Long, long story short: A year (or two?) ago, we contacted the Girl Scouts about joining. We were basically told, "There's only one group in your area. It meets at the school. The person in charge of the troop will not allow your child in if she doesn't attend the school."
Me: "My child does not attend ANY school. This makes it hard to find one at her school."
Them: "Sorry to hear that."
Time has passed and said child is still begging to join. Things have not gone well with the local religious homeschool group and we're interested in finding new friends. I contact them again, today and get this response:
There are not many troops in your area that are accepting new girls. (Note: They consider "our area" anywhere from my street to 45 minutes away.)
So. I'm considering starting a troop. This is how much she wants to join.
But...I'm worried. How much of a time consumer will it be? I'm already homeschooling (duh) and running a successful Etsy business 3/4 of the time. I'm worried this will just make me a wee bit crazy.
Anyone ever started a troop or know of someone who did? Any experience with girl scouting? Any ideas, tips...thoughts....will be much appreciated.
I haven't started a troop but I've been a leader. As a leader, you have a lot of control over how much work it is. You can choose how often to meet, and exactly what the troop does. The biggest time sink is the fundraising. You could decide not to do it, but there will likely be pressure from your council for you to participate. If you can recruit a good cookie parent, then everything else is pretty do-able.
Do you have any specific questions?
I just joined this site so I could answer your question, but I need a tad more information.
Can you give us an idea of where you are located? And who exactly you contacted. Was it the local council? How old is your daughter?
I see you're thinking of becoming a leader. That's fantastic! Can't have troops without leaders.
I live in the Southwest US. I contacted the local council.
I guess my one concern is how much of a time commitment it would be. Honestly, I would LOVE to have someone else in charge-- I definitely want my daughter to have other adults in her life besides me.
I'm just imagining a huge workbook that I'm trying to follow while trying not to go crazy.
But...if I can do it kind of how I want (to vaguely paraphrase), I think maybe I'll just camp a'la Troop Beverly Hills!
OK so that would be Brownies. What's the name of your Council? I am really sorry to hear that they don't appear to be nearly as supportive as they need to be, but I assure you, Girl Scouts is a great program and really encourage you to continue to find out more.
First of all, the rules are such that you would need a co-leader if you would like to lead a troop. So go ahead and recruit a leader. That would be a great first step.
At first, the time commitment is kind of big because you need to do some training. I mean really, you wouldn't want untrained people taking your kid off doing some fun stuff without knowing what they're doing, right? So training is important.
After that, you can have weekly meetings. There are tons of resources available for how to do that, through trainings, leader books, online resources and also through your local council which SHOULD be supporting you ever step of the way.
But also, and I confess to knowing zero about homeschooling, please check out this website I found which may be of use to you in your situation...
I'm not in the Southwest, but my experience was that the council seemed only to pay attention to urban troops, because was where their interests lay. I wouldn't go into this expecting much from the council. They may have programs your troop would enjoy joining. Also, once a you have the "girl scout" label, you can likely access group programs at zoos, museums, etc... that you might have had trouble getting without the label. There may also be facilities the council owns that your troop could use (camps, etc...).
I didn't think training was too much of a time sink. There was an online portion that I had no trouble finding time for, and then there was an evening of in person training that was pretty painless.
You could do weekly meetings, but you could also choose to meet twice a month (how our troop worked) or even less often than that. A friend's daughter was in a troop where all the families had busy schedules, and they met once a month because they knew none of them could manage more than that.
What specifically you do as the leader is up to you, but there are "Journeys" which are basically curricula you can choose. Back when I was leading a few years ago, there were some places where the curriculum made me cringe, for example when I was supposed to tell the girls to go home and be leaders in their family by not taking 'no" for answer from their parents (they were supposed to try to get everyone to go for a walk after dinner, nothing nefarious, but still...), but over all it's thoroughly written and well organized. I was a leader when the program switched from being more about earning badges to the Journey model, and I think badges are more interesting. You can do badges instead of a Journey-- it would take a little more planning on your part, but it's much more flexible. For a meeting when we were doing badges, I'd basically choose a badge for us to work on during the meeting, and then we'd talk about it, work on it (generally you need to do 3 of 5 possible activities to have earned the badge), have a snack and then play a game.
Hello, My wife and I were Girl Scouts leaders for 19 years before changing to Frontier Girls. Hopefully, I can shed some light on your questions. To be totally honest, it depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it. I have known leaders on both sides of the spectrum. troops meet once a week, bi-weekly, or once a month. It depends on on you (tho you do work with the other parents preferences, YOU need to make the final decision), the parents and the girls. Likewise the length of the meeting depends on when and where it is and how often you meet. Field trips are left to you (our first year in under another leader, we had no trips). Depending on what you cover in your meetings, some (to a lot) of preparations are needed beforehand.
As stated above, the council requires various trainings.. new/basic leader, level training. first-aid, to start. If you do water activities or camping, then you(or someone attending the events) will need lifeguard(not all councils), canoeing (if doing this activity), and some type of outdoor education training. In recent years in my old council they have reduced the training length to attract more adults(no comment).
As stated above, you will need a co/asst leader as two adults have to be present with the girls at all times.
My troop never got into the new Journey books so i can't help you there. My girls preferred the old Badge and Handbooks, so we stayed with that.
The council has 2 fundraisers ... nut/magazines in the fall and cookies in the spring (where the majority of funds come in). This council would not let you do any fundraisers yourself unless you sold cookies. Cookie Sales are as intense as you make them...some troops would sell a couple hundred boxes and some much as 2-3000 boxes(like my old one). You can run it yourself or assign a cookie "mom" that you can trust with the money (was over $22, 000 our last year)and can crunch numbers.
As skbowers220 stated above, there are alternates to GS: AHG that she joined and Frontier Girls that I joined. Both are heavily used by the homeschool population. I have a mixture of public, private, and homeschool girls in my FG troop now.
I can go into a more detailed picture if you like and give you the pros and cons of GS, but would prefer to do it in "private" As Skbowers also mentioned, Girls Scouts has been changing in recent years, in a direction my wife and I don't approve of, thus our joining FG this past year. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever direction you decide to go, just remember....It is all about the GIRLS, not the adults, not the money, not the numbers....
I just wanted to comment about all the "new" GS practices that people on this forum disapprove of. It's hearsay and untrue. Stuff that gets spread around via internet gossip needs to be fact-checked, to be fair. I realize that for some, once their minds are made up, there's no going back, but really there are a lot of lies online that look like truth but they're really not. So make sure you do your own research. Ask, Seek, Knock. The truth will set you free.
Girl Scouts is a great organization, one that helps girls grow strong! Here's the promise and law:
The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Here's a link to the GSUSA website page for this, and it contains a very wonderful video of it...
My experience, as a liberal and third generation girl scout, is that there have been some significant changes in Girl Scouting recently. My impression as a leader was that GSUSA isn't actually interested in serving the girls who *are* girl scouts. They're interested in serving girls with troubled home lives-- the Journey materials make that clear. But as long as girl scout troops are almost exclusively run by parent volunteers, a fairly heavy percentage of the girls in the program are going to be girls with involved parents, and those girls need things too, but different things than what the girls the materials are geared for need. Between that and the way our new council handled the transition from small councils to mega-council, I decided that I was tired of supporting an organization that wasn't interested in supporting the girls in my troop or me as a leader, and wasn't particularly upfront about it.
I'm writing this because the impression I get is that you may have connections within the organization, and it would be nice if the organization didn't brush off all criticism as resulting from misinformation.
I have! I started a troop a few years ago and we are still meeting and having a great time. We have 75% home schooled girls, but not exclusively. We do cookie sales, but as we have families opposed to selling them for health reasons, we give the materials to the parents and let them choose to sell or not sell. I think we had about 50% sell last year. Our council has never done another sale besides cookies to my knowledge. The parents understand that our troop dues are little higher with less cookie sales, and typically the parents who choose not to do the cookie sale contribute more to the "Friends and Family" campaign.
Girl Scouts got some flack for the Journey program, which has been slowly rolling out. You can also do badges, petals, and try-its in addition to Journeys. We tend to focus a little more on the badges and use the Journeys as a jumping off point for them. Right now we just find that there's a lot of reading and writing ability expected in the Brownie Journeys, and our girls are at such different levels on that. Homeschoolers do tend to vary on reading/writing skill much more than school kids.
Moreso than with the Journeys, there were a number of girls and leaders who left over Girl Scouts acceptance of non-Christians, atheists, homosexuals, and transgender. I don't think there were policy changes, just that people became more aware of them as Boy Scouts made clear policies against people. There were also a number of new girls and leaders who joined as a result of GS diversity and inclusivity. Whether you want to do GS, or a Christian-specific group like Frontier Girls or American Heritage, or a specifically non-Christian group like Sprial Scouts, generally depends on your personal religious and moral opinions. I don't think any are specifically easier or harder in terms of actual time commitment.
I think it is very hard to start a group without an existing pool of interested girls though it can be done. Your council doesn't sound like they're very helpful or welcoming in terms of working with you to send interested girls to you, so I might try to get in contact with a few troops nearby that are not school specific and see if they might let your child join if you're willing to help out. They might need a great cookie mom, which requires some time, but is concentrated into a few weeks where orders and money come in; and a few weeks when deliveries are made. If you have good business sense, it might work. If you want to start a troop, the council is supposed to send interested girls your way; ours does.
You can also decide how much or how little your troop will meet, and for how long. The other homeschool troop in our town meets for 2 hours every week. We don't have that much time, so we meet twice a month for an hour and a half--one regular troop meeting and one outing. (Sometimes that just means we meet in the garden of the building and we plant stuff, sometimes it means an actual trip.)
Book loving, editor mom to 2