Looking Back: One Girl’s 13-year Girl Scout Journey

From the Fall 2019 issue of Focus

Peyton Barber is a Girl Scout through and through. She joined as a kindergarten Daisy…13 years ago! Over the years she’s gained best friends in her troop, been on outdoor adventures, traveled across the country, shared her Girl Scout story on TV and radio, provided valuable input on Badgerland’s Youth Leadership Council, earned her Bronze and Silver Award (and working on her Gold Award), managed her own Cookie business, and now, she’s a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts.

Peyton says, “Girl Scouts has definitely helped shape the person I am today. Without Girl Scouts I feel I would have definitely missed out on all of the awesome opportunities I have been provided. I also feel I would not have grown up to be the passionate leader I am today if it weren’t for Girl Scouts and all the amazing leaders I’ve had throughout the years.”

After all these years, here’s her advice to current Girl Scouts:

“Take advantage of suggesting ideas of things you want to learn to your leaders. Want to learn how to fence – ask! Want to learn how to decorate a cake? Ask! Want to go camping in someone’s backyard – ask! The worst think your leader can say is no. The best thing is they might just say yes!”

Peyton Grad

Q. Where are you headed next?
I am going to attend Stetson University in Deland, Florida (it is halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach). I was recruited for their D1 Rowing team (yeah! Full year rowing no winter!). I will be studying communications and pre-law.

Q. What does your future with Girl Scouts look like?
I plan to volunteer with the local council after I am settled in Florida. When I have a daughter, she will for certain go into Girl Scouts and I will be her leader. I am third generation Girl Scout – we can’t stop now.

Troop Life

My troop really did a lot of fun things, as our leaders had the logic to provide us opportunities we may not otherwise have. My troop learned how to row with the Camp Randall Rowing Club (and I joined the team!), we slept overnight on a baseball field, we learned to fence, we learned to scuba dive, we recorded songs at a recording studio, we learned how to make sushi, how to do DIY screen-printing, we met K9 dogs and so much more. We also took the opportunity to volunteer as group. My troop’s Bronze Award project provided the Dane County Humane Society the most items donated by a youth group! But my favorites were the trips we took as a troop to Chicago, the Mall of America, and New York City for a week.

Peyton Today Show

Q. What do your troop mates mean to you?
Ohana. They are family. My troop just graduated from high school and we are already planning a post freshman year of college trip together.

Peyton Cookies Starbucks

Being an Older Girl Scout

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC)
Being on the YLC with girls I didn’t know gave me a chance to work on my social skills, raising my point of view, and (obviously) leadership. I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made.

My Role Models
My mom has been one of my leaders for all 13 years of Girl Scouts. She and our other co-leaders Lauren Cunningham Laura Jirsa have been amazing. And a thanks to all of the troop parents who volunteered. I would also love to thank my mom and dad for putting me in Girl Scouts my kindergarten year.

Peyton Mom

My Gold Award
I have been working on my Gold Award since my freshman year. I am on my third project. My first project was to get feminine hygiene products into schools for free (and this was co-opted by another organization), my second project was an outdoor education area (my main contact in the school district had MUCH bigger fish to fry) and I am finalizing my third go at this. An Adulting 101 class that will be beta tested in my alma mater this fall and hopefully spread to the other Madison high schools the following year. I have learned a lot of tenacity with trying to get this done!

Peyton Group Strong

Q. Do you consider yourself a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, or Leader?
I am a Leader and Risk-Taker. I’m not afraid to step up and suggest things, or take charge if no one else steps up.

Albany Girl Scout shows resilience, drive as member of USA ParaVolley Team

From the Fall 2019 issue of Focus

Growing up, Skye McDermott heard the word “can’t” more than most girls her age. But instead of letting her disability bring her down, this Girl Scout is showing the world what she can do.

Skye was born without her left arm below the elbow. She’s overcome more than her fair share of challenges in her 14 years, but for her, volleyball is worth the work.

Three years ago, Skye’s older sister (who shares her passion for volleyball) organized a camp to prepare middle school girls for the volleyball season as part of her Gold Award. Skye signed up for her sister’s camp, but was taken back when she was told she couldn’t play the position of setter – only hitter – due to her limb deficiency.

Not long after, Skye was taking private lessons and perfecting her own way of legally setting the ball. She joined year-round, able-bodied teams at school, the Madison Elite Volleyball Club and with summer beach leagues…gearing up for what she wanted most. Then it was time.

Earlier this year she traveled to Edmond, Oklahoma to try out for the USA’s Women’s Paralympics Beach volleyball team – the first women’s team of this type. Skye was ecstatic when she heard she made the team, and was eager to take on the challenge and break barriers.


She and her two teammates spent the next few weeks traveling to different parts of the country for practice, and in May, she set off for the World ParaVolley Beach World Series Tour in Pingtan, China. Today, her silver medal hangs in her bedroom next to her Girl Scout vest.

“Being a Girl Scout helped me be able to make new friends and be able to express myself with different people from different countries,” Skye said. “I’m able to respect the different things about them because of some of the badges we’ve done as a troop.”

Skye has been a Girl Scout since age 5, when she joined as a Daisy. Her mother, Renee McDermott, is one of her Troop Leaders, and agrees that Girl Scouts helps gives her busy daughter a sense of routine and stability.

“Although she needs to focus to be a national champion, she also needs to have something else to do – a place where she can go outside and be with friends and just be a kid,” Renee said.


Troop 3253 just bridged to Senior, and the members are already talking about their Gold Award projects. As Juniors, they earned their Bronze Award for designing and building two Gaga Ball Pits in their area. For her Silver Award project, Skye assembled more than 400 “Blessing Bags” for people in need, filled with hygiene items, socks, snacks, hand warmers and notes of kindness.

Along with service projects, the troop has traveled to Savannah, GA, made troop camp memories, sold thousands of boxes of cookies, and earned more badges and patches than what fits on their vests.

This fall, Skye is starting high school with skills and experiences that go beyond the typical freshman.

“Don’t give up because someone said you can’t do something. Use those words as motivation to push you even harder. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. I truly believe that is true on and off the volleyball court.”

Meet: Kaitlyn Hollman, Gold Award Class of 2013

Girl Scout experiences launch Gold Award Girl Scout into success!

If you ask Kaitlyn Hollman what Girl Scouts has done for her, she’ll tell you it’s the new experiences, dedicated role models and the resulting scholarship opportunities that have gotten her where she is today. And where exactly is that?

Kaitlyn graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 2013 and is on track to earn her doctorate degree in physical therapy from the University of Evansville in Southern Indiana in 2020. Despite a rigorous schedule, Kaitlyn still finds time to give back as a volunteer on the Gold Award Committee for Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana Council.
Kaitlyn joined Girl Scouts in first grade, at the same time her twin brother joined Boy Scouts. Though he chose not to continue on, Kaitlyn’s Girl Scouting years would prove to be full of valuable opportunities, friendship and growth. “We were a pretty adventurous troop,” she said, recalling the time Troop 2854 spent cliff repelling, down-hill skiing, dog sledding, whitewater rafting and taking home multiple Contiki Regatta titles. “What made me stick with it was the fun and new experiences I got to do had I not experienced it in Girl Scouts.”

Gold Award

Though troop travel and adventure is fun, the girls were also passionate about getting other kids in their community active. For their Bronze Award, the girls created an obstacle course, and expanded on it with a video series for their Silver Award. When it came time to think about her Gold Award project, Kaitlyn set out to find an impactful project that combined her love of sports and her community in a different way; she developed a plan to bring gently-used sports equipment to unserved children so that everyone had a chance to stay active and make friends.

Kaitlyn says that although her troop mates were from different social circles, she came to realize how great it was to experience these adventures with other girls her age – and that none of it would have been possible without an open-minded troop leader.
“I have to give a shout-out to my mom,” Kaitlyn said. “She was our leader, and she helped us plan some really, really fun activities. I honestly believe that a dedicated leader is what’s important to get girls to stay involved. They should be dedicated, patient, willing to step out of their comfort zone and have the best interest of the girls in mind.”

Because of Girl Scouts, Kaitlyn says she feels she’s more confident and self-sufficient than a lot of her peers. “I have some tools in my toolbelt that have helped me,” she said. “But one of the biggest things it’s done for me, is that I got a lot of scholarships through my volunteer work and community outreach that I experienced through Girl Scouts.”
Kaitlyn has earned 11 scholarships throughout her college years totally more than $145,000. In her applications she often attributes her character and determination to Girl Scouts. After earning her doctorate degree, Kaitlyn plans to return to the Midwest and become a sports-specialized physical therapist. “My advice for any Girl Scout is to just stick with it,” Kaitlyn says. “It’s such a great opportunity to make friends, try new things and stay involved in the community. You won’t regret it.”


11 Golden Girl Scouts Honored at Awards Ceremony

2017 Girl Scout Gold Awardees

Badgerland celebrated the amazing achievements of exceptional Girl Scouts in an inspiring and moving Awards Ceremony earlier this month. This year, there were 11 Badgerland Girl Scouts who earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest national award a Girl Scout can earn. The Gold Award recognizes girls demonstrating extraordinary leadership through take-action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and, nationwide, less than five percent of Girl Scouts achieve this prestigious award.

Also honored and recognized during this special day were 43 Cadettes who earned their Silver Award and graduating seniors, who were presented their Girl Scout green graduate cords before they bridged to adult. Congratulations to all the deserving honorees!

>>Learn more about the Gold girls and their projects

Badgerland Joins the Golden Centennial Celebration in the Nation’s Capital

Celebrating 100 Years of Girls Changing the World

By Marci Henderson, Badgerland CEO
Anna Maria Chavez, former Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, Marci Henderson, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland CEO and Claire Evensen, Gold Award recipientGirl Scouts from across the United States, including Badgerland, took to Washington, D.C. in June to join Girl Scouts USA, members of Girl Scouts’ Honorary Capitol Hill Troop and hundreds of leaders from  government, military and academia to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the highest honor in Girl Scouts. And to recognize the amazing girls and women who have earned Girl Scouts highest award over the past 100 years!

I was delighted to accompany Badgerland Girl Scout, Claire Evensen, who was one of eight girls selected nationwide to present her Gold Award Project at this special event. Claire’s project, Teen2Teen, was based upon her desire to help teenagers support loved ones are experiencing eating disorders, anxiety issues, and/or depression. In cooperation with area health clinics, Claire created and gathered surveys and then taught herself to code so the information would be widely available. The result? An Android app that can be downloaded over 100 countries!

Claire, and the thousands of others who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award before her, knows it is a symbol of excellence, ingenuity and a testament to what girls can achieve—to their vision and fortitude, leadership and dedication. This centennial was a remarkable occasion celebrating a hundred years of projects whose cumulative effects have rippled across time and geography, and helped to transform our world forever…for the better.

Following the Capitol Hill Gold Award celebration, Claire and I had the opportunity to visit with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (also a Girl Scout alum!) and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan to raise awareness of the Gold Award and talk about how Girl Scouts are helping to improve their communities locally and around the world.

In Claire’s own words, “The trip to D.C. was a phenomenal experience! I loved having the opportunity to both listen to the presentations of others and present my own project. The first event of the trip was a luncheon at the National Press Club with a speech by Anna Maria Chavez. This hour was amazing! Our (former) CEO was a powerful speaker, with a clear vision for both Girl Scouts and girls and women as a whole; it was easy to see why she has recently been ranked among the most influential leaders in the world. The Gold Award 100th anniversary is an event that will stay with me for a long time. It was not only enlightening and inspiring to see the projects of my fellow Girl Scouts from across the country, but was energizing to be in a room with so many other Gold Award scouts and among countless other supporters of the organization. I doubt I will again be a part of an event that better celebrates the power of young women to actively change their communities and the world at large. To paraphrase one of the speakers, we are not the leaders of change for tomorrow, but are the leaders of change today.”

It is these kinds of opportunities that are available to every girl through Girl Scouts.

Your investment in the lives of girls, like Claire, truly help make the world a better place. Thank you.