Courage and Confidence
For over a century, local Girl Scout programs have been teaching girls and young women what it means to have self-confidence and self-respect, to help others, and to live an upstanding, productive life. As one of the most prominent leadership development programs in the nation, Girl Scouts provides the opportunity to have fun and experience new things while teaching life skills and fostering a sense of community. We speak with Rancho Vista Service Unit Manager Chris Simmons and Vista Service Unit Manager Jessica Zamora about the ways these programs are making the world a better place.
Q&A with Vista Service Unit Manager Jessica Zamora and Rancho Vista Service Unit Manager Chris Simmons
Can you give us an overview of the history of Girl Scouts?
Girl Scouts started in Savannah, GA on March 12, 1912. Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low is the founder of Girl Scouts. She wanted to help girls discover their strengths and passions. Here in San Diego, Girl Scouts started in 1917. We are celebrating our 100th anniversary this year!
What is the overall mission of Girl Scouts? What can girls expect to get out of the program?
The overall mission of Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.They do this by discovering new things, seeing how that connects to them, and then taking action. This three-part process has proven to be very successful on making leaders of the next generation.
What is your role within the service unit? What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Chris: I am the Rancho Vista Service Unit manager. My role is to support the volunteers, parents, and girls registered within the Rancho Vista Service Unit area. I facilitate meetings with the service unit team members and with the volunteers. I work to maintain communication between the service unit team and Girl Scouts of San Diego (GSSD). As the lead service unit volunteer, I collaborate with my team in developing GS events, doing community outreach, and providing a positive experience for all girls, parents, and volunteers in Rancho Vista’s Service Unit. The most rewarding aspect of my role is watching girls and adults become empowered through the GS experience to become the best that they can be.
Jessica: I am currently the Vista Service Unit manager. This is my first year in this role. I love that I get to connect to all the leaders and encourage them in helping the girls discover, connect, and take action. I have volunteered for Girl Scouts at the service unit level for many years. I have been the nut and cookie coordinator, treasurer, recruiter, and event coordinator. I love that in each role, I get to meet new parents that are on this journey of teaching their kids the value in leadership, community, and citizenship.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with Girl Scouts?
Chris: I became involved with Girl Scouts first as a Brownie Scout with my mother as the troop leader. I enjoyed the time we spent together in Girl Scout activities. After my mother passed away when I was nine years old, Girl Scouts continued to play an important role in my life providing a safe place for me to grow. Once my daughter was old enough, I became her troop leader, following my mother’s path. I have been her troop leader for the past eight years. Last year I volunteered to be the service unit manager so I could become better informed about Girl Scouts in Vista and be able to share my love of Girl Scouts with the community.
Jessica: My motivation was my five-year-old daughter at the time. I didn’t plan on becoming the leader but since there wasn’t one available, I took a giant leap for my daughter. She is now 16 and I can’t imagine her world and mine if we didn’t become involved in Girl Scouts.
What are some of the exciting plans this year for the Girl Scouts involved in your service unit?
Chris: Girls in the Rancho Vista Service Unit will be able to attend several campouts put on by RVSU including one in Julian and one in Vista. They will also be able to develop their knowledge and skills in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) as we begin a new STEAM program for girls of all ages. Our girls will also have opportunities to participate in community events such as the Vista Christmas Parade and the Strawberry Festival. We are also hosting a World Thinking Day event which will include girls and troops from other service units.
Jessica: November brings cooler weather so we are heading to Ice Town for some family ice skating. We take over the whole rink with 200 girl scouts and their families. In December, we march in the Vista Christmas Parade and then we head out Christmas caroling. We are also very active in service for our community. We are currently heading a canned food drive to benefit families here in Vista and then we will be starting a hygiene drive in November and December to benefit the homeless community here in Vista.
At-A-Glance | Rancho Vista Service Unit Manager
Name: Chris Simmons
Community: Vista & Oceanside
Education: BA in psychology with a teaching credential
Hobbies & Interests: Girl Scouts, family, travel
Favorite Girl Scouting Memory: Going to Girl Scout summer camp and traveling with my troop to new locations
At-A-Glance | Rancho Vista Service Unit Girl Scouts
Service Unit Name: Rancho Vista Service Unit
Number of Girl Scouts: 240
Number of Troop Leaders: 63 leaders and co-leaders
Zip Codes Served: 92054, 92056, 92057, 92081, 92083, 92084
How does one go about joining a troop? Are there any restrictions as to when someone can join?
A girl can join Girl Scouts at any time. To join a troop, the girl’s parent would go online at sdgirlscouts.org and click JOIN. They will follow the directions from there to register their daughter. GSSD will match the girl with a troop by the girl’s age and location of where she lives. The troop leader is notified that they have a new girl so they can contact the parent and get the girl started in their troop.
Tell us about the various types of Girl Scout badges.
There are so many badges the girls can earn. Each level has their own badges based on age appropriate activities. Badges can be earned at all age levels. Daisies begin with badges about the GS Law. The rest of the GS levels can earn badges such as art, robotics, outdoor adventurer, and pets. Girls can earn badges for the skills learned while selling cookies. Many girls will also earn Journeys, which provide an opportunity for girls focus on a topic, determine a problem, and work together to solve it. The highest achievements girls can earn are the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. To earn each of these awards, girls discover a problem in the community and then work to resolve it.
Tell us about some of the recent achievements of your service unit’s members.
Chris: Rancho Vista’s Service Unit members are doing great things for our girls and volunteers. Our encampment director orchestrated a fun encampment in Julian which included girls from around San Diego. Our canoe specialist is developing the first local canoeing program for girls, beginning with canoe trips for adults to be trained in. Our team hosted an awards ceremony to recognize girls in our service unit who achieved milestones in selling cookies, and for those who earned Silver and Gold Awards.
Jessica: Troop 4463 just earned their Silver Award. They made bracelets for women that have suffered loss. It was a token of hope. Also we had 22 girls earn leadership torches at our Fall encampment at the Balboa property. They planned our Camp Stop the Beat encampment where all girls learned about music and instruments and music from around the world. The event culminated with each troop performing a song or skit.
At-A-Glance | Vista Service Unit Manager
Name: Jessica Zamora
Education: Graduated from CSU San Marcos with a major in business
Hobbies & Interests: Going to the beach, biking and hiking trails, gardening, teaching
Favorite Girl Scouting Memory: Going on a treasure hunt for our s’mores ingredients and never finding the chocolate!
At-A-Glance | Vista Service Unit Girl Scouts
Are there any annual or upcoming events in which Vista Girl Scouts takes part? How can the local community contribute?
Chris: Some upcoming events which Rancho Vista is sponsoring are: a mini Jam-o-Rama to practice Girl Scout skills, an encampment at Green Oaks Ranch in November, marching in the Vista Christmas Parade, participating in World Thinking Day in March, and several STEAM events with a focus on robotics. Most of these events will be open to our service units to participate. The local community can contribute to these events by assisting with locations to hold the events, helping to spread the word about what Girl Scouts are doing, and showing their support of Girl Scouts at these events.
Jessica: We are an award-winning participant in the Vista Christmas Parade. Come cheer us on!
Does Vista Girl Scouts need volunteers? What is the process for getting involved?
Chris: Rancho Vista Girl Scouts is always open to new volunteers! To get involved, a person can email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org or they can register as a volunteer online at sdgirlscouts.org. During registration, they can mark what interests they have. GSSD will then match them with their interests and location, and contact our Service Unit.
Jessica: Volunteers are always welcome. Please email me your information.