A Note of Thanks from GSUSA CEO Bonnie Barczykowski to Girl Scout Volunteers

Hello, Girl Scouts, and happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

As we enjoy the change of season and the new beginnings it brings, I wanted to tell you about another new beginning: my name is Bonnie Barczykowski, and I am the new CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA.

I am honored and humbled to take on this role after spending the last ten years as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. It is a privilege to provide girls opportunities to explore their worlds, develop skills, and make important connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I saw firsthand the tremendous impact of our volunteers. This is why Volunteer Appreciation Month is so important—it’s a time to honor, celebrate, and salute the dedicated volunteers who bring the Girl Scout experience to life for Girl Scouts in communities across the country and the world. They serve as inspirational role models and mentors—championing, challenging, encouraging, and inspiring Girl Scouts to set and achieve new goals, form lasting bonds of friendship, and become courageous and confident leaders of today and tomorrow.

Our volunteers lead incredibly busy lives, and we are so grateful for the commitment they make and the passion they bring to helping the Girl Scouts they serve be their best selves.

During the last few years, Girl Scouts have also experienced more anxiety and mental health challenges in their day-to-day lives. Volunteers have created an invaluable space for them, and we know that Girl Scouts feel the impact of volunteers—because they’ve told us so! In a survey of our girl members:

  • 90% say they feel like they can be themselves in Girl Scouts.
  • 94% say they feel safe in Girl Scouts.
  • 63% say they get to do things that they cannot do in other places.
  • 90% say their troop leader cares about them as a person.
  • 65% say they are a leader in more activities because of their experience with Girl Scouts.

On behalf of the entire Girl Scout Movement, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the troop leaders, service unit volunteers, delegates, outdoor trainers, troop cookie managers, chaperones, parent helpers, and the many others who choose to volunteer with Girl Scouts. They are making a huge difference in girls’ lives and helping build the next generation of exceptional leaders and change-makers.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month! Please enjoy some of our favorite volunteer moments, and stay tuned for exciting ways to celebrate the special volunteers in your life throughout the month of April!

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Bonnie Barczykowski
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the USA

Don’t miss these special volunteer benefits for Volunteer Appreciation Month and beyond!

It’s no secret that the Girl Scout Leadership Experience would not be possible without volunteers, but did you know the impact of volunteering reaches beyond troops? In addition to the community service and donations facilitated by Girl Scout volunteers, 94% of parents and caregivers say their girl’s leader made their family feel like part of a community.

It’s time to give back to those who give so much! Whether you’re a volunteer or just a fan of one, you don’t want to miss these special discounts available now, including promotions for Volunteer Appreciation Month and beyond.

Secure your special lifetime membership rate for volunteers with ten or more years of service. 

From troop meetings to camping trips and epic adventures, years of Girl Scout memories are made possible by the incredible work of volunteers. For our longtime volunteers, “thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover the lifetime of experiences they offer to the Girl Scouts they support. However, we are happy to share that volunteers with ten or more years of service are eligible to renew as a Girl Scout lifetime member at a special rate of $200 (reduced from $400!) as a thank you for being a part of our history and our future. Become a lifetime member today and enjoy special benefits, including invitations to memorable events, discounts, and more!

Get crafty with a JOANN Girl Scout Rewards Card

Get ready to unleash the full creative power of your Girl Scout troop! Did you know that all volunteers and active Girl Scout members are eligible to receive a 15% discount on purchases at JOANN stores and online with the Girl Scout Rewards Card*? Additionally, when you shop with your JOANN Girl Scout Rewards Card, JOANN gives a donation to Girl Scouts of the USA! Learn more and register now for your Girl Scout Rewards Card!

Add to your cart with a Girl Scout Shop discount.

If you’re treating yourself (as you should!) or celebrating a volunteer with a special gift, a little appreciation discount goes a long way! During National Volunteer Week, from April 16 to 22, shoppers can use the code THANKS23 for 15% off** most items with your purchase of $75 or more. Whether you’re shopping for camp season or bridging ceremonies, it’s the perfect time to spring for a wardrobe refresh with items from the new official adult apparel line. How cute would the chambray shirt be for campfire s’mores this year? And parents, the legacy vegan leather carry-all would be perfect bridging ceremony group gift for your fearless troop leader. 

Celebrate female artists with discounts on JIGGY puzzles. 

JIGGY, a new female-founded puzzle company, is offering a 15% discount off orders of $75 or more*** during Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 16–22). Use code JIGGYGS15 at jiggypuzzles.com. Each puzzle features art by an emerging female artist, comes in sustainable and elevated packaging, and includes specially formulated puzzle glue to frame and keep your masterpiece. 

Explore NEW Troop Year Plans—available now for current (and new) volunteers! 

The best way to thank a volunteer this month? Become one and lend a hand in making amazing Girl Scout memories! Celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month by joining the incredible people who make Girl Scout adventures possible all year. Our volunteer application is always open and there’s never been a better time to get started. In addition to the extensive training materials available in your Volunteer Toolkit, we’re excited to introduce NEW customizable Troop Year Plans, available now in print and digital formats, for each grade level so you can easily guide your troop through our most popular activities for a year of fun and adventure.

To all volunteers, from experienced to brand new, we are forever appreciative of your efforts to keep the Girl Scout Movement in motion. In addition to our heartfelt thanks, don’t miss your special note from Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Bonnie Barczykowski!

Joann Terms & Conditions: 

*Exclusions may apply.

GSM Terms & Conditions: 

**The code is active April 12 through April 25, 2023, and excludes uniforms, customized products, national brands such as Deuter, gift certificates, and ships from council merchandise. Shipping, handling, and sales tax charges are determined by merchandise total prior to discount. This offer cannot be combined with any other promo code/discount, and is valid only on girlscoutshop.com from April 12, 2023, 12:00 AM ET through April 25, 2023, 11:59 PM ET. 

Jiggy Terms & Conditions: 

***15% discount off orders totaling $75 or more, before tax and shipping. Discounts cannot be combined. Discount code is good for one-time use per customer only, online only at jiggypuzzles.com. Cannot be redeemed as cash. Will not be applied to previous purchases. No rain checks. Coupons are void where prohibited.

Seniors enjoy virtual sing-along with Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

By Mary Anne Servian, Chief Executive Officer

I was so proud of our Gulfcoast Girl Scouts this week when they treated local senior citizens to a virtual sing-along on April 28 as part of our “Across the Generations” council-wide service project.

We partnered with Harbor Chase in Sarasota for an old-fashioned campfire sing-along, with a virtual twist. Using an online platform, more than 100 girls, family members, and volunteers sang familiar favorites such as “The Brownie Smile Song,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and “Make New Friends” to the enjoyment of assisted and independent living facility residents across the area.

Girl Scouts virtual sing-along

One of our beloved long-time volunteers, Betty Webb, shared her appreciation for the girls. “I am currently living in an independent living center and have not been able to leave the building for several weeks. Listening to the camp songs brought back some very nice memories. I thought the idea for the project was very timely and kind.”

Our council began the Across the Generations service project in March by encouraging Girl Scouts and their families to send cards, letters, and drawings to local nursing homes and other senior facilities, whose residents are feeling isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown. The virtual sing-along was also held in conjunction with the 2020 Giving Challenge.

Held April 28-29, 2020, the Giving Challenge was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and further supported by The Patterson Foundation. Our council participated with hundreds of other nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte Counties, to raise funds to help support our programs.

The Giving Challenge is all about giving back to the community, whether it’s a monetary donation to your favorite local nonprofit organizations or a simple act of kindness during these especially challenging times. Girl Scouts are well known for giving back to their communities, and on April 28, we celebrated that tradition of service in a big way, bridging “across the generations.” 

If you missed the virtual sing-along, you can still join in the fun by viewing the recording on our Youtube channel. My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in the sing-along and the Giving Challenge, and to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation for making it all possible!

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!

Honi Hanta Bronze Project Roundhouse Fire Circle (3)

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.

Hoin Hanta Service Project TAP - Troop 42 painting Armadillo Bathhouse

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!).

Honi Archery Canopy Shade installation - 1

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.

Honi Hanta Bronze Project Archery Field Area - 1

Great teamwork, Troop 696!


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. 
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!