When I volunteered to lead my oldest daughter’s Junior Girl Scout troop I was not able to find an assistant or co-leader from among the parents in our troop. The previous leader suggested that I consider running the troop as a cooperative troop.
Basically in a cooperative troop, there is one trained leader who oversees troop activities and meetings, and troop parents are asked to each take on a role in the troop, and plan and lead one or more meetings each year depending on the number of families in the troop. Below is the email that I sent out to my troop the spring before I took over as leader and it describes how my cooperative troop was set-up in more detail.
While the other parents in the troop were not comfortable with being an assistant or co-leader, they all readily agreed to take on one of the volunteer responsibilities that are listed below, and helping plan and lead meetings.
The obvious benefit of a cooperative troop is that it spreads the responsibilities for coordinating troop meetings and activities among all the families in the troop. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that after a couple of meetings planned and led by scouts and their parents, the girls were all anxiously awaiting their turn to lead a meeting! My own daughter was quite disappointed to learn that since I had led the first couple meetings to get things going, we weren’t scheduled to lead until later in the school year. Since teaching the girls to lead is one of the important principles of Girl Scouting, their enthusiasm to take a turn leading was very exciting.
Google Docs For Troop Coordination
I have found that Google Docs (http://drive.google.com) is a great tool for coordinating troop sign-ups, activity RSVPs, etc. I’d recommend creating one Google spreadsheet with a tab/page for each of the following – troop meeting volunteer sign-up, Troop volunteer positions (see list below), Field trip/activity RSVP with a column for each activity and girls’ names along the left column, meeting activity suggestions (badges, service projects, etc.), and other pages as needed. I recommend making the doc share settings so that anyone with the link can edit it. Then don’t put any last names or contact info in the doc. This way troop members can access it from whichever email they prefer, and they won’t be required to have a Google account to view and edit the doc.
A cooperative troop is the way to go!
Message to Troop About Setting Up a Cooperative Troop
Feel free to use the message below and edit it for your own use as needed.
Dear Troop Members –
As you all know, we’ve been looking for a leader for the girls’ Junior troop next year.
Girl Scouting was a very special experience for me as a girl and is now very important to my daughter, so I have volunteered to lead our troop. Since I was unable to find a co-leader to share the responsibility of leadership, I have offered to accept the position of leading the troop next year under the condition that it be a co-operative troop. In addition to assisting me with the coordination and planning required for meetings and outings, a co-operative troop gives the girls greater opportunity to take on responsibility for planning and running their meetings, with adult supervision and assistance, of course.
In a co-operative troop each family would provide a volunteer at two meetings a year and bring snack. In addition, that parent volunteer would assist their daughter in planning and running those two meetings. The meetings might involve working on a patch in which the girl or troop had indicated interest, planning and teaching the troop a program for Thinking Day, or another project in which the girls had expressed interest.
As the leader, I would attend the two training sessions, complete paperwork, plan the meeting and activity schedule, attend monthly service unit meetings, and coordinate other needs of the troop. In addition, we are required to have a trained leader at every meeting, so I will attend the meetings, even though the parent volunteer and one of the girls would run many of the meetings.
Please review the list of meeting dates for next year (on Google Docs) and sign up for 2 meetings to help your daughter plan and run the meetings, and bring snack.
I will also be looking for volunteers for the positions listed at the end of this message (Google Doc signup), so please review them and let me know with which you would be able to assist. In particular, we need several First Aiders, and a cookie parent; and ideally we should have at least one trained Assistant Leader. It is my hope that each family will volunteer for at least one of the troop positions below.
I am excited about the many opportunities that the girls have ahead of them this year!
*** Assistant Leader(s) – Attend leadership training classes and attend a couple of meetings or events a year. Ideally we should have at least one trained assistant leader in case I can’t attend a meeting or event, so we wouldn’t have to cancel; background check required
*** FIRST AIDERS – We need at least 2 or 3 people to be first aiders available to go on field trips. Training is good for 2 years at which time training needs to be repeated for certification. If you plan to attend several field trips throughout the year anyway, then the only additional time requirement would be to take the First Aid Training class.
***Cookie Parent – coordinates troop cookie orders, attends cookie sale training, coordinates troop cookie booth sales; background check required
***Treasurer – manages troop finances and prepares the year end report; background check required
*Thinking Day Coordinators – One or two parents to help the girls plan their activities for Thinking Day. Would be running two meetings in January or February before Thinking Day.
*Purchasing Agent – Go to the Girl Scout Store at Camp Ilchester to buy patches, vests, and other GS materials. You will save receipts and then get reimbursed from our troop account. Probably only 2-4 times a year, and even one trip would be helpful.
*E-mail Reminders/Volunteer Coordinator – Send the email reminder each month to the troop about items to bring and parent volunteer scheduled. Make sure that each meeting has a volunteer scheduled to plan and run the meeting and bring snack.
*Roster Maintenance (maybe combine with above position) – Maintain troop roster as needed and send out to troop. (May be helpful to group girls by neighborhood for easier carpool planning.)
*Attend a Service Unit Meeting – I will need someone to attend a meeting for me on occasion. <meeting time and location>
*Field Trip/Outings Coordinator – Plan field trips — make phone calls, plan/coordinate field trip, coordinate RSVPs and carpools.
*Camp Certified Parents – One or more parents (ideally 2 or more) to become camp certified so that the troop can camp independently in the future.