The Bittersweet End of the Year….and a Freebie!
I’m always relieved when the last service unit leader meeting comes and goes in June. Our service unit ends the year with awards, raffle prizes and a mother-daughter ice cream social. Afterwards, I breathe a sigh of relief that there is one less obligation to contend with and one more Monday a month that I can enjoy summer! I think back to February and March when I toyed with the idea of holding meetings during the summer. I always come to my senses in May and realize that summers off are a good thing for our troop and a good thing for me! Especially since the girls travel so much.
As always, I began planning our end of the year awards and party in late-April, early May. I was so excited because this year I had arranged a great venue to do a glow-in-the-dark party and bonfire with all the troop families. And then my bubble burst. None of the families were available on the same dates and most weren’t available any weekend in June. So we went back to the old mainstay of a pool party at one of the girl’s houses during our normal meeting time. I like to try to get my families together at the end of the year because it allows me to honor volunteer parents and to highlight what the girls have done during the year that parents may not be aware of. But it’s not always possible. Some parents will still come for pinning and awards and I’ll have nice gifts for the cookie moms and volunteers, but it’s not quite the same as a family party. And definitely not what I had in mind to say goodbye to four girls (half our troop!) That brings me to another end of the year phenomena: losing girls. This year 4 our of 8 of my girls are leaving, a couple who have been with me since Daisies.
Even though I was prepared for this possibility, I still felt sad with every call and e-mail I received. I understand each girl’s reason(s) for leaving. At our May meeting I showed inspirational Girl Scout videos to demonstrate the opportunities that are available to them when they bridge to Cadettes and to remind them what they love about Girl Scouts. I also handed out “I can’t wait to” patches with Spring registration paperwork after showing them this video. I tried to play it cool but I lobbied hard! A couple of girls who were leaving turned into “maybes” and that was enough for me.
I thought long and hard about having a troop of 4-5, not adding any girls next year and perhaps doing more activities that are challenging logistically due to transportation issues and adult safety wise ratios. But then I thought about the girls on the waitlist and those who will be recruited in the fall and decided I would add to the troop. Up until now I’ve stuck with a formula of only adding girls from our school who all my girls (most who are plus five years) considered cordial and a good fit for the troop. I have some apprehension about going outside their school for new girls, but I know that there are girls out there who need troops and who would make wonderful additions to 1949.
So I spent my usual time mourning, being sad, wondering what I could have done better to keep my girls in the troop until…a positive feeling came over me and I realized that Girl Scouts taught them to think for themselves, to be leaders and to forge ahead without fear. I believe their decisions to move on were made with that spirit in mind. Go forth my sweets with courage, confidence and character!
While preparing for the end of the year, I found some cute tumblers with straws at Michael’s and bought one for each girl (after asking them their three favorite colors). I then filled the tumblers with their badges, patches and cookie puzzle patches (along with a guide as to how they fit together). I added a chalkboard label on each tumbler and used a chalk pen to write each girl’s name on it. I then created a tag to print and add to the straw poking out of the tumbler.