CEO: June 2011 Archives

liz_brent.jpgWe have had the chance this summer to spend time at both Camp Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis watching those who attend have a great time!   We have seen the girls do fun things like learning to ride on horseback and mastering the intricate balance of a stand up paddle boat.    Because of a successful cookie sale, we were able to purchase a number of new boats, paddleboards and other equipment to enhance the camp experience for our girls. 

Although in February KampKIwanis Paddleboardsour camp numbers were ahead of where they were last year, when it came time for camp, the number of campers actually declined from last year.  We have been wondering why this has
happened, and ask that, if you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know.  We assume many girls are saving their cookie bucks for 100th anniversary trips, but we are trying to determine if there are other things we can do to attract more girls to camp.  Kamp Kiwanis has five air-conditioned buildings, so beating the heat is easy to do.   There is a new camp director there this year Dana Jones, who is a familiar face to many and an experienced service unit manager from Citronelle.   The focus of that camp is aquatics, archery, environmental awareness and science.   Anna Marie Phelps returned as the long-time camp director at Scoutshire Woods.   Last year they built a huge teepee, and this year they intend to build a larger one.   We had open slots in the Camp Scoutshire horse camps, which is a very unusual thing, so we are wondering how to increase our enrollments.  If you have thoughts or suggestions, please let us know at   Thanks.
liz_brent.jpgCookies, cookies, we have summer resident camp rolling, all sorts of fun things going on, we are planning for cookie season. Didn't we just finish that? We always try to work to improve the cookie sale from your end. It takes a great deal of work and effort. It provides 75% of our income, so it is important to try to have all the pieces and parts working as smoothly as possible. The past 2 years, some Girl Scout councils have moved to a direct sale. That is a return to what many of your likely experienced when you were a Girl Scout. In this sale, as contrasted to our current taking orders, you have the cookies when the sale begins, rather than returning to deliver the cookies you have them for the entire sale. We would appreciate your feedback on this, both pros and cons. Those Girl Scout councils who have moved to this type of sale find it easier to manage because there is one less step in the process.

We will work to expand the delivery of cookies to the troop level throughout more of the council. We received very positive feedback on this. We will be asking both volunteers and girls to vote on their favorite recognitions. We are discussing adding a volunteer recognition component to the program, since we see you out moving the boxes, coordinating the monies, and doing lots of work. We would appreciate your feedback on that. Any feedback can be sent to We appreciate your input on these decisions.

liz_brent.jpgWe have re-established the Mariner troop, which has been inactive for many years.  This group of girls enjoys boating and being on the water.    Their main emphasis is on learning to sail and honing their sailing skills.   Last summer, the older girls raised funds all year and took a weeklong sailing trip down the Florida Keys.   What an experience!    Each spring and fall they have a sailing weekend; sometimes we use the Florida Panhandle facilities on Perdido Bay, other times we use Kamp Kiwanis.   I heard the sailing weekend this spring at Kamp Kiwanis had 31 participants, and Lake Martin was beautiful with all our boats out on it.   We have been fortunate that, as the word has spread, we have received donations of larger sailboats that people no longer use.
Standing rigging (on the left) and running rig...

Image via Wikipedia

The Tukabatchee Boy Scouts from Montgomery gave us a Capri and Flying J.   Another person gave us a Flying Scot, which is a really neat little boat.   Two weeks ago, we had a physician give us a 27-foot O'Day sailboat that sleeps 6.   After the sailing resident camp this summer, we will work on getting the new sailboat available, so, if your troop wants a different experience, they can spend the night on a sailboat in the cove at Kamp Kiwanis.  Sailing is a lifetime sport and one that provides a great deal of fun and energy.   Hopefully, those girls who want to explore a different outdoor sport will consider joining the Mariners.   They are working on going out on the water more often, in addition to these structured opportunities.   For additional information, contact Liz Carnahan at   There are still slots open for the sailing resident camp, but you must be able to swim and comfortable canoeing.

liz_brent.jpgYesterday, I had the privilege of listening to Jeno James, previously with the Miami Dolphins; speak to a group of Girl Scouts who live in public housing communities in Montgomery.  His message was clear and poignant; never listen to the voices that say you can't do something.  

From age 4, Jeno was determined to become an NFL football player. He was told he wasn't from the right place and was repeatedly told that he would never make it.  But, Jeno told the girls, he didn't listen to those voices. He listened to the ones of encouragement, who shaped his confidence in his own gifts and talents.   Not only did Jeno James have a successful career at Auburn University, but he was an offensive tackle in the NFL for 9 years, playing for the Carolina Panthers (in the Super Bowl, no less) and the Miami Dolphins.   Jeno's message to the girls is that you are more than enough - to be what you want to be, accomplish the goals you set out for yourself, and follow your dreams. Something we all should remember.

liz_brent.jpgThe following, which was sent to a staff member last week, reminds us why we LOVE our volunteers.  I listen to lots of volunteers who talk about how their jobs are sometimes frustrating due to things like chasing parents, dealing with transportation issues or waiting for a girl to be picked up.  But I think Marcy Perdue articulates beautifully why each and every one of you is an important, wonderful human being.


A few days ago I was asked why I continued to be a Girl Scout leader. Yes, it is quite a task to undertake, I thought. Yes, sometimes the paperwork and the daunting task of keeping track of cookie money (and all the other money) is enough to make me want to run for the hills. Organization is not my strongest suit. Nor is checkbook balancing, because it involves math. I work full time at a job I love, so, at times, there are not enough hours in my day to do what needs to be done at work and at home, much less planning for a meeting or arranging a trip. Some months, it seems like every weekend the troop has something to do! It might be easier to step back. To say I have had enough. To go Juliette and take my daughter with me.

I thought to myself -- I stay because I want my daughter to get all that she wants out of Girl Scouting. I see myself being a leader until she no longer wants to participate, which, I hope, is never. You see, I was a Girl Scout, too. And my mother was my leader most of the time. And, at the end, it was me and her. My troop of one. But what I did and where I went! I participated in service projects at the nursing home. I made wreaths for the ceremony at the Confederate Memorial. I made commercials for Girl Scout cookies. I gave speeches. I learned about public relations and the media as a Spotlight Girl. I flew across the country to attend a Wider Opportunity at National Center West in Wyoming. I earned the Gold Award. Perhaps that is why I do it. Because I had an excellent example in my mother, and I want to be the same supportive mother and leader for my own daughter.

But a little later that same day, I passed one of my Girl Scouts in the Middle School hallway. She expressed regret that we were about to have our last "official" meeting of the Girl Scout year. Not that I don't make sure we meet a couple of times for fun in the summer, mind you, but there it was. The answer I hear in my head every single time I think of stepping down to simplify my life: being a Girl Scout leader matters. It matters to me. It matters to the parents, most of whom help me in all sorts of ways. And, most importantly, it matters to the members of my troop, who come back for the enriching experiences Girl Scouting offers every year.

Is it a challenge? Absolutely. As they grow into young women, I am certain that keeping them engaged will be harder and harder. But I hope that it becomes more and more of a partnership, as it should -- a partnership in which I serve as a mentor and guide, to help them accomplish what it is they want from Girl Scouting. I want for them whatever it is they want. Do they want to focus more on trips? Would they like to earn a Silver or Gold Award?

I watch and wait for the leadership skills I see just bubbling under the surface. I know that for these girls, the experiences that they have over the next few years are going to be what shapes them into who they become, what they do, and where they go. I do not see my role as one exerting power over them; I see it as facilitating their learning that they have the power to make the choices that will impact them now and forever. The choices that matter.

Which is why I will remain a Girl Scout leader: to do something that matters.





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