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!

Girl Scouts: More than Cookies

IMG_20190207_134334 1

“…know that your purchase benefits more than one girl, because we change the world one box at a time.”

One of our very own MediaGIRLs, Erin of Troop 2434 in Stoughton, was recently featured in the Milton Courier for an editorial she wrote about her involvement in Girl Scouts and the impact the organization has had on her throughout her involvement. Read below to learn more about her experience and how being a Girl Scout is much more than selling a box of cookies.

Girl Scouts isn’t just a box of cookies. In the last 7 years of my scouting career I have sold over 3,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and had many great experiences. Cookies only come around once a year and they help to fund many other activities that happen throughout the year. To list just a few activities I have done: learned canoeing, learned first-aid, participated in STEM learning, attended many awesome Girl Scout camps like Camp Hero and have been on several troop camping trips. Serving others is another important part of scouting where I have cleaned the Yahara River, sang carols in the nursing home, made holiday cards for Meals on Wheels and last year my troop made blankets for kids in the hospital. Through Girl Scouts, I have learned confidence to talk to new people & courage to try new things. I have learned that I can make a difference in the world in many ways & have made some great friends. For girls who are unsure if they would like scouting, I say come and check it out! Scouts is about what you want it to be and there are so many activities to try. We always need more adults to guide us too!

When you start seeing Girl Scouts out selling cookies in the next week, know that your purchase benefits more than one girl, because we change the world one box at a time.
Erin, Stoughton Troop 2434

My Girl Scout Destination: Costa Rica and Panama Service Challenge

Hi! My name is Emily and I went on the Costa Rica/Panama Service Challenge Girl Scout Destination in June. It was such an amazing experience to help the people of Talamanca and San San Pond Sak, even if it was just for a week each.

DSCN1617

I think the most powerful part was any time someone told us how much our help meant to them. Because sometimes to us our work was extremely difficult and sometimes it even felt like it wasn’t worth it, but when we heard the gratitude from the people we were helping, it reminded me of why I love service work and why I came. For example, chores for people in Talamanca include hauling sand up a hill in the blazing heat (whereas for me, at home, I have to haul a garbage bag to my garage). And when we were cooking our food, we had to cook it over a fire and I kept inhaling smoke and getting it in my eyes, and my instructor reminded me that this is how they have to cook everyday.

dscn1658.jpg

This trip has impacted me in many ways. I was just kind of crazy to see how the people in Talamanca and San San Pond Sak lived and how, in comparison, I have a pretty privileged life.

– Emily Ledin | Senior Troop 2331, Middleton | YLC Member

 

DSCN1675

 

Meet the Camp Director

Bonnie Griswold-Camp DirectorBonnie Griswold is the dynamo directing camps this summer. Now retired from a stellar career in aquatics leadership and education, Bonnie’s impressive resume includes serving as Aquatics Director at UW-Madison Recreational Sports. So what drew her out of retirement to take charge of Girl Scout camp? “I want a retirement with purpose – to give back to those who helped me along the way. I worked on the waterfront at Girl Scout camps all four years of college, which gave me a strong foundation for my career. I’m elated to have the opportunity to give back to the organization that helped me so much.”

As camp director, a key responsibility is building the camp team – the counselors who work directly with the girls. Bonnie has lots of experience creating effective teams and says her Girl Scout crew will be strong. “My camp staff will be focused on helping the girls build their own confidence and independence, and that’s why the counselors will be selfless, positive role models with tons of creativity and initiative.”

Resident camps this year are all themed with activities that girls will experience on top of the traditional camp fun. Bonnie, who grew up an active Girl Scout, says her favorite things are teaching girls all the traditions, including Girl Scout songs around the campfire, swimming, hiking and canoeing.

Sign your girl up today for the adventure of a lifetime at summer camp.

Camper Confident: Introducing a Badgerland Camper

Camper Confident-AlexaSome girls are natural campers. But most don’t realize their love for the outdoors until they try it for the first time. Just like Alexa P.

A fourth grader, Alexa says she’s the kind of girl who would spend every waking moment hiking through the woods, paddling around in a canoe or gathering around a campfire.

Her love of camping was ignited when she was a Daisy Girl Scout and introduced to camping – she went to ‘Me & My Gal’ (a family camp) with her mom. “It was scary at first because it was my first time sleeping outdoors, even though I was in a cabin,” Alexa said. “But it was OK because my mom was with me.”

Alexa says she was a bit nervous to return the next year, on her own but was so glad she found the courage to do so. Because once she started… she couldn’t stop! Just last summer, Alexa packed in three Girl Scout camps including CampHERO, Horse Lovers Adventure, and her all-time favorite – Camp Confidence. “We got to climb on this big pole and then jump off with a harness on!” she recalled, adding that she would “definitely” do it again.

Lucky for her, she’s attending NinjaGIRL at Camp Ehawee this summer where she’ll do lots of adventure activities, along with ninja challenges and warrior trainings.

But that’s not all she’s up to in summer 2018. Alexa will be onsite at spring Camporee and will be traveling to Camp Ehawee for two more camps – RiverQuest and Hogwarts: An Intro to Magic.

While the different weekly themes make camp extra fun each time she goes, Alexa says the best things about camp stay the same. “It’s really fun and you get to make new friends,” she said. “And you get to learn how to work as a team.”

Alexa’s mom, Ann, couldn’t be happier that her daughter fell in love with Girl Scout camp. “I went to camp as a Girl Scout when I was younger, and I really liked the experience,” Ann said. “I did things at camp I wouldn’t have done anywhere else.” She agrees with Alexa that camp is the perfect opportunity to make new friends, while simultaneously gaining confidence and independence.

Along with camp, Girl Scouts has provided other opportunities for the two of them. As a co-leader of Troop 2446, Ann motivates girls and their families to attend programs, sell cookies and serve their community.

But for Alexa – nothing is better than a week at Girl Scout camp.