Girl led. It’s the mantra of Girl Scouting, but too often the idea of “girl-led” causes angst among leaders what does “girl-led” mean? Are you really doing “girl-led” right?
Here’s a little secret. You’re probably doing it fine for your troop.
Are there guidelines and recommendations for what it means to be a girl-led troop ? Absolutely. But the actual execution of “girl-led” may vary based on your girls’ maturity, interests and experience.
For you, girl-led might mean voting on outings, badges to work on, camps to attend, service project ideas or what to do with cookie profits.
I’ve seen Junior leaders teach the Robert’s Rule of Order to 5th graders. And that is awesome. But it’s possible your girls are not in that stage of emotional maturity where they can actually lead a meeting from start to finish. For those girls, you may start with simple tasks like leading the open or close, directing an activity with set instructions or even building consensus on future activities for the troop.
For my troop as we started our Cadette year, our girls were lacking in many of those leadership skills and troop management skills. Previous members of the troop did not always have the interest or were disruptive to the girls who were wanting to take their Girl Scout efforts more seriously.
Building Skills for Life
Rather than focus on those business skills like budgeting or meeting management, we looked instead at consensus-building, teamwork and supporting team efforts even if we didn’t always agree.
Now that we have another year behind us, we’re looking at reinforcing other skills that will benefit these girls in the future. Our Girl Scout troop’s dynamics have changed as girls have left for other adventures and others have joined.
So far this year I’ve been pleasantly pleased by the level of enthusiasm the girls have shown. We have blown past the “I don’t want to” stage. And we’re looking towards Adventure. Now it’s time for us as leaders to teach them how to make their dreams happen. It’s more than waving a magic wand.
Developing Leaders who Know the Facts
For us and our Cadette troop, it means frank discussions about how these activities happen. Even the least expensive meetings cost something. It takes time, resources and money. If they want to earn badges or patches that’s an additional cost. And those weekend adventures to camps and lock-ins? You have campground rental fees, gasoline for travel, food, archery rental and activities. If it’s a council activity there may be registration cost for each Girl Scout and adult too.
Our Cadettes are learning tough lessons about money. After multiple years of lackluster cookie sales, no troop dues and everything, including uniforms paid through the troop account, the troop is tapped out.
The remaining girls will be learning that hard work, whether from cookie sales, hosted events, expense sharing with other troops or scaling back ideas is how we make things happen in the real world.
At our age we have to make tough decisions. Our Cadettes have to decide between participating in Thinking Day and performing in a musical. Going on a camping trip and being in a track meet. They are learning that choices have to be made with their time, and sometimes Girl Scouts falls to the bottom and sometimes Girl Scouts rises to the top.
Does my girl-led troop look different from the norms? Absolutely. And yours should too. Knowing your Girl Scout troop best, you can help them build on their strengths and strengthen their weaker skills to help your girls become amazing women.