Experiencing Sangam World Centre

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Hailey Morey
Lifetime Girl Scout

Hello Fellow Badgerland Girl Scouts!

I’ve recently made a big move from Our Chalet in Switzerland to the Sangam World Centre in India, where I’m working as a Long Term Monsoon Volunteer.

Volunteers, like me, work onsite with guest participants while Tare Program volunteers (Tare means Star in Hindi) are assigned a community partner and go offsite to work with that partner every day.

Both programs are excellent! Sangam works with various community partners such as local schools, environmental organizations, orphanages, homes for the mentally ill, and so more. Begin a part of the Sangam staff means you’re truly a part of the greater good!

My volunteer work focuses on women empowerment. I lead Stop the Violence programs, Free Being Me sessions and lots of different community service projects. I also get lead groups into the heart of downtown Pune and provide a full Indian cultural immersion; participants experience traditional life, dress, dancing, and food.

To say life is different on this side of the world is an understatement. People are always hustling and bustling, rickshaw drivers are weaving through the streets, traditional music is constantly playing, and rice is a part of every meal. I would love to see a Wisconsin troop come and open their mind up to this whole new world!

One of my favorite experiences so far was the Arts4Change festival, where participants from over 20 countries traveled to share their local art forms and explored how the arts can be a tool for change. I’ve also conquered hikes in the deserted Indian hill country, experienced the craziness of the Ganesh festival, and I will never forget the day India beat Pakistan in the cricket tournament. It was such a celebration!

Within the past four months, I have grown TREMENDOUSLY. Without this experience, I would not have the dreams and aspirations I do today. Working and living in an international setting with international coworkers has made me stronger, independent and overall FIERCE.

Go and take on the world Badgerland!

Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau Girl Scouts Take on England

Last July, after two long years of planning and fundraising, Badgerland Girl Scout Troops 4279 and 4483 were finally off. Two girls from each troop, plus two chaperones, were headed to Great Britain, ready to spend nearly two weeks touring the famous countryside and landmark-filled cities. It was a trip of a lifetime.

After landing in Manchester, they hopped on a train for York – an hour and a half ride. Then they checked out the city’s market near the train station and headed to the hostel – but only after their first “wrong way down the street” car ride.

Once they got over the jet lag, they spent the next day touring York, visiting attractions like the Chocolate Story and the York Minster. Then, they were off to Poacher Jamboree 2017 – a week-long gathering of more than 5,500 scouts and guides from across the world.

When their bus arrived at the grounds in Lincoln, U.K., they headed to their campsite, where about 30 people were already set up. Their camp-mates were happy to “show them the ropes.” The next week was filled with wood burning, friendship bracelets, bungee trampolines and so much more.

Then, it was time to move on once again. The girls packed up and were London-bound. But they had one stop to make along the way.

They spent a day touring and volunteering at Green Britain, a wind farm in Newark. Lunch included all-natural vegetables grown right there on the property!

They made it to London just in time to see Madame Tussauds wax museum and take a bus tour through the city. Then, like true Girl Scouts, they gathered at the hotel to plan out the next day.

They woke up bright and early to visit the London Eye, where they could see almost every major attraction in the city from a distance. Next, they had to see them
close-up. They headed toward Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Bridge.

At the end of their long day of sightseeing, it was time to pack up for home. After nearly two weeks of stepping out of their comfort zone and into a world, they’ve never known, the trip was coming to an end.

The group wasn’t even back to the continent before they were tossing out ideas for the next trip. The memories they made really will last a lifetime.

There are lots of opportunities for Girl Scouts to travel by themselves or with their troop. Check out Girl Scout Destinations, Getaways, and international events.

GET Girls in England

Pop-Up Programs

We’re so excited to introduce new pop-up program! You won’t find these unique program experiences anywhere by Badgerland.

How do pop-up programs work?
These are short, drop-in programs. We keep the date and time a secret until a few days before the event, then reveal it on our social media accounts and via email. The day of the program, you just stop in anytime and have some Girl Scout fun!

Keep connected to find out the location of the next pop-up program in your area!

The G.I.R.L. Bucket List

CampHERO CarBy Eliza Zimmerman, Program Manager – Girl Leadership

Have you ever gotten tired of doing the same thing over and over? I’ve talked to lots of troops and I know that you do. Maybe it’s doing community service at the same place all the time, or always going to the waterpark as your end of the year party. While it’s nice to have yearly traditions, sometime we need help coming up with new ideas.

Enter the G.I.R.L. Bucket List – 175 ideas of things you can do in Girl Scouts!
Browse the list to spark some new, adventurous, and unique ideas for you and your troop.

Girls can try new activities and be a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker and Leader (G.I.R.L.) at the same time. Be a bold and learn about being a published author. Get innovative by inventing something. Be gutsy and try indoor sky diving, or take the lead and help coach a sports team. See these ideas and so much more on the bucket list. No matter what you choose to explore, have fun with it! Share this list with the girls and see what sort of adventures and new ideas they can come up with.

If you have a new idea or something exciting that you’ve done with your troop, we would love to hear about it. We are also always looking for more ideas to add to the list, and we love seeing photos of your exciting adventures. You can contact us at 800.236.2710 or send us stories and photos by email.

6 Visionary Volunteers Honored at Annual Meeting

2017 Annual Meeting HonoreesOn September 16 the Performing Arts Center at Sun Prairie High School was packed with parents, volunteers, Girl Scouts, board members, delegates, donors and more coming together for the largest crowd ever to attend the Annual Meeting. This year, six amazing adult volunteers were in the spotlight for the incredible work they do building girls of courage, confidence and character.

Three volunteers were honored with the Volunteer of Excellence Award. This award is given to volunteers that demonstrate outstanding service while partnering directly with girls, in any pathway, to implement the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. It is also given in recognition of exceptional service in support of the council’s mission.

Sadie Nerswick is a go-getter troop co-leader with Brownies and Juniors in Columbus. She is beloved by her girls for being fun and kind and compassionate – a trait she’s instilling in her girls. For example, last year she went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that all her girls could attend an event recognizing a girl in their troop, a cancer survivor. That Girl Scout felt so special having her troop sisters go out of their way to support her. That’s the Girl Scout way, and that’s Sadie Nerswick’s way!

Lisa Schmitt has been leading and mentoring Girl Scouts for five years in Platteville. And to say her troop is thriving is an understatement. Today, there are 17 fifth graders flourishing under the leadership of Lisa. She encourages her girls and instills in them her own positive, can-do-attitude. She is determined to give each girl the knowledge that they can succeed at anything they set out to do.

Jaren Shaw helps lead three troops at three different levels, Daisies, Brownies and Seniors, in Tomah. It takes an audacious woman to step up to that challenge and that describes Jaren. She has been a leader for four years and is well respected in her community for always going over, above and beyond for the girls. Jaren is patient, welcoming and she is persevering. She will do what it takes to make sure her Girl Scouts walk away from each experience a better person.

Two outstanding volunteers were awarded the Girl Scout Appreciation Pin. This award is bestowed for outstanding service in support of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience beyond their local community.

Jessica Huntamer leads more than 20 Juniors and Cadettes in Richland Center and is a volunteer member of the Badgerland Council Delegates. The girls in Jessica’s troop say the first time you meet Jessica you see her positivity and commitment. She is an amazing mentor…leader…and, in the words of girls…“truly a best friend for all of us.”

Maranda Oliver has lead Junior Troop 4234 and since they were Daisies, these girls have been working hard to make their hometown of Westby a better place. As kindergartners, they adopted a local park and have been making ongoing improvements for years, and they’re only in 4th grade. Maranda is always innovative and seeking ideas to help her girls learn new things in fun ways. She did a STEM activity with the girls by having them make homemade ice cream – needless to say that forever endeared her to the girls!

We also honored an amazing woman that has provided 60 years of Girl Scout volunteer service, Nancy Hansen-Bennett. When Nancy first became a Girl Scout volunteer, Dwight Eisenhower was president, in 1957! And she has continued to be an advocate for hundreds of girls in the greater Janesville area. In fact, Nancy’s final act as a co-leader was to send a letter to the editor of the local newspaper challenging retirees to step-up and be a Girl Scout volunteer and make a difference to girls, just like she has all these years. Nancy also received a notable membership pin, she’s been a Girl Scout for 70 years.

Badgerland is lucky to have amazing volunteers like the women above. Learn how you can help girls unleash their inner leader here.

Be a G.I.R.L. at Badgerland Programs

By: Allison Sauer, Cadette Troop 2279 Co-Leader

Have you ever signed up for one of the many overnight events that are offered through Badgerland Girl Scouts? If you have, chances are you’ve received a packing list. I know you’ve seen something on your packing list and thought, “This is surely a suggestion, knee socks… seriously? Sturdy shoes…come on! My kicks will be just fine.” At one time or another, I’ve not only thought those thoughts, I’ve said then to my daughter.

And I will never ever do that again! EVER!

My troop loves getting the PathFinder. Our ritual is to go through and highlight all of the programs we’re interested in. Last year, the Be Prepared, Search and Rescue program really stood out, and my girls were so excited to attend. After we secured our spots, I printed out the packing list for everyone. And when the time came, with the aforementioned mindset, we packed and set out for our adventure.

Getting to Camp Brandenburg was so easy. If you’ve never been, you are missing out on an absolutely gorgeous piece of property that we are truly lucky, as a council, to own. The rolling hills, thick woods and lake make for a beautiful setting for just about any Girl Scout event.

As we entered the camp and headed towards check-in, everything looked normal. I could hear Courtney, Troops and Resources Program Manager, asking the girls if they were dressed in what they would be wearing for the program, and making sure that everyone would be warm and comfy for when the program began. My girls and I were ready to go, or so we thought.

At check-in, Courtney asked if Bella would be comfortable working on a “special project” for the night. She agreed, and off she went. A little while later, she joined back up with us at Hilltop, her “special project” a secret to everyone.

When I walked into Hilltop the atmosphere changed a bit. There were several military-looking people scattered around the room. Courtney introduced us to a man named Eddie and his team, who are not only first responders, they are the team that is normally deployed first when a disaster hits somewhere in the U.S.

I immediately thought of the packing list and panicked a bit because of my flippant attitude toward it. Clearly, Eddie took his packing list seriously. He was dressed in all-black combat gear, sturdy black boots and a thick, black belt chocked full of pouches. To say he was intimidating would be an understatement.

I wore my skinny jeans, ankle socks, comfort-sole Candie’s, a Girl Scout tee layered under my black Columbia, and I just had a pedi. After seeing Eddie’s “outfit” my mantra became, “I’ll be fine, it’s a Girl Scout event… it’ll be easy”

Was I ever wrong.

That evening’s mission was truly literal. Eddie and his team set the stage for a search and rescue of a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who was lost in the woods with her autistic grandson. We were split into groups and partnered with rescue workers from across the country. They shared great information with our girls; from how and why they set a grid map, to why being quiet and listening is important.

Next, we were inserted into our search grid, which was located above Hilltop. The lay of the land is steep and thick with trees, dead leaves and underbrush. It was around that time I realized what Bella’s special project was. Eddie and his team had applied makeup to her leg to make it look bruised, and asked her to pretend to fall and injure herself. When Bella “fell” the entire search stopped until additional rescue workers found us, assessed the situation, strapped Bella to backboard and began hiking their way up a steep incline. No path, no markers, just ankle-twisting underbrush, small trees slapping at your face, and plants with thorns grabbing at your skin.

Why do I remember these specific roadblocks? Well, prior to Bella’s injury there were some girls whining about these obstacles. “My feet hurt.” “The branches are cutting me.” “This is too hard.” etc. Three amazing rescue workers and I carried Bella up through the woods. Keep in mind, Bella is 5’5”, 140lbs and strapped to a backboard!

What I didn’t know was that our group of girls didn’t stay behind to continue searching for the original victims. Instead, they tearfully followed their fellow Girl Scout, whom they had only met hours earlier. Not only that, they insisted on carrying Bella down steep terrain to the emergency vehicle waiting for us.

This was amazing to behold. Seeing their focus shift from complaining about the bugs flying around to worrying about their fellow Girl Scout was life changing. Once the girls loaded Bella into the emergency vehicle, they complained no more. Their focus was finding the two victims, all the while, worrying about Bella’s “injury.”

As night fell we were at the tail end of our grid, which connected with base camp. It was at that point when Eddie met us. He explained to our group that Bella had pretended to be injured, and she had joined another group to continue the search. As he walked away, I was met with 10 girls that were happy, crying and confused. “I was so worried about her,” and “I couldn’t stop thinking of her,” were some comments I heard.

At that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of Girl Scouts. The girls accepted each other not just because they were told to or because they were grouped together. They accepted each other because they are sisters. I watched the girls show compassion and kindness, patience and resilience. I have never experienced the unconditional love that these girls showed each other. I was rejuvenating as a human and I was close to tears many times that day.

It was later in the evening when the last group of girls used the information they learned to safely carry a “hurt” 9-year-old boy up an incline so steep, a rope pulley needed to be secured to ensure safety for all. When they reached the top, a thunderous round of applause echoed around us. I will never forget the words Eddie spoke next. He pointed to all the girls and said, “You did this.”

Yes they did.

From start to finish we were met with challenges that required us to push ourselves mentally and physically, and they each crushed it! The weekend’s program was not just about Search and Rescue; it was about like-minded strangers coming together and building relationships through unique opportunities like this and leaving as friends.

Our daughters pulled together for a mission, little did we all know the mission was not exclusively about finding two lost victims, it was about finding strength to do things we never thought we would or could do. It was about supporting each other through encouragement. I know Bella will never forget that weekend, and neither will I.

On a side note: if “sturdy shoes” is on the packing list, it’s not a suggestion!