The Giving Challenge and the Greater Good

The Giving Challenge. Has it already been two years? It seems like just yesterday, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida partnered with the Library Foundation for Sarasota County for a unique, all-ages campaign called “Be The One: Make Reading S’more Fun!” From our treasured childhood storybooks to the favorites we enjoy in retirement, reading is a fundamental part of life for all ages—and philanthropy should be, too! By engaging the entire community in a children’s book drive for our public libraries, we provided opportunities for young and old alike to make a difference in their community.

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It all culminated with “Campfire Stories,” an evening event held at our Gulfcoast Event and Conference center. More than 100 attendees of all ages enjoyed games and activities, a photo booth, and stories around a cardboard “campfire.” Collectively, our book drive and event were designed to illustrate how everyone, from preschoolers to retirees, can come together to celebrate giving, reading, and the importance of working together for the greater good. When all was said and done, we had collected over 300 books, thanks to Girl Scouts troops, community partners, and individuals from across the area.

We also raised vital funds to support program scholarships for girls in need, unique programming opportunities, camp maintenance and enhancements, and other basic needs of our council—all to help us meet our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Two years later, amid a global crisis, our mission seems particularly relevant as we continue to concentrate on the greater good.

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As part of our 2020 Giving Challenge theme, “Be the One to Honor,” Girl Scouts are participating in a council-wide service project, “Across the Generations.” Girls and their families are honoring our senior citizens by sending cards, pictures, and letters to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to help ease the stress and loneliness that so many seniors are facing right now. You can follow this project through social media with the hashtag, #AcrossTheGenerations.

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Troops are honoring the hometown heroes who are working exceptionally hard during this crisis by donating Girl Scout cookie inventory to first responders, hospitals, food pantries, and other hard-hit organizations. And, as they do each year, Girl Scouts honored our military and veterans by selling cookies for our Mints for the Military donation program. By honoring others, our girls are also honoring our deepest-held Girl Scout tradition: to make the world a better place.

While our in-person programs and troop meetings have been temporarily suspended, you can rest assured that Girl Scouting is not canceled! Through a variety of virtual and at-home programming options, Girl Scouts are learning new things, earning badges, and exploring the world around them, all from the safety and comfort of home (learn more on our website). We look forward to the time when we can all be together in person again, but in the meantime, life goes on. And so does Girl Scouting!

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With 1:1 matches up to $100 per unique donor gift from The Patterson Foundation, and additional cash prizes in a variety of categories, the Giving Challenge (presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County) offers an amazing fundraising opportunity. But this year, the Giving Challenge also reminds us why philanthropy should be a fundamental part of life for all ages. We can all do our part, in whatever form that may take—from a hand-drawn card to brighten someone’s day, to a monetary donation to support powerful Girl Scout programming. So, this year, #BeTheOne… in whatever way you can.

SavetheDate

Lori Tomlinson is the Grants and Communications Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

 

 

 

Camp Corner—Winter 2020, Part 2

By Madeline Jackson, GSGCF Property Manager, and Lori Tomlinson, Grants and Communications Manager

chipmunk-429699_1920Chippy’s back with more camp updates, this time from Camp Honi Hanta.  She also has a few important camp reminders. Read on to learn more!

Highlights at Camp Honi Hanta

Let’s start by thanking our sister troops for their hard work. Troop 42 painted some of the exterior walls of the Armadillo Alley bathhouse. Three girls from Troop 149 earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award by refurbishing the fire circle at the Round House. Troop 696 also has a Bronze Award project underway. They worked with Troop 248 to create an enhanced seating area using paver stones brought up from the Venice Girl Scout House. Talk about using resources wisely!

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Members of Troop 149 aren’t afraid of a little hard lifting!

Our adult volunteers tackled some much-appreciated projects, as well. Screen repairs have been completed in the Weaver’s Nest unit screen house, and rotted wood was repaired at the Rain Forest. Several tree-top cabin window shades were re-made or replaced. The archery shed got a much-needed clean out and reorganization, and some of the bathhouse sidewalks and unit house exteriors were pressure-washed. And, United Way Suncoast Day of Caring Volunteers completed a full interior repaint of the Lodge.

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The Armadillo Alley bathhouse looks wonderful, thanks to Troop 42!

Your council staff is always looking for ways to enhance your camp experience, and has marked quite a few items off the to-do list, including:

  • A complete property tree trim to lift canopies, widen trails, and eliminate dead landscape
  • The addition of plastic bins for each unit’s screen house to organize miscellaneous items on the equipment shelves
  • Fabrication and installation of the belay benches for the climbing wall, and wood preservation coating applied to more than half of the structure
  • Installation of eye wash solution stations installed in each of the bathhouses
  • Equipping each screen house with a coffee maker, new dishwashing bins, and a new Coleman stove
  • Replacing the air conditioner in the Manatee House

If you’ve visited camp in the past couple weeks, you probably noticed the installation of a beautiful shade canopy for the archery range, thanks to funding from the Bradenton Kiwanis Foundation and Junior League of Sarasota. This grant project is still underway with even more great additions in process, including a new ice maker for the lodge and a fully equipped disc golf course (coming soon!).

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With the installation of this shade canopy, archery at Honi Hanta is even “cooler” than before!

Don’t forget, there is a Honi Hanta Hero patch that girls can earn for doing a service project at camp. We have painting projects, signage projects, trimming trails, and more. There are many ways to improve camp and leave it better than we found it.

Camp Reminders

Please remember, the rules we have set up for camp are for everyone’s safety, protection, and consideration.  We expect all our adult leaders to set the example for their troops by observing all the Safety Activity Checkpoints and being a sister to every Girl Scout.

  • GOLF CART USAGE–The golf cart may be used by service unit managers for service unit events only. Individual troops may not use the golf cart.
  • VERIFICATION OF OUTDOOR SKILLS TRAINING–To ensure your troop or service unit will meet all the requirements of your desired program, we are now verifying certifications when a camp reservation is made through the Double Knot system.
  • NO DRIVING AT CAMP–You may drive only ONE vehicle to your campsite to drop off your supplies. Vehicles may not be used to transport girls and their belongings to your campsite and/or to activity areas. There are wheelbarrows available for this use. Of course, there are exceptions for emergencies and those with physical limitations.
  • NO SMOKING AT CAMP–Aside from the obvious fire hazard, our council does not permit smoking at our campsite locations. Smoking may only occur outside the gate of each camp and NEVER in the presence of any girls.
  • MEN ARE ALLOWED TO BE AT CAMP–However, there are strict rules about their presence at a campout.  Please review our Camp Rules.
  • TRASH REMOVAL IS ESSENTIAL–In addition to removing your own campsite trash, please have the girls walk the grounds around your campsite and pick up any stray items.  Make sure you are throwing only garbage in the dumpsters and recyclables in their respective bins.
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Great teamwork, Troop 696!

SAVE THE DATE

We will be hosting Girl Scout Open Houses at all our council facilities, including Camp Honi Hanta, on Sunday, April 26 from 2-4pm.  Please plan to visit camp and see all our improvements yourself.  It will be a family-friendly event where volunteers and staff host activities on-site for everyone to enjoy. We look forward to seeing you then!

Camp Corner—Winter 2020, Part 1

By Madeline Jackson, GSGCF Property Manager, and Lori Tomlinson, Grants and Communications chipmunk-429699_1920Manager 

Chippy has been watching all the new developments at camp since October, and she is so excited to share what has been happening for the last few months!  She also has a few camp reminders. Today, we’ll focus on Camp  Caloosa. Read on to learn more! 

Highlights at Camp Caloosa 

Your Girl Scout Sisters from the Lee 11 service unit painted the bridge leading to Donut Island, along with the floor of the cabin bathhouse. Members of Troop 352 painted the floor of the Chalet bathhouse. Thanks for your hard work, ladies! It all looks wonderful. 

Thanks to a little paint and a lot of hard work, the Chalet Bathhouse floor looks great!

Adult volunteers from the southern region have completed a variety of projects. You’ll notice that the archery shed has been reorganized with color-coded bow and arrows, and measured rope markers for range set-up. The path leading to the cabin bathhouse has been enhanced with additional shell and stone base materials to cover the tree roots. Not only does it look better, but it’s safer, too! 

Have you met our new camp caretaker, Joshua Quaintance? He recently repaired the golf cart so it can be reserved by the service unit managers for use at any service unit event. Please say hello and give him a big “thank you” next time you’re there! 

Council staff has been hard at work, too! A replacement refrigerator was  installed at the Quail Run tent unit house. There are additional tables, chairs, and a microwave at the lodge, all of which were relocated from the Sebring House. And thanks to a grant from the Claiborne and Ned Foulds Foundation, you’ll soon enjoy a beautiful shade canopy on the archery range. 

The archery shed has never been so organized! Please do your part and return all items to their proper place. Your sister troops will thank you!

Don’t forget, there is a Caloosa Champion patch that girls can earn for doing a service project at camp. We have painting projects, signage projects, trimming trails, and more. There are many ways to improve camp and leave it better than we found it. 

Camp Reminders 

Please remember, the rules we have set up for camp are for everyone’s safety, protection, and consideration.  We expect all our adult leaders to set the example for their troops by observing all the Safety Activity Checkpoints and being a sister to every Girl Scout. 

  • GOLF CART USAGE–The golf cart may be used by service unit managers for service unit events only. Individual troops may not use the golf cart. 
  • VERIFICATION OF OUTDOOR SKILLS TRAINING–To ensure your troop or service unit will meet all the requirements of your desired program, we are now verifying certifications when a camp reservation is made through the Double Knot system. 
  • NO DRIVING AT CAMP–You may drive only ONE vehicle to your campsite to drop off your supplies. Vehicles may not be used to transport girls and their belongings to your campsite and/or to activity areas. There are wheelbarrows available for this use. Of course, there are exceptions for emergencies and those with physical limitations.  
  • NO SMOKING AT CAMP–Aside from the obvious fire hazard, our council does not permit smoking at our campsite locations. Smoking may only occur outside the gate of each camp and NEVER in the presence of any girls. 
  • MEN ARE ALLOWED TO BE AT CAMP–However, there are strict rules about their presence at a campout.  Please review our Camp Rules
  • TRASH REMOVAL IS ESSENTIAL–In addition to removing your own campsite trash, please have the girls walk the grounds around your campsite and pick up any stray items.  Make sure you are throwing only garbage in the dumpsters and recyclables in their respective bins. 
CALOOSA CHAMP 2
If your troop is interested in earning the Caloosa Champion patch, contact property manager Madeline Jackson at madelinej@gsgcf.org.

SAVE THE DATE:  We will be hosting Girl Scout Open Houses at all of our council facilities,  including Camp Caloosa, on Sunday, April 26 from 2-4pm.  Please plan to visit camp and see all our improvements yourself.  It will be a family-friendly event where volunteers and staff host activities on-site for everyone to enjoy. 

Check back next week for updates from Camp Honi Hanta! 

Cape Coral Girl Scout Featured on Tagalongs Cookie Box

Olivia Trader

This year, Girl Scout Cookie fans around the country will see the smiling face of a Southwest Florida girl on their box of Tagalongs® cookies.

Olivia Trader of Cape Coral was one of six national winners in Girl Scouts of the USA’s 2018 Girl Scout Cookie Pro™ Contest. Girl Scouts from across the country submitted their “Cookie Pro Résumés,” highlighting the skills they have learned, their memorable customer experiences and their tips and tricks for reaching their program sales goals. Each of the winners participated in a photoshoot to be featured on the new Girl Scout Cookie packaging for the 2020 cookie season.

Olivia can be seen playing guitar alongside other national cookie pros on the front of the popular Tagalongs cookie box. The refreshed packaging for all Girl Scout Cookie varieties features Girl Scouts taking part in a diverse range of experiences, such as camping and canoeing, exploring space science and taking action to improve their communities.

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Olivia knows that being a great entrepreneur is all about connection. Through the cookie program, she’s learned how to use her conversation skills to turn interest into sales and take on leadership positions to make a difference in her community.

“Young cookie entrepreneurs like Oliva learn important business and financial literacy skills that are proven to build their leadership skills and position them for success in the future,” says Mary Anne Servian, CEO of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. “And, every dollar from the Girl Scout Cookie Program stays within the local council to support troop activities, community service projects, council programs and more.”

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In addition, the local Girl Scout council will be offering a new cookie variety, Lemon-Ups(replacing Savannah Smiles®). The crispy lemon cookie joins the rest of the 2020 lineup, which includes favorites such as Thin Mints®, Samoas® and Trefoils®. Lemon-Ups will also be available in other select council markets.

Local Girl Scouts are currently taking cookie pre-orders and cookie booths will be open throughout the area from February 15–March 15. To find out when booths are scheduled near you, or to learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, visit www.gsgcf.org.

Punta Gorda Girl Scout Aims to Retain Young Talent in Charlotte

Megan KeatingCharlotte County resident and Florida SouthWestern Collegiate High School – Charlotte Campus graduate Megan Keating earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor—the Gold Award—with her project titled Charlotte Connection.

Eager to uncover what her hometown has to offer, Megan designed a website to showcase the careers and opportunities available in Charlotte County. She coordinated interviews with community members, including the mayor, sheriff, police chief, and librarian, to get insight on their day-to-day work. Megan’s goal is to excite and retain young talent who would be entering the job force soon and bring a sense of connection back to the Charlotte area.

“My Gold Award has skyrocketed me into success and determination. I’ve learned that I’m capable of so much, even in a short amount of time.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award, open to high school Girl Scouts, recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through take-action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. The Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Congratulations, Megan!

Girl Scouts Ensure a Happy Birthday for Local Foster Children

Birthday parties can be easily taken for granted. Most of us can count on family and friends to come together with gifts, balloons, decorations, and of course, a birthday cake complete with candles! But for children in the foster care system, a traditional birthday party isn’t always a given.

Thanks to the generosity of Girl Scouts in the Manatee 4 Service Unit, a number of local children will have everything they need to celebrate their next birthday. The girls collected and donated supplies to create “birthday kits” to be distributed to children in Manatee, DeSoto, and Sarasota Counties via the Safe Children Coalition.

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The birthday kits include such items as cake mix, frosting, and candles; baking pans; party hats, decorations, and favors; plates, cups, and plastic utensils; goody bags; party invitations; gift wrap; and gifts.

Girl Scout troop leader Karey Papin, who works as a Registered Nurse Case Manager for the Safe Children Coalition, said that there are currently about 1,450 children in foster care or living with a relative caregiver or in facility care. “We unfortunately had a severe spike in [the number of] children this year,” she explained.

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With so many children and families in need, the birthday kits couldn’t have come at a better time. When the project was completed, approximately 45 kits were ready to go. That’s a lot of celebrating!

“Every single person can impact the joy of children going through this experience,” Papin added. “We need and welcome more outreach projects on every level to support these families and children.” If your troop would like to learn more about the many ways they can help, contact the Safe Children Coalition at 866-661-5656.

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Giving Challenge 2016:​ Will You “Be the One?”

Fall is perhaps our favorite time of year at Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. School is back in session, new Girl Scout troops are forming, continuing troops reunite after the summer break, and the annual Giving Challenge kicks off.

What is the Giving Challenge? During a 24-hour period from noon – noon Sept. 20 – 21, donations up to $100 made to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida through the Giving Challenge website may be doubled, or even tripled, thanks to the generous support of The Patterson Foundation. That means, if you donated to Girl Scouts during the 2015 Giving Challenge, your 2016 gift of $25 – $100 will be matched 1:1. If you didn’t donate to us during the 2015 Giving Challenge, your gift of $25 – $100 this year will be matched 2:1. How else can your triple your investment with the click of a button?

When you think about, the Giving “Challenge” is a relatively easy one. On the other hand, girls face difficult challenges every day. They must navigate a world filled with negative peer pressure and mixed messages about what it means to be a girl and where their place is in society. Through Girl Scouting, girls learn that their place is anywhere they want it to be: in the home, at the office, in the lab, at the drafting table, in uniform… the possibilities are endless. As a donor, YOU make this possible! Thank you!

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Last year, dollars raised through the Giving Challenge helped support girls in a variety of STEAM-related programs and outdoor activities across our council. (STEAM refers to activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Math). From one-day events to week-long day camps, girls had the opportunity to explore the world of STEAM, as a fun topic of study today and potential career path in the future. In addition, outdoor education activities helped girls gain physical strength and confidence while building an appreciation for the environment and an understanding of their role in protecting it. As a 2015 donor, YOU made this possible! Thank you!

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This year, we will focus funds on helping girls take on leadership roles in their schools and communities. Whether they serve as media representatives for the council through the Media Marvels program, work together in groups on community service projects to earn the Girl Scout Bronze or Silver Award, or spearhead a more comprehensive, sustainable take-action project for the prestigious Gold Award, we will be here to support them every step of the way. As a 2016 donor, YOU will Be the One who makes this possible! Thank you!

Girl Scouting is for EVERY girl. No girl is ever turned away, regardless of her family’s financial situation. We are proud to offer need-based scholarships to cover registration and program fees. The more funding we receive from the community, the more girls we can serve across our entire ten-county service area.

For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts have been facing challenges head-on with courage, confidence, and character. Now it’s your turn. Will you Be the One who: encourages her to reach new heights?  Feeds her ambition?  Shows her there are no limits? Piques her interest in science, technology, engineering, and math? Shows her that she matters? Helps her change the world? Please considering making a personally meaningful gift to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida during the 24-hour Giving Challenge, Sept. 20 – 21. Click here to get started. And again, thank you!

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The 2016 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.