First Saturdays reaches out to girls ages 5-12 from economically challenged and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the East Valley to join a Girl Scouts troop. What started as a pilot program at one location five years ago serving 295 girls, has grown to four locations and serves 500 girls a year.
Girl Scouts helps these girls hone social, as well as other skills, for a positive sense of self and the tools needed to navigate in our complex world. Girls can relax in a safe, supportive all-girl environment. Snacks are also provided to the girls. This is often their first meal of the day as they rely on free and reduced breakfast program on school days and do not have this resource on Saturdays.
How was the Junior League of Phoenix involved?
Girls Scouts needs over 50 volunteers each month to support First Saturdays at all four locations. JLP formed a committee to facilitate the program at one of those sites, Webster Elementary. Each of our volunteers made a difference by being that additional caring adult who communicates to a girl, by simply being there, and teaching her that she is a valued member of society.
Throughout JLP’s involvement, monthly focuses similar to the following were held:
- September: we learned all about the history of the Girl Scout organization and its American founder, Juliette Gordon Low. The girls made pins and learned a game called “game of graces” from the early 1900’s, among other Girl Scout-themed crafts and activities.
- October: Harvest Ho-down, where the girls learned fun facts about the Wild West and created their own bandanas and dream catchers. We led an interactive story-telling session and girls snacked on trail mix they made themselves. However, the girls had the most fun earning a patch by learning to square dance!
- November: the theme was “It’s a Small World.” The girls created their own passports and earned stamps by learning about the language, food, games and traditions of other countries. Our members were excited to give the girls a greater understanding of other cultures. The brownies and juniors earned try-its and badges (People of the World and Global Awareness). Earning badges is such an important aspect of Girl Scouts and it gives the girls a huge sense of pride..
- December: the “Winter Fun” theme was a blast, but also very educational. The juniors earned their “Weather Watch” badge by performing experiments and learning about weather maps and El Niño. All the girls learned about winter weather, created snowmen and snowflake crafts, made their own thermometers and participated in other fun activities.
- January: Girl Scout Cookie Month! The girls will learn about the cookies, and how to sell them safely. The tradition of selling cookies is such an important aspect of being a Girl Scout and we are so excited that they get to be a part of it.
- February: a focus on “Independent Me,” where the girls will focus on being more independent, learn about themselves and learn about possible careers for their future.
- March: annual “Kids in the Kitchen” event. The goal of the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative, which is supported by The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. and JLP, is to empower youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues.
- April: “Camp In,” where we incorporate fun indoor and outdoor camping activities and safety, learn about nature and make fun crafts. This will also prepare the girls who will attend the annual overnight camp in May.