Bully Busters to the rescue, for National Bullying Prevention Month!

Contributing bloggers are Cadettes, Karna, Hannah and Maylene of Troop 643 in Venice. Girls were awarded their Silver Award in 2014 for their project “Bully Busters.” October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  

“If every Girl Scout in the world lived by the Girl Scout Law, kindness would spread, and bullying would not stand a chance!”

Bully BustersWe are Cadette Girl Scouts from Troop 643 in Venice. Last year, for our Bronze award project, we created a workshop called Bully Busters. We went to younger Girl Scout troops and taught them about the importance of being kind to others. We read a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, by Cheryl McCloud. This book helped us teach the younger girls about being a kind, “bucket filler”, instead of a bully or “bucket dipper”. We also played games with the girls. The games demonstrated how we feel when someone says mean things to us and how we feel when someone is nice.

Many parts of the Girl Scout Law are values that help us to stop bullying. All Girl Scouts can take a stand against bullying if they try their hardest to be Friendly and Helpful, Considerate and Caring, and Responsible for What we Say Do! There are also many Journey books that teach the values needed to combat bullying. For example, as Cadettes, we are now working on our Amaze Journey. We are learning about stereotypes, cliques, and friendships.

Other Girl Scouts and their troops can help combat bullying by always remembering the Girl Scout Law. If every Girl Scout in the world lived by the Girl Scout Law, kindness would spread, and bullying would not stand a chance!

We hope that our Bully Busters workshop helped the younger Girl Scouts with the skills needed to understand bullying and to take a stand against it! If we all work together we CAN make the World a better place! Here are a few links that we used to prepare our Bully Busters workshop: www.bucketfillers101.com and www.stopbullying.gov

~The Bully Busters, Karina, Hannah and Maylene

Girl Scouts of United States of America also offers the BFF: Be A Friend First program.

Check out these amazing videos of Girl Scouts talking about bullying>>

Take the Be a Friend First pledge! By sharing this photo, you’re pledging to do your part to end bullying everywhere. #StopBullying #BFF#NationalBullyingPreventionMonth


New Girl Scout Leaders and Co Leaders… This one is for you!

girl scouts edited -75New to being a troop leader or co leader? First and foremost, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU from all of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. staff, the GSGCF board, donors, supporters, alumni Girl Scouts, volunteers and parents, and most importantly, GIRLS who are in the Girl Scout program or are soon going to start! Your commitment will show girls they’re capable of more than they ever imagined.

Please note, website links and third party sites are recommendations to make information available but does not constitute and endorsement of these sites. Please research information appropriately.  

Here are some basics, tools, and technology to get you going!

FIRST FOUR steps: Leaders, co-leaders, cookie moms, and any other active helping parents volunteering with a troop need to complete these steps found here>>>

√ Make sure you have completed an orientation with your membership specialist and also a Troop Pathway Training… these will ensure you get off to the best start. Who is your membership specialist? Click on this map to show you>>

√ The Volunteer Resources page includes lots of tools. Best tools for new volunteers include :(1) volunteer essentials – anything and everything you need to know about Girl Scouts and getting started; (2) quick start for troop volunteers; (3) family guide – a great resource for your families; (4) troop weekly girl meeting plan – will help you plan your troop meetings accordingly

√ The most important thing to know is that this a GIRL program! Don’t underestimate girls… they can do it if you let them! Check out this video to learn about the 3 processes and how to incorporate them. Three Processes of Girl Scouts  include learning by doing, cooperative learning, and girl led!


95% of Girl Scout volunteers agree that they make a difference in the lives of girls because they volunteer with Girl Scouts.

Stay Connected with Parents! Here are a few ways to keep connected (remember, first and foremost safety of the girls! Checkout the Girl Scout Internet Safety pledge). Assign a parent in your troop to manage the communication for your troop!

  • Troop e-newsletters
  • Facebook Groups (recommended to keep them private)
  • Potential websites for your group: Shutterfly, Qlubb, Rallyhood
  • Embrace Technology – it makes it easier on you to communicate!

√ Here are some websites that we heard are also useful:

  • For Girls – GSUSA site with relevant activities to your troops age
  • Making Friends – Great craft & activity ideas
  • Scouting Web – Indexed resources from all sorts of volunteers and parents in Girl Scouts
  • Scout Songs – MP3’s has many songs to make it easy to learn.

√ What about community service and field trips?

  • Talk to the girls about community service. What do they want to do? Believe us, they have ideas and it CAN be put into action! Talk to your parents, service unit, and community members. There are SO many opportunities from traditional food and clothing drives, to girls actually building an electric car to educate the community (yep, two middle school girls did it last year in Fort Myers!)
  • For trip ideas, take a look at triptionary of local program ideas, activity finder of council and service unit events, Pinterest Troop Travel board of local and distant opportunities, and GSUSA travel destinations. Talk to other leaders too! Don’t reinvent the wheel! Remember to refer to safety activity check points when traveling with girls.

20140609_193031Cat Depot Community Troop Project DSC01488 Food Drive Camp 5th Ave


√ Noticing Girl Scouts have a special lingo? Check out the GSUSA (that is Girl Scouts of United States of America) glossary!

√ What about Journey’s, badges, outdoors, awards, cookies and more? Don’t feel like you have to do everything out the gate! Map out your Girl Scout year with the GSUSA interactive map found here>>

Staying connected will give you ideas and help you engage with local Girl Scouts volunteers.

  • The GSGCF website offers so much! Look around for what you need.
  • Like us on Facebook (some service units have their own Facebook group – ask your Service Unit Manager or Membership Specialist if there is one to connect with other leaders and volunteers directly in your area)
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Pinterest has lots useful pins for new leaders
  • We also have Instagram, Google+, a YouTube Channel with great videos. Subscribe to this blog to keep you up to date on cool tools like this!

Remember, you have volunteers, Service Unit Members and Council Staff who want to help. We can’t help you if you don’t ask. Take a look at our staff contact lists for the appropriate staff member.

It might seem like a lot at first, but working with girls can be such a rewarding experience for both you and them.

Above all, remember to HAVE FUN! You are doing it RIGHT if girls CAN’T WAIT until the next meeting!

Top 10 Tips for leaders

It’s not too late to “Dive in!” to the Fall Product Sale!

DiveIn type

What is the Fall Product Sale? The Fall Product Sale is a friends-and-family sale that helps your troop earn start-up money, but also helps support the Girl Scout Council. Learn more here

Top Reasons to participate:

Skills: Girls will practice five skills to running a business: (1) goal setting, (2) decision-making, (3) money management, (4) people skills, (5) business ethics

Rewards: Girls will earn awesome rewards such as patches, stationery, iPod Nano, or shop points to buy what they wish in our Council shop!

Troop proceeds: Troops earn 10% of orders! Great starter funds for new troops or additional money to help you get to that special trip!

More options: customers can now order all magazines, candy, and nuts all online and there is a new offering: photos keepsakes, such as photo books and calendars! There are also 30 nut/candy offerings online!21_70078

So, are you ready to Dive In? Contact your Service Unit Fall Product Sales Coordinator or Alicia Rance at aliciar@gsgcf.org to get started today!

Is your troop already participating? Check out these troop tips to improve your sale:trooptotroop14A
– Ask your customers if they want to participate in “troop to troop” donation of $5 and products will be sent to active military personal. Girls who sell 3+ troop to troop will get a special patch
– Address booklets with the names and address of 9 people will get you $2 per address booklet!
– We have great girl business cards here
– Ask dentists, doctors, mechanics, and other offices with waiting rooms if they want to renew magazines subscriptions with Girl Scouts
– All items are PERFECT holiday gifts!

Sale ends October 16th. See all details on our website or contact Alicia Rance at aliciair@gsgcf.org to get started now.

be active

Literacy Initiative – Are you up for the challenge?


At Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, we KNOW we can make a great impact on problems we see in our communities. Our entire nation, state, and within the 10 counties we serve, adults, children and girls are at risk of falling behind. With over 9,000 girl and adult members, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida is focused on a mission this year to curtail this literacy risk.

Startling statistics:

  • 67% nationwide and more than 80% from low-income families are not proficient readers by the end of the third grade. (Grade Level Reading, 2014)
  • In all of Florida, 20% lack basic literacy skills. In Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast’s 10 counties, and average of 21% lack these skills, one of our counties going as high as 42%. (US dept. of Education, 2003, NCES)
  • Roughly, only 39% of fourth-grade girls in Florida are proficient in reading. (The State of Girls in Florida, 2014, GSRI)
  • If parents cannot read and face economic hardship, their children suffer, often encountering barriers to learning and to reading, and the cycle of illiteracy continues.  Family members in 50% of all Florida households with incomes below poverty level cannot read on an 8th grade level. (National Institute for Literacy)

What Can WE do?

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast are on their way…

GIRLS are on board:

Girl Scout, Sydney Ring of Venice is in the process of her Gold Award Project, “Books and Bears for literacy.” Sydney’s project focuses on encouraging preschool aged children IMG_4959 (2)to engage in the love of books and early reading. She set her goal to collect 500 new books for local children and she further expanded the program to include 500 new bears so each child could also have a “reading buddy”.

Sydney hopes to spread her passion and excitement for the “Books and Bears for Literacy” outreach into other counties so more children can develop a love for reading. Currently, a “Books and Bears Literacy II” is being planned for Charlotte County by a young man who wants to continue building an awareness for early literacy needs.

TROOPS have a project:

Troops 8, 748, and 462 of LaBelle will be working together on an ongoing project called Little Free Library.  Little Free Library is a free-standing birdhouse-style box with a door full of free books. They have several opportunities to put these libraries up in LaBelle, FL.

SERVICE UNITS are getting creative:

20140906_183946 (3)Lee 13 collected over 500 books for Golisano Children’s hospital for their monthly community service project.

Service Units in Lee County are hosting a community table and literacy programs at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival.

Manatee 4 is collecting new or gently used books in lieu of admission for their fall event to donate to a local literacy council.

GSGCF has some special programs:

Scout about the Library is an event for Girl Scouts in grades 2-5 to have a sleepover in the library. Register Today >>

Day of Service we are challenging girls to participate in a literacy based service. We are challenging every girl to participate and earn prizes. Check it out here>>

As mighty Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, our projects, awards, community service, and awareness are certainly the beginning of working together to create change. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida are Taking Action to Change the World. Are you up for the challenge?

Girl Scouts showed me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to

Samantha Wood HeadshotPRINT(1)

Guest blogger is Samantha Wood, a recent high school graduate from Sarasota Military Academy and recent Gold Award recipient. Samantha is off to UNF to start her college adventure.

I started my Girl Scout career as a Daisy Girl Scout when I was 5 years old. I continued from Daisy’s all the way to Ambassador Girl Scouts and most recently my Gold award. Being in Girl Scouts and having stayed with it, basically my entire life has to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Girl Scouting has given me the opportunity to do things that have been life changing for me. I’ve gone ice climbing up frozen waterfalls in New Hampshire, I’ve gone rock climbing up 300ft mountain faces, I’ve gone to Alaska and trekked on a glaciers, and I am scuba certified. Along with these amazing activities, I have spent a lot of time doing community service which I feel is very important. I have learned that even though I am only one person, I can still make a difference and still help others. The Girl Scout Promise and Law of “help other people” and “make the world a better place” aren’t just slogans for me… It’s my life’s direction.

SamWood Not only has Girl Scouts made it possible to experience so many amazing things, and to test my limits and step out of my comfort zones, but it also taught me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. Scouting has helped to build my confidence in trying new adventures and teaching me to never accept good enough. Staying active in Girl Scouts is a great way to make lifelong friends, help others, and experience new things.

During my 13 years in Girl Scouts, I have gained some of my best friends, my fellow troop members. I know that the girls that are in my troop will be life-long friends. They are amazing women and I am fortunate to have been in a Girl Scout troop with them and thankful I got to know them. They are friends forever!

Joining Girl Scouts and sticking with it has been oneof the best decisions that I have made and wouldn’t trade for anything; it is one that I would highly recommend to anyone.

Join, participate, stay with it, and do great things!!!!


Both Girls and Volunteers Benefit from Their Experience in Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts really is great for everyone! While there are possibly too many positive outcomes associated with being a member of Girl Scouts to list, there is some compelling research which illustrates just how good Girl Scouts is.

Results of a summer 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range show positive effects on members of all ages. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that Girl Scouts has been a positive activity for their daughter, that she has had fun and exciting new experiences (95 percent), and that she has learned or tried something new (96 percent). In addition, 94 percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts, their daughter feels special, has more friends (95 percent), is more confident (90 percent), and is happier (89 percent).
While GSUSA boasts more than two million members nationwide, there are more than 30,000 girls on waiting lists who want to join Girl Scouts but can’t because there are not enough volunteers in local communities to help deliver the Girl Scout experience. Data shows it is not just girls who benefit from participating in the organization: 94 percent of volunteers have made new friends, 88 percent believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts, and two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally. Ninety-five percent of Girl Scout volunteers are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.


“Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun, and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers to lead and thrive for over 100 years,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “We know the majority of volunteers feel their Girl Scout experience has helped them both personally and professionally, but in many places throughout the country, the lack of volunteers is what keeps girls on waiting lists. Every adult who volunteers for Girl Scouts can help us bring fun, new experiences to at least five girls. Imagine what that can do to shape the next generation of female leaders.”

Girl Scouts gives girls a place to explore topics of interest in a judgment-free space outside of classroom confinements, and it cultivates cooperative and self-directed learning, as well as the growth mindset (the understanding that intelligence and talent can be developed)—all of which help foster a lifetime passion for learning. The variety of experiences and the value for the money the Girl Scout program provides are also popular selling points. Eighty-nine percent of parents say their daughter gets a greater variety of experiences from Girl Scouts than she does from other extracurricular activities, and the majority of parents feel Girl Scouts is a great value for the money compared to other extracurricular activities. Overall, parents consider Girl Scouts one of the most beneficial extracurricular activities for their daughter.

“The value of the all-girl, girl-led environment offered by Girl Scouts cannot be overstated, and is so important to the social-emotional and personal development of girls,” said Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, Chief Girl Expert at Girl Scouts of the USA. “Girl Scouts is a place where girls are free to be girls; to try new things, experiment, and have fun learning from and leading one another. There is no other leadership development program in the world that offers girls this inclusive, safe space, without the distractions and pressures of school and other social settings.”

Girl Scouts is open to all girls from kindergarten through grade 12. The more adults step forward to volunteer, the more girls will get the chance to be a Girl Scout. Adults over age 18 may become volunteers, and both girls and adult volunteers can join at any time of the year. Girl Scout volunteers come from all walks of life; they are men, women, young professionals, retirees, college students, and more. To join or volunteer, please visit: http://www.girlscouts.org/join.

Author: GSUSA

Your voice and your ideas matter

“Failure is impossible”  Susan B. Anthony

(L to R) Sue Stewart, Ellie, Susan B. Anthony, Emily and Bekah at Women’s Equity Day Luncheon

(L to R) Sue Stewart, Ellie, “Susan B. Anthony” (portrayed by Sally Matson), Emily, and Bekah at Women’s Equity Day Luncheon

Every summer I look forward to attending the Women’s Equity Day Luncheon with sister Girl Scouts and women from across our community to celebrate our right to vote. This year GSGCF was also represented by Girl Scout Seniors Bekah and Emily, Girl Scout Ambassador Ellie, and Girl Scout volunteer Mrs. Cruce. Guest speaker, Sally Matson brought Susan B. Anthony to life as a courageous, strong and resilient woman of her day.

In the mid 1800’s Susan B. Anthony  (1820-1906) was a determined advocate for social justice and equal treatment for all groups. She was part of a large family, was involved in her church, was well read, and held a solid belief in what was right.

Because she was a woman, she was unable to vote. By 1866, she was fighting for equal rights not only for women, but African Americans. She was spit on, called names, fined and faced jail time for her words and deeds.  She fought hard and had many detractors- even within her circle.

Susan B. Anthony and her sisters, along with outspoken men of their day, worked against the commonly held beliefs of their time.  They paved the way so that in 1919 Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified on August 18, 1920.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

I take my right to vote seriously and have voted in every election since I was of age. Did you know that women who were Girl Scouts are more likely to vote than women who were not Girl Scouts? (Girl Scout Research Institute)

When I recall that Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scout Movement in 1912- BEFORE WOMEN HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE- I am further inspired by Juliette and by Susan B. Anthony’s  courage, confidence and character.

So many girls and women have gone before us to fight for justice, equality, and doing what is right for our society and world. They have endured name calling, mistreatment, and like Susan B. Anthony even jail time. They are sisters, daughters, and mothers and they work with women and men to make changes to benefit all.

Sister Girl Scouts….have confidence in you and in what you believe, work together to further the tenets our Girl Scout Promise and Law. Whether big or small, quiet or loud….your voice and your ideas matter.

Author: Susan R. Stewart – CEO Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast FL