Starting a multilevel troop in an after school scout program.
This past summer our local Community Development Manager ran a bi-weekly after school scout program for girls at our child care facility. We decided to continue the program this fall, and I stepped in to lead the troop. I was a Brownie and a Junior Scout as a girl. I love the ideals of scouts, and I am so excited to share this journey with my daughter and the girls in our troop.
We’re just getting started but here are a few things I have learned:
- Attendance is great! The girls are at the center after school anyway and the parents don’t have to commit additional time out of their weeknights for meeting. Therefore, since my availability is flexible, we are meeting every week.
- The center is very supportive. I have spoken to the director and she is open to helping us with fundraiser initiatives and even providing basic supplies for activities and crafts. Additionally, the center provides a snack for the girls so we don’t have to worry about that from week to week.
- Many of the girls have spent time together before the formation of our troop, so we already have an established level of trust and comfort around one another. I’m more of the “newbie” than any of them.
The first few meetings.
During our first couple of meetings we focused on the transfer of authority (from the Community Development Manager to myself) and establishing some order for our meetings.
The first day we did two crafts to showcase the Promise and the Law. When executing the activity, I walked around and spoke with each girl. I offered help and we had a few laughs. There were a few girls at this meeting that were not in attendance during the summer (some were out of town and others were not old enough yet) so it was a great opportunity for them to acclimate as well.
The next week, I prepared all the components for a meeting board (like this one I found on Pinterest), but I intentionally left the board unfinished. I started the meeting with a little bit of the history of scouts. We also talked about the Law and Promise (then we said them). I then asked the girls if they thought the meeting board might be missing a few things. They said yes, and we proceeded to break into groups to start working on items to finish the board.
Since this is a multilevel troop, each level contributed something to the completion of the board. Additionally, our craft was to create a name stick to use in our Kaper chart. I chose three different animals (butterfly for Daisies, owl for Brownies, and turtle for Juniors) and had all of the supplies ready before the meeting. Differentiating the different levels was helpful for me because I was still learning who was at which level.
After they completed their craft, the Daisies worked on identifying chores and the definition of responsibilities for the Kaper chart. This exercise fit in with meeting the requirements toward the yellow Friendly and Helpful petal. The Brownies and Juniors spent the second half of the meeting looking over various badges and journeys and completing a questionnaire about their interests and goals for this year. This activity allowed me the opportunity to listen to what they really care about and provided me with valuable information for planning our future activities.
Finally, we closed our meeting with a Friendship Circle, our first Friendship Squeeze, and a song.
Volunteers make multilevel troops possible.
Now, I’ve read multiple threads and posts about how running a multilevel group is totally doable. I am so thankful for the two volunteers that will be there. With their support I believe we will be successful this year. I believe that running a multilevel group would have been challenging on my own. We will be following the rhythm of starting the meeting together, working on activities separately, and closing together.
I’m still new to the leader thing, but one of the most common concerns I have read and heard about from other leaders is the lack of consistent attendance at meetings. I hope that forming a troop at an after-school program will support regular attendance and help us achieve a lot this year. I will keep you posted!