Volunteer Spotlight: Risk-taker

“These girls are sisters, and should be treating each other like that, no matter what they’re able or not able to do.” 

Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization’s success—propelling our girls forward and guiding them through life-changing, skill-building programs. Since Girl Scouts is for all girls, we’re committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive environment where everyone can develop her inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader). That also pertains to volunteers, who serve as role models for our Girl Scouts.

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Troop leader and AbilityGS Go Team member Julia Montoya.

As risk-takers, our volunteers are courageous and strong, and embrace the unfamiliar while staying true to their values. This is certainly true with Julia Montoya, who is a member of the AbilityGS Go Team and a leader for Ambassador Troop 11965. The AbilityGS Go Team provides a forum for parents and volunteers to connect with one another about successfully integrating girls into troops, regardless of abilities. For Julia, whose daughter is a member of her troop and also on the autism spectrum, the group has proven invaluable: “It helps me to accommodate [my daughter] Valerie, because although I have to go along with the rules, maybe not everything goes well for her. Being part of the Go Team helps me see that, and work on accommodations for her.”

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Julia’s daughter Valerie (far right).

Girl Scouts has been an inclusive organization since its inception, offering a safe, welcoming, and fun space for every girl. For Julia’s daughter, the experience has helped her in many ways: “She’s become more independent and outspoken because she has to complete Journeys, and has to speak to people and ask them questions,” says Julia. Not only that—Girl Scouts has also opened doors for Valerie: “She completed a Journey on food and wants to take horticulture at school… She now knows the importance of eating organic food, and recently said, ‘You know what Mom, I want to try Veggie Grill.’ For Valerie to try something new, it’s very rare.”

Julia, along with the rest of the Go Team, want to ensure troop leaders are comfortable navigating their girls’ different levels of abilities: “While most leaders might not be scared, some worry about not being able to accommodate all girls.” Through the Go Team members’ various experiences, they’re able to provide advice and connect volunteers with resources. Together, they’re helping to build a community of leaders who empower girls to become independent—by being courageous themselves.

Plus, creating an environment of inclusiveness benefits all girls. During Julia’s first year as a troop leader, her girls accompanied another group on a camping trip. Throughout the experience, Julia was struck by the words of longtime GSGLA volunteer Ted Oyama, who kept saying, “help your sister.” At one point, Valerie stood apart from the group after climbing a hill overlooking the ocean. As she watched the girls, Julia noticed one of them go up to Valerie and ask what she enjoyed most about the weekend, sparking a conversation. The moment reinforced Ted’s mantra about the Girl Scout spirit: “These girls are sisters, and should be treating each other like that, no matter what they’re able or not able to do.”

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Julia’s troop on a camping trip with another troop.

Thank you to Julia and the rest of the AbilityGS Go Team for upholding Girl Scouts’ dedication to welcoming girls of all abilities. For more information about the Go Team, contact us.

Be Prepared: 5 Reasons Why You Should Early Renew

Renew by June 15 to earn awesome rewards.

With summer nearly upon us—and for some, it’s already here—we can easily forget about the upcoming school (and Girl Scout) year. But we all know Girl Scouts provides girls with countless opportunities to explore their interests, learn new skills, and make the world a better place. So why not ensure a seamless transition to the new year by renewing your girls’ membership now, as well as your own?

Our Early Renewal registration is open until June 15. Not only does renewing early deliver peace of mind, but it also offers multiple rewards for members and troops. Just see the ones we’ve listed below!owlpatch-3

  1. Earn our collectible Early Renewal patch. Who doesn’t love a fun, new patch to add to your collection? All girls and adults who renew by June 15 will earn the GSGLA Early Renewal patch.
  2. Be prepared for the fall product program. Only girls and adults who’ve renewed their membership can participate in this popular program. Don’t wait until the last minute to renew—take care of it today and you won’t experience any delays!
  3. Boost your cookie season earnings. Troops who meet certain criteria will generate extra funds while selling boxes of Girl Scout Cookies! Check out the details here.
  4. Earn other special troop incentives. Adding new girls? Your troop could be invited to a special event. Renewing most of your girls? You could receive tote bags. Learn more here.
  5. Enjoy your summer, knowing another great Girl Scout year is about to begin. Yes, we’re back to having peace of mind—which is invaluable, given all the distractions of summer and the start of the school year. Having one less thing to worry about will make your life that much easier once September rolls around. Plus, your membership will be good through September 2018.

All it takes to enjoy these benefits is a few minutes of your time right now. Ensure your Girl Scouts have the opportunity to build upon what they’ve learned and enjoyed this current year, and continue to grow and thrive.

Renew your membership for 2017-18, and you and your girls will be well on your way to unlocking another inspiring, life-changing Girl Scout year.

Going Gold: Meet Our National Young Women of Distinction Nominees

The school year’s winding down and troops are bridging to the next level—but we’re gearing up for the Gold Award Ceremony on June 3, where we’ll be honoring 256 Girl Scouts who’ve earned Girl Scouting’s highest achievement: the Gold Award. In order to earn the honor, Girl Scouts must complete a large-scale Take Action project that makes a sustainable impact on their communities and beyond. Only a small percentage of Girl Scouts achieve the prestigious Gold Award, which qualifies them for scholarships and other incentives.

Each year, Girl Scouts of the USA selects 10 exceptional Gold Award Girl Scouts as National Young Women of Distinction—girls whose projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership and addressed a local challenge related to a national (or even global) issue. Every council submits nominees for the national distinction. We spoke with GSGLA’s 2017 nominees to find out how they embody what it means to be a G.I.R.L., making an incredible difference in the world. Read their stories about their Gold Award projects below.


Yue _Cherry_ Ying#B398Cherry Ying, Troop 2935, Ambassador Girl Scout
Girl Scout Journey: “I’d never heard about anything like Girl Scouts until I came to the U.S. three years ago by myself from China. When I learned that Girl Scouts helps girls make the world a better place, I joined right away.”
Inspiration: “Growing up in Ningbo, China, I’d never seen a hospital with hand sanitizer; quite frankly, I didn’t even know hand sanitizer existed. During my years in the U.S., I interned for a pediatrician, where I was amazed by the amount of hand sanitizer everywhere. This really motivated me to bring Americans’ strong health awareness to my hometown.”

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School lecture on hand sanitizer in Ningbo, China.

Summary: “My project, ‘Hand in Hand,’ took place in both the U.S. and China. I fundraised and brought 90 bottles of hand sanitizer to community hospitals in Ningbo, created brochures and posters, hosted school lectures, and taught residents in the hospitals how to properly use hand sanitizer.”

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Cherry delivering hand sanitizer.

Impact: “My project help jumpstart a government-sponsored program to distribute hand sanitizer every month to community hospitals.”
Future: “I want to become a decision scientist (a type of data scientist) and use mathematics, equations, data analytics, and technology to solve the world’s existing problems, such as cancer.”
Why Go For Gold?: “Pursuing the Gold Award can be a great conclusion to the Girl Scout journey and an amazing start of something big in the future.”
Fun Fact: “My first language is not Mandarin or Cantonese or English—it’s Ningbo dialect. It’s funny that even though [in China] we all speak Chinese, if we speak in our own dialect, people from another region won’t understand us; thus, it’s like a completely different language.”

Eleanor FausettEllie Fausett, Troop 1751, Ambassador Girl Scout
Girl Scout Journey: “I’ve been a Girl Scout for the past nine years, and Girl Scouts has been a big part of my life since the girls in my troop are my best friends.”
Inspiration: “I work at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in the pediatric occupational therapy unit. I help get kids in and out of their jackets and coats because they do not have fine motor skills. The existing tools [for teaching the kids] were not engaging and very repetitive.”
Summary: “I wanted to combine teaching dressing skills with playing dress-up, so I made sensory integration dressing vests. After sewing the vests by myself, I taught therapists about them and showed them how they can be used. Also, I created a website, dresswithoutstress.help, where adults can go and learn about my project and how sensory integration therapy works.”

Impact: “My project helped improve the lives of the children who use the vests since they can learn the skills they need faster. Also, other individuals who read my website will learn about fine motor therapy and different ways for dressing assistance.”
Future: “I would like to go to college and study early childhood brain development. I would then like to become a pediatric occupational therapist.”
Why Go For Gold?: “My Gold Award taught me so much about myself. I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to grow as a person and help change their community.”
Fun Fact: “I have taken four years of French and hope to become fluent. Also, I am learning sign language so I can communicate with the children I work with who can’t speak.”

Bridget GehenBridget Gehan, Troop 1912, Ambassador Girl Scout
Girl Scout Journey: “I started Girl Scouts in 2006 when I moved to Los Angeles from Morristown, New Jersey and it was the first place I felt accepted in my new life. It has been an incredible experience that I would not change for the world.”
Inspiration: “‘Empowering Teenagers Against Alzheimer’s (ETAA)’ was inspired by my grandpa’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2014 and the heartbreaking journey that I went through afterwards. I looked for something to help me understand what was happening to Pop Pop and how I could help, but everything available was for small children who couldn’t comprehend the disease or for adults focusing on medical, financial, and insurance issues.”

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Bridget with her grandpa, who inspired her Gold Award project.

Summary: ETAA is an internet-based educational outreach program for teenagers and young adults who have been touched by this disease in one way or another. In creating this program, I had to do in-depth research about Alzheimer’s, interview scientists, social workers, and countless teenagers to get an accurate perspective of the entire problem. I then spent months storyboarding, filming, interviewing, and editing until my project was perfect.”
Impact: “Since the official induction of ETAA into the Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles program, more than 800 people have been reached and learned from my work. These people are in 21 different countries on six different continents. Susan Galeas [the president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles] commented on one of my videos: ‘Incredibly successful way to educate the general public and a younger generation about this insidious disease… Your commitment and passion are making a difference!’”

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Bridget with a focus group for her project.

Future: “I want to go to a good college that has a strong program in business, public policy, or political science. I would love to work in politics and government to help make the world a better and safer place. It is my dream to be president of the United States, but I would also love to work as a senator.”
Why Go For Gold?: “Every girl should pursue their Gold Award because it is not only a gratifying experience, but a learning one too. My Gold Award taught me how to effectively solve problems and gave me the tools and courage to do it. [But] the most important thing the Gold Award gave me was the drive to finish and the understanding of how I can use that drive in my future.”
Fun Fact: “I have been working in my school’s journalism program for two years and will be one of two co-editors-in-chief of my high school’s blog and newspaper next year.”


Congratulations, Girl Scouts, on your nominations for National Young Women of Distinction—and for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award and touching the lives of people both far and near.

Are you interested in attending our 2017 Gold Award Ceremony on Saturday, June 3? Click here for details.

Congratulations, Cookie Bosses – A Letter from Our CEO

Dear Girl Scout Friends and Family,

One of the hallmarks of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is our cookie program. Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the largest business entrepreneurship program for girls in the country, our girls learn the 5 Skills and gain confidence and initiative. The cookie program lays the foundation for a lifetime of success for our girls, and motivates them—more than anything—to keep trying.

The indefatigable persistence of our girls pays off. A labor of love for everyone involved, cookie season is not easy—and we recognize this. To honor our top-selling Girl Scouts, we provide a variety of special rewards. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of joining our go-getter Girl Scouts on two occasions: our celebrations for the Elite 1000 (girls who sold 1,000+ boxes) and Club 500 (girls who sold 500+ boxes).

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Club 500 at Hurricane Harbor.

Our Club 500 members enjoyed an exclusive Girl Scouts-only day at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor on May 20. Nearly 2,000 girls, accompanied by their adult chaperones, swam, splashed, and explored the park, which was closed to the general public on this sweltering day. Believe me, there were plenty of envious people when I told them what fun we had in the water.

At the Happiest Place on Earth, 340 Elite 1000 members, along with their parents, enjoyed a magical Disney day on May 6. Our Girl Scouts and volunteers experienced the Disney Y.E.S. (Youth Education Series) program, starting with a special breakfast and getting a behind-the-scenes look at Disneyland and California Adventure. Our girls and their parents then had full rein to enjoy both parks.

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Elite 1000 at Disneyland.

The fun doesn’t end there. Girls who sold 1,500+ boxes of cookies will participate in our S’more Adventure Weekend (June 10-11) at Camp Osito Rancho in Big Bear. I look forward to a special dinner and campfire with the girls on Saturday evening.  Plus, I’ll have the privilege of lunching with girls who sold 2,000+ boxes on June 21—who’ll also be treated to a limo ride as we share stories of cookie success! I’ve never handed out so many CEO special patches in one season. It has been such a joy for me to be with so many proud and accomplished girls and their families who support their participation in our program.

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Bob Hope USO cookie drop-off.

Thank you to all of our cookie bosses who’ve worked so hard, and to the parents and volunteers who’ve made it possible for them to pursue their dreams. Together, we accomplished so much during the 2017 cookie season, including breaking our own council record: more than 5 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sold! Plus, we donated more than 100,000 boxes to Gift of Caring—which we also celebrated with a special cookie drop-off at Bob Hope USO. Gathering together to celebrate our servicemembers as they arrived from Camp Pendleton was a highlight of our season.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is life-changing and uplifting, and we encourage all our girls to participate. The 2018 cookie season starts next January—stay tuned for more information! In the meantime, we encourage you to read more about the program on our website, and get excited for next year!

Yours in Girl Scouting,
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Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

Camp Life is the Best Life

“Girl Scout camp provides the right opportunities in a safe space and with the friendliest staff to help your daughter find her courage, confidence, and character.”

Editor’s note: Don’t wait! Register for GSGLA summer camp before we run out of space. 

With summer nearly upon us, our girls are gearing up for one of the most beloved aspects of the Girl Scout experience: camp! We’re fortunate to have so many natural settings in and around Greater LA for our Girl Scouts to enjoy—from the beach to the mountains, and everything in between.

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Summer camp affords girls the opportunity to conquer fears, try new activities, and make lifelong friends. At GSGLA, we have a variety of modernized properties that provide safe, fun environments where girls can create lasting memories.

Want to know which camp best suits your girl’s needs? Or what makes the location nearest you unique? We spoke to our camp directors to learn more.


Marine Landing Day Camp – Long Beach

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Paddleboarding at Marine Landing.

“Imagine your daughter overcoming her fears of being onstage or jumping off a kayak because she realized the fun waiting on the other side far exceeded her own fears. Imagine her wanting to work hard on a new art project because beautifying the walls of a place she loves so much has become that important to her. Imagine getting to see your daughter grow up more in one week of camp than in a whole year of school. Girl Scout camp provides the right opportunities in a safe space and with the friendliest staff to help your daughter find her courage, confidence, and character.” – Devin Niebrugge, Marine Landing Camp Director

Camp Osito Rancho – Big Bear

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Ziplining at Osito Rancho.

“Resident camp gives campers the opportunity to grow in independence, courage, friendships, and new interests away from their normal setting and out from under the wings of their parents or caregivers. They grow in ways they can’t at home, by being out of their comfort zone, learning about themselves and others, finding wonders in nature, pride in individuality, and compassion in a camp community—all while having the time of their lives!” – Alicia Brown, Osito Rancho Camp Director

Mariposa Day Camp – Altadena

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Getting creative at Mariposa.

“Mariposa is a safe space for girls to challenge themselves and learn new things, whether they are campaigning for camp president, writing a comic book, or designing a sustainable garden.” – Brianna Colomb, Mariposa Camp Director

El Ranchito Day Camp – Long Beach

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Scaling the climbing wall at El Ranchito.

“At El Ranchito, we provide a space that is safe and encourages independence. This fosters character growth and lasting friendships—an opportunity for each girl to shine exactly for who they are while exploring the world through an outdoor lens.” – Randi Helgesen, El Ranchito Camp Director


We’re so excited to share the summer camp experience with your Girl Scout! To learn more about our programs and register, visit our website. You can also subscribe to our seasonal camp newsletters here.

Plus, make sure you don’t miss a moment this summer: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where we’ll be regularly posting camp photos—your camper could be featured! Use the hashtag #gsglaCamp or tag us (@GirlScoutsLA on Instagram and Twitter) to join the fun on social media.

Special Announcement from Our CEO

Dear GSGLA Family,

sylvia 1It is with great delight and excitement that I am writing to announce that today, Sylvia Acevedo has been named the National Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA after a six month national search.

Sylvia, a lifetime Girl Scout, rocket scientist, and STEM educator, is a longtime advocate for underserved communities and girls’ and women’s causes. She was a member of the GSUSA Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and an officer and member of its Executive Committee.

Committed to Girl Scouts’ mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, Sylvia has been involved with Girl Scouts since her childhood in New Mexico.

sylvia 2In Sylvia’s words, “This life-changing experience showed me what leadership looked like and enabled me to pursue leadership as a goal; I am a product of Girl Scouting.”

Over the last nine months as Interim National CEO, Sylvia has led the Movement with authenticity, energy, vision, and passion, taking a special interest in reaching more girls and in outdoor and STEM programming—areas closely aligned with GSGLA’s 2018-20 Strategic Plan. Sylvia attended GSGLA’s 2015 ToGetHerThere luncheon, and most recently, provided the keynote address on the State of the Movement at our 2017 Annual Meeting. She also attended our Volunteer Recognition Ceremony where she honored 200 volunteers and personally greeted most of our 600 attendees and guests.

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Sylvia Acevedo at the 2017 GSGLA Annual Meeting & Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.

Sylvia has been widely recognized for her accomplishments, with significant honors that include most recently California Legislative Latino Spirit Award. Sylvia was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—an MS in industrial engineering—and she holds a bachelor of science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.

We are proud to welcome Sylvia as our next National Chief Executive Officer and look forward to her sharing her vision in her new role at the Triennial Convention in Ohio in October. Please join me in congratulating Sylvia: officeoftheceo@girlscouts.org

Yours in Girl Scouting,

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Lise L. Luttgens
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

Gabbing with Girl Scouts: “Gifted”

Stars of the new movie Gifted were “Gabbing with Girl Scouts” at the film’s LA premiere. Girl Advisory Bureau (GAB) correspondents Julia B. and Julia M. hit the red carpet to interview the cast, including honorary Girl Scout Mckenna Grace. (GSGLA was also there for her pinning ceremony—you can read about that here.)

Watch our video to hear from the stars and learn about the role Girl Scouts played in the film.