Monday, December 5, 2016

Admiral of Adventure

The Great Outdoors are even GREATER with GSCTX! 

As the GSCTX Outdoor Program Specialist, Hilary Bernhard is our Admiral of Outdoor Adventure! Read more about her and how she earned her adventurous spirit. 

I love being outdoors!  I grew up in Orkney, a small island off the top of Scotland. Growing up,  I took every opportunity to go sea kayaking. Having studied outdoor education in Scotland,  I have seen some amazing places and spent time with some incredibly awesome people.   During my studies, I got the opportunity to spend a week cross country skiing in Norway, canoeing rivers in Scotland and river kayaking while enjoying the thrill of rapids. I had the opportunity to rock climb, rappel and hike up a mountain in the dark to watch the sunrise.  Those are just a few of the fun adventures I've had and I'm looking forward to exploring more here in America.  Before coming to America I lived in the tropical rain forest of Australia  while managing an outdoor education camp. My favorite days were when I taught rappel to children. The rappel site was a vertical drop beside a stunning waterfall.   The site was technical and challenging which made completing it a super rewarding experience.  

I try to get outdoors whenever I can.   My favorite days are when I am out enjoying sports that I love and being in nature.  If you haven’t tried something adventurous then my advice is, you should!

Visit our Calendar to see upcoming Outdoors Events. 
Visit our website to learn about the Outdoor Patch Progression Program. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Path to Gold: How these GSCTX Scouts Earned their Bronze and Silver Awards

From collecting food for local animal shelters to creating life-changing tools to help students focus in school and earn better grades, these Bronze and Silver Award projects have impacted their communities in a major way. Earning the Bronze and Silver Award are not only the first steps towards the Gold Award, they are also major accomplishments that teach girls their voices, ideas and actions are powerful enough to create real change. We are so proud of all of our award-earning Girl Scouts. Keep reading to learn more about some of this year's projects.

Animal Shelter Heroes 
After learning some animal shelters have difficulty paying for the various needs of its animals, Troop 1488 sprang into action and worked to collect money, food, bedding, grooming tools and other essentials for a local animal shelter and earned their Bronze Award in the process. They were even featured by the Austin American-Statesman. Read the full story.

Fidgets for Focus 
Inspired by her own troubles with focusing in school, McKenna L. worked her Girl Scout sisters in Troop 7073 to create "Fidgets" for students at China Spring Intermediate School in Waco. The "fidgets" are now helping two to three hyperactive students in every class at the school. The girls will also be honored at a special ceremony in a few weeks. Read the full story. 

Little Free Library 

Troop 492 and their Little Free Library Project brought stories of faraway lands and high adventure to their community. The girls created a proposal for the tiny library and presented it to their neighborhood board to get permission to build the library, Now. members of their community can drop by and check out a book whenever they get ready!

OverDrive is AWESOME

Troop 1210 loves "Overdrive," a special service provided by their local library so much they created an entire website to help the library spread the word about it. Overdrive allows readers to download e-books, audiobooks and videos on their tablet, smartphones, computers, Kindle or any other e-reader from the Austin Public Library. The girls worked more than 20 hours to create and design the website. Check out their OverDrive website. 

Super Girl Scout 

MacKenzie D. from Troop 2222 created superhero capes for kids at Dell Children’s Hospital. The patients would feel powerful and keep their minds off of the stress of being in a hospital. 

Knowledge is Power

Sachi K. from Troop 1991 created a program called Gyann Hee Shakti Hai, which means Knowledge is Power in Hindi. This program was designed to help both the elderly and the children, by partnering up one child with one senior for a tutoring session.  By doing this, each one benefits through this connection; the seniors are able to teach the younger children from their wisdom and experience, and the children providing an engaged and energized audience, relieving the boredom and loneliness many seniors feel at times.

Austin Pets Alive! 

Arielle J.  from Troop 1991 worked with Austin Pets Alive to create How-To videos for volunteers. These included how to do the laundry, how to wash bowls, how to clean kongs, how to make kongs.

More OUTSTANDING Projects 

Silver Awards 
Kate H. from Troop 2222 created an educational PSA on diversity on different sexualities and genders. This project was to help address the root cause of bullying and harassment for the community of LGBTQ+ at her middle school. 

Riya K. from Troop 2222 collected used soccer uniforms and gear to donate to underprivileged children. She knew this covered the part of the GS law by using resources wisely and making the world a better place.

Grace N. (Juliette) created an educational toy lending library. She did this in the small town of Mertzon, where there is no preschool or programs to help children prepare for Kindergarten. She worked with the local library there where the toy lending would take place. She researched and had to find donations for the right educational toys for the families, and created a way for them to check them out, as in library fashion. 

Kyndal W. spent more than 60 hours creating "Kyndal's Craft Kits" for the to Center for Child Protection to use with its curriculum for the children's activity groups and individual children visiting the center for services. 

To learn more about the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Award, visit our website 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bridging the Past to the Future:

It’s been nearly 40 years since the girls of Troop 32 sat by a fire melting marshmallows and chocolate onto a graham cracker. That is until Summer 2016

1973 First Class Award Girl Scouts from Troop 32
In the 70’s, Lone Star Troop 32 was a vital camping and community service troop that consisted of 27 girls and four very strong leaders. The troop began when four mothers, Mrs. Whorrall, Mrs. Teel, Mrs. Fink and Mrs. Foster, decided they wanted to have a safe place for girls to have fun learning experience with one another. Each mother had daughters the same age and each woman brought different strengths of leadership into the troop. Without hesitation, they became the troop leaders and thus formed Troop 32.

 Troop 32 packed up for their camping trip to New Mexico
These Girl Scouts quickly became enthusiastic about outdoor events and loved the opportunity to camp out under the stars. They took plenty of trips, but one of their favorites was when they camped out in New Mexico. Ten of the girls even went onto earning the First Class Award, now known as the Gold Award (see photo above) and were featured in the Statesman.

As time passed the girls and leaders moved on to establish their own lives always keeping close the memories of scouting. They would think fondly of their time with their troop, their many adventures and over flowing scrapbooks hoping that one day they’d see one another again.

Leslie Teel, First Class Scout at the First Class Ceremony

For Leslie Teel, one of the leader’s daughters, hoping wasn’t enough, she took action by initiating a reunion weekend for the original members and two leaders to reconnect over food, songs, activities, and one an others company. Leslie had only a few contacts from the troop, but with the help of Facebook and support of her friends she was able to contact over 20 of the girls in the original troop!

Below is the recap of the reunion as told by Leslie:

Reunion Troop 32 – July 8 - 9, 2016

16 of the original members including Leslie Teel, far left in purple
and two original leaders, Mrs. Fink and Mrs. Foster
Friday started with a few gathering a little early at my hotel room followed by the larger gathering at Waterloo Ice House on Burnett. With our leaders we had 16 there for dinner, the staff was wonderful and so patient with us. We kept having more people coming in and hugging and no one was sitting down...glad it was kind of a separate room. The waiter was wonderful and so patient with this excited, crazy bunch of ladies! We eventually started sitting down just so he could get our drinks placed somewhere. After orders were finally done, I interrupted everyone and welcomed all and we decided which grace we were going to sing (I asked on FB as we had a few favorites) We sang Johnny Appleseed (we had a standing joke, if you need rain, that is the one to sing but if out camping you had to wait until Sunday as it always rained!) We laughed when it rained on Sunday morning at the end of the reunion.

Troop leaders, Mrs. Fink and Mrs. Foster w/memory books
After food, lots of hugging and talking, we went to Mrs. Foster's home for dessert. First order when everyone arrived was to give our leaders a wonderful thank you and then give them the books that were printed for them. They told us a few stories from the leaders’ side and we shared lots of photos, broke out in a few songs on occasion and just had a wonderful time.

On Saturday, we started our Day at 1 pm at one of our member's home in Liberty Hill. People brought all kinds of snacks, there was about 10 people present that day. We shared pictures and patches and the memories to go with them. Then I had them play a game, it was related to something the leaders had us do our first year together. I gave each person a baggie with thin tootsie rolls, pretzels, and coconut in it! Mrs. Fink instantly knew what it was. Each person had to build a fire and we remembered the name of each type of fuel.
Making campfires w/pretzels, candy, and coconut

Dinner plans didn't go as planned but we laughed and talked about other times that happened with our troop. We sang from a song book one of our ladies typed up from her CIT song book many of us had back then (and some of us still do) and sat by the fire made s’mores, and sang more songs. Though we didn't get into our friendship circle and turn out like we use to (not sure everyone's body could still do that, haha) We sang "Green Trees" and straight into "Taps."

Girl Scout alum singing songs around the campfire
It was a weekend of happy tears, laughter, wonderful memories, rekindling of friendships, and many blessings.

It had been as the song we sang long ago..."and as the years go by, mmm mmm I will think of you and sigh, mmm mmm this is goodnight and not goodbye" 

Two of the original Troop leaders, Mrs. Fink (left) and Mrs. Foster (right)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Summer in Greece by Caitlin B.

This summer attended a Destination trip to the Ionian Sea. It was the most incredible experience. From the people I met to the food and culture of Greece to the views, I cannot express how grateful I am to have been able to take this trip.  Our Greek guide took a photo of our group in one of the many coves that we stopped in for “melon breaks” as he referred to them in order to take a little break from paddling and eat some delicious melon and swim around. 

We also took a selfie with our guide during a particularly long paddle day that made everyone a little bit irritable, or “salty” as we taught him the American slang word which he found hilarious as we were paddling through the incredibly salty Mediterranean Sea. 

The bottom is a photo taken by one of our leaders as we pulled into a cove for a lunch break. The relationships that I was able to form with these girls who I had never met but now talk to regularly as well as with our American leaders and our Greek and Finnish guides are truly one of a kind and will last a lifetime. The self learning that occurred and the memories that I made on this trip are irreplaceable and for everything that occurred on this trip I am so thankful.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

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

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

Science Olympiad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

#VirtualVacay: European Excursion by Sarah L.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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