October 2013 Archives

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I'm from the Midwest, so a pressure washer is a foreign object to me.   In the Midwest, you worry about snow, falling leaves, and grass seed.   There is little need for a pressure washer.   One of my friend's husbands invested in one a number of years ago, being the only one in his neighborhood to have one he thought he would be helpful, since there isn't a lot to use one on.   He offered to wash their windows with his newly acquired pressure washer.   After he blew out the second window on a neighbor's house, he gave up being a good neighbor, and I'm sure the rest of the neighborhood was grateful.   With that as a backdrop, I recently purchased a pressure washer with some trepidation.

The first issue is getting the pressure washer to work.   After enlisting others to assist me in getting the object together, the first one was returned.   On the second pressure washer, it was another problem. The first difficulty I overcame, but the second was that the spray gun would not go together.   Happily, the college student next door had the good sense to recognize there were more parts available than what I was using.   Managing a pressure washer takes some patience, and it doesn't move along the timeline one desires.   In the end, what I found was that a pressure washer was analogous to working with children.

I was excited to take charge of the pressure washer and get the job done.   What I soon discovered was the pressure washer had a mind of its own.   I suspect this isn't too different than your child.   The other early thing that I learned is that this is dirty work; it is best to be prepared because you will get dirty.   Again, this is something analogous to raising children; it isn't always smiles and roses.

During the four-hour adventure I had with the pressure washer, I had plenty of time to muse (this must be why Southern males so enjoy their pressure washers).   I could hear two others in my neighborhood while I had mine working.   There was time to ponder how pressure washers are like working with kids.   When I got too close and decided to blast away, most of the time the dirt came right back in my face, and I didn't accomplish what I had intended.   However, when I was back with an angle that gave me some perspective, it was easier to see what was going on, and I did get done what I wanted to accomplish.   I worked with college students for 30 years.   This conclusion is the same as I would have with them, too -- close didn't achieve the desired results, backing off and gaining perspective achieved results.

Even hours into the job, it was clear I wasn't going to get everything done I had hoped.   I could only do part of what I needed to do, because it was too much.   I was trying to eliminate years of growth.   I had to focus on the part that I could accomplish that day, returning later to work on more of it.   This is true of children too; sometimes it is to make one point, give that time to soak in and then return to continue to shape the outcome you hope.

For years, I worked with parents who had college students that were a challenge.   Sometimes I met the parents and thought, "nut didn't fall far from tree."   Other times, I met the parents who could not understand how the student managed to get into so much trouble. They were often lovely people, and the student bore no resemblance to them.   In both cases, the pressure washer was at work.   When there was too much pressure, the situation blew up and didn't produce what was desired.   But the gentle, focused, systematic pressure that you pay attention to does often reap desired results.

In my current work, I often have occasions to see parents at work.   There's one in particular that stands out.   With the focus on bullying, this girl reports she is bullied frequently.   Interestingly, I've never seen this girl bullied, but the mother is aggressive about anyone speaking to the girl in a manner that she perceives as bullying.   I always wonder how well this girl will adjust, since everyone has pressure in life.   How you deal with the pressure plays into how happy and content you will be.   I question the wisdom of always responding, rather than encouraging healthy responses to the pressures of life.

My deck isn't finished, despite a lot of work this weekend.   Because of the nature of growth in the South, it will never really be finished.   I will work on it again and focus on a different facet of the project.   But I have learned that blasting away too close doesn't produce the desired results.   Staying back, remaining focused, and applying steady pressure from a distance does create the desired results.

October 18, 2013

 

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Now that you're a Girl Scout, let's have some fun and learn while doing it!   Not only are the girls in this council successful cookie sellers, they have the benefit of some tremendous resources for programs.   We are fortunate to have an excellent program team that puts together great programs and leverages many of the resources of the council footprint.   I thought I would run through a few programs for girls to have some real fun with. It is important to register early since some of these opportunities will fill up!

Mobile - Scouting for Food - November 9 - we are partnering with the Mobile Area Council Boy Scouts of America to help feed the needy.   This is one of the largest one-day food drives to help supply area food banks as winter approaches.   Food is collected in bags and taken to area Greer's Markets.   This is a great way to contribute to the community and earn community service hours.

Auburn - Thin Mint Sprint/Glow Run - November 2 - we have had successful Thin Mint Sprints around the council.   This year the run/walk takes a new twist.   It is a glow run, which is the new trend in the running world.   It takes place in the dark, and runners/walkers will have the opportunity to participate in all sorts of glow fun!   There's glowing fingernail polish, a glow tunnel, glow face paint, a tot trot and glow games.   It's a great family fun opportunity to get some exercise and show off your inner glow!

Mobile - Kappa Delta Badge Day - November 2 - the KDs at the University of South Alabama are great role models for girls and host a badge day for girls of all ages to earn badge that reinforce becoming a girl of courage, confidence, and character.   There are badge opportunities at every age level.   The KDs spend a great deal of time on this opportunity and everyone I've talked to about this event says it has had the girls spellbound.

Troy - High Adventure at Camp Butter & Egg - November 9 - we are proud of our zip lines, but Camp Butter & Egg has climbing walls, climbing nets, double zip lines and a number of high-adventure elements to challenge even the most adept Girl Scout.   Using this camp provides a tremendous opportunity for girls to put their skills to the test in a safe and friendly environment.

Montgomery - Zumba - November 16 - do you love to dance?   Do you enjoy getting some exercise while making some great moves on the dance floor?   Come to Zumba at the Montgomery Volunteer Center.   Dance to the music with your Girl Scout sisters, have some fun and get that body moving!

Montgomery - Handmade Holidays - November 23 - the holidays are right around the corner.   Do you prefer to give gifts that express your inner artist?   Handmade Holidays is the girl event for you.   Make cards, crafts and a canvas while listening to holiday music.   This is a great way to get a jump on holiday shopping.

This is just a sampling of the many fun events and activities to get your Girl Scouts out and having some fun while learning skills.   Others with deadlines and pertinent information can be found on www.girlscoutssa.org under the events and programs tab or subscribe to the weekly GSSA e-newsletter.

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First, I hope most of you are getting used to E-Council. We have received feedback from many volunteers who seem to love it.   It is much easier to use and saves lots of time from your end and ours.   We have discovered that many of you do not yet have council debit cards.   One of the things we have discussed on that is you can pay for it personally (using your own debit or credit card) and get reimbursed by your troop until you have a troop debit card in place.   We have heard that sometimes it takes the bank 10 business days to get you a troop debit card.   We won't be suspicious on troop audits if this fall girl memberships were paid to individuals so you can get registered.

The reason this is important is that the program module is going live very soon, and you cannot register for any programs unless you are registered in the membership module.   Thus, if you want to attend a council program, you will have to be registered in E-Council.   We have some great programs planned for girls, and we don't want them to miss out.

September 30 was the end of the council's fiscal year.   As we get close to the end of the year, if we have money left, then I try hard to address deferred maintenance issues at each of the camp properties.  One of the things we have been working on is the slipping sand at Camp Scoutshire Woods.   We were able to get more dirt, rock, and have some bulldozer work done to improve the perimeter road there.   Happily, we had a generous gift from our bulldozer contractor, which helped to make that happen.    At Camp Sid Edmonds, we replaced a culvert where the road washed significantly.   We were able to lay down rock on about half of the road there.   We did more rock on the road at Humming Hills, and Kamp Kiwanis got a new tractor, since the one there had not been replaced in years.

There is a large black bear that is in residence not far from Camp Scoutshire Woods, and we have seen photos of him.   He's a large guy, but the ranger has not seen him, and it is unlikely you will see him.   However, we are interested in safety, so please be on the lookout for bears on the property.   This summer, we also had an interloper who came on to the property at Camp Sid while there was a day camp going.   Because we are safety conscious and cell coverage is spotty at all our properties, we have purchased walkie-talkies for leaders when you are on camp properties.   When you arrive at the units, they will be checked out to you.   The base station is at the ranger's house.   Should you need any assistance or have an emergency, you can call via a cell phone or now use a walkie-talkie.

Hopefully, these improvements will make your stay at the camp properties safer and more enjoyable.   If you have not already registered for the 2013-2014-membership year, please register now.

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Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Alabama Coastal Bird Fest.   If you live near the coast or simply love birds, this is well worth your time and travel.   It started 10 years ago when Dr. John Borom convinced a number of organizations to band together to offer an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to enjoy the wealth of opportunities the coast offers together.   In sharing their respective resources, there was a lot of opportunity to learn, share ideas, and locations for great coastal birding.

The Bird Fest is a three-day event with a wide variety of programs, trips, and opportunities to choose from.   The culminating event is a bird expo, which is a great family-oriented day of programming in Fairhope.   They had a raptor presentation by the Mobile School District Environmental Center with their osprey, barred owl and screech owl available to view up close.   All of those birds were injured and are cared for by the environmental center staff and used for teaching.   The Boy Scouts were giving away woodpecker houses.   The event was free, open to the public and had photography, other conservation organizations, sharing their opportunities.

The birding during the Bird Fest was fantastic!   I consider myself a neophyte in birding.   One of the trips I took had some serious bird watchers, who were generous in sharing their expertise and knowledge to a novice.  One of the days, we saw 47 species of birds.   Both days we had birders from Canada, England and all over the United States, so this Bird Fest has grown larger than just a local program.

During the event, I had an opportunity to meet the directors of the Wehle Center part of Forever Wild lands in Bullock County, the Weeks Bay Foundation, the Alabama Coastal Foundation, Five Rivers, and the Audubon Society members.   All these organizations have fabulous materials to make working with your girls easier and maximize the area's natural resources.   I was pleased to hear we had many troops participating in the Alabama Coastal Clean Up a few weeks ago.  We will be following up with those organizations for more specifics.   We will also be discussing how we can partner with these organizations.   In the meantime, here are their websites.

Wehle Center - Forever Wild - Bullock County - www.outdooralabama.com/public-lands/stateLands/WNC

Five Rivers Delta Resource Center - Spanish Fort - www.alabama5rivers.com

Mobile School District Environmental Studies Center - 6101 Girby Road, Mobile - open to the public, check hours

Weeks Bay Foundation - Fairhope - www.weeksbay.org

Alabama Coastal Foundation - Mobile - www.joinacf.org

Mobile Bay Audubon Society - www.mobilebayaudubon.org

 

 

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