4 things I wish I was told before becoming a Girl Scout Leader

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We all have a story to tell about our first meeting, our first year as a Girl Scout Leader or co-leader. How we took that step towards joining or starting a troop of our own. We all have a similar goal: to offer the best Girl Scout experience for our Girls/daughters. But then after you sign the papers you feel overwhelmed and lost, the books are confusing, all the paperwork that needs done and you start wondering if you made a mistake.

The following are things that may seem pretty straight forward to some, but think back to that recruitment meeting, when those seasoned leaders told you it is easy just become a Girl Scout leader you are going to love it, I promise. I think these are the top 4 things I wish was covered at the recruitment meeting where I said “YES”

CHOOSE YOUR TEAM (No I in team)

I am not saying you can’t do it alone, but in my opinion you shouldn’t have to. First find someone that can work closely with you. I always said the Ying to your Yang. For example, I love the paperwork and planning the events and meetings for the girls while my co-leader hates all that, but loves to be hands on with the girls, we both do our part. You can take it a step further and get your parents involved, those parents who wanted to help but were intimidated to start their own troop, recruit them as parent helpers, give them tasks and before you know it you will have your very own community running at your Girl Scout meetings.

KNOW WHERE AND WHO YOU CAN REQUEST HELP FROM

You’re not the first person to ever lead a troop. There are more than 100 years of experience to pull from. One of the important sources of help is your Service Unit Manager they are available for any question you might have and has close access to the council resources.  If your area offers the opportunity to attend council meetings these are an incredible source for team building, learn about upcoming events, and get ideas from a bunch of leaders who were once in your position. Last bit of advice is get on the internet, there are a number of websites like this one that have lots of ideas to help you along the way. I have put together a page with some resources I have found very helpful through the years as a leader here and to fill in the gaps for what I have not found, browse this website and also checkout the Girl Scout Leader Connect shop for some great printable’s to help make earning badges even easier.

ASK FOR HELP FROM OTHER LEADERS IN YOUR AREA

You’re an active member of your own Girl Scout Community. Remember those leaders who convinced you to take the plunge, well guess what I bet there are years of experience and ideas locked away in their brains, don’t feel like a failure for requesting assistance when you need it. This is one of the things you’re teaching your Girl Scouts, and it’s something you can do as well. There sometimes is this assumption that people will criticize when you don’t know something; that’s just wrong so don’t feel vulnerable and ask for assistance. For most of us doing this for years, we want to share what we know and having someone asking me for help brings me as much joy as helping the girls themselves.

BE VERY PATIENT

There are forms, bank accounts, reports, insurance and certifications, but once you get a handle on all that you can move beyond the basics, and you make the troop what you want, there is no right or wrong way to run a troop, ask around you will see every leader does it different. Among all the great things about Girl Scouts there is also the liberty to structure and lead your troop as you and your co-leaders wish. While Girl Scouts all across the USA recite the same Girl Scout Promise, earn same or similar badges (since some areas have their own council badges), and live by the Girl Scout law, but much like our lives, no two troops are precisely alike. So be patient with yourself, parents, Girl Scouts, and co-leaders and have fun creating a Girl Scout troop you all can be proud of.

Hope these few tips help you as a new Girl Scout Leader or spark memories of when you were new at this. The most important thing to keep in mind that you’re learning just as your Girl Scouts and you will learn so much from your girls as they are learning from you.

 

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My name is Jodi Carlson, I was a leader of a Girl Scout Troop and a Girl Scout for Total of 25 years. I was blessed with a Son in March of 2015 and stepped down as leader. I decided after 25 years I have so much to share with other leaders I choose to continue building this blog and its a way for me to stay connected to scouts. If you need a specific idea feel free to email me or leave a comment I bet in 25 years I did something that I can share.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Jodi,
    I am LOVING this site. Thank you so much for the time and commitment you have put into developing and sharing what works for you. I have two scouts in my house, a Senior and a Junior. I was my oldest daughter’s leader until the end of 6th grade when I decided to lead my now 10year olds troop. My husband is not 100% on board with scouts, so after talking with my oldest, I stepped down from leading her troop. She has since joined a combined troop and I have shared the booklets you have put together, with them. (They are working on Behind the Ballot now!) I hope you can offer more so my girls can earn many badges on their own with these tools. Thanks so much,
    KolbLeader

    • Thank you for your kind words Ann. I am working on more books for Seniors now. My mom and I have been involved in Scouts for 25 plus years, so now that we don’t run a troop it gives us more time to take what we have done for so many years, and our experience and put together these booklets for girls to run their own meeting and/or to make it easier for leader. It is notes like this that make it worth doing – It is a lot of work and knowing that so many people are using and loving the books, gives me more reasons to get more done.

      Jodi

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