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I didn’t know what my Girl Scout experience would be when I signed up to become a troop leader nearly a decade ago. I don’t think any truly know what to expect. You are obviously hoping to shape young girls into amazing leaders and have some fun along the way. You do this through a lot of discovery, spending time with the girls and adults in your troop, and learning from other volunteers and families.  

Save it for later!

When I became a Girl Scout leader, I had never used a glue gun, had only been camping one time, and the idea of giving first aid or CPR to anyone frightened me. But, because of Girl Scouts, I’ve faced all those challenges, obstacles, and fears. Better yet, I’ve done it alongside some amazing young ladies. Today, I am the proud owner of three glue guns, own three well-used tents and a ton of backpacking equipment, and just renewed my First Aid/CPR certification for the second time. I went whitewater rafting this summer for the first time (which left my mom and husband fearing for my life) and am ready to go back any free weekend. I am planning a trip to Alaska with two other leaders and 15 Girl Scouts. I’ve had years to learn how to support, develop, and participate in the beautiful combination of sisterhood, supportive mentorship, and special experiences that are Girl Scouts. 

As Girl Scout leaders, we have a wonderful opportunity to help our girls gain confidence through a variety of activities—new and old. But there’s no way we could already be experts in everything that our troop might want to learn! Fortunately, we are expected to explore and learn right alongside the girls, which can be a little nerve-wracking. Don’t shy away from this once in a lifetime chance to embrace your inner student—instead, use these three tips to boost your confidence as a leader. 

Explore New Things 

When your girls say they want to go whitewater rafting, go with them! When they want to take self-defense, take it with them. Don’t sit on the sidelines and watch. When the girls see you overcome a fear or challenge, they get inspired. It can even give them more confidence, knowing that got to help you out of your comfort zone too! 

You’re a role model in your girls’ lives, so when you do things alongside your Girl Scouts, you become one of them! You cheer each other on, develop deeper bonds, and make memories together that none of you will ever forget. 

Boost Her Confidence 

You want your Girl Scouts to dream big and achieve their goals in life—the first step to that kind of success is helping them believe they can do anything they set their minds to. Whether it’s the girl who doesn’t think she can draw well, or the girl who can’t quite overcome her fear of heights, you have a powerful influence in helping her believe she can. Start out with the little things: tell her that her doodles on her school notebook are great, and encourage her to climb small hills at a nearby park before you head to Yosemite. Go above and beyond to congratulate her for these accomplishments. By pointing out the accomplishments and skills she has that she doesn’t notice or forgets about, you start to notice those things about yourself! Pep-talks encourage in both directions, so applaud your success and efforts as often as you do hers!  

Once you overcome that voice in your head that says you can’t, nothing can get in your way! 

Trying is Good Enough 

We have to show girls that it’s okay to fail. The truth is that being “good” at everything isn’t what matters. It’s trying her best and being willing to work and improve that will give her the fullest, most enjoyable, and ultimately most successful life. That same attitude applies to your work as a troop leader; whether you’re a brand new troop leader or a veteran trying a brand new skill, be gentle with yourself when you don’t succeed at something, and use that moment to learn and try again. Not only will it teach you something new, but you’ll model that healthy behavior for your girls at the same time. 

So, go ahead and grab that glue gun for the first time and get burned. Use too much glue! Grab an oar, jump into that raft, and paddle. If you tip over, so what? Push the boat back over and get back in. If you can laugh at your mistakes and help girls be able to do the same, you’re a winner! 

Girl Scouts has always been my outlet—my stress-free activity in the evening after work. It’s my time to get silly with the girls, get outdoors, have some structure (but not too much!), and just let go and see what happens. You don’t have to be an avid hiker to take the girls on a hike, you don’t have to be a fantastic baker to help them learn to make crème brûlée. Learn together, fail together, get bug bites together, and then laugh together! I promise you your worries and nervousness will melt away, and you’ll be talking about these memories for years to come! 

What to do next: 

Angela Borchert—Angela just completed her seventh year as a Girl Scout leader in Vacaville/Travis Air Force Base service unit. She leads Juniors and Cadettes and loves the wide range of activities and interests that both groups have and the challenges they provide her along the way. Girl Scouts have helped her embrace glue guns and dirt while taking her on her first kayaking adventure. She’s been camping more times in the past five years than she has in her entire life thanks to Girl Scouts!