Recently in Leader Tips Category

GSUSA has released a series of videos about getting our Girl Scouts comfortable in the great outdoors.  Check them out for a step by step guide! 


We do our best to keep you informed of news and opportunities available to our Girl Scouts -- either here, in the GSSA Weekly e-newsletter, and through our Facebook page. Only the Facebook page can offer late-breaking news, so here's a suggestion to make sure you always know the latest:

Go to our Facebook page ( and Like our page.  If you have already hit the Like button, just select it again, and you will see this dropdown menu:

Then click on Posts in News Feed and choose the "See First" button (then click Done):


Then click on Notifications and choose the "See First" button (then click Done):
and that's it!

Now you'll see all the latest opportunities for your Girl Scouts from GSSA.  Easy-Peasy!

Fall is clearly in the air. Some mornings are cool and crisp, and the trees are just starting to take on another color. However, there seem to be plenty of leaves in my driveway each evening. Darkness seems to be earlier than before. It always seems to come on so quickly.

Each year at this time, I try to do my annual reminder that girls, parents, volunteers need to be registered, not just because we want them to be registered, but for their own protection and safety.

I recognize sometimes that registering can certainly be a challenge. The system was down last week without warning. We weren't notified, either, and found out through calls from many of you. We regret any inconvenience this caused. With registration comes insurance, so it is important that you and all those who participate in Girl Scout activities are registered. Being registered matters because, if there is an accident and you are not registered, you are not covered by Girl Scout insurance. The same is true of parents and others attending events.

We also adhere to GSUSA's Safety Activity Checkpoints on all activities that girls participate in. Their experts on risk management review these regulations fairly frequently to update them. There is always some tension between what girls want to do and the attendant risks. This summer there was a lot of changes and modification to those regulations. If you are responsible for an event or activity, please take a look at these rules to find what can and can't be done. These can be found at, on the right hand side on the clipboard under FORMS are SAFETY ACTIVITY CHECKPOINTS, or you may click here. If you have any questions regarding those, Cheryl Miller is the council's resident expert, and she can be reached at or 334 272-9164, extension 2302.

We have been working hard to make training for you easier, many of the more technical trainings, such as basic camper training or canoe training, can be done ahead of time with the practical in-person portion of the course being completed in a shorter span of time, but you have to do the homework ahead of time and get it submitted. For more information about that, please contact Cheryl Miller. We are delighted to have a large number of volunteers already trained in camping skills and canoe for this year. It's always fun to get the girls in the outdoors during the fall while the weather is wonderful. We sometimes do have cancellations for the camp properties, so don't assume the camp isn't available for day use or an overnight. If you want to use a camp property, visit the Properties page on our website, or call either Service Center, Montgomery for Humming Hills and Kamp Kiwanis and Mobile for Camp Sid Edmonds and Camp Scoutshire Woods, and they can assist you on the reservation.

We hope you can find many opportunities to get yourself and the girls you work with outdoors and out in the woods.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.



           As I enter my 50th year as a registered Girl Scout, I can definitely say Girl Scouts has benefited not only me, but also my family.  My experiences as a girl member were minimal at best, but I did make some wonderful friends with whom I am still in contact.  It has been as an adult that I have benefited the most.

            My husband was a career Army officer and that meant we were constantly moving around the world.  In each new location for his entire Army career, I was involved with the local Girl Scout council, either as a leader, Service Unit Chairman, or trainer.  I would actually contact my husband's new post before we arrived to arrange to have a Girl Scout troop.  After ten years, we had a daughter who became a Daisy Girl Scout and continued all the way through Seniors, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award.  Her father was a registered Girl Scout and would accompany us on all of our camping trips and field trips, both in the United States and abroad.  Girl Scouts was a family affair for us.  We would even plan our vacations so that we could attend Scouting events or work on badges with our daughter.

            It was my training as an elementary school teacher which made it an easy transition into troop leadership.  I easily put as much time into our troop plans as I had done for my classroom lesson plans.  It became a creative outlet for me.  Even more important, working with Girl Scouts gave me an opportunity to make friends in our new living environment.   Since finding leaders is hard, a woman who volunteers to take a troop is welcomed into the group and I found many lasting friends from these ladies.

            I have been fortunate to attend trainings at Our Chalet, stay at Olave House, and attend an international event at Our Cabana.  My husband and daughter were also able to visit the world centers in London and Adelboden.  The three of us were at Olave Centre before it was officially open and had a chance to see what it was going to be upon completition.  I still correspond with some of the women I met in Adelboden.

            We lived in Belgium for six years and I enjoyed the opportunities open to Girl Scouts Overseas.  My Brownie Girl Scouts had many combined meetings with the British Brownies and Guides.  We learned about WAGGGS up close and personal.  It was, however, living in Morocco which was the most challenging.  I had girls from seven countries in my Brownie Girl Scout troop.  We used American materials, but having a flag ceremony required some adaptations to include flags for all of the girls represented.

            When we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, I became involved in the Girl Scout Council of the Pacific, leading a Daisy and a Cadette Girl Scout troop, serving as Service Unit Chairman, and a council trainer.  It was here that I was awarded the Thanks Badge, and what an honor and surprise that was.

            As an adult volunteer I've marched in Veterans Day parades, attended theatrical productions, attended events at Macy, visited the Juliette Lowe House in Savannah, gone whitewater rafting and ice skating, had a living room filled with cookies from floor to ceiling, visited many unusual places, learned much Girl Scout history and many traditions, and participated in international events.  My daughter and I enjoyed sharing Girl Scouting together and having my husband along made it a wonderful family experience.  I definitely benefited from the Girl Scout organization on all levels and have received more from it than I could possibly ever give.  I'm definitely a better person because of my Girl Scout experiences and the love I have for the organization.

 -- Nancy Karrick

            I began my Girl Scouting Career in the year 1975 at the age of 5.  I entered as a Brownie Girl Scout and my mother was my troop leader.  Girl Scouts mean many things to me, but can be grouped into my three major rolls in Girl Scouts as a Girl Scout, a leader, and a Girl Scout camp counselor.  These three major stages of my Girl Scout career each hold special meanings in their own right.

            As a young child, I was not very athletic and could not join dancing.  I had many interest and Girl Scouts introduced a way for me to experience my many interest and belong somewhere among my peers.  I made some very special friends that first year in Brownies and between Lydia's mother, Sandy's mother, and my own mother, we always had a troop leader.  We stayed friends for years.  Sandy even stood in my wedding in 1996 some 21 years after our first Brownie meeting.  We learned about camping, cook outs, compass skills, hiking, canoeing, singing and friendship.  We even took part in our own cookie sales growing up, selling our share to help earn money for our troop and council.  Girl Scouts as a child made me a very strong, independent, girl.  The comments and teasing from other girls as I was growing up held no meaning as the family I had in my Girl Scout Troop was more important.  Holding a Girl Scout membership was important to who I was to become as an adult.  My best childhood memories all stem from Girl Scout activities.

            I think the saddest day would have been when I aged out of Girl Scouts.  I still wanted to participate as an adult, so I become the Girl Scout Unit Cookie director in 1988.  I will never forget the look on my father's face when the big truck backed up in the driveway and delivered 1000 cases of cookies.  My mother and I had decided he was on a need to know basis and he did not need to know about the delivery until it was already being delivered.  I will never forget the overwhelming peanut butter smell that enveloped the house for weeks.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment with that first cookie sale as an adult Girl Scout.  Exactly 22 years later, I began assisting my daughter with her first cookie sale and am amazed at the skills she has learned while selling cookies.  Each year that passes our troop sells a few more boxes and learns a little more about the business of cookies.  Again I find myself as the Unit Cookie Director and housing the cookie pantry at my house.  The smell of peanut butter when the pantry is fully stocked for the first weekend of cookie sales brings back the feelings from my very first cookie sale as an adult Girl Scout.  I think watching my Brownies and Juniors this year develop some business sales techniques and sell their cookies instilled a sense of pride in the life lessons I am able to guide these young girls through. Girl Scout Cookies and the sale of those cookies will always be an important part of what Girl Scouts means to me.

            I stayed active in Girl Scouts with my unit until I went away to college and this is when I switched to being a camp counselor at Camp Whispering Pines.  I was the Unit director for the farming sessions of camp.  I was not only in charge of 24 girls every week but also 7 cages of animals.  Those summers I learned how to care for not only the rabbits I was used to raising but also chicks, ducks, goats, pigs, and cows.  We took our ducks canoeing with us and walked our goat and cow on a leash around camp with us.  We began each camp session singing a rewritten version of the "Green Acres" theme song as "Pine Hollow" and showing off our animals.  I met so many wonderful young girls and had the opportunity to affect change in their life.  I worked with a diverse camp staff and took away many memories of some great summers.  Camp allowed me the opportunity to teach these young girls many of the Scouting skills I had learned as a Girl Scout.  We cooked out once each session, anything from a Hobo lunch to Solar Oven Lasagna, we cooked whole chickens over hot coals and we roasted s'mores. One very rainy s'mores night, we had a competition with another counselor to see who could light a fire even in the rain.  Needless to say my little farm girls had a fire floating on a garbage can lid with a tarp held over the top to keep the rain from putting out the fire.  We learned a lot about perseverance that night but we had our opening night campfire while no other unit was able to start their fire.  My girls were very proud of their unit that week.

            I began as a Girl Scout Leader the same time I became Cookie Unit Director.  I was one of the first Daisy Girl Scout leaders in 1998.  At the time Daisy Girls were not allowed to earn badges, they just completed a scrap book.  My girls marched in a Cub Scout parade to earn their first fun patch.  Daisy Girl Scouts was also only a one year program for Kindergarten girls before they entered Brownies in First Grade.  I stayed as a Daisy leader and would pass off my Daisies to another Brownie leader and then take more girls as Daisies the next year.  This only lasted two years until I went away to college, but I enjoyed both years and learned plenty from my Daisies.  In 2008, I started another Daisy troop with my oldest daughter and have been her and her sister's leader for the past 5 years.  Our troop has evolved over the years and is in for many changes as I release the girls to run their own meetings as they grow up and become leaders themselves.  I am proud to be a part of each of these girl's lives and hope I have made some impact on their life for the better.

            Girl Scouts is an organization that can help shape tomorrow one girl at a time.  I am a very proud Girl Scout both as a girl and an adult.  I am passing the love of Girl Scouting on to both my daughters and all of their friends.  Girl scouting to me shapes young girls to be successful in the future.  The experiences gained through the Girl Scouting program will help these young girls change the world.

-- Tammy "Panther" Ortego    
Girl Scout Troop 9195


As a teenager, one of my favorite memories of Girl Scouts is summer camp.  During a two week camp I did a ropes course, spelunking, canoeing with an overnight stay on the bank, and a backpacking hike with an overnight stay.  I had a great time making new friends.  Camp adventures were demanding, scary and at the same time- thrilling! The counselors urged me to engage in new experiences and encouraged me when I was unsure. For example, I found out that I like horses, but not horseback riding. Girl Scouts provided a way for me to expand my horizons in a safe environment. 


Now as a Girl Scout Leader, I try to give my girls the same opportunities and a variety of experiences.  I'm offering support during their first canoe ride, making camp dinner or just sleeping in the tent for the first time. When one of my girls was too afraid of the zip line, I set the example and went before her even though I was scared too.  Despite the fact that I hit the tree stump at the end of the line, I laughed and my girls laughed too.   I'm proud to say that she went down the zip line after me.   The shout, "I did it!" was music to my ears and helped soothe the big bruise forming on my behind! Watching sister Girl Scouts supporting each other and and having a great time are moments that I treasure. 


When I see the girls slowly break out of their shell by leading presentations on World Thinking Day and I watch the older girls in the troop help the youngsters finish their craft, my heart warms.  I know that they are learning to make their own decisions and will become great confident women of the future.

-- Kim Manley

When our oldest girl reached Girl Scout age, we searched for a troop. Finding none, I decided to be a leader myself and took the training and was approved.

Problem: what to do with our younger daughter during meetings. Deciding that rules are for when you run out of brains, I took her to meetings with me and she became a regular part of the troop.

The matter did not end there. Among my troop members were five other scouts with sisters both older and younger. They all became members of our troop! Soon we became known as the "Sisters Troop" and amazing things happened. Siblings who had not ever gotten along well at home became close and also related to the other "sisters". Parents reported that the good relationships carried home from troop meetings and everyone was happier.

The wide range of ages did not hinder our troop from being one of the closest and most achieving groups in the area. We are forever thankful that Girl Scouting brings out true sisterhood in every way and remember fondly the beginning of such companionship in our Girl Scout Troop.

-- Margaret B Ellis


I was a Girl Scout. For many years, my own mother was my leader. Naturally, that motivated my choice to be a leader for my own daughter. And many times I compare my leadership experience with hers. She took us to Kiwanis for Camporees. She even served as Service Unit manager a few years. We did service projects and fun things. I participated in the council's Spotlight Girl program, and I did radio spots to promote Girl Scout Cookies. When I was a Cadette, I got on a plane and flew to National Center West for a Wider Opportunity. I earned my Gold Award. When I graduated from high school and went on to college, those experiences went with me. I like to think that my Girl Scout experiences, along with others, helped me earn the scholarships that sent me to college.

Fast forward quite a few years, and I became a Girl Scout again. My own daughter wanted to be a Girl Scout, and we joined a troop here in our hometown. I assisted with the few Juniors in the troop, while the leaders focused on the Brownie activities. My daughter is now a Girl Scout Senior, and I have been involved in her troop from the beginning. I have served with my service unit as Secretary and even helped plan service unit events.

My troop loves to go to new places and experience new things. Badges are okay, but plan a trip and they are all in. At times I have struggled with whether my troop is being done "right." But it is girl-led -- we do what they want to do. We have spent the night at the Georgia Aquarium, at the McWane Center (three times!), in the Battleship, and at Fort Gaines. We have been on Mini-Destinations at Dauphin Island Sea Lab (twice!) and at Space Camp. They have learned how to make tasty goodies and decorate cakes, they have gone on hikes, and they swam with dolphins this summer. We collect food for our sponsoring church's Christmas boxes each November, we donate to the church clothes closet, and we participate in the church-sponsored Slapout Clean-Up each spring. We hope to learn about falconry next year, and we are signing up to participate in the council's Dozing with Dolphins event. If I can get them there and we can afford it, we go.

So, you may be asking, how has this journey benefitted my family or changed my life for the better? I can truly say that Girl Scouts has enriched my life. I have had opportunities that I would not otherwise have had. I have done things I probably never would have if I had not been a Girl Scout or a Girl Scout leader. And, now, as a leader, I am truly blessed to be able to share these opportunities and experiences with my own daughter and a few girls I have watched blossom into amazing young ladies over the years. I hope every day that my leading them enriches their lives. I want them to see amazing things, experience amazing things, and to do amazing things. Watching girls grow into young women of courage, confidence, and character is beyond enriching. Seeing it happen touches the soul. I cannot speak for other leaders, but I suspect that they feel similarly. That feeling is why we come back year after year. Because it truly matters.

     -- Marcy Perdue

New Troops


So, are you new to Girl Scouts?   Does it  seem overwhelming?   Don't let the catalog of rules, paperwork, and online training be daunting.   The point is to have fun with girls!  Share what you know.   Allow the girls to decide things they want to do from one meeting to the next.

I had a leader invite me to her troop meeting the first year I was here.   It was delightful.   She was very talented and had 40 Brownies in her troop.   She said she planned activities, crafts, songs and educational activities for each meeting, but the girls would come up and ask if they could talk and color.   She learned very quickly to have plenty of ideas on hand, but she gave the girls time to talk to one another and color.   Sometimes we underestimate the value of talking with your friends at the end of the day.   One of the salient values of Girl Scouts is a group of girls working with one another.   They learn to make decisions about what they want to do.   They learn to work with one another when they don't always agree.   Sometimes they argue, but what I hear over and over is they learn by those experiences, as well as the many opportunities to earn badges and patches.

There are tremendous ideas, resources, and program ideas available for you, which could be what look like mountains of information to sift through.   We find different leaders find ideas in different places.   Some use this Virtual Volunteer blog, a place where you can use the "search" function (in the upper right hand corner) to find information.   Others prefer to use the Journey books and curriculum materials.   Others use online resources, which are plentiful.(Check out our great Pinterest boards!)  We are always happy to assist with questions, Cheryl Miller is our Volunteer Liaison. She can be reached at 334-312-0433 or

Some troop leaders take their troop to council-sponsored events, while others don't attend them often.   The council-sponsored events are programs that are more easily done across all troops that are hard for an individual troop or service unit to host.   Good examples are the sleepover on the US. ALABAMA, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab program or the McWane Science Center.   If your troop needs resource individuals, we have lists of those we can provide.   We also have a list of lifeguards and certified archers.   We let you make arrangements with those individuals directly.

Subscribing to the GSSA Weekly e-newsletter is a good way to get an idea of different program deadlines, Other Opportunities we don't host but believe would be good opportunities for girls all around the council and beyond.   The website,, has the forms, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and a wide variety of other information.

We hope that the fun you can have with girls motivates you to accept the challenge of working through the elements to obtain your Leader License and have a blast!


Girl Scouting 101 is a new online training from GSUSA, designed especially for new leaders.  It contains all the latest information about the new Girls Guide to Girl Scouting (GG2GS) handbooks, and the third and final Journey series for every age level, "It's Your Story, Tell It."

GS101 replaces two other online trainings: Online Volunteer Orientation (OVO) and Leadership Essentials (LE).  But don't worry -- GS101 covers the best of these, as well as the new information. Leaders can still train using OVO and LE, but we encourage new leaders to use GS101.

Please email for the password.  Enjoy!

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