December 2013 Archives

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I drove out of my own neighborhood last night long after dark. Clearly I don't do that much, since I was stunned and amazed at the holiday displays throughout the neighborhood where I live.   Clearly, most went to great effort to celebrate the holiday season.

As the year starts to wind to a close, it is good to take stock of what has transpired in the months before.   I'm always struck with the generosity of Girl Scouts, their troop leaders and families.

The spirit of giving was illustrated for me earlier this week when Leslie Lerner, one of our tremendous volunteers, was in asking for some public relations for an event being held at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile.   The Daisy troop there, whose leader is Michelle Autio, hosted a party for the girls from the Augusta Evans School troop.   The girls at Augusta Evans are developmentally challenged, and the Daisies were paired with the older Augusta Evans girls to make a couple of holiday ornaments and decorate a holiday bag for their belongings.

This Daisy troop girls even went to Build-a-Bear Workshop and made a bear for the girl with whom they were paired.   They gave them the bear that they made at the end of the party.   What a wonderful gesture of generosity.

I heard about another troop that spent last Saturday morning at a home for the elderly in Montgomery.   The Brownie troop caroled for them, and then joined the residents to make ornaments for them to hang in their rooms. At the end of that event, one of the girls told her mother, "We had so much fun making crafts with our new friends! This was the best Girl Scout day ever!" It's wonderful to hear of girls learning to enjoy that special feeling of giving back to their communities.

Last week, I also was privileged to honor Mrs. Grace Leonard of Montgomery as one of "Juliette's Pearls."   Mrs. Leonard is a wonderful woman, who rose to the occasion to serve girls repeatedly, because if she had not, the troop would have disbanded.   Her entire family was there and what a wonderful tribute to hear those who had been in her troop talk about her gifts to them.

In this season of giving, it is good to be reminded that you are giving of yourself to others.  Sometimes we don't recognize or understand the significance of how a seemingly small thing can create a lasting impact on a girl.   Hopefully, during the chaos and excitement of the season, you have time to reflect on the gifts you have given to the girls you work with and the ones they give to you in return.   Thank you.

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It seems funny that in December we are planning for summer camp, but that we are.   We have to get it done prior to the onslaught of the cookie program as it moves into a full gear.   I thought I would outline some things we are considering, asking for your input.

1.    We will work to offer a day camp option for both camps.   If your daughter/girl doesn't want to spend the night away from home, this is a way for her experience what camp has to offer.   We expect to have girls dropped off at the service center by 8 a.m. each day and return by 5 p.m. each afternoon.

2.    We are considering an older girl program at a different venue.   We discussed a survivor format and another geared toward environmental issues.   One of the venues under discussion has facilities for horses, so another option under consideration is horsemanship for older girls, who have already experienced the horse program at Camp Scoutshire.

3.    We are planning to bring in more outside resources during the camp day so girls can experience things, like meeting a raptor or seeing a king snake up close, that this area has to offer.   The program will be geared to earning Girl Scout badges, as well as a great learning experience.   We are educators and want this to be a fun and educational experience.

4.    As a part of that program enhancement, we will be having more GSSA staff and volunteers working at camp during the day.   We know we have volunteers with great expertise, who are not in a position to leave their families for a week, so we think this might be a good option for them.

5.    We have dramatically cut the number of camp sessions offered, since we had many more offerings than we could fill, so the curriculum will move to a thematic offering with programs embedded at different age levels.   Hopefully, that will simplify choices.   As a part of that change, we will have every girl receive an opportunity to try all activities camp has to offer.   We received a lot of feedback last year that this didn't happen, so this year we will work to address that.

6.    We are also discussing a day camp program for older girls on robots in or around the Montgomery area in the late summer.

On another note, the Mobile County School District lags most of the rest of the council as to when classes are over, so we have to work to accommodate as many as possible as we plan our dates.

The tentative camp program dates for summer 2014 are:

Camp Scoutshire Woods Week 1: June 8 - 13, 2014

Camp Scoutshire Woods Week 2: June 15 - 20, 2014

Kamp Kiwanis Week 1: June 22 - 27, 2014

Kamp Kiwanis Week 2: June 29 - July 3, 2014 (camp will end on the 3rd, to allow for an enjoyable 4th of July)

The camp program themes are:

Pioneer Rustic Girl Camp

Outdoor Adventure Camp

Creative Arts Camp

Experimental Explorers Camp (STEM)

We welcome comments or feedback on any of the above.  Please direct these to communications@girlscoutssa.org.  Thanks! 


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Each year at this time, we decide upon a Girl Scout alumna in the northern part of the council to honor in conjunction with our holiday open house.   The potential recipients are always fascinating and extraordinary women.   I want to share some of the story of the special woman we are honoring from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, December 12 at the Montgomery service center. Please stop by if you can.

This year's "Juliette's Pearl" is Mrs. Grace Leonard, a lifetime Girl Scout.  Mrs. Leonard has been involved as a Girl Scout for 45 years and started her involvement in Hawaii in 1968.   Like most of you, she started as a helper for her oldest daughter's troop.   The following year she became a Brownie troop leader.

Mrs. Leonard's family moved to Virginia, where she served as the leader for two troops.   While she was there, the leader for two other troops resigned, and the girls needed a troop leader, so like many of you, rather than disappoint the girls, she took up the challenge.   This made her the troop leader for FOUR Girl Scout troops there.   She said it was hard, but she did it for the girls.   The same reason many of you continue your involvement -- for the girls.

When they moved to Alabama, she led three troops.   She had a Junior troop, a Cadette troop, and a Senior Troop and continues to foster relationships with the girls from her troops.

Through her years of involvement with Girl Scouts, she has witnessed first hand how much the Girl Scout program taught the girls, how they enjoyed the experience, and wanted to remain involved.   Through Girl Scouts, her daughters and others had the opportunity to travel and go places, such as Savannah.   One of her daughters started caving and backpacking, which is a lifetime activity she still participates in today.   Her daughter continues to serve as a troop leader in Hope Hull, and although Mrs. Leonard isn't a troop leader, she continues to give her time to her daughter's troop.

We want to thank Mrs. Grace Leonard, a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, for her contribution to the many girls she has served over her 45 years as a Girl Scout leader.   Thank you, Mrs. Leonard, for making the world a better place through your service to others.

If you are unable to come to the reception in person and have good wishes you would like to extend to Mrs. Leonard, please send them to mstallworth@girlscoutssa.org.  We will read them to Mrs. Leonard at the reception.


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