Girl Scout Leader

Updated on June 14, 2012
M.B. asks from Occoquan, VA
6 answers

Any of you have the honor of being one (a PROPER one I will add)? I'm thinking about doing it for my daughter who will be in K next year. I have a VERY close friend who is an outstanding going above and beyond leader... and I have also been a cookie mom. I have two girls in scouts, and my oldest just finished up her fourth year. I have volunteered beyond being a cookie mom, and have a TASTE of what it may be like. My very close friend who also knows me VERY well has told me honestly that she doesn't think I fully understand what it takes to be the leader she is. She didn't say it that way, BTW... I don't remember her exact words. She did not say anything rude or in a manner that was rude. She DID suggest I maybe wait until ALL my girls are in school, but I know my K girl would more than love to start Scouts RIGHT AWAY.

ANYways, What do you moms think? I wanna be a GOOD leader, I DON'T want to screw things up or put too much on my shoulders. I will still have one child at home and my husband works on the weekends and he works in the evenings during the week (so, I would not have him available to watch my other 3 (they will be 9, 8 and 4 by the time school starts) while I lead, and I will not have my husband helping out for any weekend activities with scouts....

Give it to me straight, adult girl scouts....

BTW, i want to be a Leader because I LOVE volunteering, I LOVE scouts and I have had SOOO much trouble with one of my girls in finding a good troop. Some troops are terrible, and I don't want to go through that whole ordeal again... and I want to be a leader as opposed to co-leader because I've noticed that being the head-honcho works best for me and the other parents (i learned this as the cookie mom). I'm also very fun and have a million ideas already, and I'd also have a couple of fantastic mentors.


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answers from Washington DC on

I'm a GS leader (just finishing our fifth year).

Please talk to some other leaders rather than your friend. I'm sure she's great as a leader, but honestly, your post makes it sound like you have her on quite a pedestal and feel you won't be able to live up to her example and be a leader just like she is.

But you do not have to be the same kind of leader she is! One great thing about Girl Scouts is that the leaders have huge flexibility in what they do, how often they do it, etc. Some troops do nothing but camp; others do nothing but craft; the best ones mix things up a lot. Talk to lots of leaders and you'll find very laid-back troops and very active ones; troops that meet each week and troops that meet once a month (especially at Daisy age, see below); troops that have girls who are all from similar backgrounds and troops that are very diverse.

And one very important point missing here: Your K daughter would be in Daisies -- the very youngest (and therefore simplest) level of GS. You would not be expected by anyone, not other leaders, parents or the girls themselves, to be out rock climbing, river rafting and doing award-winning art projects with these little girls! You will have a lot of support just from using the GS Daisies materials and can use those to plan everything you do for the year. Try it and if it doesn't work -- stop when your daughter moves on from Daisies (which is K and 1st grade girls).

So go for it, but take a deep breath first and put those "million ideas" into a priority order, and check that they are realistic for girls of K and 1st grade age, and that they are realistic in terms of what families will commit to doing. Don't get into a pattern where you come up with a huge list of things for the troop to do, then feel let down when parents say, "Sorry, Sally has a soccer game that afternoon" or "Our family is traveling that weekend." In other words, be aware -- as a self-described "head-honcho" type -- that it's the whole family's schedule, not just one girl's GS commitment, that affects what the troop can realistically do. I'm NOT saying "Don't be ambitious" but I am saying, "Be age-appropriate in your expectations for this level of GS and be aware that you need parents' help, even if you don't want a co-leader." (As someone who is a co-leader, fully sharing responsibility with another leader, I would not do it alone for the world -- we mesh perfectly and it makes doing this SO much easier and infinitely more fun.)

And don't let your friend's activities drive your own. She is working with older girls and they get to do more and different things (and they also should be driving more of what the troop does--if your friend plans everything and arranges everything, she shouldn't; by now her girls should be planning how to spend their own cookie money, researching their own field trip options, voting on what badges to earn, etc.! But you would not have that going on in Daisies.)

Housekeeping: Remember that you'll have to go through a school coordinator or a GS service unit to get organized. The service unit (you can find them through your nearest GS Council office) will tell you how to get started and will help you find and register girls.

And remember that your time will be required for some training -- you can do most of the basic training for troop leadership online, but if you want to take girls camping you must do camping training that usually requires you to be gone overnight, camping with adult trainers. (This is where having great parents helps: Sometimes parents, rather than leaders, will do the camping training and are the designated camping-trained person who must go on all camping trips along with the troop leader.) Also, you need a troop first aider with training approved by GS; a parent can do this too but must be able to be at certain things (it's easiest if the leader is both camping and first aid trained, frankly). I know it sounds rule-bound, but it is all for girls' safety and to protect leaders as well. I LOVE the GS training I've had (leadership, camping, first aid, and challenge courses and zip lines etc.) and truly believe it makes for better leaders and better troops. But factor that into your commitment. You probably only need the simple, entirely online "101" training for troop leadership to start, and then first aid. The rest is optional, depending on what you want to do!

Look on your GS Council web site to see if they have information for people who want to be leaders. Don't hesitate to call or e-mail your Council with questions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'm just finishing my 3rd year as a leader (began w/ 10 kindergarters, ending with 12 second graders loosing some along the way, but always gaining more friends), but have been involved for five w/ one daughter being a Junior. When I held my first parents meeting, I had a list of expectations for my parents -- their involvement. I told them I "don't do money and camping." I had already completed my initial training + it was recommended I have a list of parent "jobs."

My co-leader is our money person...she was cookie mom the first year, but now we have a dedicated cookie mom, a nut mom, two Outdoor II trained parents (including a dad). The last camping trip had four dads, two moms, 10 girls.

Their involvement allows me, as a single mother (of three through adoption, so no dad in the picture) to also be involved in my daughter's other interests (sports, school clubs, etc.)

I LOVED the Daisy years. The girls were so eager to try everything. We met every two weeks and had at least one weekend outing. In two years, they completed all three Journeys and earned all their petals (now called badges). Now the Journeys and badges are intwined.

There are so many resources online (unofficial e-groups + other Service Units' information), you will find lots and lots of ideas + guidance.

Go for it + have fun with your troop. If your "friend" doesn't like it -- tough!



answers from Cleveland on

I just can't get past that sentence about your friend saying you don't realize what it takes to be as good as her.

Was that just a comment that it's a lot of work and she makes it look easy?
was she implying you don't have the time commitement?
was she implying you are good with numbers but not so good with a group of kids?

I was a Daisy leader this last year, I don't think i was the best leader ever, but the kids had fun. If i were "competing" with someone one else I think i would have been miserable, but since we just did what worked for us and for our girls it was fine. I had tons of ideas that i didn't get around to doing, but these were first grade kids and what they did do was fine.

Have you gone on line yet and checked what petals (badges) daisy's can earn? I think there are 10 mandatory ones and then you can earn as many fun badges as you want. I would recommend starting in Kinder so you had 2 years to earn everything.

and as someone else said, if you try it and it doesn't work for you, you can pass the torch to someone else next year.

so unless your friend was saying more than is conveyed in your post i would say you certainly sound qualified.



answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like you pretty much know what you're getting into already. It is a huge commitment. My daughter is a freshman now and her troop has been together since kindergarten. I am not a leader, but am the "nut mom" and am friends with and close to the troop leaders. There are 3 co-leaders and they are all really organized and committed to the troop. Each one brings something different to the table. It's an amazing troop and probably not the norm, but just goes to show how great a well organized troop can be. It is a lot if work though!! Even though at this point they are mostly self-lead.

Now, I've tried getting my younger daughter into a troop and it's been a nightmare. I tried for 4 years and came against some really not so nice or helpful people in the organization. I gave up.

Bottom line, it's a lot if work and dedication (and a little luck getting a great group of girls together) and a huge, possibly long term commitment. Good luck, sounds like you'll have a lot of fun.



answers from Houston on

I've been a Troop Leader for three years and LOVE it! My Troop meetings are twice a month for one hour so it's not all that demanding. My girls are now at the Junior Level so we do alot of community service and field trips/camping now. At the Daisy level, you can just do local field trips and activities. If you have good parent support and a strong Service Unit you will be fine, if you don't that's where it can become a problem. I have 20 girls in my Troop with a great Co-Leader and wonderful parents which is why I can manage it with three kids and a traveling husband. Sounds like you'll do great, as long as you have lots of support, plus the rewards of being a Troop Leader far out way any negatives! Best wishes!



answers from Columbus on

I've been a leader for four years now, and my co-leader and I have a troop of 11 juniors. We also meet twice a month for an hour and have started camping this year. Our service unit is not particularly strong -- they are disorganized and difficult to work with. That being said, the best piece of advice and the overarching message of the training was "the troop is the girls' troop." They are the leaders, you are the facilitator, and that's as true in 1st grade as it is in 5th. My co-leader and I do not rely on other parents to step up, but we do have a good group of girls who have been together since kindergarten. My co-leader and I split things according to our strengths -- she loves working on the finances and the organizational stuff, I love working on the hands on crafts and meeting ideas and working with the girls. It's a great balance and it works for us. It sounds like you already know what you want, and I don't see what your friend thinks you don't see. In my opinion, picking the right co-leader is key -- my sister had a horrible experience because her co-leader was a control freak and she is one as well -- she and her girls all quit scouts after one year. I think you'll be fine, even with a little one in tow -- my son became the troop mascot until he was old enough to object.

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