In 2018, Girl Scout Greater of Greater Iowa (GSGI) launched its Community Troop Program as way to make Girl Scout programming more accessible for all. Through the Community Troop Program, GSGI works with local schools and non-profits to determine where leadership programming is most needed. Since Community Troops are often formed in underserved areas where resources including volunteers are limited, GSGI staff lead Community Troops through the entire school year. Currently the Community Troop Program operates in Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Mitchellville, Perry, and Sioux City.
Over the past four years, the Community Troop Program has grown tremendously, providing girls across the state with the full Girl Scouting experience. From camping to learning new skills and earning badges to participating in cookie season, these Girl Scouts do it all! While Community Troops have a limit of twenty-five girls per troop, most Community Troop Leaders have increased their capacity to make sure no girl is turned away from life-changing leadership programming.
This is exactly the case for Community Troops 51570 & 51571, which are based in Sioux City and led by GSGI staff member, Amber Bliss.
“Every year, our troops have grown bigger and bigger,” said Bliss. “Last year, we had three open spots in one troop and seven open spots in the other. This year, we had twenty-five girls in one troop and twenty-eight in the other, so there is clearly a need.”
Bliss, who has been a troop leader for over 14 years, says it’s cool to see how much her Community Troops have grown and hopes GSGI can add more Community Troops in the Sioux City area soon.
But until then, Bliss is focused on providing the girls with fun activities, helping them get out of their comfort zones, teaching them the importance of friendship and togetherness, and challenging them to try new things.
This year alone, Bliss says her troops have made lava jars, participated in a holiday parade, attended a swim party, gone rock climbing, completed numerous space-related activities, attended a local professional hockey game, taken a pottery class, created healthy fruit parfaits, have gone camping and had a successful cookie season – with over 5,000 packages sold.
According to Bliss, Community Troops 51570 & 51571 also attended two plays to support to their fellow Girl Scouts who were involved. Bliss hopes that Girl Scouting will help the girls, who come from different schools and different sides of town, form an unforgettable bond.
“Realistically, looking back, these girls won’t remember the activities we do. But they will always remember the companionship and friendship they make as well as the togetherness and teamwork they felt,” said Bliss. “I’ve seen every girl that’s gone through my troop take that with them. Girl Scouting is all about making sure you have that friendship, bond, community.”
Another lesson, Bliss hopes girls in her troops take away this year is: don’t knock it, until you try it.
“If the girls tell me that they don’t like something, then I find ways to show them how that thing is actually cool,” said Bliss. “The girls all told me that yoga was stupid, so of course we had to do yoga. Now they all enjoy it and think it is cool. The same thing happened with bugs. They all thought bugs were gross, and the girls kept trying to kill them. So, we had a zoo mobile come into teach the girls about bugs, and the troops even got to touch them.”
While Bliss has had a significant impact on the Girl Scouts in her troops, she says the girls have also brought her so much joy and have helped keep her young.
“If I am having a bad day but get to see the girls later on, they always find a way to put a smile on my face by coming up with the most crazy, hilarious things,” said Bliss. “I am a big kid at heart, so I love learning and doing activities with them. But I especially love when we try something new and seeing how their faces light up with excitement.”
The Girl Scout year has come to an end for the Sioux City Community Troops; however, Bliss is already planning for next year. She hopes to take the girls on more field trips and try new activities with them. But to do that, Bliss and her Community Troops need help from their community.
Like most troops, Community Troops start each year with little to no funding and must find ways to generate troop funds. Fortunately, this past year, Bliss was able to provide the girls with some many opportunities because of a one-time grant that she received through the council.
Bliss says any kind of support will help. Whether that is monetary donations; donating common crafts supplies such as ribbon, glitter, and glue; or by having more parents volunteer with the troops, she hopes to continue providing an awesome Girl Scout experience for her Community Troops next year.
Interested in making a monetary donation? Donate here and mention it is for Sioux City Community Troops in the comment section. Prefer to donate activity supplies? Check out our Amazon Wishlist. To volunteer with Community Troops 51570 & 51571 in Sioux City, please contact email@example.com.