Leader Name: Ethel Hoffman
Troop number: 1455
Troop Level: Cadette
Years as a leader: Six
Tell us why you invest the time and effort in being a Troop Leader?
I got started with Girl Scouts when my youngest daughter was old enough to be a Daisy, and new troops were being formed. I wanted her to engage with girls who share a bond based on common values and would have positive role models to learn from. I believed Girl Scouts will provide her with that. I initially agreed only to be a parent helper for a new troop, but the person who was to be the leader was unable to take the position on when she learned her husband was very ill. So rather than have the troop dissolve because there was no leader, I stepped up as I couldn't deal with the thought of disappointing the group of girls. After all, Daisies are so cute!
As a new leader, I was petrified. I had no idea of how to begin. But what I quickly learned was that there are a tremendous number of resources on the internet. So I read as much as I could and attended as many volunteer training classes as possible. I also realized quickly that the girls are not judgmental-you don't have to be perfect in what you do. They are so grateful to have your time and attention, and you become totally committed to them. Most of my troop today have been with me since their Daisy days. The pleasure and satisfaction I have gotten as I've watched them grow and develop physically, mentally, and socially is indescribable. As they blossom into bright, energetic, capable young ladies, I am happy and like to think that I may have played a small part in their success. I will remain committed to them for as long as they want to be a Girl Scout.
Do you have a camp name? What is it and the story behind it?
My camp name is “Hightest.” This has been a nickname since I was a child because my name is often misspelled with a "y" which is how the substance in gasoline is spelled. It is also fitting because I am always on the go!
Favorite GS program and why?
My favorite non-camp program is World Thinking Day. My troop has sponsored a country for the last three years. We are planning to do so again in 2018. My favorite GS camp program is the Troop Camp in the summer. It was so nice to enjoy my girls at camp without having to plan and do everything myself. We also thought Camp Shadow Rim was great.
If you were a GS cookie what would it be and why?
I would have to say a Thin Mint. After all, a girl has to have her chocolate. The Tagalong is a close second only because some people are allergic to peanuts-but thankfully not me!!
What was the most inspiring moment you’ve experienced?
Attending my first Cactus Pine Council Annual Meeting was truly inspiring to me. Participating in such a grand event planned by girls drove home what impact Girl Scouts has on the growth and development of girls in scouting.
What has been your proudest moment?
My troop participated in a fundraising fashion show last year to buy furnishings for Sunshine Acres Children's Home. I was so proud of how my girls, even the shy ones, overcame their fears to model outfits for a good cause. They showed everyone that they could do whatever they put their mind to.
How do you balance the demands of being a Troop Leader?
It has not been easy as I am employed in a senior leadership role which often demands long hours. But I have a wonderfully supportive husband who helps whenever he can, and I have had a co-leader the last couple of years that keeps me on track.
What goals and projects are you currently working on?
My troop has connected with a sister troop and we are working together to jointly sponsor next year's Cookie Rally. I can't give away the theme, but it is going to be terrific. I can't wait.
What advice would you give other Troop Leaders?
You really can "learn as you go." It is easier than ever now with the Council Leader Toolkits and online resources that have been further developed over the last few years. Also, don't be afraid to ask other leaders and your MSE’s questions. Attend the Leader Meetings and take an active role on your Service Unit Leadership Team. The time will be well spent as what you learn from your fellow leaders and MSE will save you a lot of time in the long run.
What do you wish someone had told you as a new Troop Leader?
I wish I knew then that there were seasoned leaders that I could turn to for help. This support does not typically come from Council; it comes from your Service Unit or leaders that you meet in other Service Units. When asked, no one has ever refused to help me. I just needed to learn to ask. The Girl Scout’s are a sisterhood.