Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Girl Scout Frustration

I have been a Girl Scout troop leader for several years.  My daughter is now a Cadette working on her silver award.  As happens frequently with troops, girls drop off the older they get.  Homework, sports, family time start competing for the girls' attention.  Currently, I have a troop of two.  Yes, that is very small, but they have been together for many years and we have had many other girls cycle in and out of participation. As a troop, we are content.  Daughter and P attend different schools and have different friends.  This is the only time they get to see each other and both of them love working on Girl Scout projects. 

Today I got an email from our Council stating that we are too small to qualify as a troop this year.  Evidently, you need five.  They sent me a list of girls that had expressed interest from a school that neither of my current girls attend.  I know this sounds harsh, but we are not interested in expanding.  It takes a lot of time to build up trust and relationships, we have that now.  We are a good group and enjoy working together.  Additionally, we are working on their Silver Award.  This has been a lot of work and is not something someone else can just jump into. I am so frustrated - I don't know what to do. 

This has just been the latest in a long string of frustrations I have with our Council.  Of course, I am only seeing my side, but they would go a long way in helping themselves if they could explain their actions better.  I have put in countless volunteer hours, sold dozens of cookies, taken time from my family to be certified in the numerous things that they require, gone way out of my comfort zone to take girls camping and been a general cheerleader for them.  This is what they say? Sorry, you don't have enough girls?!?!

I want to believe in Girl Scouts.  They have a lot to offer, but I am questioning their direction.  GS Campgrounds are closing across the US.  It has been particularly heartbreaking to see my childhood one in Iowa go on the sale block.  It appears that they are refocusing on STEM and leadership opportunities.  While I have nothing against these activities, I feel that they are forgetting the confidence and leadership that develops from camping and pushing your boundaries in a safe way.   The world is moving towards more technology.  Schools and homes are already embracing it.  GS should include it but not forget that they have something unique to offer in getting girls outside and appreciating nature and all that it has to offer.  How are we going to build the next environmentalist, scientist, chemist, engineer if they never get to see what nature has already perfected? Leadership and innovation come from making do with what is in front of you.  Minimizing or taking away camping will only push GS into another after school activity that doesn't have all that much new to offer. Please wake up Girl Scouts!

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