What's it like to be a troop leader?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2011
What's it like to be a troop leader?
7
Sat, 10-06-2012 - 5:53pm

My youngest daughter who is in Kindergarten is ready to join the Girl Scouts and be a Daisy! I just went to a parent meeting this past Thursday about starting up troops and getting leaders together. Right now they have a list of girls in Kindergarten to start a troop but no leader. I told them that I might be interested. My question to you all is if any of you are leaders (especially of Daisies) what's it like? Is it hard to be a leader? Is it expensive? So far I've put in my volunteer application online (on Friday) and read over the Vounteer Essentials online. Do you know how long it usually takes them to get back to you? Well I think that's all the questions that I have for now. Any advice would be appreciated!


Thank you,

Jennifer

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Sat, 10-06-2012 - 8:02pm

The other lady gave a very good answer.  It is hard to make decisions right from the get go without knowing exactly where you are going with the troop.  But follow those guidelines about financial stuff and activities and parents helping.  Your Service Unit or Neighborhood (the group of other leaders in your immediate area) should have someone who is a year or more ahead of you and can offer advice to you on places to go, where to get free supplies/speakers/tours.  He or she may also be able to offer ideas on "how to do that part of that badge" that you get stuck on.  

But most importantly- if you are going to be the leader- make it work for you and your child.  You are putting in more than other families, so you should get the benefit of that.  I would highly suggest finding one of the other moms who you get along with well and working together to plan and carry out the year.  That way, if someone has a sick child- the show can still go on!

Best of luck!

-Jen

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-1999
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 1:01pm
Good Advice given so far.

One of the advantages of being the leader is that you get to set the rules. If you want to meet twice a month, once a month, every week, every other week, it's up to you. You pick the day/time that works for you. If other parents disagree, they can step up to be leader. Of course you try to accommodate everyone as best you can, but when push comes to shove, it is up to the person making the biggest commitment - you!

You will have to have a co-leader. I hope it is someone you work well with. I've been blessed with great co-leaders and not so great. Having good ones works well.

Also, figure out what you are good at and delegate other responsibilities. I had two co-leaders for one of my troops. I was good at running meetings, coming up with crafts and games, etc. I also did the newsletter, emailed parents, etc. I had a leader who was really good at keeping up with the paperwork and was cookie mom, and my third leader was a SAH mom who had time during the day to pick up supplies, run to the Girl Scout Office, etc.

If you aren't lucky enough to have co-leaders who you work well with, then get more parents involved like others have suggested.

The easiest thing is running the meetings, especially for Daisies. I don't know the new programming, but when my girls were little, we picked a pedal (part of the Girl Scout Law), usually found a good story book that illustrated the idea. Then we had a game or craft or both to re-enforce the idea. There was always snack time too. There are the ceremony aspects like openings, closings, flag, etc. And there are tons of on-line craft & game ideas.

For field trips, do as much or as little as you like. A lot of first year Daisies only do 1-2 field trips their first year. Or do more if you have a lot of parent support for driving, etc. Once the girls get a little older, you start having them make decisions about what they want to do.

I like the idea of having each girl bring her own crayons, scissors, and glue to meetings. Another idea is to have a Juliet Gordon Lowe birthday party and have the girls bring gifts of craft supplies to the party. Her Birthday is on Halloween.

We also had parents pay dues that first year - either $20.00 up front or $10.00 at the beginning and $10.00 in January. Once you can sell cookies things get better with finances. We had a rule that girls needed to sell enough cookies to cover dues (about 50 boxes). If they didn't sell that much, then next year the parents had to pay the dues. It's amazing how easy it is to sell cookies and how much money you get from them. We made over $1000.00 our first year and we were not super troop sellers. That was more than enough money for us to pay for what we wanted to do as a troop. I think we had one family who would only sell the minimum, then eventually started doing dues. That was OK with us.

Some troops collect $1.00 a meeting from girls as dues as well. This really is to teach financial responsibility and goal setting and we considered that separate from the $20.00 seed money we required of parents.

Also, once we had money, the troop paid for leader registration as well as any field trip costs. If it cost adults $5.00 to go to the zoo Girl Scout Day, the troop paid for that. If other adults went because we needed them to chaperon or drive, the troop paid for them as well. We rarely reimbursed for gas unless it was a very long trip.

Good communication with parents is key. I always had a newsletter that included a calendar of upcoming dates, deadlines for things, costs etc. Like Merimom said, set rules and deadlines in place early on and communicate well and things will go smoothly. Have a table set up at every meeting with sign-up sheets, your newsletter, other flyers that might be of interest and get parents in the habit of coming into the meeting to pick up and drop off. No stop by the door and let the kid out of the car, they had to come in. (I can't imagine doing that with a Daisy anyway, but people do.)

Good Luck and I hope it goes well for you! And to quote my daughter when I'm getting all stressed out.."Mom, it's just Girl Scouts - relax!"
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 1:28pm

Great advice from everyone--I would only add that if the Service Unit from your area (groups of troops in a geographical area) has meetings for leaders to attend, you should try to attend those (at least a few to get a feel for what's going on ).  Our Service Unit  is for the East area of our town and has at least 20 troops.  Some leaders will attend the meetings every month and some just do their own thing and you never see them. 

Anyway, there can be a benefit if it's a good service unit--for one we give out starter kits (a flag and bag of art/craft supplies) and $25 to any new troop to get started.  Also there wll probably be experienced leaders that will be attending.  If you get to know them, that could give you valuable advice about everything.  Our council gives trainings to new troops, but for questions and a mentor, you probalby will be some great help from your service unit (and here too)!

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Tue, 10-09-2012 - 12:09am
My girls all graduated from HS this past May. It was fun. Yes, there are tons of trainings, but they are so informative, for the most part. My one thing I hated about GS was paperwork. It just seemed endless, but now with everything being on line, it is soooo much easier. I had some girls who were interviewing for honor colleges in different universities and EVERY interviewer asked about Girl Scouts!!! So, it is soooo worth it!!

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2011
Fri, 10-12-2012 - 7:47pm

Thank you all for your information and advice! I found it very helpful! I registered my daughter for Girl Scouts and I actually heard back from the membership development organizer on Monday! The lady said that I passed the background check and we made an appointment for October 22nd for a "Welcome Meeting" (after my girls go back to school from their break). Do you know what they normally talk about at the welcome meeting? I've been looking around on the Girl Scout site and online to find out what I could about being a Daisy troop leader. Between you all and what I've found I think I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting into. Thank you all again! :smileyhappy:

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-1999
Fri, 10-12-2012 - 8:33pm
Every Council is different, so we don't know exactly what your meeting would consist of. But they will probably go through paperwork that is required, things like bank accounts, and safety issues and rules.