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.