Friday, December 9, 2011

My Promise, My Faith

December is a month of religious, spiritual, and cultural holidays for all of the world's major religions. It is therefore an opportune time to update you on how Girl Scouts can interface with any faith.

Although Girl Scouts is a secular organization, and Girl Scouts recognizes that religious instruction comes from the home and one's faith community, we are values based and encourage faith in God, as defined by each member and her family. The Girl Scout Promise and Law are in alignment with many faith organizations’ teachings.

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God* and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
*The flexible wording of the Girl Scout Promise means that a member may substitute another word that more closely represents that member’s spiritual belief for the word God.


The Girl Scout organization has transformed itself in recent years to focus on leadership development for girls in the 21st century, and the new Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting reflects that transformation. The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting is the new national curriculum, a combination of handbook, badge and award book, and guide to the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. The program builds the critical thinking, creativity, and entrepreneurship that the next generation of leaders will need to make the world a better place.

One of the new awards in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting is the My Promise, My Faith award.  Some of you are familiar with  the PRAY religious awards. PRAY is an outside vendor. So now, My Promise, My Faith is Girl Scouting’s own national faith recognition.

Here's what our volunteer Council Historian, Cindy Littel, from Soldotna reported back from the official launch of My Promise, My Faith at National Convention last month.

"I am so glad you asked me to attend the My Promise, My Faith Launch Event. Being the daughter of a minister, this subject is definitely something I care about very much. I had picked up some materials at the PRAY booth in the Exhibit Hall the day before. The PRAY program, for the most part, is sponsored by/geared to specific churches/religions. The new program will appeal to those GSUSA members who are not [actively] involved in a local church but want to explore their faith. This "faith journey" may lead them to look within themselves and become more involved in a church/synagogue. It is also nice that the pins for the new program are colored differently for each program level and can be earned [every year]. For example, a Brownie can earn [the pin] both in 2nd and 3rd grade." 

With the introduction of the My Promise, My Faith (MPMF) pin, GSUSA has provided a resource to help girls strengthen the connection between their faith and the Girl Scout experience. Girls pursuing MPMF will examine the Girl Scout Law and tie it to their faith. The specific requirements for this award are listed in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting here.

Some leaders may have wondered what the connection is between the new My Promise, My Faith pin and the already existing Religious Recognitions. In fact, My Promise, My Faith does NOT replace Religious Recognitions. The My Promise, My Faith pin complements exisiting Religious Recognitions, and girls are encouraged to earn both.

 Girls are instructed to "find out if your faith community offers a recognition program for Girl Scouts." The Religious Recognitions are created by the faith communities to help girls grow in faith. Girls may earn both the MPMF and Religious Recognition and wear them on the front of the Girl Scout uniform.

Happy December from Girl Scouts of Alaska. Go forth to serve God and live the Girl Scout Law.

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Marge Stoneking, CEO



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Girl Scouts of the USA; Houston was the Launchpad for the Next 100 Years

Imagine a place where everyone shares your values; where everyone lives by the Girl Scout Law. That is the world that a small group of Girl Scout adults and girls from Alaska lived in last week.

At the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, the Girl Scout flag flew, and the Girl Scout logo, colors, and imagery were everywhere. But, it was the feeling of being surrounded by 15,000 other Girl Scouts that made the experience magical.

As the closing ceremony keynote speaker, Robin Roberts said, “You might not remember who you saw or what they said, but you will remember how you felt.”
I felt serene, energized, safe, strong, and surrounded by loving care.
It was from this nest that we were inspired and empowered to embrace the second century of Girl Scouting. Within that environment of sisterhood we felt the courage and motivation to turn outward and share the power of Girl Scouts as wide and far as we can reach.

There is a saying, “If you teach a girl, you educate the world.” In Houston, we heard again and again how girls are an untapped resource, how their involvement in everything from science to politics is so valuable, and so needed. Yet, girls continue to be left out of, and opt out of, leadership opportunities.

That’s why there has never been a more exciting time to be a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts has the ability, and the opportunity, to inspire the gender balanced leadership that our country needs.

The world is in economic crisis, and we need leaders more than ever. If we continue on our current path, women won’t achieve parity in the U.S. Congress for another 400 years. We know that Girl Scouts provides girls with opportunities and experiences that inspire them to do great things. Girl Scouting gives girls the courage, confidence, and character to become leaders.


Indeed, more than 70% of the women leaders in our country are former Girl Scouts. But, two-thirds of too few is not enough. Every girl deserves the chance to discover the difference she can make. Imagine what the world would look like if every girl had the opportunities and experiences we provide in Girl Scouts?

Will you join me in realizing our biggest dreams for girls in the 21st century? Will you help me renew the promise of Girl Scouting for another 100 years?

In Houston, Kathy Cloninger, our outgoing CEO, asked us if we would do three things to ring in the second century of Girl Scouts. She asked us to:
1. Be informed about how girls define leadership and recognize how girls want to lead;

2. Take the message of the vast potential and importance of investing in leadership development for girls beyond the Girl Scout world; and

3. Encourage our fellow adults to lead; to find the leader in ourselves, and to help others to do the same.


Will you raise your voices and thereby inspire girls to also raise theirs? Will you join me and the Girl Scout Movement in renewing the promise to build another century of girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place?

The following inspirational words were shared in Houston by some of today’s women leaders. These are the kind of women we need more of, in order to provide role models for both girls and boys, and show them what gender balanced leadership looks like, and that it is possible.

“Courage + dreams = success” - Marlee Matlin
“Put yourself in a position for good things to happen.”
“Dream big, and focus small.” – Robin Roberts
“When you come to the end of the light of all you know, it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown. Faith will give you one of two things, something solid to stand on or wings to fly.” - Monique Coleman
Honorary Girl Scout Chair Michelle Obama shared by video address that she has three wishes for every girl: “That she lead a healthy lifestyle, pursue her dreams, and reach her goals.”










Sunday, November 13, 2011

2012 is the Year of the Girl!

In this post, guest blogger Anne Gore continues her report on Girl Scouts 52nd annual Convention in Houston, Texas.

Yesterday afternoon and evening were full of celebration as we officially launched Girl Scouts 100th anniversary year, and the Year of the Girl. 

A sit-down ceremony in the afternoon included videotaped remarks from Maya Angelou

a keynote address by Kathy Cloninger, 


and a bridging ceremony to induct GSUSA's new CEO, Anna Maria Chavez.  

In her remarks, Kathy Cloninger cited many statistics about the value of women in leadership roles, and how few women we still have in these positions of influence.  She challenged Girl Scouts to be the catalyst "to achieve the gender balance this nation needs," and noted that Girl Scouts is "the bridge girls need to cross the [gender] divide and lead as women."  

Although already surrounded by inspirational role models, the girls got yet another treat when the ceremony was capped off by a performance from singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.  


Cake, and fireworks ended the evening and an incredible day full of motivational moments and excitement.


In the words of Connie Lindsey, Girl Scouts' National President, "Tonight we begin a year-long celebration of the Girl Scout movement.  [Already,] we have made the world a better place."  



But, that's not all.  We'll have even more to share with you from Convention, so keep checking back here and on our Facebook page for updates.








Saturday, November 12, 2011

Inspiration all Around

Last night at the Young Women of Distinction ceremony, many of the award recipients mentioned in their acceptance speeches that they'd been inspired to go after their Gold Award after attending a Young Women of Distinction event at a previous Girl Scout Convention.

Our six girls from Alaska are surrounded by inspiration this week.  They are meeting other girls, listening and talking to accomplished adults, attending Conversations of Consequence about topics of importance and concern to them, and learning skills from marketing to technology and science to  leadership.  And, of course, they are also having lots of fun!  



Here's what a few of them had to say:

"This is amazing.  The girls here are so inspirational. It is something I'll remember for years to come."
- Kharissa

"This is really special, and I have never done anything like this before in my life."
- Mykaela 


This is what Girl Scouting's all about!  Opportunities, new experiences, adventure, inspiration, and of course, discovering, connecting and taking action!  


We are so proud of these girls, and all our Alaska Girl Scouts.  We can't wait to see what amazing things you do in your lives, and how you will continue to be inspired, and inspire others through your actions.  


- Anne Gore, reporting from Convention

Friday, November 11, 2011

Out of Their Comfort Zone and into the Spotlight

This afternoon in Houston we honored the ten national Girl Scout Young Women of Distinction and had the chance to hear each of them give courageous, confident, and inspiring speeches.

Some of the girl's speeches were so moving, they had me in tears.

A common thread among almost all the girls' speeches was the fact that they had stepped out of their comfort zone and done things they'd never done before in order to achieve their Gold Awards.

First on the stage was Darragh Friedman, who made a film documenting the testimonies of five Holocaust survivors.  In her acceptance speech, she noted that making the film gave her an appreciation for the gift of life.



Megan Johnson was born with a facial disfiguration and felt compassion for others in her community who were looked down upon for being different.  Her Gold Award project involved working with prisoners to make blankets, socks, and hats for Seattle's homeless community.



Megan's advice to girls was simple yet powerful:  "Be kind, be persistent."

Brianna Hutchinson noticed that local community events existed to raise awareness about cancer and other health conditions, but there were no events focused on child abuse awareness.  Her Gold Award project involved organizing a "Walk for Hope," which has since become an annual event.

Brianna credited her success to the help and involvement of many others in her community.  She noted that "leadership works best when it is a shared, cooperative experience."

To read more about these and the rest of the accomplished Young Women of Distinction, click here

Here's the whole group on stage receiving their awards and hugs.



I can't wait for Alaska's own Young Women of Distinction recognition event -- a luncheon on March 29, 2012 where we'll honor Gold Award recipients in our own Council, and celebrate the accomplishments of Alaska's amazing girls.  Save the date! 

- Your guest blogger for the week, Anne Gore

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All I Ever Need to Know Is in the Girl Scout Law

Anne Gore continues her report of Opening Ceremonies with this post.

In my last post, I reported on the first half of the convention Opening Ceremonies and mentioned that Kathy Cloninger had just stepped on stage.  Cloninger's remarks were followed by a formal welcome from the San Jacinto Council CEO and Board Chair, and the Mayor of Houston, Annise D. Parker.  Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, and Mayor Parker (a former Girl Scout, of course), noted that in our nation's history there have only been 10 women who have headed a major American city! 

Next up was none other than Katie Couric, the keynote speaker for the evening.

Katie delighted the crowd by walking on stage in a Girl Scout uniform!




Her speech covered a full range of topics, from her professional career and background, to her work with cancer research and education.  But, the theme centered on her statement that "All I ever need to know I learned in the Girl Scout Law."  


Here are some highlights from the speech.


In speaking about honesty, Katie said "It's far more important to do the right thing than to know the right answer." 

In speaking about courage, she said
"Courage has been the most powerful weapon in my arsenal."  She also mentioned that an NBC colleague once told her, "a boat is always safe in the harbor, but a boat was not built to stay in the harbor."


In closing, Katie quoted someone else who said "You will find your purpose and passion, but make sure it serves the greater good."  She added her own words with this final remark:
"Do your best and that way every year will be the Year of the Girl." 


As Connie Lindsey, President of GSUSA's National Board of Directors so eloquently concluded, "Katie, by taking action to make your dreams a reality you are an inspiration!"  


The evening ended with a final dance performed by the Glow Girls, and the audience joined in the fun by waving our flashlights in the dark to create this beautiful light show.


For more details of this amazing evening, check out the GSUSA blog here and this fantastic video featuring Alaska's own Girl Scouts! 





Opening Ceremonies begin

Hello again from the Convention in Houston!  This is Anne Gore reporting live from Convention Opening Ceremony.



Today was so busy, I’ve hardly had time to stop long enough to post an update. 
But, I wanted to be sure to share with you what we're experiencing right now.   
We’re in a huge auditorium enjoying the beginning of the opening ceremony!

Each state is assigned to a different section of the room, and Alaska lucked out with a spot in the very front row!  Here are our girl delegates with their troop leaders, and our CEO Marge Stoneking.


The show got off to a great start with this shadow dance performed by some very talented girls.


The photo is a bit blurry, but they created a tree with their arms and bodies! 

Next was a spectacular flag ceremony featuring every flag of every state in the U.S., plus the 145 World Association of Girl Guides countries.  One really wonderful moment was when a Girl Scout from the San Jacinto Council led the pledge of allegiance and started to say, "On my honor..." instead of "I pledge allegiance...."  It was an unintentional, yet remarkably appropriate mistake that everyone appreciated!  

We've just enjoyed a great dance routine by girls of all ages from the San Jacinto Council. 


 
Now, Kathy Cloninger has stepped on stage, so that means we're getting close to the keynote address by Katie Couric!  Stay tuned for more details.....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reporting from Houston

Greetings from Houston, where a few of our Alaska staff, board, and Girl Scouts are attending the 52nd National Girl Scout Convention! We'll be posting on this blog at least once a day to report on the happenings here -- what we're discovering, who we're connecting with, and what "take action" ideas we can bring home to Alaska.  

The following report is from Anne Gore, our council Communications Manager.

I arrived in Houston last night, along with board member Anna Bryant and our Director of Membership and Programs, Tasha Nichols. This morning we headed over to the convention center to pick up our registration packets and check things out.



 Lots of people were picking up registration materials for their whole Council, and carrying them back to their hotels.


Girl Scout signs with the 100th anniversary trefoil and historic black and white photos are everywhere outside the convention center, inside the convention center, at the hotels...

 
Girl Scouts are definitely making an impression in Houston!  I even witnessed the raising of this Girl Scout flag outside the convention center, right under the Texas state flag!  


And, how cute are these restroom signs in the convention center?  Somebody took the time to paste

little green sashes on every one of these signs throughout the convention hall!


I am not registered for any sessions today, but I did have the chance to peek in on the "How to Plan a Dance Flash Mob" workshop.  The group was learning the choreographed dance moves and having a lot of fun!


I am getting excited for tomorrow when the rest of our group will be here, and the Girl Scout Leadership Institute begins.  

We'll have much more to share with you, so check back again soon.












 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We Asked, You Answered, and We Heard You

Here are the adult member survey results from 2011, and the corresponding 2010 data for comparison. http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/images/2011_GSAK_Adult_Member_Survey_Results.pdf What will we do with it you ask? We use your input to shape the way we support volunteers and do business.

Takeaways from this year's survey and other feedback have sharpened this year's cookie program processes. Last year we implemented auto-pay between troop bank accounts and GSAK cookie account. You said the first withdrawal date put a hardship on the troop trying to get funds deposited in time. This year's first withdrawal date was pushed back due to that feedback.

In response to outlying volunteers, last years cookie materials were shipped directly to service unit cookie managers, and some of you were overwhelmed. This year we will assemble troop packets at Council Headquarters for Anchorage service units and direct ship only the outlying communities' paperwork.

You asked for credit card acceptance at booth sales! Last year we piloted mobile credit card acceptance with a couple locations. This year credit card systems will be available to any troop that wants to use them at booth sales.

For the past couple of years (thank you for your patience!) volunteers have been telling us that magazine sales aren't the right fit for Alaska. Some asked for the nut sale that other councils do. This year we offered our inaugural Nut & Candy Fall Product Sale.

The Adult Survey as well as a volunteer focus group held at Encampment told us you wanted more input and communication with council leadership. This year we're launching the Adult Membership Connection Committee (Adult MCC). Girls told us they wanted input too but preferred their own committee, so we are also launching a Girl MCC. The MCC's will serve as advisory bodies to the board of directors and council leadership. Geographically and ethnically diverse representation is desirable. Apply today to have your voice heard by clicking the links in this paragraph. (Deadline is November 14th)
 
You asked for better customer service in the GSAK Store and for an online store. We now have a full-time store manager, Amber Adams, whose top priority is customer service. We also implemented a point of sale system that will help manage our inventory to minimize out-of-stocks. And...in January 2012 we will launch the GSAK online store! Again thank you for your patience.
 
You said "too much paperwork." This fall we implemented an online volunteer application process, minimizing paperwork, and speeding up the new volunteer intake and volunteer renewal processes.

You asked for troop bank account debit cards and online account access. We are in the process of moving troop accounts onto FNBA's online access system so troops can manage their funds online. The next step after that is debit cards. Thank you for your encouragement.

These are just some of the ways Girl Scouts of Alaska is evolving to better meet the needs of volunteers. Thank you for sharing your input and being part of the evolution. We hear you and we are grateful for your leadership.

Monday, October 3, 2011

We are the leaders behind the leaders...

We hold ourselves and each other accountable for living up to the Girl Scout mission, Promise, and Law.

We lead with courage, confidence, and character. We make the world a better place.

We are sisters to every Girl Scout.

We proudly embrace our role as leaders of the Movement, with full knowledge and appreciation of the fact that we are, in essence, the leaders behind the leaders.

Through our actions we inspire girls to do great things.

We take our role as mentors seriously, knowing that girls look to us and will learn as much—if not more—from how we treat each other than from how we treat them.

We practice what we preach: there is no gap between what we say and what we do.

As the premier leadership development organization for girls, we embrace our role as champions of the new Girl Scout Leadership Experience. We understand it, embrace it, and live by it.

We guide girls—literally and figuratively—on their leadership journey.

We commit ourselves, every day, to being the leaders girls aspire to be and the leaders that girls need us to be.

We are the leaders behind the leaders.

Girl Scouts strives to exemplify integrated leadership, which combines leadership of self, leadership of others, and leadership of an organization. We can all be leaders wherever we serve Girl Scouting - whether we serve as volunteers or professionals, or through direct or indirect service.

We role-model leadership by applying the three leadership keys we teach girls to ourselves. Specifically:

Our self-awareness enables girls to Discover themselves and their values.We demonstrate “leadership of self” by staying true to the values of the Girl Scout Law.

Our teamwork inspires girls to Connect with others in an increasingly diverse world.We demonstrate “leadership of others” by advancing healthy relationships, constructive conflict resolution, and diversity and inclusion.

Our ability to embrace change empowers girls to Take Action to change the world. We demonstrate “leadership of the organization” by keeping Girl Scouts relevant and by standing up for girls as they pursue their goals.

As the leaders behind the leaders, we adults in the Girl Scout Movement, all have room to grow in our own leadership journey. Join us to grow your integrated leadership skills and learn about our legacy and how to commemorate the Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary at the Adult Learning Summit: http://www.girlscoutsalaska.org/for-adults/adult-learning

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healthy Media for Girls

There's no question...we live in a media saturated world. And for our youth, media can define how they see reality. If you ask a room-ful of teens what percentage of the adult population they think smokes, you get answers anywhere from 75% to 90%. They think everyone smokes. The reality is that less than 25% of adults smoke. But you see a child's view of reality is so much more strongly influenced by the media than an adult's is. And if you think about the last time you went to the movies...it's hard to find one in which someone doesn't light up.

Likewise, girls are influenced by media in how they see their bodies and themselves. The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.The GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls living in today’s world. The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.

GSRI's Healthy Living portfolio explores girls' and youth's healthy living, including their emotional and physical safety, and reveals how they define health and safety, how they see themselves and others, and the resources they have to help them live healthy, safe lives.
 
Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image Survey (2010)
The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006)
Weighing In: Helping Girls Be Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow (2004)

Girl Scouts of the USA, along with the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and The Creative Coalition, believe every child deserves to live in an environment that fosters confidence and character. We recognize that as children's media use continues to increase, all youth would benefit from experiencing healthy and positive messages about girls and women.

“Watch What You Watch” builds awareness about the need to pay attention to not just what kids watch, but how they watch it. Now more than ever, tools such as media literacy, public education and career exploration can be invaluable to young people. "Watch What You Watch" offers a clearinghouse of resources and tools that girls, parents, communities, and the media industry can use to help young people encounter and use media content that inspires, empowers, and engages. The PSA won the prestigious 2011 Gracie Award for Outstanding Public Service Announcement.

Today, you could Be A Voice for Girls! Support the Healthy Media for Youth Act

Social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter also have infiltrated the lives of teen girls. Teens spend several hours a day posting photos and videos, status updates, and chatting with their friends. The most recent Girl Scout Research Institute research study, Who’s that Girl? Image and Social Media (2010), investigated the positive and negative impacts of social networking among 1,026 girls ages 14–17, and found that while teen girls are physically and emotionally engaged in social networking, nearly all (92%) still prefer face-to-face communication.

Teen girls present themselves in a different light on social networking sites, tending to portray themselves as fun (54%), funny (52%), and social (48%), while underplaying in-person positive characteristics such as intelligence (82% in person) and kindness (76% in person). This difference is more pronounced among girls with low self-esteem.

Additionally, the majority of teen girls (68%) report that they have had a negative experience on a social networking site, such as being gossiped about (41%), having had personal information revealed to others (28%), or being bullied (20%). Actually, 55% of teen girls admit to having been the root of negative behavior on social networking sites. Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to have negative experiences on these sites (78%).

Teen girls have good intentions about safe social networking, but fewer act on these intentions. Although 85% of teen girls report that they have had conversations with parents about safe social networking, more than half (54%) are friends with people they’ve never met, and many offer personal information such as their school name (75%) and contact information (38%) on their profiles.

Findings from this study show that teen girls need to better understand social networking privacy controls and could benefit from more and better communication with family members on safe social networking. Parents should be involved in their teens’ social networking and teen girls shouldn’t feel pressured to act differently or hide their positive attributes on these sites. Having more friends and looking cool through provocative photos could backfire, since gossiping and bullying are rampant on social networking sites.

Today, you could Be A Voice for Girls! Support the Healthy Media for Youth Act

We need your help to encourage your Members of Congress to sponsor H.R. 2513/S.1354 today!

Kids are surrounded by media. From television to movies to social media and new technologies, kids are consuming up to 10 hours of recreational media each day. Unfortunately, media doesn’t always promote healthy images of girls. Girl Scouts’ research tells us that girls are very influenced by what they see in the media, and that it can have a significant impact on their self-esteem, body image, and leadership aspirations.

To address this issue, Girl Scouts has worked with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Senator Kay Hagan (NC) on the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 2513/S 1354).

This legislation would:
■Provide competitive grants for organizations like Girl Scouts, that provide media literacy programming and leadership development that helps empower girls.
■Support research to help us better understand the impact of media on youth development.
■Create a federal task force to develop voluntary recommendations that help the media industry put forward healthy images of women and girls.

Take action today and send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senator asking them to cosponsor this important bill that impacts all girls. ...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Girls who want to make the world a better place join Girl Scouts of Alaska for new experiences and adventure.

Recognizing that girls who want to make the world a better place join Girl Scouts of Alaska for new experiences and adventure, Girl Scouts of Alaska engaged in a rigorous, intensive learning process, to identify priorities for how we will continue to meet the needs of Alaska’s girls in this rapidly evolving world.

Twenty five volunteers from across the state served on the Council Strategy Team and devoted hundreds of hours of their time from October, 2010 through February 2011 to consider the needs of girls, parents, donors, and volunteers. Thanks to The Rasmuson Foundation we were able to include a wide geographic diversity in our strategic learning process. We are deeply grateful to our Council Strategy Team volunteers for their courage, confidence, and character in making Girl Scouts of Alaska a better place.

Our Council Strategy Team evaluated the changing social, economic and demographic conditions of Alaska, interviewed stakeholders and analyzed the challenges and opportunities facing Alaska's girls and Girl Scouts of Alaska today. We learned about ourselves, our girls and stakeholders, and the world we work in. The Council Strategy Team then identified priorities for increased effectiveness and improvement which were approved by the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Alaska in March 2011. This strategy will guide our work for the next several years.

We learned that:

• Girls across Alaska want relevant programs, including opportunities for travel, outdoor activities, and service learning. They want multiple ways to participate in Girl Scouts and seek supportive, respectful relationships with adults and the opportunity to collaboratively plan with them. We need to give girls what they need in ways they want it.

• Alaska is becoming increasingly diverse. To be inclusive, relevant, and effective, our girls served and volunteers and staff should reflect the ethnic, geographic, social and economic diversity of the state. Girl Scouts of Alaska is serving a high percentage of rural Alaska Native girls, but is not attracting girls of other racial/ethnic backgrounds or non-white girls in urban areas. Girl Scouts is for all girls; it's been inclusive since the beginning in 1912. Now girls have more options than ever before in how to participate as a Girl Scout through Pathways (troop, series, events, camps, travel, virtual), which can assist in increasing diversity. You don't have to be a troop member to be a Girl Scout.

• Volunteers deliver 90% of the programming in Girl Scouts. Staff and the Council must continuously support them and acknowledge their contributions. Current volunteers seek additional training about youth development, as well as how to utilize technology used by girls. We hear you - and have offered more adult learning this year than ever before. GSAK Adult Learning now includes traveling community training, annual Adult Learning Summit, webinars, teleconferences, outdoor training, and adult learning opportunities at Encampment. Our next Adult Learning Summit: Leaders Behind the Leaders will be November 5 and 6, 2011 at UAA, Anchorage. Travel assistance will be available. Mark your calendars.

• GSAK must have multiple volunteer pathways in order to attract a robust and diverse community of skills and talents. Times have changed since Girl Scouts' volunteer delivery model was developed in the 1950's. Most households how have two working parents or are one-parent households. Time is precious, to working parents especially. And...Girl Scout volunteers don't have to be parents to serve. Volunteers don't have to become troop leaders to participate in Girl Scouts; there can be volunteer opportunities in all GS Pathways.

• The non-profit sector will become smaller in the near term with partnerships providing new opportunities for collaboration. Partnerships have always been vital to our "small" state; this trend will continue.

• Donors want to see program outcomes and require continuous communication and multiple pathways for giving. In 2011-2012, Girl Scouts of Alaska will be piloting a nationwide evaluation tool to measure the 15 outcomes of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

• The majority of the revenue of GSAK is generated by cookie sales. GSAK should expand support from individual giving. Outreach to alumnae is critical to sustainability.

• Stakeholders indicate that the Girl Scout Mission is the primary reason they are devoted to the organization. Girl Scouts needs to tell the stories of our girls and our alumnae.

We are committed to these five priorities: 

• Continuing to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We will do so by focusing on girl-led or girl-driven programming, and we will utilize GSUSA's 15 Girl Scout Leadership Experience outcomes to measure our effectiveness. We will give girls what they need in ways they want it.

• Exploring new ways of attracting diverse girls, volunteers and staff and offering flexible ways to participate. Increasing our organizational cultural competency and that of our adult leadership.

• Continuous learning, support, and strengthening of volunteers and staff.

• Diversifying revenue sources and partnering opportunities to strengthen our economic resiliency.

• Expanding our modes and frequency of communication and telling our story.

Girl Scouts of Alaska is committed to listening to our girl and adult membership on an ongoing basis. We conducted input gathering sessions at Encampment for both adults and girls. Girl sessions included designing a girl member suvey. That survey was conducted at Encampment and continues to be available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HX39X9J. Watch for the adult member survey later in June.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: from the Girl Scouts of Alaska Statewide Camp Director

Summer camp is just around the corner and soon there will be hundreds of girls exploring nature, giggling in tents at night and singing camp songs. The phenomenal thing is that beneath the laughing, the fun and the friendship of camp, vitally important growth is happening…

Each summer during camp staff training, I ask counselors to envision a world where:

• You could completely trust every person sitting in the room with you

• You knew in all certainty that the people around you would never do or say anything to hurt you intentionally

• You knew that if someone had a problem with you they would come to you directly to resolve it

• They would never spread rumors or gossip about you

• They would stick up for you

• They would never make comments that make you feel insecure

• They would encourage you and support you to be yourself, to take risks and accept you unconditionally for who you are

• You would never again have the experience of walking into a room and having everyone get quiet because they were talking about you – and if it did happen you could trust that it was because they were planning a surprise party for you

Sadly, all too often, girls experience the exact opposite of the world I ask camp staff to envision. Luckily, camp is a place where we can create something different, something powerful and life changing for girls. Camp is a place where we not only envision this world but we can actually create it. The work of creating this world is the focus of every camp counselor during your daughter’s time at camp.

This work isn’t about trying to create an idealized, unrealistic world for girls but about showing girls the possibility of what the world can be and giving them the life skills to both create it and deal with the sometimes harsh realities of what the world can be.

At camp, girls participate in activities like canoeing, outdoor cooking, fire building, and hiking. Interwoven in those activities are life lessons about teamwork, bravery, courage, strength, independence, self-respect, cooperation, responsibility, inclusion and communication. These life skills are the true value camp. Memories of giggling in tents and singing around the campfire are nice but the things that have a lasting impact are those things you have to look past the smiles and dirt to see… the courage, confidence and character of a leader.

Amanda Block
Girl Scouts of Alaska Statewide Camp Director

Monday, February 28, 2011

You were part of something Amazing; You were a Girl Scout

March is Girl Scout Month in honor of the original founding of Girl Scouting. On March 12, 1912 Juliette Gordon Low organized the first U.S. "Girl Guide" troop in Savannah, Georgia, with 18 members, which launched the movement that became Girl Scouts of the USA. Appropriately, March is also Women's History Month.
This March, we'd like to invite you to honor Juliette Gordon Low's founding of Girl Scouting by officially reconnecting.

Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout.
Register online at girlscoutsalaska.org/alumnae.
Alaska Girl Scouts' 100th Anniversary celebration of Girl Scouting in the USA begins this year at Girl Scouts of Alaska's Encampment, during the first weekend of June. Our theme for Encampment is Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting - and to do that we need our alumnae to be part of it!

Mark your calendar for the evening of Thursday June 2 when we will host Alaska's first official Alumnae Reconnect Event. It will happen at the Palmer State Fairgrounds, in conjuction with Encampment. If you can't join us that night, don't worry - there will be more Reconnect events coming up over the next year as we celebrate the centennial of Girl Scouting. Register as an alumna, and we'll keep you in the loop.

No matter where you began, you're here now.
Register online at girlscoutsalaska.org/alumnae and celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts.

Who are Girl Scout Alumnae? Anyone who...

• Was ever a Daisy, Pixie, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador Girl member in any council anywhere, who is now 19 or older;

• Ever went to Girl Scout camp anywhere;

• Ever volunteered as an adult with Girl Scouts anywhere (including men);

• Was ever an adult GS member or is a Lifetime Member (including men); and

...wants to stay connected with Girl Scouting to renew nostalgic memories, to keep on making the world a better place, one girl at a time, or...

There are many, many Reasons to Reconnect.

Register online at girlscoutsalaska.org/alumnae to receive your invitation to the Encampment Alumnae Reconnect Event.

Register as an alumna to connect to Girl Scouting in Alaska where you are now. You can also reconnect with any former council(s) you've been part of in the past.

Register as an alumna to share your Girl Scout story.

No matter where you began, you're here now.
Proud Alaskan, Proud Girl Scout
girlscoutsalaska.org/alumnae

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Girl Scout Cookie Program; 5 Skills For Girls

It's Cookie Time! Crazy, frantic, fun, and busy cookie time. At this time of year troop leaders, cookie managers and parents sometimes go cookie crazy right along with girls, or in some cases unfortunately even more so.

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind us all that The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a girl program. Everything girls do in Girl Scouting is designed to help them grow into leaders of Courage, Confidence, and Character. The 5 Skills girls learn through the Girl Scout Cookie Program are an important ingredient in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. These skills and values are the primary purpose of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, and they only happen if we as the adult partners model the values and allow the girls to have the experiences. Only girl Girl Scouts can sell cookies because the program is a leadership development learning opportunity for them. As with all Girl Scout Leadership Experiences, it needs to be girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning to achieve the benefits to girls.

Here are a few examples of how participating in the Cookie Program teaches Girl Scouts skills that will help them grow into leaders in their own lives, leaders in business, and leaders in the world.

The 5 Skills for Girls;
Leadership Benefits in Girl Scouting & Beyond

Goal Setting: Your Girl Scout sets cookie sales goals individually and with her team, and creates a plan to reach them. She develops Cooperation and Team Building skills all along the way!

Decision Making: Your Girl Scout helps decide how her team will spend their cookie money furthering her Critical Thinking and Problem Solving skills that will help her in many aspects of her life.

Money Management: Your Girl Scout takes cookie orders, handles customers' money and gains valuable and Practical Life Skills around financial literacy.

People Skills: Your Girl Scout learns how to talk to, listen to and work with all kinds of people while selling cookies. These experiences help her develop Healthy Relationship and Conflict Resolution skills she can use throughout her life.

Business Ethics: Your Girl Scout is honest and responsible at every step of the cookie sale. Her business ethics reinforce the Positive Values she is developing as a Girl Scout.

To learn more about the Girl Scout Leadership Experience visit www.girlscouts.org/gsle

If you are a GS parent or volunteer who lives the Girl Scout Law in all your affairs, cookie sales included, I thank you. And I want you to know that we sometimes see Girl Scout parents or volunteers set the cookie program up as a sales competition, or worse, we see rude behavior at booth sales, and worst...we actually see misuse of cookie funds, including most commonly the collection of cash deposited into a personal account or troop account. Checks for large amounts written by GS volunteers and parents came back not sufficient funds (nsf) last year to the tune of over $30,000 and that happens every year. That's $30,000 that is not available to scholarship girls and to allow us to keep program costs flat. This year we did a historical review of this problem and sadly, this misbehavior is repeated every year by 75% of offenders, most of whom are troop leaders. I am appalled at this behavior by individuals who are role models for girls. As you know, we have made a number of administrative changes to the Girl Scouts of Alaska Cookie Program this year to set people up for success including the limitation of booth sale cookie pre-orders by troops, check amount limits, and setting up ACH troop bank account withdrawals. I will also tell you that those who continue this behavior during the 2011 Cookie Program will be removed as GS leaders and volunteers, because the buck stops here.

It's our job to live the Girl Scout Law and to be outstanding stewards of Girl Scout funds for girls of Alaska now and in the future. Thank you for your support of the The Girl Scout Cookie Program and for all you do to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place, and thank you for living the Girl Scout Law as a Girl Scout adult or parent and modeling and facilitating these priceless Girl Scout Cookie Program 5 Skills for Girls.