Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rally the Troop: A Note on Recruitment

Before I rush to outline our petal activities and service projects as I promised in previous posts, I should describe how we went about inviting girls to join the troop.

There is a woman who serves as a troop leader for older girls who attend our elementary school.  She also volunteers as a Recruitment Coordinator for our school.  Her responsibilities include but are not limited to:  marketing Girl Scouts to the female student body, planning and running a recruitment meeting in the fall (and possibly again in the spring), securing leaders for a troop at each grade level, and assisting interested girls in finding a troop to join.  She worked with our Girl Scout Council in the first few weeks of the school year.  A couple of weeks prior to the recruitment meeting date, each female student in the school was given a flyer to take home.  Detailed information about the meeting was printed on the flyers.  Council provided paper bracelets that listed the date and time of our school-wide Recruitment Meeting.  The Recruitment Coordinator's contact information was also included for those individuals unable to attend the meeting and for people interested in addressing questions and concerns prior to the meeting.  She and I met at school during lunch the day of the meeting.  We secured the bracelets on the wrists of girls interested in learning more about Girl Scouts.  The bracelets served as a reminder to families interested in attending the meeting.   

The Girl Scout year begins on October 1st.  The recruitment meeting was scheduled on a weekday evening in late SeptemberWe convened in the elementary school multipurpose room.  While parents met with leaders and filled out registration paperwork, members of the older troops in our school took aside younger prospective Scouts and taught them different Girl Scout songs.  The girls also enjoyed coloring together while discussing what to expect once they join a Girl Scout troop.

In the spring of our first year, we had the opportunity to re-register our troop.  Early Bird registration allows leaders to re-register their current troops for the upcoming Girl Scout year.  We always ask that one adult register with the child.  This person can be a parent or guardian, a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a neighbor.  On occasion, this adult may be asked to transport girls or chaperone a special event, and he or she must be a member of Girl ScoutsAs incentive to participate in the Early Bird registration, our Council offers each troop a 15% coupon to use in the Council Shop.  Any girl who re-registered for the 2011-2012 year received a limited edition 100th Anniversary patch from our Council that was only available to those who took advantage of Early Bird registration.   

As the summer progressed, we were fortunate to be contacted by several families expressing interest in joining our troop.  Our Service Unit was invited to a S'mores Fest registration event in late September at a nearby camp.  The event was free.  Participating troops were asked to provide their own dinners and s'mores ingredients.  Upon arrival, leaders were asked to turn in the $12 membership fee with each registration form.  Then we were led on a hike through the camp to see the different lodges and tents we could one day reserve for a camping trip. Members of older troops planned games and built a fire for the younger girls attending the event.  Fun was had by all!

Please feel free to share any of your recruitment meeting and registration event ideas with us.  Thank you for reading!

Happy 100th Birthday, Girl Scouts!

Our girls are nearing the end of their second year as Daisy Girl Scouts.  They are getting excited to bridge to Brownies in late May.  (Check back for a post describing our exciting bridging event).  They completed the two required bridging steps earlier this month.  The first step is to "Pass it On."  The girls in our troop shared their experiences as Daisy Girl Scouts with younger girls who may one day wish to be a Daisy.  The second step is to "Look Ahead."  The girls in our troop arranged time to spend with Brownies who described to us what it is like to participate in Girl Scouts at the next level. 

Our troop hosted an Ice Cream Social earlier this month in order to fulfill these bridging requirements.  We also saw this occasion as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the momentous 100th birthday of Girls Scouts.  The decision was made to invite a couple of Brownies from a sister troop in our elementary school to the Ice Cream Social.  It just so happened that one of the Brownies is a sister of one of the girls in our troop.  She brought two  friends from her Brownie troop to the party.  We then extended the invitation to five younger sisters related to girls in our troop who will be entering Kindergarten and may wish to join a Daisy troop next year.  The girls in our troop made Ice Cream Social invitations using recycled cookie boxes.  (This link provides other cute suggestions for how to use those empty boxes).  We cut out the front and back sides of boxes we had saved from cookie sales last year.  The girls used markers to decorate the invitation and to list the details for our party.  We shuffled the invitations and the girls delivered the invitations to the younger sisters.  This activity counted toward earning their GREEN petal (use resources wisely).  

Parent chaperones were recruited to attend the party.  We have an incredibly supportive and involved group of parents.  All mothers of the younger children offered to stay to lend a helping hand.  We had 6 adults and 18 girls--quite a full house!  

We began our meeting as usual, starting by reciting the Girl Scout Promise and the Pledge of Allegiance.  Then we went around the room, allowing each girl to share her favorite ice cream flavor with the others in the group.  It will never cease to amaze me how kids gravitate toward neon blue ice cream.  As a mother, I cringe on the rare occasion I give my kids free reign at the never fails they pick Superman or Blue Moon Cookie Dough.  I think back to when I was younger, and I loved the blue bubblegum ice cream.  Gross, but I digress.  After everyone had the chance to share, the Daisy troop performed a "skit."  I passed out an index card to each girl.  The index card stated the color of a petal and listed what our troop had done to earn that petal.  (Stay tuned as future posts will describe these activities in detail).  The younger girls had the chance to ask the Daisies questions before they lined up to make their ice cream sundaes.  The parent chaperones helped each of the younger girls with the vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherries.  We ushered the younger girls into another room to eat while the Brownies explained each of the badges on their uniforms to the Daisies.  They also described how much fun they have had camping since our girls have not yet tackled spending the night away from home as a group.  Once all the questions had been answered, the rest of the girls gobbled up the sweet treat.  The Brownies were split up between the tables with the Daisies so the conversation could continue.

Just before the meeting adjourned, we ended with our usual friendship squeeze.  As the girls were leaving, the Brownies and Daisies were handed an Ice Cream Social fun patch that our troop had voted upon in the fall.  The Brownies and the younger sisters all received a friendship pin the Daisies had made during a previous meeting.  The event was a success!  The Daisy troop earned their final petal (VIOLET--be a sister to every Girl Scout) for hosting this party and socializing with other Girl Scouts.  I would love to hear stories about how other troops celebrated the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts.  I do hope you visit this blog again as I will explore how our troop spent the last two years earning their petals and serving their community.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone: The Challenge

Since finishing grad school, I have been game for most challenges thrown my way.  In this post, I describe several of these challenges and how they helped shape me into the Girl Scout leader I am today.  Let's start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start...
MOST EMBARRASSING CHALLENGE:  This one involved auditioning for the chorus in a community theater production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC.  My mom and I went to the audition together.  She had been in several plays with this company, and she assured me that individuals wanting to audition for the chorus could audition in a group.  I have always been told I was not blessed with a good singing voice, so knowing my voice would blend in with other voices during the audition was comforting to me.  To my horror, I was asked to sing a solo in front of a room of strangers.  I pleaded they let me sing in a group, but my favor was denied.  I hesitantly approached the front of the room and turned my back to the rest of the group.  When I started singing “Do-Re-Mi,” the Musical Director suddenly stopped me and asked to see my music.  Maybe he was playing in the wrong key?  To his astonishment, my hands were empty.  No music.  I was mortified to learn I had been singing the wrong notes altogether (though not all that surprised--I am sure I sounded more like Miss Piggy than Julie Andrews).  I managed to struggle through the song, but I guess they thought I was teachable.  I made the cut.  To this day, I still have no vocal range, and I change octaves frequently during a song.  However, through this experience I gained confidence to stand in front of our troop (and other adults on several occasions) and teach them to sing our favorite Girl Scout songs.
CRAZIEST CHALLENGE:  This one happened a couple years after being cast in the role as a "sister."  I began strength training at a gym.  One day I decided to interrupt the grunting that was coming from a couple of intimidating guys who were struggling to get into powerlifting shirts.  To get into the shirts, the guys were required to use baby powder.  The shirts then refused to let them put their arms down.  (any Ralphie fans out there?)  I proceeded to ask them a few questions about their lifting routines.  It wasn’t too much later that I began training with them for a powerlifting meet.  After mailing my registration fee, my lifting buddies informed me I would be required to wear a singlet during the competition.  Umm…come again?  This was information that would have been helpful weeks prior when I decided to workout with them.  I chalked it up as part of the experience—another challenge.  Thankfully I was able to borrow a wrestling singlet from the high school where I worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer.  You should have seen the Athletic Director’s face when I made that request!  Never lived that one down.  I competed in two meets that year and managed to set state records in the squat and bench for my age and weight class, helping our team win the meet trophy.  I am extremely proud of this accomplishment. I included this example in this post since synonyms of courageous include "daring," "fearless," "strong," "tenacious," and "tough"--all which are very applicable to powerlifting.  I will also add that through this experience my confidence grew and it definitely helped build character.
MOST HUMBLING CHALLENGE:  This one happened soon after hanging up my singlet and packing away the protein powder.  I had started running.  And no, I wasn't even being chased!  My lifting buddies could not understand this decision to run for exercise since they don't run for more than 10 minutes at a time.  My running partner and I decided to train for a half marathon.  Then we decided if we were going to run 13 miles, we might as well train for the full marathon.  So we did. I never considered myself a runner even when a dear friend pointed out to me that my training run was 18 miles the previous Saturday.  I would say that I run, but I never claimed to be a runner.  I do not have a 26.2 sticker displayed anywhere on my car either.  During training, I developed a little hitch in my giddy-up.  On race day, the injury affected my performance.  I was disappointed with my final chip time.  It was nothing to be proud of, so don’t ask me about it.  However, I was proud to have finished the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.  On that day, I retired from running forever.  Finishing a marathon helped me develop character.  I set a goal for myself, and I worked hard to achieve it despite the obstacles (and hills) I was forced to overcome. 
MOST SATISFYING CHALLENGE:  This one happened the following summer when I found myself in the delivery room, preparing to give birth to our older daughter.  I was induced, and all was going well.  My husband and I watched GLADIATOR on our laptop as the labor progressed.  I was ready to go.  As the hours passed, my doctor became concerned.  He informed us at 6:55pm that he was giving us 20 minutes to deliver or he would have to deliver the baby by C-section.  I felt a quick surge of panic as I realized I had not planned for surgery.  I hadn't read that chapter in the bookI remember asking him if he was challenging me.  My husband warned him, but the doctor put up his hands and said, “Show me what you’ve got.”   Our daughter was born in “record time” at 7:11pm...almost before the doctor was ready to catch her!  Though I tried to be brave throughout the hospital stay, I was nervous about the delivery and being a first-time mom.  This is definitely the most courageous I have ever had to be!  We now have two little girls, and I am happy to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. 
MOST RECENT CHALLENGE:  For the past two years, I have been serving as a leader for our older daughter’s Daisy Girl Scout troop.  We are part of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.  The girls have worked hard to earn their Daisy petals, and the troop will bridge to Brownies this spring.  This fall our younger daughter will be in Kindergarten, so I plan to be a leader for her troop next year as well.  Unlike many other Scout leaders, I knew I wanted to be a Girl Scout leader before I had children.  Many of the leaders I know became leaders because their daughter was interested in Girl Scouts, but no one stepped forward to lead the troop.  In these cases, the leaders often feel overwhelmed because they do not necessarily have time to prepare and plan before meeting the girls they are expected to lead.  I have done hours of research in order to sufficiently educate the troop about the opportunities they have as Girl Scouts.  I decided it may be helpful to other leaders to publish what has worked (and not worked) for us.  I would love to hear your stories as well.  Whether you have made the decision to be a leader, or whether you are still on the fence, I challenge you to step to the edge of your comfort zone.  You just might have a lot of FUN!