For the past 3 ½ years I have been a troop leader for my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. Besides being a mom and wife, it’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever done. Yes, I spend countless hours planning, organizing activities, fundraising, and working with kids that aren’t my own. But seeing the faces of the girls, especially my own daughter, light up when we get to go to Great Wolf Lodge or do some other fun activity makes it all worthwhile. The benefits to moms and daughters are immeasurable. As a leader you will not only be raising strong girls but also strengthening your own mother daughter relationship. That is why I want to tell you a little bit about starting a girl scout troop.
Why Starting a Girl Scout Troop is Beneficial to the Mother Daughter Relationship
Starting a girl scout troop gives you valuable time with your daughter in many ways. You will be able to show her what being a strong woman is all about. The qualities of leadership will shine through the woman she probably looks up to most. You. Rather than sending her off to another activity taking up precious family time you will be giving her your time. Showing her how you value her and want to be part of her life. By starting a girl scout troop you will be showing your daughter what raising strong girls and being one looks like. Here are some other benefits I have found as a troop leader:
Leading my daughter’s troop has allowed me to spend time I would normally be just dropping her off with someone else. We have connected through meetings and trips, some with the whole troop and some as mother daughter events.
I am setting what I believe is a great example for my daughter. I’m showing her how to lead. She can see what it takes to be a leader, the time, the commitment, and hopefully become a great leader herself.
This one is huge. My daughter and the other girls in her troop work hard for the money they earn through girl scout cookie sales. Those sales not only allow me to buy badges and supplies for the girls from troop funds but also to go do fun things. Last summer I took the girls in my troop on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge for 2 nights and we went camping at one of our state parks for 2 nights. These were awesome things to do with her. Memories we will both cherish that would not have happened if I wasn’t her leader.
How to Start a Girl Scout Troop
First and foremost, you need to make the commitment to start. Once you have made that decision the rest gets easier. To start a troop you can do the following steps:
- Go online and register as a volunteer. You will need to sign up for Girl Scouts. Yes, adults can be scouts and must register so a background check can be completed to ensure safety for the girls. You can either go to your local councils website or go here if you don’t know who your council is. If you follow the link click on the volunteer tab. If you go to your council’s website go to the volunteer tab. Then click volunteer now fill out the form and pay for the registration fee.
- Once you have registered, your local council should reach out to you and help give you guidelines specific to your area.
- Figure out a meeting time and location. If your council doesn’t help with this you will need to seek out a place to hold meetings. I recommend you don’t do them at your home. Find a church, community center, school or other public place that will let you meet there, hopefully for free. Most troops start with zero funds so if you are charged for the location you will have to pay for it.
- Find a Co-Leader. As you get to know parents of the girls you could ask one of them or find a friend willing to step up and help. This is important and a rule set forth by GSUSA so be thinking about another adult you would want to share this adventure with. And to be honest, if you can recruit a few other adults as helpers that is even better.
- Once you have found a meeting location and time, registered, and have a co-leader, all that is left to do is plan and lead your first meeting.
Potential Obstacles When Starting a Girl Scout Troop
As with anything, when starting a girl scout troop there are potential obstacles. Here are some of the obstacles I have come across and how I solved them.
With the chaos of busy schedules time is not always on a person’s side, including mine. It is a commodity we can’t afford to waste. So how do I solve the problem of time? I make time work for me. As much as I can anyway. When I scheduled our troop meetings I found a time that worked in both my schedule and my co-leaders. End of story. I didn’t worry about whether every girl could make every meeting. Ya, I wish I could, but since I can’t I do what is best for my family.
Also, give the time you can and don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do. Starting a girl scout troop may seem easy and really it is. But it does take time to plan meetings, lead meetings, etc. So don’t burn yourself out or get overwhelmed. Ask for advice from other leaders on how they do it. Make pinterest your friend, I did. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. They will remember the good times and experiences, not the small flubs along the way.
This may or may not be a challenge for you. If it isn’t that is awesome. You’re set. On the other hand, if you are like me finding a good co-leader is like finding a diamond in the rough. The first year I started I struggled to find a co-leader I could trust. Most parents had so many other commitments they just didn’t have the time or desire to step up as a co-leader.
After the 1st year, I found an amazing co-leader. She does an excellent job. We began co-leading for each other as I was in need of someone and so was she. She was starting a new troop and I had my existing troop. Now we have grown enough that she has added another co-leader and I’m looking at adding another one as well. Yes, we are still sister troops but between the two troops have grown to having 4 co-leaders and four different levels.
So, finding a good co-leader is vital, not only to follow the rules, but to take some of the burden off of you. Some suggestions to find a good co-leader when starting a girl scout troop are ask parents to volunteer. This one is a gamble as you may get someone great and yet you may not. You could also ask a friend. I see this alot. Even if the friend doesn’t have a daughter in the troop. It seems to work well and is what I did heading into my second year of leading. Finally, you could talk to parents you trust after you have gotten to know them a little bit. This has also been successful but the downside is it takes time to get to know them and decide if they would be a good fit for you.
In my council, troops start out with a bank account. But that balance is generally $0. Unless you are fortunate enough to inherit money from a troop that is discontinuing. Now I can’t speak for all councils on this one. But if you don’t get money to start you will have to pay for everything out of your pocket. This does stink but there are ways to compensate for it.
- Plan meetings requiring very little in supplies. Yes, you can find meetings such as the brownie games badge among others that don’t require a lot of extra supplies and just require different activities.
- Charge troop dues. For new troops this may be a good option. I would recommend charging a monthly or yearly amount rather than weekly.
- Ask parents to buy supplies for different meetings. This one will depend on whether families within your troop can afford the items, but you could always ask. And if you go on an outing make parents pay for it rather than the troop.
- Do Fundraisers. Check with your council before starting these though. Each council has different rules but if you do something extra. And be ready to sell girl scout cookies.
This can be another tough one. You can always ask your local council person what they recommend if you don’t have a place in mind. As I mentioned above, I would be cautious if you are thinking of doing it out of your home unless it’s only temporary. Too many things could go wrong. Some places you might consider asking if your troop could meet is:
- Your church or another church that works with the community.
- A community center.
- Your local library.
- The school your daughter attends
You read that right. One obstacle can be parents themselves. Some like to take advantage of the system and will see you as a free babysitter. Others may not want to register as an adult helper but will want to stay and “hang out” at every meeting, which is not OK. But don’t let these things scare you away. On the whole, parents are very supportive, and I have found the difficult ones daughters tend to leave the troop after a short while. Then you are left with the parents who are supportive of your efforts and those you should be grateful for.
This isn’t a huge obstacle but for a novice or someone just considering starting a girl scout troop can seem daunting. But don’t let it scare you away. There are many resources out there to help you plan. Here are a few of them.
- Other leaders. If you connect with others in your area or online you can always ask for meeting ideas.
- Volunteer Toolkit. This is something Girl Scouts recently released in the past couple years. They have meetings all planned out that you can drop into your meeting day and just follow their plan down to the words to say.
- Girl Scout Guides. These are the hard copy books that tell you the requirements for each badge the girls can earn. I like these cause I can see the goal and they give choices to pick from so I’m not set with one thing. It allows me to do what I think will work best for my troop.
- Pinterest. This one is awesome. If you search a badge you can find how others have completed the steps and follow what they did.
Looking at the list of obstacles may make you run for your life. But please don’t let it. All these things have solutions and when you find them as you start up everything falls into place. Then the benefits for yourself and your mother daughter relationship will outweigh any and all of these.
Raising Strong Girls
When starting a girl scout troop and continuing one you are raising strong girls of tomorrow. Girl scouts has a motto right now and that is the acronym G.I.R.L. This stands for Goal getter, Innovator, Risk taker, and Leader. By being a troop leader you have the opportunity to influence girls in all these ways by setting goals to earn badges, go on trips, or achieve what they want in the troop. You can help them learn to create and be an innovator. They can take safe risks through cookie sales, camping, and other outdoor activities. And they are able to be a leader by selecting the things they want to do within the troop. You see, girl scout is girl led. Meaning they are supposed to be the ones selecting what they want to do. And I do that as much as I can within my troop.
So I encourage you to strengthen your own mother daughter relationship by starting a girl scout troop. You will be influencing the girls of today to be the leaders of tomorrow. And isn’t that our goal as moms anyway?
If you are looking for more great ways to spend time with your kids and family be sure to check out my post “The 15 Best Board Games for Family Night“