Friday, February 27, 2015

Guest Post: Colette South, Fall 2014 Glamtrepreneur Winner

Hello. My name is Colette South. I've been making jewelry for friends, family, and craft fairs for a little over four years. I thoroughly enjoy thinking of fun and new designs.

My business name and logo is a stylized BBFF, which are the initials for “Big Bold Fly Free” and represents the big, bold attitude, and free spirited thinking of today’s youth.

This bracelet is called “Perseverance”, and is a fashion forward design that holds a lot of significance for Girl Scouts. The two black beads stand for leadership and strength, the six silver beads represent the three Journeys and three Take Action Projects required on a Girl Scout’s way to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. The many clear beads scatter sparkles, and represent the shining light of Girl Scouting being cast into the world. My target sales audience will be Girl Scouts ages 10-14. My bracelets use only glass and metal beads and metal wire to enhance their appearance and appeal, and are similar in quality to fashion jewelry found in department stores.

The cost of materials is twenty three cents for each bracelet. The bracelets take approximately 15 minutes to complete, so the labor cost per bracelet is $3.00 for a total cost of goods sold of $3.23.

I am willing to distribute the bracelets to the Girl Scout Store for $4.23 and I suggest a retail price of $8.99, allowing the Girl Scout Store to maintain a good retail margin.

I am able to produce about 50-75 bracelets with a two to three week lead time. I would like a 30% advance for the initial order.

I plan to use the money earned from this venture to save up for the Girl Scout Experience trip to London and Switzerland in 2016, after setting aside portions for charity and future college expenses.

My advice to young entrepreneurs is to stay strong and to never give up. If someone gives you negative comments heed them, see what you could do better, then fix it! If they still find faults them they don’t have to buy your products.

If I had unlimited resources I would wrap some of the beads in wire so that they were more unique and provided another texture on my bracelet. With my business marketing plan I would have other people make the bracelets for me then sell them to a retail store.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meet the Staff: Debbe Tipping, Tech Girls Program Coordinator

I joined Girl Scouts in Fort Collins, Colorado when I was in first grade— the youngest you could join at the time. When I moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin I wanted to join again but there were no Girl Scouts for my second grade year. I joined again in third grade. When my family moved to Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, I moved to a troop in that area. In fact, my mom and my dad were my troop leaders. I continued to register as a Girl Scout through twelfth grade and several years beyond.

The most important part of Girl Scouts for me was camp. In my case that was Camp Black Hawk in northern Wisconsin. Being the child of divorce and joint custody, camp was the only place I could be me and not accidentally say something about Mom at Dad’s or viceversa. I attended camp six years in a row thanks to Financial Partnerships. I attended two years as a Junior Explorer for one week camps then jumped to the two week camps. I learned to canoe in Canoe Post, sail in Windjammers, develop black and white negatives and photos in Shutterbug, and how to windsurf and kayak in Solo Craft Challengers. I was able to attend camp two years as an adult for Women’s Week. There I perfected my windsurfing. I finally figured out how to turn the windsurf board. It was getting a little old sailing across the lake, jumping off, turning the board, then doing it all over again. I never did figure out how to do an Eskimo roll with a kayak, though. I always ended up upside down underwater and had to pull the skirt so I could swim up and breathe.

I accidentally became my high school’s first female photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook when I learned how to develop black and white film at camp.  I didn't think anything of volunteering to take pictures my freshman year. After I started taking pictures at sporting events and school functions everyone treated me really strangely. It was the mid-1980's. Being a female in a non-traditional role should not be so strange. I felt like I time warped back to the 50's!

I came back to Girl Scouts in 2001 as an adult without a daughter. I had just moved to Denton, Texas and was looking for something to do. I called the local council in February and offered to volunteer. I could practically hear the person I talked to doing cartwheels down the hallway because she was so happy to have a volunteer. This was a small council. Girl Scouts started in the 1950s in Denton and there were very few leaders who had been Girl Scouts as girls. I was a third generation Girl Scout leader with my parents and grandma being leaders for their daughters. I was an oddity. Because I started Girl Scouts at a strange time of the year, the assistant CEO went through my initial training with me one-on-one! I started my troop with girls from the neighborhood I lived in and we met in my house while the troop was small.

My training as an adult was eye opening. The Girl Scout Promise had changed slightly from the time I said it as a girl. I attended outdoor training and learned it was OK to use paper plates instead of washing so many dishes. Also, no one knew that a dribble bucket was for washing hands; studio 2B was new. The badges were similar as badges when I was a girl. I saw how parts of Girl Scouts ware new but most of it was the same as it had been when I was a girl. The new parts didn't bother me—they were geared toward what girls like now, rather than what they liked years ago. 

When I moved to Round Rock, I again joined Girl Scouts as a volunteer. I took over a troop that had been dormant for eight months. Two years later I was asked to become a service unit director. Two years after that I accepted a position as a Membership Development Executive at Girl Scouts of Central Texas. At GSCTX I have also been the Programs Department Administrative Assistant, and began a program called Tech Girls.

I continue as the Tech Girls Program Coordinator. Tech Girls is a customized program that serves girls from 6th-12th grade in low-income schools in the greater Austin area as grant funding permits. Tech Girls gives the girls opportunities to have hands-on experiences with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and learn about STEM careers. The very best part about Tech Girls is that is uses Girl Scouts and STEM, my two loves, to give girls confidence in school. Anytime a girl can gain confidence in school only great things happen in her community! This fall I started teaching the Lego Robotics program and Coder Girls Explorers in the Edge in Austin to help our very busy STEM Program Manager, Mitchell Whittier, provide great STEM experiences to girls.

As a volunteer, I met a shop volunteer who had an 80 on her membership tab. I hope I can remain a part of Girl Scouts until I reach my 80th year as a Girl Scout. Imagine what great things girls will be doing then!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Honoring Congresswoman Barbara Lee During Black History Month

Feature story from the Girl Scouts of USA Blog. See more great posts at! 

Here at Girl Scouts, we firmly believe that girls can’t be what they can’t see. That’s especially true for young girls of color, who don’t always have the opportunity to see women of color taking on leadership positions on a larger scale. Today, we’re honoring Congresswoman Barbara Lee: a lawmaker, defender of the poor, and Girl Scout alumna.

Though Lee and her younger sister were the only two African American girls in their El Paso, Texas Girl Scout troop, this didn’t stop them from building strong friendships within their community and having truly rewarding and fulfilling experiences in Girl Scouting. During her time in Girl Scouts, Lee began cultivating her passion for community engagement, and she gained a greater appreciation for and love of the outdoors. The Girl Scout values instilled in Lee at the tender age of 11—and the essential life skills she learned— help inform her current work in the US Congress.

“The Girl Scouts emphasizes first and foremost community engagement,” Lee says. “This value has resonated with me throughout my entire life. I took this spirit to college, where I received my degree in social work, and I have taken it with me to Congress as I work to protect and help the most vulnerable. The Girl Scouts also taught me a lot about respecting the difference in others.”

Girl Scouts has been an important part of Congresswoman Lee’s life, and the experiences she had as a Girl Scout have truly impacted her adult life. She had the opportunity to explore nature and learned to respect and cherish our planet, and now she is able to work with her Congressional colleagues on addressing climate change and pollution as a member of the Safe Environment Caucus.

(Photo credit:

Thank you, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for the shining example of leadership you set for girls around the world! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Finding True Love at Girl Scout Camp

A DJ on the radio the other day asked listeners to call in and tell of their worst Valentine’s gift ever. As you can imagine, callers chimed in with lots of examples- a map, a fast-food dinner, an unsigned card, or nothing at all. While it was certainly entertaining, that’s not what has stuck with me the past week in regards to Valentine’s Day. What has stuck with me is an encounter I had last week with two Girl Scout alumnae and supporters, Patricia and David Gerling. 

If you’ve never met the Gerling’s, I hope after reading this you feel like you know them. They have an amazing love story that actually started at Girl Scout Camp Texlake. I sat down to interview them and walked away in awe of the tremendous partnership they have and the love that they feel after 35 years of marriage.

In the summer of 1977, Patricia Wolf headed to Camp Texlake for her last summer, working as the Business Manager.  She had attended Texlake for years, as a camper and then as staff.  That same summer, David Gerling headed to Camp Texlake as an Assistant Ranger, prodded by his father to get his first real summer job.

They met moving mattresses and preparing the camp the week before the first campers arrived.

“We can both remember the exact moment we saw each other --it was like, ‘you  know, who is that guy, I’ve never seen him before,’” said Patricia.

 “But that was the minute and later I came to find out that he was working on staff.’
“I remember seeing this girl and going ‘Wow!’, said David. “I didn’t know why I said wow, but I remember the moment, very specifically.”

With the grueling schedules of summer camp staff, they would work for two weeks, then get 24 hours off. All the camp staff spent time together on their days off, and Chip (Patricia's camp name) and David became friends in that group setting.

During their free time, they’d talk about politics, sports, school, family, and animals. “We also talked about our goals in life,” Patricia said, “And we got a sense of…” “…What the other person’s goals in life were;  where they were headed,” David finished for her. Yes, y’all, they are that cute; they finish each other’s sentences. 

 They’d go sailing with other counselors on Lake Travis, or sit and talk on the porch of Starke Lodge together. “We do everything together, and we always have,” Patricia said.
Of course, as they got to know each other over the course of the summer, they had lots of fun camp memories. David described to me how he earned his camp name that summer.
“We were doing a talent show for the campers at the craft house and I had been preparing for it secretly, “he said. “I was going last, so I was either going to be a grand finale, or, if it didn’t go well, I would just sneak off into the night.”

“So the music starts, I throw open the window and jump through it and startle everyone. Then I started singing the Yogi Bear song.   After that moment, everyone said ‘That’s your camp name- Yogi.’”

If you’ve ever been to resident camp, or seen a movie about a resident camp, you know that the campers and counselors are always playing tricks on one another. David shared a memory of pranking the counselors with Sonny, the camp ranger, then realizing that the camp director was pranked, too. Uh oh.

“Sonny set me up to this,” David said. “We thought it would be really funny.  'Central' was located in main camp and was the location of female showers and restrooms for counselors and administrative staff.   The showers were open-air on the top.   So one day,  Sonny said to me, ‘David, it would be really funny once there’s a crowd in there, if you take the water hose and spray the cold water from the well over the top of the shower.’

“So I run out there, grab the hose and squirt it over the top.   And we are just dying laughing.  Then, I hear the voice of the Camp Director Skipper who's in the shower,” David said. “I turn around and Sonny is nowhere to be found.  Of course, Skipper somehow knew it was me.”  

Of course the fun and games of camp couldn’t last forever and summer camp ended.  Patricia finished her last year at St. Edward’s and David headed to Texas A&M in College Station to start his freshman year in the Texas Aggie Band.  They dated long-distance, with Patricia visiting once a month during her senior year.

”We didn’t have the internet, so we wrote letters,” said Patricia. “And we didn’t have cell phones, and it was long distance charges, so we didn’t talk to each other during the week.”
“We couldn’t talk until after a certain time on Saturday,” David added. “We’d set the clock since we could only talk for 20 minutes because it was going to cost $6. And back then, $6 was a lot to pay on a phone call.”

David and Patricia got engaged on Easter in 1979. Patricia graduated from St. Edwards and moved to College Station, where she began working at Texas A&M.  In May of 1980, the two married.

Both of them attribute much of their family success to the influence of each of their parents. They have two children who they raised in College Station, and to whom they instilled those same family values.

Their son, Bradley, now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and works with computer technologies for Bank of America. He earned his Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow.  Their daughter, Kellie, lives in College Station and is a paraprofessional in the high school Special Education Department.  She sold lots of Girl Scout cookies and earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, too.   

Patricia and David Gerling are still very much in love. They still laugh at each other’s jokes, kiss in the middle of stories, and are committed to an equal partnership.

“Marriage is a relationship built on love, trust and support for one another,” David shared. “I have to bring 100% to the game and she does, too. When she was going through her cancer treatment (Patricia is a 12-year breast cancer survivor), I was there for her as her soulmate and as her nurse, and to keep her strong.  By keeping her strong, it kept us strong,” said David. 

Keep them strong it did. In case you haven’t fallen in love with this couple yet, Patricia said this of their relationship:   “We never really looked back, never thought twice.  We really found true love and meaning to life in lots of different ways.  David's my best friend, my soul mate; he's my companion.”

So whether you’ve met your Yogi Bear, your soulmate or you are still looking, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day full of laughter and frozen Thin Mints (the Gerling’s favorite version of the Girl Scout Cookie).