Monday, February 27, 2012

My Beef with Girl Scouts

When Kaitlyn started Kindergarten, she was eligible for Girl Scouts and I couldn't be more excited. 

Since there was a long wait list for troops, I volunteered to be a leader.  I accepted a troop into our home.  I planned meetings, I spent too much on books, guides and materials for meetings.  I did all my required trainings, I went to monthly meetings and I learned a lot.

My goal with Girl Scouts was for Kaitlyn to have an experience like I remembered having.  I wanted her to learn to become more active in the community, how to respect nature and the world around her, how to have community service in her heart and how to put others before her.

The Girl Scout promise and law are rules that everyone should promise in life:

The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to behonest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and torespect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Who wouldn't want their child to practice those rules in life?  How could you go wrong with that instilled in your upbringing?

I do believe there are service units across the country that practice these rules through all levels of Girl Scouts.  I do not believe this was our experience.

My first hint should have been the number of membership coordinators we seemed to go through at council level.  How much paperwork was lost.  How long it took our troop to receive the funds we earned through sales.  How often I had to repeat the same paperwork to get our bank account set up (something that still hasn't been done). and how often I found myself feeling as though our troop wasn't that important.

I was very upfront in the beginning that I could not attend all leader's meetings.  It is a lot to ask of a volunteer.  Depending on the membership coordinator, this either was a problem or it wasn't.  Some were awesome at relaying information to those who couldn't attend and some weren't.  And since everything was so clique, it could be hard to get necessary information.

This was fine.  I could handle it.  The first year was still fine.  Our troop rocked, we were amazing in Cookie Sales and had a fun summer. 

When I was pregnant with Samantha, we took a break once I hit the third trimester.  We eventually joined another troop.  But, once I realized I was setting things up, the troop leader was never around and the majority of the meetings were spent in chaos that stressed me out, we decided to start our troop back up.

At first it was ok.  Then, came the road blocks.  They wanted me to go to every meeting.  I got looks for taking Samantha.  If I didn't go to meetings, I didn't get information.  And the meetings lasted far too long and were filled with far too much small town gossip.  All of a sudden we were getting another membership director.  We did fall product sales and magically most of our sales were "deleted" from the system.  I was told "oh well, too bad" when I asked about it.  I was left to my own devices to solve the problem and evidently it mattered to no one else as much as it mattered to me that family and friends trusted our girls with their money and girl scouts did not deliver.  I asked numerous times how the orders could be deleted after I submitted them and printed the submissions.  No answer.  Not to mention it was a complete and total hassle to get a hold of anyone to get the items that did come in. 

I began to notice at meetings that the events that at one time were girl oriented but family approved (if you paid for insurance for the family to be there) were now girl only allowed.  No daddy's allowed.  No baby's allowed.  Not even newborn nursing little ones.  Just drop your girl off. 

That is not how our family is.

As much as I love the girl scout promise and law, I think family is incredibly important and I think special events should be celebrated as a family.  With our service unit, it felt more (to me at least) that family was only important when it came to the really expensive events they wanted the entire family to attend and buy tickets too.

All of a sudden our meeting times and location wasn't acceptable if we wanted more girls assigned to our troop.  We weren't convenient enough.  And our troop wasn't big enough to matter.

Lastly came girl scout cookies.  We were completely left out of any cookie sales.  Our troop had previously sold over 2,000 boxes.  2 of our girls had sold over 500 individually and looked forward to selling this year.  I inquired about when training was.  Since training was mandatory to sell, I became irritated when my emails and phone calls went ignored.  Then, cookie sales started and it was obvious how excluded we were.  Our troop could not sell cookies.  Our 7 year olds had to be told "we're sorry, you can't sell cookies this year."

And I was fed up.  I realized I didn't need Girl Scouts to teach my daughter the same lessons.  I didn't need the rules, the exclusions, the lack of family time and the stress to teach my daughter the same exact things.  I didn't need the books, the lessons, the crafts.  We can do it on our own.  We can do community service on our time with our own agenda.  And so we are no longer Girl Scouts.  I have no desire to beg people to allow me to volunteer for them.  I have no need to peddle cookies where a service unit that I do not support keeps far more money than the hard working girls get.  This year, we will be a cookie free household and I'm ok with that.

If we ever moved into an area with a different service unit, I would totally consider rejoining.  I would love to be part of a service unit that practiced what they taught.  But for us here and now, it's not in the cards.  Kaitlyn's time will just have to be occupied in other ways. 

1 comment:

Christina said...

What an awful experience. I'm disappointed to hear that since I've always been fond of the organization. It sounds like you made the right choice for your family though.

(I really hate the part about them excluding daddies and siblings. What about single dads?!)