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$500,000 Endowment Gift to Support Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Mariner Program


St. Louis, MO – December 23, 2020 –Girl Scouts provides a wide array of opportunities for girls to engage in high adventure. For more than 100 years girls have explored and strengthened their leadership skills and commitment to environmental stewardship by engaging in opportunities at Girl Scout Camp. To ensure all girls can discover the joy of outdoor exploration and develop 21st century skills, Keri Westland, Girl Scout volunteer, life-long Mariner and Gold Award Girl Scout made a generous $500,000 gift to support Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Mariner Program in perpetuity.

The Mariner Program has been a part of Girl Scouts’ bold history since 1934. Developed as a special interest program for Girl Scouts in 7th through 12th grade, the Mariner Program offers adventures on, in and near the water. Girls are part of “ships” that come together during the year for skill-building, fun, and exploration. The capstone event is Summer GAM (Gathering of all Mariners), which is a week-long Resident Camp program. Summer GAM offers girls a wide variety of personal development and leadership opportunities, focusing on water activities and competitions, including canoeing, swimming, and sailing. While on the water, Mariners gain a unique perspective that encourages them to think critically about the world around them and consider how they can best address significant problems they are passionate about solving. Ultimately, Mariners take the helm and sail full speed ahead while actualizing their potential as leaders.

Westland says, “The Mariner Program made an outstanding impact on my life and holds a very special place in my heart. Through this program, I have gained so much, including lifelong friends, canoeing skills, leadership skills, teamwork and more. I am grateful for the many volunteers who have given countless hours to provide this quality leadership development experience. It is for our girls, our volunteers, and our Girl Scout staff, past, present and future that I make this gift, ensuring that many more girls will have the opportunity to participate in the Mariner Program, and learn and grow.”

Bonnie Barczykowski, Girl Scouts CEO, says the organization is deeply honored. “Keri’s generosity will make an impact on the lives of girls today and for generations to come. With support from community members – like Keri – Girl Scouting continues to evolve to meet girls’ changing needs and develop their full leadership potential.”