Jump to content

Encouraging New Leaders

Recommended Posts

I'm a Cub Scout mom. Both my kids are boys, and I have a good handle on BSA.


Today, at Eldest Child's swim lesson, a mother with daughters asked me about Girl Scouts--since I know "so much about Scouting."


So I tell her that I only really know BOY stuff, not the GIRL stuff, but I reckon GSUSA does a lot of similiar things for supporting & training new leaders. Was I right? Does GS offer leader training regularly? Are there meeting suggestions?


In BSA, I can find a lesson plan for the whole year, if I want it. Do the girls have something similiar?


Her daughter is seven, which I figure is an easy-to-manage age for a semi-organized parent-leader.


I suggested that this mom do a little googling, and see what turns up, maybe find a troop to visit and see what sort of thing they do.


Good advice?

Link to post
Share on other sites

While BSA and GSUSA are similar, there are significant differences.


Yes, GSUSA has training for it's leaders. As a matter of fact, in many cases, a volunteer must take basic training before they can start meeting with girls. They must also undergo a background check by their local council.


There are a lot of program activity suggestions for Troops, both online at the National website, and from their local GSUSA council. There are also plenty of activities in the Level Handbooks. However, there is no year long lesson plan available, or Program Helps equivalent.


Part of the reason for that is GSUSA programing is girl driven from the very start. Even the Kindergarten Daisy Girl Scouts have some say in what they do. Girls are also encouraged to work independently (more so as they get older). However, like BSA Webelos, the girl must show her work to her leaders, and the GSUSA Troop leader has the final say on accepting it.


Suggesting Troop visits is a good idea. Her 7 year old would be a 1st grade, 2nd year Daisy. She should contact her local council to get contact info for Troops in her area. The first place to look would be at her daughter's school.


Edited to add that unless there are girls on a waiting list for a Daisy Scout Troop, and she is willing to be the leader for a new Troop, she would be better off finding an existing Daisy Troop that she likes and signing her daughter up with them.

(This message has been edited by scoutnut)

Link to post
Share on other sites

The daughter IS on a waiting list. I was a Brownie when young enough and it stuns me that there's a need for a waiting list. Why aren't there enough troops for the girls interested?


Thanks for the program specific information. I will pass it on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

>In BSA, I can find a lesson plan for the whole year, if I want it.

>Do the girls have something similiar?


Lesson plans? Hahahahaaha! Ha. ROFL. Gasp for air. Hurk! Okay, thumping myself on the chest and regaining control. Some regional councils offer suggestions for the first four meetings. That's it, in terms of "lesson plans." Every troop is very, very different from every other one because of this. Girl Scouts can look like anything. Which can be GREAT, or terrible. GREAT if you're doing activities the girls love and learn from as they progressively take over the leadership of the troop -- whatever those activities may be and however you decide to get there; or TERRIBLE, if harried and directionless volunteers flounder, no matter what the content. Either way, camping is optional. Sigh. But different strokes. So, yes, tell your friend to VISIT troops, don't worry about committing until she finds a good match, and be prepared to help lead.


Why no lesson plans? BSA-style "advancement" is not a concept in Girl Scouts. You can come in at any level and leave at any level. It's strictly based on age and grade level. The highest awards are all independent and not linked. So, for example, I have a young lady in an older troop who is 16 and a first-time scout. She loves the idea of earning the Gold Award (the Girl Scout parallel to earning Eagle). It's not a problem that she's a newbie. She's just got to get her act together, get a good adult advisor, and follow the myriad steps in the correct order, before high school graduation. No harder for her than another girl, who started as a Daisy in Kindergarten.


Did you know that you could have a FABULOUS year as a Girl Scout, and never earn a single badge? Or, a girl could be a real badge hound and make sure that everything she does in the troop, and all her life activities are tied to requirements that allow her to simply smother her uniform with stuff until it's so heavy she would drown if she fell out of a canoe. Either path is A-okay in Girl Scouts. And a good leader will facilitate, either way. But no lesson plans will get you there.


The brand new "Journeys" curricula do contain lesson plans and are tied to awards you can earn and stick on the uniform. So far, there's one for each level (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, Ambassador). A Juliette (lone scout like the niece mentioned in an earlier post) could work on the Junior one over the course of a year, and might enjoy it, but she'd need to consult with a troop, group or friends to complete some of the activities. Note that Journeys are NOT traditional scouting topics, but rather focus on social skills, visualizing a better world and making an art project about it, conducting needs assessment and service project development and evaluation . . . all very talk-y, workbook-y, consultant-y stuff. Not knots. Not bears. Not how to handle your period on a climbing trip. Though who knows what they'll come up with in future years. I'm NOT counting on outdoor education, however!


>Does GS offer leader training regularly?


Training varies by regional councils. In ours, it goes something like this. You decide you'd like to stick your neck out and lead. If you're smart, you find a friend or hook up with an existing troop. Either way, you fill out an online volunteer application, giving three people as references. They electronically file their ratings of various aspects of your leadership ability, and answer whether they think you're fit to work with children. Then you take the "101" class online, which essentially shows that you read the essential policies -- our equivalent of youth protection and so forth. Then you go somewhere LIVE to take the program level training for your group: Juniors, for instance. 2-3 hours in a church basement or somebody's home. Experienced leaders moving to new levels, often because their daughters are bridging up, are mixed with newbies, at least in this council. Topics include basic policies, suggestions for behavioral management, and some leader peer discussion. Then poof! You're done. A new troop leader.


Technically, you might not even finish that program-level training before you start working with girls, though of course they urge you to do so. As for other training, the unmotivated leader can easily wriggle out of it, provided she can get another troop parent to take First Aid and CPR. No, wait. Heck, she doesn't even need to con anybody into THAT if she's willing to stay in a school cafeteria and do Michael's crafts at every meeting! Urg.


But to go nearly anywhere outside that meeting room, you need a trained First Aider. And to camp, you need a First Aider plus a separate person who is a trained "camp qualified" adult. That takes about four hours in two classroom sessions, then an overnight with adults. Subsequent updates can be handled online.


Yes, there are GS troops that have never camped. (I hear that a few brave ones among those have actually gone "hotel camping." Yes, there are patches for it -- but before everyone swallows their canteen cap, they're just participation patches, worn on the back of the sash or vest, NOT actual earned awards. Unlike Couch Potato. Look it up.)


So . . . this is why it helps a new leader to buddy up with troop leaders (called "advisors" at the teen levels) who know what they are doing. They will encourage a new leader to get all the training offered by the council, plus whatever's out there in the wider world. Our council offers loads of great stuff. I've taken knots, camping, stream activities, night-time activities, and more. And dragged others along. Almost none of my council training was wasted. And everything has been free, except First Aid, CPR and wilderness First Aid.


>Her daughter is seven, which I figure is an easy-to-manage age

>for a semi-organized parent-leader.


I strongly recommend a parent committee approach. That's the best encouragement for a new leader with younger girls! Not going it alone.


The manic spiel goes like this. Tell your friend to talk fast before they get wise.


"Hi! This is a parent participation troop! Not so much a drop-and-run troop. Nope! See my cheerful grin? Yes, and before you run away, 'cause my finger is in your buttonhole, woops, sorry 'bout that, here's the calendar, which we like to call the duty roster! You'll need to fill in x number of slots, while I stand here with a big, WELCOMING grin on my face, wait, here's the indelible pen, because there are y meetings and z number of families and you can do the math! Hey, if you can't be a parent helper in the room during meetings, because you work three jobs, heck I work four, so I understand, anyway don't worry -- 'cause there are several seasonal jobs listed on the reverse! All are important! If you take Cookie Mom, then you're off the hook for ALL the parent helper slots! And, for your convenience, I've printed the roster with phone numbers at the bottom, so that if you're ever unable to fill your duty slot, YOU CAN ARRANGE ahead of time to trade with another parent and let me know when you have. Dads are welcome, too! Gosh, won't we have fun! WAIT, come back! Guards! Guards! Seize her!"


Finally, you asked why there would be waiting lists. Answer: not enough people to stick their necks out to be leaders. I actually heard of an entire Brownie TROOP, that has girls and even a Cookie Mom, but no leader. This puzzles me, because I'm thinking, er, don't all those girls have RELATIVES? Who'd like them to be in scouts? Hello?


But then I'm just a weird woman who got married, then had the kids (on purpose, even) and stuck my neck out to be a troop leader. And found all these other parents who like their kids and fight to go camping with them.


Go figure.


Tia in Virginia


PS: Another big difference: no sponsoring organizations, like BSA has.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The memories of my time in Girl Scouts are stirring. I earned very few badges--mostly, only the ones the whole troop did. I also remember enjoying GS immensely.


Tia, thank you for your program overview. I look forward to helping swimming-lesson-mom take baby steps towards the big step. She's an active & involved mom, and willing, but scared. I can help her feel less scared, now. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites



WOW Tia! Would you like to move to the Chicago area? We could really use some decent leaders, and with a sense of humor no less!


Greaves - In BSA, when there is no leader for a Tiger Den there are other options. The CM, CC, or one of the other Pack leaders can pick up the slack for a while until they can get a parent to commit as leader. They can combine the leaderless den with an older (or younger) den and have that leader do double duty. Or they can tell them to join the Pack down the road. Of course, if there is no Pack down the road, the boys are out of luck.


In GSUSA, there are no Packs at all. Every Troop (think Den) is independently run. Every independently run Troop has the ability to say - Nope, go away, we don't want any more girls. Also, as Tia noted, there are no CO's. Every GS Troop is owned by the local GSUSA council.


Now GSUSA councils want new members, just like the BSA. If they have girls who want to be in Scouts, but no Troop in their areas will take more girls, and none of the parents of the potential Scouts will step up to lead a new Troop, what most councils will do is put them on a waiting list. Then if a Troop in their area, in their age/grade level, decides they will open up to more girls, or if a parent sees the light and offers to lead a new Troop, the girls on the list will get first chance for a spot in the Troop. IF the council has taken their registration for the waiting list (not all do), they can attend council events, and function as a Juliette (lone) Scout while waiting for a Troop to open up.


If your friend's daughter is on a waiting list already, then it sounds like she is seriously considering taking the leap into leadership. I would recommend that she consider registering, and working with, her daughter as a Juliette Daisy for the rest of this Scout year. Next year she can form a brand new Brownie Troop. This will give her plenty of time to take the training she needs, both online, and in person, and to con a buddy or two, who also have 7 yo daughters, into signing up with her.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...