What Does a Girl Scout Leader Have to Do and What is She Not Obligated to Do?
Things that Council does not always tell you
Many little girls want to try Girl Scouting as an activity when they are younger. Because there is a leader shortage, many moms who never envisioned themselves in this role suddenly find themselves in charge of a group of girls and very little guidance on what is required of them.
Here are the basic Girl Scout leader requirements:
You need to sign up with your local Council either in person or online. They will do a background check on you to insure that the children under your charge are not spending time with a person who should not be with them.
You will need to get basic training. One course is available online and the others will need to be attended in person. Check with your Council’s website and/or call them to see when and where training is available in your area. Make sure to get your card signed so you can prove that you have taken the required courses.
When you take on the volunteer position of being a Girl Scout leader, there are many responsibilities that go along with the job. In addition to preparing and planning for troop meetings, which can take several hours to plan each one, you are also responsible for:
- Fundraising (if you choose to do any)
- Field trips (planning, getting approvals)
- Sending out and collecting paperwork all year round
- Attending monthly Service Unit Meetings
- Contacting parents about meetings and events
- Collecting money for dues and activities
- Go to the Girl Scout store
- And the list goes on and on!
But did you ever wonder what you are not responsible for doing as you lead your troop?
You Do Not Have to Sell Girl Scout CookiesCredit: By Drmies (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Selling Girl Scout cookies is synonymous with the organization. But did you know that you are not required to sell them? When my troop was first grade Daisies, we sold them on a very limited basis and it was incredibly stressful for me, to say the least. That was the one and only time I ever attempted to do it and we never sold them again.
The Girl Scouts of America have very strict fundraising rules that have to be followed if you wish to do additional fundraisers. If you do not sell cookies and participate in the fall nut and magazine sales (QSP), then you cannot raise any additional funds. My girls have gone on many free field trips and I have had the parents pay for any big ones. This has worked out fine for us.
You Do Not Have to Do a Girl Scout Journey
In 2008, the Girl Scouts of America began a new program called Journeys. It has met with mixed results over the years, with leaders either hating it or loving it. Much of it has to be reworked to make it not seem like homework or school work to the girls, which really is a time suck for the leader. A program should be good to go and not have to be modified in order for kids to have fun with it.
This program is not a requirement for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies and Juniors. The exception to this rule is if a Junior Troop wishes to earn the Bronze Award, then a Journey must be completed. It is not until the Cadette level of scouting that this program must be done in order to earn the higher Silver and Gold Awards.
You Do Not Have to Take on More Girls Than You Would LikeCredit: By English: Cpl. Carrie Booze [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A major complaint that many leaders have is the size of their troop. Different Service Units have rules about how many girls a troop should have.
They cannot do that.
As a volunteer leader, you can have your troop as big or small as you want. If anyone tries to tell you that you have to take in more girls, you can tell them that all of the girls will need to find a new leader, as you quit. Your Service Unit Manager may not like it, but it is your life and your time. Now they will have to find a troop for even more children because you are leaving your role. Only you know how much help you have and what you can handle.
You Do Not Have to Feel Guilty
As women, we have been taught to fell guilty about many things, even if we shouldn’t. I have learned over the years as a leader that I am responsible for making sure that I tell the parents about special events and due dates, but it is not my job to hound them.
I used to send several emails if I did not hear from my moms about who is going to attend an event. I knew that people were busy and maybe they just forgot. My daughter would even ask her friends each day in school if they had the money and permission slips for me.
Those days are over.
I send one email about an upcoming event. If you do not give me the slips and money in time, your daughter does not go. Period. As a person who juggles multiple part-time jobs, I cannot be bothered with constant reminders about this any longer. I can only worry about my own child and if her money is in on time.
Have girls missed events due to this? Yes, but I have learned this is not my fault and I do not feel guilty about it.
I also do not feel guilty about turing girls away from my troop, even when there is a wait list. My older daughter had a very intimate experience as a Girl Scout, as only the girls from her school were permitted into the troop. I wanted to replicate that, so when we were notified of a child needing placement, I did not raise my hand to let her in. Initially, in order to start my troop, girls who went to a different school joined my troop, as I only had a handful of children at the start.
One left and one stayed over the past six years, and it was the right decision for my girls. As they move up to Cadettes this fall, they will still have ties to each other, even though they are on different school "teams" and do not socialize unless they are on the same team.
Leaders should know what their rights and requirements are. After all, you are a volunteer and your time is valuable.
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