side menu icon
TroopManagement-Header_530x220

Troop Management

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. 

Your Role as a Volunteer

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is based on three keys—discover, connect, and take action—but it’s not just for the girls! As a Girl Scout leader, you’ll embark on your own leadership journey as you help girls develop the vital leadership skills they’ll use to make the world a better place. The Girl Scout perspective on leadership is permeated with a few basic, but all-important, concepts.  

Leadership is teaching girls:

  • That they can do and be anything!  
  • That they are decision makers and should own their decisions.  
  • How to live the Girl Scout Law by modeling it for them.

As a leader, see yourself as a coach who:

  • Guides and instructs, not as a teacher with a canned lesson or activity or as someone who has to perform for the girls each week. 
  • Advises and discusses.  
  • Ensures each girl can carry out her responsibilities within the troop.  
  • Encourages girls to build their skills and their ethics.  
  • Gives more responsibilities to the girls as they grow and develop. 

It’s important to remember that: 

  • You cannot know everything that the girls might ever want to learn.
  • You’ll explore and learn alongside your girls and grow your confidence in the process.
  • You’re not expected to know everything about Girl Scouting, but you should know where to go for information—and to ask for help when you need it.

Your responsibilities as a Girl Scout volunteer include:

  • Accepting the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
  • Understanding the three keys to leadership that are the basis of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: discover, connect, and take action.
  • Sharing your knowledge, experience, and skills[Field] with a positive and flexible approach.
  • Working in a partnership with girls so that their activities are girl-led and that they learn by doing, individually and a group. You’ll also partner with other volunteers and council staff for support and guidance.  
  • Organizing fun, interactive, girl-led activities[Field] that address relevant issues and match girls’ interests and needs.
  • Providing guidance and information regarding Girl Scout group meetings with girls’ families on a regular and ongoing basis through a variety of tools, including email, phone calls, newsletters, blogs, other forms of social media, and any other method you choose. 
  • Processing and completing registration forms[Field] and other paperwork, such as permission slips.
  • Communicating effectively and delivering clear, organized, and vibrant presentations or information to an individual or the group. 
  • Overseeing with honesty, integrity, and careful record-keeping the funds that girls raise. 
  • Maintaining a close connection to your volunteer support team[Field] as well as your council.
  • Facilitating a safe experience for every girl.

Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri reserves the right to appoint adult volunteers based on identified eligibility criteria and compliance with volunteer policies and procedures.  Appointment is contingent upon the successful completion of the screening and selection processes and is for a specific term.   Appointment is subject to termination if eligibility criteria is not met or the volunteer fails to follow volunteer policies and procedures.

Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri will enforce a method for effectively evaluating the qualifications and reviewing the background of all potential volunteers.  Further, to ensure the safety and well-being of all members, Girl scouts of Eastern Missouri has the right to disqualify or restrict the duties of any person who has been convicted of certain crimes, who has pleaded guilty or no contest to certain crimes, who has been placed on probation or deferred adjudication for certain crimes and/or who resides on the same premises as a registered sex offender.

Planning for Your First Troop Meeting

Depending on the ages of your girls, 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-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 girls and their parents and caregivers. 

Use these questions to guide your conversation with your troop committee volunteers or co-leader before discussing these topics with parents and 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 girls 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?
  • Will our troop be a single-grade level or facilitated as a multi-level troop with girls 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 girl-led? Use the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) to help you through this process by exploring options for activities and reviewing the meeting plans and resources lists.
  • How often are we going to communicate to troop families? Which channels will we use to keep families in the loop? Effective communication will help set expectations and clarify parent/ 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? 

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.[Field]

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 girls during meetings.

Accessibility: Your space should accommodate girls with disabilities as well as parents with disabilities who may come to meetings. 

Need a few speaking points to get started? Try: 

“I’m a Girl Scout volunteer with a group of [number of girls] girls. We’re doing lots of great things for girls and for the community, like [something your group is doing] and [something else your troop is doing]. We’re all about leadership—the kind that girls 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. 

Insurance, Contracts, Releases of Liability and Hold Harmless

Insurance
Certificates of Insurance (COI)
A Certificate of Insurance is a form that identifies how much insurance coverage the holder possesses.

GSEM is obligated to ensure, to the extent reasonably possible, that any external entities, such as vendors, program providers/collaborators, organizations, companies, sites or facilities used are safe. One measure of safety is evidence of adequate insurance coverage. When planning something on behalf of GSEM, such as a troop meeting or district/neighborhood event, you should obtain a COI from any involved external entities. A COI is required from all external entities used on behalf of GSEM, including non-residential troop meeting places.

However, you do not need to request a COI for sites and facilities owned by GSEM or external entities who have already provided GSEM evidence of acceptable insurance coverage. If you have any questions regarding COIs or whether a COI is needed, please contact your Volunteer Support Coordinator.

If an external entity requires the signing of a Hold Harmless Agreement, please provide an unsigned copy to your Volunteer Support Coordinator for review by the appropriate Council staff.

Girl Scout Activity Insurance
Any person participating in any GSEM program or activity must be a registered member of GSEM or covered by appropriate Girl Scout insurance.

Basic activity insurance is provided as part of the Girl Scouts of the USA membership registration fee and covers every registered girl and adult Girl Scout when they are participating in an approved Girl Scout activity lasting three days and two nights or less. The basic plan is effective during the regular membership year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30), with up to 14 months of coverage provided for new members who register in August.

Insurance is also available for non-members, such as non-registered parents and tagalongs (brothers, sisters and friends) who participate in Girl Scout activities. (Please note: not all Girl Scout activities allow the participation of non-members, such as troop trips. Please contact Council if you are unsure who may attend a specific activity.) If you need to purchase non-member insurance, contact your Volunteer Support Coordinator. If you have questions about when to purchase non-member insurance, contact the Director of Camping Services and Risk Management.

If your troop is taking a trip of longer than three days and two nights or an international trip, it is strongly encouraged that you purchase additional insurance, as such trips are not covered under the basic accident insurance that comes with Girl Scout membership. (A third consecutive night is covered when one of the nights is a federal holiday.) In some cases, GSEM may make this insurance mandatory, particularly for overseas travel. If you need to purchase this insurance, contact the Troop Support Coordinator.

Applications for non-member and additional insurance plans are available at girlscoutsem.org/en/for-volunteers/volunteer-resources/insurance.html or by calling GSEM’s Accounting department at 314.592.2338.

If There is an Accident:
Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe Council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person. Follow established Council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of Council staff, parents/guardians and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital.

When an accident occurs:

  • Remain calm
  • Do not approach if doing so places you at risk
  • Give priority attention to providing all possible care for injured persons. If there is any possibility of a head, neck or back injury, do not move the injured person unless she/he is in immediate physical danger
  • Contact emergency medical personnel and law enforcement officials as appropriate
  • If at a Girl Scout event or function, notify the volunteer or staff member in charge. Provide them with the injured person’s Health History form
  • If medical treatment is required or the accident results in a fatality, first call 911, then report the incident to Council by calling the 24-hour emergency contact number: 314.592.2300 or 1.800.727.4475.
    Council staff will:
    • LjLj Arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed
    • LjLj Notify patient’s emergency contact person, as appropriate
    • LjLj Handle media inquiries. Council staff is trained to work with the media. Refer all inquiries to the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer)

Within 24 hours of the accident:

  • Complete a Standard Incident Report Form, available on the Council website
  • Document the circumstances and include names and addresses of witnesses. Submit it to your Volunteer Support Coordinator (VSC)
  • Share information about the accident only with law enforcement officials, appropriate Council staff, insurance representatives and legal counsel. Inform an Eastern Missouri staff member of any interviews
  • Direct all media requests to the Marketing and Communications department In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be notified and a responsible volunteer must remain at the scene. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions.

If Someone Needs Emergency Care
As you know, emergencies can happen. Girls need to receive proper instruction in how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to volunteers any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities.

You can help girls by keeping in mind the following:

  • Know what to report
  • Establish and practice procedures for weather emergencies
  • Establish and practice procedures for such circumstances as fire evacuation, lost persons and building-security issues
  • Assemble a well-stocked first-aid kit that is always accessible

Contracts and Agreements
In order for an Girl Scout event or activity to be covered by Council’s insurance policy, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, Inc. must be listed as one of the parties to the contract or agreement. A contract or agreement listing a leader or another individual, with no reference to an affiliation with Eastern Missouri, may be considered a personally binding relationship and may not be recognized by our insurance provider as a Council-covered activity.

Facility contracts or agreements for subordinate units to hold troop, leader, district or neighborhood meetings or events must be submitted to a Volunteer Support Coordinator who will confirm:

  • The individual requesting the facility is a currently registered, background checked adult member in a leadership role,
  • The activity is an approved Eastern Missouri activity
  • Council has obtained a Certificate of Insurance

The contract will then be reviewed and signed by the appropriate staff member and returned to the Volunteer Support Coordinator. Please allow three weeks for processing of the contract or agreement.

Note: It is not uncommon for a provider of a higher-risk activity to require parents/guardians to sign a release from liability waiver for a girl to participate. See below for guidance on these individual waivers.

Participant Releases From Liability Waivers
In November 2008, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Board of Directors approved the following motion: “Rather than the Council continuing to be involved in the issue of releases from individual participants or their parents, subordinate units (troop/neighborhood/district) will administer the completion of any “release” required by outside vendors/venues from individual participants or their parents. No change is recommended related to any release required from Eastern Missouri (where Eastern Missouri is a legal

First Aid and CPR
Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgment. For many activities, Girl Scouts require that a first-aider (a registered, background checked and approved adult volunteer certified in Adult and Child CPR/AED and Standard First Aid) be present. For that reason, if you or another adult volunteer in your troop have the opportunity to take an Adult and Child CPR/AED and Standard First Aid course from a Council-approved agency, do it! Safety Activity Checkpoints will always specify when a first-aider is needed.

Note: The following healthcare providers may also serve as first aiders: physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, paramedic, military medic and emergency medical technicians who have current certification in Adult and Child CPR/AED

Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a first-aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness of the activity. For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times the first-aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the first-aider must be certified in wilderness first aid (see the chart below).

Access to EMS  Minimum Level of First Aid Required
Less than 30 minutes  Standard First Aid
More than 30 minutes  Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder

It is important to understand the differences between a first-aid course and a wilderness-rated course. Although standard first-aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of a first-aider is required at Resident Camp. For large events—200 people or more—there should be one first-aider for every 200 participants.

First Aid/CPR/AED training that is provided entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your technique.

Approved National First Aid Certified Agencies include American Red Cross, American Safety and Health Institute, Emergency First Response, Medic First Aid International, Inc. (formerly EMP America), National Safety Council, Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunity (SOLO), American Heart Association, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and EMS Safety Services.

First-Aid Kits
Make sure a general first-aid kit is available at your troop meeting place and accompanies girls on any activity (including transportation to and from the activity). Be aware that you may need to provide this kit if one is not available at your meeting place. You can purchase a Girl Scout first-aid kit, you can buy a commercial kit or you and the girls can assemble a kit. The American Red Cross offers a list of items that can be included in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit, which can be found at redcross.org

Note: The American Red Cross list includes aspirin, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without written parent/guardian permission. You can also customize a kit to cover your specific needs.

In addition to standard materials, all kits should contain the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s 24-hour emergency number, 314.592.2300, as well as local emergency telephone numbers. Girl Scout activity insurance forms, incident reports and health histories are located on the Council website.

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. Research has shown that the ideal troop size is 12 girls; recommended group sizes, by grade level, are:

  • Girl Scout Daisies: 5–12 girls
  • Girl Scout Brownies: 10–20 girls
  • Girl Scout Juniors 10–25 girls
  • Girl Scout Cadettes: 5–25 girls
  • Girl Scout Seniors: 5–30 girls
  •  Girl Scout Ambassadors: 5–30 girls

A Girl Scout troop/group must have at minimum five girls and two approved adult volunteers. (Double-check the volunteer-to-girl ratio chart to make sure you’ve got the right amount of coverage for your troop!) Adults and girls registering in groups of fewer than five girls 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. Individual girls are always welcome to participate in Girl Scout activities and events. 

Registering Girls and Adults in Girl Scouting
Every participant (girl 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. Girls are encouraged to register early to avoid the fall rush. Early registration allows for uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps girls and councils plan ahead, and gets girls 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).

Adding New Girls 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’s school, using social media to reach families in your community, or including your troop in your council’s Opportunity Catalog or Troop Catalog.

Online Troop Catalog
Families now have the option to choose the troop that works best for them. The online troop catalog is available for new girls registering for the first time and for returning girls looking for a new troop. When returning, visit the membership tab in the member community and click the green “Add Change Troops” button to see the online troop catalog for both girl and volunteer experiences.

Creating an Atmosphere of Acceptance and Inclusion

Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that’s why we embrace girls of all abilities and backgrounds with a specific and positive philosophy of inclusion that benefits everyone. Each girl—without regard to socioeconomic status, race, physical or cognitive ability, ethnicity, 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, all girls being offered the same opportunities with respect, dignity, and celebration of their unique strengths. It’s about being a sister to every Girl Scout! You’re accepting and inclusive 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.

If you have questions about accommodating an individual girl, please reach out to your council.  

Requesting Assistance
Contact the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Answer Center at 314.400.4600 with a reasonable request for accommodation so the girl can fully participate in Girl Scouting.

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 parents or caregivers have disabilities. But, please, don’t 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 with a disability needs to make her Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask her or her parent or caregiver. If you are open and honest, they’ll likely respond in kind, creating an atmosphere that enriches everyone. 

It’s important for all girls to be rewarded based on their best efforts—not on the completion of a task. Give any girl the opportunity to do her best and she 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 to complete an activity after she has observed others doing it.
  • If you are visiting a museum to view sculpture, find out if a girl who is blind might be given permission to touch the pieces.
  • If an activity requires running, a girl who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical movement. 

Focus on a person’s abilities—on what she can do rather than on what she cannot. In that spirit, use people-first language that puts the person before the disability.

Say . . . Instead of . . .
She has a learning disability. She is learning disabled.
She has a developmental delay. She is mentally retarded; she is slow.
She uses a wheelchair. She is wheelchair-bound.

When interacting with a girl (or parent/caregiver) with a disability, consider these tips:

  • When talking to a girl with a disability, speak directly to her, not through a family member or friend.
  • It’s okay to offer assistance to a girl 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’s wheelchair is invading her space and is considered annoying and rude.
  • When speaking to a girl who is deaf and using an interpreter, speak to the girl, not to the interpreter.
  • When speaking for more than a few minutes to a girl who uses a wheelchair, place yourself at eye level.
  • When greeting a girl 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.”

Registering Girls with Cognitive Disabilities
Girls 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 the girl to ongoing activities of the grade level to which the group belongs. Young women with cognitive disorders may choose to retain their girl membership through their twenty-first year, and then move into an adult membership category.

Health Histories
Health Histories must be completed annually at the beginning of the Girl Scout year. Troop leaders are responsible for maintaining these records throughout the year and should always have health histories with them when working with girls. This includes meetings, trips and other outings. Please keep in mind that information from a health examination is confidential and may be shared only with people who must know this information (such as the girl herself, her parent/guardian, a First Aider, or a health professional).

It is important to be aware of any medications a girl may take or allergies she may have. Keep in mind the following:

  • Medication, including over-the-counter products, must never be dispensed without prior written permission from a girl’s custodial parent or guardian. The written permission should be attached to the girl’s health history form
  • Some girls may need to carry and administer their own medications, such as bronchial inhalers, an EpiPen or diabetes medication. Parents/guardians must provide documentation that it is acceptable for the girl to self-administer the medications

Parents/guardians who object to immunizations or medical examinations should contact the Director of Camping Services and Risk Management at Council to determine what provisions can be made for their girl to attend Girl Scout activities in a way that accommodates their concerns.

The amount of information required on a health history will depend upon the level of risk of the activity. For most troop activities, general statements about health such as allergies, food restrictions or other emergency care information will be required. For higher-risk activities such as horseback riding, rock climbing or Resident Camp, a more detailed health history may be required.

Summary of Health History Use
Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form (F-57)
This form is required for girls to participate in Girl Scout meetings and activities.

  1. At the beginning of each Girl Scout year, have parents/guardians complete a Girl Health History and Annual Permission form. Shred all health information from the prior year.
  2. Volunteers should keep girls’ health histories nearby at all times, but should not allow girls or other parents to review them unless the parent/volunteer is an official capacity as a First Aider. All volunteers are expected to maintain confidentiality of a girl or adult health history at all times.

Adult Health Histories
To ensure the health and safety of adults participating in Girl Scout events, trainings, and programs the Adult Activity Waiver, VP-84 is available.

In response to member feedback regarding its use, purpose and confidentiality, the Adult Health History, VP-87 has been retired. In its place is an Adult Activity Waiver – Emergency Information form, VP-84. This form is used in all situations except for Resident Camp when an adult volunteer or paid staff must submit a Resident Camp Staff Health Form.

Adults may choose to provide health information describing any treatment, restrictions or accommodations important to their participation in an activity by completing and signing the Adult Activity Waiver. This information is provided to the event leadership and/or First Aider or other health personnel.

Food Allergies
Common food allergies include dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood. This means that before serving any food (such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies or chips), ask whether anyone is allergic to peanuts, dairy products or wheat. Do this even if you are aware of which girls have specific allergies! Even Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies should be aware of their allergies, but double-checking with them and their parents/guardians is always a good idea.

To minimize the risks involved with food allergies, volunteers can take the following steps:

  • Become familiar with food allergies, especially those that account for the majority of allergic reactions in children 
  • Before serving any food, ask whether anyone has food allergies. Even very young girls should be aware of their allergies, but double-checking with their parents/guardians is a good idea
  • Review the health records submitted by parents/guardians. Ask for more specific allergy information if needed, including the degree to which reactions occur and the specific symptoms the girl experiences
  • Develop and practice an emergency action plan for allergic reactions
  • Ensure cookware, bakeware, plates and other items that may come into contact with a product a girl is allergic to are cleaned properly
  • Have choices for all girls. If everyone has choices, no girl is singled out
  • Ensure that if a girl has an inhaler or EpiPen, these remain with her for quick access
  • Be aware of cross contamination. Do not use the same utensils for different products (e.g., do not use the same knife for peanut butter and jelly)
  • Inform all necessary parties of health needs. This includes assistant leaders and volunteers who develop and carry out activities and purchase supplies
Getting Support for Your Troop

It takes a village to lift up the next generation of female leaders, but you won’t do it alone. You can count on a dedicated Girl Scout support team, consisting of council staff and passionate volunteers just 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 girls, product sales, and so much more. 

Before you hold your first troop meeting with girls, consider the support and people resources you’ll need to cultivate an energizing troop experience. Parents, 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 parent or 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 parents and caregivers discover they can succeed in their volunteer role, they’ll feel empowered to volunteer again. 

Troop Management Tools and Resources

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 
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 all year long, so that you can focus on unleashing the G.I.R.L (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ in every girl, ensuring she has every opportunity she deserves to build a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. 

Girls have more fun when they can shape their own experiences, do hands-on activities, and work together as teams. With the VTK, girls and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together, and follow the fun as they plan their Girl Scout year. 

Through the Volunteer Toolkit, troop leaders can: 

  • Plan the troop’s calendar year and meeting schedule. 
  • Email parents/caregivers with one click. 
  • View the troop roster, renew girls’ membership, and update girls' contact information. 
  • View meeting plans for Journeys and badges, including suggested tracks for multi-level groups (K–5 and 6–12). 
  • Customize meeting agendas to fit your unique troop. 
  • Explore individual meeting plans that show a breakdown of every step, including a list of materials needed, editable time allotments for each activity within a meeting, and printable meeting aids. 
  • Record girls’ attendance at meetings and their badge and Journey achievements. 
  • Add council or custom events to the troop’s calendar. 
  • Submit troop’s finance reports (depending on the council’s process). 
  • Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as Safety Activity Checkpoints.  

Parents and caregivers can:  

  • View the troop’s meeting schedule and individual meeting plans to stay up to date on the badges and Journeys they are working on. 
  • Renew their memberships, and update their contact information. 
  • View their Girl Scout’s attendance and achievements. 
  • See upcoming events the troop is planning or attending. 
  • Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as the Family Hub. 
  • View the troop’s finance report (depending on the council’s process). 

Get started by visiting: www.girlscoutsem.org/vtk

The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting 
What does it mean to be a go-getting Girl Scout? It’s all in The Girl’s 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!

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 girls 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, called Tips for Troop Leaders, 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’ve got you! Email the Answer Center or call 314.400.4600 during business hours Monday - Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, except Thursdays 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Marvelous Mentoring Facebook Group
This group is hosted by Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri for new and seasoned Eastern Missouri volunteers to support one another, share ideas, ask and answer questions or just give words of encouragement!

This site is not to be used for personal promotional purposes, money earning or other commerce-related activities. While Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri staff does monitor this group daily to ensure it is being used in accordance with its purpose, we strongly encourage volunteers to take the lead by helping each other within the group. Join us at facebook.com/groups/marvelousmentoring.

E-blast
Registered volunteers automatically receive the Council e-blast each month. Make sure to read the monthly e-blast and stay up-to-date on upcoming events, learning opportunities and girl programs.

Let’s Get Social, Girl Scouts!
Make sure to tag Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri on Facebook, or @girlscoutsem on Twitter or Instagram, to share your fun field trips, exhilarating STEM experiments, cookie boss successes, community service pics and more! Remember, girls must have a signed media release form before their photo is posted to the Internet.

Taking Advantage of Learning Opportunities

We know that when you have the knowledge and skills you need to manage your girls, 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. 

Volunteer Learning Opportunities
Whether you are a new leader or a seasoned volunteer with Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, we offer a wide variety of training courses to help you learn more about your volunteer role or explore new skills. Learning opportunities are offered consistently throughout the Girl Scout membership year in a variety of ways.

Want to learn more from the comfort of your own home? Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s online training options allow you to train at your own pace! We also offer in-person opportunities led by Council staff. For a list of online and in-person training opportunities, visit girlscoutsem.org/training.

Volunteer trainers offer several in-person courses across the Eastern Missouri region. Don’t miss out on these opportunities to ask questions and learn from our awesome volunteer trainers! For a list of upcoming courses, check out our adult learning opportunity publication, Lead & Learn.

Registering for adult learning opportunities is simple. Adult members can either register online or by contacting the Answer Center at 314.400.4600. Most adult training courses are open to Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts if they register through the Answer Center.

Knowing How Much You’re Appreciated

Whatever your volunteer position, your hard work means the world to girls, to your council staff, and to Girl Scouts of the USA. 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!

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 to work with girls, be sure to let your council support team know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ 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 girls at camp? Work with a troop of girls 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.

Volunteer Roles
Any adult working directly with girls in any capacity, including helping at troop meetings, driving on field trips, handling troop funds or attending a cookie booth, must be approved, background checked and registered as a troop volunteer.

Because volunteers serve in a variety of roles, with varying levels of interaction with and responsibility for girls, Eastern Missouri has created different categories of volunteers, with different requirements for participation.

Traditional volunteers can participate in any Girl Scout activity, be responsible for funds and be responsible for the children of other adults. These volunteers must be a registered adult, follow and uphold all GSUSA and Eastern Missouri policies, standards and procedures, be committed to speak and act in a manner consistent with the Girl Scout Mission, Promise and Law and successfully complete a background check.

Episodic volunteers including temporary advisors or consultants, are those who participate in specific Girl Scout activities and may have restrictions placed on their participation (e.g., cannot handle money). These volunteers can only be responsible for the children of other adults while under the direction of a traditional volunteer or staff person. They may or may not register as a member of GSUSA and pay membership dues and are usually not required to complete a background check.

Troop Leadership Roles

Troop Leader Troop leaders are the primary leader of girls. They plan and guide regularly scheduled troop meetings, organize activities outside of the regular meeting place and oversee troopadministrative duties. 
Troop Assistant Leader Troop assistant leaders assist the troop leaders by supporting troop activities or by handling specific tasks as needed.
Troop Support Volunteer Troop volunteers include any registered adult who helps a troop regularly and/or has regular contact with the girls and may intentionally or unintentionally be left alone with girls, will transport girls other than their own or will handle troop funds (including supervising Girl Scout Cookie booths).
Troop Fall Product Manager and Troop Cookie Manager When a troop participates in a Council Product Program, like the Fall Product or Cookie Program, it is recommended that one registered, background checked and approved adult, other than the leader, manage Product Program sales for the troop. These roles entail attending training, managing funds, retaining permission forms and distributing sales materials.

Your Other Responsibilities as a Girl Scout Volunteer Include:

  • Accepting the Girl Scout Promise and Law
  • Understanding the Three Keys to Leadership that are the basis of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: Discover, Connect and Take Action
  • Sharing your knowledge, experience and skills with a positive and flexible approach
  • Working in a partnership with girls so that their activities are girl-led, allow them to learn by doing and allow for cooperative (group) learning; you’ll also partner with other volunteers and Council staff for support and guidance
  • Organizing fun, interactive, girl-led activities that address relevant issues and match girls’ interests and needs
  • Providing guidance and information regarding Girl Scout troop meetings with girls’ parents or guardians on a regular and ongoing basis through a variety of methods, including email, phone calls, newsletters, blogs, other forms of social media and any other method you choose
  • Communicating effectively and delivering clear, organized and vibrant presentations or information to an individual or the troop
  • Overseeing with honesty, integrity and careful record-keeping the funds that girls raise
  • Maintaining a close connection with your Neighborhood Service Team, as well as Council staff
  • Facilitating a safe experience for every girl

Your Service Team

As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’ll team up with other assistant volunteers, parents/guardians, members of the community, Council staff and others who have expressed interest in working alongside you. Neighborhood Managers hold regular Neighborhood Association Meetings to provide support and enrichment to Girl Scout troops on a local level.

Your Neighborhood Service Team may help you with the following:

  • Planning and executing activities with girls
  • Arranging a meeting place
  • Being responsible for communicating with girls and parents
  • Finding additional adults to volunteer or provide unique skills and abilities to the troop
  • Managing troop records and resources like member registrations, finances, etc.
  • Assisting with trips as a chaperone or driver
  • Stepping in for you in your absence if registered and approved for the role

The volunteers who make up the Neighborhood Service Team may also help you with:

  • Understanding and implementing the Girl Scout Leadership Experience successfully
  • Planning and preparing for Girl Scout Product Programs like the Cookie Program
  • Supporting your troop in complying with financial policies and procedures like financial reports and additional money-earning activities

Volunteer Appreciation Month
Without our passionate and dedicated volunteers, there would be no Girl Scouting. That’s why we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week in 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 Volunteers Make a Difference Week in conjunction with Make a Difference Day, which takes place during the weekend in autumn that we set our clocks back when daylight saving time ends. What can we say—we love our volunteers!

Volunteer Appreciation
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri places a high value on recognizing the adults who make a difference in girls’ lives. Appreciation for their contributions are expressed in many ways to recognize individuals, in or out of Girl Scouts. Awards and earned recognitions provide a means to acknowledge individuals, troops, neighborhoods and districts for their unique service.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Adult Recognition Program reflects:

  • Quality of accomplishment as the primary determining factor in recognizing adult contributions
  • Impact on girls as the leading measure of quality
  • Acknowledgment of many kinds of contributions (time, talent and treasure)
  • Support of the Girl Scout mission through policies and procedures outlined in Volunteer Essentials
  • Understanding and practice of inclusive behavior

What recognitions can do:

  • For the Adult Girl Scout: Recognitions help the individual appreciate her/his own accomplishments and the worth of their position as a part of the Girl Scout Movement
  • For the Troop: Recognitions for parents at the troop level build a base of support for the girls in the troop
  • For the Neighborhood: Recognitions can be part of neighborhood traditions and contribute to the continuity of Girl Scouting
  • For the District: Recognitions acknowledge the hard work of the “behind-the-scenes” volunteers who keep the system working

The names, descriptions and criteria for neighborhood-level recognitions, district-level recognitions, Council-level recognitions and national-level recognitions can be found on the Council website or in the Adult Awards Handbook. Completed recognition packets are due to Council in February each year.

All volunteers are encouraged to make submissions for the Adult Recognition Program.

 

Girl Scout Participation in Activities with Other Scouting Organizations

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 risks or challenges for Girl Scouts. This may mean that the relationship between a council and its BSA counterpart should fundamentally change.

Marketplace Confusion
To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique, girl-only, and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which girls participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and girl-led, and are conducted under the appropriate supervision of Girl Scouts. Participation of Girl Scouts in activities with other scouting organizations creates risks to Girl Scouts. 

Protecting Use of Girl Scout Materials
Girl Scout materials are to be used only for purposes of Girl Scouts and are protected as intellectual property of Girl Scouts of the USA.

crone