The first type is the gung-ho, “Let’s bake a cake in a tin-foil box,” kind of leaders. These are the ones who look forward to camping and even camp in tents with bugs and everything. They wouldn’t dream of using a crockpot or a microwave on a camping trip. They use hot coals on top of Dutch cookers to prepare their camp-worthy meals from scratch. They allow their girls to plan their meals and activities and everything they do. These leaders follow every rule to the tee. They fill out every form and every report, and they salute as they turn them into the head Girl Scout. On the night of the leaders’ meeting, they show up an hour early, just in case. The Boy Scouts have nothing on these ladies, because they are truly always prepared.
The second type is the “How did my daughter talk me into this?” kind of leaders. That would be my category.
Now, let me first say that the Goose did not make me do this. In fact, when I said I was going to be a leader, she said she did not want me to be one. Talk about having hurt feelings… Finally, after a month of asking her why, I finally got her to confess the reason. She said she knew I had enough going on in life, and she did not want me to have to add more to my list. Bless her little soul. I should have listened. Instead, I felt more compelled than ever to lead. I had to prove to my little girl that her activities and interests mattered more to me than anything else I had going on. Big mistake. I have found leading a Girl Scout troop to be one of the most frustrating things I have ever done, and it’s not because of the girls (although they can be frustrating too).
The Girl Scouts have more rules and forms than any organization I have ever encountered. Are you going to the grocery store as a troop? “There’s a form for that.” Going to McDonald’s? “Sign here.” Going to the zoo? “Sign this form in triplicate and initial here, here and here.”
There are dozens of trainings that we, as leaders, are supposed to go through. These “trainings” consist of sitting there while a “Tin-foil box” leader reads to you. I learned to read when I was 4 and can handle it just fine on my own. Just give me the paper and consider me trained, thank you very much.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand why they have most of their rules and forms and trainings. I get it. I do. Our society is very litigious, and the Girl Scouts have to protect themselves. However, some of the rules just make me feel like they think all their leaders are morons. Seriously. I have managed to keep two children, a husband and a dog alive for several years. I’m pretty sure I can handle a field trip to the local smoothie shop. Luckily, my co-leader thinks pretty much the same way I do. She works in the medical profession. She saves lives all day, so I’m pretty sure she and I together can handle a gathering of 8 little girls. So, while we are patient with most of the stupid red tape, many times, we operate on the theory of, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Actually, my favorite mottos pertaining to the scouts are, “If you don’t like it, fire me,” and “The letter is ‘V’ for volunteer.” Sometimes, I think big non-profit organizations forget when they are creating all these forms and reports and requirements that participation by volunteers is optional.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a little bit rebellious when it comes to stupidity. I am a homeschooler, after all, and we are a rebellious people by nature. I was never rebellious when I was little, but I’m pretty sure I’m making up for lost time. I just don’t have time for silly forms and rules and trainings, and if you don’t like it, refer to my two favorite mottos.
While my co-leader and I avoid trouble most of the time, occasionally, our troop tattles on us for not doing things the Girl Scout Way. They don’t mean to do this, but, in their innocence, they rat us out. One time, we went camping. (In a cabin. We don’t *do* tents.) Our girls were participating in a ropes course, and the activity was being run by a few troop leaders who would fall into the “Tin-foil box” category. My co-leader and I had planned the meals, bought the groceries and did the prep-work for the food, as usual. We had Sloppy Joes cooking in the crockpot. As the “Tin-foil box” leaders were talking to our girls, they asked what the girls had planned for our meals. The girls proceeded to tell them that my co-leader and I made the plans! And they weren’t quiet after that. Oh, but no. They then told them how we had gotten the dinner cooking that morning and how it was cooking in a crockpot. (Say it isn’t so!) If only I had been prepared to take a photo of the “Tin-foil box” leaders’ faces. They were angry and scary.
My co-leader and I got to listen to a lecture about how important it was for our girls to plan the meals and cook them and how important it was for them to learn how to camp. Needless to say, that night, the girls did the dishes and cleaned up. We asked the girls if they had enjoyed the meals we had planned, and they said they had. We told them if they planned to eat on the next camping trip to keep their mouths shut. They thought we were kidding.
So, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be earning a “Leader of the Year” award. However, I think I’ve done a good job of teaching my troop to be resourceful. If you have the resources of a crockpot and a microwave, why not use them? If you have electricity and walls and a roof available, why sleep in a tent? This is survival in the real world. If hotel reservations need to be made or a meal needs to be microwaved, our troop will be all set! -Al