But… I’m Too Busy: The Working Mom’s Guide to Girl Scouts
Guest Editorial from Melissa Moody
How many times have you said that? I say it too… In addition to co-leading my daughter’s middle school Girl Scout troop, I am also their cookie mom. I also help with volunteer recruitment and troop formation for our area, and run both our fall product and cookie sale for our area. I also co-chair our community day camp each year. I teach Sunday school at my church and serve on our executive board. I’m married to a very understanding husband, and also have a son in college locally. My daughter is also on her middle school track team, and will be joining marching band next year. My son was also in marching band and indoor percussion ensemble (both of which take place during our fall product and cookie season). I do all these things while also working full time and running a side business teaching First Aid and CPR.
So, trust me, I get it. You’re busy. So am I.
But – I will say that, of all the things I do, volunteering with Girl Scouts is, by far, my favorite activity. When I run volunteer recruitment events with parents, I always hear “I’d love to lead a troop, but I just don’t have that kind of time or money.”
My advice to you is simple. You can spend as much, or as little, time as you want running your troop. My coleader and I spend about 2 hours, once a year, getting a general plan together (nailing down meeting plans and camp dates). We spend a half hour every couple weeks touching base to make sure we have what we need for meetings and sending emails/Facebook posts to keep our parents in the loop. If the troop doesn’t have money for an activity, we don’t do it. Never, ever fund your troop from your personal bank account! Just as your family wouldn’t do something if you don’t have the financial means to do it, neither should your troop. Girl Scouts provides a great way for girls to learn how to budget and plan in a safe environment!
Because you’re the leader, you do get to have some control over when activities and meetings take place. If you’re not available, that’s okay. Work your troop events around your own schedule. There have been times when my coleader and I start comparing calendars and realize that there is no way we can do an extra event in a particular month, and that’s okay! When you explain it to the girls, they will also understand.
We have never been a “crafty” troop. It’s super easy to take one look at Pinterest and Facebook and feel completely inadequate as a leader. It is not necessary to spend hours preparing for every meeting and outing. Badges can be handed out in a Ziploc baggie rather than in an elaborate headband, hat or flowerpot that will be lost or broken an hour after the meeting. Our girls actually HATE doing crafts – they prefer experiences and spending time together.
Since that’s what they want, we focus on experiences. So far, in addition to a lot of camping (we camp 3-4 times a year), we have traveled to New York and New Jersey for a STEM program, spent a long weekend at Hocking Hills canoeing and horseback riding, gone to COSI to complete some badge work, visited area festivals, learned how to plant trees, visited a center that cares for drug-exposed infants, and are now planning (and saving) for a week-long trip to Savannah, Georgia.
We have times when we are going full-force for an extended period of time (such as during cookie season, when we do cookie booths all weekend, every weekend to finance their trips). After that, we stop and take a break. We may spend a meeting just hanging out and having fun rather than having a “plan.” They appreciate having that down time, and so do we!
So…in summary, my advice to you is this: If you’ve ever considered leading a troop, go for it! Keep it simple. Don’t try to keep up with other leaders or troops who seem to be doing something every single day. Just meet, have fun, and guide the girls to discover who they want to become. Trust me. It’s worth it.
Melissa Moody has been a Girl Scout leader for 5 years (and was a Girl Scout herself back in the day). She took over her daughter’s troop when they bridged to Juniors. Prior to that, she was “just” the troop Cookie Mom. She is active in the Kettering Service Unit, holding the roles of Product Sales Coordinator, Recruitment Chair, and New Leader trainer. When she isn’t doing Girl Scout projects, she also works full-time as a training developer, and also teaches Sunday School and chairs the Public Relations committee at her church. She has been married for 21 years and has two children.
DonnaJanuary 20, 2019 at 8:18 am
Just what I needed to read. Thank you for s heartfelt and eye opening article.
Susan OsbornMarch 18, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Thanks for sharing this, Melissa! In addition to the many achievements you listed, let me add that you are really fun to work with!
Kathleen MaultzMarch 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm
This will be my first year leading my daughter’s Daisy troop.We are both very excited about it.I just got done helping her with her first cookie booth yesterday where she sold out all but 4 boxes of her cookies… Her father and I are so proud of how she is growing in her journey in Girl scouts…
RichMarch 20, 2019 at 1:28 am
I’m the husband of a former troop leader and a father of two former Girl Scouts (many years ago). I was speaking with a Daisy troop leader recently and she is using a children’s book I wrote as one of their projects. I have attached a link below. If it interests you and all your Scouts don’t have the funds to purchase I would be happy to donate some books just let me know. Good luck.
The earlier in life financial “know how” begins the better equipped we are to meet our life goals. Take the first step towards financial literacy and read “Let’s Meet Ms. Money” to your children today. https://boomerbaggage.com/lets-meet-ms-money-one-step-towards-financial-literacy/
Financial literacy grows over the course of one’s life. Learning these concepts earlier rather than later makes us better equipped to meet our life’s goals. Most Americans are not given the opportunity to learn important financial concepts. Both the education system and the parenting process have neglected to develop the appropriate financial skills needed to succeed in everyday life. https://boomerbaggage.com/financial-literacy-grows-over-lifetime/
Kathleen OveryMarch 21, 2019 at 10:16 am
Our Daisies would love your book! I am the SU director in New London
Rebecca MaserMarch 20, 2019 at 9:27 pm
I’m from North Carolina and followed a post to this site. Spot on!! As a working mother of two whose job is a social worker, I certainly do not “have” time. I MAKE time! I guard my time with my girls as precious. But, I have an understanding and helpful assistant leader and a wonderful husband. My daughter is graduating this year and I’ve already committed to staying the leader for at least a few more years!
Melissa TeatesMarch 27, 2019 at 11:00 am
I totally agree. I work fulltime, am on our city’s planning commission and run a volunteer habitat restoration group. I also have led two troops (one graduated from high school last year after 12 years together). I am down to one troop now, 9th graders, and we also are more into experiences than crafts. I have a planning dinner with the scouts in early September to get their ideas for the year then mu co-leader and I put together a planning calendar for the year based on resources (money and our time). Most of scouts come from two-working parent households so we try not to over-schedule. I think being scout oriented for planning and being reasonable with activities is why my troops continued into high school.