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.

One month left of On-Time Registration Prizes!

It’s hard to believe there’s only one month left of our current membership year. Looking back, 2017-18 was filled with so many amazing programs, events, and opportunities, but we know 2018-19 is going to be even better.

With the new year starting up soon, it’s important to make sure you and/or your girl have renewed their Girl Scout membership by September 30. To learn more about why this is important, check out this video from Christine Kirwan:

 

Don’t forget about the prizes

If you watched the video, you heard about the drawing for the last August Target gift card as well as the upcoming surprises for those who have renewed. Yes, that means you still have chances to win! Plus, even if you renewed your membership prior to September or even in the spring, you can still win! How cool is that?

2018 Registration Incentives

Don’t let your membership lapse and miss out on all of the amazing rewards that come with being in a Girl Scout. It’s more than just the prizes we give out, too. As the preeminent leadership organization for girls, we build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We want to give her the opportunities to experience new and exciting activities that help her discover her strengths so she can grow into a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader).

Renew your Girl Scout membership today!

Share Your #GirlScoutDifference Story!

Girl Scouts of Western New York just announced their new campaign, The Girl Scout Difference, with the goal of raising the voices of local Girl Scouts and female professionals (alumnae and Women of Distinction) about the difference Girl Scouts makes in the lives of girls, women, and the whole family.

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From August 1 through November 30, we’re going to focus on these stories and share our campaign across local television and radio stations as well as through print and social media. But the campaign doesn’t stop with the stories of our eight participants.

During the campaign, we want to hear from you! Girls, volunteers, alumnae, and members of the public are invited to tell us about how Girl Scouts is making or made a difference to them. Share your stories and photos with us online using the hashtag #GirlScoutsDifference so we can all see how powerful this movement is.

Here are some platforms where we’d love for you to engage:

We can’t wait to hear your stories!

Resident Camp is Off to a Great Start!

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Even though camp season officially kicked off last week at Camp Piperwood, the spirit has finally spread to the rest of the council. Our resident camps, Camp Seven Hills and Camp Timbercrest, each began this week with girls participating in a number of programs, including Dumbledore’s Army, Climbing Masters, Pony Pals, and more!

To stay up to date with the action, make sure you follow our Camp Timbercrest and Camp Seven Hills blogs. They’re updated daily by our onsite camp staff, bringing you recaps and more!

For those visual people, we have albums chronicling each session as well. Check out GSWNY’s Flickr account for all the great photos! Another council staff member travels to all the camps, and you can check out her photos on our Facebook page! She posts albums from the sessions she attends. Our Page also features a drop off album for parents and guardians to share their photos of leaving their girls!

We have so many ways for you to keep up with camp, but we also have a challenge. Just because you aren’t at camp doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors. Try working toward your Outdoor Guru Challenge badge this summer!

Unleash Strong! Be a Girl Scout.

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The Fourth of July feels the peak of summer fun, but fall is right around the corner. You can even see it in stores . Despite school not starting for more than a month, the back to school sections are popping up. Pool toys are being swapped out for classroom supplies and the bus will be rolling down the street sooner than you’d like.

When school begins, so do the never ending extracurricular activities. At times, it can feel like every night is booked. It’s easy to cut certain programs you don’t feel are as valuable. Unfortunately, Girl Scouts is one that doesn’t always make the cut.

The case for Girl Scouts

You want your girl to succeed in her life, whatever it may look like. You want her to opportunities to shape her own future. While a number of activities can help her, none partner along side of her quite like Girl Scouts.

At Girl Scouts of Western New York, we’re dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. When your girl joins a troop, she isn’t just signing up to do arts and crafts and sell cookies. She’s joining a sisterhood where she can be her own person and make a difference in her community.

We believe in the inclusive, all-girl environment and have the research for why it matters for you girl. This helps us create a safe space for her to try new things, develop new skills, take on leadership roles, and work toward earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.

What we do

At Girl Scouts, your girl will have the opportunity to experience new adventures while giving back. All of our programming focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the outdoors, like skills, and entrepreneurship.

Bottom line, we know this is a man’s world, but we want to help your daughter reshape it for herself and generations to come.

Why it matters

More than just what we offer, we have proven results. Women who were Girl Scouts are more successful, enjoy higher incomes, are active volunteers, and vote more regularly.

Half of all female business leaders are Girl Scout alums. More than 70 percent of female U.S. Senators were in Girl Scouts. Every former female Secretary of State are Girl Scout alums.

Unleash strong!

Become a Girl Scout this fall and see the difference it can make for yourself. Join Girl Scouts today!

Happy First Day of Camp!

After months of planning and preparation, camp has finally arrived! Girl Scouts of Western New York camp kicked off its official summer at Camp Piperwood, our day camp located in Fairport, New York.

This week, girls entering grades kindergarten through 8th will learn all the basics of camping with The Great Outdoors. More than simply pitching tents and s’mores, the campers will learn about hiking, healthy snacks, cooking over an open fire, and how to navigate the woods without leaving a trail.

Starting next week, July 8, both our resident camps will begin their summer programming. Camp Seven Hills will see girls in grades ranging from kindergarten through 12th pass along the grounds in the following programs: Pony Pals; Silly Scientists; Be Happy, Relax, Namaste; Camp Adventure G.I.R.L.; Climbing Masters; Long Rein, Free Walk; A Little at a Time Mini Session; G.I.R.L. Tough; Riders Up; and Seven Hills Amazing Race.

At Camp Timbercrest, the youngest girls still have a week to wait, but all the other grades will be there. Its programming includes the extremely popular Dumbledore’s Army; I’m a Go-Getter; Ready to Ride; The Great Cupcake Challenge; and Quest Seekers!

This all sounds like so much fun and we haven’t even shared the best news! This is just the beginning and it’s not too late to register your girl!