Girl Scouts: Courageous and Strong
We just wrapped up another successful Northampton Day Camp. My volunteerism has come full circle. I started twelve years ago as a daisy unit leader, moved on to co-director and program, progressed to director of the camp I founded, then relaxed in my retirement as leader of the Long Leafs. This year I ended back at the beginning as a unit leader of the boys’ unit. See, full circle. I’ve done just about every job you can do at camp.
That’s cool, Kelly, but what has that to do with courageous and strong.
Such a good question, my friend. Well, it relates to that particular part of the Girl Scout law, because it’s your turn. It’s time for you to be courageous and strong by stepping up and helping out.
More Than Troop Leaders
Everyone knows you can help by volunteering as a troop leader. Everyone also knows that’s a HUGE commitment. The troop leader has required training to even earn that title and form a troop. She has to communicate with all the parents, find a place to meet, keep the girls cooperating with each other, make up for any deficit in parental involvement, and develop the girls’ progress from Daisies to Ambassadors in order to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Do you know the biggest reason we lose leaders? Burn out. Do you know how you help prevent burn out? You step up and volunteer where you can in the capacity that fits with your schedule. You paid for a membership for your daughter. How can you NOT want to be a part of the process? Find your own courage and strength and step up. I have a few suggestions.
- Cookie mom
- Also a pretty big commitment, but only for a few months a year. I’ve been a leader for ten years now and I’ve never had to be cookie mom. I can’t adequately explain how comforting it is to have at least one responsibility I don’t have to worry about. The cookie mom is worth her weight in…well…cookies. Selling cookies is the foundation for everything else we do as a troop because it’s the biggest girl run business in the country and the funds earned pay for the activities the girls participate in.
- Outdoor Activity Coordinator
- Do you love camping? Take camp training. Like to keep the girls safe? We always need first aiders. Your daughter’s troop wants to go canoeing? There’s a training for that. How about archery? You guessed it. You need a certified volunteer to do that as well. Don’t tell me the leader should get all of these trainings as well. Heck no. Find your courage and go get a training. A commitment for a Saturday to show the girls how to use a paddle or how to properly start a fire adds a huge value to the troop without you having to spend hours every week planning meetings. Anyone can do this.
- Planning field trips
- Your daughter’s troop wants to earn a certain badge. (Keep in mind that the older the girls get, the more planning falls on the girls’ shoulders.) They need someone to plan the field trip to visit the art museum or explore their local fire station or set up a tour at their favorite grocery store. Sounds like fun, right? Why wouldn’t you want to volunteer to lead a badge? Even if it’s just one a year, you’re doing your part to enhance your daughter’s experience.
More Than Troop Activities
Lots of events and activities are much bigger than troop level. You also have community or service unit events hosted on behalf of the troops in your area. Some events Klein Trails has hosted include Cookie Kick-Off, World Thinking Day, Klein Trails Grand Prix, Me and My Guy Dance, and so many more.
- Girl Planning Board
- Most events require a girl planning board consisting of girls from multiple age levels and various troops working together to plan an event for all the troops in either their community or their council. An adult needs to lead the board and guide them as they make decisions on a scale they might not have experienced before.
- Girls of multiple age levels and different troops register for these kinds of events. Someone has to make sure each pays the fee, turns in their paperwork, is a registered Girl Scout (including adults), and lots of at home kind of responsibilities. This is the job for you if you have a few hours at night before the event starts. It helps if you are organized and adore spreadsheets. (Don’t laugh. There’s a few of us out there.)
- The events usually sponsor themselves. That means the money that comes in needs to be spent (nonprofit remember), but nothing extra. The girl planning board will need more or less help with this depending on their experience level. Typically, an adult makes the deposits and an adult has to sign the checks. It’s a limited responsibility, but an important one.
- This is one of my favorite jobs. I’m heavy on the responsibility when it comes to Girl Scouts. I adore going to camp when someone else is running the kitchen. All I have to do is work. Cooking the food, serving the food, opening cans, washing dishes, prepping salads, refilling drink coolers, and other important, but not mentally straining jobs. Best of all, your responsibility lasts only as long as the event does. If you volunteer a couple times and absolutely adore it, get kitchen trained and you can run the kitchen for community weekends or special interest group weekends (sailing, horseback riding, etc.) or volunteer award ceremonies or whatever else your girls plan.
The above is only a sample of the ways you can help a larger group of girls beyond just your daughter. Notice none of those are year round activities. Every one has a limited time commitment. If none of these sound appealing, ask your local community where they need volunteers. When they are done weeping for joy that someone stepped forward, they’ll have lots of options for you to choose from.
More Than Working with Girls
Let’s face it. Some of us want to help make program for the girls, but we’re much better with adults than we are children. No worries. There are many roles that concentrate on making life easier for adult volunteers. None of the program would be possible without them.
- Community or Service Unit Cookie Volunteer
- This job is not for the faint of heart, but any organized person unafraid to work with panicking troop cookie moms can handle it. Without the volunteer at the community or service unit level, your girls aren’t selling cookies. And we saw above how important that activity is.
- Community or Service Unit Leadership Team
- This is another hardcore volunteer hour position, but your time is spent making sure the adult volunteers are prepared to live by the Girl Scout law with all of the support they could ask for. This commitment usually lasts for two years and requires once a month meetings with each other, with the rest of the larger picture volunteers, and with all of the troop leaders. You’re going to need experience as a troop leader and any other positions you enjoy. Your main job is to make sure the girls are being properly served by making sure the volunteers stick with their commitments and that the adults are aware of any changes as well as the exciting event opportunities planned for the year.
- Training Specialists
- Remember how I talked about the trainings you need to do different roles for the troop? Well, someone has to lead them and most trainings are given by volunteers. Did you REALLY love archery and you want to make sure as many girls as possible get the opportunity? Then train more adults to do what you love. Think of the trainings you took that made life easier for you as a scout parent or a leader. Someone walked you through it, right? You can do that same role and improve the program for many more girls than you would meet personally.
This is but a modest sample of the adult-adult volunteer roles. If you’re curious, and how can you not be, check with your community or council and see where the openings are. They’re volunteer positions. There’s ALWAYS openings.
Go Do the Volunteering Thing
There is a position for every skill level and every availability. Don’t say you don’t have time to be a leader and then just walk away. We’re all volunteers and we can’t do it alone. Come join us. As an added bonus, I’ve met some awesome friends over the years and experienced exciting things I wouldn’t have without the time I’ve spent as a volunteer. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Need to find your Council? This should help: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/join/council-finder.html