SKOWHEGAN—After five long years of planning, dreaming, and saving up the necessary funds, troop 390 from Skowhegan finally got the chance to embark on their dream trip south this February. Four Girl Scouts chose to attend the eight-day adventure after learning about the opportunity to volunteer with Give Kids The World Village (GKTW), a non-profit resort in Kissimmee, Florida.
The resort has provided, week-long, cost-free vacations to critically ill children and their families since 1986, and it relies completely on support from volunteers from far and wide to function.
“The girls had a major interest in visiting Florida, so I asked around for volunteer options there and someone suggested GKTW. After the girls did some research, they immediately liked the idea,” said Troop Leader Ami Winter-Lippincott.
With a goal in mind and a mission to see Florida, the girls spent the following years leading up to the trip focused on money earning. Between the Girl Scout Cookie Program, selling fall product, holding bottle drives, craft fairs, yard sales, and more—the girls finally reached their financial objective.
“After five years, I could tell they were wondering if they would ever have enough money to go, but they stuck with it and loved every minute in Florida.” Said Ami.
Once the long drive to the sunshine state was over, the girls got to work at GKTW right away. They washed dishes, carried trays, served dinner, and made sure all children and families at the resort had a memorable visit.
“They were short on volunteers while we visited. It’s an eye-opener knowing that if they didn’t have enough willing hands, they wouldn’t be able to offer this amazing opportunity to these critically ill children and their families.” Said Ami.
According to Ami, "seeing happy faces and interacting with grateful families," was an extremely rewarding experience for the girls. The girls had such a positive encounter, they even wished there was a similar organization near them at home that they could volunteer with regularly!
But the girls didn’t spend all their time at the non-profit resort, and of course no trip to Florida is complete without a proper trip to Disney World. The girls had a blast visiting three different parks and even got the chance to do some retail therapy at some of Orlando’s biggest shopping malls.
“The whole week was so magical. Their hard work is what made this trip possible and feel completely worth it,” said Ami.
Overall, Ami says her troop had the trip of a lifetime, and highly recommends that other troops explore volunteer options like GKTW to incorporate into their travel goals in the future.
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