Volunteer Highlight: Don Lee

As a first-time troop leader, Don Lee found a successful way to get girls to return to troop meetings each time – by teaching fire-building. “On the first night, we took the kids outside, and we learned how to build a fire in the dirt driveway. They were all excited … Everybody came to every meeting after that so they could get in on whatever activities we had planned,” Lee said.

Building a fire became a ritual for his troop each time they met. They also practiced other outdoor skills, such as hiking and creating crafts from outdoor materials. He served as a co-leader to both of his daughter’s Girl Scout troops for just under 10 years with his wife.

Early on, Lee also became involved with adult training, family fundraising, and various service unit roles, and he served as the chair of the Northern Suburbs and two terms on the board of directors for legacy council St. Croix Valley. Currently, he helps plan the Outdoor Conference, Lakamaga Conference, and activities and events in the Mahtomedi Service Unit, and he volunteers as a River Valleys’ delegate and facilitator.

Training adults in the outdoors was a natural fit for Lee—having a love for the outdoors, a background in Boy Scouting, and some Girl Scout experience under his belt. Today he leads all four Beyond The Troop modules, canoe certification, and numerous enrichment sessions focused on outdoor skills such as compass/geocaching, outdoor survival, and lashing (using rope or a similar material to bind things together to create a usable object outdoors).

“I have learned a lot from people in my classes with different skills … It has made me a better camper and kept me involved in Girl Scouts where I might not have been if I had just stayed a troop leader,” he said.

Lee describes his facilitation as “active” and said his favorite sessions to facilitate are Girls Cook Out or Camping Out (an overnight session that covers all four of the Beyond The Troop modules), due to the hands-on learning and skill-building involved in leading them. Lee enjoys being able to pass his knowledge on to other volunteers and feeling as though he has helped them and their girls experience the outdoors in some way.

“It’s especially gratifying when troop leaders who’ve taken my classes said things they learned helped their girls … At camp, I saw troops doing the games I taught in a session. It made me feel good and is what drives me to help people do their job better,” he said.

Besides volunteering with Girl Scouts, Lee also volunteers at Habitat for Humanity with other 3M retirees and teaching safe driving classes at AARP. In his free time, he enjoys going to the cabin with his family.