Greetings, Members and Friends of Girl Scouts of Northern California,
I hope you are enjoying summer 2021—such a change from last year! It
has been wonderful to see girls outside, together and at summer day
and resident camps. It is nearly back-to-school season, and we have a
lot to share as we look ahead to 2022.
This update includes:
Summer fun highlights
- Day camps
- Resident camps
Gearing-up for back-to-school
- Yes, we can meet in person and carpool to go places!
- Renew, join, or invite a friend
- COVID safety
- Looking ahead to GSNorCal fall programs and
- GSUSA program updates, including new badges and Global Action Awards
- Retail news: big back to troop sales, shop hours, and plans for northern shops
- Property reservations now open for troops, groups, and service units
- Newly completed camp and program property investments
- Camp investment campaign, featuring Sugar Pine's covered wagons
- Camp Skylark Ranch wildfire recovery
Update on 2022 Cookie Program
- New cookie flavor for 2022!
- All 9 cookie varieties changing to $6/package
Update on GSNorCal staff
- Reduction in our staff
- Executive team updates
GSNorCal’s commitment and progress to nurture diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
Summer fun highlights.
It has been wonderful to visit, see pictures, and read reflections from girls enjoying summer outside and together. A huge thank you to our camp volunteers and staff for their creative, courageous, collaborative, and careful planning starting last fall and winter to figure out how to deliver safe, in-person camp experiences this summer.
- Summer Day camps: Day camp has returned. We are not all the way back to our pre-pandemic twenty-four volunteer-run day camps, but are so happy that nine Girl Scout volunteer-run day camps are open for girls.
- Summer Resident camps: We have four volunteer-run (Two Sentinels, Butano Creek, Kamp Konocti, and Camp Tall Trees) and three GSNorCal staff-run camps (Camp Bothin, Camp Hidden Falls, and Camp Sugar Pine) happening this summer. You can learn more about GSNorCal’s outdoor experiences at our outdoor website.
After a challenging year of distance learning and isolation, camp has been restorative for so many of our girls. In post-camp surveys for our staff-led camps, 95% of campers said they would go to Girl Scout camp again.
Campers say they changed in many ways, especially:
- Knowing I can do hard things
- Comfort in the outdoors
- Challenging myself
- Including people who are different from me
Caregivers say their campers grew in many ways, especially:
- Taking care of themselves
- Trying hard things even if they are not sure they can do them
Campers’ and caregivers’ post-camp reflections also remind us why camp is important:
From a camper: “Camp is a place where I can be myself. It is a place that is apart from the outside world, where there is a community of people who I can get to know and have fun with, and that accepts me and supports me. It is a place that is safe, and I am allowed to be who I am and find more of my identity and my place in the world.”
From a caregiver: “She came back just more comfortable in her skin and surer of herself. The friendships she made were ‘like family’ (her words). I never expected the benefits to be as grounding as they have been. Truly wonderful after such a hard year when my strong, independent, and emotional kid fell apart every day during distance learning.”
Our awesome outdoor program team (staff and volunteers) are already thinking about Summer Camp 2022!
Gearing up for back-to-school.
We have updated our COVID guidelines, following California state health requirements for adult-only and youth settings, for fully-vaccinated, not fully- vaccinated, indoors and outdoors. The bottom line: we can meet in-person, we can carpool, we can meet indoors and outdoors, and, sometimes—especially in youth-settings and indoors—we are required to wear masks. Many counties are now recommending masks for everyone when indoors in public spaces. We are excited to be together and “press play” on a new year of Girl Scouts!
- COVID-19 safety: COVID-19 is still active in our communities. We will update guidance on our website when/if state and local guidance changes.
- Links for renewing and joining or inviting friends. Invite friends to join GSNorcal here. If you haven’t renewed yet, now is the time. Renew by October 31 to earn our historic Pandemic Sisterhood Rocker and 2021 “We’ve Got This!” patch. Both were designed by girls!
Looking ahead to GSNorCal fall programs and events.
- Virtual EntreprenHERS In Action Day (formerly known as Digital Day). Registration is open NOW for girls and families who want to learn about the Fall Take Action product program and how girls can help protect Emperor Penguins.
- Register for Honoring Girl Scout Superheroes: A Celebration of Courageous Leadership. Registration is open now for this FREE virtual event on September 23, 4:30 PM. The event features local Girl Scout superhero alums who helped our communities get through the challenges of 2020 and 2021, and will raise funds for GSNorCal and our Opportunity Fund that supports Girl Scout experiences for girls who live in low-income communities and in communities recovering from disasters.
- Coming September 1: Registration opens for more in-person and virtual programs, including outdoor skills workshops including whitling, knot-tying, hatchet throwing, geocaching, and letter boxing. Archery ranges and high ropes courses will also be re-opened for reservations by troops and service units.
GSUSA program updates, including new badges and Global Action Awards.
- GSUSA just announced 28 new badges, badge work books, and Volunteer Tool Kit meeting plans.
Learn more here about:
- Cookie Business badges for each year of Girl Scouting
- Math in Nature badges for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors
- Digital Leadership badges for each level 2022
- Global Action and World Thinking Day Awards
Retail news: big back to troop sales, shop hours and plans for northern shops.
No doubt about it, the pandemic wreaked havoc on our retail shop operations (we know we’re not alone). Here’s the scoop on what to expect this fall:
BIG SALES! We have big back to troop sales happening now through end of September—online and in our Alameda and San Jose shops. Our stores are particularly full of uniforms, badges, and apparel from our long closures. Come visit us and enjoy low prices this season while you gear up for Girl Scout fun!
Exclusive to GSNorCal council stores:
- Now through August 30, receive an extra 10% off your in- store purchase of $50 or more. Visit us in person (starting the week of August 16) or send in your order form (free shipping!). Promotion can be combined with Early Bird Retail coupons!
- Enjoy an extra 25% off the whole store September 1– September 30! This discount only applies to merchandise in stock. This will be our largest discount on uniform pieces ever!
Alameda and San Jose Stores are open for in-person shopping starting the week of August 16. Check the website for hours. As noted below, we’ve had to scale back staffing, so our open hours will be limited as we adjust. We will continue to assess our hours of service as we monitor member visits but of course, expect many members to continue to opt for the convenience of shopping online. We are excited to welcome you in these stores soon!
Chico, Eureka, Redding, and Santa Rosa shops. With our current staffing, membership and revenue, we can’t afford to staff these shops at this time. We are eager to support these regions’ retail needs through pop-up or mobile shop opportunities. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for any mobile or pop-up shop requests.
Online shopping is open for everyone, with free shipping offered on orders over $99, and our $2.95 flat rate shipping for orders under $99 through September 6. Shopping online still supports GSNorCal locally; your order will ship from the national GSUSA warehouse in New Jersey.
New GSUSA Uniforms. On July 13, GSUSA announced new uniform pieces for Daisy, Brownies, and Juniors. We will have new uniforms on display in our retail shops by mid-September to help members make decisions about online purchases, but won’t be carrying these new pieces in inventory yet. Meanwhile, they are available for you to purchase online.
Girls and volunteers can’t wait go hiking and camping with their troops. We are ready!
Property reservations for troops, groups and service units. As of August 1, our outdoor properties are open for troop, group and service unit day and overnight reservations, and we are holding prices steady at 2020 levels.
New features. Thanks to generous donors, we were able to continue to improve GSNorCal properties during the pandemic and we are ready for girls and volunteers to enjoy them!
- Camp Hidden Falls: We have a new Directors Cabin, Lori’s Lodge (named in honor of a former Camp Director), a re-constructed trail to the waterfall, a swimming hole and creek (see below), and, in the permitting stage now, a fabulous three-story climbing tower will soon be under construction. Lori’s Lodge and the Home of Friendship will be available for rent by troops that want indoor sleeping accommodations.
- Camp Butano Creek: Hurray! We have a new shower house in the South Commons area of camp and refurbished bathrooms in the tent camping units, Toyon and Huckleberry. Work on these projects was interrupted by both the pandemic and the CZU wildfire, but now the shower house and bathrooms are complete and were much- appreciated by this summer’s campers.
Chico Program Center and Maggie’s Barn: This was a
challenging project to complete in the middle of a pandemic, but we
are almost there and can’t wait to welcome volunteers and girls to
this new space. We received a grant from the local Soroptimists to
begin work on the outdoor pavilion, and are working with the Women
in Construction group from Chico State on the pavilion design and
construction. Stay tuned, we are on a journey with the
local community to raise funds and complete the transformation of
this former native plant nursery!
- New biffies at Camp Two Sentinels: This high-Sierra camp is on forest service land, next to a lake. When we were required to replace our pit toilets with environmentally friendly state-of-the-art composting toilets, the Two Sentinels volunteers stepped up to raise funds and install three new biffies over the past two years. A huge thanks to the Two Sentinels volunteers for everything they do to maintain this pristine site.
2021 Camp Investment Campaign. Each year we celebrate a completed project, made possible by donations. This year’s patch celebrates the covered wagons at Camp Sugar Pine, and each donation of $25 or more, earns a patch. Donate now to the Camp Investment Campaign.
- Camp Skylark Ranch Wildfire Recovery. As the forest continues to recover, we have completed fire debris removal and septic tank replacements. However, it is not yet safe for members to return—we continue to have occasional spot fires from smoldering roots and tree branches falling. The next steps for recovery are:
- Hazard tree work near the center of camp
- Repair retaining wall on entrance road
- Restore electricity (depends on PG&E timing)
- Revisit the master site plan and determine next steps
to provide the best troop, service unit, and resident camp
- Long-term, grant-funded forest health projects with Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District and Cal Fire
Donations to the Skylark Ranch Recovery Fund help support this work.
I have included a few pictures here, so you can see: the fire-scorched landscape and view to the Pacific Ocean from camp; before and after debris removal at the former staff house (September 11, 2020 and June 11, 2021); and the redwoods “fuzzing-out” and recovering in Fern Grove.
Updates on the 2022 Cookie Program.
New Cookie Flavor for 2022! We’re excited to share that Girl Scouts USA is debuting a delicious new cookie that will be added as our ninth flavor. We are confident that this new flavor will entice curious cookie connoisseurs nationwide! The announcement is under strict media embargo until August 17. Please keep the Girl Scout Law in mind and don’t share before then.
All cookie varieties changing to $6/package: The pandemic took a significant toll on GSNorCal’s 2021 cookie program participation, which is our largest source of funding to support programs including our camps, volunteer tools and support, and core business operations. There was a silver-lining however: the shift to online-only cookie program accelerated a new level of ecommerce skills for thousands of girls. Despite last year’s challenges, we had some terrific outcomes and wonderful feedback from both cookie program participants and customers alike who loved the ease of digital purchasing! Due to our critical funding needs, we have determined that it is time to change the price of all cookie varieties to $6/package, beginning this 2022 cookie season. Here’s what that means:
- GSNorCal is increasing the cost of core cookies by $1/package and reducing the cost of specialty cookies by $1/package. That means all cookie flavors will cost $6 —even the specialty flavors (S’mores and Toffee-tastic).
- Adjusting all cookie varieties to a single price simplifies the program experience for girls, families, volunteers, and customers.
- It’s been 8 years since our last price increase, and the public is aware of the rising cost of all goods and services, especially in the wake of COVID. Just as they have done in the past, we hope our communities continue to support the cookie program with a special treat purchase that tastes good (and does good, too).
- We are dedicated to helping each and every girl have a great 2022 cookie season. Therefore, we are currently designing the program to offer additional layers of support for our entrepreneurs, including reduced-rate shipping during National Cookie Weekend, absorbing credit card processing fees, and paid digital marketing and PR promotion of ilovecookies.org to connect customers to Digital Cookie and in-person booth businesses. Exciting things are ahead!
More to come on Cookies, and thank you for your support! We understand the impact these changes may have, and do not take any price change lightly. It took months of research, planning and careful consideration with our Girl, Troop Volunteer, and Service Unit Volunteer Product Advisory Boards to inform this aspect of our pandemic recovery.
Thank you to all who have and will continue to serve as members of our Product Advisory Boards this year. As we look ahead to 2022 program planning in partnership with our Product Advisory Board members, please share any questions, concerns or exciting ideas by sending an email to: email@example.com.
Update on GSNorCal Staff.
Over the past year, in response to the pandemic and its impact on Girl Scouts of Northern California, we have had to cut costs and reduce our staff by almost 22%, from 153 to 120 employees. To sustain our focus on our communities, thriving camps, volunteer support, girl program, and equity, and to keep as many staff as possible in the field, we have combined departments under a smaller number of senior leaders, and have eliminated a number of administrative and retail shop positions. Saying good-bye to valued friends and talented hard- working colleagues is hard. I appreciate your patience and support, and I appreciate our staff’s flexibility and commitment to our mission.
We have said good-bye to 8 senior leaders and have many staff stepping into new and expanded responsibilities. With all of this change comes new ideas, new opportunities, and I’m sure some learning opportunities. Below is GSNorCal’s 5-person Executive Team, and a brief summary of our areas of responsibility, so you know who is doing what and who to contact if you have suggestions and/or concerns:
Marina Park, CEO (firstname.lastname@example.org ) (120 GSNorCal staff). I report to our Board and am responsible for GSNorCal’s progress on the Board-approved strategic priorities, operating plans and budget. My direct reports include the members of the Executive Team listed below, plus our Senior Director of Product Program, two Fund Development Directors, our contract (part- time) Chief Information Officer, and our Director of Evaluation and Strategy. I started in this role in November 2007, and in my spare time love hiking, gardening, and going on walks with my husband and dog (and with our three adult children when they are home).
Mary-Jane Strom, Chief Community and Program Officer (email@example.com) (58 staff). Mary-Jane is responsible for building thriving Girl Scout communities, overseeing community-based recruiting and programs, volunteer and service unit support, adult learning, programs, camps and adventure, volunteer background checks, risk management, and program and camp registration and property reservations. Mary-Jane is a Gold Award Girl Scout, distance swimmer, and Girl Scouts has been part of Mary-Jane's life for 40 years.
Herna Cruz-Louie, Chief Organization and People Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org ) (28 staff). Herna (pronounced “Er-Na”) is responsible for our “back-office” operations that support volunteers, including member services (our info@ support), website, retail, membership registration, marketing and communications, and human resources, including hiring, staff background checks, organizational effectiveness, and office operations. Herna also leads GSNorCal’s work to nurture diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Herna is a troop leader and resides in Alameda County with her husband, their two school-age girls and their chihuahua. She is a Philippines folk arts performer, a cultural arts advocate, and also leads a volunteer-run Pilipino/a/x dance and music youth program.
Michelle McCormick, Chief Mission Delivery Officer (email@example.com ) (10 staff). Michelle is responsible for GSNorCal’s 9 camps, 13 program centers and troop houses and 3 offices, working with our property team to ensure safe and welcoming sites and prudent planning, repairs, maintenance and forest management. Michelle also is responsible for member engagement through volunteer recognition and our alum and heritage groups, as well as member governance, including support for our Board Development Committee, national delegates, council elections and annual meetings. Michelle is a Gold Award Girl Scout and has been a member of our Girl Scout staff for over 40 years. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about Girl Scouts, works out and swims to stay in shape, and makes really good homemade jam.
Leinani Malig, Chief Financial Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org ) (11 staff). Leinani manages GSNorCal’s financial operations, including banking, accounts payable and receivable, payroll, reward cards and payment processing, budget, tax filings, financial reporting, and annual audit. Leinani works closely with our Board Finance, Audit, and Investment Committees, and during the pandemic and wildfire recovery, also is leading the work on our applications for federal COVID assistance and insurance recovery. Leinani joined GSNorCal in 2016 following a career in public accounting and consulting. In her spare time, Leinani is a dancer, including on-pointe in ballet.
GSNorCal’s commitment and progress to nurture diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
We are a leadership organization, and racism has no place here. Many of us have work to do to understand how we can take action to be allies and to end all forms of oppression, starting with race. I want to thank the Courage Cohort—24 volunteers and 2 staff, 65% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color—and the Packard Foundation, which funded this 8-month long experience, and our wonderful facilitators from Spotlight Girls, for helping us learn how, in a very diverse girl-led and volunteer-supported organization, we can live GSNorCal’s Culture Code for Equity and Belonging, located on page 5 of our Volunteer Policy:
As a leader I:
DISCOVER myself in a racist and unjust world
CONNECT with my heart wide-open
TAKE ACTION to make the world a better place for all people
The Courage Cohort’s final August meeting will focus on steps to “take action.” Much like our work as environmental stewards to take care of the forests entrusted to us, there is no end to our work to nurture diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, but we can make progress, by learning from experts, by listening to our girls and to the oppressed among us, and by taking action to make the world a better place for all people.
I have packed a lot of news into this update. In summary—this has been a hard year for all of us, and GSNorCal has experienced unprecedented declines in membership and revenue. Our girls are so happy to be meeting in person again. Our properties are awesome (and expensive to maintain and operate). We are thankful for our volunteers and donors, we are committed to being inclusive and anti-racist, and we are in this together. We are on a path to recovery that my hiking guide would rate as “strenuous.” I’m ready. I hope you are too. Thank you for all that you do for Girl Scouts, girls, and our communities.
Yours in Girl Scouting,