Monday, August 3, 2015

Girl Scout Recognized for Sixth Ward Art Project

There is an incredible abundance of talent among our local Girl Scouts, exhibited in their everyday grace and the contributions they make to the local community. We do our best to recognize them for their accomplishments by featuring their talents, tasks and travels on Facebook, GSSJC publications and here on this blog. But sometimes a girl does something so extraordinary it earns the attention of local media, such as the recent case with Francesca F. who labored for a month in the hot Houston sun to transform a vacant grass lot on Washington Street into an amazing work of art!

Here is what HPM-News 88.7 had to say about Francesca and her project:

"Seventeen-year-old Francesca Farris has been working outside under the hot Houston sun for the past month or so. With the help of a few friends, she’s created a labyrinth on what was once a vacant grass lot on White Street near the Washington Avenue corridor. Within a few days of working on it, some of the neighbors in the area started asking if they could help out.

"As it came together, we had this dad and daughter walk by,” Farris says. “The little daughter – I think she was around three or four years old – was like, ‘I want to help, I want to help!’ and so she came out for two or three hours. She helped us lay bricks and then she was at the closing ceremony and running around."

Farris worked in partnership with MECA – the Multicultural Education and Counseling through Art center. They had camp kids create about two dozen colorful mosaics, spaced out along the brick-lined foot path. Farris said that MECA also came up with the name.

'It is called, Tierra, Viento, y Luz, which is Earth, Wind, and Light, she says. “It’s just very whimsical. It’s not like any other labyrinth I’ve ever seen.'

The project was part of Farris earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award in the organization. It recognizes efforts made by girls who demonstrate leadership and community engagement. "

To listen to the story, follow this link to Houston Public Media's webpage. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GSUSA: 5 Camp Songs Every Girl Scout Should Know

Camp season is finally upon us! While many are loading up their overnight bags, preparing their favorite fireside snacks, and picking out their favorite swimsuits, we’re all about the camp songs that’ll be ringing in the air all week long. To prepare  campers for the ultimate sing-along session, we [GSUSA] asked our Facebook audience for the best Girl Scout camp songs. Here are the Top 5—check them out and see if your favorite is among them.  

Oh, and happy singing!

Download the lyrics to Kookaburra here.

Download the lyrics to the Brownie Smile Song here

Download the lyrics to Linger here.

Download the lyrics to Princess Pat here.

Download the lyrics to Make New Friends here.

For more blog posts created by our National Council, GSUSA, visit their blog by following this link!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Girl Guest Blog: My Destinations Trip to China

Each year Girl Scouts across the country are given the opportunity to travel to foreign countries on trips designed just for them. Everywhere from Costa Rica, to Whales, to the Virgin Islands, Destinations trips are one of the great opportunities provided for girls who struggle with wander lust, or just want a new experience. This year one of GSSJC's own, Katie H. from Troop #3023, was one of 15 girls nationwide selected from a pool of applicants for a guided tour of China! But being chosen for a trip is only the first step towards getting there. GSSJC donated 1/3 of the costs, while Katie H. raised the remaining 2/3 from her community, ATS Destinations, a GoFundMe campaign she created, and, of course, troop cookie sales--all attributing to her amazing fundraising and organizational skills! Below, Katie H. takes us  through her adventure and gives us an inside to all that she's learned:

"My trip officially began at the San Francisco airport where I met up with the rest of the Girl Scouts going to China. Our 11 hour flight to Beijing was at 3 p.m., June 30, and after landing and going through customs in Beijing, we were supposed to have another flight out to Chengdu. Unfortunately, when we got to our gate we were told the airline would not be sending a plane because they were not going to make enough money on the flight. This was my first experience with the resourceful mindset of the Chinese culture. All of the angry people who were supposed to be on our flight to Chengdu, created a mini mob at the gate check-in counter. Gavin, one of the adults from ATS Destinations, a sponsoring organization partnered with Girl Scouts, told us that the airline didn’t want negative attention called to them for not sending the plane (another interesting observation into the culture), so the passengers were trying to put enough pressure on the airline for them to send a plane. Eventually, at about 3:30 a.m., the airline conceded and we got our flight to Chengdu.
After more than a day of traveling, we finally arrived to our destination the morning of July 2. In Chengdu we met our translator and went shopping on a traditional street where I bought Tibetan beaded bracelets made by local villagers. There they also sold beautiful leaf drawings with hand painted pictures of panda bears, which I also purchased. It was really fun learning how to barter with the shopkeepers! And while out in the city, many people stopped our group and asked for pictures because they liked our lighter hair and complexions. Other people just held up their phones and took pictures as we walked by.
That first day we also explored a monastery not far from the Tibetan markets. The next day, on July 3, we toured our first Giant Panda Center in Ya’an. It was amazing to see this endangered species up close for the first time, ever. The center was one of four run by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. We also visited the center’s veterinary hospital and had a Q&A session with one of the Panda Doctors. 
The next day we went to volunteer at the Dujiangyan base. We spent the day cleaning enclosures, making panda cakes, watching a documentary on the panda release program, and best of all, feeding the pandas. Feeding and scratching the pandas was the absolute best experience in the world! Yet, I was also very flattered when, after complementing another woman at the research center on her necklace--with a little help from my translator--she was so pleased she took it off and gave it to me. Our translator advised me that to not accept it would be very rude, so I said thank you, and the woman and I took a picture together. After we left that evening, we took a well deserved break and went shopping in a few outdoor markets.
July 5 was our second day volunteering. We started off the day by weeding in the center’s tea garden and hiking through the mountains of the panda center. We did more feedings and enclosure cleaning later in the day. After getting back to the hotel we walked around Dujiangyan at night and listened to a couple of street performers. It was magical. The next morning we left Dujiangyan, and drove back to Chengdu, where again we toured the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center and got to see a couple of newborn pandas. Later that evening , we went to a Chinese variety show and saw a Chinese opera with fire eaters, puppets, shadow dancers, and mask changers! 
On July 7 we left Chengdu and flew to Beijing. The next day we had breakfast at a Chinese McDonald! We were all so happy to find something that reminded us of home that even though they sold dishes catered to the Chinese culture, we ate regular, wonderful chicken nuggets and fries. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Forbidden City, some pagodas, and hiking up a nearby mountain looking over the city. We took the subway around Beijing to go to an indoor bazaar. There were mopeds everywhere! And the women in the city were dressed very trendy from their hair down to their shoes--even when riding on the mopeds!
Since we were leaving China the next day, we pulled an all nighter and went exploring in the Beijing night markets until 1:00 a.m . At 4:00 p.m. on July 9 we walked over to Tiananmen Square to see the daily flag raising ceremony. There were thousands of people who came every morning to see China's flag raised, and to hear the national anthem. 
We left the Beijing airport and flew to San Francisco with no problems or delays. I landed in Houston at about 11:00 p.m. after another uneventful flight. I had a wonderful experience in China. I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and a ton of facts about the endangered Giant Panda. Thank you so much GSSJC for supporting me and helping me get ready for this amazing trip!"

The fall application period for summer destination trips open September and close February. For more information, contact GSSJC at 713-292-0300, or send in your questions by following this link

Monday, July 13, 2015

Girl Scouts Observe Ramadan by Celebrating and Educating

This month, Girl Scouts in Troop #08651 joined together to observe and celebrate Ramadan. But this year, not only have they sought to celebrate but also educate others in their community.

Here girls answer questions about what Ramadan means to them:

How do you observe Ramadan?

"--There is still a lot of celebration and joy. The house is decorated with colors and lights, family and friends come over to break their fast with a beautifully prepared feast every night and a nice filling breakfast every morning before sunrise to prepare everyone for the day's fast. An uplifting, beautiful vibe fills the homes and hearts of those participating in Ramadan, and that is part of what makes it such a beautiful month.” (Nada N.) 

Does Ramadan have special meaning meaning to you?

“ It’s a holy month in our religion. We are supposed to not eat during the day.  We usually join in congregation to eat with family and friends. In this month we strive to become better individuals focusing on our weaknesses to make our character stronger through acts of worship and reflection.” (Fatima I.)

“To me, this month especially means close family togetherness and patience." (Ayah A.)

Ramadan has a feeling like no other. It's the most special month of the year and is indescribable. It's something I feel in my heart and I feel closer to my God, Islam, and my community than any other time.” (Iman P.)

What do you pray for during Ramadan?

“I pray for my family, friends, and people around the world for peace and unity. I pray that this
will be a Ramadan I never forget, and it benefits my family and me in a positive and everlasting
way." (Nadia S.)                       

We pray for ourselves , our family and friends, Muslims that are suffering around the world. Ramadan is a time where you can pray for whatever you want and since it is a holy month you can get more rewards and get a better chance for your prayers to be answered.”  (Iman P.)

“I pray for my family`s health, happiness and safety, and that all our sins be removed.” (Ayah A.)

What do you want people to know about Ramadan?

“I want them to know that Ramadan is a celebration of many different things, and that each of us have a personal way of participating in this month, aside from the obligatory fasting.” (Ayah A.)

“It’s not as difficult or strenuous as it might seem! After the first few days, people usually get accustomed to the fasting , and knowing that most Muslims around the world are fasting
alongside you is a truly unifying experience. Ramadan’s not a burden but a privilege."  (Nadia N.)

What is your favorite part about Ramadan?

"Eating and seeing my friends and waking up early, because then I do not sleep in late. The celebrations after. Spending time with family. Getting healthier.” (Fatima I.)

“ The long nights with family and friends, reading Quran (our holy book), praying, listening to the beautiful recitation of the Imam (person who leads the prayer) echo through the mosque…Ramadan nights are my favorite part.”
(Nadia N.)

“My favorite part of Ramadan is the qiyyams." (Subhiya A.L.)

How do you help your family prepare for Ramadan?

"We listen to inspirational talks about spiritually and physically getting ready for Ramadan, and I help my family with all the afore mentioned activities."   (Nadia N.)

“ We have a celebration called Eid right after. So I help prepare gifts.  When we have guests over I help my mom make food and serve it."  (Fatima I.)

“We cook and buy food in preparation for the meals of Iftar and Suhur.” (Ayah A.)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Women in the War for American Independence

We remember America's independence from Briton on July 4th because that was the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. The British king, King George III, wasn't about to take orders from our founding fathers however and certainly was not enthused about letting America, a land hugely abundant in resources loose from his grasp. But in the Revolutionary War to follow, the men weren't the only ones fighting it out.

This Fourth of July, don't forget some of the women who played strategic roles in the fight for American independence.

Mary Ball Washington
Mary Ball Washington is forgotten mother of the infamous first American president, George Washington. Though history tells us that Mrs. Washington and her great son were often at odds with one another, it was her strong-will, sternness and common sense that taught her son to be a man of great character. We should remember that back then the mothers were primarily responsible for raising their children, unlike the parenting dynamic that is common today. Because of this, we owe Mary Ball Washington and the women who raised history's other great men with the equal credit of winning the war and shaping America's history.

Martha Curtis Washington
Martha Curtis Washington was, of course, the wife of President George Washington and again, unfortunately, most remember her solely as his wife. But she was a very compassionate woman with a fierce hart, and it is said that during the war as she arrived at Valley Forge to help support her husband, she came upon a scene where men were chanting, “No bread, no soldier”. Martha Washington came prepared with supplies and set up a sewing club of other officers’ wives to help mend the soldier's clothes. She was also irreplaceable as a nurse, saving many soldier's lives. One soldier wrote: “I never in my life knew a woman so busy from early morning until late at night as was Lady Washington, providing comforts for the sick soldiers.”

Catherine Barry
Catherine Barry is known as the “Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens”. During the war she volunteered as a scout and was an indispensable resource because she knew every trail and shortcut around her plantation in South Carolina. Catherine was crucial in warning the militia of the approaching British before The Battle of Cowpens which took place on January 17, 1781. Catherine helped round up the militia to support General Daniel Morgan and his troops. She was undoubtedly responsible for the decided victory that day.

Mercy Otis Warren
Mercy Otis Warren, or otherwise knows as the "Conscience of the American Revolution,” accomplished feats only men were allowed to do at the time. She spoke her mind, was an excellent writer and one of the first women playwrights. She spoke from the heart, and most of the time that meant she gave her opinions on war on had uncomfortable political conversations. But she didn't care because she believed what she thought was right and became a very well known revolution sympathizer. Despite not having the same rights as men, Mercy didn't let that stop her and recognized that even though there were many things she wasn't allowed to do, one thing she could do was share her mind.

Esther de Berdt Reed
Esther Reed adopted America as her home and pledged her support to the revolution as the war raged on. To show prove her loyalty to the America's independence, she established “The Ladies of Philadelphia”, a woman's group that would help raise the huge fortune of $300,000 for troops by going door to door seeking donations. The organization raised an enormous sum of $300,000 dollars for the troops by going door to door asking for donations. With the money they raised Esther Reed and her group of women worked closely with then General George Washington to buy and sew new uniforms for the army. 

Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low surely would have admired these women for their confidence, courage and character while helping America find its footing as a country.

Today we celebrate these women, and every American, in honor of the Fourth of July.