October 23, 2014

Destination: Georgia, Germany, Costa Rica and Panama

Over the summer, 10 GSEM Girl Scouts participated in the Destinations program - a truly unique opportunity that allows girls to travel near and far to broaden their horizons and make memories that last a lifetime.

Last week, we journeyed to Northern Africa, exploring Morocco with Jaylen and Kelin. Today we're tagging along with Katherine, Cat, and Katherine as their Destinations take us from chasing outdoor adventure in the southern states, to tending to baby sea turtles in tropical climates and summiting mountain-top settings that inspired some of your favorite fairy tales.

Katherine scales new heights during her Adrenaline Rush Destination.

Katherine’s Adrenaline Rush

Katherine chose to challenge herself on the "Adrenaline Rush" Destination.

Her mom participated in the program in high school, and Katherine was intrigued by the adventurous activities offered on this trip's itinerary. The white water rafting and a visit to an amusement park seemed particularly exciting.

Having attended Girl Scout summer camp for the past several years, Katherine had the experience she needed to tackle these physical challenges.

Traveling around Georgia and Tennessee, Katherine and her group participated in a high ropes course, a low ropes course, sailing, paddle boarding, archery, caving and mountain biking.

The finale to this week of adventures was a trip to Six Flags in Georgia where the group spent the day riding roller coasters.

This destination not only speaks to an adventurous spirit, but also teaches practical travel skills. "
I discovered that it is not as difficult as I thought to travel long distances by myself," Katherine says. With this new confidence, Katherine is excited to visit other parts of the world.

Cat’s Castles in the Sky

After years of dreaming about visiting Germany, Cat was thrilled to learn about the Castles in the Sky destination program at a Girl Scout troop meeting.

Cat and her group toured many towns in Germany, including Munich where they visited the Olympic Tower. They also explored Neuschwanstein Castle, which served as inspiration for both Cinderella's and Sleeping Beauty's castles.

The last part of the trip was a visit to Austria where she was able to see locations used for the filming of the movie The Sound of Music.

Cat gained planning and travel skills on her destination trip. She also learned how to interact with people that are different than her, especially with a language barrier. "
Girl Scouting has shaped me into the girl I am," Cat says, explaining that her experience as a Girl Scout allowed her to handle new situations in a positive way.

She reminds her Girl Scout sisters who may be nervous about leaving home but want to experience a destination program that their families will always be waiting when they return home. Cat suggests starting out with shorter trips or traveling around the U.S. to get yourself used to being away from loved ones, but also recommends diving in and taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to you as a Girl Scout.

Cat's trip helped spark a new love for travel, and she plans to see as much of the world as she can.

Katherine’s Costa Rica and Panama Service Challenge

Katherine was very intrigued by the opportunity to try new things and travel to a new country. She chose the Costa Rica and Panama Service Challenge for her destination as the program would not only allow her to explore new parts of the world, but also use her Girl Scouting skills to help those in need.

During the first week, Katherine and her group lived with a local family in Costa Rica and participated in service activities that benefited the community. A group favorite was helping to repaint the local school.

For the second week, the girls stayed on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in Panama. Here, they assisted with the maintenance of the sea turtle hatchery. The once-in-a-lifetime experience of transporting turtle eggs to the hatchery so they could develop and hatch in safety is something Katherine will never forget.

Despite cultural differences of people in the countries she visited, Katherine was happy to find that opportunities to communicate and bond remained, even when language barriers prevented them from using words.

Over these two weeks, the group of girls bonded quickly and formed lasting friendships. "Along with the projects, I also made unbelievably close friends in a really short period of time and learned a lot about the world and myself," Katherine says. By building up her confidence, she feels better about meeting new people and starting new activities.

She can’t wait to go on another Destination trip!

2015 Destinations locations include China and Ireland!

What Are You Waiting For?

Whether caring for Giant Pandas in China or exploring some of our favorite outdoor sports in Ireland, this year's Destinations offer a wide-range of experiences for participating Girl Scouts.

Girls can set their sites on a visit to South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Scotland, and many other exciting locations both overseas and closer to home. Applications are due November 15, 2014. Financial aid is available for most destinations.

Interested? Check out Destinations online or email ddextraze@girlscoutseasternmass.org for more information.

If you or your girl have taken a Destination trip in the past and would like the share your story with us, email koreilly@girlscoutseasternmass.org.

October 15, 2014

Destination: Morocco

There’s no better way to learn about a new culture than to travel to it!

The Girl Scout Destinations program provides an amazing opportunity for girls to travel, both domestic and international, and gain new experiences and insights to the world.

Ten GSEM Girl Scouts participated in the program this past summer. From exploring exotic locations like Morocco and Costa Rica, to preparing for college or studying wildlife stateside, these girls made new friends, gained great experiences and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Over the next installments of our blog, we'll share some of the girls' favorite photos and Destinations experiences with you.

So, grab your passport and sense of adventure! Today we travel across the globe to highlight Jaylan, a Senior Girl Scout and Kelin, a Cadette Girl Scout who both participated in the “Exotic Morocco: A Whole New World” Destination this past summer.

Jaylan recruiting new members for Troop Sahara

Jaylan’s African Adventure

Jaylan first learned about the Destination Program through her mom who had gone on one as a Girl Scout when she was in high school. When her younger sister went on a Destination to Wisconsin last summer, Jaylan knew it was time to have an adventure of her own.

Scanning through the list of locations, the “Exotic Morocco: A Whole New World” caught her eye. Visiting Northern Africa intrigued Jaylan, as the only time she had been out of the country was a trip to Canada. She wanted to visit a place where the culture and daily life would be very different from the United States.

Visiting a new country meant the chance to experience new food, language and clothing. Jaylan found herself to be open-minded and accepting of differences when it came to experiencing all that Moroccan culture had to offer.

Jaylan was able to use her adaptability skills to create lasting friendships with her travel mates. This bond of friendship was important early on, as the girls started on their adventure right away. Throughout the 10 days, they climbed Mt. Toubkal, the second highest mountain in Africa, rode a caravan through the Sahara, and visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou.

While hiking through the rural town of Imlil, Jaylan and her group passed by a school built by UK Girl Guides in the 1980s.

"This made me realize just how much a couple of girls can make a huge difference," she said. "I was so proud to be able to call myself a Girl Scout."

This upcoming year, Jaylan will be traveling to Italy and France with her Girl Scout Troop and Spain and Belize with her high school. She hopes to find ways to keep traveling and experiencing new cultures for the rest of her life.

Kelin’s Exciting Exploration

After her older sister went on a Destination trip to Costa Rica, Kelin was inspired to go on her own. She researched Morocco and learned as much as she could about the culture and customs. After 10 days in this new place, Kelin found “the best way to understand a culture is developing relationships with its people.”

Kelin and her group visited the city of Marrakech and were able to experience the markets and shops where locals make their daily purchases. The city was heavily populated and chaotic at times, but the girls were glad they had the chance to experience this authentic part of Moroccan culture.

This trip taught Kelin not to underestimate herself and to take challenges head on. She learned how to adapt to new situations in order to have the best experience possible.

Not that there weren’t challenges. During the hike up Mt. Toubkal, Kelin and a few others were heavily affected by the altitude change and became ill. Although unpleasant, she learned that she is able to persevere and take on any challenges that come her way.

Now back at home, Kelin has a new appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors and is ready to explore the world around her.

Who's Next?

This year girls will have to opportunity to visit South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Scotland, China and many other exciting locations! A Boston-based trip is even available for girls who want to learn more about their home state. Applications are due November 15, 2014. Financial aid is available for most destinations.

Interested? Check out Destinations online or email ddextraze@girlscoutseasternmass.org for more information.

If you or your girl have taken a Destination trip in the past and would llike the share your story with us, email koreilly@girlscoutseasternmass.org.

September 29, 2014

GSEM Girl Delegates to Attend the 2014 National Convention

Every three years, when the Girl Scout National Council Session/National Convention is held, girls are given the opportunity to apply and be elected for the position of Girl Delegate. This roll is filled by Girl Scouts age 14 and up from each of the over 100 councils in the country who attend and participate in business sessions held by the National Council. They are given the chance to vote on important matters that concern Girl Scouts on a national and local level.

This year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts is proud to have six dedicated and intelligent young women representing us at the National Convention. With a collective sixty-six years of Girl Scouting between them, we know Taylor Bennett, Elizabeth “Betsey” Goldberg, Catherine “Cat” Neville, Mollie O’Connor, Makayla Selden, and Tessa Senders will continue to make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

The stage at the 2011 National Convention
Girl Scouts on stage at the 2011 National Convention
Taylor Bennett
Town: Billerica
Current level in Girl Scouts: Senior
Favorite cookie: Lemonades

Taylor of Billerica is ready to tackle the problems she sees in the world with skillfully executed solutions. This Senior Girl Scout is looking forward to interacting with other Girl Scouts at Convention and learning how other troops around the country reach out to their communities in exciting ways. In turn, she hopes to bring these new ideas back to GSEM, adding unique programs in order to keep girls interested as well as recruit new Girl Scouts. Taylor understands how well Girl Scouts prepares girls for the future and hopes to share this with other Girl Scouts, young and old. Her goals for Convention include increasing her public speaking and communication skills to make sure her ideas for change are heard.

Elizabeth "Betsey" Goldberg

Town: Marlborough
Current level in Girl Scouts: Senior

Betsey is ready to put her strategic thinking to the test and make a change this Convention. Known as a leader in her community through her enthusiasm for Girl Scouting, she will use her decision-making skills to figure out which projects will more positively affect her sister Girl Scouts. Her main goal is to keep membership rates high, especially among older girls. This Marlborough native is ready to infuse Girl Scouts with relevant and exciting programs that will keep girls and volunteers signing up each year.

Catherine “Cat” Neville
Town: Hull
Current level in Girl Scouts: Ambassador
Favorite cookie: Carmel DeLites and Lemonades

Cat wants to make a difference. Her participation in the destination program (she visited Europe and Central America!) allowed her to experience some of the most exciting programs Girl Scouts has to offer and she hopes to inspire other girls to do the same. In her own community, this Ambassador Girl Scout from Hull created workshops for younger girls. This is an excellent showcase of her ability to both plan and follow through with a project. Bringing these skills to convention will help her make decisions that positively impact the national Girl Scout community.

Mollie O’Connor

Town: Winchester
Current level in Girl Scouts: Ambassador

Mollie has had experience in the inner workings of Girl Scouts through her work as a member of the Girl Scout CEO Advisory Committee. Using this knowledge, she is ready to make a change in her community. In 2012, she went on a destination to Kansas City, MO, where she and her Girl Scout sisters from around the country worked with girls with special needs at Camp Juliette Low. Here Mollie learned leadership and teamwork skills that she was able to bring back to her town of Winchester. Earning her Bronze and Silver Awards taught this Ambassador communication and decision-making skills that will help her make her mark at Convention. A big believer in community involvement, she intends to share policy information and gauge reaction with others before implementing any major change in her future

Makayla Selden
Town:  Malden
Current level in Girl Scouts: Ambassador
Favorite cookie: “If they made a cookie of a Caramel Delight mixed with a Thin Mint, the best cookie in the world would be born.”

Makayla is excited to experience Convention. Already an expert on outdoor Girl Scouting activities like hiking, camping and canoeing, she’s ready to get involved in a big way on the national level. Learning how to be a better leader and being able to bring these skills back to her troop is what this Ambassador from Malden, is most looking forward to. She’s interested in finding out how Girl Scouting approaches technology and social media to make sure programs and the overall message of Girl Scouts stay relevant in the lives of girls today.

Tessa Senders

Town: Reading
Current level in Girl Scouts: Senior
Favorite cookie: Shortbread

Tessa has used her time as a Girl Scout to implement change in her community. An avid participator in service activities, she earned her Silver Award by focusing on the conservation efforts of a public space in her town of Reading. Her project so impressed a local Dunkin Donuts that they donated funds to supply the newly renovated area with a picnic bench. Girl Scouts has given this Senior the confidence to achieve goals she never thought possible, a feeling she wishes to inspire in other girls. She feels Girl Scouts needs to be less associated with “cookies and crafts” and more with “strong women who lead in their communities.” With Tessa and her five other Girl Scout sisters as our 2014 Girl Delegates, we’re sure anything is possible.

You can learn more about Girl Delegates, the National Council, and Convention here.

September 15, 2014

I Can't Wait To... Share My Girl Scout Experience!

What makes a great experience even better? Sharing it!

Share your next adventure with a neighbor, friend, or family member!

Invite your girls' favorites to register for Girl Scouts today, and embark on the best year ever, together– making new friends, trying new things, and contributing in your community.

Are you among the ranks of our amazing volunteers? Share your experience with a co-worker, new neighbor, or family member.

The benefits of Girl Scouting begin long before and last into adulthood, according to results of a summer 2014 pulse national poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range.

•    90% of parents reported that their daughter’s confidence has increased as a direct result of participation in Girl Scout programming.

•    95% said their girls have had access to new experiences and formed lasting friendships in Girl Scouts. 

•    97% say Girl Scouts has been an overall positive experience for their daughters.

•    89% attributed Girl Scout membership to increasing their child’s happiness.

Girls aren’t the only ones gaining from the Girl Scout experience. GSEM volunteers report that their involvement has given them purpose and support during periods of unemployment, the ability to build stronger connections with their girls and their friends, and helped them form friendships of their own.

•    94% of volunteers have made new friends.

•    88% believe their lives are better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts

•    Two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally.

•    95% are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.

We can't wait to see your family and friends this fall! Check out our calendar for upcoming recruitment events near you.

Share your Girl Scout experiences with our GSEM community. Email photos, stories, and more to koreilly@girlscoutseasternmass.org.

September 11, 2014

Use Your Outdoor Voice!

Next month's Girl Scout National Convention agenda includes an open discussion of the outdoor experience in the Girl Scout National Program Portfolio.

Participate in our survey to share your thoughts and experiences, and help our Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts delegates best represent your opinions in Salt Lake City. 

Need some outdoor inspiration? Check out some of our favorite images from the 2014 summer camp season below!

August 13, 2014

Campfire Cooking

Girl Scouts cook cal-zones, banana boats and other unconventional treats. Your campfire food experience doesn't have to be limited -- make cooking an activity, not a chore, on the next camp out! There are even ways to make clean up a breeze by not using dishes for preparation. First you will need some coals to cook over - a traditional teepee-style campfire will burn down quickly to make them. As always, be sure to follow all fire safety and food preparations guidelines and Girl Scout activity checkpoints.

Bacon and Eggs Breakfast in a Bag

1 Brown Paper Bag
3-4 Thick slices of bacon
1-2 Eggs
1 stick

Take a brown paper bag, open it up and line the bottom with bacon - going slightly up each side to create a "bacon boat." Crack the egg(s) on top of the bacon. Fold down the top of the bag and poke the stick through. Using the stick, hold the bag over hot coals until the bacon and eggs are cooked. Be careful not to put the bag over open flames - just use the heat from the coals. Then it’s time to enjoy...clean up is easy, just burn the bag when you're finished.

Bread on a Stick

2 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dry milk
2 Tbsp flax seed

Mix all of the dry ingredients at home in a plastic bag, and wrap it up tight to go.

When you're ready to cook, follow "leave-no-trace" principles. Never cut branches off of live trees, instead look for a downed branch that is still fresh, and shave off the bark to get a nice clean area about 2-3 fingers thick. Add about a cup of water to the dough and mix well until it's about Play-Doh consistency - include additional small amounts of water as needed. Then, roll the dough into a snake shape and wrap it around the stick in a twisting pattern about half an inch thick. Find a hot spot over the coals and roast the bread like a marshmallow, rotating it so that the dough doesn’t sag and fall off. Cook the bread for about 10-minutes and it should be ready to eat!

These are just two ideas that could be fun to try out on your next outing. There are many other recipes out there - does your troop have any neat campfire cooking ideas? Share them with us on Twitter or Facebook!

July 16, 2014

2014 Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts' Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts’ 2014 Scholarship Winners
Nicole Butler of Acton and Lindsay Schrier of Quincy

Nicole Butler and Lindsay Schrier were chosen for this distinction for their leadership, community engagement, and personal commitment to the Girl Scout Mission.

Both young women demonstrated a consistent commitment to the Girl Scouts and helped to further the mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Their growth through the program is notable, as they both earned the Bronze and Silver Award and have taken on significant leadership roles, serving on the CEO Advisory Committee. Lindsay completed her Gold Award, and Nicole is working to complete hers as well.

Lindsay Schrier
For her Gold Award, Lindsay created a Model United Nations club at her high school to help raise student awareness of global issues. The club traveled to the UN in New York city and met weekly in Quincy to encourage members to be world citizens, conscious of world problems. Lindsay will pursue a degree in International Studies at Boston College in the fall.

Nicole Butler
As she works toward her Gold Award, Nicole is educating teen drivers on the importance of registering as organ donors as they get their permits and licenses. The initiative taught Nicole that one person can make a difference in the lives of many others. Nicole hopes to become a teacher as she heads off to study at Saint Michael’s college in Vermont.

We are very proud to honor these two outstanding young women!
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