Tag Archives: parents

Recruit parents to help your Girl Scout troop

From Girl Scouts of the USA

You know those parents who always step up, lend a hand, and bring the fun to your Girl Scout troop? Wouldn’t it be amazing if more followed their lead and signed up to volunteer? 

Girl Scout troop leader Richel Newborg is never short on volunteers, but not because she’s lucky—she puts in the effort to bring them into the fold. After reading her tried-and-true tips on Girl Scouts of Northern California’s blog, The Trailhead, we knew we had to spread her wisdom throughout the Movement. Check out Richel’s advice in her own words below, follow her lead, and watch as your troop gets all the support you could ever need!

1. Set an expectation that everyone volunteers and we are in this together.

My first opportunity to let parents know I need their help is when new members join the group. We always welcome each new member and their family at the girls’ first troop meeting. I introduce key members of our troop leadership and I let parents know that they will be asked to volunteer for at least one thing. Usually I list in writing which things I know I’ll need help with and a brief description of what duties are involved. This way parents are free to select what interests them. 

Some of these jobs might be helping pack for the camping trip, cookie mom, bringing snacks, or cutting out pieces for SWAPS. Your troop will have different positions depending on how you expect your year to unfold, so customize your own list according to your needs. Let everyone know that by pitching in and helping even with a small task means no one is responsible for all the work and it balances out across the board. It’s an important lesson for the girls to learn too. 

A few jobs you might need filled in your troop are: 

  • troop treasurer
  • cookie volunteer
  • initial cookie check-out assistant
  • snack planning
  • carpool drivers
  • camping lead
  • SWAPS volunteer
  • recruitment supporter
  • community outreach
  • event planning (bridging ceremonies, holiday parties, Court of Awards, etc.) 
2. Use a family talent survey and require every family to fill one out.

This is a survey where parents are asked about their own Girl Scout background as well as what talents and tasks they may be able to help with. From this you can learn a lot about who’s on your team! When my girls’ parents completed their surveys, I quickly discovered we had tons of parents with camping gear and the skills to go with it. We also learned 10 parents were CPR certified and two worked in the medical field. Go through your roster and make sure every parent has responded, and remind non-responders that this is one way you can get to know them and learn how they all can support the troop. 

3. Plan a family event and then fit the job to the personality.

When you host a fun family event, you’ll quickly learn a lot about the parents in your troop. It’s true that some folks love to be in front of kids, some have great teaching skills, while others are terrified, and don’t know what to do. At our family events we make sure to have a mix of activities, games and team building-type activities that everyone participates in with their girls. 

This gives everyone an opportunity to have fun together and you’ll quickly know everyone’s personalities from how they participate. 

4. Ask parents personally for their help.

In the age of social media and email, avoid the mistake of asking for volunteers by a broadcast email. That approach almost never works and will only cause you frustration. It’s also important that you refrain from complaining publicly about a lack of volunteers in your troop. Honestly, nothing scares off helpers faster than someone that’s complaining!

Instead address parents in a small group or in a one-on-one conversation. Make sure you speak with a positive tone and avoid being confrontational. Campouts, BBQs, and events that are geared to be “mixers” are a perfect time to ask, because parents tend to be relaxed and not stressed about their other obligations. Don’t feel like you have to fill every role by the end of your first month of meetings. Some people may need to get to know you and your group before they step up. 

5. Once someone says yes, follow up and set them up for success.

As soon as you can, you’ll also want to contact the volunteer to give them all the information they need to be successful. You’ll also need to let them know if there is any training specific to their position that they will need to attend or complete such as a council background check. 

For instance a dad that wants to take the lead on camping trips needs to not only register as an adult and get a background check, he’ll also need to take your council’s required training. A mom who said she wants to help with cookies might need to attend an online training or come to a service unit meeting to get information on how a Girl Scout Cookie Program works. Since some of these trainings can be done online and some must be done in person, it’s important to provide them with this information. Check with your council for the best online resources, and to find out about in person trainings. 

6. Recognize the volunteer right away.

Once someone says they will help, make sure you thank them. I like to write a personal note and hand it to them at the next meeting. Also at the next troop meeting, in front of all the parents and girls, announce the new volunteer’s role. Then ask everyone to thank him or her for stepping up and helping support the troop. This makes the newcomer feel great about volunteering and makes it a bit tougher to back out! It also lets the girls know they have a team supporting their Girl Scout experience throughout the year! 

Follow these tips and keep a positive attitude and you’ll quickly learn that there are many parents that want to help!

We want to hear from YOU!

voices

Tell us about your experience with Girl Scouts this year!

This spring, Girl Scouts of the USA is introducing a new survey called “Girl Scout Voices Count.”

There will be versions for girls, parents, and volunteers—so we can get an idea of what the year was like for everyone.

Here’s what you need to know:

Girls: Your chance to tell us about your experience starts May 11. To participate, you need to sign up for the Girl Scout Voices survey panel. If you are 13 or older, you can sign yourself up here: www.GirlScoutVoices.org! If you are 12 or younger, ask your parents to sign you up.

Parents: Look for an email that tells you how to sign your daughter up for the Girl Scout Voices survey panel. We also want to hear from you and will be inviting you to participate in a parent/guardian survey starting June 1.

Volunteers: Your opportunity to give feedback will begin June 1. In a few weeks, we’ll be sending you an invitation to participate via email, but you can also keep an eye on our social media feeds for information on when to participate.
We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Got questions? Can’t find the email with the survey invitation? Feel free to get in touch with us at GSVoicesCount@girlscouts.org.

 

Improving the Volunteer Experience at GSCO

We know that the staffing and structural changes discussed in previous posts are difficult changes both for our staff and volunteers. Despite the fact that many of these changes were motivated by our financial limitations, we are dedicated to using our retraction as a motivation to take a fresh look at our systems and processes and create a streamlined system that makes life easier for our volunteers.

With that in mind, we are proud to announce the following changes (effective immediately), designed to help empower our volunteers and help Girl Scouts of Colorado return to our grassroots origins. Our Program team has worked exceptionally hard to design and prepare these changes on a short timeline. I hope that you will agree that, although we know we have additional ground to cover, these changes are giant steps towards improving our support of our most valuable asset, volunteers.

With our new processes, you will find it easier to:

Complete most requests online
We are introducing a new online form tool, through Adobe Forms Central that provides a much improved experience with online forms. All of the new processes below utilize this advanced system and we will continue to update our old forms with this new software.

Set up & change signers on bank accounts
Whenever your group needs to open a new bank account or change the authorized signers, just submit the new Bank Account Authorization Request form online. As long as the new signers have completed the volunteer application process, you’ll receive an email with an authorization letter to take to the bank. We also made it easier to access the guidelines for managing group finances.

Help a girl find a troop
We have made some improvements to our interest form too. As a volunteer, you can send this link to anyone who needs help finding a troop – or you could even fill it out on their behalf, with permission of course. We have dedicated staff Recruitment Specialists and volunteers around the state who work with families to find and start troops for new Girl Scouts.

Plan a group money earning activity
Troop/Group Leaders are approved to coordinate group money earning activities. Written approval for each activity is no longer required. Just follow these group money earning guidelines and we’ll ask you to how it went on your Annual Troop Report next year. If you need help planning a money earning activity or have any questions about the guidelines, contact your Program Support Specialist.

Plan an overnight or extended trip
Volunteers who have taken the required travel training(s) are approved to coordinate overnight trips (1-2 nights, including sleepovers) and extended trips (3 or more nights). Written approval for each trip is no longer required, just submit a simple Overnight & Extended Trip Notification to let us know the basic trip details in case of an emergency situation. We trust that the Trip Advisor will follow the troop travel guidelines. Your Program Support Specialist is available to help if you have any questions or need some advice.

Note: If your overnight or extended trip is at a GSCO property, you don’t need to submit a notification because we’ll have your trip details in your site reservation.

Apply for an Opportunity Grant
Every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout! We have a new Opportunity Grant Application that can be submitted by a parent/guardian or troop volunteer online. Grants are awarded up to 80% and are available for:
• uniforms & books
• camp (day & overnight)
• Council-sponsored programs (events, series, travel)
• adult learning opportunities
• GSUSA destinations

An application is not needed for financial assistance for girl/adult memberships or volunteer background checks. Opportunity Grants are not available for troop-planned travel.

Receive Troop Sponsorship funds
A Troop Sponsorship is a monetary donation of $250 or more that is made payable to Girl Scouts of Colorado with the intention of being transferred to a specific troop/group, per the donor’s request. Internally we made some changes so we can process these requests quickly. If your group ever receives a donation of $250 or more, and the donor needs an acknowledgement letter for tax purposes, submit the new Troop Sponsorship Notification online and have the check sent to the Denver Service Center with a note from the donor to designate the gift to your troop.

Your troop may accept monetary donations of any amount directly, but the donor will not receive an acknowledgement letter for their gift – that’s why we provide this service to troops!

Get the Best in Volunteer Training
First, we are removing the cost to volunteers for nearly all adult trainings and reducing the cost for the few that will retain a small fee.

We are also increasing the frequency of trainings. Specifically, Nuts and Bolts, our primary training for new volunteers will be offered at least weekly through our online training platform to help new troop leaders get started right away.

Finally, we are introducing new age-level trainings this fall to help you feel comfortable presenting programming for your specific age group(s).

Find Great Program Resources
We are releasing several new program materials that will help make program planning easier. The Service Unit Event Planning Guide (and program templates) will help you plan your event or camp! Program templates will also soon be online for you to use.

Guest Blog: To Intervene or Not to Intervene

We are happy to feature a great guest blog by Signe Whitson on Bully Prevention for Parents. If you are interested in signing you or Girl Scouts up for Girl Scouts bully prevention program Power Up, please visit our website http://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/power-up.

The world of little girls begins as such a lovely place. Heart and rainbow doodles adorn notebook covers, best friendships are formed within seconds, and bold, exuberant voices carry squeals of carefree laughter and brazen delight. Happiness is worn on a sleeve and anger is voiced with authentic candor.

Length-of-stay in this accepting, kindly world is time-limited for many girls, however. Seemingly overnight, sweet sentiments like, “I love your dress,” turn into thinly-veiled criticisms such as, “Why are you wearing that dress?” Yesterday’s celebratory birthday party becomes today’s tool of exclusion, as guest lists are used to enforce social hierarchies. Long before most school programs begin anti-bullying campaigns, young girls get a full education in social aggression.

What can parents do to help their daughters cope with inevitable experiences of relational aggression?

When Your Child is Bullied
To be forewarned is to be forearmed; when parents know what to look for when it comes to methods of social bullying, they are in the best position to help their daughters cope with it. Be on the alert for these telltale signs of relational aggression among girls such as:
• Purposefully leaving girls out of social interactions
• Starting rumors and spreading gossip
• Giving girls the “silent treatment”
• Threatening to take away friendship (“I won’t be your friend anymore if…”)
• Saying something mean and then following it with “just joking” to try to avoid blame.
• Using social media and technology to send cruel, embarrassing, humiliating messages

Encouraging girls to talk about their experiences with friends (and frenemies) is important. Sadly, many young girls choose not to tell their parents when they have been bullied because experiences of social exclusion are so humiliating and painful. Parents can encourage their daughters to talk about bullying through frequent, casual conversations about peer relationships. Low intensity conversations during the good times provide girls with a foundation of trust that makes it easier for them to open up to parents about struggles.

Open-ended questions about conflict (e.g. What do the girls at your school fight about? What kinds of things to they say to hurt each other?) are a great way to encourage dialogue and convey your genuine interest in your daughter’s experiences and point of view. Just as important as starting the conversation is being prepared to listen to any answers that you receive. Even if you think you’ve been there, done that, and heard it all, it can still be surprising how harsh girls’ language is, even at young ages. When your daughter realizes that you will listen without judgment, she is more likely to continue opening up about her life.

When Your Child is the Bully
We all want to believe that our daughter would never act like a bully. Clinging to this belief, however, prevents parents from engaging in important prevention discussions and/or confronting bullying behavior when it does occur. When parents talk with their kids about bullying and make it clear that this type of behavior will never be acceptable, they communicate important values and standards. What’s more, when their daughter does eventually follow the lead of a mean girl and start a rumor or use silence as a weapon, the parent can refer back to the conversation about how to treat others and use logical consequences to convey that the bullying will not be tolerated.

When Your Child is a Bystander
Teaching girls to be (s)heroes to their friends who are being bullied can be a real challenge for parents. Many young girls know that bullying is wrong when they see it, but they worry about what might happen to them if they intervene. Parents play a key role in teaching their daughters that it is never okay to do nothing about bullying. Girls who are given skills for intervening before, during, and after a bullying situation, are gifted with the competency to do the right thing, even in a sideways situation.

Should I or Shouldn’t I?
Parents often struggle with the question of, “Should I intervene in my daughter’s friendship problems?” The line between helicopter and hands-off parenting can get confusing, as adults waver between wanting to protect their daughters from any kind of hurt and believing that girl fighting is an inevitable rite of passage. The bottom line is this: young girls need skills for handling friendship dilemmas and they need a parent’s help to do it. When parents understand what girl bullying is all about and give their daughters opportunities to talk about it, they are in the best position to teach her enduring skills for healthy friendship development.

Signe Whitson is child and adolescent therapist, national educator on bullying, and author of three books, including Friendship & Other Weapons; Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying. For additional information, please visit www.signewhitson.com.

Support girls reaching their full potential – join Girl Scouts

Rejoin the sisterhood that shaped your life
or join for the first time to show your support
Girls today are in even greater need of belonging; of being in an environment where their unique skills and interests are championed; that kind of support when they reach high and dream big.Did you know that Girl Scout membership isn’t just for girls? Share this with others who support girls reaching their full potential. Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older siblings can join, too. Girl Scout alumnae can renew their commitment to girls by rejoining the sisterhood that shaped them into the women they are today.

When you join Girl Scouts, you honor your experience and help today’s girls transform their dreams into reality. Show your support by joining today!

  • For $12, declare your support for Girl Scouting by purchasing a 2012 annual membership.
  • For $25, declare your support for Girl Scouting and receive a 2012 annual membership, special 100th anniversary pin, and limited edition Year of the Girl tote bag.
  • For $300, declare your support for Girl Scouting and receive a Lifetime Membership and certificate.
  • For $325, declare your support for Girl Scouting and receive a Lifetime Membership, Lifetime Membership pin and certificate, and Girl Scouts: A Celebration of 100 Trailblazing Years hardcover book.
© 2012 Girl Scouts of Colorado. All Rights Reserved.