News Room

  • Join us at Fall Town Halls for the latest council happenings

    Get up to speed on the latest council news and developments related to properties, programs, operations, the board of directors and more by joining us at an upcoming Fall Town Hall meeting. 

    These meetings (for girls ages 14 and older, delegates and any members) are a great way to learn about what's happening in our council. Meet volunteers and staff from other areas, ask questions and get answers! Meetings will be held at locations across our council, and a webinar is also scheduled for those unable to attend at any of the scheduled meeting locations. 

    Town Hall Dates and Locations: 

    Oct. 13: GSWPA Greensburg Office, 6:30 p.m.

    Oct. 14: Cranberry Community United Methodist Church, 6:30 p.m.

    Oct. 21: Pleasant Hills Borough Building, 6:30 p.m.

    Oct. 27: St. Mary's United Methodist Church, 6:30 p.m.


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  • Now Is the Time to Register for Girl Scouts: GSWPA Calls for New Girls to Join in the Fun

    As families start thinking about their children returning to school, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) is inviting girls to join the fun and register for Girl Scouts.

    Providing countless opportunities for making friends, trying new things, and exercising leadership skills through activities like building robots, participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, playing sports, and more, Girl Scouts is an exciting way to engage girls all year round. 

    National studies from the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) show it’s not just what girls do, but how they do it that makes Girl Scouts so beneficial. Girl Scouts is unique because girls get to learn by doing, and they do so in a girl-led environment. This means that, in addition to girls learning in a hands-on and active way, they are encouraged to choose their activities, decide which topics they want to explore, and determine how they want to go about exploring them. Girl Scouts is the largest girl-led organization in the world, and it is a significant contributor to its members’ success in and enjoyment of life.

    Girl Scouts also provides benefits that directly complement all of the great work girls are already doing in school every day. Girls who experience learning by doing and who are a part of a girl-led program learn not to avoid things that are hard for them, but rather to take these challenges head on, practice creative problem solving, learn from mistakes, and grow—all skills that wi...

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  • Volunteers required to complete new PA state clearances

    In Girl Scouting, safety is our #1 priority. Due to new legislation (PA Act 153) there are some new rules we all need to follow as a volunteer organization.

    Nonprofits, like the Girl Scouts, must ensure that our volunteers complete the required background clearances starting July 1. Governor Wolf recently waived the fees for the Pennsylvania Criminal Record Check and Child Abuse Clearance for volunteers. (If you are required to get the FBI fingerprints, there is still a charge.) Unfortunately, this change does not take effect until July 25, 2015. As a result, you must have your required clearances as described below before you begin volunteering. So depending on your start date, you may or may not be able to take advantage of the waived fees.

    Since these processes can be confusing, we've outlined everything below so you know exactly which clearances you need to volunteer with Girl Scouts.

    A few things to note: 

      If you received the required clearances for another organization within the last 36 months, they are valid and we can accept a copy of your results along with your signed affidavit. Just send them to the address or email indicated below. The fastest way to do all of this is to follow the guidelines for electronic submission and send copies to us by email. Paper forms are available as a last resort (and it’s going to take a lot longer for the State of Pennsylvania to process them). We have a lot of clear...

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  • Ninety-three Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

    The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting; it recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable take action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond.

    Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to "Go Gold," an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

    Congratulations to these outstanding young women who have earned the Gold Award:

    First Name Last Name City Lauren Agnello Cranberry Twp. Kristen  Barczynski Wexford Grace Baumiller McMurray Taylor Beacom Russellton Allison Beck Pittsburgh  Jessie Beck Reynoldsville Brittany  Becker New Kensington Tiffany Behanna New Eagle Bailyn  Bench...

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  • GSWPA celebrates "Going Gold"

    For Girl Scouts, “Going Gold” means earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouting—the Gold Award. This award recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects that address important community needs.

    Thirty Girl Scouts from around the Pittsburgh region will receive their Gold Award pins at a special ceremony on June 13 at the Pittsburgh Marriott North, 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry Township, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    A Girl Scout who earns a Gold Award has sought out the work that needs doing in her community and put a plan in action—addressing childhood obesity, connecting more girls to STEM, or creating a much-needed neighborhood playground.

    Allison Love, a junior at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School, earned her Gold Award by helping kids make new friends and try new things at Dr. Bill Neches Heart Camp for Kids.

    Heart Camp has always held a special place in Allison's life, as a camper and now as a camp counselor. She is a survivor of complex congenital heart disease and heart camp was a place where she could be with other kids who understood her struggles.

    It was that feeling of belonging that drove Allison to choose the camp as the focus of her Gold Award project.

    “I noticed over the years that kids were afraid of getting involved in activities at heart camp,” Allison noted, “They were afraid of being judged.”


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  • Celebrate the 100 Years of the Gold Award

    2016 will mark the 100th Anniversary of Highest Award in Girl Scouts.  We look forward to celebrating it with you.      

    Join the Network

    Are you a member of this elite group of women who have achieved the Highest Award in Girl Scouts?  Since 1916 these women have earned the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class and the Girl Scout Gold Award. 

    By joining the network of award recipients you will:

    • Be a part of an exclusive network of women who have earned the highest award in Girl Scouting
    • Receive special invitations to private events for Girl Scout’s top advocates, donor and supporters
    • Have an opportunity to volunteer directly with girls in Western Pennsylvania through mentoring and special events
    • Be recognized at events celebrating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scout’s highest awards in 2016

    Complete this form to update your information and join our Highest Award network. We will be in contact with you as we prepare to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts changing the world.


  • GSWPA Announces New Board Members

    Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA), a nonprofit organization that offers opportunities for girls to develop positive values and to contribute to society as leaders and responsible citizens, announced that two new members have been selected to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors.

    The new members are John Polacek and Michelle Maccagnan. They were installed at GSWPA's annual meeting in April with terms ending in 2018.

    John Polacek is the Chief Operating Officer of JWFDefense Systems and JWF Industries. JWF is a full-service, processbased, metal fabrication and metal processing contract manufacturer located in Johnstown. He has been with the company since 2007.

    Prior to joining JWF, John was Vice President and General Manager of the Defense Solutions Group at BAESystems – IT. John also served in the United States Marine Corps as an Electronics Intelligence (ELINT) Analyst. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with high honors from the University of Phoenix.

    Michelle Maccagnan is a consultant with Resources Global Professionals (RGP) in Pittsburgh where she works with the BNY Mellon AML Due Diligence Team.

    Prior to joining RGP, Michelle served as Associate Director of WHQ/Global Pension and Equity Accounting at the H.J. Heinz Company where she actively participated in the preparation of the $28 billion f...

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  • Girl Scout Camp is for every girl!

    Many know that camping is an important Girl Scout tradition, but few are aware that any girl in grades K-12 can attend Girl Scout camp. Girls do not have to currently be in a troop to make new friends and experience new things at Girl Scout camp.

    Why should I choose Girl Scout camp for my daughter this summer?

    Girl Scout camp is a chance to break away from everyday experiences and enjoy outdoor adventures. It's often the first time a girl gets to ride a horse or challenge herself on a ropes course. All camp programs are girl-centered and designed to help each girl find her confidence, discover her leadership potential and make new friends in a supportive, all-girl environment.

    Will my daughter feel left out at camp if she isn’t already part of a troop?

    Most girls who participate in troops during the school year attend resident camp by themselves, so there are many opportunities to make new friends. Girl Scouting is all about being supportive and inclusive, so every girl is made to feel welcome.

    Isn’t Girl Scout camp just for younger kids?

    Girl Scout camp offer programs for girls from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Older girls have
    access to the high-adventure activities they love –like whitewater rafting, horseback riding, challenge
    courses, archery and more.

    Where are the Girl Scout camps in my region?

    Resident camp programs are available at the following locations:


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  • Shop on AmazonSmile, help GSWPA

    Attention Amazon shoppers: Did you know you can have a percentage of your Amazon purchases donated to GSWPA at no extra cost? 

    We’re participating in AmazonSmile. It’s a way for people to support their favorite nonprofit automatically every time they shop, at no cost and by taking just a few simple one-time steps. Awesome, right?

    Just go to, log in to your Amazon account, and you’ll be asked to select a charity. Type in Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania and select it from the list. And if you’re already participating in AmazonSmile and want to change your charity to GSWPA, simply click on “Supporting” in the upper left side of the page when you’re logged in and select “Change your charity.”

    After that, all you have to do is make sure you go to every time you shop and Amazon will donate .5% of your purchase to GSWPA! Your account is the same as your account, so your shopping cart, wish list, registries and other account settings are the same no matter which one you use. Want to learn more? Here are some AmazonSmile FAQs [LINK TO:].

    Thank you for shopping—and supporting GSWPA!


  • Girl Scouts Westerns Pennsylvania celebrates local girls during National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend

    This February 27 through March 1, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA), along with its sister councils across the country, will participate in National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend, a celebration of all the fun and excitement girls have selling Girl Scout Cookies. National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend will give girls from GSWPA a chance to show off their cookie-selling skills by participating in booth sales throughout 27 counties in western Pennsylvania.

    National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend will also give the GSWPA council an opportunity to highlight some of its most innovative and successful cookie entrepreneurs and what they plan on doing with their cookie money to benefit their communities. Through the Cookie Program’s five skills—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics—each amazing young #cookieboss develops creative and resourceful ways to sell cookies. And the more cookies girls sell, the more money they have to invest in community service projects, learning experiences, and travel opportunities.

    “Cookies mean confidence for Girl Scouts,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “Every time you buy a box, you show a Girl Scout that she can reach her goals.”

    “For you it’s a box of delicious cookies,” she added. “For the girl, it’s her first taste of success in business.”

    One hundred percent of the net revenue raised through Girl Scout Cookie sales in the Warren area stays with...

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  • Help Girl Scouts send cookies to the U. S. Military!

    Brian Castner received a box of Thin Mints on a cramped transport aircraft over western Iraq while he served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the US Air Force. On his blog Fever Dreams, Castner called the gift from a Girl Scout troop from Irwin “one of the dearest kindnesses that has ever been shown to me.”

    Girl Scouts want to share more of that kindness to men and women serving our country overseas in theU.S. Military through a new addition to the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program called Operation: Sweet Appreciation.

    “Girl Scouts have sent cookies and care packages to men and women in our military every year,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. “Operation: Sweet Appreciation expands on their efforts, sending more cookies to more of our servicemen and women, giving them a welcome taste of home on behalf of Girl Scouts in western Pennsylvania.”

    Anyone who donates online to Operation: Sweet Appreciation can choose a specific Girl Scout troop or individually registered girl (also known as Indie Girls) to benefit from the donation, just as they would through the traditional Cookie Program.

    Girl Scout Cookies purchased with the donations from this program will be shipped directly from the baker, Little Brownie Bakers, to military troops serving overseas.

    Donations to the program will be collected online thr...

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  • Research Affirms the Overwhelming Benefits of Outdoor Experiences for Girls

    According to a new study by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), More Than S’mores (2014), girls benefit immensely from time spent outdoors. Girls who regularly spend time outdoors eclipse their peers who spend less time outdoors in environmental stewardship, more readily seek challenges, and are better problem solvers—all important traits in twenty-first century leadership.

    Outdoor experiences are also particularly beneficial to girls of comparatively low socioeconomic status (SES). More Than S’mores finds that lower-SES girls who have regular outdoor exposure through Girl Scouts are likely to credit Girl Scouts with helping them become leaders.

    Additionally, outdoor experiences through Girl Scouting, such as camp, are beneficial to girl leadership development across ethnicities. Latina (38 percent) and African American (40 percent) girls are more likely than their peers (28 percent) to say they overcame a fear of the outdoors through Girl Scouting; seventy-nine percent of Latina girls say they first tried an outdoor activity in Girl Scouts, and an overwhelming 59 percent of Latina girls say Girl Scouts has offered them outdoor activities they would not have otherwise had access to.

    “In this study, we expected to see that girls were having fun in the outdoors,” says Dr. Kallen Tsikalas, lead researcher on the study. However, we were surprised by just how important it was for them how much they appreciated having opportunities...

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  • Love talking about Girl Scouts? Join our Media Team!

    You already know Girl Scouts is fun and awesome—help us spread the word!

    GSWPA is looking for girls to join our Media Team to represent the Girl Scouts organization in your community.

    Girls (Junior through Senior) may apply. No experience necessary!

    What will girls do as part of the Media Team?

    Depending on their interests and skills, girls can expect to:

    • Participate in TV, radio, and newspaper interviews
    • Write articles and submit photos for the GSWPA blog or newsletters
    • Create videos to promote Girl Scout programs and mission
    • Represent the council at high-profile events in the community, including speaking engagements and appearances
    • Conduct official flag ceremonies
    • Report on special Girl Scout events during the year

    What are the participation requirements?

    • Be a registered Junior, Cadette, Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout
    • Agree to a one-year participation commitment
    • Have a full Girl Scout uniform (vest or sash, white blouse, khaki pants)
    • Attend one Media Team training session provided by GSWPA and local media experts (dates to be announced)

    No experience necessary! Girls will be selected for media opportunities based on their skills, interests and availability.


    Please contact Lisa Shade at 800-248-3355 ext. 1427 or ...

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  • GSWPA Calls for New Girl Scout Members and Volunteers to Join in the Fun

    Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) is making its back-to-school push for girls and adult volunteers to join Girl Scouts, the country’s preeminent leadership development organization for girls. With families already thinking about how to allocate their free time during the coming school year, Girl Scouts of theUSA (GSUSA) released new data showing the organization’s benefits for both girls and volunteers. 

    Results of a 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in grades K−5 show positive effects on members of all ages. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that Girl Scouts has been a positive activity for their daughter, that she has had fun and exciting new experiences (95 percent), and that she has learned or tried something new (96 percent). In addition, 94 percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts their daughter feels special, has more friends (95 percent), and is happier (89 percent).

    The data shows it is not just girls who benefit: 94 percent of volunteers have made new friends, 88 percent believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts, and two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally. Ninety-five percent of Girl Scout volunteers are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.

    "Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun, and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers to lead and thrive for over 100 years," said...

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