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Do you ever feel like doing program activities for your Girl Scout troop is just too overwhelming?   We have some tools to assist you!

First, the goal of leader training is to provide you with a background of our program, as well as the myriad of rules that keeps girls safe and protects you as the leader or parent.   We are now doing this training on line, to save time and travel.   An e-mail response should have been sent to you so you can participate in one of those training sessions.

Participating at the service unit also is a resource for you to find other troop leaders who have great ideas and can provide good advice on things that often don't work with girls.   It is always good to remember that, if you ask the girls what they want to do, they have lots of ideas.   Often negotiating with them about what they want to do might seem to be a trial. However, that is a good exercise in honing leadership skills.   It might not feel like it at the time, but it is.

Our website, is another great resource for ideas, programs, and other opportunities.   There are forms available on the website.   You can subscribe to the GSSA Weekly e-newsletter, which arrives on Thursday.   It highlights council programs and camping opportunities, with upcoming deadlines highlighted.   It is the source of changes in policies and procedures.   We often have last minute opportunities so they are posted there.   There's a weekly blog about things happening around the council.   It is filled with resources for the troop leader and parent.   There are FAQs, since many of your questions are the same or similar to others.   To sign up for the GSSA Weekly e-newsletter, check fill in the STAY INFORMED megaphone in the middle of the landing page.   On the website under the EVENTS and PROGRAMS section is a calendar of council events and another calendar called Other Opportunities, which highlight events around the council that girls would enjoy.

We offer lots of training opportunities, so you can become experienced on areas you might not have done before, i.e. canoeing, camper skills, archery, or zip lining.   Those can be found at

We don't want you to become frustrated with difficult parents, like those who do not pay for fall product of cookies. We are here to assist on such issues.   If you have problems with a parent or someone in your troop, Cheryl Miller works with troop leaders and parents to address and resolve issues.   She can be reached at or 334-312-0433.   She is often on the telephone, so if you receive her voice mail, leave a message and she will return your call.

We want you to have fun being a troop leader or parent.   Working with Girl Scouts is a learning experience for everyone involved, even the adults.   We have an enhancement program for leaders, called the Leader License, which rewards troop leaders for continuing to attend training sessions, do online training or fill in paperwork on time.   Information on the Leader License can be found in our Ready, Set, Go! document.

If you have questions or concerns and aren't clear where to direct them, please call one of the service centers and those who answer the phones can direct your question to the appropriate staff member.

Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place through girls.


I heard a story recently about a troop leader that said something to a girl in her troop so withering that she spent the rest of the day sobbing.   I heard this from the parent, who was frustrated that the adult didn't understand the power of her words over this child for whom she is an authority figure.  

Sometimes we forget that words can be powerful, and they can hurt, even though that was not the intention.    As someone who worked in higher education for a long time, I'm accustomed to older students, who frequently use humor as a form of friendship and banter, so I understand how something said in jest could be misunderstood or taken in the wrong way.   But not everyone understands that, particularly our youngest children, and we always need to be careful to recognize it when offense is taken.

We want girls to have a fun time.   We know the program teaches girls skills.   Our task is to build confidence, assist them with character development, and develop courage.   When I heard this story, I thought of one of my favorite Barbra Streisand songs, written by Stephen Sondheim. The lyrics resonate in this case, as well as many others.

Children Will Listen

How do you say to your child in the night

Nothing is all black but then nothing is all white?

How do you say it will be all right

When you know it mightn't be true?
What do you do?


Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see

And Learn


Children may not obey

But children will listen

Children will look to you

For which way to turn

To learn what to be

Careful before you say

"Listen to me"

Children will listen


Careful the wish you make

Wishes are children

Careful the path they take

Wishes come true

Not free

Careful the spell you cast

Not just on children

Sometimes the spell may last

Past what you can see

And turn against you

Careful the tale you tell

That is the spell

Children will listen


How can you say to a child who's in flight

Don't slip way and I won't hold so tight?

What can you say that no matter how slight won't be



What do you leave to your child when you're dead

Only whatever you put in it's head

Things that your mother and father had said

Which were left to them to


Careful what you say

Children will listen

Careful what you do it too

Children will learn and see



Guide them but step away

Children will glisten

Temper with what is true

And children will turn

If just to be free

Careful before you say

"Listen to me"

Children will listen

Children will listen

Children, children will listen


Why aren't more girls Girl Scouts?   This is an issue we grapple with on a regular basis at the council service center.   The short answer to that is, not enough adults are willing to step up and serve as leaders.   Each year every one of our field executives and their associates returns to the office with a story about how they held a recruitment event and no parents would volunteer to serve. It is hard to conceive that there girls waiting to be Girl Scouts simply because we cannot find enough adults to help.

At this time of year we are busy negotiating with troop leaders to add girls to troops who join, and there is no troop around for them to get into.   The parents won't do it, so we start our waiting list, which some year's reaches as high as 2,000 girls.   It is hard to understand how there can be at least 2,000 girls who want to be Girl Scouts who can't because of the lack of adults.   This time of year we are searching for those adults who want to have a good time with girls.   Is it hard work?   Well, it might be, although we have more materials to make it easier to start a troop.   It does require some time up front to become vetted so we are sure the girls involved are safe and we have appropriate safeguards in place for them.

You do not have to be a parent to serve as a Girl Scout troop leader, although most are because it brings a group almost automatically.    We are interested in any adults who have the desire to make the world a better place through girls.   We have recruitment events scheduled all over the council, you can see them listed on our Facebook page.   But, if you are interested in becoming a Girl Scout troop leader, contact or call either service center and ask for a membership staff member.

We would love to have no waiting lists of girls this year that we wind up turning away because there are no adults interested in spending time with them.   It is fun and fulfilling work.


It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of longtime Camp Humming Hills ranger Ed Smith.  Ed passed away peacefully in his sleep early Tuesday morning after a prolonged illness.   


Ed served our council with great spunk and dedication for eight years, and along with his wonderful wife, Wanda, made many beneficial changes to this camp property.  He was a hard worker, who loved Humming Hills as if it were his own.


Ed was a friend to many of our staff, and his loss will certainly be felt both by us and our Girl Scout family.  Personally, I will remember Ed's easy smile and kind heart. As many of you know, Ed always liked to pretend to be something of curmudgeon, but underneath that, he really just loved his camp and all of us, and he demonstrated this in hundreds of ways. I'll miss my dear friend and colleague.  He was truly an original.


Please join us in thoughts and prayers for his family during this difficult time.

-- Karlyn Edmonds, COO



It's time for some fun!   Now that school has started and everyone is starting to settle into a routine, it's time to look at your calendars and plan some fun.   That's the great thing about Girl Scouts, you can have lots of fun while learning things.

GSSA works to offer programs that an individual troop can't easily plan.   The program staff works hard on topics for events that girls will have a lot of fun with.   Those opportunities are listed on the website under EVENTS and PROGRAMS   There are deadlines for each event, so pay attention to those, since some of the programs fill quickly.

The fall program schedule is chock full of great events spread throughout the council.   You can go back in time to the 1800s for a program in Dothan.   There's an archeology program called Dig In, where you explore the fun of learning what is in the dirt.   A program we have done parts of but will do a longer session is called Camp Conservation, where girls look at skulls, learn about water, recycling, birds and the environment.   The University of South Alabama is offering ChemScouts where girls can explore chemistry in a fun and exciting manner.   The Dauphin Island Sea Lab mini-destination is always a great program, but tends to fill quickly.   For those of you who are night owls, what about a program where you explore what happens at night in the outdoors?   Another fun program is the Princess Party with the Kappa Delta Sorority at USA.

Hopefully, you can find some fun programs for your girls this fall that everyone will enjoy.   Have fun while learning!

Our Fall Product Sale is starting soon.  This is a great way for troops to earn start-up funds for the year.  And, we promise, it really is easy!



I have a lot of troop leaders tell me they don't participate in Fall Product because it is too hard.   I recognize that many schools have large fall fund-raisers and asking folks to purchase things gets wearying, even if it is fantastic Girl Scout cookies.   The fall product sale, though, is much quicker and easier than selling cookies.   The funds to the troops are higher, as well.  This program was developed so troops could earn funds to get started with each year.   Also, it tends to be oriented more toward friends and family and includes magazine sales.   Who doesn't like a good magazine or some delicious treats?

The products, if you are ordering nuts and candy, are delivered prior to the Thanksgiving holidays, which make them great for holiday gift giving.   The payback is quick and easy, too. If you are in a quandary, here's a link to the fall product family guide, take a look. Trainings will be presented on Sept. 12 (Montgomery) and Sept. 13 (Mobile).


Last week, in the midst of school starting which begins a very busy time at the office, I had some reflections on two lives well lived.   It is interesting to juxtapose two funerals in the midst of the long list of to-do items and the frantic pace this time of year brings.   However, maybe these three Girl Scouts help us put things in their proper perspective.

Beverly Ross, who passed away last week, was a longtime community volunteer in the Montgomery area.    Beverly had a lengthy list of organizations with whom she was engaged.   She was heavily involved with Girl Scouts of South Central Alabama, serving on the board, and as a board chair.   Her death was sudden and shocking -- and it was swift.   She wasn't that old, nor was she in ill health.   That is always hard on people, leaving no time to think about it and no time to say good-bye.    The funeral included photos of her in her youth, attractive and vibrant.   Beverly left her world a better place.   She made a difference at a number of organizations that will matter.

The second Girl Scout we recently lost was Mrs. Gloria Caddell in Mobile.   I had written about Mrs. Caddell and my encounter with her years ago.   She was the mother of seven.  The children shared some great stories at her funeral; she was 93, having lived a long and full life.   Her decline was steady, and her passing was not unexpected.   I had a nice discussion with two of her daughters, and then I noticed she was buried in a beautiful Girl Scout shirt covered with trefoils.   This blouse was not new, but clearly one loved.   It took my breath away to think that she cared so much about Girl Scouts that she would be buried in a blouse bearing the symbol of something she believed in.    When you are 93, most of your friends have already passed away.   Those in attendance were a group of Girl Scout troop leaders through the years.   Some were women who had been in her troop, some she had mentored, and others she had asked to be troop leaders.   It isn't often that I have the opportunity to know someone so devoted to Girl Scouts.

This summer we also had the very sudden passing of Wanda Robbins, our associate field executive who worked in the Monroeville area.   She's another young woman who died quickly and suddenly, showing no hint of health issues.   Wanda had done many things in her life to leave the world a better place.   Well-known and liked in her community, although she had no children of her own, she spent her own time working with children - and she was good at it.   We will not be able to replace the gifts Wanda brought to the girls in the Monroeville area.

The moccasins of these women and others I might not know are not easily filled.   They did fulfill the Girl Scout Law and Promise by being a sister to every Girl Scout and do their best.

On those days, when your list is lengthy and the hours seem short, it is good to reflect on what is really important in life.   It might not be the many items on your list to get done today, but the ability to find and take the time to make a difference in the lives of others.


The school buses are choking the main thoroughfares, children are standing at the bus stop each morning, clean and pressed ready for the new year.   Every school in this council has now started, so although the temperatures and humidity are still high, the days are starting to shorten, and there is change in the wind.

As you work to get back into the rhythm of the routine of school, you ponder how you can get everything done and still have time for sanity.   In this age of enhanced communication, on demand video, and too much to do, it is hard to fit everything in on a daily basis.   I have long been a believer in "inertia."   The theory that a moving object remains moving and a stopped object stays stopped.   Most of you are moving parents, doing things to assist your child/children along in their journey to enhance their lives and bring them joy.

I was reading through some of the tributes to Mrs. Gloria Caddell, a longtime volunteer who passed away last week.   In my announcement I missed by 10 years, she had been a Girl Scout volunteer for 60 years.   Wrap your head around that number -- 60 years of giving to others.   As I read through the comments, all spoke of her joy, her ability to teach skills they still use today.   In her 80s, she was still teaching First Aid and CPR, I find that awe-inspiring.   My own theory is that, by giving to others for as long as she did, it was part of what fueled a fulfilling life into her 90s.

At the end of the day, when you take stock of can you do this and you don't have time for the many things you want to do, it is good to make time for the things that matter.   I have not met one volunteer who didn't have a girl who used her as a role model and idolized her in one way or another.   She might not be able to articulate that clearly, but it is true.    Girls matter, make the time to leave your world a better place.   Thank you for all you do.

August 12, 2015



It is with sorrow I announce the passing of a long time Girl Scout volunteer, Gloria Caddell of Mobile.   Mrs. Caddell was a Girl Scout leader for more than 50 years.   During that time, she touched countless lives.   Her work focused around teaching girls the Girl Scout Law:   "I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout."    She did make the world a better place, and she was a sister to every Girl Scout.  In 2005, she was honored as a "Southern Hero" for her work in the community.

Early in my career here my mother was visiting from out of town.   I'm not sure what the event was, but there was a potluck lunch or dinner next door in the volunteer center, so my mother tagged along.   She wound up sitting next to Mrs. Caddell, who was quite gracious.   My mother had been a primitive camp counselor at a Girl Scout camp at the Lake of the Ozarks during her college years.   They started to share stories about their experiences with girls and primitive conditions.  - Liz Brent

Beverly Crews' writes, "my own story of experience with Mrs. Caddell would be a camping story of cooking breakfast at camp like a real hobo, using a paper bag to fry bacon and fry the egg.   I was certain my bag (and my breakfast) would burn up!   Well, of course it cooked up very well.   Our troop's first camping trip last year we tried it with great success."

Teri Eversole noted that Mrs. Caddell was teaching first aid to Girl Scout volunteers into her early 80s.   She would have the troop leaders do the CPR and other training.

Mrs. Caddell's daughter, Mary, provided this:

"Mom volunteered with Red Cross for over 50 yrs and was awarded The Ralph Holberg award "In recognition of Dedication to the American Red Cross Mission and Goals and in particular to Community involvement and Innovative leadership" in 1990. She was a Water Safety Instructor, First Aid and CPR instructor, and volunteered in Hurricane Shelters in to her 80's. I suspect she taught over 10,000 kids to swim through Scouts and Red Cross, all as a volunteer. Of course many also learned how to canoe, sail, make the perfect marshmallow for s'mores, camp...In 2005 she was honored as a Southern Hero by SouthernLINC, which is for "Outstanding Community Service and Leadership."She sang in the choir and participated in chorale through her mid 80's. She went to the National Girl Scout convention in California as a delegate in 2002."

Please remember her family during this time of loss.  Do you have a special memory of Mrs. Caddell?  Please share them on our Facebook page:


Summer is drawing to a close.  Meanwhile, parents are buying school uniforms, school supplies, and thinking about what the fall holds.   It's almost time to return to the regular routine instead of the carefree time of summer.

As you consider things for your daughter to do, I thought I would share my perspective on why being a Girl Scout builds lifelong skills.   First, girls learn leadership skills that will serve them throughout their lives.  They learn to be patriotic and community-minded through Girl Scouts.   Girls are taught about the meaning of the flag and learn to do flag ceremonies themselves.   They are given some insight into what sacrifices occurred to live in a free country, so there's the lifelong understanding of freedom.

Down to the more pragmatic, Girl Scouts is not school.   Girl Scouts are supposed to have fun.   They can have fun making friends, singing, and deciding what they want to do.   Although all of the Girl Scout badges and curriculum are keyed to the state's educational requirements, the program is meant to be hands-on experiential learning with an emphasis on fun..   Not everyone builds confidence in a classroom setting.   Some children learn better while being in a different setting.   As an educator, I believe the Girl Scouts provides many opportunities for girls to build self-confidence through a variety of opportunities.

As you look at the data on accomplished women, most were Girl Scouts.   My own perspective after watching girls for the past eight years is girls will stretch out of their comfort zone, try new things, and discover hidden talents within themselves by being in a supportive environment, which Girl Scouts often provides.   Whether that is the fear of snakes, riding a zip line, singing in front of a large audience, speaking to groups, or leading others.   All my experiences where I have watched girls have been a testament to how girls exhibit courage and become better-rounded citizens.

Today's girls have lots of choices for their co-curricular time.   Becoming a Girl Scout provides a vast array of opportunities that shape girls who become contributing citizens.