Lori Winkelstein: Traveling the World through Girl Scouts | Girl Scouts

A Lifetime of Travel and Adventure: The Lori Winkelstein Story

In 1970, at age seven, Lori joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie and enjoyed a fun-filled year. But on learning that Girl Scouts couldn’t go camping until they were Juniors (at the time), Lori, a lifelong Girl Scout who has always known exactly what she wants, didn’t go back until a year later, when she could partake in the camping trips she’d longed to be a part of as a younger girl. She’s been hooked ever since!

Now 54 and a volunteer with Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines, Lori can’t remember life without Girl Scouting at the center of it.

“When people ask me how Girl Scouts has affected my life, I don’t know what to say. Girl Scouting has been my life since I was seven. It’s always been a part of who I am and what I am.”

When asked what’s played the biggest role in keeping her hooked to the mission all these years, Lori points to all the travel she’s been able to do thanks to Girl Scouts, as well as all of the unique experiences Girl Scouting exposed her to from a young age.

Lori and the rest of the "Swiss Seven" at the Girl Scouts Chalet in Switzerland in September 2006.

In the sixth grade, when Lori was about 11 years old, she and her family traveled a lot—but being able to travel with her peers, and the independence associated with it, is something she describes as a life-changing confidence booster. “It was just great,” she said, remembering her Girl Scout travel experiences as being very hands-on and girl-led and something that helped bring out the leader in her early in life.

“My family’s travels at the time were smaller scale—within the U.S. I probably would have never left the country had it not been for Girl Scouts.”

As an adult Girl Scout, Lori is fully committed to supporting the organization. Throughout her 35 years of service to the Movement, she’s probably held just about every volunteer role out there. She’s been a troop leader for every grade level, a council facilitator, and an active member of her service unit, and she currently serves on her council’s Girl Scout Gold Award committee.

Recently Lori attended a celebration banquet for the 2017 Gold Award Girl Scouts, where the girls were each given a few minutes to share their projects.

“Sitting on the Gold Award committee, we know what these kids do, but to hear the pride in their voice as they share their projects…I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it,” she said. “As a liaison, I help the girls throughout the Gold Award process, and just to be a little piece of their extraordinary work is so rewarding. I definitely learn from them as much as or more than they learn from me.”

Girl Scouts has always helped Lori pursue leadership without it feeling like a big deal—but more like a given. Of course, she could light that fire at camp as a kid, and travel to Sangam (WAGGGS World Center in India) as an adult volunteer in 1988. She’s a Girl Scout—she can do anything!

Lori and a group of Girl Scout sisters celebrate World Thinking Day together in 2016.
Lori and her daughter Sasha at her Girl Scouts Daisy investiture ceremony in October 1995.
Lori and her daughter Sasha at her Girl Scouts Daisy investiture ceremony in October 1995.

Her husband, Dan, has also played a key role in Lori’s life of leadership and adventure with Girl Scouts. In fact, the first year the two were married, Dan was Lori’s co-leader of a Girl Scout Junior troop in North Carolina. They never worked together as troop leaders after that (for their marriage’s sake, Lori says!), but Dan has remained incredibly supportive of his wife’s ongoing commitment to an organization that has given her so much. (We reckon he’s a G.I.R.L., too!)

In addition to all of the amazing experiences Girl Scouts has exposed Lori and her family too, it’s given her a lifetime of extraordinary friendships and mentors (like Lofi). In fact, she’s still close to a couple of the volunteers who joined her in India almost 30 years ago.

Lori and long-time Girl Scout friend Mary learn to play the drums at the Kusafari World Centre in Africa in 2017.
Lori smiles big with Girl Scout mentor Marty Gifford, whom she still talks to today, in the late 1980s.