Tag Archives: volunteer spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight: Katie Krska

Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Katie Krska in the Pikes Peak region was recently recognized for her outstanding work as a GSCO volunteer. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.

GSCO asked Katie to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I grew up in San Diego where I was a Girl Scout for six years. My time in Girl Scouts as a child was both memorable and rewarding. One of the biggest reasons that I am a Girl Scout leader is that the adventurous and fun-loving Girl Scout in me is not ready to hang her vest up just yet. The opportunities for my current Girl Scouts are endless! I am forever seeking to find them the next exciting event that will excite them or teach them a great life lesson or skill. I am having just as much fun as they are! My favorite memory so far is canoeing at Camp Jackson last summer with my troop. Seeing the joy and excitement on the girls’ faces will forever remain in my heart. 

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

I have been Girl Scout Troop 41983’s troop manager for the past eight years. I am our troop’s “super organizer” and wear many different hats. I plan the majority of our troop events and activities; I function as our treasurer; I am responsible for ordering all badges and patches for our troop; I keep our calendar and troop website up to date; I am our troop’s first aider (nurse); and I am our troop’s historian. 

This year, I became Service Unit 412’s co-manager with one of my leaders, Tracey Ruzicka. I have been responsible for planning our annual service unit camp that we will attend this August. It should be a blast!

I also lead my Girl Scouts in their Catholic Committee on Scouting badge work. I will be leading kindergarten Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts at the annual retreat that will be held in October 2017. I also will be leading our Cadettes this year as their mentor in earning their Marian Medals.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?

As a Girl Scout Leader, I have learned how important it is to empower young girls to be the best version of themselves. Every girl has a different personality and has different interests. It is fun to watch them come together with all of their wonderful differences to make a positive impact in each other’s lives and in the community. Each of them has something to say and something to bring to the table. It is our duty as leaders to make sure that all of their voices are heard, and everyone has a chance to shine in their own way. 

What do you hope girls have learned from you?

In my career as a Girl Scout leader, my hope is to instill in my Girl Scouts that the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law are not just for Girl Scout meetings or events, but they are guidelines on how to live their lives.  

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Niles

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Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Nicole Niles in the Pikes Peak region was recently recognized for her outstanding work as a GSCO volunteer. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.

GSCO asked Nicole to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

My daughter of course! I didn’t get to go far on my Girl Scout journey due to an out-of-state move and family issues when I was young. When I became a mom to my beautiful girl, I knew I wanted to get her involved when she was old enough. 10 years later here I still am volunteering.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

The many roles I play just like the most of us 🙂 I am a troop leader and fall and cookie sale manager. I serve on our service unit’s board as secretary and I am a GPS advisor. GPS is “girl planning system, ” a group of girls who help plan various events around the Pikes Peak region. I help on the cookie committee and most importantly, I am the mother of a Girl Scout, so helping her on her journey to achieve her goals is my biggest role.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?

What have I learned ? Well, I have learned a lot. Peer pressure is a big issue these girls face, along with the image factor. I have seen a lot of girls quit Girl Scouts because friends did not think it was cool and these girls wanted to protect their image and not be associated with the group. I have also learned that aside from the girls who give up, there are also those that stand taller because of being a Girl Scout and they are not bothered with the image and they want to go farther in their journey and help fellow girls around them succeed and reach their goals.

What do you hope girls have learned from you?

If the girls I encounter during Girl Scouts can take anything away from me, I hope that they take away the hard work and perseverance of their journey. I see and encounter such a strong group of girls, who aside from sports, school, work, social life, and family,  give just as much effort to Girl Scouts and I hope that they know how proud I am of their hard work and determination and know they will go far in life and can achieve anything they set their mind too!

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

I have so many over the last years, but the one that touched me the most was during the cookie sale two years ago. My entire troop sold for each other. I know all leaders divide cookies differently and we all have our own way. The way my troop divides puts it as what you sell is what you earn to include booths. Two years ago not a single girl in my troop just sold for herself. One sold for so and so trying to get the Build-A-Bear experience.  One sold for a girl to go to a Top Seller event and on and on the cycle went. I spent cookie: season in tears, amazed at the lessons my troop/girls have learned: Be a sister to every Girl Scout, friendly, and helpful. That has to be my most memorable memory that touched me in my Girl Scout journey.

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

Reach out for help. Take advantage of the trainings offered both online and in office. Seek out help from your service unit. Don’t be afraid to ask even if you are asking a girl 🙂 There are several girls who actually seek out to help and mentor new troops. Girl Scouts is thousands strong. Use your resources and use them wisely!

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tara Szabo Maxson

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Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Tara Szabo Maxson of Troop 65477 in the Denver Metro region was recently recognized for her outstanding work as a GSCO volunteer. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.

GSCO asked Tara to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I was a Daisy and a Brownie as a child.  I have been a volunteer since 2015.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I wanted to get to know other families in our school community.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

I lead a second grade Brownie troop and am starting a kindergarten Daisy troop in the fall.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? 

I have learned that every girl is truly different and special.  It is amazing to see that even the little ones are already quite diverse in their strengths and talents.  It can be hard with a large troop, but I try to capitalize on this as much as possible.

I have also learned that your team of parents is invaluable.  I have three awesome co-leaders and an amazing cookie mom who make my life easier for sure!  We are surrounded by a fantastic group of parents.  We have had a waiting list to join our troop for the past two years and I attribute that to having a great group of parents who work hard to provide a positive experience for our kids and who also network on our behalf in the neighborhood and at school.

What do you hope girls have learned from you?

I hope that girls live by (not just memorize) the Girl Scout Promise and Law.  We have focused a lot on learning how to take care of the earth and all of its inhabitants and also the importance of taking care of one another by being a sister to every Girl Scout.  I hope my girls do this outside of Girl Scouts throughout their whole lives.

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

As a child, I grew up in Aurora, so I camped at both Tomahawk Ranch and Sky High Ranch.  I recall the summer between second and third grade, walking back in the dark to our bunks after our evening campfire, holding hands with my life-long best friend and feeling a little scared of the dark woods, but safe with my camp buddy and my troop.  It was a special feeling of bravery and independence, but achieved in a safe setting, which is what I think Girl Scouts strives to provide all girls.

As an adult, it has been special to me to share Girl Scout activities with my daughter.  I cried a little when she was inducted into Girl Scouts during a ceremony led by a neighboring middle school troop.  I also recall fondly holding my own daughter’s hand while we hiked the trails behind the Morrison Nature Center at Star K Ranch for our troop’s second year Daisy Earth and Sky Journey.  Also, our troop brainstormed ideas for our Take Action plan this past spring and then voted on each other’s ideas.  My daughter suggested we take care packages to Children’s Hospital and her idea had the winning vote.  I was so proud of her thought process, as she really considered how we could use our cookie funds to “make the world a better place.”  I am proud of all that my older daughter has accomplished in Girl Scouts and I look forward to seeing what both of my kids do in in the future.

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

  1. Seek help if you need it.  The staff at council doesn’t always know what you need, so you must ask!  They will help you if they know the answer or find the answer if they don’t.  Also, attend your Service Unit meetings at least periodically to network. Leaders of older girl troops have already walked in your shoes and can give you the best practical advice.  You can also go to them if you have issues with girls or parents to ask how they handled similar things in their troop in the past.
  1. Plan your calendar out in advance for the school year.  I plan our troop’s events around our school’s master calendar when it comes out each May and then we can hit the ground running in September.  Even if you don’t know exactly what you might do on a given day, at least get it on the calendar for your families to plan ahead.  This will help with attendance and parent participation.
  1. Don’t be afraid to do things your own way.  Girl Scouts provides enough leeway that you can build your own curriculum and let your girls lead the way to do what they want to do. 
  1. Build your village.  Keep asking parents if they will sign up as support volunteers and encourage them to renew each year.  Get to know the people who manage the buildings where you host your meetings (and give them a few HTH packages each year for thanks for all they do for you!).  Recruit at your school’s “Back to School” night. Most importantly, find awesome partner leaders and cookie managers!  The more adult support you have, the better your experience will be and the richer the experience will be for the girls in your troop!

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Audrey Jessen

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Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Audrey Jessen  of Troop 571 at Grant Ranch School has served as a troop leader for six years.  For the last two years, she has been involved with Girl Scout Cookies for the entire Grizzly Gulch area, training troop leaders and cookie managers on what to do.  Audrey was nominated anonymously as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community. Her nominator wrote, “Everything Audrey does she does for kids. She is a substitute teacher, treasurer of the PTO, our leader, a mom, and who knows what else. I don’t know where she finds the time for it all but she does and she puts her all into everything!”

GSCO asked Audrey to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I have been a Girl Scout for six years, plus three years when I was younger.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I became a Girl Scout volunteer six years ago so I could start a troop for my daughter.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

I started as a troop leader and cookie mom.  After my first year, I became a SUCM, which I have done for five years now.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?

I have learned to have patience and to roll with things because sometimes no matter how well planned something is, if the girls don’t want to do it, they won’t.

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

My favorite memory as a Girl Scout was going to the pumpkin patch after days of rain and tromping around in the mud, I can still feel how heavy my boots were when they were caked in it.

My favorite thing as a leader is being able to watch the girls interact and have fun…there is nothing better than a group of kids laughing.

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

Talk to other volunteers and most importantly find what works best for you, even if no one else does it that way. 

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Amanda Pope

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Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Amanda Pope in the Johnstown/Milliken area has been a Service Unit Manager for about two years now and has excelled at providing her service unit with updates and being fully informed. She reaches out when needed to provide her volunteers with correct information and does a great job in her role as SUM. She is also a team player and always tries to help out with recruitment.

Amanda was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community. She recently shared the following letter about why she is a GSCO volunteer.

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I have been a Girl Scout for two years.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I wanted to be more involved in the Girl Scout activities my daughter was participating in.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

My primary role is as the Service Unit Manager for the Johnstown/Milliken area.  I also help out as a parent volunteer with my daughters troop when needed.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?

As a Girl Scout volunteer, I’ve learned to step up and speak up for myself and my daughter and our opinions count just as much as anybody else’s.  As a volunteer, we are here to help the girls become the best they can be as they grow and mature.  I hope the girls have learned to respect and treat each other as equals and always keep in mind that not one of is better or more important than the next girl.

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

So far, my favorite memory with Girl Scouts has been going to Sky High Ranch for Cookie Camp last summer with my daughter and her troop.  The girls had a great time and we got in lots of walking. The counselors/volunteers working at the camp were all Girl Scouts themselves which was great for the girls to see that you can be a Girl Scout at any age. There were a variety of activities for all ages.  It’s been a very long time since I have been camping in the mountains and the first time for my daughter.  I was a great experience. 

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

Listen to the girls and remember this is for them.  As a parent and volunteer, we need all need to learn to put our individual agendas aside and focus on what is best for the troop.

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Inez Winter

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In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Troop Leader Inez Winter in Pagosa Springs was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community. She recently shared the following letter about why she is a GSCO volunteer.

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I have always known that I wanted to be a Girl Scout leader. I remember being of Brownie-age and watching the kids down the street heading for their Girl Scout meeting. I don’t know why my mom didn’t let me be in Girl Scouts at that time. I told myself at a young age that if I couldn’t be a Girl Scout I would someday be a leader. I was so excited when my daughter started kindergarten and brought home the flyer to join. I went to the organizational meeting and of course, I was the first person to raise my hand to be a leader. I was able to be a leader for my oldest daughter for almost seven years and for my youngest for two years. Now, many years later, I am into my second year as a leader for my two granddaughters. We currently have 12 girls in our troop. This is the beginning of my 10th year as a Girl Scout leader. I can honestly say that being a Girl Scout leader was one of the choices that I made with my heart and a choice that I have never regretted making. I have many girls who, still to this day, tell me about how much of a difference that I have made in their lives. I am still in contact with many of “my girls.” Many of them are mothers themselves now and it always puts a smile on my face when we talk about the “old days,” going to Rancho Girl Scout Camp, camping at the Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and so many other places that we went to. We always made memories that will truly last a lifetime. If you have an extra couple of hours a week, we’d love to have you join us as an assistant leader or better yet start your own troop as a leader.

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Nawal Shahril

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In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Nawal Shahril in the Pikes Peak region was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community. Although she is only in her second year of leadership, Nawal has been described by her co-leaders as a “dynamo,” who puts a tremendous amount of love and energy into leading her girls in the troop.  She is creative, fun, and works very hard.

GSCO asked Nawal to answer a few questions about her experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we did!

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

Two years

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

It was a no-brainer when my girls expressed an interest in joining Girl Scouts. I always wanted to be one back in my hometown in Malaysia. When the opportunity of joining Girl Scouts with my kids came up, I jumped on it and embarked on this wonderful journey.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

Before we start any badges or journey, I always question myself “What can I do/offer more to these girls to create an experience that they will never forget?” Activities don’t just limit to follow certain guidelines, but to go beyond what is expected in every facet of Girl Scouting. My team and I brainstorm, plan, and execute activities that excite, build confidence, are fun, and out of the norm to challenge the girl’s thinking and expose them to various cultures and aspects of life. I act as a planner, the go-to person, a buddy, and most importantly, a sister to every Girl Scout.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?

By just looking at the badges chart, I know instantly that we are going to learn so much and have the best adventure ahead. I’ve learned to be more creative in my approach and be a better planner and at time management. I’ve learned that different individuals have different needs and you just have to have different tricks up your sleeves. I hope that my enthusiasm, fun, and positivity inspire every girl that I met to be bold, brave, and not to be afraid to dream big. Girls can achieve anything that they have set to achieve.

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

I would say every event that brought the girls together is my favorite memory so far! Camping, World Thinking Day.. you name it! I just love the giggles, cheers, laughter, and fun time the girls had together. Reminded me of myself when I was that age 🙂

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

The moment you feel like quitting or giving up because Girl Scouts’ activities took almost 60% of your free time, just stop and reevaluate. Your kids will grow up pretty fast and you might not have the chance to be with them to do all sorts of activities. As long as they are enjoying and making a difference in their lives through Girl Scouting, you know that you are not going to quit just yet. Just enjoy the process and absorb as much as you can. It’s all worth it!

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Anita Lucero

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In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Anita Lucero in the Pikes Peak region was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community!

Anita has been a troop leader for the last six years, but her commitment to our girls doesn’t stop there! She is also a Service Unit Manager, Service Unit Product Sales Manager, Cookie Cupboard Manager, Site Delivery Manager for a Colorado Springs delivery site, active member of the region’s Cookie Committee, and GPS Leader (putting on Product Sales rallies and the local mall lock-in). Under her leadership as Service Unit Manager, she has grown the service unit and for the past two years, the service unit has met its goals.

We asked Anita to answer a few questions about her experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we did!

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

This is my 16th year in Girl Scouting, 10 years as a girl with this year being my sixth as an adult.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

Seven years ago, my daughter joined Girl Scouts with my niece and I was just the drop and go parent for the first part of the year. As I continued to see coloring sheets coming home after every meeting, I decided to check it out some more. She was bored with the activities that they were doing and so the two of us decided that if we were going to stay in Girl Scouts, we were going to start our own troop. I knew that as time would go on my Girl Scout past would catch up with me and help me along the way. However, I figured out many things had changed over the years, but the core values were the same and you learn as you go.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

Well, my first and most important role is being a parent. I have to remember that the reason I became a volunteer was because of my daughters.  It is very important to give them as much time and support as I do to every other girl.  I have to remember to treat them like girls and not as assistants.  Although they will be amazing, but it’s not their time yet.  Secondly, I am a troop leader of six amazing girls: two Brownies, one Junior, one Cadette, and two Seniors. They are all very motivating in their own way and we have a ton of fun.  Next, I am Service Unit Manager and Service Unit Cookie Manager of 414 in the southeast area of Colorado Springs. I support about 25 troops all year long and mentor them in the beginning of their troop set-up until they feel comfortable to support their girls on their own. I always remember my first year and how nervous I was, so if I can take a little stress off their shoulders and teach each them a few tips and tricks to help along the way I do. The past two years I have also been on the Cookie Committee in Colorado Springs supporting troops, parents, girls, and staff in anything cookies. My husband and I have also been a cookie cupboard during the selling season, supporting troops in keeping inventory available for girls to sell.  Four years ago, I helped start a group in Colorado Springs called GPS (Girl Planning System).  They were all 6th to 12th graders already PA’s or wanted to be Program Aide trained.  Our first year we planned and carried out the annual Mall Lock-In.  This group has evolved over the years and we currently have 12 girls that have planned many programs to include Fall Rallies, Cookie Rallies, Badge Workshops, Mall Lock-In, and some of the girls are currently planning a day camp for this summer.  Lastly, I just help were needed, I do a ton of recruiting events, I teach at training’s, and support the staff in Pikes Peak Region with anything else they need.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?

I have learned that without these girls in Girl Scouting I would have a lot more free time.  Just kidding! I love to stay busy. I have learned that all of these girls are like good smelling onions. Every girl is different and sometimes we have to peel off more or less layers to find out who they really are and how to guide them through Girl Scouts. Some come because they are told to and others can’t get enough of it. Each girl has their own talents and their own weaknesses and we have to love them for the whole package. We have to be patient and caring. I have learned that as girls grow older their outlook on Girl Scouts changes and we have to respect their emotional feelings. I have also learned that some girls come to Girl Scouts because they obtain opportunities that they can’t get anywhere else. For example, it maybe something simple like how to build a bird house, or how sew a sit upon, or to camp, or travel out of state, or travel to Europe. Whatever it might be for some it could be building memories that last a life time, and I am privileged to be apart of that.

I hope that girls have learned how cool it can be to be a Girl Scout and how you don’t have to be ashamed to tell people at school that you are. I hope that girls learned that they are worth it in this world. They can be who they want to be and no one can stop them. I hope they have learned that you can be super-women without having all the super powers. You don’t have to be perfect you just have to be you, there are always people around you that have the strengths of your own weaknesses, and that what makes teams so great.  

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

Man this question is so hard!!! I have so many amazing memories from when I was a girl. But, the one that means the most to me is “Senior Trip 2000”  my best friend Sara and I were the only ones left in my troop. The year prior we completed our Silver Award and went to Disney World. But, the summer of 2000 we went on a trip of our lifetime.  We went to Europe with a group of selected Girl Scouts from what was the Wagon Wheel Council in Colorado Springs. We traveled through 7+ countries in just over 20 days. It was absolutely amazing. I saw so many beautiful things and made many new friends. I got to visit Pax Lodge and Our Chalet, two very beautiful Girl Scout World Centers. We went to Buckingham Palace, The Eiffel Tower,  a salt mine, The Louvre, and ate chicken everyday, but one amazingly enough cooked a different way every time. I learned how to pack and unpack and how to call home with a calling card. This trip gave me so many learning lessons that I would have never got sitting in a classroom. I learned on this trip and many years since that even though I may not see those same girls today I still know in my heart that they are sister Girl Scouts and we will forever have a connection.

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

The best advice I can give to every volunteer (and staff) is without the girls we won’t have an organization. Each and every thing that we do daily, weekly, or monthly is for the girls. To my fellow volunteers, we are here to support and guide.  Girl Scouting is supposed to be girl-led so let it happen. No matter how bad our OCD is for control or for their success that we want them to have we have to remember it is okay to fail let them learn from their mistakes. Working with girls and teaching them something new will help them on their path. Listening and understanding of what they want to accomplish and volunteers supporting them will better them for their future roles of Girl Scouting. I encourage everyone to take updated training’s, ask questions, and be more involved. The more networking that you do with others the more educated you become.  Attend your Service Unit meetings and check/reply to your email. Shadow other troops and invite older girls to come with your Daisies and Brownies. Put those crayons down and take your girls (EVEN DAISIES) on a hike, go to camp (Sky High is AMAZING!!!!!), and tackle a fear or two.  Girl Scouting can be anything you want it to be sometimes you just have to try-it.  

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Gardner 

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In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Heather Gardner, leader of Troop 675 in the Mountaineers Service Unit,  was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community!

For the last three years, Heather has led her high school troop to plan a girl empowerment event, Perfectly Imperfect, Perfectly You!, with a great guest speaker. Last year, it was 9News Traffic Reporter and pilot Amelia Earhart. This year, it will be celebrity mountain climber Meghan Martin. Heather is described as “articulate and passionate about giving 5th-8th grade girls the tools for self esteem, confidence building, and more as they either enter or are in the middle school years.”  

We asked Heather to answer a few questions about her experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we did!

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How long have you been a Girl Scout?

This is my 10th year being a Girl Scout leader/volunteer.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I became a Girl Scout volunteer to allow my daughter the opportunity to be in Girl Scouts. When I was 6-years-old, I tried to join Girl Scouts, but there were no troops or volunteers in my area. When my daughter was in first grade, we went to an orientation meeting and they did not have any available troops or volunteers for our area. I did not want her to miss out on Girl Scouts as I did, so I started a troop. 

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

Girl Scouts allows so many different volunteer roles and growth as a leader. Just a few of the roles I have had the privilege to fill are leader, cookie manager, troop secretary, finance advisor, volunteer coordinator, community outreach, overnight troop camping, CPR/First aid training, event planner, website designer, a second mom, friend, etc. There are so many ways to contribute as an individual, your strengths can always be utilized. 

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?

The sky’s the limit! Don’t be afraid to think big, and never be afraid to ask. I truly try to set the example that everything is possible. When I first started to suggest ideas to the troop for events and/or guest speakers, I think my girls thought I was crazy. They never thought we could get so much support from our community, celebrity role models, other troops, etc. I believe I have inspired the girls to think big and that anything is possible.  

What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?

There are so many Girl Scout memories to choose from! Three of my favorite and most memorable moments were: 1.) Our troop was planning for our next girl empowerment event, and I had just flown in from a week-long business trip the day prior and was super tired. We were brainstorming for our event’s activities and completely got off topic. Some of the silliest things were said and laughed about that night. I truly believe you have to have those moments with your girls! If you ask any of them about it, they will know exactly what I’m talking about. 2.) One of the proudest moments of being a volunteer, was at our very first troop hosted the girl empowerment event. I remember that one of the younger attendees was having some anxiety issues, and one of my older girls took her under her wing and spent time just talking to her. I can’t tell you how proud I was of that moment, and how I felt that everything I did as a volunteer completely paid off then. 3.) Our troop went to Magic Sky Ranch for our annual family camping trip. This was the first time we had been to MSR, and we were in awe when we watched a lightning storm from our cabin window. We all sat there for about an hour in complete darkness, just enjoying the spectacle and each other’s company. 

What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?

Ask for help! I am somewhat controlling, and have really had a tough time listening to my own advice. Over the last couple of years, I have asked for more help than ever – from my co-leader, parents, community, and girls. Surprisingly, people really do want to help, you just have to be specific with what you need. It can be as simple as asking to host a troop sleepover, picking up cookies and running cookie booths, helping with sewing on patches, sending out meeting reminders, going to monthly leader meetings, coming up with volunteer ideas, etc. If you try to do everything yourself, it no longer feels like a troop and you will tire fast. Ask for help and everyone feels involved and has a happier troop.

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kristin Coulter

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Submitted by Kristin Hamm

Kristin Coulter’s voice swells with pride when she talks about the 12 girls in her Girl Scout Senior troop and what they’ve accomplished.

“They really do take your hearts,” she said. “You go from seeing them as little girls when it was all like herding cats to growing into the women they’re going to be, to the leaders they are. It’s just really cool.”

From first graders to young women entering the halls of high school, Kristin along with her co-leader Laura Charlier, have had the privilege and pleasure of leading Troop 63573.  Eight of the original 12 members are still active and, while there have been some ebbs and flows in membership with a peak of 20 members during the Brownie/Junior years, the troop is now 12 girls strong again.

Along the way, they’ve earned badges, served their community, sold cookies, traveled near and far, earned their Bronze Award, challenged themselves at Reach for the Peak, and this year they earned their Silver Award and created Colorado’s first Council’s Own Badge. It’s all happened with the guidance of two very special volunteers who make a good team and feel they’re growing as much as the girls.

“When you start out, you think you’re just doing it to help out, and in the end you’re amazed at how much you grow as a leader,” Kristin said of her experience as a Girl Scout volunteer.

Keeping the troop together was a goal for Kristin in the beginning. “I remember making a goal that at least six of my original 12 Daisies would earn their Gold Award …. And we might just make it!”

The transition from Juniors to Cadettes is often a difficult time for troops. Some leaders burn out. Some girls get so busy with other activities Girl Scouts seems like too much. Kristin saw this coming and felt a common goal would help keep this group together.

“I didn’t want them to fall apart,” she said. “That’s such a big transition time that I was worried that they could get lost — from each other and from that focus they had gained to do good and be a leader.”

At that time, the troop put their focus on a big adventure and began planning for their trip to Costa Rica. It took two years to raise the money and make the trip a reality, but Kristin feels having that common goal kept them together – and it has given them so many wonderful, shared memories.

Now, they’re working toward a hiking adventure trip in Iceland.

How does a mother of two, with two Master’s Degrees, who was a Girl Scout as a girl for “maybe a year” end up leading a go-getter troop of 12 girls for eight years and counting?

“My daughter was in first grade and painfully shy, so I wanted to get her involved in something where she could connect with others by having common goals,” Kristin said. “There was a flier at school and I went to the meeting, not with the idea of leading the troop … but I talked to an experienced leader of girls in fourth or fifth grade and she told me about all the things they’d done and I thought it was very different from what my childhood troop had been like.”

“I realized you could make the troop whatever you wanted it to be,” she said. “You could get out there and be adventurous.”

That experienced troop leader showed her a scrapbook of her troop’s adventures, and Kristin was sold. She also included scrapbooking as part of the troop’s activities so the girls would remember and families in her troop would see all the amazing things the girls did over the years.

Kristin believes strongly that immersion is a great teacher and learning by doing is the Girl Scout way.

“I moved (to Italy) without speaking a word of Italian and came home with a MA,” she said. “I think that experience plus just being an idealistic Westerner, gives me the confidence that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.  I try to pass that on to the girls.”

The troop put that theory to the test last summer at Reach for the Peak, an outdoor skills competition held at Sky High Ranch. They earned a Marmot award and will spend much of their summer preparing for this fall’s competition. “It was an intense but awesome experience,” she said.

Her daughter Fiona, who has moved from a shy Daisy to a confident Program Aide at Sky High Ranch, has gotten to do many different things as a Girl Scout.

“She has grown so much,” Kristin said. “She has the confidence to try new things and I have to believe it’s in large part due to Girl Scouts.” Less than a month after earning her Silver Award, her daughter already has an idea for her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.

In addition to her co-leader, Kristin credits the supportive and involved parents of her troop for helping to keep the Park Hill-based troop going. The girls in the troop have always gone to different schools, and Kristin says their personalities are so different they probably wouldn’t gravitate together naturally, but their Girl Scout experiences have created a lasting bond.

Clearly Kristin feels that bond as well. When asked about a favorite troop leader moment, she chokes back tears as she describes the girls’ reaction to presenting at a recent Girl Scouts of Colorado Board of Directors meeting.

“Being at that board meeting was such a thrill for us,” she said. “It got the girls focused on what this has all meant. The girls were so impressed with being in a room full of professional women…

“I’m always telling them that they can do anything and how capable they are … the fact that that landed on them was really, really powerful. At their age, they’ve accomplished a lot of things – at school, at sports … but they were able to fast forward to their professional lives  … and they saw themselves at that table.”

It was a gigantic day for the girls of Troop 63573, not only did they present their Council’s Own Badge to the Board of Directors in the morning, they bridged to Seniors and were given their Silver Award pins that evening.

“We were in a circle and I said ‘Give yourself a pat on the back – look to your right and look to your left – and recognize what you’ve accomplished because nobody asked you to do it; you did it on your own.”

While Kristin would never take any credit, it’s clear these girls did it on their own, but they  wouldn’t have had this opportunity without amazing volunteers like Kristin and Laura, the parents in the troop and Girl Scouts of Colorado.