Monday, December 16, 2013

What Girl Scout Cookies Mean to Me

We love our volunteers--their hard work and effort is part of what makes this organization great and our programs so successful. Most of all, it allows girls to experience so much. 

The following entry is by Karen Stewart, Mariner Volunteer Coordinator. Her motto is "Keep the OUT in scOUTing." We couldn't agree more!

What Girl Scout Cookies Mean to Me

Growing up in West Texas, Girl Scout cookies meant I could go to camp.  If I sold my 96 boxes, I would get a scholarship to camp.We attended Camp Booth Oaks outside of Sweetwater, TX.

We only sold cookies for 2 weeks. If I didn't get out there and sell my cookies, other girls got there first, and I couldn't go to camp.    I had a list of my customers' phone numbers, and I called and got their orders.  I was the only girl in town that went to camp.  I would have lived at camp if I could have, but we couldn't afford it.  Those of you who know me… know I would still live at camp!

As a teenager, I recorded a spot for the radio selling Girl Scout cookies in my southern drawl--I was nervous for some reason.  Back then, we went around selling cookies by ourselves, went into stranger’s houses…  I tell people, "our parents never knew where we were."  I probably even took cookies on my bicycle, but I can’t think how.  Boy, I miss those boxes with the handles!  Snyder, Texas has oil millionaires and an assortment of people.  One house we all raced to was a large “mansion.”  The man that lived there was a hunter and hunted in Africa.  We all thought it was so cool that he had a stool made of an elephant’s foot.  Now that makes me sick, but as a 9 or 10 year old…that was something!

We had Thin Mints, Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich, Peanut Butter Sandwich, my favorite, and of course Shortbreads.  The Thin Mint box was covered in paper and opened like frozen spinach does now. I don’t know why the Sandwich cookies sold.  You could buy those anywhere.  Everyone says… I remember when cookies were….­­­____ (fill in the blank) a box!  I remember $1.50, but not sure when that was.

Many years later as a mom, my oldest and I would sell cookies. She hated it. I finally convinced her to approach a man, and he ignored her!  Many years later, she was selling lawnmowers at a big box store.  I told her all those cookies paid off!

I wish parents realized the value of selling cookies  (I sold various other things as a child as well). Watching the girls grow in their confidence, watching year by year as their money counting and math skills improve.  My daughter was recovering from an illness one year, and we said "just sit there to sell cookies."  She said "no, that’s not how you sell cookies. You need to be standing up greeting your customers!"

Few other situations are offered to kids to learn such skills.  Selling cookies is one of the largest components of building girls with confidence. Selling cookies is a historical event!  It is the largest girl owned business in the world.  By giving regular troop finance reports, everyone knows how much money the troop has.  With planning, the girls know how much it will take to do the activities they want to do.  

Not every girl wants to go to camp, but how will they know if they don’t go at least once?  Staying at home watching TV doesn't benefit anyone.  Girl Scouts is more than cookies, camp, and crafts, but they are strong building blocks for strong, lifelong skills.

What did Girl Scout cookies do for me?  I became a girl/adult with “courage, confidence, and character.”

-Karen Stewart

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spanish-Themed Mystery Dinner Event Serves Up Dares and Laughter

On a recent November evening, 40 Girl Scouts from ten troops, grades six through ten, attended a mystery dinner organized for them by a trio of troop leaders.

Upon arrival at the Leander VFW Hall, Girls were assigned a Spanish alias, a secret mission, and a prop. Props included butterfly wings, cowgirl hats, Hawaiian leis, boas, and tiaras. The girls were presented with menus that were intentionally impossible to decipher, and required to choose items for each of three courses.

While the Girls waited for their first course to arrive, they began their secret missions. The girls with the butterfly wings fluttered around the table every time they heard the words "Good luck".  The girls with cowgirl props shouted "Yahoo" when they received a new plate.  And the girls with the Hawaiian leis stood up and did a hula dance whenever the person to their right was served.

The first course arrived and the cryptic menu did not disappoint. Girls were served beans without forks, ice cream without spoons, taco meat without taco shells, and conversely, taco shells without taco meat.  The resourceful Girl Scouts used straws to pierce beans, chips to scoop cold desserts, and makeshift straw-chopsticks to eat taco meat.

The room was filled with happy chatter and laughter as girls continued to fulfill their secret missions and found innovative ways to eat their dinner without proper utensils. After dinner, plates were cleared and the girls played games, took group photos, and closed the event with a friendship spiral. “The girls left with smiles and laughter, happy for having been stars of the show, and happy for having fun with other Girl Scouts,” said Bobbe Walker, Monarch Service Unit Director.

Photo: Girls in photo are Lindsey W., Claudia E., Aroa O., Sarah A.​ from Troop 2293.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How Getting My Gold Award Changed My Life

Hi, my name is Mandy Jústiz.  I am 17 years old and have been a Girl Scout for 10 years.  As a Girl Scout, I have always loved community service, whether it be wrapping gifts for Blue Santa or collecting blankets for an animal shelter.  It was not until about half way through my Girl Scout career that I learned about the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, but once I did, I knew I had to complete them. 

The summer before my sophomore year, I learned about National Young Women of Distinction, an award which is annually given to ten Girl Scouts who showed exemplary leadership, innovation, and problem solving skills in their Gold Award.  I applied for the award and, a few months later, learned that I would be one of the 2013 recipients.  Soon after, I was informed that I was also one of five National Young Women of Distinction chosen to represent Girl Scouts at a brunch with Congress in Washington DC where female Congress members were inducted into Troupe Capitol Hill. My trip to DC was incredible and the brunch was beyond words!  I had the opportunity to talk with several members of Congress as well as Anna Maria Chávez, the CEO of Girl Scouts.  A month later, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona to receive my award. There, I was interviewed by Justine Magazine and Girl Scouts of the USA.  I also participated in a panel for Girl Scouts who were interested in completing their Gold Awards.
 The award ceremony was amazing.  The room, filled with Girl Scout CEOs and COOs from councils across the country, was charged with an amazingly high energy.  I was terribly nervous to give my thank you speech; I had never made a speech before, although this one became my first of many.  At the ceremony award winners recieved a $4,500 scholarship from Kappa Delta and were given our National Young Women of Distinction and life time membership pins.  

 I started thinking about my Gold Award the summer before freshman year. I have always been very interested in marine biology and knew I wanted to incorporate my hobby into my Gold Award.  After bouncing several ideas off of my father, I decided that I should build a fish tank for an elementary school.  I figured that it would be an effective, fun way to introduce children to the aquatic world.  I contacted the University of Texas Elementary School and got approval to build a tank in their main office.  However, after some thinking, I decided that I was not content with just building an aquarium.  I again started talking with my dad and finally decided that, in addition to the aquarium, I would create a 3-day module, which could be incorporated into an elementary school curriculum, which I could use to teach children about aquatic ecology and conservation. 

The elementary school put me in contact with a 5th grade science teacher, who welcomed my idea and offered her help should I need it. With my plan completed, I started to design and build the aquarium. For the next several months, the 60 gallon aquarium was my baby. I checked on it often, ran tests on the water, and added various chemicals and bacteria at least once a week. I couldn't wait for the water to be stable enough to add fish.  When it was finally ready, we went to the pet store and picked out the fish.  The fish I chose were cherry barbs, Mickey Mouse platies, black mollies, otocinclus, powder blue gourami, and ghost shrimp. The array of fish allowed me to teach children about how different lifestyles and habitats affect the fish and its adaptations.  Once the fish were added to the aquarium, I started creating the module.  I played around with the organization of the material, did a lot of research, and tried desperately to find ways of teaching that would not bore the children. I decided the best way of doing so would be to keep a healthy balance between anatomical, physiological, conservation, and environmental information mixed with fun facts and pictures.  I continued to update the module whenever I learned something new, but I always tried to maintain the balance.  My first time teaching the 5th graders was a life changing moment.  Experiencing the student’s energy and excitement, and hearing their insightful questions made me realize my love for teaching. 

  When I was a Brownie, I never imagined the impact that Girl Scouts would have on my life.  It has led me to discover myself, my passions, and my dreams.  Because of this wonderful organization, I have become the confident leader I am today. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lynelle McKay's Wells Fargo Kick-Off Speech

Society encourages girls to reach for the stars, to never give up, but if their community doesn’t provide them with the tangible tools and knowledge to do so, then we are failing them. Confidence, character and leadership skills are all traits fostered by Girl Scouting. They are also the foundation to becoming upstanding citizens.

Girl Scouts surprises Wells Fargo with a big welcome. 
Financial literacy is a subject more and more people are talking about--especially regarding girls and women. A recent Prudential Research study revealed  that women have more acquisitional power today than ever before, yet fewer than two in 10 of them feel “very prepared” to make wise financial decisions. Women have a longer life expectancy—sorry, guys!—but smaller retirement savings goals. This is unacceptable.

The statistics are clear; both Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Wells Fargo are aware of it. This is why we’ve teamed up to provide the girls of Central Texas with a patch program that will introduce them to personal finance management and empower them to manage their money wisely.

It’s not just the program we’re here to announce, though. We’re also here today to thank Wells Fargo for their generous donation of $30K, which will allow us to bring this program to 46 counties and over 19,000 girls that we serve. That means that after completing the program, 19,000 Central Texas girls have the knowledge and skills required to manage their finances as confidently as their male counterparts.

Girl Scouts of Central Texas is committed to providing high-quality and relevant leadership experiences to the girls we serve. We know these girls, the future beacons of our community and decision-makers of the world rely on us as a council, troop leaders and volunteers to provide them with the tools not just to survive, but to thrive in all aspects of their lives. Today, thanks to Wells Fargo, we can go even further in our mission. We can’t wait to see how far we’ll go with Wells Fargo.

From everyone at Girl Scouts of Central Texas--every member of the board, all staff members, and every single girl: Thank you, Wells Fargo!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Girl Scouts Help with Flood Relief

During the past weeks central Texas has received the some of the highest rainfall leading to the flooding of many homes. Troop 1594 saw the devastation and decided they needed to help out their community so they partnered with the Capital Area Food Bank to provide some relief.

For two weeks the girls collected healthy food options for the food bank which desperately needed contributions. The troop didn’t stop there--they volunteered with the food bank to distribute the items so they could see where their efforts went. The troop spent three hours passing out their collected items to those in need in the Cedar Creek area. It was an extremely moving experience for the troop and they were very happy to help the victims of the flood.

Way to go troop 1549!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Backpack Buddies is Gearing Up for Annual Drive

This happens to all troop leaders at some point: you're without a service project and you're fresh out of idea. Jen Neve was trying to find a service project for her then Girl Scouts to do during the holiday season. She had the idea to contact a foster care program for children to see if there was anything her girls could do for the children. The program told her the children often arrive with their few belongings in a trash bag and nothing more. They only asked for donations of backpacks.Jen was so overcome by their need she started to organize other troops to participate in the donation. Jen did not know at the time, but she was creating something much bigger than a one time service project: Backpack Buddies.
12 years later Backpack Buddies has continued to grow and is now serving homeless children and families in the Austin and Round Rock area. Jen gets names, ages and gender of the children from the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) in order to guarantee every child gets a new backpack. Jen asks that individuals/troops fill backpacks with age appropriate goodies for the children and that they do not spend more than $50 on the backpack.

Toward the end of October  Jen will start to match up the troops with the children and will send out the child’s “About Me” information. The backpacks will need to be returned to her before December 8 so you have a whole month to get cracking! If you are interested in participating or want more information on how you can help contact Jen Neve at .

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girl Scouts Brave Stormy Weather for "Outing for Scouting" Recruitmen

Rain or shine, Girl Scouts are there! This past Sunday Girl Scouts of Central Texas (GSCTX) held the “Outing for Scouting” event at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Bishop Vásquez was in attendance and highlighted the importance of how Girl Scout can benefit the girls and their families now and in the long run

After the service the girls from the troop church braved  the weather and demonstrated just what Girl Scouts can do. The variety of booths ranged from how to play the harp to swaps and finally to camping. Each booth showed that Girl Scouts are about more than cookies.

The “Outing for Scouting” badge was earned by going around to each booth and getting the latest information on scouting.Current Girl Scouts  got to add it to your collection and girls who weren't in Girl Scouts got to start their own. The main goal the event was to encourage girls to join Girl Scouts and to increase the number of adult volunteers and staff at the Sacred Heart Church by interacting directly with the girls and the Church congregation members

Emily Magnotta, the event coordinator, was extremely happy with the  and she know  people left knowing that Girl Scouts welcome diverse interests and backgrounds and can play a key role in the lives of girls and women alike.

GSCTX would like to give a huge thanks to all of our volunteers and collaborators who made “Outing for Scouting”  a big success!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Girl Scouts Troop 2038 Thinks Outside of the Box!

When Patsy Sommer Elementary School needed a permanent collection box for clothing, Brownie Troop 2038 was there to help. One of the troop moms knew the girls could use their handy Girl Scout skills to make the box for the Round Rock Independent School District’s (RRISD) Clothes Closet Project.

During the summer, the girls and  troop parents worked on the box until it was ready for decoration. The girls then unleashed their creative side and gave the box some flair, earning their painting badge in the process. The troop presented the Clothes Closet donation dox to the principal of Sommer Elementary at the last PTA meeting. 

Brownie Troop 2038 hopes the box is just the beginning of a larger purpose-- helping collect clothing for students in need in RRISD.

Service projects like these wouldn't be possible without the help and encouragement that our adult volunteers provide. One of the many things that Girl Scouts do to improve the lives of the people in their community. Won't you be a part of it? Join today!

-Thanks Christine C. for the submission!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Girl Scout Fall Product sale: Nuts, Candy and Magazines, oh my!

It’s that time of year again! There's a chill in the air, we're no longer in the sweltering 100's and The Fall Product sales have started! We know you are so excited to see what we have in store this 2013. 

Along with our nuts and chocolates, Girl Scouts will be offering magazine subscriptions via our new online website. It will make it much easier for girls to contact you and for you to support a Girl Scout and her troop.

Each troop gets 35% of all nut and chocolate sales and $2 of every magazine sale. All proceeds earned from the Fall Product sale will go directly back to the troops to fund the upcoming year’s activities and adventures.

By participating in the Fall Product sale you are helping the girls learn valuable lessons like responsibility and accountability.

Nuts and chocolate sales run from Oct.1-Oct.12.
Magazine sales run from Oct.1-Oct.31.

The sale doesn’t last long so don’t miss out on your chance and support a Girl Scout today!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Joining Girl Scouts of Central Texas "has been a better experience than I could have imagined."

"Three years ago my daughter Amy came home from school asking if she could join Girl Scouts of Central Texas. Having never been a Girl Scout myself, I wasn't sure what to expect from the troop or what would be expected of her.

Three years later, I can tell you that I'm thrilled she joined Girl Scouts--it's been a better experience than I could have imagined.

Her leaders, Ms. Stefanie and Ms. Katherine, encourage and TEACH many of the traits that I want for Amy: to make smart, thought-out decisions, be physically active, leadership,environmental responsibility, and kindness/ respectfulness toward others.

Not only is she learning to be a strong, smart young lady, but she's having fun experiences along the way. Horseback riding, hiking, camping,dancing, sleepovers, and sports have all been incorporated into her troop's meetings.
Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Girl Scout Troop 1976 ROCK!"

-Toni D., Austin, TX

Sign your daughter up today  for Girl Scouts and help her experience all the fun and excitement that comes with being part of a troop!

Volunteer now and change the lives of dozens of Central Texas girls right in your community-- you CAN make a difference!

We can't wait to see the great things you'll do!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Girls from Troop #329 "Explore Austin"

If you were on the University of Texas campus on Sunday, September 22nd, you may have seen a blur of green walking through campus.  The group of green was Girl Scout Troop 329 enjoying the first day of fall and Austin Museum Day.