i volunteer as tribute
you know, volunteering is an easy way to donate something that's often more valuable than money - time. and you come across volunteers in all sorts of places - offices, schools, events. and to be honest, a lot of times it's not even totally selfless...places who need help will often offer something in return, whether it's a t-shirt, a free meal, merchandise, what have you. i've logged plenty of volunteer hours and gotten some cool shit in the past. and most of the time, the "work" is usually a lot of fun and i meet some really awesome people.
being a girl scout troop leader wasn't something i set out to do. i mean, i never even really liked kids all that much (well, duh, besides my own and a very select few). and even when i was first trying to get the bean involved in scouting and got the initial email asking me to lead a troop, i brushed it off. it was only when they emailed me again and said that i'd have co-leaders that i decided to do it, and even then it was only because the bean really wanted to do it and this was apparently the only way.
there's a lot involved in starting a brand new troop and becoming a leader. you register as an adult girl scout first, fill out a lengthy volunteer application, and then consent to a background check. that part is pretty understandable considering that people will be trusting you with the fruit of their loins. after you get that clearance, there's more official shit to do - working with the local council to register a troop, obtaining a troop number, opening a bank account. then you have a number of training seminars to go through. and this is all before you even get to meet any girls!
so then you can spread the word and let your local service unit management team know that you're in business and looking for girls to join your troop. you plan a meeting with prospective parents, which you run totally flying by the seat of your pants because you don't have any idea what the hell you're doing. you decide on uniforms, meeting times, frequency of those meetings, dues. and then you have that first meeting with the girls - you learn their names, do a little ice breaker, try to gain their trust.
i never had any desire to be a teacher, but i find that leading a troop has a few similarities to what i'd imagine that job is like. we have to plan out meetings and shop for supplies and make sure we keep a first aid kit on hand and distribute and receive permission forms and figure out what sort of lessons to teach and which badges to work towards and find field trip ideas and make sure to plan out snack times and acknowledge birthdays and keep cliques from forming and help them be kind to each other and go over basic rules like keeping hands to themselves and and and and and. you know the drill. and because our meetings occur almost every single friday evening during the school year, let's just say that we've basically provided a whole lot of date nights for a bunch of couples. i mean, yeah, we chose our meeting day and time ourselves, but the idea of squeezing meetings in between homework and other weekday activities just didn't sound like a good idea. and we end each and every friday night utterly exhausted. we have a ton of fun with our girls, don't get me wrong. it is definitely a tiring process though, with an average of 15 girls out of our registered 21 at each meeting. that's kind of a lot for two women who had zero prior training for a gig like this.
and so when you have a handful of parents who are constantly ignoring the basic rules that we set for things - and i'm talking basic, like "please let us know if your child is coming" or "please make sure your scout is dressed in the same basic meeting uniform she wears every friday" or "if you volunteer to help us, please make sure you can actually be there" - it kind of makes you crazy. and at first, we were communicating everything to them THREE different ways - email, evite, facebook. and still we constantly found ourselves answering the same questions over and over again. we have found ourselves having to explain some seriously simple shit to grown ass adults. it's insane. the stress we have had to deal with over the last year over folks who don't bother to read anything and text and email at all hours of the day and night...shit, man. and now that i've pointed that out to you, please don't ever be that parent.
i guess i don't really have a real point to this post, but i'll tell you what - cookie season damn near brought us both to the breaking point. on top of that, the local council decided to red-flag us for an audit of our bank account from LAST year. that shit is still going on and we've given them every damn thing they've asked for. and with the final money due in for the stellar cookie selling season we just had making us reach for our bill collector hats...damn. i'm just spent.
sometimes, money is easier than volunteering. ha!