Girl Scouts Good, Their Forms–Not So Much

Forgive me for over-posting this week, but wanted to share my recent New York Times piece.

This one’s about the Girl Scouts, and my theory on why they’ve lost nearly a million members in the last decade. I’ve kvetched and regaled people with my complaints about scouting for years (hint: It’s not the parents or girls. It’s the organization’s crazy forms). One day I finally sat down and wrote my story and sent it to the Motherlode editor at The New York Times.  She sent an email Thursday saying she’s running my piece Friday and needs my edits pronto, and all of a sudden I feel like a real freelance writer. With a deadline and everything. So based on this I’m going to pretend an agent requires my novel by December 31. Please help hold me to that.

Anyway, here’s my piece: “Why This Troop Leader Quit the Girl Scouts.” Enjoy! Feel free to throw up a comment or share the piece via Facebook or Twitter. Most of all, thank you for reading. Means a lot.



6 Responses to Girl Scouts Good, Their Forms–Not So Much

  1. Suz November 22, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Thank you for writing this article! It went right to my Facebook wall. I agree w you 100%, but I’m not ready to quit. I have, however, entertained the idea, realizing my life would be so much simpler. But then, who would be my daughter’s leader? There are no other troops in the service unit for her grade level. I am nostalgic of the Girl Scouts of my youth, and try to provide my troop with the same experience I had- fun, trips, community service, cookies, and an end-of-year camping trip. I have a confession to make – my girls did a few hours of community service this morning… and I forgot to submit the brand-new 6-page trip form! Yes, SIX pages!! By the time I remembered I had to print, fill out and submit by PDF that cumbersome thing (which requires a rationale for the trip) I also remembered I had to obtain the facility’s insurance number and get that on file w my council. So I just crossed my fingers, because we had made a promise to help and didn’t want to back out last minute. (Our morning went without a hitch!)

    • Kristin O'Keefe November 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      My only regret with the article was I didn’t single out awesome troop leaders–you’re doing great work. Like you, I also have some nice scouting memories from my youth (As a shy child, I starred in an actual play. Loved that). But scouting with my daughter was far more frustrating, and in the end, we found soccer/drama classes/YMCA camps and activities more user friendly. I did appreciate the community service and outdoors aspects of scouting. We left years ago though, there’s no going back. Here’s what I’d suggest to you: talk to your council and tell them, honestly, that the forms truly drive people away. And you’re trying, but it’s hard. See what they say–after all, they’ve lost nearly a million members. Clearly parents/kids are frustrated and/or have other options. They need to listen to their members, pronto. Good luck–I hope it goes well.

  2. Pamela Larimer November 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    I have not laughed out loud while reading in too long! This is beautiful and pretty much nails how I feel about many committees and organizations. Thank you this is priceless.

    • Kristin O'Keefe November 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks Pam, what a nice comment. Laughter the best medicine, right? Especially when faced with absurdity. Or 200 forms.

  3. Alma M. Rinasz December 1, 2014 at 2:01 am #

    Could this just be a symptom of a larger problem: aka USA, home of the lawsuit? I grew up in New York and relocated to Latin America right out of college, the move has given me a cultural perspective that I didn’t before. After reading your article, I wonder how the Girl Scouts I grew up knowing and loving turned into a form obsessed organization. I’m loving your blog and can’t wait to see Tina Fey in the movie adaptation of your novel! 😉

    • Kristin O'Keefe December 1, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      It’s a great point, Alma–but I think there has to be some balance. For example, we sign a couple waivers each fall that allow my kids to play soccer all year. So I’m not sure why so many requirements with some organizations and not others. And on another note, I will check out your blog–sounds like a grand adventure. I wrote a post about my year of work/living abroad after college; truly shaped my life and outlook too (Mine’s called “Pack Lightly.”) Cheers and you just gave me added incentive to finish novel edits!

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