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As part of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in Colorado, we are celebrating amazing women who are Girl Scout alumnae, sold cookies as girl members, and attribute their business acumen to the skills they learned from Girl Scout financial literacy programs.

If this sounds like you, email Debbie Swanson at debbie.swanson@gscolorado.org. Be sure to include your name, current location, council/location of Girl Scout program, years in Girl Scouts, and a brief statement about how selling cookies contributed to your business success.

Your story will be shared in upcoming print and social media to inspire and encourage Girl Scouts of today!

Linda Robinson shares her Girl Scout story

Linda Robinson

Submitted by Linda Robinson

I became a Brownie Girl Scout in 1963.  It was the first year with four program levels and I remember looking through my bright orange handbook whenever I had the chance.  Monday afternoons were Brownie Girl Scout day at my elementary school.  Our troop met right after school in the multi-purpose room.  Our troop leaders were Mrs. Pharris and Mrs. Bolter and they continued with the troop all the way through Juniors and into Cadettes.

Some of my favorite girl memories are making butter and doing crafts as a Brownie.  In Juniors, we were able to sell cookies, go camping and do service projects in our community.  I grew up in Palo Alto, California and our Junior and Cadette troop meetings were held at the Lou Henry Hoover Girl Scout House in one of our local parks.  It was great fun learning how to cook (both indoors and out) at the GS House.  After my first campout, I came home and announced that we need to go camping as a family.  We borrowed equipment from friends, loaded up the station wagon and our family went on our first camping trip to Big Basin State Park.  It was the first of a lifetime of campouts.

As an adult, I got back into Girl Scouts when a friend asked if I knew of a brand-new program for kindergarten age girls.  Our oldest daughters were in preschool and would start kindergarten in the fall.  It was 1985 when we started our Daisy troop.  All three of my daughters went through Girl Scouts from Daisies through Seniors, earned their Gold Awards and became lifetime members upon graduating high school.  We had many great adventures as I led their troops through those 20 years.

During the 10 years I spent as an advisor to older girls we traveled, earned money to travel, led programs for younger girls, did community service projects, and became great friends.

I spent many hours on the service unit team leading day camps, international festivals, and other community events in Loveland as well as becoming a Master Trainer in Mountain Prairie Council.

Most of my volunteer Girl Scout time is spent on the history committee.  We meet every Tuesday in Loveland at the GSCO History Center.   Our time there is spent organizing, inventorying and cataloging the vast collection of historic Girl Scout items that council has.  It is great fun finding a new treasure in an unopened box and looking through old catalogs to find out when it was available and how much it cost at the time.

I also am a member of the Northern Colorado Gold Award Committee.  I truly enjoy working with the amazing young women who are working on their Gold Awards.  As the president of Promise Partners, the Northern Colorado Girl Scout alumnae group, I arrange meeting s about four times a year where we meet for fun, fellowship and service.

My most recent volunteer role has been volunteer registrar for Core Camp at Meadow Mountain Ranch.  We had a great weekend putting on a volunteer run resident camp like program for troops.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.

I have done many amazing things as a Girl Scout and traveled to many wonderful places, both with girls and adults.  Some of my more memorable trips include Belize, Nova Scotia and Maine, England, Savannah, and to Our Cabana in Mexico to see the Monarch Butterflies.

My life outside of Girl Scouts includes enjoying my two young grandsons, gardening, quilting and traveling with my husband of 37 years.  Although he is not a Girl Scout, he has always been a great support to me in my volunteer roles.

My advice to adults is to stay active in Girl Scouts and encourage your girls to continue with Girl Scouts into high school and beyond.  The world will open up to you.  Find your passion and let Girl Scouts help you fulfill it.  You won’t regret it.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

Girl Scout alumnae lend a helping hand

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Submitted by Heidi Books

Denver

Denver Metro

Girl Scout alumnae gathered at the Denver Bicycle Café to decorate special birthday cards for Project Angel Heart! Project Angel Heart delivers meals to community members with life-threatening illnesses and includes birthday wishes to their clients with special hand decorated birthday cards. We had a great time catching up with friends, chatting about the new things going on at Girl Scouts, and using our creative craft skills to make 50 handmade cards!

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

“Girl Scout camp is better than anything ever”

Submitted by Mary Ward

I recently returned to the place where I became myself: Sky High Ranch. “Rustic” is the fancy word I used to read in the description of this majestic place in the camp brochure. This is the only place I’ve ever been where a hole in the ground is politely referred to as the “ladies room,” where we all sing grace together before every meal, where girls don’t wear makeup, where we do so many fun things without anyone updating their Facebook status about it, and where no matter how many years pass, the memories will always linger on my heart.

I found myself thinking back to my days at Girl Scout camp, and how the friends I made there are the ones I still keep in touch with. I remember looking forward to camp from the time the brochure appeared in my mailbox until I stepped out of my mom’s minivan at the base of Cardiac Hill. It’s so rare to find friendships where you can go nine months without talking and then pick up right where you left off, but those are the kinds of friendships that are formed at Sky High Ranch. These days, I think it’s hard for kids to form quality relationships with one another because they are so distracted by the over-stimulation that’s occurring around them all the time- devices at their fingertips to always keep them entertained, the TV is always on, ear buds in- it’s a miracle that anyone is able to get anything done.

Girls today need Girl Scout camp more than any other generation. This place is not just a way to keep girls busy for a week. It’s not just a place where girls have fun and explore. Yes, they do those things, but it’s so much more than that. This is a place where girls learn about themselves and their world. A place where girls grow passionate. A place where girls step out of themselves and into something bigger- into a sisterhood that lasts a lifetime, into the freedom to create their own identity, into the chance to help other girls learn who they are and feel good about themselves.

We used to say that living with someone for a week is equivalent to knowing someone for a year. That sounds a little crazy, but to this day I still believe that. We met on a Sunday, and within 24 hours, I’ve seen your crazy morning hair, found out how funny you are, discovered that you snore, learned many things that we have in common, noticed your picky eating habits, stumbled across your pet peeves, and found a new sister. We might be friends for a summer, or we might be friends for a lifetime. But, we will always be bonded together in some way by this shared experience.

I hear parents saying that their daughter won’t be returning to camp because of other activities: basketball camp, band camp, sports teams, but I just can’t keep my mind from wondering if those places will be as enriching as the place I grew up in. The truth is that I know that they won’t be- they just can’t. Girls need to be free to run wild, to explore, to smell the rain as it pours onto the beautiful evergreen trees that surround the property, to jump into a freezing cold pond first thing in the morning- just because they can.

And that’s the thing I learned at Sky High that probably changed my whole life- I can.

*** The Girl Scout summer camp schedule is now live on the Girl Scouts of Colorado website girlscoutsofcolorado.orgRegister online starting Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. Register early. Some sessions fill in just a few hours.

Girl Scout alum competes for Miss. Colorado

From Girl Scout alumna Katie Conn, Miss Centennial, from Colorado Springs and a current student at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs


I am proud to be a Girl Scout alum! I was a Girl Scout until I graduated from high school and earned my Bronze Award as well as traveled to Italy in 2009 with my troop, among other exciting activities. And on June 27-29, 2013, I competed in the Miss. Colorado Pageant. After 12 years of active Girl Scouting, I could see a lot of parallels between the two organizations. I think Girl Scouts helped prepare me for the pageant, because Girl Scouts is more than just selling cookies and Miss. Colorado is more than just looking pretty. I thought a good way to show what I learned in Girl Scouts and how it helped me prepare for Miss. Colorado was to talk about my Miss. Colorado experience as it relates to the Girl Scout Law:

Honest and fair: In competing for Miss. Colorado, the interview is a significant portion of your score. It is also the best way to let the judges get to know you as a person, to learn who you are and your personality. Being yourself is the best way to do that. The judges don’t want cookie-cutter answers, and “world peace” isn’t the go-to response. Honesty and personality will shine through into everything you say, and that’s the only way for the judges to fairly judge you in interview.

Friendly and helpful: Miss. Congeniality is probably a more rewarding title than Miss. Colorado. Miss. Congeniality is the contestant voted friendliest and most helpful out of all the girls there. It’s easy to see when someone is simply being nice just to win Miss. Congeniality versus when someone is truly the sweetest person in Colorado and is completely deserving of the title.

Considerate and caring: Part of the Miss. America entrance requirement is to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The Children’s Miracle Network is a system of hospitals all around the country that does so much good for young people all around us. We visited the Children’s Hospital in Denver before our competition, and it brought such joy to everyone we visited to have these beautiful and kind women being so cheerful and sweet despite their medical problems.

Courageous and strong: It takes a lot of self-respect to get up on a stage in front of so many people, especially in the swimsuit portion of the competition, where you’re onstage in little more than your underwear. All the contestants prepared for the swimsuit competition by working out and eating healthy, things we should all be doing anyway. And just look at how wonderful they looked onstage! But the most important part of the swimsuit competition is your confidence. The prettiest part of a girl is her smile!

Responsible for what I say and do: As a Miss. Colorado contestant, you have a title (mine is Miss. Centennial). When you make appearances, such as our trip to Coors Field to be introduced at a Rockies game and to sign autographs, no one looks at you as a person, they look at you as sort of a celebrity. It’s a fantastic feeling, but everything you say and do is scrutinized carefully. You can’t speak meanly about anyone (even the other team) or run around like a banshee. You must be calm and eloquent and sweet, even if you make a mistake and spill ketchup on your shirt.

And to respect myself and others: Every girl competing at the pageant dreams of being Miss. Colorado. Every girl there deserves to be Miss. Colorado. You can’t put anyone down or judge them; that’s not your job. Your job is to A) be the best “you” you can be, and B) help others be the best “them” that they are. Compliments mean a lot to everyone, and at a pageant like this with so many beautiful, talented and sweet women, everyone feels a little insecure. The best outcome of the Miss. Colorado pageant isn’t winning the title of Miss. Colorado, but feeling like you’ve grown as a person.

Respect authority: Everything at the pageant is scheduled, choreographed and practiced to a “T.” The fantastic crew of people who work so hard to put this pageant on deserve so much respect. They not only handle the Miss. Colorado pageant itself, but all the local pageants leading up to the state pageant, all the paperwork for them, getting (and keeping) sponsors, signing up a panel of judges and making the information books for them, answering questions for the contestants, and making sure that everyone is on track. It is a job and a half, and on behalf of all the Miss. Colorado contestants, I’d like to thank them for all their hard work.

Use resources wisely: Competing in the Miss. Colorado competition does cost money! As it’s a scholarship organization, the entry fees aren’t what costs money, but the outfits do. Each contestant needs a swimsuit, an evening gown, an interview outfit, a talent outfit, an opening number outfit, an on-stage question outfit, shoes and accessories for each outfit, and a zillion other things. If you spend all your money on the evening gown, it will be beautiful, but the rest of your categories won’t look as nice. It’s a better idea to spread your money out. Buy what you absolutely need to, and any extra money can go to buying the dress that maybe isn’t your dream dress, but looks beautiful and fits your budget.

Make the world a better place: Each contestant is required to have a platform. A platform is some issue you feel strongly about or an organization you really support. Organizations are usually non-profits, not businesses. My platform was gathering money and support to build a place for homeless people to sleep at night to get them off the street, which is both a dangerous and unhealthy place to live. All the community service projects you do as a Girl Scout can directly relate to a platform, and if you find that your Bronze, Silver and/or Gold Awards are all related to the same thing, you have a platform already.

And be a sister to every Girl Scout: Competing in the Miss. Colorado pageant was a wonderful experience for me. I didn’t win, but I made so many friends there, and I’ll be proud to watch one of them take the stage at the Miss. America pageant soon. Although I was competing against them, these girls were a fantastic support network for me during the entire pageant. They made the first year I competed so much fun, and I will definitely be returning next year for a “Round Two!”

Posted by Amanda Kalina, PR Director, Girl Scouts of Colorado

Alumna Blog: Girl Scouts teaches lifelong lessons on education, career and community

By Girl Scout Alumna Sherri Vasquez of Denver (Girl Scout Woman of Distinction 2007)

Girl Scouts has just finished celebrating its 100th anniversary year, a testament to its enduring tradition of teaching young girls good old-fashioned values that never go out of style.

The heart of the Girl Scout philosophy centers on respect for self, others and the environment, core beliefs that will move this valuable organization forward during the next 100 years.

Encouraging girls to do their best is especially relevant today because so many are facing overcrowded classrooms at school, depleted finances at home and over-exposed celebrities promoting instant fame and fortune over honesty and fairness.

Time-tested for a century, Girls Scouts is a wonderful way for girls to learn valuable skills and lessons that will help them grow into responsible adults with ethics, moral and standards.

When I became a Girl Scout 42 years ago, little did I know how much the experience would affect my adult life, especially my education, career and community involvement.

Becoming a Girl Scout was my first experience in goal-setting. Although I was only five years old, I vowed to achieve my dream, waiting impatiently to reach the second grade so I could join Girl Scout Brownies.

My father wore an Army uniform and my brother a Boy Scout uniform, so I wanted the honor and privilege of wearing one too. The independence of becoming part of something outside of school and family was a new and exciting concept for me.

The anticipation of joining an organization “just for girls” was just too much for a first grader to bear, so I joined the Camp Fire Girls to help me “practice” to be a Girl Scout Brownie.

When I finally put on my Brownie uniform, I was so proud of it and what it stood for that I wore it everywhere, including my second-grade class picture.

Little girls have lots of energy, and Girl Scouts was an incredibly positive outlet for an active kid like me. I loved it because I had the opportunity to meet new friends, create arts and crafts, take field trips to local businesses and enjoy outdoor adventures. My mother, by then a working single parent, loved Girl Scouts because it gave me a safe, caring place to go after school.

During my five years as a Girl Scout, I learned important lessons about being responsible for myself and respectful of others. Together, my troop learned to care about the environment.

Girl Scouts also provided a valuable place to learn about group dynamics, especially how to interact with peers and authority figures. That sense of sisterhood later motivated me to join the girls’ gymnastics team, cheerleading squad and eventually a college sorority.

Earning badges at a young age evolved into achieving higher goals as I grew up, such as graduating from high school, applying to college, and participating in a study-abroad program in Spain. Finding the courage to leave home and travel to a faraway country seemed easier because Girl Scouting had instilled a sense of independence and stirred my intellectual curiosity.

Not only did it teach my young mind how to travel in new directions and find creative ways to reach those destinations, it gave me the confidence to explore my passion for fascinating places and topics, plan strategies to learn more about them, and persist in those efforts.

These early lessons came into play once again when finishing a bachelor’s degree, starting a career in journalism, and completing a master’s degree.

Even selling Girl Scout Cookies was a useful tutorial, teaching business basics and helping develop a taste for community spirit and entrepreneurism that continues in adulthood.

Although it has been decades since I first donned a Girl Scout uniform, I still try to live by the Girl Scout Law of helping people at all times, whether it be as a journalist shining light on inequities or as a community activist involved in worthwhile causes like education and youth development.

Since Girls Scouts provided such a strong foundation in my early years, I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude for its amazing influence on my life, education and career. Because it offers hope to generations of girls to come, I wish it continued success and growing ranks in the 21st century and beyond.

Sherri Vasquez is the host and producer of Latin View.

Colorado Gold Award recipient named Girl Scout Great

Girl Scouts of the USA recently named 2010 Colorado Gold Award recipient Erica Vlahinos from Castle Rock a Girl Scout Great. Girl Scout Great recipients are featured in a national 100th anniversary public service announcement campaign for Girl Scouts of the USA. (View the ad here: Erica_20120815)

Currently Erica is a Junior studying Musical Theatre at the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music. Any time she hasn’t been in school, she’s been working professionally as an actress. After she graduates from college in two years she plans to move to New York, which is really excited about!

According to Erica, “Girl Scouts, and receiving my Gold Award, showed me the possibilities that come with sheer determination. There are so few immovable limitations on what a woman can achieve if she is willing to work for it. Whatever your goal, mine clearly being to be a successful stage actress, you CAN and WILL achieve it. My journey in Girl Scouts and my Gold Award all seemed daunting and impossible at one point. But if you decide that you are going to do something, achieve something, and that you are going to fight until you do, it will happen. This lesson has served me well. And I’m sure it will continue to expand my future. (And hopefully the futures of those whose lives I cross.) The more I’m growing and meeting so many new people I’m realizing we’ve all figured out things that feel like the big secret or missing link to happiness or success. The more we share our ‘secrets’ selflessly, the more we can all move together towards a bright future.”

Having struggled with Dyslexia herself, for her Gold Award, Erica created a Dyslexic Learning Tools Library in her community. She provided the Phillip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock 36 audio and visual books, all recorded by people passionate about or affected by learning disabilities themselves. Her number one message to those using the resources was “You may have Dyslexia but Dyslexia does not have you.”

Girl Scout alum shares her memories

Estes Park Girl Scout alumna Penny Roberts recently submitted a great story to the Estes Park News reflecting on her Girl Scout memories as she celebrates our 100th anniversary year. Read the article here, and thank you Penny for sharing with your community what Girl Scouting means to you!

Have Girl Scout memories to share? Share them with us on our website. We look forward to hearing from you!  

Girl Scouts of Colorado Sings simultaneously as Girl Scouts Rock the Mall

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On Saturday, June 9th, Girl Scouts of Colorado joined the nation to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting.

Dozens of Colorado Girl Scouts traveled to Washington, D.C. to join 250,000 from around the world at Girl Scouts Rock the Mall. (Read about their journeys on the Girl Scouts of Colorado blog.)

And, at the same time, more than 300 Girl Scouts and their family and friends, as well as Girl Scout supporters and alumnae, joined the festivities from Colorado’s State Capitol at Colorado Sings. (Photos can be viewed above.)

The Colorado Sings event honored the state’s 100+ Girl Scout Distinguished Alumnae, as well as Colorado’s Oldest Living Alumnae. Edna Hollis and Vera Carucci, who are both 100 years old and live in the Denver area, were recognized as the oldest living alumnae. Our alumnae honorees also received the following media coverage:

We live blogged from both events thanks to the wonderful efforts of volunteers and staff.

And below is a video highlighting the sights and sounds of our memorable Colorado Sings event, including interviews with our oldest living alumnae.

If you were part of these festivities, we’d love to hear from you too. Share your story, photos and/or video with us.

It was fun to be part of this historic day for Girl Scouts!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6Lnq7FHZgg?rel=0]

Pueblo community honors Girl Scout volunteer

Pueblo’s City-County Library District recently honored one of Girl Scouts’ outstanding volunteers, Amy Bissell. Amy was one of 24 Pueblo women honored with a 2012 Outstanding Woman Award.

Amy Bissell has been a Girl Scout for 41 years! One of her major accomplishments in Girl Scouts was being a Troop Leader for 30 years. She’s also served as a day camp director, trainer and president of Girl Scouts’ Board of Directors. Additionally Amy is an advisor for Girl Scout travel opportunities, most recently helping plan events to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouts, Savannah, Ga., this summer. Amy helped organize events for Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary in 2012 too and currently serves on Girl Scouts of Colorado’s history committee.

Outside of Girl Scouts, Amy is involved in her church and was a member of the United Way Board of Directors and Colorado’s PTA. She also was a teacher in boarding school in Canada for three years.

For more information on this honor, view the Pueblo Chieftain article.

Do you have a Girl Scout story to share? Share it with us today on our website.