November 6, 2014
Dear Members and Friends of Girl Scouts,
Today, I am writing about Girl Scout program – in particular, how Girl Scouts is building 21st Century skills with the whole child in mind – camping, creativity, coding, and caring!
- Growth mindset at Convention and in GSNorCal Programs
- GSNorCal recognized for innovation in "activating empathy"
- No girl left inside! Camp Improvement Campaign Update and vote for National Outdoor Program Badges
- Governance News: Regional Delegate Nominations and Convention Report
- Fall nut and magazine sale
|"I have seen a difference (in my girls) by the way they try new things and grow with what they are doing. It trained us on how to help the girls succeed."
--Volunteer, Sow What Journey Weekend
Growth Mindset and 21st Century Skills. Growth mindset is a building block for tackling hard subjects and complex challenges. Many educators are focusing on the importance of growth mindset for academic achievement. Many companies are also now talking about the importance of growth mindset for making big things happen. Girl Scouts is helping girls develop growth mindset.
Growth mindset was a unifying theme for Convention speakers and panelists. Over 6,500 delegates and visitors attended the 53rd National Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City last month, including over 45 delegates and visitors from Girl Scouts of Northern California. Here is a picture of our Board President, Diana Bell, and me outside the Convention Hall.
Convention speakers and panelists talked about the importance of learning from failure, seeking help, and working through set-backs. Growth mindset is a term coined by Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck, PhD, based on decades of research. "In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment."
Here are examples of growth mindset from three Convention speakers who inspired me:
- Alison Levine was the first woman to summit the highest mountains on all seven continents and reach both the North and South poles on foot. She described her first failed attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest and what she learned from that effort.
- Bonnie St. John lost her right leg when she was 5, but she didn't let that slow her down. She was the first African American to win Olympic medals in ski racing (a silver and two bronze medals at the 1984 Paralympics).
- Debbie Sterling almost quit her first engineering class at Stanford, but persevered, discovered her passion and launched GoldieBlox, a toy company with a goal to "get girls building."
Sunday morning a panel of five young women shared lessons they have learned while taking action to end human trafficking and get more girls involved in engineering and technology, and this year’s ten Young Women of Distinction inspired us with stories about their Gold Award projects.
Girl Scouts has always fostered a "can do" attitude for girls. At GSNorCal, we are continuing to strengthen our programs to help girls develop a growth mindset. Our council is fortunate to be in the 4th year of a grant from the Thrive Foundation for Youth, to help GSNorCal incorporate into our programs current research answering the question: "how can adults help youth thrive?" Growth mindset, is a key element of thriving. Here are some of the ways GSNorCal is using research to help girls develop a growth mindset. Yes, I know some of you may be thinking: "But this is what we’ve always done in Girl Scouts!" Indeed it is. But now we have research and evidence-based techniques that help many of us do it even better.
- Training for council program staff (including summer camp staff) now includes the science behind growth mindset and how to develop growth mindset, including growth mindset praise. New independence and skills gained at camp help foster a growth mindset. We also are helping our camp staff encourage growth mindset. Rather than focusing on so-called "native abilities," we focus on effort and persistence. For example, instead of saying to a girl who reaches the top of a climbing wall – "Wow, you are a really good climber!" we might say say – "Wow, I was so impressed by the hard work you put into getting a little bit higher each day!" We have always measured the fun and effectiveness of our camp programs. Now we also include questions about growth mindset.
"Though she didn't make it to the top of the tower, she was willing to try. She even said 'next year, I'm going to make it all the way!'"--Sugar Pine Parent"She is more open to new things - before camp she would just hang back and wait for other people but she is first in line for anything new."--Bothin Parent
- Campers and camp parents report increases in growth mindset!
This year at our council-run camps, among girls who indicated a fixed mind set at the start of camp, reporting, for example: "I do not use persistent effort when faced with challenges;" " I do not like to try new things;" or "I do not get better with practice," when camp was over, 75% of these campers indicated a shift to growth mindset: "I like to try new things;" " I can get better with practice;" or" I seek help when I need it."
Camper parents report in their camp evaluations that they see shifts to growth mindset for their daughters:
- 67% of camper parents say their camper is more willing to try new things.
- 69% of camper parents have noticed that their camper uses more persistent effort when faced with challenges.
- 62% of camper parents noted that their camper is more apt to seek help in the face of challenges.
"It (growth mindset) has allowed them to 'own' their ideas and develop them, with little oversight, and taught me to be a better listener and supporter of their ideas rather than getting them to implement what I think is a good idea for them to do."--Volunteer, aMaze Journey Weekend
- Incorporating Growth Mindset into GSNorCal programs.
- Girl Scout Ropes Courses. All of our Ropes Course instructors – offering school-year programs at Skylark Ranch and Bothin are trained on growth mindset, including growth mindset praise. Here is a girl evaluation from a recent ropes course program.
- CampCEO. 60 at risk high school girls learn about their brains, and how science shows that the brain is like a muscle, and hard work can help their brains grow. They also learn about goal setting, shifting strategies and seeking help.
- 100% of CampCEO girls agree or strongly agree that "the more I practice at something the better I get".
- 95% of CampCEO girls agree or strongly agree that they "use persistent effort when faced with challenges." And, "If one strategy isn’t working I am able to try another one."
"I learned to always keep my dream alive, even when it gets challenging."--Got Choices Participant
- 93% of Got Choices girls agree to strongly agree that the more they practice at something the better they get.
- 93% of Got Choices girls agree to strongly agree that they will try a different strategy if one isn’t working.
My hope for girls and Girl Scouts. I hope all girls will have the opportunity to learn how to pitch a tent, use a compass and start a fire. I also hope that girls will be equipped to thrive in today’s world. A few months ago I was talking to a group of moms and grandparents about "today’s Girl Scouts." My hope is that by 5th grade girls will have a growth mindset, be developing empathy and be inoculated from peer pressure and bullying as they enter middle school. In middle school, they will continue to learn to collaborate to solve problems, and during high school they will build on these strengths and develop skills as advocates and agents of change for issues that matter to them. One parent raised her hand at the end of my remarks and said that the big tech company she works for agrees. If they could throw out all other hiring measures and just look for growth mindset versus fixed mindset, that is what they would do, because every job is in constant flux, and what is needed are people who embrace the opportunity to be creative, learn new things and tackle new challenges.
We were proud to be honored by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation as one of 23 finalists (out of 212 entries) in a challenge "Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change." GSNorCal’s project proposed combining two programs to create a "program in a box" for volunteer troop leaders: 1) Our "Got Choices" program, which staff deliver to over 900 at risk middle and high school girls and teen moms, helping them make healthy choices about food, sleep, exercise, job readiness, and money, and establish healthy relationships; and 2) our Thrive curriculum, including growth mindset and goal-setting. We didn’t end up as one of the 5 grand prize winners; however, we did get to attend the Packard Foundation’s 50th Anniversary celebration and share our idea with community members. Our team will also attend a summit with the other 22 finalists to explore ways to work together to "activate empathy to create change." Here is a picture of the GSNorCal team at the Packard Foundation event – from left to right: me, Kerry Barcellos (Director, Thrive), Whitney Evans (Program Director, Growing Strong & Got Choices) and Juliana Deikneite (Grants Manager). Kerry and Whitney both do amazing work, and we are going to continue to look for funding opportunities to bring our "Thriving Girls" program-in-a-box idea to life!
In case you’ve missed the news... We are raising funds to add year round program facilities and renovate old buildings at two of our most used camps, Camp Butano Creek and Camp Bothin / Arequipa.
Camp Butano Creek construction is underway. The foundation has been laid for the new North Commons Lodge, a treehouse village with five accessible open air cabins, restroom and cooking shelter at Camp Butano Creek. We hope to have the new facilities open for campers in June! As you can see here to the right – we are making good progress!
The Bobbie and Dave Exploration Trail at Camp Bothin. On Saturday, November 1, we dedicated the Bobbie and Dave Trail connecting Camp Bothin and Camp Arequipa in Marin County. Karen "Daisy"Kiehn and her sister Denise "Denny" Gunterman donated funds for the trail in honor of their parents, Bobbie and Dave, who shared their love of the outdoors with Daisy and Denny. The 1 mile trail wanders through the forest, up stairs, under trees and past the fairy steps, and includes five stations with permanent signage sharing the history of Bothin and Arequipa and weather-proof cubby holes, where we can add program and challenge materials depending on the program or camporee using the site. I had fun walking the trail with a 2nd grade troop on Saturday – they loved it! Thank you, Daisy and Denny.
1,491 Families Have Donated to the Camp Improvement Campaign since April! Thank you to all who have contributed to our 2014 Camp Improvement Campaign. As of September 30, 2014, 1,491 families have donated $40,779 during membership registration! Each 2014 donor receives the 2014 Camp Improvement Campaign patch which celebrates the Bush Unit accessible shower house that we completed at Camp Bothin during 2013.
Your 2014 donations support our BIG project at Camp Butano Creek – We need to raise just $9,201 more through our family gifts to reach $50,000 by year end – enough to pay for one of the new open air cabins at Camp Butano! That’s 460 families donating $20 each by year end. When we reach that goal, we can celebrate with a Camp Butano Creek cabin on our 2015 Camp Improvement Patch! Click here to invest in our camps.
New Outdoor Badges. GSUSA announced at the Convention that it will introduce one new outdoor badge in 2015 for Daisies through Seniors. They are working with Ambassadors to determine what they want. The badge will be "girls choice." All girls can vote at this link – do they want a badge that focuses on recreation, environment or survival. Have your girl click here to vote.
Self-nominations for Regional Delegates are now open. Regional Delegates represent our members. They elect our Board and Board Development Committee and provide direction to the Board on strategy. This is the direct link to nominations. You can learn more here. Nominations close at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Elections will be held in January.
For those of you who might be interested in attending the next National Convention as National Delegates, the next National Convention will be held October 12-15, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. In nominating National Delegates for this year’s convention, our Board Development Committee, looked for members (both girls and adults) who have demonstrated familiarity with and commitment to Girl Scout governance through service as a Regional Delegate.
National Council Session Report. If you would like to know more about the governance decisions at this year’s National Council Session in Salt Lake City – you can click this link to see the governance summary I sent to GSNorCal’s Regional and National Delegates.
Thank you for participating and supporting girls in our fall sale. Public sales start November 7 and run until November 23.
Thank you for all you do to help us build girls who make the world a better place – your time, your ideas, your dollars. They all make a difference.
Yours in Girl Scouting,