Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Simply Circle: 5 ideas for organizing your scout group

I am honored to be featured as a guest at Simply Circle. Simply Circle is a new service for scout troops to help organize their life. I have reposted the my column here.

Everyone is going to get organized differently. You need to do what works for you. Some people work great with containers, while others are good with one big basket. Some like seeing it all on a shelf, while others are more content boxing it away in the closet. The path you take depends on how you work most efficiently. I admit I get a little excited at the chance to find a place for everything. Seriously, I giggle with enthusiasm in store storage aisles. I also like using technology to help me share and stay up to date.
Here are a few things I have done to help stay organized. With any solution, the key is to stay on top of it. Don’t put it off and try to play catch up for months of procrastination.
  1. My top “must have” is a binder. Binders are not boring. Stop that thought! Binders are awesome! I have a binder for each of my troops. The troop binders contain Health History forms and Parent Girl Information sheets in page protectors for safe keeping. There are also Meeting Notes, blank Permission Slips, a printed Attendance Sheet, and the current badge we are working on. Instead of taking the Girl’s Guide AND my binder, I simply put the badge into my binder for the meeting and we are good to go for referencing.
  2. Next, I have a “survival tote”. This isn’t about First Aid. This is about surviving those meetings when you thought you planned enough and was wrong, wrong, wrong. In the tote I have a couple small games (Spot It! and a Knot tying bandana with ropes cut to length for knot tying practice), 3 rolled washcloths for the washcloth toss game, markers, blank paper, and a couple song books. When I have time, I put together SWAPs kits and toss that in for a quick filler craft. This tote has saved me countless times. Pack yours with things you know your girls like. Ask them what you should put in it.
  3. Google Drive is your friend. Learn how to use it! I set up sharing for my co-leader to help write up Meeting Plans, track attendance, track badges earned, and track service hours for the girls. I love it because I can work on something and my co-leader can easily access it and we are both looking at the latest version at all times! My badge tracker sheet is color coded so I know what we’ve done, who was there, what I’ve ordered, and what I need to order. I update this sheet after each meeting, so when it’s time for Court of Awards I don’t have to go back and think who was at meetings and who wasn’t. The Meeting Plan outlines also have enabled me help many others, because I can go back and reference what we did for a badge and offer suggestions.
  4. Filing cabinets may be old school, but they are very handy. If you don’t want to do a cabinet, consider a filing box. I have a folder for each girl in the troop, plus one for each registered adult, receipts, product sales, trips, and handbooks. In the girl’s folder, I have a copy of all the paperwork she does at the beginning of the year. I also put past permission slips in there and hang on to them for a year or so. During product sales, I scan a copy of their order sheet and stick a copy in the folder. That way, the next year with the product sale packets, I give her a copy of the previous year and she has a list of customers to start calling.
  5. My latest “splurge” is a photo box. Not any photo box, but a photo box on steroids! With my brand new adorable Daisy’s earning petals and petals coming in one bag with all the petals and Promise Center, I decided digging through 10 bags each month didn’t sound fun. I also decided that baggies were slippery and easily lost. Plus, this gave me a chance to use the label maker! I divided up the petals by color, printed out sheets from this site and stapled the petals to the appropriate sheet. There are 2 in each box and the box is labels with the flower name for the petals included. Since we plan on repeating the Daisy program again, I can reuse these time and time again. Now, for meetings I can grab the appropriate stack and I’m ready to go.
When you have a full-time job, family, 2 troops, and are the Volunteer Support Coordinator for the largest Service Unit in your Council, organization is mandatory and helps keep me sane for the most part.

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Thanks!!