Girl Scouts respond to Benton leader’s concerns
Lorielle Gutting, leader of Girl Scouts Troop 6456 in Benton, said she was concerned that funds weren’t being allocated efficiently or equally to troops throughout the state.
Essentially, she said the problem was that individual troops gave up most of their revenue from the sale of Girl Scouts cookies went back to the Diamond Council which oversees troops in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For each $3.50 box of cookies sold, only 59.5 percent made it back to the troops generating those sales.
Gutting said the problem with that arrangement in Arkansas is that camps, training sessions and other events and programs were rarely held in central Arkansas. She said the way revenue was shared among troops by the Diamond Council left troops in the central park of the state with the short end of the stick. If revenue isn’t being shared equally, Gutting argued that troops should keep more of the cash from cookies sales.
On May 19, Gutting received an email from Denise Stewart, executive officer of the Diamonds Council, stating that the group is working on getting more programs and services available in the central Arkansas region. An immediate action taken by the Diamonds Council is the reopening of Camp Taloha in July near Pine Bluff for Girl Scouts activities. That camp is about an hour from Benton, Stewart said, making it closer to central Arkansas troops than other Girl Scouts facilities in Arkansas.
Stewart said the Council is also taking more steps to get volunteers involved in central Arkansas and provide more services to the area.
“The Adult Development Department will be investigating ways to involve more volunteers in the Central Arkansas region, in order to provide more training and program opportunities for the girls and adult volunteers in this area,” she said.
Stewart said a good number of the enhancements to programs in central Arkansas will come to light during a budget meeting in July and when the Council finalizes its list of programs that will be offered throughout Arkansas when fall comes and troops are meeting again after the summer break.
Gutting said she is encouraged by Stewart’s note and reassurances, but still remains a bit skeptical.
“I appreciate the response from the Girl Scouts Council, but trying to get a firm commitment from them on the amount of training or programs that they will offer to Central Arkansas is like trying to nail jello to a tree,” she said. “I feel like we have a ‘wait and see’ approach where we as leaders and volunteers have to wait for the July budget to pass or for the publication of the program events to see what the Council will be offering in our area. I am excited about the reopening of Camp Taloha and the prospect of taking my troop there for weekend outings. I know that many troops in Central Arkansas and around the state will benefit from a camp nearby.”
Gutting said it is important for troops to be receptive when new programs and services are offered. For example, troops in central Arkansas should utilize Camp Taloha to the fullest.
“I view Ms. Stewart’s response as a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fully address all of our concerns. I hope the Council considers providing additional funds for local … events so that more girls will want to become involved in Girl Scouts,” Gutting said. “If we don’t have great local events for the girls to participate in, we won’t be able to retain the girls we have — let alone try and recruit new girls into Girl Scouts.
“I hope other leaders and volunteers will be proactive in suggesting new activities and organizing programs. I believe Ms. Stewart … and others with whom I have spoken have been receptive to my concerns and suggestions. I realize that these problems did not occur overnight and they can’t be solved overnight. I hope that we will continue to work together to make the Girl Scouts program even more successful.”
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.