Monday, December 4, 2023

5 Stressbusters to Help Your Girl Scout During the Holidays*

December is here and with it all the fun that holidays bring. It’s also a time of family and friend get-togethers, final exams, and college application deadlines. These along with colder weather and shorter daylight hours might leave your Girl Scout feeling blue or anxious. Check out the following five ideas to bring a little more harmony to their holiday.

Get outside. Days are shorter and getting colder, but fresh air and exercise is good for physical and mental wellbeing. Get details here on activities happening this winter with Girl Scouts. Take part in the Oakland Cemetery scavenger hunt or register for a Girl Scout weekend at either Camp Meriwether or Camp Misty Mountain. Girl Scouts can enjoy winter trail riding or even a wellness weekend of yoga, hiking, and journaling. Need something closer to home? Go for an evening walk in the neighborhood and enjoy holiday light displays or snuggle down with some blankets and stargaze. You might catch a glimpse of the Geminid Meteor Shower activity on December 13/14.

No forced hugs. Family events can be fun but steer clear of telling your Girl Scout to hug others. From an early age, kids need to understand they are in control of their bodies. If they are uncomfortable hugging Uncle Dan or Aunt Sarah, don’t force it. Talk with your Girl Scout ahead of time about how they like to greet others: shaking hands, a high five, or maybe a wave. If an adult relative says something like “Come here and give me a hug” redirect with a “We are doing handshakes now.” Don’t back down but also don’t make it a big deal or your Girl Scout may feel embarrassed. Read the GSUSA blog post on no forced hugs for more information.

Limit College Talk. As stressful as you find the process, your child is feeling it even more. Adults mean well when they ask teens questions like “Where did you apply” or “Have you gotten in?” The reality might be the teen wasn’t accepted or is waitlisted to their top choice, maybe their college decision is based on whether or not financial aid comes through or maybe they aren’t sure if their post-high school plans include college. At holiday gatherings, head off stress-inducing questions by letting friends and family know it’s a long process and the family should know something in the next few months.

Lend a helping hand. Studies indicate helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. December is a perfect time to work on a community project. Check out the Girl Scouts Give Back National Service Project activities here. They include sending greeting cards to seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and ideas on conducting a neighborhood food drive. Earn the Girl Scout Gives Back patch either as a troop or an individual. Your Girl Scout can keep her acts of kindness even closer to home by volunteering to bring in a neighbor-in-need’s garbage cans on trash pick-up day or helping our feathered friends by making a peanut butter pinecone bird feeder. Here’s a Girl Scout video guide to help you get started.

Don’t overschedule. There’s lots to see and do during school holidays, but being constantly in the car and on the go can raise anxiety in some kids. Check-in with your Girl Scout to see how they are feeling and be willing to scale back plans, if necessary. Staying home and reading a good book, playing with a family pet, listening to music, or even taking a nap may be something your child needs to decompress.

Here’s to the final stretch of 2023! From all of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, we send our best for a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.

*NOTE: These suggestions do not take the place of medical advice. If your child is exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety, please speak with your family physician and/or a school counselor.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Just G.O.!

Get Outdoors with 7 Amazing Girl Scout Activities...
Just the Way Juliette Gordon Low Intended

The experts agree – getting outdoors is good for your mental, emotional, and physical health. This summer, encourage your girl to change her screen time to green time and GO (get outdoors) with Girl Scouts’ fun, free, and low-cost outdoor experiences.

Our founder, Juliette Gordon Low was considered radical for thinking girls as well as boys, should spend time outdoors. She believed hiking, studying plants and animals, and boating led to improved physical fitness, an appreciation of the natural world and would encourage conservation.

Early badges were earned by girls who could steer a boat by the stars, identify trees by their leaves and bark, and find and purify water for drinking. Talk about trailblazers!

Today, we carry on Low’s mission to get girls outdoors. The following five activities will have your girl excited and inspired about the environment. And they aren’t just for her. Friends and family (including little brothers!) can join in.

  1. Download the free Girl Scouts Love the Outdoors guide for more than 44 hands-on activities that show your love for Mother Nature. Art to Atmosphere, Bikes to Bugs, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find to jump-start conversations and dig into environmental extras. For grades K-12 and each level may earn the Girl Scouts Love the Outdoors patch.




  2. Juniors can earn the Go Fish Georgia Badge, created by local Girl Scouts. Join the estimated 1 million plus Georgia anglers who enjoy the hobby. Learn about native fish, visit a fish hatchery, and cast a rod at one of the state’s many streams, lakes, and impoundments.



  3. Ready to rodeo? Registration is open for troops to join this exciting September weekend program at Camp Misty Mountain which focuses on roping and maneuvering your horse through the barrel racing pattern. The weekend ends with a mini rodeo for girls to show off their new skills.




  4. Take the Girl Scout Tree Promise and help protect the earth from climate change. Download the free toolkit and help Girl Scouts reach their goal of planting 5 million trees nationwide. The kit will help your girl choose the best tree for her neighborhood, offer how-to’s on planting, and ways to honor a loved one with her planting. Many municipalities offer free or reduced-cost saplings. Be sure to check your area for opportunities like this one.


  5. Become a Girl Scout Ranger through the National Park Service. Bike, hike, paddle, and explore local NPS sites like Georgia’s Cumberland Island, the close-by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or even the national historic site Andersonville Cemetery. Girl Scouts can earn fun patches, work towards a Girl Scout Journey, or even plan a service or Take Action Project. Check out our step-by-step guide.




  6. Are you looking for area adventures? Check out our Anytime Activities where you can find links to our many outdoor partners and explore hundreds of miles of trails, nature preserves, and outdoor education centers. From outdoor art to water conservation to building a solar oven, you can find activities for an afternoon, a day, or a weekend. Programs are suitable for your girl, her troop, or her family.

    Want to try your hand at outdoor cooking in your own backyard? Follow these instructions to make your own solar cooker. With a little help from the sun, you'll be serving up s'mores for the 4th of July celebration.


  7. Finally, don’t forget to check out Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend September 9, 10 for a variety of activities hosted by Georgia State Parks. Keep your eye on GSUSA’s site for information on patches, passports, and more. More info coming soon.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Girl Scouts' Commitment to DEI is a Thread Running Through the Fabric of Our Council

History books often miss the hidden figures involved in events that shaped our lives. You probably won’t be surprised that many of these unrecognized history makers are women and frequently women of color. Here in Atlanta, this is no exception.

Eighty years ago, noted Atlanta educator Bazoline Usher, the first Black woman to have an office at City Hall, had a dream to bring Girl Scouting to Black Girl Scouts. Through her efforts and the volunteer work of almost 30 area Black school teachers, the first troops formed in the fall of 1943 and became known as District V Girl Scouts.

Over the next 20 years, these girls and their leaders embraced the ideals of Girl Scouting: being prepared, helping others, acting in service, and taking steps towards early activism in a city divided by segregation.

In the 50’s the Georgia councils chose District V Girl Scout Roslyn Pope to represent the state at a national event. She was the only Black girl in attendance, making this one of her earliest experiences in a desegregated environment. You can read the AJC article about her experience here. A few years later, Roslyn Pope was a student leader at Spelman, involved in the beginnings of student activism. She penned An Appeal for Human Rights, the manifesto credited with launching the student sit-in movement in 1963.

Another Girl Scout, Madelyn Nix, was a senior in high school when she applied to become one of the first nine Black students to integrate Atlanta public high schools. With the memory of the harassment of a young Ruby Bridges in many minds, Atlanta held its breath as the Atlanta Nine began attending four whites-only schools. Learn more about the Atlanta Nine.

Other Girl Scouts like Vivian Welch Brinson and Celestine Bray Bottoms worked passionately, often behind the scenes, editing speeches, creating protest posters, and holding meetings in their homes or churches as students responded to the call of Civil Rights leaders.

Today, we celebrate these unsung heroes and are honored to work with Gene Kansas, Gene Kansas Real Estate, and the Loss Prevention to bring a mural to the side of the former Atlanta Daily World building, where the District V troops met. Click here to learn about it and if you know of someone who was a Girl Scout in District V, please reach out to our archives committee at archives@gsgatl.org. We would love to keep you updated on the progress of the mural, an upcoming exhibit, and offer an opportunity for you or a loved one to share any District V Girl Scout memories.

In 2020, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta recommitted to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies and procedures. Since then, we’ve seen many successes in these efforts in both obvious and behind-the-scenes ways.

  • Last summer we launched our inaugural Girl Scouts Destinations Camp, Journey to Justice which follows the Civil Rights trail in Atlanta and beyond, working with older girls in honing their social justice voice. We have a few spaces available for the June 25 - July 1 camp. Email cgarden@gsgatl.org for more information. The deadline is June 11, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

  • With support from the Department of Labor, we implemented an outdoor job skills program, introducing young minority women to careers in camping and outdoor recreation.


  • This followed a partnership with Home Depot to engage older girls, especially those who identify as Black or Latinx in construction trades.


  • For our employees, we offered Juneteenth as a paid day off, before it became an official state holiday in Georgia, and we offer support for employees through six Employee Resource Groups. In addition, our staff continues to undergo trainings to best serve our wonderfully diverse membership.


  • Our teen event, Girls Night Out, included a silent disco and other supportive activities for neuro-diverse Girl Scouts while our ongoing Teen Summit helps middle school Latinx girls develop the tools for a successful future.

Friday, May 19, 2023

4 Ways to Support Your Girl Scouts’ Mental Well-being for Summer and Beyond

Recent CDC studies reveal 57% of high school girls have “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” nearly twice as high as males. And while May is officially Mental Health Awareness Month, here at Girl Scouts, we consider a girl’s mental well-being a top priority all year long and our programs reflect that.

Though most troops may be on pause for the summer, the next few months can still be filled with friendship-building and self-confidence-boosting activities that positively impact their mental health. Here are 4 ideas to help your Girl Scout stay connected to what matters this summer.

1. Connect with Herself - The Resilient. Ready. Strong. wellness patch program is filled with loads of no-cost ideas for all ages and Girl Scout levels. Download the free guide (in English or Spanish) and get your girl started on hands-on activities ranging from gratitude journals to songwriting, to animal care. Activities can be done alone or with friends or family.






2. Connect with Nature – Studies show that being in nature even for half an hour a day helps us feel better mentally and physically. There are many opportunities in Georgia to hike, fish, go biking or river tubing. Girl Scouts also offers day and overnight camps with opportunities for lake swimming, horseback riding, and miles of nature trails. Is your Girl Scout nervous about attending a camp for the first time or without a friend? Our counselors are trained to ease a girl’s worries and connect her with others. We have almost 100 years of experience in delivering a safe, fun, and memorable summer camp experience to all ages.

Beginning June 1 your Girl Scout can take part in the “Girl Scouts Love the Outdoor Challenge.” Download your free activity guide so she can jump into a variety of outdoor activities in easy ways with little to no cost or travel time. Whether she has an open window, a backyard, a balcony, or a nearby park, she can join in the fun.


3. Connect with Friends and Family - According to doctors, supportive relationships increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost happiness and reduce stress. This summer, set up a time for your girl to get together with members of her troop to play, be silly, and catch up with each other. Encourage her to try a new hobby like photography, woodworking, or anime illustration. Bring her and the family to one of our Girl Scout Days with a few of our area partners and share the fun at theme parks, professional sporting events, museums, and classes with savings up to 50% off. Don’t forget to take pictures of your day, print them, and help your girl create a scrapbook to remember her adventures.




4. Connect with Community - Mental health experts agree helping others gives us purpose and creates a sense of well-being. In the Girl Scout Law, we promise to “make the world a better place” and summer is a great time to put that Law into action. Ask your girl what she’s passionate about and help her find a way to turn that passion into purpose. For example, does she love animals? Maybe she can collect towels or newspapers for the local shelter. If she’s completed the prerequisites, she can learn more about the Girl Scout High Awards at our Silver, Bronze, and Gold Award summer academies. Here, with girls her own age, she can spend the day developing a take-action project for the upcoming Girl Scout year. Previous Girl Scout High Awards include building a little library, running a water safety course, creating a used musical instrument donation for students at a Title 1 school, and designing a mural along the Atlanta Beltline. Visit our events calendar to register.




And if you haven’t reregistered for the 2023-24 Girl Scout year, visit your personal My GS page or speak with your girl’s troop leader. You don’t want your Girl Scout missing out on events like “Girls Night Out” a K-12 evening filled with tips, tools and a little dance and yoga thrown in for stress management. New mental wellness badges, outdoor activities and more are on the way with details available in late summer.

Girls need Girl Scouts more than ever. Girl Scouts is a place where every girl can be herself, where she is physically and emotionally safe. It is a place where every girl belongs and where she will grow in perseverance, confidence, and resilience.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Response to Midtown Shootings

Dear Girl Scouts,

We are deeply saddened and concerned about Wednesday’s active shooter event that took place in Atlanta. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy, especially the victims and their families. We also extend our support to the many Girl Scout members who were in Midtown as these events unfolded and who were locked down in area schools and businesses.

We understand that events like this can be frightening and unsettling, especially for our girls. If you or your Girl Scout need support or resources to cope with this traumatic event, we encourage you to use these resources below:

For child-centered grief and trauma resources

We also want to remind our Girl Scout families to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and take steps to protect yourself and those around you. The safety and well-being of our Girl Scout community is our top priority, and we want to assure you that we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our members at our camps and events.

Our hearts are with the Atlanta community during this difficult time, and we are committed to supporting our Girl Scout members and their families as we work together to heal and move forward.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

 

 

 

 

Amy S. Dosik
CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Friday, June 24, 2022

Guidance for Girl Scouts regarding Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling

A Message from the CEO:


Earlier today, the Supreme Court published its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion and overturning its ruling in Roe v. Wade. We recognize that this decision is polarizing for our nation and our Girl Scout members, who are diverse in their personal and religious beliefs concerning reproductive rights.

 

Our policy as a Girl Scout movement has always been that decisions on reproductive rights are highly personal in nature and best handled within families, and this continues to be our position following today’s ruling. We ask that you continue to apply the principles of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, acting with consideration, caring, and respect for those whose views on reproductive issues differ from your own. 

 

We also recognize that girls and adults within our movement may wish to make their voices heard with respect to this ruling. Because our movement does not take a position on reproductive rights issues, I wanted to review some rules of engagement for how Girl Scout members may represent themselves if they choose to attend protests, marches, rallies or other public events. 

 

Girls, troops, and adult members generally should not wear Girl Scout uniforms or branded attire when attending events that support one side of an issue on which the Girl Scout movement does not take a position, including reproductive rights. Members may wear uniforms or branded items only if their participation is linked to a specific Take Action project in pursuit of a Girl Scout Journey or Highest Award.

 

We ask parents, guardians, and troop leaders to be mindful of the possibility of violence at marches and rallies as they consider the appropriateness of the experience for girl members. We respect the rights of each individual member of our movement to make their own decision about participating in and we encourage thoughtful discussion of any event.

 

If your Girl Scout is interested in learning more about the 'freedom to assemble,’ other ways our government works, and how she can participate in it, you may want to explore our Citizenship badges. Badges such as Inside Government, Finding Common Ground, and Behind the Ballot inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls to lead positive change through civic action. Encouraging girls to be engaged citizens isn't new. Even before women had the right to vote, Girl Scouts could earn Citizenship badges. 


View our Citizenship badges here: https://www.girlscoutsatl.org/en/our-program/Badge-Explorer.html

Thank you for your continued investment in girls and Girl Scouting. 


Yours in Girl Scouting,









Amy S. Dosik

CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta 

Monday, June 6, 2022

A Message from the CEO - June 6

Dear Girl Scouts,

I am devastated by the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Chattanooga, and Laguna Woods, California. These senseless acts of gun violence have left dozens of people killed or wounded and countless others suffering from emotional trauma. These events are more than any of us should have to bear.

We are heartbroken to share that one of our Girl Scouts from Southwest Texas was killed during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week. The entire Girl Scout community mourns the loss of Amerie Jo Garza, along with the families of the victims and everyone affected by the violence.

Amerie was posthumously awarded the Girl Scout Bronze Cross for her bravery. The Bronze Cross is awarded for saving or attempting to save life at the risk of the Girl Scout’s own life. Amerie, a 10-year-old 4th-grader, was shot dead as she attempted to call 911 for help. Amerie had bridged to Juniors the previous week.

For ways you can help our sisters in Uvalde, please visit our Girl Scout Strong for Uvalde web page at www.girlscouts-swtx.org/girlscoutstrong.

Our nation continues to suffer unfathomable losses from gun violence at an alarming rate. The shooting in Uvalde is the 27th school shooting to take place this year and the 63rd mass shooting during the month of May. * It leaves us reeling in anger and grief.

While it is difficult for us as adults to process these events, children are especially vulnerable to fear and anxiety. Below you will find some resources you may wish to use as you navigate difficult conversations with your girls.

May our nation find the courage to heal, the confidence to stand in solidarity with all children who need our protection and the character to do what is right to end gun violence. Thank you for all that you do.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Amy

For child-centered grief and trauma resources
For mental health crises
  • Call 911
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org for online emotional support
  • The Crisis Text Line connects you to a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message: text NAMI to 741741
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7 national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling (more info at National Institute of Mental Health): Dial 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor
For families or troops seeking mental health care services
  • National Alliance for Children's Grief (NACG) links to local support groups and professionals
  • SAMHSA's Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Mental Health America (MHA) links to affiliates across the country and offers resources for finding treatment

*School shooting data supplied by Education Week. Mass shooting data supplied by Gun Violence Archive.