Inspiring girls and having fun with USA Girl Scouts in Qatar
by Michelle Miller
When the new school year starts up, everyone looks for extra-curricular activities to engage and stimulate their kids. Finding something that is fun and enables parents to engage with their daughters in a meaningful way is especially hard. USA Girl Scouts Overseas, which has a chapter in Qatar, combines skill-building and teamwork while inspiring leadership and giving back to the community.
Although I wasn’t a Girl Scout myself, when I heard about Girl Scouts Overseas, I knew it would be a great fit for my daughter. What I didn’t know was that it would be a great fit for me too. My daughter signed up, and I volunteered as her troop leader. The two of us had a year filled with fantastic, unforgettable experiences with an amazing group of girls and adult volunteers.
Creating memorable experiences and opportunities for girls (and yourself)
The USA Girl Scouts in Qatar is fully integrated into the ethos of the Girl Scouts in America but with a global perspective. Scouts and troop leaders can be of any nationality, and we operate in an inclusive, international atmosphere. Our activities celebrate the incredible diversity of our community in Doha.
Troop leaders are dedicated to creating the best and most rewarding experience for girls and volunteers alike. It’s also a great way to meet new people and enhance your resume. Our volunteer leaders are a diverse group of lawyers, teachers, engineers, managers, writers and stay-at-home moms who bring our experiences together to create an amazing experience for our girls. Even though both my co-leader and I were new to Girl Scouts last year, the extensive tools available to us made it easy to learn how to run meetings and create fun and effective troop activities. I was inspired by the passion and dedication of my fellow troop leaders and I’ve now taken on a role in the management committee.
Girls earn badges throughout the year that expand upon the core values of being a Girl Scout while developing creative, analytical and social skills. Badges cover topics such as stargazing, first aid, cooking, baking, painting, programming and more. Girls also visit rehabilitation centres, pet rescue centres, hospitals, museums and galleries. These trips provide exciting opportunities to appreciate our city, give back to our community and meet new people.
Leading a troop
Troops are organized by school grade: Daisies (Kindergarten and Grade 1); Brownies (Grades 2-3); Juniors (Grades 4-5); Cadettes (Grades 6-8); Seniors (Grades 9-10); and Ambassadors (Grades 11-12). These are grade levels in the US system, but girls are welcome from all schools across Doha.
The size of a troop varies, but two volunteer troop leaders are required at all age levels. Becoming a troop leader gives you a chance to inspire, challenge and support our future leaders of tomorrow. All leaders are provided training and resources by the management committee in Doha and through the Girl Scouts headquarters in New York.
Most troops meet twice a month, but the timing of meetings and activities is entirely for the troop leaders to decide. Troops do activities based in a home, classroom or other venue and many also take trips to visit institutions across Qatar. In the older grades, girls can work towards making a specific impact on society through the Girl Scouts prestigious Bronze, Silver and Gold Award programs. There are many other options and awards for girls of all ages to pursue. Each troop chooses which activities to participate in, but everything we do fosters friendships, teamwork and is, of course, lots of fun.
In addition to the activities you and your daughter can take part in as a troop, there are several events that take place involving Girl Scouts of all ages. Last year these included our official opening and closing ceremonies, a father-daughter dance and an overnight beach camp out and cleanup event.
Memorable experiences to last a lifetime
This time last year I was unsure of what it meant to become a Girl Scout troop leader. Looking back, it has been a rewarding and gratifying experience for me and my daughter. By connecting with an organisation steeped in a strong tradition of female empowerment, personal responsibility and service to society, we have become part of a worldwide movement that improves the lives of people in our community and beyond.