To be a Girl Scout Volunteer…

There are so many ways to be a Girl Scout volunteer! Volunteers are young professionals, retirees, and everything in between. Girl Scout volunteers share their best selves because girls deserve access to amazing mentors. Whether you are a co-leader, a subject expert, or event helper, there are endless ways to get involved and make an impact in your community.

We spoke with three volunteers to showcase what Girl Scout volunteers do, and what it means to be a Girl Scout volunteer.

Pat Coyne

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What inspired you to be a GS volunteer?

I was a girl scout as a girl through Senior Year in high school.  I was the beneficiary of wonderful women who volunteered to be my leader.  Girl Scouting provided me numerous opportunities for leadership and to widen my world experiences as a girl that my family could not have provided. I need to pay that forward so that today’s girls can have the same experiences and benefits.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?

Right now, I have a couple of activities.  As part of Membership Area 12 (Monona, Cottage Grove and Deerfield), I organize a fall and spring overnight experience, including programming and meals.  Sometimes I plan some additional events, such as Eagle Cave sleepover or a Leader/Daughter appreciation event. My granddaughter is a Kindergartner in the Milwaukee and so I am a co-leader of a Daisy troop with my daughter.  This will be my third troop that I have led. Sometimes I lend a hand at Council events.  I also am a Council delegate.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

My volunteer work is more episodic; sometimes I am quite busy and sometimes not at all. When I am planning an event, there is a lot to do and most of my spare time goes into planning the activities, testing them, supply purchases, instruction write-up.  I set up a detailed schedule that includes stations, kapers, sleeping arrangements.  I also plan meals and purchase food.  Communication and coordination also need to be done. Similarly, I will have some of the responsibility for part of the Daisy troop meetings, so it will be busy at that time to plan, practice, and procure what we need. Otherwise, for the council events, I just show up as a pair of willing hands.  Such as Camp Hero, Camp Build, My First Sleepaway, Girl Scout Investigations….

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you?

Every time that I plan something in an area that is new to me, I have to learn that area first.  For instance, our fall event was the Drawing Junior badge, the Painting Brownie badge and the Comic Artist Cadette badge.  I knew nothing about Comics when I started but I know a whole lot more now!  Drawing and Painting things too!  It’s fun to learn. I love being with the girls.  I enjoy meeting other adults that are similarly dedicated to the growth of girls.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer?

To make a difference.  To make the world a better place.  To give back.  To see a girl smile and grow.  To continue to grow personally.  To stay fresh and young, alert and alive.   When I was younger and my daughter was in my troop, I used to say that I was a leader so that I spent time with my daughter when my hands weren’t in dishwater and weren’t on a steering wheel.  To invest in the woman she would become and not be on the sidelines of the activities that she did.  Other parents may find that this is compelling motivation to volunteer.

Jennifer Deuster-Loesch

Jennifer deuster-loesch
Pictured on far right

What inspired you to be a GS volunteer? 

I grew up participating in Girl Scouts.  My mom and one of my good friends mom’s were my troop leaders.  So when my oldest daughter wanted to be in Daisy Scouts and Council was looking for someone to volunteer to be a co-leader I was more than happy to pay it forward so to speak and give girls the chance to create the lifetime memories I had the opportunity to do so as a scout myself.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?  

My primary role as a volunteer has changed overtime.  I am a co-leader in three troops. Of course, following the Girl Scout Program and Safety Guidelines is a given but other than that I can honestly say it varies since Girl Scouts is driven by what the girl troop members want to do.  In all of the troops, I have found that the adult volunteers are flexible and that we trade off on taking on responsibilities.  Furthermore, as a volunteer you also need to know your limits and make sure that the others in the troop are aware of this. For example, if one of us is going through a busy time in life, then the other leader will take on a role that perhaps the other would typically handle.  Also, in all of the troops I co-lead we have parent’s that have volunteered as troop support — just because you volunteer as a troop leader does not mean that you have to be the cookie coordinator every year or plan every meeting or outing, in fact, I would recommend that these roles gets alternated and that as girls age that they become more and more responsible for what happens at meetings and outings.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

As a GS Volunteer, I have participated in training that is offered to ensure that I am bringing the GS program to the troops I lead.  In one of the troops, I am the person that keeps track of troop finances. I coordinate with my co-leaders to set meeting dates, secure safety ratio volunteers for outings, send out troop communications, help the girls figure out details for meetings and outings and answer their questions.  Some days there is a lot to do and then weeks could go by with no volunteer obligations.

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you? 

Being a Girl Scout volunteer has enforced the concepts of community and team work for me and also brought home how each person is unique and has different things to offer.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer? 

Its a great way to become involved in the lives of girls and families in your community and get to know them better.  Also, being a GS volunteer exposes you to all kinds of new thoughts and ideas — it’s enriching.

Dawn Scholz

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Dawn Scholz pictured on right

What inspired you to be a GS volunteer?

I volunteered for my daughter.  I didn’t set out to be a volunteer.   We met a Girl Scout recruiter at my daughter’s meet your teacher event when she started kindergarten and my daughter was very excited about becoming a Daisy.  We signed her up right away for a new troop that was forming.   Several weeks went by and the troop didn’t have the two co-leaders necessary to run the troop.  I wanted my daughter to have an amazing Girl Scout experience, so I volunteered.  I had no idea what I was doing but the excellent staff at Badgerland was there to answer all my questions.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?

My primary role is as a cheerleader and a coach.  As a Troop Leader, I have the joy to lead the girls down a path of self-discovery.  I provide the options and let them choose the course.  I’ve seen so many “firsts”, first sleepover, first time trying archery, first time building a fire, and the list goes on.  Some girls can be nervous trying something new, so we cheer them on and help them celebrate their successes.  It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, a huge part of what we do as volunteers involves cheerleading.  And sometimes things don’t go as well as we hope.  Girl Scouts is a safe place to make mistakes.  In those cases, we help the girl learn what to do differently in the future.  So, yeah, I would say my primary role is being a cheerleader and a coach.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

Volunteering for Girl Scouts can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.  I have facilitated events for the entire member ship area.  For example, we had an International Day of the Girl Ice Skating Party.  That involved planning, advertising, collecting registration forms and payment, contacting the ice rink to negotiate and reserve the time slot, recruiting people to help run the event, and all that good stuff.  I have also volunteered to hand out frozen custard at a Women’s Suffrage event at the State Capital.  All I did was show up and hand out custard for an hour or so and then I was done.  If you’ve got time to do something big, then go for it.  And if you can do a one-time event, that’s ok too.  Sure, we need Troop Leaders but we also need photographers, and Cookie Coordinators, and field trip chaperones, and drivers.  There as so many ways you can volunteer.

Day to day, I go to work, come home, and fix dinner.  We’re a pretty normal household.  I probably average about 2-4 hours a week on troop stuff.   Our troop has two 1-hour meetings and one field trip each month.   Girl Scouts makes it easy because they have directions for all the badges right on their website so planning for meetings is mostly just gathering supplies.  Cookie Season can get a little hectic but the day to day stuff is pretty easy.

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you?

Girls Scouts has really taught me how to network.  We have regularly scheduled membership area volunteer meetings and if I’m unsure about how to do something or there’s a something I’m struggling with, I know I can ask the group and it’s something one of them has encountered.  There is this diverse group of Girl Scout Adult Volunteers that has a remarkable wealth of knowledge and experience and they are ready to help.  We are all dedicated to making this an amazing experience for our girls.

I have had so many experiences as a Girl Scout Volunteer that I would not have had otherwise.  We talk about the positive impacts Girl Scouts has on our girls but sometimes forget that we have the opportunity to take this incredible journey with them.  I’ve gotten to operate fire hoses, build and program robots, build and launch rockets, sit at the NBC15 News anchor’s desk, look through a huge telescope to see the rings of Saturn, and countless other things.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer?

There are so many reasons to become a Girl Scout volunteer.  If you like the adventures, Girl Scouts has opportunities for camping, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, caving, skiing, and all sorts of outdoor activities.   If you like STEM, there are badges for robots, engineering, coding, cybersecurity, space science, and protecting ecosystems.  There are too many opportunities to list.  When you volunteer, you get to experience these things with your girl.  And knowing you are positively impacting the world for your girl, and this whole group of girls, is extremely rewarding.  Girl Scouts helps me prepare my daughter for the future.  No matter what future she chooses for herself, I know she has the courage, confidence, and character to be successful.

 

Ready to make a difference? Visit gsbadgerland.org/makeadifference to learn how to become a Girl Scout volunteer!

Celebrate STEM/STEAM Month at Badgerland

November is STEM month at Badgerland! Looking for a new STEM badge to work on? Check out these resources for inspiration and ways to kick-off earning your next badge.

Coding

There are endless resources online to learn computer code. Here are a few sites to start off your coding journey.

For Daisies, Brownies, or Juniors… Kids Ruby. Kids Ruby teaches programming in a way that’s fun and easy for kids. Check it out at kidsruby.com

For Cadettes, Seniors, or Ambassadors… freeCodeCamp. freeCodeCamp teaches a variety of code through lessons that are challenging, but easy to understand PLUS allows the user to apply that knowledge by assigning coding tasks for non-profit websites. Visit freecodecamp.org to learn more.

For all ages… Made w/ Code. Made w/ Code is an initiative launched by Google to combat the gender gap in STEM and empower girls with knowledge in computer programming through offering fun games that teach the logic behind programming, Made w/ Code is a unique and entertaining way to learn about computer coding. Check it out at madewithcode.com.

Digital Game Design

For Daisies… Toca Builders. Toca Builders is a mobile game that allows younger kids to build interactive worlds, a great introduction to game development. Find the game on the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

For Brownies and older… Scratch. Created by MIT Media Lab, With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations while learning about coding and creative thinking. Try it out at scratch.mit.edu.

For Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors… Game Dev Tycoon. Game Dev Tycoon explores the beginning of the video game industry and places you in the role of the game developer and having you develop best-selling games. You can find the game on Steam.

Animals

For all ages… visit a local zoo or wildlife sanctuary to learn how animal habitats. See a list of area zoos below:

Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison WI https://www.henryvilaszoo.gov/

Ochsner Park Zoo, Baraboo WI

Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue, Rock Springs WI

Heartland Farm Sanctuary, Verona WI

DCHS’s Wildlife Center, Madison WI

For all ages… visit your local Humane Society shelter. Learn about animal care and give back by volunteering your time or giving needed items. See a few area shelters below:

Dane County Humane Society, Madison WI

Coulee Region Humane Society, Onalaska WI

Grant County Humane Society, Lancaster WI

Iowa County Humane Society, Dodgeville WI

Green County Humane Society, Monroe WI

Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, Janesville WI

Space Science

For all ages… the Space Place. An extension of the UW Madison Astronomy Dept, this outreach center offers interactive exhibits, workshops, and guest speakers. Learn more at http://www.spaceplace.wisc.edu/

For all ages… the Sky Guide app (Fifth Star Labs LLC). This inexpensive app allows you to identify and learn about stars, constellations, planets, and more by simple pointing your phone towards the sky. Learn all about the night sky, no telescope required. Find the app on the Apple App Store.

Movie-making

For all ages…  learn editing with iMovie and Filmora. iMovie is included on all Apple computers and is an easy starting point for learning how to edit. Filmora is another option for inexpensive/free editing software and is simple to use for beginners. Find tutorials on Youtube, and look at your favorite movies to learn about common editing techniques.

For all ages… don’t have a camera? Use your phone to make short films. Work together to write a short script and film it like a film crew would. BONUS: Check out the “The Movie Making Book”. Available at most libraries and retailers, this book provides hands-on activities and exercises to turn phone and tablet videos into films.

Badgerland Check-out resources

Did you know Badgerland has a library of STEM-related resources and kits for your troop to use? From Galileoscopes to Ozobots, see what’s available on the Activity Resources page of our website.

 

What badges is your troop working on this month? Let us know in the comments below!

Exploring New Skills at Ehawee Expedition

MediaGIRL Avery Lentz and mom LaShell Lentz recap their experience at Ehawee Expedition

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Daisy Girl Scout and MediaGIRL Avery Lentz attended last weekend’s Ehawee Expedition with five members of her troop. This was their first time visiting Camp Ehawee and were eager to try all the new and exciting activities being offered at the event. They immediately ran down the trail to the archery range, excited to give it a try. They loved shooting arrows at the targets (and would’ve done so longer) but there was so much more to explore.

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In less than six hours, the girls tried archery, learned how to build a fire, played giant Jenga and tic tac toe, conquered a partner-guided obstacle course, played giant Hungry Hippo, learned how to tie knots, played Gaga ball, made bird feeders, and even had an impromptu dance party! Avery’s favorite parts? “Archery and playing Hungry Hippo.”

bird feeders

Despite all the scheduled activities, there was no shortage of creativity that afternoon. Avery and her troop mates made each game their own, even turning the game of Jenga into a chance to build their own creations and make the game their own.

giant jenga

Overall it was an action packed afternoon with plenty of opportunities to learn something new, and become close as a troop. Avery’s mom, LaShell, said after her afternoon with the girls, “I want to go back and stay!  The property is beautiful and has so much to offer the curious girl!”

Couldn’t make it to this month’s Ehawee Expedition? Attend our winter session January 25-26! See all the details at gsbadgerland.org

Troop Leader Showcase: Rikki Klassy

From the Fall 2019 issue of Focus

I started as a Daisy leader 3 years ago as many leaders do: the troop didn’t have a leader.

Our troop of 15 girls is still together moving into our fourth year as 3rd-grade Brownies. It has a been a fun adventure and I love exploring different activities through the eyes of the girls, seeing their take on life.

Girl Scouts is so important for girls because it gives them a chance to explore activities they’ve never seen before and build confidence. When I doubt myself or the girls to pull off an activity and we end up smashing it out of the park, I’m reminded that we can do anything.

A key to our success as a troop has been letting the girls have ownership, from picking the badges we work on to how we spend our money to what activities and field trips we take. Our activities have ranged from horseback riding to circuit building, from winter camping to an Overture play, from hiking to organizing a Family Game Night, from a Strong Girls boot camp to a Humane Society service project.

Rikki Klassy is a leader for Stoughton Troop 2044 as well as an Area Troop Leader Mentor. Thank you Rikki, for all your hard work and dedication!

Do you know a Girl Scout volunteer who deserves a spotlight on our blog? Give them a shout-out at gsbadgerland.org

It’s the Great Girl Scout Pumpkin (Contest)

Badgerland is having a pumpkin painting contest! Starting Saturday, decorate a pumpkin with your troop (limit 1 pumpkin per troop or Juliette) to win a fun patch or memory book. Simply post a picture of your pumpkin on social media with the hashtag #TheGreatGSPumpkin and tag @gsbadgerland to earn your fun patch. BONUS: bring the (uncarved) pumpkin into your nearest Badgerland shop to be eligable for the grand prize… a memory book for each girl in your troop! Entries will be accepted this Saturday through Friday, October 25th. See below for the complete contest rules and details. Good luck, and may the best pumpkin win!

Great GS Pumpkin Painting Contest Flyer

Argyle Girl Scouts Take Action

During a camping trip two summers ago, Argyle Girl Scouts were first asked the question, “how could they use money earned during the cookie sale to make a difference in their community?” What could they do to make a difference for kids in their community, that would also make them proud to say they were a part of the project when they’re older? Argyle Bathrooms 4

After discussing this, the girl scouts agreed that the bathrooms, specifically the bathroom doors, were a big problem at Argyle Legion Park. The doors were so heavy, many kids were unable to open them and even became trapped in the bathroom at times! The girl scouts decided to take action, and make the bathroom more accessible for the kids who visit the park. They didn’t stop at the doors though, and decided to improve the building overall. The girl scouts added a fresh coat of paint, plants around the building, a new water fountain, and a diaper changing station in the men’s bathroom (“because men change diapers too!”).

Argyle Bathrooms 22

To make this all possible, the girl scouts applied for a grant from the Argyle Community Fund and were awarded $1150 in addition to the $300 they had already raised. In total, girls from 6 different troops participated in the project, planting and painting over the course of last summer. Now, the Argyle Legion Park has a new bathroom, and the Argyle Girl Scouts have made an impact that will be recognized for generations to come. Way to go, Argyle Girl Scouts!

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How can your troop make a lasting impact in your community? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Happy Fall- 10 Ideas for Fall Troop Activities

Fall is an exciting time in Girl Scouts; a new year, new troop mates, and new experiences! But with all the excitement, it can be overwhelming planning outings and activities for your troop. Here are 10 simple and fun activity ideas to kick off the new Girl Scout year.

  1. Leaf pressing– a classic, and easy, activity for troops of any level!

The easiest method is to place leaves between sheets of newspaper and press with heavy books for about 2 weeks, checking after one week to insure the leaves are drying properly.

Another method is to sandwich the leaves between wax paper and old cloth/towels, and iron on high (no steam). The wax will melt onto the leaves (and not onto the iron or ironing board thanks to the cloth) and preserve them for several months. Cut the leaves out from the wax paper making sure not to break the wax seal and use them in collages and other art projects.

You can see more methods and more info on these methods here.

leaf

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash
  1. Fall Hike– October is Outdoors month at Badgerland, celebrate with a Fall Hike and get started earning your Trail Adventure badge! Here are some great hiking locations around Badgerland. Know of a great location not mentioned here? Leave it in the comments below! You can see a full list of hiking locations around Wisconsin on TravelWisconsin.com.

Monches Segment of Ice Age Traill- Hartland

Sand Cave Trail & Little Sand Cave Loop- Wyalusing State Park, Bagley

Old Settlers Trail- Wildcat Mtn. State Park, Ontario

East Bluff Trail- Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo

Perrot Ridge Trail- Perrot State Park, Trempealeau

Black River State Forest- Black River Falls

Interested in a guided hike? Attend our Full Moon Hike with the Ice Age Trail Alliance on October 13th. Learn more here

hiking

  1. Go camping… at a Badgerland Camp! Continue celebrating Outdoors month and work towards a Troop Camping Badge by reserving a spot at one of our camping properties. First time camping with your troop? Camp overnight at our Fall Ehawee Expedition event and have all the activities, and s’mores, provided for you.

Rent a Property (Sumac and Ehawee Properties have weekend availability in October and November)

Sign up for Ehawee Expedition

camping

  1. Visit a corn maze– put your troop’s strategy skills to the test and try to find your way through a corn maze this Fall. Large troop? Divide into teams and see who can find their way out the fastest. Check out these corn mazes around Badgerland:

Hidden Trails Corn Maze, Salem

Treinen Farm Corn Maze, Lodi

Enchanted Vally Acres, Cross Plains

Alpine Ridge Orchard, Brooklyn

Vesperman Farms, Lancaster

Busy Barns Adventure Farm, Fort Atkinson

  1. Create Halloween SWAPs– create some fun Halloween SWAPs and hand them out to Trick or Treaters. Visit our Pinterest page for inspiration.

halloween swap

  1. Organize a food drive for Second Harvest or your local Food Bank– reach out to see what items are needed the most and ask friends and family to make donations, or see if you can set up a donation bin at a school or local business.
  2. Visit a pumpkin patch– learn about ecology and agriculture picking pumpkins, then get creative decorating them for Halloween. Bonus: turn the trip into a service project and donate the decorated pumpkins to a community space such as a nursing home or shelter. Check out these pumpkin patches around Badgerland:

Treinen Farm, Lodi

Sutter’s Ridge Farm, Mt. Horeb

Enchanted Valley Acres, Cross Plains

Mayr Family Farm, DeForest

Vesperman Farms, Lancaster

Busy Barns Adventure Farm, Fort Atkinson

pumpkins

Photo by Maddy Baker on Unsplash
  1. Bake a pie… with no recipe! Learn the science behind baking and attempt to bake a pie with no recipe. Work together to hypothesize what will make a flaky crust and perfect filling, and then test it out to see if your hypothesis was right!
  2. Explore your Spooky Senses– earn the Brownie Senses Badge by creating a haunted house of things you can touch, smell, taste, and hear. Check out this blog post for more ideas.

brownie badge

10. Celebrate Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthday– Founder’s Day is October 31st! Celebrate by holding a JGL Birthday Party. Dress up in period clothing (or just like Juliette Gordon Low), celebrate Girl Scout traditions like making s’mores, make edible campfires, and trade Halloween SWAPs!

 

We hope these ideas give you inspiration for some Fall Fun this season. What is your troop doing this Fall? Let us know in the comments below.