Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Girls' World Forum 2012

In July, girls from 79 countries and 89 U.S. councils met in Chicago to address the world's most urgent challenges. Using their well-honed leadership skills, girls devised systems to help end poverty and hunger. They also focused on ways to empower women and promote gender equity. And, tapping into their passion for environmental issues, girls worked to ensure environmental sustainability. The selected attendees, ages 14 to 18, hope to motivate and inspire a global sisterhood of girls their age. From July 11-17, 2012, Girl Scouts Raydijah and Caitlyn and Girl Scouts alumna Shedaria represented our Council at the forum. Below is an interview with Raydijah and Caitlyn about their experience!

Why did you decide to accept the nomination to attend the Girls’ World Forum (GWF)? 
Raydijah: I accepted the nomination because I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to meet people and learn about other cultures.
Caitlyn: I was honored to be nominated. I thought it would be an once-in-a-lifetime experience to be exposed to so many different people and cultures.

What did you do to prepare for the GWF?
Raydijah: I looked at my community and saw what was wrong and I looked at the Millennium Development Goals we would be discussing…and I also did my pre-work required by Girl Scouts of the USA, of course.
Caitlyn: I did look up the Millennium Development Goals. For me, it was different because I just turned 14 and it was one of the first times I was looking at global issues, so I tried to get informed so I had some knowledge before I went. I also researched WAGGGS.
(The delegation also had three meetings and attended a special tea with Board Member Lillian Walby to learn more about the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.)

What was the GWF?
Raydijah: It was to focus on three Millennium Development Goals that are big issues for Girl Scouts and teach girls about other countries and their problems with the same goals. 
Caitlyn: It was a lot of things. It was a centenary celebration. It was a gathering of girls from all over the world to become educated about issues they might not necessarily see in their community, and to get realistic solutions as to how they could help in their community.
Raydijah & Caitlyn also described that the forum had lots of different sessions: plenary sessions with keynote speakers, breakout sessions with small groups, and different sessions for the education of the problems, solutions for the problems, and leadership, self-esteem and advocacy skill-building.

What did you learn at the GWF?
Caitlyn: I just learned so much about how even though we’re on the other side of the world, we do have a lot of similarities, but at the same time, there is a lot of stuff I had no idea that’s going on in other countries. I made really good friends with a girl from Hong Kong and we were talking about gender equality. We were talking about the problems in our community. I was telling her that here women get paid 30% less than men, but she told me that in Hong Kong, it’s actually reversed. Men don’t get into universities and they don’t get jobs as easily as women. She was shocked to learn that the U.S.’s situation is so different.
Raydijah: I learned so much I can’t even put it all into words but one big thing I learned is how similar and how different we are from girls in other countries. For example, there was a girl from Malaysia there. Where she’s from, girls are not allowed to drive and they aren’t allowed out of the house without a male figure as opposed to the Cook Islands, where everyone is equal no matter what you are, no matter what, everyone is equal. I want to go there SO BAD, you don’t understand! J

Who did you meet at the GWF?
Caitlyn: There was this girl from New Zealand and her accent was cooler than British and Australian combined. All these girls are like so smart, and they’re so passionate about these issues. Like, Raydijah got close to one girl in particular, but I met a lot of people from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, the Maldives, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
Raydijah: I particularly close to one girl from the Cook Islands. I don’t want to brag about her, but she was the most amazing person I ever met. She was so sweet and welcoming. I met people from everywhere, Thailand, Namibia, Cincinnati, Miramar, Japan, Dominica, Curacao, and London (can’t leave out London! We called the girl from London Fergie).

What did you do at the GWF?
Caitlyn: First of all, we had six sessions, one for each Millennium Development Goal, so we had sessions educating us about the issues and we had what we could do to make a difference. We had reflection sessions with our chaperone Shedaria, we had keynote speakers, and we had people coming to teach us skill-building to help us take out our Take Action plans. We did a lot of stuff. There wasn’t an average day. We went on different trips around Chicago. They were called Take Action Days. We did very different things. I planted grass.We were busy in every sense of the word.
Raydijah: A better question would be what we didn’t we do! (In addition to what Caitlyn mentioned)… we went on different field trips in the environment, like to the zoo. I also walked around a recycled building that has a garden. We went on the rooftop and looked at the solar panels. There were night activities too. One night activity was International Night where we got to learn about other cultures. We went on a double-decker bus tour to see Chicago. There were at least three sessions in a day. You got about two or three short breaks. Most days, we were in a very small room with a lot of other girls. There were various activities and work. We had a lot of work.

What did you enjoy about the GWF?
CaitlynEverything! As hectic and cramped as the schedule was, looking back it was probably the only experience I’ll have to meet so many people from all over the world in the matter of a week and gain so much knowledge.
Raydijah: I loved meeting people from everywhere and hearing their language and hearing what they like to do back home for fun and telling them what Miami’s like. Everyone’s heard of Miami.

What was challenging about your trip to the GWF?
Caitlyn: For, that would be the schedule and being away from home. This was my first big trip away from home, and it was a week. And just being exhausted every day. But, it was definitely worth it.
Raydijah: Although I’ve been away from home before, being away from my mom was probably the hardest thing, because you just need that love that you’re used to. But now that I’m back home, I definitely think all my heartache was worthwhile because that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What was Shedaria (the young adult volunteer chaperone) like?
Caitlyn: Shedaria was such an awesome chaperone. She let us have enough freedom to where we could go shopping or go to the Navy Pier but she always made sure that we got to where we needed to be. For me, one morning I started to feel really dizzy and had to miss some sessions. She stayed with me the entire time and made sure I was drinking my Gatorade to get my electrolytes back up. And she also really helped us brainstorm a lot about our Take Action project.
Raydijah: Shedaria was absolutely amazing. She was the perfect person because she’s around our age so we can relate to her but she can also be an authority figure. She allowed us our freedom like Caitlyn said but she always made sure she knew where we were and if we were okay.

What is the Take Action project you’ll be doing all about?
Caitlyn: We noticed that in the Chicago airport there are recycling bins everywhere but in the Miami International Airport there is no recycling. I think if it’s convenient for people to recycle, they will. We decided to focus on Millennium DG #7 which is environmental sustainability. My understanding is that we will start at the camp level with the Forever Green program and try to implement it even further throughout council, and then we will branch out into other places in the community, either together or apart. My idea for camp and council is for FPL to do a free energy efficiency evaluation. They will tell us what to do to make the office more energy efficient. We can try to get donors to get us the right light bulbs, replace paper towels with hand dryers, and renovate the office to become greener.
Raydijah: I want to do a beach clean-up. Hopefully we can make it a few days out of the year that are beach clean-up days. And another thing we are looking at is getting recycling bins at council and at the airport. We want to inform people about what recycling could do in our community.
The girls also want to focus on Millennium Development Goal #7 (environmental sustainability) in their planned Gold Award projects.
Do you think it’s important for our council to participate in other WWAGGGS gatherings in the future? Why/not?
Caitlyn: Definitely. They are such a huge organization and they can provide many opportunities for the council. They are huge. They have so much going on. They can do more than our council can do by itself.
Raydijah: Yes, because they’re a great organization with so much to offer and they would be good to include in our projects because they can help branch our projects further out into the world.

Anything else?
Raydijah: I want to thank the people who nominated me. Also I want to thank Ms. Shedaria Deleveaux for being the chaperone, she’s amazing. I want to thank Ms. Julia Onnie-Hay (Director of Programs) for preparing us to go to the Forum.
Caitlyn: I just have a lot of people to thank. Basically everyone at council: Ms. Beverly Jones, Ms. Julia Onnie-Hay (Director of Programs), Ms. Shedaria Deleveaux, everybody for constantly asking me how the trip was going, and I was just so honored to be nominated in the first place, and it was such an amazing experience, and thank you, everybody.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Girl Scout Summer Camp: Memories in the Making!

Camp Choee Report from Camp Director, Miriam “Sugar Cookie” Nor:

The girls and staff at Camp Choee are having a great summer! Thus far “Fantasy Fest” was our most popular week. The girls were able to express themselves by dressing up as fairies and princesses. When three of their favorite Disney princesses came into camp, all of the girls gravitated towards them. The girls loved how the characters they all watched on the big screen and read about in books instantly came to life. Singing, dancing and face painting made these girls dreams come true.

Along with having fun, girls have been growing as leaders. Virginia “Musi” DeOvin-Berenguer (a two-year Choee camper) exhibited courage at our Junior Olympic size pool by teaching herself to swim under the careful supervision of our lifeguards. Virginia “Marshmallow” Snyder-Pendergrass (a four-year veteran Choee camper) exhibited great character as she welcomed a first time camper into the Wacky Monkey (Brownie) unit, showing that every girl is a sister to every camper at Girl Scout camp. Finally, Sydney “Dora” Gilmore (a first time Choee camper) exhibited confidence as she learned to hula hoop for the first time at camp. Everyday Dora struggled with the task of watching the other campers effortlessly twirl the hoop around their waist. Determined not to be defeated, after one week Dora had achieved her goal.

One challenge our camp has faced this summer was losing one of our valued counselors Heather “Gumdrop” Hope due to unforeseen family hardships. Gumdrop was a great asset to Camp Choee and is truly missed. The staff all worked together to ensure the girls morale remained high after her unexpected departure. Camp Choee has now welcomed Claudia “Tigger” Sequera on board for the remaining of the summer. Speaking of our awesome summer camp staff, one of our most popular staff members this summer is our Arts & Crafts Director/Cook Stephanie “Frisky” Brown. She always encourages the girls to be leaders by allowing them to be independent in all forms of artistry and to take ownership of their own enjoyment at camp; Frisky truly provides a great example of the “Girl-Led” focus of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.  

Camp Mahachee Report from Camp Director, Sarah "Sunshine" Wach

All girls, staff and the many peacocks at Camp Mahachee agree that it has been a very special summer this year. Our most popular week has been "What's Up, Cupcake?”. The girls have loved learning about different cooking techniques and have taken pride in being able to cook something for the whole camp!  Another highlight of camp this summer has been “Girl Talk.” Our youngest group of girls participated in this open conversation facilitated, but not led, by the counselors. All the girls take a chance at talk about various topics of interest. At the beginning of one camp week, one young Girl Scout was hesitant to share and would rather just listen. However, by Thursday the other girls had created such a warm, open environment, the girl was able to confidently share her thoughts without fear of judgment!

As a new camp director, with a young (although experienced) staff, we have had to prove that we are capable of running a camp that is both exciting and safe. By having girl led activities and teaching new skills (such as cooking) through a learning by doing method, they have created an environment in which girls feel accepted and engaged every day. Sunflower is one of our most popular staff members who encourages girls to have confidence in their individuality and strengths, which in turn causes them to be leaders in different aspects of their lives. In one recent evaluation, a 9 year-old camper from Unit 2 wrote, “I like Camp Mahachee because we get to go outside and make new friends.” The Girl Scout tradition to “make new friends, but keep the old” flourishes at our camp as we build leaders of the future. 

Camp Little House Report from Camp Director Susan "Sizzle" Beaudoin

As always, Camp Little House was the first Girl Scout camp to fill to capacity and develop a waiting list…way back in March! This summer has been yet another epic experience for the Girl Scouts that are lucky enough to attend Camp Little House. Summer at Camp Little House kicked off with “Let the Memories Begin” week which set the tone for the summer by getting the girls excited about creating lasting memories. 

As Camp Little House staff we are small, we are strong, and we work as one. Each staff member contributes a different quality of leadership and together we make camp happen! Camp Little House staff sets the stage to let Girl Scouts shine as leaders. During our "Be Presidential" week, one of our campers, Daisy, was voted "Camp Director for the Day." She was passionate in accepting the responsibilities that came with the title and demonstrated strong leadership skills well beyond her years.

We also value Cooperative Learning so we wanted to involve the parents of our campers in our camp activities. As a result, Camp United was created: a program that invites our campers, their families and friends, former campers, former staff, and Girl Scouts who have used South Miami Little House in the past for programs or meetings, to share a memorable night of campfire songs, skits, s'mores and ending with a traditional flag retirement. It was an amazing event for all 97 in attendance.   

If you joined the fun at Summer Camp 2012, imagine how much more fun you can be having throughout the year! Check out our new 
 2012-2013 Program Book for all of the cool events happening this year!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Girl Scouting Works

In celebration of 100 years of Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) conducted a large-scale study to evaluate the impact of Girl Scouting. GSRI found that one in every two adult women has at some point been a member of Girl Scouts, and the average length of time spent in Girl Scouts is four years. Currently, there are 59 million Girl Scout alumnae.

The study further found that Girl Scout alumnae display positive life outcomes to a greater degree than non-alumnae on several indicators of success, including:
  • Sense of self
  • Volunteerism and community work
  • Civic engagement
  • Education
  • Income/socioeconomic status

These differences are more prominent for women who were in Girl Scouts a longer period of time. Alumnae with more than three years’ experience in Girl Scouts fare better than shorter-term-alumnae with regard to:

    • Sense of Self         
    • Civic engagement
    • Education
    • Income / socioeconomic status
    • Satisfaction with life
    • Success
    • Leadership
    • Relationship satisfaction

In addition, Girl Scout alumnae rate their experiences highly. Alumnae consider Girl Scouting to have been positive and rewarding. The positive effects of Girl Scouting seem to be particularly pronounced for those women who stayed Girl Scouts longer. 

Alumnae Rating of Their Girl Scout Experience

Girl Scouting works and works very well! So consider: JOINING, DONATING or VOLUNTEERING with the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gold and Silver Award Ceremony

The Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida, Inc. presented 39 local Girl Scouts with the highest girl-earned achievement in Girl Scouting – the Gold Award. The award ceremony took place on Sunday, May 6th at Banyan Bowl at Pinecrest Gardens. One hundred Girl Scouts were also recognized for earning the second highest honor in Girl Scouting – the Silver Award.

The Gold Award recognizes a girl’s personal journey through leadership skills, career exploration, self-improvement, and service. Prior to beginning a Gold Award project, a girl must have completed two Girl Scout journeys or have earned the Silver Award and completed one journey. After fulfilling the requirements, girls must identify an issue, investigate it thoroughly, build a team, create a plan, present this plan, gather feedback, take action, and lastly educate and inspire others. These requirements enable girls to develop skills, practice leadership, explore career possibilities, and discover their self-potential.

2012 Gold Award Recipients

Brittany Anderson, Valerie Arguelles, Teagan Beasley, Rebecca Bogert, Zoe Cosner, Megan DeSautel, Angela Diaz, Christine Ellenberg, Melissa Ellenburg, Victoria Fiedler, Katherine Fry, Haylee Glasel, Jenna Glick, Kimberly Gooden, Christina Guzman, Kearris Haughton, Jade Hayes, Tiffany Hernandez, Rasheba Jones, Caitlin Kaloostian, Savannah Koval, Amanda Kupke, Shannon Larson, Kira Levin, Nicole Matamala, Jah’Senya Mackenzie, Karina Montenegro, Danielle Neibar, Rachel Peacock, Stephanie Pinon, Allison Richards, Miracle Rogers, Brittany Schiffar, Rebecca Stantic, Lauren Teller, Jessica Warden, Caroline Warrell

2012 Silver Award Recipients

Sarah Abella, Christy Abraham, Natalia Alonso, Karina Alvarez, Victoria Arguelles, Megan Beauregard, Sarah Benjamin, Gabrielle Bogert, Monica Bolanos, Kala Brown, MaryJean Budebo, Briana Burke, Kayla Buttafuoco, Hailey Cannon, Andrea Cano, Sophia Carrillo, Kristiana Chinyere, Bryanna Cisneros, Alexandra Colon, Isabella Cooper, Alexandra Curbelo, Amanda Del Valle, Daniela Delphus, Gabriela Diaz, Andrea Diaz-Ariza, Juliette Dubon, Ashley Fernandez, Elizabeth Fernandez, Katherine Fernandez, Catherine Finn, Casey Frankenfield, Alexia Gallian, Lauren Garcia, Arianna Gay, Elena Gehrke, Brianna Georges-Pierre, Emily Gibson, Erika Gomez, Elana Grenet, Elisha Grob, Emily Groff, Kirstin Guidi, Erica Hernandez, Olivia Herrera, Abigail Herring, Grace Hill, Vanessa Iglesias, Lauren Koeppel, Lila Kreis, Bianca Larsh, Brooke Lehman, Rachel Leong, Kristen Leong, Raina Levin, Cassidy Little, Maya Lora, Alexandria Macajoux, Jacqueline Mantilla, Christina Miranda, Yesenia Montenotte, Lidiana Montes, Tatiana Morales, Faith Morgan, Ma'Kia Moulton, Cheyenne Mueller, Lauren Mullis, Jessica Navarrette, Bryanna Newberry, Kenya Niblack, Isabella Otruba, Katarina Otruba, Melina Paan, Melissa Perez, Natalie Perez, Nicole Perez, Andrea Peterson, Mariah Poag, Brianna Prindle, Gabriela Ramesar, Elisa Ramirez, Adriana Ramirez, Alizee Richards, Christina Richards, Alexis Rodriguez, Kelsy Ruano, Hannah Sanchez, Kaitlin Schwartz, Danielle Schwartz, Brianna Schwartz, Gena Sims, Camila Solis, Marisela Solis, Kelsey Someillan, Valeria Sonderegger, Julia Tesmond, Amari Thompson, Stefani Tolchin, Yazmeen Torres

Congratulations to all awardees!!!

For more pictures, check out our Facebook album

Friday, April 20, 2012

Girl Scout Greats

The Girl Scout Blog posted volunteer profiles of six Girl Scout Greats, including one from our very own Council.

Christine Benero, a tireless humanitarian, is a Girl Scout alumna and volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Colorado. “As President and CEO of the first United Way in the country, I am inspired by an organization’s ability to motivate its members to uplift their community," she states. "Girl Scouts has taught me to give back to my community and inspired me to make the world a better place.”

Cristina Moreno, an outside-the-box thinker and doer, is a Girl Scout alumna and volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida. “As an architecture major at the University of Florida, I know how important it is for today’s young women to have STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and knowledge in a male-dominated field," states Moreno. "Girl Scouts allowed me to pursue my passion for architecture. Today, I am taking action and giving back to my community by working with Habitat for Humanity.”

Francis Ortiz, a world-class traveler, is a Girl Scout volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. “I have traveled with Girl Scouts to such far-flung locales as the Sangam World Center in Pune, India, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador," she says. "As a volunteer coordinator for the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Award winners, I have accompanied girls on unique trips. I am expanding girls’ horizons by traveling with them beyond what they thought was possible.”

Gayle Sierens, a play-by-play pioneer, is a Girl Scout volunteer for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “As the first woman to do play by play for a regular season NFL game, I was hopefully able to prove that football isn’t just a men’s game," states Sierens. "Girls Scouts gave me the confidence to follow my passion for sports and make a mark in the history books. Girl Scouts encourages girls to follow their dreams and believes there is nothing they can’t accomplish.”

Mary Lynn Myers, who invests in girls' futures, is a Girl Scout volunteer for the Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons. “I’ve been a longtime banking executive and served as a White House fellow, but it was as a Girl Scout that I learned about financial literacy through the Cookie Program," she says. "The Girl Scout Cookie Program gives young women the tools they need to be successful business leaders.”

Yvette McGee Brown, a fearless defender of families and children, is a Girl Scout volunteer Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland. “I’ve dealt with children’s justice issues throughout my legal career. Girl Scouts helps girls discover their confidence and develop into young women capable of making their own decisions," she states. "As the first African-American woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio, I use the advice I received as a Girl Scout to help others make the right decisions for themselves.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chávez's Visit to Miami

The Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida was honored to have Girl Scouts of the USA’s Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chávez visit Miami in honor of Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary. 

Chávez began her Miami visit by attending the 9th Annual Girls’ Night Out on Fisher Island on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

The next morning, Chávez honored Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida’s supporters by holding a Stewardship Breakfast sponsored by Baptist Health South Florida. During this breakfast, the Mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado and the Mayor of Coral Gables, Jim Cason both made proclamations honoring Girl Scouts’ Centennial.

Chávez concluded her visit by having lunch with Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida’s staff, volunteers, and girls at Girl Scout Camp Mahachee.

Thanks to Anna Maria Chávez for joining our Council in a week full of memorable events!