Area Girl Scouts need volunteer troop leaders

Published 12:05 am Sunday, August 7, 2016

NATCHEZ — For more than 40 years, Frances Bailey has been a leader of local Girl Scouts.

Bailey has learned a great deal about herself in that time, she said.

When Bailey first got involved with the Scouts, she was a young mother, her oldest child only 5, and did scouting out of her house.

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“I couldn’t go out without my children, so the girls came over, and we incorporated cooking and other things into their scouting,” she said. “Then, the girls wanted to learn babysitting, so we did that, too. There’s so much you can do in your own home with Girl Scouts.”

The Scouts also taught Bailey skills she didn’t know she could cultivate, particularly outdoor skills.

“I never will forget, one year, the weather got real bad, and the electricity went out, and my kids were like, ‘What are we going to do? How are we going to cook dinner?’ I told them, ‘We are going to go outside, and we’re going to dig a hole, and we’re going to put charcoal and wood in there, and then we’re going to take our food, wrap it aluminum foil, and we’re going to cook it.’

“They didn’t believe me,” Bailey said, laughing. “But we did, and after that, they knew.”

More than learning about how to cook food outdoors, though, Girl Scouts has shown Bailey first-hand the positive impact Girl Scout leaders can have on girls.

“Our girls today, they need mentors,” she said. “Girl Scouts volunteers can be someone they can look up to, and someone they feel they can open up and talk to. So many times, the girls feel like they can’t talk to their parents, so they come talk to us.”

Girl Scouts troops in Adams and surrounding counties have had great success in signing up girls to be scouts.

The problem, and one not unique to the area, is the organization does not have enough adult volunteers to support the number of girls who sign up, said Matilda Ogden Stephens, Southwest Mississippi’s Girl Scouts membership and community development manager.

“We’ve found that we can go into schools and have recruitment parties and have a lot of girls that want to sign up,” Stephens said. “We just don’t get a lot of volunteers to be leaders.”

One of the main reasons adults do not sign up to volunteer, Stephen said, is likely because they think Girls Scouts will consume a great deal of their time.

“Most Girl Scout troops meet for an hour and a half two times a month,” Stephens said. “We have camping (trips) that run … during the summer, but those are held on the weekends and not every weekend. So it’s not real time-consuming.”

A tremendous amount of support is also given to troop leaders, Stephens said.

Stephens sits down with new leaders for an initial training session.

“Then, we hand them materials for the first six meetings, literally a script for how to have your first six meetings,” she said. “There’s really no guesswork. I do a lot of follow up with them, and I’m constantly in touch, if they need help or have questions.”

For parents who struggle with finding time to spend with their daughters, Girl Scouts offers an opportunity to volunteer while spending time with children.

“If you’re a working mother … and you have a busy schedule, Girl Scouts, from the standpoint of a mother being a troop leader and her daughter being in the troop, gives you the opportunity to bond with your daughter doing activities they would not otherwise have an opportunity to do,” Stephens said.

Busy work and family schedules are understandable reasons to be hesitant about volunteering with Girl Scouts, Bailey said.

“I realize a lot of parents work, and they say basically, they don’t have the time to do it,” she said. “But you never know what you can do until you give yourself the opportunity to do it.

“This makes such a difference in these girls’ lives. We don’t want to have to turn them away because we don’t have the volunteers.”

Anyone with questions about becoming a volunteer with Girl Scouts can contact Stephens at 601-597-7485.

Men can volunteer with Girl Scouts as long as women are also assigned to the troop.

More information about Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi as well as online volunteer registration can be found at