I’ve signed up to be a Troop Leader. Now what???

Congratulations!  You did it!  You volunteered to be a super important part of not just your own daughter’s life, but also the lives of a dozen or so other little girls.

You volunteered to be a Troop Leader.

DON’T PANIC!

First thing I want you to do is get a binder.  A big one, with good rings that click together nicely.  This is going to be the start of your Girl Scout Leader Binder, one of the most important tools you will have, so choose wisely – or know that you will be getting a new one every year.  And if that works for you, great!

Then, print this out.  Using the worksheet, write down a few things you really want to do with your new Troop:

  • share Girl Scout traditions from your childhood
  • go camping
  • sell cookies
  • go on field trips
  • learn something cool
  • make new friends
  • keep the old
  • have an adventure
  • see things through another girl’s eyes
  • the list goes on and on and on!

Then, think hard about why you signed up.  The positives.

  • I had so much fun in Girl Scouts when I was a Brownie.
  • I’m a teacher and love working with kids.
  • I already know all of these girls, and they’re wonderful.
  • I want to be a mentor.
  • I want to help guide someone from Daisy to Ambassador.
  • I want to teach girls how to lead.
  • I want to learn how to lead, myself.
  • I want more self confidence.
  • I’m great at arts and crafts.
  • I think more girls (and kids) need to spend time outdoors.
  • I want a way to meet other adults with interests similar to mine, and maybe create a network for myself.
  • I really really really like s’mores.

These are all great reasons to become a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and I’m sure your reason is just as great!  Write it down.  Because you are going to forget.  This enthusiasm you feel right now.  In about four weeks, when you are actually looking at a dozen smiling cherubic, demonic little girl-faces, you are going to forget why on earth you ever volunteered to do this.  All you are going to remember is the negatives.  Maybe you felt strongarmed into volunteering at Rally Night (it shouldn’t be done, but I know it is).  Maybe you feel unready, incapable.

Put this sheet with all of your reasons and goals into a sheet protector and stick it in your binder to remind yourself why you volunteered.  Take a picture of your Troop, print it out, and put in the same same sheet protector.  This is your WHY.

Next, let’s get to work on the HOW. 🙂

Oh, and some other goodies for your binder?  Here you go!

Newsletter

I know that one thing new leaders can never get enough of is information.  Having to search for it, though, is not always not he top of your list, right?  So, how about more Girl Scout goodness delivered fresh to your inbox?  Every month, but only once a month?  Sounds like you need to sign up for my newsletter. 🙂

What will you get each month?  Articles, facts, printables, SWAP ideas, sneak peeks at what I’ll be blogging about that month – all free, and all relevant to that month in Girl Scouting.  For instance in September, I discuss the best way to form Troops that fail at Rally Night – a little shoutout to all the Service Unit/Community Managers/Leaders out there and Registrars, and Recruitment Specialists, and Placement Specialists, and all of the other wonderful volunteers who spend so many hours setting and hosting Rally Night.

You may have already seen the Mail Chimp Pop-up, but if you missed it the one time it pops for you, click the link for a form for you to sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Cadette Safety Award Meeting

Last night was my Cadette/Senior Troop’s first meeting of the year.  One of the awards that the Cadettes voted on earning this year was the Cadette Safety Award, and I thought that would be a great way to start the year.  We had a couple of girls sign up to run the meeting, and the emails were flying fast and furiously over the past two weeks as they prepped.  I made a point of thanking them for their wonderful communication with me, and how they used me as a resource, like Wikipedia, rather than as the person who tells them how to do it.

Opening

The girls were so excited to get started, they almost forgot to do the Pledge, Promise, and Law. 🙂 But one of the audience girls reminded us, and after the appropriate amount of facepalming, we did our normal opening.

img_7002Main Activity – Cadette Safety Award

  1. Babyproofing a room – the girls went around the table discussing ideas for making a room safe for younger children.  There was much groaning about the door handle locks their parents used to have.
  2. Water safety – they went around the table again, this time reading out safety guidelines from this handout and explaining why they thought that was an important guideline.  Then they talked about reaching assists and what could be used as an object to help with one.  No one opted to get on the floor to role-play. *grins*
  3. Teaching younger girls about being lost and stranger danger – since this troop is not as multi-level as the other troop, instead of actually teaching younger girls, they talked about how they would teach younger children, and specifically mentioned that this could be something they talk about with younger siblings, or with younger Troops they work with while earning their LiA’s and Service to Girl Scouting bars, or at camp, when we usually share a space with a younger troop.
  4. Emergency Prep – the girls talk about what a 72 hour kit is, why we need one, what kind of emergencies we should prepare for in our area, and why a deck of playing cards is important.  Many of the girls barely remember Hurricane Ike, which rocked our area 8 years ago and had our neighborhood without power for nearly a week. We talked about sheltering in place, and the girls then made deluxe sit-upons, what my Co-Leader and I are calling Version 3.0 (look for a tutorial later this week).  These can be used at camp, but can also be used as a shelter in place style 72 hour kit.  The girls were each given a card with items to be placed the kit listed on it, which was then laminated to the inside of the bucket lid with packing tape.
  5. Bullying – while the girls were crafting their buckets, they also talked about bullying, and created their anti-bullying pledge.

Troop Business

I kind of snuck in and spoke to the girls for 10 minutes while they were crafting to do Troop Business: updating them on our money earning efforts, discussing whether they would use a Google Hangout for outside of meeting discussion, voting on whether we should celebrate our Silver Award recipients on our own or with the whole Community, and reminding them that they will need to sign up to run 2 meetings, if they haven’t already.

Closing

After the duct tape free for all (OMG – have you seen the GALAXY DUCT TAPE?!?!  This is apparently the coolest duct tape to my girls at the moment.  And they did not like me bringing the s’mores duct tape because it made them hungry.*grins* Good thing I didn’t buy that mac and cheese duct tape.), we closed the way we always do: friendship circle, “Make New Friends”, and a friendship squeeze, started by the two girls who ran the meeting.

Trying to earn this award?  Here’s the 72-hour kit handout I created using ideas from the ready.gov website:

72hourkit

Bridging Ceremony Prep

Our next meeting for my multi-level Troop will be our Bridging Ceremony, and Back to Troop Party.  We were supposed to have an End of the Year Party last year, but it was rained out, unfortunately. So we will be using the s’mores making supplies for the upcoming meeting.  My girls wanted to see which Girl Scout Cookies make the best s’mores, so they saved a box of each variety.  This was, of course, before GSUSA announced that we would be selling s’mores inspired Girl Scout Cookies this year, but it seems like an appropriate way to start the year in light of the announcement.

Now the bad thing is that I won’t be able to be at the next meeting – I will be on my next personal adventure to New Mexico.  I mentioned this to the adults, my new Level Leaders and other parents.  Which meant that it would be more than a month before the Troop would be able to really get started.  I thought that kind of stunk, and so did they.  There were tentative questions – “So, what exactly will they be doing?” “Is there something that tells us what to say?”

YES!  They’re getting it!  I don’t have to be there, they CAN DO THIS!  I am so proud of these women!

I said, all we would be doing is a bridging ceremony and then making s’mores.  Easy peasy.  And of course, I can get you a script for the ceremony.  No one expects you to make this stuff up off the top of your head.  So then I went home, and was quickly reminded how few resources exist for multi-level Troops.  All of the multi-level bridging ceremonies I could find were really old (as in before there were Ambassadors, when it was Studio 2B); or really preparation intensive; or only involved a couple of levels (D,B,and J but no Older Girls or vice versa); or was geared towards and entire Service Unit/Community and therefore required too many girls.

One thing I have found is the best way to scare off a new Leader is to make Leading a new Troop too complicated, too time-consuming outside of meetings, too jargon heavy.  Which is why my original Co-Leader and I just spent one year letting the adults of the Troop sit in on meetings and absorb what it means to be a Girl Scout, what it means to be a Troop.  Get the jargon absorbed without the pressure of leading.  I think this is truly one of the benefits to a multi-level Troop situation.  Experienced Leaders can mentor the new ones.

Back to the problem at hand, though: No ceremony that really fits our Troop.  Okaaaaaay.  Guess I’ll take some existing ones, modify them, and whip up a ceremony that fits our Troop.  And because I’m hoping some of you out there might need this help, too, I’m attaching a PDF of our ceremony (made generic as far as Troop number, and names).

Then there was the issue of certificates.  I like having pieces of paper to pin and staple patches to.  My favorite way of handing out patches to new Girl Scouts is to attach them to a drawing of a uniform, placing them where they should be – with fun patches stapled to the back of the sheet of paper.  It makes it easy for parents who may not know where all the bits and bobs of the uniform is supposed to go.  So, I needed certificates to attach the girls’ membership stars, bridging patches, and Brownie Wings to.

Cue internet search.  Never try to reinvent the wheel in Girl Scouts.  Just take an existing wheel and file it down to fit your axle.

Do you know how hard it is to find a decent looking, non cartoony bridging certificate for EVERY LEVEL???  I mean, besides a generic “Bridging Certificate”.  Which I didn’t want. I actually really like the look of the ones GSUSA makes, with the level-colored bar across the bottom, clean lines, and not a lot of ink splashed across the page so that by the time I’m running the Cadette certificates I still have ink left in my printer.  So I tweaked that and made my own version.

And then I realized that the girls who aren’t bridging this year will feel left out if they don’t get a certificate, too – at least the Daisy and Brownie will.  So I also had to make Certificate of Completion for their first year in a level.  The new girls that have just joined our Troop will have to wait until our investiture/rededication to be the center of the ceremony.  We will wait until December for that, after our Community rallies for the year.

So I’ll be heading into our Troop Committee meeting with badge books, packets for the ceremony, and patches and pins for them to assemble.  Since we have more than two weeks until the meeting, and there are four of them, I don’t have a problem delegating the rest of the assembly to them.  I’m not sure if they’re going to love me or hate me for this; but I think of it as part of the learning to be a Leader process.

Click for my Multi-Level Bridging Ceremony PDF. Feel free to modify as you need.  We only have Daisies through Seniors in our Troop, and none of Cadettes are bridging to Seniors this year.

Some other Multi-Level Bridging Ceremony Sources (most of these are either multi-level packets or ceremony packets):

Hygiene Kits (Packing Lists)

So, now that I’ve talked about why you should consider having 2 or 3 packed hygiene kits (or at least 2 or 3 lists), what should be in them, and what they should be in, how about some downloadable lists? 🙂 Your wish, yada yada . . .

personal

 

Individual Hygiene List – Camping

Individual Hygiene List – Roadtripping

Individual Hygiene List – Flying

Individual Hygiene List – Blank

Individual Hygiene List – All of the above in one .pdf

Take one, two, or all of them, whatever suits YOUR adventure.  And let me know what you think in the comments!

Hygiene Kit (Contents)

So what to pack in your hygiene bag depends on you, for the most part, but there are some universals, right?

  1. You want your hair to be clean and nice looking (unless you’re camping and plan on wearing a bandana for the second and third day).
  2. You want your teeth to be clean.
  3. You want your face to be clean.
  4. You want your body to be clean (see #1, only sans bandana. That will not help hide your stinky body unless you are the size of a Barbie doll).

What I use for these 4 things will not necessarily be of any help to you, as you have your own issues and preferences. For instance, you might not have superfine hair that you need to volumize, you might not have a weird aversion to gel toothpastes, and you might have a lot more intense makeup regimen. So we’ll talk in generalities, mmmkay?

Camping supplies

Let’s face it, taking Brownies to one of your local Council’s camps is not “roughing it”. And while I have come to realize recently that our Council’s campsites are on the luxurious side (climate controlled bathroom units with showers, flushies, and OUTLETS), I believe that most Councils have set their camps up at least as well as state parks – with a central bathroom unit with showers in easy walking distance of the campsites. This means that you are going to be dealing with drains that feed into some kind of a septic system, which reduces the headache caused in picking out hygiene supplies.

When you start taking your girls on more primitive style camping trips, you will need to look into biodegradable soaps that won’t pollute the local water system, packing toilet paper in and out, and why a trowel is suddenly part of your “hygiene supply” packing list instead of fire supplies.

But at this point, the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid smelling like fruit or flowers. Fruit and flowers smell really nice for one reason: to attract animals. Which is the last you want to do at camp. Or you want your girls to do at camp. So no perfume, no body spray, unscented everything as much as possible.

Flying

We all know what the major issues with trips taken by airline are these days (as far as packing goes) – baggage fees and TSA restrictions. No one wants to pay for checked baggage or possibly lose a checked bag, so we are trying to use carry-ons only. But that means that our hygiene kit is now subject to the dreaded 3-1-1 rule. There are several ways to go about dealing with this:

  1. Collect samples and hotel supplies. As you can see, I have quite a collection of hotel soaps and shampoos and I can’t quite turn down a free sample. I haven’t had to buy travel toothpaste ever, thanks to my family dentist. And my travel deodorant needs have all been fulfilled by Walmart’s free samples over the last 10 years.
  2. Get a multitasker. Dr. Bronner’s soap has been touted for over a hundred years as the only soap you’ll ever need. From shampoo to body wash to floor cleaner to dog wash to toothpaste, it is said to clean it all! More nice things that make me want to try it: it is organic, biodegradable, and can be purchase in 2 oz. bottles.
  3. Go dry. If it isn’t a liquid, the 3-1-1 rule doesn’t apply. Things that come in solid form: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, sunscreen, perfume, laundry detergent, and makeup. You might want to test things out before your trip, though. It doesn’t matter how much space you save in your quart sized bag, if you hate the solid shampoo you packed!
  4. Buy when you arrive. Planning on staying a week or more? If you’re traveling in the US, chances are your favorite brand of whatever liquid is available at the local drugstore. Skip the hassle of packing up 3 oz. bottles, and just get a full sized bottle when you arrive. Especially when traveling with your family – get one bottle of shampoo for all instead of a tiny bottle for each.

Roadtripping

Pack what you want! Every lotion and potion that makes you feel clean and pretty at home can be taken with you when you no longer have to be concerned about TSA inspections. I do recommend continuing to pack liquids in plastic baggies, though, in case of leaks.

Next post: what do you pack all of this stuff in???

 

Updated Packing Lists

Greetings, fellow adventurers!  Okay, so I noticed that all the lists I was giving you looked . . .well,  . . .boring.  And they were the ones I had picked up from my Council, from my Service Unit, and from across the web.

So I decided to update them!  Click the pics below to get the new, pretty, coordinating PDF packing lists.  Let me know what you think.  If someone out there likes them, I might go ahead and make other forms that go with them.

 

Packing List (Girl)
Packing List (Girl)
Packing List (Troop)
Packing List (Troop)
Packing List (First Aid)
Packing List (First Aid)
The Other List (Craft Box)
The Other List (Craft Box)