Staff Writer

All five Girl Scout councils in northeast Ohio are getting ready to join forces to build a high capacity council that will better serve everyone in Girl Scouts.

The realignment of councils is a national project. Girl Scouts will be going from 312 councils to 109 across the country, said Lorilyn Shandor, of the Lake to River Council. The realignment is due to the change of times as well as the change of girls, she said.

"This is Girl Scouts 95th year," Shandor said. "The girls are different than they were 95 years ago. Girl Scouts changes with the girls as we need to."

The uniting of Girl Scouts of Erie Shores, Great Trails, Lake Erie, Lake to River and Western Reserve councils will bring together Girl Scouts from Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Sandusky, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Tuscarawas counties.

Shandor said there will be a minimum of approximately 25,000 girls in the new council. The benefits of the realignment will be astronomical, she said.

"We will have the capacity to offer so many programs we've never been able to," Shandor said.

The new council also will have access to various organizations including Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, the Cleveland Browns and Cavs, she said. The council also will have the advantage of gaining knowledge from other advisors and volunteers throughout northeast Ohio.

The council will have access to 18 Girl Scout camps allowing more flexibility to the girls. New programming hasn't been established yet, but Shandor said a lot of traditional programming will still exist.

"The biggest thing will be the flexibility as to where they can go and the times they are offered," she said.

The realignment is generally being received well, she said.

"We are taking it very personally with the volunteers and the girls to make sure everyone knows what's going on," she said. "Everyone is excited about the change and meeting new people and new opportunities."

Over the next membership year the five Girl Scout councils will be working together to ensure a smooth transition. The realignment will provide quality service to volunteers with a commitment to customer service, Shandor said.

The realignment is still about 18 months away from completion. At the end of the 18 months, the five existing councils in northeast Ohio will dissolve and become one under a new name, she said. The name has not yet been determined.

The new council is expected to better deliver the promise of the Girl Scout mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/24/2006

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