Results tagged “Leadership” from GSSA Leader Blog: The Virtual Volunteer


What does girl leadership mean?    I was pleased to be asked to Auburn at the end of last week to attend a Silver Award ceremony.   I always enjoy these, as it provides a chance to celebrate what we do as Girl Scouts.   This was an exceptional group of girls who did a number of really great projects to earn that award.   I was touched with this group especially because they went out of their way to include the younger girls in all they did. 

 During the flag ceremony, they showed one of the younger girls how to take part.   After the ceremony, I saw them go out of their way to include the younger girls in the celebration.   It was a beautiful thing.   As I ponder on the many programs and activities we have, I am encouraged when I see a group like this illustrating by everything they do what it means to be a leader.   As we continue to make changes in programs and other activities to maximize our impact, it will be focused on avenues where older girls can hone their leadership skills with their younger counterparts to lead by example.

liz_brent.jpgThe following, which was sent to a staff member last week, reminds us why we LOVE our volunteers.  I listen to lots of volunteers who talk about how their jobs are sometimes frustrating due to things like chasing parents, dealing with transportation issues or waiting for a girl to be picked up.  But I think Marcy Perdue articulates beautifully why each and every one of you is an important, wonderful human being.


A few days ago I was asked why I continued to be a Girl Scout leader. Yes, it is quite a task to undertake, I thought. Yes, sometimes the paperwork and the daunting task of keeping track of cookie money (and all the other money) is enough to make me want to run for the hills. Organization is not my strongest suit. Nor is checkbook balancing, because it involves math. I work full time at a job I love, so, at times, there are not enough hours in my day to do what needs to be done at work and at home, much less planning for a meeting or arranging a trip. Some months, it seems like every weekend the troop has something to do! It might be easier to step back. To say I have had enough. To go Juliette and take my daughter with me.

I thought to myself -- I stay because I want my daughter to get all that she wants out of Girl Scouting. I see myself being a leader until she no longer wants to participate, which, I hope, is never. You see, I was a Girl Scout, too. And my mother was my leader most of the time. And, at the end, it was me and her. My troop of one. But what I did and where I went! I participated in service projects at the nursing home. I made wreaths for the ceremony at the Confederate Memorial. I made commercials for Girl Scout cookies. I gave speeches. I learned about public relations and the media as a Spotlight Girl. I flew across the country to attend a Wider Opportunity at National Center West in Wyoming. I earned the Gold Award. Perhaps that is why I do it. Because I had an excellent example in my mother, and I want to be the same supportive mother and leader for my own daughter.

But a little later that same day, I passed one of my Girl Scouts in the Middle School hallway. She expressed regret that we were about to have our last "official" meeting of the Girl Scout year. Not that I don't make sure we meet a couple of times for fun in the summer, mind you, but there it was. The answer I hear in my head every single time I think of stepping down to simplify my life: being a Girl Scout leader matters. It matters to me. It matters to the parents, most of whom help me in all sorts of ways. And, most importantly, it matters to the members of my troop, who come back for the enriching experiences Girl Scouting offers every year.

Is it a challenge? Absolutely. As they grow into young women, I am certain that keeping them engaged will be harder and harder. But I hope that it becomes more and more of a partnership, as it should -- a partnership in which I serve as a mentor and guide, to help them accomplish what it is they want from Girl Scouting. I want for them whatever it is they want. Do they want to focus more on trips? Would they like to earn a Silver or Gold Award?

I watch and wait for the leadership skills I see just bubbling under the surface. I know that for these girls, the experiences that they have over the next few years are going to be what shapes them into who they become, what they do, and where they go. I do not see my role as one exerting power over them; I see it as facilitating their learning that they have the power to make the choices that will impact them now and forever. The choices that matter.

Which is why I will remain a Girl Scout leader: to do something that matters.



liz_brent.jpgI've been watching with interest the progression of the Silver Award project Troop 8442 is working on in Fairhope.   They have partnered with Smart Coast to make their community more pedestrian friendly.   The troop has done some research, doing their homework on how to improve the community they reside in, and on Monday evening, February 28, they made a presentation to the city council that passed.   The plan is the city will install signage and enforce laws that protect pedestrians in crosswalks.   Cori Yonge, the troop leader, reports that everyone in the troop has done something to make this change in their community happen.   Isn't it amazing what a group of determined girls can do?   And isn't is inspirational to see these girls exhibit their leadership to make their community a better, safer place for all?!

liz_brent.jpgI was on a conference call with other Girl Scout CEOs.   We were having a spirited discussion on what works with today's girls and what doesn't work.    One of them said they had a reception where everyone who attended who had been a Girl Scout was clearly identified.   She said it was stunning how many in the room had been Girl Scouts and how it lifted them up.   It was a fundraiser and simply by seeing how many had participated in the program in relation to their current job, it was a clear message of how Girl Scouts have developed leadership skills for many years.

liz_brent.jpgOccasionally, I meet a volunteer, and I'm left with the impression that it is all about the leader.   Twice in the past 3 days I have had an encounter with an adult who was a Girl Scout during her entire school career.   In both instances, these individuals said they would not have stayed involved, had it not been for that special adult who served as their leader.   They had a relationship with the adult, who was a role model for them.   And, in some instances, they pursued their career because of the influence of this adult role model. 

It is important to remember, children imitate what we do.   Having worked with college students for 30 years, I sometimes don't realize my vocabulary might not be what some of the girls can relate to and understand.   Or worse, sometimes they understand more of what is going on around them than we realize.   I heard of an incident last week where the adult volunteers had some differences of opinions.   This happens with all of us, but it isn't something we need to involve the girls in.   I do this job because I believe I am laying a foundation for the future. I believe we are building future responsible citizens who will give back and be contributing members of society.   I do this because I believe what I do is, in a small way, an investment in the health and happiness of others.  

Why do you do it?

There have been a lot of questions about the future of the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. These awards will remain the highest awards in Girl Scouting. Guidelines for the awards are being revised by GSUSA to align them with the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and will be released in August 2009.


There has been a slight change in the grade level requirements for the awards: Bronze -- 4th and 5th grade Juniors; Silver--6th-8th grade Cadettes; Gold --9th-12th grade Seniors and Ambassadors. Girls who have not begun working on awards are encouraged to work through the grade-appropriate Journey. Completion of the Journey will satisfy much of the prerequisite work for the award.


Girls who have already begun working on their awards will have until October 1, 2011, to finish under the old guidelines. This is a lengthy transition and should give girls adequate time to finish their projects and paperwork.


The council plans to revise the planner and release the revised planner and award requirements at the end of the summer. Girls and troops who plan to begin work on awards before the new guidelines are released should contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz in the Mobile Service Center (800.239.6636, ext: 1202) for further information and instructions.

Did you know there is a Girl Scout Research Institute?  They are seriously interested in the lives of our girls.  In fact, the GSRI is conducting a national survey on girls, ethics, and leadership. This study will provide important information and make a unique contribution to knowledge about children's perceptions and choices in life. 

GSUSA has commissioned The Harris Poll to survey youth in grades 3 through 12 in randomly chosen school districts around the country to learn more about their understanding of ethics. One of our local school districts may be asked to participate!

If you have any questions, you may contact Kimberlee Salmond, Senior Researcher, Girl Scout Research Institute at (212) 852-8180 or Thank you!

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