It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

I read this in ninth grade. Didn't do much for me.

I read this in ninth grade. Didn’t do much for me.

Other than turning in the paperwork for our financial report and troop forecasting form, this year is wrapped up.  We had our end of year ceremony Sunday afternoon and bridged six Daisies and six Brownies.  We are waiting to bridge our Juniors until the start of school due to us merging Juniors/soon to be Cadettes from another troop.  They are still working on their Bronze Award, plus it makes sense to kick off the new year by bridging together as a new unit of Cadettes.  We did go on and have our Bronze Award ceremony though.  Thank you Lord and council for expediting our Bronze Award paperwork because I was starting to sweat about it.  I was gone all last week on the 5th Grade DC Trip from Hell, so a friend of mine picked up the pins for me after I forwarded the approval paperwork to her.  Thank you Hannah! 

It has been a strange year of ups and downs and sideways and diagonals, and some of us leaders got together for dinner last night.  We scheduled it weeks ago, and I told them I didn’t care if I was by myself – I WOULD be at Anita’s because they have the best sangria that I’ve ever had other than the The Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine.  I told them the Alien Biscuits story, and I don’t think some of them fully believed me until Barbara confirmed it on Facebook.  Hah!

In case you’re not up on my background, I’m the primary troop leader for a multi-level troop of Juniors, Brownies, and Daisies and the leader of the Juniors.

And, if you’ve followed me for at least the past year, you’ll know that I had my fair share of Eeyore moments and lots of pity parties.  I kept many of them to myself.  <<Everybody sighs in relief.>>  Last year didn’t really end well, and it continued on into the beginning of this one.  I looked too far in the future and panicked at what I possibly saw – a troop that was going to fall apart.  However, if there was one good thing that came out of this panic – it was that I left it to God and just told myself to concentrate on this year and one thing at a time.  I made a commitment that it was going to be a great one with the girls I had and to worry about next year when it rolled around.  But I felt like I kept getting hit with setback after setback.

The first was trying to get a Daisy troop/level up and running.  I had been attempting to get one started since last year to no avail, and my frustration continued.  Eventually someone volunteered who turned out had been looking to start her own troop at some point.  But it was like pulling teeth trying to get her approval from council, and we wanted to go on and get the Daisies going without having to wait on training because there was no telling when it would ever happen.  This on the job training fell on my shoulders because she had no Girl Scout experience.  While she was extremely enthusiastic, there’s an enormous amount to learn as a new leader, and the concepts were brand new to her.  It was very overwhelming at times trying to not just run a Daisy meeting, but also to train a new leader at the same time and deal with parents who are brand new to Girl Scouts as well.

I also had difficulties with our Juniors’ meeting time.  Last year, I had someone to watch my youngest daughter during the meeting, but this no longer was an option.  My husband came through in a pinch and changed his work schedule so that he could stay with her.  This took an enormous weight off my shoulders, and I hope our parents realize what a sacrifice he made, especially since very few of them were willing to move the meeting time.  I admit that I say this with a little bitterness.

Sigh.

But it was rescheduled for the spring!  Sans presentation.

Another one was a volunteer resource project that Da-nice and I put a lot of time into.  We were asked to lead a session at the doomed Mountain Magic Leader Weekend in October.  We pooled our resources and put together an awesome presentation full of humor and information that was sure to entertain and educate everyone there.  Well, maybe just ourselves.  We got a big kick out of it at least.  But then the Thousand Year Flood came along and Mountain Magic was cancelled.  I became depressed on many levels – the work we put into the presentation went down the drain, and I was really looking forward to MM to lift my spirits and get excited about the year.  As a side note, the presentation didn’t go completely to waste – Da-nice and I ended up presenting it at three local service unit leader meetings.

But there was THE LLAMA TREK!  I hung my hat on the Llama Trek, because that was the only thing that had really succeeded up until that point.  Every time I would start to moan and groan about things to my friends, I would try to make it a point (sarcastically at times) to play up the positive by saying, “At least the llama trek went well!”  Here’s a graphic I made back in the fall that I sent to my friends who had to listen to me whine:

my_tombstone-llamatrek

You may also remember me lamenting about the Trip Out West™ scrapbook last fall.  I never did hear back from the Historic Georgia council about it.  I’ve pretty much written it off.  Maybe one day it’ll show up, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  I almost had a chance to get some copies of pictures from the trip from another source, but that went out the window as well.  (♫ The window, the window, the second-story window…. ♫)  C’est la vie.  That was pretty disappointing, but I did get a copy of Marla’s diary at Christmastime!

I felt like things were about to hit bottom when a parent pulled out of our Junior Journey Weekend at the last minute due to illness, which left me having to cancel the weekend if no one else stepped up to take her place.  All that work… poof.  Again.  But thankfully after sending out an email stating that I was going to cancel it, another parent came through and the weekend took place.  And we hiked Big Boy Mountain.  And things started to turn around.  Sort of.

When it came to delegate duties, something I can only describe as utterly bizarre served as the backdrop for this entire year.  I realize this sounds extremely cryptic.  But I only mention it because it dumped a large amount of stress in my lap and sapped a lot of my energy and time throughout the year.  All I can say is that I hope something positive comes out of it.

Between this year and last, in addition to losing six juniors, I also lost two volunteers.  But to be honest, one of them leaving was a good thing in the long run.  But, this left me with shouldering the load for the Juniors plus the entire troop other than my brand new Daisy leader and my Brownie leader.

art in 3d

Art in 3D Retired Badge

But onward and upwards!  I was determined to get our Bronze Award started, so the Juniors added another meeting in the second half of the year so that we would meet three times a month rather than two if we were going to get everything in.  In addition to earning our Bronze Award (I’ll do a write-up on it sometime this summer), we finished up our Journey plus earned two retired Junior badges (Art in 3D and Science in Action).  During one of our trips, the girls earned a council’s own Oceanography badge and the current Camping badge.  Two girls earned badges on their own  – a council’s own Archery badge and the Practice with a Purpose badge. Here are our other trips and accomplishments for the second half of the year:

  • Service Unit Thinking Day (earned California Patch Program)
  • Juniors Woodworking Clinic at the Greenville Woodworkers Guild
  • Scout Night at Swamp Rabbits Game
  • Service Unit Encampment at Camp Pisgah
  • Girl Scout Day at the Greenville Drive Game
  • Juniors Beach Camping Trip at Hunting Island State Park
  • Cherokee, NC trip

Oh yeah – and cookies!  Who could forget cookies?  I wish I could!  We had a successful year and earned a pizza party since we increased our sales 5% from the year before.

It was a full year.  But it took its toll on me, and there were a couple of times that I was majorly burned out and had to take a break for a week.   Since mid-October, I’ve put in over 400 hours toward Girl Scouts. I’ll do a breakout in another post over the summer too.  It was very hard doing all of this on my own coupled with the aforementioned delegate weirdness.  The beach camping trip and the Cherokee trip were knock-out punches.  Planning trips is not my forte, and it’s extremely stressful for me.  I don’t enjoy doing it.  I asked for help from the parents two times and nobody stepped up, so it fell to me.

But it turned out that everything worked out for the best.  Doesn’t it always?  I ended up with five Juniors, and there’s no way we could have done the things we did if we had a larger group.  I felt like we all got to know each other personally, and that helped us bond as a troop.  I just don’t do well when I have over eight girls.  Ten is probably pushing it.  There are too many squirrel moments for me.

Even though I am completely spent and exhausted, I wouldn’t trade any of it.  Well, I would trade the Mountain Magic flooding.  That was a bummer.

In the meantime, I’m going to rest for a week or two and then get back into it for our service unit’s summer camp called City Slickers!  I’m going to be one of the Junior leaders again.  Next year will be a new adventure, because even though we’re losing our Brownie leader and the newly bridged Juniors, our Daisy/Brownie leader will have another year under her belt.  We’ll probably be adding another level of Daisies, and best of all, I’ll have an experienced Cadette co-leader joining me!  Even though she went to Georgia Tech.  I guess I can overlook that. 😉

As Scarlett O’Hara says, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

You tell 'em, Scarlett!

You tell ’em, Scarlett!

Comments:

  • I am so glad that you have stepped up and are helping your girls have a wonderful experience with Girl Scouting. I hope you can delegate more responsibilities (i.e. have some other adults step up) next year. You managed to do so many fun things with the girls! You deserve some kind of award. And how great you can also help with camp this summer. You go, girl! Good luck with everything. Can’t wait to read about your troop and GS news in the future.

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  • […] I’ve already covered a pet peeve about the Girls Guide notebooks and how the three additional Skill Building Activity Sets packets barely fit in it.  This next pet peeve concerning how the badges are set up in general has been discussed ad nauseam on various GS Facebook groups and town halls and service unit meetings I’m sure, but let’s beat the dead horse some more for posterity’s sake, shall we?  I have to share this experience in order to demonstrate to everyone how absurd the current badge system is (in case you’re not already aware of it).  Well, that’s not really the reason.  I just wanted to vent and get it out of my system.  It’s been a long year. […]

  • […] This year, I have a Cadette co-leader that I am very excited (and relieved) to have joining us.  Last year about killed me as the only Junior leader and doing all that we did.  It was an AWESOME year, but I don’t […]

  • […] start planning for City Slickers in January.  I had a hard time getting motivated this year due to burnout, but once the troop year was over and I got about two weeks of non-Girl Scout rest, the other […]