Simple Meals, Bugs, and Little Dresses

Fall 2012 Troop 40072

As I’m wrapping up the fall as a new troop leader, I realize what an amazing learning experience this has been. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating, but always worth it.

Sometimes, I ask the girls to share something that stands out in their mind since our last meeting. Highlights, or low lights. Here are mine from this fall:

Best Advice:

  • “Start with doing badges for the first several months then move on to Journeys.”
  • When girls have different interests, find a way to combine them. For example, Little Dresses for Africa ( combines sewing and helping children in Africa, two topics that interest our troop.
  • “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.” (Easier said than done.)

Best Surprise:

  • I’m enjoying the adventure of figuring this out. I’ve met people, gone to new places, and learned a definition of leadership.

Most Frustrating:

  • It has been incredibly complicated to open a bank account.
  • I have had a lot of trouble getting registered with my local council.
  • I have a vague sense that I’m doing this on my own despite being part of a huge movement (and writing a blog about it!)

Biggest Learning:

  • To have a mixed-aged troop of 14, you need one adult for each age group because although they’ll do things together, each group has unique needs.
  • When given the choice of badges to start, the girls liked the idea of working on food badges… followed by bugs.

Most Fulfilling Moment:

  • When one Brownie asked me if I planned to be the troop leader next year, and I replied, “I think so…” a group of girls said, “Yessss!” to no one in particular.

Most Baffling:

  • My daughter refuses to wear her Daisy tunic because it’s not a sash like the older girls get.

Tell me: What did you learn in the first season of Girl Scout troop leading? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten? Or given?



7 thoughts on “Simple Meals, Bugs, and Little Dresses

  1. Amy Fulbright

    I don’t have a daughter in Girl Scouts, I volunteer because I got a lot out of it as a girl. After being in Girl Scouts for 13 years as a girl, I figured I had as good a shot as anybody at being a Troop Leader. What surprised me was the importance of being organized. I saw how organized my Troop Leaders were growing up, and felt it was over-kill, but as a Troop Leader, I can now see how comforting having a plan is.

    Best piece of advice I give to first-year leaders: I ask each family in my troop to lead a badge or petal at some point throughout the year. Pre-decide how many meetings to spend on each petal/badge, and ask each family to sign up to lead the program part of each meeting. I ask this at the very beginning of the school year and I make it a condition of my being Troop Leader. Be advised: it’s easier to do this with the petals/badges than with the journeys. Do you have an email address? I’m the New Troop Leader Mentor for my Service Unit, I’d be happy to add you to my distribution list!

    With Love From Texas,

  2. Jennifer

    My daughter has been in girl scouts for 3 years now. Our town had one big troop for all the girls and no adults to help. I stayed out of it for 2 years, but this year I have my daughter’s Brownie troop. My co-leader, who has lots of experience with leading girl scout troops, moved out of state in October. I am a new leader with 15 girls. I have talked a parent into being my co-leader and I have a co-worker who helps me as a warm body at the meetings. My biggist problem is getting the parents involved. I ask, but I don’t get commitments. The other troops in town don’t do much outside of meetings and I want my daughter/girls to experience council events and all that Girl Scouts has to offer.

    I have learned to have a parent meeting up front at the beginning. I tired to have a parent meeting after about a month of meetings (we meet once a week) and I got maybe a third of the parents and the rest wanted me to tell them over the phone what I was going to say.

    I don’t know about asking for dues. I haven’t. We got financial aid for the girls’ vests/sashes and handbook. We are a poor rural area.

    I think the best part of being the leader was watching their faces light up when we worked on the Home Scientist badge or when we marched in the town’s Christmas Parade.

    I am looking for ideas for ways to keep the girls interested in the WOW Journey. My girls don’t like to do a lot sitting and listening. I made a talking beanbag for them and that helps some. I try to let them make decisions, but the Journeys are a little boring in places.

  3. Mary Ellen Nunes, Troop 82130

    I totally agree with having a parent helper for each age group – I find myself struggling to balance activities and things for each age, having brownies & juniors. The funny thing (well maybe funny is not the right word) is that my brownies are so much more focused and on-task than my juniors. I’m curious to see what next year brings when they are all juniors.

    I found parent meetings to be quite a chore, and so as a result I tend to write min-novel emails to my parents and then send text messages saying “read your email!” . I have a “sign in table” where girls are supposed to sign in and parents are supposed to read/sign up for things where appropriate. Between emails and the table, I manage to get the word to most parents.

    Journeys — I have a hard time staying interested in them myself, and as a result have not been able to engage my Juniors. My brownies came from three different troops, so we have not tackled a journey as all of them have been done by someone in our troop!

  4. Lisa

    After the first 2 meetings, I was stressed and miserable. I had to make a conscious decision that it was as important for me to have fun as it was for the girls. If the leader ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. Since then, I’ve enjoyed every single meeting and the girls are having a great time, too!

    1. Elaine

      I love this insight. After a first meeting with another youth group at the middle school today, I too feel overwhelmed and stressed. Next time, I’m doing something fun for me, too! Thanks for sharing. You made me laugh.

      1. Mary McLean-Hely Post author

        Hi Elaine!
        I’m glad it helped. It really is overwhelming to walk into a room of children/teens and try to focus all that energy on something! What is your youth group? I’m gearing up for my second year as a leader, but I’m only organizing one troop of Brownies. It was too hard with all the different age groups without a lot more adults. I hope your activity goes well!! Best, Mary

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