For a field trip, members of Girl Scout Troop 708 attended the 2023 Festival of Trees event, which Huntsville Botanical Garden presents annually for Girl Scouts. Girl Scout troops in Madison need adult volunteers to lead their groups. CONTRIBUTED

Girl Scouts welcome new recruits; adults as troop leaders

MADISON – Each year in Madison, the total number of girls interested in joining Girl Scouts exceeds the number of adults willing to volunteer as Troop Leader.

This statistic may be surprising but Beth Crocker, Troop 708 leader and recruitment manager for Madison, faces an uphill struggle in recruitment every autumn. “Girl Scouting in Madison is so strong right now. We’ll start recruiting new girls at elementary Open Houses on July 30,” Crocker said.

Each year, leaders cannot place all girls, because Madison doesn’t have enough troops. “Girl Scouts compete with every activity under the sun, so finding meeting times that work for everyone can be tricky,” Crocker said. “We need more adult volunteers to help start troops and help current troops (with more members).”

Troop leaders must be older than 18 years and complete a background check.

Men can lead, too. “We love our Dads! Some call them ‘DoDads.’ They wear shirts that say, ‘Man enough to be a Girl Scout.’”

Adults without a daughter in Scouting age still can help start a troop. Troops need college students, empty nesters and all retirees. Anyone interested in helping lead a troop can email Crocker at betty82402@gmail.com.

The City of Madison has 36 Girl Scout Troops with 413 Scouts.

Crocker joined Girl Scouts in first grade and continued for six years. “When I knew I was having a girl, I couldn’t wait to be a leader. My troop started when my daughter entered kindergarten. Next year, I will have ten ninth-graders. They’re in for the long haul,” she said.

Crocker’s troop meets twice monthly, along with a social event, and constantly take field trips. A favorite destination is Girl Scout Camp on Lake Guntersville. They visit the cybersecurity department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville often for help with computer badges.

“Kappa Deltas at UAH are a big part of our experience,” Crocker said. “They have parties for us. Girl Scouts is one of Kappa Delta’s national philanthropies. I just happen to be a KD.”

For next year’s registration, “We will invite current Scouts to open houses at MCS elementary schools on July 30 and for our city recruitment on Aug. 11 at Asbury Church, 980 Hughes Road for kindergartners through third-graders, 3 to 4 p.m.; and fourth-graders and older, 4 to 5 p.m.,” Crocker said.

“Joining is easy,” Crocker said. To open the interest form to join, visit bit.ly/3yuPiLR.

“Asbury Church has been a great home to many troops over the years. As girls get older, the meetings get longer. However, Daisy meetings (kindergartners and first-graders) are usually an hour long with two monthly meetings,” Crocker said.

All troops must have at least two unrelated leaders. Usually, one leader likes camping, while the other leader enjoys STEM activities. “If one leader shies away from an activity, the other will be more open,” Crocker said.

Only girls can join Girl Scouts. Boys cannot join.

Crocker’s journey as Troop Leader allowed her to take charge and organize meetings. “I’m so thankful because fifth grade and up can be hard for kids who aren’t naturally outgoing, especially girls. My troop provides a safe place for these girls to be themselves.”

“The Scouts realize they’re all different but really are sisters after nine years of being together (since kindergarten),” Crocker said. “I’m so thankful my daughter has these girls and other mothers for support.”

Crocker compared Scouting to the board game, Cranium, which combines components of popular games. “Our kids have so many possible activities, all equally valuable. As a Scout, you’re getting a taste of several activities,” she said.

With Girl Scouts’ badge program, the Scouts can try everything. “Robots? Camping? Sports? Music? STEM? Art? Citizenship? Yep. All the above,” Crocker said.

“If your daughter, relative or friend will be in kindergarten during the 2024-2025 school year in Madison, I’m starting a troop just for them,” Crocker said. “Other ages will start in the fall, too.” Visit bit.ly/3yuPiLR to complete an interest form.

The recruitment event in August will include a parent meeting. “We’ll answer any questions about leadership. In the meantime, I’m happy to talk to anyone,” Crocker said. Email betty82402@gmail.com.

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