Girl Scouts Sans Troop
I was never a girl scout but I wanted my daughter to be one. American Mormon boys enroll in church-sponsored Boy Scouts troops. However, the LDS church does not sponsor Girl Scout troops. To be fair to my children and give them equal opportunities, I wanted to find a way for my daughter to access the Girl Scout experience outside of church.
When I went to the Utah Girl Scouts website and tried to sign up, I received a notice saying that because of the high demand for Girl Scouts in my local area, my daughter would not be able to join a troop. All troops were full. The Girl Scouts website recommended that I volunteer as a Girl Scout leader, find another adult who is not related to me to be my partner, and recruit at least four other girls my daughter’s age in order to establish a brand new troop.
This was a bit more than I bargained for. I was so intimidated that I waited several months before I tried to enroll my daughter in Girl Scouts. Finally, I filled out a registration form and paid the fees even though I had no troop for my daughter to join. I assumed she would be on some kind of wait list.
I received a letter welcoming my daughter as a Juliette. I did not know what that was. It turns out that a Juliette is a Girl Scout without a troop. You actually don’t need a troop to be a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts hosts regular activities and camps that you can simply sign up for on your own, paying for the activities you choose to participate in. Girls can earn badges at these paid activities or by working on their own.
Although having my daughter become a Juliette was not our original plan, I actually prefer it now, for three reasons:
- My daughter participates in Primary Activity Days, where she gets a troop-like experience of meeting regularly with a cohort of girls. Activity Days compensates for the lack of peer comradeship in the Juliette version of Girl Scouts. Since Activity Days meets only twice a month, unlike weekly church-sponsored Boy Scouts, there is plenty of time left for me to send my daughter to a Girl Scouts activity about monthly. These events are hosted by professionals at museums and parks and utilize polished curricula, while Activity Days has no curricula and the activities tend to be more simple in nature. I like varying the simple, inexpensive activities of Activity Days with the more polished Girl Scouts experiences.
- As a Juliette, my daughter and I can handle the annual cookie fundraiser without stress. Some local troops create demanding group goals as they compete against each other to sell the most cookies. Since we do not have a troop, my daughter is not pressured to sell thousands of cookies. She sells her fair share, no more, and that is fine.
- I love the opportunity to take my daughter to Juliette and Me Camp, a camp for Juliettes and their moms (or other adult mentors). I love camping, especially group camping, but in my local ward we do not have ward campouts. We have father-son campouts. It was delightful for my daughter and I to have a camping experience together. And if I must be quite honest, it was more of a “glamping” experience. Utah Girl Scout camps are nice. Really nice.