Do you remember being a young girl and trying to figure out what your future would be like? It can be tough as a child or teenager to find and develop your interests. One of the best parts of being a Girl Scout troop leader is using your girls’ interests as your foundation of activities.
Part of your leadership role is to help your group of girls develop practical skills like financial literacy, civic engagement, community service, healthy living, and outdoor skills. You are in the unique position to adjust your meetings, camp experience, cookie sales, and field trips to cater to their interests and give each of your girls the best experiences possible.
I’d love to share a bit of a roadmap with you on how to discover your troop’s interests and shape their time in the girl scout program to be specifically engaging and helpful for each girl. Many of us became Girl Scout leaders because we had a great experience in the program as kids, whether you started in kindergarten or in high school, and the key to providing that to your scouts is tailoring your troop’s activities to each girl.
Learn About Their Interests
The first step is to discover what your girl scouts’ existing interests are. There is no better place to start than conducting an interests inventory. This is a great way to show your girls that the quality of their girl scout experience is important to you.
Many girl scout leaders can use a little extra help when it comes to planning, and an interests inventory can be a big help in steering the ship. If you could use some extra resources, I have girl scout activities perfect for every grade level that will help guide you as you incorporate each girls’ interest throughout the troop year.
You can conduct this inventory anytime– during signup, at your first meeting, or halfway through the year! It will help your core group take ownership of their Girl Scout experience, and show that your group is a safe space to develop their new skills.
Prioritize the Right Badges
You have so much freedom to decide which badges your troop will be pursuing. Girl Scout badges are such an expansive resource, since their topics branch in every direction, from selling Girl Scout cookies to developing communication skills to learning STEM to activism to creativity.
You can start with the results from your interests inventory and create a list of tasks you want to accomplish during the year. This will help you give age-appropriate guidance for them as they pursue their interests.
Allowing scouts to develop an individualized experience can instill a special sense of pride in them and their journey, and help them stay in it for the long haul. Your whole troop will benefit from you specializing their girl scout programming in ways that make it an exciting, rewarding experience for them.
Let Your Scouts Choose Their Own Activities
If you want to take a more hands-on approach where your scouts guide, you can present all the information to your scouts about all the available options and help them choose their own direction. This can apply to things like badges and activities, but it can even extend down into things like choosing individual camp songs and games.
This works to build independence in any age group, so whether you’re working with younger girl scouts or young adults, you can bring them into the process and see the dividends!
Bring in Guests
One of the best ways to help your girl scouts create a roadmap for their life is to introduce supportive adults that they can connect with and look up to. If they’re going to become future leaders in your community, healthy relationships with girl scout parents, girl scout volunteers, and other adult volunteers who are specialists in your girls’ interests is so important.
Young girls really need a role model, and connecting them with strong, accomplished women is is key. Networking is one of those essential life skills they will need to pursue any path they want to take, and starting young is a great way to help them build their confidence. Your girls will get an opportunity to ask questions, learn how to have relationships with adults, and discover whether they’re actually fit for the career paths, activism, or hobbies they’re considering developing in their adulthood.
We have a previous article about how to provide girl scout volunteer opportunities for adults to share their unique skills in ways your girls will love that you should definitely check out to get your gears turning. Not only will it help members of your troop, the adults will likely find their time with your girls to be heart-warming and rewarding.
It’s so important to instill a sense of independence in your scouts, and help them confidently pursue their passions. Making these changes has been amazing for my troop, and I can’t wait to see how they help yours as well.
Enjoy every minute being a leader and continue to inspire your girls!