Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


Journey that makes you say WOW!

March 19, 2015

WOW Journey - Brownies - Girl Scouts

By Kim Henry, Program Director

Calling all Brownie Leaders! Looking for a how-to guide to incorporate Journey’s into your troop year plan? You’ve found it! This post is all about at what Journeys are, how to make them fun for your girls, and different resources available to help you shine even brighter as a troop leader. Ready? Let’s go!


There are three Leadership Journeys that girls can choose from!

It’s Your World – Change It!

It’s Your Planet – Love It!

It’s Your Story – Tell It!

On every Leadership Journey, everything girls do – whether it’s performing science experiments, creating art projects, cooking simple meals or learning to protect the planet’s water supply – is aimed at giving them the benefits of Girl Scouting. In each Journey a girl discovers her special skills and talents, connects with others, and takes action to make the world a better place.

Journeys are a great way to incorporate fun and leadership skills for girls while also providing a framework and guide for leaders. One of the most common misconceptions I hear is how leaders feel they need to follow the leader guide word-for word. That, my friend, is far from true!

The leader guides are just that, a guide, which you can customize to fit the needs of you and your troop. What’s important about the Journeys is achieving the outcomes of each so girls discover, connect, and take action throughout the activities and experiences. As long as the girls are achieving the primary outcomes, you can choose your own path on how to get there.


We’re so glad you asked! Here we’ll walk you through some simple steps to get started. Let’s use our Wonders of Water (WOW) Journey as an example.

First, let’s find out what the outcomes are for this journey. Looking through the WOW Journey, you’ll see an entire page dedicated to the outcomes girls should achieve as they work on and earn leadership awards along the way. (We recommend opening this page while reading the rest of this post to help guide you along the way!)

Using the example above, let’s focus on the Love Water Award (the first leadership award within the Journey). The outcomes for this award are:

  1. Girls can show two things they know and love about water.
  2. Girls make and carry out one personal promise to protect water.

Now that we know the outcomes, we can begin to think about how our troop/girls might go about achieving these goals. So, where do we start? Well, what are your troops interests? Do your girls enjoy hands-on activities? Or perhaps they love going on day trips? Involving your troop in answering these questions keeps it girl-led and helps them identify and pursue their passions!

Great – you’ve got some insight into what inspires your girls and get them excited – now it’s time to utilize your resources!

  1. Volunteer Toolkit: Brownie Troop Leaders have access to our handy online Volunteer Toolkit (VTK). The VTK offers lots of troop meeting plans (similar to the sessions outlined in the Journey books) giving you great ideas to help achieve the outcomes listed above. New to the VTK? Use our online video tutorials to learn about all the great functionality, meeting plans, and resources! You can login into the VTK here.

  2. Pinterest: Another great resources that our leaders and staff love is Pinterest! Here’s a fun activity I found and don’t forget to look at our council Pinterest boards – there are tons of great resources and information just for Brownies!

  3. Experienced Leaders: I bet you also didn’t know that you have another AMAZING resource right in your backyard — other leaders!! Experienced leaders are your most valuable resource as they have tons of ideas and resources to help! There’s lots of ways to connect with other leaders including contacting your Service Area Unit for recommendations, participating in our troop mentor program (where we will match you up with an experienced leader!) or joining our Troop Leaders Facebook Group. You can also email us any time with questions at

Lastly, Journey’s don’t need to take all year. You can finish a Journey in a few sessions or meetings. To help you get started on your first award, here is an outline that I have used for my Jump Into Journeys: WOW! Program. I used activities from the leaders guide, Pinterest, and more. I customized it for a group of 20-30 girls to complete in two hours – and it was a total blast!

Remember – Journeys are all about the experience! Your girls will feel so accomplished as they make their way through the leadership awards and learn a whole lot along the way!

Do you have resources you’ve used to customize or plan Journeys? Share them in the comments below!


Girls Take the Lead at National Convention

February 23, 2015

National Convention 2015 Girl Scouts

By Cindy Sortisio, Service Unit Manager and Troop Leader

Air miles from Raleigh NC to Salt Lake City Utah: 1827

Number of girls from all over the country who participated in the Girl Scout Leadership Institute: 700

Decibel level on streetcar packed with Girl Scouts all singing camp songs at the tops of their lungs: 75

Number of SWAPS traded at the 2014 GSUSA National Convention: 1 bazillion

Connections made, friendships forged, memories cherished: Infinite

What is this all about? The Girl Scout Leadership Institute!

GSLI is part of the GSUSA National Convention. Each council is invited to send a delegation of girls and adults to participate in leadership seminars and activities organized by the host council. This year, girls were challenged to build on their experiences at the GSLI to carry out “take action” projects in their home communities to spread the impact of GSLI across the country. I was honored and thrilled to be asked to accompany staff member Terrica Hay, Program Director, to chaperone the patrol of girls from Coastal Pines, six girls plus two girl national delegates, from across our council. We were treated to inspirational speakers such as Dr. Tererai Trent (president and founder of her own foundation to address poverty in her native Zimbabwe), Debbie Sterling (CEO and founder of GoldieBlox), Elizabeth Smart (founder of her own foundation and brilliant survivor of childhood abduction), marvelous meals, great entertainment such as a night at the planetarium and a closing dance party, and thought-provoking seminars in which we explored topics such as gender inequality, basic needs, teen violence, healthy relationships, education, body image, and inclusion/diversity.

This was my second national convention. The best part is the phenomenal energy of thousands of girls and women, plus a few good men, coming together, who all feel so passionate about the power and value of Girl Scouting. I get goose-bumps just thinking about it! There is really nothing that can prepare our girls for the powerful experience of entering a convention-sized gathering of like-minded people.

The new GSLI format, with its focus on the girls developing a “take action” project to carry out in their home communities, is a challenging one. To pull together a reasonable project plan in three days, and then go back to one’s every day life to implement it, is a tall order. Terrica and I are staying in contact with the girls to support them in putting their ideas into reality. Their projects will support students challenged by mental illness, sea turtle conservation, and friendships between abled and differently-abled students, among other topics. While the girls were at work on their project proposals, Terrica and I spent some time talking with staff members and volunteers from other councils. We both came away with some good ideas, as well as the sense that Coastal Pines is a strong, well-organized, cohesive council that is doing lots of things very, very well.

My daughter, Mikayla, was one of our council’s national delegates, along with Abigail C.R., so they were able to participate in GSLI when they were not in the convention business sessions. It was so special to share the experience with my daughter, not that I saw much of her as we were always on the go! I like to tell new leaders that everything starts at the Daisy or Brownie level: every tiny field trip, to a fire station or a garden, every little step of girl planning, putting ideas in a wish box, voting with a show of hands, sets the stage for what our girls can strive for and accomplish when they are Seniors and Ambassadors. I have to say that it seems like such a short time ago that we were sewing petals on that blue tunic, and now my girl is working toward her Gold Award and exploring amazing opportunities available to her through Girl Scouting. It is a complete blast being a Girl Scout volunteer! If everyone knew how much fun we have with the girls, we would have a waiting list of adults rather than girls. Who wouldn’t want to do this job?!


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