Claire Kircher, Forever a Girl Scout

By Hallie Kircher-Henning

In her life enriched by the power of Girl Scouts, my mom, Claire Kircher, consistently showed gratitude for the organization which had given her so much.

A sister, an explorer, a risk-taker, a nurse, a mother, and a loving friend, Claire Kircher led her life with confidence and compassion. An energetic problem solver, she approached challenges head-on. While many daughters would provide similarly impassioned descriptions of their mothers, I am by no means alone amongst the multitudes of people who became enamored with Claire’s spirited light. Her light, which shone through every stage of her life, was fueled and sustained by Girl Scouts.  

Growing up in West Bend, WI in the 1960s and early 1970s as the eldest of six children in a conservative Catholic household, my mom often recounted the lack of opportunities and activities for girls in their formative years. As different family pressures and responsibilities emerged throughout her childhood and adolescence, Girl Scouts remained a sacred refuge for Claire: a place of infinite possibilities to explore, a place full of loving female friendships and bonds. Claire fully embraced Girl Scouts’  outdoors and leadership experiences, to which her large and hectic family would not have exposed her. Cherishing her earliest memories of independence she made at Camp Tiwaushara outside Wild Rose, WI, she embraced the camping, canoeing, and hiking trips her beloved troop leader, Ms. Azelle, made possible for her troop. She realized she thrived in leadership positions, enjoying the decision making process and logistical planning of different endeavors. To raise funds for her troop to travel to Europe and to the International Girl Scout Chalet in Switzerland in the summer of 1973, Claire helped collaborate with local businesses so her troop members could sell tickets to silly fashion shows they put on for the community. Above any individual experience, my mom most deeply treasured the powerful female friendships and the strong female energy she gained and embodied through Girl Scouts. Her appreciation for the collective strength and wisdom of womxn and girls seeped into every subsequent aspect of her existence.  

Girl Scouts ingrained in my mom that women can rise to any challenge.  She learned to never underestimate the radical, healing, transformative power of womxn as a collective. As a nurse, she enjoyed thinking through and tackling challenges, taking great responsibility in her work as a professional. She became trained in Reiki and body work therapy, using these alternative skills to enhance her healing ability. Outraged at the injustices her coworkers and her often faced in this female-dominated profession, she played ongoing leadership roles in organizing her comrades to demand respect and fair treatment for nurses. Enchanted by the power of music and song she first experienced in Girl Scouts, she sought community in the Madison feminist choir, Womonsong. Many Womonsong members had their own Girl Scouting backgrounds, and my mom formed instant connections. Throughout her adulthood, no matter what life events or obstacles she faced, she never ceased to honor, support, and seek refuge in her multitudes of female friends.

Becoming the co-leader of my troop, she manifested her gratitude for Girl Scouts by imparting her love of the program to me and my fellow troop members. Her co-leader, Mary Clare Murphy, ensured that our troop explored and served our community, sang songs, and learned to love and trust each other. However, they ultimately provided an environment in which we, as girls, could organize our own activities and directives. We exercised our own leadership muscles, most memorably, orchestrating the activities for the annual Regent Community Girl Scout Encampment. Our group of Girl Scout sisters remained strong, from kindergarten until our senior year of high school, supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of early adolescence through the start of college. My mom made sure that our troop remained a strong, interdependent female community that any girl could turn to for support.  

And this love of Girl Scouting lives through me. Most importantly, the value of honoring female friendships and community. In my time running on the women’s cross country team at Macalester College, I utilized many Girl Scout team building and planning skills that had been impressed upon me since youth. Now, I am a teacher in south Minneapolis, and the co-leader of a remarkable troop of Brownie Girl Scouts. Cultivating a troop at my school is my way of showing gratitude, not only for the Girl Scout organization, but also for my mom, who gave so much of herself to provide an excellent Girl Scouting experience.  

One of my co-leaders is none other than my lifelong friend and Girl Scout sister, Anna Ahrens, the daughter of my mom’s dear friend and co-leader of our troop, Mary Clare. After attending college in different states, Anna and I found our way back to each other in Minneapolis, proving, just as my mom did, that Girl Scout sisterhood lasts a lifetime. Together, we channel our moms’ energy in every meeting, always ensuring that our girls sing plenty of songs. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our troop met every Wednesday. After the meetings on my drive home, I always called my mom to debrief and ask for her advice. As her body weakened from the effects of chemotherapy and the spreading cancer, connecting with my next generation of Girl Scouts gave her hope and joy.  

Claire utilized her Girl Scout skills to march her way through four years of ovarian cancer. She was scrappy and tough. She pragmatically looked at the challenges from all angles, adapted to her changing physical abilities, and most of all, called upon her community of Girl Scout sisters and other female friends to carry her through. My mom’s light shone bright through every obstacle cancer launched her way. On my mom’s last day on this earth, as Hospice nurses attended to her at our home, dozens of people – Girl Scout connections, Womonsong connections, neighbors, and other friends and family – gathered below her window, social distancing on the street outside. Together, they joined in song, singing a selection of my mom’s favorite Girl Scout and Womonsong songs I had printed out and left in a pile below. The magical vibrations of their united voices sent a wave through our home, flooding into my mom’s open window, surrounding her with love. Hours later, her spirit left her body, soaring to join with the lingering energy of friendship and sisterhood. Her light shines on through me, and through the dozens of people she’s impacted through Girl Scouts and other communities. What she leaves behind is the value, and perpetual trust in the power of Girl Scouts Together.

To make a donation in honor of Claire Kircher, visit Badgerland’s donation page and type ‘Claire Rose Kircher Legacy Fund’ in the designation section.

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

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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!

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

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.

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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

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  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

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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.

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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.

 

Build a Troop in 6 Easy Steps

For many Girl Scouts, the Girl Scout Experience all starts with the generous adults that volunteer to start new troops. Though starting a Girl Scout troop can seem daunting, it’s actually both an easy and simple process. Here we’ve broken down the steps to form your own troop so you can get started learning new skills, seeing new sites, and having fun this fall faster

1. Request a Troop Number. At Girl Scouts of Wisconsin-Badgerland, getting a brand-new troop all starts with the troop number and we have made it easy to get one. All you need to do is fill out this form, and a staff member will reach out to you with your troop number and more information about getting your troop going. You can get started requesting your troop number here.

2. Find Adult Co-leaders. Every Girl Scout Troop needs at least 2 adult co-leaders to complete registration, background checks, and training. Every troop has a different amount of parent involvement, but the more volunteers each troop has, the more successful that troop is.

3. Complete Registration, Background Check, and Training. Having our adults registered, background checked, and trained not only helps ensure the safety of our girls, but also helps our volunteers feel prepared and sets troops up for success. Our staff is here to help.

4. Recruit and Register Girls. Every Girl Scout Troop needs girls, and we recommend getting started with at least 8 girls. This will give girls opportunities to lead in the group, and also leaves space in the troop for new girls to join. Up to 12 girls are able to join a troop with two adult co-leaders, but more girls are able to join if more volunteers are willing to help with the troop.

5. Find a Meeting Time/Space. Every Girl Scout Troop is different, some meet weekly, while others meet monthly. Determining the time, day and locations of your meetings is completely up to you and we are here to support you. Each community is different, but has great spaces your troop can meet in. Some meet in schools, churches, community centers, or banks. The flexibility of time, day, and location allows you to volunteer as often as you want, when you want, and where you choose.

6. Change Lives. By starting a Girl Scout troop, you are giving the girls in your community access to the wealth of opportunities Girl Scouts can provide, so thank you! Girl Scouts offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to girls (and volunteers) of all ages. We’re excited to see the impact you have on your community by starting a troop, and hope you are too.

Learn more about getting involved with Girl Scouts and starting a troop at our website gsbadgerland.org

Let’s Go Connect: What to expect

We’re well into summertime here at Badgerland and that means it’s almost time for our annual Let’s Go Expo! What’s Let’s Go? Let’s Go is our yearly volunteer conference, aimed at providing our hardworking volunteers with the resources they need, as well as the opportunity to connect with other volunteers and celebrate their accomplishments.

This year’s expo focuses on the “connection” element Let’s Go offers. We’re giving you more opportunities to connect with one another, as well as information on how to better connect with your community. Here’s a quick look at what the day will look like and what to expect.

Intro/keynote: The day will open with a “State of the Council” address as well as an address on Badgerland’s key priorities. Then our keynote speaker, Meghan Skrepenski (CEO of Raising Strong Girls Boot Camps), will deliver an interactive presentation tailored for Girl Scout volunteers entitled “STRONG Training… your past does not define you!”.

Sessions: There will be 3 training sessions during the day, one before the included lunch and two after. During these sessions, you will be able to choose from a variety of workshops that include new leader training, fall product sale information, parent involvement how-tos, community connection workshops, and more. You can find full descriptions of the workshops on gsbagderland.org/letsgo but here is a quick list of the workshops offered.

New Daisy/Brownie Leader Training

Jumpstart Your Fall Product Sale

Money-Earning Activities: Get Ready!

Communication and Connection Skills

Finding Great Activites: Field Trip!

Get More Parent Involvement in Your Troop

Great Group Work for Your Troop

How to Make Community Connections

Money-Earning Activities: Community Connections

*Note: Several select events will also be live-streamed to our Facebook page

In addition to these workshops, there are also two other unique options offered during the training sessions.

During the second and third sessions, you will also have the option to attend Connection Cafe where you’ll connect with other volunteers in a relaxed drop-in environment.

Additionally, during the third session, a panel discussion is being hosted this year. The discussion will offer an opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with Girl Scout volunteers as well as community leaders on a variety of topics. This year’s panelists are Katherine Schuknecht (Badgerland Delegate and Madison area troop leader), Rikki Conwell (Badgerland Council Delegate), Susan Czerniak (Lake Mills troop leader), and Erica Nowicki (Badgerland Director of Membership) with moderation by Sarah Rodgers.

Reception: After the training sessions, the event will conclude with a happy hour style reception (complete with a s’more bar) where you’ll have more opportunities to meet with other volunteers.

FAQ

“I am a brand new leader/volunteer who hasn’t started working with a troop. Will I benefit from attending Let’s Go: Connect?

Absolutely! No experience is necessary to attend and the event is a great introduction to all that Badgerland has to offer our adult volunteers. If you are a brand new Daisy or Brownie leader, you can get your new leader training requirements completed at the New Daisy/Brownie Leader Training workshop. Plus, Let’s Go is a great place to connect with new and experienced volunteers as well as Badgerland staff to get your Girl Scout year off to a great start.

I don’t want to miss Let’s Go, but I can’t stay for the whole event. Can I still attend?

Yes! Come for as much of Let’s Go: Connect as you can. You can come or leave at any time throughout the day. Also, keep an eye on our Facebook page as several workshops will be live-streamed throughout the day.

 

We hope you’re as excited for Let’s Go as we are! Not registered yet? Visit gsbadgerland.org/letsgo to learn more and register for the event. We’ll see you at UW Baraboo August 10th for our most exciting volunteer expo yet.

 

 

 

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!

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.