Volunteer Essentials: Safety | Girl Scouts San Diego
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Chapter 4: Safety

The safety of Girl Scouts—both girls and volunteers—is very important. Lay the foundation of safety in the early days of your Girl Scout troop by completing the Beginning Safety tasks below. When you’re ready for a troop outing or travel, follow the steps in the Activities and Travel section. Have a safety question but don’t see the answer? Ask your service unit activity consultant or email customercare@sdgirlscouts.org.

Beginning Safety:

Take Care of Membership

Ensure that all girls are registered as members so that they are covered by Girl Scout accident insurance during meetings and Girl-Scout-approved outings and events. Adult volunteers who plan to participate in the troop with regularly should register for the same reason. Girls and volunteers can enroll online. Select JOIN for girls and VOLUNTEER for adults at sdgirlscouts.org

Collect Required Forms

You’ll need a Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form and the Family Information Sheet completed for each girl. Volunteers complete the Adult Health History Form. Keep these forms with the troop at all times. Health histories are confidential. Share them only with those who need to know, like a person providing first aid.

Find forms, including Spanish versions at sdgirlscouts.org/forms.

Keep an Eye on Background Checks

Volunteers who work directly with Girl Scouts in the troop, handle troop funds, or drive girls to and from troop activities must have a background check. Volunteers will receive an email to start the background check as soon as they register in one of these volunteer roles:

  • Troop Leader
  • Troop Assistant Leader
  • Troop Cookie Manager
  • Troop Fall Manager
  • Troop Treasurer
  • 4Her Troop Helper

Background checks take up to two weeks to process and are good for 3 years for troop volunteers.

See Background Check FAQs to learn more, including how to view background check status.

Take Required Training

Training not only increases your confidence as a leader, it helps you understand the Girl Scout resources you can rely on to help keep girls safe. At least one trained adult must be on hand for all outings. Training is available for any Girl Scout volunteer. Learn more about required and enrichment training at sdgirlscouts.org/training

Make Sure You Have Enough Supervision

No matter what kind of meeting or outing, all Girl Scout troops need at least two adult volunteers who are registered members with background checks. One can be male and one can be female, or they both can be female. But at least one must be female, and they cannot be related.

When you’ll need more supervision: Depending on your troop size, you may need more than just two adults for supervision. You’ll also need more supervision for activities other than troop meetings.

Follow the Adult/Girl Ratio chart to ensure that you have enough adults on hand for troop meetings and activities like events, travel, and camping.

Adult/Girl Ratio:

  Troop Meetings   Events/Travel/Camping
  Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one more adult for each additional: Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one more adult for each additional:
Daisies
(gr. K-1)
12 1-6 6 1-4
Brownies
(gr. 2-3)
20 1-8 12 1-6
Juniors
(gr. 4-5)
25 1-10 16 1-8
Cadettes
(gr. 6-8)
25 1-12 20 1-10
Seniors
(gr. 9-10)
30 1-15 24 1-12
Ambassadors
(gr. 11-12)
30 1-15 24 1-12
Keep First Aid Kits and First Aiders Handy

Your Girl Scout troop should have a “first-aider,” a first-aid kit, and completed health forms (Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form and Family Information Sheet) available at all meetings and activities.

A “first-aider” is a volunteer who is trained in first aid/CPR/AED. The first-aider may be a troop leader, co-leader, or other volunteer. You may want to have more than one first-aider in order to lighten the load for any one person. Register for First Aid training or take a course taught by:

  • American Red Cross
  • National Safety Council
  • EMP America
  • American Heart Association
  • Health and Safety Institute (ASHI/Medic)

About online first aid courses:  Blended courses that are part online and part in-person are allowed if they include hands-on practice and feedback from a certified trainer. First aid courses that are entirely online don’t meet Girl Scout safety standards.

Have a question about a first aid training? Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org before enrolling.

Note that licensed, medical professionals, like doctors, nurses, and paramedics, do not need additional training.

When emergency medical services will be more than 30 minutes away from a troop activity, the troop first aider must have Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Have questions? Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org.

When events are large (200 people or more), you’ll need to arrange to have one “large group” first-aider for every 200 participants in addition to troop first aiders. Physicians, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, paramedics, military medics, lifeguards, wilderness first-aiders, and emergency medical technicians are recommended as first-aiders for large groups.

Be sure to see the Safety Activity Checkpoints at sdgirlscouts.org/safety for specific activities you have planned. Some activities require additional safety or first aid training.

Carry an Emergency Card

Study the Emergency Action Plan Card, carry it, and provide copies to your adult volunteers too. The card tells you how to get a hold of your Girl Scout San Diego council staff and provides a handy summary of steps to take in an emergency. In the event of a serious accident or fatality, the card reminds you that the police must be notified and a responsible volunteer must remain at the scene at all times. 

Teach the Buddy System

The buddy system helps keep girls together and safe. Divide your Girl Scout troop into teams of two (when an odd number of girls is present, a "truddy" may be formed with three girls).

Let girls know that they are responsible for staying with their buddy at all times and that their goal is to warn their buddy of danger, give their buddy assistance if needed, and seek help when necessary. Let girls know that they should stay near the group, or buddy up with another team. That way, if there is an injury or emergency, two can get help while one stays behind with the girl in need.

Give Medicines Only with Permission

You must have permission from parents to give medicine, including over-the-counter meds. Parents give this permission in the “permissions” section of the Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form.

Girls may carry an EpiPen®, asthma inhaler, or diabetes medication if parents or guardians provide written permission from a doctor.

Store Medicines Safely

During trips, outings, and overnights, prescription medicines belonging to girls or adults must be stored safely. At Girl Scout San Diego mountain properties, lock boxes are provided in each cabin. Locking fanny packs are available for medicines that must be stored in the refrigerator or carried on a hike or other activity away from facilities.

At urban Girl Scout properties (Balboa or Escondido) or while on non-Girl Scout properties, troop leaders must bring a lock box or a lock to secure a backpack or a fanny pack so that prescription medicines can be stored securely. Over the counter medicines, like Tylenol, do not need to be locked away.

Do not lock away rescue medicines, like asthma inhalers, epi-pens for allergies, or rescue medicines use to treat diabetes. Medicines like these must remain readily available and should be with the first aider. Girls can carry these medicines with parent and physician approval.

Allergies and Other Conditions

Check the Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form you receive from troop parents. If you have girls with allergies, talk to their parents about the nature of the allergy. If food allergies are an issue, take care each time you serve food. If girls bring snacks to share, be sure to tell parents which foods are unsafe. Always check labels, even if you’ve done so before—ingredients can change. Talk to parents about accommodating other health conditions you find listed in a girl’s health history too.

Ensure Safety: Responsibilities of Parents/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. 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.
  • 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 get help finding resources.
  • 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.
Ensure Safety: Responsibilities of Girls

Girls who learn about and practice safe and healthy behaviors are likely to establish lifelong safety habits. 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.

 

Activities and Trips:

Step 1: Start with Progression

Progression means choosing and planning activities so that each new experience builds on the last. Progression is an important part of emotional safety because girls are more likely to feel confident, safe, and successful when they choose their activities and master skills over time.

For example, you wouldn’t take a new Daisy troop backpacking. Instead, you’d start with an outing to the park and then help the troop gradually develop skills, confidence, and experience over time. Remember, too, no matter how excited you might be, it’s best to check with girls to make sure that they are ready and want to take the next step.

The Safety Activity Checkpoints will tell you if an activity is appropriate for your troop’s program level. See progression charts for outdoor activities, like camping, and travel too.

One more thing about progression: An adult should never do something for a girl that she is capable of doing herself. When you give a girl the opportunity to do things independently, you’re telling her you believe in her! Be sure to share this idea with other adult volunteers in your troop.

Step 2: Follow the Safety Activity Checkpoints
Safety Activity Checkpoints

Safety Activity Checkpoints (SACs) are instructions for staying safe. SACs have been created for all kinds of Girl Scout troop activities. Read the introduction and always consult SACs as an early step in planning a troop activity or outing.

Each SAC has information on these topics:

  • Whether you’ll need approval for the activity from your service unit activity consultant
  • What Girl Scout program levels can do the activity
  • How to prepare and gear you’ll need
  • Whether you’ll need to arrange to have a specially-trained person on hand, like a lifeguard or expert instructor.
  • What to do the day of the event

How to Use the Safety Activity Checkpoints: Click on the activities listed in the Safety Activity Checkpoint Matrix to view safety activity checkpoints. Don’t see the activity you want? Contact your service unit activity consultant.

Step 3: Get Parent Permission

Girl Scouts San Diego uses two types of permission forms:

1.  The Health History and Annual Permission Form: When girls sign up for a Girl Scout troop, parents will complete a Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form. Parents may give permission for the entire membership year on this form for routine troop outings—those that don’t require approval from your service unit activity consultant. Not sure if an activity needs approval and permission? See the Safety Activity Checkpoints.

2. Event Permission FormGive parents this form when parents select “no” on the Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form (Permission for Routine Activities and field trips section).

Also complete this form when:

  • Your troop travels across the Mexico border,
  • The troop activity lasts more than eight hours or overnight, or
  • The Safety Activity Checkpoints for an activity indicate that approval is required.

If you plan an activity that doesn’t require approval and parents have given annual permission, tell parents the activity details in advance. Communicate using the method the parents have indicated on the Annual Permission Form (email, text, phone, etc.).

Find all forms at sdgirlscouts.org/forms.

Step 4: Line up Supervision

Check the Adult/Girl Supervision Ratio chart to ensure that you have enough adult volunteers on hand. Remember, adult volunteers who work directly with the girls in your troop or who transport them to and from activities need to be registered members with a current background check.

Adult/Girl Ratio:

  Troop Meetings   Events/Travel/Camping
  Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one more adult for each additional: Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one more adult for each additional:
Daisies
(gr. K-1)
12 1-6 6 1-4
Brownies
(gr. 2-3)
20 1-8 12 1-6
Juniors
(gr. 4-5)
25 1-10 16 1-8
Cadettes
(gr. 6-8)
25 1-12 20 1-10
Seniors
(gr. 9-10)
30 1-15 24 1-12
Ambassadors
(gr. 11-12)
30 1-15 24 1-12
Step 5: Secure Transportation

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 where a group will be transported in private vehicles, ensure that drivers have read and met the requirements in the Message to Volunteer Driversunderstand safe driving practices, and follow these guidelines: 

If traveling in one vehicle, you’ll need at least two unrelated volunteers. One must be female. Both must be registered members and both must have a current background check on file. Follow adult/girl supervision ratios.

Note: Leaders can log in to MyGS to check the background status of troop volunteers. See the "MyTroops" tab.

If traveling in two or more vehicles as a group, the entire group must have at least two unrelated volunteers. One must be female. Both must be registered members and both must have a current background check on file. Check the adult/girl supervision ratio chart to see how many total adults are needed. No car should be separated from the group for an extended period of time.

Note: Leaders can log in to MyGS to check the background status of troop volunteers. See the "MyTroops" tab.

When borrowing or renting vehicles, drivers may rent cars or minivans in their own names without council staff signature. Any plans to borrow or rent a passenger van seating more than 10 people must be approved by council staff, even if there is no cost. Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org to get started.

You’ll have access to parent vehicle and insurance information on the Parent Information Sheet that parents complete when girls join the troop.

If you have an older troop with girls who drive, keep in mind that girls cannot drive other girls. It’s a Girl Scout policy. Adults should drive during outings.

About Private transportation

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles, and campers. Each driver of motorized private transportation must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle
  • Be a registered member with a current background check on file
  • Follow state laws, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.

Non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:

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 a designated council staff member. Contact your activity consultant to begin the review and approval process.

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 permitted.

Step 6: Create a Contacts List

Create a list of girls’ parents/guardian contact information. Give an itinerary to a contact person at home; call the contact person upon departure and return. Keep telephone numbers for emergency services and police, and council contacts on hand or post in an easily accessible location.

Step 7: Check Insurance Coverage
Which Insurance Do We Need?

If you’re in charge of a troop trip or event or you’re directing a large event or encampment for others, you may need to obtain additional accident insurance or get proof of liability insurance from a vendor. Find out what insurance is needed for your activity. 

Step 8: Start a Safety Management Plan

For activities that require approval, create a Safety Management Plan to guide you. Resources that can help:

  • Develop a thoughtful, ready response to the risks of your activity outlined in the Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  • Follow Adult/Girl Ratios.
  • Provide requirements to all drivers.
  • Learn about Global Risk Management Situations and how to respond
  • Be aware of the emergency procedures and our urban and mountain properties if planning an activity at these locations.
  • Understand insurance needs and acquire sufficient insurance.
  • Create a roster of attendees and their parent contact information. Provide this roster to a volunteer who can make calls from home in the event of an emergency.

Share the Safety Management Plan with other volunteers and even the girls in your troop. When you create a Safety Management Plan, everyone is on the same page when it comes to safety.

Step 9: Request Approval

A troop activity or trip needs approval from your service unit activity consultant if any of these apply:

  • Your troop travels across the Mexico border,
  • The activity lasts more than eight hours or overnight, and/or
  • The Safety Activity Checkpoints require approval.

Approval for large events and encampments: If your troop is attending a large event that is hosted by a trained event, encampment, or camp director, you do not need to obtain separate approval from your activity consultant. Approval is automatically granted through the director. The director will submit an approval request for the entire event and provide safety info to troop leaders. It’s a good idea to confirm rules, first aider requirements, and the safety management plan with the director.

If you need approval:
  1. Complete these forms (required if visiting Girl Scout San Diego property or elsewhere). Save them to your computer before completing them:
  2. Then, request approval online from your activity consultant, ideally 30 days in advance of routine trips. More time is needed for advanced travel. Follow the checklists in Let’s Go.
    • Once you’ve submitted an approval request, you will receive a response (either questions or an approval) within 5 business days. 
    • If not, contact training@sdgirlscouts.org. Don’t finalize your troop’s plans or put down non-refundable deposits until you have approval.
  3. Have fun and share your troop’s experiences at sdgirlscouts.org/shareout.
If you don’t need approval:
  1. Let parents know where you’ll be and when. Use the communication method you agreed on.
  2. Provide a Trip or Event Permission Form for any parent who didn’t give permission for routine activities on the Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form.
  3. Make transportation plans clear. If troop parents will be driving girls other than their own, ensure that they’ve had a background check and have received the Message to Volunteer Drivers.
  4. Always follow the Safety Activity Checkpoints (following these is required even if approval isn’t required).
  5. Have fun and share your troop’s experiences at sdgirlscouts.org/shareout.
Step 10: Check the Weather

On the morning of your activity, check the weather and have a backup plan or be prepared to postpone if weather conditions aren’t safe. If you’re caught outdoors in an unexpected storm, protect against lightening. Take shelter and stay away from tall objects like trees and electrical poles. In the wilderness, find the lowest point in an open, flat area. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet and place your hands on your knees with your head between them.

Health Examinations

Health examinations may be required for extended or international travel, high adventure activities, or resident camp. For travel, contact your service unit activity consultant for information. For resident camp, contact campdirector@sdgirlscouts.org.

Activities That Aren’t Allowed

Some activities are not allowed because safety can’t be predicted. Activities that aren’t allowed include:

  • Bungee jumping
  • Flying in small private planes, helicopters, blimps
  • Hang gliding
  • Hunting
  • Jet Skiing or using WaveRunners
  • Riding a motor bike
  • Outdoor trampolines
  • Parachuting or skydiving
  • Parasailing
  • Paintball tagging (target paintball is permitted)
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles
  • Stunt skiing
  • Untethered hot air ballooning
  • X Game-type sports or aerial tricks
  • Watercraft trips in Class V or higher
  • Zorbing
Overnight Outings / Sleeping Arrangements

When your troop is ready for an overnight, help the girls prepare. Include them in planning so that they’ll know what to expect and feel more comfortable.

For sleeping arrangement guidelines for male volunteers and families, see the Camping Safety Activity Checkpoint.

Water Safety

Learn basic troop water safety tips in a recorded webinar, and find helpful resources, too. Log into your Litmos online learning portal and choose "Water Safety Tips for Girl Scout Troops" from the course library. If you’re new to Litmos, sign up and use the code “GSSWIMMERS” to access the course.

You can also contact training@dgirlscouts.org to request a list of lifeguards or canoeing instructors.

You’ll need a qualified instructor or lifeguard for many aquatic activities (swimming, paddle boarding, etc). See the Safety Activity Checkpoints for details.

International Travel

International travel requires advance planning of at least 12 months. Use the troop travel resources and follow the checklist in the Let’s Go! booklet. The approval process begins with your activity consultant. The adult learning manager gives final approval.

Shooting Sports

Shooting sports require special approval. Strict standards apply and more approval time may be necessary. Refrain from putting down deposits at any range or facility until approval is granted. Request approval at sdgirlscouts.org/approval. Your request will be reviewed by the adult learning manger. Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org with questions.

 

Accidents, Abuse, Concerns:

What to Do in an Emergency

Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • If a person needs emergency medical care as the result of an illness, accident or injury, dial 911 to contact emergency medical services
  • Administer first aid.
  • Move non-injured persons away from the scene as appropriate. Keep other girls safe and occupied.
  • You must notify police about motor vehicle accidents, serious accidents or fatalities. See the Emergency Action Plan Card.
  • During business hours Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., call the office at 619-298-8391 or 800-643-4798.
  • After business hours call the office and press “2” when prompted to be directed to our after-hours services. Keep your phone handy and wait for a return call with instructions.
  • Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify parents/guardians as appropriate.
  • A responsible adult must remain at the scene.
  • Permit no one to disturb the victim or surroundings until appropriate authority assumes responsibility.
  • Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council, and authorities.
  • Submit an Accident/Incident Report form according to the instructions on the form to Girl Scouts San Diego within 24 hours.
 
What to Do If a Minor Accident or Illness Occurs

In the event of a minor accident or illness, the first-aider should provide first-aid attention. If the adult in charge and the first-aider decide that further medical attention is necessary, they should call the parents/guardians.

Most parents prefer to take the child for medical treatment themselves. If you must take a child to a medical facility, be sure that the remaining girls are supervised. Bring the child’s permission slip plus health history. Report all animal bites to your county health department.

Report an Accident or Incident

If you or a Girl Scout troop member has an accident/incident during a Girl Scout activity, complete an Accident/Incident Report Form. This will start the insurance claim process, if appropriate. Also, use this form to let Girl Scouts San Diego know about any accident that required more than a Band-Aid, like a serious illness, allergic reaction, serious emotional outburst, or a “near miss” or other cause for concern.

It’s a good idea to carry a few of these forms in your binder along with your completed Family Information Sheets and Girl Health History and Annual Permission Forms.

After a covered accident is reported, Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will send a letter, instructions on how to file a claim, and a claim form to the injured party. The injured girl’s parent/guardian or injured adult must fill out the claim form and return as instructed in the letter. Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will verify the report and submit it to Mutual of Omaha for processing. The coverage supplements the injured person’s own health insurance, or acts as primary coverage if no health plan is in effect.

Report Abuse

Sexual advances, improper touching, and sexual activity of any kind with girl members are forbidden. Physical, verbal and emotional abuse of girls is also forbidden. All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statues identifying persons who are required to report suspected child abuse to an appropriate agency. Therefore, if you witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, whether inside or outside of Girl Scouting, contact Child Welfare Services at 1-800-344-6000. The 24-hour hotline is staffed by trained social workers who receive calls about child abuse, molestation, and neglect.

Girl Scouts San Diego volunteers must also complete an Accident/Incident Report form and return it to their council troop support staff or other council representative. All information is confidential and will be kept in a secure location. Volunteers should contact their troop support specialist if they need assistance or have questions.

Learn more:

Report Concerns about Well-Being

There may be times when you worry about the health, safety, and well-being of girls in your group. Alcohol, drugs, sex, bullying, abuse, depression, and eating disorders are some of the issues girls may encounter. You are on the frontlines of girls’ lives. And you are in a unique position to identify a situation in which a girl may need help.

If you believe a girl is at risk of hurting herself or others, your role is to promptly bring that information to her parent/guardian or to your troop support staff at Girl Scouts San Diego so that the girl can get the expert assistance she needs. Your concerns will be taken seriously.

If abuse is a concern, contact Child Welfare Services at 1-800-344-6000. The 24-hour hotline is staffed by trained social workers who receive calls about child abuse, molestation, and neglect.

Signs That a Girl May Need Professional Help:

  • Changes in behavior or personality (unusual moodiness, aggressiveness, or sensitivity)
  • Declining academic performance and/or inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from school, family activities, or friendships
  • Fatigue, apathy, or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased secretiveness
  • Deterioration in appearance and personal hygiene
  • Eating extremes, unexplained weight loss, distorted body image
  • Tendency toward perfectionism
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Preoccupation with the subject of death
  • Unexplained injuries such as cuts, bruises, burns, or fractures
  • Avoiding eye contact or physical contact
  • Excessive fearfulness or distrust of adults
  • Abusive behavior toward other children, especially younger ones
How to Respond to Media

Reporters will often contact Girl Scout volunteers directly regarding controversial or catastrophic situations. It is very important that only officially designated spokespersons respond. When questioned by media representatives:

  • Indicate as pleasantly as possible that you are only acquainted with one facet of the problem and would prefer that the reporter speak to the council spokesperson who can provide more complete and accurate information.
  • Never speak “off the record” or speculate.
  • Refer the reporter to the director of communications at the Girl Scout San Diego office 619-298-8391.
  • Report your conversation with the reporter to the director of communications as soon as possible.

For more information about speaking to the media, and Girl Scouts branding in general, visit sdgirlscouts.org/branding101.

 

Creating a Safe Space:

The Girl Scout troop environment that you create is important—maybe even more important than the activities girls do. It’s key to having a group that girls want to join and continue to be a part of year after year. As you might guess, safety means selecting a meeting place that is safe and clean and where cell phone service is available, and common allergens, like pet dander, won’t affect susceptible girls. It means following safety guidelines for activities. And it means tending to the emotional safety of the troop.

Promote Fairness

Girls are sensitive to injustice. They forgive mistakes if they see you are trying to be fair. When possible, consult girls as to what they think is fair before decisions are made. Explain your reasoning and show why you made the choice you made.

Build Trust

Girls need you to believe in and support them when they try new things. They must be sure you will not betray a confidence. Show girls you trust them to think for themselves. Help them make the important decisions in the group. Empower them to correct their own mistakes.

Help Girls Feel like They Belong

Follow these tips to foster a sense of belonging in your troop:

  • Welcome every girl and focus on building community.
  • Emphasize cooperation instead of competition.
  • Provide a secure 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 and show trust toward one another.
Role Model the Right Behavior

The girls in your Girl Scout troop will look up to you and will mirror your behavior as they interact with you and each other. Successful leaders model the behavior that they would like the troop to adopt.

Be a good listener and girls will listen too. Put your cell phone away to signal that it’s troop time and ask girls to do the same. Bring your smile and girls will smile. Also, there’s no place in Girl Scouts for these:

  • Illegal or recreational drugs
  • Alcohol of any kind
  • Personal guns or ammunition

If you must smoke cigarettes, plan to do so where smoke won’t affect the girls.

Treat all Girls the Same

Girl Scouts welcomes all members. Girl Scout troops are diverse as a result. When your troop plans and carries out activities, guide girls so that they consider the needs of all troop members. School schedules, family needs, budget constraints, religious holidays, food allergies and sensitivities, and the accessibility of meeting places and activities should be considered.

Religious Preferences

Volunteers and girls should respect each other’s religious preferences and the practices of any religious groups with whom they may choose to partner. However, no girl or volunteer should be required to take part in any religious observance or practice.

Online Safety

If using a Girl Scout troop website, use first names only and never provide girl contact information. Help girls learn about online safety too. Teach girls the guidelines in the Internet Safety Pledge at sdgirlscouts.org/forms.

Create a Team Agreement

Protect the emotional safety of girls by creating a team agreement and coaching girls to honor it. Agreements should encourage behavior like respecting a diversity of feelings and opinions; resolving conflicts constructively; and avoiding physical and verbal bullying, clique behavior, and discrimination.

 

Product Program Safety:

Girl Scout Ccookies give girls an incredible opportunity to learn skills and earn funds to do amazing things, but safety comes first. Follow these safety guidelines anytime your Girl Scout troop participates in product programs.

Check Parent Permission

Review your troop’s Girl Health History and Annual Permission Forms to see if girls have permission to be a part of money-earning activities.

You’ll need to get additional parent permission when girls participate in product programs. Ask your troop fall manager, troop cookie manager, or service unit cookie coordinator for more info.

Communicate with Parents

Share information about the cookie program with parents. Let parents know that girls should wear their Girl Scout uniform, a Girl Scout T-shirt, or a Girl Scout membership pin when marketing cookies. Be clear on where and how cookies will be marketed, safety precautions, and on transportation to booth sites. Let parents know that they should follow the requirements for Transporting Girl Scouts when driving girls. 

Have Enough Adult Supervision

Girls must have adult supervision and guidance when they are marketing or delivering products, regardless of Girl Scout program level. 

Adult volunteers must be present at booth sites—no matter the age of the girls. For girls in grades K-5, two adults must be present at the booth at all times. One must be a registered member with a background check. Girls in grades 6-12 who are marketing cookies on their own can do so with one legal guardian who is registered and background checked. But if more than one girl is present (regardless of age), two adults must be present.

Teach and Use the Buddy System

Divide your Girl Scout troop into teams of two. Let girls know that they are responsible for staying with their buddy at all times and that their goal is to warn their buddy of danger, give their buddy assistance if needed, and seek help when necessary.

Share and Enforce Safety Guidelines

Teach and enforce these safety guidelines. Girls should:

  • Participate in door‐to‐door activities only until 8 p.m.
  • Wear a Girl Scout uniform.
  • Avoid a house or person that makes them uncomfortable. They should walk away and find the next person/place that does not make them uncomfortable.
  • Call 9-1-1 if they see someone that seems to be acting in a way that makes them feel unsafe. This could include, but is not limited to, any person who is staring at them for long periods, seems to be following them for no apparent reason or takes pictures of them.
  • Use safe pedestrian practices, such as crossing at corners and obeying walk signals.
  • Not enter the home or vehicle of a stranger.
  • Avoid talking to people in vehicles (except at drive-thru cookie booths) or going into alleys.
  • Not provide more than their first name. They should give an adult’s contact information if requested.
  • Not carry large amounts of money.

See also: Safety Activity Checkpoints for product programs

Prepare for Emergencies

Regardless of the type of activity, you need to be prepared for emergencies involving girls or other adults. This should include having a first aid kit always available and making sure that if someone is injured and needs help, that one adult cares for the injured person while another adult seeks help.

Talk About Safe Ways to Handle Money

Girls in your troop can receive cash from customers and make change. But have them hand money to a volunteer for safekeeping. Let girls know that it’s not safe to:

  • Walk around with large amounts of money.
  • Keep the cash box in view (place it behind a barrier of cookies instead).
  • Keep money at home or school.
  • Hold on to money (it’s best to give it to volunteers to deposit in the troop account).
Safely Set up Cookie Booths

Cookie booths are temporary pop-up sites in areas with a lot of foot traffic. They are a popular way for girls to participate in the cookie program as a team. Booth locations are approved by Girl Scouts San Diego in places that are legally open to, accessible, and safe for all girls and potential customers. Girl Scouts San Diego does not authorize marketing cookies in front of or inside places of business that the girls themselves cannot legally patronize.

An important message from Girl Scouts of the USA: We have been steadfastly combating the unauthorized use of the Girl Scout trademark by the cannabis community, which has been marketing—without authorization—certain cannabis products under our youth-appealing brand. We are continuing to aggressively fight the unauthorized uses of the Girl Scout brand and hope that our councils and volunteers will join Girl Scouts of the USA’s effort by discouraging cookie booths at such locations. 

Follow these Cookie Booth Safety Guidelines:

Have volunteers present at all times, including at least one registered adult member who has had a background check.

Make sure there is enough space for a table, cookie products, and girls, and that pedestrians, bikes, and cars can pass.

Keep the cash box against a wall or behind a barrier of cookie boxes or have an adult volunteer keep the money in a front-facing pouch secured at the waist.

Consider reducing cash transactions by accepting credit card payments.

Keep the booth at a safe distance from cars and set a safety barrier between cars and the booth. For example, have volunteers park their cars in spaces near the booth.

Don’t allow the booth to block a store entrance, exit, or walkway.

Make sure girls know what to do in case of theft. Let girls know it’s not safe to confront or engage with an irate customer—call police for assistance instead. Report the incident to Girl Scouts San Diego.

Online Marketing Safety

Girls must understand that the Internet is an open means of communication that anyone can access. As such, websites will often attract people other than their intended users. It is therefore imperative that any information that could jeopardize the safety and security of girls and volunteers not be disclosed on a website. The following measures will help ensure girls’ online safety:

Girl Scouts should only use their first names. A Girl Scout’s last name, address, phone number, or e‐mail address should never be posted. For Digital Cookie a girl may post her unique Digital Cookie URL on her Facebook page and may email it to friends and family (for additional information please refer to the Safety Activity Checkpoint for Online Product Program, Digital Cookie Terms & Conditions for Volunteers, and Digital Cookie Pledge for Girls).

Always have a parent’s or guardian’s permission when using pictures of girls on a website. This is especially important if the girl is under 13 years old.

Do not post addresses of group meeting places, dates and times of meetings, events or trips on a website. Instead, a volunteer who wishes to communicate upcoming events with families of Girl Scouts should send an e‐mail to the families.

Do not allow automatic posting of messages to a website. All postings to message boards, social media, and guest books should have volunteer oversight and be screened prior to posting live.

Ensure that websites do not show personal e‐mail addresses of girls. Use a troop, group or volunteer’s email. 

Digital Cookie Safety

Some Girl Scout troops will use Digital Cookie™ during cookie season. Digital Cookie™ is a fun, educational tool that helps girls run and manage their Girl Scout Cookie business online.

We ask that leaders educate their troop about online safety when they use Digital Cookie™ or anytime the troop plans to be online.

A parent or guardian must approve their girl’s digital cookie website and be responsible for all content. Girls under 13 are not allowed to post anything to their websites. Parents or guardians must post on their behalf.

Girls can use the Internet and/or social media to let friends and family know about the cookie program and the fall product program. In other words, they can reach out to people who they know or who their families know, including former customers. They cannot reach out to the general, online public.

Girls 13 and older can use their own social media accounts. Girls younger than 13 can use a parent or guardian’s account.

All girls must be supervised by a parent or guardian when using the Internet. In addition, all girls must review the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge before conducting online activity. Parents or guardians must ensure that the social media accounts being used are set on the “private” setting.

Troop websites or Facebook pages cannot be used to market product programs.

Ensure that girls and troop families understand these online marketing safety guidelines:

  • Allow girls to market online if they wish. However, a parent or guardian must supervise.
  • Girls who market online must read the Internet Safety Pledge.
  • Let friends and family who receive Internet cookie program or fall product program marketing know that they should nownever  share a girl’s contact info, marketing links, or marketing info on public-facing online sites.
  • Allow girls to collect indications of interest within their council’s zip codes. Refer prospects from outside council zip codes to the cookie finder at girlscoutcookies.org, unless using Digital Cookie™ .
  • Don’t share cookie program and fall program marketing links with news outlets (radio, television, magazines, and online platforms).
  • Girl Scouts San Diego reserves the right to request removal of any post that violates this guidance.

Guidelines for emailing:

Girls should sign their email messages with their first name only and should include their troop number and council name. They should take care not to expose their email address, physical address, or phone number to the public. And they should take care not to accidentally expose or include personal info belonging to other girls in the troop.

Guidelines for working with the media:

Work with Girl Scouts San Diego in advance on any media opportunities for parents, girls, or volunteers. Contact media@sdgirlscouts.org with questions or requests.

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