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Girl Scout Traditions: Girl Scout Week is Coming!

We’re gearing up to kick off Girl Scout week 2015 on March 8th here in Western Ohio. We know what you’re thinking…isn’t every week Girl Scout week? Well yes, but everyone loves an extra reason to celebrate. Every year girls, alumnae, and volunteers across the nation celebrate a week in March, starting with Girl Scout Sunday and ending with Girl Scout Sabbath on Saturday that always includes March 12, the day when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the first 18 girl members in 1912.

To help you plan your celebration we’ve revisiting last year’s post 10 Ways to Celebrate Girl Scout Week! Need more? Here are some more awesome ideas to make your Girl Scout week celebration the best yet!

GS Birthday

  • Create a “Birthday Party in a Bag” and present it to a local shelter.
  • Contact the Activity Director at a local senior citizen home and offer to plan and put on the March birthday party for residents.
  • Plant a tree or beautify an area in honor of Girl Scout Birthday Week.
  • Serve at your place of worship: be the greeter, usher or do a flag ceremony.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Pass out smiley face stickers. Grab a trash bag and clean up the environment around your home or troop meeting site. A great excuse to get outside and enjoy the non-below zero temperatures!
  • Follow the ideas planned out by Girl Scouts of North Carolina Coastal Pines! These are awesome.
  • Make or do 103 somethings! This year marks Girl Scouts’ 103rd birthday- why not blow out 103 candles (maybe not all at once though- fire hazard!) or recruit friends and family to send 103 “thank you for your service” cards to soldiers overseas?

The possibilities are endless. Start planning your Girl Scout week celebration now!

Who Wants an Award from the President?

President John F. Kennedy famously said One person can make a difference, and everyone  should try.” For over 100 years Girl Scouts across the nation have been making a difference by serving others, be it the girl in the next tent, the park down the street, or the community at large. Now you can be recognized for that service through The President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Never heard of it? The award recognizes, celebrates and inspires community service leaders and volunteers to take positive action that changes the world. Americans of all ages – from youth (5 years) to adults– are invited to participate and be recognized by our nation’s president for being active citizens.

president's volunteer service award 2 jpgWhat are the requirements? Citizens must have achieved the required number of hours of service over a 12-month time period or cumulative hours over the course of a lifetime. Families and groups can also earn the award together. Click here for more detailed information about the criteria, requirements, and a chart of award types and hourly requirements.

As a certifying organization Girl Scouts of Western Ohio gave out 10 awards for a total of 934 service hours in 2014 and 6 awards for a total of 676 service hours in 2013. That represents only a tiny microcosm of all of girls, volunteers, and service hours our members give to their communities each year and we’d love to recognize more of our members in 2015.

On this President’s Day let’s celebrate the vital role individual volunteers play in making a difference, and remember as Ronald Reagan said “no matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.” Check out these Volunteer Stories to hear in their own words how their volunteer activities changed not only the lives of others, but theirs as well and get inspired to begin your own volunteer story. If anyone from our council is interested in earning the award, contact Elizabeth Vessell, Program & Partnerships Team Leader, Cincinnati at ElizabethVessell@GSWO.ORG for more information.

 

 

Thinking Outside the Cookie Box: 4 Non-Traditional Booth Locations

Booth sales are coming and if you’re looking for some non-traditional location ideas that have paid off for our troops, here are some outside the box ideas we’ve collected over the years from creative girls and their leaders. Sometimes choosing the road (or booth location) less traveled can make all the difference!

 1. If there are people there, put a booth there! 

Great places to sell cookies are anyplace there are a lot of people – outside church services, at school sporting events, craft or garden shows, events at local fairgrounds, retirement or assisted living facilities, apartment/condo complexes, farmer’s markets, local civic organizations such as Elks, Eagles, VFW (also great places to ask for Operation Cookie donations).  Even a small business can be a great location if it’s located in a high traffic area.  Be creative.  Get the girls involved in the brain-storming.

2. Decorate Your Car!

A Got Cookies? We Do! sign on a car window can be a great way to drum up sales. One leader sold whole cases out of her mini-van on her way home from a cookie booth because she stopped for gas at a popular truck stop and drivers saw the sign. She sold more in 10 minutes at that location than their entire 2 hour cookie booth.

3. Host a Garage Booth!

An enterprising troop hosted a pop up booth in the leader’s driveway/garage. The girls went around the neighborhood the week before and hung door hangers with the day and time of their booth encouraging people to stop and buy. They provided hot cocoa and music to their neighbors who came by to get their cookie fix.

4. Drive-Through Cookie Booth: Toledo Style!

Find a busy area that has a parking lot with easy access, making sure to get permission from the business in the area of the parking lot first. Put up a pop up tent, table and tons of decorations and put signs by the road or girls in cookie costumes. Customers drive in the parking lot and up to the tent where girls sell the cookies to these customers and the customers exit the parking lot. Watch the video below from Little Brownie Bakers to see how a troop in Akron OH put this idea into action.

Have another outside the box booth idea? Send it to your region’s product sales manager and we’ll share it out. Let’s make 2015 an awesome year for booth sales!

Outdoor Explorers for 2015!

Do you enjoy activities like outdoor cooking, tent camping, horseback riding, or archery? How about all of the above? You’re not alone and soon you’ll be able to earn a badge for them too! The votes have been tallied and our girls and adults have chosen Outdoor Explorer as the newest selection for outdoor badges. Thank you to those who encouraged girls to vote for making sure their voices were heard and ensuring that Girls Know Best and #girlschoose were more than just excellent marketing slogans. Curious about the other options and how votes were tallied? Check out the process here.

Girls Know Best-Outdoor badge voting

Each badge will have five steps and three choices per step and although it’s a long process to write badges, we know that GSUSA is up to the task and will make sure that they are girl approved! So keep your eyes on March 12 when final badge activities will be announced on the  Girl Scouts of the USA facebook, the Girl Scout Blog or here at our blog. Then in fall 2015 the new badges will be available and girls can start exploring the outdoors and earning these new badges. We hope you’ll agree when we say, we just can’t wait to find out our new badge activities!

Got Camp?

It’s cookie sale time and with all of the craziness it’s easy to forget that a box of cookies equals more than headaches and troop proceeds. Every box  has a mission: to help girls grow.  A cookie can become a service project at the local animal shelter,  a trip to Savannah to see the birthplace of our founder, or an awesome experience girls will cherish for a lifetime. What is our alumnae’s favorite Girl Scout experience? CAMP! Current Girl Scouts and alumnae rate camping as their number one most memorable Girl Scout activity and with all of the amazing benefits of camp it’s a formula for success that for generations has been the optimal way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. So the next time you chow down on a box of Thin Mints, I want you to imagine over 100 years worth of girls gathered around a fire under the stars singing your favorite camp song. Can you hear the generations singing? Now add your own Girl Scout’s voice to that song. Let’s keep the legacy going and make sure that the current generation of girls enjoy our number one amazing memory maker. Let’s help cookies equal camp by sending your Girl Scout to camp this year.

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Whether she’s interested in archery, paint ball sling shots, watercrafts, bugs, caving, ziplines, or adventure trips, she’ll have a great summer at Girl Scout camp. There are so many options to choose from that can fit nearly every busy summer schedule. Registration is opening on January 28th on Ebiz so start exploring the options on our Camp tab today. We have a variety of camps to choose from, ranging from week long adventures at Summer Resident CampDay Camps, and One Day and Overnight options. Girls can come by themselves, with a friend, or bring the whole troop to Troop Adventure Camp. So what are you waiting for? Continue the legacy and help your scout choose her next adventure at Camp today!

Girl Scouts and the Peace First Prize

Today celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Our post from last year describes the legacy of diversity and inclusion that has been a cornerstone of our organization. To learn more about it, and how to honor this legacy with your girls, check out the post Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

For the peacemakers out there everywhere, it’s time for the launch of the third annual Peace First Prize, and once again GSUSA has partnered with Peace First to spread the word to councils across the country. The Peace First Prize recognizes young people between the ages of 8–22 for meaningful peacemaking work that creates lasting positive impact in their community, neighborhood, or school. Peace First annually awards five young leaders who have demonstrated compassion, courage, and the power to create collaborative change. Winners will each receive a $25,000 Peace First Fellowship over two years to further their peacemaking work.

Applications and nominations for the Peace First Prize are open from January 5th through March 30th, 2015. Winners will be announced in the fall. Additionally, this year Peace First is aiming to increase the number of nominations and applications in the first month. As an incentive, if you nominate a Girl Scout or a Girl Scout applies by February 6th, you both will be entered into a raffle for a chance to donate $100 to the peacemaking organization of your choice.

Click Here to nominate a Girl Scout candidate for the Peace First Prize today! Whether you are an educator, family member, or friend, you can play a critical role in sharing their story. Keep in mind, when you nominate someone for the Peace First Prize, they must still fill out the Application in order to be considered. Once you submit your nomination, we will send your nominee a message letting them know, along with a link to the application.

For more information about the Prize and what they’re looking for, we encourage you to review the selection criteria or visit our FAQs.

Check out Avalon Theisen of Tampa, FL’s video to see a Girl Scout who previously made it as a finalist for the award:

Beyond the awards, we can all find ways to be advocates for peace. It starts with a small pledge: let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!

Cookie Question: Can my troop accept credit cards?

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Yes, your troop can opt to accept credit cards at your booth sales!

You’ve probably heard more than once, “I would love to support Girl Scouts, but I only have my card”

By using a credit card processor your troop can eliminate this sales obstacle AND girls get another opportunity to build skills in money management, business ethics, and technology. For some troops this is a great way to reach higher sales goals, provide better customer service, and reach even more customers.

Please keep in mind that using a credit card processor involves fees and troops should evaluate those fees prior to making a decision regarding credit/debit card sales. Troops will be responsible for the setup, tracking, and fees related to their merchant account.

Here are a few popular outside processor companies (please note we are not promoting the use of these processors but simply stating some popular options):

Square: squareup.com
PayPal: paypal.com/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader

Please do your own research prior to choosing a credit card processor.
Benefits:

Why should your troop consider spending money on a credit card processing option?

  • More proceeds for the troop
  • Customers without cash can now make purchases
  • Girls can reach higher reward levels
  • Instantly improve your troop’s opportunity to increase sales
  • Girls increase their aptitude for technology
  • Credit cards eliminate the risk of counterfeit money and bounced checks

A Testimony from Troop 20327:

“I don’t know how many people walked by our cookie booths and said, ‘Oh, I would if I had some cash.’ Well, let me tell you how easy it is to respond to that—we take credit/debit cards. Last year my Daisy troop started taking cards at booths. It’s very easy to do, takes very little time and energy, and it just may give you a sale you missed because of a lack of ‘cash.’

I know some of you are asking what the catch is, and I’ll tell you. There is a small fee every time you swipe or manually enter information. Most of you are now asking yourselves, ’Is it worth it?’ Or, ‘What’s the point if I’m losing money?’  There is a small fee associated with each swipe, however, if you would have been missing out on these sales in the first place, the amount you get in proceeds after the fees is still worth it.

I urge everyone to consider this simple, easy way to make a little more money for your troop. It really is easy and I know I had customers who really appreciated not missing out on cookie sales because they didn’t have cash on hand to use at a booth sale. You could even require a 5 package minimum for every credit card swipe helping boost the amount of packages sold!”

 

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