An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NY Air Guardsmen Help Inspire Next Generation

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jason Carr
  • 107th Attack Wing

Cambria, NY- Five women assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Attack Wing spent July 14 speaking to western New York Girl Scouts about what the words “courage” and “strength” mean to them.
The campers were attending Camp Windy Meadows in Cambria, New York, and the female Airmen from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station based unit, ranging in rank from Airman 1st Class to Lieutenant Colonel, were the special guests for the day.

“I was asked by a neighbor of mine if I would be interested in gathering a group of ‘women in uniform’ to speak to the Girl Scout camp about being “courageous and strong”, said Lt Col Lindsay Doak, the 107 Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Personally, I did not hesitate to participate because it’s not only great community representation for the 107th , but it’s important for young girls to see women representing the Armed Forces”.

Over the course of the morning campers were split into age groups who cycled through two classes. The first group, led by Doak and Capt. Maria Spadafora, 107 Executive Officer, asked campers what their own definition of courage was, shared their own personal experiences of being brave, and listened to stories about how other women were courageous.

“As a former girl scout, it always resonated with me seeing or hearing from a woman in a strong role”, Spadafora said, “I hoped I could be that spark that ignited a little something in each one of them”.

The second group was led by Master Sgt. Kym Higley, 107 Public Health Technician, Capt Kathleen Urtz, 107 Medical Group, and Airman First Class Whitney Gallup, 107 Logistics Planning. This group focused on answering any and all questions the campers had, from home/ family life, what it’s like to be away from family for so long.

“When the girls first saw us they were very excited and respectful they loved getting to hear our experiences in the Air National Guard,” Gallup said, “I really enjoyed getting to spend time with the Girl Scouts and showcase the similarities between our values and standards.”

“We spoke a lot about what bravery means, and how the girls show bravery in their everyday lives. It's important to teach young children and young adults that bravery isn't just physical but mental and can come in many different forms” Urtz added. “We should be proud to share those moments!”

Of course, the most popular question of the day was “can I try on your shirt”.

“My favorite part of the day was the girls trying on the uniform, seeing their faces light up by just putting the uniform on was a great feeling” Urtz noted.

“Mine had to have been with the younger group of Girl Scouts/Brownies. Having them peel off and play with all of the patches, it’s the human factor behind the uniform”, Spadafora added.

As the morning led to lunch, and the Airmen said their goodbyes to the campers, an excited, positive buzz lingered as they departed. “I never was a girl scout, but I believe in sharing knowledge and taking any opportunity to help the younger generations. You never know; you could shape a future in such a small time-frame and never know about it,” Urtz said.

“At Camp Windy Meadows we have a strong focus on girl empowerment,” Said Linda Zakrzewski, camp director. “We like to bring in strong women to teach the girls that they can achieve high standards and goals in life. We teach them and then live up to the standards of the Girl Scout promise and law where we build girls courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place."