Top 5 Tips for First-Year Troop Leaders

Want to make a difference in the lives of girls? Volunteering for Girl Scouts is an immensely rewarding experience—helping to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who will become tomorrow’s leaders. As a volunteer, you will play a key part in your girls’ self-discovery.

Making it through your first year as a troop leader may seem challenging at times—but, no worries, our troop support staff can help you through the process! And fortunately, our volunteers are also gracious with sharing their tricks of the trade.

Angie Saldivar and Kimberly Primo are dishing on their first year as co-leaders of Troop 2116. Check out their “Top 5 Tips for First-Year Troop Leaders”—great advice whether you’re beginning your Girl Scout journey, or have been leading troops for years.

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Daisy Girl Scout Troop 2116 poses for a group photo.

As first-year troop leaders, it’s definitely been an adventure! Both of us had been girls in Girl Scouting, but neither of us had been an adult volunteer before. Our daughters were both interested in becoming Daisies, so we decided to jump all in and start our own troop. This past year we learned many lessons, but most importantly enjoyed the great times with our girls:

  1. PRE-PLAN. Decide ahead of time what you want your girls to accomplish for the year prior to getting started. We sat down together and planned out our “year-at-a-glance” which gave us a realistic idea of the year ahead. The Daisy Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting really helped us understand what themes to cover in each meeting. Use shared services like Google Drive so that both leaders can easily share ideas on the go. (Keep in mind Girl Scouts does encourage troops to be girl-led; however, since it was all our girls’ first year, they didn’t know what to expect or even what to ask for.) As our girls continue to get older, they will start to take over the planning.
  2. READ, READ, READ. There are LOTS of resources available to you, but do not get overwhelmed! The internet and Volunteer Essentials can get overwhelming and scary sometimes, so look to your service unit, council troop support staff, and fellow leaders for guidance on what is required by Girl Scouts. Our service unit provided us with a handy sheet that detailed which forms and other documents we needed to have. Use Pinterest! With a few clicks you can download the app and lose yourself in the rabbit hole. Use specific terms like “Lupe the Lupine” to find great suggestions for age-appropriate activities. As a troop, we started a shared board, which gave us inspiration and a springboard for our planning.
  3. INVEST TIME. Be prepared to spend much of your time devoted to Girl Scouting, especially in the beginning. Other than attending your own troop meetings, there are also monthly service unit meetings. Plus, time for preparing for girl activities and meetings, doing important paperwork (permission slips, financials, etc.)—did we mention paperwork?—and shopping for supplies.
  4. RECRUIT. Recruit a cookie chair! As a leader, you already have your plate full. If you can get a parent to be the cookie/fall product chairperson, you can focus more on your girls. Also, remember if you have parents attending your meetings, they need to have been screened and cleared before becoming Girl Scout volunteers. Ask your parents to help put together a quick craft or activity for an upcoming meeting.
  5. HAVE FUN! Last but definitely not least, take the time to get to know the girls and their interests. Enjoy singing, crafting, and creating with them. And definitely don’t sweat the small stuff.

Thank you to Kimberly and Angie for sharing your valuable insight! Girl Scouts provides a way for volunteers to positively shape the lives of our girls, and create lasting memories—for both the Girl Scouts and their leaders. Don’t forget to register your troop by our deadline: Sept. 23!

Author: Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

Building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

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