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Girl Scout Camp

Most people know about Girl Scout camp in the summer, but did you know that you can go to camp all winter long? Our camps offer fun and unique winter outdoor opportunities for everyone to enjoy. Your girl can go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing through the trails, sledding downhill, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate to warm up after a fun day of play. These activities get your body moving and aren’t something most people can do in their backyards. Are you interested in winter camp opportunities? Click here to learn more.

Snow Adventure Badge

Girl Scouts can earn outdoor badges in winter as well as in summer. One example is the Snow Adventure badge that Girl Scouts can earn during troop meetings or on their own. This badge encourages girls to play in the snow and not be afraid to get hot and sweaty. Some examples of how to earn this badge are building a snowman or snowwoman, going sledding, or building a snow fort. The Snow Adventure badge gives girls a chance to be silly, have fun outside, and participate in Girl Scouts all at once!

Get Creative

It’s a common myth that the outdoors in the winter is boring compared to the summer. But this is not the case; you can do some creative and out-of-the-box things in the winter that you cannot do in the summer. You and your girl can go ice fishing on a frozen lake, blow bubbles and watch them freeze, or go animal watching. These ideas are fun ways to learn new skills and more about nature.

Conclusion

Why should Girl Scouts get outside and experience the outdoors? Spending time outside has many benefits for girls. Being outdoors can help reduce stress and anxiety and help increase focus and respect for nature. All of these benefits will help girls throughout their entire lives. Spending time outside all year long, not just in the warm months, is something that Girl Scouts are encouraged to do. As all Girl Scouts know, there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

Goal Setting

Girl Scouts set goals through the Cookie Program by deciding how many cookies they would like to sell during cookie season. Girl Scouts choose their goals based on what rewards they want and how they want to use their proceeds. The rewards a girl earns are based on the number of cookies she sells. Girl Scouts can use their proceeds to do whatever they want, whether it be paying for uniforms, an extra camping trip, traveling to Mackinac Island, etc.

 

Goal Setting is also a great skill to build throughout life; it is essential to have things to strive for, whether it be personal or professional. Setting small goals when participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is excellent practice for when girls get older.

Decision Making

Girl Scouts learn to make decisions on their own and as a team. Many decisions go into participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, from how many cookie booths she wants to have, where/when she would like the cookie booths, what goals she sets, who to contact, and how to contact them to find out if would like Girl Scout Cookies.

 

Decision making is an important skill to have in life. As she gets older, she will have to make many large and small decisions. Some examples include what to make for dinner, what job field she wants to go into, where she wants to live, and does she want a pet. Knowing how to make decisions will help make her life easier if she practices when she is young.

Money Management

Girl Scouts learn how to create a budget and handle money. Girl Scouts work with money when they participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which most kids do not do until they are teenagers.

 

Over the past decade, the world has become increasingly online, including how people interact with money. Girls learn how to use online payment like Paypal and Venmo or how to process credit cards with Square. When girls sell Girl Scout Cookies, they gain experience handling different types of money.

People Skills

Girl Scouts find their voice and build confidence through customer interactions. Talking to people at cookie booths and using persuasive language to make a sale, Girl Scouts learn how to speak with all different types of people and personalities.

 

Talking to other people with a different background than you is an essential skill that not many children learn. When Girl Scouts grow up, they are more comfortable starting conversations and relating to others because of the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Business Ethics

Girl Scouts learn to act ethically, both in business and in life. They gain this skill from their troop leaders and their parents. A great example of this is when there is more than one girl at a cookie booth, all of the proceeds from the booth get split evenly between every girl, not just one.

 

Ethics is a great skill to have in life; it helps guide people toward equity and empathy in their professional and personal lives. Knowing the difference between right and wrong is a skill that builds as one grows, and it is vital to start that early.

Conclusion

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the world, and it teaches girls outstanding skills that will help them in their professional lives as they get older and their personal lives. The 5 essential skills of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics help girls to succeed in the cookie season and beyond!

Daisy

Our littlest leaders have many opportunities to learn about STEM with multiple STEM badges and programs that Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan offers. Two examples are

                    -Career Exploration Badge

                    -Automotive Manufacturing Badge

These badges are good examples of introducing girls to different career fields that they might not be considering. Career exploration allows girls to learn about all of the opportunities that people might not be talking to them about, such as automotive manufacturing.

Brownie

Brownie girls have similar STEM opportunities as Daisies, with many beginner STEM badges and programs that Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan offers. Two examples are

                    -Digital Game Design Badge

                    -Numbers in Nature Badge

These badges are two examples of showing Girl Scouts that STEM learning and activities can be fun. When girls learn about STEM in a fun way, it can pique their interest in a way that it might not otherwise. With these badges, Girl Scouts learn how to have fun while learning about STEM.

Junior

Junior Girl Scouts have more experience with STEM from learning about it at school, and Girl Scouts take advantage of that and takes STEM activities to the next level. Two examples are

                    -Showcasing Robots Badge

                    -Cybersecurity Basics Badge

These badges represent how girls can use their imagination while interacting with STEM and how important it is for girls to be safe while online. When girls can take off and use their imagination with a project, they will engage much more than they would otherwise. The Cybersecurity Basics Badge will help to teach girls how to be safe when they are online, which is an important skill to learn young because as girls get older, they are online more and more.

Cadette

Similar to Juniors, Cadettes have a bit of STEM experience through school, and Girl Scouts aims to go more in-depth in specific topics to help girls learn more. Two examples are

                   -Coding Basics Badge

                    -App Development Badge

Both badges show how girls can go more in-depth on a specific topic and how timely badges can be. App development and coding are two newer fields that have been gaining popularity in the past ten years and will not be going away any time soon. We want to prepare girls for these fields and give them knowledge early to use as they grow.

Senior

Seniors have a relatively broad knowledge of STEM due to school and other technology use, so Girl Scouts positions itself as another tool that girls can use to learn about what interests them and give them opportunities they would not typically have. Two examples are

                    -Website Design Badge

                    -Digital Game Design Badge

Both badges offer fun hands-on learning that Girl Scouts can do to complete the badge. The hands-on learning aspect helps the girls to retain more information than just reading about the topic. When they are learning this intensely, there is a possibility for them to realize that this is something that they want to explore more.

Ambassador

Ambassador Girl Scouts are the oldest and most knowledgeable about STEM; they are also the closest to getting a secondary education and choosing a career field. Girl Scouts wants to help and prepare girls for both through the badges and programs offered. Two examples are

                    -Space Science Master Badge

                    -STEM Career Exploration Badge

These badges continue to show the different opportunities that STEM has to offer and all of the diverse knowledge that girls can learn. The STEM Career Exploration badge is similar to the Daisy STEM Career Exploration Badge but much more in-depth and is designed to help Girl Scouts to start thinking about what they would like to do when they enter the workforce.

Conclusion

Girl Scouts works hard to show girls that STEM is not intimidating or scary but fun and exciting. Girl Scouts introduces STEM into girls’ lives from a young age and offers many diverse opportunities for girls to try so that one may spark an interest. When girls are taught about STEM early in life, it shows them that they are capable of working in that field, which is the first step in closing the gender gap in the STEM field.

Early Life

Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was born in Savannah Georgia on October 31st, 1860. She was nicknamed Daisy by her uncle when she was little. When Juliette was a child, she was accident-prone and had numerous injuries and illnesses. In 1866 Juliette’s mom wrote that “Daisy fell out of bed – on her head, as usual …” Juliette had frequent earaches as a child and developed partial hearing loss when she was young. When she got older, she became deaf in both ears due to an untreated infection and a small grain of rice.

Giving back to her community was a staple throughout Juliette Gordon Low’s life. When she was young, she formed The Helpful Hands Club with her cousins. The members learned how to sew and tried to make clothes for children in need. Once she got older, her philanthropy continued with regular work helping women with leprosy, caring for people experiencing poverty in her community, and joining the local nursing association.

Girl Scouts

When Juliette Gordon Low was an adult, she spent a lot of time overseas in England and Scotland. While there she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts. Juliette then became involved in Girl Guides, the girl version of Boy Scouts that was led by Agnes Baden-Powell, Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s sister. Juliette formed a troop near her house in Scotland and taught girls to become independent by spinning wool and caring for livestock.

In 1912, Juliette came back to the United States in the hopes of bringing Girl Guides to America. As soon as she returned she told her cousin “I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight." On March 12, 1912, she formed the first Girl Guides troop in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, which would later be renamed Girl Scouts. For the next year, Juliette traveled along the East Coast spreading the word about Girl Guides. She returned to Savannah when President Taft wanted to visit her home so that she could tell him about Girl Guides as well.

 

In 1913, Juliette decided to change the name from Girl Guides to Girl Scouts. As she did this, she created the Girl Scouts headquarters in Washington D.C. and was elected the organizations founding president. Juliette stepped down as the National President of Girl Scouts in 1920 so that she could devote more of her time to promoting Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting internationally.

During World War II Girl Scouts saw needs in their communities and wanted to help. Girl Scouts in Washington D.C. began growing and harvesting their own food when produce became hard to find during the start of the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover thanked Juliette Gordon Low for her efforts, and Juliette responded by encouraging Girl Scouts to work with the Red Cross to make surgical dressings and knitting clothes for soldiers.

Late Life

Juliette Gordon Low developed breast cancer in 1923 and continued to suffer through it until she died in 1927. Juliette kept her illnesses quiet and did not tell many people about her health problems. Throughout Juliette’s battle with cancer, she continued to support and work for Girl Scouts. Juliette died in her home in Savanah on January 17, 1927, when she was 66 years old.

After Juliette’s death, an honor guard of Girl Scouts escorted her casket to her funeral. 250 Girl Scouts left school early that day to attend her funeral and burial. Juliette was buried in her Girl Scout uniform with a note in her pocket stating "You are not only the first Girl Scout but the best Girl Scout of them all." Her tombstone read, "Now abideth faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love."

Conclusion

Juliette Gordon Low has left behind a huge legacy that still continues today. Juliette Gordon Low has been given many honors since her death in 1927. Here is a short list of some of her accolades:

-Juliette’s home in Savannah became a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and is visited by many Girl Scouts from all over the world.

-Juliette donated a seven-acre park in Savannah, which bears her name to this day.

-Juliette was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1927.

-Juliette received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 29, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the creation of Girl Scouts.

What happens at Jubilee?

Jubilee is a fun name, but what exactly happens at the event? Lots of fun things! You and your girl will get the opportunity to try the new Girl Scout cookie, Raspberry Rally, learn more about Digital Cookie, play a fun game of Laser Tag, and learn more about the five skills of product program. Here is a list of some of the fun activities that will be happening at Jubilee:

Laser tag: Play a fun game of laser tag with your Girl Scout sisters where you will be playing on teams to support the Thin Mint or the Do-si-do. These two cookies are in a friendly competition to see who will be the number one cookie seller this year? Who will come out number one?

Raspberry Rally: Get your first taste of the new exclusively online cookie for this new cookie season, the Raspberry Rally!

Learn about Digital Cookie: There will be many fun activities to get you excited about starting your digital cookie sales on December 1st! One of these activities will be creating your very own cookie commercial. Write your script and shoot your video for what you want your customers to know about you and why you are selling Girl Scout cookies this year.

Make a S’more: It wouldn’t be a Girl Scout event without a S’more, did you know that the first written account of a S’more was in Girl Scouts? Join in the Girl Scout tradition, and have a tasty treat, while making a S’more with us.

5 Skills: Girl Scouts learn five key business skills when they participate in Product Program: Money Management, Business Ethics, People Skills, Goal Setting, and Decision Making. Throughout the day there will be different activities to highlight each skill.

Jenga-Chance: Test your decision-making skills while playing a game of giant Jenga! Become an ultimate decision-maker by pulling consequences and opportunities. See how the balance of your choices affects your daily life.

Conclusion

Jubilee is coming up on November 5th! Don’t miss this awesome event with lots of activities and up-to-date news about the upcoming product program season. Join your Girl Scout sisters in Kalamazoo for this event, we can’t wait to see you there! Register for the event here.

Forming

In 2017 Giselle Burgess, a single mother of six, lost her home when rent prices drastically increased and had to move her family into a homeless shelter.  While there, Giselle wanted to help and bring some normalcy into her daughters lives, and thought that it would be a great idea to start a Girl Scout troop.  On top of the many hardships that Giselle was already facing (filing public assistance paperwork, applying for food stamps, transferring her kids to another school closer to the shelter, and much more) starting this Girl Scout troop was harder than she initially thought it would be.  She was having a hard time to get other girls to sign up because their parents, similar to herself, already had a lot on their plate and were just trying to make it through each day.  On top of that, it was hard to find a meeting place because families in the shelter could not meet in one another’s room.  And it would be very difficult for the girls to be able to sell Girl Scout cookies because the shelter did not allow them to be sold door to door, the way many other Girl Scouts throughout the country sell them.

With the help of City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Girl Scouts of Greater New York employee, Meridith Maskara, Giselle eventually got the troop up and running.  The troop started with about 20 members and quickly grew to over 600, expanding to different shelters throughout New York City!  Troop 6000 continued meeting virtually throughout the pandemic, and are still meeting today.  Giselle now works for the Girl Scouts as an Outreach Coordinator, and she and her children are no longer living in the shelter.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/books/review/troop-6000-nikita-stewart.html)

Experiencing Homelessness

Experiencing homelessness is hard on anybody, but it is especially hard on children.  Children thrive on routine, and when they are without a stable living situation a routine is hard to come by.  Many families in the shelter system have moved around at least two or three times, and through the moving process kids tend to lose comfort items (blankets, stuffed animals, pets) and this can make each transition even harder.  Troop 6000 is built to provide consistency, stability, fun, and community through an uncertain and stressful time in a child’s life.

Families with children are the vast majority of the New York City population of people experiencing homelessness.  68% of the 70,000 people living in homeless shelters are families.  Out of the 70,000 people living in shelters about 23,000 are children and 12,000 are girls.  The New York City shelter system is meant to provide temporary emergency housing for families while they take that time to get back on their feet.  The average stay for a family in a homeless shelter is 18months.  When a family with a girl in Troop 6000 transitions out of a homeless shelter and into a stable living environment the Greater New York Girl Scout council will help them with their transition by delivering a "Welcome Home Basket" to their new place of living with items like shampoo, pillows, and blankets to ease them into their new home.  The girls are also connected to a new local troop so that they can continue in their Girl Scout journey, while also still inviting the girl to Troop 6000 events so that she can stay connected to her Girl Scout sisters in the troop.

(https://www.girlscoutsnyc.org/en/whatgirlsdo/gs-troop-6000.html)

Conclusion

Troop 6000 is a Girl Scout troop formed exclusively for girls in homeless shelters in New York City.  Each week troop 6000 meets in shelters across the city.  Research has shown that Girl Scout alumnae have a stronger sense of self, achieve higher levels of education, and are more likely to reach a higher socio-economic status.  Girls in Troop 6000 have a chance to reach their full potential when in Girl Scouts, and having their eyes opened to the endless possibilities that they can achieve in their future.  Troop 6000 is a unique troop that provides opportunity and a sense of community for some of the girls that need it the most.  To learn more about Troop 6000 or to partner with them, contact makeadifference@girlscoutsnyc.org.

(https://www.girlscoutsnyc.org/en/whatgirlsdo/gs-troop-6000.html)

As mentioned in our part 1 of the Back to School blog most people are in the full back to school swing! Getting ready for your girl to head back to school can be exhausting and a little nerve-wracking for your girl, so we are here to give you some tips on how to minimize her back to school jitters.

Tips on how to minimize the jitters

Now that you have talked to your girl about what she is nervous for when going back to school, it is time to come up with a game plan. Here are some tips that you and your girl can try this back to school season to boost her confidence walking into class on her first day.

· Work with your girl to come up with a plan to help tackle her nerves. When you include her in the plan she will feel listened to and get to think about and express her opinions on how she can grow. In the plan talk about how often you both want to check in with each other on progress, this way it hold both of you accountable for moving toward your goal.

· Give her some downtime after school before doing chores and homework. Girls tend to be overstimulated after school which can lead to feeling more anxiety and burn out. Allowing some time to relax after school will let her recharge and absorb her day before focusing on the next thing.

· Flexibility after setting and implementing these plans is key! If they are not working and your girl still has nerves around going back to school, then switch it up and try something new.

(https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls/school/BacktoSchool/back-to-school-stress.html#back-to-school$$$)

Minimize parents back to school stress

Starting a new school year isn’t just a lot for your girl, it can be a lot for you as well. There are so many different back to school lists to keep track of, back to school shopping, and signing your girl up for all of her activities can be exhausting. Here are few tips to help reduce your stress during back to school season.

· Simplify your back to school shopping for school supplies by looking around your house first to see what materials you already have and don’t have to add to your shopping cart.

· There are so many different school forms that need to be filled out and turned in, try keeping them all in one folder to keep track of them all. Have the left side be forms you still have to complete and the right side be forms that you have completed. This way everything is in the same spot and can be turned in together. This is also handy throughout the school year when your girl comes home with different permission and health forms.

· Ease your kids into their school schedule early if you can. This can mean make lunch the day before, pick out clothes the day before, and earlier bedtimes a week before school starts. This way you will all feel more prepared the first day of school and will have fewer things to do in the morning.

· Teamwork makes everything easier! Moms often feel like it is all on them to get everything ready for school, but others in the family can help to. Delegating tasks to a partner, or even giving age appropriate tasks to your girl, like picking out her clothes the next day, can be a big help.

(https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls/school/BacktoSchool/back-to-school-stress.html#back-to-school$$$)

School is starting soon, so it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done before school starts. Get ready for back to school the Girl Scout way! Is your girl starting a new school, just starting school, or nervous to head back to school after the summer? Girl Scouts is a great way for your girl to make new friends!

Make New Friends

Making new friends can be intimidating, whether your girl is starting at a new school or just coming back from summer break. Going over some tips with her about ways to start conversations with new people can help to ease the fear a little bit. Here are some ideas that you can talk with her about before her first day of school. The more she practices, the more natural it will feel, so practicing these techniques on family members can be a great start!

Tips to start a conversation with a potential friend:

· “Have you read anything cool lately?” Asking about a specific topic, like a book or a favorite animal, gives a clear direction for the conversation to go and it can lead to many other topics to talk about as well!

· “Do you want to share my crayons?” Offering to share is a great sign of friendship and openness. It is also a great way to start an activity together and get to know the other person.

· “I like your Wonder Woman lunchbox! Wonder Woman is my favorite super hero, is she yours too?” Looking for cues that you may have in common with others is a great way to start a conversation and learn more about a new potential friend!

· “How did you feel about today’s quiz?” Talking about a shared experience is a great way to introduce something that everyone can discuss.

https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls/happy-and-healthy/friendship/how-to-make-friends.html#back-to-school$$$

Lead by example: You are working with your girl on gaining her confidence by taking risks, not being afraid of failure, and not getting stuck in negative spirals. A great way to show that you are dedicated to helping her is by doing this yourself. If your girl sees you taking these steps she will be more encouraged to them as well. Be honest with her about your feelings, let her know when you are scared but you took a risk anyway and if it paid off or not. Tell her stories about your failures so that she knows it happens to everyone and you survived the failure.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/well/family/confidence-gap-teen-girls-tips-parents.html)

Back to school list

Most schools will send your girl a back to school list of things that she will need, like colored pencils, notebooks, and a calculator, but there is a couple more things that Girl Scouts suggests that you add to that list. These items you can’t buy at the store, and they will be useful to your girl in and out of the classroom!

The items we suggest she adds to her back to school list are:

· Expand Her Comfort Zone: raising a hand to ask a question, or trying out for a club/sports team can be scary, but the more that your girl steps outside of her comfort zone and try these scary things, the easier they become. Try setting a goal of doing one thing a week that may seem scary, like talking in front of the class, and she will slowly build her confidence so that these things become comfortable.

· Be a Team Player: Even though most school work is individual, it is still very important to learn how to work in a team. Talking with your girl about the importance of listening to everyone’s ideas (even if you disagree with them) and how everyone has a different prospective that they are coming from are great ways to start!

·        Good Night’s Sleep: The National Sleep Foundation recommends that kids ages 5-12 get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep each night. Getting consistent good night’s sleep will help to retain information that was already learned, as well as help to remember new information. In addition to 10-11 hours of sleep, a good and healthy breakfast is a great way to start the day, and give your girl even more energy to have a great day!

· A Supportive Adult: Be engaged with your girl throughout the weeks to see what she may be struggling with, needs help with, or what accomplishments she has met. When she knows that you are always on her side she will more likely to share the negatives with you as well as the positives so that you both can work through the challenges together.

https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls/school/BacktoSchool/back-to-school-list.html#back-to-school$$$

Girl Scouts Climate Challenge

While enjoying the outdoors, it is also important to learn about the outdoors. Girl Scouts of the USA is partnering with the Johnson & Johnson Foundation to release the “Girl Scouts Climate Challenge”. The Challenge is running now through the end of November 2022. In this challenge Girl Scouts will go through three phases of activities to first explore the climate sciences, then connect with their community, and lastly share hope with others. Some activity options when completing the challenge are: learn how climate change impacts pollinators, research environmental groups, reduce your household’s carbon footprint, or plant a tree. When Girl Scouts compete in this climate challenge they learn how to be a global citizen and how to interact with the environment without harming environment.

(https://www.girlscouts.org/en/activities-for-girls/for-every-girl/girl-scout-climate-challenge.html

Girl Scouts Tree Promise

Now that your Girl Scout has learned a little more about the environment through the Climate Challenge she can learn more about helping the planet by participating in the Girl Scout Tree Promise. Girl Scouts of the USA has a goal to plant 5 million trees in 5 years to help combat the effects of climate change. Planting trees provide shelter and food for animals, produces oxygen to breathe, and helps to cool down cities. Any Girl Scout can participate in the Tree Promise by planting a tree, protecting a tree, or honoring a tree. All three are steps to create a sustainable solution to combat the effects of climate change.

(https://www.girlscouts.org/en/activities-for-girls/for-every-girl/tree-promise.html.html)

Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend

September 10th-September 11th is Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend. Every year on this weekend Girl Scouts nationwide discover new things about nature by traveling to and exploring state parks. State parks are beautiful natural places for girls to experience nature and try new things. This weekend is a great opportunity to take your Girl Scout to a state park and go camping, go for a swim, take a hike, or just relax and enjoy the view.

(https://www.girlscouts.org/en/members/for-girl-scouts/ways-to-participate/camp-and-outdoors/love-state-parks.html)

How to help increase confidence

There are many ways to help a girl feel more confident, and the way will be different for each girl.  Here are some ideas of ways to help your girl gain more confidence.

Help her to take more risks: staying inside your comfort zone can reduce your growth if you never step outside of it. You can do this by encouraging your girl to move beyond what she does well and to take on something a little scary. This can mean encouraging your daughter to invite a new friend over, walking to school on her own, or joining a new club. A way to help your girl take this scary step is to make a list with her of the worst outcomes that could happen, then go over it with her to talk about how likely it is that each fear will happen and how to handle it if it does.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/well/family/confidence-gap-teen-girls-tips-parents.html)

Change a negative thinking pattern: Many girls will begin to fall into negative thinking patterns and get stuck in them, creating a negative spiral for their confidence. For example: if she does not make the volleyball team, and she comes home saying she won’t be friends with girls who did make the team, and she will never be good at any sport. A way to help her out of this negative loop is to help her put her thoughts into perspective. She didn’t make the team, you can point out that if she wants to she can try out next year and make the team then. She says she will no longer be friends with girls that did make the team, why does she think that? She will still see them at school and can see them after volleyball practice. And she says that she will never play another sport again, how likely does that sound? She can still play whatever sport she wants, even volleyball, just not on that team.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/well/family/confidence-gap-teen-girls-tips-parents.html)

Lead by example: You are working with your girl on gaining her confidence by taking risks, not being afraid of failure, and not getting stuck in negative spirals. A great way to show that you are dedicated to helping her is by doing this yourself. If your girl sees you taking these steps she will be more encouraged to them as well. Be honest with her about your feelings, let her know when you are scared but you took a risk anyway and if it paid off or not. Tell her stories about your failures so that she knows it happens to everyone and you survived the failure.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/well/family/confidence-gap-teen-girls-tips-parents.html)

June is Pride month, where we celebrate all LGBTQ+ Girl Scout community members! Girl Scouts strives to provide a safe space where everyone feels that they can be themselves, without judgement or explanation. Each Girl Scout—regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, primary language, political belief, or religion—is an equal and valued member of the group, and groups reflect the diversity of the community. (https://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/gsusa/forms-and-documents/activity-zone/all-ages-levels/multicultural/LGBTQIActivities.pdf )

History

There is a long history of Pride and LGBTQ+ rights in the United States’ history. On June 28th, 1969 there was the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, where there was a series of protests and events over a six day period between the police and members of the LGBTQ+ community that started at the Stonewall Inn. The first pride march was held a year later as a one year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. In the United States Pride was initially celebrated the last Sunday in June, but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the "day" soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ+ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. (https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/june-28/)

LGBTQ+ Pride Month Patch

This year Girl Scouts has introduced a patch series called “I Am a Girl Scout!” where Girl Scouts can earn five fun patches and learn about five different multicultural community celebrations.  One of these patches is for Pride month! Girl Scouts of the USA has created an activities packet for troop leaders, volunteers, and caregivers to guide them through talking with their Girl Scouts about each patch and giving examples of how to earn the patch. Any Girl Scout can earn this patch by completing a few activities. This is not a conclusive list of ways that Girl Scouts can earn the patch, but a few of the fun option that they can choose from: (https://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/gsusa/forms-and-documents/activity-zone/all-ages-levels/multicultural/LGBTQIActivities.pdf

· Art activities:

         o Sketch a member of the LGBTQ+ community whom you admire

         o Make a rainbow flag

         o Read a book written by an LGBTQ+ author

· Community activities:

         o Learn about Spirit day and make a pledge to wear purple on October 21st

         o Read about a historical LGBTQ+ leader from the National Women’s History Museum

· Discovery activities:

        o Attend an LGBTQ+ Pride event with your family/friends/troop

        o Write a report on an LGBTQ+ athlete that you admire

Resources:

· Trevor Project: 866-488-7386

· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

· Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860

· U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19th.  It is also called Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation Day.  Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when word that slavery was abolished and the Civil War was over finally reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas.  While the Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in January 1863, not everyone followed it until after the war had ended in April 1865.  Once the news was announced in Galveston, Texas on June 19th there were celebrations throughout the newly free Black community.  Celebrating this day has become a tradition throughout the United States. (https://blog.girlscouts.org/2021/06/celebrating-juneteenth.html)

History

The name Juneteenth comes from combining “June” and “nineteenth”, and this holiday has had a long history in the United States, dating back to its origins in 1865.  The holiday was celebrated among communities since its origins, but began to grow legislative support to make it an official holiday as well.

Juneteenth spread across the country as Black people moved north during the Great Migration, though it was not the only date that celebrated the end of slavery.  In Michigan many celebrations were held on January 1st, the day that Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation.  Juneteenth began to become the most popular date to celebrate the ending of slavery in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.  In the 1990’s Detroit began holding official Juneteenth celebrations and in 2005 the state of Michigan made it an official holiday. (https://www.michiganradio.org/families-community/2020-06-19/heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-history-of-juneteenth-in-michigan)

In 1980, Texas became the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday.  After this, over 45 states and territories also declared the holiday.  On June 17th, 2021 Juneteenth became the 11th holiday recognized by the federal government.  Now many businesses give their employees this day off to celebrate when the enslaved people of Galveston learned that slavery had been abolished.  (https://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-day-celebration.html)

How to celebrate

Juneteenth has been celebrated since 1865 and continues on today.  Many cities have celebrations and parades for Juneteenth with guest speakers and food, and picnics.  Some other families will celebrate with a barbeque and spending the day in good company. (https://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-day-celebration.html)

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan has several resources to look through to learn more about Juneteenth as well as ideas for how to take action and celebrate the holiday.  Here are some of the resources we provide:

· Video 1 about Juneteenth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh_h5m-GVJE

· Video 2 about Juneteenth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtN3fFpuqtc

The University of Michigan poll found different methods that parents have used to improve children’s mental health. Mott experts recommend:

1. Relaxing family rules.  Screen time has vastly increased since the pandemic, so lots of parents are doing their best to limit it.  Perhaps talk to your child about how they feel about taking away their phone (in some cases their only means of communication with the support group of friends) and find a compromise.

2. Talking to an expert.  This step is very important for long-term improvement.  In some cases, through healthy eating, sleeping, and open communication a child can get through a mental illness without a professional’s help.  But in most other cases, this is not feasible.  Think about taking your child to their primary care doctor first to see what they recommend..

3. Trying a web-based program.  This can mean using a relaxation app like Calm, a meditation app that could help with stress.  This can give your girl an extra tool in her tool box for when she really needs it.

4. Keeping communication open but also giving space.  Ask your teen how they are doing and create a space for them to speak honestly.

5. Encouraging sleep hygiene.  Teenagers are known to have an erratic sleep schedule, but a regular and consistent sleep schedule can help and balance their mood over time and help them to feel more energized.

(https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/childrens-health/national-poll-pandemic-negatively-impacted-teens-mental-health)

Coping Skills/Action Steps

When your girl (or yourself) is feeling depressed or anxious, sometimes it can be easy to think that these feelings will never go away, and this can lead to more feelings of depression and anxiety.  It is important to remind her that the feelings will go away, maybe not as quickly as they would like them to, but they will eventually go away with proper help and support.

When you or someone you know are struggling with your mental health, it is important to have a game plan of what to do.  This way they have an idea of how to feel better.  Here is a brief list of things to consider including in your game plan if your girl starts to feel overwhelmed by her mental health:

1. Reach out to someone you trust.  Let her know that you are here for her and that she is not alone in navigating her mental health struggles.  Also encourage to talk to other support systems in her life so that she can build a network of people on her side.

2. Talk to your primary doctor if you have one.  You can talk to her doctor about how your girl is feeling, they can recommend some next steps that make sense for her, whether that be recommending a therapist or prescribing medication. It is important to be open and honest with mental health and medical professionals so they can do their best to help.

(https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms)

If you find your girl experiences a mental health crisis, there are some coping skills that you can use to try and help get through the crisis.  These coping skills are only short-term solutions to get through a crisis; they will not help in the long-term.  For long-term help, speak to a primary care doctor or therapist.

Breathing exercises.  The way that you breathe affects your whole body.  Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.  An exercise to try next time your girl is feeling overwhelmed is called “belly breathing.”  You sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.  Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.  Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out, your chest should not move.  Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling.  Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all of the air out.  Do this between 3-10 times and take you time with each breath. You can also do this exercise alongside her to show your support. (https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255)

Distraction.  Sometimes people can feel better by distracting themselves for a bit and not thinking about what is bothering them.  The key is to pick an activity that they enjoy and that relaxes them.  Some examples are watching TV, reading, listening to music, writing, painting, playing with a pet, or going for a walk.  Do not pick the activity for them, give them some ideas of things that you know they enjoy and let them pick the one that they think will work best for them.  (https://ibpf.org/articles/18-ways-to-distract-from-anxiety/)

Grounding exercises.  This is common when experiencing a panic/anxiety attack to help and calm a person down.  You start by noticing 5 things you see around you, then notice 4 things you can touch around you, then notice 3 things that you hear, then 2 things that you smell, and finally 1 thing that you taste.  Take your time while doing this task and try to focus all of your energy on it and notice how your body begins to calm.  To help a person through a grounding exercise, have them tell each thing they notice. (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/behavioral-health-partners/bhp-blog/april-2018/5-4-3-2-1-coping-technique-for-anxiety.aspx)

If you find that none of these techniques work and your girl is becoming more and more anxious/depressed/manic and you find that you are scared for their safety, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.  They are available 24/7 and are trained in mental health crisis intervention.  They are not therapists and are not meant to be used as a long-term solution, but to keep people safe when they are experiencing a mental health crisis such as suicidal thoughts.  There is also a chat line option available if you cannot talk on the phone (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ ).  If a mental health crisis is turning into an emergency call 9-1-1.

Conclusion

Mental health is an important part of everyone’s lives, and it is a topic that has historically been avoided or misunderstood.  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of mental health has taken more of a spotlight in a positive way.  Girl Scouts believes that it is important to continue this momentum and continue to talk about mental health and reach out for help if you need it.  Below are a list of resources to learn more about mental health and to help if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health.

 

Resources

These links are resources available to you to learn more about mental health as well as ways to seek help if you or someone you know needs it. 

· National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):  https://www.nami.org/home

· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

· State of Michigan mental health resources: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_99557---,00.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=staywell22

· Resources to find therapists, as well as what insurance they take and if they use sliding scale income for price

                   o 211.org

                   o https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

Mental Health general info

Parents know that from the moment their child is born that they have to keep them healthy and take care of their physical health.  You learn what signs to look out for when your girl starts to get sick and when it is time to take her to the doctor for some medicine.  But what about her mental health?  Not as many people learn the proper way to care for someone’s mental health.  Mental health is just as important as physical health; if your girl is feeling depressed or anxious, then there is a chance that it could affect her everyday life, just like if she was sick or break a bone.  Girl Scouts knows how important mental health is, especially for young girls.  In order to help girls learn more about mental health, Girl Scouts just released the Mental Health Awareness Patch.

This post is part 1 of 2 blogs that will give you some basic information about mental health, as well as provide resources where you can learn more.  These things are important to know for if your girl ever experiences a mental health crisis.  Here are some mental health “need-to-knows” in order to take the best care of your girls’ mental health.

1. Having a mental illness is NOT a weakness.  Anyone can have a mental illness, while it can be hard to handle at times, this does not make a person weak.

2. Everyone is different.  Our brains are all different, so it is okay if she has a different reaction to something than others do.  The important thing is to provide support when she is feeling this way.

3. You can help your family member or friend.  If you know someone who has a mental illness you can help them through it.  As stated above, everyone is different, which means people might need help with different things.  In order to know how to best help the person in your life that has a mental illness, ask them.

4. You can fight stigma.   There is a stigma, or negative opinion, about mental health that can prevent people from talking about it or seeking help.  You can help to break this stigma so that people around you (like your girl) know that it’s okay to talk about mental health and reach out to others when needed.  In order to help break the stigma, don’t shy away from mental health topics, and listen when people around start discussing it to show that you can support them if needed.

5. You are not alone.  If your girl is struggling with mental health, she may feel alone.  It is important to let her know that she isn’t alone.  While it is harder to tell who is struggling with mental health because it is not an injury/wound that you can see, it is more common than you may think.  About 1 in 4 people struggle with mental health at some point in their lifetime.

6. There is a lot of information and resources.  If your girl is struggling with mental health, scroll to the bottom of the page where there is a list of resources available.

(https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/may-2015/7-things-to-remember-about-mental-health)

Girl Scouts’ Response

Girl Scouts knows the importance of mental health, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic.  To emphasize how important mental health is in our lives, Girl Scouts just released the Mental Health Awareness Patch.  This patch is supported by the International Bipolar Foundation, which is a foundation founded by parents who have children with bipolar disorder.  This patch can be earned by all levels in Girl Scouts.

The Mental Health Awareness Patch objectives are to educate Girl Scouts about the brain and its influence on thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and through that knowledge, increase awareness and understanding of mental illness.  Through education, we can change the perceptions and reduce the stigma of mental illness.  The patchwork to earn this patch includes a mental illness fact vs. myth quiz, language preference sheets, brain activity sheets, and more.  Earning this patch is a great way to start a conversation with your girl about mental health.

Part of the reason that there is a negative stigma when it comes to mental health is because there is a lot of confusion for people about what statements are true and which are false when it comes to mental health.  The Girl Scout Mental Health Awareness Patch dives into this conversation with a worksheet that includes some examples about mental health myths and facts.  Here are some examples:

· Myth: You can catch a mental illness from someone else.

· Myth: People living with mental illness are not smart.

· Fact: People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of a crime than to commit a crime.

· Fact: Mental illness is a medical problem just like diabetes or asthma.

The Girl Scouts Mental Health Awareness Patch also speaks about how language can affect people and the best way to speak about people with mental illnesses.  Some examples of preferred language include saying, “she has a disability” instead of saying, “she is disabled,” or saying, “She has a mental health problem” instead of saying, “she is insane/crazy/emotionally disturbed.”  The way that we talk about people affects them and the way that they think of themselves.  If you say that someone “is disabled” that is how they will start to define themselves, when that is not the case because someone is more than their disability/mental illness.

(https://ibpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Girl-Scout-Packet-Updated-.pdf) 

Conclusion

Mental health is just as important as physical health.  This means that it is just as important to recognize the signs of your girls’ mental health declining so that you can talk to her about a therapist or psychiatrist.  There is still a stigma around talking about mental health that can keep people from seeking the help that they need.  It is important to help and reduce that stigma by talking to others about mental health and showing that it isn’t a scary topic so that you and your girl feel confident that they can get help if they need it.  Girl Scouts recognizes this and has introduced the Mental Health Awareness Patch as a way for girls and parents to learn more about mental health, as well as use the activity as a stepping stone to talk about the subject.

Resources

These links are resources available to you to learn more about mental health as well as ways to seek help if you or someone you know needs it. 

· National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):  https://www.nami.org/home

· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

· State of Michigan mental health resources: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_99557---,00.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=staywell22

· Resources to find therapists, as well as what insurance they take and if they use sliding scale income for price

                      o 211.org

                      o https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

What is Girl led

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan prides itself on being a girl-led organization. What does this mean?  The term girl-led is specific to Girl Scouts, though concept does not have to be. Girl-led is when a girl is involved in as many decisions as possible that affect her life. This can be as small as empowering her to make her own lunch for school, or as large as having her planning your next family vacation. Being Girl-led allows girls to be included in the decision making process from a young age so that when she gets older she has already developed the skills to make the best decisions for her life.

Being girl-led encourages girls to take the lead so they can gain confidence and build self-esteem. Being girl-led also lets girls learn to speak up and advocate for themselves. Learning these skills from an early age can help girls to perfect them to use them throughout the rest of their lives. (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/defining-girl-led-with-your-troop-families.html)

Girl led in Girl Scouts

Girl-led has always been an important part of Girl Scouts. The concept is used in every aspect of Girl Scouting, from troop meetings to Girl Scout Camp. During troop meetings, troop leaders do their best to make the meeting agenda as girl-led as possible. While the amount of girl-led is based on the age of the girls, it is good to start practicing early so that the girls knows what is expected of them as they get older. As girls get older, more and more of their activities become majority girl-led.

An example of a girl-led troop meeting for older Girl Scouts could look like girls making the agenda themselves, and taking a vote on what they would like to do for the meeting.  The girls’ then work together to plan what the meeting will look like, and then execute it.

An example of a girl-led troop meeting for younger Girl Scouts could look like the troop leader giving the girls two or three options of what the girls would like to do and the Girl Scouts vote on which sounds best to them. While the younger Girl Scouts activities are not as girl-led, they are learning how to work as a team to make the decisions.

Another way that Girl Scouts strives to be girl-led is by giving adult volunteers the tools needed to lead in a girl-led manner. Some ways that adult volunteers can help Girl Scouts move its girl-led mission forward is to:

-Practice guiding girls in an activity instead of leading

-Demonstrate something for a girl while explaining why the skill is important, instead of doing it for them

-Show that failure is a part of learning, and that it is okay

-Give girl suggestions on how to solve problems instead of telling them

How to be more girl led in everyday life

When girls learn to be leaders through girl-led activities, they take ownership of their decisions and grow into confident leaders who make informed decisions. The more that girls make their own decisions, the more likely they are to learn these skills and be able to use them for the rest of their lives.  It is good for girls to be girl-led in all aspects of life, not just in Girl Scouts.  (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/programming/let-girls-take-the-lead.html)

Here are some other ways that families can practice being girl-led in their everyday lives:

-Have your girl be in charge of directions in the car

-Have your girl be responsible for one meal a week for the family

-Let your girl be involved in the rules set for her like screen time, curfew, or what TV shows she can watch.

-Let your girl be involved in creating the chore chart and schedule for the family

-Have your girl be a part of the conversation when talking about consequences for her actions, whether this be positive or negative. This can allow her to voice her opinions and she will know that the consequences are well thought out and chosen for a good reason.

Being girl-led helps girls gain leadership skills and become independent people early in life. Girl Scouts strives to make as many things as possible girl-led in the organization in order to help and build these skills in Girl Scouts.

What Is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a widely celebrated holiday throughout the world, with over one billion people and 190 countries acknowledging it each year. Earth Day is a day of action, where people all around the world work to change behaviors and create a global, national, and local policy changes that will help to keep the environment clean. (https://www.earthday.org/history/ )

In the early 1900’s most people in the United States were not aware of what pollution could do to a person’s body and how it could harm the environment. This changed in 1962, when Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring”, a book discussing the link between pollution and public health. This new awareness led Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and some environmental activists to create the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970.  The day consisted of 20 million Americans participating in teach ins at colleges, and rallies in parks and auditoriums throughout the country. (https://www.earthday.org/history/ )

The Earth Day events in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environment Protection Agency in December of 1970 and congress passed several environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  Earth Day has helped to pass these laws, and in turn the laws have protected millions of people and animals from harm and illness. (https://www.earthday.org/history/ )

Girl Scout Tree Promise

Girl Scouts is working to do their part to protect the planet by starting the Girl Scout Tree Promise in 2022 to try and plant five million trees in five years. Girl Scouts is partnering with Elliott Wildlife Values Project, American Forests, and Johnson & Johnson Foundation for this initiative. (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/activities-for-girls/for-every-girl/tree-promise.html.html)

If we do not take action to defend our planet, then over a million plant and animal species face extinction. One way to help prevent climate change is through reforestation. All over the world in parks and forests, climate change is damaging the ability of forests to grow back on their own. Trees are very important in our ecosystem.  Trees help to cool cities, they provide food, enhance recreation and provide a home for other animals. (https://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsusa/forms-and-documents/at_home/tree-promise/GSUSA_EWVP_TreePromise_ProgramToolkit-Resources.pdf)

You can get involved in the Girl Scout Tree Promise! In addition to helping the planet by planting trees, you can also experience the first hand benefits of having more trees in your community, like cleaner and cooler air.  You can earn the Tree Promise patch by planting a tree of your own and recording it here: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/activities-for-girls/for-every-girl/tree-promise.html.html

How can you celebrate Earth Day?

Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, made sure that caring for the environment was instilled in Girl Scouts since its start in 1912.  The Girl Scout Promise and law encourages Girl Scouts to “use resources wisely” and “to make the world a better place.” Participating in initiatives like the Girl Scout Tree Promise empowers girls to combat climate change and to protect the planet in a very concrete way. (https://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsusa/forms-and-documents/at_home/tree-promise/GSUSA_EWVP_TreePromise_ProgramToolkit-Resources.pdf)

There are many other ways that you can celebrate Earth Day in addition to the Girl Scout Tree Promise. These activities can also be done all of the time and implemented into your daily life, not just during Earth Day. (https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/)

· Clean up your neighborhood or a local park

· Use reusable grocery bags to limit your plastic consumption

· Write to your senator about climate change initiatives

· Recycle as much as possible

· Compost as much as possible

· Stay away from using one use plastic items like plastic cups, water bottles, bags, and plates. Instead try and switch to reusable items so that you limit your plastic consumption.

· Buy local food whenever possible

· Plant a garden

· Practice sustainable fashion

· Talk to others about appreciating the Earth through posting on social media

Intro

April is Autism Awareness Month, during this month people are encouraged to learn more about autism, and people with autism have a larger platform to speak about what their life is like. Autism is a form of neurodivergence; which is the idea that it’s normal and acceptable for others to have brains that function differently from one another. Other forms of neurodivergence are AHDH, dyslexia, and Tourette’s sundrome. Children with autism often feel excluded and isolated by their peers, and Girl Scouts aims to combat this by creating an inclusive environment for all girls. (https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month)

What is neurodivergence?

Neurodivergence refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities. The neurodiversity movement emerged during the 1990s, aiming to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645)

Someone who is not neurodivergent is considered “neurotypical.”  Neurotypical is a descriptor that refers to someone who has the brain functions, behaviors, and processing considered “typical.”  (https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-neurodivergence-and-what-does-it-mean-to-be-neurodivergent-5196627)

In order to make everyone feel comfortable, it is important to create environments that are conducive to neurodiversity, as well as recognizing everyone’s different strengths while also providing support for their differences and needs. This may mean to offer a quiet space if someone can be overwhelmed by noise, or provide fidget toys to someone who needs them in order to focus. This way of thinking will help and create an environment where everyone can thrive.  (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645)

The language used when talking about neurodivergence is very important. There is still a stigma around people who are neurodivergent and being able to speak about the topic in a respectful and positive way is a great way to start fighting the stigma that neurodivergent people face. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645)

Neurodivergence and Girl Scouts

Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts as an organization to serve all girls.  Girl Scouts has a long history of inclusivity, as early as 1917 there were Girl Scout troops established for girls with disabilities.  (https://blog.girlscouts.org/2012/07/inclusion-past-present-and-future.html)

Here are some ways to make Girl Scouts more enjoyable and inviting to neurodivergent girls:

· Girl Scout troops with members who are neurodivergent can do many things to help support those Girl Scouts.  An example is adjusting a badge requirement to something that is more suitable to her skillset. It is important to make sure that none of the girls in a troop feel left out and that everyone feels supported. (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

· A good practice to use whether or not you have a neurodivergent Girl Scout in your troop is to talk to each girl and their adult about what are the best ways that you can support them.  This could mean that a girl is an auditory learner or that a girl needs to know what you are doing in your meeting a couple days before in order to mentally prepare.  By talking to all parties up front you are assuring that you are setting up every girl to succeed. (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

· Keep the Girl Scouts’ adult involved.  Whether this means sending home paperwork with a Girl Scout for their parent to fill out, or if the parent comes to the meeting and participates with their girl who works better with some extra help.  (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

· Like any other troop, don't be afraid to tell parents that you need help—they’ll pitch in, especially when they see the effort you’re making to give their girl the best Girl Scout experience.  (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

· When handing out flyers and recruiting new Girl Scouts, make sure that the materials specify that girls with special needs are welcome in Girl Scouts.  This is because special needs parents are used to assuming that their children are excluded from many activities. (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

· Prepare girls in the troop to welcome a Girl Scout who is neurodivergent. Based on the needs of the girl and discussions with her and her parents, decide what to tell other girls in the troop. Talk with the other girls about helping when appropriate, but be sure to ask first if help is needed rather than assume it is needed. (https://www.autismempowerment.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Girl-Scouts-A-Place-for-Girls-with-All-Abilities.pdf)

· Be open about what neurodivergence is and what it means with your entire troop.  A troop leader with some neurodivergent Girl Scouts in her troop recommends that “The conversation can be as simple as ‘This is Suzie, and she has autism and doesn’t talk very much.  Does everyone know what autism is?’”  With conversations like this you can normalize speaking about people’s differences, which is great because everyone is different! (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-troop-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html

Conclusions

Girl Scouts was created for ALL girls, both neurotypical and neurodivergent.  Girl Scouts strives to create a comfortable environment for all girls so that everyone has the same opportunity to thrive. A troop leader with neurodivergent Girl Scouts in their troop said “I stress to everyone I meet, that we’re not a special needs Girl Scout troop; we’re a Girl Scout troop. Because Girl Scouts is for everyone.  (https://www.girlscouts.org/en/tips-for-troopleaders/members/how-one-tro”op-leader-supports-girls-with-autism.html)

Resources

· https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month

· https://www.understood.org/

· https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/links.html

The month of March is dual purpose, it is both Reading Month as well as Women’s History Month. It is so important for people of all ages to read and learn about the world around them. Whether you read fiction and expand your imagination while growing your cognitive thinking skills, or you read nonfiction and learn about amazing and inspiring people throughout history. This blog will encompass both holidays by talking about a book called “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” By: Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli.

The book highlights over 30 women throughout history who have had a positive impact in their community and the world. Some of the women are internationally known, like Oprah Winfrey and Angela Merkel, while other are only well known in their communities, like Shamsia Hassani and Katia Krafft. If you enjoy these snippets about the women, the book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” is available in all of the Girl Scout regional center stores!

Angela Merkel

 Angela Merkel was Chancellor of Germany from 2005-2021. She grew up in East Germany when the Berlin wall was built and she, along with the rest of the nation, was separated from West Germany. Merkel studied quantum chemistry and wanted to become a professor but the secret police said in order for her to become a professor she would need to spy for them. She refused, and thus did not become a professor. Angela Merkel would then become the Chancellor of Germany from 2005-2021, where she promised to never let her people be divided again.

Shamsia Hassani

 Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1988, Hassani is a graffiti artist.  She paints pictures of women on walls all throughout Kabul.  Hassani has to paint quickly at night, because people in Kabul believe that women should stay in their home and not be out, especially after dark.  Hassani doesn't believe this, and thinks that the more people see women out of the house, even if it is just a painting of a woman on the street, then they will realize that a women's place is not just in the house, but the whole world.

Nadia Comaneci

Born in Romania in 1961, Comaneci started doing gymnastics at the age of 6. She quickly became the best gymnast that the world had ever seen up to that point. She was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.0 on vault, bars, and beam. Comaneci became famous worldwide, so famous in fact that the communist leader of Romania became afraid that Comaneci might overthrow him. Comaneci did not feel safe after this and she fled Romania on foot, crossing into Hungary and then flew to the United States where she was welcomed as a refugee and started her new life.

Katia Krafft

Katia Krafft lived from 1942-1991. Krafft was volcanologist, she and her husband would travel to different active volcanos and document the eruption and subsequent lava flow. She would wear protective silver suits and helmets so that the heat from the lava that was over 1000 degrees would not burn her.  In 1991, Krafft and her husband sadly passed away when they were too close to an active volcano in Japan and were killed by the blast.

Oprah Winfrey

Born in 1954, Oprah was born to be in interviewer, she would even interview crows and her corncob dolls. Oprah looked for outlets in her life that would help her to learn the craft of public speaking and interviewing. She joined her high school’s Public Speaking team, got a job at a local radio station, and eventually joined the Baltimore TV news. Oprah found that her strength was interviewing people and empathizing with them. This led her to create her own empire, with a TV network, book club, magazine, and millions of fans. Oprah is now a billionaire and one of the most generous philanthropists in history.

Qui Jin

Lived from 1875-1907, Qui Jin was a Chinese activist for women in the oppressive Chinese dynasty at the end of the 1800s. Jin was in an abusive marriage where her husband did not support her dreams of being a writer. She left him and moved to Japan where she could be safe. While living in Japan Jin founded the "Chinese Women's Journal" where she wrote about sexism happening in china and how women could stand against these traditions and overthrow the government. Jin eventually moved back to China to start a school to teach women about self-defense and independence. The Chinese government viewed her as a threat and executed her. Throughout her short life, Qui Jin became a revolutionary symbol not only throughout China, but all over the world.

Intro

This week is National Girl Scout Week!  During the week Girl Scouts throughout the country participate in celebrations that lead up to the Girl Scouts’ birthday on March 12th!  Girl Scouts was founded on March 12th, 1912 in Savannah, Georgia.  This year, 2022, marks the 110th birthday of Girl Scouts!  To celebrate this momentous year, each regional center is throwing a birthday party, if you have not signed up for your party yet don’t forget to do so!  The theme for this birthday celebration is “windows to the past”, so we will take this opportunity to look back through Girl Scouts history.

History

1910-1940

Girl Scouts was founded in March 12th, 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low.  Low was inspired by the work of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts, and she joined the Girl Guide movement in England and then brought what she had learned back to the United States to form Girl Scouts.  When Low first created Girl Scouts it was originally called Girl Guides, after the international group.  In 1915, Low changed the name from Girl Guides to Girl Scouts.

Juliette Gordon Low formed the Girl Scouts to teach girls how to become self-sufficient and to teach them skills that they would not learn in school.  Low also taught Girl Scouts to help their community.  A troop in Washington DC began growing and harvesting their own food as well as canning perishable goods to give to community members in need.  These actions earned Low a letter from the President of the United States at the time, Herbert Hoover, thanking her for her actions in the community.  Juliette Gordon Low was president of the Girl Scouts from its founding in 1912 until 1920.  She stepped down in order to devote more of her time to promoting Girl Scouts on an international stage.

1940s and 1950s

During World War II, Girl Scouts helped their communities and country by operating bicycle courier services, running Farm aid projects, and sponsoring schools that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids.  In the 1950’s, during the Korean War, Girl Scouts supported their country by creating “Kits for Korea”.  These kits included items needed by Korean citizens that they were lacking.

1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s, Ebony Magazine reported that Girl Scouts in the southern United States “were making slow and steady progress toward surmounting racial barriers of the region.”  In the 1960s Girl Scouts were active in the civil rights movement, they held “Speak Out” conferences around the country to lend their voices to racial equality.

1970s

In the 1970s Girl Scouts elected its first African American national board president, Gloria D. Scott.  Scott served as board president from 1975-1978.  The Girl Scouts also stood up for environmental issues by launching a national “Eco-Action” program to teach girls how to improve the environment.

1980s

In the 1980s Girl Scouts created the Daisy level for kindergarten-aged girls.  Girl Scouts USA also created more patches to help girls learn about newer issues that they were confronting, such as drug use and child abuse.

1990s

In the 1990s, Girl Scouts saw the rise in popularity of computers and introduced the technology badge for girls to make sure that girls were familiar with the technology in order for them to be more prepared to go into computer dominated fields.

2000s

In the 2000s Girl Scouts USA introduced the Girl Scout Research Institute as a way to conduct their own research on the top issues effecting girls in the United States.  The Research Institute is still used to find out what are the major issues facing girls today, as well as what are the topics that girls are most passionate about.

2010s

Girl Scouts celebrated its 100th birthday on March 12th, 2011.  In 2014 Girl Scouts introduced Digital Cookie, an online platform that girls can utilize when selling cookies.  In the 2010s Girl Scouts introduced more STEM badges for girls in order to keep them involved and thriving in the STEM field.

2020s

In the 2020s Girl Scouts continue to create more new STEM related badges to help Girl Scouts close the gender gap in STEM fields.  The newest STEM badges that have been introduced include learning how to code.  While a big part of Girl Scouts growth with the times has been leaning into new technology and creating new opportunities for girls, it is important to get girls outdoors and in nature.  Today Girl Scout camps are still a staple of Girl Scouts, as well as learning and participating in outdoor activities.

https://www.girlscouts.org/en/discover/about-us/history.html

Future

The future of Girl Scouts will hold many more new opportunities for girls as new technology is discovered and new industries emerge.  New badges will be created for girls to achieve, and new female leaders will emerge and change the world for the better.  But several things have always remained constant in Girl Scouts: appreciating the outdoors, learning how to help others, and how stand up for causes you believe in.

In honor of Black History Month, in this post we are going to look at 3 women who have had 3 drastically different careers, and who defied all odds and rose to the top of their fields through determination, passion, and resilience.  Each of these women embody the Girl Scout spirit and have worked their entire lives to strive for greatness.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson is one of the women that the movie “Hidden Figures” was based off of.  Johnson was a “computer”, person who checked calculations for technological developments, at NASA from the 1953-1986.  Johnson quickly caught the attention of her superiors and joined the all-male flight research team.  When NASA started using actual computers for calculations, they still relied on Johnson to verify that the computer’s calculations were correct.  Johnson also worked on the Apollo 11 mission that successfully landed the first person on the moon.  Johnson had to overcome many gender and racial stereotypes to get to and maintain her high ranking position in NASA.

 In 2015, Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, for pioneering the advancement of Black/African American women in STEM.  Katherine Johnson’s determination and not letting gender and racial stereotypes stop her is the type of attitude that helped her succeed.  These actions of determination and never quitting on something that you are passionate about is something that all girls learn in Girl Scouts.  Johnson also believed in the Girl Scout message, having all three of her daughters participate in Girl Scouts.  Johnson’s determined and successful career in STEM has helped to pave the way for more women and people of color to have space in the field.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is the most decorated gymnast of all times.  She has 25 World Championship medals and 7 Olympic medals so far in her career.  Biles also has the rare distinction of having four different gymnastics skills named after her- one on beam, two on floor, and one on vault.  With all of these professional accolades, Biles has earned the nickname the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to the sport of gymnastics.  Biles has also earned many accolades outside of the sport.  Some of these include being named one of TIMES 100 Most Influential People, Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Ebony Power 100, and many more.

Simone Biles was not a Girl Scout, but she represents all of the Girl Scout ideals.  Girl Scouts, like Biles, believes in never giving up and working for a cause that you believe in.  One of those topics for Biles is Mental Health.  This was shown on a global scale in the 2020 Olympics when Biles sat out of parts of the competition for Mental Health reasons.  She used this opportunity to show that Mental Health is just as important as physical health, and if your Mental Health is struggling then it affects your entire body.  Biles chose to build on this momentum of Mental Health importance and self-love when traveling the country in the “Gold Over America” tour.  On the tour, Biles uses her platform to tell the audience that Mental Health is important and loving yourself is the most important thing in your life.

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice is the first African American women to hold the position of Secretary of State, holding the position from 2005-2009.  Rice was also the first woman to hold the position of National Security Advisor from 2001-2005.  These two accolades made Rice the highest-ranking African American women in US history until the inauguration of Kamala Harris as Vice President in 2021.  Rice also kept up with her passion for music throughout her political career.  She has played the piano since she was young and continued playing into adulthood.  Rice has even played with famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as well as played for the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II.

Condoleezza Rice was a Girl Scout was she was a girl and has used the skills she gained from Girl Scouts throughout the rest of her life.  Rice embodies the determination of Girl Scouts as well as the ability to not let precedent stop you from breaking barriers.  Rice also embodies the leadership qualities of Girl Scouts through her trailblazing career.  These qualities are some of the things that helped Rice ascend through the political ranks and attain a high achieving career.

February 22nd is World Thinking Day, and this post is going to prepare you to be able to celebrate it in the best way possible.  World Thinking Day is a day where Girl Guides and Girl Scouts celebrate sisterhood and togetherness all over the world.  Girls get to learn about different cultures and try new things.  World Thinking Day is unique to WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), because the organization believes that while girls live very far apart from one another, it is important for them to feel connected to each other.

History

World Thinking Day was created by the World Association of WAGGGS (Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) in 1926 to celebrate an international day of friendship every year on February 22nd.  The day was originally called Thinking Day, and it is a day to stand up for causes that could improve the lives of girls around the world.  It has grown into a day to learn about and celebrate the different cultures of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.  February 22nd was chosen as World Thinking Day because it was the birthday of Lord Baden-Powell (founder of Boy Scouts) and Olave Baden-Powell (World Chief Guide).  In 1999, at the 30th World Conference, the official name of the day changed from Thinking Day to World Thinking Day.  This change was made to emphasize the international aspect of the day.

In 1932, World Thinking Day created the World Thinking Day Foundation.  The foundation was created when at the 7th annual World Conference.  This was the beginning of the World Thinking Day Foundation where girls around the world can donate money to the foundation that helps girls keep Girl Guides and Girl Scouts going throughout the year.

https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/world-thinking-day/history/

Impact

The World Thinking Day fund helps to fund Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.  The funds specifically go toward capacity building for different councils/troops around the world.  This capacity building is what gives the councils the best recourses possible to serve the girls in their community.  The other portion of the fund is to keep the World Thinking Day festivities going from year to year.  This will ensure that girls will be able to celebrate World Thinking Day for years to come.

https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/world-thinking-day/

How to Celebrate in 2022

World Thinking Day is observed by 10million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide every year.  While girls celebrate friendship and togetherness every year, there is also a different cause that is highlighted for girls to learn about.  For 2022 the theme is “Our World: Our Equal Future: The Environment and Gender Equality”.  This theme means that while celebrating different cultures of all the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world, there is also an emphasis on what girls can do to help the environment.  The topic for 2022 World Thinking Day was chosen by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world, a poll went out to girls from 100 countries asking what issue girls were most concerned about and the majority of girls said the environment.  The environment will be the topic of World Thinking Day form 2022-2024 and it aims to teach girls how to be environmentally conscious leaders.

https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/world-thinking-day/

So how exactly is World Thinking Day celebrated?  For Girl Scouts in Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, there is the World Thinking Day Extravaganza virtual event happening on February 19th.  In this event girls will get to “fly” to countries around the world to learn about what the culture is like there and how they are protecting the environment.  This event is available for all age levels.  Each girl will even receive a passport with all of the countries that they will be visiting during the extravaganza!  This event is a great way for girls to feel the sisterhood of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world, as well as to learn about their cultures.

Conclusion

World Thinking Day encourages collaboration and cooperation with other people outside of the girl’s sphere and pushes them to learn something new and see things from different perspectives.  It is a day that girls can take a step back and appreciate the huge network that is WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) that we are a part of as Girl Scouts.  World Thinking Day 2022 is a great time for girls to learn about how to protect the environment and see what other countries are doing to protect is as well.  Now that you know how, go out and have an awesome World Thinking Day!

A Big Surprise

On a freezing cold November day in Saginaw, Michigan, one Girl Scout was about to see her troop for the last time before moving out of state.  Sammie, a seventh-grade Cadette, has been a Girl Scout for three years.  She is a part of troop #50824 and November 30th was her last meeting with them.  Unbeknownst to Sammie, her troop had created a big send-off for her last meeting.  When Sammie arrived, she was surprised with a limo waiting for her that was going to take the whole troop to Red Lobster for dinner!  The girls felt like VIPS when they saw that the limo came with a chauffeur in a suit who would open all of the doors for them.  Her troop had also put together a send-off basket with some of Sammie’s favorite snacks and candies for her to enjoy on the ride.  The entire event was extra special because none of the girls had ever ridden in a limo before, not even the troop leader!  Needless to say, this was not the goodbye that Sammie was expecting, it was so much better!

History of Friendship

Sammie was so surprised that her troop would put together this special sendoff for her!  This type of personal farewell is something that is unique to Girl Scouts.  The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts was founded on the beliefs of sisterhood and service.  A going away event like this shows how much Girl Scouts means to its members.  When asked what her favorite part of Girl Scouts was, one Girl Scout, Christina Yarn, said, “Making new friends and meeting new people.”  The bonds that girls gain from Girl Scouts goes beyond the Girl Scouting activities and far into the future, even when they are no longer in Girl Scouts. 

Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, and from the beginning she intended for the organization to be teaching girls skills that they might not learn anywhere else.  Low was also focused on friendship, famously saying, “Truly, ours is a circle of friendships, united by our ideals.”  Friendship has been a staple of the organization since its founding and it has not gone away, as shown by Sammie’s going away surprise.  .  Troop Leader Shandelier Yarn shared that she had many favorite aspects of being a Girl Scout volunteer, but that bonding with the girls was her absolute favorite part.  Similarly, Sammie shared that her favorite part of Girl Scouts was making new friends and doing artistic and creative craft projects.  These answers exemplify why this troop had a wonderful sendoff for one of its members, because they are all friends.  This troop, like most Girl Scouts troops, became close friends over time.  When one of their members of three years was leaving, they only saw it fit to give her an unforgettable goodbye.

Troop 50824

How did this troop get so close?  All Girl Scout troops do programs and activities together.  The Troop Leader shared that one program she is very proud of was the troop “partnering with Dawn of A New Day coffee shop to donate Girl Scout Cookies to their free Christmas dinner to those in need.”  Dawn of a New Day is a local Saginaw coffee shop who saw need in their community and decided to act.  They handed out ham dinner with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, bread and butter, pie, and milk, according to a WNEM article who covered the Christmas drive through dinner in 2020.  Troop #50824 did their part to help the community by raising over $1500 to be able to give away over 300 boxes of cookies to be desserts for the Christmas meal.  The troop enjoyed that experience so much that they are making it a yearly tradition to raise money and donate Girl Scout cookies to people in need.  This year they are going to partner with Dawn of A New Day, as well as East Side Soup Kitchen.  So far they have raised about $1800 and have a goal of raising $10,000 by Christmas to be able to donate as many cookies as possible to those in need.  If you would like to help the troop in their cause, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/GirlScoutTroop50824.

Goodbye Sammie

Troop #50824 is a tight knit group who love to do activities and programs together to help their community.  Everyone is sad to see Sammie go, but they know that they will still be friends even after she moves because they will always have the Girl Scouts to bond over.  Sammie said she isn’t sure if she is going to join Girl Scouts in her new town, but that she will miss the Girl Scouts here and the opportunities that she’s had and the friends that she has made.