Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Troop 988 travels to Savannah

Troop leader, Bridget Elliott, traveled to Savannah, GA with her troop and had an amazing time. Below is her account of everything they did. 

"We had a wonderful trip!  Savannah and Tybee Island are incredible.  While there we visited First HQ, the Birthplace, Tybee Island Marine Science center, Andrew Low House, Savannah Candy Co., The Lady and Sons, The Crabshack, and Old Fort Jackson.  We did a Ghost Talk, Ghost Walk, a Trolley Tour and a Dolphin tour.  We completed Daisy's Neighborhood, geocaching, Coastal Georgia, Savannah Safari and obtained our "Discover Savannah" badges.

We became Daughters of the Birthplace and also joined the Circle of Friends at the Birthplace. We bridged to Seniors (over the bridge at Old Fort Jackson, as per the girls' request). We enlisted in the Girl Scout militia at Old Fort Jackson and learned how to fire a cannon and how to do wig-wag (flag communication from the original GS handbook). We learned about the early years of Girl Scouts at First HQ.  We also learned how to tie up a bad guy with 8 inches of string, how to travel at a GS pace and how to use a GPS and geocache. At the Birthplace we wore hoop skirts and shawls, and learned about corsets, posture, and how to serve / have tea. 

We seined in the waves of the Atlantic and walked in the marshes while we learned about the plants, animals, crabs, and tides.  The girls tasted picklewort and some other kinds of wort that grow in the marsh as well as juniper berries. They held pompano fish, fiddler crabs and snails. We toured the Birthplace and Andrew Low's house.  We walked for an hour and a half and learned some of the ghost stories of Savannah. 

On our Dolphin Tour we saw SO MANY Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, we couldn't even count them. We swam in the Atlantic Ocean and had two pods of dolphins swim within 15-18 feet of us. We did our Girl Scout duty and cleaned up a section of beach.

We had so much fun!  This trip is a must-do for Girl Scouts. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things but once I get all of the patches and badges sorted I may remember but I think I have hit all of the big stuff. 

I am so tired.....
Thank you for all of your help in making this happen.


Sounds like it was fantastic, Bridget!! Thanks for sharing your experience with us! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Upcoming Events

Just because school is out, doesn't mean that you can't have good times with your troop sisters or participate in fun Girl Scouting activities. Check out what we have going on for the rest of the summer below and then visit the Girl Calendar to find out more and register!

July 30: 
New Brownwood Programs!  Eddie Eagle - Come have fun and learn about Gun Safety with Eddie Eagle on Saturday August 16th! This program will teach the steps to take if you find a gun in a fun and informative way! This program includes interactive activities and a visit from Eddie the Eagle, who talks about how to stay safe around guns.  Fling It! - Join us Wednesday, August 6th for a soaring good time! Let's put our heads together to build a catapult and compete against your fellow Girl Scouts in a Bean Bag Toss using only what materials are given to create your own custom catapult. Girl Calendar

August 1:
Multi-Sport Paddle Day - Try out paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking with the guides at the Expedition School on Saturday, August 16th! Play some games and learn how to paddle in the private lagoon on Lady Bird Lake.  Two sessions available. Girl Calendar

August 4:
Glamtrepeneur – Saturday, August 24th:  Glamtrepreneur will teach girls how to run their own business with confidence, savvy, and a rock solid skill set. Girls will learn what it means to take their awesome ideas and turn them into a business all their own by creating a fun product (a bracelet) and developing a business plan. Girls will show off their creations at the Fall Fashion Show and present their business plan to council staff. The winning product will be sold in our shops! Girl Calendar

August 6:
Want to start a career in babysitting? Come learn from an expert during Babysitting 101! Learn the basics of babysitting on Saturday, August 30th so you can start your career as an experienced babysitter. Girl Calendar

August 8:
Scouting for Music – Saturday, September 6th:  Join the Eta Epsilon Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma at Texas State University for Scouting for Music!  Girls will engage in activities that include learning about musical instruments, music history, rhythms, and styles of music. We will have fun games to play and an art project to express what music means to you. The girls will be able to make their own instrument out of common household objects such a paper towel tubes, old cans, shoe boxes and rubber bands. There will be lots of music, dancing and fun to be had! Two sessions available.

August 11:
Digital Arts Badge at the Microsoft Store - Calling all Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes! Come explore the Microsoft Store at the Domain! During each level specific session, you will earn the Digital Arts Badge for your age level. Scouts will be given their badge only upon completion of all requirements. Workshops last 2-3 hours and parents are required to stay on site for the sake of liability and to assist with hands-on activities. A big thanks to Microsoft for offering these courses as a free resource for our local Girl Scouts council! Girl Calendar

August 13:
Silver Award Workshop - Discover what it takes to earn your Silver Award--the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn on Wednesday, August 27th. Learn about the requirements, guidelines and tools needed to have a successful project. Find out how you can use your community to make a difference in the world. Girl Calendar

August 15:
Canoe Training - Are you registered for Race on the River? Want to come practice and train one last time before the big day? This is your chance. Bring your friends and practice your paddling skills in the Concho River on Saturday, September 6th. Girl Calendar

August 18:
Fall Fashion Show - Come check out the hottest new fabulous fall fashions and accessories during this fun and interactive Fashion Show. Refreshments will be provided.  Registration closes this Wednesday, August 20thGirl Calendar

August 20:
Splashin’ Around - Kick off the 2015 Girl Scout season with a water safety and swimming experience at Splashway Water Park! Learn about the importance of staying safe around water while learning basic strokes, having water races and soaking in sun before the school year starts. Dive into Girl Scouting at Splashway! Tagalongs allowed. Girl Calendar

August 22:
Samsung STEM Challenge Launch Party – September 13th:  Girls grades 4-12 will work with mentors from Samsung over a 6-week long challenge to come up with solutions to the real-world STEM challenge. At the launch party teams will get their challenge kits and meet mentors after learning about this year's challenge. If you can't attend September 13th but would like to participate in the challenge, please email The challenge will culminate in a STEM Conference on Saturday, November 8th where girls will show off their work to the community and their solutions will be evaluated by Samsung employees. Awards will be given for the girls achievements and top-award winners will receive awesome STEM prizes. Girl Calendar

August 25:
She swings through the air with the greatest of ease; it's that daring young girl on the flying trapeze! That's right! Come to Bryan on Saturday, September 6th and have the chance of a lifetime to try out a flying trapeze! Get your exercise for the day as you learn tricks, practice swinging from a high bar and all while learning the physics behind the art of the trapeze. Break out your inner scientist and swing into motion with Lone Star Trapeze AcademyGirl Calendar

August 27:
Join us in San Angelo for the 24th annual Race on the River during the Annual Concho River Fest on Saturday, September 20th! Grab a partner and a canoe for an all-out, heart pumping, race to the finish. Registration closes on Wednesday, September 3rdGirl Calendar

August 29:
Interested in the High Adventure Team (HAT) or destinations?  We are offering HAT interest meetings and destinations Experience Days this September & August.  Sign-up for the session closest to you today. Girl Calendar

September 1:

Little Peppers – September 13th:  The Little Peppers tour provides a sensory-rich tour of the Dr. Pepper Museum. Girls will get to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste their way through the museum as they visit the exhibits and enjoy different activities. Girl Calendar

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We Do Not Learn By Standing Still--A personal account of a Colorado backpacking adventure by Jessica Noelke

“Nothing will get in the way of my heart and those beautiful majestic beasts in the West,” was what I kept thinking, over and over in my head. This mantra helped me overcome all obstacles put before me on this journey and allowed me to come back with no regrets.

Girl Scouts of Central Texas took a trip to Colorado on June 12th—the first trip out of the state to be taken with the High Adventure Team label in years—and we made it back on June 19th a little more whole than when we left.

The trip wasn’t short of its own tiny disasters. Moms of the girls brainstormed solutions to our storage space issues due to the fact that our 12 passenger van was actually an eight passenger Suburban (which we lovingly named ‘Princeton’) with “cargo space” leaving us with a serious dilemma of not enough room for 8 people’s packs. The mothers of the girls pulled together and found us a cargo carrier last minute, and frankly, saved our lives from being squished by packs and boxes necessary for a successful trip.

One of the most memorable aspects leading up to the trip was the pushback I received from people regarding multiple things, like weather or physical ability. I had to keep telling myself nothing would get in the way of me and those mountains even if it meant hiking them on my own. Taking from my experience in college—and even high school—when I planned trips like this for my own troop, I’d find myself hiking the trail my myself, and deep down I knew that if I always listened to what others thought was best, I would never move forward. It’s likely that I would still be sitting in that scout house waiting for the storm that never came to pass.

So here I am, post-Colorado, looking back and seriously missing Allyson—a dedicated Girl Scout who became the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of our trip—and thinking about everything we shared: a tent (for eight days), making it through the worst smelling socks on the planet, and the bear attack* together. Allyson, the woman who inspires people through her insatiable desire to explore and always gives her all to everything she does, said to me, “I hope that one day I make a difference in someone’s life”, and all I wanted to do was take her by the shoulders and shake her saying “Seriously?!” I owe this woman the rest of my life, as she pushed and pulled me in directions I never thought possible and taught me how to be a good leader when chaos ensues. When others try to stomp out my fire I know Allyson will be right there fanning the flames for me and herself.

Moving on to the ladies—not merely girls, but ladies who will become important contributors to our communities. They challenged everyone around them as they themselves were challenged in strength, patience, and endurance to hike 24 miles through the Rocky Mountain National Park carrying up to 30 lb. packs on our backs. Some of them learned how to work together, others would exercise their respect for authority, and some were challenged physically. Regardless of the individual difficulties they each faced, at the end of the trip we were all challenged in patience while chomping at the bit to get to sleep in a real bed after taking a very much needed shower.

We volunteered in the National Park clipping and sawing trees and shrubs out of the way of the trail, as well as improving irrigation. The work was satisfying and the view made it all worth it. Not everyone made it—we had to leave a few girls behind with a volunteer. The girls who did make it to the top did not regret the amazing view and also got to laugh as I fell down in the snow on the way back.

“I never want to hike again,” one of the girls said as we drove home through the collegiate peaks after I asked them if they’d like to hike to the top of them. “At least they aren’t complaining that they didn’t get to do enough,” I thought.  

The most memorable times were spent at the old Girl Scout camp we stayed at called Meadow Mountain Ranch. We got to meet their High Adventure Team, and sang Scout songs at the absolute top of our lungs because we had the camp all to ourselves. It bordered the park, allowing us to hike right into the park and take a nap by Copeland Falls and see a herd of elk running through the river. The camp had hot showers and toilets, as well as a pavilion that sheltered us as we ate. Each night before bed, the girls would hang up the bear bag to avoid any surprises in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, I really miss Java, Continental Divide, Brit, Bear, Gator, Tinkerbell, and Zwei, and I hope that we all get to experience more adventures together as the High Adventure Team prepares for its launch this fall.

Come adventure with us. 

Jessica “E-Rock” Noelke, Outdoor Program Specialist

*There was no bear attack. It was just a pair of pants rustling in the wind and in our
sleepiness we thought it was a bear rustling through our garbage.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

All Cooped Up: A Gold Award Project for the (Chicken) Masses

Gold Award Girls

The following entry is about Kelli Robertson's Gold Award Project--a chicken coop for the students at Travis Heights Elementary School. In it you'll read about the idea behind the project, the benefits it will bring and a shout-out to those who helped her accomplish her goal. Thank you, Kelli!


"The Coop" is Kelli Robertson's finished Girl Scout Gold Award project, which can be found at Travis Heights Elementary. 

Kelli has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and dedicated her project to the students at Travis Heights Elementary School, where her father is the principal. She had many advisers on this project and they are cited on the blue plaque on the side of the coop. 

They include: Krista Ernst, Gail Laubenthal, Veronica Arispe, Tonya Penney, and Andee Knutson. Also, wonderful family friends, Gene, Karen, and Mike Sanders supported Kelli in this project by sharing their expertise since the small space has a 2.5 foot drop from one end of the coop to the other. 

The project was funded through Kelli’s Girl Scout cookie sales, fall product sales, and donations from the following businesses: McCoy’s Building Supplies, Home Depot, Viking Fence, and Callahan’s. 

This spring, The Coop will welcome chicks raised by 2nd graders from Travis Heights Elementary and students in the specialized units under the watchful eyes of Ms. Arispe and Mrs. K! 

Through raising and caring for the chicks, students will learn about life cycles, caring for animals, and the role they play in a habitat. In addition, as the residents of The Coop continue to grow and produce, future groups of students will understand the phrase “farm to table”, the elements of business and finance, as well future planning for an urbanized world.

Thanks to Kelli's project, dozens of students will have access to a real-life, hands-on farm experience. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Poet, Activist, Girl Scout Maya Angelou dies at 86

It is with great sadness that we come to find that American poet and Girl Scout, Maya Angelou has passed after a long illness.

If there has ever been an embodiment of courage, confidence and character, Maya Angelou was it. Born in St. Louis in 1928, after a childhood of adversity, she became one of the most prominent poets of our time. She is known for her extensive body of work but her most well-known piece was the memoir "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

During the Girl Scouts' 100th year celebration, she spoke:

"Imagine a time when women could not vote. And in some cases they could not even own property. Imagine a time when women's maiden names were lost the minute they married. Imagine a climate  in which a girl student, in the United States, even as in other countries less developed, did not have the same value as boy student. And the two words "women" and "rights" were never mentioned together[...] Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the girl Scouts of the United States of America, decided that in order to have an upbeat and productive society, women and girls should be addressed and girls should be addressed first[...] Much to her surprise, the Girl Scouts of America became larger than anything Mrs. Low could have dreamed. In fact, today most female leaders, will state proudly that they encountered authority and discipline in the 20th century as members of the Girl Scouts organization.

They proudly wear the badge and they proudly support the organization which intends and intended to bring the girls out of the kitchen to the office and from the sewing room into America's great hiking trails. These women have decided that are they are more than just old f-e-m-a-l-e-s. They proudly say that they are w-o-m-e-n.Women. 

Girl Scouts of America, I salute you. Congratulations. Celebrations for your 100th year. I can say that because I, too, was a Girl Scout..."

She led a rich life and gave a voice to many who didn't have one. Throughout her life she showed strength and grit, overcoming and becoming one of the most renowned poets of our time.

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise."

-Maya Angelou

Rest in peace, Ms. Angelou. You will be dearly missed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ahoy! Jena Recer aka Ladybug

"Hi! My formal camp name is Ladybird aka, Ladybug.  I was an active Girl Scout from first grade through high school graduation. My Silver Award focused on adaptive camping and I gained experience working with physically challenged campers at a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp. There, I gained experience working with intellectually challenged campers at a camp sponsored by the Austin Regional Clinic.  I also served as a CIT and I worked as a counselor at the GS Camp, Peach Creek. 

There are many reasons that I stay involved in the organization.   I believe Girl Scouts empowers girls and helps to build good citizens.  I believe that without Girl Scouts we wouldn't have as many women on corporate boards,  serving in Congress,  etc.. Girl Scouts are changing the world but that isn't the only reason I’m a Girl Scout.   I believe that the Girl Scout laws provide a reliable ethical matrix for all of decisions.  I also love being part of the Girl Scout community and working with others striving to live those laws and pass them on to the next generation.  I love all of those things about Girl Scouts. But the reason I keep coming back is that I am happy to have the opportunity to pass on what was given to me as a young Girl Scout.  This is why I owe Girl Scouts so much and why I plan to always be a part of the program trying to give back all of what was given to me.

When I was 9, my mom passed away after a very long battle with breast cancer.  The next morning the doorbell rang. It was Carol Mireles, my Girl Scout leader.  She had come on her own initiative to get the house ready for all of the company heading our way for the funeral.  Together we vacuumed, dusted, swept and mopped.  At my mom’s memorial service, Mrs. Mireles showed me a flower arrangement that was from the troop.  I was really glad she was there at the service. She had 6 kids, two of whom were my age.  A year after my mom passed, her husband did, too.  I felt closer to her kids knowing we shared the experience of grieving for a parent. Over the years, Mrs. Mireles and other Girl Scout volunteers helped me learn all of the things that most girls learn from their mothers and more.  Many of the Girl Scout volunteers, including Mrs. Mireles, knew my mom and helped make sure I remembered her. I know my teenage years would have been incredibly rough without Girl Scouts. The Girl Scout laws were my guide and continue to be. By the time we were in High School most of our troop members were living with only one parent.  We became an extra family for one another.  In the Spring of 1987, our troop had our final campfire before we went off to college. There, we all committed to give back to Girl Scouts what we had been given.  In the following years, Carol, as we now call her, kept in touch with most of us. In fact, she made wedding dresses with matching cumber buns and bow ties for most of our weddings and of course she attended them.

A couple of years ago Mrs. Mireles turned 70 and her kids threw her a party.  Several members of our troop  were there to wish her a happy birthday. It was a wonderful reunion and it turns out we have all kept our promise to give back to Girl Scouts.   Everyone who was in our troop in HS has gone on to be a Girl Scout leader and most of us have worked or continue to work with Girl Scout camps in some fashion.

This April, I met Carol’s kids for lunch and they brought me the best birthday present I have ever received: a quilt hand-made by my scout leader for use on my bed at camp.

In short I give back to Girl Scouts because the Girl Scout program gave me so much. I made friends that continue to last after all of these years. In fact, a few weeks ago I had the honor of helping one of my troop sister's daughter's Junior Troop work through the requirements for the Backyard Chicken Badge.

I rejoined Girl Scouts three years ago and began working with the Mariner Program. I am a co-leader of the Mariner Cadette troop and this is my 16th year as a registered GS.  Two summers ago I served as the Arts and Crafts Director at Camp Kachina and loved working with all of the girls and seeing their amazing creations!

This year I will be serving as the Program Manager at Camp Kachina. I’m very excited about our summer program.  Each week we have wonderful things planned and I hope to see you there!"

We can't say it enough-- Girl Scouts isn't just about cookies or camp. It becomes another support network and source of confidence for all girls who join. As Jena saw, Girl Scouts became a second family. Volunteers like Jena are irreplaceable and make our organization great.

We can't wait to see you this summer, Jena! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Now that's a bright girl!

When Ann Makosinski found out that her friend in the Philippines was having trouble in school because she had insufficient light in the evening, she set her mind to the task and didn't just find a solution, but invented it.

16-year-old Ann designed a "hollow flashlight", as she has dubbed it, which transforms the heat emanated from a hand into a source of energy.

"I'm really interested in harvesting energy[...]that surrounds but we never really use," Ann said.

The flashlight is made with Peltier tiles--a device that produces energy when once side is heated while the other cools. The duration of the light is about 20 minutes.

Ann is one of 15 students headed to the Google Science Fair finals in September. The winner of the fair will take home a $50,000  scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

This bright girl's interest in engineering was spotted early on by her parents. They didn't just let her but encouraged her to take apart her toys and tinker with them.

Good luck at the Google Science Fair, Ann!