As Girl Scout volunteers, you know the importance of giving back to your community through volunteering. You regularly share your time, talents, and energy with your girls to create the Girl Scout Leadership Experience—what a gift! Minnesota and Wisconsin rank in the top three states for volunteerism and community participation with over three million volunteers between the two states. Girl Scouts River Valleys is lucky to benefit from this collective personality trait in our region! We appreciate you, and we know your girls and families do too.
But the hustle and bustle of Girl Scout activities can quickly become stressful if we forget to take care of our own needs along the way. Let’s explore some ways that we can attend to ourselves first, so stress doesn’t sap the joy out of helping others.
It’s undeniable that feeling organized can reduce stress levels—and there can be a lot of information to organize for a Girl Scout troop! Some troop leaders prefer spreadsheets, while others use a simple journal and pencil to keep track of badges, events, and details for the girls. Whatever your style is, pick an organizational method that matches it, and make your system. You’ll spend less time wondering if you forgot something and more time feeling prepared, which equals less stress.
Promising your families more Girl Scout adventures and troop communication than you can deliver could mean driving yourself to exhaustion. It’s so easy to say yes to fun ideas and have a “can do!” attitude, but it’s important to temper it with a dose of reality. Be sure that your families know what they can expect from you as a troop leader (“We will have troop meetings every other week”), and what they can’t expect (“I don’t reply to texts after 9:00 pm”). That way, everyone will be on the same page and you’ll feel less stressed about meeting unreachable expectations.
Make time for fun
If you’re feeling pressure about many Girl Scout details at once (cookies, badges, Journeys, or guiding the girls as they work toward their Highest Awards), the best thing you can do for girls AND yourself is to inject some fun back into your sessions. Girl Scouts love fun! Take some time to sing your favorite camp songs, play some silly games, or have a laugh-a-thon with your girls (it’s scientifically proven that laughter can reduce stress!). You won’t regret the break, and it’s a wonderful way to build and maintain strong bonds in the troop—at all program levels.
Take care of yourself
We’ve all heard it before: “Exercise, eat well, sleep, repeat,” but this tried-and-true advice is repeated so often because it works! Keeping yourself healthy is your best way to fend off stress. The specific details for finding a healthy balance look different for each person, so take the time to find what works best for you (maybe it’s joining a gym, going for walks after dinner, or adding yoga into your weekly routine). Don’t forget to make some time for relaxation to reduce your stress each day. Just taking deep, cleansing breaths and clearing your mind for a few minutes can go a long way towards reducing stress and helping you be your best self.
After all, we are teaching the girls how to be their best selves, live a healthy lifestyle, and maintain balance in their relationships through Girl Scouting. What better way for them to learn this than by watching their trusted adults practice slowing down and re-charging so they can come back refreshed and stronger than before?
You are supported by a network of Girl Scouts River Valleys staff and volunteers all on the same mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We’ve got your back! Do you have some stress-reducing tips to share from your Girl Scout volunteer experience? We’d love to hear them.
Catherine Mandle – Catherine is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She was a Girl Scout as a child and is now the treasurer for her daughter’s Junior troop (which she started and led for their first 3 years). She has dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota in anthropology and American Indian studies. Catherine has two children with special needs, including autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and food allergies. She is a Minnesota State Fair award-winning knitter and always has multiple knitting projects going. She also camps and hikes with her family as often as possible.