Building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place

My Leadership Journey

By: Eva Hunter, Community Development Manager

leadershipOutcomesDuring a staff call earlier this year, one of my co-workers discussed the work of the Volunteer Impact Group and specifically their response to their role as leaders. I found it very interesting that these women seem to have a negative view of their ability to take on a leadership role. It made me wonder where their hesitation comes from and why in the twenty first century we still have reluctance from women to accept this role, especially within an organization that prides itself on being the pre-eminent organization for developing girl leadership. What does their definition of leadership look like? Who do they look to as role models for themselves? Why are they struggling with their ability to emulate these role models? Is it that they don’t recognize their leadership skills and impact? What do their voices look and sound like to them?

These questions inspired me to reflect on my own personal leadership journey. I hope to come to a better understanding of their struggles and offer my journey as enlightenment.

I remember wanting to join Girl Scouting as a child in elementary school and for reasons I never understand and perhaps still don’t; it just never happened for me. I remember the other girls in my class coming to school in their vests and sashes and watching them laughing and having fun together. I remember their conversations about all the things they were doing in their troops, and I remember promising myself that someday I too would be a Girl Scout. Do the promises we make to ourselves matter? What does my voice sound like?

Time passes and people grow up, the childhood dreams we had get tossed to the side in favor of other bigger and brighter dreams. Sometimes those dreams are realized, and sometimes those dreams return and continue to “be on the list.” And so it was with me and my dream of being a Girl Scout. I made it through my “wild oat” years and the challenges we all face, to land on my feet, face to the wind. My new baby girl who turned five seemingly overnight asked to be a Girl Scout and I got to say yes! I was thrilled for Sarah and actually cried a little when I registered her with her troop. Is this how leadership begins?

You might think that I’d jump in and volunteer to help with her troop. I didn’t and I’ll admit it’s because I didn’t believe I was qualified. I thought that I was too shy, and that I didn’t have any experience that would be worth sharing with girls. I didn’t know what my voice looked like or sound like. It wasn’t until her troop leader asked me to be an extra set of hands at a meeting that I made my attempt to help. Unbeknownst to me at the time; I was taking my first tentative steps into the world of leadership. Who are the role models we look to?

When Sarah’s little sister Alyssa was three she loved to come with me to drop Sarah off at her meetings. I can remember that on more than one or two occasions Alyssa would pull a class act temper tantrum because she wanted to stay and be a Girl Scout too! As I carried her to the car kicking and screaming I promised her that when she turned four that she could be a Daisy. (Luckily for me, the new Girl Scout level was to include girls in Pre-K). Do the promises we make to others matter? How do we live the Girl Scout Promise?

Alyssa turned four on a typical Syracuse day in February. We awoke to schools closed and a roaring blizzard. She sat up in her bed that morning and told me with all the enthusiasm you can imagine contained in a four year old, “Today is my birthday and I get to be a Girl Scout! You promised.” We arrived at the Girl Scout offices later that afternoon, asked about joining a troop, were told the smallest one had thirty four girls in it, and met with Mary Stewart to get our own started. Mary was quite taken aback that a volunteer would just wander in to start a troop, but I had made a promise to my daughter and it was important to me to keep it. I was a first hand witness to the development taking place in Sarah because of her involvement in Girl Scouts, and I knew I wanted the same for Alyssa. Little did I know that my journey was about to get very interesting and that it would challenge me in ways that I never even dreamed of. Not only did I start a new Daisy troop, which stayed together into their Junior years, I also took on the role of service unit manager, council trainer, and program volunteer, national council delegate and continued to help with Sarah’s troop. Do we even recognize where or when our leadership journeys begin?

Yes I was still shy inside, yest I still trembled at the thought of all the responsibility I had and heaven forbid the thought of talking in front of a large group of people. Which is exactly what I was asked to do. The council CEO asked me to make “the-ask” at our Girl Scout Talent Show. This was a fundraising event at the time, which had well over 500 people in attendance. I was held at the local junior high school with moms, dads and grandparents there to watch their girls perform on stage. Can I say I was terrified? As I held the microphone in my trembling hands and prepared to walk out on stage for the first time as M.C. for the evening all I could think about was the girls. They were both excited and terrified at the same time. Their eyes were on me and I had to make sure that I didn’t freak them out! I remember visualizing the butterflies in my stomach and lining them up in a flight formation, and as I opened my mouth to speak I released them into the audience with my message. It worked and I calmed down and I have used the technique many times since. We had a great night, the girls were wonderful and we reached our goal. Did I ever stop to think of the impact I was having on the other volunteers that night? No, I didn’t think it mattered and I didn’t believe they were watching me in that way. Who do they look to as role models for themselves? Why are they struggling with their ability to emulate these role models?

Eventually I was hired as staff with legacy council CNY. After a sad teary eyed good-bye and good luck farewell party with my troop, my co-leader hesitantly assumed the role of troop leader and hiked off into the future with the girls. My years as a troop leader are ones I will treasure and remember forever. I grew as an adult in more ways that I ever thought possible. I learned about my leadership style, and shared my lessons freely with other adult volunteers. Early in my career as a troop leader I realized that I would be in the memories of my girls in my troop forever. Good or bad, I’d be there somewhere. Whether in a story shared with friends or their own daughters, I knew I had the power to influence them. I held that power sacred and determined to make their memories positive ones.

Realizing that you are a role model for girls or anyone for that matter is a sobering thought. I was finally a Girl Scout! In hindsight I realize that I have always tried to emulate the values of the Girl Scout law and promise. It resonates within my soul and it guides my decisions and instincts. It just feels right. I’ve always believe that integrity is what you allow to happen when you think no one is looking. No one ever told me that my shyness would become a quiet strength. No one every told me what my voice looked like or sounded like. No one ever told me that I would one day hold a leadership role or influence others. The women I met through Girl Scouting believed in me and helped guide me through the scary stuff. They helped me discover and enabled me to use my leadership voice.

I wonder if the women involved in the Volunteer Impact Group recognize the power of their own voices. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from my journey is that we all struggle with our own leadership and need an outlet to help us develop a way to recognize the sound and color of our voices. It seems to me that most adults are visual learners and respond to a hands-on experience. Being artistically inclined helped me visually explore, create and recognize the color and sound of my voice. Like me it is a work in progress, ever changing, ever growing and forever cherished.

As the pre-eminent organization to develop leadership skills in girls, the women these young ladies look to are everywhere within and without the council. Our leadership model for girls is without equal, no other organization comes close to what we provide for today’s girls. As these girls embark on their journeys will they face the same self-doubt and question their leadership voice? Of course they will. That’s how they’ll learn to recognize the color and sound of their voice. Will their leaders realize the influence they have? We should find out. It’s important.

What color is your voice? Where do you use it? What does it look like?

Three things for Thursday

icantwaitBy Lisa Kaminski; Manager, Community Development

The fall product sale in Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways begins in just two short weeks. If you’re a troop leader here are three things about the sale to keep in mind as your troop gets started:

The fall payment policy agreement must be signed by each troop and submitted to your service unit product sale coordinator prior to the start of the sale on October 3rd. You can find the agreement on the council website here.

With the online portion of the sale girls have the opportunity to print off spread the word business cards. These cards can also be found in the girls’ packets and it’s important to remember to write the girl’s ID number on them after the register for the online portion of the program.

Girls have a chance to earn fantastic rewards by participating in the sale. Rewards are cumulative and new this year are tuition reward points. Find out more about the rewards and view them here.

For more information about the sale, visit the council website at http://www.gsnypenn.org

Top 10 reasons to volunteer

By Lisa Kaminski; Manager, Community Development

landing_volunteeringIt is that time of year. The time when troops begin forming, school registration events, service unit recruitment events. Maybe you, or someone you know is thinking about volunteering with Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways this year. You may be thinking about becoming a troop leader, a service unit cookie coordinator, or a service unit manager. But….you’re just not sure. If you are on the fence about whether or not to jump in and volunteer with Girl Scouts, here are 10 reasons to help you see why you should.

#10: It’s good for you. Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It reduces stress and makes you a healthier person.

#9: We offer fantastic adult learning opportunities to help you in your volunteer role

#8: Volunteers gain professional experience. As a Girl Scout volunteer you could sharpen your own leadership skills as you help the girls to learn what leadership means to them too!

#7: It brings people together. Helping girls, and other volunteers, as well as families and communities to connect. You can help with teamwork!

#6: It promotes your own personal growth and self-esteem. Who wouldn’t feel great after getting smiles and thank you’s from a group of girls you helped?

#5: Volunteering strengthens your community.

#4: You learn a lot. As you are helping the girls to Discover, Connect, and Take Action, you are doing those things too

#3: Cookies. Did I mention we have the best cookies? You could have an opportunitity to be surrounded by lots and lots of cases of cookies.

#2: Camping. We offer wonderful opportunities at our camps.

#1: You make a difference in the lives of girls.

For more information on volunteering with Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, visit the council website at http://www.gsnypenn.org

 

 

By: Kim Dunne, Media Manager

icantwaitWhy should you join Girl Scouts?

“Through Girl Scouts I have learned to help others and not focus on myself all of the time,” said Lauren, a Girl Scout from Vestal.

“Girl Scouts gives you opportunities that you may not be able to have anywhere else,” said Hannah, a Girl Scout from Mansfield, PA.

“I like Girl Scouts because you get to hang out with your friends while you make a difference in the world,” said Rachel, a Girl Scout from Baldwinsville.

“I love to travel! By being a part of Girl Scouts I have that opportunity,” said Rachel, a Girl Scout from Clifton Springs.

“Girls should be Girl Scouts because you learn skills and how to be a better person,” said Sadie, a Girl Scout from East Syracuse.

“Wherever I go if I say I am a Girl Scout, people recognize me as someone who can get things done. I am proud of that,” said Anica, a Girl Scout from Clinton.

“There are a lot of opportunities to try new things with Girl Scouts,” said McGinnis, a Girl Scout from Endwell. “I was recently working on a First Aid badge and the EMTs I was interviewing asked me to come on three shifts of ambulance rides. This summer, I worked on an Aviation badge and the pilot I was working with at the airport offered to take me flying in his plane! It’s like that every time I try something. People are so willing to help.”

Girl Scouts is all about providing girls with opportunities that they may not have anywhere else. Girls can climb mountains, show off their dancing skills, build a robot, volunteer at a food pantry, or even travel around the world. There are no limitations as to what a Girl Scout can do.

There are many ways you can be part of Girl Scouts. You can go to camp, be part of a troop, attend programs or events, and much more. Simply decide to be a Girl Scout and the rest is up to you!

Girls in kindergarten through 12th grade can join Girl Scouts. The yearly membership fee is $15 and financial assistance is available. For a list of upcoming registration dates in your area, click here.

What can’t you wait to do? Discover endless possibilities and have your I Can’t Wait To moment with Girl Scouts!

By: Kim Dunne, Media Manager

volunteer1
What goes into being a Girl Scout volunteer? What are the hardest parts? What are the joys?

It can be an intimidating time – becoming a volunteer for any organization. Sometimes you’re not quite sure what you’re doing or what you’re getting yourself into. That’s why we put together this monthly blog series. We are going to follow a relatively new volunteer throughout her Girl Scout volunteer experience. That way you can see first hand what it is like to volunteer with the Girl Scouts. So grab your friends, sit back, and experience first hand the experience of a Girl Scout volunteer.

Andrea Decker from Endicott applied to be a Girl Scout volunteer last fall. She has a daughter that started Girl Scouts in 2012 as as a second-year Daisy.

“My daughter’s first leader helped me to remember all of the fun times that I had in Girl Scouts. All of the songs came back to me, traditions and memories that filled my childhood made me think how lucky I was to have a great leader myself. I was in Girl Scouts for 10 years throughout my childhood and have so many awesome memories and friendships that I gained in Girl Scouts and still connect with today. I wanted to share all of those with my daughter and help create some unique memories for her. I love what Girl Scouts represent and the way we as volunteers can help mold and inspire girls to be strong and confident leaders. I didn’t think I would have the time to be a leader, but I learned Girl Scouts doesn’t have to be perfect and every troop is different, we all have different needs and expectations, but what it comes down to is the basic of Girl Scouts – the Girl Scout Promise and Law.”

Andrea completed CPR/first aid training at the Johnson City Service Center.

“We had many tutorial videos to watch and quizzes to to take. We probably received them via email about two months before we had to meet for the skills/hands on portion. The skills class was for one night for a couple of hours to practice our CPR and complete some basic first aid.”

She also took SSC (Simply Successful Camping) and SSO (Simply Successful Overnight) training at Amahami.

“It was helpful to learn how to make certain fires and know some basic activities to do with the girls. I would have liked a copy of the cook book that one of the teachers had, it was really useful with easy to make meals. I learned that planning to take the troop camping is a big deal. It takes lots of planning from everyone. There are a lot of safety rules and skills that the girls should practice before they go.”

An intimidating part for some volunteers is establishing a troop bank account. Andrea says it really isn’t too bad.

“Jen went to the bank to set up our bank account for the troop. She brought with her the Girl Scout letter and her photo ID. She said it took about an hour. We decided to do e-statements because then we could have free checking.
We each decided to have a debit card for the account. I didn’t need to be present. Jen brought a paper for me to complete with basic information. We decided to have the checking account be the troop number instead of our personal names in case a troop leader decides to no longer be involved, the girls still have their money and can be easily transferred into another troop if necessary.”

Last year, she helped with a large troop of first and second year Daisies and first-year Brownies – a total of 30 or 40 girls. Another mother, Jennifer Merlino, and her decided to stay under the guidance of the larger troop (meet the same times and go on similar troop events) but have a separate meeting from the Daisies.

“This worked well as we were getting our feet wet with the structure of the meetings, ceremonies and other logistics of Girl Scouts. This year we decided to branch off and start our own Brownie troop.”

Andrea says she hasn’t run into any issues or problems that she wasn’t prepared for. They are outlining their schedule for meetings this fall, filling out paperwork to use the school and tying up loose ends.

“I’m looking forward to taking our first ever troop camping this spring to an encampment and maybe venturing into the world of Journey Badges for the girls!”

Check back in October for an update on what Andrea is doing with her troop and her Girl Scout volunteer experience!

 

Let the Girl Scout Year Begin!

By: Carleen Lattin, Troop Leader and National Council Delegate in Elmira

PromiseA new year of Girl Scouts is now starting and my calendar is filling up fast. Leaders meetings, open houses, troop meetings, the national convention in October, product sales.

As I was cleaning the church room where we meet with my co-leader recently, the excitement started building. All the opportunities we could have with these girls. So much to do, not enough time! This year I will be taking on a Daisy troop. There is maybe only a few girls that are returning, most have bridged to Brownies. Lots of new girls to show them what Girl Scouts is all about.

I hope that every girl and adult gets involved this year in Girl Scouts. Even if it is coming part of the time, just to events when you are able to come or to participate in a troop all year. Girl Scouts has so much to offer. I am glad I am a part of it. It’s not something that I do, its who I am.

Three things for Thursday

By Lisa Kaminski; Manager, Community Development

landing_volunteeringNew troops are beginning to form all around Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways jurisdiction. With that may come apprehension from a new volunteer as she/he learns their new role. Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways provides volunteers with a number of resources to help them in their positions.

Here are three:

Need ideas on activities to do with the girls in your troop that go with the journey your troop is working on? Find Journey taster activities on our council website. They offer great ideas for getting girls started on a journey.

Short and snappy trainings provide volunteers with a quick overview, or refresher, on a particular topic. Topics include, planning a trip, having a ceremony, and tips and tricks for leaders

New volunteer mentors – in some areas, and communities, we have new volunteer mentors available to assist new leaders. These are people who have been involved with Girl Scouts who can be available to answer questions, offer a helping hand at troop meetings, or provide guidance on what training to take or planning a troop year.

For information on these resources and the many other our council offers visit the council website at http://www.gsnypenn.org

 

 

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