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Are you a brand new Daisy Girl Scout leader getting ready for her very first troop meeting? Are you feeling a bit nervous about how you are going to handle and prepare for it?
Take a breath! Every single leader has been there before. Even I get butterflies when it is time for my first meeting of the year, because as the girls mature, I have to make sure that our meetings are as girl led as possible (which is hard for me!), as well as ensure that they are all “considerate and caring” as well as “friendly and helpful” to each other. Group dynamics change as girls get older.
As a veteran Girl Scout leader since 2008, I have been there and done that. Here is some advice taken from my own experience, to help you as you establish your very own troop.
Picture Created by Hannah Gold in Picmonkey
And when you are done reading this, head over to my blog post, Daisy Meeting Ideas for September to December, which is a guide for your first eight meetings.
Your audience is only 5 or 6 years old. They are much easier to please than a room full of adults. These little girls are very excited to begin their Girl Scout experience, so just about anything you do is going to go over well.
Just be firm and consistent with the rules, and things should be fine.
2. Be Prepared
This motto is one that I live by as a teacher, a leader and as a mother. Even this week, as I prepared for my very first Senior Girl Scout meeting of the year, I made sure that I had extra activities planned in case things take a shorter amount of time than I anticipated.
Have a few Daisy Girl Scout coloring pages or games as back up. When they were younger, my troop loved to play Chinese jump rope, and it is always in my leader bag if we have a few extra minutes before our meeting ends. It also helps get their energy out if you have been sitting around too long, and it makes clean up go faster. The girls want to play!
This book is filled with classic game for your troop and it is for all levels. There are games for small groups, large groups, indoor activities and outdoors. too. It is also a resource for international games as well.
3. Create a Kaper Chart
Little girls love to help, and a Girl Scout Kaper chart is a great way to have girls participate in their own meeting. Give a girl a job or have two girls share one. It teaches them to be “responsible for what I day and do”.
While there are many wonderful Kaper Chart ideas on the internet, keep it simple for your first year. Think about where you want to invest your energy...making a chart that is used for a few minutes at each meeting or planning for each meeting. I love Pinterest...but it is not necessary to get carried away and spend hours and a lot of money on a Kaper Chart.
I have written several blog posts over the years about creating a simple Kaper Chart with inexpensive ready made items. You can find them here...just keep scrolling for each article.
4. Make Sure Each Meeting Has a Routine
School teachers know that routine is a way to give young children a sense of security and to help them stay on task. Young children need to know what to expect next. For example, each meeting should begin with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law.
Then you do your planned activities. Have a signal for the final five minutes before it is time to clean up. Close your meetings with the Make New Friends song and the Friendship Squeeze (you can find a video tutorial on each in this blog post).
There is no right or wrong way to have a meeting-do what works for your co-leader and you. Just be sure you keep to your schedule so you can complete the activities that you have planned.
5. Have Two Co-Leaders Instead of One
(and make sure your other parents are registered volunteers)
I have seen this time and again on the Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups that I read. There is occasional drama between leaders and co-leaders, and in the end, someone leaves. If you have at least two co-leaders, if someone decides this is not for her or you have some mama drama, your troop can still continue without disruption.
If you think getting parent permission forms on time is difficult, try finding another mom to step up and help you!
An extra co-leader right from the start also makes it easier to delegate tasks and leading meetings. One person can be in charge of field trips, another can be the treasurer, another in charge of buying the craft materials…why have it all of the planning responsibilities on your shoulders?
My book has chapters about how to get organized, launch your troop, and how to keep things going. There are also many useful resources for new leaders to use to help them get on their way to a fun filled year.
6. Have Girls Bring Their Own Snack
Should Girl Scout meeting have snack time is an issue that comes up on leader forums at least once a month.
I have had different experiences with snack time. When my older daughter was a scout, her leaders requested that one girl bring it in for everybody, as they met directly after school. We had one parent who always forgot, and the leader had to bring it in for the girls. It really wasn’t fair to anybody involved.
That is why I decided that when my troop met after school, girls would bring their own snacks. That way, everyone gets to eat a treat that she likes and I do not have to worry about anybody’s food allergies. I did have a bag of pretzels or a granola bar in my bag because there is usually one child who forgets.
A note about food allergies…if you are meeting in a facility that is not your home, do not permit peanut products as snacks. Many schools and places of worship are peanut-free environments, and parents who have children with food allergies count on those places as being safe for their child.
7. Bring a Camera
My troop has been creating a perpetual Girl Scout scrapbook since their second year of Daisies. It is nice to have some photos of their time together as a troop. These can be shared on a private Shutterfly site or you can use them for your own scrapbooks.
If you decide to print the pictures, save your receipt so you can be reimbursed.
8. Network With Other Daisy Leaders
It is a good idea to attend your monthly Service Unit Meetings. Not only will you get the information you need about what is going on in your local council, you can talk to other leaders on your level. This is how I learned about a few free field trips in my area.
You can also ask Brownie leaders for assistance, as more than likely they were newbies just like you not that long ago. Ask your Service Unit to set time aside for networking at some of your meetings.
9. Don’t Do a Girl Scout Journey Your First Year
Many brand new Daisy leaders do not realize that they do not have to do a Girl Scout Journey until they are Juniors and want to earn the Bronze Award. Before 2008, Daisy Scouts was a one year program for kindergarteners. It was a year based on earning Daisy petals and getting familiar with the Girl Scout Law and Promise.
All that changed with the advent of the Journeys program. You can do it if you want, but my advice would be to wait until the second year and you have earned your Daisy petals. That way you are not trying to do both petals and Journeys at once. Focus on one aspect of the scouting program at a time.
10. You Do Not Have to Sell Cookies
Years ago, selling Girl Scout cookies was only for older girls-Daisies were not permitted to sell them. It gave new leaders a chance to breathe and to get to know how the other aspects of Girl Scout worked.
Now they can.
Selling cookies is an optional activity. I could not imagine selling them my very first year, on top of learning the ropes.
The tips for starting your Daisy Girl Scout troop are meant to help and guide you as you discover the joys of being a leader. Good luck!