Doreen Rolls of Merrimack, NH, gives everything 110%, and as a Girl Scout troop leader, she makes no exceptions by also giving her time at the community level as communications volunteer, recruiter, camporee committee member and founder of the Merrimack Girl Scouts website. These are just a few of the reasons Rolls is Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains’ March Volunteer of the Month.
Rolls, herself a Girl Scout growing up in Hartford, CT, recalls her admiration for her troop leader and daughter who was always there to lend a helping hand. From time to time she leafs through her original Girl Scout books noting the changes and smiling over the traditions that continue today.
Rolls wasn’t originally planning on becoming a Girl Scouts volunteer. As she enrolled her twin daughters as Girl Scout Daisies, she recognized their shyness, a trait not unlike Rolls herself at that age, and found herself looking for ways to help them engage openly in troop activities. “It was challenging for me because it’s not my nature to be in a leadership role, to speak in a group even to little kids,” said Rolls. “It’s outside of my comfort zone, and at the same time I was asking my daughters to do the same thing, to speak up and join a group.” It seemed natural to Rolls at the time to set a positive example for her daughters and to volunteer as co-leader of their troop. At the end of that year, her co-leader's daughter bridged and suddenly found that she was in need of a co-leader to keep the troop going.
Today, Rolls continues to lead her troop of eight Seniors, together as Girl Scouts since kindergarten and first grade. Their motivation to stay together as a troop comes from looking forward to enjoying annual programs and traditions, to completing their Bronze and Silver Awards and community service projects. Rolls feels strongly that the troop’s longevity wouldn’t be possible without the loyalty and support of her co-leader and parents.
Rolls believes that volunteers may encounter different challenges based on their role as a volunteer and their experiences. While her advice may differ for volunteers who lead older versus younger Girl Scout troops, she understands that some volunteers may feel overwhelmed. There are so many opportunities and programs available to Girl Scouts through the council and local communities, as well as journeys, badges, and online tools like Pinterest, which itself has millions of ideas. She recommends minimizing “the noise” by focusing on your troop. Narrow down the choices based on the interests and wishes of your girls, and let them vote to decide which opportunities they want to pursue.
Rolls understands the importance of girl-led and feels confident that even this can be overwhelming for the troop and volunteers. Knowing your troop and their interests, and providing them guidance through the process of collective decision making is important. “As a leader, you may feel you are not doing enough, but you are,” expresses Rolls. “If you develop a plan and are getting together, you are doing enough.” Rolls realizes how easy it is to compare yourself to other troops and she advises against it. Each troop is unique, and when you focus on what you need to do with your girls, great things will happen.
As a leader, having a plan and finding balance is essential. “You can’t do everything, or else nothing will get done,” states Rolls. “For me, I like to identify something we can accomplish at every meeting. I show up organized and with a plan, which makes the girls feel good and feel they’ve accomplished something. Finding that balance is important.” Her advice to future leaders and volunteers – set the calendar early so everyone can participate. You will challenge yourself as hard as you challenge your troop, and you will learn along the way with your girls. She recommends using many of the resources available such as the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting, engaging parents, reaching out to community leaders and even tapping into the guidance of older Girl Scouts.
Doreen Rolls sets an example and inspires Girl Scouts everyday through her confidence and courage, and by introducing girls to new experiences, unleashing their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ and developing our future leaders of tomorrow.