Only three days left to sign up for GUTS summer programs

Right off the bat, I’m going to admit that the headline on this post needs clarification. While the official deadline to sign up for the YWCA‘s Girls Using Their Strengths! (GUTS!) summer programs is May 28, the program will continue accepting applications until the trips are full.

But you don’t want to wait until the last minute.  I’m sure the slots will fill fast for this summer program, which includes outdoor adventures on local trails, farms and rivers.

Here’s how the YWCA describes its “five week-long outdoor wilderness adventures for girls ages 9 to 18.”

Summer trips incorporate multiple outdoor activities, such as backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, rafting and mountain biking. Adventurers are also introduced to “leave no trace” backcountry ethics and teamwork, as well as place-based learning. Trips include one day of service, which is usually spent working on an organic farm or helping with trail maintenance.

The application is available here. The suggested donation for the program is $350, but don’t let that number stand in the way of signing up; scholarships are available.

For more information, contact Roe at YWCA Missoula by calling 543-6691 or sending an email to

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The Girls Way is up and running in Missoula

Girls Way The paper has a cute story about the new Girls Way center in Missoula today. The center is a nonprofit that provides fun and fitness to girls ages 10-18.

Business reporter Jenna Cederberg was there for for the first class – a rock ‘n roll ballet class.

For more information call 830-3018

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Get a sneak peak of The Girls Way nonprofit fitness center

Missoula has been abuzz all week with the news that the new fitness center for girls is ready to open.

The Girls Way is a nonprofit organization that offers classes in fun things like yoga, zumba and oola (those last two are like dance aerobic classes), as well as seminars and workshops on topics of interest to girls ages 10 to 18. The center and its mission spins off a similar concept director Stephanie Boone originally offered through the Women’s Club and which met with resounding popularily.

Tomorrow you can see for yourself what all the buzz is about as The Girls Way holds its Grand Unveiling and Sneak Peak Aucution. Friday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., there will be food, drink, music and fun – and an auction featuring dozens of donated items, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to fund scholarships to The Girls Way for girls from low-income families.

And Saturday the center will official open at 9:30 a.m., with a ceremony featuring Missoula Mayor John Engen scheduled for 9:45 a.m. From the time the doors open until they close at 4 p.m., visitors can check out 15-minute sample classes, the Hellgate Roller Girls and former Olympic gold medalist Eric Bergoust, take tours and sip Black Coffee Roasting Co. coffee and nibble Le Petit Bakery pastries.

Makes sense, given that The Girls Way is Black Coffee and Le Petit’s new neighbor in the Home Resource Center. The address is 1515 Wyoming St. Ste. 300.

Oh, and did I mention that girls can attend classes at The Girls Way for FREE for the rest of February?

For more information, visit their website or check out their Facebook page.

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It’s time to nominate a young lady to LEAD!

This coming Monday marks the deadline to turn in your nomination of a girl age 14 to 18 for the YWCA‘s Young Women LEAD Project.

“The YWCA Missoula is seeking school counselors, educators, parents, and community members to nominate fabulous young women to participate in a high-school girls’ leadership program. ”

Remember, there’s no cost – not to nominate, not to participate. All it takes is a willingness and interest on the part of the nominated girls to attend a series of two-hour seminars and get active in a community service project. Along the way, they’ll get to meet peers and role models right here in our community “while learning to find balance in life, self-care, goal-setting, and identifying their inner strengths and values,” according to the YWCA.

AND, they’ll have a change to go to the “Girls For A Change” conference in Bozeman this spring for free.

If you know a young lady who fits the bill, don’t wait any longer to nominate her! Forms are available on the YWCA’s website and at its Missoula Office, located at 1130 West Broadway. And if you need more information, call the YWCA’s GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) director Jen Euell at 543-6691 or shoot her an e-mail at

– MM

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Nominate a teen girl to local leadership program

Do you know a young woman between the ages of 14-18 who might be interested in “learning to find balance in life, self-care, goal-setting, and identifying their inner strengths and values”?

If so, nominate her for the YWCA Missoula’s Young Women LEAD Project, which falls under the auspices of the organization’s Girls Using Their Strengths (GUTS!) program. Nomination will give a girl an opportunity to attend eight two-hour seminars, participate in a community service project, meet other community members (including women leaders) and even attend the upcoming “Girls for a Change” conference in Bozeman.

There’s no cost, and the deadline for nominations is Monday, Jan. 10. Get a nomination form online at the YWCA website, or contact GUTS! Director Jen Euell for more information at or 543-6691.

Need a little more encouragement? Here’s a testimonial from 17-year-old Hillary Martin, who participated in the LEAD program in 2009:

“The LEAD program is something that I can honestly say got me back on my feet. The simple fact that I was nominated to be a part of this made me feel like I had something special to offer.

“Throughout my experience in LEAD I have met and become friends with such a wide variety of incredible girls and women that I might not have otherwise known,” Hillary said. “I think that all young women should have this kind of opportunity to learn more about themselves through the experience of others.”

– MM

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New fitness center for girls coming to Missoula

Watch for the opening of The Girls Way, a new nonprofit fitness and activity center catering to girls ages 10-18, in Missoula in mid-February.

The folks behind the new all-girls center have gotten some great grants already but are still in the fundraising stage. One the center opens, they expect to charge $35 a month for a membership, but will also offer a sliding scale and full scholarships.

According to the Missoulian article in today’s paper, “In addition to fitness classes, the program will include lectures on skin care, healthy dating and nutrition, as well as workshops on things like gardening, job skills, self defense and journaling.”

The center will be located in the up-and-coming Russell Street neighborhood that also houses  Home Resource and the Black Coffee Roasting Co.

Call program director Stephanie Boone at 370-2697 for more information.

– MM

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GUTS! girls get big boost from Plum Creek Foundation

This week the YWCA‘s Girls Using Their Strengths program – GUTS! – accepted a $5,000 grant from the Plum Creek Foundation.

GUTS! will use the money to bring more young women into the program, which is aimed at helping girls ages 9 to 18 “discover their abilities through after-school groups and summer wilderness activities.”

After he handed over the check to GUTS! program director Jen Euell this past Wednesday, Plum Creek resource manager Jerry Wolcott said that “Plum Creek is proud to support GUTS!, which serves a multi-fold purpose. The program cultivates our future leaders while instilling in them a love and appreciation for our environment.”

Euell added: “In the face of a culture that places more value on external appearance, GUTS! helps young women recognize their inner strengths. This generous grant from Plum Creek shows the company’s commitment to their future.”

Congrats, GUTS!

– MM

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First time in Glacier National Park

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my family has not yet made the trip to Glacier National Park. I know – it’s a travesty, right? Here’s hoping that we get a chance to visit before the end of the year. I’m putting on my to-do list right now.

In the meantime, here’s a heartwarming news release from the Udall Foundation, which is sponsoring a trip to Glacier for 12 young people from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Missoula as part of the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program.

– MM

First Ever Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus Trip in Montana

There will be a change of scenery for 12 Montana youth as they go on a camping trip to Glacier National Park – a first for many of them. The students, who will be armed with digital cameras, are participating in the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus program, which gives young environmental leaders (Udall scholarship alumni) the opportunity to pass their knowledge to children who might never have seen a national park or spent time exploring a wilderness area.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Got girls? Get GUTS!

YWCA Missoula runs this program called Girls Using Their Strengths, GUTS! for short. I don’t know why the exclamation mark is added in the acronym; personally, I find it irritating rather than enlivening – but the program  itself is great. It organizes dozens of volunteers to help more than 200 girls a year build confidence and leadership skills.

And that’s important, says GUTS! co-founder and director Jen Euell, because “our culture is more sexualized than ever, so we feel it’s important to reach girls at a young age so that they can learn to value their inner strengths and talents, not just their appearances.”

Right on, sister. To further that mission, this year the program is offering its first-ever day camp for 9- and 10-year-olds. The camp kicked off on Monday and wraps up on Friday. According to the YWCA, “Activities will include visiting Raptors of the Rockies and the Wild Bear Institute, swimming in a creek, helping build a community garden with Missoula’s Parks and Recreation Department, as well as spending one night at the Homestead Organics Farm.”

For more information about GUTS!, future day camps or volunteer opportunities, give Jen Euell a call on her cell phone at 360-5962.

– MM

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Kids, pets and Father’s Day stuff at the mall

Lots of kid-centric activities are planned for Southgate Mall this month.

First of all, the mall is hosting a playhouse AND pet palace auction this month. Bidding kicks off on Monday, June 7, and runs until  June 24, with the final auction event taking place from 5 to 6 p.m. on June 24.

More than 10 playhouses for pets, children or perhaps both will be on display in the mall’s Clock Court area. They were built by more than 30 builders and donated to help raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Missoula.

And this upcoming Tuesday, the mall is offering a free Father’s Day craft for kids.

With plenty of time left before Father’s Day, the June 15 event promises a fun and free – but as-yet unnamed – craft activity for children. It’s part of the regular monthly “Southgate Mall Kids Klub” events held once a month at the mall.

For more info, call 721-5140.

– MM

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