Fall Product Program in a Nutshell

The Girl Scout Fall Product Program comes to an end this weekend, after weeks of girls selling nuts, candy, and magazines. The program helps Girl Scouts build their confidence and gain critical skills—not to mention gear up for the Girl Scout Cookie Program!

We wanted to get the perspective of a girl who’s participated in the fall product program more than once—so we reached out to Senior Girl Scout Dani C. of Troop 12345, whose mom is a GSGLA staff member, to see what she’s learned. Keep in mind, Dani’s advice doesn’t just apply to fall product—much of it works for cookie season as well!

Delivery time! Dani organizes her fall product orders.

Hey Girl Scouts! My mom, Denise, and I are here to give you tips on having a successful fall product campaign. We’re both go-getters and I personally enjoy sharpening my accounting and sales skills. Selling our fall products is way easier than you think and you would be surprised how many people love our nuts and candy. (I think they’re looking for something to satisfy their sweet tooth until cookie season.)

Denise and Dani at a family event.

Alright, let’s get to it!

1: Set a goal. Make a list.
Start with relatives and family friends. They’re always happy to support and with online sales, they don’t have to live in the same state. Later in the fall product season, focus on local family, friends, teachers, members of your church or temple, work colleagues, etc. Combined, these support channels should help to surpass your goal, very easily.

2: Track sales
The online dashboard does a lot of the work for you, plus gives you tools to keep track of sales when taking orders in person. These tools help keep organization with money and gives great practice with basic accounting/bookkeeping skills. It’s a confidence builder in money management!

3. Promote Gift of Caring
We participated in the Feed Your Neighbor program and helped sort food at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. I share this experience when people ask about Gift of Caring (GOC). It was rewarding and hard work! To know that GSGLA supports partners such as the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank helps Girl Scouts understand what it takes to help the hungry, and how much food is needed to feed the many vulnerable people in our city—and also, helps girls explain firsthand the benefits of GOC.

Dani (pictured front left) participating in the Feed Your Neighbor Service Squad.

(Editor’s note: The Gift of Caring program benefits our multiple nonprofit partners, whose causes range from feeding the hungry to helping servicemembers and veterans.)

4: Say thank you!
Sending thank-you notes is invaluable. Whether it’s a call, text, email, or—even better—a handwritten note, always thank everyone for their support and let them know it’s very much appreciated.

5: Have fun together!
This is a given. 🙂

Follow these five tips, and you’ll have the fall product program in a nutshell!

Thank you to Dani and Denise for providing this helpful insight! To learn more about GSGLA’s fall product program, click here. If you’re already thinking ahead to Girl Scout Cookie Season, we’ve got you covered too: Click here to get started.

We Are Family: An Open Letter to Younger Girl Scouts

“These girls are going to be there for you, through the good, the bad, and everything in between.”

Dear Girl Scouts,

I’ve been a Girl Scout since 2005. Over the years, I’ve seen older girls who I look up to graduate and younger girls grow up through Girl Scouts.

Kaniela (third from left) with her sister Girl Scouts.

I’ve made lifelong friends and sisters who will always have my back. When I was younger, people would sometimes tell me to quit Girl Scouts—but I didn’t because I met so many people who I wouldn’t have otherwise.


Girl Scouts isn’t only about cookie sales, it’s about sisterhood. You’re going to hear this a lot, but these girls are going to be there for you, through the good, the bad, and everything in between.


Once you’re a Girl Scout, it’s like joining a family: You get older sisters and younger sisters who will always lend a shoulder for you to cry on, or who will stay up laughing all night if that’s what you need. They seem to make everything more fun in life because you have spent nights singing around a campfire, laughing, sharing a tent, and crying (this is pretty important).


Some will leave, but they don’t know what they are missing. I hope you get to experience what I have and stay in that amazing family you have: Girl Scouts.

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Ambassador Girl Scout Kaniela

Big thanks to Girl Advisory Bureau member Kaniela N. of M.S.S. Blue Madonna Troop 1688-6 for writing this open letter!

To begin your Girl Scout journey by joining or volunteering, click here for the GSGLA website.

To find out all about the ways Girl Scouting enriches and positively impacts girls’ lives, visit the Girl Scout Research Institute site.

A World of Possibilities

“Connecting with other Girl Scouts makes our world a better place.”

Girl Scouts is all about finding your passions, setting goals, and challenging yourself to reach them. For two GSGLA troops, the girls dreamed of visiting Europe. In true Girl Scout fashion, they didn’t just talk about going—they worked to make that dream come true. And this year, they did just that. Read about their trip of a lifetime, written by Troop Leader Francesca T.

eiffel-tower-whole-troopTroops 2835 and 2935 from Santa Monica are reflecting on an unforgettable year. The troops visited two Girl Scout World Centers, capturing their dream of traveling, learning, and connecting with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in England, France, Italy, and Switzerland.  To get there, they spent years planning and raising funds through cookie sales and other money-earning activities.

All rising ninth through twelfth graders, the girls planned their trips to include tours of Pax Lodge in London, England and Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland. They brought SWAPS (Special Watchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) and photos to share about their own Girl Scouting activities in America, and they studied up on the countries to discover how Girl Scouts participate and take leadership.

Troop Leaders Susan and Francesca at Pax Lodge.

At a stirring ceremony at Pax Lodge, the girls received special pins commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Lodge, home base for all Girl Guides of England, and the “nerve center” of WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts). Our Chalet in Switzerland welcomed the troops with hearty alpine food, home-cooked by the Center’s volunteers. The Swiss outdoors beckoned them to hike to a frozen waterfall together, while absorbing incredible views. Both world centers receive and sponsor Girl Scouts and Guides from all over the world for internships that teach leadership, environmental alertness, and common understanding among girls and youth.

Francesca with Girl Scouts Sarah and Fiona at Engstligen Falls.

One Girl Scout journeyed on to Italy, where she met with Scout leaders in Umbria and visited two Scout bases. What she learned: Italian Scouts commit to self-reliance in the outdoors and do all their camping with backpacks! The Umbrian Scouts were especially dedicated to be ready in case of disaster, and talked about how they made their own Scout houses into places of refuge during earthquakes, fires, and other disasters.

“Where to next?” is a question for these roving girls. “We’d love to see the other World Scout Centers, for sure,” says Fiona T., ninth grade Girl Scout from Troop 2835, “And to have international Girl Scouts come visit us here in Santa Monica! Connecting with other Girl Scouts makes our world a better place.”

Thank you, Francesca, for sharing your troops’ inspiring travel story! As the fall product program gets underway, girls have the opportunity to raise funds for exciting activities, which (like Troops 2835 and 2935) can include an international trip. (Read more about the skills and benefits girls learn through the fall product and cookie programs here.)

Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Girl Scouts can also explore the world—or their own communities—through the Destinations program. Click on the link to find out more.

My Girl Scout Gold Award Experience

Thinking about “going for gold” and working toward your Girl Scout Gold Award? Or know a Girl Scout who is?

Guest blogger and Girl Advisory Bureau member Abby B. shares her Gold Award experience with us—inspiration for all girls striving to earn Girl Scouting’s highest honor. (And inspiration for staying in Girl Scouts through high school!) Check out Abby’s story below.

Pretty much my whole childhood was spent in Girl Scouts. I always knew I was going to do the Gold Award. But the Gold Award was always just a light at the end of an endless tunnel. It always seemed infinitely far away. But then it hit me—I realized I would have to start pretty soon. And I couldn’t really start if I couldn’t come up with an idea. So I actually had to sit and think about what I would do for my project.

Girl Scout Abby B. presenting on internet safety for her Gold Award project.

What is the Gold Award, though? [Editor’s note: We have an answer for that.] Most of the time, people describe it as the Girl Scout equivalent of the Eagle Award. And that is true. It’s a bit sad that it has to be described as the equivalent of a better-known project. To be honest, I’m not really sure why the Gold Award is so obscure compared to the Eagle Award. Hopefully it can become more well-known one day. It’s really a respectable service project. It really is.

So anyway, I thought quite a bit about what I was going to do. It seems as though many Girl Scouts do a garden project or collection project. But I wanted to do something unique and related to technology. I wanted to challenge myself to create an original project. Outside of the project I’m pretty interested in computers and video games. My dad works with computers too, so I suppose I knew what I was going to do. I discussed a project about internet safety with him, and he wanted me to do an ambitious project about protecting investors’ funds. I told him that was too broad, so I decided to do a more focused project—raising awareness about internet safety for kids and families.

Now I definitely did grow up in an internet-centric world. However, the rise of smartphones and tablets have made it much easier for kids and families to access the internet. This obviously has positives and negatives. On the one hand, during the course of the project I was impressed to learn how much parents did know about internet safety. I guess that’s definitely a positive to having easier access to the internet. However, on the other hand, with the internet now being such an essential part of our lives, it is easier than ever for criminals to attack individuals. I learned that even well-meaning parents may not know everything they need to know in order to protect their children.img_3254

So I did complete the Girl Scout Gold Award project proposal application process, and I had an interview. My project was without conditions, and I was allowed to start my project right away. To raise awareness about internet safety, I needed to have a concrete and measurable goal. My goal was to share a PowerPoint presentation about internet safety that I presented throughout Los Angeles, various schools, libraries, churches, Boy Scout troops, and Girl Scout troops. I also directed and produced a video about internet safety. After the video, I created a website about internet safety.

I started the project toward the end of the school year last year, but I completed most of it during the summer. At first the project seemed pretty daunting, but in the end, I realized it was a lot of fun.

Throughout the project, I developed leadership and public speaking skills, as well as time management strategies. I also learned how to do something actually productive over the summer instead of completely wasting my time. I encourage all Girl Scouts to stay in Girl Scouts until high school to have the opportunity to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award—it is an amazing leadership and community service experience.

Thank you, Abby, for detailing how you created and executed your Gold Award project, from start to finish. It’s a great example of what Girl Scouts pursuing the Gold Award can expect. (Troop leaders, be sure to share Abby’s story with your Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, along with this link on our website!)

And for anyone who needs a refresher on what the Gold Award is all about, don’t forget to check out this video starring our very own Girl Scouts.

Top 5 Tips for First-Year Troop Leaders

Want to make a difference in the lives of girls? Volunteering for Girl Scouts is an immensely rewarding experience—helping to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who will become tomorrow’s leaders. As a volunteer, you will play a key part in your girls’ self-discovery.

Making it through your first year as a troop leader may seem challenging at times—but, no worries, our troop support staff can help you through the process! And fortunately, our volunteers are also gracious with sharing their tricks of the trade.

Angie Saldivar and Kimberly Primo are dishing on their first year as co-leaders of Troop 2116. Check out their “Top 5 Tips for First-Year Troop Leaders”—great advice whether you’re beginning your Girl Scout journey, or have been leading troops for years.

Daisy Girl Scout Troop 2116 poses for a group photo.

As first-year troop leaders, it’s definitely been an adventure! Both of us had been girls in Girl Scouting, but neither of us had been an adult volunteer before. Our daughters were both interested in becoming Daisies, so we decided to jump all in and start our own troop. This past year we learned many lessons, but most importantly enjoyed the great times with our girls:

  1. PRE-PLAN. Decide ahead of time what you want your girls to accomplish for the year prior to getting started. We sat down together and planned out our “year-at-a-glance” which gave us a realistic idea of the year ahead. The Daisy Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting really helped us understand what themes to cover in each meeting. Use shared services like Google Drive so that both leaders can easily share ideas on the go. (Keep in mind Girl Scouts does encourage troops to be girl-led; however, since it was all our girls’ first year, they didn’t know what to expect or even what to ask for.) As our girls continue to get older, they will start to take over the planning.
  2. READ, READ, READ. There are LOTS of resources available to you, but do not get overwhelmed! The internet and Volunteer Essentials can get overwhelming and scary sometimes, so look to your service unit, council troop support staff, and fellow leaders for guidance on what is required by Girl Scouts. Our service unit provided us with a handy sheet that detailed which forms and other documents we needed to have. Use Pinterest! With a few clicks you can download the app and lose yourself in the rabbit hole. Use specific terms like “Lupe the Lupine” to find great suggestions for age-appropriate activities. As a troop, we started a shared board, which gave us inspiration and a springboard for our planning.
  3. INVEST TIME. Be prepared to spend much of your time devoted to Girl Scouting, especially in the beginning. Other than attending your own troop meetings, there are also monthly service unit meetings. Plus, time for preparing for girl activities and meetings, doing important paperwork (permission slips, financials, etc.)—did we mention paperwork?—and shopping for supplies.
  4. RECRUIT. Recruit a cookie chair! As a leader, you already have your plate full. If you can get a parent to be the cookie/fall product chairperson, you can focus more on your girls. Also, remember if you have parents attending your meetings, they need to have been screened and cleared before becoming Girl Scout volunteers. Ask your parents to help put together a quick craft or activity for an upcoming meeting.
  5. HAVE FUN! Last but definitely not least, take the time to get to know the girls and their interests. Enjoy singing, crafting, and creating with them. And definitely don’t sweat the small stuff.

Thank you to Kimberly and Angie for sharing your valuable insight! Girl Scouts provides a way for volunteers to positively shape the lives of our girls, and create lasting memories—for both the Girl Scouts and their leaders. Don’t forget to register your troop by our deadline: Sept. 23!

Volunteer University: Part 2

“We are all the same…proud to be Girl Scout leaders!”

As we approach back-to-troop, we’re constantly striving to improve ways to engage girls, volunteers, parents, and other supporters in the Girl Scout Movement. One of our favorite ways is the Volunteer Conference, which we previously featured on the blog. Following up on our earlier post, we’re sharing some top moments of the day, courtesy of Service Unit Communications Coordinator and Troop Leader Vala Runolfsson—many of which will resonate with other volunteers:

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Vala is joined by the rest of the Rancho Dominguez Estates Service Unit at the Volunteer Conference.

You can teach an old leader new tricks!  I am a Senior troop leader and have been leading for over 10 years—only three years until my girls graduate. How do I keep my troop interested?  Motivated for Gold?  Prepped to write resumes featuring their many Girl Scout experiences and get them to show up for meetings and events—and still have fun being a Girl Scout? “Volunteer U” gave me some new ideas and reinforced old ones. These were my favorite moments:

  • GSGLA CEO Lise Luttgrens beginning the day with a saying: “Volunteers don’t have more time, they have more heart.” Her sincerity was obvious. She choked up and made me feel honored to be a Girl Scout leader.
  • Professor Susan Helm (Pepperdine Nutritional Service) sharing her passion for her profession and inspiring us to lead the “Sow What” Journey. As a leader, I can continue to learn and the networking available to me as a Girl Scout is huge!
  • Gloria Halfacre’s assistance in navigating the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and instruction on how to sign up our troop as a certifying organization.  There is always someone who knows how to do what you want to do. You just have to ask.
  • The keynote speech from Girl Scout alumna and rocket scientist Olympia LePoint. I loved her reflections! So many hit home, but the standout for me: her belief that a leader is most effective when they are authentic and true to themselves. I loved her message and it rang true for me!
  • Paul Oliver and Jeff Wrigley’s presentation on the Patrol Challenge. Their passion for Scouting led them to create a fun and exciting adventure that teaches teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving. They inspired me to continue to emphasize the fun in Scouting.

But my favorite part was connecting to other leaders and volunteers. We have different interests; different ways of doing things; different ways to motivate and encourage our girls; different paths we’ve all walked that make us who we are. Yet we are all the same: passionate about our girls; excited to see them succeed; humbled and honored by their parents’ trust in us; and above all, proud to be Girl Scout leaders! Thank you, “Volunteer U”—I feel energized and ready to start the year.

Thank you, Vala, for your touching insights. Also, in case you haven’t seen them yet, check out our photo booth pictures from “Volunteer University!”

10 Lessons from Volunteer University

“We are showing girls they can accomplish anything.”

Our 2016 Volunteer Conference on Saturday, Aug. 6 was a success! More than 400 attendees signed up for classes at “Volunteer University,” on topics ranging from troop finances to gadgets for outdoor camping. volunteerconference_patch

We asked Troop Leader and Service Unit Communications Coordinator Michelle Sarrow to share 10 lessons she learned:

  1. Be positive. Your actions are what others see.
  2. Be present. Observe what is going on, but also participate.
  3. We need tools, too. These classes were created to help us as volunteers. There are some amazingly talented and knowledgeable volunteers within our membership. Don’t be afraid to ask. There is always something or someone who can assist you.
  4. We make a difference. We all know this, but when we get caught up with our day job or helping our own children, we often forget that there are more than 40,000 girls in Los Angeles learning to take chances or trying something new for the first time because of your efforts.
  5. Confidence is a skill. 20160806_135748 I learned this from our keynote speaker Olympia LePoint. She shared her story of growing up in South Central Los Angeles, and how she became a real-life NASA rocket scientist. She is poised and confident now, but she shared how she didn’t start out that way and had to find her confidence as she grew as a person.
  6. We are contagious. I borrowed this again from our keynote speaker. By smiling and overcoming whatever obstacle is in front of us, we are showing girls they can accomplish anything. By trying something just once, we proved we can do whatever we set our minds to.
  7. Making a cookie costume takes longer than 75 minutes. 20160806_192624 (002) Our amazing facilitator worked on every machine before we arrived, set up the room, and had all our supplies. Not one person completed the cookie in one hour, but we had a blast trying.
  8. The Presidential Volunteer Service Award is a lot of work. I was amazed at how easy our trainer made it look to do this for our girls, but also noticed how much time it would require to manage and maintain this process. Then I remembered something my SUM has stated a few times: If you have a helpful parent who is looking for something to do, this might be just the ticket!
  9. There are some simple rules to improve your picture quality. Get close. Make the subject of your picture cover 80 percent of the image. Use the ‘Rule of 3’ to frame your pictures. There are four key points to every picture: Focus, light, film/shutter speed, and aperture. Stay true to our brand—show smiles, confidence, having fun, and Girl Scouts!
  10. Use a single social media platform. Understand who your audience is and how they want to receive their information. If the majority of your audience uses a specific platform (Facebook), then that is the platform you should be using to convey your messages and images. Get everyone to use the same platform so that your information exchange is centralized.

Thank you, Michelle, for your insights! Stay tuned for future blog posts on the Volunteer Conference. Also, tell us what you learned!