Introducing…The 4Her Promise Program

By Kat Rourke

One struggle that many troop leaders face is getting enough support from the parents in their troop. Not having enough support directly affects the quality of the experience that the girls have, and can cause leader burnout. When leaders step down due to burnout no one wins, especially not the girls. That is why I am excited to announce a new program we are rolling out for leaders for use in increasing family involvement.

The 4HER Promise Program is used with permission from the Girl Scouts of North Texas with a few tweaks. 4Her promise is designed to help leaders build needed support and help families become more engaged in their girls Girl Scout experience. All of the program materials can be found  on our website.  http://www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org/content/forms-and-resources-library#management.

The guide explains how to better communicate and connect with families in your troop so parents know exactly how they can help. Each family is asked to pledge four hours of service to the troop for the year. Most people would agree that out a whole year, four hours isn’t asking a lot. This request is made of the entire family: moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents can all participate. Families are given volunteer menus on which they can list activities they are interested in helping with. This enables the leader to ask for help on specific tasks within a specific time-frame so that families know exactly what is expected of them. When the needs for those tasks arise, the troop has someone who is capable of completing it and takes that task off of the leaders’ shoulders.

Tracking hours that the families give is important so families can be recognized for their contributions. When a family has completed the 4Her four hour pledge, the leader can recognize the family in a variety of ways. For example, the troop can present the family with a Certificate of Appreciation, thank them in the troop newsletter, on the troop Facebook page, etc.

Families can also use any and all volunteer hours they complete to count towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award. All types of service that strengthens the community qualify for this award, including assisting Girl Scouts, PTA, coaching sports, etc. This award recognizes individuals, families and groups that have achieved a certain standard, measured by the number of hours served over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of the lifetime. Take Action projects also count toward this award and so the families can combine service to the troop as well as service with the troop to measure your whole family’s impact. You can register and track your volunteer hours online.

Hopefully troops and families will find this program useful and work together to provide an amazing Girl Scout experience for all our girls!

 

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Service Unit and District Level Volunteer Position Restructure Research Summary

by Valarie Moseley, Chief Membership Services Officer

In 2010 and 2011, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland embarked on an extensive process called Strategic Learning, where we comprehensively evaluated our internal and external realities. This evaluation brought us to an understanding that it was imperative that we, as an organization, align our internal systems to best support Girl Scouting at the local level. As a result of this process, several volunteers, parents, and girls participated in “Your Voice, Your Council” input sessions throughout the council during January of 2012. There were several topics discussed at each meeting, but the primary purpose and focus of these conversations was to evaluate the current service unit structure. The goal was to determine what changes were needed to best support volunteers in our local communities. Many participants felt that the service unit was essential, but that there needed to be some changes. Concerns regarding the current structure were focused on difficulty filling positions, difficulty in getting accurate and timely information, lack of local training, and challenges related to the differences in culture and geography across the council jurisdiction.

Based on this feedback, a task force comprising volunteers and staff was developed in each region. Task force groups were conducted in mid-June 2012 in each region of the council. Participants were asked to review four suggested volunteer structures from GSUSA and determine which would work best for our council, or develop a new structure if necessary.

The task force participants recognized that our council faces major challenges in relation to geography and felt that it would be beneficial to allow for both regional and local positions. They also thought that fewer layers in the service unit structure would increase communication between the council and volunteers. They believed that there should be avenues for allowing girls to participate in the service unit structure. And, finally, they concluded that there was a strong need for flexibility within the structure that would allow for communities to evaluate their needs and volunteer support.

The result of over two years of evaluation and input is a new volunteer position structure that will be rolled out across the council in the 2013–2014 membership year. Membership marketing specialists will be working with each district they serve to begin the dialogue about how to make this new structure work for their community. They will also begin transitioning current service team members to new positions. We have provided training for the new positions beginning with Learn 2 Lead events in August and October across the council. Training opportunities will continue throughout the year as we take a gradual approach to this exciting new change!

Please take a moment to look over the new structure and the new positions for volunteering with girls and volunteering with adults  that are within the structure and feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have. While we know that this is a substantial change, we sincerely believe that this change will allow us to best support girls and volunteers across the council jurisdiction as they deliver and participate in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience!

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Resident Camp is Over, But the Camp Pathway has just Begun!

Hundreds of girls enjoyed resident camp this summer at Cherokee Ridge, Finbrooke, Latonka, and Mintahama Program Centers.  But just because resident camp has come to an end does not mean that the camp pathway has slowed down.   If you had the chance to attend resident camp this summer, we would love your feedback so we can make resident camp even better next year.  Please click the links below and complete a short survey.

Camper Survey

Parent/Guardian Survey

Upcoming Outdoor Program Opportunities 

Troop Camping:  Have you reserved a weekend at one of our Program Centers for the fall or winter? Once your dates are set, it’s time to plan what activities you will participate in. Here are some fun options – hiking, canoeing, paddle boating, challenge courses, archery, horseback riding and more.  Contact our Property and Risk Manager Sandy Vaughn at 877-312-4764 ext. 1514 to reserve a weekend.

PublicationsVolunteer 411 and Girl Newsletters were recently mailed out with various outdoor opportunities to choose from this year.  We offer troop camping, horseback riding, archery, challenge courses, and much more.  Check them out and register soon!

Outdoor Days: This is a free camping event sponsored by Bass Pro and Springfield Parks & Recreation Department.  The event is from September 6-8 at Springfield Lake. Choose to camp the whole weekend or just come out for the day.  There will be many villages with outdoor initiative activities.  Follow the link below for more information.

Outdoor Days 

Outdoor Program Input Sessions: Coming to a Service Center near you!  We want to receive input from girls, parents/guardians, troop leaders, and you about what outdoor programming you would like to see in across the council.  Come with ideas about resident camp, day camp, troop camping and outdoor program events. Each session is scheduled from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

September 12–Joplin Service Center

September 16–Jefferson City Service Center

September 18-Springfield Service Center

September 25 -Cape Girardeau Service Center

October 3-Dexter Service Center

 

 

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Starting from Scratch

By Kat Rourke

Many volunteers become leaders because they have a daughter interested in Girl Scouts. Or maybe they value the lifelong friendships and life skills that girls gain as Girl Scouts. New leaders can feel overwhelmed and under-prepared as they start their troops, but they want to do it right!

We want to guide new leaders through the steps of starting a troop and provide some helpful hints for a successful start to the Girl Scout year.  First, all adult volunteers with the troop must complete an application and pass a background check, which council provides at no cost to the volunteers.  Second, attend new leader orientation. This training covers the basic paperwork and policies and can give you some good insight on where to start. Third, recruit a co-leader.  Ask parents of other interested girls; talk with co-workers or professional organizations in which you belong. Church groups, retirees and recent graduates, as well as under or unemployed adults can be great troop helpers.

Once you have squared away troop leadership, you’ll receive a Girl Scout troop number, start the troop bank account (with three signers) and plan where and when you will have your troop meetings. Common places to meet are the school library or cafeteria, community rooms, meeting rooms at colleges, local businesses, or the local library.  Connect with other troop leaders in your local service unit as they are great resources and support. Make sure you are engaged and do your best to attend the monthly service unit meetings. You’ll meet other new and experienced leaders as well as gain knowledge and learn about important updates and information that is vital to your troop.

Ask the school if you can distribute flyers so girls and their parents can come to an informational meeting to join the troop. Many schools allow this, but for the ones that don’t, there are other options. Submit information to the school or district newsletter, a teacher blog, or school Facebook page. Attend PTA/PTO meetings and promote your troop and have your daughter tell her friends! Girls recruiting girls is a wonderful tool.  At your informational meeting you will want to lay down expectations of the parent support you need. Be Specific! Most parents don’t know how they can help and will be happy to help if they know how they can help.

Plan out a structure for your meetings, and you can always make adjustments if things don’t quite pan out how you thought it would. Having a packet of extra activities that you can fall back on if you have extra time can be life lines, so always have a backup! At your new leader orientation you will be provided with some sample sessions for meetings, but you can also pick other leader’s brains or be creative and come up with something totally different. Customize your Girl Scout meetings to best suit your Girl Scout troop.  As a new leader, you will have a learning curve figuring out what works best for your girls. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your troop parent’s, your service unit, your Membership Marketing Specialist, and other council staff are all great resources. We are here to support you and answer any questions you may have. Have a wonderful Girl Scout year!

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GSMH Goes to Washington

By Stefanie McCall

Sixteen Girl Scouts plus 10 adults, times five days in Washington, D.C., equal lots of great memories!  On July 6, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland traveled to our nation’s capital for the annual summer trip. Girls and adults from across the council met at the St. Louis airport to begin their adventure. Group-for-VC

The days were packed full of sight-seeing and jam packed with activities including a night sail down the Potomac River, dinner at Nando’s Peri  Peri (favorite restaurant of the band One Direction), and an impromptu jam session with a street musician playing drums on buckets.

 

IMG_6036We explored the Smithsonian museums where girls were able to climb aboard a space shuttle, touch a moon rock, view the Hope Diamond, dinosaurs, mummies, animal skeletons, and an entire zoo worth of taxidermy animals.  The highlight of the American History museum was seeing the actual Star Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become American’s National Anthem.  What an inspirational piece of history to see first-hand!  We also got to see fun things like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz; Kermit, the frog; Julia Child’s actual kitchen, and the Girl Scout display! IMG_6172

We immersed ourselves in many of the iconic activities of Washington, D.C. with visits to the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, which is easily one of the most ornate and beautiful buildings in Washington, D.C. After grabbing lunch from local food trucks we experienced our first rain shower in D.C., but were luckily headed to the National Archives where it was nice and dry!  Girls saw the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as well as many historical documents pertaining to the founding of our country.  To our surprise the National Archives was full of hands-on-activities that made history come alive.  We were able to listen to actual phone conversations of past presidents, view an address by President Eisenhower after the ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education, and edit video clips to make our own news cast.   Next on the agenda was walking to see the many monuments commemorating our presidents and nation’s heroes.  That evening, many girls attended a free concert at the Kennedy Center while some opted to go back to the hotel for some rest.  We had a late dinner that night at Founding Farmers where girls discovered candied bacon!

A trip to Washington, D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the National Zoo.  The IMG_6271National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Museums and is one of only four zoos in the US with giant pandas.  The male was taking a nap, but was thoughtful enough to be right near the glass wall so we could get an up close view of him while the female munched on some bamboo and tried to get her keepers to let her inside. After visiting with the pandas and seeing many other animals we went to Arlington National Cemetery.  We took a guided bus tour through the cemetery, viewing the grave of President Kennedy, and watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Another great adventure was the International Spy Museum.  As soon as you arrive, you assume your “cover” (mine was Greta Schmidt) and throughout the museum you have to answer questions to see if you can maintain your cover.  There were interactive games to test your observation skill, and girls crawled through an air duct to spy on people below, and got to test their James Bond skills by hanging on to a moving bar (our girls longest time was 59 seconds). On display were actual spy tools – everything from a lipstick gun to a trench coat with a camera in a button.  And best of all, because we were a Girl Scout group, we all got patches! We had a great dinner at the Hard Rock Café (another special Girl Scout Patch!) and then walked by the White House to see it lit up at night on our way back to the hotel.

On our final day, we toured The Capitol Building.  Per the request of the girls, we added a visit to the Holocaust Museum to our itinerary. The Holocaust Museum was a very intense experience and the girls felt strongly about going. I was very proud of them for wanting to honor such a sad time in the history of the world.

IMG_6396Our trip was full of many amazing experiences.  The girls not only got to see our country’s history, and the institutions that make our country great, but they got to experience the hustle and bustle of a big city.  They learned to navigate the metro system like pros and we walked miles and miles in exploration!  I know that many of them have made long lasting friendships.  And best of all, our girls were able to expand their world view as only travel can do.  It was a privilege to be able to provide this opportunity for our girls and I look forward to my next batch of travelers!

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Where Oh Where Could My Co-Leader Be?

If your troop needs a co-leader, here are some tips to help you find the right one!

 Who to Ask

  • Ask parents! Begin by asking parents of girls who want to join if they are interested in volunteering with the troop.
  • Think outside the box! Just because someone doesn’t have a school-aged girl doesn’t mean they can’t volunteer.  Retirees and young professionals are another great place to start.
  • Role models! Think about people you know who are courageous, confident, and exemplify good character.  Let them know you admire these traits and ask them to help you pass them on to girls!
  • The more the merrier! If you cannot find someone to commit to being a full-time co-leader, ask two or more adults to share the responsibility. This will make it easier for them to say yes and will prevent burnout.
  • Ask a guy! Don’t forget that men can volunteer with a troop. Girls benefit from both male and female role models.

How to Ask

  • Don’t ask them to do it as a favor to you. Tell them that you want to include them in on this wonderful opportunity!
  • Highlight some of the benefits to volunteering: it’s a resume builder and will help them gain networking, event planning, and problem solving skills.
  • Assure them that they will be provided with the right information, training, and support.
  • If you’ve been a leader before, share your positive experiences with them.
  • Once they commit, don’t forget to say thank you!
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Train now so you don’t cry later!

By: Kat Rourke

Marathon runners must train and condition themselves to prepare before the day of the race if they hope to cross the finish line. Summer is the perfect time for Girl Scout Volunteers to prepare themselves through training to effectively lead their troop and make it to the finish line intact. There are many options for training depending on your troop’s need and interests, and it is helpful to get those under your belt before the back to school rush.

IMG_3847On August 24th in the Central and Southwest Regions and on October 12th in the Southeast Region, we are having our enrichment training day known as Learn to Lead. This fun filled day of learning covers everything from age level training to games and crafts to troop management. It also provides you with an excellent opportunity to connect with council staff, as well as other leaders in your region. Networking with other leaders allows you to share your experiences, as well as tips and tricks and can offer opportunities for troops to work on projects together. The deadlines for registration for these great events are August 1st and September 25th, respectively.

Equally important are training’s designed to prepare you for troop activities and teach you the skills you’ll teach the girls.  CPR/First Aid is an important one for everyone’s safety during any kind of Girl Scout gathering, and it is helpful to have more than one adult with the troop trained. Other important training that you will need for troop outings or camping are:  BOS (basic outdoor skills), BTC (basic troop camping), Wilderness First Aid, and small craft and water safety. Additional opportunities for training such as Archery and NPP (National Program Portfolio/Journeys) are also available to leaders and troop volunteers.

Some of you may be saying, “Well that is all well and good, but if I were preparing for a marathon I could run outside for free and these training’s cost money.”

Good Point! The costs of the training’s vary due to type, intensity and supplies, but there are some options in helping making them affordable. As for the training you want to take, you may pay for it out of pocket, apply to council for Financial Assistance, or if the troop chooses,  it could be paid with troop funds. The skills needed for basic events and outings are like supplies for the troop to function so it is not impossible to go this last route, but I caution leaders to use it as a last resort since there are other options that won’t dip into the girls’ funds.

IMG_1434After you have completed your necessary training, you are ready for troop meetings to begin, but remember, pace yourself and drink plenty of fluids!

The schedules and registration forms for the Learn to Lead event can be found here.

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GSMH Property Update

We asked for your feedback on the recommendation for GSMH program properties and we definitely received it. Many people expressed their love for the properties and asked for an opportunity to be able to retain them. As announced after the June 14 Board of Directors meeting, the Board voted to allow volunteer/community groups the opportunity to develop and submit sustainable, viable long-term plans for supporting Girl Scouting including retaining and maintaining all of the GSMH program properties that were recommended for divestment.

We know that many people are anxious to begin work on their plans. We will announce the criteria/expectations for those plans very soon. Therefore, we want to share some dates with you now. We will hold meetings in August to meet with volunteers/community members that will be involved in developing sustainable plans to retain properties to submit to the Board. We will provide information and answer questions about plan development. Each of these meetings will be from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and there is no registration required. The meetings will be held at the respective program properties, except the Sacajawea East meeting will be held at the Cape Girardeau Girl Scout service center. The schedule is:

Monday, August 5 – Latonka Program Center
Tuesday, August 6 – Sacajawea East at Cape Girardeau service center
Thursday, August 8 – Mintahama Program Center
Tuesday, August 13 – Sacajawea West Program Center
Wednesday, August 14 – Greenberry Acres Program Center

Anne Soots, GSMH CEO, and council Board member representatives will attend all of the meetings to give input into the discussion. We are looking forward to thoughtful, constructive dialogue about the future of Girl Scouting and program properties in GSMH.

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Junior First Lego League Series

By Stefanie McCall, Leadership & Learning Specialist -GSLE

Who knew that playing with Legos would teach girls engineering and problem solving skills and help them travel the world?  This was something that 16 first and second grade Girl Scouts discovered this past spring as members of a Junior First Lego League team (Jr. FLL).  Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland received a grant from Girl Scouts of the USA to start two Jr. FLL teams.  We partnered with the staff of John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa to deliver the program.  The response was so overwhelming that we actually formed four teams!

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The girls spent six weeks with teachers of the Thomas School of Discovery and GSMH staff, discovering the world of Jr. FLL.  First, the girls learned about problems that senior citizen encounter as they age.  The girls did some problem solving and invented tools to help combat these obstacles.  Using Legos, girls created models of their inventions.  The inventions included tools to make using the phone easier and tricked-out wheelchairs that solved a multitude of mobility problems.

 

DSCN6841At the end of the program, girls took a one-day road trip to the First Lego League/Jr. First Lego League World Expo Festival in St. Louis, Missouri.  At this event girls saw FLL & Jr. FLL exhibits and models from teams all over the world.  Girls met other Girl Scout teams from Kansas, Colorado and Minnesota.

 

They met people from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Great Brittan, Japan and Germany to name just a few.  It was truly a life-changing opportunity for these first and second grade girls.

DSCN6886I am confident that out of the 16 girls on our teams that at least one of them will be inspired to become an engineer or a scientist.  Thanks to the field trip the girls had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and discover that while we all look different and speak different languages, everyone worked on creating a solution to the same problem.  Sharing the excitement of discovery with these girls has been a life changer for me as well.

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GIRL SCOUTS BOARD OF DIRECTORS VOTE ON PROPERTY RECOMMENDATION

Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland’s Board of Directors voted on Friday, June 14 to move forward with the property committee’s recommendation regarding the council’s interests in Suzanne Program Center (SW region). The Board also unanimously voted to allow local communities additional time to work with the council to develop sustainable long-term viable plans for supporting Girl Scouting including retaining and maintaining all other Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland program properties that were recommended for divestment. The Board will further evaluate this issue in November 2013. If no viable options for long-term sustainability are presented, the Board will proceed with the property committee recommendations.

“The property committee recommendation was shared with our membership prior to the Board of Directors meeting to allow the opportunity to provide feedback. We appreciate the respectful manner in which additional input was provided regarding the property recommendation,” states Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland’s Chief Executive Officer Anne Soots. “We look forward to working with our volunteers and community members to explore viable options for sustaining and maintaining these program properties.”

 

 

 

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