Thank you for taking the time to ask questions and offer feedback during our April Town Hall tour. Below you will find the answers to the questions you asked. Please let us know if we missed anything.
Spring Town Hall Tour
You can click through the presentation
Town Hall Questions and Answers
Council-Sponsored Programming and Events
1. Can we have more performing arts events? And can we have more Girl Scout events like Disney on Ice? We receive hundreds of requests each year for events of this type in every part of our Council. All of our troops are welcome to attend these events, but should know they are hosted by those vendors, rather than the Council. While we do not have input, affiliation, or control over the elements of these events, we do post these as community resources in eBlast as they come to our awareness. Our council is committed to creating a resource that will help connect volunteers to community-based opportunities for girls in the form of a searchable kiosk over the next 12 month. More to come!
2. Can we have fishing for younger girls? We are always looking to expand our programming areas. We are currently in talks with various SC State Parks about programming we can offer throughout our council – some of which may include fishing. We have also recently entered into a partnership with Trout Unlimited, a stream conservation group that brings awareness about stream ecology to youth through Fly Fishing. We held our first program a few months ago and will more opportunities for this unique program in the Fall and Spring.
3. Can we offer joint programs for adults and girls? And are other family members allowed to go (on trips) that are not Girl Scouts? At the heart of what we do – it is about the girl. While we are considering how we can have more parents/family involved in our programs as participants, every slot a parent/family member takes is a slot for a girl who may have wanted to participate as well. We do our best to always put the girls’ interest first. As we explore older girl programming opportunities that are professional development-centric, this may be a consideration. Our priority, however, will always remain the girl and creating a space where girls feel free to discover, connect, and take action.
4. Can we have more events and programming in my area, and could we provide volunteers with a list of council-approved places to take troops? And how do we engage organizations for program partnerships and then make everyone aware? We are working to balance programming throughout our 22-county region with major program offerings in the three metro areas. That said, we also continue to work with community partners in outer lying counties for focused programming for girls in those areas. Last year one of our amazing volunteers helped us secure a grant to host a 3-Day STEM camp for local girls in her area, and that camp is becoming a reality this week! We are always open to working with our volunteers on these opportunities. We have also started our initial planning to develop a Council Kiosk that will serve as a resource hub for Troop leaders in all areas. We’ve also hired Kayla Mallett to serve as our Girl Leadership Experience, Partnerships, and Girl Awards Manager with the intent to expand and deepen our partnerships throughout the region.
5. Can we make pricing of the programs affordable for lower income families? And can you create more affordable programs in the $3 to $4 range? Low-income troops cannot afford Council events-is there a solution? When we plan programming, we always seek to create the best financial scenario for girls and families. Our programs are set up to cover cost only, and we work hard to balance all ranges of prices so that all of our girls have the best experiences possible. We also leverage partnerships with local groups and organizations that have expertise in areas in order to bring higher quality. When we partner with outfitters, we are subject to the fee structure that they charge us, and must cover those costs. As a council, we provide money-earning opportunities in the fall and spring. Troops are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to help support yearly activities. We also provide financial assistance whenever available to support girls having a chance to experience all types of programming.
6. Why are there more programs in Columbia than Greenville? For instance, could we do theater, cooking, engineering programs in the upstate? And can we get more council events in Greenville as opposed to Columbia? The Program team is working to spread out our opportunities for the girls to be covered across our 22 counties. We work with partners that might not be able to provide the programming everywhere we would like them to and are seeking new partners that can deliver similar programming in other areas.
7. Can we do a Council-sponsored overnight at Riverbanks Zoo? While we have explored this option – overnights at the Zoo are cost prohibitive, and we’ve not yet found an avenue to make this event feasible. That said, we love the idea too and continue to explore options with the zoo and potential sponsors.
8. Can you provide more council sponsored events like trips to the zoo or parks? We are currently in conversations to establish partnerships with various SC State Parks and the National Park in our state for GS Programming and we are planning more parks this fall!
9. Can we start Council-sponsored programming in late Sept/early Oct because troop meetings typically start after Labor Day? Can we move “Totally Me” weekend to not right after school opens in the fall? Can our event calendar be more Fall-friendly, so everything doesn’t fall during cookie season? Moving forward, we are looking to start our programs in that time frame. If Totally Me is a program we continue, it will be moved to a different date. As for the cookie season, we will be more mindful to not schedule as many events during this time. We do still have some troops that seek the opportunities to do events during this time, and not all girls and troops sell cookies. We continue to have programming in order accommodate all of girls needs.
10. Can we do a Williams-Sonoma cooking course? We will look into this- not sure they offer kids cooking classes but it sounds like a great idea! We will explore for the next FOCALPoint.
11. Can you schedule siblings to attend camp and programs at the same time? Camp-While parents can sign up their siblings to be at camp at the same time – if they aren’t in the same program level (example: a GS Brownie and a GS Cadette who are sisters), they won’t be assigned to the same cabin. They will see each other throughout the week at meals and all camp programs. Programs-We work hard with our providers to provide a quality program at the level of the girl so that they will be interested and learn.
12. Can we do outdoor events such as soccer with the Lady Gamecocks? The Program team will work with them to find a contact to see what we can do in the future. With next year’s programs almost complete and the time it will take to put together a quality program, it may not be until fall of 2017 that we can get this put together.
13. Can we provide transportation from one area of Council to another? For instance, when Midlands girls want to attend a program in Greenville? Currently we do own council vehicles to support this and when offered in the past it has not been utilized enough to help us cover the cost. That said, we would really love to be able to break down barriers that prevent participation, and will continue to explore transportation options and bring this to our Focus Group conversations over the summer.
14. What’s in-the-works and new for next season? We are working with new partners, and can’t make announcements now because we are firming up details and signing contracts. We’re excited to launch our yearlong FOCALPoint and it will make its debut at the Volunteer Kick-off scheduled for August 6th!
15. Can we get more Daisy Programming? Can we have more Daisy Power Programming that is age appropriate? Why are there not more things for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors? Can we have more events on the calendar? The program team is auditing all of our programming for the next FOCALPoint and working to provide a balanced offering for all age levels with a variety of interests. We also know that the progression we do in girl scouting carries over into the events as well. Examples: Daisies not participating in the overnight weekends as they typically would do a one night event their second year and want to be closer to home.
16. Can girls get more STEM and less girly programs? We currently offer several gender neutral programs and some examples include Snap Circuits, Planetarium shows, Doodlebots, Capturing DNA, and Stream Girls (a fly-fishing program that incorporates STEM, Outdoors, and Arts and Crafts). The Program team will continue to listen to what the girls are asking for from our evaluations and surveys to help guide the development of offerings for upcoming seasons.
17. What are the options for using Cookie Dough? Cookie dough can be used for:
· Council Sponsored Day and Resident Camp Fees
· Council Sponsored Program Events (FOCALPoint events)
· GSUSA sponsored destinations
· Council Sponsored trips with regional, national or international itineraries
· Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award project expenses
· Girl Scout Lifetime membership
18. Can we get a list of approved places for taking girls with cookie dough? While there is not a master list of “approved places” guidance of what is acceptable can be found in Volunteer Essentials and Safety Checkpoints. Once the volunteer kiosk is in place it will allow you to more easily search approved/safe locations. Until that time, don’t hesitate to call us or ask your CDMs for guidance.
19. How can we learn from others about local programming? Can we advertise Scout Days everywhere? Online or newspaper? One of the best places to learn about what is in your local area is from your Service Unit members and at monthly service unit meetings. We advertise the Scout Days and community events that that are shared with us in weekly e-blasts. If you are not currently receiving this communication, please sign up for it with our Marketing/Communications Department.
20. What are we doing for home schoolers with the American eclipse? We currently do not differentiate home school students from traditional school students. Activities associated with the 2017 solar eclipse will be open to all girls, and we look forward to engaging homeschooled girls in our planning process!
21. Can we get the following programs: Get Set to Get Wet, Water Safety Program, Chalk it Up? If you asked this question, please contact us! We’d love to know more about these programs, and where they are run now. Help us to research these and see if they are a feasible option for our Council!
22. Can we have more multi-level programs? Some events and programs can be done for multi-level age groups, but others are targeted for a badge, or certain age group. We want every girl to discover, connect, and take action about the things they learn or try, and that sometimes pushes programs to be age specific. Knowing that this is an interest we’ll explore this more in our Focus Group to see what might be possible.
23. Can we do SC State Museum Astronomy Nights? Great idea! We will consult with this partner site regarding program possibilities! We’ll also see if we can engage them in our 2017 American Solar Eclipse event.
24. Can we do events with Cowpens National Battlefield as they have monthly Astronomy meetings? All troops are welcomed to sign up for and attend these events as a troop – what an exciting way to get your girls outdoors! Again, we will also see if we can engage them in our 2017 American Solar Eclipse event.
Journeys and Badges
1. Can we make Journeys less of a requirement or get rid of them altogether? Can Council provide more support to complete Journeys? The introduction of Journeys in 2011 was not without struggle, frustration, and confusion, but that does not mean that the Journeys are without merit. Journeys supplement badge work and link to the greater GSLE model. The problem with Journeys has been insufficient guidance in the field on how to implement with troops, leaving very busy, already stretched volunteers with the Yeomen task of figuring it all out on their own. GSUSA has heard, as we announced during the Town Hall Tour, will be working with Council partners to modularize Journey content into 4 to 6 session guided delivery sessions. The modules will include ideas and best practices to support the volunteer in creating and a great experience for our girls. Our very own, Deanna Ludwick, Director of Program Experience has been selected to work on this team, so not only will our Council help shape the direction of the program model for our movement, but we will have advance notice, information, and resources for the changes. Our Council is not waiting the 18 months to two years for this work to be completed. We have started “modularizing” some of our Journey content now to support our troops. We’ll announce these through eBlast as they become available.
2. Can we complete badges from other councils? Absolutely! We are fine with you working on badges/patches provided by other Councils, but it is up to their discretion and permission must first be obtained from the Council where the badge originated.
3. Are there more outdoor badges that girls can earn? Our Council has not and would not create new badges as this falls under the purview of GSUSA. That said, GSUSA heard the field and the new badges are due to make their debut any day now. Our program team learned about the badges and programming during the National Program Conference earlier this year, and they have incorporated the new badges and programming into their summer camp plans! Have your girls join us at Camp WaBak, Camp Occaneechi, or Camp Mary Elizabeth to get in on the fun!
4. Can we have a resource to find activities or events around the journeys or badges? Can you provide more information on “How to do” badges in the future? With the implementation of the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) over the next 12 months, Volunteer Toolkit will make its debut. In talking with other Councils this is an invaluable resource to volunteers and does supply guidance on “how to do” and “what to do” and even “why are we doing this”! Until this time, will continue to list badges that can be earned through Council-sponsored programming in the FOCALPoint. Also, the Program team is currently developing “kits” for activities, journeys, and badges … Coming FALL 2016!
5. I don’t feel that badges are practical, do I have other options? There are several ways to enjoy the Girl Scout experience:
· You can join a troop.
· You can get outdoors or go to camp.
· You can travel the country—maybe even the world.
· You can explore your interests through series and events.
· You can sell Girl Scout Cookies.
For our troops, our best way to have an impact on a girl’s life and to give her the meaningful experience she has said she wants is through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). GSLE incorporates earning badges and Journey work to ensure the girls achieve 15 (but soon to be five) key outcomes. Girl Scout badges are a great way for a girl to explore her interests and learn new skills—and to remember every adventure and show the world what she’s accomplished. The Girl Scout experience is all about what the girl wants. Since we are a girl-led organization, we have to keep that at the center our decision making. So if badge and journey fun isn’t for them, the best option might be to shift to one of the other types of engagement listed above. Ultimately, we want to empower them to choose what they want to get out of their Girl Scout experience. Some awards will have some requirements that may involve completing badges.
6. Will you provide guidance on how to deliver Journeys over a day or a weekend? Journeys are not intended to be completed during a day or weekend, although some portions of Journeys can be completed over a day or weekend. Journeys are designed to be a progressive learning event that takes place over several troop meetings, so that girls are building on their knowledge and are connecting and taking action. As mentioned in an answer to a previous question, GSUSA will be working with Council partners to modularize Journey content into 4 to 6 session guided delivery sessions, making them much more manageable. The modules will include ideas and best practices to support the volunteer in creating and a great experience for our girls. Our Council is not waiting the 18 months to two years for this work to be completed. We have started “modularizing” some of our Journey content now to support our troops. We’ll announce these through eBlast as they become available.
7. For the Astronomy badges, can we take trips to the Smithsonian or NASA next year? While some existing Astronomy badges, Space Explorer and Sky Search, can use this type of trip to achieve required elements, the details for the newest set of badges being developed in conjunction with NASA are still in the works. In a conference call with GSUSA earlier this week, we discovered that the development and pilot of the new badges will be developed in 2016, and then piloted in 2017 and 2018. We have positioned ourselves to be selected as a pilot site and will do everything we can to ensure we get access to these great badges in conjunction with the 2017 American Solar Eclipse event.
8. Can the girls build their own telescopes or star charts? Girls attending the Astronomy summer camp currently build their own rockets! This sounds like a great idea, and we will explore this possibility with our programming as details become available!
9. How do you hold the girls accountable for the take home assignments for badges? To be honest – we can’t. Because an important part of the Girl Scout law is to be honest and fair, we hope that girls have the integrity to abide but their daily pledge. If we begin badge work at a program and give an assignment to complete the badge work on their own, we have to trust that our girls are being honest and fair in their work, and partner with the parents in supporting that as well. One way to continue some level of accountability is to send a letter to parents letting them know that some element of the badge needs to be finished. A second possibility is to incorporate time in the meeting for them to complete the assignment if possible.
10. Can you finish one badge in one meeting? The goal of badges is more than experiences, but skills. Ideally, badge work should take multiple days/meetings, depending on the badge and age level. Some badges for younger girls may be accomplished quickly – while older girl’s badges have more depth and time requirements. Wearing a badge should show that you know that skill well, not just experienced it in a quick session.
11. Can we get Council exclusive badges/patches? Yes! The program team is in the beginning stages of working on a council exclusive badge set that incorporates The Arts, Healthy Living, STEM, and the Outdoors for each program level – Daisy through Ambassador. We are also working on a progressive Outdoor Patch Program that troops can participate in to earn a series of age appropriate outdoor patches.
12. How do you keep the girls interested in the Journeys after going to school –more book work? One way is to try to incorporate games or hands-on activities that go along with Journey curriculum that might tend to feel more like “book work.” For instance, instead of just reading a page and answering how to help the character’s family become healthier, why not go outside after and do an active game or sport? If you do an activity that seems more like book work or writing, do an active game or song right after to get girls up and moving. Another suggestion is to try to find crafts to pair with activities, as it allows an opportunity to present the same message, but in a more engaging method.
13. Can we get a Year in the Life of Juliette patch program? From our research we found that particular patch belongs to Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. We do not have plans to request the use of the patch, but as mentioned in the answer to an earlier question, we definitely support troops requesting use of patches from other Councils. If there is significant interest expressed from our girls and volunteers to see if it is a possibility for our Council as a whole, we’d be happy to look into it, but it is not a priority for this coming program cycle.
14. Can we get more badges to keep older girls engaged in troop? Can we get Legacy Patches for Daisies? Because the national program model, which includes badge development, is managed by GSUSA, we would need to continue to push this feedback to them.
15. What does modularization mean? GSUSA will go through the process of modularizing Journeys to create functionality and ease of use. Specifically, modularization means to separate or subdivide the functionality of a program into independent, interchangeable modules in such a way that each contains everything necessary to execute only one aspect of the desired functionality. However, it can be used by different groups or entities to drive multiple functionalities. By modularizing the Journeys into 4 to 6 week guided/supported sessions, delivery is more consistent across the movement, and puts less work and responsibility on the volunteer to constantly create while delivering content.
16. Can we get help designing your own patch? We interpreted this question as possibly referring to the Design Your Own Badge Program (if we are wrong, please contact us and let us know so that we can get more clarity around the question). If we are correct and this is about the Design Your Own Badge Program, part of the excitement and experience is to allow the girls to create the idea, earn the badge and then design it based on their experience. We can certainly explore and brainstorm ideas with troops on this!
17. Do we have Journeys already modularized and can we use them now? We do have the WOW Journey packaged in such a way it could be characterized as modularized. Furthermore, the program team is working on some other Journeys now and we will roll them out in eBlast as they become available!
1. Could we reevaluate the Gold Award proposal process? Could we reevaluate the Gold Award timeline? Can we review the approval process for Gold Awards as the window is too short, and there are too many hoops to jump through? We agree, and are evaluating our process to see how we can streamline for awards and all older girl programs to ensure they are both convenient and effective. We have engaged a group of volunteers to help us work through this process. While achieving an award is not intended to be “easy” we do not believe the process to achieve it should be “hard”. We will work on ways to remove barriers and develop an easier process with the hopes of launching it in the Centennial Year of the Gold Award!
2. Can you provide more detailed orientation for Bronze Award? Can we get a bronze award orientation workshop? As mentioned in the preview answer, we are working on all applications and trainings for Awards and this one will be included. More to come!
3. Can you create a program for girls to do Silver Award as a group? We currently have groups/troops that work together to achieve awards. Ultimately the development of the idea falls to the girl, or group of girls, but this can be vetted with Kayla Mallett, our Girl Leadership Experience, Partnerships, and Girl Awards Manager.
4. Is there a way online to get Silver and Gold ideas? There are ideas included in the training award packet, but a search on Google might also yield some ideas. The goal is for this project to be meaningful to the girl, so if she is able to tap into an interest, our team might be able to brainstorm with her some ideas to help bring the bigger idea to light.
5. How can we make the Gold Award cool? For the 100th year of the Gold, we are revisiting our training, marketing, and events centered on the Gold Award. The Gold Award is so cool it needs earmuffs! But we MUST do a better job to message that to the community. This is the year to make it happen! We are engaging cross-functional staff and volunteer committee to help develop the plan to build raving fans of the Gold Award!
1. Can we add programming support at Camp WaBak and other properties for troop rental? We are looking to provide more troop support for troops who rent WaBak in the future following working through many of the other higher priority programming needs.
2. Why is all outdoor programming at Camp WaBak? In the current FOCALPoint, you should see a shift in this trend. The immediate past spring, we offered a variety of outdoor programming at both Camp Mary Elizabeth and in the Midlands areas for a wider range of girls. As we continue to expand our range of partnerships – we are actively pursuing collaborations with more outfitters within our council. Camp WaBak is our outdoor destination property. In Girl Scouts – program drives property. Our goal is for our programs to promote the property, and thus, we strive to get our troops to take advantage of our properties. Ultimately, this ensures that our girls get experience camp and other programming at all of our properties.
3. This summer, can we have a week-long resident camp for older girls at Camp Occaneechi? We are piloting a mini-week camp for older girls this summer! Depending on feedback from the girls and other outcomes when planning older girl opportunities for the following summer, we will consider adding a full week to the camp line-up.
4. Can we have camps specifically for Daisy and Brownie girls in Columbia? This year we have Day camp options for Daisy girls and Day camp and Resident camp options for Brownie girls. For more information, please check out the summer camp book on our website!
5. Can we do Sailboats on Lake Murray, Paddleboats and canoeing at Sesqui State Park, Splash Pad (opening May 2016) at Sesqui? These are great questions and sound like great experiences for the girls! We will work spend some time exploring this relationship and see if programming there is an option for us, or if we are unable to drive anything Council-sponsored, we will communicate opportunities through eBlast and add to our future Kiosk.
6. Can we do paintball for Juniors and above? Sounds like fun! We have posed this question to our Risk Management Advisors and will communicate out to the field once we have resolution.
7. Can we have Council-sponsored training for camp activities like archery? We hope so! With the Volunteer Experience team and Program team working cross-functionally and collaboratively, we will explore this option with the hopes of adding it in the future!
8. How can we have more camp options closer to the Midlands region? We are working to see what we can work out for this option. When we look at use property that is not ours, the costs increase greatly and make the event expensive compared to the ones we offer on our properties. That is why it remains a priority to finalize a green space partnership in conjunction with the Leadership Center capital campaign, as communicated to the Delegates at the Spring Delegate meeting.
9. Why is Camp Occaneechi programming, and specifically, badge programming the same as last year? While some of the programming is the same, there have been several new things added as well. We will continue to make improvements to all our programming as we receive and evaluate to the girl’s input.
10. Can we have more sessions for Mom & Me/Dad &Me? As a Camp, possibly… This is something we can take into consideration for summer 2017. At resident camp, our staff work 22 hours a day, 6 days a week, and we also have to consider their time off, rest, and well being as well – so they can take care of themselves to ensure every girls experience is fantastic. As an event… Great idea! We develop something as a weekend program.
11. Can we get help finding certified people for small craft safety, lifeguards, and archery? As our council begins working to build a database of resources for volunteers, we will work to include all aspects of trip and activity planning, including certified personnel. We will be working across our Girl Scouts community to identify these shared resources.
12. Do we have rental sets for camping? We currently do not have a stock of supplies to rent for camping. At one point we did, but constant use and continual breakage/repairs did not make it a reasonable or lasting investment. Some state parks do run programs with intro level for camping, and they supply everything, including an expert to help you do it all, even setting up the tent they loan you. We do not rent out camping supplies at this time, but that might change for the future.
13. Can we have more activities for older girls including camping? Can we have older girls outdoor program options that include outdoor cooking and camping skills? This summer we are offering several new camp sessions just for the older girls. It is more difficult to offer these sessions as they typically have low enrollment, but we want to ensure we have good quality options for our older girls. We have and will continue to provide some weekend options at our camp properties and other sites around the council that can include these skills for the older girls.
14. Can we have Cadette backpacking opportunities? There is a backpacking opportunity for Cadettes at Camp WaBak this summer! Check out the Trailblazers adventure program.
15. Why is camp so expensive? All of our programming, including camp is priced at cost, and rarely do we fully cover the expense of camp with camp fees. Most programming and camping is subsidized by funds from the cookie sale, in order to provide girls with the best quality, and most affordable options possible. We do not seek to make revenue from program or camp. Camp, due to the extensive liability, staff ratios, etc. tends to be a more expensive activity. Currently, our camps are considerably below national market value, and lower than nearly all of the camps in the region, but offer a very similar experience. We truly want as many girls to come to camp as we can have beds for and will continue to keep our prices low. All this to say, through our Development office, generous donations of Camperships are made so that girls who cannot afford camp have an option. Her family can apply for a campership and receive up to 90% of the cost of camp covered through the Campership Program.
16. Can camp be available every weekend for half and full day? We don’t see why not. It is currently available most weekends with the exception of a few holidays. We have not looked at half day options, but definitely something we will evaluate in the coming year.
17. What is GSSC-MM doing to take advantage of 4th graders having free passes to use State Parks this year? To be honest – there isn’t much the council can do outside of promoting it and we will do that through eBlast. The free park passes have to be done as a family with a fourth grader. This is for National Park sites only, not State Parks.
18. If we have core troop camping in the fall, when do we register? FOCALPoint will have a clear registration open and close date for each program including Core Troop Camp. Again, the full year FOCALPoint will make its debut at the August 6th Volunteer Kickoff Event, Seas the Day!
Older Girl Programming
1. Can we offer an older girl trip to Savannah, yearly? As we examine our older girl programming and work to make older girl program more fun and engaging, we will consider a variety of programming options. In our discussions, trips have come up. We, however, would like to be sure to include girl feedback before deciding on annual programming.
2. Can we promote more on Destinations and oversea opportunities? How far can girls go for Destination trips? As we revamp and revitalize older girl programming, we will be working to share more about all older girl opportunities. A girl is only limited by her imagination when it comes to Destinations! Pick an option and work with our team to see if it is feasible, but the more creative and challenging the better!
3. Can we offer older girl programming that includes things like cooking, archery, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and intro to scuba? Camp WaBak offers all of these programs in the summer for older girls, with the exception of scuba. Many of our overnight or weekend programs at our camps include many of these activities. We also see a decline in older girls signing up for our events. We have and will continue to offer cooking programs for our older girls.
4. Can we offer older girl programming that is not leadership track or sampler sessions? This summer at Camp WaBak we have added more Senior and Ambassador sessions that are not sampler or leadership tracks – like whitewater rafting, surfing, Night Week, and an art themed week. We are working to engage girls directly to discover the type of programming they desire and the type of programming that will best help develop their skills. While we will roll out more programming, we will also work to identify outside resources for leaders to help support their girl’s interests. For Council-sponsored programming, we will be working with girls to identify what they are interested in and look for ways to provide those options.
5. Can you create programs for older girls (14 years and older) to keep them focused and entertained? How do we compete for the interest of our older girls? We are committed to keeping older girls engaged and enthusiastic about girl scouts. As we work to identify the best programming we will engage the girls, volunteers, staff, and community partners in development and implementation.
6. Can you offer more programs such as Stream Girls for dates that provide more weekends for girls to participate? Programs like Stream Girls are provided through an outfitter who provides all of the activities and expertise. While we are looking to increase these types of programming, we are subject to the dates of the program provider availability. Stream Girls was a pilot program this Spring, and we are hoping to offer additional session this year!
7. Why are activities for older girls so widespread and costly? Historically, we have struggled to fill programs for older girls. As girls interest in more adventurous programs increase with age (things like zip lining, high ropes, rafting), so do the costs for these programs. Our cooking programs are more costly as well, no matter what age the girl is.
8. Can you create survey for older girls to respond directly to council regarding their specific interest? While this research was done prior to the development of the She Sees the Future Plan, we think this is a great idea to get a refresher… to make sure we are still on track. We will look into this for Fall 2017 program planning.
Customer Experience-General Support
1. What technology do we have in place? How is it expanding? As we move through the next year, we expect to go live with the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) in the summer of 2017. With that comes the exciting and new Volunteer Toolkit. The Volunteer Toolkit is a new digital planning tool that gives you resources and program content to get your year started—and keep it going smoothly! Fully customizable, the toolkit is digitally responsive so you can plan and prepare practically anywhere.
2. How do I know whom to call at Council when I need something? Our Customer Experience Team is always ready to assist. Our team members are prepared to answer questions and get information to you quickly. In the event that they are unable to provide all of the information, they will connect you with the appropriate staff member that can assist you. Call your local Service Center or use the Toll-free number 1-800-849-4475.
1. Why cookie dough is not available for camp payment? Camp payments are one of the most exciting and fun ways a girl can use her Cookie Dough! Cookie Dough may be used for GSSC-MM summer day and resident camp payments.
2. What’s in-the-works and new for next season? Next year there are exciting things to look forward to with the Product Programs of the Fall and Cookie Sales. Girls have the opportunity to develop and enhance their financial literacy through both programs. Next year in the cookie sale, we will welcome a new cookie to our lineup while saying goodbye to the Cranberry Citrus Crisp. More details on the new cookie will be available this summer.
3. Can we have video training available to show parents and girls about fall product, and other product sales? Can Council provide training specifically for parents at cookie time, for instance, a Cookie Rally for parents? The Volunteer Product Sales Committee along with Product Sales staff are already looking at new ways to enhance the program for next year. The overall training program will get a redesign and will include a component for Parents so that they are able to learn more about the Product Programs and understand the full Financial Literacy learning opportunities provided with both sales programs.
4. Will Fall Product profits ever increase? Every few years the product sales program incentive program is reviewed including the profit structure. We will continue to review and evaluate the profit structure for both product programs.
5. How can I gain more knowledge and get more help with cookies to understand ordering, etc.? The Troop Cookie Manager Training is designed to help prepare Troop Cookie Managers to complete the duties of that position. The Service Unit Cookie Manager is also available to provide additional information and support to Troop Cookie Managers in their area. Furthermore, the Product Sales staff can also provide assistance in this area.
6. Who is replacing Sharon? Is Sharon really replaceable? J While we miss her terribly, we are in the process of recruiting for the position and the formal job announcement is scheduled to go up in the next few weeks. The position is currently being reviewed and will be posted soon on our website and nationally for our next Product Sales Director.
7. What is the guidance on doing Fall Products? Is it required? Is it required for Gold/Silver Awards? Fall Product Sale participation is highly encouraged because it helps troops earn funds to start off the year and pay for needed supplies and program activities. Additionally, it contributes to girls’ leadership development and financial literacy. It is not required for Gold and Silver Awards but troops could elect to use some of the funds toward supporting girls as they work on Take Action Projects.
8. Can we get Sharon’s address? We are not able to give out personal information of current or past employees, but if you have the specific request, reach out to Lynn Arve, Chief Business Officer, who can connect with Sharon to ask for permission to disseminate the information.
9. Can cookie dough be used in stores and online, and can we transferring to other girls? Currently cookie dough cannot be transferred to another girl except in the case of sisters, but we are evaluating this rule for the upcoming cookie sale. Cookie dough can be used for:
· Council Sponsored Day and Resident Camp Fees
· Council Sponsored Program Events (FOCALPoint events)
· GSUSA sponsored destinations
· Council Sponsored trips with regional, national or international itineraries
· Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award project expenses
· Girl Scout Lifetime membership
10. How do you know how many cookies you need to order for a booth sale? A general recommendation is that you have 2-3 cases of Thin Mints, Caramel de-Lites, Peanut Butter Patties and Peanut Butter Sandwiches, 1-2 cases of the other varieties for a total of 12-14 cases. This number will vary based on the traffic flow at your booth location. Your Service Unit Cookie Manager and other experienced Troop Leaders and Troop Cookie Managers in your Service Unit can also provide guidance in this area.
11. Can we make improvements to cookie kiosk? A survey was completed by Troop Cookie Managers and Service Unit Cookie Managers at the close of this year’s sale. The feedback has been reviewed thoroughly by the Product Sales Volunteer Committee and the Product Sales Staff. Updates and improvements will be made to the kiosk based on this feedback. If you did not participate in this survey but have specific feedback to share about the kiosk, please email it to Lynn Arve, firstname.lastname@example.org.
12. Do we have a checks and balance systems for cookie sales? Is there follow up on outstanding money? There are various checks and balances throughout the cookie sale. The SNAP+ program tracks cookies accepted and sold by the troop. Receipts are tracked each time cookies are received and all deposits are tracked as they are received by the bank. Service Unit Cookie Managers keep tabs on all troops participating in the sale in their Service Unit. At the conclusion of the sale a complete and thorough reconciliation process is conducted by the Service Unit Product Sales Manager and then the Product Sales staff. Once the Product Sales staff completes the reconciliation, the Finance Department and the Product Sales staff work together to address any discrepancies. Individuals and troops who owe money are contacted by the appropriate staff and the process is followed through until funds are received.
13. Can we have more stores available for lottery during cookie booths? We are always looking to increase our booth locations for the sale. We are looking to expand our booth locations for our upcoming sale. Service Unit Cookie Managers may also secure local merchants and locations specific to their Service Unit to increase the booth sale locations.
14. What happened to the money from the Cookie Kiosk going down? This money was received as a donation to the council from ABC Bakers. It is still being determined where the money will be used and will be communicated to the field once the cookie sale has been reconciled.
15. Are product sales mandatory? Products sales are not mandatory but highly encouraged. It is a great opportunity for girls to learn skills to serve them for life. Sales, customer service, financial literacy, leadership and many other skills are an integral part of the Product Sales Program. In addition to the skills learned, troops earn troop funds that can be used to enhance the troop experience and girls can earn individual cookie dough to be applied to council and GSUSA program opportunities explained above. Troops must first participate in Product Sales before engaging in other, approved fundraising ventures.
16. Can we get more options for Cookie Dough? At the time of the next Product Sales Program Review, cookie dough will be looked into and recommendations for use will be considered.
1. What types of physical improvements are priorities for WaBak? Only minor improvements and maintenance are planned for this upcoming year, but Capital Improvements are scheduled for all camp properties based on the generational property and program plan, She Sees The Future.
2. How can we have more camp options closer to the Midlands region? Will there be a camping facility in Columbia near/at Leadership Center? With the opening of the Leadership Center and the partnership with the outdoor program space in the Midlands, there will be more options for outdoor opportunities in the Midlands.
3. Can we consider using sites like Weston Lake, Camp Barstow, Camp Gravatt-Aiken, and Saluda Shoals? Can we engage other camps outside of our council for troop opportunities? We have used each of these sites in the past for programming and troops have used them before as well at different times. If a troop wants to use them, as long as they have the requirements for troop camping, they are fine to do so.
4. Do we have reciprocal Girl Scout camping agreements? We do not currently have a reciprocal agreement in place with other Girl Scout Councils but many are welcoming and accommodating to troops from other councils. This will be explored further as we move forward with the Leadership Center.
5. Is there a budget for camp improvements, not just maintenance? Currently there is a maintenance budget and an improvements budget but the exciting part of the Capital Campaign is that major improvements to sites will be included in this plan.
6. Can our corporate office be more user-friendly? It is not at user friendly as Mauldin. We will be making changes to this site over the summer and will be expanding the store and incorporating the reception area with the store. We will be working to make this area very inviting and user friendly.
1. Can we get more product in store? Can we expand the Girlz Gear store to cover camping gear other misc items like solar lanterns? We are going to be looking at this more closely in the coming months by assembling a focus group to review the store and what items that we want to have on hand. Look for additions, updates and improvements in all Girlz Gear locations soon.
2. Why does Girlz Gear cost so much? Prices for official merchandise are set by GSUSA as part of their national licensing. There are uniform and sportswear options for each grade level at various price points.
3. Why does the Girl Scout Brand community not recognize khaki white uniforms? We may misunderstand the question, so if that is the case, please contact us to provide more information. For girl members, khaki and white are part of the uniform look of the organization. For girls ages 5 to 14, the required unifying look includes wearing a choice of a tunic, vest, sash for displaying official pins and awards, combined with their own solid white shirts and khaki pants or skirts. Girl Scouts in high school can also wear a scarf that unites their look with the sisterhood of Girl Scouts around the world. For adult members the unifying look of the uniform is a Girl Scout official scarf or tie for men, worn with the official membership pins, combined with their own navy blue business attire. Girl Scouts at the Daisy and Brownie levels will continue to have a full uniform ensemble available.
4. What happened to the Build a Bear Girl Scout Bear? We are seeking clarification from GSUSA, as we did not realize they were no longer available.
5. Can we get a better quality of membership pins and disks as they continue to break? We (along with other Girl Scout Councils) have reported issues of the pins to GSUSA and they are currently reviewing and making decisions their suppliers because of these quality issues.
1. How can we help keep girls interested in participating? With so many options out there for girls, it’s important that we work to ensure our troops are excited about continuing their Girl Scout journey. We start by utilizing research and surveys collected both nationally and locally to and identify trends and girl interest areas. Hands-on programming is also a priority for our Council, and we will work to make our girls experiences as interactive as possible. We are thankful for our committed leaders who work to ensure that troop planning is girl-led, and encourage our young leaders to express their ideas and take ownership of choosing the kind of experiences they look forward to having!
2. How can we have better retention? In addition to interactive, hands-on programming options to keep girls engaged, we encourage troop leaders to make efforts to stay in contact with their girls—especially during the summer months when meetings may not happen as often. Encourage each girl to voice her opinion about what she’d like to accomplish during the year, so they are excited to continue to the next level. Also, be sure to take advantage of our Early Bird Registration promotion next Spring when troops can earn extra cookie bonuses for re-registering their troop early!
3. How do I grow my troop? Great question! We suggest starting with having your current troop members invite their friends to participate—often times, these face-to-face invitations are the most meaningful. This is also true when it comes to engaging adult members and volunteers. We at Council cannot emphasize enough the power your voice has to promote and advocate for our movement! And when it comes to recruitment, get creative! Schools, recreation centers and churches are all great places to connect with additional girls who may be interested in joining your troop! Please reach out to your CDM as well—we’d love to help you find some more troops!
4. Can someone from Council focus on engaging home school organizations? Yes, Babette Jones the VP of the Greenville region, will focus on School Engagement during the upcoming year for our council across our 22 county-region.
5. Why does financial aid only cover membership dues and pins, but nothing else? Thank you for the question—it gives us an opportunity to clarify this point! Financial aid doesn’t just cover membership dues and pins, it’s actually available for several of our programming and camp options, too. We work to ensure that girls who want to participate can, regardless of family income level, so please connect with us if you have a specific situation that we might be able to help with.
6. Can we do a mall lock-in? We love the idea and are looking into it!
7. Can leaders have the navy-blue leader vests like other councils have? Navy-blue leader vests are actually not official Girl Scout uniform pieces, according to GSUSA. The official uniform for adults is a white collared shirt with navy-blue pant/skirt, with membership pins displayed.
8. Can you promote Blue Choice/Financial Aid more in Title 1 schools? Great idea! We will work to communicate with school leadership to ensure they understand the details of the partnership. In addition—we have placed informational literature in the welcome packets distributed to each BlueChoice Medicaid recipient and their family.
9. How are we recruiting low income girls? Our Council works to support participation for under resourced girls in various ways. We partner with BlueCross BlueShield of SC to offer girls covered by BlueChoice Medicaid FREE memberships and start-up materials. In addition, we work to leverage other community partnerships with local United Ways and other agencies to secure funding supporting our Financial Assistance program. Much of our recruitment efforts target Title 1 schools all across our 22-county region. The Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands strives to serve all girls interested in participating, regardless of income level or economic status.
10. How can we encourage more parent involvement? Great question. We are always on the lookout for dedicated, enthusiastic adult volunteers who are willing to get involved! One of the ways we hope to engage more parents is by creating pathways to volunteer that don’t necessarily have a weekly or monthly time-commitment required. We know that since people are so busy, making volunteering easy and convenient is an opportunity that will need much of our focus and energy over the coming months.
11. Can you provide a list of speakers from community that we can incorporate into troop meetings? We think our guest speakers enjoy interacting with our troops as much as the girls enjoy spending time with them! We are fortunate to be surrounded in each of our service areas by amazing leaders in the community who serve as examples and encouragers to our young leaders. Because the list is constantly being added to, it’s difficult to maintain all the information in one place. Please reach out to your Service Center team for some recommendations…. we’d love to help connect you!
12. Can we have sessions on how to deal with parents and how to deal with a difficult girl? This is an excellent suggestion! We’re working to gather resources on conflict resolution and make them available to our leaders and staff team. We will also plan to offer a session focused on conflict resolution at our Volunteer Kick-Off event on August 6th, Seas the Day! Stay tuned for registration information!
13. What can you do to improve communications to troop leaders? Thanks for the question! We know that in this digital age, the quicker and more convenient our communication methods are the more effective they’ll be! Be sure to sign-up for our weekly E-Blast updates, and check out our new-and-improved website for up-to-date information and upcoming events. We are striving to communicate more consistently to our volunteers, and to utilize more social media avenues to engage our leaders and hear their feedback. Please feel free to contact your CDM or any of our Service Centers with questions. We are happy to help!
14. Can we have discounts available for leaders for Cookie Rally and other events like World Thinking Day? Both Cookie Rallies and World Thinking Day are Service Unit-run events, so please reach out to your SU Team with pricing questions.
What do CDMs do? CDM’s (Community Development Managers) at Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands are our troops’ most direct line of support. CDM’s work to promote and recruit troops and volunteers throughout their designated areas, and provide support and resources to our leaders and service unit teams.
15. Are girls and adults membership fees going up? As was mentioned in the Town Hall meetings, GSUSA has approved a membership increase for the 2018 membership year. Beginning with the 2018 membership year, membership dues will be $25 instead of $15. As always, our Council will continue to work to ensure that anyone who wants to participate is able to, regardless of income level or socioeconomic circumstances.
Marketing, Communications, Advocacy
1. Can we advertise Scout Days everywhere? Online or newspaper? Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands will take every cost effective opportunity and avenue presented to us advertise Girl Scout Days. Presently we distribute information on Girl Scout Days via weekly eBlasts, social media and media releases.
2. Can we make Nikki Haley a Girl Scout? We have great news! Nikki Haley is a Girl Scout! Haley belonged to a troop when she was growing up in Bamberg. She writes in her book about how she was accepted in Girl Scouts when other organizations or events told her there was not a place for her. Governor Haley and Haley’s administration have gone out of their way to meet with Girl Scouts every year during the week Girl Scouts act as honorary pages in Columbia. Our council has open communication with Nikki Haley and we have invited her to participate in large scale events with Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands.
3. How can we make the Gold Award cool? As mentioned in an answer to another question, the Gold Award is cool it needs earmuffs! It’s just that everyone doesn’t realize it. The Marketing Department at Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands is spreading the word about the positive, cool things girls are doing to change the world. With this year being the Centennial of Gold Award you will see social media posts from our Council that include videos, quotes and pictures. We are also working on some big events to celebrate the Centennial, the SC Senate and House have passed resolutions recognizing the 100 anniversary of the award. Also, at this year’s Gold and Silver Awards we asked Gold Award Recipients “what makes Girl Scouts cool?” We are working on a video that elevates our messaging and makes being a Girl Scout relevant (and cool) again.
4. Why is the website such a “thorn”? Can the website be changed, please? We appreciate any feedback we get not only on the website, but on our eBlast, and social media. Please let us know what you want to see. The pages are for you and we want to make all avenues of communication as user friendly as possible.
1. Can we have more first aid trainings for volunteers after April? Yes, we can look into adding additional sessions during the summer time based on need and availability of certified trainers.
2. Can adult Outdoor skills be offered in the summer? Yes, we can look into adding additional sessions during the summer time based on need and availability of skilled trainers. Often times, a location is difficult to secure because of summer camps. We do plan to have a Sleep In/Sleep Out in the Midlands in June.
3. Can we have more age level trainings? As we plan for the upcoming Girl Scout year, we will continue to offer grade level trainings across the council.
4. What’s in-the-works and new for next season? We are excited that we will soon have a full Volunteer Experience team in place to better serve our volunteers across the council. Over the summer, we plan to work with adult learning facilitators to review and revamp some of our current trainings. We look forward to providing additional trainings/self studies that would equip our new leaders for easier troop start-up. We will be offering TWO adult learning weekends (one at Camp WaBak in October and one in the Midlands in April).
5. At Mountain Magic, can we create a course to teach leaders how to deliver Journeys? That is a great suggestion, and we will look into incorporating that topic in with our breakout sessions for Mountain Magic or Midlands Magic.
6. Can you put all River Valley Resources online? The Volunteer Experience team will be working with other councils to become more consistent with our resource offerings and provide volunteers with the tools necessary for easy success.
7. Can our event calendar be more Fall-friendly, so everything doesn’t fall during cookie season? We are aware that cookie season is a busy time of year for our volunteers, and we often hold less training during this time as to not take away from troop activities. We will still continue to offer a few training opportunities for those who are new to Girl Scouts and/or not as heavily involved with the cookie program.
8. Can we establish a deadline to distribute info to troops by Aug 1? The deadline set forth by the Membership, Volunteer Experience, Program, and Marketing team is by latest August 6th at the Membership Kick-Off.
9. Can we provide a one-week orientation/intro class for volunteers? The Girl Scouting 101 and Mountains to Midlands 101 trainings are designed to provide the necessary orientation for new leaders. The Volunteer Experience team will be adding additional resources/trainings for new leaders in the coming year.
10. Would like to have more information on how to become a facilitator, shadowing and troop consultant. The Volunteer Experience team will be hosting an Adult Learning Facilitator Conference in September for volunteers interested in becoming a facilitator for their service unit and/or the council.
11. Will there be a datasheet with the volunteer talents so that they may be shared with others? i.e.: Bilingual, musical etc. At this point, we do not have plans to create a database with this information. We can revisit this idea in the near future.
12. Can you shorten volunteer approval process? How can it be streamlined? It is a goal of the Volunteer Experience team to streamline the process to 10 days by December 31, 2016.
13. Can anyone nominate leaders for Awards? Yes! We encourage fellow leaders/volunteers, girls, parents, and community members to nominate deserving volunteers. The recognition explanations and requirements are listed on our council website, and the deadline for submissions is March of each year.
14. Can we get backpack training for leaders? We will be including backpacking training at Mountain Magic in October. If we have enough interest during the year, then we will look into offering additional sessions.
15. Can we get encampment training for leaders? Encampment trainings are already part of our training offerings.
16. Can we look at a mentor system? Can we have troop consultants again, for instance, mentoring program for the first year? This is a great question, and the Volunteer Experience and Membership teams can look further into this option on the service unit level.
17. Can we have a binder of lesson plans for volunteers? (Similar to Rivers Valley Council) The Volunteer Experience team will be working with other councils to become more consistent with our resource offerings and provide volunteers with the tools necessary for easy success.
18. Can we have meeting templates or training on how to conduct a meeting? (The first meeting-experienced leaders tell what the reality is) The Volunteer Experience team does plan to enhance the resources for new leaders to help with new troop start-up.
19. How do you become a facilitator? Can opportunities be posted and have volunteers apply? Volunteers may not want to volunteer in front of others. If you are interested in becoming an adult learning facilitator, then please contact Sara McCutcheon – Director, Volunteer Experience – email@example.com. We will be implementing a volunteer facilitator application process in the coming months.
20. Can volunteers train volunteers? A new leader may be intimidated by a staff person. Yes, many of our adult learning facilitators are volunteers.
21. Can we offer more choices to attend facilitator training?-We need more dates? We offer one adult learning facilitator conference each year. If you are unable to attend, then please contact Sara McCutcheon – Director, Volunteer Experience – firstname.lastname@example.org – for more information.
22. Can we get training on: Age specific basics for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors. Where is Cadette training basics? We currently offer grade level trainings for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors. We are working to expand our grade level options for the coming year.
23. Can we get e-learning for Adults? That is great question, and we are excited to add a new staff member to our Volunteer Experience team whose specific focus will be on e-learning.
24. When is the Membership/Service Unit kickoff date? The date for the kick-off is scheduled for Saturday, August 6th, in Clinton.
25. I feel disconnected from council, how can I get reconnected?
26. We want to make sure every volunteer’s experience is unique and meaningful to them. Please contact our Volunteer Experience so we can work with you to determine the options that best align with your interests and passions!
27. Could we provide volunteers with a 1st 4 meetings outline/training? Providing additional troop resources such as the 1st 4 meetings outline is in the works. Stay tuned!
28. Will there be more trainings in specific geographic areas of the council? It is the goal of the Volunteer Experience team to have at least one adult learning facilitator for each service unit. With a fully staffed Volunteer Experience team and an extensive group of volunteer facilitators, we hope to be able to reach more geographic areas of the council. As always, we are willing to set up sessions as needed.
29. Will we have a platform where volunteers could connect with other volunteers? As we transition to CEI, our council and volunteers will have access to the Volunteer Toolkit which will enable volunteers to easily connect with others.
30. Could there be a generalized contact list of troops and grade levels for troops to be able to access for sister troops? This is a great question, and the Volunteer Experience and Membership teams can look further into this option on the service unit level.
31. Why do we receive short notice of cancelation of Volunteer trainings? We understand the frustration about the cancelation of volunteer trainings. When we have trainings that don’t meet minimum requirements, then we try wait until the last possible moment for any late registrations. We will work to make the notifications timelier for the coming year.
32. Why are Sleep in or Sleep out Training site locations so far way requiring us to travel far? We offer Sleep In and Sleep Out trainings in a variety of locations across the council. We often are limited to the facilities available to us as well as be conscientious of the travel distance for our facilitators.
33. Can we have Mountain Magic in the fall and spring? We are excited to offer two adult learning weekends for the upcoming year…one in October at Camp WaBak and one in April in the Midlands.
34. Can we have a resource to learn GS songs and traditions? That is a great question, and we will look into adding this as an e-learning opportunity in the future.
35. Can we have a new Leader start up box with crafting supplies, sample ceremonies, etc?
36. This is a great suggestion, and one we will explore as a larger team in the upcoming year. Stay tuned!
37. Can the deadline for adult awards be in January? Can we create an Awards Chair for SU? The March deadline is set so that enough time is allowed for volunteers to qualify for the various recognitions. We understand that the deadline falls during cookie sales and often times Spring Break; however, January would be too early in the year for a deadline. An Awards Chair for each SU would be a great position to have on the team. We can look into creating a position description to present to service teams at Kick-Off.
38. Can we have a “check out a leader” program? (Leaders who are trained and available to help other troops who have needs – sleep out.) That’s a great question, and we’ll have to look further into it to see what it might entail.
39. Can Sleep Out Training be broken down in smaller sections? (It is very hard to attend due to family scheduling. Really just want to build a fire; can we have a class just for fire building? As part of our curriculum review, we anticipate changes to the outdoor skills training for the upcoming year.
40. Can trainings be step by step instructions with “screenshots”; especially for cookie training? Our Volunteer Experience Manager in Columbia will focus on our e-learning initiative, and we hope to make the online experience easier for volunteers.
41. Can we have Sleep in/Sleep out and camp opportunities at CME? We offered three Sleep In/Sleep Out trainings at CME for the 2015-2016 membership year, and we hope to have a similar number of trainings there for the upcoming year. CME is the site of our summer day camp, and it is also open for troop/group rental throughout the year.