Thursday, January 19, 2017

Getting Girl Led Meetings

Note: This is going to be lengthy... and full of information... take it one step at a time. 

Girl Scouts is supposed to be girl-led. Even though I will agree that females do all qualify to be "girls", we need to turn at least portions of the meetings over to the under 18 years of age girls at every level. This isn't an automatic thing, as we all know our sweet little Daisy's would blow their cookie profit on ice cream and Pokemon. But, no matter what the age, the girls need input and responsibilities... it is, afterall, THEIR troop... not ours.

This is sort of how I see the breakdown/transition working. Obviously, get a group of leaders together and you'll have 10 varying thoughts. This isn't written in stone and you need to know your girls. But, start somewhere if you haven't.

This is really the flow of changes that happened for our troop over the years, too. It works. Now, as 8th grade Cadettes, they send us supply lists and meeting outlines in advance for the badges they are leading. Some are better than others in doing so without reminders, but you'll also find that difference in adults.

Daisy: 
Yes... Daisy's need to have input and lead portions of their meetings and troop activity. They can absolutely take on roles of:

  • Opening the meeting by saying the Promise and Law (if you do that). 
  • Collect dues (if you do that)
  • Take roll
  • Pass out supplies
  • Collect supplies
  • Clean up the space
  • Vote on activities
  • Decide how to spend their troop money (with direction, of course)
  • Suggest snack ideas
  • and many more... 


You know your meetings... what can you turn over to the girls? Not their parent, though they will be involved. What can the GIRL be responsible for?

Brownies:

They've been in Scouts for 2 years, most likely, but even first year scouts can get in a routine. The trick is making sure they know they are responsible for it or it doesn't happen.


  • ALL the Daisy stuff, plus more...
  • Digital Secretary. I had a point n shoot camera and we rotated who got to use it at meetings to take photos. Some of the best photos ever, because they are from their perspective of what is important, not yours (or mine).
  • Song Bird: Each girl had a troop song book (See Twilight Camp songbook post) and they were responsible for choosing the songs to be sang at the beginning and end of our meeting. If they didn't do it, it didn't happen. They really liked to sing, so a couple times of seeing I wasn't going to fill in and they started remembering.
  • Good Turn Leader: Each meeting at the end, we stood in our Friendship Circle and stated on Good Turn they would do before we met again. The Leader started us off and recorded what each person said. At the next meeting, during opening, they would ask if it was done. It taught accountability.
  • Activity Leader: By this point, the girls can read. Have them read over the badge activity before you begin it, so they know the purpose behind whatever you are doing.
  • Trip Planning: Yep... let them have say in the menu, location, activities, movie (if there is one), how to fairly divide the group between vehicles (if necessary), etc. The sooner you get them planning their trips, the more invested they will be to make sure things get done. Especially overnights for journeys or camping or whatever. They have ownership of it, so they are more likely not to do the "I don't want to" speal.


Juniors:
All the Daisy and Brownie stuff and more...

Juniors is a tough age... They aren't little girls, yet they aren't big girls. They think they are big girls, but they act like little ones most of the time. I know that's a general statement and it isn't meant to sound harsh... it's just a tough age.

In order to get Juniors more involved in Leading, you are going to have to plan ahead. No more late night one day prior to the meeting to plan what you are doing. Remember... a Girl Scout is always prepared.

Plan the year of badges with them. Use the house method, if you want. Once you have your badges for the year planned, ask who wants to be responsible for a couple badge activities?
Each girl should take 1 or 2 badge activities they are going to be responsible for. They need a copy of the badge booklet, if they don't own their own. Give them a deadline for the plan and supplies. I will say, have a back up plan. Just in case they aren't there or forget, the rest of the troop doesn't suffer because of it.
Troop Money Management: I actually started this as Brownies, too (I didn't have them as Daisy's). I gave them the balance of the troop account, how much we spent on supplies for that meeting, how much we were setting aside for badges. Get them involved and knowledgeable about how much things cost. It's this much for a badge. It's this much for a patch and let them decide whether it's worth it. Talk money with them as an ongoing thing... financial responsibility will benefit them throughout their entire life. Start early.

Cadettes:
Cadettes is where I brought in back up (an enforcer... ha!) and really got on track to having the girls lead their meetings. They were used to me doing pretty much everything for them. So, for me, it helped to turn them over to a new co-leader who had had an older girl troop before.

6th grade, I still did a lot of the planning. They chose their badges, took care of typical meeting "stuff" (opening, business, closing, ceremony planning, trip planning, etc.). This was also the year we brought 4 troops into one and that had it's own set of obstacles.

Then, we began mentoring a Daisy troop. So, in essence, my Cadettes planned the meetings for the Daisy's. I showed them the badge booklets for the petals and had them make decisions on what activities to do, what supplies would be needed, etc. This really gave them the first glance at planning out an entire meeting for a younger level. I feel this helped them tremendously for their 7th grade year.

7th grade... we did the house method of planning at our first meeting. We divided up the badges and started holding them responsible for planning it out. We still helped them and still planned part of it for them. We led them down the path and offered advice, so to speak. But, for the most part, they were responsible. Now, we also had a couple badges in our back pockets (the boring, let's sit and talk badges) just in case someone didn't follow through. We also brought extra supplies and tried to see where their pitfalls may be to cover for them in case they needed help. But, the girls really did soar on their own.

By our 8th grade year, the girls sat and planned their year of badges, dividing them up between them. They are then also responsible to email a plan, supplies list, and lead the entire meeting. They lead opening to closing. If there is something like Cookies happening, I tell them in advance (like when we hand them the copy of the badge to review and plan) "I need 20 minutes of your meeting to cover _____" I also tell them about any meetings I need part of at the beginning of the year. I know December I need time for cookies, February I want time for Thinking Day and Global Action, and I like to plan 2 "parties" a year for them in December and May.

Planning meeting... the first meeting in August or September after school starts is just that... only planning. Badge work isn't really accomplished. We look over badges, we talk about the summer patch programs they were to work on, we talk about the service projects and overall mission of the year.

Seniors/Ambassadors:
Well.. I haven't reached them yet. But, I can tell you my 8th grade Cadettes do pretty much everything expect buying supplies for badge work (which they supply via email to my co-leader and I). There really isn't too much more to turn over at this point, except finances which I'm not sure that is allowed... I guess they could start putting together their orders for badges from the council shop or something... hmmmm...

3 comments :

  1. I was researching this exact topic and was very happy to find your blog! Current and relevant. Thank you!!
    I also would like to know how you work "troop government"? Do they take turns who leads the meetings, takes notes, attendance, etc? Did they decide to have the same person do the same job all year? We drew jobs out of a hat last year to give them an idea of what jobs to do during meetings, etc. (our troop seems to change year and admittedly, I am not the most organized leader but I want to get on track having the meetings girl led! I have a 4th grade junior troop and a 7th grade cadette troop. My Cadettes are hosting their first neighborhood event so we have been focusing on that thus far this year... but trying to get the year plan organized as well... with them deciding how they want to run meetings. My co-leader are not on the same page about whether it is GS required to have meetings start with the Pledge of Allegience and GS Promise. While I would love them to start the meetings that way, I believe it is up to the girls to decide how to start their meetings? What are your thoughts on this?

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    Replies
    1. We rotated positions, which was planned out at the beginning of the year. They knew in advance what they were responsible for doing each time. The girls do plan their own meeting outline. They also plan their hear of badgework using the House Method (http://www.girlscoutleader101.com/2016/09/build-house-for-yearly-planning.html) We have used that as Seniors this year, too. We did, as Cadettes, open our meetings with the GS Promise and Law. It's a reminder of who we are and what we do. It's also a great way to call the meeting to order and get down to business. As Brownies and Juniors, they did this: http://www.girlscoutleader101.com/search?q=sample+meeting We have changed a few things up as Cadettes and Seniors, but the bare bones are the same... It keeps tradition and meaning alive.

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Thanks!!