Welcome Letter 2017 - 2018 (Updated)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        August 1, 2017


Dear Parents,


Welcome to the 2017-2018 Scouting Program for Girl Scout Troop 45483.     The Girl Scout program underwent a major shift in its approach with the release of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) and Journey Program in Fall 2008.   The approach for What girls do in Girl Scouting, How they do it, and How they will benefit is called the GSLE.  The Journey Program was developed to promote the GSLE and is the foundation for all other Girl Scout activities and programs.   Leadership Journeys consist of three designated themes (advocacy, environment and creative expression) which take girls through a series of Discover, Connect and Take Action experiences with the emphasis on inviting girls to Take Action on issues they care about.   Discover, Connect and Take Action are three leadership keys in the GSLE model, are directly tied to 15 national leadership outcomes, and replace Girl Scouting’s four fundamental goals which were to: (1) develop to their full potential; (2) relate to others with increasing understanding, skill and respect; (3) develop a meaningful set of values to guide their actions and to provide for sound decision-making; and (4) contribute to the improvement of society.   The Girl Scout Program’s new approach is to develop today’s new generation of leaders rather than to singly focus on building skills on specific topics (through badge work). 

Troop 45483 offers a multi-level program which is open to all girls between the ages of 5-18 regardless of school or religious affiliation.   This multi-level program is NOT a service unit and is NOT a set of individual troops.   Rather, it is one troop, managed under one troop leader, with section leaders assigned to each of the six girl scout age levels.  These age levels include Daisies (Kindergarten-1st grade); Brownies (2nd-3rd grade); Juniors (4th – 5th grades); Cadettes (6th – 8th grades); Seniors (9th – 10th grades) and Ambassadors (11th – 12th grades).  The troop leader provides the singular vision for troop direction, ensuring a consistent and standardized approach is applied and maintained through all sections.   The troop’s mission is to create a supportive environment where girls can realize their full potential, thereby building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  Together with the support and involvement of committed helpful parents and adult mentors, Troop 45483 is devoted to helping grow its scouts strong. 

The Troop 45483 multi-level program runs concurrent with the school year from August through May.  Meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month in the lower level classrooms of Thanksgiving Lutheran Church located on the corner of 36th Street and Highway 370 in Bellevue.   Meetings will last approximately two hours from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M.   In addition, there will be section-specific workshops, Council-sponsored programs and community service activities scheduled throughout the year.  During the summer, Troop 45483 will offer summer fun activities to keep scouts and families connected with the girl scout experience.   Troop 45483 may also use an alternate facility when its primary meeting location is not available.  This alternate facility is  Lifespring Church located at 13904 S. 36th Street in Bellevue, Christ the King Lutheran Church located at 7308 South 42nd Street in Bellevue, and the Bellevue Public Library located at 1003 Lincoln Road in Bellevue.

 The troThe troop serves families throughout the metro Omaha area.   The diversity and number of girls presents unique challenges.    In order to successfully work and interact with each other, it is essential that every scout, parent and leader understand the importance of communication and coordination, backed up by cooperation.   Life has become busy and filled with competing priorities; many families multi-task and juggle work, family commitments, and extracurricular activities.   Families are asked to stay informed about upcoming scouting activities and communicate their scout’s intent to participate so that the troop and section leaders can plan attendance for activities accordingly.   Families are also asked to communicate any schedule conflicts so that the troop and section leaders are aware of which meetings and workshops a scout will miss or when a scout will be late.   Finally, families are asked for their cooperation with troop leadership, its governing structure and policies so that the scout’s experience will be a worthwhile and positive one. 

Following are key troop policies and guidelines:  

1)  National Dues:  In order to participate in the girl scout program, as well as the product programs, your daughter must be a registered girl scout.  This means that you must complete the online registration process through the Girl Scout Spirit of Nebraska website at www.girlscoutsnebraska.org and remit the $25 registration fee.  This is an annual fee and provides your daughter coverage under Girl Scout liability insurance.  Registration may be completed starting 22 May through 31 Jul to qualify for Early Bird Registration or when joining the troop for the first time.  Registration covers the period from 1 Oct through 30 Sep.  Any parent who wishes to help with transportation and/or assist with troop programs must also be registered.      

2)  Troop Dues:  The troop leader determines the amount of troop dues required each year.  Currently, troop dues are $50 for the year payable at the first troop meeting in August.   Families that join midway through the year (January) will be required to pay a pro-rated fee of $25.  It is expected that all scout due payments will be made at the beginning of the scouting/school year.   Dues and/or payment plan contracts must be current by 15 Oct for activities to be paid out of troop/section funds.    If dues and/or payment plan arrangements are not current by 15 Oct, the parent will be responsible for registering and remitting payments for Council/troop/section activities.   Any money paid by the parent for Council/troop/section activities does not count towards dues payments and is not refundable.  Troop dues provide the means to purchase awards, pins, badges, fun patches, supplies, and journey books. They also pay for attendance at Council program activities, area functions, and community collaborator workshops throughout the State.  Troop dues are payable in cash or check to Troop 45483 and remitted to the troop leader.   The troop leader ensures that each section leader uses troop dues to pay for the specific items listed above and that every section manages these funds consistently. Section leaders are strictly prohibited from using funds for any other purpose or in a manner differently from any other section.  Parents have the right to review a copy of the Section Treasury Report completed by the section leaders in May each year as well as receipts for scout-related purchases throughout the year.

3) Uniforms:  Scouts are required to wear the girl scout sash or vest at all meetings and Council-sponsored programs.  They may wear any appropriate pants, shirt or skirt with the vest or they may wear the full scout uniform.  One reminder will be given for the first meeting a scout attends without wearing her vest or sash.  The next time, the parent will be called and requested to bring the vest or sash from home.

4) Fall Product and Cookie Sales:   GS Spirit of Nebraska offers a Fall Product Program which includes the sale of candies, nuts and magazines and a cookie program in January.  The cookie program is now a direct-sales and online program.  GS Spirit of Nebraska allows you the parent to accept as payment checks from customers you know.   Parents may then pay the troop leader for their scout’s fall product or cookie sales with their own personal check.   However, if the check bounces because of insufficient funds, the parent will be responsible for payment of the sale in cash plus any insufficient fund fees assessed against the troop account.  THE TROOP LEADER STRONGLY ENCOURAGES PAYMENT BY CASH OR CASHIER’S CHECK ONLY.  All payment is due by the dates provided by the Council.  If for any reason you are unable to deliver products by the payment due date, it will be your responsibility to use your own funds to cover these costs and meet deadlines.  You can then get reimbursed once you deliver your products.   Failure to make full payment for the products your child has sold can result in legal action taken by GS Spirit of Nebraska Council.  The lesson learned here is to sell only to reputable individuals – close neighbors, schoolmates, office workers, friends from church.

5) Dissemination of Troop Information:  The majority of troop information will be made available to all parents through e-mail, website and Facebook page.  The troop maintains a website with a calendar of events at:  http://sites.google.com/site/troop5483/   It is an individual parent decision to allow or not allow use of pictures of their scout on Council and/or troop website or Facebook pages.  It is a parent responsibility to check phone camera settings to turn off EXIF information when taking pictures so that pictures subsequently posted to the troop sites do not have geocoded information attached.  The troop leader will review pertinent information at the beginning of each troop meeting and during parent meetings which will be scheduled and held several times throughout the year.   In addition to troop activities, the section leaders may schedule level-specific activities and workshops.  All section leader communications will include the troop leader and section parents and scouts so that information is adequately and sufficiently disseminated throughout the troop.

6) Badge Work:  With the exception of Daisy Petals which are still referred to as Petals, awards are called badges for every level.   When GSUSA surveyed girls, adults and parents, the general consensus was that ten badges is a good number to earn in a year.  Each leadership Journey includes three new official awards.  These awards are designed to be worn on the Girl Scout uniform. Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes have the chance to earn several badges along the journey. Seniors and Ambassadors can mark their accomplishments at the culmination of a journey with a pin or iron-on.  With the three Journey awards, the Financial Literacy and Cookie Business Badges in the new Girl Guidebook and a set of Legacy Badges that complements the specific Journey, you’re at ten.  Troop 45483 philosophy regarding badge work is “educate, don’t decorate”.

7) Behavior:  Scouts are expected to show respect to adults and to treat each other with tolerance and kindness.  Rude and offensive behavior as well as disrespect to troop leadership will not be tolerated.  If a scout is disruptive during meeting times, the scout’s parents will be called and asked to pick up the child.   Poor attitudes and behavioral problems result in disruption to the good order and morale of the troop and negatively impact others. Parents are asked to resolve problems or remove their scout from troop activities until such time that the scout can contribute in a positive manner. 

8) Illness:  Please monitor your child for illnesses throughout the year.  Parents are asked to keep scouts home if they have a fever or contagious illness.  This is for the protection of the other children and adult leaders, and we ask for your full cooperation in this matter.  

9) Lateness:  Troop meetings will start promptly at 6:00 P.M. with a formal opening.  Following the opening, general troop announcements will be made and the troop leader will remain in the area to answer any questions.  Scouts will dismiss to their respective classrooms to work on level-specific activities.  If your scout arrives after the troop meeting has started, please instruct her to proceed quietly to the classroom and not disrupt activities already in progress.  For Council Programs and Community Collaborator Workshops, you will be required to have your scout attend on time.  If circumstances arise which prevent your child from getting to these workshops within the required time frame, please ensure that your child’s section leader is made aware of the problem.  Depending upon the type of event, your child may not able to complete the workshop.  This decision will be made on a case-by-case basis

10)No Shows:  The troop is required to pay for scout attendance at all Council Programs and most Community Collaborator Workshops in advance.  If you decide that your scout will attend a fee-required program and your scout is subsequently a no show for that event, you will be required to reimburse the troop for your child’s program fee.  THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY.  This will be consistently applied in every section by every section leader.   If there is a fee-required program at the beginning of the scout year and troop dues have not been remitted, the parent will be required to pay for the fee-required program in order for the scout to attend.  The cost will then be deducted from the troop dues amount to determine the remaining balance owed.  Section funds, including fall product and cookie money earned by scouts, will be used solely on scouts to maximize the scout experience.  Section leaders are strongly advised NOT to use their personal funds to cover the cost of section activities; not every section leader has the ability to do this and this potentially can create unfair expectations throughout the troop.    Parents that do not abide by this policy will be required to pre-pay for their scout’s registration at future events.

11) E-Mail Responses:   E-mail is the main form of communication for this troop.  This will be supplemented by verbal announcements made during troop meetings as well as information posted on the troop website and Facebook page.    E-mails may be sent out at various times throughout the year requesting you to let us know about your child’s participation in upcoming events.  It is very difficult to register for events when payment is required by a certain date and we don’t hear back from you.  The Council does not provide refunds for no shows; most community collaborators do not provide refunds for no shows.  The troop ends up absorbing the cost and because we are a large troop, we can no longer afford to do so.   Parents are asked to respond back promptly to troop e-mails requiring a response.  This will enable program registration forms to be processed and payment remitted in a timely manner, ensuring the troop and your scout doesn’t miss out on opportunities. 

12) Higher Level Awards:  Troop 45483 encourages all scouts to earn higher level awards, including Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.   The troop leader has instituted a mandatory policy regarding completion of these awards.   Juniors in the 4th grade, Cadettes in the 6th grade and Seniors in the 9th grade will work on their specific award prerequisites.   Bronze Award Projects will be done as a group and decided at the beginning of the 5th grade year; Silver Award Projects will be done as a group and decided at the beginning of the 7th grade year; Seniors are strongly encouraged to come up with a project that meets the three criteria of sustainability, measurability, and global reach and work with the troop leader on their proposals in the Spring of the 10th grade year.   Section leaders or a designated helpful parent will work with the Bronze and Silver Groups during the 5th and 7th grade years.  All Bronze and Silver Award Projects will be completed by February; a group report will be drafted during a troop meeting and provided to the troop leader for review and comment.  Once finalized, all BRONZE AND SILVER AWARD FINAL REPORTS will be given to the troop leader NLT 15 Mar to remit to the Council’s respective award coordinators.  The Gold Award Proposals will be worked on an individual basis with the troop leader; any help requested of the troop for BRONZE, SILVER AND GOLD PROJECTS will be presented to the troop leader, and the troop leader will disseminate such requests as appropriate.

Thank you for your interest in the scouting program offered by Troop 45483.  The section leaders and I will do our very best to ensure that the coming year is filled with many wonderful and exciting scouting opportunities for your child and your entire family.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime at cell (402) 871-7099.



                                                               Maria R. Reiter

                                                               Girl Scout Troop 45483 Leader

                                                               Event Coordinator & Trainer

                                                               Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska