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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!

 

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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).

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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.

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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

 

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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: www.facebook.com/girlscoutssa

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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.

 

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Yesterday I was working on "Why Join Girl Scouts."   I had enumerated the usual list, all worthwhile and good reasons why a girl should become a Girl Scout.   Then early this morning I got up and read my e-mail and something struck a chord.

Last week I was fortunate enough to hear Hailey, who earned a gold award, talk to the girls at Beach Scouts about how you make your dreams come true.   Hailey is a 1st. Lt. in the Marines and about to earn her wings as a pilot.   She is headed for further flight training and won't be as available to share her inspirational message to girls as she has been, but her message is a simple one.   Sometimes it is only you, your fears, your doubts, and your hesitations that keep you from realizing your dreams.    You can do anything you believe you can if you persist and don't let your own sense of inadequacy for the task get in the way.   Hailey is not only very self-confident, but she is able share how she became so accomplished at such a young age, and she can break her success down into achievable pieces so girls understand.   As I pondered it, Hailey illustrates confidence, one of the three hallmark values Girl Scouts imbue.

The e-mail this morning was from a camp counselor, Oreo.   She also earned a gold award.   She was attending the University of Alabama as a prized debater.   Skilled in what she did, she is competitive, capable, and driven, while still being humble, approachable, and kind.   I watched Oreo a lot last year at camp.   She was a good listener.   Daily I would see her hiking past where I was working, gently nudging her charges in what should and should not be done, always with a kind word, never raising her voice.   The girls adored Oreo.   She was a wonderful role model on how Girl Scouts becomes a springboard to teach and learn about leadership.

Since early last year, Oreo has been plagued with health issues.   What started as migraines turned into a yearlong experience with the health care delivery system.   They think they know what the problem is, and then they don't.   They fix one thing and then some other symptom appears, having nothing to do with the diagnosis.   A bright, accomplished, high achiever has had to put her own goals on hold while she endures what seems to be endless frustration in trying to address her medical issues so she can get on with her life.

Oreo is an illustration of character and courage.   She eloquently describes how she sits in physician waiting rooms, labs, and exam rooms waiting to hear what might be wrong.   As someone who is driven, to be sidelined from school, moving along the trail she had laid out is filled with frustration, anxiety, and pain.   But she endures; she confronts what some days must be a nightmare for a 20-something with courage, summoning the strength to forge ahead.

Oreo visited us this summer at camp, we were delighted.   She got to visit with some of the girls from her camp unit.   She was able to visit with her fellow counselors and hear what antics had gone on during a summer that she wound up sitting in medicinal air-conditioned buildings, waiting.   Everyone got to talk to her and hear first hand what she has been going through.

Why join Girl Scouts?   Because the program provides girls with the life skills to challenge themselves to do things they didn't believe they could do.   On the one hand, become a Marine aviator, handling some of the country's most expensive aeronautical equipment, to being able to forge ahead when life's challenges smack you in the face and then smack you in the face again.   Both of these young women are excellent illustrations of how building life skills have come to serve them well in times of doubt, crisis, and frustration.   The girls I am fortunate enough to work with can do anything.   I watch it happen at camp, I watch it occur at council programs, and I'm fortunate enough to see it happen even as they grow up and become fantastic, contributing citizens.

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It is always nice to be up close and personal with volunteers over a sustained period of time.   I have many opportunities to interact with volunteers, but not over days or weeks.   A shout out to the volunteers who were wonderful and worked at resident camp this summer, doing all sorts of great things and made camp that much better this year.   Rusty and Gwen Black, Caroline Breshears, Elizabeth Conner, Vivian Martin, Tina Savell, and Dana Jones were so very helpful during the camp season.   Thank you for sharing your gifts with the girls.

It is always interesting during the summer to listen to the girls talk about their troop experiences and Girl Scout experiences.   I am always amazed at the wide variety of experiences and adventures these girls have with your planning and assistance.   I found the girls at resident camp this summer to have a high sense of exploration, confidence to get out of their comfort zone, and knowledge about the natural world.   I listened to some girls talk about different types of bugs.   We had another girl who wore her cowboy boots because she was fearful of snakes.   Then when PANDA had a small chicken snake, she decided she would face her fears.   Later she told me she wanted to "kiss it" which we didn't let her do.   But the difference between hot boots to thinking the snake was really cool convinced me of the capacity for girls to grow and learn through these experiences.   Most of their Girl Scout experiences are within your trusty care.

As the summer winds down and we start to turn our attention to fall it is good to be reminded why working with girls pays such tremendous dividends.   The girls I saw all summer were curious, happy, brave, and inquisitive.   Thank you for all you do to make this possible for all the girls we have the privilege of serving.

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We are on the other side of the hump on summer.  As in my youth, time seems to be relative, with summer waning faster than the rest of the year.   Where does the time go?   Where does the summer go?

I have returned to the four walls of my office to work, instead of my preferred office with no ceiling, walls, or windows -- simply a chair, my laptop, and the sounds of summer fun at camp; girls singing, laughing, playing, canoeing, swimming, zip lining, hiking and having fun.

As an educator, there is nothing more gratifying than watching girls have fun while learning.   The hands-on, experiential learning that camp provides is a great gift.   It is wonderful to watch older girls, who have been Girl Scouts throughout their lives work with younger girls to show them what they have learned.   They share their wisdom, knowledge, and gifts with others and it is a beautiful.   Some of the skills they have been part of Girl Scouts for more than 100 years.   New colors, new materials, and new ways of work have made other longtime skills pertinent for today's girls.   My neon-colored paracord neck lanyard for my glasses is evidence I'm cool.   The fun small kayaks the girls use quickly provide them with paddling experience in a buoyant boat that makes canoeing in a larger aluminum canoe so much easier.   The stand up paddleboards become an entre to windsurfing and other aquatic skills.

Some of what girls experience at camp will be remembered for a lifetime.   There are new friends, new songs, new skills and thrills that make summertime so special.

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Some days at Camp were HOT.   The temperatures may have been soaring, but you couldn't tell by what was going on around me. From my "office" on a porch near Lake Martin, I saw so many girls growing and having fun.

I saw girls in the pavilion learning new songs.   Another group near the tetherball were playing something akin to Marco Polo on land.   Behind me the whir of the zip line continued as girls tested their mettle by giving it a try.   In the cove, there was a group taking out the sailboats for the first time.   The temperatures were high, but you could not tell by the girls I was surrounded by -- all making the best of their summer vacation having a ball.

Camp has been great this summer.   The camp staff has been excellent!   The food has been incredibly good.   One of the staff noted that the food is so good we have not seen hardly any homesickness, because there is a direct relationship between comfort food and feelings of home and safety.   Amanda, our new staff member who is running camp, has brought some fun new ideas and traditions to the experience.

We have worked hard to assure girls are learning skill building in all their activities.   They can play some, but canoe time is getting into the water, learning to swamp the canoe and developing others skills. Just in case you missed it on our social media, the girls had a contest at Camp Scoutshire Woods between two groups under the swamped canoes singing Crazy Moose. It is hilarious!   We were discussing how quickly girls pick up skills if provided the opportunity to give things a try.   We had the Sunfish out this afternoon, and the instructor was stunned how a couple of the girls were rapidly proficient by just watching and listening to the instructions.   Girls are simply amazing!

On one day, I was over at the swim dock taking some video of the girls in swim lessons.   The lifeguards said in a couple of cases they weren't sure one or two of the girls would progress.   But with sheer determination and hard work, one in particular is really becoming a proficient swimmer.   The staff was amazed and delighted.

We work very hard to return your camper as a girl who has become more independent, proficient, and confident.   They have had fun, but they have also established some skills that will stay with them the remainder of their lives.

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I'm sitting in my favorite office, the downslope between the Rec Hall and Echo Lake at Camp Scoutshire Woods.   There's a group of girls behind me singing songs while they felt wool over a rock.   It isn't everyone who has an office with this type of wonderful music as they work.   They are all happy, giggling and talking.  In front of me, the view  is of girls who have practiced being rescued from the dock; now they are on all types of kayaks, pedal boats, stand up paddleboards, and canoes.

We are nearing the end of another week, and everyone is having a good time.   I'm not saying they aren't hot sometimes, but they swim, boat, make crafts, zip line and cook out.    This is a great time of year because the staff is able to see girls in action, growing, changing, and leading.

I was on a GSUSA CEO call recently when another CEO said they had done a survey in her council and found that camp was a niche area.   She noted that there  are longtime Girl Scouts who believe in the values that camp imbues, but others' interest in Girl Scouts is related to STEM.   We try to provide a great camping program for those girls who have the sense of adventure and enjoy the great outdoors.   We also work to offer a large number of STEM programs at the council level throughout the year, as well as other opportunities that lead to earning badges and patches.

We hope to offer more opportunities for girls to experience STEM and the great outdoors throughout next year, because the opportunities to learn while outside are limitless.