Troop 257 Vows to “Stand Beside Her”

IMG_2704Several months ago, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida joined the national Stand Beside Her movement. It is a call to action for women and girls to band together and support each other, end comparison and competition, and create more collaboration. The year-round initiative was created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South, and is recognized by Girl Scout councils and other groups and organizations across the country.

Troop 257 from Sarasota took a particular interest in Stand Beside Her, and decided to take action. “Our troop is interested in community involvement and making a difference in the world,” said troop leader Jeanne Koren. Some of the girls in her troop had noticed a difference since starting middle school in the way they feel about themselves. This directly affects self-esteem, and can have a negative impact on a girl’s ability to reach her full potential. “When we looked at the [statistics] online about this it was surprising to us,” she explained.

The troop decided to kick off their own campaign with a “Chalk It Up to Being a Girl” Encouragement Project, one of several suggestions offered on the Stand Beside Her website. The concept is simple, but powerful: girls use chalk to draw outlines of their feet on a publicly visible sidewalk, and then write messages of encouragement next to them.

IMG_2703 cropThe girls drew a lot of attention during the project, which they completed at United Church of Christ Sarasota. “One man told us how he stood beside his two daughters (now grown) when their science teacher told them that girls just don’t do as well as boys in science,” Koren explained. Sadly, his daughters’ science teacher was herself a woman. Other onlookers were equally moved. “An older woman had tears in her eyes and was speechless when we told her what we were doing.”

But Troop 257 isn’t stopping there. They are also planning to meet with two school principals to have “Chalk It Ups” at their schools and girl-led awareness speeches at faculty meetings. “And,” said Koren, “we have ideas for much more!”

The troop is challenging others in the Gulfcoast Florida council to organize at least one Stand Beside Her-themed activity or event over the course of this school year. Their suggestions include:

  • Asking permission to bring in Stand Beside Her posters and post cards to hang up or distribute at your school, or asking to speak at an upcoming faculty meeting about ways in which teachers can help raise girls’ self-esteem
  • Arranging a “Chalk It Up” event at your school, church, or other organization you belong to (be sure to get the property owner’s permission first)IMG_2701 crop
  • Asking local dance studios, gymnastics centers, YMCAs, etc. to hang Stand Beside Her posters in the locker rooms where girls and women can see them
  • Asking school counselors to prepare a talk or panel presentation on ways that parents and other adults can “Stand Beside Her” and help every girl reach her potential
  • Challenging adults (including troop leaders) to do a “stand-up selfie” once a day — look in the mirror and say something to boost the confidence of that 13-year-old girl who’s still inside you
  • Starting a Stand Beside Her blog on your troop’s web page

Will you accept Troop 257’s challenge? How will you and your troop “Stand Beside Her?” Email your stories and photos to

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

Revive Your Résumé with Volunteer Experience

VTK15_DG_0917Volunteering with Girls Scouts (or any other nonprofit) is good for the community, and for the soul.  It helps us learn new skills, broaden our social circle, and become more well-rounded individuals.  It can also make up an important part of work experience in a professional résumé.

Just because you didn’t earn a paycheck, doesn’t mean you didn’t acquire and develop skills that are valuable in the workplace. Here are a few tips for incorporating what you’ve learned from volunteering into your existing résumé.

  • Focus on experience that is directly relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Stuffing hundreds of envelopes takes a lot of stamina, but that won’t necessarily impress your potential new employer if you’re applying for a position in middle management.

  • Be descriptive (and a little creative) when listing the skills you’ve developed, but don’t go overboard.

For example, if you’ve assisted with successfully planning  pick-up schedules and supervising inventory distribution within your Service Unit during “Cookie Season,” you could legitimately include your experience with logistics.  If you simply drove to the warehouse to pick up your own troop’s order, that claim would be a bit of a stretch.

  • Brag about specific volunteer accomplishments as they relate to the job position.

If you’re applying for a sales position, and your passion for Girl Scouting led you to recruit a significant number of new volunteers for your Service Unit, present this as a sales achievement.  Be specific and share measurable results, i.e. “through targeted recruitment events, increased the number of new volunteer troop leaders within geographic region by 9%.”  After all, selling a volunteer opportunity requires the same people skills as marketing a product or service:  finding the right audience, identifying an individual’s needs, and presenting an opportunity that meets those needs.

  • If you are a new college graduate, or if you’ve been out of the job market for a while, volunteer experience is not just résumé fluff.  It’s a godsend.

You have to start somewhere, and volunteering can help young adults acquire and hone basic skills that are valuable in any number of workplace settings.  Those more experienced candidates who’ve been out of work due to layoffs, downsizing, or personal life events can show an employer that they are truly self-starters who value the importance of staying active in the community, making new contacts, and continuing to build upon their skill sets.

  • Speaking of making new contacts…

The connections you’ve made while volunteering in the community can be a valuable asset to a potential employer. While no one likes a “name dropper,” it may still be appropriate to talk briefly about high-profile groups and people you’ve worked with directly during your job interview.

  • Don’t forget about your LinkedIn profile.

If you’re using LinkedIn as a tool in your job search (and you should be), be sure to include the same volunteer information in your profile as you do in your résumé. Ask paid non-profit staff you’ve worked with to endorse the related skills on your profile.

  • In general:
    • With all the different résumé formats in use today, you’ll want to tweak these tips to accommodate your preferred layout. You may find that using a functional (skills-based) format instead of a chronological listing will allow you to incorporate volunteer experience more seamlessly.
    • For example: You may choose to incorporate the relevant skills you’ve acquired through both paid work and long-term volunteer service together under a single heading such as “Related Experience.”  Unrelated volunteer experience and shorter assignments can be included under “Other Volunteer Service” or “Other Experience.”
    • Be sure to clearly distinguish between paid employment and volunteer service, however, so a potential employer won’t think you’re trying to misrepresent your employment history.

Have you had success in incorporating your volunteer experience into your résumé?  What additional tips would you share?

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

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