January 2014 Archives


During the cookie program, we are looking at the various ways we connect with you.   We want to communicate with you, and likewise, we want you to communicate with us.   Just recently, we had a service unit mess because we didn't know there were issues within those working there, so communication is a critical issue for us - particularly at this busy time of year.

We have the GSSA Weekly e-newletter that comes out each Thursday.   It includes information on cookies, programs, camps, rule changes, a blog entry, and other information about happenings around the council.   We plan on continuing that initiative because we have metrics from Constant Contact we use to see what is being opened and clicked on.   We track that, so we can shape the GSSA Weekly to items we know you are interested in.

We also are looking at social media, since some of you use that rather than an e-mail account.   We thought we would do a quick survey of what you are using and what you find the most useful.   We are also looking at some of the new media opportunities to assess whether to up any time into these or not.

We are starting to work with Instagram, which is good for us because of the visual nature of it and so much of what we do is well communicated visually.   We have talked about using Vine, as well, which does brief videos.   How useful that is for us isn't as clear as Instagram.

We do know that, during the cookie program, the e-mails that go from the ABC SNAP program tend to work fairly well.   As we continue to get the modules of E-Council to work, we will have that capacity.   We want to know what works best for you, and when you are spending time on-line, what programs you use.

I hope cookies are going well so far.  Please click here or on the image below to take the short survey. Thanks for your feedback.





Technology can be the best thing that happens in your day, and then suddenly it turns on you and ruins a perfectly nice day.   When I first came to Girl Scouts, we did all our work with the cookie program by hand.   We had elaborate spreadsheets with troops and service units, booth schedules, and receipts books and receipts everywhere. That was just how the cookie program worked.   Over time, there has been a slow evolution to putting all things related to the cookie program on-line.

Now, the good part of having it on-line is there are great tools for girls, since technology and the use of technology is their world.   So a girl can go on COCO, set her goals, watch as she achieves her goals and learns.   She discovers how to plan.   This is a wonderful thing if you are young.   The on-line materials our cookie baker, ABC, provides are excellent and add to the cookie program.   Girls are better able to connect the cookie program with the five business tools they are learning through the program, so I recommend that your daughter, troop, and service unit use COCO, as it is a great resource for them.

On Tuesday, we also discovered the downside of technology when the Montgomery portion of the booth scheduler managed to have your troop only be able to sign up for a booth sale all day long.   This is probably your worst nightmare, an all-day booth sale at Walmart.   It certainly quickly became our worst nightmare when 17 pages of volunteers had tried to sign up and wound up with the all-day booth sale.   We're sorry about that. It was a great case of human error.   Our apologies, as we know this created some serious havoc.   We did have a discussion that next year instead of the 6 a.m. booth scheduler opening up, we will have it at noon when folks can possibly do it from work, home or their cell phones, and we will be in the office to deal with the issues.   We welcome your thoughts on that change at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

If you were one of the troops tied up in this technology faux pas, please know that we are working to fix it immediately.   We also are working to get in touch with you so we can honor what you intended.   If we have not e-mailed or spoken to you yet, please contact Cheryl Miller at cmiller@girlscoutssa.org.   She is working to address this with those conscientious volunteers, who got caught in our mess.

Thanks for your perseverance and patience. We appreciate all you do to make the world a better place.

What a great way to celebrate our Cookie Entrepreneurs!  We've created a special Facebook photo album for photos that you take of your girls on Walkabout Weekend, January 24-26, 2014.

Take a photo of your Girl Scout or Troop/Group as she/they go door-to door selling cookies during this year's Walkabout Weekend  and send it to us at communications@girlscoutssa.org.  


We will post all the photos in a special Facebook photo album for everyone to vote on by "liking"!  If you post the image on your own social media, use the hashtag #cookieboss so everyone can see the "cookiebosses" in your Troop!

Become a fan of our Facebook page to vote for your favorite photos. Simply click on the Walkabout Weekend photo album on our Facebook page to join the fun. The photo that receives the most likes will win 100 Program Credits, good for our shops, resident camp, and event registrations.


You can submit as many photos as you like before March 2,2014, 11:59 p.m. You and everyone else can like your favorite entries until then. The photo with the most likes will be the winner! 


We've spent the week working on delivery schedules, packing in cookies at the cookie cupboards and pantries, and cleaning up issues with swipe devices, so clearly the cookie chaos is about to commence.

The council goal for cookies this year is 913,488 packages or boxes of cookies.   Now, that is a lot of cookies.   This amount is what we sold last year, so we know it is achievable.   Our girls are some of the most prolific cookie sellers in the nation, with our per girl average at 200 for last year.   We hope to exceed that and the number of boxes sold.   We believe we are well positioned to make that happen.

Each year at this time, we always start planning for resident camp in earnest.   One of the goals is provide some new opportunities for the girls if we achieve the council goal.   In the past, you may recall we have purchased stand up paddleboards when we made our goal.  Another year, we installed zip lines at two of the camps because we exceeded our council cookie goal.   This year, I'm in search of what would motivate girls to work hard to sell cookies.   One item on my list is to purchase more Jon boats (flat bottomed), so girls who cannot use the canoes are able to get out on the lake in a boat.   Jon boats are much more stable, hold more girls, and you row rather than paddle, ergo the famous camp song "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat."   Purchasing more stand up paddleboards is another possibility.   We are open to suggestions on this, please give us your thoughts at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

I always feel compelled to remind troop leaders and parents that ABC Bakers, our cookie baker, has some great apps that make the cookie program a learning experience for the girls from every angle.   The app for girls to use during the cookie program is called COCO.  Click here for instructions on downloading and using the app.   I believe girls not only learn while selling cookies; when they are at home they can set goals, and establish them in a visible way they can track via the app.   The cookie program presents a great opportunity for girls to learn about the work of commerce.

I hope the cookie delivery went well and your sales are looking great.

Thank you for all you do this time of year to create girls who are young entrepreneurs and business women.

Girl Scout Troop 8454 is a troop combined of 4 schools in the Mobile area, mostly St Lukes Episcopal School.  We feel our success stems from a multi-level approach of opening many doors for girls in order for them to explore the avenues of personal and academic growth outside of the boundaries of school. 

This year we adopted water as our theme.  Friday, Nov 1, 2013 was our first venture to navigate these waters (pun intended!) of how what we drink gets from the atmosphere to our homes, via pumping stations.  With the help of MAWSS (Mobile Area Water & Sewer System) we were able to get a private tour of S. Palmer Gaillard Pumping Station and accompanying Converse Reservoir (Big Creek Lake).

We learned that this pumping station was created in order to serve the growing population of greater Mobile from the 1950's.   The 3600-acre storage lake has 26 miles of shoreline, is fed by 5 creeks and is connected to the pumping station. 

We learned that when the lake fills with too much water, the nearby spillway gates open and release the extra water.  We also learned that after water is pumped into the station, it leaves through 60-inch pipes and goes to one of two treatment facilities to make the water drinkable.  Last, we learned by modeling how different forms of pollution affect watersheds and the area in which we live and play.

This event was a wonderful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunity because we learned that gravity assists moving water to the treatment facilities (science), the importance of pumps in generating the initial movement to the facilities (technology), the use of dams and spillways to allow or refrain water movement (engineering) and math because we calculated that the 26 miles of lakeshore to be over 450 football fields.

A great big thanks to Mr. Benny White and Mrs. Lucinda Sully at MAWSS for taking their time to teach us about water!


Girl Scout Troop 8454 pictured from left to right:

Back row:  Tristan, Brenna, Abigail, Maggie, Della, Aleah, Mallory, Devan, Haley

Front row:  Vina, Olivia, Virginia Grace, Claire, Anya, Lilli, and Maggie (not pictured are troop leaders Michele Johnson, Shea Sadler and Julia Winnen).


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This also means that it's time for the increase in media around the between Girl Scouts and their "supposed" connection Planned Parenthood.   This is when we receive a number of calls from troop leaders, who are blind-sided by this false claim. This time of year, there is a tremendous amount of publicity about the Girl Scout cookie sale, which produces more than $700 million in sales across the United States and is the world's largest girl-led entrepreneurial project.  Some media outlets try to gain attention to their own agendas by asserting that Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood have a relationship.   Let me be clear -- we don't.

I spent 30 years in higher education, where at least twice a year I was either on television or in the newspaper about some university-related issue.   I was always stunned and amazed that my quote was chopped off, cut up, or the sound bite wasn't the part of the interview where I was making my point.   I have some first-hand experience on how the whole truth doesn't necessarily occur in our sound-bite, twitter-sized world.   I also know that not everything I read in the media, see on television, or see on a facebook or twitter feed is true so I work hard to figure out what information I believe is true in the avalanche of information that comes at me each year.

What we see is a number of organizations that use this time of maximum attention toward our organization to assert there are conspiracies, hidden relationships, and other activities going on that don't fit with the nature of Girl Scouts.   We spend lots of time responding to volunteers' and parents' questions concerning this issue.   We can only supply information about Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.   Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama's board has met and discussed this matter. Attached is the link that spells out GSSA's policy with respect to Planned Parenthood and other sensitive issues.   We don't have a relationship with them now.   We don't plan on having any relationship with them in the future.   We believe these value-laden discussions are best handled in the family and the church.

I cannot speak for GSUSA, but my experience of many meetings and telephone conversations with other Girl Scout CEOs across the country is that there is no discussion about a relationship with Planned Parenthood.   Each year we receive calls from frustrated volunteers and parents who have experienced someone in the girls' faces talking about Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts.   It is often someone who is unreasonable.   You have to wonder about an adult who would do that to a girl working to sell cookies.   Rather than have the upset parents and volunteers, we wanted to get ahead of this issue for this cookie sale.  

We believe we are well positioned for a great program.   We have access to many more Wal-Marts than in the past, as well as other businesses.   The cookies are on order and will be here before we know it.   We appreciate all the work and effort you put into the world's largest girl led entrepreneurial endeavor.   Please let us know if you have encounters on the issue of Planned Parenthood or irrational individuals at cookie booths, so we can pass it along to others at that location.   Every year I'm amazed by the girls who were quiet and shy before he cookie program and blossomed learning business values through one of many of her Girl Scout activities.




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