August 2013 Archives

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I CAN'T WAIT TO ...  This is the new tag line for Girl Scout recruitment this fall, and we have been having some fun with it around the office.   For me it would be:

I can't wait to see my Girl Scout friends again.

I can't wait to have some fun with my Girl Scout troop.

I can't wait to go to Girl Scout camp.

I can't wait to earn badges and patches.

I can't wait to sing Girl Scout songs.

I can't wait to become a girl of courage, confidence, and character.

Fall is always a busy and exciting time of year.   School starts, so there is the attendant commotion of being with your friends again, homework, and lots of new challenges.   The heat starts to abate, and the swimming pool is only open on the weekends.

I was working on my fall schedule for a presentation I gave the other day, and I was pretty excited about things I can't wait to do.   The fall calendar is filled with great programming opportunities for Girl Scouts every weekend.   Some weekends there are two or three great events scheduled, and it is hard for me to decide which to attend.   I hope you will see the schedule as an awesome opportunity to spend time with your daughter and other girls.  Girl Scouts provides good times shaping our future through fun and learning.

Here's the GSUSA fall recruitment video - I can't wait to ... what can you not wait to do this year?

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 Many of you may believe there isn't much to running a Girl Scout council.   In some respects, that is correct.   Girls having great Girl Scout experiences bring other girls into the program.   However, parents driving troop leaders crazy, and troop leaders not fulfilling their duties, drive parents and their girls off.   We often find there are two sides to that story.   Making a troop function involves a lot of work on the part of the adults involved for the girls to have a quality experience.

The troops that seem to work best are the ones where parents are involved.   That doesn't mean they are all the leaders, but at least they help.   Some troop leaders assign parents to do activities one week during the semester.   Other leaders have parents drive, bring treats, or assist with activities.   There is no secret model to success, other than being focused on a quality experience for the girls. 

We recognize that troop leaders don't like to disrupt the rhythm of their troop by adding new girls.   However, each year we have hundreds of girls that desire involvement in Girl Scouts, but are unable to participate because no adults are willing to step up and volunteer.   For this reason, we appreciate those who do commit to spending quality time with girls by becoming leaders.  

Those girls sit on waiting lists, hoping.   It is a difficult situation because we believe we can improve the world through Girl Scouts.   The girls we have involved change their worlds daily, whether that is learning a life skill, participating in a civic endeavor, or just having fun with one another.   These are girls not at home watching television or playing on the computer.   Instead they get up on Saturday morning to snorkel in the Gulf, spend the night on the USS ALABAMA, explore robots, learn archery or canoeing -- the list is endless.   But some girls don't have that opportunity because there aren't enough caring adults to accommodate them.   If you believe your troop can manage some additional girls, please let your service unit manager or field executive know.   We firmly believe all girls that want to be Girl Scouts should have that opportunity and hope you do, as well.

We are working on a different recruitment model this year, so service unit managers will be asking some of you to assist with recruitment events at schools.   What we found is the few field executives needed to be too many places at the start of the school year, so please volunteer to assist.   Our girl members were down more than 10 percent last year.   This is directly related to the number of adults we can entice to have one of the best volunteer opportunities around.

The transition to the new E-Council software is getting close.   We have the membership module moved.   At this time, we are testing the payment part of the system, so you can use your troop debit card or your own credit or debit card to pay.   Just a reminder, GSUSA has increased the dues from $12 to $15 per year.   All those monies go to GSUSA.   Our funds come from the sale of cookies, fall products, and community support, which is primarily United Way funding. 

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I recently read an article about Girl Scouts and the current attacks on our organization in the mainstream media.   The author, who had been a Brownie, interviewed GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez; Lidia Soto-Harmon, the Washington, D.C., CEO; and Colleen Walker, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.   It was interesting to read about her conclusions.

As someone who is in the midst of Girl Scouts all day, every day, it is sometimes hard to get to 30,000 feet to gain perspective.   In this article, the author confronted some of the current accusations.   The first she explored was Planned Parenthood being a partner with Girl Scout.   Her conclusion after many interviews is that all this does emanate from an interview years ago where Kathy Cloninger, the previous GSUSA CEO who made some statements that could be misconstrued to indicate there was a relationship between Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts.   She could not find the connection, and the CEOs interviewed indicated most of our clientele, which is under the age of 11, doesn't even know what Planned Parenthood is about.   That would clearly be my experience.

The next criticism has to do with religion.   The Girl Scouts have long been an inclusive organization, welcoming girls of all faiths and beliefs.   If the Girl Scout Promise and Law are an affront, a girl is allowed to insert a reference to the deity she worships.   Girl Scouts value system includes religion, but it does not dictate specificity.   Anna Maria Chavez spoke to the need to be inclusive to everyone.

This author had attended the 100th anniversary Rock the Mall event that boasted over 250,000 Girl Scouts.   She walked the Mall interviewing girls and experiencing the SWAPS and crafts and other fun events for the girls.   She indicated she was struck by the power of the event and the accomplishments of the girls attending.   Each was articulate, she could explain why she was there, and talked about issues she was passionate about.

This author was impressed by the power of the iconic Girl Scout brand more than 100 years later.   The interviews with CEOs illustrated the extent to which the organization has changed over time, working to assure that girls will be a powerful force in the community and in leadership roles.   Those of you who work with girls can resonate with the history of Girl Scouts and the values of Juliette Gordon Low, but you put those values to work with the girls you mentor in today's context.

The beauty of this article is that it reminds us of the value of what we all do to make the world a better place.   Girl Scouts has a rich history and tradition, but what might sometimes not seem like the "cool" thing to do, translates to being a powerful force as an woman in adulthood.

If you are interested in reading the entire article, it can be found at here.

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We receive e-mails and telephone calls from our constituents about the "conspiracy between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood."   So, let's talk about Planned Parenthood. This topic takes up a lot of valuable staff time - usually because staff must explain our position on this subject to a volunteer who is going to quit because of Girl Scouts' supposed relationship with Planned Parenthood.   Let me state clearly that WE DON'T HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

GSSA's policy about sensitive issues of varying types can be found here.  We have a very conservative posture with respect to issues that we believe would best be discussed in the home or faith community.  GSSA, like each Girl Scout council in the United States, is its own separate entity.   Although we receive our charter from GSUSA, we have our own board of directors, elected by the members that represent our geographic area.   Our board of directors dictates policy for GSSA; just as board of directors of other Girl Scout councils shape their policies.   Our policy may well differ from the policies of other Girl Scout councils.

GSUSA has stated they do not support Planned Parenthood.   Although there have been assertions by others to the contrary, their statement is they do not support it, financially or otherwise.

I have been fortunate enough to travel in many parts of the world.   I have been to Kenya twice, where AIDS is very prevalent.   It is at epidemic proportions because boys moving into puberty are encouraged to do something similar to a vision quest where they move into manhood.   Part of that is to have a sexual experience.   These experiences are often with girls of their own age.   This is not part of our culture; we have a hard time understanding why parents would allow this to happen.   But this is the Kenyan culture.   WAGGS, the World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts of which Girl Scouts of the USA is a member, speaks out about issues, such as this, that impact girls.  

Sometimes we view an organization like WAGGS through the lens of our culture and our way of life.   Frankly, I would not want my daughter to be part of what a girl might experience in Kenya, so I would speak out about that.   WAGGS does address a myriad of issues that we don't confront in the United States and sometimes cannot comprehend.   WAGGS is much like the United Nations for girls.   Many of the issues they take up are cultural in nature and issues that impact girls' lives.   To that end, they do speak out on issues to protect and defend girls around the world.  

As we teach our girls to DISCOVER, CONNECT, and TAKE ACTION, the TAKE ACTION part means we speak out on issues we care about.   Some of what I hear about from volunteers in relation to WAGGS are issues, such as AIDS or cutting that we should care about for the girls of the world.

Here in Southern Alabama, we have our own culture and ways that we address concerns.   We feel that issues regarding sexuality are best addressed in the home, NOT through Girl Scouting. GSSA is NOT in partnership with Planned Parenthood or any such organization, nor do we plan to do so in the future. 

 

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