Troop rotation leaves a void of volunteers for Girl Scout troops in Germany
May 16, 2007
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — When scores of soldiers began rotating out of Baumholder earlier this spring, many took with them spouses who filled important volunteer roles for youth programs in this Army community.
“We lost a lot of people,” said Rebecca Barta, overseas committee chairwoman for the Girl Scouts in Baumholder.
“The big (permanent change of station) just happened.”
Now, Baumholder’s Girl Scouts is looking to rebuild its ranks with new volunteers.
But it’s not always easy finding volunteers here or in other Army bases around Germany, where a revolving door of residents keeps some youth groups in a state of near-constant flux.
Indeed, finding girls interested in Scouting is the easy part, says Margaret Renwand, CEO for USA Girl Scouts Overseas-North Atlantic, based in Mannheim.
“We have a lot of places where girls who want to be Girl Scouts are waiting for leaders,” Renwand said. “We can’t find enough people to lead them.”
In Europe, there are about 350 Girl Scout troops with 3,500 girl members.
There are 1,800 registered adult volunteers, many who help with things such as transportation or baking cookies. But more troop leaders are needed, Renwand said.
In large communities such as Kaiserslautern or Ramstein, there may be 20 Girl Scout troops, but “you could have 20 more,” she said.
For the Girl Scouts, an additional 300 to 400 volunteers throughout Europe would solve the volunteer shortage, according to Renwand.
Whether it’s coping with the strain of continued deployments or stress from PCS moves, military families have a lot to balance.
The pressure that comes with suddenly being a single parent can take its toll, Barta said.
“With the last deployments (in Baumholder), a lot of spouses didn’t want to get involved with anything,” she said. “Lots of people didn’t leave their houses. A lot of people were depressed.”
Whether its Scouts, sports or other youth activities, it’s often a core of devoted volunteers that keeps things going.
“You’ll see the same group of people volunteering for the same things,” Barta said.
Even those who don’t have a daughter involved in Scouts can still be troop leaders.
Whether someone is a single adult or a mother of sons who is looking to connect with girls, the Scouts can provide that opportunity, Renwand said.
“This is a great way to support the troops,” she said. “It’s so vital for the girls to be able to have that normalcy, that consistency.”
In the meantime, the Girl Scouts is working on extending its outreach into the community.
“People don’t volunteer unless you ask them personally,” said Renwand, noting that the Girl Scouts is involved in developing an American Forces Network ad to encourage adult volunteerism.
“We’ve got a place for everybody,” Renwand said.
For more information about volunteering with USA Girl Scouts Overseas, visit http://www.usagso-na.org/ or call DSN 375-7025.