After the Rally . . .

Can we all just take a moment and be thankful that GSUSA and all of our local Councils are now able to register girls and adults online?  I can remember the stacks and stacks of paper registrations I had to deal with as a Placement Specialist the year before it went live in my Council.  At least 5″ of quadruplicate forms.  And then each new Troop Leader was handed a stack at least 1/2″ thick.

But it’s not that way anymore.  However, even with online registration, Troop formation is still not an automatic thing.  Unless your Service Unit/Community manages to get all of their new Troops formed at Rallies, then the Registrar and Placement Specialist will have some work to do after the Rally sorting girls into new and existing Troops.

One of the main goals for any Placement Specialist or Registrar or Recruiter (whichever your area uses) is – believe it or not – to place EVERY GIRL in a Troop.  If we had our way, every girl who wanted to be a Girl Scout who be placed in a Troop.  The problem comes in the forms of well meaning parents and Troop Leaders.

Parents whose daughter has to be in THIS Troop, because well, those girls have been friends forever and their Troop sounded like they had so much fun last year, and of course I can’t be the Troop Leader for a new Troop.  *sigh*

Troop Leaders who will take girls from THIS elementary, but not THAT one.  Troop Leaders who say their Troop is closed until their best friend’s daughter wants to join.  Troop Leaders who think they can only handle 6 Brownies in their Troop.  Troop Leaders who are finished after Juniors, but their girls would really like to continue on to Cadettes. *sigh*

How to be kind to your Placement Specialist as a Parent

  • Be very clear on the days and and times when your girl will be available for Troop Meetings.  These can range from once a month to once a week, depending on the Troop.
  • Be very clear on how flexible you are.
  • Know whether you want your girl in a single level or multi-level Troop.  Here’s a post which compares them.
  • Know how you want to volunteer to help your Girl Scout’s Troop.  In my Community, girls with guardian who volunteer at Rally Night get placed before girls whose guardians are “too busy” to help in any way.  Girls whose guardian volunteers to be Troop Leader get first dibs, of course.
  • Understand that the older your girl is, the harder it will be to place her.  As Troops get older, they start closing to newcomers because they have started planning bigger activities, that require bigger budgets.  It is not fair to accept new girls halfway through saving for that big trip – not to the girls who have already been working towards their goal.
  • Give the Placement Specialist a method of contacting you that you will actually check and respond to.  If she/he is going to go through the effort of trying to find a home for your girl, the least you can do is take the effort to respond to her.  They are not going to spam your main email account.  They don’t have time for that nonsense.

If you’ve been a Registrar/Recruitment Specialist/Placement Specialist/Whatever your area calls the person who places girls into Troops, what other words of wisdom would you give new Girl Scout parents/volunteers?


Rally Night!

Tomorrow is my Community’s first Rally Night, so I can’t tell you what the Leadership Team has planned today.  Thankfully, I no longer am in charge of planning those events.  But I have been in the past, and I have been to every Rally my Service Unit/Community has held for the past 9 years, starting from the one where I signed my daughter and I up for Girl Scouts.

For Parents New to Girl Scouts

Rally night is recruitment night.  This is your BEST opportunity to join Girl Scouts, because this is when the local group administrators (all volunteers, by the way) are trying to add girls all at once.  We try to do it right at the beginning of the school year, because the Girl Scout Membership year starts on October 1, and ideally new Troops should be able to get started as close to that date as possible.

So when I say BEST, what do I mean?  Are there prizes for signing up during Rally Night?  Mmmm, not usually in my neighborhood.  Unless, by prizes you mean pencils and stickers for the girls and flyers, booklets, and paperwork for the parents. *grins*  Your area might be different, though.  However, this is when new Troops are formed.  So if you want your daughter to be starting at the same time as everyone else in the group, earning the same badges, doing the same service, having the same fun – join at the same time as everyone else.

The more girls we have signing up at a Rally, the larger the pool of potential volunteers, i.e. parents, grandparents, and guardians.  A Troop can’t exist without the volunteers to lead it.  Depending on your Council, and depending on the activities your girls want to do, each Troop needs at least 2 leaders, a first aider, a camper, a Cookie Manager, and a Treasurer.  That is either 6 parents who each do their part, or 2 parents who will be burnt out by the end of their Daisy years.

If you are a parent* who is reading this and would like to have your daughter join Girl Scouts at a Rally, to misquote an African proverb, “It takes a village to run a successful Girl Scout Troop”.  You need to be involved in your daughter’s Girl Scout career beyond just shuttling her back and forth.  I’m not saying you have to be the leader, though I can vouch for how rewarding it is.  Identify your own strengths: what can you help teach group of girl your daughter’s age?  The more parents who embrace Girl Scouts as a time to spend WITH their daughters, the better off their daughters’ experience will be. (and the smoother Rally Night will go!!

* I say “parent” because although I mean “parents/grandparents/guardians”, that just doesn’t flow as nicely. *grins* The typical Girl Scout volunteer is the girl’s mother, but just within my own Troops, I have had volunteer assistance from dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, and aunts.  If you care about the girls, we will welcome your help!

girl-kaleidoscope-blue_horizontalFor Girls New to Girl Scouting

This is it!  This is your BEST chance to get started in Girl Scouts.  You won’t get any swanky prizes that you can hold in your hands, maybe a pencil that says “Girl Scouts” on it (last year, we had cool color changing ones!).  Instead, you will get something even better: a Girl Scout Troop!  Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you look like, whatever you believe – there is a Troop out there for you, and we would love to have you.

For Those Brave Souls Who Volunteer

I would hug each and every one of you, if I could.  I’ve hugged plenty of my local new leaders.  Because you are about to take on a hard, rewarding, amazing journey with your daughter/granddaughter/beloved girl.  I promise that you will get as much out of this as you put in, and so will your girls.  If you are starting as a Kindergarten Daisy Troop, you will get to watch your girls grow and blossom and evolve into powerful, capable young women. You will watch as they take over the leadership, as they take ownership, bit by bit.

And because no leader should ever be left behind (again, misquoting), I’m going to give you as much help as I can, from troop management ideas, craft ideas, activity ideas, and just the real life workings of running a Girl Scout Troop.  Next week, look for a post on what happens/should happen After the Rally.

And If You Are In Charge of Running Rally Night

First of all, I feel you.  Been there, done that.

Second, I am starting a monthly newsletter starting tomorrow, and the first one is FOR YOU.  In addition to some free printable goodies, there’s a list of the top 7 ways to form Troops that FAIL after Rally Night. *grins*  Sign up tomorrow, and you can tell me if you have seen any of these particular techniques used at your local Rally nights on my Facebook Page.

Oh, and if you need a quick activity for the girls at your Rally Night, here’s a neat Fortune Teller/Cootie Catcher printable from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida (click on the thumbnail to embiggen):