Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Jennifer Ayers of Johnstown in the Northern & Northeastern CO region started as a troop leader, but quickly became a product program volunteer as well. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Jennifer to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.
Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?
When we first moved to Colorado from California a few years ago, my daughter wanted to join Girl Scouts and had asked me to be her leader. Knowing it would be beneficial to meeting people in our new community, I registered, but wasn’t able to get a troop formed right away, so she ended up joining a local multi-level troop. The next year, they needed someone to lead the Brownies and I gladly volunteered! Now, that both of my daughters are in Girl Scouts, I love being involved in their troop and doing something with them, instead of watching from the sidelines. I know that Girl Scouts has helped my family find an amazing group of people and I LOVE seeing these girls outside of Girl Scout activities and getting the biggest and warmest hugs!
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
I started volunteering as a troop leader and fall product program manager. This year, I added the role of cookie program manager and am becoming a service unit manager. We have a multi-level troop ranging from Daisies to Seniors. Although I’m officially leading the Brownies, our leadership team works well together and we all help each other out wherever needed. It is definitely a team effort to make sure we are helping our girls develop their G.I.R.L. skills.
I wasn’t sure where to start as a leader and the flexibility of the Girl Scout Program was kind of intimidating to me, so the volunteer online and in-person training summits have been a huge help. Networking with other leaders has been reassuring and inspiring on how to lead meetings and get ideas for activities so the girls can gain a lot from their time with Girl Scouts.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
The girls have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Our troop is full of incredible girls from all different backgrounds with different interests. It’s really been wonderful trying to make sure each girl is getting her own experience, helping them earn all of the badges that they want, and keeping things fun and character building. I have definitely had to learn to let them lead a lot more. Girl-led isn’t something that I excel at because I tend to take charge and over plan, but I am working on stepping back a bit and letting the girls have more opportunities to figure things out for themselves.
These girls have also taught me the importance of getting outside my comfort zone and having some fun. I’m not exactly the most adventurous person, but leading our girls is pushing me to be a better version of myself and to just try new things. I am excited to see where our troop takes us as they get older!
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
As a troop leader, I really love being able to devote my time and energy into helping our girls grow and succeed, not only by earning badges and awards, but also as a valuable member of our community. I hope they have learned that they are fully capable of making the world a better place, no matter what their age is.
I also hope they have learned the Girl Scout Promise and Law is not just something they pledge at the beginning of our meetings and is something that really applies to our daily lives through our actions.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Volunteering has definitely helped me become a G.I.R.L. These girls deserve the best and I absolutely do not want to let any of them down so I have had to push through my own insecurities and hesitations and support our girls wherever I can. Life certainly has been a lot more fun and fulfilling because of volunteering with Girl Scouts and encouraging our troop to be more G.I.R.L. strong!
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at email@example.com.