At this time of year, we are working to recruit new adults to work with girls. Many adults find leading a Girl Scout troop daunting. There's the paperwork just to get involved.
As a reminder, we do this because we want the girls to be safe. You would be stunned at the number of adults who come back with issues that keep us from allowing them to volunteer. After the paperwork, there's the online training. Although not hard, it seems like there are plenty of rules involved. Actually, becoming vetted to become a Girl Scout leader is probably the hardest part of the process. The fun and value of the experience is being with the girls.
A number of years ago, I was with a brave Daisy leader who had a huge after-school based troop. I was invited to do something with the troop. When I arrived, there was noise and chaos -- girls laughing, playing, talking to one another. I wasn't sure what was going on. After awhile, the girls quieted down and the meeting got underway. I think I was there to talk to them, so we had a conversation. Conversations with Daisies are always good happy events. At the end of the meeting, there were crayons and coloring.
When I talked to this courageous leader, she said she had learned the hard way that she had to be sure two things happened at each meeting. The girls needed time at the beginning of the meeting to play and talk, so she allows that. Then, during every meeting, her girls wanted to color. If they didn't get to color, they didn't enjoy the meeting, so no matter what the activity is at the meeting, they color. It was so simple.
We had a volunteer come in to lunch the other day asking questions about what Journey book to start with. The response around the room was the same. Each Journey book in the series has something to offer, but it is best to talk to the girls and let them decide what they are interested in. This, of course, was not the answer the volunteer was looking for, but the shared opinion in the room was you should find out what the girls want to explore, and then make decisions about books, materials, and activities.
I listen to many leaders complain about the Journey materials, but the girls really enjoy them. Again, it is the same issue. Because the curriculum is not overly prescriptive, it affords a lot of latitude in the Journey. This creates a vacuum for the leader until there's some meeting of the minds on what the girls are interested in.
When I worked in higher education, I was frequently surprised by the wisdom of the students with whom I worked. They wanted to try things I didn't believe they could achieve. I was wrong. The best leaders and experiences are those where the girls have a lot of input on what they do to have fun and learn. Those are the girls that stay with the program, and those are the girls who achieve in many areas. Believe the maxim ... and a girl shall lead you ... because she will.