October 2012 Archives

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As I look out my office window and type this, I see one of our contractors working on a new door and lock.   As I stroll the Mobile office property, it is littered with nails, metal chunks, scrapes of wood, trucks, trailers, and men working.   All of this is the result of the generosity of others. 

We have been very fortunate to have had some excellent cookie programs, so we are able to address the rotten doors at the office.   We are able to replace the roof, so when it rains it will no longer come into the buildings.   This is done with the hard work of a large cadre of girls who are entrepreneurs and business women, even at the tender age of 5.

We have been fortunate lately to have a company that had excess materials from another job donate those materials to us so our girls no longer would meet, play, and sleep on a stained and aging carpet.   In the Mobile Volunteer Center, we have new tile on the floor, a new kitchen floor and the place is starting to look FANTASTIC!   All of this is the result of the generosity of others.   In tough financial times, people do still want to invest in their future by supporting children.

As you struggle with the fall product sale, wrestle with  the software late at night trying to put your order in, you too invest in others.   Every week when I am out and around the council, I meet a Girl Scout alumna or previous troop leader and the stories are always the same.   No one else would step up and take this troop, so I did, or my mother did.   I hear "my mother was a troop leader, now I am a troop leader" frequently.  

As we start to move toward Thanksgiving and consider what we are grateful for, we are all grateful for you.   As someone who frequently has to untangle some knotty problems as part of my work, we do recognize how sometimes your patience is tested to the limit.   We do understand that there are days when dealing with parents of girls in your troop make you wonder what you were thinking when you agreed to this.   But then, you hear the laughter of an activity you created.   You have a girl come to you to ask questions about life.   You overhear a girl describe what she has done as a Girl Scout, and it makes all the time and trouble worthwhile.

Thanks for stepping up, we appreciate your generosity.

What do you think about the new Journey curriculum? Is it the best thing since sliced bread, or is it a thorn in your side? Are you a Journey expert, or is your Journey GPS broken? We want to make sure that your experience as a Troop Leader be fun, rewarding and easy breezy, so the program development team is designing a Journey Curriculum Workshop. So we can better serve our dedicated and tenacious Troop Leaders, please visit the link below.  Take the survey by November 3- make your voice heard!

Journey Curriculum Workshop: A Troop Leader's Perspective

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A month punctuated with football players in pink spikes and hats, newspapers printed on pink newsprint and folks dressed in pink (we even have someone at the office with a pink strand of hair). It is the month where we think about breast cancer awareness.   Who among us doesn't have someone affected by this significant issue for women?

It is amazing to me how effective the pink campaign has been, and it is stunning  how many people and places have adopted the pink initiative.   It appears on office buildings with their lights illuminated as pink each evening, and even Drew Brees reminds us that breast cancer research provides more birthdays for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and uncles.

During this breast cancer awareness month, a good friend of mine is in the battle of her life with hers.   She has just finished radiation, and has sores in her mouth, stiffness, and an upset stomach.   She was given only a weekend for her body to recuperate before she started chemotherapy.    Despite advances in nausea drugs and much lower doses of chemotherapy, she is still sick.   Her husband travels for his work, so a friend stayed with her last week.   She's been a role model to me for a while.    They diagnosed her after spending months looking at other reasons for her poor health.   When physicians finally isolated the reason to breast cancer, hers had advanced to stage 4.   They gave her a terminal diagnosis with an estimated timeline.

My friend is very accomplished.   She had a great career, which she can no longer pursue.   When I went to visit her, we walked her dogs, and I asked her how she coped with giving up something she loved.   She said she decided to live each day she was given.   Instead of chasing something elusive in her career, she spent her days watching the dogs chase bunnies, or smell the air.   She watched the flowers bloom and the seasons change, enjoying all of it.   As someone who could sometimes be dour, at no point did she indicate she wasn't going to beat breast cancer.  At that time, I did not know about the 16 months to live part of her diagnosis.   She never let that slip from her mouth to me or others.

Last January, she said she and her husband were having a party.   I asked her why, and she said that she had exceeded the estimated timeline.   She was living on the other side of what her physicians thought she would.   She reminded me that each day to us is a gift, and we need to make the most of it.   My friend has served to remind me that we need to spend our time on issues and initiatives that matter.   I'm amazed at her positive attitude, even though she can no longer eat any of the foods she loves and do many of her favorite things.   I'm amazed at how she does something each day that she enjoys, since she recognizes it is a gift.   I'm amazed that at no point has she felt sorry for herself, whined or done anything to lash out at what must feel like injustice.

We all know someone who has battled breast cancer.   During this month when we are reminded of its impact, remember those who have taught us to appreciate each day we are given.

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I have very little free time, and I suspect you do, as well.   I'm not sure, but my recollection is the last time I simply wasted time might have been in high school.   Certainly, by college there were too many things to do to waste time.   And since then, I can't recall having time to waste.  

On those days when you are so harried you just want to sit down, shut your eyes and regain your sanity, try to remember much of what you are doing now might transcend time, and how your work as a volunteer will last through the girls you help shape and interact with on a daily basis.

As I age I feel guilty for not thanking the teachers, coaches and adults that influenced my life.   Some are now long gone, but I want to let them know how much their interest in me made a difference in the person I am today.   How many of you have the same impulse? 

When you are confronted with way too many Girl Scouts, making noise, whining, bouncing around with endless energy, understand your interest and time with them will impact them.   They probably don't recognize it now, but later, as they grow into young leaders, the time you spent listening and investing your time in their activities will shape who they become.

So, on those days when you drop into bed exhausted, just remember you are investing your time into people and that influence will transcend time.

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As the council's COO, it's not my job to play favorites when it comes to troops. I have to admit, though, that there are several that are near and dear to my heart. My own daughter's troop is a source of great joy for her, and as such, it certainly makes me happy, too. I love watching this precious group of girls learn new things, develop skills and simply have fun.

There's another troop that never fails to make me smile, as well, and it involves a special group of girls in Ozark. For several years, we have had a troop at the Vivian B. Adams School, which provides educational opportunities for mentally and physically disabled individuals.

While nonetheless faithful in their love for Girl Scouts, the girls at Vivian B. Adams are a little different in some ways than the ones in my daughter's troop. For starters, they range in age from about eight years old to more than 50. They may walk a little slower and sometimes have difficulty communicating, but they smile just as brightly and sing just as sweetly as all the other Daisies and Brownies I know.

Over the years I've visited Troop 9230, I've watched them receive their Daisy petals, sing lots of songs and talk about what they love about Girl Scouting. Attending their celebrations and presenting them with their certificates is one of my favorite things to do each year. I love seeing the mothers of these girls cheer for them as they receive their patches, and watching the troop repeat the Girl Scout Promise always touches my heart.

Now Troop 9230 needs our help. Because this group is typically led by a volunteer and grant funding has diminished, we are in need of a new volunteer. These girls currently do not have a leader, and we fear they may no longer be able to be participate in Girl Scouting without the right person stepping up to help. If you or someone you know in the Ozark area might be interested in leading these girls or your troop might be willing to "adopt" them, please contact Cheryl Miller, our volunteer liaison.

The girls of Troop 9230 already make the world a better place, now they just need a special person to lead them. Is that special person you?

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Here's my true confession for the week. This Girl Scout is no camper, and after nearly 10 years working for Girl Scouts, I had never actually spent the night at one of our camp properties until just last week. Oh, I've spent many days at our camps working at events (I'm always up to lead a craft or a hike), checking on things at resident camp and having meetings. I'm even certified in small craft safety and troop camping. I love my creature comforts, though, and like to head home once the sun goes down.

I really thought I'd dodged a bullet on this one, and I did ... until I got the email from my own Daisy daughter's troop leader detailing plans for a troop camporee. As soon as she heard she'd be spending the night at Kamp Kiwanis, one of her very favorite places, my little one was ready to go. She started packing her bags a full week before our trip and talked of little else to her friends and even her first grade teacher. And, of course, this mom had no choice. I had to go.

Somewhat more reluctantly than my daughter, I packed my bags and headed to camp. The weather was beautiful, which was perfect because our busy girls had a day chockfull of great activities. They canoed, went swimming, made some seriously cute stick animals, hiked, earned a "bugs" badge, cooked their own lasagna in a Dutch oven over the fire and had an investiture/rededication ceremony, among other activities (are you tired yet?!). It was great fun to watch the girls trying new things, learning skills and discovering the joy you can only find in the outdoors.

By the time we took a final hike and packed up the next morning, the girls were looking a little tired, and the moms were feeling really tired, but I heard more than one child say that this was the best weekend ever and others ask why we had to leave so soon. The girls were hugging each other before they got into their cars and asking when they could pleeeese do this again soon. They had certainly learned a few lessons over the weekend, and interestingly, so did I.

Here are some things I took away from the experience:

* There is nothing to compare with the joyful sounds of 13 Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts when they are canoeing for the first time.

* Taking a night hike without checking the trail for spider webs first is probably not a good idea. Sorry about that, girls!

* The night noises at camp are beautiful, as is the sunrise over Lake Martin. You should definitely try it.

* Much to my surprise, you really can cook a tasty dinner in a Dutch oven. I won't doubt Cheryl Miller (our council's volunteer liaison and camper extraordinaire) on that topic again.

* Who needs crème brulee when you can have a dessert of campfire cones (see recipe below) while sitting around the fire? These babies are so tasty I'll definitely be making them by our fireside at home this winter.

* Spending the weekend in the woods reminds you of all the things you love about your child and helps you discover some new qualities to enjoy, as well.

The moral of this non-camper's story is this. You may not ever be a "real" camper, and it's ok if you don't love spending the night in the woods. It's a great experience, though, and definitely worth a try. You'll learn a lot about your daughter and maybe a little about yourself, too. Happy camping!

Campfire Cones

What you need: 1 waffle cone per girl and adult (younger girls might prefer a smaller sugar cone), chocolate chips, white chocolate morsels, toffee pieces, peanuts, mini marshmallows, peanut butter morsels, etc. (whatever might be good melted together), aluminum foil, and small bowls and spoons for add-ins

Girls choose their own flavor combinations to fill their cone. Cone is then wrapped in aluminum foil and allowed to warm by campfire. Unwrap and enjoy!

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