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Monday, August 16, 2010

Trip of a Lifetime Part 4

Recently, an eager group of Girl Scouts joined San Diego council staff and experienced the excitement of Indian life in the global atmosphere of Sangam: Indian food, outdoor markets, sari shopping, famous sites and Indian art with 11 of their Girl Scout sisters.

This is the last post from Karina, one of the Girl Scouts who just returned from the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy -- and let is know what you think!

I am lucky and blessed and grateful for what I have. And I admire the deep spirit that Indian people have. I look up to their simple, austere and peaceful lives.

I am sixteen, and I know I wouldn’t have seen this experience the same way if I’d had nine or ten. It’s really nice when you’re a little camping girl scout. But as you grow older and mature you acquire the responsibility to open your eyes, and your heart, to others. If it wasn’t for Girl Scouts, maybe I would’ve never been to India. Maybe I would not even care for anyone who’s not me. Maybe I would only be dedicating interest and commitment to me and not those who need it.

But we have been talking about differences, and I’m different. I’m different because I care, I don’t like being just what I am right now. I need more than that. I need new experiences, new adventures; to be there for whoever needs me, and I know there will always be something that I can do. I believe those differences become similarities between leaders. Right now, I’m looking for that. Or maybe even more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Connecting with the people of India

Recently, an eager group of Girl Scouts joined San Diego council staff and experienced the excitement of Indian life in the global atmosphere of Sangam: Indian food, outdoor markets, sari shopping, famous sites and Indian art with 11 of their Girl Scout sisters.

Enjoy this third post from Karina, one of the Girl Scouts who just returned from the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy -- and let is know what you think!
But my favorite part was our movie star status.

Since we weren’t in the touristy area, we were kind of the tourist attraction for locals. Kids kept waving and staring at us, and they were more than excited when they saw our cameras (they even posed for the cameras!) (Like, seriously, they DID ask for pictures and pose).

And yes, we saw kids begging. For food and money…but that was kind of expected. What was unexpected was that some kids approached us to touch us. They asked for a hand squeeze and then they stared at their hands. I wasn’t that much of an impact since my skin is a bit dark, but Alyssa (a blond, blue-eyed girl from Nebraska who was a part of our destination group) stole the spotlight. She was the hit between the cute little dark haired Indian kids with dark skin, who weren’t used to the opposite of blending-in-visitors. Like us! But we loved them and they loved us, one day a girl walked by and she gave me a flower! People there are kind, friendly and they kept asking if we wanted some Chai tea…and they made us feel like Angelina Jolie.

And like her, we discovered that some people live in misery; in houses that are more like tin and cardboard put together and I’m not generalizing or saying that the majority of houses are like that, but they do exist. What I can say is that overall people are HAPPY. It’s something I sensed since the first day of our journey, when I saw that little girl running around barefoot in the mud near the pile of rotten food. She was laughing. That family in that slum in Mumbai, they were sitting around a little fire inside a tent, their home, because it was rainy outside…and they were laughing.

It was hard. Taking all in, the culture shock and everything. Seeing how the world is. Just stepping outside of my own bubble and trying to get inside that skinny armless beggar’s bubble. Just attempting to even imagine being in his…he wasn’t wearing shoes.

Next, what Karina learned from her expereince.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Part 2- The Trip of a Lifetime

Recently, an eager group of Girl Scouts joined San Diego council staff and experienced the excitement of Indian life in the global atmosphere of Sangam: Indian food, outdoor markets, sari shopping, famous sites and Indian art with 11 of their Girl Scout sisters.

Enjoy this series of posts from Karina, one of the Girl Scouts who just returned from the trip of a lifetime! This is number two out of four installments. Enjoy -- and let is know what you think!

WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) has four world centers: Sangam is one of them (the other three are in México, Switzerland and England). GSUSA is a part of WAGGGS. Any of the 10 million members of WAGGGS can stay in a world centre. When we arrived we filled out paperwork and went straight to bed… after taking our shoes off before entering the dorm. Wondering about the shoes part? It is a social rule to remove your footwear if you’re walking into a house, temple, etc. So if you go to India then do NOT use knee-high Converse (none of us did but just saying).

We had a blast in Pune, the city where Sangam is. Pune is in Maharastra, a state whose capital is India’s largest city, Mumbai. The state is located in the west side of India, and has a population of almost 98 million people. Pune is Maharastra’s 2nd largest city, with four million inhabitants and streets full of trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, cows, goats, cars, pedestrians and rickshaws (three wheeled kind of motorcycles which are like taxi cabs and are supposed to fit only three persons). In Sangam, we were mixed up with visitors from Canada, Australia, Nashville and Michigan to be divided in patrols, which were our teams. We got to share adventures, laughs and exhausting walks together.

The program we all did included some challenges (The Amazing Race with “chikoos” and rupees blending in). For example, on the “Wadi Challenge” we found out that you could buy like six bananas for a bit less than a dollar; on our way to Ganesh’s Temple (hindi god with an elephant head). We found a two story internet café (the ceiling on the 2nd story was about 5’2 feet high), the computers were powered by car batteries that were piled up next to me…cost 10 rupees an hour! (about 25 cents).

On another challenge, we went to Laxmi Road, with its markets and shops and alleys. Like the bangle alley! With shops covered with bangles of all colors. Random fact: traditionally in the state of Maharastra, green bangles indicate that a woman is married. There are other ways that show if a woman is married: if she wears toe rings, a red bindi (dot on the forehead), a Mangalsutra (necklace with black beads and gold pendants), etc.

We had fun shopping, but cool bangles do not compare to the main course: SARIS. Have you seen those somehow-tied-up dresses that Indian women wear? Well, shopping for those is another level of shopping…it’s looking at walls COVERED in hundreds of 6 yard-long pieces of fabric that are gorgeous and colorful and of all designs and price ranges and they call you and captivate you because there’s a fan in the shop and the fabric flows in the wind…and suddenly you just purchased a sari.

But then there’s a problem, I mean, your sari can feel lonely so before you realize it you also bought a new Punjabi (dress, scarf and pants combo). And don’t even get me started with silk scarves…

Aside from the shopping, we did some Bollywood dancing (Hollywood in Mumbai), ate LOTS of delicious food with curry and ginger and some other 100000+ spices, went to SOS Children’s Village (an orphanage) where we played with the kids for hours and then went back there another day because we wanted to see them again.

Next, truly making a connectionw ith the people in India.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Trip of a Lifetime--to INDIA!!

Girl Scout destinations transport Girl Scouts to the far corners of the world. Girls meet remarkable friends, develop leadership skills, gain confidence, and enjoy valuable learning opportunities.

Recently, an eager group of Girl Scouts joined San Diego council staff and experienced the excitement of Indian life in the global atmosphere of Sangam: Indian food, outdoor markets, sari shopping, famous sites and Indian art with 11 of their Girl Scout sisters.

Enjoy this series of posts from Karina, one of the Girl Scouts who just returned from the trip of a lifetime! We'll publish these in four installments. Enjoy -- and let is know what you think!

Holy Cow!

Maybe that’s not the first thing that pops in your head when you hear “India”. Although, you should know cows are sacred there, which means that you will find McVeggie hamburgers and absolutely no beef at McDonald’s.

Well Holy Cow, after the green ink on my passport, it was official.

But the madness had started even before.

In the midst of excitement, yellow fever shots, pre-travel shopping ( bug repellent, anti-itch cream, tons of stuff and that annoying waist wallet to carry around things I shouldn’t lose); I got back my passport with my 6 month Indian tourist Visa. For some reason, said Visa was signed with not blue or black ink, but green. That was the first of many differences I would find between everything I’m used to…and India.

If I could define my whole trip in one word it would be “different”. But I like to write so here it goes…

The first step was applying to the “Essence of India” Destination and being accepted. Then the next step was doing the paperwork, getting vaccines, and a long list of things to do before June 13: the day I flew from San Diego to Newark, NJ to meet the coolest girls ever so we could all fly together to Mumbai and bond on the 18 hour plane ride. When we landed on the moon Mumbai it felt like being out of this world. The air was moist, there was no toilet paper in the restroom (people eat only with their right hand, and it has to do with the purpose of the left/toilet paper hand), people speaking in other languages, women wearing saris, nothing like I would’ve imagined. And I loved it.

A little shuttle took our group through insane traffic, rain and breathtaking landscapes so that after four hours, we got to our final destination: Sangam.

Next: having a blast in Pune, with its 98 million people.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Girl Scout Camp Chronicles: "Wild Things" Daycamp

At our Wild Things camp in Escondido, girls take a walk on the wild side, going behind the scenes and learning from the experts at the Wild Animal Park. Back at camp, their imagination runs wild as they play games, create wacky costumes, make art and tackle our challenge course.

Don't you wish you could experience camp firsthand; to run and learn and play like these girls? Here's the next best thing -- our camp staff share their observations with you.

During the portable challenge course today, campers were trying to work together to get across a pretend pond by stepping on "lily pads" (wooden boxes). As the last girl was about to step back on to the other side of the pond another girl reached out to grab her hand and said, "Come on! You got it!!" It was a great example of the teamwork and skills we develop through the portable challenge course. --Kit Kat, Counselor

I was lucky enough to listen in as campers debriefed after the challenge course today. When asked, "What did you figure out?" their answers were amazingly insightful! Girls no higher than my waist said things like Teamwork! Responsibility! How to concentrate! Making friends! Powerful stuff, those bits of wood and rope, carefully designed by our outdoor education folks, and lovingly facilitated by our fabulous day camp staff. --Skipper, Outdoor Education Specialist

Today the campers were playing the game "Whoosh" after lunch. They split into two Program Aide-led groups and went to opposite ends of the field so they could both be in the shade. Each group learned the game and played separately for a while, but then they began playing the game between the two groups by shouting across the field. The girls are really imaginative and inventive, and they are constantly changing and improvising games together. --Pirate, Counselor

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This is an excerpt of an email and a which includes a forwarded email. Our Program Director, Jen Nation, shared it with her staff. It applies to all the wonderful people who serve Girl Scouts in any capacity: volunteers, staff, donors, board members, parents… Enjoy.

When I read this I thought of all of you and all the pride and dedication you have for your jobs. I also thought about the 12,500 adults and 30,000 girls we serve. I know that more than a few times a year you give up your Saturdays (or Sundays, or week nights, or early mornings) to be at a program event, camp or service unit meeting to ensure that our girls and volunteers have a memorable and successful Girl Scouting experience.

I hope you each know how much of a difference you make in the lives of so many girls and volunteers, as they are choosing to spend their time with us. I also want to remind you each to take care of yourselves and your families. I know it is sometimes hard balancing your time between work and family, and as much as I appreciate it, I want to be sure you are taking those deep breaths for yourself too. Jen.


The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it…

I turned on my ham radio... to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice….He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

"The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays."

"I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear."

"Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.There's nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help you get your priorities straight.

" This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about.I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?", she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

E. R. Thrower

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Operation Thin Mint Thoughts

We get many nice comments on our Facebook page every day. This recent post from one of our volunteers: a troop leader, mother of two and proud wife of a deployed serviceman, about Operation Thin Mint (R) Sendoff really made us think.

"We loved it all! Most of our girls couldn't make it but my daughter and I went (and my honorary Girl Scout son! LOL) and it was incredible!! Our first time. I lead a Kindergarten Daisy Troop but we will definitely be going every year.

When they played "Proud to be an American" I was bawling, probably looked like insane but my husband is deployed to Iraq right now so that was hard, my son cried too.

We got pictures with the Admiral and with General Bailey, the kids loved all the men and women in uniform.

It reminds us why we have to let their Daddy go.

It was an amazing ceremony!! I loved seeing the Coast Guard helicopter pick up the cookies, that woman [Petty Officer 2nd Class Megan Mansfield-Smith] is amazing! My daughter can't wait to be her now. :)"

Shaylynn, Troop Leader

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