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Preparing for Activities

When preparing for any activity with girls, review each section below.

Use the handy Safety Activity Matrix to quickly check which activities are appropriate for your age group, and whether you’ll need advance approval. Click on the activity name to view the checkpoints.

  

Girl/adult ratios

Know How Many Volunteers You Need

Whatever the activity, from camping to cookies sales, adult supervision is required regardless of the grade level of the girls. The table below shows the minimum number of adults needed to supervise a specific number of girls. These adult-to-girl supervision ratios were devised to ensure the safety and health of all girls taking part in the activity.

For example, if one adult has to respond to an emergency, a second adult is always on hand for the rest of the girls. It may take you a minute to get used to the layout of this chart, but once you start to use it, you’ll find the chart extremely helpful.

 
Group Meetings
Events, Travel, and Camping
Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for every: One additional adult to each additional: Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: One additional adult for each additional:
Girl Scout Daisies
(grades K–1)
12
1-6
6
1-4
Girl Scout Brownies
(grades 2–3)
20
1-8
12
1-6
Girl Scout Juniors
(grades 4–5)
25
1-10
16
1-8
Girl Scout Cadettes
(grades 6–8)
25
1-12
20
1-10
Girl Scout Seniors
(grades 9–10)
30
1-15
24
1-12
Girl Scout Ambassadors
(grades 11–12)
30
1-15
24
1-12

EXAMPLE:
If you’re meeting with 17 Daisies, you’ll need three adults, at least two of whom are unrelated (in other words, you and someone who is not your sister, spouse, parent, or child), and at least one of whom is female. This is determined as follows: for up to 12 Daisies you need two adults, and one more adult for up to six additional girls. Since you have 17 girls, you need three adults (2+1). If, however, you have 17 Cadettes attending a group meeting you need only two unrelated adults, at least one of whom is female, since the chart shows that two adults can manage up to 25 Cadettes.

Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

Adult supervision for all girls also extends to any online activity. For additional information, see Online Safety.

Transporting girls

How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.

For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities outside the normal meeting time and place in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:

 Every driver must be an approved volunteer at least 21 years old, and have a good driving record, a valid license and a registered/insured vehicle. At Girl Scouts San Diego, only currently registered, background screened adult members are permitted to drive girls. To check background screening expiration (CBC) of troop adults, leaders may log onto MyGS and click the "MyTroops" tab.

 Girls never drive other girls.

 If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers in the vehicle, one of whom is female. In addition, the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed.

 If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers, one of whom is female, and the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed. Care should be taken so that a single car is not separated from the group for an extended length of time.

 Carry the health forms and event permission slips of the girls riding in your car for the duration of the ride. Forms are available at www.sdgirlscouts.org/forms.

Private transportation

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights. Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.

Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note, you must check with your council to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles. Fifteen passenger vans are not recommended.

Please keep in mind the following non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:

  1. Even though written agreements are always required when renting or chartering, you are not authorized to sign an agreement or contract, except for rental car agreements, even if there is no cost associated with the rental. Such agreements must instead be signed by the person designated by your council. Contact your activity consultant to begin the review and approval process.

  2. Check with your council to make sure you are following accepted practices when using private transportation. This ensures that both you and your council are protected by liability insurance in the event of an accident.

  3. If your council has given permission to use a rented car, read all rental agreements to be sure you comply with their terms and avoid surprises. For example, in many cases the minimum age of drivers is 25, and the maximum age is often under 70. In addition, make sure the car is adequately insured and you know who is responsible for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. Finally, ensure you have a good paper trail that shows the vehicle rental is Girl Scout–related.

  4. Obtain parent/guardian permission for any use of transportation outside of the meeting place.

  5. For more information, see Travel Guidelines.

Driver checklist
CHECKLIST FOR DRIVERS

When driving a car, RV or camper, take the following precautions and ask all other drivers to do the same:

  • Obtain background check clearance in advice of driving (allow 3 weeks).

  • Ensure all drivers are adults at least 21 years old

  • Girls should not be transporting other girls.

  • Never transport girls in flatbed or panel trucks, in the bed of a pickup, or in a camper- trailer.

  • Keep directions and a road map in the car, along with a first-aid kit and a flashlight.

  • Check your lights, signals, tires, windshield wipers, horns and fluid levels before each trip, and recheck them periodically on long trips.

  • Keep all necessary papers up to date including, but not limited to: your driver’s license; vehicle registration; any state or local inspections; and insurance coverage.

  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, and insist that all passengers do the same. Girls under 12 must ride in the back seats.

  • Booster seats are required for children under 8 and under 57” tall. Make sure restraints fit properly.

  • Follow all the established rules of the road in your state, including the speed limit. Some additional guidelines include: keeping a two-car-length distance between you and the car ahead of you; not talking or texting on a cell phone or other personal electronic device while driving; not using earbuds or headphones while driving; and turning your lights on when your windshield wipers are on. See DMV.org/ca- california/safety-laws.php

  • Plan rest stops every few hours and avoid driving for extended periods at night. If traveling with others, prearrange stopping places along the way. When planning trips longer than 6 hours, arrange for relief drivers.

  • Do NOT drive when you are tired or taking medication that makes you drowsy.

  • Permission forms and health histories should be carried for each person in the car.

Finding an expert (insurance certificates)

The Safety Activity Checkpoints for most activities require having an expert on hand to help girls learn an activity. Please remember that all experts must be approved by your council.

Some things to keep in mind:

Does the person have documented training and experience?
She or he should have documented experience for the activity in question, such as course completion certificates or cards, records of previous training to instruct the activity, and letters of reference.

What does she or he need to be able to do?
This person should have the knowledge and experience to make appropriate judgments concerning participants, equipment, facilities, safety considerations, supervision and procedures for the activity. At the very least, she or he should be able to give clear instructions to girls and adults, troubleshoot unexpected scenarios and respond appropriately in an emergency.

How do I find an approved expert?
If your expert or venue isn’t listed, you’ll have to present an expert for council’s consideration.

Girl Scouts San Diego maintains a list of approved community partners who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Girl Scouting. They have documented experience, provide proof of liability insurance and have been vetted for quality experiences for girls.

Review our list of partners.

Additional vendors have provided only a certificate of liability insurance to Girl Scouts San Diego. This is the minimum level of compliance for our standards. Adults who engage these vendors for girls’ activities are responsible for making sure arrangements are of high quality and value. Review the list of insured vendors.

Troop leader’s responsibilities
No matter what expert or vendor your troop uses for activities, it is the event or troop leader’s responsibility to review safety arrangements and confirm the vendor or expert will follow the relevant Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Note: For activity insurance enrollment, see Activity Insurance.

Upload vendor or venue certificates of liability insurance here.

Activities not permitted

Prior to any activity, consult the Safety Activity Checkpoints Matrix. If Safety Activity Checkpoints do not exist for an activity you and the girls are interested in, check with your council before making any definite plans with the girls. A few activities are allowed only with written council pre-approval and only for girls 12 and over, while some are off-limits completely.

Caution: When activities involve unpredictable safety variables, they are not recommended as Girl Scout program activities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Flying in small private planes, helicopters or blimps
  • Hang gliding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Hunting
  • Motor biking
  • Paintball*
  • Parachuting
  • Parasailing
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles
  • Riding motorized personal watercraft such as jet skis***
  • Skydiving
  • Stunt skiing
  • Outdoor trampolining
  • Zorbing

When planning activities with girls, note the abilities of each girl and carefully consider the progression of skills from the easiest part to the most difficult. Make sure the complexity of the activity does not exceed girls’ individual skills.

Bear in mind that skill levels decline when people are tired, hungry or under stress. Also use activities as opportunities for building teamwork, which is one of the outcomes for the Connect key in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).

Responsibility of parents and guardians

Troop volunteers will want to engage each parent or guardian to help the group work toward ensuring the health, safety and well-being of girls. Troop or activity leaders must clearly communicate to parents and guardians that they are expected to:

  • Provide permission for their daughters to participate in Girl Scouting as well as provide additional consent for activities that take place outside the scheduled meeting place. This can include such activities as: product sales, including Digital Cookie; overnight travel; the use of special equipment; or sensitive issues.
  • Make provisions for their daughters to get to and from meeting places or other designated sites in a safe and timely manner, and inform troop leaders if someone other than a parent or guardian will drop off or pick up their child.
  • Provide their daughters with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities, or contact troop leaders before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment.
  • Follow Girl Scout safety guidelines and encourage their children to do the same.
  • Assist troop leaders in planning and carrying out program activities as safely as possible.
  • Participate in parent/guardian meetings.
  • Understand what appropriate behavior is for their daughters, as determined by the council and troop leaders.
  • Assist volunteers if their daughters have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited.
  • Provide notification of background clearance to their daughters’ troop leader before they drive, chaperone, handle money, or work with girls.
Responsibility of girls

Girls who learn about and practice safe and healthy behaviors are likely to establish lifelong habits of safety consciousness. For that reason, each Girl Scout is expected to:

  • Assist the troop leader and other volunteers in safety planning.
  • Listen to and follow the leader’s instructions and suggestions.
  • Learn and practice safety skills.
  • Learn to “think safety” at all times and to be prepared.
  • Identify and evaluate an unsafe situation.
  • Know how, when and where to get help when needed.