Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Status Updates to Support Girl Scouting

You're already tweeting and Facebooking just about every day. Why not use one of those updates to support girl leadership and Girl Scouting? Here's 10 status updates (or tweets) you can use to support GSCTX.
  1. I love being a (insert "troop leader", "Girl Scout mom" or other relevant description)! Time for you to join too -
  2. I'm a fan of GSCTX on Facebook! Are you?
  3. I just made a difference in a girl's life by donating to Girl Scouts.
  4. Learn the three keys to leadership -
  5. Nobody knows cookies like Girl Scouts.
  6. Follow Friday (#ff) @GSCTXcouncil
  7. Its always s'more fun at Girl Scout Camp.
  8. My Girl Scout just earned the (insert patch name)! I'm so proud!
  9. The best thing about Girl Scouts is (your most favorite Girl Scout thing ever).
  10. Courage, confidence and character - its what Girl Scouts is really all about.
And here's my next tweet/status update - I'm a professional Girl Scout and I love it!

Happy tweeting/status updating!

-Cheryl Black

Monday, December 28, 2009

Self-Confidence: A Barrier to Girl Leadership

Self-confidence is a belief in oneself to be able to achieve goals and objectives. This self-confidence or self-esteem comes from inside each of us. However, many of the individuals I’ve talked with believe self-confidence is the “the greatest single barrier to leadership for girls.” Several studies show that girls' self-esteem and self-confidence tends to decline after about age nine as girls enter puberty.

Timothy Judge, et al. (2002) contends that self-confidence is “an indicator of low neuroticism and is predictive of leadership. [Neuroticism is defined as] representative of the tendency to exhibit poor emotional adjustment and experience negative affects, such as anxiety, insecurity, and hostility” (p. 767). Although there is contention as to whether it is an inherent trait or a learned skill, self-confidence is a vital quality of a leader and this belief is supported by literature, theory and practice.

How can we help girls overcome this barrier and assist them in developing the self-confidence that is within them? Here are a few tips to consider:
  1. Provide positive role models
  2. Promote a healthy body image
  3. Recommend participation in new activities (i.e. hobbies)
  4. Support their interests
  5. Grant them the opportunity to share in planning and decision-making
  6. Actively listen to them
  7. Provide a safe environment
  8. Teach them to give genuine compliments and receive compliments
Peter Northouse (2004) describes the importance of self-confidence as “a trait that helps an individual be a leader … [by possessing] the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills … where one believes that she or he can make a difference and be an influence to others” (p. 19). As a parent of a beautiful young woman, I’m going to do all I can to ensure her self-confidence level is a healthy one. I’m envisioning her making a difference in our world. Join me by doing all you can to aid in developing your daughters, granddaughters, nieces and student’s self-confidence. The success of our world is depending on it.

 -CJ Harris

Carlena "CJ" Harris joined IBM in June 1997 and has held various roles within the IBM Software Group division. She has eight years of experience leading and managing virtual teams. Currently, she is a Global IT Program Manager. She holds degrees from University of Houston (Information Systems Technology, BS) and St. Edward's University (Organizational Leadership & Ethics, MS). CJ volunteers as a motivational speaker and life/career coach. She is also a wife, mother of two, coach, mentor and an aspiring writer.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Girls in the News

Girls are pretty popular. Nearly every week new information about girls, what they do, what they like and how they act is showing up in the media. Now, for your reading pleasure, here are some of the most informative and interesting recent news articles all about girls.
And here are a few articles specifically about Girl Scouts here in Central Texas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Girls View Leadership as Taking a Stand

In meeting with Rusine Sinclair, CEO of the North Carolina Girl Scouts Council, she shared with me that she believes young women are concerned about making a difference in the world. They are interested in something that would improve a situation. They are defining those things that are important to them and using the leadership from within to improve things in their world.

This stuck with me and motivated me to learn how many girls actually want to be leaders. According to a nationwide survey, conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), they found that thirty-nine percent of girls want to be leaders, and that the desire for leadership is higher among African-American (fifty-three percent), Hispanic (fifty percent) and Asian-American (fifty-nine percent) girls compared to Caucasian girls (thirty-four percent).

Victor Inzunza, author of the press release titled, “Nationwide Study Finds That Girls Aspire to a Different Kind of Leadership,” reported that the data from the survey indicates girls aspire to a different type of leadership, which focuses on personal principles, ethical behavior, and the ability to affect social change. The young women I met from McNeil High School during my research on “Young Women and Leadership” also echoed that they believe leadership for them means taking a stand and making a difference. All of the young women agreed that a leader is a person who is not afraid to step up, blaze a new path for change, and teach individuals.

How inspiring!

 -CJ Harris

Carlena "CJ" Harris joined IBM in June 1997 and has held various roles within the IBM Software Group division. She has eight years of experience leading and managing virtual teams. Currently, she is a Global IT Program Manager. She holds degrees from University of Houston (Information Systems Technology, BS) and St. Edward's University (Organizational Leadership & Ethics, MS). CJ volunteers as a motivational speaker and life/career coach. She is also a wife, mother of two, coach, mentor and an aspiring writer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Swift Giving

Country-pop-music-sensation/good-girl Taylor Swift recently celebrated her 20th birthday by giving $250K to the US education system (read story). As if we didn't have enough reason to love this squeaky clean, polite, talented young lady already!

Besides being a good piece of celeb news, Taylor's generous birthday gift provides Girl Scouts with a good lesson at the holidays - it really isn't about the gifts you get, it's about the gifts you give.

If you would like to use Taylor's example as you speak to your Girl Scout about giving back, consider working in the following.
  • Taylor gave to education because its important to her. What is important to you?
  • If you can't give $250K (that's OK!), how can you help your community?
  • What can you do right now to help others? 
For more ideas about giving back, check out the service projects Web page or read stories from Girl Scouts who are making the world a better place.

The Taylor Swift photo is a downloaded image from Big Machine Records.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Girls Care About Leadership

Girls care about leadership and girls’ definition of leadership changes as they age. By knowing how girls define leadership, we can help guide them in more successful development.

The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) focus groups revealed that as girls grow and develop new skills and ideas about the world, leading moves from a more singular approach with elementary school age girls (girls lead with action—what I can do) to influencing others at the middle school level (girls lead with voice—how I can impact others). As girls enter high school their ideas about leadership become inner-directed again with an emphasis on confidence (girls lead with vision—who I am as a leader) as they seek to validate their own ideas and become comfortable acting on them (GSRI, 2006, p.19). The GSRI included in their report that there are two major approaches to leadership development in girls’ programming:
  • The individual (i.e., “being in charge”) and
  • The collective (collaborative activity)
The GSRI report also included research by the Ms. Foundation for Women in regards to the two approaches. The Ms. Foundation for Women (2000) research with girls in community-based organizations (part of the Collaborative Fund for Healthy Girls/Healthy Women Initiative) acknowledges the need for both approaches in working with girls. One approach does not exclude the other and each can emphasize a different aspect of a girl’s experience. The Ms. Foundation (2000) research identified three strategies that reflect aspects of the individual and collective approaches:
  • Leadership through Voice and Culture - Building girls’ ability to use their voices in celebrating their culture
  • Leadership through Social Action/Change - Community change that affects the environments girls participate in
  • Leadership through Traditional Achievement - Building girls’ competencies, skills and qualities so that they can advance in the world
These strategies suggest that programs that encourage girls to be engaged in the community by acting as agents of change may also enable girls to internalize individual qualities and assets that they can use for their own benefit in the future (GSRI, 2006, p.21). By exercising their voices on issues they care about and taking action in the community, girls are exercising their personal power and amassing skill sets that enrich their individual competencies (Ms. Foundation for Women, 2000). These explanations are among the many reasons why the Girl Scout Journeys and Discover, Connect, Take Action model are utilized to grow girl leaders.

Resource: Girl Scout Research Institute (2006). Unpublished Pilot Survey Results on Girls and Leadership. NewYork: Girl Scouts of the USA.

 -CJ Harris

Carlena "CJ" Harris joined IBM in June 1997 and has held various roles within the IBM Software Group division. She has eight years of experience leading and managing virtual teams. Currently, she is a Global IT Program Manager. She holds degrees from University of Houston (Information Systems Technology, BS) and St. Edward's University (Organizational Leadership & Ethics, MS). CJ volunteers as a motivational speaker and life/career coach. She is also a wife, mother of two, coach, mentor and an aspiring writer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

There's a photo of WHAT on your phone!?

Have you tried to buy a phone without a camera recently? It's not easy. Some cell phones are used as much for their photo taking capabilities as their talking capabilities. Great photos have come from cell phones - license plate numbers from hit-and-runs, smiley cute puppies and more. And not so great photos have come from cell phones too and a lot of those fall into the category of sexting.

In a nutshell, sexting is the practice of sending sexually suggestive or inappropriate photos between cell phones via SMS. And wowzas, is it done more than you or I would ever care to know. In fact a recent poll by AP-MTV found that more than 25% of young people are in on sexting and girls do it more than boys. I'll say it again - WOWZAS!

It's not just adults who are blown away by these stats; girls are too. As we've been planning the 2010 Girls' Respect Conference, our girl committee has spoken up about all this. They've told us it's a real problem and they want GSCTX to speak up about it at the conference.

But why wait to speak up? The conference is in June but girls are sexting now. In no particular order, here's five reasons why sexting is a terrible, terrible idea.
  1. It spreads like wildfire. Cell phones are connected to each other and now more than ever, the Internet. One little picture to your sweetie could go everywhere with a mistaken forward or after a nasty break up or even via a hacker. Pop sensation Miley Cyrus had the hacker-experience after sending photos to her then boyfriend. And once those pictures are out there, not even Miley Cyrus can get rid of them.
  2. It's actually illegal. If the subject is under 18, it's child pornography. There are teens who found this out the hard way and will suffer for years.
  3. It'll come back to haunt you. Remember how on point #1 we said you can't ever get it back? Now imagine that photo finding its way to a college admissions office or your dream job's HR department. One word: disastrous.
  4. It might not be so cool. 40% of girls who have done it say it was a joke but nearly 30% of boys thought it meant a girl "expected to date or hook up." (Read the full article from Cosmo Girl and the National Center to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.) What about unintended recipients? People check each other's phones all the time. Will the recipient's mom think it's that cool?
  5. You are worth more than that. You are an intelligent young woman with a lot more to offer the world than your good looks. Don't sell yourself short. You work hard to be respected, listened to and heard; an immature act like this undermines everything you've worked for.
 Take this list and go forth! Let's crush the sexting trend one person at a time!

-Cheryl Black

PS Need more info? Read the Newsweek blog entry from 12/8/09.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Girls Learn Differently

Did you know that boys and girls see differently? Carol Kaufmann, author of “How Boys and Girls Learn Differently” interviewed David Chadwell, the first and only state coordinator of single gender education. Male and female eyes are not organized in the same way, Chadwell explains. The composition of the male eye makes it attuned to motion and direction. The female eye, on the other hand, is drawn to textures and colors. It’s also oriented toward warmer colors—reds, yellow, oranges—and visuals with more details, like faces. To engage girls, instruct them to form a circle facing each other, use descriptive phrases and incorporate lots of color.

If girls work well in circles and are oriented toward visuals with more details, adults should consider the following when assisting in developing young female leaders:
  • Provide a mentor/protégé program. Girls need positive role models that they can access and learn from. Women leaders can listen and share their experiences with future young women leaders.
  • Create a buddy system. Girls thrive in positive relationships and are open to learn from one another. Maybe it’s a student in the 7th grade teamed up with a student in the 6th grade. It would allow the new student the ability to learn from a student who has completed a year at the school. In return, the 7th grader gets to mentor the 6th grader.(See the Program Aide opportunities at GSCTX.)
  • No Command and Control. Teach leadership skills that differ from the command and control style. Girls aspire to a different kind of leadership that serves a bigger purpose. They are not interested in power for the sake of power. (Read the BusinessWeek article based on research from GSRI.)
  • Encourage extracurricular activities. Girls Scouts, sports, critical thinking classes are great examples. Social skills, competition, and self-confidence are skills which are taught successfully in these programs.
  • Support their interests. When girls are passionate about something they tend to volunteer to lead. Rusine Sinclair, CEO of the North Carolina Girl Scouts Council, stated, “Young women are concerned about making a difference in the world to see positive outcomes. They are interested in something that would improve a situation. Again, I believe they are defining those things that are important to them and using the leadership from within to improve things in their world.”
In summary, Cunningham and Roberts’ (2006) research indicates men understand the world by constructing systems. Women understand the world by putting themselves in the shoes of others, feeling what they're feeling and seeing what they're seeing (Our Six Themes: Masculine is Hard-Wired to Systemize; Feminine is Hard-Wired to Empathize section, 2006, ¶ 2).

Now that we know that there is a difference. Let’s get busy implementing strategies to support our future women leaders.

-CJ Harris

Carlena "CJ" Harris joined IBM in June 1997 and has held various roles within the IBM Software Group division. She has eight years of experience leading and managing virtual teams. Currently, she is a Global IT Program Manager. She holds degrees from University of Houston (Information Systems Technology, BS) and St. Edward's University (Organizational Leadership & Ethics, MS). CJ volunteers as a motivational speaker and life/career coach. She is also a wife, mother of two, coach, mentor and an aspiring writer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teenagers Ready to Do the Right Things—With Our Help

Are young people today more moral and ethical than they were a generation ago?

If you’re prone to watching television shows like “Gossip Girl,” your answer is likely to be no. The truth, however, is that the popular media’s depiction of young people as morally adrift, materialistic and disaffected is wrong. The great untold story about young people today in Central Texas and across the country is that they are much more apt to make responsible choices and refrain from risky behavior than in the recent past.

Research is increasingly bearing this out. There has been a substantial drop, for example, in teenage crime over the past decade. The dropout rate has also decreased and college attendance among young people reached an all-time high in 2008. And recently, the Girl Scout Research Institute published a nationwide survey of young people in middle and high school. The study, almost identical to one done in 1989, paints a fascinating picture of the beliefs and ethical values of young people and how they have changed in just two decades.

It turns out that nearly two out of three young people say they would not cheat on a test compared to about half in 1989. Fifty-eight percent say they would refuse an alcoholic drink if offered one at a party. That’s compared to fewer than half (46 percent) in 1989. And only 18 percent say they believe that smoking is alright if a person finds it enjoyable. In 1989, more than a quarter of those surveyed thought smoking was acceptable.

And our young people value diversity and civic involvement in a big way. Nearly six in 10 say that being around people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds is important to them. This appears to be particularly important to girls (63 percent versus 55 percent of boys). And some 79 percent say they are ready, willing and able to volunteer in their communities, and 71 percent of them say their religious beliefs are important to them.

This is not to say that all is perfect. Although many young people have good intentions about making responsible choices, they need help connecting these desires to action and decision making. That’s where we as adults come in. We should be doing all we can to value their voices and create venues for them to get involved. Our young people are as comfortable—if not more so—speaking their minds as previous generations, so let’s give them ample opportunity to do so by engaging them on issues that matter to them and getting them to take action by serving in our community.

This is not an issue solely for our schools; this involves all of us as a community. We at Girl Scouts of of Central Texas offer many opportunities for girls to come together, develop skills and take the lead in projects that serve our community.

The Forever Green project we are piloting allows girls to take lead on environmental projects and initiate a sustainable change in our communities. The girl advocacy network helps girls learn how to impact laws at the local, state and national level. And last but not least, the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards provide project road maps for girls to make the world a better place through a cause of their choice.

We’re certainly not alone in offering young people opportunities to express themselves and build leadership skills, but all of us must redouble our efforts. That's why we want to hear it from you: How do you empower girls to make the world a better place? How do you offer guidance? What activities have been the most successful? What tips can you offer other adults committed to helping girls grow?

If we as a community help our young people, they can fully develop the moral and ethical values that will serve them—and all of us—well for generations to come.

-Etta Moore

Monday, November 30, 2009

Girl Scout Grows To Be Homecoming Queen

Q. How did you first get involved in Girl Scouts and what kept you involved through high school?
A. My first encounter with Girl Scouts was when I was at four months old and my sister was a Girl Scout Daisy. When I got older, I wanted to get to do the things she was doing, so I became a Daisy. I have stayed in Girl Scouting because of the wonderful people and the unique opportunities. My Dad is in the Air Force and Girl Scouts has been great way to get active in new communities. Also enjoyable for me are the opportunities I have to work with younger girls.

Girl Scouts is a beneficial program and the best way to recommend it to others is to set an example like my sister did for me. My two younger sisters are following in mine and my older sister’s footsteps and I hope there are other girls I have influenced in such a way. After receiving the honor of Homecoming Queen at my high school, a mother came up to me with her 7 year old daughter and told her daughter that I was a Girl Scout too.

Q. What is your proudest Girl Scout accomplishment?
A. My proudest accomplishment as a Girl Scout was earning my Gold Award. Thanks to my incredible leader, Sharon, our troop was able to focus, work around our crazy schedules and keep the troop together and strong. We worked extraordinarily hard to finish our goal of the Gold Award and Sharon was there the entire way guiding and supporting us.

Q. How has Girl Scouts influenced or changed your life?
A. It has helped me accomplish goals and to be a better role-model for the people around me. It has also helped me improve my communication skills, organizational skills, and of course outdoor and campfire skills! I am an expert S’more maker!

Q. What advice can you offer girls who are considering leaving the Girl Scout program?
A. Girl Scouts can really help you in the future. You have so many opportunities to positively impact your community that it is worth sticking with it. In addition to the many traits Girl Scouting builds, there are many opportunities down the road such as scholarships.

Q. If you could tell the whole world one thing about Girl Scouts, what would it be?
A. Although tasty, there is so much more to Girl Scouting than cookies! It is so neat how Girl Scouting incorporates character building through fun activities like skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing and more. There have been opportunities for me to make a positive impact on the world by working at soup kitchens and through clean up and restoration projects all over the country. I have served as a Girl Scout Council delegate during the national restructuring of Girl Scouts. All these experiences have made me a better person.

Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. I plan to attend at least four years of college. Currently I am undecided, but I have considered becoming a physician or a marine biologist. I also plan on keeping Girl Scouts as a part of my life so I can continue to have a positive influence on younger children. Like my older sister, I plan on becoming a Lifetime member of Girl Scouts when I graduate from high school. Just as all my amazing Girl Scout leaders, Linda, Dorthey, Barbara and Sharon have done, I hope to someday serve as a troop leader.

-Mary, Girl Scout Ambassador

Mary was recently crowned Homecoming Queen at Wall High School. She is an active athlete at her high school and participated in the 2009 Girl Scout Race on the River in San Angelo. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scary Movies & Kiddos

One of, if not the, hottest movie out right now is New Moon of the Twilight saga. If you've seen the ads, and how could you not have, you know that one of the iconic visuals is a werewolf jumping down on you, the innocent movie-goer. And it's likely that at least one kiddo under the suggested viewing age of thirteen will see this and get a little scared.

So what do you do? Maybe its not New Moon that strikes fear into the heart of a movie-loving kid; maybe it's The Lion King or The Wizard of Oz. Whatever the movie, we all know that sometimes kids who are too young to see a scary scene in a movie, do in fact see it. It's up to us to make sure kids either 1. don't see that scene that's too scary or 2. calm their fears.

A recent article on gives parents tips for helping their children overcome scary movies. In summary, children who are old enough to understand the difference between reality and fiction can have it explained to them that way. Younger children can't always accept that idea though so a commonly successful tactic is to reframe the scary culprit as not so scary. "The boogie monster just wants to be friends" kind of approach.

Plenty of child-appropriate movies include potentially scary scenes and by helping a child stay calm during those can build their confidence. That little explanation and confidence boost unleashes their potential. Just knowing, for example, that they can make it through that movie at their friend's sleepover party makes the party more fun and empowers the child for more social growth.

It might seem like a little thing to make it through the flying monkey-Wicked Witch of the West scene in the Wizard of Oz or the werewolf infested New Moon, but for a kid, a whole world of social confidence can be born.

Wicked Witch of the West image is a downloadable file from Warner Bros.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Help Her Grow Strong Now

“Growing strong” usually means to eat your broccoli and get some exercise. While those are both important for growing strong, there is so much more. Physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and fiscal strength are all important for our girls to grow into strong, independent women. It can be daunting so here are ten things you can do now to help her grow strong.

  1. Be engaged. Keep an eye on her, know her moods and take note when they change. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Make sure she knows you are there for her.
  2. Help her spiritual growth by teaching her that there is something bigger than you and I out there. Whatever you call it talk to her about what is greater than us.
  3. Talk to her about living within her means. Discuss smart money practices and the pitfalls of bad credit. Use today’s economy as a teaching point, not just a crisis. Explain that while things are nice, it’s what you can’t buy in life that matters most.
  4. Encourage her to be socially responsible. From holding the door for others to reading to the elderly, help her identify how she can care for others. Its small acts of kindness that will make her life and the lives of others more fulfilling. (See service project ideas.)
  5. Allow her to make mistakes and to learn from them. When she’s discouraged because she caused something to go awry, help her see what she can learn from the experience and how she can be a better, stronger, wiser person in the future.
  6. Teach her to care for our planet. We only have one chance with our Earth and we shouldn’t take it lightly. Turn off the lights. Take shorter showers. Pick up your trash. There are so many ways you and she can care for our planet together. (See our Forever Green project.)
  7. Encourage her to be passionate about what she does. If only half her heart is in piano lessons, help her find something her whole heart can be in. Let her experience the joy of really loving whatever she does. Help her go all in.
  8. Show her how to be conscious of her surroundings. By knowing where she is, what’s around her, who is nearby and what’s happening, she will be safer. She’ll make smarter decisions about where to go and when to go there. Help her identify safe practices, like parking in well-lit places, and dangerous risks like, walking alone at night.
  9. Let her know she’s not alone. No man is an island; we’re all here on this big beautiful Earth together and that’s how it’s going to stay. Each one of us is as important as the next and we should treat each other that way.
  10. Set the example. Think of the traits you want her to have and teach them by modeling them. Teach healthy eating by cooking and eating vegetables yourself. Encourage safe driving by practicing it. Educate her about service by serving others. Actions speak louder than words and being a good role model is your opportunity to take advantage of it.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you help the girls you care about grow strong. And remember, these don’t just apply to girls; growing strong applies to all of us.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glamorous Women

Most girls are five going on thirteen, twelve going on twenty and sixteen going on twenty-five. They want to dress older, wear more make up and read grown-up magazines.

This month Glamour Magazine has given us, adults and girls, a grown-up magazine article that we can all get behind - the 2009 Women of the Year. The women honored show us how to be glamorous without mascara and without stilettos but with inner strength and perseverance. Their stories can teach girls important lessons while allowing them a moment in that grown-up world they so much want to be a part of. To help get that conversation started, here's a little commentary on just two of the women honored this year. 

First Lady Michelle Obama is from a less than ritzy background yet pulled herself up by her own (very stylish) bootstraps to earn a law degree from Harvard University. She exudes the ideal of choice, having chosen a career when it made the most sense for her and choosing to be a full-time mother and wife when that made the most sense. Regardless of our personal preferences about careers and family, we can encourage girls to make their own decisions about their future, to be independent and to do what is best for them, just as Michelle has done. Her personal style, which has been compared many times to the famous Jackie O, provides another important teaching point: you can look beautiful and be fashionable while being modest and tasteful. Michelle's many fashion-forward outfits, bright colors and impressive accessories make her a great example of how class and style can mesh perfectly. Finally, when using Michelle as a teaching point, don't forget to mention, she is the National Honorary President of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Rihanna is now best known for her struggles with domestic abuse but girls knew her for her music even before then. The pop-idol demonstrates to girls that domestic abuse is sometimes a reality even for the coolest, most confident girls and women. Use Rihanna's experience to talk to girls about domestic abuse, both physical and verbal, to help them identify it and to educate them about how to stop it. (For  insights about how girls reacted to Rihanna's experience, read results from the Girl Scout Research Institute.) Beyond abuse, Rihanna can also teach girls how to take a terrible thing and use it to make a difference in the world. It may have been scary for her to speak so publicly but because she has, many women may now be better educated and more able to end or avoid abusive situations. Remind girls that to impact the world, they cannot be silent observers; they must lead by example and speak up.

Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year can provide many important lessons - that are potentially cool and grown-up since they come from one of the hottest women's magazines. The women are athletes, visionaries, peacemakers; clearly we've only just touched the tip of the iceberg here. If these lessons ring true to you, learn more about the women on or by watching the highlights from the event (above).

Go on, be glamorous.

-Cheryl Black

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going Green with a Smile

“Thank you for helping us learn how to recycle. I will soon call my family in Minnesota and in Ecuador to start recycling. I admire you for helping the earth.”
– Cheryl, 3rd grade, Great Oaks Elementary

When I first began my Girl Scout Gold Award Project about going green, I did not anticipate that the culmination of my project would be to share my findings with younger children in my local community, but I now believe that it has become one of the most precious outcomes of my undertaking. My initial aspiration for my project was to raise environmental awareness in a unique way after witnessing the eye-rolling from my classmates that accompanied the usual leaflets, brochures, and packets about “Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling!” I wanted to educate people about ways to help the environment that would blend easily into everyday life, while interweaving my approach with another passion of mine – art.

I began by organizing an outdoor bazaar open to the Austin community that communicated the theme “Going Green…It’s Easy!” I collaborated with a variety of local and national organizations, such as Austin Water Utility, the National Wildlife Federation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Austin Solid Waste Services, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Ecology Action to set up booths at the event to educate and provide information about their services to visitors. Guests loved the “Keep Austin Beautiful” bumper stickers and low-flow shower heads that these organizations distributed along with their environmental expertise.
To add my personal touch to the bazaar, I created interactive artistic booths that focused on the fresh concept of “upcycling,” a sustainability method in which waste materials are used to create new products. My art-centered upcycling booths displayed arts and crafts made out of recyclables and other miscellaneous objects, and provided the visitors a chance to exercise their own creative talents in fashioning new things from used items.

Through the great response I received for my upcycling ideas, I became conscious that hands-on involvement is an amazing way to introduce people to the creative nature of sustainability or “Going Green.” I then decided to take my project a step further and developed a brochure that provided instructions for crafts that can be made from used objects. I mailed this upcycling brochure to the art teachers at various public schools in my community as a way for them to foster environmental awareness in youth through art lessons. They were very enthusiastic about my idea of approaching environmentalism through art and many of the teachers incorporated the upcycled crafts into their curricula. Within weeks, I was invited to visit elementary school art classes and events. I discovered that the most fulfilling part of my Gold Project was interacting with these elementary school students. The opportunity to share my knowledge of the green movement and passion for art with children energized me to continue my involvement in this cause.

Though the environmental movement has many facets, I have found an aspect within it that has special significance to me. In order to continue reaching out to youth about environmental topics, I have become involved in the national Girl Scout “Forever Green” Community Action Project, a pilot project in which I will guide groups of girls to help them create and carry out their own environmental advocacy projects.

As I continue to educate children and other Girl Scouts about the benefits of being green, I realize that the many notes I receive illustrated with smiley-faces and renderings of the earth represent exactly what I strive for: to enrich environmental awareness for others by adding a smile and individuality to the process.

-Dipona, Girl Scout Ambassador

For her project, Dipona has been recognized as a 2009 Silver Service Award Winner by the Wildlife Conservation Society. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Supporting Our Military & Community

To Our Members:

Girl Scouts of Central Texas is deeply saddened by the tragedy at Ft. Hood on Thursday, November 5. GSCTX has a prominent, grassroots involvement with the Ft. Hood community and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected. As Central Texas heals from this tragedy, it is important that all Girl Scouts remember the key messages in the Girl Scout Promise.

The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Our compassion for and service to one another is especially important now. GSCTX is committed to helping our communities become stronger in the event's wake and encourage all members to join us as we care for our families, friends and neighbors. Together, we can empower Central Texas, and especially its military families, to be strong and healthy again.

If you and your family are seeking ways to give back to the Ft. Hood community, please consider donating blood to help area hospitals cope with the increased demands. More information about Thursday's tragedy and supporting Ft. Hood can be found online at

All Girl Scout services will continue as normal and staff is fully available to assist members. If GSCTX can help you or your family through this especially difficult time, please contact the council via email or at (800) 733-0011.


Etta Moore, the GSCTX staff and Board of Directors

Monday, November 9, 2009

The World Is Waiting

As the temperature cools and the leaves change, it is a wonderful time to be out in nature. It is a great way to educate your child or troop about the out-of-doors and to initiate conversation.

According to Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” many children today are suffering from nature-deficit disorder. As children spend more and more time indoors they suffer more with ADHD, childhood obesity and stress. How can we as adults help? By providing children with more opportunities to be outside. Our council has access to five wonderful campsites as well as city and state parks where children can explore while providing service.

Everyone today is concerned with the amount of litter we see and the amount of plastic that goes into our landfills. Any time that you take your girls on a walk or to a park or a campsite, carry bags to pick up trash and bottles that can be recycled. Remember that a Girl Scout always leaves a place cleaner that she finds it. This small act is a service project, as well as teaching girls to be responsible for the planet.

GSCTX is one of 36 pilot councils in the “Forever Green” Community Action Project. The program booklet is full of wonderful resources and ideas to use, even if you don’t decide to submit a project. It is full of ideas to help girls discover, connect and take action on environmental issues. This project will help girls, and adults, be more aware of our surroundings and develop ideas that can make a significant impact on our environment.

So, if being outdoors is good for our mental and physical health and is good for the health of our communities, schools and the planet……what are we waiting for? Lets get to work, the world is waiting.

-Jan Cate 

Forever Green is part of Girls Go Green, one of four focus areas guiding GSCTX programs. By introducing girls to environmental awareness, GSCTX is providing a generation of girls with the tools necessary to positively impact our planet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let’s make a membranophone!

We’ll be making music with membranophones at the upcoming Girl Scout sleepover, Making Music, at Austin Children’s Museum on Nov. 20-21. Register today through GSCTX. View the Sleepover and Brownie Try-It Workshop schedules.

Hi, my name is Priscilla and I’m the blog intern for Austin Children’s Museum. I’m going to show you how to make a cool musical instrument!

Did you know you can craft a membranophone out of household items and recycled containers? A membranophone is any musical instrument that produces sound through a vibrating membrane, such as a drum or a kazoo.

Audrey, the Programs Coordinator at the Austin Children’s Museum, decided to share her instructions with me.

What you’ll need:
  • Plastic water bottle or yogurt cup
  • Scissors or box cutter
  • Drinking straw
  • Tape
  • Paper towel tube or rolled up sheet of paper
  • Rubber band
  • Balloon or latex glove
What to do:
  1. Poke a straw-sized hole at the top of the water bottle label, or in the side of the yogurt cup.
  2. Cut the water bottle in half. Skip this step if you’re using a yogurt cup.
  3. Roll up a sheet of paper into a tube and tape it together, or use a paper towel tube. The tube needs to fit inside the top opening of the water bottle. If you are using a yogurt cup, use the box cutter to cut a hole in the bottom that is big enough to snuggly fit around a paper towel tube.
  4. Cut two or three holes into the paper tube.
  5. Cut off the end of a balloon to make a sheet of rubber. Put the sheet of rubber on the top of the yogurt cup VERY TIGHTLY. You can also use latex gloves instead of a balloon.
  6. Place the paper tube inside the yogurt cup and tape it to the cup so no air leaks out. Make sure the tube is far enough inside the yogurt cup so that it touches the balloon. This is very important because this is how the vibrations are made.
  7. Insert the straw into the little hole you poked into the bottle
  8. If you want to make extra sure the balloon is sealed, secure the balloon with a rubber band around the yogurt cup.
  9. Now blow into the straw. If it doesn’t make a sound, adjust the tension of the balloon membrane so that it’s tighter. Again, make sure the tube is touching the membrane.
  10. Place your fingers over the holes in the tube to change the sound
So how does a membranophone work?

The balloon serves as the vibrating membrane in the membranophone. When you blow into the straw, the air waves cause the balloon membrane to vibrate. The vibrations then travel down the paper tube to make a sound.

Similar to when you blow into your membranophone, when you beat a drum, the covering of the drum (the membrane) vibrates and makes a sound!

So what happens to the pitch when you cover some of the holes in the tube?

Pitch is how we hear sound as high or low.

The sound waves create an air column when they travel down and out the tube. Since vibrations slow down after time, the longer the air column, the slower the vibrations.

When you cover the holes, you are creating a shorter air column. This makes the vibrations happen faster. Faster vibrations produce a higher pitch and slower vibrations produce a lower pitch. Check out other fun crafts and science experiments at the Austin Children’s Museum blog.

-Priscilla, Austin Children's Museum

Monday, November 2, 2009

Creativity at Work

"Our imagination is boundless. In a split second we can imagine an incredible number of things. To give form to what is imagined takes great creative powers … Creativity is giving form to imagination." -Dr. Fereydoon Family, PhD, Prominent Physicist

Creativity Defined
The simplest definition of creativity is laughably straightforward: creativity is “the ability to create.” For artists, whether they are performing artists, visual artists, or writers, creativity is much more than just an “ability to create.” Creativity is the key to presenting great art: it involves inspiration, imagination, and innovation. In the poetic words of Jaques De’Ambois, former dancer of New York City Ballet and Artistic Director of the National Dance Institute, “It’s your pulse, it’s your heartbeat, it’s your breathing. It’s the rhythms of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement of happiness and joy and sadness and energy. It’s a venting of energy. It’s extraordinary, and that’s common to all the cultures and it’s common to all individuals.”

Creativity in the Dance World
Dancers must use creativity in a variety of settings: auditions, classes, rehearsals, and performances. Ballet Austin Trainee and former Girl Scout Brownie Erica Ducoing relates that she has been asked to creatively “improvise” (make up a dance on the spot!) during auditions for professional ballet companies. Trainee and former Brownie Michelle Howie shares that creativity is a must in her modern class at Ballet Austin: “[Our teacher] pushes us to improvise, and it sometimes feels awkward, but it’s good for us!”

Be Creative!
In whatever form your creativity takes, (whether you dance, sing, act, draw, paint, sculpt, write, or play music), you can apply the following advice:
  1. Be inventive. Ballet Austin Trainee Michelle Howie gives this encouragement to creative Girl Scouts: “Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, and don’t give up!”
  2. Be true to yourself. Margot Fonteyn, a luminous British ballerina, astutely said: “Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike.”
  3. Enjoy yourself. Mikhail Baryshnikov, that storied Russian dancer, gives this excellent advice: “The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”
Ballet Austin partners with the Girl Scouts to provide creative ways for girls to learn more about dance. Join us for one of our Community Education programs, including opportunities to see inspiring in-studio rehearsal viewings and participate in engaging dance workshops. Learn more about Ballet Austin’s upcoming performances and class offerings by visiting

-Sarah Rostoker,  Ballet Austin Community Education Dept.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Juliette Low!

Tomorrow is the birthday of our founder, Juliette Low. Way back in 1912 Juliette discovered a need in her community. By connecting with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, she learned about the growing international youth movement. Committed to helping American girls benefit from the movement, Juliette took action and in 1912 created the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, GA.

Since then, more than 3.4 million girls and women have benefited from the Girl Scout program. Each one along the way each has developed leadership skills using the three keys of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: discover, connect and take action.

If you are one of the 3.4 million who have grown strong through Girl Scouting, this is the time to stand up and be counted. Celebrate our founder's birthday by shouting "I'm proud to be a Girl Scout!" at the top of your lungs.

And here's exactly how you can do that...
From all of us at GSCTX, Happy Birthday Juliette!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Right + Left = Whole Person

In 1960, an American psychobiologic, Roger W. Speery, developed the right brain, left brain concept. His theory was that people have and use both sides of their brains, but one side of the brain is more dominate. Sperry concluded that a person who is right brain dominate, processes information in an intuitive way. They look at the whole picture and then determine what parts apply. Left brain dominate people process information in an analytical and sequential way. They look at the pieces to determine the whole.

Girl Scouts aspires to stimulate both sides of the brain, through our 4 new focus areas:
Creative arts (both visual and performing arts) ignite and engage the right side of the brain. They stimulate and help incorporate the "whole person," not just the logical sequential side. We are learning that music may help you with your math skills and art may stimulate creative writing.

With the whole brain stimulated, we are able to creatively solve logical problems and logically solve creative, abstract problems. It truly is key to stimulate and develop both sides of our brain in order to succeed in today’s fast-paced global society.

The research is there but even without the support of facts and figures, Girl Scouts knows that the arts are fun, engaging, stimulating, physical and down right enjoyable.

Do you cheer, dance, play a sport, draw, write or play an instrument? Are you a painter, a sculptor, a singer or craft-maker? Share the benefits of your right brain power!

Monday, October 19, 2009

She's Gone Tech

The Girl Scouts of Central Texas has taught me so much in the way of technology. First and foremost, I am not scared of learning technical terms and putting them to use anymore. Through the EDGE Program at Girl Scouts, I have learned about building robots with Legos. I have learned how to program them and make them do things I want them to do like walk, talk, see colors and pick up things. Robots are part of our every day life. We all come into contact with robots and sometimes don’t even know it!

I was able to attend the Geek Squad camp this summer and learned lots about computers too. We worked on Apples as well as PCs. The Geek Squad camp taught us about computers in a fun and cool way and I strongly recommend the camp if you want to have fun and learn about computers at the same time!!

The Girl Scouts of Central Texas started up a Lego Robotics team and we were able to participate in the FLL competition. Our team won 3rd place in the first competition and even though we did not place in the 2nd competition, my team was able to fly to Atlanta, GA to cheer on other Girl Scouts from all over the United States! That was so exciting and I would have never had had the chance to do that if it were not for Girl Scouts!

I would highly recommend girls of all ages to learn more about technology. We use it every day and everyday it changes. This used to be a man’s world with robots and computers but us women are learning just as much and adult women are now leaders in the technology field! This makes me want to be a part of the excitement!!!

-Lily, Girl Scout Cadette

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

In 2008 two all Girl Scout robotics teams qualified for the FIRST LEGO League Central Texas Championship. Each team was required to research a particular environmental issue as part of their participation. The Techno-Girl Scouts researched drought conditions in Central Texas.

As part of Blog Action Day (a day when bloggers come together to discuss the same topic and create global buzz), GSCTX is pleased to share their findings, as recorded in early 2009. Through increased awareness, we can all lessen our impact on the environment and slow global climate change.

2008 Drought Facts
  • Rainfall was well below normal during May and June, typically the first and second wettest months.
  • Summer 2008 tied with 1998 for the hottest summer on record.
  • Hot temperatures led to very high evaporation across the entire region this summer, with about twice the average evaporation rate in June and July.
  • There were 50 days this year with temperatures at or over 100 degrees in Austin (including over 20 consecutive days in June).
  • September was one of the driest on record.
  • Most areas received less than half the normal October rain.
  • 2008 is the sixth driest year on record for Austin.
  • On Oct. 31, 2008 year-to-date inflows into the Highland Lakes were less than inflows over the same period in 2006, which were the lowest on record since 1942.
Top 10 Ways to Conserve Water

10. Don't water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.

9. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car.

8. Direct water from rain gutters and AC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape.

7. Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often and evaporate before they hit the ground.

6. Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.

5. Wash your pets outdoors in an area of your lawn that needs water.

4. Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.

3. Save water and time by washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.

2. Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered not the house, sidewalk or street.

1. Share water conservation tips with friends and neighbors.

Girl Scouts can positively impact our environment through the new Forever Green program, by attending a nature and outdoors related program, by completing an environmental service project or many other Mother Earth related activities.

If you are interested in the Girl Scout robotics teams, please contact the EDGE.

-Techno-Girl Scouts & Cheryl Lowe

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cool--Way Cool!

Sixty-four Girl Scouts shouted that out loud multiple times on their last day of Geek Squad summer camp. It certainly was “cool, WAY cool.” When did middle school girls think that being geeky was cool? When did they start asking to go to “nerd camp?”

For four days this summer, the Kodosky Program Center in Austin was the site of Nerd Nirvana. Sixty-four middle school girls had a great time working with a top-notch team from the Best Buy Geek Squad. The girls played Wii games, danced to Dance-Dance Revolution and hunted down interesting pictures for their digital photo scavenger hunt. Amidst all this they also learned to build a PC from the individual components, created music using Garage Band and coded Web pages in HTML. The camp, created and run by the Best Buy Geek Squad, was a huge, loud success. Staffed by an equal number of male and female Geek Squad agents, the camp offered participants an opportunity to experience first-hand what fun it can be, to be a “geek” or “nerd.” Since most girls in this age group interact with technology as infrequent, inadvertent consumers it was wonderful to see them consciously engage in technology, as content creators and confident users of technology.

With school back in session, many of these middle school girls are making elective class choices that can affect the rest of their lives. They're deciding if advanced math and Java programming are good electives, if algebra and geometry are too hard. Their choices have less to do with ability and more to do with social pressures and being accepted in their peer groups. I do hope that immersing girls in a techno-savvy, techophilic environment with peers and role models caused a shift in perception. I do hope that the camp will make it easier for them to explore the right math and technology electives knowing that it’s cool and that there are other girls across Austin who are choosing this path.

Girls have always done what their friends do. I think that the Geek Squad Summer Academy gave a good cross-section of girls a chance to become friends and to explore technology with their friends, both new and old. Girl Scouts have always been leaders. I'm thinking of the ways in which this group of “geeky” campers will lead their friends, and the changes they will engender as they leave the camp as confident consumers and creators of technology, as true digital natives.

The Geek Squad Academy is part of Girls Go Tech, one of four focus areas guiding GSCTX programs. By introducing girls to technology at a young age, GSCTX is increasingly the likelihood that these girls will pursue degrees and careers in technology.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Your Vote = $10K

I Live Here, I Give Here, Central Texas’ Campaign for Philanthropy, is hosting the Big Give contest as part of their second birthday celebration. The Big Give recognizes Central Texas nonprofits that exemplify excellence in donor relations as determined through online donor voting. The winning organization receives $10,000 at their October 22 celebration.

GSCTX made it through the first round with more than 500 votes, landing us a spot as one of three finalist organizations. Hurray! Each vote is a testament to the commitment of Girl Scout supporters in Central Texas. On behalf of the girls, volunteers, board and staff: THANK YOU!

Now that we’re in the final round we need your votes more than ever. The $10,000 prize could help improve resources for girls and volunteers while keeping Girl Scout program costs low. With your help, this unique funding opportunity can make a significant impact on more than 20,000 Central Texas girls who are developing courage, confidence and character through Girl Scouting.

If you’ve given to GSCTX, please take a minute today and cast your vote in the Big Give contest. Your vote could be the best $10K you’ve ever given.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen, allow me to introduce…

Girls today have instant access to a world wide pool of knowledge that must be filtered and used wisely.

GSCTX is assisting girls in navigating through this process by identifying four program focus areas. These focus areas ensure that our programs are the premier leadership experience for girls. The focus areas were selected based upon what we know girls need to succeed today and tomorrow as well as what the needs are of the local and global community. By discovering, connecting and taking action within these four areas, girls will be armed with the skills they need to navigate through life and positively impact the world around them.

The GSCTX’s four focus areas are…

As technology flattens the world and connects us across the globe, Girl Scout programs equip girls to compete and win in school and in their future careers. Through fun, mentally-stimulating activities, girls learn practical skills, adaptability and problem-solving, key components to gain the competitive edge in this fast changing technology driven world.

Self expression through the visual, performing and literary arts helps provide life balance, fosters creative thinking and strengthens problem solving abilities. The arts experience in Girl Scouts allows for innovation and personal reflection while providing fun and entertainment for others.

Activities related to personal responsibility, self sufficiency and courage empower girls to care for themselves and lead others. Girl Scouts learn about ethical leadership and community trusteeship through a variety of programs. By participating in leadership and community service activities, girls build strong minds, bodies and character. Girls learn that “to make the world a better place” is more than words; it is a commitment to a cause greater than one’s self.

Girls Go Green
We must be responsible stewards of our planet in order to live healthy and productive lives and to maintain that opportunity for future generations. Girl Scouting gives girls the platform to learn, practice and teach what it means to respect the environment and wisely use our limited resources. (Check out our new program, Forever Green, to get a glimpse of exactly how we’re going green.)