Many of you may have a Girl Scout troop already, and some of you might just be getting your feet wet. I’ve been leading my daughters’ troops for many years. This year I’m going into my seventh year of leading a Girl Scouts troop. Over the years, I’ve found ways to keep my sanity and make things easier on me as a troop leader. Here are ten Girl Scout leader essentials for you to have an amazing experience with scouting.
My 10 troop leader essentials
1. Troop Leader Planner
This planner on Amazon is specific to Girl Scouts and has a lot of details and guidance that will keep you organized and on track. I ordered this a few days ago. Based on what I’ve seen, I realized that even after all these years, I was still missing a few things. I’m a paper person, so this helps with attention to detail.
2. BAND (an app for groups)
There are not too many of us “paper people” around anymore, so I use an app called BAND. I’ve tried Shutterfly, Remind, Google Groups, and Facebook. But I think BAND is going to work the best for us. A lot of groups use it, so you can keep everything in once place.
3. Patch/Pin Organizer
I like to get my patches as soon as I know what we’re doing. I also want to have a few extras in case things go missing. I also replace the backings on pins with locking pin backs. I keep all these little extras in a plastic carrying case that is divided up into individual compartments inside. You can get these on Amazon or at Michaels when they have a sale.
4. A Co-Leader
Do not try to do this alone. It will become a very lonely place to be if you take this all on yourself. Get your parents involved from the beginning. If you didn’t do that, it’s not too late. Try to have quarterly meetings and ask parents directly to take on specific tasks.
5. A Cookie Parent
One thing I have learned is the best cookie parent is actually the lesser involved parent of the child. Stay with me here. Moms are so busy during cookie season, focusing on each task at hand. We don’t need the extra hassle of the transporting, tracking, and organizing of cookies. This is where I like to pull in a dad if I can. They can be really helpful, and are sometimes better at getting through the cookie numbers than I am. Dads have a very different interest in Girl Scouts that I do. Helping out for six weeks is nothing compared to what we moms do all year.
I know this sounds basic, but if you’re thinking about becoming a troop leader, take advantage of the training your council offers. Not only will you gain much need knowledge, but you’ll also get to know other leaders and have a support system.
7. Support System
Remember how I said being a troop leader can be lonely? Well, I wasn’t joking. I have joined several great Facebook groups where I can get tips on swaps, travel, and meeting ideas or to ask advice when needed. If you can’t find these places in real life, join online groups.
This is one of the virtues that I struggle with the most. I don’t have a lot of patience… especially with parents. Because that’s who I’m talking about. Know going into this that all parents are busy. We are trying to teach these girls responsibility, respect, and how to make the world a better place. But it’s hard when the parents can’t respond to a text, email, phone call, or app messaging system right? Be patient. Know that things are going to happen. And if your parents don’t respond, it’s unfortunate for the girl(s), but it’s no longer on you.
9. Let things go
This one has taken me the longest to master. I can’t control all the things. I can’t do that in my own space, how can I expect that in the outside world. So now, I let things go. If someone doesn’t fulfill a requirement or activity, that is not my issue. I have provided all the resources to make these things happen, it’s up to the girls (if older) and the parents to meet me halfway. And if that doesn’t work for you, repeat the serenity prayer over and over…”God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
At the end of the day, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Someone told me years ago that there are no original ideas anymore, you just have to take an existing idea and make it better. Whether you believe that or not, the powers that be created Pinterest for those of us that do. When you feel like you can’t do it one more day, hop on Pinterest, and see the many great ideas you can create. Or the fails that reassure you you’re not alone.
In all seriousness, you should be proud that you’ve made it this far. My daughters both love Girl Scouts, and I have vowed to be their leader until they no longer wish to be in scouting. But no one told me it would be this hard… nor how rewarding it would be.
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