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!
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 Girl Scouts 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 them:
As a leader, see yourself as a coach who:
It’s important to remember that:
Your responsibilities as a Girl Scout volunteer include:
Depending on the ages of your Girl Scouts, 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 youth-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 Girl Scouts and their caregivers.
Use these questions to guide your conversation with your troop committee volunteers or co-leader before discussing these topics with caregivers.
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:
Cost: The space should be free to use.
Size: Make sure the space is large enough for the whole group and all planned activities.
Availability: Be sure the space is available for the day and the entire length of time you want to meet.
Resources: Ask if tables and chairs come with the room and ensure that the lighting is adequate. A bonus would be a cubby of some sort where you could store supplies or a safe outdoor space for activities.
Safety: Potential spaces must be safe, secure, clean, properly ventilated, heated (or cooled, depending on your location), free from hazards, and have at least two exits that are well-marked and fully functional. Also be sure first-aid equipment is on hand.
Facilities: It goes without saying, but make sure that toilets are sanitary and accessible.
Communication-friendly: Check for cell reception in the potential space and whether Wi-Fi is available.
Allergen-free: Ensure that pet dander and other common allergens won’t bother susceptible Girl Scouts during meetings.
Accessibility: Your space should accommodate Girl Scouts with disabilities as well as caregivers with disabilities who may come to meetings.
Need a few talking points to get started? Try:
“I’m a Girl Scout volunteer with a group of [number of troop members] Girl Scouts. We’re doing lots of great things for youth and for the community, like [something your troop is doing] and [something else your troop is doing]. We’re all about leadership—the kind that youth 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.
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:
And don't worry if they want to use a web or social platform you’re not as familiar with, because you’ll learn alongside them! For more tips on successful virtual meetings, check out our virtual troop meeting management guidance and resources compiled below.
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 Girl Scouts, we recommend that groups be no fewer and no more than:
A Girl Scout troop must have at minimum three youth and two approved adult volunteers. Adults and youth registering in groups of fewer than three youth 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. Individually Registered Members are always welcome to participate in Girl Scout activities and events.
Registering Youth and Adults in Girl Scouting
Every participant (youth 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. Youth are encouraged to register early to avoid the fall rush. Early registration allows for uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps youth and councils plan ahead, and gets youth 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). Volunteers with ten or more years of service can become lifetime members at the discounted young alum rate.
Adding New Youth 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 Girl Scouts' schools, using social media to reach families in your community, or including your troop in your council’s Opportunity Catalog or Troop Catalog.
We invest in our community through Girl Scouts. Our community represents every race, ethnicity, income level, sexual orientation, ability, and religion; reflects a spectrum of gender identity; and connects across geographic locations. By focusing our attention on community members who are furthest from racial, economic, and social justice, Girl Scouts can be an instrument of change, promoting equitable outcomes for all. We wholly commit to taking action to grow as an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization so that, through Girl Scouts, our members are affirmed as they strive to make our community and world better.
We believe inclusion is an approach and an attitude, rather than a set of guidelines. Inclusion is about belonging—about all Girl Scouts being offered the same opportunities with respect, dignity, and celebration of their unique strengths. It’s about being a sibling to every Girl Scout! You’re accepting and inclusive when you:
If you have questions about accommodating a Girl Scout, please reach out to your council.
Just as your Girl Scouts rally around each other for support, you’ll also have a dedicated Girl Scout support team, consisting of council staff and passionate volunteers just like you. Your support team, or service unit, is ready to offer local learning opportunities and advice as well as answer your questions about the Girl Scout program, working with youth, product sales, and so much more.
Before you hold your first troop meeting, consider the support and people resources you’ll need to cultivate an energizing troop experience. Caregivers, 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 set 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 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 caregivers discover they can succeed in their volunteer role, they’ll feel empowered to volunteer again.
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 (VTK)
The Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) is a customizable digital planning tool for troop leaders and co-leaders to easily manage their troop year-round and deliver easy, fun troop meetings. Accessible via desktop and mobile devices, the VTK saves you time and energy so that you can focus on having fun with your Girl Scouts.
With the VTK, Girl Scouts and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together and follow the fun as they plan their Girl Scout year.
Through the VTK, troop leaders and IRM caregivers can:
What about caregivers?
Guide to Girl Scouting
What does it mean to be a go-getting Girl Scout? It’s all in our 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! Visit our online store for more information.
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 Girl Scouts safe during a variety of exciting activities outside of their regular 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. Within your service unit, 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.
We know that when you have the knowledge and skills you need to manage your Girl Scouts, both you and your troop will thrive. Our Volunteer Learning page provides a list of upcoming learning opportunities, or contact us to ask about ongoing learning opportunities that will help you grow your skills and confidence.
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 Girl Scouts’ 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 youth at camp? Work with a troop 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.
Without our passionate and dedicated volunteers, there would be no Girl Scouting. That’s why we celebrate National Volunteer Month every April! And get ready to crank up the party as we ring in National Girl Scout Leader’s Day on April 22.
Girl Scouts also celebrates National Volunteer Week, which falls during the third week of April. What can we say—we love our volunteers! Be sure to join us in our local annual volunteer appreciation celebrations.
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.
To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which our members participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and youth-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.
So you are hosting a Virtual Girl Scout Experience?
What you need to know…
Youth: Adult Ratio
While Girl Scout’s Safety Activity Checkpoints lists a required youth to adult ratio to be maintained at Girl Scout meetings or events, this ratio is not applicable in a virtual setting. However, it is important that we continue to adhere to having two unrelated adults present when holding Girl Scout events virtually.
The Volunteer’s Responsibilities:
Tips for Success:
Download This Virtual Meeting Plan Template.
Troop 57749 Singing Make New Friends During Virtual Troop Meeting.
Get inspired with ideas from Girl Scouts of Nassau County on how to incorporate long-standing Girl Scout traditions into virtual meetings.
|Name||Why Use the Tool||Specific Feature Highlights||Support|
|TroopTrack||Why TroopTrack?||Girl Scout Troop Features||Support Website|
|Band||Why Band?||Example Case||Support Website|
|TeamSnap||Why TeamSnap?||Managing Teams||Support Website|
|Spond||Why Spond?||Frequently Asked Questions||Support Website|
|Teams||Why Teams?||Five Things To Do First||Support Website|
|Discord||Why Discord?||Download||Support Website|
|Name||Get Started||Managing Meetings||Support|
|Zoom||Scheduling Meetings||Start a Meeting||Support Website|
|Skype||Free Features||Start a Meeting||Support Website|
|WebEx||Getting Started||Start a Meeting||Support Website|
|Google Meet||Getting Started||Start a Meeting||Support Website|
|GoTo Meeting||Getting Started||Start a Meeting||Support Website|
gsZoom is an online tool, utilizing the Zoom platform, for Girl Scout volunteers that will help our members conduct audio and video conferences for Girl Scout activities and events.
gsZoom is available to all registered, background-checked Girl Scout volunteers needing a virtual platform for Girl Scout activities.
Complete the 4 steps below
Volunteer Learning Facilitators:
Licenses and account requests will be handled internally by the Volunteer Learning Team.
Here are some helpful resources for getting started and navigating the gsZoom tool.
How To’s and Instructions:
Having trouble making a request via gsLearn or other administrative gsZoom questions? Contact Customer Care at 1(800) 541-9852 or email@example.com.
These training materials and resources will make this troop year easier. Start exploring!
Log in to gsLearn to explore free training modules such as:
Also, don’t forget to check out our Volunteer Virtual Conferences and Live workshop sessions on our events page!
Check out these tried-and-true resources from fellow troop leaders who successfully adapted their meetings for in-person-safe and virtual settings.
© Copyright 2009–2022 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.