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Girls can do anything!   Each year we have a group of girls that are highly accomplished and do amazing things.   It is wonderful to see them grow over the years and watch them give back to their community through their award projects.   We have a great group of girls that provide all types of community service through their awards.

A large number of Junior troops earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award during the past year, and many more are currently working on projects in their communities. Here are a few examples from across the council:

  • ·         Daphne Troop 8186 is working on a permanent geocache course at Camp Scoutshire Woods for other girls to enjoy.
  • ·         Troop 9349 from Enterprise helped the local animal shelter by painting some of the rooms and collecting needed items.
  • ·         Troop 9261 in Ozark created an outdoor education garden at their school that included upcycling milk jugs into automatic watering containers, painting stepping stones, and leading a group of more than 50 students to plant a variety of plants.
  • ·         Loxley Troop 8393 volunteered and collected items for a horse rescue shelter.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is earned by Cadettes and is a stepping stone for the Gold Award. Here are a few of our excellent projects from this past year:

  • ·         Troop 9750 from Dothan recycled plastic grocery bags to make plastic yarn, which they crocheted to make sleeping mats for the homeless.
  • ·         Troop 7309 worked with a low-income daycare in Auburn to improve the facilities and provide additional resources and activities for the children to enjoy.
  • ·         A member of troop 9157 in Prattville sewed more than 70 colorful pillowcases to comfort children in an orphanage in Bulgaria.
  • ·         Satsuma Troop 8517 created a "Read Across America" curriculum for their middle school library. They identified and compiled a list of books from all 50 states to encourage students to read.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting, and is only open to Seniors and Ambassadors. Here are two of our recent Gold Awards:  

  • ·         Rebecca Pober from Daphne produced, directed, edited and screened a professional documentary on domestic human trafficking, which can be seen on the website she created: againsthumantrafficking.com. In order to create her documentary, she made contacts, fundraised, conducted on and off-camera interviews.  Afterwards, she has given and continues to give presentations to highlight this issue.
  • ·         Amerie Gramelspacher's topic for her Girl Scout Gold Award was suicide awareness and prevention. She spoke at churches and events, conducted a suicide awareness and prevention 5K, purchased a curriculum for the health classes at her school, and purchased signs for the middle and high schools. Throughout the project, she partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Thanks to Amerie's efforts, the elementary, middle, and high school teachers in Thomasville now receive annual suicide prevention and awareness training hosted by the AFSP.

Rebecca and Amerie have been nominated by our council for the National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD) award, given by GSUSA to 10 exceptional Gold Award recipients from across the nation. GSUSA has done some great work to improve the highest awards.   Rather than having the National Young Women of Distinction awarded every three years at the national convention, that will change to annually.   In addition, a benefactor will be providing funding for a $10,000 scholarship for each NYWOD.  Girls who have earned the Gold Award are eligible to be nominated for NYWOD by the Gold Award Committee of GSSA.

As a reminder, GSSA has a group of trained volunteers who work with girls on their Gold Awards.   This committee reviews girls' applications and materials.   Because it is a group of volunteers, we try hard to respect their time, which means paperwork needs to be submitted well in advance of deadlines so the committee has the time they need to conduct their review.   The new working deadlines for 2015-2016 awards are as follows:

Quarterly deadlines for all Gold Award submissions

·         February 1

·         May 1

·         August 1

·         November 1

Graduating Ambassadors

·         February 1 deadline for proposals

·         May 1 deadline for final reports


Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is fortunate to have a great group of volunteers and girls committed to community service. Last year GSSA girls earned 112 Bronze Awards, 27 Silver Awards, and 6 Gold Awards, representing more than 4000 hours of service in their communities. Girls also earned 44 Service Bars for Community Service and Service to Girl Scouting, representing more than 1,400 hours of service.

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We work hard to supplement the funds girls bring in through the cookie program with a wide variety of events, activities, and other fund development initiatives. Recently, a volunteer inquired about these activities, so I would like to go through some of them to make you aware of the many things we do to increase opportunities for girls.

EVENTS

ART SHOW AND SALE  - Daugherty's Gallery and Frame Shop in Mobile is hosting a benefit art show and sale for GSSA.   There will be a wide variety of art available in all price ranges and budgets.   The art show and sale is a casual browse through their gallery this weekend.   Drop by for some refreshments while looking at some delightful art and making a purchase.   Daugherty's Gallery and Frame Shop is located at 857-A Downtowner Boulevard in Mobile, the times are Saturday, May 16, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.   A percentage of the sales will benefit the girls of this council.

 M3 - MANICURES, MASSAGES AND MERRIMENT - This is an ADULTS-ONLY event, scheduled for Friday, June 12, at Virginia College - Montgomery, 6200 Atlanta Highway. This event is organized by members of On My Honor, the Montgomery area Alumnae Association. We are so grateful for the hard work and dedication of this committee.  Last year was the first for this event, and it received rave reviews. You are sure to have a great time. Bring some friends, have some fun and leave looking and feeling great.  Guests can score some great items at the silent auction and enjoy delicious food donated by restaurants and caterers from throughout the River Region. The fun continues with manicures and massages by the students of Virginia College School of Cosmetology and School of Massage Therapy and is topped off with delicious pairings of cocktails inspired by Girl Scout cookie flavors, prepared by local bartenders! Tickets are $40 each. For tickets, please call the Montgomery office or tickets are available at our online shop. Plans are being made for a similar event in the Mobile area.

MEMBER CARDS

We have a new benefit to offer our outstanding supporters who donate $35 or more - the MemberCard. Click here for Information on how this great program works, and some of the amazing deals! This card offers a variety of deals, including 2-for-1 specials, discounts at local restaurants, performances, attractions and more! Just a few of the 2-for-1 deals include Red Brick Pizza (Enterprise), Down By the Bay (Fairhope), Butch Cassidy's Café (Mobile), Eastside Grille (Montgomery) and so much more. The card is valid for one year, so get your card today and begin saving!  Visit http://membercard.com/landing/gssa.cfm to check out the latest listing of participating businesses. Once you have your card, download the MemberCard mobile app to find available discounts, distance to participating businesses, and more! Let us know if you have any suggestions for other local restaurants or attractions you would like to see included.  

CALLING ALL AMAZON SHOPPERS! - Shop for great deals and support GSSA at the same time. For those who prefer shopping on line, sign up for AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com, which is the charitable arm of Amazon.  Simply visit smile.amazon.com,  search for our name "Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama" and make us your charity of choice.  You may also see our name listed as Girl Scouts of the Deep South (we are working with AmazonSmile to make the name correction). You can even use your existing account, and Amazon's website will remember your charity selection.  Signing up does not cost you any additional money and a small percentage of all your sales is donated to Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama. As these donations add up, they will help us in our efforts to secure matching grant funding and help us with our continuing work to support our girls.

PLANGPlanG is another way to shop online with a purpose.  PlanG has partnered with more than 250 major brands to transform everyday shopping into acts of purpose. Simply shop online and earn free giving dollars for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama!  It is really simple! Go to myplang.com to sign up, designating "Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama" as the recipient of the funds.  Then tell others about the impact you are making in the life of girls in southern Alabama. PlanG makes it easy for you to share your experience and ask your friends to help make a difference in a girl's life, too!  

INSCRIBED BRICKS 

Honor a loved one, troop leader, volunteer or special occasion with a brick paver a Kamp Kiwanis for generations to see.  For $50 purchase a brick paver and personalize it.  It will be placed around the Sawyer-Weil pavilion at Kamp Kiwanis.  Inscriptions are limited to twelve characters on three lines.  Some troops purchase multiple bricks to increase the size of their message. To purchase your brick, visit the gift page of our online shop. or call the Montgomery office to learn more.

RESIDENT CAMP SCHOLARSHIPS

- Each year we do an annual camp appeal seeking support from our current donors.   In memory of Cadette Girl Scout Emily Dunnam, GSSA's Board of Directors approved the establishment of the Emily Dunnam Camp Scholarship. Emily was an active Girl Scout from Fairhope, who loved camp and the outdoors. She enjoyed canoeing, nature walks and playing in the spillway at Camp Scoutshire. Before disbanding for graduation, members of Troop 8442 used their remaining troop funds to help establish this scholarship to honor Emily and give other girls an opportunity to enjoy camp for years to come. This fund will sponsors one Brownie or Junior, and one Cadette or Senior (leadership or CIT program) to attend camp each year. 


DINING OUT, ANYONE?

Zea Rotisserie and Grille in Mobile is supporting Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.  Every second Wednesday of the month in 2015, from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Zea will donate 10% back from sales to GSSA when you show them our flyer.  The flyers are available at the Mobile Service Center at the front desk, or you can download them here. Grab a few flyers and enjoy the dining experience. Schedule your next meeting our gathering for the second Wednesday at Zea to enjoy some wonderful food and support Girl Scouts all at the same time.

These are just a few of the many activities we are conducting in our efforts to increase funding and program opportunities for our girls.   We hope you can support them and help us spread the word to your family and friends.  Thanks for all that you do!

liz-2015.jpgGirl Scouts of Southern Alabama enjoys partnerships with local Army representatives through a number of projects and initiatives.   They have evaluated the tower for us at Camp Humming Hills around safety and stability.   They also have installed a set of three navigation courses for us at Kamp Kiwanis.  

Last week, I was one of a number of guests and educators of the U.S. Army and the Army recruiting battalion at Fort Benning, Ga.  I welcomed an opportunity to see what the Army does.

What is interesting about this tour is how much what the US Army dovetails with our own mission and values.   The Army imbues the values of leadership.   We teach values to Girl Scouts.   We teach respect for the flag, and for those who have given their lives for our freedom, and the importance of being good citizens.   All values the Army teaches its new recruits.

The point of this tour is to assist those who work with youth to understand the requirements and opportunities available to them through joining the US Army, or any other branch of the service.   We used to believe if you can't make it in college, join the Army.   Well, that is no longer the case.   The US Army wants the brightest and the best.   They want to top of the high school graduating class.   They offer more than 150 different occupational specialties.   Much of their orientation is computer technology.

The equipment, simulators, training facilities and opportunities are stunning.   Their mission to protect us involves increasingly complex technology and equipment.   Having an opportunity to see their facilities first hand is mind blowing.   Fort Benning itself is equivalent to a medium-sized city with what is as complex as one of the largest universities in the United States, with education of all types being conducted daily.

We had the opportunity to fire virtual rifles and machine guns.   We were able to crawl around on Abrams and Bradley tanks and then get in a tank simulator and try to hit a target.   Trust me, it isn't very easy.   We sat through a lecture for the Airborne on what happens when your parachute gets tangled.   Some of the options there weren't very attractive.   We heard from the Lt. Col. who trains the infantry and visited their dining room and living facilities.   During their 14-week training, the living facilities are pretty sparse, with the emphasis on getting in shape and eating healthy.   We attended a graduation ceremony for a group that had completed Basic Combat Training.   We also had a guided tour of the Infantry Museum, at the entrance of Fort Benning.  Finally we were able to attend Rangers in Action, a show that should not be missed if you ever have an opportunity to attend.   There was lots of blowing things up, rappelling up and down 40 foot towers, walking across high structures, zip lining down long cables into the water, and finally dropping from a helicopter into an area and then being picked up later.   It was fantastic, and we missed part of it because of the large number of school kids there that day.

If you have an opportunity to tour Fort Benning or any other military installation, it is both eye opening and educational.   All those we spoke to possessed a seriousness of purpose.   They understand their mission is to defend our freedom.   Hooah!


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It is spring, which means it's time for us to start planning for next fall.   It seems hard to believe we start now, but we do.   We are always looking for new and educational events and activities for our girls to participate in, and this year we had a number of new programs offered across the council.  

The general criteria for the council to offer a program is that it should be something a troop individually cannot do or do easily.   In addition, it needs to be attractive enough for folks to travel from one part of the council to another because it is not cost-efficient to use the girls' money to plan council events for less than 50 girls.   Because of this, most events will be larger, that is always desirable.   If you have some thoughts or ideas of good events that you believe girls would like, please let us know at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

This year, we had some great new events that have received excellent reviews.  Auburn University hosted an equestrian day for the girls and a fantastic Pi Day event that was filled with all sorts of hands-on science experiments.   Recently, we had a day with the dolphins in Gulfport, which filled twice, and the girls loved it.   We also had a new program at the zoo in Gulf Shores.  

Again, one of the caveats in planning events is they must attract people from around the council.   We have worked at hosting a number of programs in the Wiregrass area and have been disappointed they didn't make the minimum attendance required.   .

We will be starting to do some strategic planning, involving volunteers, always looking for ways to make the Girl Scout experience better for the girls we serve, so be on the lookout for those questionnaires and surveys in the near term.

As we work through our girl numbers this year, we find that some folks did not register until the cookie program.   Just a reminder on this, for now and I will do so again in the fall.   If you are not registered and participate in activities and there is an accident, you are held liable, not GSSA.   So you do that at your own peril.   The $15 price is a small price to pay for insurance coverage in case there is some type of accident.

We are also working on getting things ready for summer resident camp.   We will have a commuter option for those who do not want to spend the night.   Again, we take girls from the Mobile Service Center to Scoutshire Woods and the Montgomery Service Center for Kamp Kiwanis to be cost efficient.   We found last year that we had a number of girls who were able to enjoy camp this way.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.   Please share your ideas on programs you would like to see.

 

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I was just musing on the work our Volunteer of the Year, Barbara Mitchell, has done over more than 20 years with girls.   Not her own children, but girls in public housing that became her girls.   She provides opportunities for girls they might not have otherwise had.  

One of the extraordinary thing about Barbara Mitchell is that she takes those girls everywhere.   I attend events all over the council and you can often see her with a pack of girls on any given Saturday morning.   It is always a surprise and delight to see her smiling, happy to be there with the girls she brought.   She provides girls a role model, someone other than their parent to listen to them, and care about them.   What a wonderful gift to give others!  

Each of you is one of our volunteers of the year.   Sometimes you think no one else is experiencing the parent who believes the troop meeting is uncompensated babysitting, or not paying is acceptable.   Then there's the girl who always tests the limits when you have repeatedly tried to politely and quietly worked to deal with the behavior.   It is always amazing when we discuss volunteers to discover how their issues are similar.   It is someone testing your goodwill and desire to have a wonderful experience for everyone.   We realize there are frequent, behind the scenes conversations and troubles that test your mettle; when your desire is to work with girls, not negotiate parental issues.

Building leaders can be a messy endeavor.  We understand that sometimes it is the glitter all over your kitchen, the stain on the carpet, or  the mess made that wasn't adequately cleaned up when requested.   But every one of you does this because you care about the girls with whom you work.   Each of them comes with unlimited potential, and you work to shape and form those girls into the confidence, courageous strong leaders who will lead us into the future.

On those days when you feel like this is a burden, remember that some day these girls will become women who will change the world.   You are changing their world every time you work with them.   They will change those that go behind.   Thank you, for your time and investment in helping develop girls who will change the world. 

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           As I enter my 50th year as a registered Girl Scout, I can definitely say Girl Scouts has benefited not only me, but also my family.  My experiences as a girl member were minimal at best, but I did make some wonderful friends with whom I am still in contact.  It has been as an adult that I have benefited the most.

            My husband was a career Army officer and that meant we were constantly moving around the world.  In each new location for his entire Army career, I was involved with the local Girl Scout council, either as a leader, Service Unit Chairman, or trainer.  I would actually contact my husband's new post before we arrived to arrange to have a Girl Scout troop.  After ten years, we had a daughter who became a Daisy Girl Scout and continued all the way through Seniors, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award.  Her father was a registered Girl Scout and would accompany us on all of our camping trips and field trips, both in the United States and abroad.  Girl Scouts was a family affair for us.  We would even plan our vacations so that we could attend Scouting events or work on badges with our daughter.

            It was my training as an elementary school teacher which made it an easy transition into troop leadership.  I easily put as much time into our troop plans as I had done for my classroom lesson plans.  It became a creative outlet for me.  Even more important, working with Girl Scouts gave me an opportunity to make friends in our new living environment.   Since finding leaders is hard, a woman who volunteers to take a troop is welcomed into the group and I found many lasting friends from these ladies.

            I have been fortunate to attend trainings at Our Chalet, stay at Olave House, and attend an international event at Our Cabana.  My husband and daughter were also able to visit the world centers in London and Adelboden.  The three of us were at Olave Centre before it was officially open and had a chance to see what it was going to be upon completition.  I still correspond with some of the women I met in Adelboden.

            We lived in Belgium for six years and I enjoyed the opportunities open to Girl Scouts Overseas.  My Brownie Girl Scouts had many combined meetings with the British Brownies and Guides.  We learned about WAGGGS up close and personal.  It was, however, living in Morocco which was the most challenging.  I had girls from seven countries in my Brownie Girl Scout troop.  We used American materials, but having a flag ceremony required some adaptations to include flags for all of the girls represented.

            When we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, I became involved in the Girl Scout Council of the Pacific, leading a Daisy and a Cadette Girl Scout troop, serving as Service Unit Chairman, and a council trainer.  It was here that I was awarded the Thanks Badge, and what an honor and surprise that was.

            As an adult volunteer I've marched in Veterans Day parades, attended theatrical productions, attended events at Macy, visited the Juliette Lowe House in Savannah, gone whitewater rafting and ice skating, had a living room filled with cookies from floor to ceiling, visited many unusual places, learned much Girl Scout history and many traditions, and participated in international events.  My daughter and I enjoyed sharing Girl Scouting together and having my husband along made it a wonderful family experience.  I definitely benefited from the Girl Scout organization on all levels and have received more from it than I could possibly ever give.  I'm definitely a better person because of my Girl Scout experiences and the love I have for the organization.

 -- Nancy Karrick

            I began my Girl Scouting Career in the year 1975 at the age of 5.  I entered as a Brownie Girl Scout and my mother was my troop leader.  Girl Scouts mean many things to me, but can be grouped into my three major rolls in Girl Scouts as a Girl Scout, a leader, and a Girl Scout camp counselor.  These three major stages of my Girl Scout career each hold special meanings in their own right.

            As a young child, I was not very athletic and could not join dancing.  I had many interest and Girl Scouts introduced a way for me to experience my many interest and belong somewhere among my peers.  I made some very special friends that first year in Brownies and between Lydia's mother, Sandy's mother, and my own mother, we always had a troop leader.  We stayed friends for years.  Sandy even stood in my wedding in 1996 some 21 years after our first Brownie meeting.  We learned about camping, cook outs, compass skills, hiking, canoeing, singing and friendship.  We even took part in our own cookie sales growing up, selling our share to help earn money for our troop and council.  Girl Scouts as a child made me a very strong, independent, girl.  The comments and teasing from other girls as I was growing up held no meaning as the family I had in my Girl Scout Troop was more important.  Holding a Girl Scout membership was important to who I was to become as an adult.  My best childhood memories all stem from Girl Scout activities.

            I think the saddest day would have been when I aged out of Girl Scouts.  I still wanted to participate as an adult, so I become the Girl Scout Unit Cookie director in 1988.  I will never forget the look on my father's face when the big truck backed up in the driveway and delivered 1000 cases of cookies.  My mother and I had decided he was on a need to know basis and he did not need to know about the delivery until it was already being delivered.  I will never forget the overwhelming peanut butter smell that enveloped the house for weeks.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment with that first cookie sale as an adult Girl Scout.  Exactly 22 years later, I began assisting my daughter with her first cookie sale and am amazed at the skills she has learned while selling cookies.  Each year that passes our troop sells a few more boxes and learns a little more about the business of cookies.  Again I find myself as the Unit Cookie Director and housing the cookie pantry at my house.  The smell of peanut butter when the pantry is fully stocked for the first weekend of cookie sales brings back the feelings from my very first cookie sale as an adult Girl Scout.  I think watching my Brownies and Juniors this year develop some business sales techniques and sell their cookies instilled a sense of pride in the life lessons I am able to guide these young girls through. Girl Scout Cookies and the sale of those cookies will always be an important part of what Girl Scouts means to me.

            I stayed active in Girl Scouts with my unit until I went away to college and this is when I switched to being a camp counselor at Camp Whispering Pines.  I was the Unit director for the farming sessions of camp.  I was not only in charge of 24 girls every week but also 7 cages of animals.  Those summers I learned how to care for not only the rabbits I was used to raising but also chicks, ducks, goats, pigs, and cows.  We took our ducks canoeing with us and walked our goat and cow on a leash around camp with us.  We began each camp session singing a rewritten version of the "Green Acres" theme song as "Pine Hollow" and showing off our animals.  I met so many wonderful young girls and had the opportunity to affect change in their life.  I worked with a diverse camp staff and took away many memories of some great summers.  Camp allowed me the opportunity to teach these young girls many of the Scouting skills I had learned as a Girl Scout.  We cooked out once each session, anything from a Hobo lunch to Solar Oven Lasagna, we cooked whole chickens over hot coals and we roasted s'mores. One very rainy s'mores night, we had a competition with another counselor to see who could light a fire even in the rain.  Needless to say my little farm girls had a fire floating on a garbage can lid with a tarp held over the top to keep the rain from putting out the fire.  We learned a lot about perseverance that night but we had our opening night campfire while no other unit was able to start their fire.  My girls were very proud of their unit that week.

            I began as a Girl Scout Leader the same time I became Cookie Unit Director.  I was one of the first Daisy Girl Scout leaders in 1998.  At the time Daisy Girls were not allowed to earn badges, they just completed a scrap book.  My girls marched in a Cub Scout parade to earn their first fun patch.  Daisy Girl Scouts was also only a one year program for Kindergarten girls before they entered Brownies in First Grade.  I stayed as a Daisy leader and would pass off my Daisies to another Brownie leader and then take more girls as Daisies the next year.  This only lasted two years until I went away to college, but I enjoyed both years and learned plenty from my Daisies.  In 2008, I started another Daisy troop with my oldest daughter and have been her and her sister's leader for the past 5 years.  Our troop has evolved over the years and is in for many changes as I release the girls to run their own meetings as they grow up and become leaders themselves.  I am proud to be a part of each of these girl's lives and hope I have made some impact on their life for the better.

            Girl Scouts is an organization that can help shape tomorrow one girl at a time.  I am a very proud Girl Scout both as a girl and an adult.  I am passing the love of Girl Scouting on to both my daughters and all of their friends.  Girl scouting to me shapes young girls to be successful in the future.  The experiences gained through the Girl Scouting program will help these young girls change the world.

-- Tammy "Panther" Ortego    
Girl Scout Troop 9195

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As a teenager, one of my favorite memories of Girl Scouts is summer camp.  During a two week camp I did a ropes course, spelunking, canoeing with an overnight stay on the bank, and a backpacking hike with an overnight stay.  I had a great time making new friends.  Camp adventures were demanding, scary and at the same time- thrilling! The counselors urged me to engage in new experiences and encouraged me when I was unsure. For example, I found out that I like horses, but not horseback riding. Girl Scouts provided a way for me to expand my horizons in a safe environment. 

 

Now as a Girl Scout Leader, I try to give my girls the same opportunities and a variety of experiences.  I'm offering support during their first canoe ride, making camp dinner or just sleeping in the tent for the first time. When one of my girls was too afraid of the zip line, I set the example and went before her even though I was scared too.  Despite the fact that I hit the tree stump at the end of the line, I laughed and my girls laughed too.   I'm proud to say that she went down the zip line after me.   The shout, "I did it!" was music to my ears and helped soothe the big bruise forming on my behind! Watching sister Girl Scouts supporting each other and and having a great time are moments that I treasure. 

 

When I see the girls slowly break out of their shell by leading presentations on World Thinking Day and I watch the older girls in the troop help the youngsters finish their craft, my heart warms.  I know that they are learning to make their own decisions and will become great confident women of the future.


-- Kim Manley

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How often have we been moved, given gifts, or good advice from a great teacher and not really thanked them?   As we grow older and reflect on the gifts we have been given, we regret not thanking some of those individuals.

Volunteers are a wonderful!   Our girls and staff have the privilege of working with a tremendous group of individuals on a daily basis.   We have volunteers who have worked with girls for more than 30 years and others who are just getting started.   We have individuals who teach girls about horses, how to swim, how not to be afraid of bugs and spiders, and how to become a women of courage, confidence, and character.   It is a gift.

I always stand in wonder as I watch what some girls can do with the encouragement and support of those adults around them who care.   These girls try things they would never want to try.   They learn they can do anything they set their mind to.   But this is because one of you has given them that slight nudge, or word of support that empowers them to try something new.   I have seen girls put their face in the murky lake, ride a zip line, look at a snake and a variety of things because a busy adult gave back to a girl.

As life is increasingly busy and people are reluctant to volunteer, they want the quick easy tasks, not the ones that require some training, negotiation, planning, and lots of patience.   But at the other end, being a Girl Scout volunteer is the gift that doesn't go away.   We have troops in this council that met as girls and continue to meet today, more than 40 years later.   Last summer I attended the funeral of a Girl Scout leader whose entire troop attended, and those women were in their late 50s.   They met every year for a reunion.   When this troop leader's daughter passed away, they moved in to fill the void.   They visited with her, called her, took her places, and made sure she was taken care of.   It was a testament to what a caring group this leader shaped by the actions of these women, years later.   And when they visited her, they laughed like they were young again, telling stories of when they were in Girl Scouts together, stories of how their lives had changed.

Know that every day you are giving back and investing in the future by your actions as a Girl Scout volunteer.   The thanks might be brief or not well formed.   But we are all guilty of not thanking those who give to us the way we should.   And years later, when you think the girls are long gone, know that they will be using the skills you taught them, summoning the courage you showed them they had, and have become the confident women you meant for them to be.

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One of the great stories about Juliette Gordon Low is that she was willing to sacrifice one of her most prized possessions, her pearls, to secure the continued growth and success of Girl Scouts.   She gave up something she loved so this organization could live on and thrive more than 103 years later.   What a gift that was.

Recently, I attended a GSUSA CEO conference, and the discussion was around the need to grow membership and to continue to find ways to be relevant to today's girls, with changing needs, access to new and different ways of communicating and learning, and much more competition for their time and attention.   The issue is how to respect and integrate the values from the past while still appealing to today's girl who lives life at a faster pace.

The meeting was fruitful, and the CEO leading the discussion noted, as she often confronts people in the organization who want to cling to the past, she always reminds them that Juliette Gordon Low was a change agent.   What she founded as Girl Scouts was a new idea, and that organization had to change and adapt to stay alive.   So CHANGE is the important element of the long time success of Girl Scouts.   CHANGE is at the center of who we are and what we do.   Journeys, Studio 2B, whatever the current curriculum of the day will come and go.   What dwells at the heart of what we do is encouraging girls.   The best Girl Scout leaders have always understood that the organization at its heart and soul is GIRL LED.   Allowing girls to make choices, they learn how to make good decisions and the consequences of decisions.

I worked for a long time in higher education and came to understand that more learning came from allowing students to make their mistakes than trying to save them from their blunders.   That failure and making mistakes is as much a part of growing and understanding as always making excellent decisions.   The ability to reflect and garner insights from losses and learning to cope has great value.

As you give the girls you work with your gift of time, think of those pearls.   That time will never come back, to you or to them.   It is a precious gift that cannot be replaced.   And as you reflect on why you do this, remember you change each of those girls and they change you.

Thank you for giving your pearls.