Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Girl Scouts of Alaska Encampment Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting

Encampment is an all‐girl world! Girls and troops from dozens of Alaska communities come together for a 3 day round‐up of all things Girl Scout.Girl Scouts of Alaska will launch a year of celebrating the founding of Girl Scouts with the “100 Years of Girl Scouting” themed Encampment.

At Encampment girls will discover new opportunities in science, arts and culture, sports, and careers; they will connect with other Girl Scouts from all across the state; and they will learn about how Alaskan Girl Scouts are taking action to make the world a better place.

In the safety of the gated and secured state fairgrounds in Palmer, troops and groups of girls are invited to camp out and choose from dozens of program options provided by staff, professional presenters, and volunteers. Adult volunteers are invited to maximize their time at Encampment by attending Girl Scout adult learning sessions. Encampment is for girls who have completed 3rd grade and up and their leaders and adult volunteers. We are expecting 1,000 girls this year! Reserve your campsite today and pay the $50 per troop/group camping fee - registration packets are posted at

Encampment begins with a parade of troops/communities, an opening ceremony, and the traditional Girl Scout exchange of SWAPS. SWAPS are handmade tokens of friendship that tell something about you, your troop, or your town. To learn more about SWAPS, visit:
http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_central/swaps/, and to get other SWAPS ideas, just google girlsocut swaps. Then troops and groups of girls attend sessions of concurrent program options over two full days. This year, program sessions will be offered in the categories of: Discover Science; Discover the Arts, Discover Opportunity; Discover Physical Activity; Discover the Outdoors; and Take Action projects.

Each evening the whole Encampment community will gather for high energy songs, skits, speakers, ceremonies, and Girl Scout pride. At the "100 years of Girl Scouting" Encampment, we'll be looking back and looking forward. You will have the opportunity to visit a Girl Scout museum and see an early Encampment campsite. Girls will also have the opportunity to explore space through an astronaut or astronomer keynote speaker.

Cookie time is upon us - Troops that sell cookies can earn Encampment credits toward registration fees. Encampment credits are offered in addition to regular camp cookie credits for individual girls. Encampment troop cookie credits: $.10 on‐road/$.15 off‐road per box of cookies sold by the troop.

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout...If you were a Girl Scout growing up, register at http://alumnae.girlscouts.org/ so we can be sure to invite you to reconnect with Girl Scouts at the 2011 Encampment Alumnae Event in June.

Call for Presenters...

In Girl Scouts, girls partner with caring adults to engage in fun and challenging activities that empower them to discover, connect, and take action around issues that concern them. In addition to popular programs we’ve offered at past Encampments, special for this year’s 100th theme, we are seeking programs focused on Girl Scout heritage or retired badge work and Girl Scouts of the future themed sessions, focusing on space, science, technology, and global connection. All program sessions this year will reflect the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and will be grouped in the following areas:

Discover Outdoors

Discover Science
Discover the Arts
Discover Career Opportunities
Discover Physical Activity
Take Action Community Service Projects

We are seeking individuals or teams of volunteers representing various skills and disciplines to create and conduct developmentally appropriate, interactive “hands-on” activity workshops for Girl Scouts ages 9 -18. To receive a presenter application and packet, email mlarson@girlscoutsalaska.org

Hope to see you all at the "Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting" Encampment, June 2-4, 2011!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Celebrate Juliette Low

"Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia...On March 12, 1912, Juliette Low gathered 18 girls to register the first troop of American Girl Guides...The name of the organization was changed to Girl Scouts the following year...In developing the Girl Scout movement in the United States, Juliette brought girls of all backgrounds into the out-of-doors, giving them the opportunity to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness. She encouraged girls to prepare not only for traditional homemaking, but also for possible future roles as professional women—in the arts, sciences and business—and for active citizenship outside the home. Girl Scouting welcomed girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many other activities. From the original 18 girls, Girl Scouting has grown to 3.7 million members. Girl Scouts is the largest educational organization for girls in the world and has influenced the more than 50 million girls, women and men who have belonged to it." (http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/history/low_biography/)

On October 31, we celebrate the birthday of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts USA. Juliette founded the American sister movement to Girl Guides to give girls experiences in the outdoors, citizenship, travel, career exploration, and volunteer work, and to grow more self-reliant in the process. From the beginning in 1912, inclusion, community service, self-discovery, and opportunity have been part of the Girl Scout Movement, as they very much are today.

All over the country this week, Girl Scouts will celebrate Girl Scouts Founder's Day with Juliette Low Birthday Celebrations and community service projects in addition to Halloween events.

Anchorage girls can attend the Happy Birthday Juliette Low rollerskating event at Dimond Skateland on October 28th, Juneau girls are hosting a Haunted House October 29-31, and all over the state, girls and volunteers with Service Units are putting on Founder's Day events for troops. Last week East Anchorage hosted a celebration for 80 girls, which included making "birthday in a bag" donations for Catholic Social Services to distribute to low-income families.

You can celebrate Girl Scout Founder's Day by:
Just for fun...test your Juliette Gordon Low knowledge...


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Leadership and Learning

I will do my best to be honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do, and to
respect myself and others, respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
The Girl Scout Law embodies the heart and soul of Girl Scouting; it is our values statement. Imagine a world in which we all lived by the values of honesty, fairness, caring, integrity, consideration, respect, sisterhood, and making the world a better place.
My mother is visiting this week. The last time she was here, my daughter recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law for her. Nanna's response was, "If you recited that every morning, you would become an amazing person." I've been doing that myself ever since. You see, the Girl Scout Law isn't just for girls. It's for leaders, parents, staff, board members, and volunteers. Imagine the strength of Girl Scouting if we adults truly lived the Girl Scout Law, not just with the girls, but with each other.
In Juneau this past weekend, 25 leaders and GS volunteers from 6 Southeast communities came together to learn more about leadership. Themes that emerged through the weekend were: integrating the Girl Scout Leadership Experience into everything we do in Girl Scouts; tapping new Council resources for outdoor education and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); partnering with other leaders, volunteers, and even organizations; and promoting "sisterhood" even beyond Girl Scouting.
Southeast Girl Scout volunteers modeled leadership and learning this weekend, and lived the Girl Scout Law. If you missed the Juneau Adult Learning Summit, think about attending the next Summit in Anchorage, November 12-13. Limited travel funds are available. Contact Liberty Kyser for more information. lkyser@girlscoutsalaska.org

Your Sister in Girl Scouts,
Marge Larson, CEO

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For everything there is a season...

This summer has been a season of Girl Scout green thumbs. Girls from Wasilla to Juneau have been involved in planting and caring for communal gardens as community service projects.

Camp Togowoods - Wasilla
At Camp Togowoods this summer, rhubarb, peas, beans, pumpkin, green peppers, carrots, chives, strawberries, tomatoes, raspberries, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and a host of herbs are growing. Garden harvests are used in the Togowoods kitchen and served to campers. The Togowoods gardens are planted each summer by devoted Girl Scouts and their families who attend Helping Hands weekend. Helping Hands volunteers get the camp season off to a great start by lending a hand in a service project like planting the garden or staining tent platforms. Your family can also help us put camp away after a successful season by packing up program supplies, taking down platform tents and helping to get camp ready for winter. Fall Helping Hands weekend still has openings; it's scheduled over Labor Day weekend. During both Helping Hands' Saturday is a day to complete work projects while Sunday is a day to hike, canoe and enjoy camp. Families arrive Friday starting at 7pm and depart by 4pm on Sunday. To save a spot for your family, complete your free registration and return to GSAK headquarters http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/

Juneau troop 4035 partnered with the Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve with Project First Bloom. They built a botanical exhibit of indigenous plants at the Alaska State Museum & visited Glacier Bay for community service & natural exploration.

Junior Girl Scouts of Kodiak partnered with the Garden Club to plant and maintain the flower beds outside the Baranov Museum as part of their Bronze project.

At the Anchorage headquarters, anonymous "brownie" volunteers planted flowers in the beds in front of the office building. They even planted some Spenard pink flamingos. Do you know what a "brownie" is?

The Brownie Story:
Once upon a time, there were two little girls who lived in England with their granny and their father. The girls played all day while the granny and father had to work very hard. One day granny told the girls about the Brownies, who used to do lots of things to help around the house. They are gone now, she said, but we were always so much happier when they helped. The girls wanted to know where the Brownies had gone and how to get them to come back. Granny said, "only the wise old owl knows!"
That night, when everyone else was asleep, one of the girls ran out of the house into the magic forest. There she found the wise old owl. "Please", said the girl, "where can I find the Brownies to come and live with us? The owl said, "I know where two live – right in your house!" She was very surprised! Tell me how to find them, she begged. He told her to go to the pond in the magic forest, turn around three times and say, "twist me and turn me and show me the elf… I looked in the water and saw…….!" The wise old owl said, "When you finish the rhyme, you will see the Brownie in the magic pond."

The girl went to the pond in the magic forest and did as she had been told. She went back to the forest and found the wise old owl and said, " something must be wrong, I did all you told me to do and I only saw myself! And I am not a Brownie!" " Are you sure?" said the owl. To be a Brownie, you must be ready to help those around you, make friends wherever you can, and every day try to discover something new. "I'd like to be a Brownie", said the girl. Then go home and try, the wise old owl said kindly. He touched her hand with his feathers, and suddenly she was back in her house, in her own bed.

Quietly, she woke up her sister, told her all that had happened. Together the girls tip-toed into the kitchen and began to clean the house. In the morning, when granny and father saw the house, they wanted to know what had happened. "Who did this?" said granny and father! The girls danced around and shouted, "it's the Brownies!" And from that day on, theirs was a very happy house near the forest, all because of the Brownies!

Thank you to all our busy Brownies and green thumbed Girl Scouts!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Girl Scouts Love a Parade

Girl Scouts across the country and right here in Alaska proudly promote Girl Scouting by participating in parades, never so many as this upcoming weekend in celebration of the independence of our nation.

We know that Girl Scouts will be in 4th of July parades in Anchorage, Juneau, Bethel, Wasilla, Ketchikan, Kenai, and Metlakatla this weekend. Kodiak girls already cheerfully did their part during the cold and rainy Kodiak Crab Festival parade in May, Eagle River girls will represent in the annual Bear Paw festival parade on July 10th, and Soldotna girls on the 24th. Anchorage girls also intrepidly built a float, marched, and sold cookies in February at the Fur Rendezvous parade. And, we are certain there are many more small Alaska communities whose Girl Scouts participate in their Independence Day parades.

Why parades? Parades, like flag ceremonies, are an opportunity for Girl Scouts to demonstrate service to their country, community, and Girl Scouting, as pledged in the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

I was recently priveleged to visit our Girl Scout National Headquarters in New York City, where the official GSUSA archives and museum are housed. http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/history/museum/
I was humbled by the reminder of the history of our movement and the enormity of its impact on American girls.  Walking in a parade with a group of Girl Scouts connects us with Girl Scouts throughout our nearly 100 years of existence, brings out the feeling of unity in the Girl Scout Movement,  and promotes Girl Scout values and community leadership a century ago and now. To give you a sense of that, watch the 1918 Girl Scouts film production of The Golden Eaglet. Girl Scouts in a small town parade were featured in this GSUSA recruitment tool, in which the characters Margaret Ferris and her friend Dorothy were so impressed by the Girl Scouts marching through their town, they became Girl Scouts themselves which brought adventure and meaning to their lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pks_Ah2Q88

In 2012, Girl Scouts USA will celebrate 100 years as a movement. Here in Alaska we'll kick off the centennial celebration at the Girl Scouts of Alaska Encampment, at the Palmer State Fair Grounds, June 2-5 2011. Encampment features a parade of Girl Scouts communities and troops from all across the great state of Alaska. Mark your calendars now for that milestone parade.

Enjoy your 4th of July with family, friends, and Girl Scouts, and take pride in the Girl Scout presence in your community's parade. Send a photo of your community, troop, or service unit's Girl Scout parade participation in 2010 along with the names and number of girls who participated and we'll be happy to send you Girl Scouts Parade fun patches for free. council@girlscoutsalaska.org

Happy Independence Day Girl Scouts!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Camp and Families

Girl Scouts of Alaska's Camp Togowoods and Camp Winding Trails are American Camping Association (ACA) accredited camps, which is good news for parents' peace of mind.

Sending kids to resident camp (sleep-away) is as big a step for parents as it is for campers. ACA accreditation assures parents that Girl Scouts of Alaska has made intentional commitments to safe, nurturing environments at our camps. Accreditation is a thorough process of meeting high standards for staff training, emergency management plans, health care, and overall management, in addition to developmentally based goals. Although our two camps serving the most girls are the camps that have undergone the accreditation process, our standards and philosophy are consistent at council-run camps throughout our territory.

Dealing with homesickness, for instance, is something that our staff have abundant training in working through. Homesickness is normal and common, and Girl Scouts staff have multiple tools to support girls through this growth experience. Something you can do as a parent it to write letters to your camper and leave them with camp staff to dole out over the week. In your letters, emphasize your child's strengths and your confidence in her to have a great week at camp. Keep your own anxieties as a first-time camp parent to yourself, as that may feed your daughter's homesickness rather than help her take this step to be a leader in her own life.

To learn more about ACA accreditation and tips for families' role in camp preparation and homesickness prevention, visit http://www.campparents.org/ If you'd like to come to camp as a family, Girl Scouts of Alaska Camp Togowoods in Wasilla offers Helping Hands weekend twice a summer to maintain the camp and offer free family fun time...see catalog for more details.

Girl Scouts of Alaska is hosting thousands of girls at camps all over the state. Resident camps that still have space-availability are Camp Wilderness Adventure (Kodiak's Woody Island), Camp Featherwinds (Haines), and some sessions at Camp Togowoods (Wasilla). Find our full camp catalog at http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/camps.html. All of our day camps are still accepting campers.

In addition to day camps listed in the catalog, Girl Scouts of Alaska traveling camp is coming to dozens of rural communities this year. These day camps do not require pre-registration. Camp is underway in Kake, and has already been to Hooper Bay, Chevak, and Scammon Bay. For more information on camp coming to your town, contact avondiest@girlscoutsalaska.org.

Enjoy...in the spirit of Girl Scouts.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer Time

End of the school year, bridging, and trips oh my! I even missed last week's blog post, being caught up in the May frenzy of activity.

As a Girl Scout leader or volunteer you play an enormous role in the lives of girls in our state. Research shows us over and over again the importance of supportive adult relationships to young people. Even girls with super parents need other supportive adult relationships in their lives. Think about the role you've played this last year for Girl Scouts beyond your own daughter, and about who plays that role in your daughter's life.

In the summer, even if you're working full-time, or caring for children home from school, time can be less structured...in a good way. Make opportunities to recharge yourself. You deserve it and you need it. You've worked hard as a volunteer all year. If you're like many volunteers, you not only gave yourself to Girl Scouts, but also PTA, church, sports-teams, school, and more. Sometimes people who spend a lot of time giving to others can be at risk for getting burned out. Taking time to care for yourself regularly can make it easier to live the Girl Scout Law and make you a better volunteer and supportive adult in girls' lives.

Summer camp is one opportunity for you to get a break, and for your daughter to gain other supportive adult relationships in her life and in her Girl Scouting. Girl Scouts of Alaska has day camps coming to over 40 communities in Alaska this summer. Resident camp is offered in Mat-Su, Kenai, Haines, and Kodiak. There are still openings and financial aid available for pre-registration camps, and day camps outside of Anchorage, Juneau, Kenai, and Togowoods don't require pre-registration. Visit http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/camps.html or email council@girlscoutsalaska.org for more information.

Summer also poses the opportunity to regroup and reorganize for the next school year, which can reduce stress going forward. I strongly encourage you to connect with your Girl Scout Member Services Specialist for support and ideas about doing things differently. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience can be achieved many different ways. In the Girl Scout Movement, we now call those Pathways. The troop model is only one of the Pathways available to Girl Scouts and volunteers alike. Find your Member Services Specialist at http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/join.html.

Most importantly, thank you. Thank you for your time, your care, your creativity, your encouragement, and your devotion to Girl Scouts. You are treasures to Girl Scouts of Alaska and to the girls we serve.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Girl Scout Camp

Camping is an important part of the Girl Scout tradition and an important program pathway for Girl Scouts of Alaska. Outdoor education and the learning and independence gained at camp contribute very positively to the Girl Scout experience for many girls. For some Girl Scouts, camp is their once a year pathway to the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

“Camp” is not dependent on location, specific activities, or even time of year. Camp is about being away from home. It’s the experiences — learning independence, identifying one's own strengths through safe challenges, gaining new healthy role models through camp staff, and making new friends. At Girl Scout camp, girls discover, connect, and take action, building their way to being girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Camp can be a powerful time in a child’s life when she builds new insights into herself, others, and the world. Camp is a time when we learn that life is about change and, though at times daunting, it’s always an adventure that will make us stronger.

Over 450 girls have already registered for Girl Scout camp this summer in Mat-Su, Kenai, Kodiak, or Southeast Alaska. Full camp catalog can be found at http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/camps.html

These camps are already FULL:
Togowoods Session 1 Girl Scout Camp (June 8-13)
Togowoods Session 1 Trekkers (June 8-13)
Togowoods Session 3 2 week Girl Scout camp (June 17-28)

These camps are ALMOST full:
Togowoods Session 3 Swanson River Canoe Trek (June 17-28)
Togowoods Session 11 Sojourners (July 30-August 4)
Togowoods Session 1 Sojourners (June 8-13)

Happy Camping Season!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Building the Girl Scout Leadership Experience in Alaska

Dear Girl Scouts,

Girl Scouts of Alaska just passed the six-month mark as a newly merged organization. Staff, board, and volunteers, have been engaged in this process of organizational transition and continuous improvement. The formation of Girl Scouts of Alaska is part of the transformational change within the Girl Scouts USA Movement as a whole. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is the core framework of defining what Girl Scouting is today.

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
To fulfill this mission and our commitment to girls, we are renewing the Girl Scout experience by making it compelling, relevant, and impact-driven for 21st-century girls. Thousands of members around the country have contributed ideas and perspectives, culminating in decisions by the National Board of Directors in August 2006. Girl Scouts of the USA began phasing in exciting program changes beginning fall of 2008. With changes, come questions! Here are answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Girl Scout Leadership Development Program?
The leadership model is the new design for what girls do in Girl Scouting and how adult support can strengthen their experience. It is the road map for determining what a girl will learn and how she will be impacted. The model defines and displays all the elements that must be in place to positively impact girls’ lives. The Girl Scout Leadership Development Program, then, is the model in action.

2. How will the Girl Scout Leadership Development Program impact girls’ lives?
Through the Girl Scout Leadership Development Program girls will discover their personal best and prepare for a positive future, connect with others in an increasingly diverse world, and take action to solve problems and improve their communities. Girls have told us that these opportunities matter very much to girls—both in their daily lives and as they prepare for their futures. And, with our unique focus on a By Girls, for Girls approach and cooperative and experiential learning, girls will continue to have fun, friendship, and exciting adventures.

3. How will the changes impact the volunteer experience?
Over the next several years, Girl Scouts of the USA will strive to improve the volunteer experience by:
• Making it easier for busy volunteers to join, stay involved, and serve in flexible ways
• Providing user-friendly new materials, resources, and training that make it easier for volunteers to deliver a fun and impact-driven Girl Scout experience
• Helping volunteers to better see (and show others) the difference they are making in girls’ lives

4. What is the Girl Scout approach to leadership?
The Girl Scout approach to leadership is based on the three pillars—Discover, Connect, and Take Action.

As a Girl Scout discovers her world, she:
• Develops a strong sense of self
• Gains practical and healthy life skills
• Strengthens her values

As a Girl Scout connects with others in a global community, she:
• Forms caring relationships
• Promotes cooperation and team building
• Embraces diversity

Take Action
As a Girl Scout takes action in the world, she:
• Feels empowered to make a difference
• Identifies and solves problems she cares about
• Advocates for herself and others

The Girl Scout leadership development pillars represent cycles of activities that engage girls in practicing leadership skills, based on the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Girl Scouting will redefine with girls and the nation what it means to be a leader.

5. Why is Girl Scouts of the USA changing now?
Since 1912, Girl Scouting has risen to the challenge of meeting the unique needs of each generation of girls. Girls today are asking for compelling, relevant, and impact driven experiences. This change is part of the next-steps in the Core Business Strategy as expected since 2004. Imagining the power of the Girl Scout Movement speaking in one consistent national voice about what we do: leadership development for girls!

6. What about the Girl Scout history and traditions?
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”
– Juliette Gordon Low

Change is perhaps the oldest tradition in Girl Scouting. Ever since Juliette Gordon Low returned from England in 1912 and changed “Guide” to “Scout” in response to the preference of American girls, those in the Girl Scout Movement have prided themselves on their ability to make timely adjustments to fulfill the evolving concerns of modern girls. Girl Scouts has a long history of updating clothing, awards, age groupings, and so on to meet the needs of girls. While continuing to maintain the values that have been at our core for 95 years, this renewal allows Girl Scouts to remain relevant.