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April 27, 2011

Engaging Older Girl Scouts

by Jennifer Allebach

GSEP Volunteer Suzanne Weiss would love to hear from other leaders about the methods they use to successfully implement girl planning and girl leading in troops of Cadette age level or older.

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Monica Maury said:

Oh, where to start :) #1 Recognize that not all girls are leaders and some don't want any part of it. It's OK to experience Girl Scouts without being a leader. I am not suggesting that we let the "natural" leaders take over without regard to the others, but forcing someone to lead when they don't want to is not going to accomplish anything, other than an attitude, in my experience. #2. Start small and fun. Every month, we have a "Fun Night Out" or a FNO in place of a regular meeting. We first start with a town hall situation where everyone throws out ideas. After we have a big list of ideas, we vote on them and take the most popular ones. I then ask for volunteers to plan and run the event. It can be one or many, it doesn't matter to me. Because we KNOW the majority of the girls want to do this activity, we know the girl planning it will have a high rate of attendance. Because it's designed to be fun (and not attached to any awards, patches, journeys S&G, etc.) the girls HAVE FUN. And in my book, if you're not having fun in Girl Scouts, you are doing something wrong. Setting up a FNO, generally requires a phone call, which is often uncomfortable for the girls doing it for the first time (and I really do try to get the newbies to take on the FNOs, because there are others that are ready for more), and making a flyer for the troop. She then collects the permission slips/money and reports to the leaders how many she has coming. The way we have this set up, the is designed for the girls to be successful. Everyone has a good time, and it's 100% socializing -- which is a very important part of keeping the group in tact. #3. From there, we have them start putting together plans for bigger things. For example, a weekend camping trip or a service unit day event and build from there. My girls don't have much interest in running meetings. At least not at this point. They do, very much, enjoy running programs for younger girls, though. A note about older girls in general ... I do my very best NOT to say no, which is why I was rolling down the side of mountain in a plastic ball this summer. We do what they want to do, always. Sometimes, as their leader, I ask for a personal favor, like doing a local parade for the 100th, which they've been resistant to for years. As a whole, the troop really doesn't like the Journeys, to the point where they were telling them they'd start coming back to meetings when I stopped forcing them to do it. Now, we have separate meetings for those who want to do the Silver and Gold so the entire group doesn't have to be tortured, in their words. I try to get them out camping or for a sleepover monthly. It's not always the entire group ... next weekend I have the Seniors and Ambassadors and in November, I have the Cadettes camping. Camping is the single best way to bring them together as a group. Some of our best camping trips have been where we have nothing planned, but we just sit around talking and getting to know everyone better. I try to get them to do things that bonds them together. Troop sweatshirts are a great thing. My girls are not big on the vests (I do ask they wear them for cookie booths, service projects, and when working with younger troops). We can easily spend a couple weeks deciding on colors, what we want it to say, etc. We've had two sweatshirts made over the past few years. Different colors, but we always get their names embroidered and their troop number, and then they can get their camp name on the back. Same with the troop crest. We designed our own about 5 years ago. I never thought that when I placed the minimum order of 50 pieces that I'd ever have to place a second order because we ran out. I'll stop now, because I could go on forever. This year, I closed registration. We have 45 ACTIVE members. Not everyone comes to every event or meeting, but my guess is that 30 will be the magic number this year. It's how many we had at our first FNO (Lion King in 3D) and how many we had at our last two meetings.

Posted on: October 8, 2011

Patti Mosser said:

Now that they have broken the badges up into levels for the older girls, how are multi-level troops supposed to run meetings when each level has to work on something different. I have Cadettes (23), Seniors (4) and Ambassadors (1). I don't think it's fair to the Seniors and Ambassadors to have to form their own groups and away from the larger group. GSUSA wasn't thinking right when breaking up the older troops.

Posted on: August 12, 2011

Kelly said:

Hi, what my troop does is let the girls do things that their interested in. They're no longer little kids and sometimes would like to be challenged. A lot of them also like to hang out with their friends in an environment where they won't be judged so let them just hang by themselves if their doing a small craft or something. Also they like to be talked to like their not little kids, they want to be treated as mature young adults, but remember they still just want to have fun.

Posted on: July 28, 2011

Brenda Fulop said:

My troop has become more girl-led over the years, but we have a long way to go! It's difficult with all of the time constraints of the girls' busy schedules. As far as keeping them engaged, I think you need to be active and do the things that girls don't get to do elsewhere...such as camping, hiking, water sports, cooking or whatever they're into. Exposing them to a lot of different things will keep them interested and active. Our girls like volunteering at the Service Unit events too. Instead of attending the father/daughter dance with their dads this year, they volunteered to plan the event and work in the kitchen during the event. They did a great job!

Posted on: June 27, 2011

Tanya said:

Try to keep them in groups...being "in charge" is less daunting when there are 3 of you. There are plenty of "planning worksheets" that are nice to assign each group to handle parts of it to begin with. Same can be done with badges - let each group/patrol handle the teaching/organizing of one component of the badge.

Posted on: June 1, 2011

Kristen Cronrath said:

My troop number is 1407 and we each have chores each time we go camping. We're numbers; and throughout the weekend they change. We helped create and do Service Unit camping this year and last year. I enjoy Girl Scouts a lot and would like to see more events throughout the year.

Posted on: May 20, 2011

Nancy D said:

I found in the Junior years if you let them fail when their plans are not complete, they step up to the plate the next time. My troop poorly planned and carried out their Thinking Day presentation ONCE, after that they planned better and practiced every year after that. As long as they are safe, failure can be great teacher.

Posted on: May 5, 2011

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