Running Your Girl Scout Troop
Let me tell you a little about myself. I am the leader of not one but two Girl Scout Troops. I have been doing this for over 10 years and when all is said and done I enjoy it very much. I love all my girls. Each one is so unique and different. They all bring so much not only to the troop but to my life. I wanted to share some of the experiences I've had as a leader and in meeting the requirements for various badges, patches, and awards. Whether you just started out as a leader and are feeling that you're in a little over your head, or your a seasoned leader who needs some new ideas, I hope you can find something in the Hub-pages I will be writing. In this page I would like to share some ideas for just the basic running of your troop. My future pages will have specific badges. patches, and awards as the topic. I would love to have others share their ideas and experiences also.
Your girls are what will run your troop in one way or another. The Girl Scout program is designed to be a girl driven society. But it doesn't always happen that way. Neither of my troops like making decisions. No matter how many times my co-leader and I have asked my older troop "What do you want to do or work on?", we have gotten very little feedback. This was hard at first and we had to make most of the decisions. Now that they are older we work on the required badges and requirements for the awards they said they would like to earn. The Silver award has helped us in that. There are many things that must be done to complete this award and those things are what we do as a group. The girls now have to do other badges by themselves or with another girl. We no longer get involved unless they come to us and say "We want to earn this Interest Project Award. Can you help us?"
For 4th and 5th grade girls
For 6th grade to 12th grade girls
Books to Help You
Try-it: Outdoor Adventure
Jr. Badge: Outdoor Cook or Camp Together
Interest Project:Outdoor Survival or Camping
Try-it; Friends are Fun
Jr. Badge: Healthy Relationships or "Doing" Hobbies
Interest Project: Artistic Crafts or Just Jewelry
Try-it: Numpers and Shapes
Jr. Badge: Math Whiz
Interest Project: Math, Maps, and More
Jr. Badge: Plants and Animals
Interest Project: Plant Life
Try-it: Art to Wear
Jr. badge: Sew Simple or "Making' Hobbies
Interest Project: So Glam
Jr. Badge: Drawing and Painting
Interest Project: Visual Arts
Factors That Drive Your Troop
- Girls' schedule - Girl Scouts runs for the whole year or at least the school year. Other activities such as sports may be for 2-3 months. Some parents will put GS on the back burner since their daughters can do GS all year. Sometimes it's easier to move your meeting day and/or time to accommodate these girls. If I'm going to loose half of my girls I do this. If it is just one out of 10 I won't. Talking to your parents can give you more ideas how to handle this situation and head off hurt feelings. There are also some activities that run all year that you need to be aware of if most of your girls participate in them. CCD is Tuesdays after school in my town. Since most of the kids in town go no one does anything after school on Tuesday.
- The girls' personalities - What your girls like to do will be the badges they tend to want to do. This is great, but get them to try new things. Things they think they won't like. I tell them if they have never tried to hike before how do they know they really don't like it. My troops are very different. The little ones love doing traditional "girl" things. They don't seem to think about the outdoor stuff as much as my older girls. Once they are at the nature center and covered in mud they are having a great time. So make sure you are do many activities in your girls "comfort" zone, but push them out of their boxes a few times during the year.
- Your schedule - If you and/or your co-leader work full time, you can't have meetings after school. You have to fit meetings into your life schedule. Sometimes this makes it harder for some of the parents but unless they are willing to sign up as a leader and do things with the troop when you are at work there really isn't to much you can do. No leader no troop.
- Your personality - I call myself a Tom Girl. I love pink and dressing up for a nice night out. I do cross stitch. I also love working on my classic muscle car, shooting at the rifle range, and learning about ancient machines and weapons. So when I saw the car badge the girls could earn I was very excited to share this with the girls. The hobbies and experiences you have in life will effect what you want to do with the girls. Use your talents to the fullest. But just like the girls, you need to try new things. If there is a badge the troop wants to earn and you feel there is no way you can do it with them properly ask for help. Parents, friends, family members and council are great resources. You would be surprised at how many people love to help the Girl Scouts and share one of their passions in life with them. See #6 below.
- Parents' schedule - Your girls rely on their parents for transportation. Even if you have meetings right after school the girls still need to go somewhere when the meeting is over. Some may go to after care in the school. Some may go home with another GS. All of this has to be coordinated by their parents.
- Parent's talents - Talks to your parents. Obviously if they didn't sign up to be a leader there is a reason. They might have to work full time, they may be involved in another organizations such as Board of Education, and just can't make a full time commitment to your troop. Give them every opportunity to give to the troop any way then can. As cookie mom, QSP mom, treasure, planning one meeting during the year, or just helping as extra hands at a meeting. I like to have one activity a year that is a Mother/Daughter event. I have a mom who is a gym teacher. She did 2 try-its with my girls. We talked about what was a good time for the troop and for her. Not only do your girls love it when their moms come to help, the moms really enjoy being able to share their talents with the troop. Don't forget about the Dads. One of my dads works for a toy company and was able to give the girls a tour of the factory and also donated many craft items for the troop. So always make time for parents to shine.
- School calender - Take advantage of 1/2 days and days off of school. I plan trips on these days. It also helps the parent who have to work. If you have their daughter at a GS event they may not have to get child care for the time out of school.
- Other troops in your area- Talk to the other leaders in your area. See what things they have done. What worked and didn't work. Places they have gone for trips. You can also plan meetings with them. This can be a troop at the same level or a different one. Many badges and awards have requirements that a troop works with a younger troop. One year an older troop hosted a craft night for all the younger troops. The set up stations with different crafts for the girls to do. Last year my older troop hosted a Fashion show for my younger troop. Both troops were in the show but the older girls ran the whole thing.
- Your council- Your council is a great resource. They have many events for the girls. These events can earn them a whole badge. Some times they're just for fun and you can buy a fun patch for the back of their vest/sash. They can also help fill in the gaps of what you can do with the troop. If there is a badge the girls want to earn and you know nothing about that subject, your council may have a program for the girls to earn it. Councils can also have "meetings in a box". The box will give you everything you need to run a meeting on the topic and/or earn the badge for that topic. I try to do one or two council run events each year.
- Where you live- The community you live in will have many resource for your troop. Each one is very different. I have 2 nature centers and a state park very close to me. This is great for hikes and the staff at the nature centers have class just for GS badges. The supermarkets here do tours for the GS and one even has a teaching kitchen for the girls to take classes in. Some of these things are free, some are a flat rate of $50.00 for 15 girls or so, and some can be expensive but worth it. Open up your phone book and see what is in your area. Hospitals, water treatment plants, police stations, and salons all are fun places for the girls to go and are usually willing to help the troop meet requirements for their badges.
Take Some Time
Take a little time and consider all of these factors when planning your Girl Scout Calender for the year. There is so much to do with your troop and many people to help you do it. I find I work best if I have a parent meeting just before I start working with the girls. Once I know what my parents can help me with I make a plan for all my meetings. This is not written in stone. It will change many times over. I use it as my security blanket. No matter what happens in my life or my girls lives I always have a plan for the meeting.