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Chapter 3: Troop Management

Every troop is unique. But all troops focus on unleashing the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl and helping girls prepare for a lifetime of leadership. How do volunteers make that happen? These troop management resources can help.

Troop Meetings:

The Troop Leader's Role

Girl Scouts is girl-led. That means that girls learn by doing and work together with respect and cooperation. When a girl has opportunities to lead, she becomes a confident G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM. So although you’re a Girl Scout troop leader, you might find it helpful to think of yourself as a “guider,” one who manages the troop so that the girls have age-appropriate opportunities to lead. 

Here are some examples: Daisies and Brownies can work as a team to choose between activities—not simply have choices made for them. And troops of all ages can get hands-on experience with finances by participating in product programs. Older troops should be well on their way to running their meetings and making decisions together.

It’s important to remember that:

  • You cannot know everything that the girls might ever want to learn.
  • ou’ll explore and learn alongside your girls and grow your confidence in the process.

You won’t know everything about Girl Scouting, but you should know where to go and how to ask for help if you need it. 

Planning Troop Meetings—Volunteer Toolkit

To plan troop meetings with ease, start with the Volunteer Toolkit. It’s a web app for busy troop leaders that you can access on your phone, tablet, or computer. The Volunteer Toolkit includes meeting plans for each Girl Scout program level, meeting scripts, supply lists, activity printables, and many other features that make finding resources and managing troop meetings a snap.

Registered troop leaders, co-leaders, and parents of Individually Registered Girls with a current membership have access. Login at sdgirlscouts.org with your Girl Scout email and password (look for the MyGS/VTK tab). Check out the Cheat Sheet at sdgirlscouts.org/vtk to get stared.

Parts of a Troop Meeting

Girl Scout troop meetings are part ceremony, part troop business, and part fun—often with a snack thrown in for good measure.

Here’s what Girl Scout troop meetings look like (you can rearrange these in an order that works for you and your troop):

A gathering activity is an activity that’s going on while troop members are arriving. The activity should be something simple that girls can do on their own, so that you’re free to greet parents and volunteers. Ideas for younger girls: coloring or fun activity pages, making nametags, or a scavenger hunt for items hidden beforehand. Ideas for older girls: journal entries or just talk time.

An opening activity signals that the troop meeting has begun. Many troops start with reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law and a simple flag ceremony, like the Pledge of Allegiance, or a song. Girls can take turns planning the opening or they can bring a poem or quote to share.

Games are optional, but we recommend them. They’re fun. They help girls bond. They can liven up a meeting or quiet one down. Search the internet for “Girl Scout Games,” “Girl Scout Brownie Games,” or “Girl Scout back-pocket games” (these require little set up) for ideas.

Program activities are activities that help girls learn, like working on a badge, a Journey, or making something handy. Girls of all ages should be involved in making decisions about what activities they want to do together as a troop.

Troop business is meeting time set aside to help girls learn to be leaders and get things done. Together, girls can have discussions and make decisions about troop activities and events. For example, they can develop rules together for how to listen and act during an upcoming field trip. They can also decide their next activity or figure out how to celebrate the end of a Girl Scout year. Girls can take attendance and collect dues during troop business time, too.

Snack time. Snack time is optional. But snacks can be helpful, especially if your troop is meeting right after school. Families can take turns providing snacks. Healthy snacks are best

Closing signals that your troop meeting is coming to an end. Lots of troops close their meetings with a Friendship Circle.

See a video: Girl Scout Meetings | Friendship Circle Video

Troop Size

The troop size “sweet spot” is large enough to provide a cooperative learning environment and small enough to encourage individual development. Though the ideal troop size is 12 girls, groups should be no fewer and no larger than:

Girl Scout Program Level

Recommended Number of Girls in a Troop

Daisies

5-12

Brownies

10-20

Juniors

10-25

Cadettes

5-25

Seniors

5-30

Ambassadors

5-30

A Girl Scout troop or group must have a minimum of five girls and two approved adult volunteers.

Girls registered in a troop or group of fewer than five girls or fewer than two approved, unrelated adult volunteers (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 activities and events.

Virtual Meetings

If your Girl Scout troop can’t meet in person or hold a traditional meeting, consider a virtual meeting. 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 include in-person meeting traditions in your virtual space, and how you’ll keep the meeting on track.
  • Talk with families about how to keep activities girl-led if your girls will be completing activities at 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!

To learn more, see the Virtual Meeting Planning Tips.

 

Activities and Outings:

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience

Keep the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) in mind when girls do activities and outings. It’s a framework for what girls do in Girl Scouting and how they do it.

What Girls Do:

In Girl Scouts, girls have opportunities to discover who they are, what they care about, and the world around them. They connect with each other, with others in their community, and around the world. And, they take action to make the world a better place.

How They Do It:

Ensure that activities are girl-led. Allow girls to take an active role in making decisions and choosing activities to help them become engaged, active learners. Plan to provide a level of guidance that is appropriate for your Girl Scout troop’s program level.

Encourage cooperative learning. Foster teamwork by encouraging girls to share knowledge and work together for a common goal. Emphasize respect and cooperation. 

Let girls learn by doing. Give girl opportunities for hands-on learning. Girls acquire a deeper understanding when they learn by doing. After completing an activity, encourage reflection. Ask what they liked, what surprised them, what they learned, what they might do differently. Reflection makes activities more meaningful. 

See a video: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience

Progression

Progression means choosing and planning activities so that each new experience builds on the last. Why? Because girls are more likely to feel confident, safe, and successful when they choose their activities and master skills over time.

Here’s an example: When you consider progression, you wouldn’t take a new Daisy troop backpacking. But you might start with an afternoon trip to the park and then gradually help the troop develop skills, confidence, and experience. 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.

Follow these charts to take the guesswork out of progression for day trips and travel, outdoor, and learning money management

Reflection

Reflection helps girls make meaningful connections between the activities they do and what they’ve learned about themselves in the process. Reflection also gives girls the confidence to know that they can handle future challenges when things don’t go as planned.

To reflect, schedule time with the girls to explore the “What,” “So what,” and “Now What” of their activities.

Reflect on “what” by asking: What did we do today? What part was your favorite? What would you want to do differently? What would you repeat?

Reflect on “so what” by asking: So what did you learn by doing this activity? So what did you learn about yourself? So what did you learn about your community (your environment, your school, etc.) that you didn’t know before?

Reflect on “now what” by asking: Now that we’ve done this, what would you like to do next? Now that you know this about yourself, what would you like to try next? Now that we did this Take Action project, what do you think we should do next to make sure it continues?

Badges

Working on badges and Journeys provides girls with skills and leadership experiences, all while having fun.

Badges are all about skill building. When a Girl Scout earns a badge, it shows that she’s learned a new skill, such as how to make a healthy snack, build and test a toy race car, or take great digital photos. Badges may even spark an interest at school or plant the seed for a future career. Volunteers and parents don’t have to be an expert: you’ll have fun and learn right along with your troop or girl. Visit the Badge and Award Explorer to see all options for your troop or girl’s program level.

Need to know where to place badges? See the Uniform Placement Guide and share with families.

Quality over quantity: The quality of a girl’s experience as she earns badges should outweigh the quantity of badges she earns.

You don’t have to be an expert! As a volunteer, you don’t have to be the expert. In fact, when you show that you’re not afraid to fail and that you’re willing to try something new, you are modeling what is it is to be a Girl Scout. Let our program materials be your guide. Find all badge instructions in the Volunteer Tookit.

Journeys

Journeys give girls leadership-building experiences. Journeys are designed to take place over multiple meeting sessions. Girls explore topics like bullying, media, environmental stewardship, and more. When Girl Scouts work on Journeys, they complete hands-on activities, connect with experts, and take the lead on age-appropriate Take Action projects. Because Journeys build leadership skills, they are a prerequisite for earning Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards: the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.

Find Journeys: All Journeys can be found in a digital format in the Volunteer Toolkit.

Quality over quantity: The quality of a girl’s experience as she earns badges and Journey should outweigh the quantity of badges she earns.

You don’t have to be an expert! As a volunteer, you don’t have to be an expert on badge or Journey topics. In fact, when you show that you’re not afraid to fail and willing to try something new, you are modeling what is it is to be a Girl Scout. Let our program materials be your guide to exploring something new.

Community Service and Take Action Projects

Girl Scouts participate in two main types of community work: community service projects and Take Action projects.

Community service projects are designed to meet an immediate need and are “one-time” events. Donation projects, like holding a coat drive and donating coats to the homeless or collecting pet supplies for the animal shelter, are examples of community service projects.

Take Action projects help girls become critical thinkers and problem-solvers. They start by exploring root causes of an issue and create a plan for addressing a root cause in a lasting way. Girls also partner with the community to learn and to put their ideas into action. When Girl Scouts work on a Take Action project, they make the world a better place. All Girl Scout Journeys contain a Take Action Project. These can be great practice (and are a prerequisite) for Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Trips and Travel

Traveling as a Girl Scout is a more engaging than traveling with family or school because girls take the lead. Girls make important decisions about where they’ll go and what they’ll do. They older they get, the more responsibility they take on. Just watch their planning and organizing skills grow!

Visit travel resources to see what trips are right for your troop, understand training, and find tools to help your troop plan.

Highest Awards

Girl Scouting helps girls discover the power of their voices and provides a safe and supportive space to tackle issues that are meaningful to them. Girls can take action to turn their ideas into lasting change when they earn the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.

  • The Bronze Award is the highest award earned by Juniors.
  • The Silver Award is the highest award earned by Cadettes.
  • The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting and is earned by Seniors and Ambassadors.

Did you know? A Gold Award Girl Scout’s achievements makes an impact on college admissions and earning the award makes her an outstanding candidate for academic scholarships and other financial awards. A Gold Award Girl Scout is also entitled to enlist at a higher paygrade when she joins the U.S. military.

Any Girl Scout is eligible to earn the Gold Award, even those who join Girl Scouts in high school. And, girls don’t have to have earned the Bronze and/or Silver Award to earn the Gold Award.

Pro Tip: Ask a Gold Award Girl Scout to visit your troop to share about earning Highest Awards. Talk about inspiring! Contact your service unit or customercare@sdgirlscouts.org to connect with a Gold Award Girl Scout.

Bridging

Girl Scouts "bridge" when they transition from one program level to the next. It's a celebration of achievements that is fun, personalized, and memorable. A bridging ceremony should be designed by girls in partnership with adults. See the Bridging Guide to learn more.

 

Inclusion:

Girl Scouts is for Every Girl

Inclusion is about belonging and offering all girls the same opportunities. It’s about celebrating unique strengths. Inclusion means being a sister to every Girl Scout!

Equal Treatment: Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, cognitive or physical abilities, family structure, religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socioeconomic status. When scheduling, planning, and carrying out activities, carefully consider the needs of all Girl Scouts involved, including school schedules, family needs, financial constraints, religious holidays, and the accessibility of appropriate transportation and meeting places.

Each girl is an equal and valued member of the group. When scheduling, planning, and carrying out activities, carefully consider the needs of all girls involved, including school schedules, family needs, financial constraints, religious holidays, and the accessibility of appropriate transportation and meeting spaces.

You’re practicing inclusion 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.

Whether you're just starting a troop, are in the process of accepting new members or are a seasoned veteran, have parents answer the following questions to understand and work with every girl, regardless of age, background or ability. You'll be amazed at what the answers reveal!

  1. What does your child do that makes you smile?
  2. What does your child do that makes her smile?
  3. What makes her angry or upset?
  4. What does it look like when she's angry or upset?
  5. What should I do when it happens?

Resources: Top Tips for an Inclusive Girl Scout Troop

 

Troop Governance (at each level):

Every level of Girl Scouting has its own form of troop government so that girls learn to be responsible, independent leaders. Each year, girls make decisions and run their troop a bit more than the year before–leadership is a progression! 

Daisies

Girl Scout Daisy Circle: During the business part of the troop meeting, Daises sit together in a circle. The troop leader gives girls two or three activity choices to pick from (like field trip options or badges to earn). The circle lasts for just 5 to 10 minutes. Keep decision-making simple: not too many options. Help girls come to a consensus.

Brownies

Girl Scout Brownie Ring: Girl Scout Brownies sit in a Brownie Ring during the business part of the troop meeting.  When a girl wishes to speak, she can use the Brownie Ring “Talking Signal.” A girl gives the signal by placing two fingers of her right hand on the floor (or table, if you are seated at a table instead of the floor). All girls should have an opportunity to speak, with no one girl or group of girls dominating.

Once girls get used to the Brownie Ring, a girl may be designated as a ring “leader” to learn to lead discussions and listen without criticism and to help brainstorm ideas. This position should rotate each meeting so that all girls are given this leadership opportunity.

The Girl Scout Brownie Ring is a good way to make all major decisions in the troop like how to spend cookie profits or which badge to work on next.

Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors

Juniors through Ambassadors can decide the form of governance that works best for the troop, choosing one of these three options:

Town Meeting: The entire troop makes its decisions together. Girls can rotate as moderators to help lead group discussions. Officers, like a secretary and treasurer can be elected, if needed. Town meetings work well for small groups and can work for large groups provided that girls are encouraged to stay on task.

Executive Board: The troop determines job descriptions and duration in office for the troop’s “executive board.” Roles include president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Troop members provide input to the executive board by using a suggestions box or another means. The board meets regularly and makes decisions for the troop based on the troop’s input. Each girl should have an opportunity to participate on the board during the Girl Scout year.

Patrol System: The troop is divided into smaller units called patrols. The ideal patrol is 5-8 girls. Each patrol elects a patrol leader who is responsible for running patrol meetings. An assistant patrol leader may also be elected to cover for the patrol leader if she cannot make a meeting. All troop business is handled by the patrols. For example, one patrol might be responsible for recording attendance and collecting dues. If the troop goes on an outing, kapers may be divided up amongst the patrols.

Patrol leaders come together at least once a month for a “Court of Honor” to discuss troop issues and make group decisions. Girls in each patrol provide their input to their patrol leader who represents them at the Court of Honor. Other troop officers, like the secretary and treasurer, also attend the court of honor. A long “Court of Honor” meeting can be scheduled once or twice a year to plan the troop year or larger activities.

The success of the patrol system relies on troop leaders helping girls with the skills they need to lead a group and succeed.

 

Troop Changes:

Add New Girls

Girl Scout troops need at least five girls to start. A standard troop has 12 girls. If you need more girls, open your troop in the Opportunity Catalog. Need help or have questions? Contact membership@sdgirlscouts.org.

How to Welcome New Girls:

In Girl Scouts, everyone is included in the fun! While welcoming a girl to your Girl Scout troop is exciting, change can be challenging for both new and current members. Fortunately, these easy tips can help everyone come together to enjoy new dynamics and friendships.

Before the Troop Expands. When you’re getting ready to expand your troop, share this info with your girls to help them prepare:

Let your troop know that girls are waiting. In San Diego and Imperial Counties, more than 300 girls are waiting to be Girl Scouts.

Help your troop learn about the Girl Scout movement. Share that Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are in 146 countries, with more than three million members in the United States. Your troop helps grow the movement when it opens its doors to new girls.

Give your troop an opportunity to practice Girl Scout values. Welcoming new girls gives your troop a real-world opportunity to practice being considerate and caring, friendly and helpful, and a sister to every Girl Scout.

Have your troop create a welcome letter. Girls can decorate a card for each new troop member and write a message saying what they love about Girl Scouts and what they look forward to with new troop members.

Set up a buddy system. Let girls know you’ll need volunteer “buddies” to help new troop members feel comfortable, learn how meetings work, and get answers to questions.

When new troop members join, take these steps to provide a welcoming experience:

Ask parents to share and help. Parents will complete the Family Information Sheet to share about their girl. Use what you learn to help new members enjoy a smooth transition into the troop. And if you’re looking for help, discuss the 4 Her flyer with new parents to see how they might help support the troop. Find these resources at sdgirslcouts.org/forms.

Have a welcome celebration. Guide your troop to plan a ceremony for new troop members. Girls can choose activities, songs and games—fun and laughter are good ways to bond. Include an opportunity for each member, current or new, to introduce herself. A friendship circle is a nice touch. New members can receive their membership pins at this time, or you can plan a formal investiture ceremony later. If a girl has been a Girl Scout before, ask her to share some of her favorite moments from her old troop, then have all the girls share what they are looking forward to doing in the future, together.

Plan a team-building activity or event to for a meaningful group experience. Consider visiting the Adventure Zone at Girl Scouts’ Balboa Campus, or find another opportunity for girls to have fun and work together.

Have fun! When your troop expands, you can do more. More girls means more fun, more meaningful leadership activities, more understanding about including others, and more options—like setting up a troop patrol. 

When a Girl Changes Troops

Girls change troops for a variety of reasons. A girl may move to a new area or may decide to make a change to feel more comfortable. The decision to change Girl Scout troops should always be based on what’s best for the girl. Troop funds are not affected when a girl changes to a new troop. Funds belong to the troop, not to any one girl. When a girl leaves a troop, the funds stay with the troop. However, the council volunteer relations manager reserves the right to review and reallocate troop funds in a fair and equitable manner when assisting with a conflict that requires removing a girl from one troop and placing her in another.

Divide a Troop

Sometimes, a Girl Scout troop will decide to divide, or split. Different leadership styles or ideas about running the troop can cause volunteers and families to think about a split.

A troop split can be hard on girls. Keep them in mind and to lead by example. Remember, that they are watching and learning how to handle conflict. Show them the right way by:

  • Remaining calm and civil.
  • Respecting each other’s differences.
  • Thanking those who have stepped up to lead (even if you don’t agree with their style)—it’s a simple gesture that means so much.
  • Keeping things in perspective—it’s not personal.
  • Don’t ask girls or families to choose sides.

If you think your troop might split, contact your troop support specialist for guidance. You can learn how your troop’s funds will be divided from your service unit treasurer.

Disband a Troop

All Girl Scout troops disband eventually. Girls age out and some troops stop functioning well. By default, troops are considered disbanded when their registration has expired and they haven’t re-registered for six months.

Step 1: Step 1: Complete the online Disbandment form. A troop support specialist will contact you to assist you with the process.

Step 2: Take care of the girls. If the troop decides to disband, keep in mind that some girls may want to continue in Girl Scouts by joining other troops or registering as Individually Registered Members (IRMs). Make sure your troop support specialist is aware of any girls who want to continue so that we can help them find a new opportunity. You may also contact your service unit manager for guidance.

Step 3: Wrap up troop finances. Refer to Disbandment Guidelines for steps to take to wrap up troop finances and close out the troop bank account when disbanding.

 

Resolve Conflict:

Conflicts and disagreements are an inevitable part of life. They aren’t fun. But you can take steps to handle them in the right way. When you do, communication and relationships often improve.

When a conflict crops up, practice self-control and diplomacy so that the conflict doesn’t escalate into a regrettable incident. Shouting, verbal abuse, or physical confrontations are never warranted and cannot be tolerated in the Girl Scout environment. Avoid spreading complaints around to others too—that causes embarrassment and anger. Neither will help the situation.

Seek Training

If you feel a conflict brewing within your Girl Scout troop, don’t wait for it to resolve on its own. Take the Conflict Resolution and Prevention training online. Login at sdgirlscouts.litmos.com with your username (Girl Scout email) and password. You’ll find the class in the course library. Need help? Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org.

Ask for Support

Your troop support specialist can provide support if you find yourself in a troop-related conflict, or notice conflict between volunteers, troop parents, or girls. Email customercare@sdgirlscouts.org for contact information.

If a conflict persists, your troop support specialist may request support from the Girl Scout San Diego volunteer relations manager.

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