Thursday, August 25, 2016

Girl Scouts Take Summer by Storm: Four Central Texas Girl Scouts Engage in Two Tough Summer Competitions

Four Central Texas Girl Scouts Engage in Two Tough Summer Competitions 
Written by: Campbell C., Keena D., Maddy D. and Camilla H. 
We’re a group of four girls—all Girl Scouts!—who love to learn and who earned the right to compete in the highest level of Science Olympiad (as a part of the Austin homeschooling team) and (on our own) at Destination Imagination. In our wildest dreams, we never imagined the opportunities we would have at these two competitions! Girl Scouts gave us the confidence to try everything we could. When we were asked to blog about our experiences, we jumped at the chance to tell you about both events.

Science Olympiad


Our first adventure took us to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where we competed at the National Science Olympiad. Science Olympiad is an academic competition that consists of 23 events that range from shooting bottle rockets high in the sky to learning about the deepest trenches in the ocean. Our team was made up of 30 homeschooled students from Travis and Williamson Counties.  

Classes & Dorms
While we spent much of our time studying and taking tests, we had a good amount of time to hang out and learn what college life is like. Getting up at five in the morning to take a class across campus after sleeping in a dorm all night was a taste of what our future holds. When we arrived at the classroom at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, we were welcomed by a chemistry professor who taught us about the chemical structure of those famous Wisconsin cheese curds. Like Girl Scouts, Science Olympiad gives us opportunities to think about our futures.

Commercial
One of our team members, Camilla, auditioned for an ACE Hardware commercial. She chose the topic of inertia for her on-camera debut. With little time to practice, she had to quickly learn how to do the experiment, talk her audience through the concept of inertia, and remember to smile. Juggling all of these roles was less daunting because she had taken the Toastmasters course for Girl Scouts. When Camilla found out that she had won fifth place, she was very proud that she had faced her fears and was thrilled to know that she had won 250 dollars for her team.


Competition
At last, competition day! With the sweet thought of victory in our minds, we entered our different rooms in which we would be competing. Our hearts thumped as we opened up the test booklets.  As we looked down at the pages we could see page upon page of black type containing the questions that we would need to answer. After we finished and were exiting the room, we realized that no matter what happened at the awards ceremony, we knew that we had done our absolute best.

Work hard, play hard
To be proud of ourselves, we had to work extremely hard. It was similar to the work we do to earn a Silver or Bronze Award. First, we decided what we wanted to do, and we put our minds to it. At the end of the day, we were very proud of ourselves. But working wasn’t all that we did. There was plenty of time to enjoy a banquet/awards ceremony, the knick-knack trading party, and even just playing outside with our friends!

Destination Imagination
From Menomonie to Knoxville, from cheese curds to barbeque, and from serious science to crazy creativity, the week after Science Olympiad, we traveled to the University of Tennessee for Destination Imagination. Destination Imagination (DI) is a program in which teams of students cooperatively and creatively solve problems. The DI challenges involve improvisation, theater arts, writing, engineering, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service, and social entrepreneurship—all skills we’ve learned through Girl Scout activities!

During the year, our team of four partnered with Austin Bat Cave, a local nonprofit organization that hosts writing workshops for underserved elementary and middle school students. We found that Austin Bat Cave did not have a program for homeschoolers, so we created one and hosted our own writing workshops to help.

To compete in DI, we wrote an eight-minute play to depict our work with Austin Bat Cave, built our set and props, made costumes, and performed the play at the Regional, State, and Global competitions! When we arrived at Global Finals, we were amazed by how many people were there, by the learning opportunities we had, and by the joy we felt being with our friends.

So Many People!
Lights flashed in red, blue, and green. The opening ceremony for Destination Imagination started off with a bang! Or, rather, a parade. Teams from all over the world marched through the fog at the entrances, as if they were the home team for a sporting event. Pennsylvania followed Pakistan, and then came Poland. Teams kept coming and coming until nobody in the stands (including us!) could tell who was who. We were sitting across the aisle from the teams from South Korea, and we could see teams from Qatar across the way. We couldn’t believe that out of the 17,000 people who were there, we were four of them.


What Opportunities!                        
Zero Gravity Simulator! Paper Airplane Aerodynamics! Survive on Mars! These STEM exhibits in the packed convention center were among the dozens that were available to DI participants throughout our time in Knoxville. We stood at the entrance, staring, excited to get started. The next day, we walked through the campus fitness center to get to our song writing workshop—taught by an experienced Broadway songwriter!—and just one of many classes offered. DI had tons of workshops, inventor booths, and try-out stations. We got to work on everything from math puzzles to Mars rovers!

The global competition even had the largest duct-tape costume ball in the world! We all went to the ball, dressed in our hand-made, duct-tape costumes:  a marionette, an Icelandic singer, Alice in Wonderland, and an Anime character. 

Camaraderie
“Good luck!” “Break a leg!” “You’re going to do great!” we whispered to each other right before we performed. In the year we’ve been a team, we have formed a bond of friendship, a deep feeling of camaraderie. We’ve had some really great moments (1st place at state!) and some not so good ones (watching our set’s stand almost break on the eve of our last performance), but through it all, we’ve become masters at working together.

Conclusion
We’ve gotten to experience so many things, even outside of these competitions. We’ve met so many new friends and have had so much fun! Every time we’ve competed, the values in the Girl Scout Law have helped us be more confident. We had opportunities to do and learn so many things this year, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dell Diamond Overnight: Girl Scouts Take Over! by Media Girl Kristen W.

 Media Girl Kristen W., went behind the scenes at this year's Dell Diamond Overnight and got the scoop from Girl Scouts, event organizers and a Round Rock Express player. Read her report below! 

Batter Up! 
On a warm summer day, Girl Scouts of all ages along with their families attended GSCTX
overnight with the Round Rock Express! It was the 12th annual one-of-a-kind sleepover, with a Christmas in July theme and a bright, colorful, and breathtaking firework show!
Now, what exactly brings people to this one-of-a-kind event? This is an important question since there were 206 Girl Scouts staying just for the game and 330 overnighters. It was the largest attendance ever!  Stella F., a Girl Scout, says that she enjoyed it last year very much, so she wanted to come this year, too. Stella also said that she would rate the event with a nine, on a scale of 1-10, and believes others were definitely enjoying it! Paige S., a six-year- old Girl Scout in Troop 110, says she mainly wanted to go to the event to generally have fun. She rates the night with a ten, mainly for swimming. Another Girl Scout, Molly M., a Brownie in Troop 2186 from Pflugerville, TX, has no particular reason that she came, she says, but thinks that other girls had fun. “We got to be at a pool at a baseball game- and that’s very unlikely!” she said.

“I think the idea of the girls coming to a ballgame, enjoying the fun zone and the pool after the game coupled with pizza, soft drinks, and a movie is a very unique experience” said Gregg Miller, Vice President of Business Development, “Cap it off with a night under the stars and it is a really fun event for everyone involved.” The ‘fun zone” is a rock wall, playground, and bungee trampoline. 

Chatting with The Pros
The Express played against the Sacramento River Cats.  New player for the Round Rock Express, Eric Jokisch, took a few moments to chat about the overnight event. He said he believes that it’s unique because the girls get to learn, have new experiences, and have fun.  He jokingly said he hopes the girls don’t tear up the field, and is grateful he gets to sleep in a bed, not the grass!
Jill Cacic, a Dell Diamond spokesperson, has been on staff for 4 years and been at 4 of these overnights. According to her, it is especially unique that the girls sleep on the field. Jill added that there is a similar event to this, but for Boy Scouts. Miller has been to all 12 of the Girl Scout sleepovers, and worked with the Express for 13 seasons. He thinks that the girls are neat and always clean up at the conclusion of the event.  

More GSCTX Fun! 
According to Cacic and Miller, the GSCTX Overnight with the Round Rock Express is different and fun! Girl Scouts do many fun things, such as parties, vacations, and don’t forget about their service! Wendy Riley, Program & Award Specialist, says that some events coming up that Girl Scouts won’t want to miss are, Sweet Berry Farms Pick-A-Pumpkin, Samsung STEM Challenge Finale, and Texas Stars Cookie Kick-Off Overnight.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

#VirtualVacay: European Excursion by Sarah L.

From camping in Canada to hiking in the Swiss Alps to fine dining in the Big Apple, GSCTX Girl Scouts are on the move this summer going on whirlwind ADVENTURES! Follow along on their journey here on the Cookie Bites Blog and other social media platforms! Read more Sarah L.'s journey to Europe and the most important thing she learned while traveling with Girl Scouts! 

 I wanted to travel to Europe to experience new cultures and of course try all of the new food. I know that if I went with Girl Scouts I would be taken care of and safe. The leaders and the organization are trustworthy and scouting is international so why not? By going on the council trip to Europe I could meet new people and try a different food in each of the five countries we planned on visiting. I was going with my friend Emma who was from my troop and that helped me stay comfortable during the beginning of the trip. I am already a social person so once I got to know everyone on the trip Emma and I didn't have to stay so attached because we both felt safe and comfortable.

Landing in London 
We first went to London and the food was not so good, but I loved everything about it. I felt at home and loved being there. We saw the London Eye, Windsor Castle, got to ride on a Double Decker bus and the highlight was going to Pax Lodge, one of the WAGGGS world centers. Everybody was so welcoming and caring. It was nice to be there. We had a flag ceremony and got pinned for visiting.  I would love to go back to Pax Lodge and be a volunteer there for a season. Wouldn't it be a great experience to stay in a new country, get your food and lodging paid for and meet scouts from all over the world?
Fun Times in France 
Next, we traveled to Paris. By this time I was making friends with the other scouts that were traveling with us from California and Maryland. It was fun to get to know them and socialize. We walked around and saw Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc du Triumphe. One of the other girls on my trip, Lizzy, spoke some French so she helped me with the language. While we were there I tried crepes, macaroons, creme brulee and escargot. The first three foods were amazing and I wish I could eat them all the time. I tried escargot because my leader, Emily made me try it and I'm glad I did. It wasn't as bad as I thought, although I may not eat it again.
Sightseeing in Switzerland
After Paris, we drove to Switzerland. It was 100 percent beautiful and I would move there in a heartbeat. The scenery was beautiful, the people were nice and the food was good. We got to visit a second and the oldest WAGGGS world center, Our Chalet. The view was spectacular. Normally I wake up to a fence in my backyard and when I woke up in Switzerland I saw beautiful mountains, green countryside and clear blue skies. It was high up in the mountains and I would also love to return and volunteer once I turn 18. It made me want to visit all of the world centers and volunteer at all of them. They are located in Mexico, England, Switzerland and India. I had always heard that scouting was so big but it didn't make sense until we visited the centers. We also saw scouts everywhere we traveled. 

Italian Itinerary 
Our last trip was to Italy and Vatican City. Once I found out how good the food was I just wanted to eat the rest of the trip. We had gelato at least five times and I wanted to keep eating it. Italian culture is different from what I grew up with and it revolves around food. Food is my thing so this was the perfect country for me. Plus, the language is beautiful and sounds elegant. I learned that Vatican City is its own country. I wanted to see the Pope but Emily kept reminding me that was probably not going to happen. I saw the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum, they were breathtaking.

Inspired Traveler 
My trip was awesome. The most important skill I learned on this trip was how to budget. I had a certain amount of money per day and I kept all of my receipts to record what I spent so that I could stay on budget. I thought it was going to be really hard but Emily helped me. The less I spent each day the more I had for other days. It is important to know how much you can spend and how much you can't. If you go over budget it is important to learn how to fix it or how to not make it happen again. When I am older and get a job, I can use this skill to figure out my money. You have to make sure you have money in case something happens and to provide for myself. I learned how to budget previously when earning the Savvy Shopper badge but this trip helped me put my budget into real life.

I would travel again with Girl Scouts because I got to make new friends, learn about new cultures and reconnect with old ones. Our trip was planned well in advance and everything was taken care of. I didn't have to worry about anything other than having a good time. This trip inspired me to join the council trip to Russia in 2018. I want to keep traveling everywhere and see everything. Girl Scouts is opportunities and I am glad I went.

Follow along on our other adventures...
#VirtualVaction platforms 
Twitter: @gsctxcouncil 
Instagram: @GSCTX 





#VirtualVacation: Chaperoning in Canada

From camping in Canada to hiking in the Swiss Alps to fine dining in the Big Apple, GSCTX Girl Scouts are on the move this summer going on whirlwind ADVENTURES! Follow along on their journey here on the Cookie Bites Blog and our other social media platforms! Chaperone Miranda S. talks about why she decided to volunteer on the Canada trip and her advice to parents! 

Full Circle Scouting 
As a young girl all of my travel came from Girl Scouting and now that I am an adult and have a troop of my own, someday I want to expose them to the world of scouting. By being a co-chaperone will help get my feet wet to share new experiences with my girls in the guiding world. I liked the opportunity for this trip because it was older girls, different from my Brownie troop and gives me the chance to meet other leaders from other countries, experience Canadian culture and learn about the people and places you visit. 



Count on Your Chaperones
As an adult chaperoning trips it helps you stay prepared for each trip after that. You know for next time to bring twice as many SWAPs, more warm clothes and lots of rain gear. You take each trip with a grain of salt and use those experiences to turn a negative into a positive and make sure that the program and event the girls came for is what you can help provide for them. My advice to parents is to trust that the chaperones have your daughter's best interest at heart and that they can help your daughter to challenge herself more than parents can, so give them an opportunity to do so. You never know what your scout can do until you give her the chance to do it. Every parent has that scary moment about their daughter traveling that something big could happen along with the little things, does she have enough clothes, did she brush her hair etc. The scout will never learn to brush her own teeth or eat her own food until she has the option to make the choices for herself. Chaperones keep your scouts safe and healthy with the promise to encourage challenges and positive actions along the way. 

Follow along on our other adventures... 
#VirtualVacation platforms 
Twitter:@gsctxcouncil
Instagram: @GSCTX





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Real-Life Superhero : The Nancy King Story

                                
GSCTX Staff Member Nancy King poses with girls 
Here’s the exclusive scoop, superheroes live amongst us. They wake up each day to a steaming cup of coffee, the morning paper, and a desire to change the world. These individuals are genuine strong people, who are not defined by masks and capes, but instead by their inspiring acts of generosity, compassion, and courage.

Nancy working with San Angelo scouts
At GSCTX we are fortunate enough to employ one of these real-life superheroes, Nancy King. Her commitment to serve Girl Scouts is undeniable, she’s been helping girls for years and shows no signs of stopping! Last year alone, Nancy served 600 girls through community based programs. Not a week goes by that she doesn’t see a girl out in the community who stops her to tell her what a difference she has made in their life. Kindness radiates out of Nancy, it’s one of her many super powers, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Nancy’s supervisor, Lauren White, is a big fan of what she does. “Mrs. Nancy has the perfect heart for serving girls through customized programs, and she holds a special place in her heart for each and every one of her Girl Scouts” says White. “I am so thankful to have the opportunity to learn from Mrs. Nancy, and I am honored to be a part of the legacy that she will leave at Girl Scouts of Central Texas.” Whether a girl is facing issues with self-esteem, bullying, or simply just needs a kind face who will genuinely listen, Nancy’s on it.

"Ms. Nancy" spending time with GSCTX Brownies
 As the leader of the Brown County Latch Key Girl Scout Troop, a troop serving girls (Pre-K through 6th grade) who qualify to have after school care so that they are not left home alone, Nancy has marvelously served numerous girls through her programming. She works many hours prepping projects and activities for the troop meetings and even when her plans fall through, she quickly resolves the situation with an alternative plan. In true super-hero fashion, she gives her time and kindness continuously no matter where she may be. Director of the Latch Key Program, Jessica Hardy has known Nancy for several years and believes whole-heartily that Nancy is a wonderful example to the girls she works with.

 “Mrs. Nancy is the kind of lady that walks into a room and the room lights up.  Anyone that comes in contact with her leaves with a smile on their face “says Hardy.  “She’s a very Godly lady that works selflessly, kindly and lovingly with all those that she comes in contact with no matter who they are or how old they are.” 

In the community, Nancy knows no stranger as her giving heart is loved by all. When a girl is in need of a mentor, a friend, a superhero - Nancy is there to continuously remind her that she’s not alone. We’d like to thank her for her inspirational determination of building girls who WILL make the world a better place. As Robin Wheeler, Membership Development Executive, simply put it…

“Everyone is a better person for having known her.”


This is lame, we’re too busy and this is for babies: Why these GSCTX parents pushed past stereotypes and encouraged their girls to stay in Girl Scouts


There is a widely known and deeply concerning trend in Girl Scouts. Once girls reach middle school their interests change, their schedules grow busier with new extracurricular activities, and their passion for Girl Scouts, once the highlight of their week, wanes and inevitably evaporates. “My daughters have choices just like other people,” LeMay says. “High school gets extremely busy, along with church activities.”  According to a 2012 Girl Scout Institute Research Survey, the average girl only spends about four years in Girl Scouts. When Annie and Miranda L. considered leaving Girl Scouts, their mother Sabrina says she encouraged her daughters to consider how well-rounded Girl Scout programming is. “Mostly what makes our girls stay in Girl Scouts has a lot to do with the friends they have made and the opportunities that Girl Scouts has offered them. I have had 2 of my daughters go to Costa Rica on a Destination trip and 2 others went to Europe for 10 days,” she said.
Sabrina LeMay's daughters and GSCTX Scouts on Destinations trip

As the transition to middle school and high school brings what seems like an endless array of options from sports to band, from student government to social clubs, parents and girls often feel forced to choose. It is at that particular fork in the road that girls find themselves confronting the unspoken stereotype of older Girl Scouts: they’re just not that cool.





Aubree with Lady Cans teammate
In an effort to learn more about our council’s older girl experience and capture their stories, we interviewed several girls to get their take on what’s it like being an older Girl Scout. Cadette, Aubree K.M. reflects on what it was like when she was younger in her troop. “We went on a lot of camping trips, and as we got older we were thinking this maybe wasn’t as cool, you know? Until,” says Aubree, her posture straightening and eyes widening, “I found the Lady Cans robotics team. So then, there’s actually a lot of good experiences and I met a lot of cool people.” She pauses to think for a moment before adding, “I mean, we build robots!” How cool is that? Another benefit of being a member of the Girl Scout community says Aubree, is having a sense of belonging.

It was that sense of belonging that proved to be critical for Sabrina L. as a young woman. “I was a teen mom, delivering my daughter at 15 years of age. During that time, when so many people shunned me for being an unmarried pregnant teenager, my friends in my troop accepted me and helped me,” says Sabrina. “They showed me what family and friends were about. They helped me through the tough times and never turned their backs on me.”

Brooke in Costa Rica 
Like Sabrina’s daughters, GSCTX Cadette, Brooke S. traveled to Costa Rica through the GSUSA Destinations program which is only available to girls once they turn 11-years-old. Each memory Brooke shares from her trip—making new friends, volunteering at a local elementary school, learning to surf--- is punctuated with a wide grin. Chief among her reasons of why she believes older girls should stay in Girl Scouts is the added boost in interest she gets when filling out applications for school organizations, “I definitely make sure to put down that I’m part of Girl Scouts and I have been for almost the last ten years. People usually respond with ‘Oh, that’s cool,’ so you get more opportunities from that too,” she said. Last year Brooke applied to join National Junior Honor Society, which nationally recognizes outstanding middle school students. She credits her Girl Scout experience with being accepted into the organization.

Troop 533 made it all the way to Ambassador
Laurie R. agrees that staying in Girl Scouts can help a girl distinguish herself from her peers during the college application process. Laurie comes from a Girl Scout family. In 1950, her mother earned the Curved Bar or what is now known today as the Gold Award. She and her sisters also made the promise to serve God and their country, help people at all times and live by the Girl Scout Law. After moving to Buda just before her daughter Christina entered kindergarten, Laurie began searching for ways for her to make friends. When a Girl Scout flier made its way home from school with Christina, Laurie signed her up immediately. This spring, Christina and her troop completed their Ambassador year of Girl Scouts and in the fall, Christina will begin her freshman year at the University of Texas.  “I attended many financial aid seminars in the last two years in preparing for Christina to go to college in the Fall and one thing a UT Financial Aid speaker said that really stuck with me was that when they are looking at applications, they are looking to see that the students got involved with something and stuck with it,” said Laurie.

Aside from a resume boost, Laurie says the experiences Christina has had in Girl Scouts has helped her move past self-doubt and fear and is now able to focus on accomplishing her goals. “I think selling cookies brought that attitude out of her.  The rejection from people we have encountered at the cookie booths is not fun, but there is an ultimate goal and you deal with the rejection and get back to work,” she said.

Laurie's daughter Christina 
For parents like Sabrina and Laurie and girls like Aubree and Brooke, being a Girl Scout goes beyond a uniform and preconceived notions of little girls selling cookies. For them and countless others it is an opportunity to build a network of cherished friendships, have adventures that might not otherwise be possible, and gain real, meaningful experiences that have and will shape their futures.

More importantly, Girl Scouts is not what they do. It is who they are.
















Friday, August 5, 2016

#GoForTheGold: Claire R.

We're celebrating the 2016 Olympics by showing love to the women proudly representing Team USA in Rio and the outstanding Girl Scouts who earned gold right here in Central Texas! 
Whether it’s the Gold Award or an Olympic gold medal, you need resilience, perseverance, dedication and a strong will to make it happen just like U.S. Basketball Player Tamika Catchings and GSCTX Gold Girl Claire R. 
Aimed at shattering STEM stereotypes and encouraging more girls to pursue STEM-related classes, Claire’s Girls CAN Do Tech, project consists of a video she produced to highlight STEM and robotics and an online community she created where girls can find resources, support, and encouragement. 
 To learn more about the Gold Award and other Girl Scout awards, visit our website. 
Read more about other GSCTX Gold Award projects here.
#GoForTheGold #GoldAward