This is the time of year we do planning for the next Girl Scout year. We look back at some of what we have tried and experienced in the previous year and work to improve on it, mutate it into something else, or try something new. As we do that, we look at the data we have collected to shape these decisions, events, programs and activities going forward.
The trends are always interesting in this exercise. We are always working to grow membership, but have found that our membership is a tad flat this year. Growth in membership is accomplished primarily through in-school groups in rural areas, not with traditional troops that are volunteer-led.
In terms of council programming, we continue to create some of our own competition in the program area by offering good events in different parts of the council on the same weekend. This is always a difficult thing to juggle, since we want to offer girls as many opportunities as we possibly can.
The cookie program continues to grow, which is counterintuitive in many respects. It is fortunate, since proceeds from that program fund council operations. Hence, it pays the bills. Funds above where we set the budget from the cookie program are used to provide improvements at camp properties. This is where the funds for the new bathhouse at Camp Scoutshire Woods, zip lines at two resident camps and stand up paddle boards come from. We received a lot of feedback from the SNAP survey and service units about the change to a direct sale, and we will be integrating that feedback into the coming program. I think we all learned some things during that experience.
We have worked on growing the camp enrollments, which continue to be in a decline. This is not a good test year for this, since many troops are going on trips they have saved for to Washington DC, Savannah and other much larger trips. We have done some advertising to attract new girls to resident camp, but that didn't result in any change, so we will be looking for new ideas to grow this program in the future.
This coming year we need to do better work asking girls what their experience is in various programs. Much of our funding is moving to an outcomes based model. Funders are no longer interested in the number of girls involved in a program. They want to know the program changed the girl. Expect to see many more online surveys for us to provide outcome metrics for funding.
We are doing more aggressive fund raising, so that we may decrease reliance on the cookie program and increase funding from other sources. The Boy Scouts rely heavily on funding from the community, and our initial experience is that the community will support girls. We are looking for suggestions and assistance for the fund development staff on businesses, individuals and other opportunities we can use to improve the girl experience. Please send any thoughts you have to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will be having a large fund-raiser in Lee County on August 24 to replace funds that the United Way used to provide for us there. If you have any items (small or large) that we can auction off, please let us know, the auction theme is sports, travel and entertainment. We are planning that this will be a free event, so stay in tune for that might be a great evening of fun for adults.
We work hard to provide better experiences for the girls each year. Most of this is predicated on the feedback from the previous year. If you have suggestions, ideas, or thoughts, please let us know. I receive a lot of feedback about things that other councils do, most are much larger, so we work hard to provide what we believe works for the girls of this area that leverages the resources we have.
Thank you for your assistance in this important endeavor.