VTK update: Get girls outside!

We’re giving you and your girls options…outside options! As of Oct. 28 we added outside activities to 10 badges in the Volunteer Toolkit. Research shows nature-based activities challenge girls and support their social development by encouraging them to become more self-aware and to cooperate, communicate, and solve problems more effectively.

New Get Girls Outside! Badge Activity Options:

  • 2 Daisy Petals: Lupe, Clover
  • 4 Brownie Badges: First Aid, Snacks, Making Games, Senses
  • 4 Junior Badges: First Aid, Simple Meals, Staying Fit, Detective

Please click on the new Get Girls Outside! banner at the top of the Year Plan and Meeting Plan tabs on the VTK — both tabs are filled with details on the new Get Girls Outside! features and how to access them.

Nature-based activities often place girls in new physical, psychological, and social situations that motivate curiosity and foster a sense of discovery, so Get Girls Outside!

VTK Bug Fixes Addressed in our Recent Maintenance Deployment:

  • Calendar Download Function Now Properly Syncing: Users reported that the download calendar functionality of Year Plan tab was downloading, but with no data associated with it.
  • Combine Meeting Firefox & Safari Error: “Time is invalid” error now corrected for those browsers.
  • Time Zone Issues Fixed: All VTK users regardless of time zone, had VTK Year Plan times visible as Eastern Standard Time. This issue has now been corrected.
  • Update Meeting Dates/Times Fix: Several users have reported an inability to seamlessly adjust individual dates and times. Users will now be able to seamlessly adjust times to individual meetings.
  • Year Plan now the default tab upon logging into VTK

Log on to VTK

Find your GSGC community!


In 2015, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council transitioned from a service unit structure to communities. These seven communities are organized by geographic location within our council.

  • Community 1 is made up of Gateway staff and Juliette members. You won’t hear us refer to “Community 1” very often, but you’ll hear “staff” and “Juliettes” instead.
  • Community 2 is made up of Columbia, Hamilton, Union, Bradford and Suwannee counties.
  • Community 3 is made up of Clay and Putnam counties.
  • Community 4 is made up of Alachua, Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties.
  • Community 5 is made up of St. Johns and Flagler counties.
  • Community 6 is made up of Duval County south and east of the St. Johns River.
  • Community 7 is made up of Baker and Nassau counties, and Duval County north and west of the St. Johns River.

Each community is headed by a community leader; communities 3, 5, 6 and 7 are led by staff members. Community 4 is volunteer-led. The leaders work with a team of volunteers to plan events, coordinate product sales, help girls find troops and provide support to all the volunteers and girls within each community.

Further, each community is divided into villages, each with a volunteer team to provide more localized and personal support to volunteers and girls.

If you click the links above, you’ll find the pages for each community on the Gateway Council website. Those pages contain important contact information for the community leadership teams, as well as the events going on in the communities.

To find the community to which you belong, just know which county or part of town you live in! The geographic borders aren’t that important, though: Girls can attend events and programs in any community to make new friends and get out of their comfort zones! Plus, volunteers can attend trainings in any community; the information is consistent across the council.

If you have questions about the communities, use the contact information from the website to get in touch with you community leader/troop support specialist.

Troop 27 supports CCPVB

Girl Scouts of Gateway Council Troop 27 recently completed a service project to benefit the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. The Cadette scouts painted a dumpster enclosure to bring a colorful beach scene to the parking area at the Cultural Center.

“We are thrilled with what they’ve done,” Cultural Center Executive Director Judy Hixenbaugh said in a news release. “It’s such a welcoming sight when you pull into the parking lot.” 

According to the Cultural Center, the Ponte Vedra-based troop adopted the organization for this beautifying project and are currently meeting to discuss other project possibilities at the Cultural Center.

Girl Scouts are always looking for ways to make the world a better place!

Highest Awards: Community Service vs. Take Action Project

13350366_10209982603509437_8118203044531864855_o-editedGirl Scouts are always ready to take the lead and lend a hand when needed. In response to all of the interest in helping the victims of Hurricane Matthew, Gateway Council would like to clarify the difference between community service and a sustainable Take Action Project that can be considered for the Bronze, Silver or Gold Award.

An easy way to remember the difference between community service and Take Action is whether the project is being done for the community or with the community. If a girl is doing something for the community, she is most likely working on a community service project. If a girl is doing something with the community, she is most likely working on a Take Action Project. Also, think of it this way: A community service project is short-term; a Take Action project is a long-term solution. Take Action Projects are also measurable and sustainable, and identify the root cause of an issue.

  • Measurable: Girls can evaluate their project in a concrete way, such as the number of people they involved, or the number of recycling bins placed in the park.
  • Sustainable: Girls must make a plan (such as collaborating with mentors or community groups) to ensure that the project creates lasting change. At the Bronze Award level, it’s not as much about ensuring sustainability as it is about planning for sustainability.
  • Root Cause: Girls address the underlying problem(s) that are causing an issue to occur. They don’t simply put a bandage on a symptom of the problem.

Examples of community service vs. Take Action Project:

Community Service

Take Action

Take part in a park beautification project

Advocate for recycling bins at local parks

Assemble and give first-aid kits to flood victims

Produce a public service announcement on severe weather procedures

Put on a musical performance at a nursing home

Initiate an oral history project between girls and women in a nursing home

Plan a meeting for a younger troop

Mentor younger girls on healthy friendships

Serve a meal at a food pantry

Partner with a food pantry to create and distribute a recipe book using simple, healthy ingredients

Make and donate blankets to an animal shelter

Partner with the local humane society to hold workshops for new pet owners

Pick up trash on the school grounds

Advocate for more garbage cans on school grounds

If you have questions about Take Action Projects for the Highest Awards, contact Jacquie Johnson at jjohnson@girlscouts-gateway.org.

Policy updates in Volunteer Essentials

A new Girl Scout year is officially under way and brings new friends and new adventures! This new GS year also brings a refreshed Volunteer Essentials, with details about Gateway Council’s policies and procedures. Troop leaders should communicate these important guidelines to parents and other adults in your troop.

Listed here are a few key updates that everyone needs to know:

Council Community Leaders
Community 2: Open
Community 3: Michelle McCreary, mmccreary@girlscouts-gateway.org
Community 4: Bobbi Reynolds, breynolds@girlscouts-gateway.org
Community 5: Mary Hargrave, mhargrave@girlscouts-gateway.org
Community 6: Beth Osburn, bosburn@girlscouts-gateway.org
Community 7: Tori Tabbot, tmtabbot@girlscouts-gateway.org

Staff community leaders also serve as the troop support specialist for volunteer-led communities. Michelle is Community 2’s troop support specialist, and Mary is Community 4’s troop support specialist.

Silver Award
The Silver Award is the highest award for Cadette Girl Scouts and is a great experience for girls who will be going for Gold! In order to ensure girls are completing appropriate projects, all Silver Award projects will need to be pre-approved beginning Oct. 1. Girls can learn all about the Silver Award Dream It, Achieve It workshops.

Medication at camp and/or on trips
All medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — should be turned into the first aid-certified adult and kept in a locked container that is not accessible by the girls Exception will be made for emergency medications, such as inhalers and EpiPens.

All tobacco products, including cigarettes, vapor, dip, etc., may be used only when out of sight of the girls and no closer than 50 feet from their location. All product must be placed in a fire-safe container (e.g., a can with water) prior to placing into the trash. Location must be clean of all tobacco products prior to rejoining the girls. The girl-to-adult ratio must be maintained in your absence.

Girl Scout events are for the girls to enjoy and to build character and skills. Our focus must remain on the girls at the event and on everyone’s safety. For this reason, there should be no tag-alongs below scout age (5 years) at trainings or at events, with the exception of full-family Girl Scout events and programs. If there is a scout-age tag-along, the following must occur:
• The event chair must agree.
• Additional insurance must be purchased.
• The adult accompanying the tag-along cannot count toward the girl-to-adult ratio or hold the position of camp-trained or first aid-trained person for that event.


Happy GS New Year!

When you’re a Girl Scout, your New Year’s Eve happens to land on Sept. 30. There’s usually no fanfare, fireworks or raucous parties. But Oct. 1 is a big day because it marks the beginning of another exciting Girl Scout year!

At Gateway Council, we’ve been looking forward to October for a few reasons. Oct. 1 is a great time to introduce some of the improvements we’ve been excited to share, to launch programs and to look back on the previous year to see what worked and how we can better support our volunteers and girls.

So here’s what you’ve been waiting for! (In a handy list because, come on, what Girl Scout doesn’t love a good list?!)

• The Scoop — This blog that you’re reading right now!! It’s a brand new effort from the Communications and Marketing Department with the goal of better sharing information with volunteers and girls and providing you with a source of fun news from our council. You’ll find tips and tricks for troop leaders and background on some of our signature programs, and you’ll see what other troops are doing to make the world a better place. You’ll also hear directly from girls and volunteers about their Girl Scout experiences and to get to know your Girl Scout sisters (and brothers)! If you have questions about the blog or have a suggestion for a topic, please contact Elizabeth or use the submission form.

• Cookie Kickoff — Registration is OPEN for 2016 Cookie Kickoff with the Jacksonville Jaguars! This year’s event will help mark the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts selling cookies, so you can expect a super-celebration! Cookie Kickoff features activities for Girl Scouts that reinforce the 5 Skills, family fun and entertainment, a picnic lunch from Bono’s Bar-B-Q, admission to the Jags game and more. You don’t want to miss this year’s party! Families are welcome and encouraged to attend with their Girl Scout.

• Living History programs — Did you know that Gateway Council hosts three Living History programs every year? Discover San Agustin and Ximenez-Fatio House Reenactment are held in St. Augustine, and Dudley Farm Partake of the Past is held near Gainesville. Girl Scouts in middle and high school participate as docents and reenactors to discover the past and connect it with the present, and they take action to share their knowledge with other Girl Scouts and the public. Applications are available now for participants, and more information and tickets for attendees will be available in the coming months.

• Volunteer Essentials — This handbook serves as a comprehensive resource for volunteers, whether you’re a troop leader, a Juliette mentor, a parent or a Gateway staff member. The 2016-17 version has some important updates, which will be outlined in a separate blog post. When you have a question about a policy, make sure to check the VE! Most likely, the answer you need is in there, along with other helpful information. This is an important resource, whether you’re a brand new troop leader or you’ve been a leader for decades.


Girl Scouts + Kappa Delta

In 1998, Kappa Delta Sorority welcomed Girl Scouts of the USA as one of its national philanthropies. Locally, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council and Kappa Delta Sorority at the University of North Florida work together to deliver unique program opportunities to Girl Scouts of all ages.

Kappa Deltas serve as Girl Scout mentors and volunteers, reinforcing our shared values of honesty, integrity, friendship and girl leadership. Kappa Delta chapters host programs and events, International Girls Day celebrations and other activities that expose girls to life on campus.


Through the month of October, GSGC and the UNF Kappa Deltas will offer several fun programs for all levels of Girl Scouts. We will wrap up an exciting month with an early celebration of International Girls Day on Nov. 6 at UNF.


Want even more great program opportunities with Kappa Delta? Keep an eye on the events calendar for more events in the spring!

Click here to learn more about the partnership between Kappa Delta Sorority and Girl Scouts of the USA.