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Running Your Girl Scout Troop - Planning
So you find yourself the leader for a Girl Scout Troop. Now what do you do? Most of you will be doing this because your daughter is involved in Girl Scouts. There are some of you who may have a niece, granddaughter, or other family member in the troop. And maybe there are a few teachers out there that are the leader of a troop because there was no one else to run a troop. I am a mother of 2 daughter, so yes I have 2 troops. I would like to set up an outline that anyone can use to help them with their troop. New and seasoned leaders alike. That means some of this you may already know. Bear with me for those who are just starting out. Use whatever helps you. Not all of it will. We all have different girls and troops. Somethings may just spark a new idea for you. Below you will read how I start to plan for the next year for my troops. I plan on writing other pages for specific badges, patches, and awards.
Outline For Meeting
This is an out line for what I call my "Meeting Notes" You may prefer to call it an "Agenda"
1. Time, Place, and name of Badge. Patch, or Award we are working on.
2. Phone numbers that you may need.
3. Write in the names of the girls who actually came to the meeting.
4. Requirements you are doing and how much of each one you actually did. (To Do List)
5. List of materials you need to use during the meeting.
I have to be organized. I hate the feeling of having a meeting the next day and not knowing what I am doing. To much stress for me. So here is a list of things I do before I start the year.
1. Organize my paper work- I have 2 three-ring binders for each of my troops. One is divided by each girl's name. Under each tab I have any and all paper work that goes with that girl. Health forms, permission slips, list of badges/patches/pins earned, emergency contact information, registration, list of badge that girl wants to earn, and any other form I have for her. Your council will have many basic forms you can use. In the front of these tabs I have a troop roster and a list of badges earned for the troop by girl. I just made a table in Word. The other binder is my working binder. This also has a troop roster in the front. I have a tab for each badge, patch and/or award we are currently working on. So for my older troop there are a few tabs with interest projects in them. I make a copy of the requirements and a list of ideas to complete that project. As we complete each part I write down the names of the girls who have finished it. At this level not all girls will finish at the same time. I also include any paper work for that project. The next few tabs are patches we may be working on such as Shape-up. The requirements for these are usually found on line and some may be found in the handbook. Lastly, I have a section for the Silver award. In each tab I like to keep notes on the progress of the project. These notes include: What, when, where and who. It might sound like a lot of work but it is worth it. I can look up an individual girl to see what she has accomplished when I need to make a list of things to buy at council. I can also quickly see what else may need to be done to complete a project.
2. Organize my girls- During the summer I ask all of my girls to look through the badge book and make me a list of the ones they would like to earn. I have a re-organization meeting in September to go over their ideas. We use these lists to plan the year. For example, if you have 10 girls and 7 of them want to do the same badge, do it. This will help them to work in a group. If only one or two want to you can let them work on it by themselves. This will help them be more independent. I also ask my older girls to pick a badge they would like to be responsible for. They will handle all the planning for that badge. This will help them develop leadership skills. When my older troop bridged from Jrs., I required them to organize their paper work for themselves. I still have my records but now they need to keep track of what they are doing also.
3. Organize my parents- I always have a parent meeting first. Before I meet with my girls I meet with just the parents to talk about how the last year went, what they expect from this year, my expectations and requirements for this year. I also ask if anything has changed for the girls over the summer. Lastly I find out what the parents are willing to help me with. Whether it is just helping hands at a meeting, or planning a meeting they will do by themselves, I find that most parents want to help. They just don't want to be responsible for all the meetings.
4. Organize my meetings- Find out where you are going to hold your meetings. Even if you are planning trips, book your meeting room for those dates. That way if your field trip is cancelled for any reason you can still have a meeting. I make a calender with all the dates I will be meeting, I then write a quick plan for each date, including when I would like to go on a trip. This is just a very rough idea of the year for me. After I talk to the parents and girls it will change. If there is a snow day and I can't use my meeting room, it will change. This calender is more for my peace of mind and stress level. I know no matter what happens in life I will not be unprepared for a meeting.
What level are your girls at?
The number one most important thing to remember is to have fun. Yes, you need to have fun. Even though you are the "responsible adult" leading the troop, the girls can teach you so much. The other reason I organize so much before I meet with the girls is so I can enjoy them. Having a plan and a few back up plans allows me to relax with them instead of scrambling for something to do when activities don't go as planned. Try looking at each meeting and event through their eyes.