MACEDONIA, OH – Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) is excited to announce the opening of the Chickadee Program Center at Camp Ledgewood in Peninsula, Ohio. Two events for Girl Scout members, including volunteers, and their families were held to give members a chance to view the new program center.
A donor event was also held on October 10, 2019 with special guest Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) who spoke to 300 guests throughout the day.
At the events, members got their first tour of the program center, including the Feeder discovery kitchen and Nest activity area where there was a STEM demonstration, the new Senses trail designed to help Brownie level Girl Scouts earn a badge, and a FabCab for high tech, hands on activities.
“Inspiring girls to unlock their inner G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)™ to reach their full potential is a priority for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio,” said Jane Christyson, CEO of Girl Scouts of North East Ohio. “The new program center gives our members flexible space for training, special events, and other gatherings that allow us to offer unparalleled leadership experiences.”
The Chickadee Program Center, named after a native Ohio bird, has large rooms and a kitchen to host girl programs and activities as well as volunteer trainings. The FabCab is a mini digital fabrication lab with equipment used to create rapid prototypes, providing Girl Scouts the resources to explore the entire engineering design process and earn badges through their experiences.
The building was designed by architect Rick Parker of Brandstetter Carroll Inc. and constructed by the female-owned Metis Construction, LLC. It was funded by combining donations and proceeds from the sales of council properties to create the GSNEO master plan.
Costing approximately $3 million to construct, the new Chickadee Program Center is part of a $6.2 million investment at Camp Ledgewood, including new cabins, a commemorative brick plaza recognizing some of our most loyal Girl Scout supporters, a bell tower, bridge and fire pit, the installation of Wi-Fi throughout camp, critical infrastructure improvements like water and septic systems, and more.
Camp Ledgewood is open year-round and is located in the village of Peninsula in Summit County, within the boundaries of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The 350-acre camp features low and high ropes courses, zip lines, archery range, hiking trails, amphitheater, observatory, and Lake Loomis for canoeing, kayaking and nature studies. The camp is accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA) and has an average of 3,400 Girl Scout visits each year.
Thank you to everyone who has made this a reality. This such a fantastic location and such a fantastic camp. I want to tell you how this fits in to the bigger story of Girl Scouts in the US. We are so proud of everything have you going on here locally: You have amazing leadership, your council’s growing, and you can really feel the momentum.
Why that’s so important is right now in the world, for business, the global supply chain has been disrupted. What that means is the products and services we used to be able to rely on – that supply chain has really been struck, it’s not just that, it’s also our labor and work force. What are we going to do to develop the workforce of the future? The world is being redesigned and recreated around technology – line by line, code by code. You need to have a tech-literate, English speaking workforce locally.
Girl Scouts has many advantages: For one, we are in every residential zip code across America, we have the infrastructure, we have camp properties (every girl in the continental US is within a half-day’s drive of a Girl Scout camp where she can have STEM programming). We also have the STEM programming.
Our programming is designed around the way girls learn and lead. We have what we call four pillars of focus areas. One obviously is leadership. Another is our iconic entrepreneurship program (aka Cookies!). Also, our amazing outdoor experience. And then STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math. When we ask girls what they want, they tell us, “we live digital lives today; we want tools, we want to understand – we not only want to be users of technology, but creators and the inventors of technology.
When you work with girls it’s got to be fun, safe and relevant. They want to know, “If I do this, how is this useful to me?” Girls who are growing up digitally, they want to know about data analytics tools, they want to know what is happening in terms of the climate – what can we do about the environment, they want to have the tools that will help them – like robotics, and having a STEM background, the interest, confidence, and competence – they’re actually applying that in the world around them.
We focus on the girls. The 100 badges we put out in the past couple years was the result of asking girls what they want to learn about. They’re the ones who told us “we want cyber security; we want to learn about robotics; we want to learn about data analytics; we want to learn this stuff because it’s part of our life as digital natives.” What we have seen is our activity levels are up and our membership levels are up. The other part is emphasizing the fun and friendship. Even though this is the day of digital devices and social media, far too many girls are still being isolated, sitting at home on a Saturday night watching Netflix. The way girls form friendships today is different. In Girl Scouts we make sure girls focus on activities where they’re doing things together, and that also teaches teamwork, cooperation – important life skills– but frankly it also just gets you friends – the things we know parents want for their daughters. In Girl Scouts, we’re really focused on that personal relationship.
One of the key challenges for women today is having technology literacy – it’s so important to have a degree of capability in your home, in your community, and also in your profession. A lot of troop volunteers are saying, I’m learning side-by-side about cyber security with my daughter or coding or robotics.
We are really excited that we have this infrastructure, we have the reach, and now we have the programming. And the girls are loving the programming. They also like that they do the programming and then they go and have fun doing other things as well – a swimming pool with a great slide, they’re thinking about doing underwater robotics, the high and low ropes, zip lines, and air rifles – I mean, this is just really fun stuff! I’m thrilled that girls get the best of everything here. It’s really a jewel in the community because it really is developing the workforce of the future.
Lifelong Girl Scouts have amazing life outcomes! They are our leaders in the business world, community life, our national system as well. So if you want to give your daughter that leg up in life, join Girl Scouts. The kinds of things girls are learning through our new badges, it’s a resume builder. Each one of those STEM badges is a bullet point on your resume – as well as what you’re learning through the iconic cookie program, entrepreneurial skills. And then our awards program: the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold – those help girls get scholarships. I’ve heard our Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious, it gets you in the finalist pile in a lot of universities across America. The Bronze and Silver are wonderful service leadership awards, but to earn the Gold Award, you have to provide a sustainable solution to a grand challenge. Across the country we’ve see girls changing state laws, taking straws out of Starbucks and American Airlines – they’re the ones who started that, and it came from a Gold Award project.
For pictures of the events visit our Facebook page.