People who know me well know I was involved as an adult volunteer in the Girl Scouting organization for well over 3 decades. I served in various capacities, ranging from committee member to board member to council officer. It was my great honor to serve as President of the Girl Scouts of the Appalachians Council from 1997-1999, and to serve as First Vice-Chair of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, a newly-formed Council created by the merger of the legacy Appalachian, Tanasi and Moccasin Bend Councils. Along the way, I was honored to be selected as a National Operational Volunteer by Girl Scouts of the USA. In that capacity, I assisted Councils across the United States with strategic planning and governance issues. Another tremendous honor from Girl Scouts of the Appalachians Council was being presented with the Thanks Badge, which is Girl Scouting’s highest honor.
When people think of Girl Scouts, they often thing of what I call the 3 C’s: Camping, Cookies and Crafts. Of those three, probably the cookie sale is most well-known. Many Councils hang their financial hats on the success or failure of the cookie sale, which traditionally takes place in winter, soon after New Year’s. As important as the cookie sale monies are to the finances of the individual Councils, cookie sales are more important for other reasons. Selling cookies teaches the girls so much! Time management, record keeping and good customer service skills are just a few of the many things that I, and generations of others learned as girl members of Girl Scouts.
I recently chatted with Dr. Leigh Hornsby, whom I’ve known for many years. Leigh is principal partner of Public Information Associates, a strategic communications and outreach firm with locations in Dallas, Texas and Tri-Cities, Tennessee. She is also on the board of directors of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians. Leigh and I know that businesses across the world are having to adapt their strategies in response to COVID-19; so are nonprofit organizations, such as the Girl Scouts.
I’ve said before that leadership is nothing if not flexibility. Girl Scouts demonstrated this leadership skill in their cookie sales recently when COVID-19 prevented booth sales this year. Many Councils still have a tremendous inventory of cookies; here’s a link to find a local Council to aid in your cookie purchase.
A bakery full of thanks to Lynne Fugate, Haowei Tong, Gretchen Crawley, Theresa Shaw for helping to pull this together. And even more “Thank You’s” go to Kati Morgan and Patti Loveless, my two guest bloggers for this week. Thank you for allowing me to reblog your blog posts. Thank you, too, to the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians for allowing me to use this information which initially appeared on your website. Kati and Patti are volunteers for the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians. Here’s what they have to say about Girl Scout Cookies and why they are important.
By Guest Blogger Kati Morgan
“Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?”
These are words we have heard for generations…literally. My Mom was a Girl Scout, I was a Girl Scout, and now my daughter is a Girl Scout. I’ll be the first to tell you, cookie season is a lot like Christmas, but with WAY more calories and no lights. We sell A LOT of cookies. But let me tell ya; when I have a new girl looking to join the troop, I always remind parents we are SO MUCH MORE than just COOKIES!
Our little troop has been together for the last 4 years. I have watched some of my quietest girls turn into business masterminds when it comes to selling. They have found their voices together and learned as a group what causes are most near and dear to their hearts.
They have bought new physical education equipment for their school PE class. I’ve watched these girls use sidewalk chalk in the 100-degree heat leaving words of encouragement for other students to see when they came to school the next day. These brave girls have used their voices to sing to the elderly, speak to city councilmembers, and to uplift one another. They’ve used the cookie program to provide cookies for food banks, and cookies for Ronald McDonald House. They have become a little family they can always come back to. No matter what sport or other club they are doing, we find a way to make it work. Friendship and leadership is something we speak to these girls and they have learned through all our lessons, all our community work, that life is better with good friends by your side.
Our Girl Scouts are some of the BEST volunteers and community helpers I’ve ever seen. They WANT to help make their world a better place and they all know there is no good deed too small to make a difference.
So, maybe you can’t do anything BIG today to change the world…but you CAN buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies. And that’s pretty much the same thing.
“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are it’s makers” -Juliette Gordon Lowe
By Guest Blogger Patti Loveless
My daughter, Rebecca, asked me the other day why I am still with Girl Scouts when we were talking about the upcoming cookie season. She said, “Mom, you never participated in the cookie program when you were a troop leader and I was in Girl Scouts. Why are you doing it now? Isn’t it time to step down since I’m no longer in a troop?” I immediately replied without a thought, “No! I LOVE seeing all my girls succeed with their cookie goals, just like you. And to grow and mature into beautiful, successful, and confident women.”
You see, I was a single troop leader with GREAT parents who just didn’t want the responsibility of leading the troop with me. So, I instituted a new troop policy. I stated that I, like them, was also a full-time working parent with two kids in school, so I was fine being a single troop leader. However, all the parents had to take an active role in camping and cookie season. AND IT WORKED!
The parents stepped up. One mom was our cookie mom, the other parents taught the cookie badges and helped with booths, and even my husband helped my daughter sell her cookies.
So fast forward fifteen years, and here I am as a Service Unit leader for over 60 girls in rural Tennessee. I am now deeply involved in all of cookie activities, including hosting a cookie cupboard in my living room. While I’m glad to see those 500 cases of cookies come each February because I know that it will save hours of driving for our local troop leaders, it’s a relief come March to see them out of my living room and the cookie smell vanish with them.
So again, I think to myself, why am I putting myself through this Girl Scout Cookie mayhem? And just as quickly, I think about one of our girls who was so excited that she paid for her own encampment with her cookie money. I think about another one of our girls who tried to climb to the top of the tower at Camp Tanasi to show me that she could, but instead came down in tears because she was too scared. Then later that day, came running to me and threw herself into my arms laughing and crying. “Miss Patti” she said “I did it! I got to the top today. Any they let me go up two more times!” We laughed and hugged as she shone with pride and I knew that would be a memory she’ll carry for the rest of her life.
And that’s why I still continue to do it today!
Copyright, May 9, 2020 by Rebecca Henderson, Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, Patti Loveless and Kati Morgan
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