I have all the admiration in the world for our moms and dads who lead their daughter’s Girl Scout troops. But did you know that we also have a multitude of troop leaders who don’t even have a daughter in their troop? In fact, our founder (JGL) was the original non-parent troop leader. I wanted to give a shout-out to all of our leaders – grandmothers, older siblings, aunts and godparents, young professionals, college students, and recent alums – who found their place at Girl Scouts and are bringing their best every single day!
I talked to a few Girl Scouts River Valleys troop leaders who do not have a direct stake in the game (aka daughter in Girl Scouts) to ask why they lead.
Betty “The Go-Getter Grandma”:
Betty is one of those women who ‘bleed green’ for Girl Scouts, from her involvement as a girl in the 1940’s to being a service unit manager, troop leader, Juliette mentor, delegate, trainer, and more!
Kandace “The Come-Back Queen”:
Kandace is a recent Minnesota transplant who was a Girl Scout as a child and found her way back to the Movement just last year. She co-leads a Daisy troop with her friend, Tiffani (who doesn’t have a daughter in the troop either!).
Ellen “The Awesome Alum”:
Ellen is a GSRV staff member and lifelong Girl Scout who stepped up to lead a brand-new older-girl troop after graduating from college – she just couldn’t stay away!
Betty: “I became a troop leader after my daughter forwarded an email saying that one of the co-leaders of the Brownie troop my granddaughter loved had to quit. If someone didn’t step up, the troop would have to disband. “Mom can you help?” Saying yes was one of the best decisions I have ever made. You don’t need to have a daughter or granddaughter in the troop to have a great experience. [Later,] I was a short term leader for two different troops whose leaders had to drop out at the last minute and they couldn’t recruit a mom to take over. If you love being with kids, you will love being a troop leader. You don’t have to be a teacher or highly experienced. There is a lot of help for you [from council and other volunteers and parents]. Bring a loving spirit and share what you know and be open to learning new things.”
Kandace: “I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and there weren’t many opportunities for young girls to participate in community activities. My older sister actually registered me for a Girl Scout troop at my church and I immediately fell in love with it! I learned so much, more than I could have anticipated, about life, sisterhood, and the world. I only stayed in the troop for two years, but I never lost my love for Girl Scouts. As an adult, I wanted to find a way to give back and to share the experience that I had with more girls. When I moved to Minnesota last year, the first thing I explored was Girl Scouts. I registered to be a troop leader and within a few weeks, received a call saying there was a troop in need of a leader. I jumped on the opportunity and was able to enlist a good friend of mine, who also grew up as a Girl Scout, as the co-leader.”
Ellen: “I love my troop because while my co-leader and I are not parents to any of the girls, we still get to involve the families and bring them in in different ways. Through their own volition, our girls have decided that they want to give back to their own community and they have been including their parents, younger siblings, and other family members on the various activities they do. It’s been so inspiring to be a part of!”
Kandace: “As a troop leader without any children in the troop, I am able to develop a unique relationship with each girl. I am also able to give the girls a unique perspective that they might not otherwise hear. I am able to challenge the girls to think differently and I am able to encourage them to think for themselves. As a troop leader without children in my troop, I can encourage them to work together to solve problems instead of leaning on their parents.”
Ellen: “As young-ish troop leaders to an older girl troop, I feel that my co-leader and I bring something different to the table than parents necessarily could, by being able to relate to the girls on their level. Our girls are able to be totally open with us and their peers and feel comfortable bringing up sensitive topics.”
Betty: “Being involved in Girl Scouts is very rewarding. Nothing is as amazing as watching and maybe even helping young girls grow into confident, capable leaders. You also gain wonderful adult friends in the Girl Scout community. You meet so many remarkable people as you connect the troop to multiple opportunities for service and outside the comfort zone growth. I would encourage anyone to participate in some way in the Girl Scout experience. Share what you love and do best. You will be enriched and amazed.”
Kandace: “I can’t even describe all that I have learned from my experience as a troop leader! The girls have taught me so much about patience, kindness, and making the world a better place. Through my conversations with them, I have learned so much about myself and also about the challenges that they face in the world today. I am also much more cognizant of my daily actions and try my best to set an example for them daily. It’s a constant reminder that the Girl Scout Promise and Law applies to leaders as well and it’s so wonderful to know that the work that I do with them makes a difference.”
Sound like someone you know? Tell your friends! At Girl Scouts River Valleys, we are always looking for new troop leaders to step up and take on this amazing opportunity in their community. Whether you were a Girl Scout as a child, have a daughter in Girl Scouts, or just want to be involved in helping girls make the world a better place, becoming a Girl Scout troop leader may be just what you’re looking for. Know someone who would be a great fit? Share this post with them and encourage them to see themselves as a Girl Scout troop leader!
Natasha Brownlee – Natasha is a Program Specialist at River Valleys, where she develops and leads awesome Girl Scout events – and runs the In the Loop blog! Her background is in curriculum development, programming, and creative writing. She has BA’s in Peace Studies and French and a MSc in Gender, Development & Globalization and has worked with various girl-centered organizations in the US and abroad. Natasha loves traveling around the world, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her dog, Rooney!