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

Giving Tuesday


December 1, 2015 is #GIVING TUESDAY. A global day dedicated to generosity and giving back. Many not-for-profits use this day to kick off year end giving campaigns to solicit donations to support our mission and keep our organizations functioning. If you haven't already contributed, or even if you have, we hope you will consider an investment in the girls of GSSA.  Please ask your family members, friends and coworkers to support our girls and join us in this Season of Giving. We have a new online giving platform that is safe and secure.  It's easy to donate. Click here to make a one-time donation or to join our new monthly giving program. Our monthly giving program is an affordable way to support Girl Scouts using an automatic ACH withdrawal from your checking or savings account, or with a monthly charge to your credit card.  You can also use our printable form and mail in your donation.

Every day I have the opportunity to see what a girl can do.  It is pretty amazing.  Last weekend, Evie, a second grader, spoke to the board of directors of GSSA about her Girl Scout experience.  Evie tried camp this year for the first time.  She wasn't sure about spending the night, so she went the day camp route, so she could go home each evening.  The first day she arrived in her cowboy boots.  It's camp, so we encourage them to dress in whatever they desire.  At the end of the day, when her mother picked Evie up she asked whether or not the boots were hot. She admitted they were. Evie was concerned about snakes, which is really a normal concern and one we see daily. But, after a day at camp seeing no snakes, she summoned the courage to wear cooler shoes.  Her experience at camp was so fun she decided to invest her own funds and return for a second week and stay overnight.  It isn't every second grader who confronts her fears, finds she has the courage to do and try lots of things.  Evie is also learning the meaning of philanthropy. She saved her allowance money from her chores to donate to a charity - she chose to invest her hard earned $5 in Girl Scouts!  We want to thank Evie, because investing in girls will reap dividends years from now. Please follow Evie's example and support our girls.

We want to encourage you to invest in girls and your community for the future.  What sounds like fun and learning, actually results in women who are contributors to their community.  Just a few fun facts about Girl Scouts:  For every 100 girls who join Girl Scouts - 8 will enter a vocation learned through a badge or patch program, 12 will have their first contact with a church, 1 will use her Girl Scout skills to save a life, 1 will use her Girl Scout skills to save her own life, and 17 will be future leaders.  Consider a generous gift to GSSA on #GivingTuesday; it is a sound investment in our community. Because when a girl succeeds, so does society.


I was driving between service centers last week, pondering the differences between a volunteer who was especially frustrating and another who isn't.    Most of my musing was on the latter volunteer, whom I won't name because she would be embarrassed by the attention.  

I don't always agree with this volunteer, but she is always working hard to communicate.   She talks to everyone in the service center.   About once a month, she calls one of the camp rangers, just to see how he is doing.   If she has time on a Saturday and knows there are girls at camp, she will drive up to talk to the troop leaders and meet the girls.   This individual's daughter aged out of Girl Scouts many years ago, yet she has remained involved and engaged.

Over time, this volunteer and I have talked about the realignment that occurred eight years ago, a discussion that was very hard on volunteers, benefactors and girls in the Movement.   We have talked about staff members. She always reports those who are helpful vs. those who could use a reminder about customer service.    I don't always agree with her, and she certainly doesn't always agree with me.   We have different perspectives, and that's just fine.   We view the organization from different perspectives, but I value what she has to say, even if I don't agree.   I've been mad at her, she's been mad at me, but we have continued to talk to one another.   We communicate through thick and thin, which I appreciate.

I have an abiding respect for this person.   I appreciate the value she brings to me and my work, but my respect comes from the fact that she has done this hard work for years, and she continues to be focused on what is best for girls.   She would say, in a self-effacing way, that her work is mostly with troop leaders. Really, though, her work is central to what all of you do for girls.   It is through women like this one that the organization has changed the world through girls for many years.     And we don't thank this individual as often as she deserves.   As I said, she would find this embarrassing.   She is one of many, but she is very special.

This is but one individual in this organization who changes the world everyday because of what she does for others.   Each of you do this often and change the world this way.   I am around girls who talk about their Girl Scout experience.   They talk about the fun they have.   They talk about the activities they participate in.   This would not be possible without you.   This organization would not continue to grow and thrive without you.   As we take the time to examine what we are thankful for, it is for each of you.   Thankful that you are kind and generous enough to use your time to invest in the girls you care about.


It is hard to believe, but cookie time is just around the corner.   I was reminded of this when our public relations cookies arrived last week.   It seems like yesterday that we saw the last year's cookies head out the door.   Last year was a great sale; the girls did a tremendous job, as you did as leaders, and parents.   Thank you for that.   We hope to have an even better year this year.  Before we do that, though, I thought I would run through a few reminders.

Cookie training, which has a fun lemonade party theme in honor of the Lemonade cookie's 10th anniversary this year, is a good program to attend if you can make it fit into your schedule.   We have a representative from the cookie baker with us to talk about the changes they have made and new things on the horizon for the year.   This year, ABC Bakers has worked very hard to make the online ordering experience a better one for those using it, as well as you, so there are some improvements there.   Last year, our online sales generated less than one percent of our total cookie program, while most councils saw a 5% increase in sales through the online opportunity.   Clearly, there is room for growth there, and it is not as complicated as order taking and delivery.   If you have relatives and friends that live outside the GSSA footprint, here's your chance to garner some sales from them.

As always, it is good to have the leadership responsibilities outlined for your troop and service unit.   We have some great leaders in service units who can speak to how they are organized if you need pointers.   If so, please send Cheryl Miller an e-mail, and she can get you in touch with those tremendous volunteers, she is at

With the retirement of Chris Shavers, Teri Eversole will be running the entire cookie program, and as you can image, this is a huge task.   Teri can be reached at, or you can call either office and use extension 1302.   Please let us know if you have needs so we can address them.

Last year GSSA was left with more than $40,000 in excess inventory.   I realize it is often hard for you to predict what your needs will be, so we err on the side of having sufficient inventory.   This year we will be working with our inventory management more closely.   You can assist us greatly in this effort by always submitting a planned order.   This helps us pull what you need and assure we have the types of cookies you need on hand.

We had some folks take more cookies than what they could sell,  which is never a good thing, so we will be watching more carefully how much is taken out on the initial order.   We want the girls to be successful; we want you not to be cussing about cookies littering your entire home for the duration, so we will assist you in ordering wisely.

This year, we will be adding some drive through cookie booths around the council.   We have been working on safety rules to make this safe for your girls and a success.   We have targeted high-traffic locations throughout the council's footprint that we can get access to.   Look for those on the booth scheduler.   If you have any contacts that you believe would provide good drive through locations, please contact Meghan Cochrane at, or call and use extension 2907.

As an educator, I'm always impressed by and want to encourage you to use the curriculum materials that go along with the sale.   ABC Bakers provides some great materials for girls to enhance their learning while doing, so try to use their on-line resources, they are really great!

We plan on doing a special segment called "Cookie Bites" throughout the program to communicate about changes, issues, good ideas, and how the program is progressing.  Look for those in the GSSA Weekly during the sale.  You also can sign up to receive reminders via text message on your phone.  To do that, please email Jennifer Thrash, director  of membership development, at


Recently, I was reading a biography of Juliette Gordon Low, who was an interesting and pioneering woman on many levels.  Even as a child, she was considered kind and good-natured, but eccentric.  Many of her experiments in kindness went awry.  Unlike other girls of her age and social position, she loved to hike, play tennis, and ride horses.  Again, areas atypical of her social station for the times.  Undaunted, she always felt she needed a purpose in life.  After meeting Robert Baden-Powell, she started what is now today's Girl Scouts.  When she saw how the many activities built self-confidence in girls, she found the purpose in life she was seeking.

How often do we see someone else who is a tad eccentric, enjoys activities her peers do not, and has a kind heart although things don't always work out?   We don't always know what lies ahead for the girls we serve.  But among them there will be more Juliette Gordon Lows, we just don't know it.  We can only hope all the girls we serve have the courage, confidence, and character to change their world as she changed hers.

Happy Birthday to our Founder, Juliette Gordon Low, who was born 155 years ago this week!


GSUSA recently worked on introducing new badges using girl voting and input to determine what badges to pursue at what age level.   One set of badges revolve around the outdoors.   Girl Scouts has always been a leader in outdoors education, so this was a perfect match for them.

The Girl Scout experience offers prime forests, hiking trails, lakes and opportunities for girls in the outdoors.   My own view is that we offer some of the most pristine and best property in the State of Alabama.   We boast four very different camps, with differing opportunities at each.   I recognize they are not necessarily proximate to one another, but each has something unique to offer.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built Camp Scoutshire Woods, just a quick 45-minute drive from Mobile, when the economy was really a wreck during the Great Depression. The original buildings and lake were developed only from materials taken from that property, which is one of the things that make it unique and special.   The lake has a spillway that empties into a stream that is fun to wade in.   There is a wonderful hiking trail around the perimeter of the camp with different side trips that offer pitcher plants, a bog, and other interesting opportunities to see nature.   The frog pond on the property is wonderful, with a variety of frogs calling for mates throughout most of the year.   Our rangers have been rebuilding the porch on the recreation hall to bring it back to its original look using hand-planed Cyprus planks.

Camp Sid Edmonds in Bay Minette had a great deal of its pine plantation clear cut in the summer of 2014.   The result is an opportunity to really understand how a pine plantation works.   The quail are abundant, as are the snakes if the weather is conducive.   The inner part of the camp property was left intact, so you can still canoe in the large lake, have a campfire at the fire ring at the Scott House, or hike the perimeter of the lake.   The pine plantation will be replanted after the holidays, so we will be seeing first hand how the pines mature.

Another illustration of a good pine plantation is at Camp Humming Hills.   This is our largest property and has three lakes; one of which requires a very lengthy hike and is deep in the woods.   Humming Hills has the most unique dock I've ever seen, seemingly put together when the builder either didn't have a level or didn't care if it was hilly.   The pine plantation at Humming Hills is 3.5 years old, so the 117 acres we planted illustrate how quickly loblolly pine can mature under good conditions.   This property is the highest point in Coffee County, so you can see forever if you are on Tower Hill up high enough to get a good scan of the surrounding beauty.   The wildlife there is very abundant.   There's long been conversation about a jaguar seen there.   This has been met with some skepticism, but not long ago someone not far from Humming Hills did capture the photo of a jaguar on their game camera.   Humming Hills is located to the north of Elba.

Kamp Kiwanis is a property situated on the western arm of Lake Martin, near Eclectic.   It boasts 2.5 miles of Lake Martin shoreline.   It has two sloughs and islands.   One of the islands is accessible all the time, the other serves as a great place for spending the night during a survivor camp, but can be reached when the lake level is lower in the winter months.   If aquatic endeavors interest you, Lake Martin is the place to go.   It houses the council sailing program and pontoon boat.

For a mere $15, you can become a Girl Scout and for modest fees access all these properties by attending council programs, or with your troop or service unit.   During this time of year when many are talking about their hunting and fishing camps, I always think the girls and adults I have the privilege of serving really have "camps."   They have some of the best properties and opportunities the State of Alabama has to offer.   If you love the outdoors, being a Girl Scout is the best investment you can make.


Fall is clearly in the air. Some mornings are cool and crisp, and the trees are just starting to take on another color. However, there seem to be plenty of leaves in my driveway each evening. Darkness seems to be earlier than before. It always seems to come on so quickly.

Each year at this time, I try to do my annual reminder that girls, parents, volunteers need to be registered, not just because we want them to be registered, but for their own protection and safety.

I recognize sometimes that registering can certainly be a challenge. The system was down last week without warning. We weren't notified, either, and found out through calls from many of you. We regret any inconvenience this caused. With registration comes insurance, so it is important that you and all those who participate in Girl Scout activities are registered. Being registered matters because, if there is an accident and you are not registered, you are not covered by Girl Scout insurance. The same is true of parents and others attending events.

We also adhere to GSUSA's Safety Activity Checkpoints on all activities that girls participate in. Their experts on risk management review these regulations fairly frequently to update them. There is always some tension between what girls want to do and the attendant risks. This summer there was a lot of changes and modification to those regulations. If you are responsible for an event or activity, please take a look at these rules to find what can and can't be done. These can be found at, on the right hand side on the clipboard under FORMS are SAFETY ACTIVITY CHECKPOINTS, or you may click here. If you have any questions regarding those, Cheryl Miller is the council's resident expert, and she can be reached at or 334 272-9164, extension 2302.

We have been working hard to make training for you easier, many of the more technical trainings, such as basic camper training or canoe training, can be done ahead of time with the practical in-person portion of the course being completed in a shorter span of time, but you have to do the homework ahead of time and get it submitted. For more information about that, please contact Cheryl Miller. We are delighted to have a large number of volunteers already trained in camping skills and canoe for this year. It's always fun to get the girls in the outdoors during the fall while the weather is wonderful. We sometimes do have cancellations for the camp properties, so don't assume the camp isn't available for day use or an overnight. If you want to use a camp property, visit the Properties page on our website, or call either Service Center, Montgomery for Humming Hills and Kamp Kiwanis and Mobile for Camp Sid Edmonds and Camp Scoutshire Woods, and they can assist you on the reservation.

We hope you can find many opportunities to get yourself and the girls you work with outdoors and out in the woods.

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



Why aren't more girls Girl Scouts?   This is an issue we grapple with on a regular basis at the council service center.   The short answer to that is, not enough adults are willing to step up and serve as leaders.   Each year every one of our field executives and their associates returns to the office with a story about how they held a recruitment event and no parents would volunteer to serve. It is hard to conceive that there girls waiting to be Girl Scouts simply because we cannot find enough adults to help.

At this time of year we are busy negotiating with troop leaders to add girls to troops who join, and there is no troop around for them to get into.   The parents won't do it, so we start our waiting list, which some year's reaches as high as 2,000 girls.   It is hard to understand how there can be at least 2,000 girls who want to be Girl Scouts who can't because of the lack of adults.   This time of year we are searching for those adults who want to have a good time with girls.   Is it hard work?   Well, it might be, although we have more materials to make it easier to start a troop.   It does require some time up front to become vetted so we are sure the girls involved are safe and we have appropriate safeguards in place for them.

You do not have to be a parent to serve as a Girl Scout troop leader, although most are because it brings a group almost automatically.    We are interested in any adults who have the desire to make the world a better place through girls.   We have recruitment events scheduled all over the council, you can see them listed on our Facebook page.   But, if you are interested in becoming a Girl Scout troop leader, contact or call either service center and ask for a membership staff member.

We would love to have no waiting lists of girls this year that we wind up turning away because there are no adults interested in spending time with them.   It is fun and fulfilling work.


It's time for some fun!   Now that school has started and everyone is starting to settle into a routine, it's time to look at your calendars and plan some fun.   That's the great thing about Girl Scouts, you can have lots of fun while learning things.

GSSA works to offer programs that an individual troop can't easily plan.   The program staff works hard on topics for events that girls will have a lot of fun with.   Those opportunities are listed on the website under EVENTS and PROGRAMS   There are deadlines for each event, so pay attention to those, since some of the programs fill quickly.

The fall program schedule is chock full of great events spread throughout the council.   You can go back in time to the 1800s for a program in Dothan.   There's an archeology program called Dig In, where you explore the fun of learning what is in the dirt.   A program we have done parts of but will do a longer session is called Camp Conservation, where girls look at skulls, learn about water, recycling, birds and the environment.   The University of South Alabama is offering ChemScouts where girls can explore chemistry in a fun and exciting manner.   The Dauphin Island Sea Lab mini-destination is always a great program, but tends to fill quickly.   For those of you who are night owls, what about a program where you explore what happens at night in the outdoors?   Another fun program is the Princess Party with the Kappa Delta Sorority at USA.

Hopefully, you can find some fun programs for your girls this fall that everyone will enjoy.   Have fun while learning!

Our Fall Product Sale is starting soon.  This is a great way for troops to earn start-up funds for the year.  And, we promise, it really is easy!



I have a lot of troop leaders tell me they don't participate in Fall Product because it is too hard.   I recognize that many schools have large fall fund-raisers and asking folks to purchase things gets wearying, even if it is fantastic Girl Scout cookies.   The fall product sale, though, is much quicker and easier than selling cookies.   The funds to the troops are higher, as well.  This program was developed so troops could earn funds to get started with each year.   Also, it tends to be oriented more toward friends and family and includes magazine sales.   Who doesn't like a good magazine or some delicious treats?

The products, if you are ordering nuts and candy, are delivered prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, which make them great for holiday gift giving.   The payback is quick and easy, too. If you are in a quandary, here's a link to the fall product family guide, take a look. Trainings will be presented on Sept. 12 (Montgomery) and Sept. 13 (Mobile).


The school buses are choking the main thoroughfares, children are standing at the bus stop each morning, clean and pressed ready for the new year.   Every school in this council has now started, so although the temperatures and humidity are still high, the days are starting to shorten, and there is change in the wind.

As you work to get back into the rhythm of the routine of school, you ponder how you can get everything done and still have time for sanity.   In this age of enhanced communication, on demand video, and too much to do, it is hard to fit everything in on a daily basis.   I have long been a believer in "inertia."   The theory that a moving object remains moving and a stopped object stays stopped.   Most of you are moving parents, doing things to assist your child/children along in their journey to enhance their lives and bring them joy.

I was reading through some of the tributes to Mrs. Gloria Caddell, a longtime volunteer who passed away last week.   In my announcement I missed by 10 years, she had been a Girl Scout volunteer for 60 years.   Wrap your head around that number -- 60 years of giving to others.   As I read through the comments, all spoke of her joy, her ability to teach skills they still use today.   In her 80s, she was still teaching First Aid and CPR, I find that awe-inspiring.   My own theory is that, by giving to others for as long as she did, it was part of what fueled a fulfilling life into her 90s.

At the end of the day, when you take stock of can you do this and you don't have time for the many things you want to do, it is good to make time for the things that matter.   I have not met one volunteer who didn't have a girl who used her as a role model and idolized her in one way or another.   She might not be able to articulate that clearly, but it is true.    Girls matter, make the time to leave your world a better place.   Thank you for all you do.


Yesterday I was working on "Why Join Girl Scouts."   I had enumerated the usual list, all worthwhile and good reasons why a girl should become a Girl Scout.   Then early this morning I got up and read my e-mail and something struck a chord.

Last week I was fortunate enough to hear Hailey, who earned a gold award, talk to the girls at Beach Scouts about how you make your dreams come true.   Hailey is a 1st. Lt. in the Marines and about to earn her wings as a pilot.   She is headed for further flight training and won't be as available to share her inspirational message to girls as she has been, but her message is a simple one.   Sometimes it is only you, your fears, your doubts, and your hesitations that keep you from realizing your dreams.    You can do anything you believe you can if you persist and don't let your own sense of inadequacy for the task get in the way.   Hailey is not only very self-confident, but she is able share how she became so accomplished at such a young age, and she can break her success down into achievable pieces so girls understand.   As I pondered it, Hailey illustrates confidence, one of the three hallmark values Girl Scouts imbue.

The e-mail this morning was from a camp counselor, Oreo.   She also earned a gold award.   She was attending the University of Alabama as a prized debater.   Skilled in what she did, she is competitive, capable, and driven, while still being humble, approachable, and kind.   I watched Oreo a lot last year at camp.   She was a good listener.   Daily I would see her hiking past where I was working, gently nudging her charges in what should and should not be done, always with a kind word, never raising her voice.   The girls adored Oreo.   She was a wonderful role model on how Girl Scouts becomes a springboard to teach and learn about leadership.

Since early last year, Oreo has been plagued with health issues.   What started as migraines turned into a yearlong experience with the health care delivery system.   They think they know what the problem is, and then they don't.   They fix one thing and then some other symptom appears, having nothing to do with the diagnosis.   A bright, accomplished, high achiever has had to put her own goals on hold while she endures what seems to be endless frustration in trying to address her medical issues so she can get on with her life.

Oreo is an illustration of character and courage.   She eloquently describes how she sits in physician waiting rooms, labs, and exam rooms waiting to hear what might be wrong.   As someone who is driven, to be sidelined from school, moving along the trail she had laid out is filled with frustration, anxiety, and pain.   But she endures; she confronts what some days must be a nightmare for a 20-something with courage, summoning the strength to forge ahead.

Oreo visited us this summer at camp, we were delighted.   She got to visit with some of the girls from her camp unit.   She was able to visit with her fellow counselors and hear what antics had gone on during a summer that she wound up sitting in medicinal air-conditioned buildings, waiting.   Everyone got to talk to her and hear first hand what she has been going through.

Why join Girl Scouts?   Because the program provides girls with the life skills to challenge themselves to do things they didn't believe they could do.   On the one hand, become a Marine aviator, handling some of the country's most expensive aeronautical equipment, to being able to forge ahead when life's challenges smack you in the face and then smack you in the face again.   Both of these young women are excellent illustrations of how building life skills have come to serve them well in times of doubt, crisis, and frustration.   The girls I am fortunate enough to work with can do anything.   I watch it happen at camp, I watch it occur at council programs, and I'm fortunate enough to see it happen even as they grow up and become fantastic, contributing citizens.


It is always nice to be up close and personal with volunteers over a sustained period of time.   I have many opportunities to interact with volunteers, but not over days or weeks.   A shout out to the volunteers who were wonderful and worked at resident camp this summer, doing all sorts of great things and made camp that much better this year.   Rusty and Gwen Black, Caroline Breshears, Elizabeth Conner, Vivian Martin, Tina Savell, and Dana Jones were so very helpful during the camp season.   Thank you for sharing your gifts with the girls.

It is always interesting during the summer to listen to the girls talk about their troop experiences and Girl Scout experiences.   I am always amazed at the wide variety of experiences and adventures these girls have with your planning and assistance.   I found the girls at resident camp this summer to have a high sense of exploration, confidence to get out of their comfort zone, and knowledge about the natural world.   I listened to some girls talk about different types of bugs.   We had another girl who wore her cowboy boots because she was fearful of snakes.   Then when PANDA had a small chicken snake, she decided she would face her fears.   Later she told me she wanted to "kiss it" which we didn't let her do.   But the difference between hot boots to thinking the snake was really cool convinced me of the capacity for girls to grow and learn through these experiences.   Most of their Girl Scout experiences are within your trusty care.

As the summer winds down and we start to turn our attention to fall it is good to be reminded why working with girls pays such tremendous dividends.   The girls I saw all summer were curious, happy, brave, and inquisitive.   Thank you for all you do to make this possible for all the girls we have the privilege of serving.


Some days at Camp were HOT.   The temperatures may have been soaring, but you couldn't tell by what was going on around me. From my "office" on a porch near Lake Martin, I saw so many girls growing and having fun.

I saw girls in the pavilion learning new songs.   Another group near the tetherball were playing something akin to Marco Polo on land.   Behind me the whir of the zip line continued as girls tested their mettle by giving it a try.   In the cove, there was a group taking out the sailboats for the first time.   The temperatures were high, but you could not tell by the girls I was surrounded by -- all making the best of their summer vacation having a ball.

Camp has been great this summer.   The camp staff has been excellent!   The food has been incredibly good.   One of the staff noted that the food is so good we have not seen hardly any homesickness, because there is a direct relationship between comfort food and feelings of home and safety.   Amanda, our new staff member who is running camp, has brought some fun new ideas and traditions to the experience.

We have worked hard to assure girls are learning skill building in all their activities.   They can play some, but canoe time is getting into the water, learning to swamp the canoe and developing others skills. Just in case you missed it on our social media, the girls had a contest at Camp Scoutshire Woods between two groups under the swamped canoes singing Crazy Moose. It is hilarious!   We were discussing how quickly girls pick up skills if provided the opportunity to give things a try.   We had the Sunfish out this afternoon, and the instructor was stunned how a couple of the girls were rapidly proficient by just watching and listening to the instructions.   Girls are simply amazing!

On one day, I was over at the swim dock taking some video of the girls in swim lessons.   The lifeguards said in a couple of cases they weren't sure one or two of the girls would progress.   But with sheer determination and hard work, one in particular is really becoming a proficient swimmer.   The staff was amazed and delighted.

We work very hard to return your camper as a girl who has become more independent, proficient, and confident.   They have had fun, but they have also established some skills that will stay with them the remainder of their lives.


It is always a meaningful to take some time to reflect on the girls who have gone before us who have made a difference in the lives of others.   Katie Leutzinger was one of those girls.   She loved Kamp Kiwanis on Lake Martin, and she was s devoted Girl Scout. She was taken suddenly from her family and friends on July 14, 2004, while she was still so young.

After her tragic passing, Katie's family and friends started s memorial fund to create something in her honor at Kamp Kiwanis.   She spent many summers at this camp, where she developed courage, confidence, and character.  


We are pleased to announce that we will dedicate the Katie Leutzinger Memorial Observatory at Kamp Kiwanis in her honor on June 28, 2015.   This observatory, though not large, provides an opportunity for girls to search the stars and heavens while at Lake Martin.   The telescope can be mounted in the observatory, but it can also run a computer that can be viewed by girls and others close to the observatory so many will be able to enjoy the thrills astronomy has to offer.

We are delighted the Leutzinger family agreed to this tribute to their daughter and sister so that all girls who spend time at Kamp Kiwanis can continue the wonderful experiences their Girl Scout, Katie, had there.


My office has sunlight peeking through the pine, there are some bugs around, mostly ants.   As I write this, I can hear the girls behind me working on getting through a spider web exercise requiring communication, cooperation, and teamwork.   This is when being the CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama has maximum benefit.

So far the homesickness has been minimal, the giggles and singing constant, and the food pretty good.    The girls have been on horseback, racing around the island in their kayaks and canoes, and working on improving their swimming skills.

The girls who did the sampler camp have gone home, but many did not want to leave because they were having such a good time.    This is what we love to hear -- that the fun and some autonomy from their parents is welcome.   It is always good to have your daughter be confident and independent.

We have talked about whether Girl Scout families would like an opportunity to come up to camp and enjoy what the girls experience.   We discussed having a week or two each summer where we would have the waterfront and canoe area available and folks could come up with their families and have some fun.   That means you would have to manage your own cooking needs, but something we were discussing.   If you think you would like to do this, please send us an e-mail at


It's summer, and for us, it's time to say farewell to two longtime Girl Scout staff members who are retiring.  Both worked for their respective legacy council prior to realignment, weathered the realignment storm and have been behind the scenes working for the girls of this council for many years.

Karen Doss works in the Mobile office as director of strategic planning.   Her responsibilities are lengthy and wide ranging, but can be summarized by grant writing, applications to United Ways, and whatever else is necessary to bring funds into GSSA.   She came to Girl Scouts of the Deep South in Mobile from the Cahaba Council in Birmingham.   She has worked in various capacities through her 16 years with GSDS and GSSA.   Karen has five children and 8 grandchildren and will have plenty to do in retirement.   I want to thank her for her service to the girls of this council.

Chris Shavers is in the Montgomery office and is best known through her work with the Cookie Program.   Chris was with Girl Scouts of South Central Alabama and then GSSA.   She works with Fall Product, product sales in the council shops, and the Cookie Program.   There is a lot of fun in store from Chris in retirement, as her husband retired recently; between him, her four children, and six grandchildren, she will be a busy lady!  I want to thank her for her service to the girls of this council.

We are in the process of reorganizing job responsibilities to cover those leaving us.   We will clarify who is doing what as we work through it over the course of the summer.

If you would like to wish them well, they can be reached at and


Each year around the cookie sale, our council staff is frantic trying to get all the pieces and parts of such a large endeavor managed.  However, in the midst of this we find we have girls who have not registered yet.   There are phone calls, going online, collecting money -- a bunch of pieces and parts that slow up getting to manage the cookie program.  Surprisingly, this is more of a problem with established troops than with new troops and volunteers.

This year has been especially problematic because we changed registration software back to the GSUSA platform earlier than anticipated.  This unexpectedly caused all our memberships for three years being sucked into the system, and then we had to peel out those who were not currently registered.  

We appreciate those of you who responded to our requests to check your rosters to see if they were accurate.   Thank you for assisting us, as we can only look at pages of names for so long.   We found some troops didn't have all their girls registered, despite having the receipts and lots of chaos, for you and for us.   Thank you to those of you who helped, and I apologize for the chaos.   We hope that is over and going forward you register and it all works smoothly.

We do want to encourage you to go ahead and register now for next year.   We have a lot of fun events and activities planned already.   I can't wait to attend some of them, as they sound like so much fun.   We have an archeology day planned at the University of South Alabama and another exciting Pi Day program at Auburn University on the horizon.  

Lots of councils encourage the use of the cookie monies to early bird register the entire troop so there is no gap in activities.   We would love for more of that to happen here, since we have lots of program opportunities in August and September that we can't take advantage of because folks are still getting reorganized.   The important piece of it is that with registration comes insurance for all Girl Scout activities. Without being registered, there is no insurance coverage.

Recently, we have had a lot of folks who are not approved and vetted for overnights that have to submit all the paperwork at the last minute.   This results in staff having to spend day and night trying to get this paperwork through.   It is frantic for the parents and volunteers who haven't submitted it and a nightmare for the staff.  But please don't get ugly if this has not been submitted at the beginning of the year, as requested, and we are asking for it.   We work very hard to be of service because you are a volunteer.   We usually have more than one camporee on any given weekend, and the havoc created when each camporee urgently needs many attendees to be vetted and approved is truly formidable.  In an effort to be more consistent, we will have one source of where and how that is done.  Please help us to help you by registering now.

We want everyone to have the opportunity to have fun, safe and a great time through Girl Scouts.


This week and next week as I drive to and from work I'll play Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches.   It is a time of exhilaration and tears.   Commencement's definition, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is "a time when something begins."   I realize we sometimes see this as an ending, when, in fact, it is the beginning.

On behalf of all of GSSA's staff, I would like to congratulate the class of 2015   What an accomplished group of girls, soon to be young women that we have had amongst us.   I have had the privilege of attending ceremonies where these girls have been honored.   They will change the world, and they have learned how to do this through Girl Scouts.   They are headed in many different directions, but all are aimed at making a difference in the lives of others.

Hopefully, this transition to the next phase of life, the new beginning, will continue to include involvement in Girl Scouts.   We work with many collegiate women through programs facilitated partnership with us, especially those involved in the Kappa Delta Sorority, but we are not limited to that partnership.  If your Girl Scout experience has been a good one, consider remaining involved, even if it is the occasional assistance to a troop where you are living.   Many of you might remember how great you thought college girls were; remember that now you are, too, for younger girls.

Also a reminder, there is a large discount when you become a lifetime member of Girl Scouts upon graduation from high school.   I urge you to consider taking advantage of that.

On behalf of the more than 10,000 girls and volunteers involved in GSSA, we wish you every success in your future endeavors.   You will have times of frustration and times of great joy in your journey ahead, but we know you will do well because of the life skills you have developed through your many experiences and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.


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: 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.


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.


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.


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 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, which is the charitable arm of Amazon.  Simply visit,  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 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!  


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.


- 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. 


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!

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