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Do you ever have that sensation that what you thought you were going to isn't exactly what you wound up going to?   Have you ever thought you knew what a movie was about and it wasn't?   Or gone to a restaurant only to have it wind up being nothing like what you expected?   Well, that would be ROCK THE MALL for me!  

I had heard ever since I came here about the sing-a-long on the Washington Mall.   I must have clicked into the words "sing-along,"   so, when GSUSA changed the CEO meeting to June so we could attend ROCK THE MALL, I was still sort of operating under the notion of "sing-a-long."   I have been to the Mall, which is huge, many times.   There are endless things to do on there, all of which are free.   It always involves lots and lots of walking.   No matter where you go and what you do, it involves lots of walking and some navigation.  

Since we had two busloads on the council-sponsored trip and countless other girls going with their troop leaders, I felt that going was critical.   I had reduced the amount of weight in my bag to drag along that day, knowing walking was involved.   The first clue I needed to be flexible was when the bus driver took a wrong turn, and we wound up in a very expensive neighborhood near our hotel.   Three very tight and unbelievable turns later; we got out on to the main street.   Then across town to another part of town where she was again, confused.   Soon it becomes clear that again the driver is lost.   One of the gold award recipients sitting behind me on the bus treks to the front and uses her cell phone to assist the driver in making the correct turns.   The driver wasn't gracious about it and wasn't grateful.   But this is while we had been watching her making tight turns, near misses with cars while using push to talk on her cell phone.   Scary.   We finally arrive at the breakfast, after the bus that left after us.   After breakfast, we reload on to a bus for the trek to the mall and are dropped off very close to the huge stage for ROCK THE MALL

I thought I would take a stroll; visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial since I was within half a mile of it.   I wandered through throngs of people.   Many Girl Scouts were astutely setting up camp in the shade or near the water of a fountain that wasn't being renovated, so they could play in the water and listen.   I fought my way back from the Vietnam Memorial through bunches of people, most walking or moving toward the large stage for ROCK THE MALL.   As I got within a quarter mile of the stage, I could now hear it.   Hum, not what I expected.   I had been given a program, so I sat down on a bench and thumbed through it.   Well, ROCK THE MALL is exactly that.   It is a ROCK CONCERT on the Mall with more than 95,000 Girl Scouts registered.   It is not a SING-A-LONG THE MALL, which is what was in my image of what I was going to attend.  

The closer I got, the louder it got and the more crowded it got.   It was hard as a single individual to move close to anything.   The tents for the exhibitors had huge long lines.   The line for the snack carts, so long it was unbelievable.    The area around the Washington Monument was a carpet of Girl Scouts, parents, troop leaders and siblings.   The scene was surreal there were so many people, but so was the noise level.   It took me about 30 minutes to transit the Washington Monument grounds, at no point seeing anyone I knew from Southern Alabama.   The sun was hot and there was no place to find any relief from it on the Washington Monument grounds, so I continued toward the Museum of American History, where I did finally see one person from Southern Alabama and found some much desired shade.

The point is that it wasn't at all what I had expected.   I had expected SING-A-LONG not ROCK concert.   That's not to say I didn't enjoy it.   But it wasn't what I thought.   I had some folks who had streamed it say they didn't like the message.   I'm not sure I got what the message was, but from where I sit, if the girls who attended enjoyed it and found it a valuable way to spend their cookie funds, then it was a success.

What I did see was thousands of girls having a great time.   They were eating, dancing, singing along and not noticing the 94-degree heat, with the sun beating down on them.   They were living it the moment and taking it all in.   Sometimes I think we see the wisdom in what children show us.   Relax, have a good time, live in the moment or you'll miss it.

Are your Girl Scouts age 13 to 15?  Are they interested in the environment, ecology, wildlife, biology and natural history?  This Destination is for them!

We have a wonderful opportunity for girls to receive scholarship funding for the Wyoming's Wildlife Wonders destination, July 24-30, 2011. A scholarship of $600 will cover 3/4s of the event fee of $898 for girls ages 13-15. The girls will need to cover travel expenses to get to and from the event. Girls must complete the destinations application available on the destinations website

Wyoming's Wildlife Wonders is a travel opportunity (destination) where Girl Scouts ages 13-15 travel to Wyoming to study the ecology and natural history of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Girl Scouts hike, canoe, and trek through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Teens observe wildlife, explore careers that promote sustainable ecosystems, and take action by developing an environmental project to implement back home in their community. Girls across the nation will come together for a week at the Teton Science Schools to learn in an amazing environment about nature, each other and themselves.

Completed application packets are due to Mary Anne Brutkiewicz by February 25.   You can contact her at  800-239-6636 or

Rockets in an outdoor museum in Huntsville, Al...

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Back by popular demand! Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is planning a mini-Destination to Huntsville, Alabama and the Space and Rocket Center and it is not for the faint of heart!  This action packed trip offers something for everyone!


Friday, June 10: Destination Huntsville begins Friday evening at the Sci-Quest Museum. Enjoy the 100+ interactive programs and complete the Spa Science Program. More info:

Saturday, June 11: Breakfast at the Sci-Quest Museum and then off to the Botanical Gardens for a visit. Enjoy the nation's largest seasonal butterfly house and a unique children's garden as part of "Wings, Warts, and Wonders". More info:


After enjoying the gardens, travel to the U. S. Space and Rocket Center for the 2-day New Horizons program. Features include hands on Science lab a 3D movie, build and launch a rocket, a trip in the Mars Simulator, the Space Shot and the G Force Accelerator. More info:


Sunday, June 12: Our destination ends at 2:00 PM and troops are free to do more exploring or head home!


This all -girl trip is open to rising Juniors -Ambassadors, leaders, and moms (Sorry, no men or tagalongs).  All participants must be registered and adults must be registered and approved. Troops must furnish sufficient adults to meet the ration of two per: 16 Juniors, 20 Cadettes, 24 Older girls. Individual members may register with their moms.


The $160 fee (may use Cookie Bucks) covers all programs  and admissions, five meals( Saturday  breakfast-Sunday lunch), overnight on the floor at the Sci-Quest, overnight in the Habitat (bed and shower) at the USSRC, IMAX movie, event t-shirt, event patch, and the services of two experienced council leaders. Not included: transportation and dinner Friday night.


To reserve your place, send an Event Registration Form and $25 non-refundable deposit to the Mobile Service Center by January 14, 2011. The remainder of the money will be due April 1, 2011. All monies are non-refundable. This is based on 50 minimum participants and 100 maximum participants. Questions? Contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz at extension 1202.

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2011 destinations


Image by Getty Images via @daylife

It's that time of year again for destinations! Check out the 2011 destinations.


·         Explore It! Your Guide to Girl Scout destinations a resource for girls filled with tips on applying for destinations.


·         Girl Scout destinations can whisk you to the far corners of the world where you will meet remarkable girls, develop leadership skills, gain confidence, and enjoy valuable learning opportunities. Read Explore Your World (PDF) and learn about all the fun and exciting experience these Girl Scouts had on their destinations trip.


·         Got the travel bug? You're in the right place. The Global Travel Toolkit consists of four exciting resources to prepare you for international travel.



2011 destinations timeline:

UPDATE 10/28:

November 15: Applications due in council office: 3483 Springhill Av. Mobile, AL  36608; Contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz (extension 1202) for further information.


·         Thanksgiving: All applications are in route to event sponsors from the applicants' home councils


·         Dec. 1: All "early" applications received by event sponsors


·         Jan. 14: All applicants notified of their status for "early" applications


·         Feb. 1: All deposits holding a participants' spot are due to event sponsors for "early" applications


·         Feb. 16: "Late" applications received by event sponsors


Girls can apply up to 4 destinations. Application process - fill out a Girl Scout application with 2 letters of recommendations. You can use the same letters of recommendation for additional destinations that you apply for.

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Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Isl...

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Rockin' the Apple

4 days in New York City

June 19 - 22, 2011

Join us for "Rockin' the Apple" as Girl Scouts enjoy four days and three nights in New York City!  We'll go to all the great sites including: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Central Park, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Financial District, including the Stock Exchange and "Ground Zero", South Street Port, SoHo Art Gallery District, and Greenwich Village.  We will also see a Broadway Show.  Don't miss this once in a lifetime trip! 

Who:  All registered Girl Scouts and adults. 

·         Note:  Troops are welcome to register for this trip. 

·         GSSA Staff can supervise individually registered Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts.  

·         Daisies and Brownies must come with a parent.

Cost: $925 per person

·         NOTE: Girl Scouts can use Cookie Money earned during the 2010 and 2011 cookie sales

·         Non-refundable deposit of $100 due Sep. 15, 2010

·         2nd Deposit $200 due Nov. 14, 2010

·         Balance due Mar. 8, 2011

·         Cost Includes: Roundtrip motor coach and local transportation; deluxe hotel; all admission fees and taxes; evening activities including a Broadway Show; 3 breakfasts (all-you-can-eat-buffets); 3 dinners at NY restaurants; liability insurance; 24-hour licensed Tour Guide; and nighttime security.

·         Spending money for souvenirs, miscellaneous, and money for all lunches and meals to and from New York is the sole responsibility of the participant.  A minimum of $120 ($20 a day) for meals, snacks, and souvenirs is recommended.

Registration:  Complete an Event Registration Form for each participant (use participant's information and not the troop leaders) and mail with initial $100 deposit to:

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama

145 Coliseum Blvd.

Montgomery, AL  36109

Minimum: 40 participants; Maximum: 50 participants

Registration Deadline:  September 15, 2010


Questions?  Call Christine Shavers at 334-272-9164, 800-239-6636 ext.2202, or e-mail

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Digital photo taken by Marc Averette. The fall...

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Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is planning a mini-Destination to Chattanooga, Tennessee July 16-18 and it is not for the faint of heart! This action packed trip offers something for everyone!


Friday, July 16: Destination Chattanooga begins Friday evening at the Chattanooga Riverboat. We will enjoy a movie and dinner before our moonlight cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat. Then we will sleepover on their new dockside boat.


Saturday, July 17: Breakfast at the Riverboat and then on to a full day of touring Ruby Falls, Rock City Gardens, the Incline Railway and the Tennessee Aquarium. Saturday evening will be a sleepover and dinner at the Creative Discovery Museum. 


Sunday, July 18: Breakfast at the Creative Discovery Museum and then on to caving at Raccoon Mountain Caverns. You will have a choice of the Wild Caving Eco Tour or the Crystal Palace Walking Tour.


Our destination ends mid-day on Sunday and troops are free to do more exploring or head home!


This all-girl trip is open to rising Juniors - Ambassadors, leaders and moms.  You do not have to currently be a member of a troop to attend. The $150 fee covers all attractions, meals (Friday night -Sunday morning), a patch, a t-shirt, and the services of two experienced leaders. Transportation and parking is not included, but troops are encouraged to carpool together.


To reserve your place, send an Event Registration Form and $25 non-refundable deposit to the Mobile Service Center by May 10. The remainder of the monies will be due in two installments: $75 by May 14 and $50 by June 10. All monies are non-refundable. This is based on 50 minimum participants and 100 maximum participants. All deposits will be refunded if the minimum isn't met. Questions? Contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz at extension 1202.


The initial deposit deadline is extended until May 10 to meet the minimum number of registrations.


UPDATE 5/13/10

We met our minimum for the Chattanooga Mini-Destination - Yea! We still have a few spaces remaining, so if you're interested in going, send Event Registration Forms with $100 non-refundable deposit to the Mobile Service Center by June 3. The balance and all forms are due June 10.

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Cookie Bites is a series of articles from your Program Team.

Earned Cookie Bucks, a Campership, Store/Program Certificate, or destination?  Here's how to use them!


Girls who earned cookie camperships must use them during the summer 2010 camp season.  However, if a girl originally chose a campership and realizes she cannot use it during this time period, she may change her choice to a store gift certificate instead by contacting Chris Shavers, extension 2202.


Cookie bucks, Store/Program certificates and destination money may be used throughout the 2010-2011 membership year and will not expire until Sept. 30, 2011.  The funds can be carried over if the girl registers for a council sponsored trip or event that occurs after the Sept. 30, 2011 deadline.


We also will allow troops planning Girl Scout-related trips to use their Cookie Bucks, Store/Program Certificate or destination money to offset the cost associated with them.  They may carryover these funds until the time at which they participate in the trip (i.e. they will be valid beyond the Sept. 30, 2011 date). However, we must be notified of the troop's intent to defer these funds prior to Sept. 15, 2010.


We ask each troop that wishes to do this to complete a special form (available on our website soon) that provides us with the dates of the trip, it's purpose, etc.  We also ask that the girls who are allowing their cookie money to be used to sign (along with their parent or guardian) a waiver stating that they approve of the use of the money they have earned to be used by the troop. We will either pay vendors directly, or provide reimbursement to the troop after we are provided with copies of applicable receipts.


Update 5/18/10

The forms have been uploaded to the Cookie Forms page:

Cookie Money Troop Trip Form

Girl-Earned Cookie Money Form

It's not too late to apply for a destination! Check online for the 2010 destinations accepting "late" applications. Some of the destinations will be accepting applications after the Feb. 16 date depending on whether the event is full or not. The website has been updated to reflect the destinations that are full. Destinations are great opportunities for Older Girls to gain confidence, develop leadership skills and are a unique learning experience. Please let your girls know about these great opportunities, you don't want them to miss out!


If these trips look fun to any girls in your troop, remind them they can use their Cookie Bucks on them. Their hard work during cookie sales can go towards the cost of the destination.   What a goal to set - selling cookies today, could allow you to explore the rain forest in Costa Rica tomorrow!

Does the idea of going somewhere new, doing something different and meeting people from everywhere you can imagine sound like fun? If so, a Girl Scout destination will allow you to do just that! And now GSSA is offering you the chance to receive a scholarship to help make your travel dreams a reality.


We will award scholarships to two Girl Scouts to attend GSUSA Destinations in 2010. Thanks to the Barbara Gilewicz Travel Scholarship Fund and private donors, we are able to offer one $1,000 and one $500 scholarship to deserving Girl Scouts. Applicants must be 14-18 years old and registered for the 2009-2010 membership year. Visit the Girl Scout destinations Web page for trip descriptions, current offerings and applications.


A volunteer committee will award scholarships based on a girl's desire and suitability as determined by her application package. Completed applications, references, and essays must be submitted to Mary Anne Brutkiewicz in the Mobile Service Center by November 9, 2009, for consideration. Those awarded will be notified within 10 days. Assignment of scholarships is contingent upon receipt of sufficient quality applications and acceptance to the destination.

Join other girls and leaders from around our council on our "Heritage Trip" to the birthplace of Girl Scouting!  Take advantage of President's Day and Mardi Gras holidays and go on a once in a lifetime trip this Feb. 12-16, 2010.


Savannah is a fascinating city and there are many things to do, see and eat!  Just a few of the activities will be the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace Program, a dolphin cruise, a tour of some reportedly haunted places the city and a visit to Paula Dean's renowned Lady and Sons restaurant.


The "hold your space" deposit of $50 is due August 31, which is half refundable.


All of the details including cost, payment schedule and the itinerary are on the Heritage Trip flyer.  If you have questions, please contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz (extension 1202).


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