Risk-Taker: Girl Scout Designs Rose Parade Float

“By being a Girl Scout I actually have learned to become a stronger person. I now like to try new things that might have scared me.”

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Cat with the theme of the 2018 Rose Parade.

Through Girl Scouts, girls gain the confidence they need to explore their potential, take the lead, and learn from setbacks. Senior Girl Scout Catherine “Cat” G. took a leap when she entered the City of Burbank’s 2018 Rose Parade float design competition. Early in 2017, she found out the Burbank Tournament of Roses Association had selected her design—making her one of the competition’s youngest winners ever (she was in eighth grade at the time).

Cat’s entry, called “Sand-Sational Helpers,” portrays a beach cleanup scene (with help from some sea creatures), and reflects the theme of the 2018 Rose Parade: “Making a Difference”—a topic all Girl Scouts know about! She spoke with us about her design and how she’s getting the float ready, with help from her sister Girl Scouts in Troop 7156.

IMG_9424All Girl Scouts are G.I.R.L.s – which trait do you identify with most: Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader? And why?
I try to identify with all of our traits but the one I identify with the most is the Risk-taker. When I first started Girl Scouts I wouldn’t have known what to pick, but by being a Girl Scout I actually have learned to become a stronger person. I now like to try new things that might have scared me. Things like climbing up ladders at Girl Scout camp to zipline down, or even going to a camp by myself where I don’t know anyone. I have learned to try new foods and especially to try new adventures. I think that if I wasn’t a Girl Scout, I might not have actually tried to even enter my design.

Why did you decide to enter the float competition?
This was actually my second time entering Burbank’s float contest. I entered both times because I really felt strongly about the messages the Rose Parade was promoting each year. I have been working on floats since I was seven years old and this year’s theme is “Making a Difference.”

What inspired your float design?
I was inspired to make a float design because of what I learned in my English class and also by my own values and loves. In English class, we were studying recycling and I started to think about all the trash that I have seen at the beach and all the trash I have helped clean up. I love the ocean and want to be a marine biologist so I started to think about what if the sea creatures started to recycle at the beach; and then just thought that would be a great idea for Burbank’s float.

Cat (top right) with her sister Girl Scouts in Troop 7156.

How have you involved your sister Girl Scouts in building the float?
I have been really lucky that my sister Girl Scouts have supported me totally with my amazing honor of designing this float. My troop sisters [pictured above] have all come and worked on this float and they also fully supported me with a wonderful chance to help more than 200 Girl Scouts to be able to earn a Rose Parade badge. I spent hours putting together a presentation that covered all the steps they would need for their badges. Then when it came time for the Girl Scouts to work on the float, all my troop came to support me and help me host this event, teaching all levels of Girl Scouts what to do. I really love that my sisters were there for me.

How did being a Girl Scout help you come up with your design for this year’s theme, “Making a Difference”?
I really think being a Girl Scout helped me come up with my design for this year’s float. Being a Girl Scout has taught me all about making a difference. We learn to help others and to make the world a better place. I feel that knowing this and living by the Girl Scout Promise and Law made it easy to come up with an idea. It wasn’t hard to think that even sea creatures would want to make things better.

In what ways have you made a difference in your community as a Girl Scout?
In the years I have been a Girl Scout, my troop and I have been able to make placemats to give to the elderly to cheer them up for the holidays. I have collected food and toiletries in front of stores to be able to make baskets to help needy families. I have used steps of my badges to be able to clean out invasive plants from neighboring hillsides to bring them back to a natural state. I was also able to use my Silver Award to help a cause that I now feel really strongly about and continue to be a part of: I put together baskets with items that parents of premature babies might be going without. I have been really lucky to be a Girl Scout so I can make a difference in my community.

Congratulations to Cat for having the courage to enter the design competition again—and succeeding!

UPDATE: Cat’s float won the Founders Award for “most outstanding float built and decorated by volunteers from a community or organization.” We’re so proud!

Here are pictures from the day of the Rose Parade:

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Cat (far right) with her mom (center) and Frederick Fraleigh (far left) who helped bring Cat’s float to life.

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Looks like an amazing experience Cat will never forget!

You can read more about her design in the Burbank Leader and see the official list of winning floats here.

New Year’s Resolutions for G.I.R.L.s

Being a Girl Scout gives you the power to achieve great things, and the courage to pursue positive change. As 2017 comes to an end, we look forward to the promise of a new year—and fresh opportunities for Girl Scouts to get inspired, get prepared, and get mobilized through the G.I.R.L. Agenda.

How will you make a difference in 2018? Check out our ideas for G.I.R.L.-inspired New Year’s resolutions!

  1. Write letters to your local government representatives about something that needs improvement in your community.
  2. Collect supplies and donations for organizations that help people in need—like a children’s hospital or local food pantry.
  3. Write letters to our servicemembers overseas or be part of an effort to send supplies or gifts. (For example, plan to participate in Gift of Caring (GOC) during cookie season—and start setting those GOC goals!)
  4. Set up a presentation at a mall or community center to inspire others. (Make sure to get permission first!)
  5. Take part in a peaceful march or rally with an adult.
  6. Use some of your troop earnings from cookie season to support a project that will help a cause you’re passionate about.
  7. Attend a city council meeting to hear what’s happening in your community and let them know what you think.
  8. Do a Take Action project—maybe work toward becoming a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award Girl Scout!
  9. Organize an email, social media, or letter-writing campaign.
  10. Join a student group that advocates for your favorite cause—or start your own, if your school doesn’t have one!

Gather your troop and commit to some of these goals for the New Year!

Need some inspiration? Look no further than your sister Girl Scouts—our National Young Women of Distinction have changed the world through their Gold Award projects, including GSGLA alumna Yue Ying, who helped improve public health in China.

We want to know how you plan to step up, stand up, and get involved in 2018. Comment and tell us how you plan to advance the G.I.R.L. Agenda!

Happy Giving Tuesday!

This Giving Tuesday, we’re saying—thanks! Because of our supporters’ generous gifts to Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, we have been able to create some incredible opportunities for girls this year. Take a look at just a few of the great things our donors’ gifts have allowed us to do!

  1. Enhanced activities at our beloved Camp Lakota, like the new pool and the Bill Mingus Ropes Course, featuring high and low courses.
  2. Funded 88 sustainable new troops in underserved communities—that’s 1,011 more girls in Greater Los Angeles!
  3. Gave 150 Girl Scouts the opportunity to experience the joy of camp by providing partial or full camperships (camp scholarships)!
  4. Provided $358,000 in financial assistance to girls throughout Greater Los Angeles.
  5. Supported and sustained STEM programs for local Girl Scouts, like our 41 GSGLA competitive robotics teams!

Thank you to our community, including our donors who have enabled these amazing achievements and so much more! Interested in getting details about our innovative programs and exciting opportunities for Girl Scouts? Visit our website.

Go-Getter: My Dream to Become an Actress

“Sometimes when you’re a go-getter you have to push through and in the end you have a lot of fun. And I did!”

OliviaGirl Scouts opens doors for girls, allowing them to not only discover their passions, but also develop the confidence to pursue them. Our Girl Scouts are go-getters who set goals and don’t let failure deter them: They know it takes hard work to achieve their dreams. Thanks to our girl-led activities and programs, Girl Scouts have a safe space to gain resilience and empower themselves.

Brownie and Girl Advisory Bureau member Olivia H. shares her own go-getter story, drawing on lessons she’s learned as a Girl Scout, especially during cookie season.

olivia 3I am Olivia, a Brownie in Troop 395. I love Girl Scouts and I love to act and sing. I want to be an actress when I get older.

This past summer my mom signed me up for a performing arts program. We were putting on a musical called Andie. It’s like Annie but with a boy as the main character. I auditioned and got the part of Molly.

In the beginning I thought it was going to be easy. I thought all we would be doing is singing and acting and being silly all day. But it wasn’t like that. This was serious business. We had to practice hard, dance a lot, and learn what acting really means. You have to get in touch with the character and whatever emotions the character is feeling. You have to memorize your lines and become the character. You have to do it over and over. I even had to continue practicing at home.

Being a Girl Scout helped prepare me for this challenge by teaching me about goal setting [one of the 5 Skills!], how to work as a team with others, and how to be brave.

Setting a goal during cookie season is exciting. It is a big accomplishment and there are fun rewards. But when sales start to slow down or I start to get tired, I have to move forward to reach the goals I have set for myself. I keep going so that my troop will be able to do all the things we have planned as a team.

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The cast of Andie.

At rehearsals, you also have to work as a team with the other actors and be able to follow the director’s lead. You have to know your cues and where to stand and where the other actors are supposed to be. This is like working at a cookie booth with my troop members. We are supposed to know what each person is doing, help one another get sales, all while following the directions of our troop leaders.

Cookie season also gives me lots of practice in public speaking. Just like going out on stage, you never know what a customer will say. You have to get over that fear and be brave enough to go on.

Both cookie sales and acting in Andie were really hard work but in the end I met my goals for both. I sold more than 500 boxes of cookies and I had a successful performance as Molly. Sometimes when you’re a go-getter you have to push through and in the end you have a lot of fun. And I did! I’m going to continue being a go-getter and going after my dreams. I know I will need to put in a lot of effort but it will definitely pay off.

Great job, Olivia! Have your own story about how, #becauseofGirlScouts, you’re pursuing your goals and being a go-getter (or innovator, risk-taker, or leader)? We want to hear it! You can also share your story with GSGLA directly.

“I Am Thankful for Girl Scouts Because….”

Thanksgiving affords all of us in the Girl Scout Movement an opportunity to reflect on the many ways our organization enriches our lives. From exciting programs to one-of-a-kind events, cookie season to summer camp, our girls benefit from the many offerings that make Girl Scouts the world’s largest and best girl leadership development program. We’re thankful to partner with phenomenal, passionate volunteers to provide these inspiring opportunities and work with girls to prepare them for their bright futures.

But why are our girls grateful for Girl Scouts? Some of their illuminating (and heartwarming) responses are below. (Don’t forget to share your own #becauseofGirlScouts stories of growth and gratitude in the comments!)

anastasia-thank-you.jpgAnastacia S., Junior, Troop 3535: “I am thankful for Girl Scouts because [the organization] celebrates my being a girl. It allows me to make new friends, be free, have fun, and learn to be a leader. I am thankful for Girl Scouts because I am just happy being with my sisters and friends. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been a part of, such as movie premieres, sporting events, or learning about STEM. I am thankful for Girl Scouts for helping me to grow.”

Hana (on right)

Hana C., Brownie, Troop 5665: “Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles is sponsoring my Junior First Lego League team. My robotics team gets to go to LEGOLAND for a presentation for our Aqua Adventure Challenge in front of many people. I also have become a leader, and taught my troop how to recognize their own names in Korean and use the abacus. I’ve also learned to be less shy by standing outside of different stores and advertising to sell Girl Scout Cookies with my troop. Being a Girl Scout has been an experience l’m grateful for!”

IMG_2844Avery C., Junior, Troop 04505: “I’ve learned so many things including money management, people skills, goal setting, leadership, and teamwork. I’ve also had many opportunities to try new things. Plus, in Girl Scouts, working with your team is great and you sometimes lead your troop through tough times. Also, friends are forever. In Girl Scouts, we are more than friends. We are sisters. I am always glad my troop is always there for me. (And I for them.)”

Cora Thank YouCora J., Ambassador, Troop 12581: “Girl Scouts provides me with real-life skills that I am not learning elsewhere in my life. The work I have done pursuing the Gold Award has taught me to be committed and take charge. The cookie program has taught me valuable business skills and how to be creative. My time with my troop and at camp has helped me become more adventurous and independent. As I look forward to my future, college and beyond, it is the skills I learned in Girl Scouting that I am relying on to achieve my life goals.”

Want to hear more ways our girls are thankful for Girl Scouts? See this video:

Inspired to help us reach more girls so that they, too, can experience the Girl Scout Advantage? Give to or volunteer with GSGLA today.

Lifelong Adventure and Friendship

“We… love that we, as members of Troop 218, have a Girl Scouting foundation that will unify us for the rest of our days!”

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Troop 218 visit Olvera Street in 1957, the year the troop formed.

Girl Scouts brings together girls with different backgrounds, interests, and personalities as part of one big family. Like all families, Girl Scouts form bonds that last a lifetime—which is why many alumnae stay friends and continue to meet as a troop, long after they’ve grown out of Girl Scouts. Local alumna Dinah Raful shares her sisterhood story.

This past October, 16 members of Girl Scout Troop 218 met in Nashville, Tennessee, for our 60th Girl Scout “Gratitude” Reunion. The troop originated under the guidance of [longtime GSGLA supporter] Bernie Horst. We have had four previous gatherings in Los Angeles, but this time we decided to venture out to a new destination.

What a great time we had in Nashville! We experienced a lovely Jubilee Day Celebration at Fisk University; had a lovely tour of the Belle Meade Plantation and a long beautiful walk at The Warner Park Nature Center; and to top it off, we checked off an item on our bucket list: a musical evening at the Grand Ole’ Opry! We also got a quick tour of Honky Tonk downtown and even the amazing Parthenon!

Throughout our sightseeing, we had very special personal moments and reconnected as we walked and talked about what we were grateful for every day. We planned Girl Scout activities like getting-to-know-each-other games, a Scouts’ Own, singing, and sharing food. We were overwhelmed again with tremendous gratitude for our leader, Bernie Horst, for all that she gave us. We adore her and love that we, as members of Troop 218, have a Girl Scouting foundation that will unify us for the rest of our days!

60-year reunion in 2017.

Thank you for sharing your reunion experience, Dinah!

Fewer things bring happier moments than witnessing lifelong friendships and knowing that it started with just a few girls in a Girl Scout troop. Staying connected with one another is as important as staying connected with GSGLA. To find out more about connecting with our alumnae team, email alumnae@girlscoutsla.org.

Fueling Girls’ Dreams

“Every person who came to the luncheon was there for girls like me, girls with big dreams and the courage to pursue them.”

Girl Scouts is the world’s foremost authority on girls’ leadership development—setting girls up for a lifetime of curiosity, adventure, and success. One of the unique opportunities afforded to our girls includes the Emerging Leader Girl Scout program, for Girl Scouts in grades 10–12 who exemplify our mission and show great leadership potential. As part of the program, Emerging Leaders attend our annual ToGetHerThere Luncheon, where they network with executives from various fields and participate in a minute-mentoring session with successful female professionals. For many of our Girl Scouts, the experience is inspiring, motivating, and even life-changing. Two of our 2017 Emerging Leaders share their impressions from this year’s ToGetHerThere Luncheon.

Lomeli, KeliaKelia Lomeli, Ambassador Girl Scout:

Everyone here was here for me. It was an extraordinary experience, sneaking glimpses at the name tags of passers-by to try and determine which organization they had come from. I would have the chance to network with whomever I liked in the second half of the day, but first: the minute-mentoring sessions.

Entering the ballroom was much like entering the gym before a basketball game; I didn’t know what I was in for, but that it would be fast, fun, and above all, an opportunity for me to prove myself. I had anticipated my own nervousness at delivering an elevator speech and the dreaded reach-across-the-table-for-a-handshake move, but when the time came, I was surprised at how collected I felt. The powerful businesswoman I sat less than two feet away from was open and inspiring. I could hear myself in her tales of hesitation and doubt, of questioning her ability and deciding to follow her dreams anyway. Every mentor I spoke with had a unique story about finding herself and her life’s passion, and when asked how a young woman might discover hers, Dr. Sherry Hong of Montrose Pet Hospital replied with perhaps the best advice yet: “Every road you end up on is an opportunity. Take it, because that opportunity may never present itself again.”

Troop Leader Michelle Apolonio

The women at the ToGetHerThere Luncheon inspired me to be brave. After the mentoring sessions, I introduced myself to a group of investment counselors from Clifford Swan. As former Girl Scouts themselves, they expressed their admiration for the commitment and ambition of the Emerging Leaders, and after realizing many of them had graduated from colleges I am applying to, exchanged business cards with me. They listened and offered their advice about my aspiration of becoming a diplomat, and for the first time, I felt that everyone in the room believed in me. Whether we had spoken or not, every person who came to the luncheon was there for girls like me, girls with big dreams and the courage to pursue them.

Garland, Olivia.jpgOlivia Garland, Ambassador Girl Scout:

This was my third year attending the ToGetHerThere Luncheon and receiving the honor of being an Emerging Leader. While it was bittersweet, I learn something new every year. My favorite piece of advice this year was from Lavinia Sadrapeli of Teledyne, who encouraged us to “be courageous—embody that.”

2017 ToGetHerThere Champion Joanna Dean

2017 ToGetHerThere Champion Joanna Dean, General Manager of the Western Region for Toyota Financial Services, eloquently spoke of her failures in college and the job market during her honoree speech, and how they’ve made her the successful woman she is today: “Failures are a part of life… Be adventurous and make your own path.” Every word she spoke inspired every Emerging Leader, and I could see the twinkle of admiration in the eyes of all the girls around me.

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Olivia with a ToGetHerThere guest

Every year men and women stand together to motivate us at the ToGetHerThere Luncheon. The room is filled with supporters curious about how they can help and what our stories are. This experience has provided me with blueprints for success and advice for my future. I’ve gotten to meet so many impressive women who’ve fought for equality and women’s empowerment as a whole, and because of that, being an Emerging Leader has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our ToGetHerThere Luncheon and played a critical role in shaping our Girl Scouts’ dreams—including our mentors, sponsors, volunteers, members, and attendees. Your support is invaluable to our mission and goal of balancing the leadership landscape.

To see pictures from the 2017 ToGetHerThere Luncheon, view our Facebook album. To learn more about the ToGetHerThere campaign and how you can further the cause of girls’ and women’s empowerment, click here.