Sunday, August 24, 2014

Volunteer shows learning isn’t just for girls

Denise Baer is not only a leader, she’s an amazing help at Journey Weekends. She’s always willing to give a little effort so girls have a great experience.

Girl Scouting girls the chance to discover their leadership abilities. But when Denise became a co-leader, she benefitted from learning new skills, too.
“My daughter is not the only one gaining new leadership skills,” she explains.

“I’ve learned new leadership skills like organizing events. Even camping this summer with my co-leader at Camp Singing Hills taught me new things.  I learned camping skills right alongside the girls like straining dishwater, building a fire, outdoor cooking or just knowing what to look for in nature. If not for Girl Scouts, I’d never experience any of that."

Denise confides she has one selfish reason to be involved. "I love the joy of seeing my daughter enjoy Girl Scouts. I get to see first-hand how much fun she’s having and her friends are having – and I get to have fun right along with them.”

As many volunteer experiences start, Denise became a leader when her daughter entered Kindergarten and became a Girl Scout Daisy. This year, her daughter Helayna enters her second year as a Junior Girl Scout, with lots of experiences under her belt thanks to her mom and a network of amazing volunteers in Allegheny Valley.

The Power of Teamwork

Co-leader of Junior Troop 50091 in Cheswick worked with GSWPA staff and other volunteers to bring a Journey Weekend to Camp Redwing for six Junior troops in her area. When all was said and done, 26 girls and adults spent a weekend last spring learning, participating in more than 30 activities based on the Girl Scout Amuse Journey. By the end of the weekend, the girls completed the entire Journey except the Take Action Project.

“We took a lot out of the Leader’s Guide that goes along with each Journey,” she explained. Each leader involved took part in running a number of sessions, planning meals, etc.

“As leaders, we need to show our girls how we deal with things in life. It helps to work as a team and roll with the punches. Look at Girl Scouting as a network. Ask and learn from others – don’t just recreate the wheel. We found a great resource online from a service unit in Maryland that had a nice workshop guide. So we also used that with the Leader Guide."

By working as a team, the girls (and adults!) had a great weekend and had a better understanding of stereotypes because of the Journey. The girls also planned their own awards ceremony at the end of the weekend.

Now, moving into their second year as Juniors, the Denise’s girls are set to start working on their Bronze Award.

“We’ll start the year by participating in the MagNut Program,” she explains. “ From there, it’s up to the girls to decide where we’ll go.”

All Girl Scouts have one thing in common. They need volunteers like you. Learn more about making a difference through Girl Scouts today.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Girl Scouting is an adventure for grown ups, too!

Dessa Summy, an amazing volunteer from Connellsville, sees almost as many opportunities for adults in Girl Scouting as there are for girls.

Not only has she been a troop leader for nearly 20 years, she's used her time in Girl Scouts to explore her own interests. Through the years, that's taken her places, including SeaWorld, Gettysburg, Williamsburg, and, last year, a road trip to Alabama with a group of Ambassador Girl Scouts.

"I try everything that's offered," she shares.

Dessa's commitment to Girl Scouts is not only in her heart, it's also in her home. She opened her farm and her home to a troop working on the Sow What? Journey. The girls got an inside tour of her family's dairy farm which is home to 100 head of cattle. They toured her garden too, picking a few key ingredients they needed for a stir fry dinner.

The girls even got a lesson in automotive care when one of the leaders got a flat tire.

"I told her to cancel AAA because we multitask around here," she laughs. 

Dessa is a multitasking pro, balancing troop leadership with her role as director of the ranger program at Camp Roy Weller since 2008.

It makes sense that Dessa's Girl Scout dossier includes camp, because to her, camping is the best part of Girl Scouting.

"All girls should experience camp," she says. "They gain leadership skills and confidence. Camp gives you a chance to be you." 

Dessa adds, "You can't get a camping badge on the computer."

You can go on great adventures, too, through Girl Scouts by volunteering today. Visit for more information.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Girl Scout inspires others to give, earns Gold

To some, going gold means being the winner—the fastest, the most competitive, or the one who fought the hardest.

For Girl Scouts, going gold means earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award. This award recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects that address important community needs.

The goal of Julie Pace’s project, “Hearts of Gold," was to motivate other people to become involved in several community services in the Erie area. She organized and trained separate teams of volunteers who helped a local church adopt a neighborhood, served food to the less fortunate at the Erie City Mission, raised over 450 pounds of food for the Waterford Food Pantry, and who sent thank you notes and snacks to a troop of soldiers in Afghanistan. 

Through her efforts, many people made a difference in the lives of others and found fulfillment through volunteering.

Gold builds strong skills

Not only do Gold Award projects help communities, they also give girls important leadership skills, teaching them to seek out the work that needs doing in the world.

There are other benefits to going gold as well. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

In Pennsylvania, some of the colleges that offer scholarships to girls who earn the Gold Award include Chatham College, Temple University Ambler, and Wilson College.

Tradition of leadership

Since 1916, girls just like the 98 Girl Scouts who earned the Gold Award this year, have successfully answered the call to go gold, an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

Gold Award advisers are changing the world by supporting and guiding the girls who will change it. For information about becoming a Gold Award adviser or joining the Gold Award committee, please contact Renee Watson at 800-248-3355 ext. 1009 or