Volunteer Essentials
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Volunteer Essentials

Welcome to the great adventure that is Girl Scouting! Thanks to volunteers and mentors like you, generations of girls have learned to be leaders in their own lives and in the world. Have no doubt: You, and nearly one million other volunteers like you, are helping girls make a lasting impact on the world.

This new digital edition of our Volunteer Essentials guide is designed to support busy troop leaders on-the-go. You can easily find what you need to get started on your Girl Scout journey and search for answers throughout the troop year. 

New troop leader? We’ve got you covered. Check out the New Leader’s Guide to Success, a resource designed especially for you!

Think of Volunteer Essentials as your encyclopedia to Girl Scout volunteering: it’s here when you need it, but there’s no need to read it all today.

Whatever your volunteer position, your hard work means girls will embark on new adventures, make friendships that last a lifetime, and deepen their connection to their community and the world. We’re calling on all members of society to help girls reach their full potential, and you’ve answered that call. So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!

 

All About Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts was founded in 1912 by trailblazer Juliette Gordon Low, the original G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM powerhouse. We are the largest leadership development organization for girls in the world and a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a sisterhood of close to 10 million girls and adults in 150 countries. With programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl the chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.

 

 

 

 

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Who Can Join Girl Scouts - and How?

Who Can Join Girl Scouts—and How?

Girl Scouts is about sharing the fun, friendship, and the inherent power of girls and women in an inclusive, supportive, girl-led environment!

Girl Scout volunteers are a dynamic and diverse group, and ther's no one "type" of volunteer. Whether you're a recent college grad, a parent, a retiree, or really, anyone with a sense of curiousity and adventure (female or male who are passed the necessary screening process), your unique skills and experiences help make Girl Scouting a powerful leadership experience for girls. 

What all members share are the Girl Scout Promise and Law, as well as our extraordinary strengths as go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders. Each member also agrees to follow safety guidelines and pay the annual membership dues of $25. Adults have the option to purchase a lifetime membership for $400. 

  • Girls at Every Grade Level - Girls can join in the fun at any grade level.
    • Girl Scout Daisy (Grades K-1) 
    • Girl Scout Brownie (Grades 2-3) 
    • Girl Scout Junior (Grades 4-5) 
    • Girl Scout Cadette (Grades 6-8) 
    • Girl Scout Senior (Grades 9-10) 
    • Girl Scout Ambassador (Grades 11-12)
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience
  • The Girl Scout Leadership Experience: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) is what girls do and how they do it. When girls participate in GSLE, they experience five measureable leadership benefits or outcomes that will fuel their success. And although girls may start building their leadership skills in school and on sports teams, research shows that the courage, confidence, and character they develop as Girl Scouts stay with them thoughout their lives.  
  • What girls do in Girl Scouting all fits within three keys: discover, connect, and take action. 
    • When girls do exciting badge activities, earn a Girl Scout Journey award, attend an amazing event, or go camping, you are helping discover who they are, what they care about, and what their talents are. 
    • Girls connect when they collaborate with other people, learn from others, and expand their horizons. This helps them care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally. 
    • With your guidance, these budding leaders will connect with and care about others, and they'll be eager to take action to make the world a better place. 
  • How do they do it? The GSLE draws on three unique processes that help girls unlock the leader within. 
    • Girl-led means girls of every age take an active and age-appropriate role in figuring out the what, where, when, why, and how of all the exciting troop activities they'll do. The girl-led process is critically important to the GSLE - when girls know their voice matters, they feel empowered to make decisions and they stay engaged in their activities. 
    • Girls enjoy hands-on activities and learn by doing. Then, after reflecting on their activities, girls gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and skills the activities require. 
    • Through cooperative learning, girls learn to share knowledge and skills in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation as they work toward a common goal. 
Reflection
  • Reflection

Was a badge-earning activity a resounding success? Or was it derailed by something the girls hadn't factored in? No matter an activity's outcome, you can amplify its impact by encouraging your girls to reflect on their latest endeavor. 

Reflection is the necessary debrief that reinforces what the girls learned. As they explore the "whats" and "whys," girls make meaningful connections between the activity at hand and future challenges that come their way. In other words, reflection gives girls the confidence boost they need to pick themselves up, try again, and succeed. 

Reflection doesn't need to be a formal process, but you can kick-start the conversation with three simple questions: What?, So what?, and Now what?

Progression

Progression

Although program elements - like outdoor expeditions or entrepeneurial ventures-align across all grade levels. Girl Scouts Brownies and Juniors won't be doing the same activities as seasoned Seniors and Ambassadors. But with your support, they will get there! 

Girl Scout programming is designed to be progressive, and it's what makes Girl Scouting fun and effective! By building on the knowledge and skills they gain year after year, your girls' confidence will grow exponentially, and they'll be eager to take the next steps. As a volunteer, you will cultivate a supportive, nonjudgemental space where girls can test their skills and be unafraid to fail. 

Keep in mind that good progrssion drives success for girls. We've outlined some suggestions that will help you determine when your girls are ready for their next outdoor challenge or their next troop trip

Inclusion

Inclusion

Girl Scouts has a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity, and we embrace girls of all abilities and backgrounds into our wonderful sisterhood. Inclusion is at the core of who we are; it's about being a sister to every Girl Scout and celebrating our unique strengths. Part of the important work you do includes modeling friendship and kindness for your girls and showing them what it means to practice empathy. Here's how you can nurture an inclusive troop environment. 

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

The National Program Pillars

The National Program Pillars

At Girl Scouts, girls lead their own adventures and team up with their fellow troop members in an all-girl environment to choose the exciting, hands-on actitivies that interest them most. Girl Scouts focuses on four areas (pillars) that form the foundation of the Girl Scouts Leadership Experience. 

  • Outdoors: When girls embark on outdoor adventures, the learn to confidently meet challenges while developing a lifelong appreciation of nature. 
  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): Whether they're building a robot, developing a video game, or studying the stars, girls become better problem-solvers and critical thinkers through STEM activities. 
  • Life Skills: Girls discover they have what it takes to become outspoken community advocates, make smart decisions about their finances, and form strong, healthy relationships. AS you help girls plan their activities, give them opportunities to explore and up their game in each of the pillar areas. 
  • Entreprenuership: By participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program or product program, girls learn the essentials of running their own business and how to think like entrepreneurs. 
The Important Difference Between Journeys and Badges

The Difference Between Journeys and Badges

Journeys and badges are designed to give girls different leadership-building experiences all while having fun!

  • Journeys are topic-specific through which girls explore their world by doing hands-on activities and taking the reins on age-appropriate Take Action projects. Because of theri leadership focus. Journeys are also a prerequisite for the prestigious Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. 
  • Badges are all about slikk 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 or take great digital photos. it may even spark an interest at school or plant the seed for a future career. Please remember that we don't expect you to be an expert in the badge topics, just have fun learning by doing with the girls!

Girls can choose to pursue the badges and journey awards they're excited about in the same year. Encourage them to find the connections between the two to magnify their Girl Scout experience! While having fun, keep in mind that the quality of a girl's experience and the skills and pride she gains from earning leadership awards and skill-building badges far outweigh the quantity of badges she earns. 

Attend a Jump 2 Journeys course to gain skills and confidence in leading Girl Scouts through completion of a Leadership Journey. Dates for this adult learning opportunity can be found on the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Program and Events calendar

The Difference Between Community Service and Take Action Projects

The Difference Between Community Service and Take Action Projects

As your girls look for meaningful ways to give back to their community, you can help sharpen their problem-solving skills and expand their definition of doing good by discussing community service and Take Action projects. 

  • Community service projects are all about making an impact right now and filling an immediate need in the community. 
  • Through their Take Action projects, girls change the world - or their part of it - and make it better going forward. Take action projects focus on creating a lasting,sustainable impact. 

Both projects serve important needs, but at different levels. If your troop members want to pursue their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, they'll need to understand the kinds of projects that qualify. To make Take Action projects even more impactful for your girls, set time for them to reflect on their projects. When girls make time to internalize the lessons they've learned, they're more likely to find success in their future projects - of anything else they put their minds to. 

Traditions, Ceremonies, and Special Girl Scout Days

Traditions, Ceremonies, and Special Girl Scout Days

Time-honored traditions and ceremonies unite Girl Scout sisters—and the millions of Girl Scout alums who came before them—around the country and around the globe and remind girls how far their sisters have come and just how far they’ll go.

A few of those extra special days, when you’ll want to crank up the celebrations, include:

  • Juliette Gordon Low's birthday or Founder's Day, October 31, marks the birth in 1860 of Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia.

  • World Thinking Day, February 22, celebrates the birthdays of Girl Guide/Girl Scout founder Robert, Lord Baden-Powell (1857–1941) and World Chief Guide Olave, Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977).

  • Girl Scouts’ birthday, March 12, commemorates the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization's first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.

    Whether you are making cool SWAPS to share with new friends or closing your meetings with a friendship circle, your troop won’t want to miss out on these traditions, ceremonies, and special Girl Scout days.

Highest Awards

Highest Awards

As your girls discover their passions and the power of their voices, they’ll want to take on an issue that’s captured their interest and is meaningful to them. Encourage them to turn their vision into reality by taking on the ultimate Take Action projects in order to earn Girl Scouts’ highest awards.

The Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards honor girls who become forces for good and create a lasting impact on their communities, nationally and around the world.

  • The Girl Scout Silver Award can be earned by Cadettes who have completed one Cadette Journey.

  • The Girl Scout Gold Award takes making the world a better place to a new level by solving society’s grand challenges. Seniors and Ambassadors who have completed either two Girl Scout Senior-level Journeys, two Ambassador-level Journeys, or one of each can pursue their Gold Award.

    A Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award immediately advances one rank in all four branches of the U.S. military? A number of college scholarship opportunities also await Gold Award Girl Scouts. A girl does not, however, have to earn a Bronze or Silver Award before earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. She is eligible to earn any recognition at the grade level in which she is registered.

    For some serious inspiration, consider inviting a local Gold Award Girl Scout to speak to your girls about how she took the lead and made a difference. You’ll be inspired when you see and hear what girls can accomplish as leaders—and by the confidence, values, and team-building expertise they gain while doing so!

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson recognizes the recipients of the Girl Scout Gold Awards and Girl Scout Silver Awards each year at a recognition event. Contact the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Girl Award hotline at (914) 747-3080 ext. 229 or (845) 236-6002 ext. 229, or by emailing goldaward@girlscoutshh.org or silveraward@girlscoutshh.org.

Girl Scout Travel and Destinations

Girl Scout Travel and Destinations

From their first local field trip as Daisies to exploration of another country as Seniors or Ambassadors, girls will find that Girl Scouts is the best way to travel. They’ll challenge themselves in a safe environment that sparks their curiosity, and they’ll create lifelong memories with their Girl Scout sisters. And the Girl Scout Cookie Program can help to make travel dreams a reality!

Traveling with Girl Scouts is very different from traveling with family, school, or other groups because girls take the lead. As they make the decisions about where to go and what to do and take increasing responsibility for the planning and management of their trips, girls build important organizational and management skills that will benefit them in college and beyond.

Girl Scout travel is built on a progression of activities, so girls are set up for success. Daisies and Brownies start with field trips and progress to day trips, overnights, and weekend trips. Juniors can take adventures farther with a longer regional trip. And Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors can travel the United States and then the world. There are even opportunities for older girls to travel independently by joining trips their councils organize or participating in Destinations. There’s a whole world of possibilities for your girls!

Planning Ahead for Adventure

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson supports progression in trips and outdoor adventures, and supports volunteers with relevant adult learning opportunities.

  • Before planning an indoor overnight experience (in a facility with running water and electricity) with Girl Scouts, volunteers are required to attend the Volunteer Essentials and Sleep In (formerly Overnight Indoor Training) courses.

  • Before planning fire building or outdoor cooking with Girl Scouts, volunteers are required to attend the Volunteer Essentials and either the Cook Out or Camp Out (formerly Overnight Outdoor Training) courses.

 

Before planning tent camping with Girl Scouts, volunteers are required to attend the Camp Out (formerly Overnight Outdoor Training) course.

When a Girl Scout troop is planning a trip, volunteers should consult the chart on the “Beyond the Meeting” section on page 20 of the New Leader’s Guide to Success to view requirements and recommendations for volunteer training, certification, forms, and Girl Scout council approval. This chart indicates when the Trip/Activity Notification form is required. When needed, this form must be submitted for approval three weeks in advance of a planned trip.

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson has properties that can be reserved by Girl Scout volunteers and troops for meetings, events, and overnight activities. To learn about the program centers, camp sites, and Girl Scout houses, visit the GSHH Properties webpage.

 

If girls in the troop are ready to venture farther, check out the Girl Scout Guide to U.S. Travel. This resource is designed for Juniors and older Girl Scouts who want to take extended trips—that is, longer than a weekend—but also features tips and tools for budding explorers who are just getting started with field trips and overnights.

Once girls have mastered planning trips in the United States, they might be ready for a global travel adventure! Global trips usually take a few years to plan, and the Girl Scout Global Travel Toolkit can walk you through the entire process. Contact your Membership Manager when your Girl Scouts are ready to take on international travel.

Safety First

If you’re planning any kind of trip—from a short field trip to an overseas expedition—the “Trips and Travel” section of Safety Activity Checkpoints is your go-to resource for safety. Be sure to follow all the basic safety guidelines, like the buddy system and first-aid requirements, in addition to the specific guidelines for travel.

Note that extended travel (more than three nights) is not covered under the basic Girl Scout insurance plan and will require additional coverage. Request additional insurance by submitting the Additional and Non-Member Insurance form at minimum two weeks in advance of your activity.

Girl Scout Connections

It’s easy to tie eye-opening travel opportunities into the leadership training and skill building your girls are doing in Girl Scouts! Your girls can use their creativity to connect any leadership Journey theme into an idea for travel. There are abundant opportunities to build real skills through earning badges too. The most obvious example is the Senior Traveler badge, but there are plenty more, such as Eco Camper, New Cuisines, Photography, and, of course, all the financial badges that help girls budget and earn money for their trips.

Looking to incorporate Girl Scout traditions into your trip? Look no farther than the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia! Your girls also have the chance to deepen their connections to Girl Scouts around the world by visiting one of the WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers, which offer low-cost accommodations and special programs in five locations around the world.

Engaging Girls and Engaging Families

Creating the kind of environment in which girls are unafraid to try new things and to be who they want to be starts with you! By meeting your girls where they are, you’ll help them develop the leadership skills they’ll use now and as they grow.

Understanding Healthy Development in Girls

It sounds simple, but just being attentive to what girls are experiencing as they mature is a big help to them—and to you, as you guide and mentor them!

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson offers adult learning opportunities for volunteers at Leadership Learning courses, formerly called Age Level Roundtables. These courses are offered by girl age level (Daisy Leadership Learning, etc.), and provide guidance and instruction for leading a successful troop.

You’ll experience different joys and challenges with each Girl Scout level, but here are some guidelines for meeting girls’ needs and abilities at different grade levels; you’ll also find these listed in the adult guide of each leadership Journey.

Creating a Safe Space for Girls

A safe space is where girls feel they can be themselves, without explanation or judgment. As a volunteer, you create an environment that is just as important as the activities girls do; it’s the key to developing the sort of group that girls want to be part of! Cultivate a space where confidentiality is respected and girls can express their true selves.

  • Recognizing and Supporting Each Girl: You're a role model and a mentor to your girls. Since you play an important role in their lives, they need to know that you consider each of them an important person too. They can weather a poor meeting place or an activity that flops, but they cannot endure being ignored or rejected.
  • Promoting Fairness: Girls are sensitive to injustice. They forgive mistakes if they are sure you are trying to be fair. They look for fairness in how responsibilities are shared, in handling of disagreements, and in your responses to performance and accomplishment.
  • Building Trust: Girls need your belief in them and your support when they try new things. You’ll also need to show them that you won’t betray their confidence.
  • Inspiring Open Communication: Girls want someone who will listen to what they think, feel, and want to do. They like having someone they can talk to about the important things happening in their lives.
  • Managing Conflict: Conflicts and disagreements are an inevitable part of life, but if handled constructively, they show girls that they can overcome their differences, exercise diplomacy, and improve their communication and relationships. Respecting others and being a sister to every Girl Scout means that shouting, verbal abuse, or physical confrontations are never warranted and cannot be tolerated in the Girl Scout environment. When a conflict arises between girls or a girl and a volunteer, get those involved to sit down together and talk calmly and in a nonjudgmental manner. (Each party may need some time—a few days or a week—to calm down before being able to do this.) Talking in this way might feel uncomfortable and difficult now, but it lays the groundwork for working well together in the future. Whatever you do, do not spread your complaint around to others—that won’t help the situation and causes only embarrassment and anger.
Communicating Effectively with Girls of Any Age

Make sure your words and intentions create connection with the girls. Keep in mind how important the following attitudes are.

Listen Listening to girls, as opposed to telling them what to think, feel, or do (no “you shoulds”) is the first step in building a trusting relationship and helping them take ownership of their Girl Scout experience.

Be Honest If you’re not comfortable with a topic or activity, it’s OK to say so! No one expects you to be an expert on every topic. Ask for alternatives or seek out volunteers with the required expertise. Owning up to mistakes—and apologizing for them—goes a long way with girls.

Be Open to Real IssuesOutside of Girl Scouts, girls may be dealing with issues like relationships, peer pressure, school, money, drugs, and other serious topics. When you don’t know, listen. Also seek help from your council if you need assistance or more information than you currently have. See the information about “Sensitive Issues” on the next page for more details.

Show Respect: Girls often say that their best experiences were the ones where adults treated them as equal partners. Being spoken to as young adults reinforces that their opinions matter and that they deserve respect.

Offer Options: Girls’ needs and interests change and being flexible shows them that you respect them and their busy lives. Be ready with age-appropriate guidance and parameters no matter what the girls choose to do.

Stay CurrentShow your girls that you’re interested in their world by asking them about the TV shows and movies they like; the books, magazines, or blogs they read; the social media influencers they follow; and the music they listen to.

Remember to LUTE: Listen, Understand, Tolerate, and Empathize Try using the LUTE method to thoughtfully respond when a girl is upset, angry, or confused.

Addressing the Needs of Older Girls

Let these simple tips guide you in working with teenage girls:

  • Think of yourself as a partner, a coach, or a mentor, not a “leader.”

  • Ask girls what rules they need for safety and what group agreements they need to be a good team.

  • Understand that girls need time to talk, unwind, and have fun together.

  • Ask what they think and what they want to do.

  • Encourage girls to speak their minds.

  • Provide structure, but don’t micromanage.

  • Give everyone a voice in the group.

  • Treat girls like partners.

  • Don’t repeat what’s said in the group to anyone outside of it (unless necessary for a girl’s safety).

When Sensitive Topics Come Up

It’s an amazing feeling when your girls put their trust in you—and when they do, they may come to you with some of the issues they face, such as bullying, peer pressure, dating, athletic and academic performance, and more. Some of these issues may be considered sensitive by families, and they may have opinions or input about how, and whether, Girl Scouts should cover these topics with their girls.

Girl Scouts welcomes and serves girls and families from a wide spectrum of faiths and cultures. When girls wish to participate in discussions or activities that could be considered sensitive—even for some— put the topic on hold until you have spoken with parents and received guidance from your council.

When Girl Scout activities involve sensitive issues, your role is that of a caring adult volunteer who can help girls acquire skills and knowledge in a supportive atmosphere, not someone who advocates a particular position.

GSUSA does not take a position or develop materials on issues relating to human sexuality, birth control, or abortion. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives. We believe parents and caregivers, along with schools and faith communities, are the primary sources of information on these topics.

Parents/guardians make all decisions regarding their girl’s participation in Girl Scout program that may be of a sensitive nature. As a volunteer leader, you must get written parental permission for any locally planned program offering that could be considered sensitive. Included on the permission form should be the topic of the activity, any specific content that might create controversy, and any action steps the girls will take when the activity is complete. Be sure to have a form for each girl, and keep the forms on hand in case a problem arises.

Report Concerns

There may be times when you worry about the health 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/caregiver or to your GSHH Membership Manager so she can get the expert assistance she needs. Your concern about a girl’s well-being and safety is taken seriously.

Here are a few signs that could indicate a girl needs expert help:

  • Marked changes in behavior or personality (for example, 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 bruises, burns, or fractures

  • Avoidance of eye contact or physical contact

  • Excessive fearfulness or distrust of adults

  • Abusive behavior toward other children, especially younger ones

Kick the Year Off Right by Engaging Parents and Other Caregivers

You want the girls in your troop to have fun, be inspired, take risks, and learn about themselves and the world this year—that’s why you’re a Girl Scout troop leader or troop volunteer! The thing is, parents and caregivers want the same thing for their girls, but getting families to pitch in and play an active role in the troop while also enhancing the experience for their own girl can be tricky for many volunteers. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Girl Scouting provides the best opportunities for girls when families step up and play an active part in the troop. Without meaningful support from parents and caregivers, it’s difficult for a troop to be all it can be. Plus, girls feel a special sense of pride when their families take part and show interest in the things they are doing!

What Is a Parent and Caregiver Meeting?

It’s the first meeting you have to start each troop year—whether you are a new or returning troop. It is valuable for all troops.

Why Hold a Meeting?

Kicking off each year with a parent and caregiver meeting sets the troop up for success. Outlining clear expectations, building a team, and engaging parents in the Girl Scout experience is a great way to start off on the right foot. When parents are involved, leaders have support, the troop has a plan, and girls benefit! The meeting helps:

  • Parents understand what Girl Scouting can do for their girl.

  • Parents and leaders identify ways they will work as a team to support the troop.

  • Parents and leaders agree about what the troop pays for and what families pay for individually.

  • You fill key troop positions—you never know which parent will make an awesome assistant leader or troop cookie manager.

  • Parents know how the troop will communicate things like upcoming events or schedule changes.

  • Parents learn about uniforms, books, and other important basics.

    Check out our step-by-step guide and “Parents & Caregivers Meeting Outline” on the Volunteer Toolkit. This 60–90 minute meeting will make all the difference in the year ahead.

    For even more tips on working with troop families, check out Girl Scouts’ Tips for Troop Leaders hub.

How to Keep Parents and Other Caregivers on Board

Make the Ask(s)

The main reason people don’t take action is because they were never asked to in the first place. That’s why hearing one out of three Girl Scout parents say no one had communicated expectations around involvement with their girl’s troop is so troubling. Parents may have many talents, but they’re certainly not mind readers! If you’re nervous about getting turned down, don’t be. Sure, a few parents might be unable to lend a hand, but the helpers you do get will be worth their weight in gold. And just because someone wasn’t available a month or two ago doesn’t mean they won’t be free to help now. Loop back, follow up, and ask again!

Make Sense of “Why”

Explain that not only does the whole troop benefit with extra help from parents and other caregivers, but also that girls feel a special sense of pride in seeing their own family member step up and take a leadership role. Getting involved can strengthen the caregiver/girl bond and is a meaningful way to show daughters that they are a priority in their parents’ lives.

Make It Quick and Easy

Everybody’s got a full plate these days, so instead of starting conversations with a list of tasks or responsibilities that parents and other caregivers could take on (which can be intimidating!), ask how much time each week they might be able to dedicate to the troop, then go from there. For instance, if a troop mom or dad has 15 minutes each week to spare, they could organize and manage the calendar for troop snacks and carpools. If a grandparent has one to two hours, they could assist with leading the troop through a specific badge on a topic they’re already comfortable with. For more ways parents and other caregivers can help out when faced with a tricky schedule, check out the Family Resources tab in the Volunteer Toolkit.

Make Family Part of the Formula

While Girl Scout programming is always focused on the girls themselves, it’s important and helpful to open up a few events to their families throughout the year. Inviting the whole crew to celebrate her accomplishments in Girl Scouting—whether at a holiday open house, a bridging ceremony, or a fun “reverse meeting” where girls take the role of leaders and guide the adults, including caregivers, through an activity—will help parents better understand the value of Girl Scouts and they’ll be more likely to invest their time and talents to the troop.

That said, there’s no need to wait for one of these special events to engage families in their girls’ Girl Scout lives! Keep communication lines open throughout the year—whether it’s through your troop’s social media page, personal emails, or in-person chats—to keep parents in the loop on what the girls are doing and learning during each meeting, and encourage them to let their daughters “be the experts” at home, explaining or teaching the new skills they’ve learned.

 

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