I was talking to someone this past weekend about the new bath house we are building at Camp Scoutshire Woods; the "pretty potty" as I like to call it. It isn't large, but it is constructed of reinforced concrete block. It will serve as a place of refuge should a storm come up unexpectedly. This person, the troop leader who did the conceptual drawings, asked if someone donated the money for the "pretty potty." I told her no, it is hard to raise money for bathrooms because a bathhouse is not something most folks want their name on. However, because of the success of this year's cookie program, we are able to build this bathroom, add the zip lines to two camps, purchase more stand up paddleboards, and buy a new banana boat. If girls do a lot of work on the cookie program, they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Our counterpart in Alabama to the north has completed strategic learning (a strategic planning process), and as a part of that process, found they can no longer afford all the property they own and have to maintain. They will be closing many camps and selling office buildings throughout their council. We already have received e-mail requests and petitions pleading for signatures not to close or sell these properties. Selling property is painful for all involved, those who have to make those decisions and those who feel their childhood memories are going by the wayside. I ache for all involved in these difficult choices.
As someone who walked outside this morning with the electrician to discover the brick on the façade of the building is pulling loose, I do understand the tensions of giving the girls something to strive for, while paying the bills to maintain aging facilities. One night when I was staying at Kamp Kiwanis, I counted, and across our properties, we have more than 36 bath houses and 36 buildings to maintain. That is a lot of roofs to replace, toilets to fix and exteriors to stay painted. We are able to do this by working with a Spartan staff, who works very hard, and building the cookie program, so when I recently read two pages of complaints about the cookie program I always wonder what the balance is.
It is hard to make things work in this poor economy, yet you have been extraordinarily successful in selling cookies during this time. Our cookie program has increased, part of it because of an annual increase in the number of girls, but also because the girls' efforts have resulted in increased sales. Even though this past cookie program with the direct sale felt like it lasted forever, the sale increased 9.45 percent, which is what pays for the "pretty potty" and many other things our girls will enjoy.
Girl Scouts is an organization for the girls and about the girls. At this juncture, I am very appreciative that we aren't in a position where we need to discuss consolidation of properties. This is because you did a lot of the heavy lifting. I'm looking forward to a summer where our girls have a great trip to Rock the Mall, fly down some zip lines for the first time in their life, or learn to sail in a strong wind. I'm grateful for the support you have shown the girls by being engaged and involved to make this endeavor successful -- it is all about the girls.