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Scouting volunteers sought

Girls in Girl Scout troops are taught to be courageous, confident and of strong character to make the world a better place.

Girls discover their talents and strengths, connect with others and take action in their communities.

Girls benefit from being part of Girl Scout troops. The community also reaps rewards from their service projects.

Girls, however, are having a hard time finding troops to join.

While interest and potential enrollment of girls remain high, troop numbers have been declining in New Richmond.

Volunteer troop leaders are needed for there to be a place for all the interested girls.

Every year, 30-75 elementary age girls want to join Girl Scouts, said Deann Bauer, troop leader, service unit leader and volunteer trainer.

"We have the girls," Bauer said. "They're easy to get."

However, there aren't enough troops for all of them, she said.

Bauer said ideally they would like to add five more troops to New Richmond's current 11. That would require 10 new volunteers.

Troop leadership is rewarding, said Bauer.

"When a girl learns something new and her face lights up, you get to see that excitement," she said.

Watching girls' personalities develop is also a benefit.

Bauer said she had a girl in one of her troops that was very shy and never talked during the meetings for four years. At one meeting, she finally spoke up and the troop got to hear her opinion.

Chelsey Foeller, membership specialist of the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys region, said being the leader of her daughter's troop strengthened their bond.

"It's a good way to meld with your daughter and her peers," she said.

Girl Scouts offers opportunities not always available to girls, Bauer said.

"There are a lot of things New Richmond doesn't offer. The girls need to go do things and see things," she said.

Troops under Bauer's command have taken trips to New York, Switzerland and Germany, among other places.

Leading a troop is sometimes more convenient than fitting meetings into an already busy schedule, said Foeller.

"Being a leader means you can fit activities and events into your own schedule," Foeller said. "Girl Scouts can be a once or twice a month thing."

Bauer cautioned that being a troop leader does take time, which sometimes causes people to shy away from signing up.

People interested in volunteering don't need to have daughters in Girl Scouts, Bauer said.

To be a troop leader, volunteers have to go through a training course.

"Training is minimal and consists of a 25 minute online orientation through GSUSA and a Leadership Essentials training that takes three hours," Foeller said.

Recently released materials, called Journey books, are designed to help leaders plan meetings.

Foeller said, "The new Journey books are all based on what girls are dealing with at their specific grade level with a primary focus on leadership and the books come with 6-8 'sessions' or meeting plans to help a leader throughout the entire process."

People can also volunteer to lead a meeting or two rather than be full-time troop leaders. Those people might have a special talent or hobby or a unique career choice that would be interesting for the girls to learn about.

A volunteer interest night is planned for Sept. 15 from 7-8 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in New Richmond. Copies of the new material and other information will be available there.

If unable to attend the meeting but interested in Girl Scouts, call Deann Bauer at 246-5766 or Chelsey Foeller at 800-313-0718.

"I hate to see Girl Scouts get put on the back burner at a time when girls need it the most," Foeller said.