My Experience at Skills and Chills: The Girl Scout Difference

[This is a guest post written by council staff member Chelsea Cummins]

Even though I’ve worked at Girl Scouts of Western New York for nearly a year, Skills and Chills was the first opportunity I’ve had to attend a true Girl Scouting event. Co-workers told me how much fun I would have, but honestly I wasn’t really prepared for how right they’d be in the end.

For those who aren’t aware, Skills and Chills is an annual event held at Camp Seven Hills. While it is a GSWNY program, it’s completely run by volunteers. It’s the third of our Outdoor Progression series, following Tents Up for Daisies and Brownies and Ready Set Camp for Juniors and Cadettes. The first two focus on the skills you need to compete in Skills and Chills.

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A glimpse of the teams after breakfast

When I arrived Saturday morning, I was immediately blown away. There were more than 200 people buzzing with excitement in the dining hall. Girls were dressed in costumes ranging from custom labels on a shirt to a full-on lumberjack outfit complete with a drawn on beard. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

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A team called the “Lucky Lemurs” passing the time together

The atmosphere didn’t change despite the long day spent outside. It was hard not to feel good around a group of people who were just so enthusiastic about what they were doing. And I’m not just talking about the girls competing.

I’ve seen a lot of volunteers who just show up and do what they need to do at an event. They’re more preoccupied with when it ends than really focusing on the kids in attendance. I didn’t come in expecting this level of apathy, but I assumed it would be a similar feeling of I can’t wait until this ends.

To all our Girl Scout volunteers, I’m so sorry I underestimated you.

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This volunteer drew faces for all the log sawing competitors, going as in-depth as they requested

What I found from the adults in attendance was something truly special. They were just all, without exception, so encouraging. The ones dressed up were just as into it as the members of their team.

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The two on the left dressed as Cruella de Vil and her henchman are leaders

The ones judging the events never looked exasperated for frustrated, even if a team was taking a long time to complete their task. They patiently watched and offered words of support. When acceptable, they gave little pieces of advice to help the girls without compromising the competition. It was clear they were having just as much fun.

I spent time listening to volunteers in certain areas and it was hard to leave. They guided the girls through and cared about their learning. Skills and Chills is a competition, but it’s clear it’s still a learning experience. It doesn’t matter if a girl has practiced for an event or this is her first day, the volunteers remained happy to guide however possible.

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This volunteer guided all the girls through the different knot knowledge they should have and spent the time after going over what they weren’t sure of and showing proper techniques

Because my experience as a Girl Scout lasted less than one year, I thought about interactions I’d had in similar situations as a child. It’s not like every volunteer I’d encountered was negative, but none stuck with me quite like the helpers at Skills and Chills.

 

As the day continued, I didn’t hear the girls becoming frustrated with each other. They didn’t get mad at teammates when something didn’t go as well as  they’d hoped. The spirit of competition was prominent, but it never affected how they interacted with each other. No one was cutthroat or tried to puff themselves up. It was simply a group of girls doing their best, trying to win, but most importantly having a blast.

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Girl Scout team members helping each other out

I believe in the Girl Scout Difference, but I haven’t always. I tried Girl Scouts when I was young but moved on quickly. Like too many people, I assumed they were all about crafts and cookies. Even when I was first hired, I told people I was conflicted about working here because I didn’t really believe in the organization.

It’s laughable how far I’ve come in a year. Actually, it only took about a day to realize Girl Scouts was so much more than I imagined.

Now I’m so into Girl Scouts I’ve signed up my niece and convinced my sister to become a co-leader. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of Girl Scouts and I want them both to experience the difference. I want my sister to help lead girls and watch her daughter grow. I want my niece to develop friendships in a space without competition and pressure. I want her to see that no matter what the world tells her, she’s capable of greatness in any area she wants.

I’ve believed in the Girl Scout Difference for awhile, but if I had any doubts, Skills and Chills erased them all. Never in my life have I experienced something like it, where the girls felt safe to succeed and fail and the volunteers cared about encouraging and making every girl feel important.

People are busy and there are other activities, but I know Girl Scouts is the best option for your girl. She gets to do a bit of everything and set herself up for a lifetime of leadership and success. Nothing is more important, because here’s the thing: we know success looks different for everyone. We don’t want to force your girl to do something she doesn’t want to or feels like she has to. We care that she finds her thing and never looks back.

That’s what motivates me every day at my job. That’s the Girl Scout Difference.

Women of Distinction is two weeks away!

One of the best events of the year is only two weeks away. Every year, we celebrate eight amazing women in the Western New York area for their character, dedication to community, and passion for mentoring girls and women. The event is appropriately called Women of Distinction.

Like all of our events, it’s a girl-led ceremony prominently featuring our Girl Scouts. In fact, eight girls will spend time shadowing and learning from one the honorees. At the awards, she’ll share her experience.

This year, we have the privilege of honoring:

  • Lindsay Cray: Co-Founder & Executive Director, Earthworks, Inc. (Monroe County)
  • Rosanne Frandina: President of Frandina Engineering and Land Surveying (Erie County)
  • Althea E. Luehrsen: CEO, Leadership Buffalo, Inc. (Erie County)
  • Patti Ann Pacino: Batavia City Council Member (Genesee County)
  • Venus Quates: President and CEO, launchTECH (Erie County)
  • Dr. Dilara Samadi: OB/GYN, Buffalo Medical Group (Erie County)
  • Honorable Joanne Winslow: Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court (Monroe County)
  • Betsy Wright: President, UPMC Chautauqua WCA Hospital (Chautauqua County)

This event isn’t limited to Girl Scouts, either; we’d love to have you with us! This year we’re celebrating at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo Thursday, September 20, with the evening’s events beginning at 5:30 p.m.

If you’re interested, please visit our website to learn more and order your tickets.

To learn more about the experiences and passions of former honorees, check out The Girl Scout Difference campaign for their stories.

Interested in Being a Sponsor?
Sponsorship opportunities for organizations of all sizes exist. Invest in the future of girls today by sponsoring an event – 100% of your investment will stay in Western New York to help girls develop important leadership skills. Learn about sponsor opportunities by viewing our sponsorship packet and change the world by investing in girls today!

For more information about this event or becoming a sponsor contact Eileen Hettich at 1.888.837.6410 x6030 or email

Speaking Out: The Girl Scout Difference

Life Skills is one of our four pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience at Girl Scouts, and one of our most diverse areas. It includes civic engagement, healthy living, global citizenship, and communication skills. We want girls to understand why their voice matters, why they should raise it, and the difference they can make.

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Speaking out for what’s right folds right into our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. When you’re a Girl Scout, you learn why it’s important to stand up against injustice while becoming bold enough to defend those in need.

It can be scary as a young girl seeing someone being bullied. You know it’s wrong, but if you say something the bully might focus on you. Or maybe your friend is a bully and you know if go against her, she won’t want to hang out with you anymore. Even as adults we deal with these dilemmas, but we’re fighting for a world where women aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right and who can speak confidently in the face of pressure.

Alanna gained confidence in her years as a Girl Scout and knows why it’s important to speak out against bullies. Help your girl develop the same type of character and enroll her in Girl Scouts today.

The 2018-19 Program Guide is Out!

With our new Membership Year approaching, we’re thrilled to launch the new Program Guide! Featuring returning favorites and exciting new adventures, we have a little something for everyone planned.2019 GSWNY Program Guide COVER

To view and register for events, as well as see events that are recently added, check out the Events Page on our website!

Summer Camp Recap 2018

Getting outdoors is one of our platforms at Girl Scouts, so naturally we’re always excited when camp season rolls around. This year did not leave us disappointed. We saw so many girls attend all three of our camps – Piperwood, Timbercrest, and Seven Hills – and provided them with fun and educational sessions.

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While we don’t have the space to share all of our amazing stories from our five sessions, we wanted to provide some of the highlights for you. For a more in depth look at our resident camps, check out the Camp Timbercrest blog and Camp Seven Hills blog.

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Camp Piperwood

Session 1, The Great Outdoors: July 2-6

See Photos from Session 1

Session 2, Healthy is the Name and Staying Fit is the Game: July 9-13

See Photos from Session 2

Session 3, Art in the Outdoors and Rising Star: July 16-20

Session 4, Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance and Rising Star: July 23-27

Session 5, Science Wonders and Dog Days of Summer: July 30-August 3

Session 6, Citizen Scientist to the Rescue and a Little Bit of Both: August 6-10

See Photos from Session 6

[Please note: There are less photos from Piperwood than the other camps because at our resident camps, it’s camp staff who take the pictures and upload the blogs. Our Camp Piperwood photos come from Council staff]

Camp Seven Hills

Session 1: July 8-13

Pony Pals; Silly Scientists; Be Happy, Relax, and Namaste; Camp Adventure Girl; Climbing Masters; Long Rein, Free Walk; A Little at a Time Mini Session; G.I.R.L. Tough; Riders Up; Seven Hills Amazing Race; Escape Artists

Photos from Session 1

Session 2: July 15-20

Zoologist; A Horse of Course; Camp Like a G.I.R.L.; Climbing Masters Two; GIRLbots; Secret Agent Girl; Sneak-a-Peak Mini Session; A Little at a Time Mini Session; Crazy for Horses; Scuba Diving Explorers; The Lazy Days of Summer

Photos from Session 2

Session 3: July 22-27

It’s My Second Time; Silly Scientists; A Horse of Course; Be Happy, Relax, and Namaste; Camp Like a G.I.R.L.; Climbing Masters Two; Crazy for Horses; Night Owls; Scuba Diving Explorers; The Lazy Days of Summer

Photos from Session 3

Session 4: July 29-August 4

It’s My First Time Mini Session; Zoologist; Climbing Masters; GIRLbots; Long Rein, Free Walk; Seven Hills Sisterhood; Seven Hills Top Chef; Night Owls; On Belay; Riders Up

Photos from Session 4

Session 5: August 5-10

It’s My First Time Mini Session; Pony Pals; Camp Adventure Girl; Climbing Masters; Long Rein, Free Walk; Secret Agent Girl; Seven Hills Sisterhood; Anastasia in NYC; G.I.R.L. Tough; On Belay; Riders Up

Photos from Session 5

Camp Timbercrest

Session 1: July 8-13

Dumbledore’s Army; I’m a Go-Getter; Ready to Ride; The Great Cupcake Challenge; Quest Seekers

Photos from Session 1

Session 2: July 15-20

Daisies & Brownies Can Camp Like a G.I.R.L.; My Favorite Pony; I’m a Go-Getter; Pastry Chefs; Ready to Ride; Boots and Spurs; Timbercrest at Night; Quest Seekers

Photos from Session 2

Session 3: July 22-27

Dumbledore’s Army; I’m a Go-Getter; Ready to Ride; Survivor Camp Style; Quest Seekers

Photos from Session 3

Session 4: July 29-August 3

Daisies & Brownies Can Camp Like a G.I.R.L.; My Favorite Pony; Be Brave and Bold; I’m a Go-Getter; Ready to Ride; The Great Cupcake Challenge; Quest Seekers

Photos from Session 4

Session 5: August 5-10

Pastry Chefs; Ready to Ride; Find the Artist in You; Just My Backpack, My Pony, and Me; Quest Seekers

Photos from Session 5

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You can still win a Target gift card!

So far two lucky members of the Girl Scouts of Western New York have won $25 Target gift cards just by renewing their membership for the 2018-19 year! If you haven’t renewed yet, what are you waiting for? We still have two gift cards to give away, plus awesome prizes all through September!

2018 Registration Incentives

Thinking you missed out by renewing in the spring? Think again! Everyone who’s already re-registered for next year is eligible to win. Even if you renewed months ago, your name is still in the drawing to win each week!

Don’t delay, renew today!