I had the opportunity to interview a Girl Scout leader who is also providing a amazing website full of resources to help you as leaders run your troop meetings. I hope you will stop over to her website in search of your next troop meeting ideas.
Let’s jump into the interview to learn more about Jamal and everything she has to offer you and your troop.
Tell me about your background and what you do?
I have been a Girl Scout leader for over 15 years and have led or helped start about 8 different troops. Like so many of your readers I wear a lot of different hats. I am a teacher, a small female business owner of Fancy Girl Tea Parties, I’m a Girl Scout Leader and Service Unit Volunteer, PTA member, and a Mom! I’ve been the class mom, the football mom the cheerleading mom, the play mom and so many more.
I’m from a small town in upstate New York. I was a Girl Scout Brownie as a girl but only for a year or two. I loved it! As the child of immigrants, my membership with Girl Scouts was the first time, I had the chance to try new things like a nature walk and apple picking, Halloween and Holiday parties, bowling and crafts. I loved those crafts. When my mother had her 5th child, she couldn’t get me to meeting any more and I always felt like I missed out.
I was the first in my family to go to college, and even earned a master’s degree (MBA) while my parents, not knowing better- discouraged higher education. They wanted me to be a hairdresser like my mother. I used to help my mother by washing the hair of her customers before it was their turn for service. I knew early on that was not the career for me. I’m always interested in what motivates people to work hard and succeed. For me it was growing up with very little money and opportunities, watching my parents struggle, and the desire to change my life.
I was a marketing professional working in downtown DC right up until I gave birth to my second child. A combination of circumstances (the aftermath of 9/11, critical family medical diagnosis) made me choose to stay home with my two kids. Like so many moms that are used to being busy- I volunteered for everything: PTA, Cub Scouts, Room Mom, Reading Club, etc. I’ve been a Girl Scout leader for 15 years starting with my daughter’s Daisy troop in Kindergarten. I’ve had/have a bunch of Service Unit jobs including Girl Scout School Organizer at my kids’ elementary school and Service Unit Money Manager, Recognitions Manager and a 2020 NCS alternate delegate.
I started substitute teaching with Fairfax County Public Schools – one of the nation’s largest and most diverse school systems-when my second was in elementary school. I went back to grad school and completed an Alternative Teaching Program from the University of Virginia at night. When I turned 50, I threw myself a huge Tea Party and decided I was going to challenge myself to start a small business. That is when Fancy Girl Tea Parties was born.
What will leaders find on your Fancy Girl Tea Parties website?
Through my small business, I offer all sorts of virtual events for girls to learn about Girl Scouts, Juliette Low, current issues, safety, holiday parties, and just for fun events. Some of my new programs include Personal Safety for girls, Women in Government firsts, Kamala Harris, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and a brand new Inauguration Program to explain to girls all the events, activities and traditions behind the nine parts of the festivities on January 20th, in a fun and entertaining way. 2021 Inauguration is a victory for all women- I want the girls to feel proud and know that with hard work and perseverance they really CAN do anything.
Why should leaders look at your programs?
My programs were designed to save leaders time and energy because I’ve done all the work- researching, compiling and presenting it in a way that girls of all ages will understand, Leaders can just pause and discuss or do the activities.
So many time’s councils have awesome patch programs but the requirement lists are 11-45 pages long! It’s a lot of work for volunteer leaders to sort through and prepare. I have programs available for a number of existing Girl Scout special patches like Women’s Suffrage Centennial Patch, The Gift of Cherry Blossom Trees, and I’m working on an Anti-Discrimination & Diversity Program and a Mental Health Check Up Program for older girls. I love to read and research and help girls understand current events or topical issues of importance.
I also love to craft and all of my programs have tons of craft activities that help cement the points we are discussing in the program. I am also a community program partner with Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital and was an Alternate Delegate at the most recent 2020 National Council session, I’m committed to building strong girls. I offer free programs, troop discounts, financial aid and any extras I can. Many of my programs include ideas for service projects or activities for the girls. When people support me by purchasing paid programs, they help me be able to have a slate of free programs. Thank You!
What are Tea Parties all about?
My daughter Sophia and I had been having tea parties for years. Sophia was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at age 3 and has had a series of medical appointments, testing’s, scans and surgeries ever since. We started having tea parties to have something to look forward to on those days when we had medical appointments. Poor Sophia also struggled in school. We often had mini tea parties after school where she worked on home work and we reviewed work, did flash cards, etc. It made it less grueling.
Our program the Ultimate Guide for Hosting a Fancy (Tea) Party is an excellent party planning primer for individuals, Girl Scout parties, birthday parties, and fund raisers. We make the original Girl Scout sugar cookie recipe, scones and prepare sandwiches and other treats. We learn how to make an invitation, how to set a table, what to wear, manners and more. We also make a paper tea hats, tissue paper flowers and lots of other crafts! These types of activates help teach girls critical life skills and social graces like communicating with others, polite behavior, conversation skills and more. I also offer Favors like hats, pearl necklaces, elegant fans, paper-mâché purses and other favors- tea parties make wonderful birthday parties.
I’ve added a bunch of themed Tea Parties to my calendar Teddy Bear, Princess, Mother Daughter and Father Daughter Teas.
What do you offer that is not a in person event?
We started as in person tea parties for 50-75 Girl Scouts at a time where we would work on badges and patches over tea and treats at different venues. We also hosted lots of private parties for troops and individuals. With the onset of Covid I had to cancel two programs the day before they were to happen. Not knowing when we’d be back to large gatherings, we decided to video tape ourselves as we would have led the program during the live event. We learned a lot since those two programs and I have since redone them.
We now include lots of printable materials and crafts from supplies most people already have at home. Girls can do programs on their own or with their troop. The NEW Women’s Right to Vote Program- the Road to the 19th Amendment teaches the girls all about the suffrage movement, takes a look at some of the main figures, discusses the meanings of the symbols (did you know red lipstick was a suffrage symbol?) and we make our own posters, pins and other crafts. The Girls in Space Program- explores the space race, women as astronauts, uniforms, food in space, and the solar system- girls can buy the favor kit and make their own look a-like astronauts and rockets.
Over the summer I added a Manners Course, Glamour Girl- which is really about self-care, a Yoga Video and a four-part-in-depth series about the life of Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low. I created a Welcome to Girl Scout program for each level including how Girl Scout activities can help Girl Scouts applying to membership in high school clubs, colleges and scholarship. Girl Scouts are S’more Fun teaches the girls how to make the original Girl Scout sugar cookie and s’mores at home, explains the beginning of cookie sales, where s’more come from, teaches songs and has hilarious parody videos. Upcoming programs include Christmas Craft parties, Cookie Ceo and more.
My programs helped keep a lot of girls around the country busy during the crazy summer we all had. Troop leaders get a break because I’ve researched, assembled, presented everything and tied in activities and crafts…just pause and discuss, complete activities and work on crafts. I typically offer favor or craft bags with patches that tie in to each program.
What type of programs do you offer for current events?
I have the freedom to come up with as many programs as I can dream up! And, I have tons of ideas in my head! I’ve added so many current events programs that highlight female accomplishments like K is for Kamala Harris- to introduce girls to the new Vice President elect with a look at who and what shaped her life. A Ruth Bader Ginsburg Program that shows us how RBG was influenced as a girl, shattered glass ceilings, her famous collars and necklaces and introduces girls to the Supreme Court- and it has cool craft kits available for sale. Vote and Women in Government – explain the role of political parties, the election process, how to put democracy into actions, women’s first in government and it fulfills many requirements for the democracy badge series. I’m working on a program about Inauguration Traditions and Facts so that girls will understand what is going on.
Girls love to travel, what type of programs do you offer around traveling?
I have a bunch of travel related programs called Girl on the Go (we explore US cities that I’ve taken my Girl Scout troops to including Washington, DC, New York City and Savannah, Georgia). We explore the cities main attractions free things to do and learn about important landmarks- this will help girls to think about travel and will fulfill many travel badges. In the Travel Abroad series we “go” on an international trip and experience a different culture through information, activities and crafts. We will learn Arabic dance with Jasmine, create Nordic jewelry with Elsa and Anna, we’ll learn about Chinese New Year with Mulan. Most programs are geared toward a wide audience and a variety of age groups. Older girls have options of more detailed information and activities and younger girls can only do what interest them. Souvenirs’ are also available.
Do you offer anything to give back to our communities or service type project ideas?
I’ve added a bunch of public service and free events to give back to my community- like Personal Safety for Girls, Upcoming Human Trafficking Awareness, Emergency and Preparedness.
You talk about Fancy Balls on your website, what are they and how can leaders use them with their troops?
My Girl Scout troop hosted annual balls as a way to give special events to girls and their special someone. These started as our Bronze Award project. The feedback and success of them was amazing. We received so many sweet stories over the years about our dances helped bonding and provided fantastic memories for girls and adults. These types of events truly are the memory makers. Our troop started planning and hosting annual Balls and used the money earned to fund our travel. These took a tremendous amount of time, energy and work to pull off! But they became our most favorite event of the year. My original troop are all in college now so we don’t host these as a troop; but I still get emails asking if these events are available. I decided to try and offer Virtual Balls for free and provide craft ideas, snacks, music and a DJ. Tiara sets are available for sale and help me stay in business to provide these free activities and others. Plus. Tiara sets and an excuse to wear it makes an awesome Holiday Present.
How to get started with one of these activities from Fancy Girl Tea Parties?
As mentioned at the beginning of this post you can reach out to me by emailing with questions or comments at [email protected]. Plus all details, images, dates and registration information is available from my website https://fancygirlteaparties.com/
Enjoy every minute being a leader and continue to inspire your girls!