AmeriCorp to Assist Providing a New Look to Girl Scout Camps


Members of AmeriCorp being welcomed by the GSEIWI council. From left Ryan Cuttler, Benjamin Quimbly, Bell Kiley, Ben Rosel, Robin Philips and Amber Sproles

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps will be working hard all summer to provide a new look to the Girl Scout Camps. The Cedar 1 Team will consist of seven people completing tasks to help Camp Conestoga get ready for innovation. The team will also be completing other service activities in Camp L-Kee-Ta this summer, as well as in Camp Little Big Cloud and Camp Tahigwa in the fall. According to the AmeriCorps website, the AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time residential program for men and women ages 18-24. Members are based in one of the five regional campuses-  one of which is in Vinton, IA – and travel to complete service projects throughout those regions.

The members of the Cedar 1 Team Valley are Ben Quimbly, Ryan Cuttler, Bell Kiley, Ben Rosel, Robin Philips and Amber Sproles. They are from Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, Indiana and Pennsylvania and served in Michigan and South Dakota before coming to Iowa.

Ben, the leader of the Cedar 1 team, is looking forward to learning more about the Girl Scouts and the work that they do, as well as getting to see some of the communities in Iowa. Ryan, a former Boy Scout himself, says he’s looking forward to seeing how the Girl Scout camps run and operate from a new perspective. Bell has always been interested in helping the younger generation. “It’s a great feeling knowing that by cleaning the camp, it’s affecting young girl’s lives,” she says. Amber says that it’s been great serving and giving what she can to people.



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Meet our summer intern! A Girl Scout Close-Up

Meet Gabby Barillas, our Leadership Experience intern!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am currently a psychology major at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. After I graduate next May, I want to continue onto graduate school for a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. My dream job would be working as a guidance counselor in an elementary or middle school. I absolutely love working with kids of all ages and their families, so this internship was perfect for me!

Were you ever a Girl Scout growing up?

I was not a Girl Scout growing up, but I’m only two weeks into this internship and I am definitely wishing I was! Girl Scouts has so many neat things to offer girls, especially in the way of opportunities for leadership, adventure, and learning new skills. I’ve already had a chance to volunteer at Family Camp Sampler at Camp Tahigwa and can’t wait to visit the other camps and share the outdoors with girls!

What are some of your favorite childhood memories spent outdoors?

My family went camping a lot growing up- learning how to build a fire and fish are practically embedded in my DNA! I loved snoozing under the stars and listening to all the “night sounds” you don’t get to experience sleeping indoors. One of our favorite camping spots is in Yellow River State Forest near Marquette, Iowa. It’s seriously one of the prettiest places I have ever been, especially in the fall when all the colors are booming!

What have you been working on recently as a part of your internship?

Lately I have been working on helping to develop program kits for the new activity center in Rock Island, Illinois. I’ve loved getting to sneak a peek at all the cool activities that Girl Scouts who visit the center will get to take part in- everything from making homemade ice cream in an “ice cream ball,” to learning about smoke blasters. Part of my internship involves pairing these kinds of hands-on activities with learning about science, which has been a fun, creative challenge so far!

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The Great American Backyard Campout- Get your family outside!

This Saturday, June 28, is the Great American Backyard Campout! Over 200,000 families and groups are expected to take part in this summer event that has been growing since 2005. The goal of this event? To get kids and families outside, even if it’s just to their own backyard! Find out more about the campout, view packing lists as well as game and meal ideas at

Don’t forget the quintessential campfire snack for your campout: the S’more- a fire toasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. Here are a few ways to shake up your s’more recipe:

Image courtesy

*Instead of graham crackers try Girl Scout Cookies: 2 Thanks-a-Lots, or why not make them L’mores with two Lemonaids, or Minty S’mores with Thin Mints!

*Sweet and Salty s’mores: replace the graham cracker with Ritz crackers

*Replace the chocolate with one of the following: Nutella, sliced bananas or strawberries or a York peppermint patty

Not a fan of s’mores? I’ve also heard that roasting Starburst chewy candies can be pretty delicious too.

If you aren’t sure you want to lead your own camping experience, join us at Camp L-Kee-Ta near West Burlington, IA on July 12-13 for Family Camp Sampler, a time for the whole family to get out to camp and enjoy the summer.

Already this year girls from all across Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois have been getting outside to make s’mores, make new friends, try new and fun activities and camp out! Volunteer led day camps are happening throughout the council and summer resident camp at Camp Little Cloud is now in full swing! We have over 850 girls registered to attend summer resident camp, and over 1,000 girls plan to attend local day camps.

We also have several fantastic events planned at our camps this summer- check the calendar at for more information.

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Girl Scouts Out and About!

Saturday, May 31, some of the Outreach department staff and a Girl Scout Cadette got outside and enjoyed the sunshine in the Washington Neighborhood. We ran an activity booth at the Washington Neighborhood Kickoff To Summer Block Party!

Chelsy and Julie, outreach staff from our Dubuque Area Leadership Center, ran a popular station for kids making owls out of recycled materials. They also spread the word about the fun summer programs we have planned for the area.


Thanks to Lexi Schemmel, a Cadette Girl Scout with troop 7084, for helping during the event! She worked with the younger kids create works of art and was fantastic!

Participants were also asked to create a “flag” with a picture or words explaining what they love about the neighborhood, or Dubuque in general, and Lexi shared with us why she loves her community (see the photo below). These flag were displayed at entrance to the Washington Neighborhood community garden for all to see.


This was an amazing opportunity to get out in our community to spread the word about Girl Scouts!

In addition to several community organization booth activities, the Washington Neighborhood Block Party celebrated the neighborhood community. Everyone that attended was asked to participate in painting a giant street mural created by Rick Rossignol that represents many aspects of the community.


We have a variety of summer outreach programs scheduled throughout the council.  Interested in learning more about the programs, signing up a girl or helping out at a program? Contact Missy Sweeney at or 1-800-798-0833.

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Girls Giddy Up for Girl Scouts!

Giddy-Up Girls!

This past Sunday we introduced five girls, and their parents, to Girl Scouting and our Equestrian Program. June 1 was the final day of our Spring Horseback riding program and we invited girls brand new to Girl Scouting to Camp Little Cloud for an hour horseback ride. All the while learning about the awesome things they can do in Girl Scouts. As you can see by the smiles, the girls had a blast learning to steer their horse and navigate around the arena.


They put their steadiness to the test by balancing a golf ball on a spoon while circling the arena! It was difficult, but the girls did really well!


These girls had such a blast and they are excited about their next opportunity with Girl Scouts! Which includes some summer opportunities with our outreach program and joining troops in the Fall.

Thanks to all the volunteers who made the Spring Equestrian Program such a success, many gave up their whole weekend and spent the night at camp just to make sure Girl Scouts had a fantastic experience connecting with our four-legged friends and developed the confidence that comes along with riding a horse. This program would not be possible without the many adults and older girls who care about the program and getting girls outside and onto a horse. THANK YOU for all the time you have spent making this program a success!

Don’t Worry, You Haven’t Missed Out!

Didn’t have an opportunity to ride this spring, no problem! We are now accepting registrations for our Fall Riding Program and we are excited to announce that in addition to all the fun we offered this Spring we will also be offering 90 minute trail rides for troops and groups of girls in Juniors – Ambassadors! Girls can register individually or as a troop for any of our fall activities. To learn more visit

That’s all for this week of outdoor program with Angela Ventris. Check back next week for more excited news and adventures in outdoor program!

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It was an Amazing Race- Girl Scout style!

We hosted an Amazing Race at Camp Conestoga May 16-17, 2014. Girl Scouts were challenged in making new friends, trying new things, and finding their way around camp in a unusual ways!

On Friday night was all about making new friends. Here is part of the group during some team challenges.





Next, they learned the basics of several outdoor skills including archery, six basic knots, pocket knife safety and camp site safety. There was also the opportunity to learn more about backpacking, and how to use a compass to navigate through a challenge course.


Saturday was the true Amazing Race! Once divided into teams, girls completed up to seven stations meant to test the groups knowledge of the skills they learned the previous night. Teams received a series of coordinates, a compass, and a map of camp to navigate from station to station.

Girls took the six knot challenge, in which the team had to race to tie six knots as fast as they could.  The teams learned about fire building, then had to make a fire, boil a pot of water and then put the fire out. They also had an opportunity to try out the zip line.



The teams ended by honing their archery skills and shooting at balloons pinned to the targets for an extra tricky challenge!

We all had a fantastic time, thanks to all the volunteers and adult participants who made the event so much fun for girls!

Come out to camp!

Interested in attending Girl Scout resident camp or an outdoor event? Find out more at We still have resident camp sessions available for this summer!

That’s all for this week of outdoor program with Angela Ventris. Check back next week for more excited news and adventures in outdoor program!

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5 Steps to Train for a Race!



Step 1: Exercise! This may be an obvious answer, but for many it’s a challenge to get themselves outside to for a walk or bike ride. Try to get your heart rate up for about 20 consecutive minutes a day. Also, try exercising with a group! No matter what physical state you or your friends are in, there is almost always a healthy activity that you can do together that is also fun.

Step 2: Nutrition.  But that doesn’t mean you have to devote your life to salad. Though the word “carb” might sound like a bad word when it comes to eating better, it’s really not! Just make sure you’re consuming “good” carbs that will give you lots of energy (chestnuts, blueberries, and figs are a couple options).

Step 3: Resistance Training. C’mon, did you think that you would be able to do a race without doing SOME intentional workout? Maybe if you knew that strength training (aka lifting weights) reduces body fat, increases lean muscle mass, and burns calories more efficiently you would be more inclined to give it a shot. The weights don’t have to be rented through a gym, either; pick up a jug of water or your dog and do some curls and squats.

Step 4: Goal Setting. If you can’t see where the finish line is, you might be inclined to feel discouraged. Setting goals for time and endurance will help you keep your eye on the prize and motivate you to continue your training until the very end.

Step 5: Join us at one of our upcoming Girl Scout events! Did you know that Girl Scouts supports healthy living? We have two great opportunities coming up for you, your family, and you daughter to get exercising: One Tough Cookie race and IronGirls Tri Club.

Learn more about One Tough Cookie (psssst- ‘Like” One Tough Cookie on Facebook for a registration discount!) and IronGirls Tri Club and register today!

[Sources: Mayo Clinic,]

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