Girl Scout achieves big goals.

Girl Scouts set big goals that span from cookie business success to taking on new adventures. As a Super Seller in product programs at Girl Scouts, Magen Walzak of Clarion County is happy to have achieved her goals in both the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the fall MagNut Program. But Magen was more than just happy as she talked about her other Girl Scout accomplishments—she was Girl Scout proud.

Magen says that the best thing she has done as a Girl Scout was earning her Girl Scout Silver Award alongside members of her troop, Troop 26803. The group worked together to complete improvements at the local baseball and softball fields for their peers and community. She’s already looking forward to including this project on her college applications and planning to earn her Gold Award, as well.

One of Magen’s biggest self-proclaimed moments of growth, however, was when her goal of ziplining collided with her fear of heights. She was with her Girl Scout sisters and felt supported, but it was her own strength that pushed her beyond the platform.

“I was a little scared, but I’ve always wanted to do it,” said Magen. “I just made wanting to zipline bigger than the fear of doing it.”

Top 5 Tips To Have Fun While Selling Cookies

As Girl Scouts throughout western Pennsylvania begin planning their 2022 Girl Scout Cookie Program, we want to share advice from a Girl Scout sister.

Last year was Camryn’s first year in Girl Scouts and her first cookie season. She had lots of fun as she worked her way to achieving Super Seller status. When we checked in with her about her accomplishment, she shared these Top 5 Tips To Have Fun While Selling Cookies.

1. Set a goal and know what your troop will do with the money earned from sales. Customers really liked to hear what the money earned would go towards and how close I was to reaching my personal goal.

2. Be polite, speak loud and clear, make eye contact, and most importantly SMILE.

3. Having a clipboard helped me stay organized and also made it nice for my customers to have a place to write on.

4. Remember the donation option for anyone who may not want any for themselves, and if they say no, leave them with a link to your personal selling page in case they change their mind.

5. Write thank you cards to show how much you appreciate each person. Writing a handful of cards each night leading up to delivery day did the trick.

What tips do you have for girls who may be Climbing with Courage to reach big goals this cookie season?

Adding education to benefit the community

Morgan Allen, a Girl Scout from Johnstown, enhanced the educational experience at a local, public park as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award. She designed, built, and installed 12 tree identification markers. The markers included facts about the specific species of tree and photos of the tree, its leaves, seeds, flowers, nuts, and bark.

“I learned that I am way more confident than I thought I was.”

Morgan Allen, Silver Award Girl Scout

The park is often used by school groups and families, and Morgan had determined that a formal educational component could be beneficial to all who visit the park. As a celebration of the completed markers, Morgan rounded out her project by leading a summer tree identification hike for community members.

Girl Scout keeps her troop connected

Girl Scout Samantha Potts of Westmoreland County took initiative to keep her troop involved in Girl Scout fun. Inspired by a Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania live patch program, Samantha stepped up to lead her troop in her very own patch program creation.

“I was excited to share the opportunity with my troop,” Samantha said. “I thought they would like it, and I thought it would help us stay connected.”

Samantha recorded video tutorials on creating SWAPS (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) to share with her multi-level troop. She didn’t stop there—she created a complete how-to guide to help her troop earn the patch and assembled 25 material kits for her Girl Scout sisters.

“I was incredibly proud of her,” said Billie Jo Jendrey, Samantha’s mom. “She has come a long way as a shy child. For her to come out of her shell, want to take the lead, and offer to contribute…it was very special.”

Her Girl Scout sisters loved the activity, and Samantha is looking forward to continuing to help her troop leaders with more activities and beginning her Silver Award as a Girl Scout Cadette.

Alum stands in confidence thanks to her Girl Scout experience

Regina Munsch, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania alum and a Gold Award Girl Scout, consistently finds herself standing confidently in traditionally male-dominated areas. From playing the trumpet in middle school to earning her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering to currently pursuing a career as a dentist, she says that it’s Girl Scouts that helped her be in those places, support other women, and feel confident in her own abilities.

Regina earned her Gold Award by creating a book titled Growing Up Catholic in Pittsburgh. Regina wanted to take the lessons and ideas learned in church and help young children apply them to their lives in Pittsburgh. Regina’s book, which was published in 2019, connects lessons of Catholicism with the city of Pittsburgh, connecting the Holy Trinity with the three rivers, for example, to help children see their faith throughout the rest of their lives.

Just as Regina took ideas from her religion and connected them to the world around her, Regina sees how her experience in the Girl Scout Movement continues to have a profound impact on her life. As a young woman, she embraces her fellow Girl Scout alum sisters knowing they will be true friends with their common belief to support other women.

“The Movement has always been
about lifting up your sisters, and
that’s an ultimate lesson that I
have carried with me.”

“You meet someone, and you just know ‘Okay, she empowers women, she knows what it’s like, and she has those values,’” Regina said. “In a time when women’s rights are continuing to expand and it can be difficult for women to lift each other up, that has always been the emphasis of Girl Scouts.”

Regina is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, and as a Bronze and Silver, and Gold Award Girl Scout, she offers advice to the younger girls who are on their journey to earn their highest awards in Girl Scouting: “The fact that you are thinking of going on this path already means that you are capable of it.”

Savannah Ross, 2021 Silver Award Girl Scout of Distinction

For her Silver Award, Savannah Ross, a junior at Brockway Jr/Sr High School, was inspired by her passion for making and giving homemade cards and the desire to create connections across generations.

Through a coordinated effort, students attending local elementary schools provide special occasion, handmade greeting cards to the residents living at senior care facilities in Savannah’s community. She hopes that the program continues to grow and bring joy to those creating the cards and those receiving them.

Savannah has been involved with Girl Scouts since kindergarten. Each year, her troop has completed a service project, including cleaning up rails to trails, packing food boxes at the Helping Hands Food Pantry, serving meals at the American Legion spaghetti dinners, and volunteering at local nursing homes.

She was also the recipient of the Presidents Volunteer Service Award in 2016 in recognition and appreciation of her commitment to strengthen our nation through volunteer service. She assisted the Parkside Community Center with collecting and clipping coupons for the Troops. They were able to collect over $1 million worth of “troopons” to help support the military and their families.

Outside of Girl Scouts, Savannah also enjoys volunteering at Camp Friendship sponsored by the Jefferson Country ARC. Camp Friendship is a summer camp for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities in addition to learning disabilities. As a counselor she is responsible to motivate and encourage campers to complete activities, and she assists them throughout the day.

In addition to volunteering, Savannah also participates in her high school’s volleyball, competitive cheer, softball, and track and field sports seasons. She is also a manager and statistician for the wrestling team.

Savannah was recently inducted into the National Honor Society and selected by her peers to serve on student council. She is a member of FCCLA and Chemistry Club. She is entering her junior year of high school, taking AP courses, college credits through Butler County Community College, and enrolled in the Dale Carnegie Course. She has also began working on her Gold Award.

Savannah is honored to receive the first-ever Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania’s Silver Award Girl Scout of Distinction. She proudly accepts the honor and will continue to promote Girl Scouts and the positive effects it has on young women in our local community and throughout the whole country.

Join us virtually on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 11:30 a.m. as we celebrate Savannah and our other honorees at our 2021 Community Awards of Distinction.

Silver Award creates paws-ative change

Troop 52466 focused their Silver Award on helping the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and its animals after learning there were financial struggles due to the pandemic.

The troop discussed ideas with an education specialist at the zoo and researched different zoo animal enrichment toys. The girls designed and built six types of zoo animal enrichment toys including:

  • multiple puzzle feeders for the kinkajou, lemurs, porcupines, macaw, river otter, and sea lion
  • a fire hose raft for the river otter
  • a mobile for the penguins
  • a cheeta-pult (catapult for cheetahs)

The Girl Scouts then educated zoo patrons on the work they had was done its importance for the animals. Check out this awesome video of the cheeta-pult in action!

If you have been working on your Silver Award, don’t forget the deadline to have your final paperwork submitted is September 30. Send your documents to customercare@gswpa.org. The earlier you send in your paperwork, the faster the review time! We can’t wait to see the amazing things you’ve done, so remember to include all the awesome details!

Reminder: Girl Scout Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is Sunday, Sept. 19. There will be no walk-ins this year, and registration ends soon!
>> Details and registration

Girl Scout Service Day Ideas

There are so many ways to get your Girl Scouts involved in making the world a better place, and community service is an awesome way for girls to take on issues in their own neighborhoods and communities. Not only will it help set up interest for this year’s Take Action projects, but community service projects strengthen the bonds between girls and bring them closer together.

When you participate in Girl Scout Service Day on Saturday, September 25, you’ll be able to make an impact in a big way as we come together as a council to benefit our communities all across western Pennsylvania.

Tips for Girl Scout Service Day projects

From a small project to maybe something bigger, start by reading through some of our best tips for a successful project.

  • Start by talking to your Girl Scouts about volunteering in the community. Be ready to take notes! They will most likely be overflowing with ideas on how to help others.
  • Once you have an idea, reach out to organizations for their specific needs to make sure your work will be as helpful as possible.
  • About 2-4 weeks before Girl Scout Service Day, gather or purchase any supplies and be sure to receive permission when planning projects in public or private places.
  • Bring an expert to a troop meeting for the girls to interview, take them to potential sites for observation, or help them with internet research. 
  • Always refer to the Safety Activity Checkpoints for best practices and safe work.
  • Staying true to the girl-led aspect of Girl Scout programming, their Girl Scout Service Day project should involve more than having girls show up and take direction from adults. Cultivate their leadership through active participation in all aspects from planning to execution!
Never underestimate the power of a Girl Scout! 

Girl Scouts of all ages can participate and make a difference. Whether you have troop money to put towards a project or if you are looking for a project with zero to low cost, here are just a few ideas to get you started!

Daisies and Brownies:

  • Make blankets or toys for a local animal shelter.
  • Decorate bags or placemats for a meal delivery service.
  • Learn to make shelters for bees, birds, or other animals and place them appropriately.
  • Plant a butterfly garden at your school or park.

Juniors and Cadettes:

  • Clean trails at a nature center by clearing brush and trash.
  • Volunteer for a community program at a library, youth organization, etc.
  • Repaint worn benches in a community park.
  • Make bird feeders for a senior living center, a local park, or other community area.

Seniors and Ambassadors:

  • Make and serve meals at a local shelter.
  • Pair up with younger Girl Scouts to teach a skill or help with a project.
  • Work with your local municipality to plant trees and flowers at a park, library, or school.
  • Paint over graffiti in public places with permission from businesses or local municipalities.

Ideas for all ages:

  • Assemble hygiene kits for a woman’s shelter.
  • Organize a game night, ice cream social, or just a visit at a local senior living center.
  • Collect art supplies for your school or local children’s hospital.
  • Offer to decorate a storefront, library, or municipal building for the coming fall season.

Remember to invite local media to cover your Girl Scout Service Day activity. Your Girl Scouts are doing amazing work, and their community will be excited to celebrate with them! For help contacting media, reach out to Stef Marshall at smarshall@gswpa.org.

Participating

Pledge your participation for 2021 Girl Scout Service Day!

There is always s’more than one way

In celebration of National S’more Day, we’re honoring the history of the snack and inviting Girl Scouts to put their own twist on the tradition. The only way to properly celebrate this day is with a delicious s’more snack. Let us know what kind of treat you come up with.

A piece of Girl Scout history:

The first-ever recipe for the classic fireside treat can be traced back to a publication from 1927 titled “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.” Filled with tips for Girl Scouts to enjoy a nature hike, the book quietly holds the recipe for “Some More” in its 118 pages—just below how to perfectly roast an apple.


Twisting tradition

Girl Scouts always honor tradition, but they are innovators too. While the historical, gooey s’more is delicious, we asked our Girl Scouts what they have tried to add a new twist to the old s’more. Here are a few of their suggestions for substitutes of the three, time-tested ingredients. Mix and match to create the next world-famous dessert!

For graham crackers
  • Fudge-striped cookies
  • Cinnamon graham crackers
  • Chocolate graham crackers
  • Nilla Wafers
  • Pancakes
  • Sugar cookies
  • Mini-Eggo waffles
  • Rice Krispies treats
  • Flour tortillas dipped in melted butter and coated in graham cracker crumbs
For chocolate
  • An Andes mint (or two!)
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chocolate syrup
  • A Thin Mint or two
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
  • Peanut butter
For marshmallow
  • Banana slices
  • Strawberry slices
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Pineapple
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Any flavor jam/jelly

Gold Award Girl Scouts receive honorable mentions from GSWPA

GSWPA’s annual Awards of Distinction in May celebrated remarkable women in leadership in Pittsburgh, as well as the accomplishments of incredible Gold Award Girl Scouts. The following Gold Award Girl Scouts were recognized with honorable mentions for Girl Scout Humanitarian and Girl Scout of Distinction.

Gold Award Girl Scout Taylor Rechenmacher, a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School, accepts the award for the 2021 Honorable Mention, Girl Scout Humanitarian for her project: NICU Nonprofit Awareness.

Taylor addressed the stress that parents and families endure when a baby is staying in the neonatal intensive care unit by partnering with an organization called Project Sweet Peas. Taylor created videos for Sweet Peas to help promote their work and coordinated a donation drive of toiletry items. Taylor also led 37 volunteers to make more than 300 Halloween costumes to allow these families to celebrate their baby’s first Halloween.


Gold Award Girl Scout Ava Farrell, a senior at North Catholic High School, accepts the award for the 2021 Honorable Mention, Girl Scout of Distinction for her project: Adaptive Catholic Mass Resources for Children with Autism and Learning Disabilities.

To support the spiritual welfare of all members of her faith, Ava created two books to simplify the Catholic Mass for children and teenagers with autism and other learning disabilities. The books direct the worshiper through the Mass, providing explanation of the rich traditions and prayers.


Gold Award Girl Scout Katrina Schwab, a senior at Pine-Richland High School, accepts the award for the 2021 Honorable Mention, Girl Scout of Distinction for her project: Nest Box for Wood Ducks.

When Katrina realized the decline of the wood duck population in her area, she wanted to provide her community with education and resources to help. She made seven wood duck nesting boxes for Latodami Nature Center, installed them with her team of volunteers, and educated community members through workshops that taught others how to make the boxes. Additionally, she made and posted step-by-step instructional videos on constructing the boxes.