Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Recruitment Meeting, registration paperwork, fees, dues, Parent Meeting, meetings...aaahh!  Maybe you volunteered to be a troop leader, or maybe someone strongly persuaded you and you reluctantly accepted the position.   In any case, take a deep breath.  Consider one task at a time as you prepare for your first meeting.  In this post I will share how we successfully conducted troop business.

RECRUITMENT MEETING:  See my previous post.  

REGISTRATION PAPERWORK:  When our girls were in Kindergarten, the parents were asked to complete the required paperwork at the recruitment meeting.  In the spring of their Kindergarten year, the girls re-registered for the upcoming school year.  If 50% of your troop re-registers by June 30th (along with a leader), our Council offers a 15% Off Discount Coupon to use at the Council Shop along with an Early Bird Patch for these individuals.  If your troop takes advantage of these Early Bird Incentives and you participate in the fall product sale, you benefit from increased cookie sale profit.  The funds in our troop bank account were boosted this year because we took advantage of these incentives.  I should also mention that On-Time Registration ends September 1st for those girls interested in re-registering.  Some girls are uncertain about continuing with Girl Scouts.  As leaders (and parents) we should support them and give them time to make a decision on their own.  Last year we had a girl re-register in early November.  No worries.  Really.

FEES:  Registration is $12.  We ask that at least one adult register with each girl.  This person can be a parent or guardian, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or close family friend.  Any person chaperoning a meeting or transporting girls to special activities or events must be a registered Girl Scout.

DUES:  We decided to collect $18 at the beginning of each year.  To be honest, this figure was agreed upon simply because $18 dues + $12 registration equals a nice even $30.  Our first year we informed the families that they would have some out-of-pocket expenses during the year.  Our second year, thanks to cookie sale profit, our troop was completely self-sufficient.  After the initial $30 for registration and troop dues, the families had no additional expenses related to participation in the troop.  The girls and their parents did not have to remember to bring dues to each meeting, and we did not have to worry about collecting any dues after the initial meeting.  

Please note that the budget created for our troop is based on the standard of living in the Midwest.  The cost for a troop to go roller skating in Cincinnati may vary from the cost to do the same activity in other parts of the country.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:  Please see this link for more information.

HEALTH FORMS (or Emergency Medical Forms, as I like to call them):  Do NOT fail to have a completed and signed health form for each girl in your troop.  You may also consider having them for all leaders and adult chaperones too.  You never know when something might happen.  When I was a student athletic trainer, I spent my sophomore year of college traveling with a Division I men's soccer team.  There was ONE athlete on the team who repeatedly failed to turn over his medical form, but he continually promised to have it.  When we were boarding the bus to leave for the first game of the season, he still could not produce the form.  He assured me that his entire family would be in attendance because the game was being played near his hometown.  Wouldn't you know not five minutes after he set foot on that field, he was kicked in the shin.  He fractured his tibia.  I summoned his parents from the stands after the Certified Athletic Trainer for the home team helped me splint the broken leg. (This was my first unsupervised road trip as a student athletic trainer).  His parents accompanied him to the hospital.  He was a sweet guy--as they wheeled him away, he took one look at my frazzled expression  and apologized.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson.  I carry these forms in a binder in my backpack to every Girl Scout function.

PARENT LETTER:  At the recruitment meeting, I distributed a letter to all who registered with our troop.  I used this opportunity to touch base with everyone.  We did not have a separate parent meeting.  I included leader contact information and then typed the following:
“'Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.'  (Girl Scouts Mission Statement).  There are troops for girls of every age.  Daisy Girl Scouts spend time in Kindergarten and first grade learning the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law.  Our meetings and outings have been designed to help the girls earn daisy petal patches for her uniform.  The blue center of the daisy set represents the Girl Scout Promise while each petal represents one part of the Girl Scout Law.  The girls will earn the blue center and five of the ten petals this first year.  They will have the opportunity to make decisions for the troop and even sell cookies."
I then provided details about our meeting times and location.  I explained our dues and requested parental involvement for the cookie sale and outside events.  A tentative schedule for the year was also included in this letter.

MEETINGS:  We meet every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month (with a few exceptions).  The girls arrive at 4:15pm, and the meeting ends at 5:30pm.  Here is a sample schedule:

4:15pm  Arrive.  Assign kapers and buddies.
4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise, Pledge of Allegiance, Sharing Time (the girls answer a question that has to deal with a previous meeting/outing or something related to the present day's activity).
4:45pm  Song, Game, Craft, Lesson (or any combination of the four)
5:25pm  Closing 

SHUTTERFLY SHARE SITE:  Make your job a little easier by creating a troop website (or recruit a parent to manage the site for you).
"With Shutterfly Share sites, you can create a free photo-sharing website in minutes. Use your Share site to privately (or publicly) share photos with friends and family...or any group. As with any Shutterfly product, you can customize your website with exclusive designs and layouts specific to your tastes. With your new Share site, you are not limited to just sharing photos; share messages and updates, add videos, calendars, polls, team rosters, forums and more."
 I will be leading my younger daughter's Daisy troop in the fall.  The other leader and I decided to structure their troop business similarly.  Don't fix it if it is not broken, right?  Thanks for reading.

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