To be a Girl Scout Volunteer…

There are so many ways to be a Girl Scout volunteer! Volunteers are young professionals, retirees, and everything in between. Girl Scout volunteers share their best selves because girls deserve access to amazing mentors. Whether you are a co-leader, a subject expert, or event helper, there are endless ways to get involved and make an impact in your community.

We spoke with three volunteers to showcase what Girl Scout volunteers do, and what it means to be a Girl Scout volunteer.

Pat Coyne

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What inspired you to be a GS volunteer?

I was a girl scout as a girl through Senior Year in high school.  I was the beneficiary of wonderful women who volunteered to be my leader.  Girl Scouting provided me numerous opportunities for leadership and to widen my world experiences as a girl that my family could not have provided. I need to pay that forward so that today’s girls can have the same experiences and benefits.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?

Right now, I have a couple of activities.  As part of Membership Area 12 (Monona, Cottage Grove and Deerfield), I organize a fall and spring overnight experience, including programming and meals.  Sometimes I plan some additional events, such as Eagle Cave sleepover or a Leader/Daughter appreciation event. My granddaughter is a Kindergartner in the Milwaukee and so I am a co-leader of a Daisy troop with my daughter.  This will be my third troop that I have led. Sometimes I lend a hand at Council events.  I also am a Council delegate.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

My volunteer work is more episodic; sometimes I am quite busy and sometimes not at all. When I am planning an event, there is a lot to do and most of my spare time goes into planning the activities, testing them, supply purchases, instruction write-up.  I set up a detailed schedule that includes stations, kapers, sleeping arrangements.  I also plan meals and purchase food.  Communication and coordination also need to be done. Similarly, I will have some of the responsibility for part of the Daisy troop meetings, so it will be busy at that time to plan, practice, and procure what we need. Otherwise, for the council events, I just show up as a pair of willing hands.  Such as Camp Hero, Camp Build, My First Sleepaway, Girl Scout Investigations….

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you?

Every time that I plan something in an area that is new to me, I have to learn that area first.  For instance, our fall event was the Drawing Junior badge, the Painting Brownie badge and the Comic Artist Cadette badge.  I knew nothing about Comics when I started but I know a whole lot more now!  Drawing and Painting things too!  It’s fun to learn. I love being with the girls.  I enjoy meeting other adults that are similarly dedicated to the growth of girls.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer?

To make a difference.  To make the world a better place.  To give back.  To see a girl smile and grow.  To continue to grow personally.  To stay fresh and young, alert and alive.   When I was younger and my daughter was in my troop, I used to say that I was a leader so that I spent time with my daughter when my hands weren’t in dishwater and weren’t on a steering wheel.  To invest in the woman she would become and not be on the sidelines of the activities that she did.  Other parents may find that this is compelling motivation to volunteer.

Jennifer Deuster-Loesch

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Pictured on far right

What inspired you to be a GS volunteer? 

I grew up participating in Girl Scouts.  My mom and one of my good friends mom’s were my troop leaders.  So when my oldest daughter wanted to be in Daisy Scouts and Council was looking for someone to volunteer to be a co-leader I was more than happy to pay it forward so to speak and give girls the chance to create the lifetime memories I had the opportunity to do so as a scout myself.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?  

My primary role as a volunteer has changed overtime.  I am a co-leader in three troops. Of course, following the Girl Scout Program and Safety Guidelines is a given but other than that I can honestly say it varies since Girl Scouts is driven by what the girl troop members want to do.  In all of the troops, I have found that the adult volunteers are flexible and that we trade off on taking on responsibilities.  Furthermore, as a volunteer you also need to know your limits and make sure that the others in the troop are aware of this. For example, if one of us is going through a busy time in life, then the other leader will take on a role that perhaps the other would typically handle.  Also, in all of the troops I co-lead we have parent’s that have volunteered as troop support — just because you volunteer as a troop leader does not mean that you have to be the cookie coordinator every year or plan every meeting or outing, in fact, I would recommend that these roles gets alternated and that as girls age that they become more and more responsible for what happens at meetings and outings.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

As a GS Volunteer, I have participated in training that is offered to ensure that I am bringing the GS program to the troops I lead.  In one of the troops, I am the person that keeps track of troop finances. I coordinate with my co-leaders to set meeting dates, secure safety ratio volunteers for outings, send out troop communications, help the girls figure out details for meetings and outings and answer their questions.  Some days there is a lot to do and then weeks could go by with no volunteer obligations.

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you? 

Being a Girl Scout volunteer has enforced the concepts of community and team work for me and also brought home how each person is unique and has different things to offer.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer? 

Its a great way to become involved in the lives of girls and families in your community and get to know them better.  Also, being a GS volunteer exposes you to all kinds of new thoughts and ideas — it’s enriching.

Dawn Scholz

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Dawn Scholz pictured on right

What inspired you to be a GS volunteer?

I volunteered for my daughter.  I didn’t set out to be a volunteer.   We met a Girl Scout recruiter at my daughter’s meet your teacher event when she started kindergarten and my daughter was very excited about becoming a Daisy.  We signed her up right away for a new troop that was forming.   Several weeks went by and the troop didn’t have the two co-leaders necessary to run the troop.  I wanted my daughter to have an amazing Girl Scout experience, so I volunteered.  I had no idea what I was doing but the excellent staff at Badgerland was there to answer all my questions.

What is your primary role as a volunteer?

My primary role is as a cheerleader and a coach.  As a Troop Leader, I have the joy to lead the girls down a path of self-discovery.  I provide the options and let them choose the course.  I’ve seen so many “firsts”, first sleepover, first time trying archery, first time building a fire, and the list goes on.  Some girls can be nervous trying something new, so we cheer them on and help them celebrate their successes.  It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, a huge part of what we do as volunteers involves cheerleading.  And sometimes things don’t go as well as we hope.  Girl Scouts is a safe place to make mistakes.  In those cases, we help the girl learn what to do differently in the future.  So, yeah, I would say my primary role is being a cheerleader and a coach.

What does being a GS volunteer involve? What do you do day-to-day?

Volunteering for Girl Scouts can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.  I have facilitated events for the entire member ship area.  For example, we had an International Day of the Girl Ice Skating Party.  That involved planning, advertising, collecting registration forms and payment, contacting the ice rink to negotiate and reserve the time slot, recruiting people to help run the event, and all that good stuff.  I have also volunteered to hand out frozen custard at a Women’s Suffrage event at the State Capital.  All I did was show up and hand out custard for an hour or so and then I was done.  If you’ve got time to do something big, then go for it.  And if you can do a one-time event, that’s ok too.  Sure, we need Troop Leaders but we also need photographers, and Cookie Coordinators, and field trip chaperones, and drivers.  There as so many ways you can volunteer.

Day to day, I go to work, come home, and fix dinner.  We’re a pretty normal household.  I probably average about 2-4 hours a week on troop stuff.   Our troop has two 1-hour meetings and one field trip each month.   Girl Scouts makes it easy because they have directions for all the badges right on their website so planning for meetings is mostly just gathering supplies.  Cookie Season can get a little hectic but the day to day stuff is pretty easy.

What have you learned as a volunteer? How has being a volunteer impacted you?

Girls Scouts has really taught me how to network.  We have regularly scheduled membership area volunteer meetings and if I’m unsure about how to do something or there’s a something I’m struggling with, I know I can ask the group and it’s something one of them has encountered.  There is this diverse group of Girl Scout Adult Volunteers that has a remarkable wealth of knowledge and experience and they are ready to help.  We are all dedicated to making this an amazing experience for our girls.

I have had so many experiences as a Girl Scout Volunteer that I would not have had otherwise.  We talk about the positive impacts Girl Scouts has on our girls but sometimes forget that we have the opportunity to take this incredible journey with them.  I’ve gotten to operate fire hoses, build and program robots, build and launch rockets, sit at the NBC15 News anchor’s desk, look through a huge telescope to see the rings of Saturn, and countless other things.

Why should someone become a GS volunteer?

There are so many reasons to become a Girl Scout volunteer.  If you like the adventures, Girl Scouts has opportunities for camping, hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, caving, skiing, and all sorts of outdoor activities.   If you like STEM, there are badges for robots, engineering, coding, cybersecurity, space science, and protecting ecosystems.  There are too many opportunities to list.  When you volunteer, you get to experience these things with your girl.  And knowing you are positively impacting the world for your girl, and this whole group of girls, is extremely rewarding.  Girl Scouts helps me prepare my daughter for the future.  No matter what future she chooses for herself, I know she has the courage, confidence, and character to be successful.

 

Ready to make a difference? Visit gsbadgerland.org/makeadifference to learn how to become a Girl Scout volunteer!

Celebrate STEM/STEAM Month at Badgerland

November is STEM month at Badgerland! Looking for a new STEM badge to work on? Check out these resources for inspiration and ways to kick-off earning your next badge.

Coding

There are endless resources online to learn computer code. Here are a few sites to start off your coding journey.

For Daisies, Brownies, or Juniors… Kids Ruby. Kids Ruby teaches programming in a way that’s fun and easy for kids. Check it out at kidsruby.com

For Cadettes, Seniors, or Ambassadors… freeCodeCamp. freeCodeCamp teaches a variety of code through lessons that are challenging, but easy to understand PLUS allows the user to apply that knowledge by assigning coding tasks for non-profit websites. Visit freecodecamp.org to learn more.

For all ages… Made w/ Code. Made w/ Code is an initiative launched by Google to combat the gender gap in STEM and empower girls with knowledge in computer programming through offering fun games that teach the logic behind programming, Made w/ Code is a unique and entertaining way to learn about computer coding. Check it out at madewithcode.com.

Digital Game Design

For Daisies… Toca Builders. Toca Builders is a mobile game that allows younger kids to build interactive worlds, a great introduction to game development. Find the game on the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

For Brownies and older… Scratch. Created by MIT Media Lab, With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations while learning about coding and creative thinking. Try it out at scratch.mit.edu.

For Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors… Game Dev Tycoon. Game Dev Tycoon explores the beginning of the video game industry and places you in the role of the game developer and having you develop best-selling games. You can find the game on Steam.

Animals

For all ages… visit a local zoo or wildlife sanctuary to learn how animal habitats. See a list of area zoos below:

Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison WI https://www.henryvilaszoo.gov/

Ochsner Park Zoo, Baraboo WI

Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue, Rock Springs WI

Heartland Farm Sanctuary, Verona WI

DCHS’s Wildlife Center, Madison WI

For all ages… visit your local Humane Society shelter. Learn about animal care and give back by volunteering your time or giving needed items. See a few area shelters below:

Dane County Humane Society, Madison WI

Coulee Region Humane Society, Onalaska WI

Grant County Humane Society, Lancaster WI

Iowa County Humane Society, Dodgeville WI

Green County Humane Society, Monroe WI

Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, Janesville WI

Space Science

For all ages… the Space Place. An extension of the UW Madison Astronomy Dept, this outreach center offers interactive exhibits, workshops, and guest speakers. Learn more at http://www.spaceplace.wisc.edu/

For all ages… the Sky Guide app (Fifth Star Labs LLC). This inexpensive app allows you to identify and learn about stars, constellations, planets, and more by simple pointing your phone towards the sky. Learn all about the night sky, no telescope required. Find the app on the Apple App Store.

Movie-making

For all ages…  learn editing with iMovie and Filmora. iMovie is included on all Apple computers and is an easy starting point for learning how to edit. Filmora is another option for inexpensive/free editing software and is simple to use for beginners. Find tutorials on Youtube, and look at your favorite movies to learn about common editing techniques.

For all ages… don’t have a camera? Use your phone to make short films. Work together to write a short script and film it like a film crew would. BONUS: Check out the “The Movie Making Book”. Available at most libraries and retailers, this book provides hands-on activities and exercises to turn phone and tablet videos into films.

Badgerland Check-out resources

Did you know Badgerland has a library of STEM-related resources and kits for your troop to use? From Galileoscopes to Ozobots, see what’s available on the Activity Resources page of our website.

 

What badges is your troop working on this month? Let us know in the comments below!