Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Leading by Default.

I was not a Girl Scout growing up, although I always admired scouts.  I came from a busy family of 4 with 3 stinkin' younger brothers and although we were not poor by any stretch of the imagination, extra-curricular activities were considered a luxury.  My Mom had the big ol' van she would haul the kids around in and she was very good at managing our busy schedules.  However, taking part in more than one outside activity was simply not possible.  So I choose swimming in the summers and band during the school year.  Both activities have served me well since I still play in 2 bands and enjoy spending my summers at the lake.

I always hoped if God gifted me with a daughter she would ask to be in Girl Scouts.  To my surprise, I was blessed with 2 girls and my first daughter begged to be a Daisy so I eagerly signed her up.  I was so thankful to a Mom who stepped up and formed a troop.  After the first year of leading she asked if I would help her co-lead.  And well.... the following year she stepped down and I slid into the position.  Taking on a Brownie Troop with very little formal training felt like a daunting task.  I spent hours over the  summer pouring through Girl Scout manuals, browsing the GS store, surfing the internet and creating a schedule of activities for the year.  Walking into the first meeting I felt 18 beady eyes staring at me and quite honestly I was frightened!  When I got home my husband asked, "Well, did they eat you alive?"  No not entirely, but you can only play games and sing songs so long before you lose their attention.  Fortunately I was a former Captain in the Air Force and I felt the skills could come in handy.  I immeditaley mapped out a plan.  9 girls is too much for one person to handle so first things first, I "hired" a co-leader.  Flattery and excitement, landed me a bubbly, even tempered, hands on co-leader.  I am blessed!  Next... create routine, my meetings needed some order.  Finally, lead with intent and discipline pampered with love and caring.

Naturally after attending most meetings my 2nd daughter wanted to be a Daisy as well and insisted no one could do the job like Mom.  Flattery is a motivation and although I considered counseling for a brief moment, leading troops was really, without question, an honor.  This year I am leading 43 girls, 25 Daisies and 18 Juniors.  Most meetings the large numbers are rarely a factor.  But managing such big troops has taught me some powerful insights:

Always identify where the bathroom is in a facility
Have parent phone numbers handy
You can never have enough booster seats
Embroider names on vests (I have a set of identical twins to complicate the situation)
Always have more activities planned than you can possibly accomplish during your meeting time
If you cannot provide each girl with the EXACT same supplies, don't do the craft
Organizing girls for a photo is like corralling kittens... impossible!
Don't be surprised by the reaction when your troop files into a room in a long line
Sometimes a hug can fix everything!

I have always believed my history in the military and experience in the nursing field has been an asset and contributed to my success.  But I also know that each and every leader brings her own sense of style and experience from which she builds and creates a unique experience for her girls.  Other leaders with different backgrounds have given me new perspective and helped to make me a better leader. The single most indicative secret to your success as a leader is desire.  I pledged the moment I took over leadership of my troops that I would provide a meaningful experience for my girls, create lasting memories and teach and instill the Girl Scout values.  Surprisingly my girls have taught me the joy of laughter, the meaning of friendship, the power of words, the uniqueness of individuals and so much more.  Ultimately we as leaders, are blessed with the opportunity to follow girls throughout their childhood and gently mold their inner core.  To me that is one of the most humbling opportunities of a lifetime.  We as leaders are creating our legacy through these amazing girls.

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