If you’re thinking of becoming a Girl Scout leader, or are a new leader looking for a little help, below are some tips and ideas to make the Girl Scout experience a little easier on you.
It’s About the Experience
Leading a troop can be overwhelming in the beginning, but once you learn about your Girl Scout program level (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, etc.) and about the events happening in your service unit or association, it gets a lot easier. Remember, you’re in control of your troop so you decide how complicated or not-so-complicated things can get. As you get to know the girls better, it’s hard not to want to make this the best after school activity they’re involved with. But, most of all, it’s about giving your daughter the Girl Scout experience, watching her learn and grow, and spending some special times with her.
Remember Your Daughter
Although she is proud and excited to have you as her Girl Scout leader, there will be times when your daughter will be vying for your attention, and most likely not in a way you would like. She’ll probably have spats with your co-leader’s daughter as well. However, this is normal for all leaders’ daughters so don’t get too distressed about it. Some service units have leader-daughter events which gives your daughter an opportunity to do something with only you. Also, take your girls out every once and a while, just the four of you, to show your appreciation of them sharing their moms with the troop.
Starting a troop is a lot of work, but the more organized you are, the better it will be. It’s always easier said than done, but it will be worth the extra effort in the beginning. You won’t be able to do everything yourself, and you shouldn’t have to. Set expectations upfront like requesting parent involvement and establishing rules of conduct.
Having a great co-leader makes a huge difference. Hopefully, the person you’re paired with has the same vision for the troop. It may be a friend or it may be a mom you don’t know. Setting up the troop together and agreeing on a common path will help ensure things run smoothly. There will be give and take, of course, but you both need to agree on what you want to accomplish with the troop and how you are going to get there…dividing responsibilities, depending on your interests and strengths, or working together to plan all events. Either way, communication between the two leaders is very important. I know it a lot of this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often troop leaders have fall-outs.
Girl Scout Binder
It helps to have one place to hold all your paperwork – that way you can carry the binder with you wherever you go (lucky you), and you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips. I have divided my notebook into: Troop Information; Service Unit Information; Try-Its; Events, Field Trips, and Community Service; Crafts, Games, and Songs; and Finances. I save all sorts of random craft and game ideas. As they say, “Be Prepared.” You never know when one of these ideas will come in handy!
Girl Scout Workbook
We use an Excel workbook to keep track of troop information. We have our troop roster, attendance records, checkbook register, and other things we track like community service hours, event participation, product sales, and more. Some of this information is printed and placed in the binder, which makes updating things a lot easier.
This is a very important aspect to the success of your troop. It is a lot of work on your end to manage this, but having all the girls participate will make a difference in the success of your meeting or event. The first thing we communicate is the Meeting & Snack Schedule for the entire school year so every family can put the meeting dates on their calendar. We will send an email prior to every meeting to serve as a meeting reminder and let parents know if there is anything the scout needs to do or bring to the meeting. You may want to send a reminder to the snack mom too…as you know, having a bunch of hungry girls is not much fun. Emails are sent regarding upcoming events and field trips as well as reminders for those events and field trips. You could delegate some of the email blasts – maybe have a mom who will send the meeting and snack reminders out for you. I should have thought of that one earlier.
Originally I created a newsletter to let parents know about upcoming troop activities and what we have accomplished during our troop meetings. It also included a calendar section, photos, troop updates, and more. However, it was too time consuming for me to continue to create a newsletter every other week. So after a hiatus, I have started the newsletter again, once a month now, primarily focusing on upcoming activities – event descriptions, due dates, costs, etc. This has been a lot more manageable for me. I think it is nice for the parents to have the information in one place rather than receiving 10 different emails or 1 really long email from me. But, that’s me making a lot more work for myself.
These tips are based on my experience as a Brownie leader. This is our third and last year as Brownies, and I think it’s our best year yet. I hope this helps you with your Girl Scout journey as a Girl Scout leader.