Here are some ideas to successfully run your troop and still have a life!
Becoming a Girl Scout leader is a very important decision. No matter what level of girl scouting you begin you position, there will be times when it can seem overwhelming. Even if you have been a leader for many years, unexpected situations crop up that will test your patience. There are also times when a persistent situation makes you want to hang up your vest because you just have had enough.
I can honestly say that I love my position as a Girl Scout leader. Not that it has not had its moments…it has. Even so, here are some tips so you can enjoy your position as much as I do.
Photo from Pixabay
Girl Scout Leader Tip #1
Remember That You Are a Volunteer
This should go without saying, but being a Girl Scout leader is an unpaid position. You should be getting props from parents-not complaints. You decided to be in charge and give their daughters the Girl Scout experience, not them.
Organizing a meeting takes extra time from your personal life. The parents of your girls may not realize, or even care, that as a leader you must:
- Create each meetings lesson plan
- Buy the materials for each meeting
- Stay in contact with the parents
- Attend monthly leader meetings
- Organize field trips
- Keep track of paperwork
- Spend dues wisely
- Be in charge of QSP sales, cookie sales and other fundraisers
- Buy patches and badges
- Take necessary training for each level
There may be parents who will complain to you about meeting times, activities or how you run your troop. If this should happen to you, here are some replies to keep in the back of your mind:
“Since you didn’t care for this activity, how about planning the next meeting?”
“If this meeting time does not work for you, why not start a new Girl Scout troop? There are lots of girls waiting to be placed in one!”
“I see you have an opinion on how I do things. How about becoming a co-leader and helping out each week? Perhaps you’d like to be the Cookie Mom.”
Don’t be surprised if you do not hear another word from them again!
Leader Tip #2
Parents Have to Take Responsibility
Many girls are involved in a multitude of activities. From competitive dance and cheer to travel sports, many children have much busier lives than we ever had. One of the biggest frustrations for Girl Scout leaders is that scouting often falls to the bottom of the list.
How many of you have hounded parents in person or via email for forms and checks? Do you think they would do that to the dance teacher who is in charge of the competition or the coach who makes the starting line up? But somehow, when it comes to Girl Scouts, this sense of urgency is lost on parents.
As the leader, you do not want any of your girls to miss the field trip, Girl Scout event or community service project that you spent hours planning.
In order to maintain your sanity, you have to let it go.
Photo from Pixabay
After your initial contact, send only one other one close to the due date and state that it is your final contact about the event. If a girl misses it and is upset, it is not your fault, it is the fault of her parents. Of course, there can be extenuating circumstances, but more than likely you already know about them and can help the family out with an extra reminder.
Parents who use the “I am so busy” excuse cannot be mad or upset with you, as you completed your end of the bargain with a reminder email or note. Let the forgetful parents deal with their daughter who did not get to on the hayride, visit Build-a-Bear, or play Bingo with the senior citizens at the assisted living facility.
Chances are, they will be the first to hand in their money for the next trip!
Leader Tip #3
Ask for Help When Needed
You need to ask for help, it is just good management. If you try to do it all, you will get burnt out and lose the motivation you had when you first signed up to be a leader. Do you do it all while you are on the job? Of course not! You delegate tasks to accomplish your goal.
If you are doing a really difficult craft, recruit some extra moms or dads or even an older troop of Cadettes, Seniors or Ambassadors. Parents need to volunteer to go on field trips (and their daughters love to have them there, too!) or perhaps coordinate one for you. Your co-leader can take turns with you attending the monthly meetings.
I always asked for help, especially when my troop was younger. I also did not sell cookies or do QSP simply because I would have had to do it since no one else wanted to take on the job. When I asked for help and did not get it, then that activity did not take place. There was only so much I was willing and able to do (see tip #1).
If you want some more support on this topic, you can read my blog post on how Girl Scout leaders make their lives more difficult than they need to be.
Do you have any tips to offer other leaders?