Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A goal by any name...

I was speaking with a crafty friend who I have "known" for many years. Her daughter is in Girl Scouts and she loves it. I'm so happy about that. Anyway, she has been asked to be the Service Unit Manager for their Service Unit and wanted to "pick my brain".

My first thought was to tell her to run... and run fast! But, then I took a deep breath and thought I wouldn't have really been doing her any favors with that. She'll rock it, too!!

So, I gave a little thought and decided to share my ultimate driving force. As I was telling her my thoughts, I thought... Wow... this would be a good blog post! So, I'll share with you what I had told her.

Becoming the Service Unit Manager (or Volunteer Service Coordinator, depending on which Council you are in) is not to be taken lightly. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of fielding questions and hearing about things you really don't want to know. It's a liaison position between council staff and volunteers... and it's an unpaid volunteer position... It takes a certain type of personality. You can't take things personally or at least you have to be able to distance yourself and make good decisions without being too emotionally tied or distant to each situation. You are going to hear the horrors of parents, the unruliness of girls, the complaints about fellow volunteers, and you're going to have to use good discretion and great judgment when dealing with it all. You are going to have to balance what you know, what you don't know, and when to call in council staff (even when it means you feel like a child tattling).

This is my 3rd year as the VSC for GSMH SU 738. My 4th year working in this position. The 1st year I was blessed to co-manage the SU with the former SUM. Then, I was on my own. I hit the ground running and suggested a ton of things and was happy to jump in and help on any and everything and THAT was my fatal mistake.

The problem I faced with so many ideas was that I was scattered and it was hard to get anything going well. It was also hard to get enthusiasm built for each thing. So... I stopped, downsized, and regrouped.

My solution was to set a "focus goal". The name itself reminds me that it's what I'm focusing on. I choose ONE thing to improve and focus on that one thing for as long as it takes. This is the list I went through and what we did:

1. Communication with leaders - monthly newsletter; updating website frequently; branch out to social media
2. Mentoring leaders - monthly leader education sessions hosted by the service team and various guests. 30 minutes long. leaders can suggest topics for upcoming months.
3. Easier registration - we set up paypal and online forms for most service unit events; We use JotForm and worked with our council staff to get PayPal set up correctly.
4. CSA support - membership in CSA is down, so we have one event a year to reward them for volunteering and we have plans to host additional events just for CSAs; we also formed the Girl Advisory Board

So, where to begin? 

Set down with your service team and ask "What do we need accomplish this year?". If you don't have a service team, recruit! In the meantime, set down with your leaders and ask "Where are we failing?" Choose ONE and brainstorm ways to improve it. Then... do it! If it doesn't work... try again. Edison didn't invent the light bulb on Try #1.

(Soap box moment: Just because we are volunteers, doesn't mean we can't provide resources to share for one another. Stop blaming Council and using the excuse that you don't get any support. Turn it into the opportunity to provide support! Be the point person for the next leader that comes along. You are a grown adult. Act like it! It's easier to place blame than to get up and do something about it. Stop whining, start working!)

I leave you with this advice... it comes from my Mom for those times I said "I can't". Sure you can! Figure it out!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

13 days and counting...

It's the time of year when I should be excited and ready for scouts to get started... and I'm not. This summer has been rough. Like... really rough. I feel like I need a summer vacation for the summer vacation. There's a lot on my plate and mind and I'm just not ready.

But... the clock ticks on. I have set the dates. Set the parent meeting dates, times, locations. Started gathering the stuff I need for the aforementioned parent meeting. Trusting in my co-leader that she has it all covered for the older troop. Hoping I don't forget anything for the younger troop. I have 13 days. September 2nd is the first meeting of the school year. Ready or not... here we come.

This post really has no point other than to let you know I'm not really sure what this year brings. Plus I haven't said anything in almost a month and that seemed sad. So... this is what you get today. A frantic, half-crazed, unprepared, totally lost, and scared to death leader who hopes the year turns out okay.