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- Sally Martin

Sally Martin, Mount Horeb Daisy Troop 7669, May 2019 

Sally Martin is a proud Girl Scout volunteer and co-leader of 26 Daisies (who have proudly earned ALL their petals). We reached out to her for an interview to learn what inspires her as a Girl Scout Volunteer. Continue reading to learn about the most fun (and most challenging) parts of leading a Daisy troop and why Sally chooses to be a Girl Scout Volunteer.

How long have you been a volunteer with Girl Scouts? 

I volunteered to be one of five co-leaders for a Daisy troop of 26 girls last fall. (October 2018)   

What is the most challenging part of being a Girl Scout volunteer? 

It can be challenging to fit everything in! We meet in the early evening for one hour and fifteen minutes, every other week. We pack a lot of activities in during that time, in part to hold their attention and in part to make sure we are maximizing their experience. It makes for a fast-paced and, at times, exhausting meeting for us leaders!  

What is your favorite part of volunteering? 

My favorite part of volunteering has been seeing the girls mature and grow throughout the year. It has also been very rewarding to see the girls interact with each other in a kind and respectful way. The Girl Scout curriculum and training provides not only a great foundation for talking about and practicing acceptance, inclusion, and kindness, but also suggested activities to develop those qualities. Parents of our girls have been a wonderful support to us as well.   

Do you have any favorite memories from your volunteer experience? 

I am retired, and I have two granddaughters in the troop.  My mom was a Brownie leader in the 50s, and I was a Brownie leader for my oldest daughter in the 80s. It’s been wonderful to have this peek into their (my granddaughters) world and to be able to interact with their friends. I’m from the Early Childhood field, so everything these girls do is interesting to me.  My favorite time with the girls is at the end of every meeting when we do the friendship circle and hand squeeze. As that little ritual came together over the course of the year, it was so special to see the girls calmly come together and look forward to the moment when we could see by the look on their faces, they knew they were a part of something bigger than themselves.  

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Girl Scout volunteer? Why should someone volunteer with Girl Scouts? 

In today’s world, children need every opportunity possible to make safe and healthy connections with their peers and caring adults. Girl Scouts provides quite a few ways to get involved, and I would encourage others to ‘raise their hand’ at whatever level is possible for them. Even if you can’t commit to being a co-leader, volunteer to help the leaders in other ways—take photos, help with meeting prep, help at meetings, etc. I’m sure it will not be something you regret! 

Any additional comments on volunteering, or Girl Scouting in general? 

Kudos to the Girl Scout organization for evolving over the years to represent and advocate for girls to reach their full potential.     

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.

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.

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!

7 Reason to Become a Girl Scout Volunteer

VolunterBy Tabitha Bone, Member Services Specialist

In today’s busy world it can be difficult to find time for yourself, let alone time to volunteer, yet it’s always something most people think they “should do.” Between work, family, errands, and all of the social activities that compete for your attention, being a Girl Scout volunteer may not be at the top of your priority list, however maybe it could be. We asked our volunteers for their favorite reasons for volunteering with the Badgerland Girl Scouts. Check out their top 7 reasons below and decide for yourself.

1. You can expand your own skills and talents by volunteering. Being a Girl Scout volunteer is a great way to explore your talents and build your resume. Maybe you want to become more organized and try some event planning, or maybe you’d like to try your hand at bookkeeping. Girl Scouts is the perfect place to spread your wings and try something new. And the best part is that with Girl Scouts, you can choose the role that best fits you and your available time. From Troop Leaders, to Cookie Coordinators, to Program Volunteers, there is an important job for everyone.

2. You’ll make new friends and build lasting relationships. Girl Scouts has always been the place to make lifelong friends. Volunteering with a Girl Scout troop will not only give you an opportunity to get to know the families of your troop, but also an opportunity to meet other like-minded volunteers throughout the council. These men and women will be there to support you, encourage you, and share in your accomplishments along the way.

3. You’ll make new friends and build lasting relationships. Girl Scouts has always been the place to make lifelong friends. Volunteering with a Girl Scout troop will not only give you an opportunity to get to know the families of your troop, but also an opportunity to meet other like-minded volunteers throughout the council. These men and women will be there to support you, encourage you, and share in your accomplishments along the way.3. You’ll have the opportunity to share fun times with your daughter and create lasting memories. Not only do you get to spend quality time with your daughter, but you’ll get a chance to meet her friends as well. You can help them to develop positive self-worth and become well-rounded individuals. The girls will always remember camping with their troop and standing in the cold to sell those cookies. By volunteering with the troop you’ll have an opportunity to share those memories with them.

4. You’ll get to offer the girls a haven away from the stress and demands of everyday life. As you may know, not all kids have the great life that we hope for them. Maybe they are being bullied, but are too afraid to say anything. Maybe they are struggling with their schoolwork. Maybe they don’t have a stable home life. For many, Girl Scouts is their safe place. Their Girl Scout troop is a place where they can meet with their friends and try new things without the fear of failure or rejection. As a volunteer, you can help guide the girls into adulthood in a positive manner, ensuring that they know that their sister scouts will always be there for them.

5. You’ll enjoy the adventure of seeing your girls try new things. Girl Scouts gives the girls the opportunity to practice healthy risk-taking in a safe environment. You’ll be there with her as she sets her cookie goal and then surpasses it, even though she was sure she wouldn’t make it. You’ll help her to navigate the world of STEM as she earns a badge coding her first app. You’ll cheer her on as she climbs to new heights and takes on a zip line. And you’ll be there to guide her as she plans her first camping trip, teaching her how to set up a tent again, and again until she gets it just right.

6. You’ll grow by trying new things. Maybe you don’t have time to be a Troop Co-Leader, but you still want to help. You can become a volunteer and chaperone your daughter’s troop trip to the horse ranch, or maybe you’d like to help out at CampHERO, where girls learn all about being a firefighter or EMT. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to experience these exciting adventures right alongside the girls.

7. You’ll inspire the girls to find their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader). As a volunteer, you’ll introduce the girls to new experiences and show them that they are capable of anything. You’ll be having so much planning your Take Action projects, and working the cookie booths that you’ll forget who is really inspiring who. While you are busy empowering the girls to become the best version of themselves, they’ll be inspiring you with their courage, confidence and character.

Become A Volunteer Today!