Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Many Faces of Girl Scouts: The Go-Getter

Girl Scouts have always taken the lead, transforming communities, lives and the world with the power of the G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)TM. This year, Girl Scouts is exploring what it looks like to be a member of our Movement with the Many Faces of Girl Scouts. So look closer! Each individual is a unique peak into our organization and the incredible people who make us who we are. 

Makenzie Uwe is a true G.I.R.L., but if you were to ask anyone who knows her, she is the ultimate go-getter. Uwe joined Girl Scouts 11 years ago as a Brownie but said her inner Go-Getter didn’t come out until sixth grade. That’s when she made the decision to join GSSJC’s equitation program, SPURS (Super People Using Riding Skills).

Horses had always been a passion for Uwe, but it was a passion she never thought to pursue after her first encounter with the animals at Camp Misty Meadows. When she entered sixth grade however, she decided to go for it, and that decision impacted nearly every part of her life.

“When I first went to Camp Misty Meadows, it sparked my love of horses,” Uwe said. “When I started working in the SPURS, it sparked my confidence and helped me gain leadership skills and volunteer hours. It was a win-win.”

Uwe’s can-do mentality and ambition took her far over the next few years. Spending as much time as she could at the stables, she became the group’s vice president and today, as an Ambassador, she also fills the role of secretary and event planner.

“A go-getter means someone who is always willing to do an extra job if they need to and step up,” Uwe said. “Someone who makes themselves available to do work.” Uwe also added that a true go-getter is someone who also knows when to back down to allow others the opportunity to lead.

Since joining the program, Uwe has earned more than 600 service hours mentoring younger Girl Scouts to become leaders themselves. During her years in SPURS, Uwe’s love of animals also inspired her to go on the Wildlife Wonders Destinations trip to Wyoming where she learned about wildlife and environmental science with the Teton Science Schools. She then went on a Destinations trip to Costa Rica where she repaired concrete floors for schools in Talamanca.

The leadership skills learned in Girl Scouts have allowed her to expand her roles with other extracurricular activities. Uwe rose above her peers to become an officer of her color guard team, a National Honor Society member and a member of the Technology Student Association (TSA). She will also participate in the 2017 TSA Nationals in Florida this year. Uwe said she even tried her hand at puppeteering and, while she decided it wasn’t for her, was glad she took the risk to try something new.

“I get bored really easily,” Uwe said. “I’m glad I try new things even if I don’t like them.”

Whether her achiever-personality came from determination or restlessness, her drive to succeed has never gone unnoticed. After scoring high on the ACT in six grade, Uwe was accepted into the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) where she studied criminology, forensics and chemistry for three years. She was also selected to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar where she and one other sophomore represented their school during a weekend of leadership education.

“Girl Scouts has helped me become more of a leader and has forced me out of my shell,” Uwe said. “Without Girl Scouts, I don’t think I would have had a lot of my experiences, like being invited back to the Teton Science Schools or going to Costa Rica.”

Most importantly, however, Girl Scouts prepared Uwe for her future by helping her explore her interests and set her on a career path. After developing an interest in veterinary science, she eventually gravitated towards forensic sciences which she plans to pursue after college.

Uwe is an incredible example of what happens when you want something and keep going for it. Girl Scouts exposes girls to a world of opportunity and teaches them not just to set goals, but also how to achieve them. See what it takes to be a G.I.R.L. and how you can become one too.

For more faces of Girl Scouts, visit

Friday, October 6, 2017

GSSJC Girl Scout Wins Highest Honor and Scholarship

Girl Scout of San Jacinto Council is happy to announce that Angela Shipman, a student at the University of Houston, was named by Girl Scouts of the USA as a 2017 National Young Woman of Distinction--our most prestigious honor! GSUSA selects ten National Young Women of Distinction annually  among candidates who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award®, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. 

Each year, thousands of girls in grades 9–12 nationwide are recognized as Gold Award Girl Scouts for transforming an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact at the local, national, and global levels. Approximately 5 percent of all eligible Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award each year—and just ten girls in this already-high-achieving group receive the National Young Woman of Distinction honor. Applications are judged by previous National Young Women of Distinction, leaders from a range of fields, GSUSA executives, and a representative from the Kappa Delta Foundation, which provides the honorees with college scholarships. 

For her Gold Award project, Shipman launched Rewire Society, a movement to help eliminate stereotypes and embrace diversity. Shipman, who overcame crippling insecurity for most of her adolescence, was excited to incorporate her love of film and photography into her project.  As part of her Gold Award project, she asked members of her community, friends and family a question each season about beauty standards. She took their responses and interpreted them through photography. In addition, she created a video that provided an overview of her project and learned HTML and CSS code that she used to create a  website. 

 “Growing up as a Girl Scout enabled me to think critically about world problems; it showed me how to use my strengths to make an impact and how to work on my weaknesses to make me a better person,” said Shipman. “It gave me a platform to follow my passion and my dream that was my Gold Award project, Rewire Society, and ultimately led me down the path to being honored as a National Young Woman of Distinction.”

Last year marked the centennial of the Girl Scout Gold Award, celebrating millions of Girl Scouts past and present who have created, developed, and executed incredible “Take Action” projects to make the world a better place. Other standout Gold Award projects carried out by girls from GSSJC in recent years include the creation of a large, durable prep table, complete with storage and sink for Interfaith of The Woodlands’ Veggie Village that provides a convenient and central location for volunteers to wash and package the more than 4,000 pounds of produce annually and the development of an iOS app called Scuba Jive, a website and a social media (Facebook, Twitter) presence to raise awareness about pollution and the preservation of the world’s oceans. These projects exemplify the extraordinary leadership, grit, and collaborative efforts of Gold Award Girl Scouts as they lead like a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ every step of the way.

Further, a new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, The Girl Scout Impact Study (2017), confirms that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to their non–Girl Scout peers, Girl Scouts are more likely to be leaders because they have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80% vs. 68%), identify and solve problems in their communities (57% vs. 28%), seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62% vs. 42%), and take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%).

“It’s an honor to have one of our Girl Scouts recognized as a National Young Woman of Distinction,’ said Mary Vitek, CEO of GSSJC. “Through Girl Scouting, girls like Angela discover their strengths and passions and use the leadership skills they learn to make a difference in our society. They become the next generation of women leaders and pave the way for other girls to follow.” 

To honor Girl Scouts’ National Young Women of Distinction, the Kappa Delta Foundation grants the selected girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting Kappa Delta’s commitment to girls’ leadership and pursuit of education. This includes $5,000 for Shipman. 

An additional $100,000 in college scholarships, which includes $10,000 for Shipman, is provided by Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders.

GSUSA will honor the National Young Women of Distinction at G.I.R.L. 2017, the largest girl-led event in the world, October 6–8 in Columbus, Ohio. In line with the theme of the event, “Experience the Power of a G.I.R.L.,” G.I.R.L. 2017 will provide every participating girl and girl supporter with amazing opportunities to celebrate achievements, build on aspirations, get inspired, and gain the tools girls need to empower themselves and create change in their communities―both locally and globally.

Being named a National Young Woman of Distinction, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, and receiving generous scholarships are just a few of the countless experiences girls have through Girl Scouts. To join or learn about volunteering, please visit

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Talking to Your Daughter About Hate: How to Have a Conversation About Current Events

Hateful acts and and extreme violence are sadly nothing new in this world, but when these types of attacks happen on U.S. soil, aimed at those trying to safeguard inclusivity and diversity—things we all stand for—it can be especially frightening to the girls in our lives. These types of horrific events can understandably make your daughter feel anxious, worried, frightened, angry, and confused—all very normal feelings that you can help her explore and express in the coming days. 
Parents have always needed to talk to their children about violence, but what’s different now is that the technology we use routinely has made all of us—including the youngest among us—virtual witnesses to some of the worst atrocities in the world. On our phones, tablets, and TVs, we get almost instantaneous, graphic accounts of events, along with sometimes live video or other graphic images from the events. A child seeing footage of a terror event isn’t necessarily a sign of lax parenting, but rather the result of inundating information and imagery in this always-on digital world.
“Kids and teens are understandably scared as well as worried when they see acts of extreme violence, especially when other young people are involved,” says Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist. “Older girls may try to bury their feelings of fear or sadness, but those feelings will only fester and become larger problems if they're not dealt with. On the other side of the coin, littler kids don’t have the context to understand what’s going on, so they will often fill in the blanks with the most frightening and worst possible scenarios. That’s why it’s so important that parents don’t dismiss their kids' worries by saying, ‘Don’t worry about that,’ or ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’ We need to have honest, direct conversations with all our children about these types of horrific events, and how you work to keep them safe.”
Here are a few tips on how you can have these conversations in your own home:

Admit what she saw was real
Older girls of course already understand that what happened was real, but little ones might not be sure. Resist the urge to tell your daughter the events she saw were just “pretend” or that it was a clip from a movie or TV show. Most kids are smarter than we may realize—they can see through even the most well-meaning fib—and, especially in an uncertain and threatening world, children need to be able to trust their parents and caregivers. When they feel that trust has been broken, they can feel even more anxious, distressed, and fearful.
Let her lead the conversation
Ask your daughter what she's thinking and how she's feeling about the recent violent events. Be present and really listen as she explains what she's going through, and know that it's more than OK to let her know that you are also feeling confused and sad. Provide age-appropriate answers to her questions, taking care to not bombard your daughter with overwhelming information she hasn't asked for. Do let her know that violence isn’t the answer, and that although she is likely angry about what happened, stereotyping any group of people based on isolated actions isn't just unhelpful—it's hurtful and wrong. Follow up conversations are also key. Even though it can be an uncomfortable topic for you and her, check in with your girl at regular intervals to see how she's feeling.
Provide stability
When unexpected violence strikes, her whole world can seem unpredictable and a bit more frightening. Having a solid routine can help kids of any age feel a bit more anchored and safe. Keep your daughter's bedtimes and mealtimes as regular as possible—and if there must be a change in plans, take the time to explain what’s happening and why to help her feel informed, confident, and secure. 
Don’t be alarmed by some regression
A distressed tween or even teen who isn’t usually afraid of the dark might suddenly want to keep the lights on as she dozes off. Similarly, an anxious younger child who hasn’t wet the bed in a year might have an accident overnight. While it can be frustrating to see this kind of “backslide” in your child, indulge her with extra hugs and comforting nightlights. Basically, go easy on her in the upcoming days. By being a source of comfort (and not judging her for her fear-based behaviors), she’ll likely go back to her previous sleep habits and abilities soon.
Practice self-care
Incidents of extreme violence are disturbing to all of us—not just young people—and if your daughter has been thinking "that could have been me," chances are, you've had similar thoughts, too. In order to stay calm and present enough to provide support for your child as she grapples with her fears, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and not making your own anxiety worse. Things like getting enough sleep, practicing deep-breathing exercises, and eating healthfully can help you to be your best, most clear-thinking self.
Know you can reach out 
Parenting, especially in trying times like these, can be hard. If you are worried that your child is not recovering healthfully from the trauma of recent violent events, talk to a counselor or psychologist at her school, or contact other leaders in your community for help. Mental health is just like any other kind of health—if your daughter had an ongoing stomach ache that wouldn’t go away, you’d get help for her. Getting her help for an emotional ache should be no different.
Watch what you watch (and what you say)
It’s not enough to monitor what your daughter watches during her own screen time. Limit your own viewing in front of your girl, even if you think she is busy doing something else and isn't paying attention. Adults also need to be careful what they say with each other in front of kids of all ages and refrain from angry comments made in the heat of the moment that might be misunderstood.
Most of all, take the time to give your daughter some extra love and support. Her feelings are probably complicated and confusing to her right now—but knowing she's got you on her team will help her through this. 

For more articles related to this subject and how to raise awesome girls, visit Raising Awesome Girls by Girl Scouts of the U.S.A

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Golden Link: New Troop Travel Scholarship!

Troop #639 and their European tour bus.

In memory of Doris Partin, a beloved troop leader and volunteer, several of the members of Troop #639 created the Doris Partin Troop Travel Scholarship to support troops who love to travel. Partin loved the Girl Scouts. Not only was she a troop leader, but also the neighborhood chairman where she developed interest groups for canoeing and hiking. Girl members had the opportunity to enjoy these activities monthly under Partin’s guidance. At the end of the year, the groups went on a 50-mile hike in Arkansas and a canoe trip to the White River.

Anytime Troop #639 wanted to have an adventure, like visiting Our Chalet in Switzerland, Partin always said “Why not?” That go-getter attitude is what led her take 18 teenage girls to Europe for three weeks. The troop set goals and worked for almost five years raising money any way possible: sugar eggs, a beef raffle, circulars and newspaper recycling. Through all of the fundraisers, the badges, the camping, the adventures and the life-long friendships, Partin enabled all the girls to make precious memories of their teen years and, truly, to survive the teen years. She made whomever she was with feel like they were special and accepted the girls for who they were, bringing out the best parts of each one.

As Girl Scouts, we are charged with making this world a better place, and there is absolutely no question that Partin succeeded. If your troop has a love for travel and is planning a trip to Savannah, the World Centers or another international destination, get started by visiting the forms section of the Council website and searching for forms F-453 and O-884. Troops must be in good standing with Council, have participated in Fall Product and Cookie Programs, have appropriate travel forms on file with GSSJC and have raised funds toward their planned trip.

Applications are due December 1, 2017 for troops planning to travel by August 31, 2018. For more information contact Liz Atton at 713-292-0269 or

For more like this, go to and click Publications under the Our Council Tab. The Golden Link, published five times per year, is mailed to every registered member of GSSJC and includes news, updates, upcoming program activities, trainings and more.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Unleash Your Daughter's Inner Superhero: Insights From Wonder Woman

This Daisy troop unleashed their inner heroes when they pulled together to provide hurricane relief after the storm in Seabrook, Texas. The girls showed compassion and kindness that was not only felt by the community but also themselves. They are continuing to help where needed and they are now helping their families and friends with anything anyone needs. 

With unstoppable bravery, super-human strength, and unwavering dedication to truth and justice (not to mention that awesome outfit) it’s easy to understand why little girls might be obsessed with Wonder Woman right now—and why parents might find the classic super hero to be a good role model. What mom or dad wouldn’t want a daughter who knows what she believes in and stands up for what’s right?

Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman—aka Diana, Amazon Princess—discussed a plot point from the movie that parents might want to pay close attention to. “When you first meet Diana on the island, she’s 5 or 6, and she’s this very curious little girl who’s very courageous, who’s very sassy,” the actor said in an interview released by Warner Bros. “She wants to learn how to fight, but she’s being very sheltered and very protected by her mother, who does not allow her to do so.”

Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, may be a Greek Goddess, but her instincts to coddle and keep watch over her daughter—even when it’s not what’s best for her—couldn’t be more human. In fact, a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Institute found that the vast majority of modern-day mothers—seven out of ten!—self-identify as overprotective of their children.

The problem is of course, that when girls are “kept safe” from even the smallest risks or failures, they are also being deprived of valuable experiences that could build up their resilience and help them grow into confident, strong, capable young women. And just as it’s only by taking the risk to leave home and her mother’s side for the first time that Diana realizes her full potential and transforms into the Wonder Woman we all know and love, your daughter may also need some freedom and space to realize her full potential.

Basically, the lesson here is whether your daughter is six or sixteen, you have to let go to let her grow. Here are just a few ways you can start doing that today:

Stand Back

When you see your daughter stretching to reach the cereal on a high shelf, do you walk over and grab it for her? Do you still order for her at restaurants, even though she’s old enough to read the menu and make her own decisions? When she has a problem at school, do you step in right away rather than letting her try to work it out first? If you said yes to any of these, you might be in need of some tough love similar to what Hippolyta’s sister, Antiope, had to offer—that a mother is delinquent in her duties if she doesn’t prepare her daughter for life. We might not phrase it in such harsh Amazonian terms, but the essence of the sentiment is true: when you step in, you’re essentially blocking your daughter from stepping up and growing her own skill set (and the confidence that goes along with that). Plus, you could actually be making her doubt her own abilities. After all, if she were capable of handling these situations on her own, why would you be so eager to problem solve for her?

Encourage Adventure

Slumber parties and residential summer camp stays will help your daughter gain independence and see how brightly she can shine on her own. As she gets older, meeting up with friends for an unsupervised afternoon of fun—or even taking a day trip with her best friend—will give her a little more freedom and make her even more self-reliant. After all, your daughter is going to want to leave the nest someday, just as Diana knew she needed to leave her sheltered island home. These baby steps will prepare her to stand courageously on her own when that day comes.

Cheer Her On

When Diana tells Hippolyta she wants to go help end the war, her mother replies, “If you choose to leave, you may never return!” Although of course Diana joins the war effort anyway—and becomes Wonder Woman in the process—we’re pretty sure her mother’s nay-saying didn’t do much to build up her confidence. So, if you’re worried that your not-so-coordinated daughter will hurt herself if she tries skateboarding? Keep those thoughts to yourself and let her hop on board. Think your tween daughter’s dreams of going to an Ivy League college one day are unrealistic? Tell her to look into what kinds of grades and scores she’ll need to get in, then encourage her to work for it. You know how people say if you shoot for the moon, you’ll at least reach the stars? The same goes here. If your daughter’s aiming for really big or slightly out-of-reach things and doesn’t succeed, it’s not a total wash. In fact, it can be a big win in terms of her learning about herself, her abilities, and where she has room for improvement. It’ll also help her grow more resilient and ready to handle life’s ups and downs. But who knows? Maybe she’ll hit her target. Life’s full of surprises, and your daughter is, too.

For more great articles like this one, visit Raising Awesome Girls at