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This week and next week as I drive to and from work I'll play Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches.   It is a time of exhilaration and tears.   Commencement's definition, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is "a time when something begins."   I realize we sometimes see this as an ending, when, in fact, it is the beginning.

On behalf of all of GSSA's staff, I would like to congratulate the class of 2015   What an accomplished group of girls, soon to be young women that we have had amongst us.   I have had the privilege of attending ceremonies where these girls have been honored.   They will change the world, and they have learned how to do this through Girl Scouts.   They are headed in many different directions, but all are aimed at making a difference in the lives of others.

Hopefully, this transition to the next phase of life, the new beginning, will continue to include involvement in Girl Scouts.   We work with many collegiate women through programs facilitated partnership with us, especially those involved in the Kappa Delta Sorority, but we are not limited to that partnership.  If your Girl Scout experience has been a good one, consider remaining involved, even if it is the occasional assistance to a troop where you are living.   Many of you might remember how great you thought college girls were; remember that now you are, too, for younger girls.

Also a reminder, there is a large discount when you become a lifetime member of Girl Scouts upon graduation from high school.   I urge you to consider taking advantage of that.

On behalf of the more than 10,000 girls and volunteers involved in GSSA, we wish you every success in your future endeavors.   You will have times of frustration and times of great joy in your journey ahead, but we know you will do well because of the life skills you have developed through your many experiences and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

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Girls can do anything!   Each year we have a group of girls that are highly accomplished and do amazing things.   It is wonderful to see them grow over the years and watch them give back to their community through their award projects.   We have a great group of girls that provide all types of community service through their awards.

A large number of Junior troops earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award during the past year, and many more are currently working on projects in their communities. Here are a few examples from across the council:

  • ·         Daphne Troop 8186 is working on a permanent geocache course at Camp Scoutshire Woods for other girls to enjoy.
  • ·         Troop 9349 from Enterprise helped the local animal shelter by painting some of the rooms and collecting needed items.
  • ·         Troop 9261 in Ozark created an outdoor education garden at their school that included upcycling milk jugs into automatic watering containers, painting stepping stones, and leading a group of more than 50 students to plant a variety of plants.
  • ·         Loxley Troop 8393 volunteered and collected items for a horse rescue shelter.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is earned by Cadettes and is a stepping stone for the Gold Award. Here are a few of our excellent projects from this past year:

  • ·         Troop 9750 from Dothan recycled plastic grocery bags to make plastic yarn, which they crocheted to make sleeping mats for the homeless.
  • ·         Troop 7309 worked with a low-income daycare in Auburn to improve the facilities and provide additional resources and activities for the children to enjoy.
  • ·         A member of troop 9157 in Prattville sewed more than 70 colorful pillowcases to comfort children in an orphanage in Bulgaria.
  • ·         Satsuma Troop 8517 created a "Read Across America" curriculum for their middle school library. They identified and compiled a list of books from all 50 states to encourage students to read.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting, and is only open to Seniors and Ambassadors. Here are two of our recent Gold Awards:  

  • ·         Rebecca Pober from Daphne produced, directed, edited and screened a professional documentary on domestic human trafficking, which can be seen on the website she created: againsthumantrafficking.com. In order to create her documentary, she made contacts, fundraised, conducted on and off-camera interviews.  Afterwards, she has given and continues to give presentations to highlight this issue.
  • ·         Amerie Gramelspacher's topic for her Girl Scout Gold Award was suicide awareness and prevention. She spoke at churches and events, conducted a suicide awareness and prevention 5K, purchased a curriculum for the health classes at her school, and purchased signs for the middle and high schools. Throughout the project, she partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Thanks to Amerie's efforts, the elementary, middle, and high school teachers in Thomasville now receive annual suicide prevention and awareness training hosted by the AFSP.

Rebecca and Amerie have been nominated by our council for the National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD) award, given by GSUSA to 10 exceptional Gold Award recipients from across the nation. GSUSA has done some great work to improve the highest awards.   Rather than having the National Young Women of Distinction awarded every three years at the national convention, that will change to annually.   In addition, a benefactor will be providing funding for a $10,000 scholarship for each NYWOD.  Girls who have earned the Gold Award are eligible to be nominated for NYWOD by the Gold Award Committee of GSSA.

As a reminder, GSSA has a group of trained volunteers who work with girls on their Gold Awards.   This committee reviews girls' applications and materials.   Because it is a group of volunteers, we try hard to respect their time, which means paperwork needs to be submitted well in advance of deadlines so the committee has the time they need to conduct their review.   The new working deadlines for 2015-2016 awards are as follows:

Quarterly deadlines for all Gold Award submissions

·         February 1

·         May 1

·         August 1

·         November 1

Graduating Ambassadors

·         February 1 deadline for proposals

·         May 1 deadline for final reports


Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is fortunate to have a great group of volunteers and girls committed to community service. Last year GSSA girls earned 112 Bronze Awards, 27 Silver Awards, and 6 Gold Awards, representing more than 4000 hours of service in their communities. Girls also earned 44 Service Bars for Community Service and Service to Girl Scouting, representing more than 1,400 hours of service.

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We work hard to supplement the funds girls bring in through the cookie program with a wide variety of events, activities, and other fund development initiatives. Recently, a volunteer inquired about these activities, so I would like to go through some of them to make you aware of the many things we do to increase opportunities for girls.

EVENTS

ART SHOW AND SALE  - Daugherty's Gallery and Frame Shop in Mobile is hosting a benefit art show and sale for GSSA.   There will be a wide variety of art available in all price ranges and budgets.   The art show and sale is a casual browse through their gallery this weekend.   Drop by for some refreshments while looking at some delightful art and making a purchase.   Daugherty's Gallery and Frame Shop is located at 857-A Downtowner Boulevard in Mobile, the times are Saturday, May 16, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.   A percentage of the sales will benefit the girls of this council.

 M3 - MANICURES, MASSAGES AND MERRIMENT - This is an ADULTS-ONLY event, scheduled for Friday, June 12, at Virginia College - Montgomery, 6200 Atlanta Highway. This event is organized by members of On My Honor, the Montgomery area Alumnae Association. We are so grateful for the hard work and dedication of this committee.  Last year was the first for this event, and it received rave reviews. You are sure to have a great time. Bring some friends, have some fun and leave looking and feeling great.  Guests can score some great items at the silent auction and enjoy delicious food donated by restaurants and caterers from throughout the River Region. The fun continues with manicures and massages by the students of Virginia College School of Cosmetology and School of Massage Therapy and is topped off with delicious pairings of cocktails inspired by Girl Scout cookie flavors, prepared by local bartenders! Tickets are $40 each. For tickets, please call the Montgomery office or tickets are available at our online shop. Plans are being made for a similar event in the Mobile area.

MEMBER CARDS

We have a new benefit to offer our outstanding supporters who donate $35 or more - the MemberCard. Click here for Information on how this great program works, and some of the amazing deals! This card offers a variety of deals, including 2-for-1 specials, discounts at local restaurants, performances, attractions and more! Just a few of the 2-for-1 deals include Red Brick Pizza (Enterprise), Down By the Bay (Fairhope), Butch Cassidy's Café (Mobile), Eastside Grille (Montgomery) and so much more. The card is valid for one year, so get your card today and begin saving!  Visit http://membercard.com/landing/gssa.cfm to check out the latest listing of participating businesses. Once you have your card, download the MemberCard mobile app to find available discounts, distance to participating businesses, and more! Let us know if you have any suggestions for other local restaurants or attractions you would like to see included.  

CALLING ALL AMAZON SHOPPERS! - Shop for great deals and support GSSA at the same time. For those who prefer shopping on line, sign up for AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com, which is the charitable arm of Amazon.  Simply visit smile.amazon.com,  search for our name "Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama" and make us your charity of choice.  You may also see our name listed as Girl Scouts of the Deep South (we are working with AmazonSmile to make the name correction). You can even use your existing account, and Amazon's website will remember your charity selection.  Signing up does not cost you any additional money and a small percentage of all your sales is donated to Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama. As these donations add up, they will help us in our efforts to secure matching grant funding and help us with our continuing work to support our girls.

PLANGPlanG is another way to shop online with a purpose.  PlanG has partnered with more than 250 major brands to transform everyday shopping into acts of purpose. Simply shop online and earn free giving dollars for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama!  It is really simple! Go to myplang.com to sign up, designating "Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama" as the recipient of the funds.  Then tell others about the impact you are making in the life of girls in southern Alabama. PlanG makes it easy for you to share your experience and ask your friends to help make a difference in a girl's life, too!  

INSCRIBED BRICKS 

Honor a loved one, troop leader, volunteer or special occasion with a brick paver a Kamp Kiwanis for generations to see.  For $50 purchase a brick paver and personalize it.  It will be placed around the Sawyer-Weil pavilion at Kamp Kiwanis.  Inscriptions are limited to twelve characters on three lines.  Some troops purchase multiple bricks to increase the size of their message. To purchase your brick, visit the gift page of our online shop. or call the Montgomery office to learn more.

RESIDENT CAMP SCHOLARSHIPS

- Each year we do an annual camp appeal seeking support from our current donors.   In memory of Cadette Girl Scout Emily Dunnam, GSSA's Board of Directors approved the establishment of the Emily Dunnam Camp Scholarship. Emily was an active Girl Scout from Fairhope, who loved camp and the outdoors. She enjoyed canoeing, nature walks and playing in the spillway at Camp Scoutshire. Before disbanding for graduation, members of Troop 8442 used their remaining troop funds to help establish this scholarship to honor Emily and give other girls an opportunity to enjoy camp for years to come. This fund will sponsors one Brownie or Junior, and one Cadette or Senior (leadership or CIT program) to attend camp each year. 


DINING OUT, ANYONE?

Zea Rotisserie and Grille in Mobile is supporting Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.  Every second Wednesday of the month in 2015, from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Zea will donate 10% back from sales to GSSA when you show them our flyer.  The flyers are available at the Mobile Service Center at the front desk, or you can download them here. Grab a few flyers and enjoy the dining experience. Schedule your next meeting our gathering for the second Wednesday at Zea to enjoy some wonderful food and support Girl Scouts all at the same time.

These are just a few of the many activities we are conducting in our efforts to increase funding and program opportunities for our girls.   We hope you can support them and help us spread the word to your family and friends.  Thanks for all that you do!

liz-2015.jpgGirl Scouts of Southern Alabama enjoys partnerships with local Army representatives through a number of projects and initiatives.   They have evaluated the tower for us at Camp Humming Hills around safety and stability.   They also have installed a set of three navigation courses for us at Kamp Kiwanis.  

Last week, I was one of a number of guests and educators of the U.S. Army and the Army recruiting battalion at Fort Benning, Ga.  I welcomed an opportunity to see what the Army does.

What is interesting about this tour is how much what the US Army dovetails with our own mission and values.   The Army imbues the values of leadership.   We teach values to Girl Scouts.   We teach respect for the flag, and for those who have given their lives for our freedom, and the importance of being good citizens.   All values the Army teaches its new recruits.

The point of this tour is to assist those who work with youth to understand the requirements and opportunities available to them through joining the US Army, or any other branch of the service.   We used to believe if you can't make it in college, join the Army.   Well, that is no longer the case.   The US Army wants the brightest and the best.   They want to top of the high school graduating class.   They offer more than 150 different occupational specialties.   Much of their orientation is computer technology.

The equipment, simulators, training facilities and opportunities are stunning.   Their mission to protect us involves increasingly complex technology and equipment.   Having an opportunity to see their facilities first hand is mind blowing.   Fort Benning itself is equivalent to a medium-sized city with what is as complex as one of the largest universities in the United States, with education of all types being conducted daily.

We had the opportunity to fire virtual rifles and machine guns.   We were able to crawl around on Abrams and Bradley tanks and then get in a tank simulator and try to hit a target.   Trust me, it isn't very easy.   We sat through a lecture for the Airborne on what happens when your parachute gets tangled.   Some of the options there weren't very attractive.   We heard from the Lt. Col. who trains the infantry and visited their dining room and living facilities.   During their 14-week training, the living facilities are pretty sparse, with the emphasis on getting in shape and eating healthy.   We attended a graduation ceremony for a group that had completed Basic Combat Training.   We also had a guided tour of the Infantry Museum, at the entrance of Fort Benning.  Finally we were able to attend Rangers in Action, a show that should not be missed if you ever have an opportunity to attend.   There was lots of blowing things up, rappelling up and down 40 foot towers, walking across high structures, zip lining down long cables into the water, and finally dropping from a helicopter into an area and then being picked up later.   It was fantastic, and we missed part of it because of the large number of school kids there that day.

If you have an opportunity to tour Fort Benning or any other military installation, it is both eye opening and educational.   All those we spoke to possessed a seriousness of purpose.   They understand their mission is to defend our freedom.   Hooah!


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It is spring, which means it's time for us to start planning for next fall.   It seems hard to believe we start now, but we do.   We are always looking for new and educational events and activities for our girls to participate in, and this year we had a number of new programs offered across the council.  

The general criteria for the council to offer a program is that it should be something a troop individually cannot do or do easily.   In addition, it needs to be attractive enough for folks to travel from one part of the council to another because it is not cost-efficient to use the girls' money to plan council events for less than 50 girls.   Because of this, most events will be larger, that is always desirable.   If you have some thoughts or ideas of good events that you believe girls would like, please let us know at communications@girlscoutssa.org.

This year, we had some great new events that have received excellent reviews.  Auburn University hosted an equestrian day for the girls and a fantastic Pi Day event that was filled with all sorts of hands-on science experiments.   Recently, we had a day with the dolphins in Gulfport, which filled twice, and the girls loved it.   We also had a new program at the zoo in Gulf Shores.  

Again, one of the caveats in planning events is they must attract people from around the council.   We have worked at hosting a number of programs in the Wiregrass area and have been disappointed they didn't make the minimum attendance required.   .

We will be starting to do some strategic planning, involving volunteers, always looking for ways to make the Girl Scout experience better for the girls we serve, so be on the lookout for those questionnaires and surveys in the near term.

As we work through our girl numbers this year, we find that some folks did not register until the cookie program.   Just a reminder on this, for now and I will do so again in the fall.   If you are not registered and participate in activities and there is an accident, you are held liable, not GSSA.   So you do that at your own peril.   The $15 price is a small price to pay for insurance coverage in case there is some type of accident.

We are also working on getting things ready for summer resident camp.   We will have a commuter option for those who do not want to spend the night.   Again, we take girls from the Mobile Service Center to Scoutshire Woods and the Montgomery Service Center for Kamp Kiwanis to be cost efficient.   We found last year that we had a number of girls who were able to enjoy camp this way.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.   Please share your ideas on programs you would like to see.

 

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I was just musing on the work our Volunteer of the Year, Barbara Mitchell, has done over more than 20 years with girls.   Not her own children, but girls in public housing that became her girls.   She provides opportunities for girls they might not have otherwise had.  

One of the extraordinary thing about Barbara Mitchell is that she takes those girls everywhere.   I attend events all over the council and you can often see her with a pack of girls on any given Saturday morning.   It is always a surprise and delight to see her smiling, happy to be there with the girls she brought.   She provides girls a role model, someone other than their parent to listen to them, and care about them.   What a wonderful gift to give others!  

Each of you is one of our volunteers of the year.   Sometimes you think no one else is experiencing the parent who believes the troop meeting is uncompensated babysitting, or not paying is acceptable.   Then there's the girl who always tests the limits when you have repeatedly tried to politely and quietly worked to deal with the behavior.   It is always amazing when we discuss volunteers to discover how their issues are similar.   It is someone testing your goodwill and desire to have a wonderful experience for everyone.   We realize there are frequent, behind the scenes conversations and troubles that test your mettle; when your desire is to work with girls, not negotiate parental issues.

Building leaders can be a messy endeavor.  We understand that sometimes it is the glitter all over your kitchen, the stain on the carpet, or  the mess made that wasn't adequately cleaned up when requested.   But every one of you does this because you care about the girls with whom you work.   Each of them comes with unlimited potential, and you work to shape and form those girls into the confidence, courageous strong leaders who will lead us into the future.

On those days when you feel like this is a burden, remember that some day these girls will become women who will change the world.   You are changing their world every time you work with them.   They will change those that go behind.   Thank you, for your time and investment in helping develop girls who will change the world. 

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How often have we been moved, given gifts, or good advice from a great teacher and not really thanked them?   As we grow older and reflect on the gifts we have been given, we regret not thanking some of those individuals.

Volunteers are a wonderful!   Our girls and staff have the privilege of working with a tremendous group of individuals on a daily basis.   We have volunteers who have worked with girls for more than 30 years and others who are just getting started.   We have individuals who teach girls about horses, how to swim, how not to be afraid of bugs and spiders, and how to become a women of courage, confidence, and character.   It is a gift.

I always stand in wonder as I watch what some girls can do with the encouragement and support of those adults around them who care.   These girls try things they would never want to try.   They learn they can do anything they set their mind to.   But this is because one of you has given them that slight nudge, or word of support that empowers them to try something new.   I have seen girls put their face in the murky lake, ride a zip line, look at a snake and a variety of things because a busy adult gave back to a girl.

As life is increasingly busy and people are reluctant to volunteer, they want the quick easy tasks, not the ones that require some training, negotiation, planning, and lots of patience.   But at the other end, being a Girl Scout volunteer is the gift that doesn't go away.   We have troops in this council that met as girls and continue to meet today, more than 40 years later.   Last summer I attended the funeral of a Girl Scout leader whose entire troop attended, and those women were in their late 50s.   They met every year for a reunion.   When this troop leader's daughter passed away, they moved in to fill the void.   They visited with her, called her, took her places, and made sure she was taken care of.   It was a testament to what a caring group this leader shaped by the actions of these women, years later.   And when they visited her, they laughed like they were young again, telling stories of when they were in Girl Scouts together, stories of how their lives had changed.

Know that every day you are giving back and investing in the future by your actions as a Girl Scout volunteer.   The thanks might be brief or not well formed.   But we are all guilty of not thanking those who give to us the way we should.   And years later, when you think the girls are long gone, know that they will be using the skills you taught them, summoning the courage you showed them they had, and have become the confident women you meant for them to be.

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One of the great stories about Juliette Gordon Low is that she was willing to sacrifice one of her most prized possessions, her pearls, to secure the continued growth and success of Girl Scouts.   She gave up something she loved so this organization could live on and thrive more than 103 years later.   What a gift that was.

Recently, I attended a GSUSA CEO conference, and the discussion was around the need to grow membership and to continue to find ways to be relevant to today's girls, with changing needs, access to new and different ways of communicating and learning, and much more competition for their time and attention.   The issue is how to respect and integrate the values from the past while still appealing to today's girl who lives life at a faster pace.

The meeting was fruitful, and the CEO leading the discussion noted, as she often confronts people in the organization who want to cling to the past, she always reminds them that Juliette Gordon Low was a change agent.   What she founded as Girl Scouts was a new idea, and that organization had to change and adapt to stay alive.   So CHANGE is the important element of the long time success of Girl Scouts.   CHANGE is at the center of who we are and what we do.   Journeys, Studio 2B, whatever the current curriculum of the day will come and go.   What dwells at the heart of what we do is encouraging girls.   The best Girl Scout leaders have always understood that the organization at its heart and soul is GIRL LED.   Allowing girls to make choices, they learn how to make good decisions and the consequences of decisions.

I worked for a long time in higher education and came to understand that more learning came from allowing students to make their mistakes than trying to save them from their blunders.   That failure and making mistakes is as much a part of growing and understanding as always making excellent decisions.   The ability to reflect and garner insights from losses and learning to cope has great value.

As you give the girls you work with your gift of time, think of those pearls.   That time will never come back, to you or to them.   It is a precious gift that cannot be replaced.   And as you reflect on why you do this, remember you change each of those girls and they change you.

Thank you for giving your pearls.

liz_brent.jpgWe have had another successful annual meeting.    The timing of this meeting is always a challenge because of varying spring breaks around the council footprint.   We managed to hit several school districts' spring breaks in this year's venue, but happily we still had a nice audience.   We held the annual meeting at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Wiregrass in Dothan.   Thanks to them for hosting us.

One of the things that makes the annual meeting a challenge (besides the spring break schedules) is that the meeting reviews the previous year while we are at the half way point of the current year.   This happens because our annual audit is not complete until then, so we make time to review the financial results.   We will be posting the annual report and the council financial results from our audit on the website this week.

Last year was not a good one financially, a direct result of the lack of funding from the United Way of Southwest Alabama.   Because of this our organization experienced an $83,000 funding reduction with virtually no warning.   It wasn't a fair and measured funding cut and affected Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.   Both organizations are still reeling, working to continue to provide the quality of service we had with such a dramatic budget reduction.  

United Way givers tend to give on a monthly basis through payroll deduction.   We have been unable to locate those individuals in the Mobile, Clarke, and Washington counties to give to us directly to continue to provide quality service to those locations.   We do want to acknowledge we continue to receive support from Wiregrass United Way, River Region United Way, Baldwin County United Way, Lake Martin United Way, Troy United Way, Selma-Dallas County United Way and a host of United Funds.   We appreciate their vision and investment in the future of their communities through shaping young leaders.

Fewer staff has a direct result in recruitment of fewer adult leaders and therefore serving fewer girls.   The girl numbers last year were frightful, and it is heart breaking that girls who would like to be Girl Scouts cannot do so because of funding.   Fewer girls resulted in a much smaller cookie program, which is the primary source of our revenue, at 75 percent.    Thus, as we worked to reduce expenses through staff lay-offs, our revenue spiraled in a negative direction.

We continued to offer more than 50 council-hosted programs during the year, working hard to serve the girls who were committed to Girl Scouts.   Those programs included some great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs.   We also partnered with the local universities to have events on their campuses, often using current students to assist in providing some great fun activities for girls.    Summer resident camp was a great one.   We had many girls who were willing to experience the great outdoors and move out of their comfort zones by trying things they haven't before.   That ran the gamut from mounting a horse, to putting their face underwater in a murky lake to riding the zip line.

We had five girls earn their Gold Awards last year with some outstanding projects.   This is a significant accomplishment for these girls.   It includes not only their project, which has to be significant and sustainable, but they have to complete hours of other Journeys and requirements as a part of that significant milestone.   The girls who earned their gold award last year are Morgan Alford, Amerie Gramelspacher, Katie Kirk, Bailey Sawyer and Rebecca Pober Citrin.    More information about each girl and her project can be found in the annual report.   We are very proud of these girls as well as the 27 that earned their Silver Award, and the 112 that earned their Bronze Award.    These girls are changing their world now.

Another of last year's challenges was the number of significant water leaks at Camp Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis.   With a harsh winter the water lines, buried not far below ground level broke with a spill at Oka Misha at Camp Scoutshire Woods dumping 1,000,000 gallons of water into the lake.   The rangers worked most of the winter months addressing the water leaks at both camp properties.   As we replaced water lines we also put in additional valves so we can isolate one unit from another to turn the water off.

Since we were precariously close to ending the year spending more money than we brought in, we had our forester evaluate the pine plantation at Camp Sid Edmonds.   That pine forest was mature and needed attention, so we clear cut 69 acres of the pine plantation there to address the revenue shortfall.   It was a good time to cut timber and the funds produced from the pine plantation closed the revenue gap from fewer girls and a tough cookie program.   The pine forest will be replanted in January 2016.

The best part of the annual meeting is always awarding the Volunteer of the Year to one of our wonderful volunteers. This year's recipient was Barbara Mitchell.   Barbara has delivered Girl Scout programs and served as a role model to girls in the Dothan Public Housing community for more than twenty years.   Please read this blog entry about her many accomplishments..

For the entire annual report and financial report, please click here.

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As we say goodbye to one of our program staff, Amy Farrar (camp name "Sunny"), who has done a great job at summer resident camp and programs, we welcome Amanda Abercrombie. Amanda comes to us with program and camp experience from Girl Scout councils in Mississippi and Tennessee.  Our fantastic program staff has been developing camp programming throughout the cookie program, and Amanda has jumped right in!   We anticipate another fun summer this year!    Please check our website (www.girlscoutssa.org/camp) to learn more about our summer camp sessions.  

Amanda was happy to answer some questions so we can get to know more about her.

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What do you hope to bring to your role as STEM and Outdoor Program Manager?

I hope I can translate my love, knowledge, and appreciation for outdoors, camp, and STEM into fun and exciting programs that will capture the girls' interest and inspire them to want to continue to learn more. 

What's your favorite part of camp life?

My favorite part of camp is the camaraderie that is fostered in a camp environment.  Camp is a very unique environment that encourages fast friendships that can last a lifetime.  Additionally, I enjoy the comfortable atmosphere that comes with working at camp.  At camp you are encouraged to be a version of yourself that you don't always get to show in the seriousness of everyday life.  Camp is the only place I know where it is perfectly acceptable to  run around in a pirate hat, sing camp songs as loudly and off-key as possible, walk around all day smelling like campfire smoke, and still have the respect/admiration of your campers and fellow staff members.    

What do you want girls to take away from their camp or outdoor experience?

My main goal is to help girls grow on the inside by being outside.  Camp, as well as other programs, is a wonderful opportunity for girls, staff and volunteers to grow and expand, not just their knowledge of the outdoors, but their confidence, self-esteem, and comfort zones.   I feel that everyone who comes to camp or participates in a program takes something away from the experience and with each year they build on the foundation of the year before. 

Thanks, Amanda, and welcome to the GSSA team!