July 30, 2009

The Church Scout Leader

In my church, every person has an assignment or calling. A few weeks ago, I was 'promoted.' Instead of throwing dinner parties for the women's organization every two months, I now get to host activities for the tweens in my congregation every two weeks.

I was having a little trouble embracing my new job--or even understanding its purpose and function--until someone offhandedly described it as "kind of like Girl Scouts."

At the allusion to Thin Mints and Troop Beverly Hills, I perked up. It's no secret that I enjoy bossing people around, and if I can do it in a uniform, all the better.



After talking with the previous group leader, I learned that I am responsible for twelve girls between the ages of 8 and 11, each of whom is afflicted with hyperactivity and varying stages of selective hearing loss. I was told repeatedly that if left unattended or underentertained for more than five seconds, the girls would run the hallways and/or push each other around in the service wheelchairs.

This bad behavior didn't concern me. The lack of uniforms in the supply closet did. A comprehensive search of the program handbook failed to produce a dress code that included pleated shorts and sew-on patches.
"There isn't even a sash!" I complained to my husband after our first meeting on Tuesday. "I don't know if I can do this without a uniform!" I whined.

More than a costume that resembles a green bean, I want something that makes my position of authority transparent to the world, or at least to a bunch of fourth and fifth graders...and their parents. What I'm looking for is an outfit that says, "I am emotionally unstable. Do not mess."

"If you want a uniform that bad," my husband told me, "Why don't you just design your own?"

Laundry, dishes, and attending to my children's basic needs were ignored yesterday to make time for the more important task of thinking up color schemes for knee-high socks and lanyards and debating whether my uniform should include a sash or vest...or both.

49 comments

Anonymous said...

Definitely both! Hey, if Diane from Cheers can master the art of herding tweens in an all-girls organization, you can do it. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Both - in bright orange.

{Kiki} said...

Thanks for reminding me about Troop Bev Hills, I must see it again. One of my fav movies back in the day. I have many fond memories of my days as a Brownie and Girl Scout. I was not a fan of the uniforms, or going door to door with cookies though. Good luck with your uniform and with the girls. Have fun and take care.
-Kiki

Taylor Clan said...

Here I sit, reading your post in my Mom Scout shirt, ready to go to cub scouts in 15 minutes. An hour with 10 nine year old boys and my authoritive shirt - Yeah, I'm living the dream.

Deanna said...

I'm a Den leader in my ward...and I SOOOOOO can relate....but I get to wear patches and necklaces with plastic bear claws....

Keep it up! You'll be great... like in everything else we see (or read about you), you'll be their favorite "merry miss" leader...what do they call it these days anyways?

EliB said...

LAWL! I grew up so glad that we didn't have little outfits for Achievement Days - good luck to your little girllees! ;)

Emz said...

OK-I am dying laughing. I was just called to do this same thing 2 weeks ago, in my ward in Phoenix, AZ {I'm using a swimsuit as our "uniform" for now}. Would LOVE to know what YOU come up with!! :)

Emily

Sims Family said...

I do activity days, too. I may steal your vest idea. Blowing a whistle is a great way to get their attention. The louder the better. :)

MaLeah said...

Oh, you really should get a sash! When I was a little girl, our church had a program called GA's or Girls in Action. We definitely had sashes and you had to complete "steps" in order to get a patch on your sash, sort of like mastering a new skill in Girl Scouts. Maybe you could get sashes and design your own patches and get the girls to work towards their patches--doing things like washing your car, doing your laundry, babysitting your kids, you know church related things like that. ha.ha.ha. No, seriously you could have them do service oriented things like bringing in gently used toys or clothes and have a giveaway yard sale for needy families or doing a "dog wash" of church member's dogs and then the proceeds from donations go to an animal welfare organization and then those who participate could get a patch! You could do both of those things on the nights you have the girls, at the church, that way it would keep them busy and you'd be doing good in the process!

Renny said...

You guys have service wheelchairs? Wow, if we have elderly people in our ward back home that need something like that they better have their own or crawl cause we're not helping them out.
I remember achievement days... hah. So much better than mutual activities in young women, for some reason the girls in my ward got meaner with age...
Get a whistle, definitely!

Michelle said...

This is my calling and I never thought about a uniform...

The Dolezal Family said...

This is tooo funny...I was the Enrichment Leader in my ward and just released to be the Achievement Leader...BUT I have 22 girls! Ha take that! Don't you think that should guarantee me the Shabby Apple dress???

kat said...

ahhh. activity days. what a special gift to celebrate cameron's health! ;)

Ann-Michelle said...

Theres nothing better than Shelley Long in Troop Beverly Hills. Doing their hair and Jazzersize with seniors will totally go over in Achievement Days.

Funny, I haven't thought about this movie in decades, and this is the second time I've encountered it today.

Tiffany said...

Sounds like Activity Days is going to be a blast with you!

Amy said...

Yay Cameron!!! Breathe a big happy sigh of relief. What a trial this must have been for your family. Thanks for sharing the update.

Jo's girl said...

oh man achievement days *sigh.* what a perfect description of the girls I had to *ahem*... "lead" they nearly gave me an aneurysm, with their inability to stop running their mouths for 5 seconds. it's a dang good thing they were adorable girls. and when I wasn't trying to teach them stuff they had a great sense of humor. I think the whistle Idea would have been awesome. just what ever you do, DO NOT attempt a serious lesson. they will run you down like a pack of wolves.

but at least I didn't have the boys. I think I would have seriously lost it. poking one another and potty humor just don't do it for me. best of luck to you all. and the sash is by far the best. you can look like a bunch of beauty queens. :)

stewbert said...

hahaha ... i would say i could never be an activity days leader, but then someone i know in real life would read this and tell the bishop, and we all know what my next calling would be. The few times I went as an "observer" while in the primary presidency were fun, but now that I have a girl that age of my own whose friends come over and have giggle fits and food fights ... I don't think so.

Ruthykins said...

i'm not good at being a leader. several years back i was the achievement day leader. i had no idea what i was doing. i'd never even heard of it. let's just say that the girls ran amuk. that was the last time i was in charge of something.

ModernMom said...

Had to pop over here because of the title of your blog and am so glad I did!! Great reading:)
Good luck with the "troop"!

becca said...

as one [former] activity day leader to another, i have to say, wow, I should have known it was church wide for the girls to ride around in the wheelchairs. we have had incidents with kids being left behind at church, irate moms calling me asking where their daughter is. so just a word of caution, those baby leashes might be a good idea.

HAVE FUN!!

Corrine said...

Ahh, love Activity Days! Our group had a daddy daughter night last night and in order to shame the girls into submission, the dads got to cover the girls' faces with spary whipped cream, fill it with a Cocoa Puff beard, and then shave their daughters' faces. That shut them up!

Foursons said...

Hmmm...8-11 year old girls. You are a BRAVE woman!

Donna Leavitt said...

Enjoy the calling. I am the Activity Day leader, too. We have so many girls in our ward that our group is split in two and I still have 15 girls.

Word of advice: have them make the rules and consequences for the group. As long as they all understand what is expected of them (and that you have their parent's cell phone numbers), all is well. ; ) Can we say three strikes and YOUR OUT? h, wait, that's Little League. Oh, well. It works for me. Maybe I need a whistle AND a baseball cap!

AVONLadyinSC said...

I loved the Troop Beverly Hills picture, hilarious. I work with teenage girls at my school. I find that they function best when bribery is used. For example, I will give you each chocolate if you promise not to do the following: say any bad words in public, touch things that aren't yours, touch people that aren't you, say what you really think about people's appearances, and best of all not leave anyone in the group out. We don't have to like/love someone to be nice to them seems to be a good motto for this age group. I tell them that I don't even love/like everyone but I'm nice to them. It's basically like bribery with any kids' age group, except they're taller, meaner, and bored easier than your average 2 year old :) Good luck, oh and whatever you do be collect all cellphones, cameras, ipods, anything that is technology related before each adventure. It helps them pay attention/fake paying attention better when they should be :) Oh and the uniform to embarass them would be this, under no circumstances should you look like you've combed your hair that day, seen makeup ever, and your clothes should not match. You can bribe them to behave in the future for outings, if you work on one of the above each time you all hang out. Girls this age are all into scrapbooking anything so that might be a fun way to keep up with that the group is doing. Oh and don't trust the girls for a minute, turn your back and it's chaos. I even walk the girls to the bathroom as a group, think preschool tactics. It helps keep track of them and helps them not do such inappropriate things :) Again think Bribery, they will work for an overall reward for completing each outing successfully without annoying you.

Diane said...

Someday you will be doing Cub Scouts. With 3 boys it is your destiny!

Chief said...

Ah...activity days...my dream job! I am currently doing the dinners for the old ladies 4 times a year.

I found your blog through hopping...if you want a uniform, I can send you one of my kids cub scout shirts. I bit of bedazzle and you will have something!

The Glovers said...

"Oh, what glorious patches!"
"Thank you, ma'am."
"Where can I buy them?"
"Ma'am, you don't buy them, you earn them."
"Oh! Like jewelry!"

Meghan, Carson and the Kiddos said...

I would say only have a vest or sash if there is going to be jewelry appraisal patch or sushi appreciation patch. I was in my final year of Merrie Miss when they switched it to acheivement days and I was bound and determined to finish my sash. No way were they going to make me get rid of that thing!

Meredith said...

Do they still have a book of projects/goals to work on? They did 8ish years ago when I was a leader. Took my then 6 month old twins in for a lesson on child care. Best activity ever.

Now I'm the Assitant Scoutmaster (the Boy scouts, not the Cub scouts.) I work with the 11 year olds. Terror is working with 6 hyperactive boys who need to learn how to swing an axe and start a fire.

But I do get a uniform.

girlsmama said...

Achievement day girls so need a uniform, just like the cub scouts. We should totally petition church headquarters and demand equality. I'm in.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

Definitely a sash....much more slimming. I'm currently doing my penance each week in nursery so my uniform usually involves some sort of bodily fluid.

girlnblack77 said...

Neither vest nor sash. I vote one-piece poopysuit, like they have in the Navy. (Google it if you've never heard of it; I hadn't until I'd met my Navy hubbie.) They're very flattering, you can get one in Duke blue, and you can cover the whole thing in patches. ;)

Alison Wonderland said...

Can you be my daughter's achievement day leader? I promise I'll respect the uniform.

MommyAmy said...

CONGRATS on your promotion!

... heh heh... SUCKAH!!!!

PS: I'd go with the vest.

Julie said...

I will pray for you.

Melissa said...

THAT IS THE BEST CALLING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was activity day leader for years and I loved it more than anything! Have fun! (I would give anything to get that one again!)

Anonymous said...

A tiara. That's what you need, a tiara. Sashes and vests and such are so mundane, don't you think? Sure, they're good for sewing patches on to, but...

[OK - rethinking what to do with patches.] How about the all the girls having sashes for patch display (you included), but only you get to have a tiara?

Any woman who takes on a gaggle of tweens surely should be commended and certainly should take on the 'honor' with extraordinary panache...tiara-ed panache.

Yeah, you need a tiara. beth.

Emily said...

Sweet! I'm one of the Activity Days leader in my ward too and it's the BEST calling ever! You only have to do it for 1 hour twice a month and the girls are always giddy over ANYTHING we plan (especially if it involves running around the halls or playing in the gym.....which sometimes it does when they are way too hyper to listen). Another fun thing to do, is give them tons of sugar RIGHT before they go home (at dinnertime :)

And seriously, what does "os sisess" mean? That is the word verification I am typing right now.

Stay At Home Mom said...

I totally understand your dilemma. Both designs look really great. For me, the sash looks really neat too. Probably I'm biased because I had a similar uniform before. LOL! Whatever you end up deciding, I know it will look great on the kids. I wish you all the best!

Sami said...

You crack me up! I did activity days for 2 years before I had to move. I never had a vest or sash either! If only it had occured to me to feel deprived...
If you need any ideas, I still have all my stuff on my computer. I would be happy to give you some ideas, although I'm sure your ideas would be far more entertaining to read about!

TORI said...

I think you should go in like Mary Poppins, firm, polite and impeccably dressed with the apron and everything. Do you have a magic carpet bag?

kelly said...

acheivement days is fun, way better than scouts, you could design any kind of uniform you want, tie dying is always fun and would make a certain statement about you:) as always, just google some websites on your new calling!

Tobler Bunch said...

Cameron is looking absolutely big and so very handsome!! Good job Mom! and thank you to our Heavenly Father for his life so far.

The Freak Parade said...

Gotta love Activity Days! I did it fir three years, my favorite were the "Recognition Nights". We never did anything so fabulous that it needed to be recognized-Oh well, have fun!

Jake said...

How about matching T-shirts for you and your merry band? A friend of mine who had this job in her ward adopted the name: "F.I.G.G." Yep, that's right--"F.I.G.G." It was her clever way of simplifying, "Faith In God" with a "G" at the end for "Girls." She had it printed on T-shirts for herself and her little merry band. They were proudly worn each week over their street clothes. I'm not sure how long she had that job.....but she certainly made a unique fashion statement while it lasted.

JoanneV59 said...

(That above post by "Jake" is really from "JoanneV59." I really get miffed when my kids sign on my computer and I'm too dumb to notice!!!)

Mom N said...

If they call me to that I am going to say no. I think being a grandma entitles me to do nothing involving anyone under 20, and to sit with a self-satisfied cheshire-cat sort of grin on my face during any and all church meetings thinking in mymost private mind of everything I know that the younger set doesn't, while the younger set does all the hard work. So there you go. Good luck. And yay on Cameron--really, that's so good.

tulipdjc said...

LOL! I have the same calling you will do fine! Your girls will love you!!! Although I think a sash is the better choice!