Girl Scouts

Indiana Girl Scout Troop 40805 participated in the Indiana Veterans Day parade on Nov. 12. Pictured, front row, from left, are Chloe Camerata, Leannah Hill, Alayna Henry, Jeanice Hill, Amelia Rives, Emily Ferraro and Allison Lichtenfels. Back row, troop leaders Greg Hill and Alex Steenbergen.

Girl Scouts stay busy and get outdoors during colder weather. The recent snowfall might keep some people inside, but local Girl Scouts haven’t been deterred. From community involvement and service projects to enjoying the wonders of winter in western Pennsylvania and more, Indiana and Marion Center Girl Scouts are leaving hibernation to the bears.

In the community

The Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) MagNut sale ended in late November.

This nuts, candy and magazine subscription sale is an important kickoff to the Girl Scout year. The proceeds from the sale help girls launch their adventures and projects for the year.

Girl Scout programming is designed to allow girls to choose their own experience, which is the same approach girls and troops use when deciding how to use proceeds from their sales.

“My ninth- and 10th-grade girls are using their proceeds from the MagNut program to buy yarn,” says Girl Scout troop leader Misty Griffen, who leads Blairsville Troop 46403. “They’ll use the yarn to make hats for newborn babies.”

Additionally, the program provides an initiative for girls and customers to support military men and women through Operation: Sweet Appreciation. At the end of 2018, Girl Scouts collected 6,412 cans of nuts through the initiative, which increased by more than 2,000 donations from 2017.

Leannah Hill, 9, of Indiana, and member of local Troop 40805 says, “We are Girl Scouts, and we honor our veterans.”

Hill says that’s why her troop and other local Girl Scouts joined their community on Nov. 12 for the Indiana Veterans Day parade.

Getting more girls outdoors

Beginning in December, GSWPA encourages all girls to get outside through the council’s winter edition of the Get Outdoors Challenge. Girls choose from over 70 outdoor winter activities and must complete a required number of activities for their grade level to earn a free Get Outdoors Challenge patch.

Since the summer of 2017, this challenge has been supported by a generous grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Throughout the year, this funding has allowed GSWPA to maintain the momentum initiated by the grant the organization received in 2016.

“Outdoor experiences are essential to a young woman’s confidence,” says Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of GSWPA.

“Over the course of the last several decades, the interaction a child has with nature has fundamentally changed, but Girl Scouts continues to offer adventures, challenges and personal growth in the all-girl, girl-led environment where she’s most comfortable.”

Although this program was created at GSWPA, several councils across the country have used the structure to create their own challenge.

Girls can find the challenge’s activity checklist at Girls must be a member to earn a free patch.

Counting down to cookies

The annual Girl Scout Cookie Program begins on Jan. 4 for local Girl Scouts. Through this program, girls experience real-life business skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Girl Scouts gathered in early December for the Indiana and Marion Center Cookie Rally.

This event is held every year to get girls excited about their goals and plans for cookie proceeds, as well as review safety procedures with girls.

The girls in older troops enjoyed a sleepover where they made cookie-themed catapults to launch mini-marshmallows, learned about the varieties of cookies they will sell and created marketing materials for their booth sales, including sale posters.

The older girls also helped their younger sister Girl Scouts by creating posters for the kindergarten through third grade troops to use at their own booth sales.

“The girls all loved making the catapults and sleeping over with their friends,” said Dottie Neal, service unit manager of Indiana and Marion Center Girl Scouts.

“It was a great way to get the girls excited about ‘launching’ the 2019 Girl Scout Cookie Program!”

While girls discover their leadership potential through this entrepreneurial program, they’re also able to use their earnings to power amazing experiences for themselves and their troop, including travel, outdoor adventure, robotics and science programming, and more.

Many girls choose to put a portion of their proceeds toward impactful community projects right in their own backyards.

“Last year, members of Girl Scout Troop 42001 used proceeds from their cookie sales to purchase clothing for Katie’s Closet, a local organization that provides free clothing to community members in need,” said Neal.

GSWPA’s Operation: Sweet Appreciation initiative also runs during the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Customers can purchase a box of cookies that is donated to servicewomen and -men at home and overseas and local veteran organizations.

Last year, more than 50,000 boxes of cookies were donated by cookie customers in western Pennsylvania.

To fully enjoy all of the benefits of being a Girl Scout and to be a part of the 2019 Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls must be registered members. For more information about how to join, volunteer, or reconnect to Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, call (800) 248-3355 or visit gsw

Stefanie Marshall is the public relations manager for Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.