Our First Cadette Girl Scout Meeting of the Year

by Hannah on October 10, 2014

Yesterday was our very first Cadette Girl Scout meeting of the year, and it was also my first not being the leader.

My friend had emailed me asking some questions about what she had planned, and I though it all sounded good.  She had planned a rededication ceremony with candles, something that I thought was very brave since we were meeting in her home!  Parents were invited to stay and watch the ceremony, and most did.

She had a “sponge activity” (something to keep the girls occupied while waiting for all to arrive). She took the Girl Scout Cadette Guide and took it apart.  She had all of the badge work pages on her coffee table and asked the girls to loo over them and see what badges interested them to work on. They all were focused on the cookie page, since our leader is going to have them try selling cookies for the first time since they were Daisy Scouts.

The Girl Scout Rededication Ceremony

 

Cadette Rededication Ceremony Photo by Hannah Gold

Cadette Rededication Ceremony Photo by Hannah Gold

After nine girls arrived (we lost one who changed her mind and one was coming from dance and was late), the ceremony began.  The leader read this and the girls each took a turn lighting a candle.  Then, they took a strip of paper from a big bowl, and each paper was numbered. read it and blew out the candle. Then the leader read something else and the girls took turns reading and lighting another candle.  It was very sweet.

The parents left and then it was down to business.  The girls talked (and let me tell you, this gourd can talk!) and decided upon the marketing badge and the cookie badge.  Our Cookie Mom, a veteran from a different troop, discussed what they needed to do and the girls seemed excited.  Of course, this is new to them since I always had issues with cookie sales, and the Cookie Mom asked if I was okay with it.  I am fine with cookies as long as I am not running it (and that is what would have happened if I had sold them, and I already did everything else for the troop.  Cookies was my line in the sand that could not be crossed).

By US Navy (File:Guantanamo Bay Gazette -- 2011-07-22.pdf) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By US Navy (File:Guantanamo Bay Gazette — 2011-07-22.pdf) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was also fine with cookies as long as it was non-competitive and the emphasis was not he GIRLS selling them, not having Mommy and Daddy bring them to the office to do the work for them or posting on Facebook or Twitter to buy them. We also talked about a local organization that send Girl Scout cookies to the military, and the girls were highly interested in doing that as well.

Once the cookie discussion was over, then the girls were led to a discussion about what kinds of trips they wanted to take with the cookie money they would earn.  After that, they talked about service projects they wanted to try.

Overall, it was a chatty meeting but the groundwork was laid out for the year. I sent some emails about service projects the girls could work on and am awaiting responses.

We will meet once a month  and then take a trip or do a service project on sporadic weekends.

My daughter told me that it felt strange not having me lead the meeting, and in all honesty, it did feel strange to me as well.  But it was the right decision for me and I am going to be helping out, not just a warm body to meet the numbers quota.

How did your first meeting of the year go?

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Photo from pixabay.com

Photo from pixabay.com

I am sitting in a different position this year than I have been for the past six years.  Last May, I stepped down as my daughter’s Girl Scout leader and stepped into the position of active co-leader. The troop’s new leader can ask me anything and ask for help and it will be given.  I am more than a warm body but I am no longer responsible for the core planning of our troop’s activities.

But I am still highly interested in the Girl Scouting experience that my daughter will be having, and I intend to make it as memorable as I can. So I still read Girl Scout forums to stay current and see if there is any new information I can share with you.

One theme that runs through so many of the forum threads reminds me of the biggest mistake Girl Scout leaders make.

The mistake is forgetting that we are VOLUNTEERS!

Now some of you reading this post are at a different stage of life than I am. I have already been around the mommy block before, as I have a daughter who is nineteen and a college sophomore.  I have also recently had a milestone birthday-the big 5-0.  With age and experience comes wisdom, and I can see things much more clearly than I could a decade or more ago.  If you are younger and this is your oldest child, I can see where you want to be nice and not make waves.

In the forums that I frequent, there are complaints about Service Units and what they demand from the leaders who are in their Council. (DEMAND? Are they forgetting that everyone who attends a meeting is a volunteer?) While there is a five girl minimum to be considered a troop, some Councils are demanding that minimum sizes be twelve or more to that troops be multi-level or that leaders have to abandon their troops and not move up with them, but take on an entirely new set of girls.

Photo from pixabay.com

Photo from pixabay.com

Leaders, I understand that you want to make it work because you stepped up and you want to do this for your daughter.  However, the more you permit the powers that be to tell you what you have to do, the more ownership of your troop you lose.  I once refused to take on new girls when I first started out. My troop was all of six girls, and when the Service Unit Treasurer asked me if I would accept more girls, I told her no.

She said “What if two girls don’t show up and you only have four at the meeting?”

I replied, “Then I guess I will hold a very small meeting.”

Leaders, you are forgetting that YOU are in charge. Yes, there are rules from the GSA that we must follow, but that is not what I am talking about.

You do not have to do anything you do not want to do.  As a volunteer you can walk away.  

That’s right…tell them if they do not stop with the demands, then you will walk away from being a leader.  You should never forget that they need YOU more than you need them. Without you, how many girls would now be without a leader?

I honestly do not mean to sound harsh.  If I did not believe in the benefits of being a Girl Scout, I would have left long ago.  I have been encouraging my daughter to stay active in scouting.

What I am trying to do is empower you. The stress I read in the Girl Scout forums from leaders under duress is unnecessary.  Issues with parents and girls need to be worked out and are inevitable, whether the issues are big or small.  But the people who run the ship should not be creating more waves for you.  When leaders stand up for themselves, then you will be heard.  You cannot feel guilty about the choices you make. Remember, you picked up the ball.  You signed up to be the leader.  Councils and Service Units should be helping and encouraging you, not creating unnecessary stress.

What do you think?  Have you ever been tempted to just stop and walk away?  Why didn’t you?

 

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