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.