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momcat 02-27-2002 09:50 PM

Need help involving parents in GS
 
Hi, all you GS moms and leaders -- I REALLY need your advice!

I'm a Daisy (kindergarten) leader for a troop of 9 girls who should be bridging to Brownies at the end of May. The girls are GREAT, but the parents are, uh... well... , less than involved in what their girls are doing. I've run out of ways to try to entice the parents into getting interested in the girls' activities and I'd like to hear what works for you.

:( Right now I'm really bummed. We had a parents' meeting last night and only 2 other parents besides me showed up. It had been scheduled 3 weeks in advance, parents had received weekly fliers reminding them of the meeting, they all have my phone number (and pager number, and e-mail address) but no one called to say the meeting was inconvenient or they couldn't attend ... yet when I called yesterday afternoon to remind them, all but two of them had some reason they couldn't come - some scheduling conflict in each case.

Of course, this was supposed to be the meeting where we discussed what kind of adult help the troop would need as they started preparing for their Brownie year. I had planned to discuss the positions and options with the parents so we could decide who would be able to do what - TOS, Cookie Sales, service projects, and so forth. Of course, the two who did show up really weren't too enthusiastic about making any commitments given the lack of participation by the other parents.

Up to this point, I haven't had a "real" co-leader (there's one appointed, in title only, for signature requirements on the checking account) or a troop committee and have pretty much been doing all the planning and organizing on my own. There are always one or two other parents in attendance at the meetings, but rarely the SAME one or two, and no one interested in participating in any preparation prior to the meetings. I can't seem to get the other parents to realize that once the girls start Brownies there will be a lot more to do and one person - or even two - just can't do it all.

It's not that I haven't been TRYING to get the parents involved. I've sent out lists of tasks/positions the troop needs adults to help with - and even included what positions I think certain people might be interested in, based on the Parent Interest Surveys they filled out at the beginning of the year. No takers.

I've sent the parents an update/newsletter at least every other week since the troop started meeting in September (they meet every other Thursday evening), to keep them informed of what the girls are doing and to alert them to adult training and volunteer opportunities.

I've sent them fliers about special events such as our annual Festival of Giving in December, World Thinking Day, and Girl Scout Birthday. I hoped this would help the parents understand more about why the troop was doing some activity or other, and that maybe they would discuss these events with their daughters (since an hour meeting often isn't long enough for girls this age to really internalize a totally new concept). Judging from the girls' conversations in meetings, though, I'd guess the parents rarely talk to their daughters about their Girl Scout activities. In fact, I often wonder if the parents even read any of the materials the girls bring home.

I've even sent home activity sheets for some of the Daisy Learning Petals...things for the parents to do with their girls to help the girls earn their Petals and to encourage the parents to learn about the program, and - you guessed it - most of the girls either didn't get them done or didn't bring them to the next meeting.

:-OWould you believe, a couple of the parents didn't even come to their daughters' Investiture Ceremony??? Why? "Well, it just isn't at a convenient time - we have too many other things to do." If scheduling for 9 girls is this much of a problem, what do troops with 15 or 20 girls do?!?!?

Don't even think of suggesting I should call them or visit with them personally - I've tried that. There are only three families where I can get someone to answer the phone pretty regularly, and of those the answer I usually get is "we just don't have time." I get an answering machine almost every time I call any of the other families, regardless of the day or time I call, and none of them returns my calls. I hate to drown parents in paper - the school does enough of that already - but I don't know any other way to communicate with them if I don't see them at meetings and can't reach them on the phone.

I'm really trying not to take the whole situation personally, but it's getting really hard! The parents keep saying how much their daughters like Daisys and how they look forward to the meetings. And so far no one has offered any criticisms, complaints, or suggestions about how I'm doing as a leader. But I keep wondering if I'm doing something to make the parents unhappy or if I'm somehow causing them to avoid participating.

At this point I can't think of any other options but to tell the parents that without their COMMITMENT to help the troop, there just won't be a first grade Brownie troop at our school next year. I don't want to sound like I'm making threats, but I know I can't handle the troop alone. I'm prepared to disband the troop and enroll my daughter in another troop in our neighborhood if there are no other parents willing to help with our troop. It doesn't seem like the parents will mind one way or the other, but I really hate for the girls to miss out on the great opportunities GS has to offer.

Please offer your advice or experiences!!!! I'm really hoping to help this troop stay together!

Thanks!
momcat

:cat:

dawn 02-28-2002 03:22 AM

Momcat,

That is so sad!My dd has been involved since she was a Daisy. She is now a junior girl scout. Next weekend we are having a International Festival. It is surrounding towns, each troop makes crafts and sells them. My dd troop is Japan.


What the leader does is about every meeting there is sign up sheet for the month for parent helpers. Also upcoming events she puts in a reminder memo with dates and times. We also donate things for projects, she will list them and you put your childs name next to what she will bring. I hope things work out. This is a very important part of their daughters life. I love Girlscouts.:heart:

Cherie 03-06-2002 08:54 PM

You know, it isn't just Girl Scouts around here. Parents don't get involved in anything.

My dd is a Daisy this year too. Most of the parents come and sometimes the Dads come instead of the Mom. There are a couple that just get dropped off. I was talking to our Leader about taking the girls skating to earn a patch and she said she was going to tell the parents that one of them had to be there for this because she, like I, think that girl scouting should be a parent/child thing.

Maybe if you told them it was a new requirement that the girls can't be dropped off and that a parent has to stay at the meeting?

The first meeting we ever had, our leader passed out a paper with each month on it and everyone had to sign up to bring either a drink or a treat for each meeting. I've done it twice myself already.

I did pay the money for myself to be a girl scout (I guess that's what it is). I'm not quite sure what it's for though. The only thing I see is that I can get a patch too if I do the activity. What I would do with a patch is beyond me. lol

Cherie

Amanda 03-07-2002 04:19 AM

Unfortunately, I think it's like this all over the place. There is a preconceived vision of what Girl Scouts is. Many parents sign their girls up for GS as an activity that they can provide for their girls without having to do anything themselves. I am good friends with my daughter's troop leader. She is not only frustrated by the lack of interest by the parents, but also with the difficulty she has with our council office. They are terribly disorganized and seem to lose things on a constant basis :(

I like the advice you got above for a sign up sheet for the parents. I also think that giving the parents an ultimatum may work, as long as you offer options with it. For example, if you tell them that the troop cannot continue next year without their help, suggest that each parent commit to at least 2 or 3 activities or meetings throughout the entire year. Assign a date and have them pencil it into their schedules. I have been involved with things where I had to make a committment, but it was only a couple of times per year, when presented that way it didn't seem like too much of a burden, so to speak.

If you sit down and figure out how many meetings you have throughout the whole year, then divide it by the number of girls (not counting your own), that would be the number of times each parent would need to help.

Another important thing that some girl scout and brownie leaders don't do right from the beginning, is make it perfectly clear that this troop cannot thrive without parental involvement. Emphasize that Daisies and Brownies are not babysitting services, but rather a mission to grow our girls into confident and caring young women. :)

Kathy 03-17-2002 02:38 PM

Getting parents involved
 
It is tough getting parents involved. I do think you need to have a meeting with the parents, and I suggest you do it when it is time to register. Do not give parents registration papers unless they come to the meeting. Explain to them the importance of becoming adult members. This will become really evident to you as these girls become Brownies. Pull out the Safety Wise book and show parents the supervision requirements for a meeting, and especially the requirements for trips. You cannot take these girls anywhere without other adult members going along! I have two troops - a small Junior troop (only 4 girls) and a large Brownie troop (21 girls). We had similar problems with the Brownie troop. A sign-up sheet did work to get moms at meetings to help out, and so did threatening to cancel a field trip because we did not have enough adults to go along. Their daughters come home whining because the trip won't happen, and they offer to help!
If you don't mind the planning, offer to do that if you can get one or two moms to be co-leaders and just be at all the meetings. I have three co-leaders for the Brownie troop, and that is the arrangement we have. I like to plan, and they are at every meeting and we divide the girls into 4 groups to works on projects and try-its.
I hope you find some help - Girl Scouting really is worth it!

Barbara Humphrey 03-18-2002 07:05 AM

Daisy Girl Scouts
 
I too, am a Girl Scout leader. This is my first year as a leader and have experienced many ups and downs this first year, so I understand your frustration. I thought I would share with you what our troop did in hopes that maybe this might help you. At the beginning of the school year I assigned two mothers to a month (Sept- May) and these two mothers will be in charge of planning two events for that particular month. Our troop has one regular meeting and also a field trip or a service project. These mothers are also in charge of snacks and juices for each event and also for picking up try-it badges or patches (depending on the event). Once each mother in our troop was assigned a month, I typed up a flyer listing each month and also the names of the two moms in charge of each month. This way EVERYONE will know in advance of who is in charge of what month. Prior to the month, I will contact the moms to get all the details and then they are printed in a monthly newsletter. The newletter gives all the dates and times of each event so that everyone has ample time to plan and mark their calenders. We also have many working mothers in our troop, so we try to plan events in the evening or on weekends to help accommodate their schedules.
Sometimes you just have to ASSIGN people tasks to do rather then ask for volunteers because you may never get anyone to help. As of right now, I have not had one single mother contact me and tell me they could not work their scheduled month. As a matter of fact, our mothers have planned some wonderful meetings and super field trips/service projects. This has worked wonderful for our troop and maybe it could for your troop too! Good Luck!!

Catie 03-20-2002 08:11 AM

As a busy mom of four girls, it was difficult for me to commit to being a leader for my oldest. Unfortunately, none of the other mothers would. I became the leader with little help. As the girls got older and no one wanted to help, I had to make it a requirement. During the early fall, we had a parent pot luck meeting. Each family had to pick a badge that their daughter was interested in completing. It was their responsibility to make a "box" containing everything required, including instructions, to complete that badge. We then scheduled the boxes. If it involved a special guest, that parent was in charge of arranging that. It was also their night to bring snack and drink. MOST families came through amazingly!! The ones that did not were the girls that needed Girl Scouting most of all. The families that were too busy to help typically, either came through with the help or understood they were too busy to use our meetings as free daycare. It's only fair that each family assist as much as possible. It's a great experience for the girls!!!!

angelhairbeauty 03-25-2002 08:52 AM

I am a spark leader on a mission
 
Do I have a story to tell. I was one of those moms that was involved with my older daughter. Sparks is two years long, then Brownies. When my younger daughter wanted to be a spark unfortunately the sparks leaders flew-up with their daughters. It left one leader and two units. Well, it just so happened I was approached. I said I would do it but with another leader. No one stepped forward. So I tackled it myself. I have nine girls and one parent that is always there because her child does not want her to leave. So, I have tried letters home, sign-up sheets, telling them how important it is for their involvement. No luck. I finally had to send home the dreaded letter, that if you don't get involved in what your daughters were doing I would have to cancel. All that is expected of these parents is to be there as another adult and bring snack. That's it. They could sit and read a book for all I care. So long story short, I approached this mom that was there all the time asked if I could use her as my parents helper. She said ,yes. Sent home a snack rooster with the parents signed up on a date with a note attached saying it was their responsibility to provide snack for that day and if they could not that they were to find another parent from the phone list I also sent home with the snack rooster. Well, so far so good. A little threat doesnt hurt anyone. I know some of my parents do use me as a babysitting service and some of them do work. It is not the children's fault. That is who I am doing it for. So I suggest you find that one parent that is willing to be that extra body and as the leader just sign the others up for snacks but still give the others a chance to sign-up if they can. Its nice to have more than one helper.:-:

tabpicklesgapar 03-28-2002 12:44 PM

i am also a gs leader.... my daugher missed out on daisies so i steped up for brownies.... and every year i just hoped that a new girl would join with a great mom.so far 1 out of 3 years i had a good mom.. so good luck to you. i have not found a lot of help from my parents. i would sugguest at the end of the year have a ceramony and give the parents a certificate for there help and may be the other parents my perk up and get envolved.have more mother daugher activities and field trips.

i have started a girl scout support group for advice and suggestions and every one is welcome to join. it was mainly for arkansas but i cant get any of my girls parents to join so feel free to pass it around

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arkans...yguid=52536266

thanks
tab

momofpeyton2002 05-20-2003 06:17 PM

Parents and Girl Scouts
 
I have the total opposite problem! I live in a town of MAYBE 125 people. Nothing gets started here. Nothing gets done here. So--I decided Why not start a girl scout group. My daughter is only 10 months old, but some day she'll love it. I have 13 girls total--9 juniors and 4 brownies. I have them combined and I have a co-leader, my best friend. I absolutely love the girls--they're great!! But the Mothers....I'm gonna lose my mind!!! I have NO LESS than 4 moms at all my meetings(there have only been 2--very new!!!) I feel totally nervous with them watching because I know that one of the mothers even video tape her son's basketball practices in case a coach says a cuss word!! And I only have 11 moms total, cause 2 have 2 girls. Just yesterday I called all the junior moms to tell them about an event that is coming up. She proceeded to tell me that I HAVE to split the girls up better because the big girls HATE being with the little girls. And I need to be doing camping and horse back riding and blah blah. All this is fine and dandy--I plan on doing more events--but GIVE ME A BREAK!! I'm New. The group is NEW. We're all learning together. AND The girls picked the project we're working on right now--I DIDN'T!!!!! It's very frustrating to me. So I called all the rest of the moms and they said their kids haven't said a word. They're happy how things are going. One mother is trying to wreck it for all of them. So my next meeting I've told them all that it is a Girl Scouts Only meeting. I want the girls to feel like they can tell ME when they have concerns, etc. So if you cannot get any more parents to help--you may be able to thank your lucky stars! Cause my "moms" are making me crazy!!!! Thankfully I love kids, tho. So I'll stick it out the best I can. If you have any ideas for me--DO TELL!! And good luck getting more help! If you live close I'll send you some(lol)!!! Take care!!


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