Friday, July 31, 2009

The More Things Change by Guest Blogger, Adina Genn

Recently I received a mailing from a nearby friend about buying Girl Scout cookies, and I had to pause. No, not over the fact that soon I’d soon have some yummy Thin Mints to munch. Instead, I marveled over the realization that Girl Scouts of Nassau County is now in its 97th year. Nearly a century later – in a post-feminist world, no less – the Girl Scouts of Nassau County is still thriving.
Ninety-seven years is a long time. And in that stretch, women have accomplished a lot: Think women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, the first female Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, designer Vera Wang, Olympic Gold Medal Skater Dorothy Hamill, each of them Girl Scouts alumnus. You get the picture. Women are world-class leaders in virtually every field imaginable, from government to business to sports and beyond.
These days, you don’t have to look far to find inspirational trailblazers. Many moms are busy juggling rewarding careers while also running their homes. The result? Girls catch a glimpse of their owns futures, ripe also boundless opportunities. Arguably, these possibilities were not so tangible nearly a century ago, when founder Juliet Gordon started the Girl Scouting tradition as a means to build girls of courage, confidence and character. And remember, Gordon was blazing trails at a time when women still didn’t have the right to vote in the United States!
This contrast in women’s impact in the world, 100 years ago versus today, lead me to wonder: With so many women role models to emulate, is there still the need for organizations outside the home to provide leadership development for girls?
Absolutely. Sure, we still have a long way to go, with equal pay and the need for parity in other areas both nationally and abroad, still unmet. But perhaps just as important, mothers today are time-crunched in ways not largely experienced before. After all, there are only so many hours in the day to prove our worth in the workforce while also raising children to grow up with the kind of values that ultimately will enable them to make a difference in the world.
For busy moms today, Girl Scouting is a gift.  It offers leadership programs for troops, as well as for girls who on their own want to pick up new skills. There are fun outings to Citi Field and jewelry workshops where girls can design their very own creations. These are the very kinds of activities moms want their kids to experience, assuming these overcommitted parents possess the wherewithal and inclination to plan accordingly.
Many of the moms I know often wonder how they can be it all – breadwinner, chief entertainment officer, and teacher. Girl Scouts shares some of the responsibilities, with a community that seems to always be there for families, no matter what.
Women surely have come a long way in the last century. But the need for community never goes away. Funny, that with so much progress, some things never change. 
ADINA GENN is an award-winning journalist recognized with several press club awards for her news and feature work. She is the co-author of “Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald’s: The 7 Leadership Principles that Drive Break Out Success” “So, You Want to Franchise Your Business” and “The Everything Fundraising Book.” In April 2007, she was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Journalist of the Year. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Great Girl Scout Trivia Contest

You may have noticed that we as a Council have warmly embraced a new way of communicating with our supporters, troop leaders, and Girl Scouts of Nassau County past and present. That’s right, we’ve jumped on board the social media bandwagon! Now, you can find us on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll see that we’ve tried to be more interactive on these sites and our website by adding video and audio podcasts. And, even more so, we’ve started this blog as yet another way to reach out to our community. As always, thank you for reading!

As a fun adventure, we thought it would be entertaining to put together what we have coined, “The Great Girl Scout Trivia Contest.” Each week for 6 weeks, we will announce a trivia question via our Twitter and Facebook Fan Page sites. To play along simply answer the trivia question. If you answer correctly, you will be eligible to win a Girl Scout goodie bag which includes two boxes of our famous Girl Scout Cookies . Answers and winners will be announced on Friday at 12 noon of that week.

So stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook Fan Page for trivia question announcements every Monday at 12 noon for the next few weeks. We hope that you have fun and please help us spread the word – the more participants the better! 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Camp by Guest Blogger, Katie VandenHeuvel

Every summer since I was 7 years old has always had one similarity. It isn’t barbequing on the fourth of July or going on vacations with my family, it was spending a few weeks at the Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s camp, Camp Blue Bay.

As I am now preparing for my fourth year on staff and my thirteenth summer spent at the camp I can’t believe some girls never get to experience the fun a sleep away camp provides. Memories of this camp are ones that I will always hold dear in my heart.
Camp Blue Bay and the activities that are done there are based on what Girl Scouts wants to build in girls; “Courage, Confidence and Character” and I know I have gained all three plus many other traits that have shaped me into the person I am today.

Knowing that last years staff consisted of fourteen women who started out as campers; shows how much of a family atmosphere the camp provides and the best part is; it’s not hard to feel at home there.

When girls arrive at the camp they immediately get to know one another playing games and settling into what will be their new home for a week or two. Within the first few hours campers get to spend time at our Trading Post and Bay for some swimming as well as, enjoy a delicious lunch and dinner where they’ll learn plenty of new songs.

But I think the best part of camp comes after dinner, each unit of girls has a campfire filled with learning new camp songs and of course s’mores! And as the fire burns and you can look around; it’s easy to tell the people who surround you are going to make sure you have the best time you can while you’re at camp.

With only a week to go before I start summer number thirteen, I remember little 7 year old me who ran off the bus when I got to camp and laugh because to this day I still have the same amount of excitement inside me. I am so excited to meet every new staff member, and see the faces of both new and returning campers for what is sure to be another amazing summer.

I’ll be sure to eat a s’more for those reading and hope that one day soon you’ll find yourself glancing at a camp brochure and smile and think maybe its time to let your daughter experience the glow of a campfire, and the memories she could make at camp.

Katie VandenHeuvel is a long time Girl Scout in Nassau County.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Crossing the Bridge

The past few weeks have been abuzz with Girl Scout awards events.  In addition to our big Girls Scouts of Nassau County Gold Award Ceremony on June 14th where we honored 74 girls, we were part of County Executive Tom Suozzi’s salute to this year’s Girl Scout Gold Award and Boy Scout Eagle Scouts, and a similar event hosted by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. 

These were all fun occasions that showcase the best and brightest of our girls. These events give girls the recognition that they know how to start a project and see it through to the end --- even if the “end” turns out to be different from how that project was first envisioned. The Girl ScoutGold Award recognizes intention, perseverance and success. 
Equally as much fun as the big events, members of the Girl Scout Board and staff have also had a dozen or more invitations to be part of awards and bridging events in Associations and even for a few very polished Troops. Participating in these events gives us a chance to see our girls shine in very up-close, personal and girl-driven events.  And we get to connect with parent and adult volunteers to thank them for their service. 

The Girl Scout bridging ceremony is a rite of passage in Girl Scouts that signifies that girls are passing from one level of Girl Scouting to the next.  I “saw” bridges that required the imagination of all in the room to picture, as well as elaborate wooden bridges that could be a tremendous addition to any garden path, decked with flowers and complete with shiny “water” running underneath.  The ten Daisies at the Union Baptist Church flew up to Brownies and performed a skit depicting Oprah’s famous “Legends’ Luncheon;” the audience of 100 women got to hear from those who broke gender and color barriers like Cecily Tyson, Ruby Dee, and Dorothy Haight.  The girls were decked out in their finest fair and guests were asked to wear dresses, hats and gloves to the afternoon tea that followed their ceremony.  It was the perfect juxtaposition of traditional lady-like traditions, while instilling in these girls a sense of their heritage and the potential for their future.

For me, in all of these wonderful events, I was touched by the patriotism of the girls, the creativity and hard work that that went into the projects, and the dedication of the girls, their Leaders, their parents and the community that came out to support them.  At the local events, local elected officials and leadership of civic organizations were much in evidence.  Everyone wanted the opportunity to salute our girls for their achievements, to recognize them with engraved certificates and have their pictures taken with our girls.
I hope that next year we get even more invitations to celebrate our girls’ achievements and awards … and to see even more girls cross those bridges to the next Girl Scout level. No matter how old a girl (or adult) may be, there is power in the Girl Scout Promise and Law, ceremonies and rituals provide us benchmarks, there is always so much more to do when we cross that bridge…