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Exactly who am I obligated to please?

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So, I litereally single-handed kept our GS troop afloat after some nasty business with a former asst. leader.

We''re rebuilding finally, I have an excellent CC, a couple parents willing to drive and chaperone, and we''re beginning to recruit again. We''d gotten as low as 7 active girls during this transitionary period.


Now, I have one mom who nearly blew my face off complaining that her girls always miss out, are always contacted last, never get to participate, etc. *They never show up for meetings*, they moved two suburbs away and chose to continue in our troop. I did everything short of letting her children live with me to help them stay involved.


My CC contacted them to smooth her feathers, and she now claims that the troop seems disorganized to her and they dont get enough notice about events. *Note that they don''t bother to attend the troop meetings* but, if we were to move the troop meetings a half hour earlier, mom would even attend with them and help chaperone events if she had enough notice. I could just barf.


Another mom who insisted we not leave for a campout until near dark because her kiddo was in a day camp program that they''d paid for - resulting in everybody having to set up camp in the dark instead of having another half day to enjoy together, is also requesting we move the meeting up. Her daughter''s bedtime is 8 pm. Everybody else''s is 9 or 10. She''s threatening to leave the troop if we cant meet earlier and she has also agreed to coordinate awards for the troop.


Moving the meeting up a half hour would mean I would have 45 minutes between getting home from work at 5:30, and leaving at the door at 6:15 to arrive in absolutely no shape to lead a troop meeting at 6:30. Keep in mind that I am a single mom.


Our meeting time used to be 6:45. The girls I drove arrived ontime. Everybody else would arrive after 7. Ridiculous. So I moved the meeting time to 7 pm several months ago. My stress level went down, and meetings went smoother since we didn''t have to start twice:P


Why exactly am I even considering this request???

Anne baffled and really tired in Mpls

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Holly molly what a mess....


Ok first off you are their for the Scouts not the parents. I do not know much about GS, but in my humble option you need to find a nice way to tell them to back off, and redirect their focus from complaining to moving things forward.


After all we all know...


You can make some of the people happy some of the time, all the people happy part of the time, and none of the people happy all the time...


I would assume GS has some kind of proffessional or commissioner staff that may be able to help you as well.


I hope my wacky 2 cents was of some kind of help...


Scott Robertson


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My view has always been, "I am the one who stepped up to the plate, so we meet at my convenience." OK, so that''s a simplification. The choices are clear...if you can accomodate an earlier start time, then fine, do it. If not, tell them so. But make it clear that if they outvote you, you will be happy to turn over the leadership reins to one of them. Everyone has demands on their time, so one person''s demands should not overrule everyone else.

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I know its not the same thing..., but I had a mom this week approach me about moving the meeting back 1/2 an hour(for the next 8 weeks) so junior could attend a swimming activity and not miss Scouting. I had another parent approach me about moving to a different night.


Personally I could go with either request but I don''t think temporary moves for one boy is a good idea ever. And Every parent would like a "perfect" fit to their schedule.


My response to both parents was lets propose it to the SPL and see what the PLC comes up with - and then we''ll see if we need an okay from the Troop Committee.


And yes, if it doesn''t fit your schedule or you can''t make it fit then how do they expect you to lead it? And when can they start!

Hang in there Annie! :)


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Annie, Hang in there!

I just have a few questions as an experienced GS leader. What age level? How long has the troop been together? With a bed time of 8 for one girl, I am thinking that maybe brownies or young juniors. Definitely, meet at your convenince because you are the leader. Offer to hand over the reins if someone else wants to set time or place. We cannot accomadate everyone. Do you contact by email about events? Then everyone can get info at about the same time frame depending on when they check their emails.



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Yah, ditto.


I really wish parents would think about demands like these before makin'' ''em. "I want everyone to change what they''re doing to accommodate my son''s swim schedule." The paid school swim coach I''m sure isn''t entertaining any requests to adjust for a girl''s scout schedule, why should the volunteer leader be expected to do more than the person being paid?


Anne, you can drive yourself nuts with trying to meet every family''s schedule requests. Set a time that works and stick with it, and don''t take any guff.


As for communication, dat''s a harder thing, eh? The other thread on that I think people made a bunch of good points. Different families and people respond to different kinds of communication better. Some use email, some don''t; some listen to meeting announcements, some don''t; some read newsletters, some don''t. Not much you can do to change ''em either. So I''ve found that the most successful units do their best to deliver the same information multiple times in multiple formats. Time consumin'', but that time''s better spent if you''ve got it than fiddling with meeting start times.




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I have to agree with other posters: you agreed to be leader, and of the few perks of the position is setting meeting times that work for you.


Besides offering other parents the idea of becoming leaders themselves (and setting up their own troops), you can smile sweetly and say, "Oh, I am so sorry that our troop is not a good fit for your daughter. Here is the name and number of the troop organizer/leader of X Troop. Perhaps another troop would be a better fit." Nine times out of ten, the parent will back off.


In addition to using e-mail, you might consider having one parent (or girl, if your Scouts are old enough) be the phone person who passes on info for those who can''t/refuse to use e-mail. It''s annoying and creates extra work for the rest of us, but there are people who just won''t use e-mail.


Good luck!


--Kim near Seattle

service unit manager

troop leader

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Thanks everyone for the reality check :)


My committee chair fortunately came to the same realization about the time I was drafting a third version of a whiny I cant do it email.


The mom is now suggesting we switch the meetings from Thursdays to Fridays ;) My CC says that while it would work for her, that that is a really big switch to make and we agree we might lose many more girls in the process.


So, we reiterated to mom that we''re ok with them having to leave meetings early if that''s a solution that works for them. And I would change up the meeting agenda so that her daughter didn''t always miss out on gametimes. I had done a quick poll of the girls in front of mom so she could see for herself that most of the girls had a 9m pm bedtime, and a couple had 10 pm bedtimes - no one else had an 8 pm!


(Actually I need to move my 10 pm kiddo up to 9!!)


I''m meeting with mom today at noon because she is still willing to do the awards for us.


As far as troop communications go, I think we''ve got a fairly workable plan in place now. For last minute stuff I use www.callingpost.com and my CC is keeping our troop website updated. Main problem is I have families in my troop that are very low income and frequently without phone service, so we drop by/drop off print stuff for them when we can. Wish I had a magic wand to make it all work, but I don''t!

Thanks again!

Anne in Mpls

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  • 3 weeks later...

You need the "One Size Fits All" Girl Scout Leader''s answering machine message. This is it:


Hello- you have reached the automated answering service for all Girl Scout Leaders. In order to better serve you, listen to all of the options before making your selection.


To lie about why your child did not show up for an event, press 1.


To make excuses about why your child didn''t pay any dues, participate in any fund-raisers or turn in their permission slips on time, press 2.


To complain about what we did at the last meeting, or about our meetings in general, press 3.


To swear at a Service Unit, or Council staff member, press 4.


To ask why you did not get the information that was mailed to your house, sent home with your child and also e-mailed to you, press 5.


If you just want us to raise your child or babysit her, press 6.


If you''ve lost another badge, pin, or award, press 7.


To request another leader, or meeting day/time for the third time this year, press 8.


To complain about council events, their cost, location or the lack of transportation, press 9.



If you realize that this is the real world and that you and your child must be accountable/responsible for your own behavior, badge work, finances and that it is not the leader''s fault for you and your child''s lack of effort, hang up and have a nice day.


Please yourself, Honey. Volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. Don''t let anyone treat you in a worthless manner. And it sounds like someone is.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jayne, in my 9th year as a Girl Scout leader, I sure appreciated the chuckle your GS leader phone answering system gave me!



I've had my share of difficult parents over the years. Sad thing is that it's usually the girls with the difficult parents that you feel would miss out the most if they left GS, so you tend to bend over backwards for them. But if you bend too far, you'll break, and give up being a leader at all, and then all the other girls will miss out too. I agree with the person who suggested that you respond to unreasonable complaints by telling the parent how sorry you are that they are not happy with your troop and suggest other troops that they might look into joining. (Although if they take you up on that, you'd better warn the troop leader of any troop that they transfer to!) A "threat" to quit the troop if you don't cave to a demand only works if you allow yourself to feel like you're a failure if you lose a member. Honestly, your life would probably be a lot easier if those kind of parents took their daughters out of your troop, so stand firm and be relieved if they leave. I often felt guilty for secretly wishing that I didn't have to deal with some of the difficult parents, so I almost tried extra hard to be nice so I couldn't be seen as pushing them out, but I always ended up finding it was SO much easier when they did leave. Luckily, the difficult families seldom stick around for more than a year or two. They end up getting tired of the *burden* of simply having to get their kids to the meetings and events.


One of the best things about my current Assistant Leader is that she keeps reminding me that our time is worth something too. I agree with other posters is that one of the prerogatives of being a leader is being able to schedule things to suit your own schedule.

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I have been doing this for 17 years. (I am a mother of many.) I used to get upset about things like this. I'd feel sorry for the girls and try not to penalize them because of things their parents did or said to me. I'd bend over backwards to work around missing permission slips, unpaid fees, lost awards, late drop offs or pick ups, etc.


My husband was ready to kill me. He finaly sat me down and said, "Don't all of these girls have at least one parent?" And he was right. Now I don't feel bad if someone doesn't like what I do. I know I'm doing the best I can.


If they think they can do better, they can go for it. I'll find out for them when the next basic leader training is.

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You are absolutely right, Jayne.


I came close to burning out myself in the first few years until I realized that I couldn't be everyone's mother. I do feel sorry for children whose parent(s) are so unwilling to go to any effort for them. These parents are often so self-centered that they resent even spending a few minutes to take their children to scout meetings, so they certainly do not take their children to museums or sports events or do crafts with them---which is why their children tend to benefit the most from scouts. This same self-centered attitude causes them to expect that schedules will be changed to suit them (never mind the rest of the troop let alone the leader). They will not be grateful if the leader personally delivers permission slips and newsletters to their home, or has to make repeated calls to get them to turn in their cookie money (several days late), etc---they will simply come to expect that special treatment because it will not occur to them that the leader is probably just as busy as they are (if not more---since leaders often volunteer for lots of other things too). It's definitely a case of "If you give an inch, they'll take a mile". Note that the same mom who made the campout late now wants the meetings to be early.


Anne, favor your own schedule when setting things up, and if it is also what works for the majority of the other families, be sure to emphasize that and not your own schedule when you talk to a complaining parent. It sounds like many of other families also prefer a 7pm start time because of afternoon activities, work schedules, and dinnertime, which is why you have fewer families arriving late. I'd say something like: "I'm so sorry that 7pm is late for your daughter, but the rest of the families even had trouble getting to meetings on time when we started at 6:45pm. 7pm works much better for me and for most of the rest of the families, so it can't be moved up. If the time is too much of a problem, I'd be happy to check with our registrar to see if there is another troop in the area that meets at a time that is better for you." You could also suggest to the mother that she can pick up her daughter 10 min early, with the caveat that it may be hard on the girl if she keeps having to leave before things are finished. Having that mom coordinate awards for the troop can't possibly be worth all the extra stress to you and all the other families if every single meeting is really too early for comfort.


As for your campout starting late, I would not have made the campout late to suit one family. I would have explained that the time could not be moved later due to the difficulties of having the whole troop set up in the dark, but that she was welcome to bring her daughter later herself. I have often had parents drop off or pick up their daughters later/earlier from overnights because the girls were performers in music or ice skating or theater shows, but the parents are then responsible for the transportation. One thing that helps is that I give my parents lots of advance and repeated warnings about the dates and times of major events, so if there is a conflict then they obviously chose to schedule the other thing even though they knew about the GS event. For your next campout, set a reasonable start time, and if someone asks to move it later, you can simply point to your past difficulties in setting up in the dark as a reason that the start time will not be changed.

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I don't think you are literally obligated to please ANYONE. Sure, we all try and work compromises with people and accomodate for certain situations. But I would say if you are the Leader, you have to be able to Lead effectively, and that means having enough of your own time to do so.


If you can't make changes that will suit the others, you just CAN'T - and they will have to accept the word "NO". If they don't accept it, they will also have to eventually understand that they can only control their own selves, and not the actions nor words of anyone else.


Do only what you CAN do, and try to let the rest go. It'll only end up stressing you out if you don't.

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