I’ll be the first leader to admit this past year has had its ups and downs. My troop’s year-long experience with the Bronze Award was painful – as it brought personality clashes to the surface during the process. And over the summer, my troop dwindled as my soon-to-be Cadettes made hard choices with their schedules. One girl has done an amazing job with raising animals with 4-H and wants to focus on that. My former co-leader’s daughter, who wants to focus on sports, ducked when she saw me at open house – but I let her know her choices are OK. After all, we’re about raising girls to know who they are.
So next week, we’ll be starting our journey into Cadettes. And I’m really excited.
Here’s what recharged me as a leader:
Gratitude. Good times or bad, I’ve gotten to know these girls and their families, and have seen them grow. I’m highly grateful for that experience.
Partnership. Instead of seeing myself as a leader “all alone,” with a few very active scouts and several less so, I decided to partner up with other Girl Scouts in our area. We started a countywide older girl group that girls can attend activities for on a monthly basis as their calendars allow.
Support. We recruited another Girl Scout and co-leader whose interests more align with our remaining girls to join our troop. This gives me the leader support I need, as I know the other parents aren’t interested in volunteer roles, and helps that girl feel more in sync with her scouting interests.
And my daughter is also tagging up with another multilevel Girl Scout troop that she met through her day camp years and is more active to help develop her leadership skills.
Simplifying. Mom can only do so much. And I’m a working mom whose husband often works evenings, which means I’m getting the kids everywhere. I can’t be at troop meetings at the same time as Cub Scout packs or service unit activities, and so I won’t. We’re moving our troop meeting dates.
I’m also dropping fundraising. Why stress about it when my daughter was the one primarily doing the work to support the troop. I’ve re-instituted dues based on the spending for the last two years.
So what’s my plan?
Writing a Girl Scout blog, you’d think I’d have many of the answers. Truth is, I learn as I go, just as you do.
My plan for this first Cadette year:
- Be flexible. This year, I am battling schedules for sports, choir and theatre – and that’s just in my family. Times that by 5 Girl Scout family’s schedules, and it’s a logistical nightmare. We are planning one monthly meeting (time/date TBA early in the month) and one fun activity that we’re putting on calendars early. For those “extra credit” Girl Scouts, there’s the older Girl Scout group in our county.
- Drop fundraising. I had little support within my troop for fundraising activities, and our middle school will be fundraising the next two years for a Washington D.C. trip. So we dropped cookies in favor of dues. (For those who actually want to sell cookies, we’ll just credit those sales toward next year’s dues.)
- Remember girl-led. These girls know themselves well enough that they can pick out and help organize what they’ll be doing this year.
Great post! Transitioning to Cadettes was hard for my Troop, too. We had originally been meeting right after school and walking to our meeting space. That had to change when we bridged to Cadettes, because suddenly half my girls were going to one middle school and got home around 4:15, while the other half of the girls were bussed to our GT academy and didn’t get home until 5 or later. So, we decided to make the move to Sunday evenings. It really worked out well for my Troop. This year, in response to our Troop becoming multi-level (7,8, and 9 grade), we are splitting our meetings: the first one each month is the all-Troop meeting/Senior meeting and the second one is the Cadette meeting. That way my high school girls only have to prioritize Girl Scouts one weekend a month. We’ll see how the experiment works out! 🙂
That is a terrific idea!!
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