It is a critical time in the Girl Scout Movement. Now, more than ever, girls face unique challenges in school, social settings, and as they enter the workplace. Our proven Girl Scout program is based on years of research about girls' development, and is designed to:
I am incredibly proud of Girl Scouts' history of inclusion and girl safety, and our legacy of women leaders (including 70% of today's female senators, 100% of female Secretaries of State, and nearly all female astronauts). I am also proud of our commitment to bringing Girl Scouting to all girls in our community, regardless of their family's background or resources. We need to stay strong for all girls.
Here is a slice of some of the research that identifies what girls need and that also informs how the Girl Scout program works with girls — to build their social and emotional skills, close confidence gaps, and develop their identities as leaders.
And here are seven simple ways you can be a champion for Girl Scouts:
1. Be a myth-buster
Our GSSOAZ staff, at girl recruiting events, are beginning to hear Boy Scouts repeating false myths: "If you want to just do crafts and cookies, join Girl Scouts. If you want adventure, join Boy Scouts." You — our volunteers, alumni, families and girl members — are the best representatives to counter these kinds of myths about Girl Scouts. Equip yourself with the facts about what makes Girl Scouting great. We have some resources that can help:
2. Volunteer to be school representative
We know that 53% of non-Scouting families think Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are the same organization. As the Boy Scouts seek to reverse their declining membership by adding girls, they benefit from this confusion — so it's important to set the record straight. As the face of Girl Scouting at your school, you can actively share your Girl Scout stories and information with parents and caregivers.
3. Make the Case with Your School Principals
We are hearing from other Girl Scout councils that Boy Scouts in some areas have convinced schools they no longer need to provide meeting space or recruitment nights for Girl Scouts. We are reaching out to principals and superintendents here in Southern Arizona to ensure that schools understand we are different programs, and that Girl Scouts offers unique experiences and benefits for girls. Your voice can make a difference, too! We can provide you with important information to share about how Girl Scouts benefits girls and contributes to their academic success.
4. Join Your Local NextDoor.Com group
This online community is specific to your neighborhood and is a great way to get the word out about Girl Scouts in your community. (If you belong to another, similar online community, that's great too!)
5. Join the New Girl Scout Network on LinkedIn
Network with the Girl Scout Alumni community to connect fellow advocates with our local council. Just head here and click "Follow."
6. WEAR your girl scout SWAG
Encourage your girl, or the girls in your troop, to wear their uniforms or Girl Scout t-shirts to school. Adults, please feel free to join the girls — wear your pins and Girl Scout gear with pride!
7. Share your girl scout PRIDE!
Don't keep it to yourself: tell the world why you and your girl chose Girl Scouts! Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors. Share your story on social media; or share, retweet, or re-gram stories and information from the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona social media pages. Submit your Girl Scout or your troop's adventures to be highlighted across our council, and show the community why you're proud to be a G.I.R.L.
Thank you for taking action to make the case for Girl Scouts, so that families have all of the facts when they decide how to invest their time, and to keep Girl Scouts strong and thriving for all girls!
On my honor,
CEO, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona
At Girl Scouts, we care about your experience, good or bad, and we want to hear from you! Every April, Girl Scouts of the USA conducts a national survey called Girl Scout Voices Count with parents and guardians, troop volunteers, and girls, to find out what’s working, and what’s not, in Girl Scouts. After the survey ends, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona receives the responses (anonymously, of course!) that were submitted by our local membership, so we can use your feedback to improve our services and programs right here in our council.
Check out the infographic below to find out just a few of the ways we took action on the 2017 Southern Arizona survey responses, including enhancing our volunteer training and support; expanding our STEM and outdoor opportunities for girls; and making sure that the Cookie Program doesn't overshadow all the other amazing aspects of Girl Scouting.
With your feedback, we can learn, grow, and make Girl Scouts better than ever, for volunteers, caregivers, and girls alike. But we can't do it without your participation! Check your email inbox today for your unique link to the 2018 Voices Count survey, and let us know what you think. As a Thank You, everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a raffle to win one of twenty $50 gift cards. You're also invited to print out the "survey complete" page at the end, and bring it to your local Girl Scout Shop in Tucson, Sierra Vista, or Yuma, for a 50% discount on any item.
Thank you. We can’t wait for you to make your voice count!
Raising independent children is a major goal of healthy parenting and obviously so important. They’ll do better in school, be less likely to give into peer pressure when they know something isn’t right, have brighter careers, and generally know how to take care of themselves in a healthy, happy way.
But there is one thing you’re going to have to do if you’re going to instill her with an independent spirit—you’re going to have to let go a bit. And loosening the reigns can come with a teeny bit of parenting anxiety. “You’ll likely always think of her as your little girl—no matter how old she is—and your instinct might be to want to keep a watch over her and hold her hand through everything she does,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. “The truth is, though, that by giving her age-appropriate levels of independence and freedom, she’ll have a better chance of developing into a young woman who can stand on her own two feet and really succeed in whatever career or lifestyle she chooses.” And who doesn’t want that for their girl, right?
No matter your girl’s age, there are super simple ways to boost her independence little by little. Try out these tips and watch her grow and flourish before your eyes!
If She’s a Toddler or in Preschool…
Independent play is a great way to set her up as a self-starter. It’s only natural for her to want you to play with her—and interactive play is important to her development as well—but start setting aside some time for her to play by herself. Here’s how to do it: Set her up with some of her favorite toys, and then start doing an entirely different activity in the same or an adjacent room. As she plays by herself, she’ll have the security of knowing you’re nearby (and you can keep an eye on her!) while she tests the kiddie-pool waters of independence.
If She’s in Elementary School…
Making and packing her own lunch for school or camp will make her appreciate her mid-day meal a little bit more (who knew it took time and effort to make a sandwich?!)—plus, it will give her important life skills that will help her be more independent in the years to come. If she’s in early grades, work with her to make the lunch each day, giving her only the most age-appropriate tasks like putting the apple slices you’ve cut up into a sandwich baggie. As she gets older and is more responsible, she can experiment with making her own sandwiches or wraps.
If She’s in Middle School…
Depending on her maturity level, she’s probably ready to be left home alone for short periods of time. Before you head out and leave her as the queen of the castle, though, make sure to spend time teaching her how to handle emergency situations, going over house rules, and even addressing what to do if someone rings the doorbell or knocks on your front door. Make sure emergency numbers are kept by the phone and that you’ve come up with a list of activities she is allowed to do (or not) while you’re out. Stay nearby in the neighborhood the first time or two so you can get home quickly just in case. All of these things will build her confidence in being able to hold down the fort, and show her just how independent and strong she can be!
If She’s in High School…
Chances are, your older girl likes to go out with her friends and wishes she could stay out with them even later than her curfew. Instead of flatly saying, “no,” next time she asks, explain that if she wants something so grown up as a later curfew, she’s going to need to negotiate for it like she’s more grown up! Let her know you’re willing to hear her out, but that she’ll need to give you strong reasons why she needs a later curfew (it being “not fair” or “everyone else has a later one” doesn’t count!) and also offer up examples of how responsible she is or how and how often she might check-in with you, so that you’ll know you can trust her with a later curfew. Being a good negotiator is a huge step in being more independent that she’ll use throughout her life. And hey, if she’s got good points and has a good track record of being trust-worthy and making her earlier curfew, you might just want to let her stay out that extra 30 minutes.
*Adapted from GSUSA's Raising Awesome Girls
Read below for some great tips adapted from GSNorCal!
Are you feeling the anticipatory butterflies dancing around as you plan your first Girl Scout troop meeting? Me, too! Because if your meetings are anything like mine, you might sometimes feel like you and your girls are having so much fun that there’s just not enough time to get everything done, especially when your girls would rather be eating, crafting, coloring, chatting, playing, or doing basically anything other than moving on to the next activity. So whether you’re the first-timer or one of your girls are, try to calm your nerves by creating a meeting plan that will help you and your girls get comfortable with your regular routines and predictable practices.
As a brand new troop leader who had never taught Daisy-aged students, part of my own learning process was adjusting my expectations for what could be completed during our time together and what needed to be changed to accommodate my girls’ growth. From taking too long chatting and eating during snack time to just running over on our activity, budgeting time without feeling rushed is still one of my ongoing struggles, but having a meeting plan provides a simple way to structure the timing of activities, stay on track, and accomplish your troop’s goals. Here’s my 5-step meeting game plan that helps me keep our meetings focused, efficient, and fun:
During pre-meeting time, the girls are usually wound up so we play a game that involves getting out energy—something they can easily learn on the fly or something they already know. One of our favorites is tossing a ball while standing in a circle facing one another and asking a question of our fellow sisters, like “If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?”
This type of game is active without being rowdy and also encourages the girls to practice paying attention to one another. By the time our game finishes (ideally every girl has answered at least one question) and we’re ready to start the meeting, we check the Kaper chart, and jump into the meat of our meeting.
Pro Tip: If you need more ideas for pre-meeting activities, you can always poll your girls by asking them to write down their suggestions for pre-meeting ideas on slips of paper, then collect the papers and draw one at the end of each meeting as a fun “hook” to get your girls to look forward to coming to the next meeting!
Our meeting opening consists of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Girl Scout Promise, and the Girl Scout Law, in that order. My troop has some members who are new to Girl Scouts, so we use posters with the Promise and Law written on them as visual cues to help the girls remember or learn the verses.
Our next activity can vary from meeting to meeting, but it’s usually Business & Snack. My troop is ruled by their tummies (who isn’t?), so I find that it’s usually best to begin with our snack time. As the girls help pass out snack, the rest are seated listening to upcoming events and troop updates. The girls then have a chance to ask me questions or just hangout and chat with their troop sisters. As fun as this part of our meeting is, it does have the potential to run amok if you don’t keep an eye on the time! Limiting snack time to 15-20 minutes is one of my best practices for keeping our troop on track.
After my first few meetings, I quickly realized that having 12 little girls facing each other around a table was not the best way to accomplish our activities in a timely way. After speaking with an experienced Girl Scout leader buddy, I found that she splits her troop in half and rotates the groups from activity to activity in order to keep the girls focused. I loved this idea, especially since kindergartners at my elementary were already used to rotating to different stations in their classrooms; it was another easy way to create a familiar routine while also giving me more control over the girls and what actually was accomplished during our meetings.
Pro Tip: Assistance from parent helpers allowed the adults the ability to be closely involved in teaching the girls and ensuring that they actually completed the activities. The younger the girls, the tougher the activity, the more adult hands will be appreciated!
When we have 10-15 minutes remaining in our meeting, we start clean-up. We make sure to look over the table and the floor, especially if our snack or activity was particularly messy. For this coming year, my girls are going to magically turn into “Clean Teams” enjoying a friendly competition to make our meeting place look better than when we arrived. Motivating the girls to want to clean instead of running around is challenging, but I am hoping the thrill of teamwork and friendly competition might ignite those who aren’t happily picking up.
Just like opening the meeting, our closing is simple and routine. We sing one of our favorite songs while holding hands and passing around a friendship squeeze. As it travels around the circle, the girls make a wish and step one foot forward into the circle. At the end of the squeezes and wishes, the girls lift their arms above their heads and twist out of the circle saying, “Girl Scout Out.” There are so many choices for songs and various ways to close a meeting (a quick Google search will find you many options); it just depends on the mood you and your girls are in and whether you want it to be serious, fun, or emotional.
And that’s my 5-part plan for focused Girl Scout troop meetings! What works best for you and your girls? Do you follow a similar plan or something much different? I’d love to hear how other leaders (and different grade levels) run their meetings, so leave your best practices in the comments below!
What To Do Next:
*This post was originally published from the GSNorCal blog The Trailhead
Liz LiVolsi is a former Girl Scout and now a Girl Scout leader of 12 eager second grade girls. She is Midwestern transplant who adores everything Girl Scouting: spending time outdoors, crafting, going on quests and learning. Follow Liz and her troop’s adventures on Instagram: @datroopleada.