Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Underwhelmed

Adelay joined Girl Scouts this school year; their troop didn't secure a leader until mid-October, I think, so it doesn't really feel like they've been doing it THAT long, but on the other hand I am already sick of it.

I didn't do Girl Scouts when I was little, but so far from what I can tell, all that's happened is that every other week we go sit in the school library while the girls stand in a circle and fumble through the pledge, do a craft (which has been either coloring or, this last week, something way too hard for them that the moms ended up doing during snack time,) then have a snack, which we all take turns bringing in and which has involved fake fruit punch with red dye 40 almost every single time. They've also played tag or Red Rover a couple of times, but in this weird, new rules fashion because no one is allowed to win or lose.

To enjoy the privilege of attending these meetings, I had to fill out MOUNTAINS of paperwork, including getting vaccination verification from our doctor's office, go to two separate orientation meetings, pay twenty four dollars for the initial fee, ten dollars for craft supplies, and am now being pestered to buy her a vest and sash, for the low price of forty four dollars. Not to mention the COOKIE SALES, which we have spent a good half of our time so far discussing and organizing and being texted and emailed about incessantly. Because, yeah, a parent is supposed to come to the meetings with the girls every time, since we have such a large group. So the kids go do their thing with one leader while the other hands us random forms to sign and reminds us about cookie sales and cookie rallies and cookie booths. I sort of feel like for the younger girls, being in Girl Scouts is basically just volunteering one's fund raising services.

I don't know. I guess I just had visions of them sitting around a campfire and learning survival skills, then making s'mores and hand crafting lanyards. Perhaps that was a little grandiose for six year olds. I'm sure the older girls really do that kind of thing. Also: its winter. Still, though, I thought it would be a little more... interesting, and organized, I guess. I seriously feel like Addy has more fun, and does neater activities, in her Sunday School class, and no one's hounding me to write checks and sell cookies there! I guess I thought there was more structure to this type of organization, and more interesting projects than "Here, color this page."

I know that we ended up with a very big troop, and the leaders have never done it before and jumped in to help at the eleventh hour, so I shouldn't be so critical. I really DO appreciate all the work they're doing, which with organizing all the cookie sales and rallies is no small amount. I just don't feel that gung ho about even selling the stupid cookies when I don't, so far, feel super impressed with the Girl Scout experience anyways. And so far it's seriously been ALL ABOUT selling cookies! I.E. parents selling cookies, since the girls are obviously way too young to do any independent sales.

Can any of you who were part of the organization yourselves as kids, or whose girls have been in it for awhile, tell me if this is just par for the course in the beginning? Does it get a lot more fun and interesting as they get older? Am I being a nonsocial crab to feel so reluctant and unwilling to try to sell cookies?

Also, does anyone else feel like the cookies aren't even that great? I don't GET it!

8 comments:

Jana said...

Syd is in her second year of Girl Scouts and she loves it. They go camping twice a year, have overnight adventures at the children's museum and NASA, do community service projects and earn lots of badges doing super cool stuff. This year we've toured the local police station and animal shelter, studied the history of our town and visited all the historical markers, and learned all kinds of cool crafts like how to make frilly flip-flops (donated to the children's hospital) and how to make a "sew-less" quilts (donated to a homeless shelter).

I think it's all about the organization of each individual troop. Her troop has several leaders (meeting organizer, treasurer, secretary, cookie mom) because it is too much work for one person.

I agree about the cookies, though. For two months, everything stops so that they can sell cookies and I have to spend my weekends standing outside a bank or grocery store with her begging people to buy them which stinks. But, the money they earn pays for all the badges, field trips and overnight trips. I basically pay for the uniform and the yearly annual fee and that's it. So I guess there is an upside to the cookie madness.

Swistle said...

I was in Brownie Scouts as a child, and it was the same: almost all the emphasis was on selling cookies and purchasing over-priced uniforms and accessories.

Scottish Twins said...

I have very fond memories of my years as a girl scout. My mother was troop leader for my older sister, so I started as a "tag-a-long" at a very young age. I think I was involved for a total of 7 years.

Our meetings were held in our school gymnasium. I don't remember a lot about what we did at the meetings (I remember costume parties, crafts, etc.), but have really fond memories of summer camps and other outings. We would go on trips to places like COSI and got to go to Woodhaven camp in the summers and learn how to camp, make fires, learn about the trees, etc.

I think the quality of the activities may depend on the quality of the troop leaders. My mom was amazing!

Erin said...

I did girl scouts for a year, maybe two? I never got what tge big deal was and then quit. I camped a lot with my family and learned a lot more that way. We are not doing scouts of any kind with our kids. Unless they reasly really push for it, but only then.

CAQuincy said...

Guess what? I am a current leader of TWO troops. And I did NOT make my girls sell cookies that first year. And also guess what? Selling cookies is OPTIONAL. If you don't want to deal with it, you can go up to the leader and ask her if you can make a monetary donation instead (she's not allowed to "ask", but you're allowed to offer). (Troop leaders do need to keep in mind that choosing NOT to sell cookies means that any and all activities/trips done will come 100% out of parents' pockets--I find that most parents do not mind and would rather pay full price for that stuff than have to go selling cookies door-to-door with six-year olds.) Oh. And I do NOT do booth sales with my girls until around 3rd or 4th grade. Before that, I just don't feel it's needed. Trust me, GSUSA is NOT breaking down my door demanding I do this. Booth sales are REALLY optional!

Also, due to my own sanity's sake, my younger daughter's troop only meets once a month.

These new leaders must not have had very good training. The new GS program is VERY much plug-and-play, but also very, very involved. Unless these leaders are doing these "simple" things to keep things really simple for THEIR sanity's sake. I volunteer to help train new leaders, BTW. New leaders get scared and panicky--they may not realize/know the resources their service unit has available to them.

You only need a vest OR a sash. Not both. But, yes, then you typically have to buy the troop numbers, etc. GSUSA is starting to demand one or the other. Sorry.

I was in scouts for 12 years as a kid--1st thru 12th grade. Obviously I loved it, or I wouldn't have stayed in it so long, and I would NOT be a troop leader for both of my girls' troops now. YES, a big part of whether or not your daughter enjoys it has to do with the leaders and how they present the program. And they may be overwhelmed with such a large troop.

Sort of all over the place with this post. But I totally get your griefs here. With experience, your leaders may get more comfortable.

d e v a n said...

I was in girl scouts and loved it, but we did meet for a snack, craft and a little lesson. (Like learning proper phone skills, for example.)
Cookie sales weren't that big of a deal, but maybe I just don't remember. I started in Kdg.
I didn't buy GS cookies last year and this year I bought 5 boxes but have found they aren't as good as I remember except for the samoas which I still love dearly. They taste kind of... fake.

Nowheymama said...

We have friends who are having this experience with their son who's in... Cub Scouts? Whatever the beginner level is for boys. Crafts and fundraisers and that's it.

kelli said...

I was in scouts for six years myself and have been the leader of my daughter's troop for three. I agree with the other commenters that it has much to do with the leader. Every troop is different.
Seeing how I'm also the cookie mom and we have a booth sale tomorrow, I do feel a bit stressed about that right now. However, in third grade my girls are old enough to realize that their parents can't keep shelling out money. Selling is the way to earn the means to do fun things. Last year they earned $1600. We had a sleepover at the zoo and have used the rest to fund smaller outings. We also bought their handbooks and vests.
And I'm gluten free and can't eat the cookies so part of me is happy to hear they are notasgood. Having 2400 boxes around the house makes me hungry!