Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy first day of fall!

Well, today is officially the beginning of fall. While the days grow cooler and shorter, it doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t get outdoors! Earlier this summer, we announced that GSUSA launched 23 new STEM and Outdoor badges to further enrich Girl Scout programming and boost girl engagement in activities that girls are not typically encouraged to explore outside of Girl Scouting.

Girl Scouts are no stranger to outdoor adventure! Since the beginning, Girl Scouts have been hiking, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer. According to our 2014 More than S’mores report, Girl Scouts who get outdoors are twice as likely to connect with and care for the environment than non-Girl Scouts, and because of Girl Scouts 71% of girls tried an outdoor activity for the first time!  And we know from our surveys that our girls love to get outside to seek new challenges.

Now, it’s even easier for Girl Scout volunteers to introduce girls to the wonders of the outdoors. Whether you’re a camping pro, or just starting out, you can help girls of all ages have a positive experience in the great outdoors.  Our Outdoor Adventures program staff are happy to help you plan fun and exciting outdoor adventures – or just check our new Program Guide to see what is available to your troop.

Thanks to a grant from the Elliott Wildlife Values Project, Girl Scouts has eight outdoor skill-building videos especially for volunteers newer to Girl Scouts and older Girl Scouts as they take younger girls outside. Here are two of our newer ones below!

Outdoors Songs and Games from GirlScoutsUSA on Vimeo.

Introduction to Fire Building from GirlScoutsUSA on Vimeo.

Happy exploring; and happy fall!  Remember—positive activity keeps our minds and bodies strong.  So, let’s all make a promise to ourselves and our girls to get outside and moving in the beautiful weather.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Check this out! Girl Scout from Manchester talks entrepreneurship with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon

In July, I traveled to Washington, DC with Girl Scout Julia Vieira Reis from Manchester for the incredible opportunity to meet the SBA Administrator Linda McMahon. Julia, who is twelve years old and one of our top cookie sellers in Connecticut, sat down with the SBA to talk entrepreneurship and the skills that she gains from the not only the Girl Scout Cookie Program®, but from being a Girl Scout! Here’s Julia’s account of her experience:

This summer, I was invited to Washington DC to talk with the SBA Administrator Linda McMahon about entrepreneurship and the Girl Scout Cookie Program. This opportunity blew my mind, and I had a blast doing it! During the four-day trip, I spent two days exploring DC with my mom, and the other two with Girl Scouts. I did quite a lot and experienced a lot of traveling by train. It was so exciting!

My mom and I went on a previous trip to DC a couple years back, and saw a lot of the monuments, so this trip, we just had a nice ride on some city bikes around the area and visited the Jefferson Memorial. The view across the lake was beautiful; it was a wonderful day to bike ride too. The sun was shining… nice fluffy white clouds… it was a perfect day. We also visited some museums! We went to the National Air and Space Museum with the awesome aircrafts and space shuttles. Then, we went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was very moving.

What I was most excited for was meeting Linda McMahon. It was a little nerve racking, but I was very thankful for this opportunity. The studio was at the NASA headquarters, and I found that especially thrilling because I have an interest in science!  Inside the studio, I was astonished by the big fancy cameras, bright lights, and that I was in the same room as Mrs. McMahon! I even got to see the back room and try my hand at playing with the lighting— that was fun. And in the end, the interview was a success. To be honest, it didn't feel as much as an interview; it felt like a casual everyday conversation which really helped take the pressure off. Not to mention, Mrs. McMahon is very easy to talk to; we had a lot in common because we are both entrepreneurs! It was so fun to talk about why I love selling Girl Scout Cookies, and I was happy to also receive some marketing and entrepreneurial tips from the SBA Administrator. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

The day after the interview, my mom and I got a tour of the U.S. Capitol. It was an amazing experience! I saw some famous U.S. history paintings like the signing of the Constitution or Washington crossing the Delaware and learned about congress and other U.S. history. But what I found really cool was the architecture. If you stand in a certain spot inside the dome, a tiny whisper can be heard from across the room! I found it interesting how the sound waves travel like that, and it was really weird when you listened to the other person, my mom in this case. When she spoke, it sounded like she was speaking from all directions.... IT WAS SO COOL!!

Girl Scouts has given me all of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Everything from growing with my troop, camping in the summer, earning patches, selling cookies, and amazing opportunities like this one are memories that you just never forget. Girl Scouts is a part of who I am, and I am proud because this organization is helping girls’ dreams come true, and making the world a better place one girl at a time.

Check out the conversation below:

And, read the SBA Administrator's blog post about the experience. 

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Come join us at our Kickoff events!

What is the best way to get a firsthand feel for the power and fun of Girl Scouting? Joining us at one of our Kickoff events in late August!
Do you have a go-getter in your life? Is your girl a problem solver—does she like to take healthy risks and take the lead? Your girl needs to be a Girl Scout! Girls and interested adults can learn more about Girl Scouts of Connecticut at one of our two Kickoff events!

There is no question in my mind that Girl Scouts is the BEST girl leadership experience in the world, period. At Girl Scouts, girls take the lead in everything that they do—they practice leadership with grit like a Go-getter, problem solve and are creative like an Innovator, try new things and embrace new ideas like a Risk-taker, and show empathy like a Leader.

Our two Kickoff events are on Wednesday, August 23, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the West Side Middle School in Waterbury, and Saturday, August 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at RHAM High School in Hebron. Come and experience for yourself the many ways that Girl Scouts can make a real difference in the life of your girl!

As we approach the end of another Girl Scout year, I would like to thank our amazing volunteers for everything that they do. Without you, Girl Scouting would not be possible. At Girl Scouts of Connecticut, we strive to find ways to better serve our leaders. This past week, Girl Scouts of Connecticut transitioned to a total new way of work, Volunteer Systems, to help improve the way we serve our volunteers. This includes unveiling our Volunteer Toolkit! It’s never been easier to be a Girl Scout volunteer! The VTK gives troop leaders— grades K-5—program content and other resources that they need to effectively manage their troop planning all year long!
There is a lot to be excited about, and I hope you can join us in kicking off a new year of Girl Scouting!
Yours in Girl Scouting,

Thursday, August 10, 2017

They're back! Girl Scout S’mores™ cookie will return to 2018 cookie lineup!

Happy National S’mores Day! Today, along with celebrating these delicious ooey gooey treats, we are announcing something very exciting—the return of our Girl Scout S’mores™ cookie! That’s right! This upcoming cookie season, hungry customers will be able to purchase those delicious marshmallowy cookies celebrating a longstanding tradition that Girl Scouts has held since the beginning—our love for the outdoors!

The tradition of making and enjoying s’mores in the outdoors was popularized by Girl Scouts as early as the 1920s publishing the first known recipe for making delicious s’mores! As reported in the Girl Scout Research Institute’s study, More than S’mores, there’s a positive correlation between outdoor experiences and girls’ understanding of their leadership potential.

Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s returning Girl Scout S’mores cookie is a crunchy graham sandwich embossed with designs that honor Girl Scouts’ Outdoor badges and inside cookie lovers will find a creamy chocolate and marshmallowy filling. This s’mores-inspired cookie, made with specialty ingredients, was created with emerging consumer trends in mind. It contains no artificial flavors or colors, no high-fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated or potentially hydrogenated oils, making it the first cookie of its kind at Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts of Connecticut will continue to offer one of the two varieties of Girl Scout S’mores, which joins classics like Thin Mints®, Samoas®, and Trefoils®. This means consumers in Connecticut will be able to get their hands on these delicious cookies while powering unique and amazing experiences for girls with each and every cookie purchase!

And Girl Scouts in Connecticut are able to do incredible things thanks to their cookie earnings, including going on trips, taking action in their community with service projects, and more. Each and every purchase of Girl Scout Cookies—100 percent of the net revenue of which stays local—is an investment in girls and their leadership capabilities, both now and in the future.

Learn more about the Girl Scout Cookie Program® and all of the other amazing benefits of Girl Scouting at!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Friday, August 4, 2017

Why Girl Scouts?

To Our Valued Members:

Hard to believe that summer is beginning to wind down and a new Girl Scout year is about to begin. I hope everyone has had a relaxing and enjoyable time!

We know that our volunteers and families are about to get very busy, so I thought this might be a good time to thank everyone for their continuing commitment to our girls and also to reflect on why Girl Scouting remains a great choice for girls.

As we all prepare for a new school year, we know that families and girls have many options for how they spend their out-of-school time. I wanted to share with you why we believe it is valuable and essential for girls to be Girl Scouts and for all of us to share our incredible organization with new girls and volunteers in our towns.
·        Girl Scouts has introduced 23 new fun and exciting badges in the Outdoor Adventure and STEM areas—everything from our new Outdoor Journey to robotics, environmental adventure, coding, outdoor STEM, cyber-security, and more!
·        Girl Scouting remains to be the largest single-gender leadership experience for girls, resulting in five outcomes that will serve girls for a lifetime: strong sense of self, positive values, challenge seeking, building healthy relationships, and community problem-solving.
·        Girl Scouting offers girls the opportunity to try many new things in a safe and nurturing environment with positive adult mentors—allowing them to build confidence and self-esteem so that they can achieve their dreams.

There are so many more reasons to be a Girl Scout! As we approach the new Girl Scout year, we hope each and every one of you will work to spread the good word about Girl Scouting. In addition to all the exciting new opportunities for our girls, staff has been working very hard this year to improve our service to our valuable volunteers! Be sure to check out the new MyGS area of our website when we reopen on August 14.

See you at the Kickoffs!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

REBLOG: Tales From Girl Scout's Camp CEO: How One Woman's Pivot is Returning Magic to Being a GIRL

Please take time to read this incredible post by Cecilia Carter, owner of the Strategy Chick, who shared her experience as a CEO participant this year at one of our girl leadership programs, Camp CEO, at Camp Laurel in Lebanon:

Tales from Girl Scout's Camp CEO-How One Woman's Pivot is Returning Magic to Being a GIRL

The Pivot

Me Camping? No Way! Camping is anathema to me. This girl is not a camper! The thought of roughing it for two nights in the woods was comparable to a scene from Jordan Peele’s Get Out. But then along comes Mary. It was a rainy day in April when I received an email titled, “Change a Girl’s Life at Camp CEO.” The subject was intriguing but it did not matter because it was a request from Mary Barneby, CEO of Girls Scouts of Connecticut. Mary is an indomitable spirit, whose friendship and mentoring has opened countless doors for me. From board service to community activism, Mary not only leans in, she lifts up. I met Mary when we were colleagues at UBS and she was head of our Private Wealth Management Office in Stamford, CT. Mary possessed that ability to bring people of all backgrounds together and elevate opportunities for women. So it came as no surprise when she left a successful 38-year career in financial services and made the pivot to non-profit. Not just any non-profit, but the Girl Scouts. Mary understands that to have women leaders at the top, we have to start when they are young, building skills and championing their confidence. This is her sweet spot, the place where pivot and passion meet and magic happens.
The hook, “Come connect, inform and inspire future leaders at Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s Camp CEO program!” I had to do it. As the mother of two teenage girls, I jump at opportunities to help mentor young women. But camp?? Seriously?? However, this is my year of saying yes. So without hesitation I replied, “Count me in!” Because I also remembered being a Girl Scout in 1967, when it was my refuge from the bigotry, cliques and aloneness I experienced as the first and only black girl in my elementary school. My troop was a place where I was equal and the magic of being a girl was all that mattered.
The Passion

That magical feeling returned as I drove three hours to camp and arrived filled with anticipation. What would the girls want to know, do and share? Twenty-three high school girls and 13 executive women excited to make this a memorable experience. Facing each other, we asked intimate questions about our fears, successes and challenges. Following each story, we rubbed elbows. That’s right, eye-to-eye, we reached across and rubbed elbows as a way of sealing the conversation with trust. It made us feel equal in many ways. Maybe I will use that in my next meeting, it was better than a handshake.

The connections deepened when Mary introduced us to what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) ™ the new Girl Scout campaign is transformative. You could feel the pride as each girl described herself using these terms. The weekend program provided hands on leadership development and mentoring through a structured product development launch designing T-shirts. We taught business plans, marketing communications and design skills. But the girls showed us a few things too. Their passion, teamwork and camaraderie reminded us that being a girl is a wonder and wonderful. And it is hard. The girls shared their challenges with trust, family, academics and depression.
Our girls need affirmation now more than ever. The National Institute for Mental Health reports 1 in 4 girls suffers from a clinical diagnosis of depression, eating or other emotional health disorders. When you factor in race, the impact of adultification is even more damaging. Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality study titled, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood, found adultification in black girls begins as early as 5 years of age. Those surveyed also believed black girls are less innocent, require less nurturing, protection and support than white girls. The implications of these stereotypes are far reaching. We must fight like hell to close this gap, erase the impact it has on their confidence and restore the magic of childhood. This is very necessary in order to see more black girls thriving in life, leaders in communities, CEOs sitting on boards and having impact. Whether you have girls of your own, or mother someone else’s, we can each play a part in reversing this trend. Mary has asked for my help to increase the number of black girls participating in this program and I am beginning with this blog to lift awareness.
When I turned 12, my mom gave me a little red book called, “The Magic of Growing Up”. The book was cute, but what I remember the most was her smile and pride in telling me about all the magical things I would experience in life. She was right. That evening when we all joined to make S’mores and huddle around the fire, we sang the Magic campfire song. I silently shed a tear at the end of the song as I recalled the magic of being a girl.
 “Now my childhood is far behind, I’ve learned to my surprise,That magic did not fade away it wears a new disguise.A child, a friend, a smile, a song, the courage to stand tallAnd love’s the greatest magic of them all.I do believe in magic…I believe”
 The Magic

CEO Camp is over, but the magic continues. The campers designed inspiring T-shirts and shared their hopes and dreams of who they would become. I have 12 new incredible women to call upon and share my passions and dreams. I went home, made popcorn the old fashioned way, pulled my girls close and watched old movies and created magic. Yes camp was magical, but don’t think it turned me into the REI Queen. No, this Wonder Woman still prefers my Duxiana™ inspired bed! Thank you Mary for dragging me out of my comfort zone. The girl whose life you changed was mine. Your pivot helped remind me about the magic of being a girl. And I will pay it forward.

Thank you so much, Cecilia, for joining us at Camp CEO this year!

Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

G.I.R.L Power Meets the Great Outdoors!!!

Wow! That’s my first reaction to my amazing experience this past week at Camp CEO! From June 21-24, myself and 12 other amazing female leaders across the state (and the country!) gathered at Camp Laurel in Lebanon with a group of incredible Girl Scouts from across the state for a relaxing and rewarding camp experience.

At Camp CEO, girls are able to have fun with traditional camp activities (CEOs, too), but they also take away business lessons, skills, and connections that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. At summer camp, girls have the opportunity to try new things, like stand up paddle boarding, archery, or horseback riding, but they also find their confidence or learn more about a passion or strength particular to themselves. They find out that these passions can be transferable in their future careers and, by the end of the weekend, break out of their shells having connected with wonderful and accomplished women leaders who help them realize their full potential.

Because it’s true—our Girl Scouts are G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, and Leaders). At Girl Scouts, we are all about practicing everyday leadership, preparing girls to empower themselves, and promoting these G.I.R.L. experiences. At Camp CEO, girls and the CEOs learned about what it means to be a G.I.R.L. and how girls take the lead in everything that they do. They practice leadership with grit like a Go-getter, problem-solve and are creative like an Innovator, try new things and embrace new ideas like a Risk-taker, and show empathy like a Leader. 

After learning the true essence of G.I.R.L., our Camp CEO girls also learned the ins and outs of a business from the importance of building and maintaining your brand to finance and production and marketing for your startup business. Girls and CEOs were then separated into teams, and came up with their own unique business plans and strategies. Groups were tasked with creating their own T-shirt designs inspired by the G.I.R.L brand. Each team, in turn, created a comprehensive business plan for how they might market their “G.I.R.L-inspired” T-shirts. It was such an incredible experience to witness and see what all of the teams came up with. And each camper and CEO will receive their own team-inspired T-shirt, while versions of each girl-designed T-shirts will be available in our shops and camp trading posts this summer!

I’ve said it before, but every time I leave Camp CEO I find myself continuously amazed at how remarkable our girls are. They are so full of promise and hope for our futures, and I take more back than I can possibly give.

I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and relaxing summer. See you next year at Camp CEO!

Yours in Girl Scouting,