Girl Scout leaders are the most type-A controlling people I know (present company included), which is part of the reason why we volunteered to organize and lead a troop.  The hardest thing for this type of person to learn is to “let go” and to “delegate”.  Especially to their girls.

OK, Daisies and for most of Brownies, you are doing most of the planning.  “Girl led” means that you give the girls a few choices, but allow them to make the final decision.  You just have to remember to never give them an option you absolutely don’t want to do.  Choices are made by voting, showing the girls a democracy in action.  It takes a bit more planning, but it can be done.  Take for example choosing the country your troop will represent for Thinking Day.  Did you suggest 3 different countries and then let the girls vote?  That’s good, but still a bit controlling.  Did you take suggestions for countries, then let the girls vote?  Better, but the girls don’t really have a reference for the countries they are suggesting (unless they have traveled abroad).   What about checking out as many books about different countries as you can find (choosing ones that are age appropriate)?  I found about 20 different books by the same publisher that had lots of photos, descriptions of the customs, food, games and traditions from each country.  We divided up into groups of 3-4 girls.  Each group selected about 4 countries they wanted to research.  They spent the next 20 minutes looking at the books and they had to choose one country that they wanted to suggest to the troop.  A spokesperson from each group gave a quick presentation about why it would be fun to represent that country.  THEN we voted.  The girls were much more invested in the decision.  Each one had a part in the research process.  For older girls you could bring a few computers to the meeting and have each group research their country via the web.  So it was a bit more work for me to check out all the books from the Library, but in the end, the girls made the decision with good information provided by their sister scouts.

So back to the overall concept of “girl led”.  When we were on our first campout, a much wiser leader once told me that my goal should be the “path to the lawn chair”.  She said that if I am giving the girls the correct instruction and letting them do the work (with guidance), then eventually you pull up to camp, set up your lawn chair, and watch the girls set camp up around you.  That’s the vision that I keep in my mind whenever I get the desire to “do it myself because it will be faster”.  You are not doing anyone any favors by doing it for them.  Let the girls design the invitations for your next event.  So maybe they are not as neat and tidy as you would like them to be, but THEY did it, and they will be proud.  Let the girls choose the menu for your next cookout.  And by all means, let them cook it.  Will it take twice as long to get everything ready and on the table? Yes.  Will doing dishes take twice as long?  Yes.  But it will be a skill they have learned and they will become more confident with each new skill.   Isn’t that our main goal for the girls?  Building girls of courage (give it a try, it’s OK to fail), confidence (I love learning new things) and character (it didn’t work the first time, but let’s try it another way).  Leaders have to step back and allow the girls to make a mistake, burn a meal, and begin all over again.   Ahh, I can see that lawn chair beginning to appear in a few years….