Question from a dad: Hopefully, I can get input here. My wife has a Junior troop with our older daughter and she is expecting our third child. Our 5 year old has been looking forward to being a Girl Scout next year with mom as her leader. My wife says “no way”. I’m thinking of stepping up to be a leader. I think it would be fun but to be honest I’m concerned about being in charge of a bunch of little girls and dealing with their mothers. My wife thinks it’s bad idea. She feels that as a man, I am subjecting myself to possible problems. Are there any dad leaders out there? Can I get some advice?
Our Facebook leaders shared their opinions about male Girl Scout leaders.
We heard from one male Girl Scout leader
- Tom: I led Daisy Girl Scouts for 16 years, but I never had any of my daughters in my troops except as occasional helpers. It was a very rewarding experience and was a great way to showcase a positive male role model for the girls. I think by the time I finished leading the troops, (one year I lead 2 troops), I had touched the lives of 200 or more girls. Yes, it was a lot of work and I always had to have two or three women present for the meetings as my troops tended to have between 16 and 20 girls. With a bit of mentoring and training things can go very smoothly, as long as you plan the meeting to have enough to keep the girls busy.
- Terri appreciated Tom being a leader for her daughter: Tom was a leader for my daughter’s troop and a teacher in her school. He was great and I enjoyed getting to know all about scouting by being his mom helper!
Two Girl Scouts shared their experience with male Girl Scout leaders
- Cynthia: My first leader was a dad and he was great. Just remember to always have another adult female present for bathroom and any other situations where she’s needed.
- Tori: One of my best leaders back when I was a girl was one of the dads. Just make sure you have a mom there as a troop helper if it makes them uncomfortable.
Most shared reminders that there are additional guidelines for male leaders. Always check with your local council but many of our readers included the following tips:
- Katie: Double check your local council’s rules because I know of several councils that say males can only be assistant leaders and an unrelated female (not wife or sister) has to be the full leader. Also make sure you’re very clear with rules and protections for yourself as well (2 deep leadership at all times, have a parent stay for meetings, etc.). It’s definitely doable but just be very upfront with rules and as sad as it sounds, protect yourself because you do NOT want the hassle of even a hint of a possibility of impropriety. We see great dad leaders and volunteers all the time at my camp, but know there are several extra hoops and hassles to deal with!
- Amy: If you follow the rules set by GSUSA on approved adult-girl ratios and safety standards (like no adult, male or female, should be alone with the girls) and you are careful to bring in female co-leaders to balance it out, you should be fine. And it could be an awesome way to build a positive experience with a male role model for the girls. Ask the troop parents to become approved volunteers and be involved. That will increase everyone’s comfort level.
- M Rita: I think it is a great idea but remember these things:
- Never be alone with a child.
- Make an area to the side of the meeting area and have parents sit there during meetings, instruct them that if the child needs to go to the restroom, they are to take them back and forth during meeting time.
- Never do meetings without an assistant(s) and make sure they know what the plan for the meeting is ahead of time and what they are to do during meeting.
- Never transport girls unless you have the proper paperwork from parents and another female Girl Scout volunteer in the car.
- Always have your assistants and/or volunteers registered and trained through Girl Scouts.
In addition to reminders about non-related female co-leader and special arrangements for bathroom and overnights, leaders shared these supportive comments.
- Leirae and Celina both know more than one dad leader: Leirae: I think that it’s a great idea and a great way to get some time with your daughter. Some of the best leaders I have seen have been dads. Celina: Go for it!
- Natalie: We have several Dads as Leaders, one has stepped up to be our Encampment Coordinator for three years now. I’m sure your wife can offer help for any challenges. And get a “Man enough to be a Girl Scout” t-shirt.
- Shannon: We have several dad leaders in our service unit. I love our dad leaders! I’m actually recruitment manager for our service unit and one of our dad’s actually wrote a great letter trying to recruit more dad’s!
- Susan and Rebecca think some girls need positive male role models: Susan thinks strong non-abusive dad involved with the troop can show them new possibilities. Rebecca thinks kids need role models in their life that they can trust and look up to instead of who they see on television.
- Kris: I had a dad lead my brownies and it was a great experience. He and his wife tag teamed the brownies that year so he did meetings and she did weekend events. Our council allows multi level troops so could he join older troop and co-lead the little ones? If there are moms that are unsure of s male leader encourage them to come to meeting and get to know him. Once the trust is built they will see the benefit of having another male role model in their and other girls lives. For some girls he may be the only positive one they have.
- Kriss: We have an awesome new Daisy troop at our school with two dads leading. They are so awesome and so much fun! I highly recommend it. I love having dads come along with our troop on campouts, etc. The girls flock around them because they get them to try doing new things. I think they feel safer with a male around. Go for it!
- Paula and Sandie have male co-leaders: Paula says he’s fantastic with the girls. Sandie feels her co-leaders brings a different perspective. She adds that during the meetings he runs, the group is totally engaged!
- Kary Lynn: I am a Service Unit Director that has a troop in my area with a Male Leader. Troop is great, very outdoorsy. Girls and parents love the different energy it brings. Just make sure you don’t take everything on by yourself and all parents “share the load”.
- Robin: My husband’s friend stepped up to lead his daughter’s troop when no one else did – he happens to be a very large sized marine/police officer- it has been a success.
- Sharon: Several years ago we had a husband that took over the troop when his wife died suddenly. The girls loved him and he was their leader for several years with 2 female assistants. It worked well. Go for it and good luck!!
- Diana: One of the best leaders I ever worked with as Service Unit Manager was a dad. The parents and the girls loved him being a leader. You just follow the rules and have fun. A man can bring other perspectives to a troop and teach the girls things that women cannot. I personally think it’s a great idea.
- Crystal: I encourage men to be involved! Especially when demands of all the mom’s can be insane. A dad was at one of my recent training sessions, (I’m a council trainer), and I am so excited for the troop because without him there would have been no troop.
- Holly: I think, as long as you have a co-leader you can work with it is great. I have a very good friend who is his daughter’s leader (no mom in the picture) and the girls love him. He has to sleep separate on camp outs but honestly, that is the only issue. Why not guys?
- Laura: What a great opportunity for you to show your daughter how much she means to you! When our troop split last year (half of our girls bridged) one of our Daisy’s dad was the obvious choice for co-leader and from what I hear he does a fabulous job. Dad involvement is so important to all kids – not just sons. Obviously there are rules that will need to be followed and you will have some challenges but I say go for it! They don’t make those “man enough to be a girl scout” shirts for nothing!
- Jessica: Go for it! You will have a completely different experience than your wife. I’ve known a few male leaders, they are few and far between but you won’t be alone.
- Felicia: I think that is awesome! I wish we had more Dad’s involved. Good luck!
Family members are proud of their male Girl Scout leaders
- Sarah: I think girls these days need strong positive male role models. My husband is registered as a leader but handles more “behind the scenes” as far as the troop goes. He is also an instructor in the special interest group we belong to. To avoid subjecting yourself to any problems, I would make sure you always have an unrelated female volunteer with you at all times and a strong female co-leader. Not sure about other councils but I know that’s the rule for us.
- Jessica: With the rules and as long as your in ratio then I don’t see why not. My dad was a leader for my older sister’s girl scout troop. My oldest brother was a leader for his daughters troops
- Valerie: My husband is a coleader in the troop and its great. Having a strong positive male role model is key for some of these girls that don’t get it anywhere else. That being said, he does always have to be cautious of not being alone with the girls at any point and even not getting too close to them when talking. He still thinks its well worth it.
- Karen: My husband was my oldest daughter’s troop leader since I was my twins leader and he LOVED it. He was so bummed when she decided in 7th grade not to continue with scouts because he felt like he couldn’t be the troop leader still with a bunch of teenage girls. Having been an Eagle Scout with 3 girls and no sons this is how he could continue what he loves. He was the best leader too, way better than me.
- Vicki: My husband is a parent helper! His schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of time, but when he joins a meeting with myself and my co leader the girls are engaged. They adore him. He has become an additional “dad” for about 20 girls. So long as you have a non related co leader I say go for it!
There are some who prefer males not be leaders
- Barbara: From a former 4-level Troop leader: If you want to “associate” with the troop, i.e., Troop Dad – OK. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble. Don’t do it. You’ve been warned. In no time you will either be accused of hitting on a mom, harassing a mom, or, God forbid, assaulting a scout. Don’t do it.
- Anah: I guess I’m the only one here who would say no… Sorry, I know he has good intentions, but personally I would not feel comfortable with that, and also, part of the deal with Girl Scouts is that the girls are supposed to be able to talk freely about girl issues, and have good female role models to look up to – some things are truly best left to females. I’m surprised that I’m the only one, or maybe others just don’t want to speak up amid all the positivity. It’s awesome he wants to help, but the leader position really isn’t best for the girls in my opinion.
More support and tips for male leaders in addition to reminders to check your council guidelines regarding male leaders.
- Lisa: GO FOR IT! In our council, there is no designation for assistant or co-leader, just ‘Leader’. Your wife already being a leader is so great! She can show you the ropes and help you get started! I bet there is a Facebook group for male GS leaders, too!
- Paula: I say go for it! Boys can also do anything they put their mind to. LOL I say that half joking. What kind organization would we be if we taught our girls they can do anything but then say our Dads can’t be leaders? It is worth it. All of us have skills to share Moms, Dads, grandparents I say bring it on!
- Michele: Personally, I think if men can coach female sports teams, why can’t you be a girl scout leader?
- Mitzi: I think is great that you want to be a leader. You can have a small troop 5 (depending on your area’s minimum). Dealing with parents is hard no matter what. I sure your daughter will be happy to have you as a leader.
- JoAnna: I think it’s fantastic! My husband is a tremendous help when it comes to my Brownie troop and our service unit. He attends our yearly encampment as the camp medic and looks forward to the chance to experience scouting with our three daughters. I am always hearing from other mom’s how great it is to see a dad so involved with the scouts. There can always be problems with parents regardless of who the leader is. The best things is to have open communication with the parents and keep them active and involved. I can understand your wife’s reluctance in this but believe your experience will be what you make it. Good luck!
- Danielle: Our troop is very “dad/male role model” encouraging and accepts nothing less than a cookie dad every year (it’s become an amazing tradition). My husband often leads meetings in my absence (with 2 female co-leaders) and so do other fathers. Dad’s took over the month of October and taught the girls about pinewood derby’s and even built a huge catapult for the girls to try. We always make sure we have appropriate child/adult and male/female ratios. But all in all the men in our troop are all fantastic assets.
- Michelle: Easier with a co-leader always with you. Then avoids issues your wife worried about. I think it will be great. My neighbor was the cookie dad of his troop!
For the Girl Scout who’s dad is their leader, this fun patch will make a great addition to her vest.