Girl Scout Power for Middle School

“It’s all about who you are as a person, and your Girl Scout power will help you develop into an amazing person for the future.”

Middle school is a tough time for a lot of people, with so much going on personally and academically. Girl Scouts helps girls of all ages find their inner strength, develop confidence, and persevere through difficult situations—which is especially critical for middle schoolers who need extra support. G.I.R.L. and Cadette Katelyn R. tells us how she’s leveraged her “Girl Scout power” and shares her advice with other girls in middle school.


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Cadette Girl Scout Katelyn R.

Most of us can say that joining Girl Scouts has helped us come out of our shells. But have you ever thought about how much your inner Girl Scout power can help you in an awkward or tough situation?

I am a part of the GSGLA Color Guard. When I was invited to join the color guard, I was very nervous (I used to be shy) and now I have a great group of friends who encourage my love for Girl Scouting and I am able to participate in amazing things. I’ve had the opportunity to meet interesting people and perform in front of thousands of people—which has helped my confidence emerge and enabled me to be myself!

When I started middle school this past year, I took the confidence I’d gained from Girl Scouts and applied it to my daily routine. I spoke up in class, joined a garden club, took a risk by joining the cross-country team, and sang my heart out in the choir group.

katelyn 9Middle school may seem simple, but the challenges were quite different from others I had encountered in the past. Girl Scouts encouraged me to persevere and address things I wanted to change about myself. For instance, cross country—I was not a seven-minute mile runner or even better, but I thought it would be cool to try a new sport. I joined the team not expecting much, but I found the challenge actually helped me accelerate my mile requirements in PE, and I met new people who became new friends—just like when we join a troop or interact with another troop during a council event.

So, my first piece of advice: Don’t be shy and introduce yourself to the many new faces you will meet. You never know where you will find your next BFF. My second piece of advice: Stay true to who you are and don’t give up the values that make you YOU!

There will be a lot of growing up in middle school. People may not understand why you do certain things or you might encounter some jealousy. Girls who I thought were my friends turned out not to be who they seemed before. You have to learn not to take things personally because you might drift away from current friendships. For the “Finding Common Ground” Girl Scout badge, we learned how to get to know someone different from us, to understand how to compromise, and to make decisions in a different group. These lessons allowed me to branch out to new groups in middle school. My new friends have stuck with me and supported the different activities I have joined.

katelyn 6Girl Scouts helped me persist through the rough times and hardships of trying new things. I’ve moved on and learned that it takes confidence, perseverance, and other traits to make a person strong. Girl Scouting helps us learn new things, challenge ourselves, and always find new paths: These experiences can all fuel your inner Girl Scout power and help you endure challenges in real life.

I got through sixth grade doing awesome things and getting excellent grades, which makes me proud. With Girl Scouts, I recently joined the Girl Advisory Bureau, experienced Camp Osito for the first time, and met yet another great group of girls. You may have a difficult experience in middle school or any grade you enter, but remember—it’s all about who you are as a person, and your Girl Scout power will help you develop into an amazing person for the future.

So don’t be shy, don’t be nervous, speak up, and try new things and new friendships; because after all, no matter how lonely you may feel at times, there is always someone out there just waiting to share your story and celebrate how wonderful you really are.


Thank you, Katelyn, for your inspiring—and useful—insight on how to channel your inner G.I.R.L. in middle school (and in any tough situation)!

Want to help girls become their best selves as a volunteer? Get more information here. Want to learn how to become a Girl Scout? Take the first step in joining our global sisterhood and click here.

A Day of Impact

As the premier leadership organization for girls, Girl Scouts is committed to providing girls with a myriad of opportunities to build their skills, develop courage, and try new things. We’re also committed to connecting with community partners who share the same goals.

Last month, our high-school Girl Scouts had an amazing chance to participate in mentor-guided workshops at Deloitte University Impact Day. Senior Genetha C. attended and shared her experience with us.


As Girl Scouts, when we see a problem, we find a solution. On June 9, I experienced an amazing day with other Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, being mentored by employees of Deloitte University. We explored problem-solving in business and technology through a series of group activities and workshops—Finance 101, Introduction to Consulting, Technology in Business, Leadership in Business—and discussions with mentors on education and summer internships.

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Genetha during presentation (second from left).

In Finance 101, we received an empty worksheet to create a budget. There was a Powerpoint that guided us in choosing which kind of home and car we want in the future, as well as other necessities we think are  important. We had to figure out how much we can save, taking fixed expenses, transportation, and more into consideration.

The workshop Introduction to Consulting covered management information, analytical applications, and record management and how to improve those functions; while Technology in Business taught us which devices you can use to be successful in a business.

IMG_0498One of my favorite workshops was Leadership in Business, where we watched cool videos about leaders in history. We learned that we are all leaders in our own way. I also learned the acronym “P.D.I.G.,” which stands for Pioneer, Driver, Integrator, and Guardian: The Pioneer loves exploring; the Driver loves a challenge; the Integrator is all about connecting; and the Guardian values stability and strives for accuracy. As Girl Scouts, we can relate these to the “G.I.R.L.” acronym. Which one are you?

IMG_0557In one of the mentoring sessions, we were challenged with a unique issue: One of the worker’s cousins has a known brand of shoes outside of the country—she wanted to know how we, as Girl Scouts, can make her brand more known in America: whether we liked the style, how they could improve sales, how they have problems with current exchange, and more. Together, we came up with questions to get to the root of the issues, such as: How many shoes has she sold over the year? How long does it take to make the shoes? What makes the shoe special?

Together, we were able to come up with solutions to help customize the shoes, make them seasonal, get experts to work on the website, and more. Groups presented their solutions to mentors who worked for Deloitte—and those who presented received cool Deloitte steel bottles.

IMG_0582I want to thank Deloitte for the advice on business and helping us develop more leadership skills. Also, I am happy GSGLA gives us fun and helpful programs that benefit us every day.


Thank you, Genetha! We also want to thank Deloitte for giving our girls the chance to develop their leadership and business skills during this exciting day of impact.

Interested in learning how your company can partner with GSGLA? Check out these ways to get involved or contact giving@girlscoutsla.org.

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.

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

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.”

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.

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Innovator

“Girl Scouts is all about the girls… but if you don’t have volunteers, then the girls have nowhere to be.”

As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, GSGLA is honoring the stellar women and men who dedicate countless hours to our mission. One outstanding example is Cindy Bernsdorf, who received the Thanks Badge at our Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, one of the highest honors bestowed on volunteers.

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Cindy (top row, third from left) with her Brownie troop.

A lifetime Girl Scout, Cindy embodies the Girl Scout Promise and Law and has made a long-lasting impact on the Movement here in Greater LA. Today, she serves as the lead for the Communications Go Team, but her Girl Scout journey began in second grade, when her mom was her troop leader.

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Cindy as a senior in high school.

She continued in the program for the next 10 years, and has fond memories of visiting local sites as a Brownie, including Olvera Street, and of traveling to Mexico City as a high school senior, stopping by Our Cabaña, one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ World Centers.

Years later, Cindy returned to her Girl Scout roots as a leader for her older daughter’s troop and “fell in love with [the program] because I didn’t realize as a girl there was a beautiful structure [to it],” she says. “Girls could have opportunities to do all these things they’d never done before.”

Over the course of the next decade, Cindy’s Girl Scout career included volunteering at the service unit level where she served as a recruiter, a consultant, service unit manager, area manager, council trainer, and more. Cindy says she particularly enjoyed being a liaison between the staff and service units, and “getting all the information from the council, since I’m a person who loves to have information” (which makes her a natural fit for the Communications Go Team!).

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Cindy serving on a GSGLA alumnae committee.

After she rose through the ranks of various operational jobs, Cindy became a member of the council’s board of directors. Her tenure coincided with the merger that resulted in Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. She played an instrumental part in ensuring the transition to Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles went as smoothly as possible, particularly in ensuring a volunteer recognition system was in place. “Volunteers need to feel that what they’re doing is important and appreciated,” she says. “They need to see the impact of what they do and how that feeds down to what everybody wants—a great program for girls.”

For the last several years, Cindy has served as the lead for the Communications Go Team, a position that has fueled her number-one passion: supporting volunteers. The Go Team has developed and refined materials to streamline communications across the council. “I want volunteers to have an easier time, to be recognized, and to be able to do what they do with the least amount of problems,” says Cindy. “Obviously Girl Scouts is all about the girls… but if you don’t have volunteers, then the girls have nowhere to be.”

Cindy wholeheartedly encourages others to volunteer for Girl Scouts—not only for the longstanding friendships you form, but also the important skills you acquire: “I can’t say enough about the things I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have done. There’s something there for everyone.”

We’re so thankful to Cindy for her years of service to our council and Movement, as well as her innovative thinking and tenacious spirit. Congratulations on earning the Thanks Badge!

Want to learn more about volunteering for Girl Scouts? Visit our website.

Volunteer Spotlight: Leader

“As you empower others, it reflects back on you, and it builds you without your knowing. It’s only in time you see how much you’ve changed.”

We all know Girl Scouts exists for girls, but it exists because of volunteers. Throughout April, we’re recognizing our amazing, dedicated volunteers across the council, and profiling some of them right here on our blog.

One of the highest honors Girl Scouts can bestow on a volunteer is the Thanks Badge. Longtime GSGLA volunteer Sandra Hardy has provided outstanding service to the council and the entire Girl Scout Movement for years—which is why she received the award at our 2017 Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.

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Sandra (top right) with her Brownie troop.

Sandra is currently an adult educator, lead for the Outdoor Program Go Team, and member of several other Go Teams. But her Girl Scout story started when she co-led her daughter’s troop in kindergarten. She eventually became a troop leader, a position she held for 14 years—even after her own daughter graduated. That’s because of the strong bonds she fostered with the girls, whom she empowered to make decisions: “It was very girl-led, very girl-driven. I let them pick all the activities and I provided a safe environment or site.”

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Sandra’s troop working together.

One of her fondest moments happened shortly after she formed a large pathway troop with girls from across Santa Clarita Valley, when her daughter was in middle school. To ensure the girls started off on a positive foot, Sandra organized an inspirational (albeit challenging) weekend: one focused on rock climbing and rappelling! According to Sandra, “The girls were terrified, and we had to work together. Within a few months, everyone was still working together and being respectful, even if someone else had a different idea. The whole experience changed my life, and I didn’t realize how I had affected the girls until they all graduated.”

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The troop at Marine Landing.

Even after graduation, the girls still keep in touch with Sandra, with one even reaching out recently for leadership tips for a presentation: “So here we are again, working together like we did in the troop.” As the lead for the Outdoor Program Go Team, Sandra says she runs the team the same way she led her troop: “We’re equals; it’s okay if someone doesn’t like your ideas—you accept it and move on.”

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Sandra (right) at Nature Rocks day camp.

Sandra holds many roles across the council, and recently made an indelible impact with the creation of the index for Volunteer Essentials. She along with another volunteer, Linda Harmon, combed through numerous keywords and phrases, and optimized the index for all users, using the “perspective of a new leader who doesn’t know Girl Scout wording yet.” The index now serves as a baseline for future versions of the guidebook.

The Thanks Badge recipient, who is also nominated for Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year, says Girl Scouts has been nothing short of an enriching, empowering experience—not only for the girls, but also for herself. Sandra recently landed a job as an EMT, and believes the confidence she gained through Girl Scouts made her career change possible: “As you empower others, it reflects back on you, and it builds you without your knowing. It’s only in time that you see how much you’ve changed.”

We’re so proud of Sandra and appreciative of her years of service to our girls and council, as well as her candor in sharing her experiences.

To learn how you can inspire and motivate girls through volunteering, visit our website.