Welcome to the official blog of Girl Scouts of Northern California!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Influential Women Leaders Share Their Favorite Camp Memories

Happy National CampRocks Day! What does camp mean to some of the most influential women in Northern California? We asked our Top 100 Women "Greening" the Future 2012 awardees about their favorite Girl Scout memory. Not surprising, camp was top on their list of memorable and impactful Girl Scout experiences! Learn more about the power of camp at CampRocks.org!

Eva Patterson
Eva Patterson – president, Equal Justice Society – “As a young girl, I felt unworthy … Going to Girl Scout camp gave me the feeling for the first time that I was a good person who was liked and loved. This changed my life.”

Heather Young, partner, Fergus Garber Young Architects – “My first Girl Scout camping trip. Who can forget singing by the campfire as we toasted marshmallows for s’mores and the smell of smoke that lingers on your clothes.”

Melissa L. Bradley, managing director, New Capitalist – “As a Brownie growing up in an urban environment, my first camping trip and campfire exposed me to a whole new world.”

Julie Castro Abrams
Julie Castro Abrams, board director, Women’s Funding Network – “Being sunburned and exhausted from a day outside at camp activities and laying on my bunk bed talking with the girls in my cabin about our dreams before falling into a deep, refreshing sleep where it was forever imprinted on my brain that girls can do anything.”

Mitchell Baker, chair, Mozilla Foundation – “My first adventure traveling alone and seeing what developed was in 4th grade when I signed up for a Girl Scout summer camp based on the brochures and not where my friends were going.”

Peggy Furth, managing partner, SonomaCeuticals – “Going camping as a 10-year-old Girl Scout and attempting to cook beef stew in a coffee can over an open fire. We were more successful with the s’mores for dessert.”

Jan Yanehiro
Jan Yanehiro, broadcast journalist and media consultant, Yanehiro Inc. – “Learning to start a fire on a camping trip as a Brownie! Sticks, twigs, sparks from the rocks … and a lot of puffing!”

Barbara Banke, proprietor, Jackson Family Wines and co-founder, SonomaCeuticals – “Camping and hiking with all my friends.”

Regina Jackson, president and CEO, East Oakland Youth Development Center – “I remember an overnight outdoor adventure … It rained and everyone was trying to get out of the rain. We shared a very tight space and everyone had so much more fun working as one unit.”

Vanessa Robledo
Vanessa Robledo, owner and CEO, Black Coyote Wines – “At Camp CEO last summer. I was a mentor and it was amazing to watch the girls begin to come together as a team in just a few days. Some changed from negative to positive thinking. Others were motivated by future possibilities.”

Liz Ellis, president, Green Valley Consulting Engineers – “Without a doubt, the camping trips we would take to all the different places we have available to us in California.”    

Annette Russ, founder, Just One Person – “My most memorable Girl Scout memory was frying an egg on a hot rock at Girl Scout camp and eating it for breakfast.”  

Radha Basu
Radha Basu, co-founder and advisor, Anudip Foundation – “The adventure of getting lost in the woods and reluctantly being ‘found.’”

Judge Joyce Hinrichs, Superior Court of California, County of Humboldt – “I loved day camp every summer. My camp name was ‘Snoopy.’”   

Debra Pryor – former fire chief, Berkeley Fire Department - “Attending Girl Scout Camp during summer vacation. The songs we sang, the arts and crafts projects and learning how to saddle and ride a horse.”

Colleen McCreary
Colleen McCreary, chief people officer, Reputation.com – “Summer Girl Scout Camp in Massachusetts, mid ‘80s. I made two lifelong friends that I keep in touch with despite the distance.”

Cathy Corison, winemaker/proprietor, Corison Winery – “Learning how to tie a square knot in Brownies.”

Lynda Pearson – co-founder/CCO, Amazon Advertising – “Summer camp: rewriting lyrics to camp songs and winning a prize for creating a sculpture out of mud.”

Marcy Smothers
Marcy Smothers, host/producer, At the Table Radio “As a Cadette, learning to make a pineapple upside down cake in a camp fire.”

Pamela F. Service, author/curator – “After years of attending camp, becoming a camp nature counselor and showing girls constellations at night and snakes during the day.”

Kirsten Tobey, founder, Revolution Foods – “My most memorable experience was my first camping trip. We went to Angel Island and it was so much fun.”

Ginger Wadsworth, author, First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Low – “A five week-long bicycling and camping trip with my troop from San Diego to Canada back in my teens.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cookie Customer Praises the Selfless Character Shown by Santa Clara Girl Scout

This wonderful letter was sent to a troop leader in Santa Clara by a cookie customer who was so impressed with the Girl Scout Cadette who knocked on her door that she wanted to share her story about Kylie. Cheers for Kylie for living the Girl Scout Law and being "a sister to every Girl Scout" - and thanks to the thousands of other Girl Scouts who are making positive impressions in your communities!

Do you have a great Girl Scout story? You can share your good news about Girl Scouts by emailing social@girlscoutsnorcal.org. And remember, you can find cookies from Girl Scouts of Northern California girls until March 16, 2014 using our Online Cookie Locator at iLoveCookies.org.

Dear Troop Leader 60110,

I would like to share an encounter I recently had with one of the young ladies in your troop. Let me start off by saying that I have been buying Girl Scout cookies for several years. The girls I interact with are daughters of friends, nearby neighbors and some are complete strangers, but all are very friendly. However, I have never come across a Girl Scout more deserving of my support until this week.

Kylie is a young lady who always greets you with a smile on her face and is usually bestowing a positive attitude. She and a fellow Girl Scout came to my house this past week to sell your beloved cookies. My doorway brightened up with Kylie’s smile and I really did not want to turn her down, but I had bought some cookies a few days prior and had promised to purchase more from another friend’s daughter. I explained this to Kylie and although her smile diminished (understandably so), her reply was, “That’s okay. I understand. Thanks for supporting US.” I closed the door, thought a moment about how she was spending her weekend evening going door-to-door selling cookies and about her response to me and went out to find her. I ended up buying some cookies from her that night and again a few days later.

I understand the goal of Girl Scouts of the USA is to build young ladies with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place, and that each girl is to live by the Girl Scout Law. With the guidance of her parents and the troop leaders, I feel Kylie encompasses the qualities the organization wants to instill in every young lady. It takes courage and confidence to go selling cookies without your parent by your side and it takes someone (especially a pre-teen) with character to think about someone other than herself, or in this case, her troop. Kylie was thinking of the rest of her “sisters” with her response about “supporting us.” Kudos to Kylie ...

Warm regards,
A Girl Scouts of the USA Supporter

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Katie's Adventure: California Dreamin' International Camporee

Back by popular demand! Early Bird Registration is now open for California Dreamin' 2015, July 26-August 2, 2015, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, CA

This amazing international camporee is open to troops of girls ages 11-18 in the summer of 2015. Camp out with thousands of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world, take fun trips off-site and participate in exciting workshops and so much more! 

Get information and register at www.cadreamincamporee.org 

Activities for 2015 are being planned now - you can take a look at photos from California Dreamin' 2012 on Flickr, join our Facebook group to stay up to date on the latest, or follow the fun on Pinterest!

Here's an journal of the awesome 2012 California Dreamin' experience written by Katie, a Girl Guide from England:

"This holiday has been the most exciting thing that I have ever done. I didn’t even know that you could do this sort of thing with Girl Guides until a year ago. I was lucky enough to get chosen to go to San Francisco in California to attend California Dreamin’ Girl Scout Camporee to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting in Northern California.

We flew with British Airways and we went on a ten hour flight from Heathrow to San Francisco airport. We all enjoyed the flight as we got to know each other much better.   

When we arrived in C.A, we were met by three of the camp staff. They were very nice and they absolutely loved our accents. We then had a two hour drive to get to know them. They thought that we all drive mini coopers and drink tea and scones. We all found it very funny.

When we finally arrived at the camp, we got given our tents and told to meet at HQ afterwards for a barbeque. After we had put our tents up we went to HQ thinking of nice chargrilled burgers and sausages. However, we were in for a shock as we found out that our BBQ was a takeaway from Dickies BBQ pit! This surprised all of us as we had never heard of a takeaway BBQ before. We soon found out that it was really nice.  We ate with the crew as we were the only patrol there. Everybody else was coming the next day. After a 32 hour day we were all shattered and went to bed early.

The next day all the other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all over the world started arriving. We went shopping into Pleasanton and had lunch out at a restaurant called Gay 90’s. We got back to the campsite to find the field full of excited girls. The camp had been split up into several sub camps and we were part of Treasure Island.

The opening ceremony took place the next day. Each patrol had a flag, logo or banner which was displayed on the stage along with each country's flag. Our banner was full of ducks as we were known as “The Bucks Ducks!” The aims of the camp were:
  • To meet new friends
  • To have new experiences
After lunch we began to set up our home display table. Ours contained a hook-a-duck game with duck whistles for prizes and swaps as well as badges and pins. I really enjoyed the home display and swaps as I made new friends and learned lots of things. I also got around 60 new badges to sew onto my camp blanket!     

My chosen activities whilst at the camp were:
  • Making friendship bracelets. I really enjoyed this because it gave me a chance to sit and talk to other girls. I met loads of American guides and some Canadian guides. The American guides had loads of questions about England such as what did we eat and drink, what music did we like, what hobbies did we do and did it really rain all of the time.
  • Surfing. I went surfing at Santa Cruz beach. There were only 7 people who did this activity. I managed to stand up on my board which I was pleased with. During this activity I met my now new American friend Katie. It was Katie who told me about the ice cream shop where they sold Ice creams as big as your head!! (We managed to persuade the bus driver to stop there on the way back to camp). One of the coolest things about this day was that I saw a sea lion swimming in the sea just near us while we were surfing.
  • Fencing. This was something I had never ever tried before but that I really wanted to have a go at. We had to wear special equipment to keep us safe but it was unbelievably hot. After we had been taught some basic moves we had a go at competing against each other.
  • Scuba diving. We were the shown how to use the diving equipment and were then let loose in the tank to go around fishing for rubber crabs!
Two other really fun activities that the whole camp took part in were a base ball game and a trip to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. I loved the board walk. The Bucks Ducks mostly spent time there with our host patrol called Le Golden Oreos. We went on loads of rides with them and they showed us all the really nice food such as corn dogs and bananas dipped in chocolate.
During the camp there were all sorts of other things going on like challenges. One of these was a breakfast challenge and we had to make two dishes with four set ingredients plus one other of our choice. The Bucks Ducks made a rice pudding cheesecake and a Cypriot salad. However the judges thought ours was yuck because they didn’t like rice pudding but we didn’t mind loosing because our host patrol won. Another challenge was a California Chaos where the sub camps competed against each other with some really funny tasks such as how quick can you melt a t-shirt and knocking over ping pongs with a yo-yo attached to your trousers!!!! 

On the last day of the camp there was a California Carnival. Really this was like a big party to celebrate a great week at the camp. There were bungee trampolines, water slides, a bouncy castle, climbing wall and other stalls where you could make ice cream floats, get henna tattoos (which is what I got). We also did candle dipping so we would have candles to use at the closing ceremony. This was the day I woke up feeling a bit poorly but Sian sent me back to bed for half an hours extra sleep but I woke up four hours later ... but I did feel much better and back to my normal self.

The closing ceremony was a bit sad and it made me cry a bit because I was sad it was over and I was sad I was going to have to leave all of my new friends. We all lit our candles from a giant candle which was to symbolise the spirit of the camp to live on even though the week was over. We were all also given some of the ashes from the final campfire in a little wallet so that we could take a little bit of our camp home with us.

Luckily for the Bucks Ducks that wasn’t the end of our trip. Our lovely guiders took us to San Francisco for a few extra days holiday. We went to Macey’s  for lunch and we were then allowed to go shopping. After shopping we sat in the middle of union square chatting. All of a sudden we saw a big bus pull up right in front of us. It was a duck bus – a bus that could go on land and in the water!!! We were so excited and so happy that Sue had arranged this surprise for us. After getting another duck whistle we went on. The bus drove around and then drove down a ramp into the water. Once we were in the middle of the bay we were allowed to drive the duck, it was so much fun.      

The next day we made pancakes for breakfast and then took a tram to the bike shop where we picked up our bikes and maps. We then set off for a nine mile bike ride across Golden Gate Bridge.  Unfortunately it was uphill all the way but it was definitely worth it just for the view.

The next day we went to U.S.P Alcatraz. It was so interesting.  My favourite part was when we got locked in a cell and when I saw the wax heads. I bought lots of souvenirs from U.S.P Alcatraz as that was my favourite part of the holiday. When we got back we went shopping along the pier and made our way over to Chinatown. This was where we ate our last supper.

The next morning we packed up our stuff and had just about enough time to go to the cheesecake factory. We got back to the hostel, checked out and then went on our minibus to the airport.

The flight home took another 10 hours. We were all very tired on the journey home because we had been so busy and had all had such a fantastic time. My trip was amazing I have made lots of friends and have loads of great memories of the camp. I have made a scrap book of all my favourite memories to help me remember this experience.

I am so glad that I experienced this amazing opportunity and am so glad I did this through guides.  This trip was absolutely amazing from start to finish."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Girl Testimonials: Janette & Cinthya Share How our Hispanic Initiative Has Changed Their Lives!

Attendees at our 2013 Annual Meeting on Saturday had the pleasure of hearing from Janette and Cinthya, two of our Half Moon Bay Girl Scouts in our Hispanic Initiative, about the ways that they've grown through Girl Scouting. We wanted to share their inspirational stories with you! 


Hi. My name is Janette and I live at the Moonridge Apartments in Half Moon Bay.

Girl Scouts changed my life and I am so proud to be a Girl Scout!

I have 2 brothers and 1 sister. My dad works in construction and my mom plants flowers in an agricultural company.

I started Girl Scouts when I was in 3rd grade. The older girls would help us do activities and I knew that I wanted to help when I was older too. Now my mom says I'm mature.

Now I am in 8th grade and I finished Girl Scout Program Aide Training where I learned to work with younger girls. I help them with science, writing, crafts, and prepare their snacks.

I have so much fun at Girl Scouts going on fields trips to watch birds at the beach and camping overnight for the first time at Camp Butano Creek. This past month, we went to the Academy of Science and learned about animals and plants. In Girl Scouts I get to go places I usually don't get to go to.

Girl Scouts has made me a more responsible person and better at school.
"Helping is what I love to do and when I grow up, I want to be a Girl Scout leader."


Hi. I am Cinthya. I am in 5th grade and I also live at the Moonridge Apartments. I am a Girl Scout Program Aide like Janette.

I have 4 brothers and 1 sister. My mom is a housekeeper and my dad works at an agricultural company.

Girl Scouts has made a big difference in my life.

I have been in Girl Scouts since the 2nd grade. My mom says that since I have been in Girl Scouts I get into less trouble, my grades are better, and I am a better person. I agree with her!

It has been fun leading activities and helping the younger girls with reading, writing, science, and art.

Before I was shy and not really outgoing but now I am more confident. I helped direct a play based on the book "The Little Red Hen" that we performed in front of our parents. I would not have been able to do that before Girl Scouts.

Last summer, I did the Girls Go Tech program and got the opportunity to go to Santa Clara University and learn about robots and moviemaking. It was really fun and we learned a lot. Now I know I want to be a teacher just like my Girl Scout leader, Marisol.
"My mom says that since I have been in Girl Scouts I get into less trouble, my grades are better, and I am a better person. I agree with her!"

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day Celebrations Conclude GSNorCal Girls' Participation in UN's Commission on Status of Women

World YWCA's Nyaradzai Gumbonzvada
We think it's perfectly fitting that on International Women's Day, 5 of our girls from Girl Scouts of Northern California are finishing up an incredible experience in New York City as part of the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women! 

This morning, our girls from GSNorCal marched - in the snow! - in the International Women's Day Celebration March starting at the United Nations and continuing through the city, and they are returning to Northern California this evening. Safe travels, girls -- you were excellent leaders before you departed, and you'll be even more exceptional after this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Highlights of our girls' work this week included:
  • Allison was a featured speaker and panelist at the Boy Girl Dialogue.
  • Jessica presented group recommendations for impacting violence against women.
  • America, Larissa, and Allison helped to complete the teen statement at the Girl's Caucus.
  • Varsha testified in a case at The Girls’ Tribunal on Violence, which was a unique opportunity for teen girls to share the impact that violence has had on their own lives. Girls are the experts of their own experience and the Tribunal created a space in which girls’ voices are given the respect they deserve. The Tribunal highlighted girls’ experiences with violence and how they have taken steps to move forward and work towards preventing violence. Divided into three topics, the girls’ testimonies addressed violence in the media, in their communities and in their schools. Special attention was given to the ways that girls’ experiences have led them to advocacy and activism against violence.
  • Larissa and America presented to Commission on the Status of Women delegates a session called “Girls Ending the Cycle: Combating Inter-Generational Violence Through Leadership and Empowerment.”
  • Jessica and Varsha were asked by the Princess of Saudi Arabia, Her Royal Highness Basmah bint Saud, to join her in a Skype session. The Princess was the sponsor of The Girls' Tribunal on Violence and wanted feedback from our girls!
  • Varsha and Prince Zeid
  • Our girls had the opportunity to interact with many leaders, officials, and dignitaries, including World YWCA Gen. Secretary Nyaradzai Gumbonzvada; His Royal Highness Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and actress Monique Coleman from High School Musical.
About International Women's Day

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900s. IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month.' The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Reflections on Working With Girl Scouts Behind Bars

Got Choices' Shalon Maral at a juvenile justice center
Today's GSNorCal blog is written by Shalon Maral, outreach program manager for our Got Choices program here in Northern California. Got Choices takes Girl Scouting to at-risk, high-risk, and adjudicated girls in schools, shelters, and even juvenile justice facilities, where we focus on healthy decision making and relationship choices, self esteem, and much more. Shalon's words are also shared on the blog for the Independent Television Service (ITVS), which just released a new video featuring Shalon and her girls that focuses on how Got Choices is changing lives behind bars. The release of the video coincides with the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York City this week, where two girls from Got Choices' at-risk schools program presented a session called Girls Ending the Cycle: Combating Inter-Generational Violence Through Leadership and Empowerment." You can watch the ITVS video by clicking here. Thank you, Shalon, ITVS, and to all our partners and supporters who make Got Choices possible!

A Got Choices Girl Scout in the system
I started out with Girl Scouts 22 years ago as a volunteer and I now have the most incredible job! For the last 10 years, working for Girl Scouts as an Outreach Program Manager has opened my heart. Our program, Got Choices, is a nationwide Girl Scouts in Detention Center Program. It is very strong in Northern California and continues to grow. We serve at least 660 girls a year in our council, in 18 sites in five counties.

My girls are in juvenile detention centers, on probation, and in group homes. Girl Scouts is working with girls from all walks of life. They are involved in gangs, drugs, and prostitution, to name a few of their choice activities before Got Choices … and they are Girl Scouts.  We have weekly meetings where I am potentially the only person that the girls see from the “outside” for days on end. These girls are MY girls. And I know that the work we do with them matters.

I can personally relate to these girls on so many levels, because of my experiences as a youth. I have “been there, done that.”  I am blessed to have the opportunity to share with them who I was and who I have become. The girls learn about my past and it builds trust between us. We connect.

At a self-esteem workshop
I believe these girls can make changes in their lives and in the community, if they are given the right tools. Having positive adult female mentors, such as me, helps the girls learn how to relate to others in a more positive way.  I have shown them that there is another way to live. They can make different choices. Believing they can have a positive future makes the biggest difference of all.

Partnering with ITVS has given the girls a look at the world through others’ eyes. They can see other girls who walk the same walk, talk the same talk. The girls relate to documentaries and can view them without being judged.  My girls can identify pieces of themselves within the girls in the films. The curriculum motivates them to be better people and to not go down the same path. They are learning to make a new path for themselves.  It gives them hope.

ITVS curriculum is current; it tells stories of people the girls can relate to, helping them develop a sense of empathy. The documentaries and activities are engaging so they are motivated to participate and learn at the same time. I love this curriculum and I love sharing it with others. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the girls!

I believe together we can make a difference in the lives of girls from all backgrounds, including those in detention centers. Using resources like this one helps us one step closer to that goal.

The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds, presents, and promotes award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens Monday nights at 10 p.m. on PBS. Community Classroom is an innovative and free resource for educators, offering short-form film modules adapted from ITVS's award-winning documentaries and standards-based lesson plans for high school and community colleges, NGOs, and youth organizations. See more at http://www.itvs.org/educators/ 

In 2012, ITVS’s Community Classroom partnered with the Girls Scouts of the USA to create the curriculum “This is a Story You Have to Tell: Women, Girls, and the Criminal Justice System.” The collection features modules from three ITVS films: Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, Troop 1500, and Girls on the Wall. The Girl Scouts have since adapted the resource to be used as curriculum for their national programs Beyond Bars and Girl Scouting in Detention Centers, reaching nearly 17,000 women and girls around the country.