The 2017 Cookie Program will soon be in our rear view mirror, as we head into awards season and start to dream about the fun of summer camp. However, as we move into these last few weekends of booth sales, I want to encourage you to keep pushing and help your girls meet their goals. We have some great opportunities with the long President's Day and National Cookie Weekends ahead.

I've been out there with you, and I understand how long those days of booth sales in the cold, wet or heat can be.  Winn Dixie can be a crazy place on a rainy, cold, windy Sunday afternoon with a group of girls!

During this sale, our staff has worked hard to support you, with check-in phone calls and our mid-sale survey.  You gave us some great information to build on for next year, and some solid feedback about how things are going.  We are glad so many of you have had a great sale, so far. And we have listened to you.  As a bonus, we are offering $25 in Program Credits for every 25 cases of cookies picked up between Feb 15 and March 5. These program credits can be used for troop supplies in our stores, council events, and to offset membership expenses. Enjoy this bonus as a thank you and your girls for your hard work!

I've had the chance to visit many of our booth sales in the past few weeks and had some fun conversations with both girls and adults.  I love that every Daisy wants to tell me which cookie not to buy (clearly, Lemonades aren't big in the kindergarten and first grade set), and the older girls are eager to share what their plans are with their cookie earnings.  I've had some great feedback from volunteers and parents about incentives and good booth locations - and of course we always commiserate about the weather!

We hope that you and your girls have had a great time this year.  Our goal is that the Cookie Program be as easy for our Girl Scout families as possible, and we will continue to solicit your feedback and partnership to help us make this happen.  In the meantime, if there is any way we can do to support you, please let us know. 


New things are coming - and it's going to be BIG!

GSSA is joining with GSUSA and councils across the nation in a new way of engaging and communicating with volunteers, families and girl members. The project is the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) and it's all about Girl Scouts becoming more customer friendly!

In the coming weeks, we will be telling you all about Volunteer Systems, the new volunteer toolset, and what it will do for you.   From a faster and easier joining and renewal process to improved resources for volunteers, these improvements are interactive and user friendly!  Troop leaders will have access to the Volunteer Toolkit, a digital resource that will help you plan meetings and badge work, right down to the supply list and the minute-to-minute agenda.  This is a game-changer for us - and it will be available in time for 2017-2018 registration. We can't wait!

This exciting process includes a refreshed Girl Scout website that will launch on March 3.  This site will be easier to navigate and streamlined to focus on what is most important to you.  In addition, it will have a great mobile site that you can access on your phone or tablet, which is something we have needed for a long time.

The future is bright for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, and this new way of doing things will refocus our work on serving you and our girls better.  We are your partners in Girl Scouting and are looking forward to sharing these exciting new tools with you soon!


I love watching girls succeed - of course, I do.  More than that, I love the opportunities I have had as CEO and COO of this council to watch girls set their sights high and reach long and hard for their goals.  It's amazing what a girl can do.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the final interview for one of our girls pursuing the Gold Award, which is the highest award in Girl Scouting.  I was amazed by the young woman, Maya, who came before our committee.  Just a sophomore in high school, Maya completed a fabulous project focused around the need for and awareness about service dogs in our community.  Not only has she raised the most adorable little guy around, Adobe (check him out on Facebook at CCI Adobe V), but more than that, Maya reached thousands of people, making them aware of the important role service dogs play for millions of individuals across the world. 

There are many other girls across southern Alabama who, like Maya, have pursued their dreams of helping others through our Girl Scout Awards Program, which starts with the Bronze Award for Juniors.  We encourage all girls who are Juniors and up to work toward earning higher awards.  As the mother of a recent Bronze Awardee, I can tell you it is rewarding for both the girls and their families.  I also would be remiss if I didn't mention that girls who earn the Gold Award, in particular, are often eligible for scholarship money for college, and it's a great component to add to their resumes throughout their career.

We have a designated staff member, Jeannie Napper (jnapper@girlscoutssa.org), who does a wonderful job of leading our girls and their adult advisors through this process. Please visit our website or contact Jeannie to learn more about how your girls can participate. 


I hope you all had a great first weekend of cookie booth sales. While I wish the weather would have cooperated a little more (actually, a lot more) for us, the intrepid girls I saw selling were having a good time, which is what it's all about.

One of the many things our girls learn from the cookie sale is business etiquette.  As we head into these long weeks of booth sales, it's good to remember that a positive, polite, and friendly attitude is important.  Demonstrating this kind of behavior starts with you and me.  As Girl Scout parents and volunteers, it's important we remember that, at each interaction with a potential customer, our girls are watching.  They look to us to model the behavior we wish to see from them.

As a Girl Scout mom, I am horrified when someone is rude to my daughter or her friends at a booth sale -- or won't answer the door of their home on Walkabout Weekend (when there are five cars in the driveway...!), but it's my job and yours to remind our girls to stay positive, smile, and return rudeness with kindness - even if we have to grit our teeth to do it. 

Thank you for supporting our girls in their entrepreneurial efforts and for teaching them lessons that will last a lifetime.  Together, we are building stronger young women every day. 


What are your girls going to do with their cookie proceeds?  I love asking girls what their goals are for cookie season, and I've gotten some great responses over the years. 

I remember the first year our daughter sold cookies and the discussion those sweet kindergarteners had.  First, they wanted to go to Paris, then Disney World, and then Krispy Kreme (our daughter proudly led the charge on that one!).  They had a great time selling cookies and then they did go Krispy Kreme -  and the fire station and to paint ceramics, among other things.  The girls loved watching all of their hard work come to fruition, and they also were delighted that they had a hand in choosing what they would do to celebrate.

Our girls dream big when it comes to these major cookie-funded decisions.  We've had girls go to all sorts of places (Our Chalet or Pax Lodge, anyone?), complete projects to support some great causes, and simply have fun in their own backyard.  Help your girls lead the making of these decisions.  They have great ideas, and they also learn about budgeting and even conflict resolution.  Making a goal at the beginning of the sale gives girls something to work toward and be excited about.

So, where will your girls go this year?  The time to decide is now!


The cookies have arrived - just in time for a nice warm up of our weather!  We hope that you will have a chance to get outside and enjoy this weekend's warm temps and sunshine and take part in our Cookie Walkabout Weekend.  I'll be out on Saturday, myself, with my daughter, and we are looking forward to it!

Speaking of cookies, we need a great sale so that we can continue to present excellent programming for our girls, and we know that your hard work is critical to this effort. If there is something we can help with or a question we can answer, please let us know.  Our product sales team is here to help!

Time for resident camp will be with us before we know it, and we are delighted that so many girls (more than 50!) have already registered for camp.  We are looking forward to a great year, with lots of fun planned and a great new camp director (who's no stranger to most of you), Cheryl Miller. Start making plans to attend now.  We can't wait to see you at Scoutshire Woods or Kamp Kiwanis in June.

As many of you know, our Thin Mint Sprint was cancelled due to the potential for ice and the low wind chill last Saturday morning.  Our team was up and ready to greet racers when the news came that the Mobile police were asking folks to stay inside and off the roads.  We have rescheduled to April 8, with details to come!  However, girls and volunteers who registered should pick up their T-shirt and gift bag at the Mobile office as soon as possible.  The T-shirt is too cute, and you won't want to miss having one. 

Have a great Walkabout Weekend!


Amy was born and raised in Montgomery, and has fond memories of attending Kamp Kiwanis with her sisters as a Girl Scout!  She is the mother of two children, whom she names as her greatest accomplishments.  

Amy loves encouraging creativity in children, seeing creativity as vital to them becoming well-rounded individuals.  Her love of painting and decorating, as well as supporting the creativity of others, led her to choose  #creative as her hashtag.  The advice she would give young girls is "Be a person who makes others feel special; be known for your kindness and grace."

Creativity runs in her family!  The most influential person in her life, her Daddy, was hospitalized for a bone marrow transplant and saw the financial hardship many patients and their families faced.  From this experience, he created the BMT Angels of Alabama foundation to help them.

As a former preschool teacher, Amy knows that it is incredibly important to start early to help shape girls into young women who have the courage to be themselves and to help others.  Building girls of strong character, who are confident in who they are and confident that they can accomplish anything, must start at the beginning.  With these qualities, they can go on to change the world!



Happy New Year!  I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday break.  We had a great time with our kids and extended family.  Although I admit getting both kids back into their routine this week has been hard.  Our two-year-old begged me on Tuesday morning to "pwease, pwease put my jammies back on, Mommy!" I bet many folks felt the same way that day!

Back at GSSA we are excited to start a new year, and we have so many great things going on this month.  On Saturday, our Thin Mint Sprint 5K will be presented in Mobile at the University of South Alabama.  It's going to be chilly, but so much fun. Please come and join us if you can!  Here's a link to more information: 2017 Thin Mint Sprint.

In case you haven't noticed (ha, ha), the cookie sale has begun!  Cookies should be in troop hands by this time next week, and we are hoping to have a great sale.  We've had a lot of excellent media buzz about the new cookie, which is a good start. Don't forget that girls who sell 25 boxes of cookies are eligible for the entrepreneur discount for programs and resident camp.  Also, girls who sell 800 boxes will receive $175 in program credits toward resident camp, council programs. At 1,600 boxes, girls receive another $175 in credits.

Don't forget that our Walkabout Weekend is Jan. 14-16.  This is a great time for girls to get out in their neighborhoods with their fellow troop members.  Decorate your red wagon, your scooter, or even your golf cart and have some fun selling cookies the "old fashioned" way (i.e. like we used to do it when we were kids!).

Be sure to take a Walkabout photo during Walkabout Weekend featuring your Girl Scout or Troop/Group as she/they go door-to door selling cookies, and email your photo(s)to communications@girlscoutssa.org by the end of the contest (February 24). We will place your photo in a Facebook photo album and the photo that has the most likes will win the contest. We will post photos beginning January 23, so the sooner you send them, the more time for everyone to like them!  The winner receives a $50 GSSA shop gift card!

MCochrane-sm.jpgWhat three items are on Meghan Cochrane's bucket list? World travel, raising her two daughters to be successful, and to make a difference in this world. This desire to change the world is reflected in her chosen hashtag: #Initiative. Meghan says, "#Initiative because as Girl Scouts we get stuff done! We cannot change the world around us if we don't have the initiative to identify what we can change in our communities and then TAKE ACTION to get it done."

Meghan's young daughters are the most influential people in her life; she says they change her for the better each and every day. They are also her proudest accomplishment, after overcoming a long struggle with infertility. The advice she gives to all young girls about life? "Be the light. Make a difference in the lives around you." 

Meghan feels we owe it to girls to teach them life skills at a young age so they are always one step ahead. They are our future and it is up to us to make sure ALL girls have the skills it takes to be successful.

Meghan was a Girl Scout, and has been part of our Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama family for four years.

It's almost that time!  The holidays?  Well, yes - and I, for one, can't wait for some family fun and special times with our daughter and son.  It's also almost time for ... you guessed it, cookies!

I want to remind everyone that preorders start on Dec 26 (and not before then - we want to be fair to all of our Girl Scout sisters!). We have some great cookie merchandise in our shop, both online and at the service centers.  Be sure to check the cookie pages on our website for troop marketing resources and other important information. Everything you need should be there, and if not, please feel free to call us.  We will be happy to assist you and your girls throughout the sale.

GSSA closes for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 23, and we will re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 3. We hope that you enjoy some well-deserved time off, as well, during the holiday season.  On behalf of our staff, I want to thank each of you for your work to lead our girls into the future.  We are grateful for your love of Girl Scouting and can't wait to begin 2017.  It's going to be a great year!

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