Results tagged “CEO” from GSSA Leader Blog: The Virtual Volunteer

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I want to thank each of you for the support you have given GSSA during the past year.  We have seen many successes in 2016 and watched our girls do incredible things. They are AMAZING!

This special time of year, in particular, we know that our Girl Scouts are doing wonderful things in their communities.  It does my heart good to see the "attitude of gratitude" our girls have in serving others.  Girl Scouts know the value of making their community a better place, and we see examples of that all year long. 

Please share photos and stories of the special things your troop is doing to help others during this season on giving. We would love to share them with others through social media and other outlets. Simply send these items to communications@girlscoutssa.org.

My family and I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season, filled with great joy and excitement.  We have two children at our house who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, so we, like many of you, definitely plan for lots of fun!  I hope that this holiday season brings you time enjoy these special moments with those you love most. Best wishes for a wonderful 2017! 

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As Thanksgiving nears, our thoughts inevitably turn to the many things for which we are thankful.  On my list, of course, are the obvious ones, like family and special times with them. I'm also perennially grateful for good books, delicious food, and wonderful places to visit.   This year, though, I feel especially fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to serve you.

Our staff is thankful every day that we are able to make the world a better place through service to girls.  We also know that this would not be possible without the dedication and support of our volunteers.  You are the glue that holds Girl Scouts together, and I want thank each of you for the work that you do.

I hope you take some time this holiday season to think about the many blessings in your life.  Please know that our staff and I count you as one of ours.

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What can you do to make the world a better place?  Can you give your time?  Your money?  Your help in spreading the word about a worthy cause?

It's the season of thankfulness and giving, and while we are pondering our many blessings, it's also a great time to think about how you can make a difference.  As Girl Scout parents and volunteers, we are focused on how to help our girls learn the importance of giving back to their communities, so it just makes send that we should do the same.

During the holiday season there are many ways that you can make a difference for the girls of southern Alabama. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Participate in Giving Tuesday, which takes place on Nov. 29 and is a new kind of holiday tradition. This special day provides us with the opportunity to help others, with the gift of time, donations, gifts in kind, or your own voice.
  • Make a donation, either monetary or in kind to our end-of-the-year campaign or give a gift. monthly. You can also give a memorial or tribute gift in honor of someone special.
  • Share your time with us!  We need volunteers to help with programs and with in-office work.
  • Purchase a brick paver to honor a favorite troop or loved one at Kamp Kiwanis.
  • Use Amazon Smile to purchase items on Amazon.com.
  • Make a gift to our Campership Fund to help a girl in need attend camp.

There are so many ways to help our girls succeed.  Together, we will make the world a better place!

 

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Think Halloween is just about ghost and goblins?  Definitely not!  As the days turn cooler and the 31st of October draws near, my thoughts inevitably turn to our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, whose birthday is that day.

Born in 1860, Juliette (or Daisy, as she was known) grew up in Savannah, Ga.  A fateful meeting in 1912 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, inspired Juliette to establish Girl Scouts that same year. Telephoning a cousin from her home, she announced, "Come right over. I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" I just love that quote...who can resist her enthusiasm?

From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette broke the conventions of the time--reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills. 

I love to talk with children about Juliette, and there are many aspects of her life that they find entertaining.  They love hearing the story of how she sold one her most treasured possessions, her pearls, to launch the Girl Scouts.  They think it's totally cool that she was born on Halloween, and never cease to find it amazing that some of her hearing loss was due to have a piece of rice thrown at her wedding become lodged in her ear. Mostly, they are amazed that a single woman could start such an amazing organization.

Thinking about Daisy makes me proud to be a Girl Scout and inspires me (and I hope you, as well!) to continue our work to help girls develop the leadership skills they need to make our world a better place.

This birthday week, I hope you and your girls will take a moment to remember our founder and the wonderful legacy that she has bestowed upon us.  May we all live up to her great expectations...Happy Birthday, Juliette!


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How can it be almost November already?  The leaves are falling, cooler air is moving in, and it will be the holidays before we know it.  As usual, I find myself wondering where the time has gone.  Thank goodness, I've at least purchased Halloween costumes for our kids (we have a fireman and a fairy this year), and our Thanksgiving plans have been made. The rest will fall into place!

Before October slips away, I want to remind you that the deadline for Fall Product Sales is coming soon (see your Troop Fall Product Manager for the exact date). The sale is going well so far, but we need your help to make a strong finish.  Participating in the Fall Product Sale is a quick and easy way to provide start-up funds for the year and get your troop off to a great start. It's also a great way to purchase some holiday goodies and gifts ahead of time. 

Fall program events are off to a great start, but make sure you register for upcoming events soon, as they are filling up.  Events with deadlines soon include: Outdoor Badge Day at Lanark (featuring the new Outdoor Art badges), Night Moves, Hyundai Tour, GS Day at Auburn Football, and Cookie University. Wing It! registration has already closed, due to reaching our maximum.)

We are delighted to have a new Program Planning Manager, Jenny Kurtz, who will work out of the Montgomery office. She and our new CFO, Bob Buss, started work on Monday, and we are so glad to have them on board! 

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Leadership - That's my Girl Scout hashtag!  As Girl Scouts, you work together as a troop to make things happen.  Here at the GSSA office, it's much the same. Recently, our staff members ordered T-shirts as a fun way to build team spirit and to share what each of us loves about Girl Scouting. 

Each person chose and purchased their own color of T-shirt and text (glitter vs. no glitter was a very hot topic!) and picked a one-word hashtag that describes Girl Scouting for them. The hashtags chosen range from #believe, #inspire, and #courage, to #character, #memories, and #creative, among many others.   There was excitement in the air the day our shirts arrived. We couldn't wait to see what our colleagues had ordered.  In nearly 14 years working with Girl Scouts, I don't think I've ever seen a project that so energized our staff as a team. 

Now, we want to encourage you to tell us what your hashtag is.  Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and show the world what Girl Scouting means to you!

 

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A beautiful fall afternoon at Kamp Kiwanis is about as good as it gets. As a child, one of my favorite memories of Girl Scouting was our annual troop trip to KK.  And if you don't believe me, I have a picture of second-grader Karlyn with my troop in front of one of the Pioneer Unit tents sitting in my office!

I spent last Sunday at this special place watching girls sail, zip line, canoe, and generally have a fabulous time.  The weather was fine and the blue water of Lake Martin simply sparkled.  It reminded me of the precious times to be had at our four camp properties, each of which has its own charm and character.

I want to encourage you to seek out the beauty of Camp Scoutshire Woods in Citronelle, with its wild magnolias, pitcher plant bog, and spillway, which is the perfect place to play.  Camp Sid Edmonds in Bay Minette has a fabulous lake and great facilities, particularly for those who might be a little apprehensive about camping.  Meanwhile, Camp Humming Hills in Elba, our largest property, has miles of hiking trails and you can even climb to the highest point in Coffee County!

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We are lucky to have such wonderful outdoor spaces for our girls, and I encourage you to use them - even if it's just for a day trip.  We work hard to keep the prices reasonable for troops and will continue to do so in the future.  However, we must balance this with an effort to make certain that the council is covering the rising costs of maintaining these properties.

Starting this week, we will have new pricing for day use and troop camping for our camp properties.   (Troops that made reservations before October 1 will use the previous rates.) These increases are quite modest, but will help us ensure that we are able to keep our properties in good condition and that they are safe for use by our girls and volunteers.   It has been many years since GSSA increased its camp usage fees, so we hope you will understand the need for us to make this change.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the outdoors this fall!

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"... And be a sister to every Girl Scout." I am forever reminding our 10-year-old that it's not enough just to recite the Girl Scout Law from memory, but we should strive to live by it each day. I appreciate the values these simple statements remind our girls, but more than that, I love seeing them put these principles for living into action, which is exactly what our girls, volunteers, and staff recently did.

During August and early September, GSSA engaged both our girls and our communities in a special campaign to collect donations for our sister Girl Scouts from Louisiana who were victims of the recent floods.  The Sister-to-Sister campaign received more donations than we could have possibly imagined and garnered an incredible amount of press and community support across the council.  It was an amazing act of sisterhood!  Our Director of Marketing and Communications Meghan Cochrane and Kamp Kiwanis Camp Ranger Mike Breshears delivered an enormous trailer load of supplies to Lafayette in late September, much to the delight of our sister Girl Scout council, Girl Scouts of Louisiana - Pines to Gulf.  I want to thank each of you for participating in this important effort and demonstrating the importance of being a sister to every Girl Scout to our girls.

Community service has been a foundation of Girl Scouting since its earliest days. Its value is one of the most important things we instill in the girls with whom we work.  It teaches girls that, even at the youngest ages, they can make a difference in the world around them and right the wrongs that they see.  This, in itself, is a powerful message that will stay with them throughout their lives.

Thank you for being our partner in making the world a better place through Girl Scouting.

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Fall means Fall Product around here!  As a parent, I know the thought of selling one more thing (cookie dough, anyone?) on behalf of your child might make you cringe.  However, our daughter has sold Fall Product for the last five years, and it is the easiest of all the sales in which she participates.  I promise!

Not only is Fall Product super easy, it can be handled completely online.  You simply have your daughter type up an email (or you can have her dictate it to you if she's too little), pop a cute Girl Scout picture of her onto the page, and email this out to your friends and family.  They have the choice of buying either nuts/candy or magazines.

At our house, we buy the candy to use for teacher gifts, or holiday tokens.  My husband's relatives eagerly await the Deluxe Pecan Clusters and Fruit Slices each year. We also love magazines, as do our friends and relatives who live out of state, so our daughter always sells plenty of those. It literally takes less than an hour of her time or mine and she does it all ONLINE.

If your daughter or troop hasn't sold Fall Product in the past, please consider doing so.  It's quick and easy, and the products and girl prizes are great.  It's the perfect way for the troop to make some start-up money for the year. Be sure to try the new Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts (my family's new favorite!) and the Black Forest Trail Mix.  Both are delicious.  The Dark Chocolate Caramel Caps with Sea Salt are tasty, too.

Happy selling, everyone!

 

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This week, our daughter started the year in her new troop.  She was excited and nervous, just as most fifth graders, like her, would be.  It was particularly bittersweet, as she had been in the same troop for five years until it disbanded this spring.  I'm happy to report that it was a great night, and our sweet girl left excited and happy.  Meanwhile, I heaved a huge sigh of relief (sound familiar?!).

I know many of you are having these same experiences with your girls at this time of year.  It's always exciting to be a part of those first meetings, where the girls are getting to know each other and starting to make new friends.  It is so full of promise and fun!

The beginning of the Girl Scout year also means that it's time to register your girl and yourself as a volunteer or parent.  This is critically important! Being registered allows your Girl Scout to attend council program events and camp offerings, along with participating in the Fall Product and Cookie Sales.  No girl may participate in these activities if she is not registered.  Unregistered girls and adults are not covered by our Girl Scouts of the USA insurance, which would be very problematic should an accident occur.  Beyond that, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama and GSUSA require that all girl participants be registered - period.

Again, please remember to register by Oct. 1. We hope your Girl Scout has a great start to this new GS year!  

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Fall is almost here (thank goodness!).  I hope you are as ready as I am for cool breezes, pumpkin spice everything, SEC football - and the best thing of all, Girl Scout programs! We have so many fun things planned for our girls in the next few months. 

Whether your girls like to do cool science activities, explore the outdoors, or celebrate their craftiness, we have just the event for them.  Our many offerings this fall include a day trip to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, ChemScouts and Kappa Delta Badge Day at the University of South Alabama, a family-friendly event at the Dream Field Farms Pumpkin Patch (my children are so looking forward to this one!), a badge day at the Alabama Wildlife Federation's NaturePlex featuring the new Outdoor Art Badges (11/5; details coming), and our annual Girl Scout Day at Auburn Football.  There is so much to choose from that there is something for every taste!

As you know, it's also membership recruitment time, and what better way to spread the fun and leadership opportunities of Girl Scouting than by bringing a friend to these events?  Just have your child's friend register as a Girl Scout, and they can attend any of these events as an individual member, or (even better) they can join a troop.

I can't wait to see you out and about across the council this fall!

 


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Our girls are in crisis.  Girl Scouts is here to help.  

Have you taken time to study the most recent statistics about girls in our state?  I hadn't, either, until recently, and I was appalled.  I share the following with you not to be depressing or inflammatory, but to remind us all of the importance of Girl Scouting in the lives of those to serve.  We have the power to change these stats and make the world a better place for our girls. It's simply what we do.

The Girl Scout Research Institute's "State of the Girl" report details the harsh realities of life for many girls in Alabama. Girls in Alabama ranked 30th in terms of overall well-being. Girls ranked 21st in terms of emotional health, 33rd in physical health and safety, 34th in economic well-being, and 42nd in education. The report also notes that roughly 26 percent of school age girls in the state are currently living in poverty and around 8 percent of girls, ages 6 to 17, have experienced some form of neighborhood violence. Clearly, these numbers leave much room for improvement.

This report is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on girls, which allows Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama to direct its efforts toward bettering their lives. With programs focusing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), financial literacy, healthy eating and exercise, and reading readiness, GSSA has a positive impact on every girl we come into contact with. However, with decreases in funding and a lack of volunteers, our ability to serve girls is in serious jeopardy.

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama has the tools it takes to instill leadership skills into the girls of our future, but volunteers are desperately needed to put these tools to use. They are vital for the survival of our organization.

I want to thank the many volunteers who have joined us in this effort. Please spread the word to others about how rewarding this work is and how greatly it is needed in our communities. Together, we will change the outlook for southern Alabama's girls.  

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The Girl Scout Leadership Experience changes lives.  Period. As volunteers and Girl Scout parents, you know this and so do I. 

I've watched my daughter and countless others become strong, capable, successful young women through their experiences in Girl Scouting.  Whether it's exploring careers, doing science experiments, or helping feed the homeless in their communities, Girl Scouts are developing skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Through the Girl Scout Leadership Program these girls will develop a strong Sense of Self and Positive Values.  They will be Challenge Seeking.  They will develop and maintain Healthy Relationships. They will use these skills to participate in Community Problem Solving, contributing to their world in positive and meaningful ways.  In short, they will grow up to become women who make the world a better place.

I want you to meet a Montgomery Girl Scout alumna, who credits her experiences in Girl Scouts for who she is today. Deja Chappell, who will be attending YALE says, "Girl Scouts certainly played an early role in who I am today. The curriculum, badge work, and ventures demand engagement with the world around you. The last four years of Girl Scouts consisted of me working on an urban organic farm, going backpacking for a month in the Rocky Mountains, and studying Arabic intensively in Morocco."  What an amazing young woman and what a powerful story!

It's recruitment season, and our staff is busy working our communities to recruit new girls.  We need you to join us in spreading the word that Girl Scouts is something every girl needs.  Please, tell your friends, your neighbors, your fellow parents that:

Girl Scouting is relevant.  Girl Scouting is an important key for girls' success. Most importantly, Girl Scouting is something every girl needs.

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It's my first week on the job as your CEO, and it's been a whirlwind of excitement.  School is starting across the council, and our staff is getting ready to head out into our communities to recruit new Girl Scouts.  This is my favorite time in the Girl Scout year, as it's full of such promise for new things! 

While it may be my first week as CEO, I've actually been on the job at GSSA for nearly 14 years. During this time, I've had the pleasure of getting to know many of you. I plan to spend some time this fall visiting service unit meetings and council programs, and I look forward to meeting those of you I don't know yet and learning more what is going on in your community.

To start, though, I want to tell you a little about myself.  Most importantly, I'm the mother to two precious children.  Our 10-year-old daughter is a Junior Girl Scout, who just earned her Bronze Award, and our two-year-old son is a running, giggling bundle of little boy fun. A native Alabamian, I grew up in Wetumpka, and met my husband of almost 16 years while we were working at The Auburn Plainsman during our college days at Auburn. We love to spend time together as a family, particularly if it involves traveling or our family movie nights.

As I mentioned, I've worked for Girl Scouts for many years. I'm a GS parent and also was a girl member.  I had such fun during my time as a Brownie Girl Scout at Saint James School in Montgomery, and my favorite GS memory remains my very first trip to Kamp Kiwanis. I began my work as a staff member as Development Director for the legacy council, South Central Alabama, and later served as Chief Operations Officer for that council. For the last nine years, I've worked as GSSA's Chief Operating Officer, directing the council's day-to-day operations and supervising several operational units.

I look forward to working with you and our hardworking staff in the coming years. We have great potential to make a difference in the lives of even more girls - and with your help, we will provide them with the skills they need to change the world.

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The first time I met Liz Brent, I instantly I liked her.  What I didn't know yet is what a smart, talented, remarkably kind, and funny individual she is.  I also didn't imagine what a cherished friend she would become. 

During the last nine years, I've spent countless hours with Liz. We've driven thousands of miles on two-lane roads together, made countless presentations, and worked as a team to serve our girls.  We've locked ourselves out of cars, faced down multiple snakes, and dealt with our fair share of sticky issues. One of my favorite memories of Liz involves a trip to Camp Humming Hills where she and two board members ended up getting her car stuck in the woods and having to hike back a mile and a half through a bog to get out.  The hilarious text messages from the ranger's wife kept my family in stiches all evening! 

What I really want you to know about Liz, though, is how hard she has worked for our girls.  Liz tirelessly worked to rebuild this council after it was merged during realignment. She has faced challenges that most of our volunteers and girls couldn't fathom, and she has done all of this with great wit and determination. Most of the work she has done is behind the scenes.  Liz doesn't show off or tout her accomplishments.  She simply works hard and does what needs to be done.

We have a wonderful staff, and I think I speak for us all when I say how much we appreciate Liz.  We will miss her boisterous presence, quick wit, and of course, her adorable companions -- Boykin Spaniel puppies, Lhotse and Eiger.  We also will hold in memory, sweet Amber, who was more than Liz's pet, but our honorary co-worker for many years.  

Thank you, Liz, for giving of yourself to make the world a better place.  Thank you for being our leader, and thank you for being my friend.   I wish you and Hal the very best!

It is an honor to accept the role of CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.  I look forward to serving our girls and each of you in the coming years.  But first, I want to thank retiring CEO, Liz Brent, for her many years of dedicated service.  She will, most definitely, be missed.

 

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My goal as CEO will be to maximize the Girl Scout experience for our girls.   I have a passion for our mission, and know that Girl Scouting changes lives -- be it girls from Butler in a rural grant program, traditional troops in Mobile or Montgomery, in-school Girl Scouting programs in Beauregard or Rockford, or Camp Sunshine, a well-recognized initiative for girls in public housing communities.  As a Girl Scout alumna and mother, I've seen our organization from the eyes of a girl and a parent, not simply an administrator, and I understand first-hand the importance of the work we do.

  

I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization. In the coming years, I look forward to working with you to blaze new trails, serve our girls, and make the world a better place. 

 

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I am packing up my office, thinking about what "retirement" might look like for me.   I've replaced my beloved Amber, my golden retriever rescue that many of you knew with two Boykin spaniel puppies.   They are not the same as Amber, comfortable and familiar, it's a challenge.

I'm packing up two offices, with gifts, photos and nostalgic items collected from more than nine years of working for a very large contingent of girls.   It provokes many memories of fun times, girls who have become successful women, and today's girls, working toward that same end.   What fun it has been, how many I have seen grow and become leaders, women who will contribute to their community.

As some of you may be aware, my husband and I have commuted for the past nine years.   So the spaniels will be joining an elderly golden retriever and a very smart 3-year-old black Labrador retriever.   I expect there will be many days that I will yearn for the commotion of the office, too many things to do, money to juggle, requests to consider, blogs to write, not enough hours in the day.   During a large part of the year I had options on girl events I could attend to see Girl Scouts in action.   What a wonderful opportunity that was, to see girls learning, growing, honing skills.   These girls get out of bed on Saturdays and do things, they don't sleep in and play video games, and they are girls of action.    I suspect my Saturdays might have different options in retirement, not as fun as the ones I have had.

I was fortunate when I came to Alabama that I had the support of the board and the volunteers.   Trying to forge one entity into two independent organizations with very different cultures was no small feat.   Where other CEOs for realignment failed, I was fortunate to have a group of adults who were in this endeavor for the girls.   The key thing we could all agree on was this is about the girls, not me, not where the headquarters is, it is for and about girls, nothing else.   By focusing on what is important and what we could all agree on, we experienced much more success than others.   That is to the credit of the many people engaged in this merger nine years ago and their ability to pay attention to what is important: the girls, our future.

As I take my leave, sad to go, but looking toward the future, I would ask that you continue to keep the girls as the focal point of all you do with Girl Scouts.   As you welcome a new CEO, Karlyn Edmonds, someone not new to this endeavor, I would ask that you would continue to be as supportive to her as you have been to me.    Karlyn is hard-working and well-positioned to take GSSA to the next level.   Many of you know Karlyn and are familiar with her many skills.   Know that her strongest attribute to be the CEO is her commitment to the girls of this organization and its mission.

I will always look back on these nine years with great fondness and wish for the continued success of GSSA as a great Girl Scout council that builds girls who will lead us into the future.

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Time for school to begin,  and  it's the start of a new Girl Scout year! This time of year our membership staff is frantically working to line up as many recruiting events and activities as possible.   We do not have a large membership staff, so like during cookie season, everyone in the office is turning their attention to membership.   We did gain some lost ground on membership last year, but the long-term trend is still on the downward slide.   This is disheartening; especially when we recognize the value that Girl Scouts has made in our life or the lives of the girls we interact with.

We have many schools and events we simply cannot get to, even though they would be happy to have us recruit at them.   We are always interested in utilizing the assistance of others.  If you are willing to assist us, please coordinate with the field executive for that area, since each has a clear idea of what works best for their assigned territory.  We certainly appreciate any time you can give to help us make sure Girl Scouting reaches as many girls in southern Alabama as possible.

Thanks for all you do to make Girl Scouts successful.

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I was fortunate to have an opportunity to be up at Sail Away camp last week.   This camp is a specialty camp that is focused on sailing all week long.   Because it requires higher-level skills, such as swimming and good strength, it is intentionally a camp for older girls.   It isn't often that I get to observe our older girls in action.    But this was an especially gratifying experience.

When you sail you don't move to your destination in a straight line, you tack, which is back and forth, zigzagging, rather than directly.   You have to rely on the wind, or lack of wind to move you to your destination, so arrival is not necessarily in your hands solely.   You also have to work to get to your destination; sailing is an active sport, not passive.   You are always looking for the wind and determining your next move in relation to the shifts in the wind.

What I observed was a group of girls who were highly skilled.   There were a few younger ones, working with the Sunfish, which has only one sail, so in some ways it is harder to deal with.   They were doing a great job working their way along the edge of the cove to move out into the more intense wind of the length of the lake.

There was another larger group of more experienced girls, who were working on rigging the larger boats with two sails.   Once rigged, those girls quickly tacked out to get into the big air of the lake to sail.

It was amazing to watch.   These girls were skilled, self reliant, resilient, and knowledgeable.   They were good about listening how to rig the boat, then proceeded to rig their own.   From there they took action.   They were told what to do, watched, and then managed to take care of their own boat and they were on their way.    They illustrated their confidence, their ability to think in action, and make adjustments.

If you ever wonder about the quality of the leadership skills that being a Girl Scout imbues, watch these girls sail.   They exhibited many leadership qualities.   They were able to put together many leadership skills to hone a skill they will possess for a lifetime.   Although sailing might be a metaphor for later life, sometimes we can't take the direct route, our path is indirect and fraught with unanticipated challenges.   But after watching these girls, it is clear they have benefitted from honing their leadership skills and will have capabilities they can apply to life's challenges.

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As I sit here writing, there is a slight breeze off Lake Martin, although the humidity is pretty high today.   This is the best office in the world. I spent 30 years in higher education in a basement office with no windows, so you have no idea how much I have enjoyed my summer offices in the woods.

As I write this, I see girls standing on stand up paddleboards, kayaking in the slough, now with skills they did not possess when they arrived.  Some didn't want to try the stand up paddleboards, but summoned the courage to give it a try.   Now they can paddle around without ending up in the water, but seem to enjoy falling in, too.

There's another group in the Sawyer-Weil Pavilion, singing songs with different hand motions, while some are working on making lanyards.   The song floats across the water and through the woods.

There's the whirrrrrrr of the zip line running.   Girls are donning their helmet, putting on the harness, getting connected to the lanyard and experiencing a thrilling rides down the line.   Some are concerned about taking that step off the platform, but these girls have courage, so they will try it.

Away from where I sit, there are girls learning to swim.   Many come to camp and can't swim.   I learned to swim in a murky lake. It is hard to put your face in a body of water where you cannot see your feet, but they do it.   They learn how to swim, how to get out to the floating dock, and how to have confidence in the water.

These girls have slept with spiders in their tents, hiked around camp in the dark, lived with mosquitos and other bugs, and heard noises by sleeping in the outdoors they have never heard before.   They have cooked their own food in the outdoors, sat at a campfire, and learned songs to hike by.  They have become more independent.   They have done what a very small percentage of the population does, learned outdoor skills and how to live in the woods.   What a wonderful gift.   I'm fortunate to meet many older women who talk about how learning to camp and these experiences changed them.   They still value this experience at the end of their lives, so what seems to just be "a week at camp," will be a memory that will last a lifetime.

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