Tuesday, December 10, 2013

But, what does your Service Unit do?

This year has been a huge learning curve for me. I'm trying to turn my "little" girls into "big" girls and I've added the responsibility of Service Unit Manager, which is now called Volunteer Support Coordinator.

I am part of the largest Service Unit in our Council, though that may be different this year. We have lost about 10 troops and I have no idea on how many girls. The troops we lost aren't just the "older" girls, but some younger ones and it's really hard to find someone to step up to be a Daisy leader for those sweet smiling little faces, too.

I admit, at times, I think about talking my stepdaughter into being a Juliette (or Individual Girl Member, as they are called now IGM... lovely...). But then something happens to remind me why I do what I do. I love my girls. All eight of them. I love my Service Unit. All 83 troops of them. I have some great women (and men) that I work with to provide our girls the best experience possible.

I can honestly say that I feel our Service Unit is a role model for what you strive for. We are cutting edge in our Council. We do online event registration. We accept PayPal for event fees. We have custom Service Unit logo badges and rocker bars for events. We host at least 13 events per year, including a 4 day long day camp that invites surrounding areas to join, too. We have 10 Service Team members and each one is responsible for something. We just went through a structure change for positions and we are now "flat", but in essence we've always been flat. We work together. No one person is making all the moves. Our team is just like our troops. We vote, we discuss, we brainstorm, we decide.

Anyway, I thought I would share our events and our team positions. Just in case you are looking for Service Unit ideas.

Back to School Pool Party - We rent a local pool and pack in as many as they allow. The event is typically free to registered Girl Scouts (girl and adult) to welcome them back to a another year. The "free" part is contingent on whether or not we get the Cookie Bonus the year before.

Investiture and Re-dedication - As a Service Unit, we coordinate an event for troops to attend. The girls have parts for the ceremony and we have "veteran" Girl Scouts speak. 2013 was the first one we did, so I'm sure it will get better as years go by.

Juliesta - I thought Juliesta was a GS wide thing, but apparently I was wrong. I have had several friends from other Councils inquire about this event. It's around October 31st for Juliette Low's birthday. It's themed differently each year. Our Event Coordinator, Katie, is AMAZING! She comes up with the coolest, cutest ideas for the girls. 2013 was Disney magic, 2012 was Rockin' through the decades, 2011 was Halloween themed

Holiday Parade - This really isn't an event, I guess. But, as a Service Unit we register and walk in the parade, instead of separately as troops. It makes an impact when you have 300 Girl Scouts Daisy through Adult taking up a huge amount of space in the parade. :) We do a float and troops can do red wagon float (build it on a red wagon to pull). Of course, we pass out candy and the girls wear their uniforms. Great way to show we are present in our town.

Cookie Rally - To kick off cookie season, we hold a Cookie Rally. I think most Councils do this. We limit attendance to Daisy and Brownie and then have Junior and up volunteer to work the stations. Girls learn how to make good impressions, door to door sales, and all about the cookies.

World Thinking Day - In February, we hold a WTD event. Girls learn about the 5 selected countries from WAGGGS and do various activities. All girls attending earn their WTD badge. It's an easy way for Leaders to get a badge in without having to do the planning.

Sweetheart Dance - The Event Coordinator for this, Marianne, is AWESOME! She puts on a Father Daughter Dance for 3-5th grade girls. "Couples" register and attend a formal or semi-formal dance. They enjoy appetizers and dancing for an evening. Wonderful event for Daddy's and Daughters.

Older Girl Appreciation (this needs a new name!) - This is a fairly new event. We started it in 2013, at my suggestion. We ask our "older girls" (Cadette and up) to work at events hosting stations and such, but we didn't have an event just for them. So, in 2013 I started an appreciation event. We don't charge for it. We only invite Cadette and up to attend. 2013 was a dinner party cooking class with a local grocery store. We gave them goodies, too. 2014 is going to be a painting party at a canvas place here in town. Painting and dinner is on the Service Unit. If we don't get the Cookie Bonus, we'll have to reevaluate this event.

Teddy Bear Sleepover - An overnight event for 3rd grade Brownies bridging to Junior. Girls bring teddy bears to donate to local children's hospital, police department, and various other groups. They rotate through craft, games, skits, and all enjoy a late night pizza snack and movie before crashing at about midnight. By the time the event is over, Brownies have fulfilled most of their Bridging requirements and Juniors helping have earned a badge. This year (this is my event), I'm going to try to see if I can figure out a way to get the Juniors their Junior Aid bar.

Volunteer Appreciation - Another event I have inherited as Service Unit Manager. We hold a dinner in April for our adult volunteers. We do a silent auction to offset the cost of the dinner, but the Service Unit caters in dinner and has gifts for team members, awards for outstanding leaders and volunteers, and an evening for volunteers and their family to take a break from troop stuff and be honored and appreciated.

Bridging - New... 2013 was the first of these we hosted as a Service Unit. It's really to help out newer troops and small troops see how big Girl Scouts can be. We gather at a local Program Center and do a Bridging Ceremony for the various levels. Troops are responsible to bring what they need (vests, pins, etc).

Campout - 3 days of craziness!! Friday night through Sunday morning. We invite troops to camp at the Program Center as a Service Unit. Troops bring their own food and supplies. The Service Unit coordinates sessions such as archery, canoeing, hiking, orienteering, simple camping foods, etc. Troops elect whether or not to participate in sessions.

Twilight Camp - 4 days from 3-8PM... our Service Unit day camp. This is one of my favorite events and one of the reasons I love our Service Unit. We choose the hottest week of the year in early August (not really on purpose) and invite girls to come to camp. The girls are broken into unit based on what badge they want to earn. Their unit leaders are adult volunteers that may or may not be troop leaders. Some are trainers and just ladies that love Girl Scouts. Units have some scheduled activities to attend (craft, games, songs) and then during their free time they work on badge work, cookout, hike, and just have a great time. Marianne coordinates this and she is phenomenal. I just stand in awe of her and this event. There are typically 125 girls, 20 Program Aids, 40+ adult volunteers helping out. She pretty much does all the planning and such on her own, too. Awesome experience. In fact, other Service Units have attended just to get ideas for theirs!

So, yeah... there you have it... the events we do. If you want more information on any of them let me know and I'll be happy to answer any questions I can.

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