Hello everyone! It's that time of year to get your troop meeting planning started. I remember just a year ago I was getting in contact with the membership specialist to see if there was a troop my daughter could join when I was encourage to be a troop leader.
I was completely out of my element being a shy introvert who has a hard time with new social situations. I promise you I'm not stuck up or anything, it's just not something I comfortably do. Anyways, I thought that this might be a good opportunity for personal growth and not just my daughter, so I took the leap to really challenge myself. If you are reading this and thinking you can't be a troop leader because you are too shy or introverted then let me prove you wrong. Just remember you are doing this for your daughter.
Here are some of the things I've learned in my first year as a troop leader that will help any of you newbies out there. If you a seasoned leader please feel free to add any additional advise in the comments!
When I first started out I dived right into the program. I looked through everything and reviewed the badges and journeys the girls could earn. I got myself the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting and made sure I understood the program. The Girls Guide has all the badges you can earn for that level. From there I did a rough plan of how the first year would go. Since we started off in Kindergarten I knew we had two full years to complete the Daisy program. Your planning might look different if you only have one year within that specific level. You will need to decide how often you want to meet. Our troop has at least 2 meetings a month. Here is an example of a sheet I made to plan out the year.--->>> Download
Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible with this plan as things change throughout the year but it's nice to have a basic layout. I changed this plan around several times but it was always a starting point for me that I could work off of.
Binders. folders. You will need lots. Girl Scouts loves their paperwork so you will need a place to keep all of this and a separate folder for the health forms that are required at each meeting. Don't forget about the finance binder. You will also need a system to keeping the petal badges organize. Here are some ideas to get you started...
- Financial and Forms Binder - keeps your finance tracking sheets, bank information, copies of important forms such as tax exempt letters, blank health history forms, permissions forms, ect.
- Health History Folder- contains all of your members (including adults) health history forms that must be present at each and every meeting and outing.
- Planning Binder - keeps your planning ideas, shopping lists, activity ideas..ect. You can also keep your meeting planning forms in here.
- PR and advertising binder - this is a little something I put together in case any parents have questions or if you are trying to present an idea to an outside organization for maybe fundraising purposes. I also like to keep information about registration and uniform requirements in this binder. This might be something that you can develop over the year as you probably wont be contacting business right away. Also, check with your council to see if they have a media kit you can use.
You will figure out which ideas work best for you and your troop but it's helpful to keep ideas and concepts separate that way you are not searching through a big binder for that one form.
Seek out help
This was a hard thing I had to learned as I tend to take a lot on my own and generally don't accept too much help. It's probably the introvert in me not wanting to ask for the help even if it's offered. I was lucky to have a great group of parents always reaching out and asking if I need help. Lesson learned that I need to accept more help! Here are a list of roles parents can volunteer to take a load off....
- Troop Cookie Mom-this is an absolute must!
- Finance and treasury- can track your spending in a nice little package at the end of the year, helps organize forms, ect. Also helps with budgeting.
- Field Trips and Events-Organizing field trips can be a hassle. Have someone else figure out the details. This works for any parties or special occasions too!
- Shopping mom-shops for the best deals on troop meeting supplies. Do you have an extreme couponer in the troop?
- Snack mom-Organizes a snack rotation and makes sure there aren't food allergies!
Scout Trax Tracking system
This puts any excel sheet you have ever seen to shame! It's like the super hero of excel. Download this baby for free and it keeps everything organized from the attendance of your meetings to the badges each girl earned.
Do what you can
- There will be your ups and downs. You will leave a meeting feeling like there was no take-away or disappointed with a dissatisfied parent. At the end of the day remember that you are a volunteer and you are doing the best you can.
- Also remember the age of the girls and keep in mind what your troop can handle. There were times when I set out to do an activity only to realize that the girls were too young or they were simply not engaged enough.
- Each troop has a different dynamic that you will have to get a feel for and see how and what interests the girls the most. That might mean you will need to through aside your leadership planning guides and be more open to other ideas. Pinterest is a big help for this!
Keep Calm and Girl Scout On!
It really is a ton of fun and it's even more beautiful getting to see your daughter grow! Good luck and you got this! Have a great first year!