Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ask the Girls... still holds true

I had a very good conversation with a High School Freshman/Senior Girl Scout. This young lady is mature for her age, but not to the point that she too old for her age. She's involved with band, another youth organization, archery, science clubs, art clubs, and like most girls her age... her life is scheduled... a lot... and busy... all the time.

We had to cancel our troop meeting this week because two of the girls had a band concert and one had a soccer game. The other two that attend meetings had soccer practice until about 30 minutes prior to our meeting. Instead of holding a meeting for 2/5ths of a troop for a badge that we feel all the girls need to earn, we cancelled. I set up all meeting reminders through Remind and the young lady leading the meeting didn't respond until the first scheduled message (which I forgot to cancel) went out. I mentioned that I felt bad about that and hoped it wasn't too confusing, yet I wanted the person leading to make the ultimate decision on whether or not to have the meeting. This sparked a good conversation.

Her reply to the meeting being cancelled was "I was glad we cancelled." I said "Well, I don't want Girl Scouts to be stressful. It should be fun. You all have enough pressure for everything else in your lives. If I can make this easy and flexible, I feel I should." She smiled and said "And I am SO thankful for that! Really. I appreciate that you are in tune with us." She went on to make a few insights into the programming and opportunities.

She said she felt the badges were too hard to earn at times. They expect you to be helping the little girls all the time and forget that all those things we learned about as little girls we should be able to be doing now... within our own group. We want to make the world a better place... we've been told to do that for years... we're finally old enough and able enough to make an impact.

I mentioned Destinations and trips and she said "They are so expensive. Most people can't afford that. They need things that are available locally and more often." She did mention it was one of the reasons she likes the GAB events (GAB is the Girl Advisory Board we have with our Service Unit. They meet once a month, plan outings or meet ups for CSA girls in our service unit.. they are laid back, low-key things... movie night, ceramic painting, brunch class, etc. Girl selected. Girl planned. Girl led.)

Her words "Sometimes I think they treat the older girls like their own volunteer army and the only reason they want us around is to help the little girls. They forget that we have our own interests and we want to do our own things."

I sense this with many of our older girls. It isn't that they don't have hearts of gold. It isn't that they
don't want to give back... they just want to go bigger.. they want to go OUT... they want to make the WORLD a better place... they want to do things together... things that don't involve babysitting, instructing, or quite honestly.. simplifying it so their little counterparts can do it, too.

There has to a balance. I think it's important for little girls to see the High School girls at events and out and about. But, they need to see them doing more than just serving and helping. They need to see them having fun, hanging out, forming friendships, forming connections that will be greatly appreciated in the upcoming college and beyond years. When I say "see", I don't mean they necessarily need to be there. They need to see the pictures, hear the stories, and have information about events that have happened.

Girl retention is a problem with Girl Scouts. Why? Because they have choices. And let me ask you...
Given the choice to help little ones and complete badges that require work that resembles school OR hanging out with friends, laughing, joking, and just having a stress-free evening... which do you think is going to appeal to a 14-18 year old girl? I can tell you the latter sounds more fun to me and I'm a few days past that age range.

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