Two of My Favorite Things–Girl Scouts and College Students

I found this draft from a year ago, and it’s still relevant–maybe more so.

A new book claims that today’s college freshman lack basic life skills. This is a gap that Girl Scouts should address.

raise-adult-book-cover

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshman at Stanford University, claims that incoming students had impressive resumes, but were increasingly incapable of taking care of themselves. To remedy this problem, she says that, especially with teenagers, we should “seek out opportunities to put independence in their way,” such as making them responsible for their own food or learning to take public transportation.

She’s not alone in this belief. Many colleges have “College 101” courses to teach some of the basics. US News & World Report suggests that college freshmen need Seven Essential Life Skills.

Source: Skills Needed: Girl Scout Badges Could Help | Girl Scout History Project

The author of the post listed those seven skills, together with a Girl Scout badge that will help a girl gain those skills. She then lists several other skills (like laundry and cooking) she thinks college students need.

When I look at the badges included in the first Girl Scout Handbooks (and all iterations of the Boy Scout Handbooks–the Girl Scout badge program has been severely gutted in the last 8 years, but that’s another story), I see that Scouting was strongly based in teaching hard skills to allow a young person to succeed in adulthood. Looking at the young people in my life who are not Scouts, they do not have opportunities to learn and practice money management, cooking, outdoor appreciation, or first aid unless their caregivers teach those skills in the home (granted, some organizations and schools provide some of these, but I don’t personally know a child who gets any of this outside of home of Scouting).

Schools already have residence hall programs which teach residents how to do laundry and basic cooking. Is there a point where higher ed professionals can’t or won’t step in anymore? Is it ever feasible for courses like Home Ec to be included in the middle/secondary ed curriculum again? Or am I just longing for a dream of yesterday?

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The Student Affairs Collective #SAVolunteers – The Secret Lives of Student Affairs Professionals – The Student Affairs Collective

In this time of giving, many people think of the needs of others and decide to volunteer at a food pantry, or with the elderly or children in need. Some people volunteer at specific times of the year, like during the holidays; others volunteer year-round with various organizations. Volunteering is a noble activity–giving of your time, energy, knowledge and skills to benefit others with no expectation of receiving back anything but a “Thank you” and a good feeling.  Yet, many volunteers DO expect something more, whether it’s professional connections, skills development, a sense of superiority, or something else entirely.

Continue reading at: The Student Affairs Collective #SAVolunteers – The Secret Lives of Student Affairs Professionals – The Student Affairs Collective

[EP] Yahoo! Groups

Date Earned: April 9, 2013

Step(s) Completed (click badges to view pages):

ExploreY!Groups

Explore Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

CreateYahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

Create Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

  • Create an account (Yahoo! ID)
  • Browse
  • Search by keywords
  • Join a group . . . or three
  • Learn the group
  • Features
  • Your main screen
  • View groups
  • Controlling mail
  • More editing
  • Leaving a group
  • Group categories
  • Group settings
  • Security
  • Messages / mail
  • Files
  • Links
  • Database
  • Members
  • Calendar
  • Invite people

Before the days of Facebook and Google+, we had Yahoo! Groups to bring together large numbers of people with similar interests. The one aspect of my life I was (and still am) a heavy user of Y!Groups is my religious community. When you worship the gods of ancient Greece, it’s tough to find co-religionists at all, let alone near enough to commune with. Hence spending the last 10 years as a member of about 20 different groups as they rise and fall in popularity and the owners wax and wane with attentiveness.  I helped some friends create and run a group several years ago, and I’ve managed several larger groups that needed extra moderators. Girl Scouts have long been active with Y!Groups as well; volunteers share information and program ideas, provide virtual shoulders to cry on, and celebrate accomplishments for our girls and ourselves.

One of the most interesting things about Y!Groups that I don’t notice as much in Facebook Groups was the camaraderie and relationships developed. Maybe it’s because we weren’t keeping up with a dozen different social media sites, and had fewer ways communicate with each other (email lists and instant messenger, that was about it), we took more time to read and respond. Some of my Y!Groups have transitioned to Facebook, and it definitely has advantages (no need to trim posts of old content!, quicker response time), but I feel like, much of the time, there’s less depth to comments, and storing files/information is clunky (yup, that’s a technical term) at best.

One of the things my Y!Groups experience has given is an ability to focus on what is important to me. When I first started joining groups, I read everything, even the topics I wasn’t interested in just in case. I was afraid to miss out. Over time, the emails became too frequent and I skimmed titles/the first sentence or two to decide if it was pertinent. This greatly reduced my amount of stress about “keeping up” and allowed me to learn those things that mattered. This definitely laid a foundation for the increased use/frequency/overload of social media, and I am much more discerning about who/what I will follow, and HOW. Some things, like blogs, I won’t follow on Facebook/G+ because I’m not guaranteed to see those posts due to the algorithms or whatever–all blogs are in Feedly. Other people/products are well served through other platforms. Y!Groups was the only option for communicating with others on a larger scale for a long time, and it helped shaped how I consume the internet.

The Perfect Career?

Still only doing one ReverbBroad prompt per week, but that’s still a lot more than I’ve been blogging!

If you could change careers, what would you do instead?

I love student affairs. Sure, there are some functional areas I will never work in, and there are some areas that I REALLY want to work in, but I don’t see any reason for me to leave student services.  I’ve never been in a field with so much support and professional development. Higher education is a unique world, and student affairs is unique within it. I enjoy interacting with students and helping with their development, from the simple “This is how you register online” to the more impactful ” Yes you are going to graduate on time.” Some of the work is tedious, but the rewards more than outweigh the frustrations.

I moonlight as a Girl Scout. Truth be told, there is something compelling about working for an organization solely devoted to the development of girls and young women. Girl Scouts had an incredible impact on who I am today, and I love giving back to the organization. As a Learning Facilitator for the Volunteer Development & Training team, I have the opportunity to utilize much of what I do with college students AND bring Girl Scouting to new volunteers who will deliver the program to the girls.

If I were to create a dream job, I think it would be a hybrid of these two passions. It’s possible that other councils have a lot of resources/assistance/development for college age women who are volunteering, but I know that mine does not; they are treated sort of like volunteers, but are often overlooked or not provided information when they ask for it. If they can’t be traditional troop volunteers, they are often lost because troops are still the most popular form of Girl Scouts participation. The VDT team I volunteer with is trying to diversify our resources and training, but little can be done overnight, especially with newer types of volunteers and delivery models that we’re still not sure of.

Once upon a time Girl Scouts provided specific support to “Campus Girl Scouts,” and doing a quick search brings up the fact that many of these still exist–my first volunteer experience with GS Eastern MA was with a troop hosted by the Northeastern University Campus girl Scouts group. The Kappa Delta sorority lists GSUSA as one of it’s philanthropies. It would be amazing to work in collaboration with Volunteer Dev. & Training  and Membership Services to focus on

  • Recruit volunteers from the plethora of colleges & universities in Boston and eastern MA
  • Help those interested to form Campus Girl Scout groups for campus support and resources (or found chapters of KD, but that is likely a more difficult process, and is not an option at many schools)
  • Modify existing training to make it appropriate for those women who can only volunteer occasionally or want to help with troops but not be in charge

This kind of position would allow me to do both of my passions at the same time. College students have such specific time/energy demands, and developmental needs, that it may not be enough for someone who doesn’t have student affairs training to properly address them. Many college students aren’t aware of the need for THEM, in particular, to volunteer with Girl Scouts: to act as role models of what Girl Scouts can lead a girl to; to help establish troops as minimum adult:girl ratios must be met; camp or event volunteers; as a mentor to girls pursuing their highest awards; and so many other things that I can’t think of.

I find the idea of a “dream job” to be just that however. If I am simply imagining and playing pretend, I never have to face the reality of difficulties, frustrations, bureaucracy, etc that comes with an actual, real-life grownup job. I can idealize and use those ideals to promote small changes within my real jobs (I do consider my volunteer role as a type of job; I don’t get a paycheck, but I work hard to do well and maintain my skills). I can look at each and see where the skills needed overlap and where I need to make improvements to myself as a person and professional.

If this were to ever happen, I can’t necessarily say it would be a career change though–my paycheck would stop coming from an institute of higher education, but would I REALLY be leaving student affairs? I don’t think so.

Modeling the Good, Bad & Ugly

Yesterday, Cindy Kane posted a Reverb Broad prompt and I need to follow suit even though I’m a day late (we had a friend in town for wedding planning, I didn’t open my computer to go anywhere but Pinterest after 5pm on Friday).

The June 3 prompt was: Who are your role models?

Like Cindy, I’m going to mention my anti-role model. I write this paragraph first so I can end this post on a positive note. To protect the innocent, let’s call her Gertrude. She gossiped about colleagues and students almost constantly, preferred to make her staff and student leaders do all the work in program planning and implementation but took the credit, and had little to no interest in learning how the systems worked. One more than one occasion she admitted to being “lazy” and “unwilling” when it came to learning how to do things or to make changes. It always bothered me that students heard and saw this in a professional, and I had to sugar-coat the situation even though I agreed with their complaints. I feel guilty for even saying this, but I have done everything in my power to reverse what she modeled to me because there was so little to be otherwise learned from her.

This is going to be so cliche, but one of my role models is Juliette Gordon Low. As a Girl Scout, I would be remiss in not putting her, and the others who bought Girl Scouts/Guides into existence, on a pedestal. In a time when women could only dream of becoming a homemaker, possibly after a short stint as a teacher or nurse, Daisy taught girls how to camp, play sports, signal, be an artist, etc. We’ve come a long way since 1912, not just as Girl Scouts, but as women. That’s thanks in large part to Daisy, who overcame a hearing disability and her own status at the time to found the largest youth organization devoted specifically to girls and young women in the country.

There is also my former supervisor Michelle. She was always incredibly supportive, but she took no guff from her staff or anyone else for that matter. I can’t count the number of times one of the older faculty members would be giving me hell for not granting them some special exception to the benefit policies. As soon as I offered to transfer them to Michelle, they would tell me it wasn’t that important. If they did go to her with their complaint, she had a knack for not only convincing them that, yes, Jessi WAS in fact telling the truth, but she somehow charmed them into hanging off her every word–turning them into the former category of faculty/staff. She was so well-liked & respected by the Senior Management & Faculty that she was offered the VP of HR position several times during the last search; she turned it down each time because she knew where her heart was–and wasn’t. The whole time she served as Interim VP, she told her direct staff within the Benefits dept that she missed us and her “real job.” She knew that her life would be worse if she took the promotion–she would work even more hours than she already did; she didn’t like being in constant meetings; or be too busy to sit and chat with faculty/staff she’d known for the last 20 years. Her passion was the policy of benefits administration, making sure that the 4 of us who worked directly for her were happy and getting things done, interacting with both the vendors and the faculty/staff  to ensure that we were doing the best we could. Seeing her not take the promotion & speaking to her about it made me realize that it’s okay to not be solely interested in climbing the corporate ladder, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of not wanting to become a VP, Dean or even President. I’m not saying I want to be an entry-level drone forever either–if I wanted that, I’d still be working for Michelle because it was a good job with amazing colleagues. I want more, but I’m focused on my happiness rather than a title or $$.

[EP] Girl Scout Traditions: Adult/Volunteer

Gold; 40+ hrs

Girl Scout Traditions: Volunteer/Adult

Date Earned: May 7, 2012

Step(s) Completed  (click badge to view page)

  • Captain, leader, facilitator
  • Looking to the past
  • Customizing your materials
  • Online resources
  • Other adult volunteer positions
  • Training for adults
  • Girl Scout adult insignia
  • GSUSA recognitions
  • Fun patches
  • Girl Scout Alumnae

As a Girl Scout Alumna (9 years as a Girl member), and current Volunteer (5 years as a Volunteer), I am not ashamed to admit that I know quite a bit about the history and traditions of Girl Scouting. Add to that the fact that I have a small but growing collection of Girl Scout Handbooks & Badge Books, including a re-print of the original How Girls Can Help Their Country, and you have a semi-history buff. I’m also an unashamed traditionalist , with not nearly enough room to explain how GS would run if I were Queen of Girl Scouts™ I’m familiar and comfortable with the history of the Girl Scout Volunteer.

Personal geekiness aside, I earned this badge mostly through my activities as a Learning Facilitator (the fancy new-ish title for Trainers) over the last 3 years. When I started this role, GSUSA was releasing brand new program materials, and I needed to learn these new materials and train both new and experienced volunteers on how to implement them with their troops. The Journeys, which are very different from the badges that we are all familiar with, were (and remain) difficult for volunteers to wrap their heads around because they are a lot less cut-and-dry than badges, being much more experiential. Old volunteers had difficulty because it’s so different from the materials of the last 100 years; new volunteers had difficulty because they saw the books as a curriculum rather than a guide. Helping them understand that the themes and learning outcomes (I am such a Student Affairs person; I can’t for the life of me remember what they are called in the Journeys) are the “meat and potatoes” of each Journey, and that they should work with the girls to customize it was a challenge to both myself and them. Through being active (in a lurking kind of way), on several Girl Scout mailing lists and webgroups, as well as participating in any training within my Council that might be helpful, I have learned tips and tricks for implementing Journeys and the other new materials, especially how to involve the girls in choosing what (and how) to work on.

In addition to a programming workshop, called Essentials within my council, and broken up by age level, I deliver the Council Orientation, which is an overview of the Troop Volunteer position. This covers everything from the Promise & Law to opening a bank account & earning money to girl and adult safety. It’s an intense training because it’s on the dry side, and the volunteers taking it are completely new to the program, often having never been Girl Scouts themselves. I try to add in a brief overview of my Girl Scout knowledge, letting them know there is a lot out there for them to become involved with once they are comfortable with their troop and if they want to expand into other types of involvement. I stress Service Unit participation as a next step, but describe my positions as Facilitator, Regional Delegate & Gold Award Committee member to show the diversity of options based on various interests–I’m not good with small children, so working with adults and older girls are my preferred roles. Without volunteers, Girl Scouts doesn’t exist; I try to instill that in my trainings.

Honestly, until I began volunteering in 2008, I really wasn’t aware of the options I had; I thought Troop leadership was the only way to participate as an adult because I wasn’t as aware of Council workings or needs. If I hadn’t found out about other pathways, I would not be a volunteer now because I know I would not have had time for a troop during grad school and this first year as a new professional–it’s why I left the troop I was with when I started school. I found my fit and am looking forward to many more years of evolving involvement.

[EP] Girl Scout 100th Anniversary

Gold; Council-wide event

Girl Scout 100th Anniversary–Gold; Council-wide event

Date Earned: May 7, 2012

Step(s) Completed  (click badge to view page)

  • Gold — Helping to plan/run a Girl Scout 100th Anniversary event at the Council level. 

To honor the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, my council, GS of Eastern MA, hosted the All TogetHER Volunteer Celebration on April 28, 2012. This event combined our Annual Meeting, Adult Recognition Luncheon and a learning conference into a single day of recognition and thanks for our volunteers. I enjoy planning events (hence the Student Affairs career) and strongly feel that volunteers don’t always get the recognition/thanks they deserve, so was eager to join the planning committee.

With the planning committee, I participated in several live meetings and conference calls with other committee members, where we selected a Keynote speaker, planned service projects for attendees to participate in, brainstormed workshops that would be of interest including songs, history/traditions, etc and mapped out the logistics of the event space. I also served in the role of point-of-contact/escort for our Keynote Speaker, Mel Robbins.

Helping to plan this event was an incredibly rewarding experience; it was wonderful being able to give the volunteers a day to celebrate themselves and thank them for all their hard work.