Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama: September 2012 Archives

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September is always an exciting time here at the office.  It's fun to see girls and volunteers ready to start a new year of Girl Scouting.  We love catching up on what everyone has been doing over the summer and hearing about all the fun activities they have planned for the year.  It's also the time of year when we are busily recruiting new girls and volunteers.

Our membership staff spends these first few months of every school year visiting hundreds of schools across our 30-county jurisdiction to spread the word about the many benefits of the Girl Scout program. I've heard them say that recruiting the girls is one of the easiest parts of their job because once they hear about the many fun activities in which they can participate, the girls eagerly say "sign me up!"  However, convincing the right person to volunteer as leader to a new group of girls is one of the most challenging things we do. Because of this, we almost always have a list of girls on the waiting list to become a Girl Scout.  Some of these girls are lucky and find a troop within a few weeks, while other girls will remain on the waiting list for many months or may never find the right spot.

 As you know, being a Girl Scout volunteer is a special job.  It requires a lot of hard work and dedication (not to mention patience and organization), but the rewards are priceless.  There's nothing like having a little Daisy tell you that she just had the best day ever, or an Ambassador say that you have helped her become a strong, courageous young woman.  These are the things that keep you volunteering and really do make the world a better place for the girls you serve.

As you go about your travels this fall, please share the message of Girl Scouting with others.  Let them know that the experiences your girls have had and the lessons they have learned will serve them for a lifetime.  Spread the message that being a Girl Scout volunteer has changed your life, and encourage others to volunteer and do the same.

-- Karlyn Edmonds
   Chief Operating Officer

 

liz_brent.jpgEach year around this time, the council staff and I wind up involved in some situation where the parents of the troop discover there is money missing. This is hard-earned cookie money that the girls didn't see the benefits from.

Few things upset our staff more, so we have been talking about how this happens and how we can prevent more incidents in the future. We do background checks; we do reference checks; we have two signers on each troop account, but money still disappears, and parents are justifiably frustrated. Some of these cases are involve substantial amounts of money and are so flagrant we take them to the local district attorney. The bottom line is that what they have done is theft.

The person involved in such situations is often a great leader -- loves the girls, and plans great programs, always nice and available. There's a point, though, somewhere along the line, where one parent becomes suspicious and asks some questions, but doesn't quite get an answer that makes sense. Then another parent asks the question and receives another response, or a different response. From there it spirals to more parents talking.

The council's staff is often the last to know there's a problem.   We do audit checking accounts of troops when parents call us and suspect something is amiss.   We recognize that, given the amount of concern we have around safety issues, you normally would not assume the person who is your troop leader might be doing something underhanded. The percentage of adults that do this is very small, but it is always frustrating.   We ask that, when you think things don't make sense, please call us.   Ask the troop leader for an accounting of the troop funds.   As a parent, you should be able to see how much money is coming in and whether the funds are in fact used for the specified purpose.   If you think something odd is going on, let us know.   We want the girls of this council to have great events, a fun time, but to always realize the benefits of all their hard work and efforts.

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Every three years our Girl Scout charter is reconsidered by GSUSA.   This takes a great deal of time, as they are looking at whether we comply with a book filled with policies governing Girl Scout councils.   One of many policies addresses whether volunteers have their materials reviewed every three years.   Another piece is what training and certifications do each leader hold.   In an effort to encourage leaders to complete these trainings and certifications, volunteer services has developed a Leader License.    This will be a laminated license nametag that we will provide leaders that they can wear at events.   In an effort to recognize those volunteers who complete this process, they will receive monthly incentives to show our appreciation.   We are like all companies, sign up and do the work, and you will receive discounts.

We have been working hard to get Cheryl Miller, our volunteer liaison, out and about around the council as you begin this new year.   She's been working with volunteers, training and addressing other start up issues.   If you have questions about the Leader License or other things relating to Girl Scouts, we encourage you to contact Cheryl at cmiller@girlscoutssa.org or 334-272-9164 x2302 or 334-312-0433.

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Each year at this time, I do a blog entry on why being registered as a Girl Scout matters.   Our membership year runs from October 1 to September 30 each year.  After September 30, if you have not registered for the coming year and participate in any Girl Scout functions, you take on the legal responsibility of that activity.   This means that, if you take a troop somewhere, you aren't registered and something happens, the Girl Scout insurance does not cover you.   The same is true with adults who are not approved by Girl Scouts.  

We work very hard to get adult volunteers approved quickly, but having adults who are not approved again jeopardizes you because you are assuming that liability -- Girl Scouts.   I recognize it doesn't sound like a big deal and many people may simply decide take their chances.  However, each year we do have a number of accidents that do occur, and trust me, dealing with the attorneys, potential litigation, and liability that involves is not something you would want to spend your time and money on.

We encourage everyone to register as soon as possible for the next membership year, so you are assured you and the girls you work with are adequately covered and protected.

Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place. We are looking forward to a busy year with many new programs.

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