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!

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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):