Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama: April 2014 Archives

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Each year, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is given the gift of millions of hours of generosity on the part of the volunteers.   These volunteers make a difference in the lives of thousands of girls in the southern half of the Great State of Alabama.   Most would be worthy recipients of the Volunteer of the Year award.   They are devoted to their girls, spend lots of times assuring girls have a great experience, and much of their work and effort goes unheralded.

In 2001, Leslie Lerner started to substitute teach at St. Paul's Episcopal School, when her own children were getting older.  By 2004, she was working full time at St. Paul's.   For many of those years, Leslie has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts, working with St. Paul's students to bring Girl Scouting to students at Augusta Evans School in Mobile.   She has inspired her students to provide Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to the students there.

Leslie, as the head of the Community Service Department at St. Paul's, works with students who become class tutors at Prichard Preparatory School, and the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind.   St. Paul's students do projects at McKemie Place, the Ronald McDonald House, Animal Rescue Foundation, and Little Sisters of the Poor.   Students also do annual service days at Habitat for Humanity and Wilmer Hall.   As a part of a St. Paul's education, students are required to perform at least 15 hours of community service per year, and Leslie is a task master to assure the students do the work and do quality work in the community.

Leslie Lerner is driven.   She is driven to help others.   She is driven to be sure her students assist the largest number of people possible.   Leslie has high expectations for herself and her students.   She is a servant leader.   Leslie is remarkable because she always brings out the best in the people she touches.   Her energy and drive have made the St. Paul's Community Service Department an asset to the community.

On behalf of more than 7,000 girls of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, I want to congratulate Leslie Lerner on being selected our 2013-2014 Volunteer of the Year.

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Did you or your daughter have an excellent year as a Girl Scout?   Are you ready to sign on for more?   Early bird registration for 2014-2015 has already begun, and if you register by June 15, 2014, your girls receive an early bird patch.

We have tried to encourage folks to sign up early. Here's some of the incentives:

Girls:   All girls registered by June 15, 2014, for 2014-2015 Girl Scout year receive an early bird patch.   To receive the patch, please fill out our the form on this link http://tinyurl.com/EarlyBirdPatchOrder

Troop:   If 75% of the girls in your troop are registered for 2014-2015 and all end-of-year financial reporting is submitted by June 15, 2014, you will receive at 5% bonus on your fall product proceeds.   To submit your financial reporting use this link http://tinyurl.com/EndofYearFinancialStatement.

Leader:   If 85% of the girls in the troop, plus 2 adults, are registered for 2014-2015 and all of the end-of-year financial reporting is submitted by June 15, 2014, the leader will receive her registration FREE.

If 100% of the girls in the troop are registered for 2014-2015 and all end-of-year financial reporting is submitted by June 15, 2014, the troop will be entered in a drawing for a $250 council gift card.

May troop bank statements should be submitted to training@girlscoutssa.org by June 15 to complete your financial reporting.

Troop numbers and percentages are based on the number of girls registered in your troop as of April 15, 2014.   If the registered girls are not returning or were not active with your troop, you will need to find new girls to take their place to meet the percentage requirement and receive incentives.   In addition, registered girls that are moving out of the area can re-register with your troop and transfer when they get to their new council.

I can't wait to be a GIRL SCOUT! We hope you can't wait either!

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Every council with camp properties has the responsibility (and cost) of proper stewardship of the land.  Ideally, this stewardship not only enhances the property for the use of our girls, but also sets up a future stable income stream.

We use a registered forester to manage all our properties because of their expertise and ability to deal in the complex world of tree farming.  Several years ago, I was told that our trees at Camp Sid would bring some money when we needed it because we had some hardwoods there that are desirable.   Since the cookie program did not reap the desired results this year, I called our forester about doing some selective thinning of the trees.   

Our forester called back to say that what he thought were some select hardwoods are really slash pines, which are not productive as a revenue stream.    Rather than leave this property and not turn it into a revenue stream for the girls, we will likely be doing a clear cut of the exterior 69 acres of the property; this is the part that lies outside or to the right of the road.   With the income reaped from the clear cut, we will replant and get that 69 acres into production.   Another facet of that project will be thinning the property to the left of the road, so there isn't a lot of fuel if a fire would break out.   Thus, this makes that part of the property more usable by girls.

A few years from now, as the planted trees become larger, we will reduce the trees on the left side of the road and put that part of the property into production.   We have done this same thing at Camp Humming Hills.   The trees up there are about three years old and they are now 5-7 feet tall.   This has not impeded troops from using the property.   By doing part of the property, then later doing the other part, you always have trees at different facets of maturity, since wind and storms can level an entire forest. This insulates the property from loss.

This is rather short notice for intensive property work, but there are some timber companies eager for this type of work, so we will capitalize on that, working to reap the most for the girls of this council.   As we look down the road, we need to find additional revenue streams to insulate from the ups and downs of the cookie program, which is our largest source of income each year.

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It is because of the hard work, commitment, care, and love Girl Scout volunteers have provided to make the organization strong for more than 100 years.   It works because of you!

I am always struck by what a volunteer will do to make the world a better place.   This past weekend it was sleeping in the outfield at the Montgomery Biscuits game, even when the rain moved in during the wee hours of the morning.   It is working to be sure the beds of camp are ready for the girls to spend the night.   It is volunteers who spend their entire weekend doing camper training so you can go with your girls to explore the woods, canoe, and learn new skills.

We have many troops in this council that 15 to 40 years later still make a point of meeting.   Many meet annually, and it is because of the passion their leader had for her girls.   I've heard them talk about trips they have taken, adventures they have had being together, and the lifelong bonds they developed with one another.   I am convinced that is this type of learning will transcend electronic games, social media, and other types of activities a girl can be involved in today.

All of our girls are accomplished and unbelievably capable in ways that often are not quickly recognized.   I hear stories of how girls decide how to use their cookie proceeds to do exciting activities, often centered on Girl Scout skill building.   What is at the center of all we do? YOU, the volunteer!

You spend lots of your time thinking about your girls.   You take them places, do activities with them, and possibly referee some differences.   You listen to the girls' concerns.    You take on more than just your daughter.   You get up early, stay late, clean up, and spend a lot of your valuable time investing the future of the girls you work with.

We want to thank you for being the special person you are.   It takes a village.    You need to know that you are providing the essential values for the girls you work with to become the exceptional adults they will be.

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I came to Girl Scouts by way of Girl Scout camp.   When I was in college, I served as the assistant director of a Girl Scout camp that had 6- to 11-year-olds.   They graduated from our camp and went to the larger and more exciting one on Lake of the Ozarks for the older girls.   What a glorious job it was!

My job was the camp program. I was out in the woods all day, moving from unit to unit spelling staff so they could get their breaks.   I had an ancient Schwinn bicycle that I rode through the center part of the camp, but most of the camp was inaccessible by bicycle, and I had to hike, often alone at night, in the dark.   I learned a lot about the beauty of the woods in the evening with the sounds and movement of animals.

Why do I mention this?   Because camp is a great way for a girl who might not excel at sports or at school to recognize that she has courage, confidence and character.   I am always stunned and amazed at the girl who finds a snake in her tent and blissfully walks over to tell her counselor.   No screaming, no yelling, just a nonchalant note to the counselor that someone needs to take care of the snake so she can change her clothes to go swimming.

In today's world, where we have technology leashes through our cell phones, laptops, video games, and other devices to keep us in touch, it really leaves us out of touch -- out of touch with nature, with the melodies of the birds and the foraging of raccoons in untended trashcans.   I was spending the night at Kamp Kiwanis awhile back, when there was a huge commotion after dark. We discovered that the noise was made by an armadillo, waddling around looking for food.   Someone I was with from the staff mentioned she had never seen a live armadillo in her life.

We have some great camp opportunities this summer besides resident camp, if your daughter is worried about spending the night away.   We have a day camp option for both resident camps.   We also have established the dates with the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Lanark property in Millbrook to offer two-day camps there.   Last year, that camp received rave reviews from the girls.   We also have Sail Away, the sailing camp for girls who want to learn a lifetime sport, sailing.

We have some great opportunities for girls to increase their skills and get outdoors with their friends.   Even if their friends don't attend, we work to be sure they have others to rely on while they are at camp.   You would be surprised how spending time away from technology broadens a girl's curiosity.   Check out all our camps at www.girlscoutssa.org/camp.  I'm planning on being up at camp all summer this year; the best job you can imagine.

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