Girl Scouts have the opportunity to do amazing things, from conducting science experiments and scaling mountaintops to running a small business and giving back to their communities. While all parents want their girls to have these incredible experiences, many are deterred from joining or volunteering because of one question: What is the time commitment?
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience has many moving parts, but there’s one component that’s very clear: Parents make it possible! Between shuttling girls to and from events, supervising cookie booths, and running our amazing camps, Girl Scout parents are the backbone of our organization. But as the true superheroes they are, they’re usually balancing other children, extracurricular activities, faith-based organizations, careers, and home life.
So if you find yourself asking the question, “How will this fit into my family’s schedule?” you’re not alone! With our Busy Parent’s Guide to Girl Scouts, we’ll help you find a way to get you and your daughter involved that works for YOU. All that’s left to do is reap the benefits!
Determine Your Time Commitment
Busy parents fear not – you make Girl Scouts work for you! During your first parent-troop meeting, you will compare schedules and decide when, where, and how often your troop will meet. This could be weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on your schedule. Do your troop parents work full-time jobs? Opt to meet in the evenings! Do you have older girls that don’t need as much guidance or do badge work on their own time? You probably won’t need to meet as frequently. Would you like to incorporate a field trip or guest speaker as every other meeting? Go for it! When it comes down to it, create a schedule that works for you – even if it comes down to just an hour per month.
Share the Responsibilities
So you have a group of girls who are ready to start a troop, but no one wants to fill the leader role? While the title may sound daunting, you don’t have to do it alone! In fact, a leader should have one or two co-leaders to help things run smoothly. Sharing the responsibilities makes the experience better for all families involved – no one likes feeling the burden of a heavy load. The troop leader shouldn’t be responsible for everything in the troop, rather they should be regarded as the captain of a ship. Leaders are our chief communicators and coordinators, while other troop volunteers can participate in running troop activities. Are you a master planner with a skill for communication? A troop leader role could be the perfect fit!
Choose a Role That Works for You
Maybe you absolutely do not have the time to add anything else to your plate, or maybe scheduling and planning aren’t your passions. Not to worry! There are plenty of ways to lend a helping hand, and your leader will be grateful for whatever you’re able to contribute. Parents who have a knack for putting together creative activities and other small tasks could be excellent Troop Helpers, while those interested in a seasonal role could be perfect Program Chairs. Do you have an open weekend that you’d like to spend outdoors? Sign up to help out at camp! Find a volunteer role that fits your schedule and interests best!
Delegate Troop Meetings
While some leaders prefer to run all troop meetings, other troops find that a great way to get each parent involved and lighten the overall load is to have each parent be responsible for one troop meeting. This may include supplying the snack, supplies, and activity for that meeting. Badge Requirement Books and Badge Activity Sets offer a ton of guidance for parents, with clear program instructions and usually inexpensive, easy to obtain materials.
- Pro-tip: Badge Requirement Booklets can be purchased online for a fraction of the price ($1 – $2 per download) of hardcover versions. Split the overall cost between the troop and print copies of the pages you’re working on for your next meeting!
Open Parent/Leader Communication
Both parents and leaders alike should be upfront about their expectations and abilities to contribute. If parents want their girls to meet every week and also partake in field trips and other council activities, parent contributions should reflect that. Each family should have at least one adult volunteer, but that role may differ for everyone! Sign up for how you’ll be able to contribute to early on in the year as to avoid any surprises. This could mean you’re available on weekends to help chaperone field trips, you’re able to help balance troop finances on an occasional weekday evening, you’re up for a seasonal role helping out at cookie booths, or you don’t mind providing snacks for biweekly meetings! Whatever your abilities or interests may be, many hands make light work!
Be Open about Finances
Parent expectations and contributions will influence not only the troop’s schedule, but also their budget. If your troop has a long wish list of activities and trips, take into consideration your participation in Product Programs. Do you collectively have enough time to dedicate to product sales? If not, are parents willing to pay out of pocket for uniforms, activities, etc.? Maybe you’re willing to take on the position of Cookie Chair, but enlist other parents to sign up for boothing opportunities. Working with the other troop parents, come to an agreement that is comfortable for everyone.
Other Ways to Be Involved!
- Do you have craft supplies that are collecting dust? Or additional materials that could be used in a service project or badge activity? Check that hallway closet and see if there are any additional supplies you can donate to your troop!
- Maybe you’re not able to take on leading a troop, but you’re in a unique profession or have a special skill. Sign up to lead a meeting on car maintenance, yoga, knitting, dental hygiene, or cooking and share your talents with the girls! If your job allows visitors, give them a tour of the courtroom or firehouse for a fun and free field trip!
- Show up where it counts – at home! More often than not, the simple act of being there shows you care and that is what girls need. Debrief her after her meetings to help her understand the meaning behind the activities she did and what she learned.
Your involvement in Girl Scouts is not only an excellent opportunity for more one-on-one time with your girl, but it’s a great way to show that you’re interested in her accomplishments and adventures. When she sees you investing time (no matter how small) into something she loves, those memories may last even longer than the actual experience. You’ll have the opportunity to create relationships with parents who share the same mindset, and find that it’s a great way to get involved with your community without having to hunt down outside volunteer work.
We all share the same mission, which is empowering the next generation of female leaders with skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. When it all comes down to it, we do it for the girls! And that’s certainly something we have time for.
Ready to get started on your Girl Scout journey? Help us get girls off the waitlist and start introducing them to new experiences and skills that will last a lifetime. Join today!