June 29, 2010,
C.C. asks from Apex, NC on January 25, 2010
Girl Scout Co-Leader Advice
In order to get my daughter in a daisy troop I decided to volunteer and be a leader. My co-leader and I had our first parent meeting recently and it didn't go well. She took over the entire meeting and didn't let me speak! We agreed beforehand what things we would discuss and divide up the topics equally. This did not happen. Also she said she was uncomfortable about asking people for troop dues. I checked into this and found out that some troops ask for $20 to help with craft supplies and such to get the troop up and going. I shared this with my co-leader and she was still uncomfortable. At the parent meeting she tried so hard to discourage people from paying the troop dues but low and behold every parent paid it without batting an eye. I feel like her and I do not work well together. Plus she's pushing cookie sales but neither of us really know what we're doing. Should I just lay my feelings on the table or just step down. Any feedback would be great! Thanks so much, Corinna
***I just want to elaborate-its a matter of disrespect and a power trip for her as well. For example when I mentioned that it was 4pm and shall we get started? ...she said no we can wait a little longer... We went through some training which includes Volunteer Essentials and Troop Module.
So What Happened?™
Thank you everyone for your advice and great feedback. To update you all, I decided to let my co-leader take over and do most or all the work in some situations. When we filled out our paperwork in the beginning it asks for the name of co-leader 1 and co-leader 2. She wanted to be listed as co-leader 1. I later found out that co-leader 1 and 2 is just a technicality and our roles should have been what we both agreed for them to be. I'm in the process of splitting with her and starting a new troop. I stuck it out because I wanted my daughter to have fun but being the assistant leader all these months has not been a very dignified role. (Especially when my daughter asked me, mommy are you just supposed to do what she wants you to do and be her helper? I answered, I guess that's the way she wants it to be. this has been a learning experience to say the least!
R.L. answers from Los Angeles on June 28, 2010
I'm coming into this late, but as an experienced girl scout and cub scout leader, and trainer, I wanted to add in a couple of thoughts for you for this coming year.
First of all, I think it's a very good idea for you to split with this co-leader. Clearly, the two of you are not a good match for whatever reason. As you get your Brownie troop started, however, please keep the following things in mind, as they are important aspects of the GSA model.
1. Troops should be girl-centered and girl-run, according to age and stage. The adult leader is there to facilitate growing independence and leadership skills in the girls. She's not there to be an autocratic decision maker. If your co-leader wants to push you around, you can bet that she will NOT understand the principle of growing a girl-run troop. As a Brownie leader, your first task will be to help the girls decide how to run the troop, what kinds of projects they want to do, and what the behavior rules and repercussions should be. We started out every year with a round robin discussion of these topics. We created a "speaking stone", which got passed around the circle. You could only talk if you held the stone, and everyone got to submit ideas to be voted on. All were encourage to talk. No one was allowed to use the words "dumb", "stupid", or anything similar. All ideas were written up on a flip chart, and than distilled down to a half-dozen simple agreed-upon rules that were written on a piece of foam core and posted at every meeting. Troop positions were decided upon, and then assigned randomly (pulled from the job jar). After the first assignment, jobs rotated in a set pattern every two weeks so that everyone had an opportunity to perform in each leadership role at least twice a year.
2. Keep in mind that Try-It's are fun to earn, but they are not the be all and end all of scouting, and they are not a competition. A good troop will include a balanced mix of working together to earn Try-It's, doing age-appropriate community service projects, and just having fun. Participating in all-council events should be encouraged, from celebrating Juliette Gordon Lowe's birthday to wide events run by local Cadette and Senior troops. Also, GSA has a wide range of additional programs in topics such as reading, business skills, leadership, first aid, being a good citizen/friend, etc. Patches and charms are as much fun to earn as Try-its! Participating in a local 4th of July parade was always a highlight for our girls. (We lived in a small town).
3. Get outdoor leader training and first aid training, and help your girls learn to enjoy camping. The first events should be small and easily contained, with a lot of parent help *as directed by the girls* (that is, you help the girls decide what needs to be done, and they direct the parents to help out). A good way to start is an overnight, inside sleepover, advancing later to "camping out" in someone's backyard. By your second year of Brownies, consider a camp out at a campground close by. And yes, a girl or two may get homesick and need to leave in the middle of the night.
4. Dues are very, very important, and they should be paid by the GIRLS, not the parents. It's a good idea to charge a small fee at registration to have start up money, but after that, the girls should decide what reasonable dues are ($0.25/meeting is good for Brownies), and they should be encouraged to help out with chores around their homes to EARN the money, not just ask their parents for it. Have a parent meeting at the beginning of the year to get the parents in line with this (and other ways the troop will be run). The treasurer will be responsible for collecting the money and checking off the names of girls who forgot, so that they can bring it the next time. After 3 "forgets", the leader will need to talk to the girl and parent in private to find out if there is some financial problem with paying dues. If not, the girl should be told to sit out for a short period from some fun activity until she learns that it is her responsibility to be a good citizen of the troop, and bring her dues (a good introduction to paying taxes!). Make sure you keep careful books, though, and a separate bank account for troop money.
5. When I was leading, Daisy's were not allowed to sell cookies. I think that they can now, but with restrictions. Cookie selling is a hard job if you want to raise a lot of money for your troop. Even if the girls want to sell, parents often hate to have to support the effort. I can tell you that my daughter and I put in a ton of hours because she wanted to be the top seller in the troop and the region (in her best year, she sold over 2500 boxes of cookies, about half of which was in presales. Selling was not nearly as difficult as delivery!). It took a ton of time out of my day, but she absolutely loved the activity and was good at it. (She'll be heading to college a year from now and has decided on studying international business, based partly on how much she loved selling cookies, developing marketing ideas, and advertisement.) One thing you should know about cookie sales -- it is a HUGE headache from the perspective of the cookie mom. There is a ton of bookkeeping involved and it's always a job and a half making sure that you're keeping enough stock, have easy access to replenish it, and that the girls are accurately accounting for boxes received, sold, and remitted. It also can become very competitive and a sore point in troops when one or two girls out-sell everyone else, and especially if the troop decides to use the money in a way that the top sellers aren't happy with. (Use of money earned for the troop should always be a troop decision. GSA is both democratic and socialist!) In my opinion, the best way to ensure reasonable equity in the process is to make some amount of booth sales mandatory for all girls. Also, if your local council runs a Cookie Kick-off activity, make sure to go. It's usually a very fun way for girls to learn about the products, the safety rules for selling, how to sell, and to get excited about the process.
6. Get more leader training! Yes, I know it's a pain and there are hours and hours of it. But, it is really important that you learn to run each age and stage of scouting. If your council has monthly round-table meetings or other leader get-togethers, go. The more training you get and the more you talk to other leaders who are successfully implementing the program, the easier and more fun it will be for you, and the more rewarding it will be for the girls.
7. You should have as much fun being a leader as the girls are having in the program! Enjoy yourself and the opportunity to be creative, but always remember to stay flexible and compromise.
My co-leader and I ran a very successful troop for years. I also ran my son's cub scout den and pack, until he advanced to Boy Scouts (He's Eagle, now). The saddest day of my life was when I had to quit because we were moving and I had to return to work full time. I hope that someday I will be in the position and have the time to be a leader again. You don't have to have a daughter in the troop to be the leader. I think sometimes, that it's better that way. In fact, one woman I know is still leading and camping, and she's in her eighties!
1 mom found this helpful
W.S. answers from Washington DC on January 25, 2010
It sounds like your co-leader lacks leadership skills. Here is my advice. Go to someone higher up and ask your questions. I gurantee that this is not the first time they will have heard your same question. There is a resource for this. You just have to ask for it.
Hang in there, Sounds like the kids will need you.
1 mom found this helpful
M.F. answers from Nashville on June 07, 2010
I really feel for you, and I think I know exactly what you mean. My co leader loves to make decisions, but then I end up with all the responsibility, and if I ever disagree, I am made out to be the bad guy. My own daughter, who is in the troop, says that she is trying to take over. Plus she often yells at the girls in a disrespectful way, which makes us all uncomfortable. I feel like I am at my wit's end...
A.K. answers from Boston on January 25, 2010
Get out now while she still has a chance to find another co-leader. You don't need extra aggravation in your life. I wouldn't want to spend the next year or so trying to figure out a working relationship with this woman. You'll probably just be aggravated the whole time. NOT worth it, esp. since your daughter is already in the troop. (I feel this way because I have many difficult family members that have sucked the life out of me for decades. I see red flags about this woman.) Good luck.
L.D. answers from Raleigh on January 26, 2010
I find it interesting that most responses put the blame on your co-leader. My question to you is why are you deferring to her and then blaming her for taking control? Why because she was uncomfortable asking for troop dues did you not do it? Is it because you're uncomfortable with it as well? You are correct that you and she don't work well together because you believe it. How do you know it is a matter of disrespect and a power trip for her? What is your ownership in the situation? If the meeting was supposed to start at four and you're an equal co-leader, why did the meeting not start at four? Being willing to look at your part in the relationship is the only productive place to start.
M.R. answers from Wheeling on January 25, 2010
Oh, how I wish you were in my troop! lol! I am a Daisy Leader and I have two assistant leaders. We talked about it up front as to what assignments everyone takes care of. I concentrate on the girls and admin work, they each have their own thing- one does attendance and pre-meeting girl stuff, the other runs parental interference. My other parent volunteers help coordinate parental involvement-snacks, rides to service projects, etc.
To begin with, you might want to just sit down and have a non-accusatory chat with her. She may have felt that since she was being asked questions she had the right to continue the conversation. She might have thought you were pausing too long (an issue I've noticed with my parent volunteers) and was trying to rush to fill the gap and make you comfortable. Until you express your issue, she won't realize there is a problem.
As for dues- I understand exactly how she felt. I honestly didn't want to tell these little girls that they needed to pay dues. So, I asked the parents opinion- I explained the purpose of the dues. We ended up charging a five dollar "Activity fee" to cover basic craft supplies and a flat-rate fifteen dollar per year dues. (That's how many meetings we were scheduled to have). And yes, the parents had no problem paying up. It helped a lot to get past the discomfort knowing that.
As for cookie sales- if at least one leader haven't been to a training session, then your troop can't sell cookies. It's that simple. If you're both confused, contact your regional cookie coordinator to answer any questions- she really does expect you to call with them! This is my first cookie sale, and I think I've got a grasp on it--- then I get a question from a parent that makes me wonder what the heck I was thinking! lol!
If, for some reason, you can't resolve the issue with the other leader, back off and offer to assist as an assistant instead- then you can focus on the girls rather than the politics. After all- that's my favorite part of the scouting experience- watching the girls grow and learn!
R.B. answers from Raleigh on January 26, 2010
If you leave the troop, they might have to disband because you need at least 2 leaders. When I was a Daisy leader we did not have to sell cookies (4 years ago), so we were not bringing in any extra $. I offered to pick up the patches, tunics, etc since I was a SAHM. So we included those in the price of the dues. We charged $75 & no one blinked. We also included some activities outside of the troop meetings for this.
I suggest that you talk to her if this doesn't work, go to the Daisy coordinator. She might be able to mediate.I had a situation last year with one of my co-leaders where we had problems & our Brownie coordinator offered to sit with us & mediate.
I remember doing a lot of searching online when we started Daisies & found that something like this worked best:
10 minutes - beginning activity (something like them coloring or a game while everyone gets there)
10 minutes opening things (flag, GS promise, etc)
20 minutes main activity or craft
10 minutes snack (we had a list & a different parent brought a snack each time)
10 minutes closing activities - friendship circle & possibly a game if we had time
As for the cookie sales, in my brownie troops we have always had a different mom (not a leader) be the cookie mom, it helped because we had enough on our plates already. But check & make sure it isn't too late for a mom (or dad) to get trained for this. It might be
W.M. answers from Nashville on January 29, 2010
She sounds rude. I would have a hard time getting along with her but before quitting, which your daughter may not like, I would try a few things. I would ask her that if she does not want to ask for dues, what are her ideas for coming up with the money for the supplies. I would then suggest a fund raiser that just the troop could do to raise the money. Then, if she persists on being the boss and doing it all, you can either sit back and relax and watch her do it all and just be glad your daughter is in, or you can wait a meeting or two more and then nicely say to her, "you are going to have to let me do something here, just let me know" and smile. If she is truly, truly, rude on purpose, then either quit or slyly say, "we both signed up and we are both going to do this, would you like to run one meeting and me the next or would you like to do this together?"....good luck!