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Troop Management

Leadership is more than “being in charge” or having a title; it’s recognizing that you’re part of a team and understanding that team’s needs and interests. Here’s how you’ll do that with your troop! 

Your Role as a Volunteer

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is based on three keys—discover, connect, and take action—but it’s not just for your troop! As a Girl Scout leader, you’ll embark on your own leadership journey as you help girls develop the vital leadership skills they’ll use to make the world a better place. Here are a few basic concepts that outline what leadership means in Girl Scouting. 

Leadership is teaching girls:

  • That they can do and be anything!  
  • That they are decision makers and should own their decisions.  
  • How to live the Girl Scout Law by modeling it for them.

As a leader, see yourself as a coach who:

  • Advises, discusses, and cheers on your troop, not as a teacher with a planned lesson or activity. 
  • Ensures each member understands and can carry out their responsibilities within the troop.  
  • Encourages Girl Scouts to build their skills and their ethics.  
  • Gives more responsibilities to the girls as they grow and develop. 

It’s important to remember that: 

  • You cannot know everything that your Girl Scouts might ever want to learn.
  • You’ll explore and learn alongside your girls and grow your confidence in the process.
  • You’re not expected to know everything about Girl Scouting, but you should know where to go for information—and to ask for help when you need it.

Your responsibilities as a Girl Scout volunteer include:

  • Accepting the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
  • Understanding  and coaching the three keys to leadership that are the basis of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: discover, connect, and take action.
  • Sharing your knowledge, experience, and skills with a positive and flexible approach.
  • Working in a partnership with Girl Scouts so that their activities are girl-led and that they learn by doing, individually and a group. You’ll also partner with other volunteers and council staff for support and guidance.  
  • Organizing fun, interactive, girl-led activities that address relevant issues and match girls’ interests and needs.
  • Providing guidance and information regarding Girl Scout group meetings with girls’ families on a regular and ongoing basis through a variety of tools, including email, phone calls, newsletters, blogs, other forms of social media, and any other method you choose. 
  • Processing and completing registration forms and other paperwork, such as permission slips.
  • Communicating effectively and delivering clear, organized, and vibrant presentations or information to an individual or the group. 
  • Overseeing with honesty, integrity, and careful record-keeping the funds that girls raise. 
  • Maintaining a close connection to your volunteer support team as well as your council.
  • Facilitating a safe experience for every Girl Scout.

Girl Scouts of Citrus (GSC) may release a volunteer for any reason, from any and all roles held, at its sole discretion, including but not limited to:

  • Restructuring of volunteer roles
  • Elimination of the volunteer role in which a person serves
  • Inability or failure of the volunteer to complete the requirements for the role
  • Failure to complete training required for the volunteer role
  • Misappropriation of funds
  • Failure to cooperate in any type of financial review of a troop or service community account
  • Failure to pay product sales amount owed
  • Failure to adhere to GSC’s product program guidelines
  • Inability or failure to perform to GSC’s satisfaction
  • Failure to comply with GSC or GSUSA policies
  • Failure to support the mission and values of the organization and GSC’s goals
  • Improper use of prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol directly before or during Girl Scout activities.
  • Disclosure, or dissemination, of copy written and trademarked assets owned by Girl Scouts now or heretofore used in carrying out Girl Scout program; this includes but is not limited to service marks, emblems, badges, titles, fonts, descriptive or designating marks, artwork and program curriculum
  • Disclosure or misuse of membership data and personal girl and/or adult member contact information not related to official Girl Scout business.
  • Listed in the sex offender registry of any state or conviction of a sexual or related offense
  • Providing false, incomplete, or misleading information on the volunteer application
  • Inappropriate behavior including, but not limited to, physical violence, abuse, unauthorized carrying of firearms, stalking, threatening, menacing, lying, harassment, sexual harassment, or falsification of documents
  • An unacceptable criminal background check or failure to report arrest or conviction
  • Entering into a contract or agreement with any agency, on behalf of GSC, without approval from the CEO or CEO designee
  • Hostile acts, malicious gossip, harassment or derogatory attacks concerning anyone associated with the GSC; including girls, registered volunteers, parents of members and/or employed staff.
  • The use of Girl Scouts as a basis for initiating or perpetuating personal disagreements.
Planning for Your First Troop Meeting

Depending on the ages of your girls, you might take the lead in guiding the structure and experiences of your troop—from how and when meetings are held to how the troop communicates, from steering girl-led activities to setting financial expectations. You’ll make these decisions collaboratively with your volunteer team or co-leader, as well as with input from the girls and their parents and caregivers.

Use these questions to guide your conversation with your troop committee volunteers or co-leader before discussing these topics with parents and caregivers.

  • When will we meet and for how long? How frequently should we schedule troop meetings?
  • Where will we meet? Your meeting space should be somewhere safe, clean, and secure that allows all girls to participate. Some great meeting space ideas include schools, places of worship, libraries, and community centers. If working with teens, consider meeting at coffee shops, bookstores, or other places they enjoy.
  • Which components of the uniform will families need to purchase? Which uniform components will the troop provide for each girl?
  • Will our troop be a single grade level or facilitated as a multi-level troop with girls of many grade levels combined into one troop? If multi-level, how will we make sure they each get an age-appropriate experience?
  • How will we keep troop activities and decisions girl-led? Use the Volunteer Toolkit to help you through this process by exploring options for activities and reviewing the meeting plans and resources lists.
  • How often are we going to communicate to troop families? Which channels will we use to keep families in the loop? Effective communication will help set expectations and clarify parent/ caregiver responsibilities.
  • Will our troop charge dues, use product program proceeds, and/or charge per activity? How much money will we need to cover supplies and activities? What should our financial plan look like?

Choosing a Meeting Place 
What makes a great meeting space? It depends on your troop, but here are a few considerations as you visit potential spaces:  

Accessibility: Be sure the space can accommodate girls with disabilities, as well as parents with disabilities who may come to meetings. 

Allergen-free: Ensure that pet dander and other common allergens won’t bother susceptible girls during meetings.

Availability: Be sure the space is available for the day and the entire length of time you want to meet.

Communication-friendly: Be sure your cell phone works in the meeting space or there is a land line for emergencies. Internet accessibility is also helpful.

Cost: The space should be free to use. However, you may wish to develop a partnership to provide service or offer a donation toward maintenance or utilities. 

Emergencies: Be sure that all adults have knowledge of the nearest hospitals, fire stations or urgent care locations and what is the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) 

Facilities: Sanitary and accessible toilets are critical

Resources: Determine what types of furnishings come with the room and ensure that the lighting is adequate. A bonus would be a cubby or closet of some sort, where you can store supplies. 

Safety: Ensure that the space is safe, secure, clean, properly ventilated, heated (or cooled, depending on your location), free from hazards, and has at least two exits that are well-marked and fully functional. Also be sure a first-aid equipment, smoke detectors and fire extinguisher are on hand. 

Size: Make sure the space is large enough for the whole group and all planned activities.

 

Need a few talking points to get started? Try:

“I’m a Girl Scout volunteer with a group of [number of girls] girls. We’re doing lots of great things for girls and for the community, like [something your group is doing] and [something else your troop is doing]. We’re all about leadership—the kind that girls use in their daily lives and the kind that makes our community better. We’d love to hold our meetings here because [reason why you’d like to meet there].”

Stuck and need additional support? Contact your council or your service unit support team for help with a troop meeting place. 

Can We Meet in a Private Home?

It is not recommended to hold troop meetings in a private home. If you are considering meeting in a private home, please check with your council to make sure it is permitted based on council policy. In addition to the above, please remember to ensure these standards: 

  • The private home must the home of registered, council approved Volunteer. 
  • Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives.
  • Some councils may require membership and background checks for all adults living in the home.
  • The troop needs to be able to focus without disruptions from other household members.
  • Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
  • Homeowners should consider any personal insurance implications. The Homeowner should ask their personal Homeowner’s insurance carrier if there are any insurance concerns with troop meetings at the home. Also, volunteers should confirm with the council that troop meetings in the home are covered by council’s liability insurance carrier.
  • Weapons must be out of view and in a locked space. Medication, cleaning products, or any poisonous substance must be stored in a secure space out of sight, preferably locked.
  • Check with your council to comply with any additional guidelines and paperwork for the approval process.

 

Virtual Meetings
If your group or troop can’t meet in person or hold a traditional meeting, there are so many ways to bring the power of Girl Scouting home! Meeting virtually can be a fun, engaging option for your troop.

Before setting up a virtual meeting, you’ll want to:

  • Partner with troop families to make sure the girls are safe online.
  • Select a meeting platform that allows families who may not have internet access to call in.
  • Think about logistics: work with the girls to set up ground rules; consider how you’ll incorporate in-person meeting traditions in your virtual space and how you’ll keep the meeting on track.
  • Talk with families on how to keep activities girl-led if your girls will be completing them from home.

And don't worry if your girls want to use a web or social platform you’re not as familiar with, because you’ll learn alongside them! You’ll also find lots of inspiring badge activities and tips on Girl Scouts at Home

Girl Scout Troop Size
The troop size “sweet spot” is large enough to provide an interactive and cooperative learning environment and small enough to encourage individual development. Though the ideal troop size is 12 girls, we recommend that groups be no fewer and no more than:

  • Girl Scout Daisies: 6–12 girls
  • Girl Scout Brownies: 10–20 girls
  • Girl Scout Juniors 10–25 girls
  • Girl Scout Cadettes: 6–25 girls
  • Girl Scout Seniors: 6–30 girls
  • Girl Scout Ambassadors: 6–30 girls

A Girl Scout troop/group must have at minimum six girls and two  approved unrelated adult volunteers, atleast one of whom is female (Double-check the volunteer-to-girl ratio chart to make sure you’ve got the right amount of coverage for your troop!) Adults and girls registering in groups of fewer than six girls and/or two approved, unrelated adult volunteers, at least one of whom is female, will be registered as individual Girl Scouts to more accurately reflect their status and program experience. Individual girls are always welcome to participate in Girl Scout Council activities and events.

Registering Girls and Adults in Girl Scouting
Every participant (girl or adult) in Girl Scouting must register and become a member of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). GSUSA membership dues are valid for one year. Membership dues cannot be transferred to another member and are not refundable.  

Preregistration for the upcoming membership year occurs in the spring. Girls are encouraged to register early to avoid the fall rush. Early registration allows for uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps girls and councils plan ahead, and gets girls excited about all the great stuff they want to do as Girl Scouts next year. Girl Scout grade level is determined by the current membership year beginning October 1.

Lifetime membership is available to anyone who accepts the principles and beliefs of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, pays the one-time lifetime membership fee, and is at least 18 years old (or a high school graduate or equivalent).

Adding New Girls to Your Troop
Growing your troop is a great way to share the power of the Girl Scout experience and there are many ways to get the word out , like hanging posters at your girls’ schools, using social media to reach families in your community, or including your troop in your council’s Opportunity Catalog or Troop Catalog.

The first step to growing your troop is to ensure that your troop is displaying in your council’s Opportunity Catalog so that girls can join. To update your information, please go to the Forms/Resources webpage on your Council’s website and use the Update My Troop Request form. Your troop’s information will be updated within 2 business days.
 
Once your troop is on the catalog, your council recruitment team is ready to help you grow your troop through coordinated recruitment efforts, including flyer or poster creation, printing, and distribution; marketing on social media; and school walkthroughs when possible. To help with these efforts, there are several flyer and poster templates that your council recruitment team can share with you. Customized flyers are welcome. However, in order to ensure our brand guidelines are followed, customized recruitment flyers created by you or someone in your group should be approved before distributing. Please note that this approval process may take up to two weeks.
 
For more information and to reach your council recruitment team, please contact Customer Care at customercare@citrus-gs.org or call during business hours at 407-896-4475.

Creating an Atmosphere of Acceptance and Inclusion

Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that’s why we embrace girls of all abilities and backgrounds with a specific and positive philosophy of inclusion that benefits everyone. Each girl—regardless of her socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, primary language, or religion—is an equal and valued member of the group, and groups reflect the diversity of the community.

We believe inclusion is an approach and an attitude, rather than a set of guidelines. Inclusion is about belonging—about all girls being offered the same opportunities with respect, dignity, and celebration of their unique strengths. It’s about being a sister to every Girl Scout! You’re accepting and inclusive when you:

  • Welcome every girl, and focus on building community.
  • Emphasize cooperation instead of competition.
  • Provide a safe and socially comfortable environment for girls.
  • Teach respect for, understanding of, and dignity toward all girls and their families.
  • Actively reach out to girls and families who are traditionally excluded or marginalized.
  • Foster a sense of belonging to community as a respected and valued peer.
  • Honor the intrinsic value of each person’s life.

If you have questions about accommodating an individual girl, please reach out to your council, either by clicking on the Contact Us form at citrus-gs.org or by email customercare@citrus-gs.org. During business hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9-6 and Tuesday 9-7 you can reach a customer care specialist by calling 407-896-4475 or chat with us live.  

As you think about where, when, and how often to meet with your group, consider the needs, resources, safety, and beliefs of all members and potential members. Include the special needs of any members who have disabilities or whose parents or caregivers have disabilities. But, please, don’t rely on visual cues to inform you of a disability: approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability—that’s one in five people of every socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and religion.

If you want to find out what a girl with a disability needs to make her Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask her or her parent or caregiver. If you are open and honest, they’ll likely respond in kind, creating an atmosphere that enriches everyone.

It’s important for all girls to be rewarded based on their best efforts—not on the completion of a task. Give any girl the opportunity to do her best and she will! Sometimes that means changing a few rules or approaching an activity in a more creative way. Here are some examples of ways to modify activities:

  • Invite a girl to complete an activity after she has observed others doing it.
  • If you are visiting a museum to view sculpture, find out if a girl who is blind might be given permission to touch the pieces.
  • If an activity requires running, a girl who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical movement.

Focus on a person’s abilities—on what she can do rather than on what she cannot. In that spirit, use people-first language that puts the person before the disability.

 

Say . . .

Instead of . . .

She has a learning disability.

She is learning disabled.

She has a developmental delay.

She is mentally retarded; she is slow.

She uses a wheelchair.

She is wheelchair-bound.

As you think about where, when, and how often to meet with your group, consider the needs, resources, safety, and beliefs of all members and potential members. Include the special needs of any members who have disabilities or whose parents or caregivers have disabilities. But, please, don’t rely on visual cues to inform you of a disability: Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability—that’s one in five people of every socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and religion.

If you want to find out what a girl with a disability needs to make her Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask them or their parent or caregiver. If you are open and honest, they’ll likely respond in kind, creating an atmosphere that enriches everyone.

It’s important for all girls to be rewarded based on their best efforts—not on the completion of a task. Give any Girl Scout the opportunity to do her best and she will! Sometimes that means changing a few rules or approaching an activity in a more creative way. Here are some examples of ways to modify activities:

  • Invite a girl to complete an activity after she has observed others doing it.

  • If you are visiting a museum to view sculpture, find out if a Girl Scout who is with visual impairment might be given permission to touch the pieces.

  • If an activity requires running, a Girl Scout who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical movement.

Focus on a person’s abilities—on what they can do rather than on what they cannot. In that spirit, use people-first language that puts the person before the disability.

Getting Support for Your Troop

It takes a village to lift up the next generation of female leaders, but you won’t do it alone. You can count on a dedicated Girl Scout support team, consisting of council staff and passionate volunteers just like you. Your support team, which may be called a service unit in your council, is ready to offer local learning opportunities and advice as well as answer your questions about the Girl Scout program, working with girls, product sales, and so much more.

Before you hold your first troop meeting with girls, consider the support and people resources you’ll need to cultivate an energizing troop experience. Parents, friends, family, and other members of the community have their own unique strengths and can provide time, experience, and ideas to a troop, so get them involved from the very beginning as part of your volunteer troop team. This team is made up of troop leaders (like you) and troop committee volunteers.

Your troop committee volunteers are the extra sets of eyes, ears, and hands that help the troop safely explore the world around them. Depending on your troop’s needs, they can play a more active role—for instance, someone can step up as a dedicated troop treasurer—or simply provide an occasional helping hand when you need to keep a meeting’s activity on track.

If a parent or caregiver isn’t sure if they can commit to a committee or co-leader role, encourage them to try volunteering in a smaller capacity that matches their skill set. Just like your young Girl Scouts, once troop parents and caregivers discover they can succeed in their volunteer role, they’ll feel empowered to volunteer again.

Troop Management Tools and Resources

From toolkits and guides to regular contact with experienced people, you’ll have all the support you need to be a Girl Scout volunteer. Here’s a list of some important resources you’ll want to check out.

The Volunteer Toolkit 
The Volunteer Toolkit is a customizable digital planning tool for troop leaders to conveniently manage their troop year-round and deliver easy, fun troop meetings. Accessible via desktop and mobile devices, the Volunteer Toolkit saves you time and energy all year long, so you can focus on ensuring every girl has the opportunities she deserves to build a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. 

With the Volunteer Toolkit, girls and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together and follow the fun as they plan their Girl Scout year. Through the Volunteer Toolkit, troop leaders can: 

  • Plan the troop’s calendar year and meeting schedule. 
  • Email parents/caregivers with one click. 
  • View the troop roster, renew girls’ membership, and update girls' contact information. 
  • View meeting plans for Journeys and badges, including suggested tracks for multi-level groups (K–5 and 6–12). 
  • Customize meeting agendas to fit your unique troop. 
  • Explore individual meeting plans that show a breakdown of every step, including a list of materials needed, editable time allotments for each activity within a meeting, and printable meeting aids. 
  • Record girls’ attendance at meetings and their badge and Journey achievements. 
  • Add council or custom events to the troop’s calendar. 
  • Submit your troop’s finance report. 
  • Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as Safety Activity Checkpoints.  

 

Parents and caregivers can:  

  • View the troop’s meeting schedule and individual meeting plans to stay up to date on the badges and Journeys girls are working on. 
  • Renew their memberships and update their contact information. 
  • View their Girl Scout’s attendance and achievements. 
  • See upcoming events the troop is planning or attending. 
  • Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as the Family Hub. 
  • View the troop’s finance report (depending on the council’s process). 

Get started by visiting: citrus-gs.org

The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting

What does it mean to be a go-getting Girl Scout? It’s all in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. These grade level-specific binders will help you break it down for your girls. It’s part handbook, part badge book, and 100 percent fun!  

Safety Activity Checkpoints

Safety is paramount in Girl Scouting, and this resource—Safety Activity Checkpoints—contains everything you need to know to help keep your girls safe during a variety of exciting activities outside of their regular Girl Scout troop meetings.

Tips for Troop Leaders

When you’re looking for real-world advice from fellow troop leaders who've been there, this volunteer-to-volunteer resource on the Girl Scouts of the USA website has what you need for a successful troop year.

Girl Scout Volunteers in Your Community

Remember that Girl Scout support team we mentioned? You’ll find them in your service unit! Troops are organized geographically into service units or communities. You’ll find a local network of fellow leaders and administrative volunteers ready to offer tips and advice to help you succeed in your volunteer role.  

Customer Care Contacts

Questions? Need help resolving an issue? We’ve got you! Reach out anytime either by clicking on the Contact Us form at citrus-gs.org or by email customercare@citrus-gs.org. During business hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9-6 and Tuesday 9-7 you can reach a customer care specialist by calling 407-896-4475 or chat with us live.

Newsletters/Communication

Connect with Girl Scouts of Citrus at www.citrus-gs.orgwww.facebook.com/GirlScoutsofCitrus , www.twitter.com/girlscoutscc, https://www.instagram.com/girlscoutscc/, and www.pinterest.com/girlscoutscc.  

Taking Advantage of Learning Opportunities

We know that when you have the knowledge and skills you need to manage your girls, both you and your troop will thrive. Contact your council to ask about ongoing learning opportunities that will help you grow your skills and confidence.

gsLearn is Girl Scouts’ official online and on-demand training platform for volunteers. Access courses on-the-go, track your progress, and more by simply signing into your MyGS account and clicking on the gsLearn button.

If you have any questions, please contact customercare@citrus-gs.org

Knowing How Much You’re Appreciated

What begins with Girl Scouts speaking up at a troop meeting can go all the way to speaking in front of their city council for a cause they champion—and they’ll have your support to thank for that. Your volunteer role makes a powerful difference. Thank you for all you do.

Just as you’ll receive support throughout your volunteering experience, when you reach the end of the term you signed up for, you’ll talk with your support team about the positive parts of your experience as well as the challenges you faced, and you’ll discuss whether you want to return to this position or try something new. The end of your troop year, camp season, overseas trip, or series/event session is just the beginning of your next adventure with Girl Scouts!

If you’re ready for more opportunities, be sure to let your council support team know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ lives in the future—whether in the same position or in other, flexible ways. Are you ready to organize a series or event? Take a trip? Work with girls at camp? Work with a troop of girls as a yearlong volunteer? Share your skills at a council office, working behind the scenes? The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to fit your skills and interests.

Girl Scout Participation in Activities with Other Scouting Organizations

The decision by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to open the Boy Scout program to girls has fundamentally altered the nature of the relationship between BSA and Girl Scouts nationally and locally. Local relationships between BSA and Girl Scout councils that have led to partnerships and joint activities in the past may now create certain risks or challenges for Girl Scouts. For this reason, councils are encouraged to avoid joint recruiting and/or joint participation in community events or activities.

Marketplace Confusion
To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique, girl-only, and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which girls participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and girl-led, and are conducted under the appropriate supervision of Girl Scouts.

Protecting Use of Girl Scout Materials
Girl Scout materials are intended for the exclusive use of Girl Scouts and are protected as the intellectual property of Girl Scouts of the USA. Materials include but are not limited to: Girl Scout logo, tag lines, and/or program and badge requirements. 


 

 

© Copyright 2009–2021 Girl Scouts of the United States of America.  All rights reserved. All information and material contained in Girl Scouts’ Volunteer Essentials guide (“Material”) is provided by Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) and is intended to be educational material solely to be used by Girl Scout volunteers and council staff. Reproduction, distribution, compiling, or creating derivative works of any portion of the Material or any use other than noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law is prohibited, unless explicit, prior authorization by GSUSA in writing was granted. GSUSA reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit, or discontinue the Material at any time without notice.