My daughter just finished her second year in Girl Scouts and has bridged up to Brownies for next year. While this was her second year in Daisy’s, this was my first year as a Troop Leader. It’s been a fun year learning how to be a Troop Leader and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.
Let the girls help lead! Girl Scouts are very into “Girl Lead” troops and activities. It’s very easy for us as adults to take over and control every situation instead of letting the girls learn how to do things. Sure we have to “lead” the troop and push them in the right direction, but letting them make decisions is an important part of being a Troop Leader. As Daisy’s this is a hard balance to find since the girls are 6-7 years old, but given the right directions they can do it! Kaper Charts are a good way to get the girls involved in the meetings.
Be flexible! No matter how well you plan out your meetings, something will always get you off track! It’s OK to be flexible and change your focus if you see the girls are enjoying certain parts of the meetings. The girls won’t know what parts you changed and may get more from the meeting than you expect.
Cookies, cookies, and more cookies!! Yes, Girl Scouts spend a lot of time selling cookies and that’s OK. I felt like parents (and leaders) were ready for cookie season to be over, but the girls love selling cookies. When they set their goals and know what they want to accomplish it makes it easier for them to stay motivated, but remember that the younger girls will lose interest easier. It’s OK if they don’t all meet their individual goals as long as they have fun along the way. When the season is over and they can reap the rewards they will finally what they worked so hard for. I’m hungry just thinking about Girl Scout Cookies!
There’s a Badge for That! There’s a badge for EVERYTHING!!! For parents that means a lot of Badge Magic (because nobody wants to sew on all those badges). Girls can earn a lot of fun badges for parades, hiking, birthday’s and cookie season. As a leader I found it important to hand out badges regularly so that the girls can associate what they earned each badge for.
Don’t do it all yourself! Make sure you have a co-leader and remember to ask for their help! Get a few parent volunteers to help during cookie season. Whatever you do, do NOT try to do it all yourself. You will burn yourself out. The more hands you have, the more important it is to communicate and make sure that everyone is on the same page. I’m still learning how to delegate, but it was really nice to have the help.
The girls NEED you! There are way more girls than there are volunteers. They may not say thank you, but they need you and their parents appreciate you. Most parents are afraid to take on a leader role because they are afraid of all the work that goes into it, don’t let that stop you from being a leader (see #5 and get other parents involved). Our troop started out small with about 7 girls and doubled by the end of the school year because there weren’t enough troop leaders.
Have fun! The most important tip I can share is to have fun and make it fun for the girls. Try to incorporate as many of the traditional Girl Scout ceremonies and traditions into your meetings, but it’s OK if you don’t do everything 100% “right.” If the girls aren’t having fun learning “the Girl Scout” way, they won’t want to come back next year. There are so many valuable lessons we can teach our girls through scouting and those lessons don’t happen in just one year!
Bonus Tip: As a Troop Leader your child will be the one who won’t listen to you and try to get your attention ALL.THE.TIME!! Try not to spend too much energy focused on her attention seeking, she’s probably a little jealous that all her friends want to sit next to you and help you with everything. You and your co-leader can help each other out when there is a child who needs a little extra attention.
Out of the 14 girls that ended up in our troop this year, we only had 3 tell us they didn’t want to come back next year. I’ll take that as a successful year. The girls loved visiting camp, loved learning how to care for horses, and loved making new friends. I loved learning more about each girl and I loved seeing them grow as individuals. Sure there may be some things I would have done differently, but I’m really excited for next year as Brownies!
To join Girl Scouts: http://www.girlscouts.org/
To become a Troop Leader or Adult Volunteer: http://www.girlscouts.org/en/adults/volunteer.html
Is your girl involved in Girl Scouting? Have you ever considered being a troop leader? What’s holding you back? What are you afraid of?
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