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

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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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One of my favorite holidays is the Fourth of July -- not only because it is during the summer, but also, as with many, I'm a patriot. There's something special about Independence Day that transcends fireworks, picnics, and family fun

What is interesting about my work is the many people I work with are patriots, too.    Girl Scouts learn about the American flag.   They learn how to handle it, how to post the colors, and how to respectfully discard a flag through a flag retirement ceremony.   If you have never experienced one, they are well worth it.   I was invited to a retirement ceremony a number of years ago in Dothan, an event I will never forget.   The girls who participated did a wonderful and respectful job, reading about the colors and what each meant.

One of the longstanding tenets of Girl Scouts is honor and respect for country.   It has been one of the elements of the leadership program that has been present for more than 104 years.   The girls in the room have spent the time to learn about the flag and what it means -- white purity and innocence, the red hardiness and valour, and the blue or chief, vigilance, perseverance, and justice.    Have a great Fourth of July holiday and take a minute to remember the meaning of the holiday.

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.   For those of you involved many years ago, you may remember that I was hired as the first CEO of GSSA at the point of the merger discussions.   What I found was, although there were many issues to address merging councils, the joy of working with girls, and the many wonderful volunteers and staff made the hard parts of the task very rewarding.

I have served as the CEO for the past nine years, and believe this is one of the best jobs on the planet.   I believe the leadership experiences girls gain from their Girl Scout experience is unparalleled.

As some of you know, I have had a "commuter" marriage for the past nine years, flying to Kansas City one long weekend a month to be with my husband.   After a 30-year career in higher education and nine years in Alabama, it is time for me to move into a new phase of my life, allowing others the opportunity to experience the joys of working with girls and shaping tomorrow's leaders.

The current plan is that I will serve until the Sept. 30, which marks the end of our fiscal year.   Know that I will always cherish the nine years I have spent with the many wonderful girls, volunteers, parents, and staff of GSSA.  

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Ready to think about doing some running?   We are hosting a THIN MINT SPRINT in Mobile on August 20.   We have presented this event before, and it is always a lot of fun, whether you are a runner or not.   We try to make it a healthy event, so you can run, walk, jog, or whatever you choose for the fun of it.   It is a sanctioned event by the Port City Pacers, in case you are in search of points for a qualifying event.

This year, the THIN MINT SPRINT will be held within the University of South Alabama's campus.   It is a family-friendly event, so bring the kids, bring the spouse, or bring the troop (or all three!).   Because it is within the confines of the USA campus, it should be a safer event than the usual road race.   We also plan to have a health fair in addition to the other activities of a run and fun run.

It should be some early fall fun right around the time of the beginning of school, so consider putting it on your calendar as a family outing. It's a great way to have some fun and support Girl Scouts at the same time.

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It is week 2 of resident camp, and I am surrounded by giggles, learning lashing, watching swimming lessons, and the canoeing is about to begin.   Each year, I'm struck by the value of camp for girls.   We are emphasizing outdoor skills this year, so girls are learning to build fires, outdoor cooking, and other survival skills.   These skills will last a lifetime.

I'm always stunned and amazed at what they will try, given just a gentle nudge and watching kids do it.   This includes putting your face in the lake where you cannot see the bottom, working your way up on a stand up paddleboard, going down a zip line, or spending the night in a tent.   Although for us, some of these things seem like no big deal, facing your fears can be daunting at that age.   For some it is spiders, for others snakes (I'm still no real fan of snakes), and for others it is the dark of the night outside in a tent.   It is always amazing to see how they summon the courage to face down what scares them, confront it, and become a confident skilled leader.   It is good to never underestimate the power of confidence built at resident camp.


While others are spending their summer gaming, watching television, or texting, we have a large group of girls who have gone cold turkey from their electronics, and heard the bullfrogs and cricket frogs, cicadas, and birds instead.   They have hiked, learned about the outdoors, sung songs, and become tomorrow's leaders.


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Now's the time to take some of the cookie proceeds your troop has left and register your girls for next year.   I'm always amazed at how few folks take advantage of early bird registration.   Troops that are intact and ready to go in the fall practically have their pick of the use of all our camps, since camp reservations don't usually ramp up until October. This means there are all sorts of good opportunities to use camps and do things in the early part of the school year.

Early bird registration, as with all Girl Scout registration, comes insurance coverage.  If you are not registered, you don't have Girl Scout insurance coverage.   Your troop, by being registered, can sign up for the fun and exciting council events we have scheduled for the fall.   The program staff is busy working on plans for fall (yes, it does seem really early, but they start now).   Some of the new events in the works are two Journey weekends, a day program at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and so much more!

Also, if you register now, this is simply one less thing to remember in the fall.   We know that, when school starts, everyone is in need of your funds for one thing and another.   Consider it, your girls get an early bird patch if you register by June 17.

Click here for more information on Early Bird Registration.

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We had a wonderful time celebrating those Girl Scouts who earned Bronze, Silver, or Gold awards this past year.   Since it was the 100th anniversary of those awards, our staff planned two wonderful recognition events.

The first event was held in Mobile.   Gigi Baroco, our council archivist, put together a wonderful display of requirements for the various awards and some great uniforms.   It was amazing how captivating the displays are for girls earning awards.   

At that event the girls receiving their Gold Awards were Huntir Bass, whose project, Team Red, White and Blue, was to present a Gold and Glory 5K Run/Walk to benefit veterans.   Amerie Gramelspacher focused on Suicide Prevention and Awareness for her high school by doing a number of activities to heighten awareness of prevention possibilities.    Abigail Legge's project, the Buddy System, matched high school tutors with elementary school children in need of tutors to improve Math and English skills, as well as serve as role models.   Morgan Mitchell's project, Delicate Embrace Angel Gowns, took donated wedding dresses and remade them into bereavement gowns for children who do not make it out of the hospital.  Nicole Nobles did Barks for Books, where students at Spanish Fort Elementary School read to Hoss the dog, an excellent nonjudgmental listener.   Jeralynn Servos' project, Give a Book, Build a Future was creating a reading corner at the Prodisee Pantry where children can be read to while their parents are shopping at the food pantry.   When they are done, a book can be taken with the child.

Some of the recipients elected to speak, thanking those in the audience for their support.   Receiving these awards is not only about what the girl achieved, but it is done with the assistance of others.

The second event was held in Montgomery a week later.   This one featured Lt. Col. Keisha Douglass as the speaker.   Lt. Col. Douglass is the battalion commander for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command for the same area of GSSA's footprint.  Her remarks were to "be your best self.   You can accomplish anything."   Part of her point was that you can accomplish anything, but it is important to have mentors and a support system.   Lt. Col. Douglass enlisted in the Army as soon as she graduated from high school as a private.   After 10 years serving in the Army, her superiors suggested she attend Officer Candidate School.   This was not what she had wanted, but with much encouragement she did and has completed three degrees and continued to move up in the U.S. Army.   She was such a hit that she was mobbed after the event for autographs and photos.

The Gold Awards in Montgomery included Abby Campbell, who, through her project Baby Showers for Women's Hope, solicited needed items from the Auburn community to give to single mothers who live in poverty, to help them to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children.   Elizabeth Prior's project, Parkerson Mill Creek Awareness Campaign and Restoration, focused on identifying Parkerson Mill Creek and working with the City of Auburn and Auburn University to recognize where dumping into the creek went and its ramifications.   Lucy Puranen did Operation Treble Clef, where middle school band participants are paired with high school band participants to encourage retention of band members.

Thanks to Jeannie Napper, Karen Edmondson, and Melinda Stallworth for their work on making these events a success.

Both of these events were well received and highlight that you should never under-estimate what a girl can do.   All these projects were simply amazing.   We are very proud of all our award recipients.

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It is that time of year when Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #1 wafts through the air.   There are graduation parties and newly-minted graduates deciding what the next step is in their life journey.   Having spent 30 years at a university, I know that it also means a very large graduation ceremony with way too much food, lots of family, photos, and hopes for good weather.

When you look up the definition of commencement, it is a beginning or a start.   Other words used to define it are an opening, a launch, an initiation, an inception, or in Alabama terms, a kickoff.   As we reflect on what all the Girl Scouts who are graduating this year, we look back on the many things they have accomplished.    We have seven Gold Awardees graduating this May.   We have thespians, musicians, athletes, and all of these girls can do anything, as illustrated by the fact they are still participating in Girl Scouts.

We wish the Girl Scout graduates of 2016 a future filled with changing the world, one day at a time, one person at a time, and a journey filled with courage, confidence, and character.


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Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.   For those of you who have met me out and about, you might know that I was often accompanied by someone gold.   She was a rescue golden retriever who wasn't necessarily the healthiest pet, but an animal that loved to be around girls, camps, and council events.

What I have often learned in life is sometimes others know more about what is good for me than I do.    After living here two years with no dogs, I contacted Gulf South Golden Retriever Rescue to see if they had a golden retriever for me.   I had a lengthy discussion with their volunteers (who, by the way, are wonderful).   My criteria was that I needed a dog I could have around the girls.   Because I travel a lot, my dog would need to be happy in the car.   Also, I needed one that I could have in the woods, when I am there alone and with others -- in other words, a dog that would not run off.  They discussed the different goldens they had available at the time and decided they had one that I should look at.   So one April Saturday I drove to New Orleans and met a foster parent, Alicia.   This was clearly an interview.   The question is whether I could handle the dog and whether the dog would connect with me.   This is when I met Amber.

Amber was given her name because of her large and beautiful amber eyes.   The vet in the animal shelter in Houma gave her that name.   But later decided, after having her there for a long time, she should be put down.   She had heartworms, a raging yeast infection on her back that smelled, and two types of parasites.   The vet declared Amber "unadoptable."   Despite this pronouncement, the angels from Gulf South Golden Retrievers went to the animal shelter to fetch Amber.   Alicia took her to her house, where she had two goldens of her own.   She said the first night Amber would not come inside off the deck.   When it started to rain, Alicia went out with a leash and finally pulled her into the house.   Amber was very polite, not getting on the furniture or doing anything offensive.   With much love and lots of veterinary care, she was nursed back to some semblance of health.   She had one true love in life, a tennis ball.

Alicia decided that Amber and I were compatible, so I put her in the car, and we drove back to Mobile, stopping once en route.   She was quiet, attentive, but polite, and somewhat distant.   I learned quickly that she wasn't all that healthy.   After work everyday I would take an hour-long walk up Spring Hill, through the Spring Hill College campus, through the golf course, and then back to my apartment.   The second time I did this I thought I was going to have to leave her and get the car, she could not walk that far.   What I learned was she was still sick and really was never able to walk a lot, unless it was at camp.

Over time I discovered that Amber was a wonderful companion.   She was independent and reserved, but a wonderful teacher.   Because she had this yeast infection, the hair did not grow on her back, so when a girl would see her from the front, she looked very pretty.   But once you were close, it was clear she had some imperfections.   The girls would ask, and I would always explain that it is really what is on the inside that counts; sometimes what you see on the outside can be misleading.

Her teeth were broken, and she never wanted to smile because of those broken teeth.   The vet said she as likely left out on a chain and probably had chewed the chain to get off and that broke her teeth.   Even though her teeth were jagged and rough, she never curled her lip at anyone.   You could crawl on her, do anything you would want to her, but she was never aggressive with anyone.

Amber had a special affection for babies.   The first time I met her we went down the street to visit a baby.   The baby rolled a tennis ball to her nose.   She nudged the ball back to the baby, who giggled with delight.   How did she understand that was a baby and needed this more gentle care?

Amber and I traveled thousands of miles in the council car.   She loved the car rides.   She would get into the back, onto her "throne," and fall asleep, getting up to turn or stretch only occasionally.   When we arrived, she would check to see where we were and get out and go about her business, knowing we traveled to many different locations.   As she got older she would bark and "ask" to go out in the car if she didn't feel like she was in the car enough on a particular day, especially on the weekends.

Amber loved to go to camp.   I would stop, get out of the car, and she would look around to see what camp we were visiting.   She loved all of them, although she always had some trepidation around Lost, the very large dog at Humming Hills; not because she didn't like him, just because he is so large.   But days at camp were always welcome days, she would run, sniff the air, and see what she could find.

Again, sometimes we don't understand who becomes a friend.   Her favorite dog was Scout, a pug belonging to "Woody," our longtime volunteer and sailing camp director.   She and Scout would play and frolic together.   I never understood it. Scout could stand underneath Amber's stomach, he was so short, and she was so tall.   But she was always excited to see Scout, and he loved to see her.

She was good with girls that are afraid of dogs.   They would come near her, often scream, she would never flinch.   She would never do anything other than accept them and their lack of familiarity with a kind and gentle look.   She became the ambassador of what a good companion animal can be.

Amber was my companion for the past seven years, working for GSSA to bring joy and love to those she was around.   Two weeks ago she passed to walk across the rainbow bridge.   Where she will have a mouth filled with tennis balls and peace.   Thanks to all who loved and cared for her during her years with me.

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In the upcoming weeks, we will have two large celebrations, one in Mobile and one in Montgomery to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.   As many of you know, this is one of three pinnacle awards girls can earn as a Girl Scout.   These are the Bronze Award, the Silver Award, and the Gold Award.

We have many troops working to earn these awards doing lots of projects around the council and within their own community to "Make the World a Better Place."   This will be a celebration of those projects and that hard work.   It is a great opportunity to hear what the girls have accomplished, as well as meet these high-achieving Girl Scouts.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 14, at the Renaissance Riverview Hotel in Mobile and Saturday, May 21, at the Capital City Club in Montgomery.   It includes lunch and some fun, and is $16 to attend.   If you can't attend, but want to be supportive, you can sponsor the lunches of some of our distinguished girl recipients.  Please contact Jeannie Napper at jnapper@girlscoutssa.org for more information.

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I'm writing this on a Monday morning, following events at most of our camp properties all weekend.   We had girls doing all sorts of things this weekend, but mostly they were learning while having fun.

It is simply amazing to see so many people outdoors, working with girls to learn about their environment and their world.   They honed their skills that will serve them for a lifetime and and got to experience new things.    There was zip lining, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, sailing, tie-die, starting fires, making a meal over an open campfire, s'mores, and a campfire to round out the evening.   The weather wasn't quite perfect. Although the sun was warm, the wind was brisk and the evenings chilly.   But the girls and their mentors integrated that into their weekend experience.

As we have talked to girls who shared this experience, whether it was Camp Scoutshire Woods, Camp Sid, or Kamp Kiwanis, everyone reported they had a great time.   In fact, some that we talked to were wildly enthusiastic about the weekend they had.   This is what fond memories are made of, and I have to think it was not only the girls who had a memorable weekend.

Thank you to all who went to a lot of work and effort to make that weekend so fantastic for so many.   We appreciate all you do to make the world a better place.

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I suspect we all have those who have gone before us that we look up to or consider our heroes.   One of mine is Eleanor Roosevelt.   Wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she had a troubled childhood with a father who was an alcoholic.   She felt like she was an unloved child, despite being from a very wealthy family.   She was not especially attractive, and her grandmother reminded her of that deficiency frequently.   Mrs. Roosevelt had many children and then had to confront her husband's debilitating illness, polio.   Mrs. Roosevelt would have not preferred to be in the limelight for a large portion of her life. However, her husband sought public office after public office, serving as a three term President of the United States.

Mrs. Roosevelt was simply amazing on many fronts.   This is not to say she was without flaws.   However, like a fine wine, the older she was, the more she saw life from the lens of many with whom she visited and worked.  She was a humanitarian, a stateswoman, and she changed her world for the better.

Sometimes we know others though the nuggets they leave behind.   In the case of Mrs. Roosevelt, gems of wisdom that quickly express thoughts that I agree with or experience.   As I muse through some of Mrs. Roosevelt's thoughts, I think of many of you, who might not have the visibility of Mrs. Roosevelt, but who exemplify many of her nuggets of wisdom by what you do with girls to change the world.

Here's some of Mrs. Roosevelt's wisdom that remind me of the many volunteers I encounter. I hope you will enjoy some of them as much as I do.

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

You must do things you think you cannot do.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.   You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror.   I can take the next thing that comes along.'

The giving of love is an education in itself.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.


I am privileged to see many of you face difficult issues.   I see you share your love.   You make others happy.   I've seen the notion of woman as a tea bag in action, facing many complicated issues with girls and doing some amazing things.   But most important, you are building the future by the beauty of your dreams.

Thank you for what you do to build girls into women of courage, confidence, and character.

 

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Building birdhouses, marking trails, horseback rides, sailing, making paper, what fun girls can have on their weekends.   Learning never looked so much fun.   I saw girls doing all sorts of things this weekend, learning and giving back to others while enjoying each other, the woods, and nature.   When asked if they were having a good time, they all gave an enthusiastic "yes!"

We have some great council programs planned for the remainder of spring, and I know of many troops who have some fun stuff planned as they draw this school year to a close.   I often wonder if the girls who do not participate in Girl Scouts have any idea what they are missing?   Do they recognize that there is so many opportunities they could have that will shape what they know and who they will become.

A part of what I saw this weekend and is pervasive at the programs we have is the commitment and devotion of many adults who take the time from their weekend to make this happen for their girls.   I know sleeping over this past weekend at camp was not a warm night.   Spending hours getting girls to an event, dealing with the chaos of sleeping in a tent or at camp, and returning them home takes a lot of time and patience.   I have the opportunity to meet many of you, who are always generous, kind, and caring.   I am always struck with how unselfish and wonderful our volunteers and parents are.

We don't always let you know how much of a difference you make in the lives of those you shepherd.   When I have the opportunity to talk to older Girl Scout alumnae, especially those who continue to meet 40 years later, it is the troop leader they talk about.   They enjoy one another, but they always talk about how the troop leader taught them to swim, took them out of the state for the first time, or taught them to cook over a campfire.   Those stories are simply wonderful.   You might not continue to meet with your troop 40 years from now, but never underestimate how much impact you have on the lives of those you touch through this endeavor.

Thank you for what you do to make the world a better place.

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Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization.   They have been since its inception more than 104 years ago.   Without volunteers, our girls would not be as well poised to change the world, as they do on a daily basis.   We are fortunate to have more than 2,500 wonderful parents and volunteers who work with girls and we appreciate what each person does to make this endeavor successful.

Each year, we choose from our 2,500 volunteers one individual who exemplifies a commitment to the girls and changing their world.   This year, we are delighted that Pat Hall from Butler is the Volunteer of the Year.

Pat was a girl member of Girl Scouts for ten years.   She has served the girls and the community of Butler in Choctaw County for more than 30 years in a leadership role with Girl Scouts.   

When I first came to GSSA, I noticed Pat, not because she made a point to remind me of who she was, but because at every event I saw her at, I noticed she wore a Girl Scout uniform.   Pat is quiet and self-effacing.   Not one to draw attention to herself in any way, she is always at annual meetings and council events, present involved and engaged in the business of the council.   It took me awhile to figure out who she was and where she was from.   It took me longer than it should have to visit her in Butler and see the Little Green House where their Girl Scouts meet - a house that has been in Pat's family for many years.

As a Girl Scout, one of the events Pat remembers most is attending the Girl Scout International Roundup in Idaho, which welcomed over 9,000 girls from all over the world.   The roundup lasted for two weeks.   Can you imagine a two-week roundup of that size today, what an event that would be?!

Pat has done exemplary work for girls with Girl Scouts in Choctaw County.   She is known as a contributing citizen of her community, but serves as the face of Girl Scouting.   She has been a troop leader, service unit manager, cookie cupboard person, and after-school Girl Scout coordinator.   She has done it all.   She still juggles meetings, volunteers, parents, and opportunities for girls in her community, even as her own daughter is grown up and has a family of her own.    

Pat Hall lives the Girl Scout Promise and Law on a daily basis.   She does many things for others and has consistently made her world a better place for more than 40 years.   Congratulations Pat, we are proud to serve alongside you!

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It is spring and the azaleas are in bloom, as well as the spirea, dogwoods, redbuds and a wide variety of other trees, bushes and flowers.   For those of you bothered by pollen, yes, your car and outdoor furniture is coated in that lovely yellow dust on a daily basis.   But spring announces the fun of the season and the always popular end of the school year.

This spring has given us way too much rain for some of our council events, causing us to postpone them. I know of a number of camporees and sleepovers at camp that needed to be changed because of the monsoon and storms we have had this spring.

The rangers are reporting they are spending a lot of time working on washed out areas of roads and trails, which is always a challenge this time of year.   It is time when I'm listening to requests from them asking for loads of rock and gravel to stabilize roads for later use in the summer.

Sometimes, in this context, we don't recognize what we do have and how wonderful it is.   We have had folks from other councils come and use the Scott House at Camp Sid Edmonds as a base during the Christmas holidays and spring break.   They come and explore what Alabama has to offer both the fantastic biodiversity, the Gulf Coast, and what we have at our own camp properties.   They are always very complimentary of the living conditions and the convenient location, which allows them to explore this part of the country.

I know many of you have discovered the convenience of using one of the camps as a base for exploring enjoy both what camp has to offer, as well as other areas close to camp.   I'm always interested in some of the trips troops do that take the girls to explore and understand their own.   It is one of many ways we see you contribute to the future by showing girls what their world has to offer.

Thanks for the time you spend investing in the future by sharing your gifts with girls.

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Spring is in the air, and spring break is here or about to commence.   I enjoy seeing what many of you do during spring break.   Most everyone that I see photos of is enjoying the beauty of spring and the outdoors.   Funny, I wonder if there is a correlation between that and being a Girl Scout?   I suspect there is.   I'm also struck by how so many of you are people of action, not sitting on the couch much.   Most of you are out with your kids spending time investing in their fun.   It is good to watch and share in those memories.

We have some great spring programs for the end of the school year.   All look fun and like things I would want to do.   I want to remind you that the annual meeting is at Kamp Kiwanis on Saturday, April 9.   There will be an update of what went on last fiscal year with the audit results and the annual report.   We have a good day planned for girls and adults.

We continue to work to sell the excess cookie inventory.   As an appreciation gesture, we will sell cases of cookies for $25.   This includes mixed cases. If you have an interest or know of some businesses that would like to purchase them as thank you gifts, please send Teri Eversole or Amy Murray an e-mail.   They are teversole@girlscoutssa.org and amurray@girlscoutssa.org.

Camp information is on the website, and we are working on camp sign up.   As a reminder, for those who aren't quite ready for a night in a tent, we do offer day camp for those girls who want to come home.   I know each year we have some involved in softball and other sports activities, so for them day camp is a good option.   It should be a great year at resident camp.   We are going to work on teaching lots of basic camping skills in addition to the program the girls sign up for.   As always, there is financial assistance available, and that application can be found in the camp materials at www.girlscoutssa.org/camp.

As we think through the importance of this wonderful time of year, I want to let you know how much we appreciate the hard work and care you put into being a Girl Scout.   Thank you. Enjoy this beautiful spring!


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Recently, I attended the GSUSA CEO meeting where we spent three days discussing how to project the Girl Scout organization forward.    GSUSA has conducted quite a bit of research on parents and how they decide whether their daughter should be a Girl Scout.   They acknowledged that the girls had some input, but generally the parents also had decision-making power.

One of the elements of the research was the large number of people who don't understand what Girl Scouts does and don't even consider it because of their lack of knowledge about our organization.   It is hard to believe a 104-year-old organization, which has an iconic brand, isn't known or understood by part of the population.   The good news is that there wasn't a lot of data that indicated Girl Scouts isn't relevant.   The focus of the program on the outdoors, STEM, entrepreneurship, and life skills seems to have addressed some of the conclusions about that, so in some respects, we are moving at GIRL SPEED.

Over the next few years, GSUSA is investing in some complex computer infrastructure issues.   Some would say this should have been done years ago, however, it wasn't.   This comes at no small cost, and coupled with the escalating costs of everything else, results in an increase in the base prices of Girl Scout dues to GSUSA for the 2017 membership year from $15 to $25 per member.   In an effort to address those who cannot afford it, they will be giving a small percentage of that back to councils that first year as financial assistance to try not to have a membership decline.

There was a lot of work done around branding the Girl Scout brand.   Those at the conference saw some great new brand work.   The emphasis will be on GIRL, which will be highlighted at GO GETTER, INNOVATOR, RISK TAKER, LEADER.   The emphasis was also on girls who learn how to take risks -- who can accept failure, get up and try again to move toward success.   Frankly, in my own work as I see girls at camp, girls on zip lines, and girls at STEM programs, they do confront their fears, understand what they are capable of, and learn how to be successful.   I was delighted to see the emphasis on risk taking in a safe environment and continuing to highlight the programs we excel at to shape tomorrow's leaders. We have an exciting future ahead!

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The sun is shining through my office windows as I write this.   There's a squirrel sitting on the bird feeder eating something as the butterflies buzz around, summoning the beginnings of spring.   The breeze is nice, and you can start to see the tree buds as I drive around the council territory.   Clearly, spring is in the air and our thoughts are turning away from cookies and toward being in the outdoors.

This time of year I spend time with the rangers working through their needs, their priorities, and things to get their camps ready for girls to reappear.   They are always eager for the girls to return to camp.   Camp Sid Edmonds was replanted in loblollies in one day.  It's amazing how quick it was.   We had someone working on the stumps there, so it is looking different than the last time you saw it.   I have not been up there yet, but it is certainly on my short list of things to do.   We have had a number of volunteers and parents volunteer to do a workday at Kamp Kiwanis to get it ready for girls.

We welcome a new camp ranger to Kamp Kiwanis.   Mike Breshears might be familiar to you if you are around the Montgomery area.   He has two daughters who are Girl Scouts, and his wife, Caroline, is an active troop leader and ran our Montgomery cookie pantry.   We hope you will welcome him as he works to address the many issues at Kamp Kiwanis.  We have lost some very large pine trees recently in some inconvenient places there.   Kudos to our Camp Sid Edmonds ranger, Jesse Malone, for managing his camp and Kamp Kiwanis as we worked to hire a ranger. We had many wonderful applicants for the ranger position and appreciate those who applied.

The rangers always prefer having girls on their properties.   I have heard about some fun ideas for camporees planned this spring.   We also have a great camp program planned; Tinker Bell is going to be working to build camping skills while you attend resident camp.   These are skills you can use for a lifetime.   It is worth it to check out the materials online.   I have the opportunity to visit all our camp properties frequently.   If you like to camp, consider taking your troop to one of the other council properties, each property is beautiful in its own way and has something wonderful to teach girls.

Hopefully, after doing a lot of things with girls around financial literacy, you can turn your attention to the outdoors and have some fun exploring what all there is to offer.

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