Monday, September 12, 2016

Is it worth being a Troop Leader?

**yawn** It's 5 o' clock in the morning and I'm still at work.

I'm bored.

I'm hungry.

I miss my bed.

I miss my babies.

More importantly, I'm exhausted. SO exhausted. But I have one more hour to go and I'm free. You see, for one night a week, I work the third shift - 10pm Monday to 6am Tuesday. It's hard. I won't sugar coat it. To make things even more rough, I have a Girl Scout meeting tonight. Don't get me wrong, I love leading a group of girls, but right now, I just wanna sleep.... it'll have to wait.

It's 6am and I'm driving home.

Still yawning.

Still hungry.

Plus side? I'll see my bed and my babies soon.

First, this drive home.... not too bad. I'm reunited with my bed for no more than half an hour. I wake up my daughter; breakfast, teeth, hair, uniform, papers signed, lunch made and we're good to good. My one year is still sleeping (YES!). I drop off my second grader and head back home. Quickly, I jump in bed, turn on my fan and fall asleep. It doesn't take me long.


If I'm lucky, I wake up between 10am & 11am. That gives me close to three hours of sleep after an eight hour shift and a few more hours (give or take) from being awake. But not today. No, today my son has a doctor appointment at 10am. I'm awake no sooner than I fell asleep. His bag is packed thanks to my awesome husband and I'm still in my work uniform so we're up and out the door by 9:30am. Baby needed shots today so now I'm drained with a fussy one year old.

I head to the store because we're out of milk. Since I'm out, I decide to visit the Dollar Tree for anything my troop might need that I maybe forgot. My son and I leave, getting home by noon. My son is ready for a nap and goes to sleep fairly easily. I, on the other hand, have a house to clean and a meeting to prepare for. I'm still exhausted.


My son is awake an hour later and my house is semi-clean. My daughter goes to after school, which gives me a few extra hours to work on my meeting plans and hopefully get dinner on the table for my husband when he gets home.

I mange to boil some pasta and sear some bratwurst. I leave my son with my mother in law, pick up my daughter from after school and we're on our way to our meeting. Did I forget anything? 

Crayons, yes.

Paperwork, yes.

Phone, ye.... Darn it. I seem to ALWAYS forget my phone, so here we go back home, which is luckily only a block back. Okay. We're good. If you lost track, I'm still exhausted.


Our usual time slot for our meeting is 6:00pm - 7:30pm. Today, it's at 5:00. You see, today is recruitment night and that starts at 7pm, but we'll get to that.

The meeting goes smoothly. The girls say the promise, we get out activity done and moms turn in anything they remembered. It goes without saying that not each girl paid enough attention, not every mom turned in money or read their emails, and a few girls didn't show. *sigh* Why do I keep doing this?


8pm and recruitment has just ended. I'm getting five new girl scouts, and two moms promised to register as troop volunteers! Seems as if my day is getting better before it ends. My eyes can barely stay open and I'm pretty sure I forgot to eat something before I left the house... so I'm still hungry and I'm still exhausted.... But you know what?

I'd do it all over again for the smiles I saw on their faces. It's totally worth it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Panera Bread Program: Bakers In Training

Lately, I've been trying to come up with new things for my troop to participate in. When I found out about the Bakers In Training program at Panera Bread, I jumped on it. You can check here to see if there's an offer in your area.

I originally set up a date that turned out not to be a good day, but it was easy for me to email someone in charge and change it around. It was a great experience!

When my troop arrived, there were place settings with a hat and apron. The girls were so excited! Set up in groups, they were able to go in the back of the kitchen. They rolled two pieces of dough and scored the top while the manager put each tray in the oven.

While the girls waiting for them to bake, they had an opportunity to decorate their own cookie. My girls didn't like the frosting much, so not many of them ate their cookie. They were also given a choice of white or chocolate milk.

The manager then brought out their trays and my troop picked out which one of the two baguettes they wanted to keep and which one they wanted to donate. Panera Bread donates their leftovers to a shelter! Each one was given a certificate and we ended out event with a huge thank you! A few ordered a bite to eat, but majority left for the night. It was great experience that I hope we can do again once the girls are older.

A fun patch was also included, but those come at a later date, given that we have to email someone to let them know we participated. 

  • A lesson on donation
  • Hands on learning
  • Huge participation skills
  • Fun Patch included
  • Well worth $20 each child
  • No privacy (We sat in open seating)
I did not see a problem with sitting in the open area, but it began to get a bit crowded, especially when others were trying to find a place to sit themselves. I even caught a few people put in headphones while trying to work (Sorry!).

Monday, August 29, 2016

Snooze At The Zoo

From cookie earnings, our troop decided they wanted to do the sleepover at the zoo. It was an experience they'll have forever, although I wish there was more they could have done. This event was planned by council and came out to $75 for each parent that wanted to attend with their daughters. Since I have Daisies, all of mine went except for one.

We started by driving through the south gate and down to the Discovery Center parking lot. We
checked in and were given red wristbands (that was our group color). My coleader and I met up with the other three moms and set up our sleeping bags. After a while a zookeeper spoke to us about what was gonna happen and what we could expect.

The first thing we did was a rotating activity. We spent the first fifteen minutes decorating paper mache. The zoo uses them to put treats in and give to the animals. It was pretty neat, but got messy fairly quickly. The girls got glue all over the place and for a table full of eight kids, we were only given three paintbrushes and one glue tray. One of my moms came up with a system where each would take a turn and pass it to the next. It turned out easier. The girls ended up using way too much glue and our paper mache caved in.

Next, we were onto the next room where the girls got to touch toys that the animals played with (sanitized and cleaned). They then moved onto the main room, for sleeping, and got close to copies of artifacts like a dolphin skull and skin of a wolf.
Our last activity was very, very messy. The zoo gave each of the girls a bowl and stick to mix weed balls. These consisted of butterfly feedings and wild flower seeds mixed with clay and dirt. They rolled them into balls and were told to throw them anywhere in nature (except the zoo property). The purpose was to help insects eat while, at the same, planting flowers.

After everyone was clean, the zoo took us on a hike. It was dark and we weren't allowed to use our flashlights because of the animals sleeping. We headed back after a hour or so. They played a movie and afterwards, shut off the lights and it was time to go to bed.... for some of them. A few kids stayed up and got a bit giggly, especially when they heard snoring or some fart. Kids will be kids though.

The next morning, we were greeted by pouring rain - cats and dogs, as they say. A positive note was the hot breakfast; eggs, sausage, bacon, granola bars, french toast, fruit and cereal. The rain had stopped and we were taken on another hike. By the time we arrived back at the Discovery Center, it was time to leave.

  • Hot Breakfast
  • Night Hike
  • Fun Patches Included
  • Tickets for a Safari Ride
  • Additional hiking through the day
  • Sleeping on the floor
  • Very little activities for the kids
  • No rules were set in place

Overall, the sleepover was a great experience. I'm not sure if the girls would be up for doing it again, but they have the bragging rights!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Troop Invitations

For anyone else asking, I found this template for extra special invitations that anyone can open and download. Just click the photo below! Enjoy!

I can't seem to find the link to give credit. If you know where this is from, please let me know so credit can go to where I found this.

The First Meeting

We're here! Planning your first meeting! Are you ready?

Crafts? Check.

Crayons? Check.

Glue? Check

Paperwork? Che...

Paperwork? Yes, paperwork. You didn't think the first meeting was all fun and games, did you? It's not. No, really; form after form; signature after signature; check box after check box. Loads of fun, if you ask me. So what am I talking about? Let's get to the point...

  • Registration Forms (Mom & Child)
    This would be highly important, expecially if you have a girl that decided to join last minute or did not bother to sign up before the meeting. That's okay, too - because this is the reason why you brought extra forms, right? Bring enough Adult Membership forms as well. As for myself, I like to remind the parents (mostly moms) that they should look into registering as an adult. This is for the kids safety. You want what's best for them. So, in order for mother's to go on Girl Scout programs or outings, each mom must be registered, ESPECIALLY if they are car pooling with another mom and/or her daughter (or just helping by giving another Girl Scout a ride).
  • Health Forms
    The most important page of all in this packet of theirs will be their Health Form. This is signed every year and updated to best of the parents knowledge. I bring these sheets along with me to EVERY outings. Doesn't matter if the parent is with me or not; you just never know. I also suggest making a copy of each one. If parents car pool, hand them an envelope containing the health sheets of the girls in their car. God forbid something happen, you'll have them with you. Parents who are registered should also fill out a sheet, being they're covered under insurance as well.
  • Information Packet (or Handbook)
    Pinterest has been the best creation in a long time. Through it, I was able to find this layout from (couldn't get the actual page to load, they're currently switching sites I believe). They had the perfect sheet I was looking for when trying to find something to give to the moms in my troop. Click here for a free download! Or comment below and I'll do my best to email you a copy.
  • Uniform and Order Sheet
    I recommend inserting a copy of What Daisy's Do (or whichever level you'll be taking on) from the Girl Scout Guide, along with the uniform. I gave my moms the option of getting the uniform themselves or offered to make the trip for them. I personally love shopping for these things so I didn't have a bother with it. This is completely up to you though. I created an order sheet and you can download on this link.

  •  Behavior Contract
    When dealing with little girls, things tend to get out of hand quickly. One gets jealous or one doesn't understand being a sister to every girl scout. With that said, I included a behavior contract in my packet to moms. It states how they promise to follow the Girl Scout Promise and Law, along with being on time to meetings and using their resources wisely. Again, Pinterest is a God send with this! If you don't have an account, create one now.
  • Other
    Anything else that you may think of should go in this packet. I added an upcoming field trip flyer that included important information; date, location, price (if any), due date, etc. If you were able to plan out your year, you could also add that as well. A "Know My Daughter" or "Get To Know Me" sheet can be included. A coloring sheet with the Girl Scout Promise & Law is a good idea (I laminated ours). The best thing is also a "Welcome To *****" certificate or some kind of note/card. Kids love getting stuff with their name on it!

Your first meeting should be informative and quick. Believe me, I'm pretty close to the moms in my troop and they've told me they (honestly) thought my first meeting was boring and too long. Keep your information short and to the point. You can even hand them the packet, tend to your troop and afterwards, answer any questions the moms might have. And be ready - they'll have a ton of questions. Nothing you can't answer.

If you decide to go the multi-task route, speak to the moms while the girls color a Daisy petal with the promise and law. They can then put together a bracelet or necklace together, following the color scheme they just did (5-6 year old's love it & their moms can also help them). So.. make sure you have plenty of crayons, coloring sheets, maybe a few folders if you can find they cheap enough and a bead set. I found one at Walmart for $15 and it came with 2,000 beads and the string. The coloring pages were printed at the library for ten cents each and the crayons I had were my daughter's stash from home. I spent less than $20 out of pocket - a small price in my opinion. Dues were used for the rest of the year.

Get to it and don't stress!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Recruiting Girl Scouts

When finding girls to be in your troop, things could get hard. After all, you don't know what to expect or even what to do. It intimidating; it's definitely confusing. A lot of things can factor in when doing -  main one being where you live. I've known service units being as big as having 500 plus girls and I've heard of some having no more than 10. The bigger the city, the more girls. Don't let anything get you down though. Juliette Low started her troop with 18 girls and now look as us!

The first important step (if your service unit doesn't already have something set up) consist of finding girls for your troop; Recruitment. Now, the Girl Scout year is from October 1st to September 30th. So you'll want to factor that in when recruiting potential girls. You can speak to the principal in your district and ask if you could hand out flyers to each classroom or maybe set up a table with freebies and a sign up sheet during open house. You can also hang flyers around your neighborhood (with permission) or set up your own table around a popular spot. The point here is to get the Girl Scout name out there and get girls interested!

When recruiting, remember the very first level of Girl Scouts are Daisy's; Kindergarten and 1st grade. You'll want to make things easier on yourself, especially if your new to this, and only recruit Kindergartners for your troop. That way, they all bridge and move up at the same time. Just don't turn away others who are willing to join! Make sure you know where they can go and the troops information.

If you're feeling brave (like myself), you can recruit any girl no matter which level they would start at. It takes more planning and time - you might even have to do separate meetings, but if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish it. (Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Isn't that the point of Girl Scouts? Showing them they can achieve anything they put their heart into?) I started with a troop of K and 1st, and since they all moved up in grade level, two of them became Brownies. So I went from an entire troop of Daisies to four Daisies and two Brownies (1st and 2nd graders).

There's also the power of Social Media! Create photos or google Girl Scout logos and post them everywhere. And I mean everywhere! Ask your friends to share the post. Trust me, the power of the media is real. I recruited two girls because of Facebook and all I did was message two old high school friends of mine and ask if their daughters were interested in joining (they were going into 2nd grade so it turned out perfect for me). 

Once you have girls that are interested, be sure to have forms and cards handy. These should always be with you. I keep some in my purse! Cards also hold my name, email and phone number so I can easily hand them over to anyone who asks. Don't be shy about it! You never know who's too shy to ask you either. Give those cards to everyone you're trying to recruit (I've recruited one girl this way). Trust your instincts and remember... "She believed she could, so she did." R.S. Grey

Good luck!! 

Have an idea for recruitment? Leave a commnet down below and you could be featured in a future post of mine!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

How To Get Started

So you decided to make the plunge and volunteer. Awesome! Now what, you ask?

First thing's first, you need to register.

Get started now!

When you visit the Girl Scout of USA website, there will be a "Join" and "Volunteer" option in your upper right hand corner. To begin, click on "Volunteer" and you'll be asked for your zip code. This is so you can be put in the correct council that you are closer to.

You should be taken to a page that tells you why you should volunteer. In the upper left hand corner, you'll notice a slight change. You are now on the council site of Girl Scouts that you will be volunteering in.

On this page, you'll find links on how to volunteer and the different ways you can work yourself into a troop, along with the kind of training you would need for certain types of volunteering. Make good use of these links; they'll help you out a ton.

Once you go over everything and have a clear decision on wanting to volunteer, go ahead and click the link and fill out the form.

 Next, you'll be asked to search for a specific troop or troops in your area. There will be plenty of spots available. If you're unsure of what you'd like to do, you can pick that option and describe why. You can then fill out another form and register as a member of Girl Scouts!

 All that's left is to pay the annual membership fee, which is $15. In 2017, price goes up to $25 in some councils for both adults and girls.

Afterwards, you wait for the email about completing a background check. This is pretty self explanatory. You'll need a social security number. Asurint is the name of my councils provider. They will check "names, aliases and address history affiliated with a SSN as it relates to established credit items such as property records, utilities, etc. Asurint also checks the SSN number against the Death Master Index to determine if that it is an active SSN and does not belong to someone deceased etc." It's pretty serious stuff. After all, you're being put in charge of the safety of other children. In my council, a background check is required every two (2) years and doesn't cost a cent. Every council is different. Keep in mind, it usually takes 3-5 business days to process and you can not hold meetings until then.

But that's it! That's everything. Once you get processed and approved, it's time to start getting to meetings and helping those little girls become strong women!

I wish nothing but greatness to come to your troop and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Monday, August 1, 2016

First Meeting Jitters

Without a doubt, there will be some kind of nerves or fear when it comes to your first meeting; especially if you're like me and get really bad anxiety just thinking about it. Speaking in front of a group? Nope. Not my thing. I'm pretty sure I barely passed my Speech class back in high school. That is, before I became a troop leader.

I held my first meeting ever on January 19, 2016. The girls colored while I spoke to the moms about the girls' uniforms and the upcoming cookie season. That was it.

Horrible, right?

Give me a break! It was my first meeting and I didn't know how to make the whole thing my own. I did what I was told to do. That's usually how the entire rest of the school year went. There were tours and special speakers but all in all, it was probably more boring than anything. To me, anyway.

The girls loved coming to meetings though. I would hear stories from their moms on how excited they were to come back and that alone put me in a better mood! The moms even told me how happy there were to learn I was taking over. I realized that it doesn't take much effort to make these little girls happy and, immediately, I started to change the way I held a meeting.

So here are my top 3 personal tips for getting over that social anxiety.

Here's a quick tip: If you're a parent following your daughter to meetings, a quick compliment will always keep your troop leader going. The long nights planning and stress of getting everything together makes her WANT to do it instead of feeling like she HAS to do it. So if you ever have a chance, let them know how great of a job they're doing.

Back to topic...

One: You can not make everyone happy.
When you plan something, have it in the back of your mind that everyone will participate. Don't assume one girl (or all) won't be interested and change your plans. After all, YOU are the teacher. Remind your Daisy that if she doesn't want to do the work, she won't be able to earn the patch they're working so hard to get (that will boost her up real quick). Scouts love their patches!

Two: Don't panic.
My first three meetings were disastrous. I wasn't prepared. Sometimes I was missing something or it didn't work out the way it was suppose to. But do you think the girls noticed? Of course they did! BUT make a joke out of it. These little girls are looking up to you and if they see you panic or get frustrated, they will get in the habit, too. Instead, we want them to learn that things don't always go as planned and it's okay. Another option is to meet the parents before you meet their daughters. This way, you can get an idea on what to expect and also have a chance to get to know your parents and let them know what your expectations are as well.

Three: Remember, you're new and still learning.
I went a little crazy thinking about how my first meeting was going to be. My anxiety was so far out the roof, I'm pretty sure others thought it was a shooting star. After a couple of months, I got the hang of things and realized what my girls were into, what they hated and what they really wanted to do as scouts. Don't compare yourself to others who have been in the game a lot longer than you have. Learn from YOUR troop and be the best you can be to them.

If I can give you any other type of advice? HAVE FUN! This is the most important part about Girl Scouts. This is the one reason why girls join in the first place. They want to go camping, take trips, sell cookies and even wear that uniform! Fun is the first thought that comes to mind if you ask any of my girls how their year went. "It was so much fun!"

And because of that, I can't wait to start planning the next year.

Next week's post: Registering as a Troop Leader!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Before I Begin...

Let me just say, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I decided to become a Girl Scout Volunteer for my daughter's troop. The service unit had no one able to fill the role in the first place and when a mom in our troop decided to try it out, she had stepped down only three months in. (In her defense, she had a lot going on.) So what happened when I told my daughter we wouldn't be doing Girl Scouts anymore? She suggested I take on the role after the service unit manager asked if I would like to fill in. What did I say?

"Suuuuuuuree.... I did two years of scouts back in the day. How hard can it be?"

Some of you are laughing at me. What would I know? But my daughter really wanted to do it. Being that I have Bipolar Disorder, I was worried that I do a few weeks of leading and step down myself. It's a habit of mine. My husband and I decided this would probably go very well for me though since I would deal with different things along the way. So I agreed to be my daughter's Troop Leader.

It hasn't been easy, especially when I have my days when I want nothing to do with anyone and stay in bed all day - even more now that I work full time. But let me tell you something, the look on those little girls faces when they accomplish a goal of theirs or earn a patch? Worth it. Completly, totally, 100% worth all the stress and chaos that has to do with being a Troop Leader.

I started with 5 Daisy's in January 2016. In September, I'll have 4 Daisy's and 2 Brownies. It's going to be tricky. It's going to be hard. I might pull out a lump of hair at times. But I'd do for many more years (as long as the girls will register) to see those smiles and get those hugs.

Tag along with me as I discover news things and ways to make things easier on you and your troop. Let's figure this out together.