Need some advice but it's not about parenting.

[deleted account] ( 21 moms have responded )

I am a new Girl Scout Leader. We are planning our first campout for this November. The weekend that I have planned my campout for is the same weekend that our service unit (all of the troops in our town) was planning a service unit campout. A couple of weeks ago the troop leader's voted to cancel the service unit campout. After the vote another troop leader approached me and asked me if I had already paid to reserve our local girl scout camp, which I had, and asked if they could share it with us that weekend as it sleeps 56 and I only have 11 girls in my troop. I told her that I thought that would be ok as she has the same amount of girls in her troop so it would still be a relatively small group. I was also being a little selfish because I figured this would help me recover some of the costs of reserving the camp as it was pretty expensive. Within 24 hours of saying yes, she was emailing me her itinerary and menu and projects that she has planned for the campout. Clearly her idea of camping and mine are VERY different. She is planning to have "spa" night and do facials, makeup, and nails as well as watching movies and that kind of stuff. I explained to her that wouldn't work for my troop as I have several girls who would not be able to participate in those activites for religious purposes. She basically told me that was her plan and she was sticking to it. She is also planning to cook spaghetti and taco salads, which there is nothing wrong with, however I was planning on doing more traditional campout activites such as singing and story telling by the fire, making smores, a weenie roast, cooking a foil pack meal, etc. So, I did my best to plan my itinerary around hers so that we could pretty much stay out of each other's way and share the space as best as possible. I didn't want to go back on my word of agreeing to share the camp after she had already told her parents the plan. However, this afternoon while having a conversation with her and some of the parents in her troop at a birthday party she looked at me and said "Well we ain't eating hot dogs and stuff. WE are used to eating good. You know like spaghetti dinners and stuff. We always eat good." Then one her parents piped up with "Yeah, we eat good when we camp" So what, I'm not feeding my girls good enough because I would like to have a good old fashioned weenie roast and cook over a fire? This really upset me and I was just fuming over it all evening. I called my co-leader and told her what happened and she said she would just rather not have them join us on the campout. They haven't yet paid me for their share of the reservation fee so I sent her a very polite email telling her that I have had a change of heart about sharing the camp due to the fact that we have very different opinions on what should be going on at the camp and I would rather go ahead and nip it in the bud now rather than get there and be having disagreements over every little thing and I apologized for the inconvenience that this is sure to cause her and her troop. Now, I am wondering if that was the right thing. I really don't care about what any of them think of me but my 8 year old daughter's 2 best friends are in that troop and I am concerned that if the other troop leader tells her parents that I decided not to share the camp it's going to have a negative effect on my daughter and her friendshhips. I don't know if I did the right thing or how I should handle it from here on.

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Catherine - posted on 09/27/2010

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I've been a Girl Scout leader for 12 years, so I hope that I can help you with this one!

I've planned service unit camping events for many years, along with doing summer camp and troop camping. We've always managed to share space with other troops, some that we had never met before, and it has never been a problem (even sharing large, indoor spaces). Each troop cooks their own food, does their own activities, and sometimes works together on other activities. Since the goal of Girl Scouts is that the girls plan their own meals, activities, etc., if they ask why the other troop is doing/eating something different, you can just explain to them that it's not what they planned, and if they want to try that, they can include it in their plans for their next event. I don't love the idea of "uninviting" the other troop because, as a Girl Scout leader, that sounds very un-Girl Scoutish to me, and I think it sends the wrong message to the girls.

As with anything else, navigating the adult politics of Girl Scouts is often more difficult than dealing with the girls. I think, though, that if everyone goes in with an open mind, it is possible to share the space and do different activities without it being a problem for the girls.

Iridescent - posted on 09/26/2010

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You reserved the site and they were hoping to share it with you. Not take over it. That means, your plan should have priority, and if 2 things are happening that honestly interfere with each other (such as religiously) then the one that needs to be changed is hers. If that doesn't work, she can find another site.

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Bette - posted on 09/29/2010

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I was a scout with a leader with the same problem..she let the other girls still join us. It was the most miserable time I ever had and I made my mother let me quit. I am 58 now and wish a better resolution could have been found. Good luck...and maybe ask your girls??? It may not be a big problem for them or they may want to be on their own???!!!

Laurie - posted on 09/29/2010

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I was a Troop Leader for 2 years and also ran into this type of situation. Our Troop attended camp with four other troops in the same bunk house. The other troops also wanted us to all do things together and make the decisions. How our troop handled other troops trying to change your plans or meal ideas was we told the other troops that our Girls in the Troop have voted and they have decided on the meals and activities that we as a troop want to do. Also, tell the other Troop Leader that you are teaching your girls to make decisions as a troop and even though her ideas sound fun = you are focusing on survival skills and team building for your troop. I still would let the other troop know they are welcome - since that is what Girl Scouts do - is include other troops. You maybe could plan a campfire night with the other troop - so the other girls could socialize with each other and that is part of girl scouts also is meeting old and new friends:))

[deleted account]

As the mom of an Eagle Scout,I remember both troop wide and district wide camping trips. Now I don't remember hearing about too many facials being given, but they when more than 1 troop got together there was ALWAYS some sort of conflict of schedule. I think the solution may be that you have separate activities--BUT plan 1 or 2 activities with the other troop. Hopefully it will be a way to appease the moms of your daughters friends, but also you teach the girls that there can ALWAYS be a common ground--if you are willing to be listen and do your part. I hope this works!

Janet - posted on 09/29/2010

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I so agree with Abbie too, who comes to a CAMP OUT and eats spaghetti and has spa nights? That is not a camp out. That is too precious for words really, and you don't build a camp out experience on the parents idea of "fun" at a camp out, don't they have merit badges they are supposed to be earning and survival tips and camping tips and things to learn at a CAMP OUT?

I can't believe she snubbed the idea of eating hot dogs by the fire, s'mores and campfire time of songs and story telling, that is what girls scouts used to be all about... the fondest memories I had was a Camp Tanglewood, learning how to put soap out on a string in a pair of stockings to keep it clean, learning how to start a camp fire, learning the traditional Camp Tanglewood song, and hiking, finding bugs to identify and leaves that good stuff.

This troop sounds like "Troop Beverly Hills" with Shelly Long... I am just laughing imagining this "camp out" with spa nights and all the top of the line stuff all the way around... LOL funny

Abbie - posted on 09/29/2010

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Wow she sounds like a real charmer. Ok first off spaghetti is not that GREAT of a meal. You can make very healthy foil pack meals!! Much healthier then pasta. If they have not paid for their half then I see no problem in telling them this just isn't going to work out as they aren't goign to include all girls in the group. It will cause hard feelings but she is the adult she should be able to deal with it rather then the girls who can't be included because of her fun things. PLUS who the hell does 'spa' night when camping?? WE camp a lot- never have we done something like that. We play games sit around the fire, make smores, watch the stars.... things like that.

Janet - posted on 09/29/2010

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You know I am the type of person that tries to find a positive light and find a way to "work out" everything so everyone would be happy, but to tell you the truth it is completely exhausting.

I know the adult politics of it all is horrible and adults are way worse than any group of children or "mean girls" in high school. But sometimes like you said, You just have to stop the stress and negativity in the bud. You rented the space, YOU are the only one that has paid for it, and she is not willing to work with you about anything.

I know that someone wrote that different troops can do their own things at different times, but if it is like what you say, where the area fits a certain amount of kids, you have community areas and makes it hard to do separate things, it seems that it would be way too much to work around.

I completely agree with what you did, rather than having a frustrating time, having a stressful experience, just making it your troop only. I can't believe I am advising this way, because this is so unlike me, BUT, I can tell you for sure, your troop and hers will pick up on the tension, parents get involved with their petty arguments for their "perfect" little troop and little ways, and then everyone has a miserable time.

If and I am saying IF SHE HAD PAID ALREADY, I would agree with some of these other people that say try to work it out, but since she hasn't paid and it is getting so close to time, you have every right to have the activities and the camp out the way you planned it from the beginning, after all, it is your camp out, your money, and your troop that has been planning this, not her.

Bonnita - posted on 09/28/2010

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I think you did the right thing personally... I don't think you should have to change the ideal of the whole camping experience just to suit her. I think if you sit down and talk to your daughter and explain the situation then I am sure she will understand. I have a daughter who just turned 9 a few weeks ago and I really think they are old enough to understand that things don't always work out how we want them to and we have to teach our children that while sometimes we can feel disapointment that we have to understand that everything in life doesnn't always work out how we like. It is good for them to experience that once in a while so that they are prepared for the real world which unfortunately is not easy most of the time. I don't think that this will affect your daughter's frinedships as at this age they fight and then make up in the space of a day and it is all fixed the next day. Trust your daughter to understand and you will be surprised at how well she will really understand. For what it is worth I agree with you on the camping thing... whoever thought of Makeovers and spa treatments on a camping trip??? When I thiink of camping I think of Smores, marshmallows, hotdogs, and cast iron camp ovens... I think of hiking, nature crafts, and sing alongs. I think you should do what you were going to do anywayy I am sure the kids will have more fun with your plan anyway. :-)

Catherine - posted on 09/28/2010

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That is odd. I have seen that before where I grew up. I'm from the Boston area, and that council owned multiple properties in New Hampshire. The councils have since merged, but it was odd at the time.

Enjoy your camping trip! I hope you have good weather.

[deleted account]

What's really interesting is that the camp is not within our council area either. We are in Florida and the camp is in Alabama but our council owns the camp.

Catherine - posted on 09/27/2010

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Tisha,

I'm very nonconfrontational too, so I totally understand how you're feeling right now. What's done is done, and I hope that you and your girls have a nice campout. It will certainly be easier for you to be there by yourselves, and maybe you'll be able to plan something with this other troop another time. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, your Service Unit will be able to host a campout together.

I have to say, I've never heard of a convent being turned into a camp; that's an interesting idea.

Julie - posted on 09/27/2010

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WOW love what Girl "scouts" have become.
Seems to me that her style camping would better be served at the Ramada Inn anyway
BUuuuuut seeing as you are probaly stuck with her I would work around them and figure you are camping at the same place not camping "with" them

[deleted account]

We have three camps for our council and two of them are set up the way you are describing. The third one is a little different. It's really not a camp, I guess. It used to be a convent and the nuns chose to donate it to the girl scouts rather than selling it. It is right on a bay (we are in Florida). There is a fire ring in the back and a boardwalk that goes down to the water. Yes, the bunks are in separate rooms so there shouldn't be a problem as far as sleeping is concerned. The downstairs is divided into three small areas (a "craft room", living room that is set up with living rooms furniture and a tv, and the kitchen/dining area.) Separating the girls in the event of bad weather shouldn't be a problem. I suggested doing at least one activity a day together and she wouldn't go for it. She wants to keep everything totally separate. I did manage to convince her that we at least needed to do breakfast together mainly becasue I have little daisies that are hungry when they wake up and I didn't want to have to make anyone wait to eat in the morning. And I had to really push the issue on that one. The way it has been set up is my troop is scheduled to spend the whole time outside and hers inside. We are literally scheduled to be outside until 9pm meals and everything. In the two days we are to be there I have 30 minutes inside each day. I don't mind doing outside activities but we need a little indoor time as well. Unfortunately I did already send the email telling her that I didn't feel that it was going to work out and she responded saying that was fine and no hard feelings. I am just a nonconfrontational person and I don't like to have tension between myself and others so I'm feeling like a bit of a heel now.

Catherine - posted on 09/27/2010

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I'm sorry to hear that this troop leader is so difficult to get along with, and especially that other parents are that upset about their girls being around her. Hopefully everything will be able to work out for your campout if you end up going together.

I've done most of my troop leading in Western Massachusetts, and it sounds like our camps our set up slightly different than yours are. You said in your original email that the site sleeps 56? Are the bunks in separate rooms or are they all in one big room? If they're in separate rooms, then sleeping shouldn't be a problem at all, it sounds like the issue is more in the day time. The site I normally use has a big lodge with a dining hall area, kitchen, and then a sleeping loft, along with platform tents and open areas to pitch tents. I've gone with as many as 15 troops before, and several will sleep together in the lodge. We've never had a problem with the troops getting along before, they always seem to work it out (although from what you're describing, I've never had a leader that difficult staying over with us before). It sounds like your issues will probably be more profound during the day when you're trying to do activities. Assuming the weather is good and you can be outside, hopefully there will be enough space for everyone. If the weather is bad and you need to be inside, then I think there's more of a threat of it being difficult. Does the common/living room area have open floor space or tables that can be set up for the girls? When we've had rainy days for the Service Unit encampment or at summer camp, we used to just set up a bunch of tables in the lodge and each troop/group had an area for their activities. The noise level could get unbearable at times, but the girls usually had fun. Sometimes, when it was too tight for that, we would scrap our original plans and do something that could involve everyone until the bad weather passed (sing songs, play big group games like sister-to-sister and freeze dance). That obviously won't work for an entire weekend, but it would get us through a 30-45 minute thunderstorm.

I'm also sorry to hear that your Service Unit was getting along so poorly. Unfortunately, I have had some experience with that. When we have our encampments, I usually organized the whole thing, but everyone contributed an activity. During the day, there would be 4 45 minute sessions, and each troop would lead an activity that any troop could sign up for. That way, each leader usually only had to lead 2 45 minute sessions and the girls got a wide array of options to choose from. It also allowed each leader to have their own "thing", and I think it prevented some of the problems you're describing.

It sounds like this other leader is pretty difficult to work with, but do you think it's possible to incorporate at least one shared activity? It sounds like your girls are friends, so it would be tough for them to be there together and no be interacting with each other. I'm not sure how old your girls are, but we would always pick a try-it/badge to work towards on the encampment and that would be the basis of the activities, so if you're working on something for that, I think it's harder for her to turn your activities down!

I hope everything works out. I've been involved in Girl Scouts for 24 years, since I was in 1st grade, and I hate to see these types of issues come up. If you have any other questions about anything Girl Scout related, feel free to send me an email.

[deleted account]

@Catherine



Thanks for the advice!! I definitely don't LOVE the idea of uninviting them either. I don't want to be THAT troop leader that is difficult to get along with by any means. I have definitely found that dealing with the adults is much more difficult than dealing with the girls. I guess my problem is when I have tried to talk to her about the itinerary that is planned she is not willing to budge on anything and it's almost like the bad ettiquette is what is getting to me. I would never go ask another troop leader if they would be kind enough to share the camp that they have already paid to reserve and then just start telling them what I'm gonna do and not gonna do. I would say "Well, when you have an idea of what you are going to do would you give me a copy so I can plan our ititnerary as well." I am not worried about if our girls want what they have to eat and such. It's more the "We're better than you" attitude that seems to be coming across. Our troop participated in a Pajama Rama recently that this troop was present at and it was the same attitude. I actually had parents asking if we were going to be doing any upcoming events with that troop and if so they wanted to know so they would make sure not to register for those events. My response was, "Service Unit and Council events are open to all troops that are inculded at that level and I really don't have any way of knowing if that troop will be attending or not."



I also have a question. I'm not sure what area you are in but the camp that we are using is actually considered a one troop camp. It's first come first serve and the space is limited. There is one small kitchen, a small common/living room area, and then bunk rooms and 2 bathrooms upstairs. How did you manage to share these spaces without any conflict? This was the reason our Service Unit campout was cancelled. We had 4 troops planning on attending and no one could agree on how anything should be done. I wasn't going to be participating in this campout but I was present for all of the planning at our SU meetings. It finally got to the point that they were just at each others throats over a campout!! I don't get it. Why does it have to be so difficult?

[deleted account]

I did forget to mention that while it is a campsite it is one large building with common area and kitchen downstairs and bunk rooms upstairs. Not really like cabins or tent camping. That's why I was trying to do as many outdoor activities as possible. It would be very dificult for them to be doing different activities while we are in the same area.

Amanda - posted on 09/27/2010

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Speak to your daugthers friends parents, explain what has happened, and say sorry. Thats all you can do. I hope it works out for you and your troop, btw if I was 8 your idea of camping I would enjoy a lot more, though Id love to see how one cooks pasta on an open fire. :0)

[deleted account]

I would let her know that her troop is welcome to share the site under certain conditions. If she dosen't want to do things how you do, that's ok but she needs to stay out of your way if possible and keep her opinions to herself. It would be nice for the girls to share in all the activities but if it's not going to work it will only cause a lot of problems and no one will enjoy themselves. It sounds to me as though she dosen't have much of an idea of what camping is meant to be like. Don't let her ruin your fun.

Louise - posted on 09/27/2010

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I would let her share the campsite but make it quite clear that she is on her own with her activities and that you want to remain a separate unit to her. The guides is all about out door activities doing things you don't do at home not nail manicures what is she on. I feel sorry for her troop and as a parent I would be rather annoyed if I knew what activities were planned. You pay for your daughter to have a camping experience not a trip to the outdoor spa! You stick to your guns girl you are doing traditional activites and eatting camping food and that is what I would expect. You obviously have the knowledge to lead your group and this other lady has lost her way. Just keep your group on track and maybe do an activity together on the last night to socialise but other than that make it quite clear to this lady that you do not agree with the activities and that you wish to remain independant. Tell her this in advance and then she is perfectly clear what is expected of her.

Charlie - posted on 09/26/2010

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Tell her she is welcome to share the site but YOU will be sticking to her plan she has three choices :
1 . do your own separate activities and food
2. participate in YOUR group activities
3. find their own site

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