Dear Kathy Cloninger, CEO, Girl Scouts of the United States of America:
In your book, Tough Cookies: Leadership Lessons from 100 Years of the Girl Scouts, you wrote, "If we in the United States want our girls to be confident in themselves and make the most of their inborn potential, we need to wake up to roadblocks we're putting in their way as they try to grow up into their real selves." What if some of those roadblocks are being put in place by GSUSA? What if the voices of girls raised in the Girl Scout Way are being ignored by the very organization that's supposed to be their proponent? What if, in requests to the council CEO and board, the response to our requests is, "Tough Cookies?"
For more than a year, my sister-in-law, Packer, a leader in Girl Scouting, a lifetime Girl Scout, and lifetime member of GSUSA, has been pleading with the Diamond Council in Arkansas to hear her concerns for the girl scouts, the leaders and the properties that formerly made up the Conifer Council. The needs of these young women and their leaders are not being met by the newly formed Diamond Council with regard to programming at the council level. Nor has the usual training for their leaders been as thorough as it was with the Conifer Council (only three training sessions offered in Texarkana from September to December 2011). Now, as if to add injury to insult, it has been decided by a "Board," without inquiry to their constituents, that the Camp High Point Property in Mena, Arkansas, will not be offering summer resident programming for the first time since it opened in 1946. To me, this is unacceptable at any juncture but especially on the 100th anniversary of the GSUSA.
Denise Stewart, CEO of Girl Scouts--Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas stated in an e-mail to Packer, "There
was not a lot of discussion about this issue [not offering resident programming at Camp High Point]." Packer and I both admit that we have not been privy to the "facts and figures" that lead the board to make their decisions (in fact, the Annual Report that is supposed to be on the council's web site, is missing). Nevertheless, when such monumental decisions are made, shouldn't the voice of our girls and their leaders be taken seriously? Shouldn't we honor their opinions and give them an opportunity to find solutions? Shouldn't discussion be more than "not a lot?"
Packer has weathered the last three years during the merger and reorganization of GSUSA and continued to lead our troop of girls the way Juliette Lowe would have dreamed. I foresee her always being a girl scout because it is part of who she is. However, I am speaking up for her and our girls because no one should devote as much time to something they love as Packer loves Girl Scouting and feel like it breaks her heart and tears at her soul in return for her devotion. I have no suggestions for how to help Packer and the Girl Scouts of the New Boston, Hooks, and Texarkana area. I just wanted you to know that there are girls and women invested in Girl Scouting who are not having their needs met or their voices heard.
Girl Scout and Mother and Sister to Girl Scouts