It’s that time of year again where the Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups are lighting up with questions about end of the year activities and what a leader should do if a girl cannot attend the big end of year trip.
This is a very delicate subject. After all, one of the topics I am going to assume you discussed with your troop when cookie sales were taking place is what to do with the cookie profits. If the girls voted on a trip to Build-A-Bear, a tween salon or a trip to the water park, then it is in your best interest to make sure that the girls can attend.
In fact, one of the first things your co-leader and you should do is pick a date as far in advance as possible (one that works for both of you) and let the parents know via email. Then you have in your possession a time stamped, dated email that you can refer to if a parent starts the “you did not tell me” or “I didn’t know” nonsense. Just resend the email and remind them that you did, in fact, tell them.
As a back-up for the first email, I would send a “Save the Date” email about eight weeks before the planned event just to remind the parents who did not put it on their calendars the first time.
Some leaders send out a survey to the parents to help them select a date. Tread lightly with this idea and give out a choice of only two dates, with the majority winning. Those who cannot go on the selected date that was voted on may counter with a third date, and that may not work for you or your co-leader. Be firm and consistent.
Of course, you do not always know four months out that there is a sports competition or an out of town relative visiting. That can cause a monkey wrench in your plans, as well as those of the girls who could originally attend.
In fact, this has happened to my daughter this year. The troop had big cookie profits, and they decided to spend their money on a theme park trip. It just so happened that a big Girl Scout event was planned by our Council at a theme park in June, so the planning was made easy for the leader.
However, the big event is on the day of my daughter’s dance recital. In fact, out of 10 girls, only 5 can go on the trip due to dance and sports commitments.
My daughter was disappointed, as was I, but there was nothing one can do. Life happens and there are times when you have four things to do in one day and then a month of nothingness. I consider it a life lesson, and since she is a 6th grader, she can handle it. She has worked all year for the recital and that cannot be missed-and of course, she does not want to miss it!
No one has given our leader a hard time…it is what it is. And that is how parents should handle this situation for their daughters.
However, the question does arise to the “fairness” of the situation. If “cookies=a special trip”, what happens to the children who cannot go on the trip?
I believe the younger the girls are, the more a leader needs to try to be fair without going crazy and becoming stressed over the situation. Even if parents insist, girls cannot be given money if they cannot make the event, as troop money belongs to the troop and not the individual girl.
What are some workable solutions?
Is there money in the budget for the trip and a special treat or guest during the regular meeting time? Can you plan two smaller trips so that each girl can go on at least one? Can one of your fall meetings be a trip like a hayride or corn maze to help launch the year on a positive note?
We are going on our first big camping trip in the fall, and the date is set in stone and has been given far in advance (six months). The cookie money will be used for that venture, so my daughter and the others who are not going to the theme park will have a chance to have a different great experience.
Another solution, one which worked for me, was to schedule field trips during our regular meeting time or during our half-days of school. Parents who worked needed child care anyway, so that was a win-win for them. No classes or lessons were scheduled for that time since on a regular day, the girls would have been in school. Is that possible for you plan this year or keep on the back burner for next year?
Have you found a workable solution to this Girl Scout leader dilemma?