Thursday, September 27, 2012

Angie Suhre: Real Girls Tri...and Win

Angie Suhre, Director of Program

Being active has always been a passion of mine.  I remember playing outside all day as a kid, riding my bike, climbing trees, and creating obstacle courses around our yard.  We were lucky enough to have an awesome swing set in our backyard that I used countless hours.  When middle school approached, the sports offered to me were volleyball and basketball.  Since I loved being active, I signed up for both.  Although I enjoyed playing sports, I discovered quickly I was HORRIBLE at both of the sports offered.  I stuck with it, even though I was always on the ‘B’ team.  At least I was doing something, even if that ‘something’ was sitting on the bench at games. I thought about trying softball or other sports, but after my failed attempts at volleyball and basketball, I figured ‘ball’ sports may not be for me. 

My freshman year in high school, my cousin convinced me to join the track team.  After some resentment, I gave track a whirl.  Low and behold, I LOVED it!  As uncoordinated as I was at ‘team’ sports, I wasn’t too bad on the track.  I spent my high school career running track (the mile and two mile), as well as cross country.  I discovered that running was a sport that I could do as an individual, as well as with a team. 

In college, I majored in Community Health because I wanted to share my love of physical education and healthy living with others.  When I joined the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, I was eager to share my love for recreational activities with other Girl Scouts.  I wanted to encourage girls to try something new and different, and maybe spark their interest in a sport or activity.  Girls who are active in sports and recreational activities have greater self-confidence and self-esteem, so it seemed like a natural fit with the Girl Scouts.

Sadly, by middle school, many girls (and boys) drop out of sports such as basketball, softball, or soccer because their skill level is not up to par with other players. Helping them find a physical activity that they enjoy will provide health and wellness benefits throughout their life – which is why Girl Scout programs like Real Girls Tri are so important!  The best part about a triathlon is that, no matter what skill level you are at, you can still challenge yourself.  Many girls do not get the chance to compete in Junior Triathlons; this experience is something unique that GSSI has been able to offer.  It is such a confidence builder for girls to say “I ran in a triathlon.  I finished the race and did the best that I could.  I am a winner.”  It doesn’t matter if the girls came in first or fiftieth, what matters is that they finished. I am so proud of ALL of our girls who competed in the triathlon this year.  I want to congratulate them again for all of their hard work!

GSSI Girl Scouts at Real Girls Tri were all smiles!
Teaching girls about healthy living is one of the key priorities of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.   GSSI offers many programs about fitness, nutrition, positive communication and other necessities of physical and emotional wellbeing.   Do you have a skill or passion that could help promote healthy living to girls in southern Illinois?  Contact Micah Bolandis, Director of Volunteer Management at 800.345.6858 or e-mail

Monday, September 17, 2012

Susan Gurwitch: The Start of My Girl Scout Journey

Susan Gurwitch, COO

It's been 3 months now since I started working at GSSI as the Chief Operating Officer.  It’s been such a great learning experience and I am so excited about everything the Council has to offer.  Not being a life-long Girl Scout, I have come to realize I am in the lucky position of being able to learn all about the Girl Scouts from three very different perspectives - as a member of the GSSI staff, as a mom of two brand new Girl Scouts, and through the eyes of my two girls.  (You might as well get to know my children; they will most likely be a part of this monthly blog.  Cooper is a second grader and has joined an established Brownie troop with a great leader, great parents, and great girls.  Josie is 5, just started kindergarten this week, and will be a Daisy in a brand new troop, also with a wonderful leader.)
In August, I attended my first large council-sponsored program, the Real Girls Tri mini-triathlon.  Real Girls Tri gave over 50 Girl Scouts the opportunity to build courage, confidence and character by swimming, biking and running in a timed-race.  Suggested by the event name, the emphasis of the event was getting girls to try new things.  As I helped set up bikes, some still with training wheels (including Josie’s), for the first transition I was impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement from both the girls and the parents.
Both of my girls participated and I can’t tell you how proud I was in so many ways - so proud to be a part of GSSI and all the good things that are happening for and with the young girls and adult volunteers in our area; so proud of the members of my team (THANK YOU Program Manager Angie Suhre!) who hosted such an amazing event; and as a mother who watched her two babies cross the finish line, receive their medals and feel so good about themselves.  They finished 42nd and 52nd and I am as proud of them for finishing as the mom of the girl who won.  The most touching memory I have is hearing my 5 year old tell me she wanted to quit during the cycling portion but she decided to keep going to “see what it felt like to finish”.  She (and I) was so proud getting her medal earned all on her own.
As we embark on this journey together, looking for ways we can improve our offerings to our girls and volunteers alike, I can assure you I will keep all three perspectives in sight.  I am so honored to be a part of this organization and look forward to working for and with all of you. 
My girls!