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Troop Leader Spotlight: Miki Spellman


East Kyrene Service Unit

Troop 1220 (Cadettes & Seniors)

Years as a troop leader: 10

What inspired you to become a troop leader?

My family inspired me to become a troop leader. My grandmother and mother were Girl Scout leaders and my father was a Boy Scout leader. So, when my daughter wanted to join Girl Scouts and needed an adult volunteer to lead the troop, how could I resist? Girl Scouting provides great opportunities for girls to become confident and strong leaders, and seeing the girls in my troop grow over time has been a rewarding and unique experience. 

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

Troop 1220 has a list of amazing community service projects, and one of them was installing a Buddy Bench at a local elementary school, which earned the girls their Bronze Award. They also created a video to instruct the students on how to use the bench and why it’s important to have one. After more girls joined our troop, we offered them an opportunity to earn their Bronze and worked with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at their annual walk. In addition, they held "Think Pink" lemonade stands to raise funds and purchase patient comfort items to donate to a breast cancer treatment facility. After this, the girls earned their Silver Awards by serving the homeless population. They made masks, donated a refrigerator, and prepared meals. Some girls within our troop worked with two local churches to revamp their child education centers, and another group made sensory blankets and boards, which were donated along with a year's supply of completed greeting cards to a nursing home. Even though these are some of our biggest projects, we’ve also worked with pet adoption centers, Kyrene Resource Center, Feed My Starving Children, and more.

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

For the past three years, our troop has been planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, and I admit that I was initially nervous about taking the girls, but with a deep breath, we headed to California. This was the best thing I have ever done as a Girl Scout! The girls were told to pack their good attitudes and willingness to work together, and they didn't disappoint. I feel so proud of these girls and their ability to cheer each other on as they hiked farther than they expected. They planned, cooked, and cleaned up every meal. And on our last night, they worked together to try to hatch a plan to extract a mouse from the cabin – all with a smile on their faces. I first became a Girl Scout volunteer to support my daughter and make her experience special, but being a troop leader has given me such a rewarding feeling. I am blessed to work with these girls, their families, our fabulous Service Unit, and the council (Shout out to Rebecca Smith and our Awesome Cookie team).

What advice would you give other troop leaders?

I would advise other troop leaders to embrace the girls and let them lead you. Usually, I set the schedule for when we will meet, but the girls do the rest. They decide on what badges and what volunteer work we need to do. Even though they lead the badges, I am there to provide materials and support when needed. I also encourage everyone to reach for those high awards. For example, I have several girls who plan to work towards their Gold Award, which is a wonderful opportunity for our Girl Scouts to find a project they’re passionate about.

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

I would like others to know that there are different ways you can volunteer. I am a troop leader, an assistant troop leader, the Event Manager for the Service Team, and a Cookie Cupboard, but there are so many other things you can do. We always need certified instructors to run things like the rock wall and canoeing at encampments. Plus, the neighborhoods would love for more people to plan events for the girls in your area. If you’re wanting to get involved at a council level, they need volunteers too!

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

Our Troop does sell cookies, and I believe that we need to sell to keep our council and camps in good condition. The cookie program provides funding for an array of things, and also gives girls the opportunity to learn and develop skills that will stay with them throughout their time as Girl Scouts and beyond. Cookie sales are one of the only programs for troops to earn money, so we sell to support our troop as well.

What is the most inspiring moment you have experienced as a troop leader?

My eldest daughter is an Ambassador in Troop 1553, and in the 10 years that I have been a leader, no other girl in our Service Unit has earned her Gold Award until she did. Watching her earn her Gold Award was inspiring, and I want to continue encouraging at least half of the girls in my troop to go for Gold. I want to support them so they can earn the highest award in Girl Scouting.