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.

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.

“Gifted” Star Becomes a Girl Scout

“Sharing Girl Scouts with anyone is fun, but to get to share it with a celebrity was even more fun.”

After her experience portraying a Girl Scout on screen in the film Gifted, actress Mckenna Grace fulfilled her dream to become a Girl Scout in real life when she was pinned a Junior Girl Scout by Lise Luttgens, CEO of Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles in March.

Here’s the scoop straight from GSGLA’s Girl Advisory Bureau (GAB), who was able to meet Mckenna and participate in the pinning ceremony:

“Mckenna will make the perfect Girl Scout! She seems like the kind of person who lives up to the Girl Scout Law every day. She was honest and fair when getting interviewed. She was definitely friendly and helpful when meeting new people. There is no doubt she is considerate and caring. When she shared the S.W.A.P.S. she made for us, she demonstrated she was a sister to every Girl Scout. And I think McKenna also lives up to the other parts of the Girl Scout Law as well. I had the chance to ask McKenna what advice she had for girls who are having a tough time. She told me that everyone at one point goes through a tough time in their life and that it is important to talk to the people who care and support you, because they will help you get through whatever you are struggling with. Having Girl Scout sisters is one of my support systems. I hope McKenna’s fame will inspire more girls to join Girl Scouts.”  –Natalie K., Cadette Girl Scout

“Sharing Girl Scouts with anyone is fun, but to get to share it with a celebrity was even more fun. It made me very happy when Mckenna said, ‘I’ve always wanted be a Girl Scout!’ During the pinning ceremony, we gave McKenna S.W.A.P.S., a bandana and yellow roses. We gave her S.W.A.P.S. because it’s a common craft Girl Scouts often make and swap with other Girl Scouts. We gave her a bandana because bandanas have so many important uses: a sling for a hurt arm, a towel, a hat, and so much more—Girl Scouts are always prepared. And finally we each gave her a yellow rose because they represent friendship.” –Samantha K., Junior Girl Scout

“Talking to Mckenna showed me that Girl Scouts really can do whatever they put their minds to! I also enjoyed seeing how young she is—she’s a little girl, but she was in a movie! We gave her a lot of hard questions, but she still answered them very well! G.I.R.L. stands for go-getter, innovator, risk taker, and leader, and Mckenna is just that! She came out and spoke in front of a CEO and a bunch of people she didn’t know. I was very honored to meet her.” –Gillian D., Cadette Girl Scout

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Stay tuned for more fun reporting from our Girl Advisory Bureau—coming soon: interviews from the red carpet premiere of the film Gifted—out in LA now and nationwide on Friday, April 7. GAB girls talked to the actors about courage, confidence, and character and the importance of role models and mentors.

(Note: First three photos by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Girl Scouts of the USA)

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout

When you’re a Girl Scout, you become part of a vast, interconnected family. Currently, there are 59 million Girl Scout alumnae, or one out of every two women in the U.S. Girl Scout alumnae display more positive life outcomes compared to non-alumnae—which might explain why many choose to volunteer for the organization which played such a critical part in their growth.

For that reason (and more), alumna Ju Lee decided to give back to GSGLA shortly after her own time ended as a Girl Scout. She explains to us why she returned as a troop leader for her sister in her letter below.


“Hey, do you want to pre-order some Girl Scouts Cookies?” I ask my fellow peers in college. The automatic reaction I get: “You’re still a Girl Scout?!” And my response: “No and yes.”

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Ju Lee as a Girl Scout.

I am currently a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA and a leader for Junior Troop 3475 in Koreatown, Los Angeles. For the past two years as a troop leader, I have never come across another college student on or off campus who is also volunteering for Girl Scouts, which makes me feel unique—but at the same time makes me question why other women my age are not volunteering for Girl Scouts.

When I was a high school freshman, I found a recently-formed troop in my town that I could join. Even though I spent four years in Girl Scouts, my experiences were very limited due to my troop disbanding shortly after I joined. I completed two Journeys, earned my Girl Scout Gold Award, and participated in the Rose Parade as part of the Tournament Troop—but there was so much more I wanted to do. Thus, when my little sister wanted to be part of Girl Scouts, I could not resist helping her find a troop and experience what I always desired to experience, like camping, making s’mores, and learning traditional songs.

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Unable to find a troop with an open spot, a GSGLA staffer brought up the idea of forming a Brownie troop for my little sister. After debating for long hours, I thought, “Why not?” A simple idea suggested by a staffer led me back into the Girl Scout community. It took about a year to form the troop, due to having to find another co-leader, a place for meetings, background checks, and so forth; but it was worth it.

Exactly two years have passed since the troop first met back in 2015. As a Girl Scout alumna, I love telling other folks in GSGLA and my community how I am back as a volunteer—not as a parent, but as a student. Being reconnected with the community, I have learned so much more about what it means to be a leader, from planning our next troop meeting to selling cookies with my girls.

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If I could say one thing to another Girl Scout alumna, I would tell them to get back into the Girl Scout community: whether that means attending an event or volunteering for a troop, you learn so much as a leader, a person, and a community member. More importantly, it is so rewarding seeing Girl Scouts have fun!


We are so thankful to Ju Lee for not only sharing her volunteer experience, but also empowering a new generation of Girl Scouts and upholding our crucial mission.

Are you a Girl Scout alumna? Click here to discover ways you can stay connected.

Interested in volunteering? Click here to get started on your Girl Scout journey.

Happy Girl Scout Week!

Girl Scout Week is just around the corner, with plenty of opportunities for Girl Scouts to celebrate sisterhood and demonstrate what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (That includes the Girl Scout Anniversary, March 12, which marks 105 years since Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts!)

In true Girl Scout spirit, each day of the week has a different service theme, which has evolved over the years. According to VintageGirlScout.com, Girl Scout Week started in 1919 as a way for the young organization to raise money and gain members: “Through the years, the focus changed to meet the needs of [the] changing world and changing girls.” (You can read more about the history of Girl Scout Week here.)

Thanks to our friends at GreenBlood News on Facebook, we were able to gain even more insight about Girl Scout Week—and have provided suggestions for daily activities below.


Girl Scout Week, March 12–18

Sunday, March 12: Girl Scout Sunday and Girl Scout Anniversary
Take part in a religious service while wearing your Girl Scout uniform
Consider earning a religious award
Think about earning your My Promise, My Faith pin
Learn about Girl Scout history and our founder, Juliette Gordon Low
Hold a troop celebration (We have plenty of goodies, including confetti and patches, for your party—check our store locations and hours here.)

Monday, March 13: Service to Family Day (previously called Homemaking Day)
Keep in mind the Girl Scout Law
Be friendly and helpful, considerate and caring—and don’t forget to respect authority
Help with chores around the house
Do extra good deeds for your family

Tuesday, March 14: Service to Community Day (previously called Citizenship Day)
Take part in a service or Take Action project in your community
Work toward a Girl Scout award
Connect with your community and/or school officials and leaders

Wednesday, March 15: Health and Safety Day
Eat only healthy snacks
Exercise for at least 20 minutes
Check to see if your smoke detectors are working properly at home
Consider earning the Girl Scout Safety Award for your level: Find requirements in the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting, under the Awards tab
Brownies and up, consider earning your First Aid legacy badge (check your Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting for badge requirements)

Thursday, March 16: International Friendship Day
Learn about a country you would like to visit
Cook or prepare a meal from another country
Learn more about WAGGGS

Friday, March 17: Arts & Culture Day (previously called Arts & Crafts Day)
Go to a museum, concert, or play
Work on an art project
Brownies and up, consider earning the Art-related legacy badge (check your Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting for badge requirements)

Saturday, March 18: Girl Scout Sabbath and Service to the Planet Day (previously called Outdoors Day)
Attend a religious service wearing your Girl Scout Uniform
Learn about another religion
Think about earning your My Promise, My Faith pin
Sign up for summer camp
Play games outside with your troop or family
Go on a hike


Which activities are you planning with your family or troop? We want to see how you’re celebrating—share your activities with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and tag us (@GirlScoutsLA). We might share your content with the entire GSGLA community!

Also, are you a Girl Scout history buff? Want to share your knowledge about Girl Scout Week? We’d love to learn more—please leave a comment on this post!

Happy Girl Scout Week, everyone!

Global Citizens

We all know Girl Scouts make the world a better place—and what better way to learn about the world than by exploring it? Girl Scout Destinations provides girls ages 11 and older opportunities to travel to different countries and states, and engage in awe-inspiring activities: from scuba diving in Panama to exploring ancient sites in India to horseback riding in Colorado. These types of activities not only help girls become better global citizens, they push Girl Scouts out of their comfort zones and prepare them for challenges in their own lives.

It was just this sort of experience that prompted Gold Award Girl Scout Jaclyn B. of Troop 7392 to apply for the Destinations program. (You can learn more about the application process at the end of this post—the summer 2017 deadline is Jan. 31.) She embarked on a trip with fellow Girl Scouts to Italy, and told us all about her experience.


Describe your trip to Italy in a nutshell.
Going on this destination to Italy has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I saw amazing architecture, ate amazing food, and met new friends. The people I went with made it more than just another trip. We bonded and that’s the best thing you can get from a group of 16 girls. I still keep in touch with a couple of them.

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How did you select your Destination?
I chose the EF Tours Italy trip because I have always wanted to go to Italy. When I read the description of what we would be doing, I knew it would be the right choice for me.

Before the trip, how did you feel about the trip? Were you scared? Excited?
When I got accepted to go on this trip I was excited, but as the trip got closer I found myself getting more nervous. For a person who is afraid of flying, I had to take a six-hour flight to Boston to meet up with everyone, then another seven-hour flight to Amsterdam, then a 1.5-hour flight to Italy. It was definitely worth it, though. One thing that really helped was getting to know everyone with group phone calls that Timalee (our chaperone) organized for us. About a week before the trip, I also found out there was another participant who lived in my area. We got in contact and we met up for lunch—realizing that I’d already know someone really calmed my nerves.

What was the most exciting part of your trip?
The whole trip was amazing. The best part of it was probably the cooking class that we had on our second to last day in Rome. It was not only fun, but we also competed against each other.

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What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to girls thinking of applying?
When you get to the essay part, don’t be afraid to show yourself. It really helped me with my college essays because you need to show that you are not afraid to go on this trip, and you are not afraid to try new things. In the words of my English teacher: “You are bragging about yourself; don’t downplay it.”

What impact did the trip have on you?
This trip to Italy was amazing and I know I will never forget it. I can admit I was nervous at first going to an international country with people I didn’t know. But the people were amazing and the trip is something I would do all over again.


We’re so thankful to Jaclyn for sharing her Italy experience with us. If you’re ready to pack your bags for your own life-changing experience, apply for Round 2 of the Destinations program. Remember, GSGLA’s deadline is Jan. 31 for summer 2017 trips.

We Are Family: An Open Letter to Younger Girl Scouts

“These girls are going to be there for you, through the good, the bad, and everything in between.”

Dear Girl Scouts,

I’ve been a Girl Scout since 2005. Over the years, I’ve seen older girls who I look up to graduate and younger girls grow up through Girl Scouts.

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Kaniela (third from left) with her sister Girl Scouts.

I’ve made lifelong friends and sisters who will always have my back. When I was younger, people would sometimes tell me to quit Girl Scouts—but I didn’t because I met so many people who I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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Girl Scouts isn’t only about cookie sales, it’s about sisterhood. You’re going to hear this a lot, but these girls are going to be there for you, through the good, the bad, and everything in between.

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Once you’re a Girl Scout, it’s like joining a family: You get older sisters and younger sisters who will always lend a shoulder for you to cry on, or who will stay up laughing all night if that’s what you need. They seem to make everything more fun in life because you have spent nights singing around a campfire, laughing, sharing a tent, and crying (this is pretty important).

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Some will leave, but they don’t know what they are missing. I hope you get to experience what I have and stay in that amazing family you have: Girl Scouts.

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Sincerely,
Ambassador Girl Scout Kaniela


Big thanks to Girl Advisory Bureau member Kaniela N. of M.S.S. Blue Madonna Troop 1688-6 for writing this open letter!

To begin your Girl Scout journey by joining or volunteering, click here for the GSGLA website.

To find out all about the ways Girl Scouting enriches and positively impacts girls’ lives, visit the Girl Scout Research Institute site.