Team created their own patch program, focused on supporting troop leaders
BEDFORD, NH | Determined to give girls in southeastern New Hampshire the best possible Girl Scout experience, the women of the Circle of Friends Service Unit 216 of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains are providing just that through their hard work, dedication, and passion. The entire service unit has been named the Volunteer of the Month for January by the council serving Girl Scouts across New Hampshire and Vermont.
This service unit provides guidance, resources, tips, and general support to the girls and troop leaders in the towns of Strafford, Barrington, Lee, Madbury, Durham and Nottingham. They make sure that brand new Girl Scout leaders have the help they need to get started; that experienced leaders have a way to share ideas, tips, and resources; and that girls who are participating as individual members without a troop get the help they need. They provide many opportunities for their Girl Scouts to help their communities and learn vital life skills.
Every group has its ups and downs, and the past year has had the added difficulty of the pandemic. The past year has been one of goal-setting and rebuilding, turning into great success for the 90 girls and 14 troops served by Volunteer Service Coordinator Becky Kates; Community Account Coordinator Lee Lederer; ChrisAnn Wiechert, family partnership coordinator and Juliette (individual members)/older girl liaison; and Corinne George, leader mentor and trainer.
“Our service unit benefits from having the four of us being very different people, and yet we all seem to jibe together and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Wiechert.
George has been with the unit for nine years, seeing many changes. “We just kept working because we believe these towns have amazing potential,” she said. “We just sort of all work together. There’s great checks and balances. It all benefits the girls – and the leaders.”
She noted that they keep troop leaders informed with a Dear Juliette column, packed with ideas, on troop management, badges, field trips, and more; and have a few Facebook pages as support systems for all of the leaders.
One of the ways they pulled their leaders and Girl Scouts together is with a series of fun patch programs they created themselves, offering the patches for free and providing a way for girls to stay involved with Girl Scouts despite pandemic restrictions. They had already planned to focus on supporting leaders, who were grateful for that support at a time when everyone was feeling stretched thin.
“We release one every two weeks,” said George “Could be bike riding, or winter holidays, chalk drawings, camping – something that worked with the season.” They tried to keep costs as low as possible, making sure girls would already have access to the things needed for a patch requirement.
“The difference is that we tried to make it as easy as possible for leaders,” said Kates.
Their plan worked out, drawing girls into the activities, keeping them involved in Girl Scouting, and helping leaders who could plan a Zoom meeting around the patches.
“We did two community campouts,” said Lederer, which girls could do outdoors or inside. “Girls had to send pictures of their fire (real or Legos or craft) and a picture of their tent, and that was really fun. So many families messaged us and said thank you. It was something to look forward to for first time in months.”
All agreed the pandemic took a toll, but Girl Scouting is crucial to helping girls get through it.
“It was really, really hard,” said Kates. “I work full time, have a Daisy and a Brownie. Schools closed, I was working from home - it was a madhouse. It was cookie time, and to put Girl Scouts on top of that - I had to remind myself that Girl Scouts has endured. Girl Scouts has been there through all these crises.”
“When COVID first hit, no one thought it would last this long,” said George. “This is our new normal. Girl Scouts has the ability to be the light. We have the ability to be the light in this pandemic.”
The four have found being involved in Girl Scouts is fulfilling and encourage other adults to consider volunteering.
“Our service unit works so well because we have such a belief that Girl Scouts is an amazing organization,” said George.
Kates summed it up well: “I’ve been a Girl Scout almost my entire life. I know I’m where I am because of Girl Scouts. I want to be able to give that back. There are so many unsung heroes who made that possible – leaders who have been in this service unite for years. That perseverance is the same that I feel – so dedicated to making sure these girls have opportunities. We’re not going to give up on these girls. We’re going to make it right.”
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is grateful for all this dedicated team of women has given to Girl Scouts, and is proud to call them our Volunteer of the Month for January.
To find out more about joining Girl Scouts as a girl or adult, see www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.