Volunteer Spotlight- Sally Martin

Sally Martin, Mount Horeb Daisy Troop 7669, May 2019 

Sally Martin is a proud Girl Scout volunteer and co-leader of 26 Daisies (who have proudly earned ALL their petals). We reached out to her for an interview to learn what inspires her as a Girl Scout Volunteer. Continue reading to learn about the most fun (and most challenging) parts of leading a Daisy troop and why Sally chooses to be a Girl Scout Volunteer.

How long have you been a volunteer with Girl Scouts? 

I volunteered to be one of five co-leaders for a Daisy troop of 26 girls last fall. (October 2018)   

What is the most challenging part of being a Girl Scout volunteer? 

It can be challenging to fit everything in! We meet in the early evening for one hour and fifteen minutes, every other week. We pack a lot of activities in during that time, in part to hold their attention and in part to make sure we are maximizing their experience. It makes for a fast-paced and, at times, exhausting meeting for us leaders!  

What is your favorite part of volunteering? 

My favorite part of volunteering has been seeing the girls mature and grow throughout the year. It has also been very rewarding to see the girls interact with each other in a kind and respectful way. The Girl Scout curriculum and training provides not only a great foundation for talking about and practicing acceptance, inclusion, and kindness, but also suggested activities to develop those qualities. Parents of our girls have been a wonderful support to us as well.   

Do you have any favorite memories from your volunteer experience? 

I am retired, and I have two granddaughters in the troop.  My mom was a Brownie leader in the 50s, and I was a Brownie leader for my oldest daughter in the 80s. It’s been wonderful to have this peek into their (my granddaughters) world and to be able to interact with their friends. I’m from the Early Childhood field, so everything these girls do is interesting to me.  My favorite time with the girls is at the end of every meeting when we do the friendship circle and hand squeeze. As that little ritual came together over the course of the year, it was so special to see the girls calmly come together and look forward to the moment when we could see by the look on their faces, they knew they were a part of something bigger than themselves.  

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girl Scout volunteer? Why should someone volunteer with Girl Scouts? 

In today’s world, children need every opportunity possible to make safe and healthy connections with their peers and caring adults. Girl Scouts provides quite a few ways to get involved, and I would encourage others to ‘raise their hand’ at whatever level is possible for them. Even if you can’t commit to being a co-leader, volunteer to help the leaders in other ways—take photos, help with meeting prep, help at meetings, etc. I’m sure it will not be something you regret! 

Any additional comments on volunteering, or Girl Scouting in general? 

Kudos to the Girl Scout organization for evolving over the years to represent and advocate for girls to reach their full potential.     

The Case for Girl Scout Camp: 5 Powerful Reasons

From our Spring issue of Focus, read below to learn what your girl will gain from a summer at Girl Scout camp.

1. She’ll Develop Confidence.

You’re giving her the opportunity to be self-reliant. Growth in confidence and independence happens at camp.

2. She’ll experience outdoor childhood fun and adventure.

You’re giving her the gift of magical childhood memories – dirt, adventures, stories, and joke-filled days and nights spent with friends outdoors, under the stars, and around the campfire.

3. She’ll relax.

You’re giving her a break from the pressures and stress of competitive sports and school.

4. She’ll get unplugged.

You’re giving her the chance to unplug and connect face-to-face with other girls and positive adult role models.

5. She’ll get better at making and keeping friends.

Friendships that are built at camp are different from those that occur at school and on sports teams. The intensity of living together and experience life together, without distractions, creates the ideal setting for life-long friendships.

 

Learn more about our 2019 summer camp programs at gsbadgerland.org/camp

5 Creative Ways to Decorate a Bridge for your Next Bridging Event

With spring comes warmer weather and brighter days, but also recitals, softball games, graduations, award ceremonies, and of course bridging. When in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, planning a bridging ceremony can seem close to impossible. Here are a few simple but creative ideas that’ll make the process feel simpler and keep the planning fun.

Wrap faux floral garland around the handrail for an ethereal feel

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Faux floral garland can be found easily at most dollar and craft stores for a low cost. Wrap it around the railing and secure with twine for a bridge that’ll look straight out of a fairy-tale.

Tie balloons to the ends for a whimsical touch

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Easy to find at any dollar or party store, balloons will add a fun and celebratory look to your event. Tie to the ends of the bridge or use weights and place on the ground near the ends. At the end of your event, send each girl home with a balloon as a fun souvenir.

Use fresh flowers for a fresh look

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Spring is (finally) here! Take advantage of any nearby garden center sales and buy a few inexpensive flowering plants (we always recommend daisies) to place near the ends of the bridge. When you’re done, reuse as an addition to your own garden or give away as a gift to a loved one or friend.

Make your own garland chain using colorful construction paper

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Both a decorating and troop activity idea, this tip is not only a great inexpensive way to spruce up a bridge but also a way to bring your troop together as you prepare to bridge to the next level. Simply cut pieces of construction paper into strips and work together taping the ends together to form a chain. When you’re done, wrap the chain around the bridge railing to add a little color to your event.

Create a fake stream for fanciful appeal

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This tip is easy but will no doubt create a bold and bright look. Take a blue tarp or plastic table cloth (you can find this in the party or camping sections at most retailers) and bunch it under to bridge to mimic a flowing stream. Create a border using rocks, floral garland, real plants, or a combination of 3.

Thanks for reading, we hope you find these ideas helpful and inspiring! Have your own idea that begs to be shared? Leave it in the comments below! Happy Bridging!

The Top 5 Best Things about Being a Daisy

  1. That feeling when she earns her first Petal.

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Nothing can compare to the feeling of pride and delight earning your first petal! Whether it’s from learning a new skill or sharing a new experience, this is a memory she’ll never forget.

  1. She meets leaders in her community.

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Daisies get to meet so many amazing people! Non-profit leaders, police officers, and more. Daisies get to speak with and learn from the best and brightest in their communities.

  1. She makes a difference in her community.

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Daisies don’t just interact with their communities, they leave an impact on their communities too! Cleaning up parks… donating cookies… there is no limit to the difference a Girl Scout Daisy can make.

  1. She gets to start her first business.

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Maybe one of the coolest things a Daisy gets to do is start her own business- selling cookies! She’ll learn how to set goals, speak with others, market a product, and much more. By the end of her first cookie season, she’ll be an expert entrepreneur.

  1. She makes new friends

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When a Daisy joins a troop, she doesn’t just get a group of troop mates, she gets a group of new best friends! These are fellow Girl Scouts she’ll bond and make memories with and often, these are friendships she’ll have for a lifetime.

BONUS… Being a Daisy is just plain fun!

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There’s no doubt that Daisies both do and learn amazing things, but one of the best things about being a Daisy is that it’s endlessly fun. Parties, camping, songs, games… being a Daisy is an experience that she’ll remember forever.

 

Is your daughter starting Kindergarten soon? Get a head start on her Daisy experience through our Daisy Launch program! She’ll get her first patch, early access to her Girl Scout Daisy troop, and her very first Girl Scout activity booklet. Plus, get access to our Girl Scout Walkabout and Daisies in the Garden day camps that are the perfect introduction to her Girl Scout experience. Learn more at gsbadgerland.org/daisy

Ready. Set. Daisy Launch!

Volunteer Spotlight- Monica Hall

Monica Hall with Troop 7929 has been described as “a rockstar volunteer”. Despite her more than full-time job as a lawyer, she has dedicated her time not only to the girls in her troop but to all the girls in her community. From bringing new girls into Girl Scouts to working with and providing support to current community leaders, Monica goes above and beyond in her role as a Girl Scout Volunteer, demonstrating her passion towards the Girl Scout mission every day.  Thank you, Monica, for being a Girl Scout Volunteer!

How long have you been a volunteer with Girl Scouts?

I have been volunteering with Girl Scouts as an adult since February 2017.

What is the most challenging part of being a Girl Scout volunteer?

As a full time working mom of two, I just can’t seem to find the time to check the council website for council-led activities our girls may be interested in attending, or to plan other fun activities outside of our normal twice-monthly meetings. Thankfully, the other leaders and moms (and grandmas) in our troop are willing to plan those sorts of activities for our girls!

What is your favorite part of volunteering?

Paying it forward. I love that I get to pass along to my troop what I learned from my Girl Scout leaders and camp counselors. I also get to be there for these girls as they grow as individuals and as a group. Hopefully, they will have experiences as Girl Scouts that help them find themselves and learn about things that may interest them in a supportive environment like I did.

Do you have any favorite memories from your volunteer experience?

Our troop had an overnight this fall. We wanted to help the girls get over their fear of the dark. To try to do that we had a scavenger hunt to do when it was light out and a scavenger hunt to do after dark, with the theory the girls would realize the world is the same in the day and night. After dark, we took the girls outside with their flashlights and their lists. The girls promptly abandoned their lists and started to play flashlight tag. I paused and forced myself to not say anything. My goal, to get them comfortable in the dark, was reached in a girl-led (and probably more fun) way. I was so proud of them!

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girl Scout volunteer? Why should someone volunteer with Girl Scouts?

It seems like a daunting task to take on when you first raise your hand to volunteer, however, I found that having a co-leader (or two) to lean on; council and other area leaders to ask questions of; and the books, website and Pinterest to get ideas from can make this a very doable thing. I have a very stressful full-time job but I knew I wanted my daughter and her peers to have this opportunity to have an extracurricular activity that was not sports related. The girls in our troop want to spend as much time together as possible and love basically anything we do because they get to do it together. They would not have that opportunity without volunteers. I possess the skills to lead them in this activity the way other parents possess the skills necessary to teach my kids how to play sports.

Any additional comments on volunteering, or Girl Scouting in general?

I credit Girl Scouts with helping me to grow into the person I am today. The opportunities for leadership I had as a Girl Scout allowed me to hone those skills which I use professionally every day. I am very excited I get to help other girls discover and hone their strengths.

The Girl Scout Camp Difference: a conversation with Jill Joswiak

Jill Joswiak: troop leader, parent of a Girl Scout, and big-time Camp Advocate!

She didn’t go to camp when she was younger, but she’s let her daughter, Helen, go back every summer for the last 10 years. Why?

“The opportunity for experiential learning. There is nothing you can’t try or learn to do. The counselors provide a safe environment, encouragement and enough guidance to help the campers not get frustrated, while letting the scouts figure out the task by having to problem solve, and ultimately have success. My favorite example of this is learning to sail at Camp Black Hawk.

“I think that having this opportunity in a single-gender environment allows them to try, and fail, and try again and succeed and then ultimately lead. At camp, they learn and do with a greater comfort level that translates into more confidence and success. Knowing that they have tested out new skills (including leadership skills) in this environment, they can go out into the world and have success. Finally, Girl Scout camp is built around the promise and law, which is the foundation of the movement.”

As a parent, what was it like sending her to camp for the first time, versus sending her off last summer?  “There was a great sense of pride in that what she knew she wanted to do after the very first summer (attend leadership camp in a journey to become a counselor) was actually happening.”

What would you say to a parent who’s just not quite sure they’re ready to send her off to resident camp yet?  “Attend a Me and My Guy or Me and My Gal Session with your scout. Meet the staff that will be leading your scout. Get the feel for the camp, and the activities and the facilities. That way, you will have a good idea of what it will be like for your scout. The comfort that I gained as a parent from meeting the staff was what made it so easy to send her the next year. The anxious parent in me knew that she would be safe, and the Girl Scout Leader in me knew that she would have an opportunity to learn and grow that was separate and distinct from her Troop experience. She would make new friends, and gain independence.”

What sort of growth have you seen in your daughter that you’d credit camp with?  “Courage – Her choice of location for her solo overnight amazed me, and she is a hammock camper, something she learned at Black Hawk. She is braver than I was at that age, and even in some sense, now. Problem Solving – the opportunities to have to make things up on the fly due to changing weather conditions, or changing schedules, the mood of the campers or equipment and supply needs, abound and is one of the great things that you gain from Girl Scouting. Compassion for younger Scouts when they are homesick. Leadership – Leading younger scouts, volunteering to help. Confidence in her outdoor skills and the ability to lead. For example, she went to resident horse camp, and when she returned for Me and My Gal, her and some of her fellow resident campers volunteered to help get the horses ready for the Me and My Gal campers so more scouts could experience horseback riding. I was amazed at the skills she learned in such a short time. Always open to trying new things in the Girl Scouting environment. Tradition­- carrying on those ever important camp traditions and especially the songs.”

Anything other general information you’d like to share? “As an adult, I found my a-ha moment in Girl Scouting at Girl Scout camp with my daughter. Lying in a tent, while being serenaded to sleep, I realized I had a gigantic smile on my face and was truly happy. I would encourage parents or grandparents to share in that experience of Me and My Gal or Guy. I am humbled by the fact that Helen wanted to attend Me and My Gal with me last summer, regardless of where it was held. She suggested and insisted because she knew how much it meant to me. I am so very grateful for all that camp has brought to our lives, including a lifelong family of friends.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Nicki Handel

A Cookie Coordinator and Troop Co-leader to 18 Daisies, Nicki has devoted hours to making her troop’s cookie sale successful. In preparation for the season, Nicki coordinated 11 booths, including arranging extra indoor booths for girls with medical needs, to help her troop reach their goal! Nicki is described as her troop’s ‘Cookie Queen,’ and has gone above and beyond to make this cookie season a smooth and organized process.

How long have you been a Girl Scout Volunteer? 1 year

Why do you volunteer? I love it! I was a Girl Scout, and I really hoped my daughter would want to be a Girl Scout as well. I love that it’s something she and I can do together. I love that I get to make a positive impact on the other girls in our Troop as well!

What is the most challenging part of being a volunteer? Making sure to troubleshoot issues ahead of time and planning the logistics of coordinating with a large group of people. You have to be organized!

What is your favorite part of volunteering? I love working with the girls and seeing them have fun; the best part is seeing how they grow and learn in the program.

Do you have any favorite memories volunteering? Cookie booths! The girls get so into it! Seeing them have fun working together, despite the rough winter weather, and hearing from customers how their smiles brighten peoples’ days is just wonderful.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girl Scout Volunteer? It’s so worth it! Seeing the girls grow, learn, and have those ‘a-ha’ moments makes it all worthwhile and so rewarding.

Anything else you’d like to say about being a volunteer? It’s easy to get disconnected from your kids in our fast-paced world today, and volunteering with the Girl Scouts allows parents like me to create stronger relationships with our kids. 

Thank you Nicki for all your hard work and for being a Girl Scout Volunteer! It’s volunteers like you that make our programs a success!