There are two main reasons why Halle Farber became a Girl Scout troop leader: her daughter’s interest in becoming a Girl Scout and the need to form a troop that does programming through a Jewish lens.
“I proposed the idea of a Girl Scout troop when my daughter and her friends were about to graduate from Jewish preschool in order to keep the group together,” Farber said. “I didn’t know very much about the Girl Scouts or what the program entailed, but I quickly realized that I would have to step up as the troop leader if I wanted to get it off the ground.”
Now, Troop 1674, which is part of the Girl Scout – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, is in its ninth year and is currently comprised of seventh- and eighth-grade girls. In addition to the countless Girl Scouting benefits, what really binds this group together is their Jewish heritage.
“It would have been easier to have my daughter and her friends join an existing troop under someone else’s leadership, but I felt it was important to take an active role in carving out the kind of space where my daughter could be free to observe and celebrate her heritage without feeling like we had to make compromises,” Farber said.
Although it is sometimes difficult to participate in the bigger Girl Scout events that take place on Saturday, which coincides with Shabbat, Farber’s troop thinks outside the box, customizing many of their events.
“The Girl Scout program is flexible and allows for a lot of creativity. There is no one prescribed way of doing things, which is one of the many benefits of the program,” Farber said.
For instance, Farber’s troop earned their “Simple Meals” badges by practicing kitchen skills. Going beyond the badge requirements, they also learned about nutrition labels, did a scavenger hunt for kosher food labels and purchased items to donate to a food pantry, enabling the girls to learn about Jewish approaches to eating and philanthropy at the same time.
“This experience has helped me to hone certain skills that I wouldn’t use otherwise,” Farber added. “It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and it has helped me make amazing connections with other local troop leaders.”
Inspired to help the Girl Scouts to recruit new leaders, Farber speaks highly about the nine years she’s spent with her troop and the meaningful projects she’s been able to do with her daughter. As Girl Scout Volunteers, local mothers and women have the chance to introduce girls to new experiences and help them unleash their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) to take the lead and change the world. JN
Susanne Wells is the innovation manager for Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council.
Girl Scout – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council’s fast facts about getting involved as a troop leader or volunteer:
What will I do as a Girl Scout volunteer?
As part of a network of nearly 1 million adults, you’ll share an important commitment to preparing girls to lead successful lives. A volunteer serves as a partner and role model for girls. In the process, you’ll discover your own skills and abilities, meet new people and learn through experience.
What are the benefits of volunteering for Girl Scouts?
Girl Scout research shows it is not just girls who benefit from participating in Girl Scouts: 94 percent of volunteers have made new friends, 88 percent believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts, and two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally. Also, 95 percent of Girl Scout volunteers are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.
Is there a way to volunteer “sometimes”?
Yes. Extra adults are always needed for trips and special events, as well as for Girl Scout cookie activities.
Is there a screening process?
Yes. To ensure the safety and well-being of our girl members, all volunteers are required to complete a background check prior to becoming involved.
How do I sign up?
Visit girlscoutsaz.org and click “Volunteer” to get started helping out in your own backyard