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 will embark on your own leadership journey as you help Girl Scouts develop the 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 your Girl Scouts:
As a leader, see yourself as a coach who:
It is 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 Girl Scout-led activities to setting financial expectations. You’ll make these decisions collaboratively with your volunteer team or co-leader, as well as with input from the Girl Scouts and their caregivers.
Use the questions below to guide your conversations with your troop committee volunteers or co-leader before discussing these topics with caregivers.
When will we meet and for how long? How frequently should we schedule troop meetings?
Where will we meet? Your meeting space should be somewhere safe, clean, and secure that allows all Girl Scouts to participate. Some great meeting space ideas include schools, places of worship, libraries, and community centers. If working with teens, consider meeting at coffee shops, bookstores, or another place they enjoy.
Which components of the uniform will families need to purchase? Which uniform components will the troop provide for each Girl Scout?
Will our troop be a single-grade level or facilitated as a multi-level troop with Girl Scouts of many grade levels combined into one troop? If multi-level, how will we make sure they each get an age-appropriate experience?
How will we keep troop activities and decisions Girl Scout-led? Use the Volunteer Toolkit to help you through this process by exploring options for activities and reviewing the meeting plans and resource lists.
How often are we going to communicate with troop families? Which channels will we use to keep families in the loop? Effective communication will help set expectations and clarify caregiver responsibilities.
Will our troop charge dues, use product program proceeds, and/or charge per activity? How much money will we need to cover supplies and activities? What should our financial plan look like?
What makes a great meeting space? It depends on your troop, but here are a few considerations as you visit potential locations:
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 the conversation 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.
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 larger than:
A Girl Scout troop/group must have a minimum of five Girl Scouts and two approved adult volunteers. Be sure to double-check the volunteer-to-Girl Scout ratio table below to make sure you have the right number of adults present for group meetings, events, travel, and camping. Adults and youth registering in groups of fewer than five youth and two approved, unrelated adult volunteers, at least one of whom is female, will be registered as individual Girl Scouts to accurately reflect their status and program experience. Individual Girl Scouts are always welcome to participate in Girl Scout activities and events.
From troop meetings to camping weekends and cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure Girl Scouts have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. If you are not sure about the number of adults you will need for your activity, the chart below breaks down the minimum number of volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of Girl Scouts; your council may also establish maximums due to size or cost restrictions, so be sure to check with them as you plan your activity.
The emotional and physical safety and well-being of Girl Scouts is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the Safety Standards and Guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities. All volunteers should review the Safety Activity Checkpoints manual when planning activities with Girl Scouts in order to manage safety and risk in Girl Scout-sanctioned activities.
For current health guidelines, check your local council’s version of Safety Activity Checkpoints.
In Safety Activity Checkpoints, you will find:
Girl Scouts Safety Standards and Guidelines, which apply to all Girl Scout activities, including requirements for adult supervision, permission slips, preparation, field trips and overnight trips, and other vital information.
Activities that are not permitted by Girl Scouts of the USA and actions that Girl Scouts and volunteers should not take.
Policies surrounding chartered aircraft trips and aviation.
First aid and overall health information.
Standards for well-being and inclusivity along with ways to include Girl Scouts with disabilities and ways to ensure Girl Scouts’ emotional safety.
Individual safety activity checkpoints for specific activities—such as camping, internet use, and water sports that provide activity-specific safety information.
The document is laid out in three primary sections, Safety Standards and Guidelines, Activities at a Glance, and individual safety activity checkpoint pages.
Girl Scouts’ Activities at a Glance table provides a quick look at the safety standards for that activity with a focus on two critical points to keep in mind when considering and planning activities for your troop:
Individual Safety Activity Checkpoint pages provide activity-specific safety measures and guidance on the individual activities that troops and Girl Scouts may choose to participate in.
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. Girl Scouts are encouraged to register early to avoid the fall rush. Early registration allows for uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps Girl Scouts and councils plan ahead, and gets Girl Scouts excited about all the great things they want to do as Girl Scouts next year. A Girl Scout’s 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.
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 Scout's school, using social media to reach families in your community, or including your troop in your council’s Opportunity Catalog or Troop Catalog.
Girl Scouts is for every girl and gender-expansive youth, and that’s why we embrace Girl Scouts of all abilities and backgrounds with a specific and positive philosophy of inclusion that benefits everyone. Each Girl Scout—regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, primary language, or religion—is an equal and valued member of the group, and groups reflect the diversity of the community.
We believe inclusion is an approach and an attitude, rather than a set of guidelines. Inclusion is about belonging and 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 an individual Girl Scout, please reach out to your council.
As you think about where, when, and how often to meet with your group, consider the needs, resources, safety, and beliefs of all members and potential members. Include the special needs of any members who have disabilities or whose caregivers have disabilities. But please, do not rely on visual cues to inform you of a disability; approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability—that’s one in five people of every socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and religion.
If you want to find out what a Girl Scout with a disability needs to make their Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask them or their caregiver. If you are open and honest, they’ll likely respond in kind, creating an atmosphere that enriches everyone.
It’s important for all Girl Scouts to be rewarded based on their best efforts—not on the completion of a task. Give any Girl Scout the opportunity to do their best, and they will! Sometimes that means changing a few rules or approaching an activity in a more creative way. Here are some examples of ways to modify activities:
Invite a Girl Scout to complete an activity after they've observed others doing it.
If you are visiting a museum to view a sculpture, find out if a Girl Scout who is blind might be given permission to touch the pieces.
If an activity requires running, a Girl Scout who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical movement.
Focus on a person’s abilities—on what they can do rather than on what they cannot. In that spirit, use people-first language that puts the person before the disability.
When interacting with a Girl Scout or caregiver with a disability, consider these tips:
When talking to a Girl Scout with a disability, speak directly to them, not through a family member or friend.
It’s okay to offer assistance to a Girl Scout with a disability, but wait until your offer is accepted before you begin to help. Listen closely to any instructions the person may have.
Leaning on a Girl Scout's wheelchair is invading their space and is considered annoying and rude.
When speaking to a Girl Scout who is deaf and using an interpreter, speak to the Girl Scout, not to the interpreter.
When speaking for more than a few minutes to a Girl Scout who uses a wheelchair, place yourself at eye level.
When greeting a Girl Scout with a visual disability, always identify yourself and others. You might say, “Hi, it’s Sheryl. Tara is on my right, and Chris is on my left.”
Girl Scouts with cognitive disabilities can be registered as closely as possible to their chronological ages. They wear the uniform of that grade level. Make any adaptations for them to ongoing activities of the grade level to which the group belongs. Young adults with cognitive disorders may choose to retain their youth membership through their twenty-first year and then move into an adult membership category.
Just as your Girl Scouts rally around each other for support, you will also have a dedicated Girl Scout support team, consisting of council staff and passionate volunteers like you. Your support team, which may be called a service unit at your council, 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 much more.
Before you hold your first troop meeting with Girl Scouts, 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 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 individuals, 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
With the Volunteer Toolkit, Girl Scouts and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together and follow the fun as they plan their Girl Scout year. Using the Volunteer Toolkit:
Troop Leaders can:
Additional Tools and Resources
Safety Activity Checkpoints: Safety is paramount in Girl Scouting, and 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 Girl Scout troop meetings.
Tips for Troop Leaders: When you’re looking for real-world advice from fellow troop leaders who've been there, this volunteer-to-volunteer resource on the Girl Scouts of the USA website has what you need for a successful troop year.
Girl Scout Volunteers in Your Community: Remember that Girl Scout support team we mentioned? You’ll find them in your service unit! Troops are organized geographically into service units or communities. You’ll find a local network of fellow leaders and administrative volunteers ready to offer tips and advice to help you succeed in your volunteer role.
Customer Care Contacts. Questions? Need help resolving an issue? We'd love to hear from you! Contact our customer care team at 1(800) 541-9852 or email@example.com.
We know that when you have the knowledge and skills you need to manage your Girl Scouts, both you and your troop will thrive. Contact your council to ask about ongoing learning opportunities that will help you grow your skills and confidence.
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 will 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 volunteer 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 Girl Scouts 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 turn 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!
Learn more about volunteer appreciation on our website.
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 Girl Scouts participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and Girl Scout-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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.