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, situations crop up that are unexpected and 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. Here are some tips so you can enjoy it, too.
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 and not complaints, because you decided to be in charge and give their daughters the Girl Scout experience.
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 meeting lesson plan
Buy the materials
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
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
The Parents Have to Take Responsibility
Many girls are involved in a multitude of activities. From competitive dance and cheer to travel sports, many girls 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.
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.
If you are doing a really difficult craft, recruit some extra moms and dads. 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.
These Girl Scout leader tips for maintaining your sanity are gentle reminders for you to use during your volunteer experience.
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