Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey CEO Ginny Hill and volunteers Linda Schnatterer and Nicole Bush stood in front of the Walmart Supercenter in Washington Township on Aug. 14 and handed out flyers.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the same day, across 50 state locations, others did the same as part of a simultaneous Girl Scout mega-recruiting event to draw volunteers and girls to the organization.
Recruiting events are not unusual for the Girl Scouts, but the Aug. 14 effort marked the first time the organization has planned a drive on the same day and same time across so many locations.
Girls in grades K-12 are eligible to join the Scouts. They can choose to be part of a troop, where they meet girls in their age group and earn patches and badges, or they can become a Juliette, an individually registered Girl Scout who isn’t in a troop.
For adult Girl Scout volunteers, opportunities include office support, being on an Award committee and training. Most needed are troop leaders or co-leaders. Leader responsibilities include planning and meeting with a local troop once a week or every other week. Hill described the role as one of a facilitator rather than a decision maker.
“It’s a girl-led program,” she explained. “One of the things we know, because we have studied girls and adult women, is that when girls get the opportunity as young as possible to start having a voice in making their own decisions around things that affect them, they grow up to be more confident, less victimized and more successful.”
“We have some troops that are very specific in what they do. For example, there are some that are Lego leagues, paddling groups, two groups that are just for archery,” said Lori Wolfhope, senior director of membership and volunteer support for the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey. “We have some that dedicate their time to community service; it’s really about what the girls in the group want to do.”
Hill reported that by the end of this year, the Girl Scouts will have supported close to 14,000 girls across the south and central parts of the state. Over the past year and throughout the pandemic, Girl Scouts did virtual programming that they will continue to provide in the fall. Though many troops have begun meeting in person again, they are prepared to move back to a virtual environment if needed.
In addition to their cookie sales, Girl Scouts offer badges, patches and awards as they complete programs. Hill explained that patches are for fun activities, while badges are more for educational efforts.
“We look to take a girl’s educational experience, whatever level she is, create fun activities around it, but reinforce the same things she’s learning in the classroom,” Hill noted. “So it’s not like school; it shouldn’t be like school. It should be fun and complement what she’s learning at school.”
As the girls progress, they have different opportunities to explore new concepts. Kindergarteners might learn how to take care of others and be a better sister, while older Scouts might work to create a sustainable difference in their community with the Gold Project, the highest award in the organization.
Although the official Girl Scout season does not start until October, girls can be assigned to a troop and volunteers can start as soon as a week from when they sign up. Across Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, girls have the option of joining an existing troop or forming a new one with six to 12 others around the same age. There is a membership fee of $45 a year, with financial assistance available.
For more information on joining or volunteering with Girl Scouts, visit https://www.gscsnj.org/