work on and finish her Gold Award project.

"Girls are so busy in high school, so to take time to finish up a Gold Award project is a big goal. Jessica finished her project during the summer after she graduated," Dottie recalled. "I watched her learn new skills about planning events and working with adults outside of her regular circle. She learned so many skills that summer, which had a big impact on her confidence level when she went off to college that fall."

Dottie has worked with many different volunteers and troops over the years, and she loves reminiscing on all of her memories in Girl Scouts. She hopes that all of the girls she has worked with can look back on their time as Girl Scouts, whether at camp or at meetings, and be grateful and laugh at all of the great memories they shared.

"They mostly remember our camping trips and end of the year trips, which I am so glad we took the time to do both of those things," Dottie said. "It's fun to look back and laugh together. I want girls to remember the friendships they made."

Volunteer Dottie Neal has loved being involved in the Girl Scouts movement for over 20 years! She has worked with so many different troops, girls, and volunteers. She hopes that she can inspire others to volunteer for the Girl Scouts! Thank you Dottie!

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Dottie! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Celebrate Earth Day and Girl Scout Leader's Day on April 22!

April 22 isn’t just a normal Saturday. It happens to be Earth Day AND Girl Scout Leader's Day! Need some ideas for how to celebrate? We've got you covered!


There’s no limit to what you can do to celebrate Earth Day, but the key is to get outside and enjoy everything that Mother Nature has to offer! Check out these programs and ways to get outdoors on April 22: 

Outdoor Art Badge Day at Camp Skymeadow
. Girl Scouts of all ages can complete the new Girls’ Choice Outdoor Art Badge with a day of fun art projects to display outdoors, and made using natural materials. An all-day session is being offered for Brownies-Ambassadors, and short (morning or afternoon) sessions are available for Daisies. Can’t make it on April 22? We’re hosting a second Outdoor Art Badge Day at Camp Hawthorne Ridge on May 13! Learn more and register

Tree Climbing at Camp Skymeadow. Experience the thrill of tree climbing and go as high as you can into the trees of Camp Skymeadow's great oaks!  At the time of this post, Session 3 has two spots remaining so register now. Can’t make it on April 22? We’re also offering Tree Climbing sessions on May 6! Learn more and register.

Punxsytawney Phil's Weather Extravaganza. Visit the world famous Gobbler's Knob to learn all about weather, make a SWAP, take a tour of the Phantastic Phils public art display and more at Punxsutawney Phil's Weather Extravanganza! Sign up now

Comcast Cares Day. Comcast is hosting several community service projects on April 22 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and Girl Scouts are invited to join in this day of volunteerism! These are not Girl Scout events but they are a great way to give back. Girls must attend with a parent or troop leader and let the site leader know you are part of Girl Scouts. Here are some specific sites in our area that involve painting, landscaping, and general cleanup:
  • Bethel Park Historical Society, 2600 South Park Road, Bethel Park
  • Clairton Elementary School, 501 Waddell Ave, Clairton
  • Washington Area Humane Society, 1527 PA-136, Eighty-Four
  • ABS Athletic Field (Avonmore Boro), 6th St. Ext., Avonmore

Learn more and sign up at

Get Outdoors Challenge. Can't make it to the events above? Have fun in the outdoors at your own pace—and girls could earn a one-of-a-kind patch through GSWPA’s first-ever Get Outdoors Challenge! Find out more.


Let your troop leader know how much you appreciate everything they do for Girl Scouts on Girl Scout Leader's Day! Check out these ideas for showing them how awesome they are. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Girl Scout celebrates 75 years of membership

Pat Burkart and Martha Smith
GSWPA to Award Lifetime Member Commemorates 75 Years in the Girl Scout Movement

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) honored Fox Chapel resident Martha Smith for 75 years in Girl Scouts with a special pinning ceremony.

Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of GSWPA, presented an honorary pin to Smith on Thursday, April 6 at her residence.

"I'm honored to count Martha Smith among our most dedicated supporters of girls’ leadership development through Girl Scouts,” said Burkart. “Thanks to Martha’s efforts here in Pittsburgh and around the globe, more girls have experienced the life-changing benefits of Girl Scouting.”

Smith has been a Girl Scout since she joined Troop #3 in Highland, Indiana when she was 7 years old. She continued to participate in troop activities throughout her childhood and teen years.

High school graduation didn’t end Smith’s connection to Girl Scouts. While attending college at Purdue University, she was also a volunteer for a local troop.

She married Phillip Smith in 1955 and taught math in a local high school. The Smiths had six children over a 15 year period, and Martha continued her volunteer work with Girl Scouts. When her oldest daughter became a Brownie, Smith signed on as an assistant Girl Scout troop leader.

While in Indiana, she was asked to be on the program committee, on the board, and the president of her local council.

Eventually her family moved to Pittsburgh where she was active in the council as a delegate to the National Council meeting, a board member, and president from 1994-2000.

The Smiths were very active in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ (WAGGGS) efforts to help girls throughout the world. They were founding members of the Olave Baden Powell Society (OBPS), a global network of WAGGGS supporters that provides financial help to the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement. Martha Smith served on the OBPS board for nine years. 

Martha Smith was invited to join “Friends of Our Cabana” in 1980, a group of volunteers that provides support for Our Cabana in Cuernavaca, Mexico, one of the five WAGGGS World Centres that welcomes traveling Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all over the world. She was a substitute member of the Our Cabana committee, and chairman of the organization for seven years.  As the chairman of Friends of Our Cabana committee and as an Honorary Associate of WAGGGS, she has attended several world conferences.

Smith traveled near and far for the Girl Scouts movement, including England, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Kenya, Canada, and many states in the U.S. She received her Juliette Lowe medal on behalf of her council for her international work. 

For 75 years, Smith has exemplified the Girl Scouts’ mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. “I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for Girl Scouts,” Smith said. “It makes you realize how much bigger you can be than just the small town you grew up in.”

“I just wish all girls could be Girl Scouts,” she added.

Friends and GSWPA staff attended the special pinning ceremony. Pictured left to right, front row: Fanny Ross, Martha Smith, and Marlene Szary. Back row: Pamela Balas, Theresa Bone, Deborah Smith, Patricia Burkart, Susan Gold, Sandra Bernardi Hathazy, Kriss Svidro, Elizabeth Teti, and Alicia Templeton.

National Volunteer Month: All about the girls!

Aimee Hogg
Aimee Hogg from Greensburg has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for two years, but plans to continue for many years to come! When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, Aimee said, "The girls! I have so much fun playing with them and helping them grow to be great women."

As a leader, Aimee will never forget their first bridging ceremony for their troop, which was followed by an fund picnic. She wants her girls to know that "anything is possible with a good group of girls beside you!" 

Catherine Bellinger from Pittsburgh has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 30 years! Her commitment and love for Girl Scouts has truly shined through in her hard work and her troop.

Catherine's favorite thing about volunteering for Girl Scouts is "providing a service to the community and the wonderful, beautiful girls." She hopes her girls to cherish the great times they had together as Girl Scouts. She wants them to remember "that we had fun and learned to realize we can make a difference because we have the power to do so!"

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Aimee and Catherine! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

National Volunteer Month: Memories that last.

Patricia Hawthorne from Smithfield has been volunteering for Girl Scouts for the past three years. What she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts is building girls' confidence by connecting them with new experiences.

Patricia grew up a Girl Scout herself and her favorite memory from her time in a troop was when her troop sang "Washington Waddle" while waiting in line to visit the White House!

Patricia keeps making memories with her own troop. "As a leader, taking my daughter and her friends to camp for their first time and experiencing their excitement to do something that I've always loved to do," she said.

Patricia hopes that her girls learn a lot from her and from their Girl Scout experience. "I want my Girl Scouts to know they are strong women and they can achieve any goal that they want in life!"

Heather Lucy from Chalk Hill, has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for the past 10 years.

Heather says her favorite thing about being involved in Girl Scouts is "helping the young girls become strong, independent young ladies." She loves teaching the girls and leading them on their leadership journey during their time in Girl Scouts.

While Heather has a long list of amazing memories with her troop, one unforgettable moment for Heather was attending her first Gold Award Ceremony with the first girl in her troop to receive that award. She wants her girls to remember how much she cared for them and their futures during their time in Girl Scouts.

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Patricia and Heather! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

National Volunteer Month: Think BIG!

Amy Herne from Wexford has been with Girl Scouts for six years, one as a parent volunteer and five as a troop leader. She loves to see her troop experience and try new things.

"Watching their confidence grow from Brownies to Cadettes has been the most rewarding aspect of volunteering," Amy said.

When asked to describe a moment she has had in Girl Scouts that she will never forget, Amy said, "I have so many unforgettable moments, it's hard to pick just one."

Amy recalled one memorable camping trip when the girls were third-grade Brownies. "We decided that the girls were ready to start learning more about campfires and campfire safety. As we were lighting the fires with steel wool and batteries, one of my girls said, 'Mrs. Herne, are you sure that you are allowed to let us start fires?' It is a joy when girls accomplish something they don't think was possible!"

Amy wants her Girl Scouts to remember that hard work and a plan can help them achieve success, just like that day learning how to start a fire.

"Think big! Nothing is out of reach. You just need a plan to get there," Amy said.

Thanks for your dedication to Girl Scouts, Amy!

Also in her fifth year with Girl Scouts, Tiffani Cariss from Murrysville says her favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts is leading a diverse group of girls.

"In my role as a troop leader, I have enjoyed getting to know the girls I have worked with over the past years," Tiffani said. "It's amazing that so many different personalities can come together and have a great time at meetings."

She also admires the other dedicated volunteers as well. "As the service unit manager, I have enjoyed seeing all the hard work that other volunteers put in to make the most of Girl Scouts for the girls in our community," she said

Tiffani has loved watching the girls grow and build their self-confidence. "When the girls first started in Daisies, they were quiet, shy, and not quite sure of themselves," Tiffani said. "It has been a privilege and an honor to see each one of them open up in their own way and in their own time. They are truly some remarkable young ladies." She hopes her troop remembers that they can do anything they wish by working hard and setting goals.

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Amy and Tiffani! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

Monday, April 10, 2017

National Volunteer Month: We believe in the power of YOU!

Amy Smith from Ambridge has been a volunteer for more than 10 years and worked as Girl Scout staff until 2014. When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, she she said, "I enjoy working with the girls and helping them discover their potential!" She has many memories in Girl Scouts as a girl, volunteer, and former staff member.

Girl Scouts is packed with exciting memories for girls and volunteers. "I will never forget the time during outdoor training we put a log on the fire and it was a nest for mice and baby mice ran everywhere," Amy said. "As another leader pulled the mouse-house log out of the, saving the baby mice, one ran up her pant leg!"

 Amy also has fond memories from the time she spent as a Girl Scout as a girl. "I had to change into my Girl Scout uniform because we were leaving school early for something special and Girl Scout related," she recalled. "I was a Cadette in sixth or seventh grade and I was afraid I would be teased about my uniform, but instead I ended up answering a bunch of questions about my badges and awards. I was very proud of my accomplishments in Girl Scouts."

Amy's time in Girl Scouts has led her to be an amazing volunteer to girls today. She hopes that she can "give girls an opportunity to experience something they might not try otherwise." Thank you Amy for your dedication to Girl Scouts!

Denise Nana Cerilli-Martz from Greensburg has been a volunteer for five years.

"I have been given the amazing ability to work with girls from all troops on their higher awards. I also love all my little Daisy and Brownie girls in our troops!"

When asked to describe a moment she has had with Girl Scouts that she'll never forget, Denise said, "I think the first time one of the girls came up to me outside of Girl Scouts and gave me a big bear hug in front of all of her school friends."

Denise wants her Girl Scouts to "act like proper ladies and stay willing to try new and exciting things, and to respect others always." Thanks Denise! We appreciate all of your work with your troop!

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Amy and Denise! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

National Volunteer Month: Encouraging girls to dream big

Michelle Longmore from Wexford has been a troop leader for seven years and a service unit registrar for two years. When asked what she enjoys most about her role with Girl Scouts, Michelle said, "I enjoy watching the girls work together and how they have matured over the years."

Even as leaders, volunteers in Girl Scouts get to join in the fun. One moment that Michelle will never forget was at her service unit camp weekend at Camp Redwing. "Myself and two other leaders started singing camp songs from long ago when we were Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts," she said. "We laughed and had so much fun, and our girls just looked at us like we were crazy!"

Michelle hopes her girls remember that they can achieve anything with courage and determination. Thank you for volunteering, Michelle! We appreciate all you do for Girl Scouts!

Marcie Yee from Bethel Park has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for eight years. She has also been a Service Unit Manager and head of recruitment for about five years.

She loves the experience of Girl Scouting and seeing girls working together. Her favorite part about her role with Girl Scouts is being a leader.

"I love the time I have gotten to spend not only with my daughter, but with all my girls and my amazing co-leader," she said.

"Being able to see this troop of girls grow into the outstanding young women they are becoming is such an honor. This fall they will enter high school and while I am sad to think an end is just around the corner, I am filled with so much excitement to see what all they have in store for themselves!"

Marcie's favorite memory is being at camp with her troop on the high ropes course. She loved seeing all the different ages of girls cheer on each other to get through the course.

"I hope my girls will always know how strong they are and that if they believe in themselves they can reach the stars," Marcie said.

Her advice to girls is to aim high and never give up. "Some things may be a little scary and some things may seem too far out of reach, but if you try your best, stay positive and sometimes, fake it 'til you make it, you can and will achieve your goals!"

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Michelle and Marcie! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

Friday, April 7, 2017

National Volunteer Month: We appreciate our volunteers!

Cindy Yard and Cathy Clever have been volunteering together for the past seven years, leading a group of girls that include their daughters, Chloe and Riley, who are now Cadette Girl Scouts. When asked what they like best about their role in Girl Scouts, the pair agreed that helping girls become confident and caring has been rewarding.

"The best part of being a leader, is watching the girls grow," Cathy said. "It is an awesome responsibility to help shape these girls. They have grown into strong, confident, caring young ladies. We have made many lasting memories along the way."

Cathy Clever with the girls
when they were Brownies.
Some of those lasting memories include camping with the girls. One moment that Cindy will never forget is a camping trip that got the moms in on the fun.

"We had the opportunity to camp at Singing Hills a couple of summers ago and we decided to do the low ropes challenge course. The girls went off with one facilitator and all the moms worked together in a separate group. I will never forget the fun we had completing the challenges together, especially standing on a log side-by-side, try to swap places with one another without falling off. We have been very lucky to have moms who love to be involved in our troop activities!"

Cathy wants the girls to remember to always be "kind, to be their own person, to realize they are capable of everything and anything they put their minds to."

Cindy Yard pins her daughter Chloe
when she bridged to Daisy. She's
now a Cadette Girl Scout.
"I hope they see their own personal strength to make a difference, and know they have made lifelong friends they can count on to get them through anything," she added.

Cindy hopes her troop learns that they are amazing young women.

"I want every girl to remember that they are each an important individual and that their thoughts, ideas, and contributions to the world matter," Cindy said.

"I have tried to help them be confident and have the courage to step outside their comfort zone to try new things. I hope they know that I will always be there for each of them if they ever need an adult to support them."

Share the love!

All month long we are celebrating the dedication of amazing volunteers like Cathy and Cindy! You can nominate an awesome Girl Scout volunteer you know by sending them this short form.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Welcome Ducky to Camp Skymeadow!

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) welcomes Pam Williams, a.k.a. Ducky, as the new director of Camp Skymeadow!

Pam Williams
Originally from Lakewood, Colorado, Pam is new to our council but no stranger to Girl Scouts! She has a long history of Girl Scout camp adventures as a girl and as staff.

We can't wait for all the fun that Ducky has in store for Girl Scouts at Skymeadow this summer!

Q&A with Ducky
How long have you been with GSWPA and/or your particular camp?  I am just joining GSWPA, but I have worked at Girl Scout camps for nine summers.

Were you a Girl Scout growing up? Did you go to Girl Scout camp? I was a Girl Scout for 11 years growing up and went to Girl Scout camp. I went to two different camps in Colorado and enjoyed all of the camp offerings; hiking, farm animals, archery, arts and crafts, and dance and drama. Since then, I have worked at Girl Scout camps all over the United States.

Tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, etc.) I have an older brother that is an Eagle Scout, My Eagle Scout dad is still very involved as a Scout master for the Boy Scouts. My mom was a Campfire Girl, but was still very involved with my Girl Scout troop and was an area cookie director.

In my spare time I enjoy traveling to new places (and old). I also enjoy reading books, mostly historical fiction.

What's your favorite camp activity? I love archery and swimming.

What do you like best about working at camp? I love meeting all the new people. I also love working with kids, and just watching them try new things.

What makes the camp you work at so awesome? Skymeadow has so many activities! Fishing, canoeing, hiking trails, sports field, horses, swimming, biking--there's something for everyone.

Do you have a favorite GS camp memory? From when I was a camper: the girls in my cabin were playing a game of pillow toss, during rest time. It was all we could do that didn't make lots of noise, we played for about the entire hour before the counselors told us to stop, it was all we could do to keep from laughing and disturbing the rest of the bunk.

From when I was a staff member: Last summer the waterfront director and I got stranded out on the lake while we had campers getting ready to set out on sailboats. It was miserable, because of the heat, but entirely funny because we were literally up a creek without a paddle.

Learn more or register for exciting summer camp sessions at

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Bling Your Booth winners announced!

Congratulations to Troop 16184 of Freedom, who took first place in GSWPA's 2017 Bling Your Booth Contest! Their deliciously cute "Cookie Land" booth garnered 364 votes! They'll receive a $100 Girl Scout Shop gift certificate and each girl will get a patch. Way to go!

Coming in a close second with 350 votes was Troop 20938 of Knox! Their Dr. Seuss-inspired booth will earn them a $75 Girl Scout Shop gift certificate and a patch for each girl. 

Troop 40767 of Northern Cambria captured a third place finish, getting 280 votes for an adorable Troll-themed booth. They'll receive a $50 Girl Scout Shop gift certificate and each girl will get a patch.

We had 46 Bling Your Booth entries this year, and all of them were fantastic. Congratulations to our winners and great job to all who entered!