It ’s Time for Bake-off!
At the annual Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off Benefit in Kalamazoo, the top chefs in town will each create a unique delicacy with Girl Scout cookies as the main ingredient. The sweet and savory treats and heavy hors d’oeuvres are complimented by amazing live and silent auction items, including an African safari trip from Kalamazoo Safari, a VIP package for Bell’s 35th Anniversary Funvitational, wine tastings, sporting events tickets, spa packages, travel opportunities, and more. The best part is that this night of fun will support girls who need and deserve to have the advantage of Girl Scouting in their lives.
Think back to when you were a girl. Young, naïve, and trying to find your place in the world. You probably had some favorite hobbies, some best friends, and some challenges to face. Did you deal with bullies, low self-confidence, body image issues, or pesky boys?
Girls today face many of the same challenges that you did, and they deal with them in the technology age. The girls of today have grown up as technology natives. Kids today learn about September 11th in their history class, as they weren’t alive to know what life was like before 9/11. Cell phone cameras have always been in their face, documenting their every move to be shared with the world. Social media means that they are one tap away from comparing themselves to others, or from content not suited for their age or maturity level. It also means that bullies can berate them from behind the comfort of a screen, hurting feelings from afar without having to watch someone else’s heart break in real time. Anxiety levels in children have never been higher.
The test of time has shown that most female business leaders (over 50%), two-thirds of women in Congress (60%), and almost all female technology leaders (80%), were Girl Scouts. This is no coincidence. Girl Scouts fuels the female leadership pipeline. Girl Scouts builds qualities in girls that allow them to soar to their full potential. Girl Scouting is an affordable, life-changing option among the dozens of activities from which a girl can choose.
However, the unfortunate reality is that there are many girls with barriers in their lives which prevent them from participating in Girl Scouts. These barriers can be financial, or resulting from a lack of volunteer interest or capability. In some low-income or single-parent homes, volunteering to lead a Girl Scout troop would mean taking time away from work. This is simply not an option for some families.
Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, which covers 34 counties throughout the state of Michigan, will never turn a girl away due to financial barriers. In addition to $60,000 toward financial assistance and scholarships, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan also facilitates the Outreach Program. In this program, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan full-time and part-time staff provide school-based programs so that girls can experience the life-changing Girl Scout Leadership Experience despite the barriers that would otherwise prevent them from doing so.
In Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, girls who participate in the Outreach Program indicate a strong sense of self, positive conflict resolution skills, and powerful problem solving skills along with positive values. Outreach Program participants also report that Girl Scouts shows them that they are capable of building skills and doing them well and that what they learn in Girl Scouts helps them at home, in school, and in the bigger world.
Aside from this quantitative data from Outreach Program participants, girls offer comments that summarize the significant impact that Girl Scouting has on their lives. Danaeja, a Brownie Girl Scout, said that “Girl Scouts helped me open up about my feelings, and made me feel better when times were rough.” Another Girl Scout, Kaylee, said, “They’re like my family when I’m not home. They mean a lot to me.”
In our Kalamazoo region, outreach programming is available each year in both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Each year, approximately 275 girls in Kalamazoo and 100-150 girls in Battle Creek experience the life-changing magic of Girl Scouting via the Outreach Program, and those numbers are growing. The Outreach Program covers a variety of topics for girls, including STEM-based activities, anti-bullying, confidencebuilding, and traditional badge work, among other topics. Often, the topics covered during Outreach Program meetings are determined by the interests of the girls participating, which gives them a customized experience based on what they need and want to learn.
Girls who participate in the Outreach Program get the same incredible outcomes as girls who participate in the classic troop setting. From the famous cookie program to badge work, the Outreach Program provides girls with the Girl Scout Leadership Experience that they may not otherwise experience. One important aspect of this experience is the Girl Scout Gold Award, and the honors that lead up to it: the Bronze and Silver Awards.
These highest awards mark the greatest achievements in Girl Scouting. While working towards these awards, girls identify problems they want to solve and implement solutions. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most rigorous and prestigious award for girls; it requires them to identify a community-wide need and implement a sustainable solution that will live on beyond the completion of their project.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that it typically means automatic scholarships at various colleges and universities. Gold Award Girl Scouts are also entitled to enter the military at a higher pay grade. The benefits associated with earning the Gold Award mean that a girl can change her life, and girls who participate via the Outreach Program have that advantage available to them.
At the Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off Benefit, attendees will get to taste all of the delicious creations made by the best chefs in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. While Girl Scout cookies often lend themselves to sweet treats, savory treats are not uncommon. Attendees vote for their favorite creation, and judges select the overall winner. Full-sized versions of each of the delectable creations are available for purchase during the live auction. Many bidders purchase auctioned desserts for their offices or upcoming dinner parties. Heavy hors d’oevres are available to offset the typically sweet creations, as well as a cash bar so you can wash everything down.
Girl Scouts is a program that changes the lives of girls right here in southwest Michigan, and the Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off Benefit allows you to support girls who need Girl Scouts the most. Join us on Wednesday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Radisson in downtown Kalamazoo.
You’ll leave with a full heart, a full tummy, and the knowledge that you are contributing to the future success of a girl.