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Troop Leader Spotlight: Joanne Duncan

Service Unit: Ocotillo

Troop 3050, Cadettes

Years as a GS: 2

Years as Troop Leader: 8

 What inspired you to become a Troop Leader?

At first, I wanted to spend time with my daughters doing all the fun activities. Then when I saw all the options for experiences - badges and service projects, neighborhood encampment and travel - I wanted to have more of a role in guiding and encouraging the troop to get more involved with all that Girl Scouts offers.

What kind of activities do you do with your troop? What is their favorite thing to do?

We work on badges - each girl picks one that interests them and leads it each year. Some of our favorites have been cooking, learning about pets/animals, and woodworking.

Our troop likes to go on field trips - police station, firehouse, bank tour, frozen yogurt shop, pizzeria tour, pet store, and a tour of the City of Chandler building, to name some. Many of these are free or low cost and help us work on badge requirements.

We love to travel! We’ve been to San Diego twice. Once for beach camping at Camp Surf and another year we stayed at Sea World overnight. They were both awesome trips!

What kind of service projects have you done with your troop?

For their Bronze Award, Troop 3050 held a backpack drive for foster kids. We started by setting a goal. I thought we could try for 20 but one of the girls in our troop said, “I think we should try for 100.” We set up a meeting with the school principal and asked if we could have the drive at school. We explained why foster kids needed backpacks and what our next steps were. The girls then made signs, hung them up and decorated boxes for collection areas. In just a week and a half we collected over 80 backpacks! Our next step was working with a local woman who collected other needed supplies so that we could stuff the backpacks with toiletries, a new book, stuffed animal and pajamas.

We recorded our steps throughout the process to pass along to other troops so they can have successful drives in their communities, making the project sustainable.

Tell us about a volunteer moment that stands out for you.

Going to a food bank to pack perishable items and help people in our community load the food into their cars, bikes, and backpacks to take home.

Packing food for children in another country was such a valuable learning experience but seeing the need in our own backyard was eye-opening for the girls.

What advice would you give other Troop Leaders?

Don’t get overwhelmed! There are so many resources available to help you, especially from other leaders. Also, get more parents involved! Even when my girls were Daisies, each parent was asked to lead one meeting. As the girls got older, their parents helped less and the girls led more.

Take advantage of Council-led activities and events! The girls LOVE council staff!

What do you wish someone had told you as a new Troop Leader?

Let the girls play and factor that time in to the meetings. Don’t worry about all the small details involved in each badge. Did the girls learn something, try something new and have fun? Great!

What would you like others to know about volunteer opportunities with the Girl Scouts?

Whether you have one hour or 20, there is something you can help with. When I planned an encampment, I had a woman who wanted to help but couldn’t come to a lot of meetings. I asked her to simply buy the ingredients needed for S’mores. She was happy to buy those items while she was doing her normal grocery shopping and it saved me a trip to the store and some room in my car.

Does your troop sell cookies? If yes, tell us in your own words why it is important to participate in the cookie program?

Yes, we do sell cookies. I think it’s important to participate in the cookie program because it’s a great way to raise troop funds. The cookies sell themselves! Not only does the sale help our troop buy badges and patches, troop supplies and fund travel, the cookie program keeps our camps running. We love all the camp properties and always have the best experience at Council events. We are so lucky to have four beautiful camps.

What are your troops’ cookie-selling tips and tricks?

We always answer the question “How much are cookies?” with “they are 4 for $20.” Many people will buy up and leave happy with more cookies.

Booth tips - never sit and always wear your uniform. People notice the effort. We have learned not to just say “Cookies for sale!” But ASK “Would you like to buy some cookies?”

Ask everyone. Just ask!

What is the most inspiring moment you have experienced as a Troop Leader?

My 7th grade Cadettes and I planned and organized an event for our Service Unit. It was a Photo Scavenger Hunt for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors. We had fun doing a run through of all the clues the week before the event and were so excited when we had 80 girls register and attend! I was so proud to see the girls explain the rules, encourage teams during the hunt and then keep them busy during scoring by teaching songs and playing games. They were helpful, friendly and showed leadership.