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
other places they enjoy.
- Which components of the uniform
will families need to purchase? Which uniform components will the
troop provide for each girl?
- 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 and decisions girl-led? Use
the Volunteer Toolkit to help you through this process by exploring
options for activities and reviewing the meeting plans and resources
- 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/
- 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.
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 talking 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.
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
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
Community Engagement Manager.
If an external entity requires the signing of a Hold Harmless
Agreement, please provide an unsigned copy to your Community
Engagement Manager 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 or have questions about
when to purchase non-member insurance, contact your Community
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 Senior Manager, Risk Management.
Applications for non-member and additional insurance plans are
available at girlscoutsem.org/en/for-volunteers/volunteer-resources/insurance.html.
Contracts and Agreements
For a Girl Scout event or activity to be covered by Girl Scout
insurance, 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 Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, may be considered a
personally binding relationship and may not be recognized by our
insurance provider as a covered activity.
Contracts or agreements for subordinate units to hold troop,
leader, district or neighborhood meetings or events must be
submitted to a Community Engagement Manager who will confirm:
- The individual is a currently registered, background-checked
and approved adult member in a leadership role
- The activity
is an approved activity
- Council has a Certificate of
Insurance on file
The contract will then be reviewed and signed by the appropriate
staff member and returned to the Community Engagement Manager. 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
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 party to the release), and these will continue to be sent to the
Service Center for review and signature by the appropriate Service
Center management. It should also be noted that the responsibility of
Council and/or subordinate unit to reasonably ensure that the venue we
are utilizing is safe for girls remains unchanged, regardless of who
administers and/or signs the release.”
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
- 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
at a Girl Scout event or function, notify the volunteer or staff
member in charge. Provide them with the injured person’s Health
- 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:
- Arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if
- Notify patient’s emergency contact person, as
- Handle media inquiries. Council staff is
trained to work with the media. Refer all inquiries to the Chief
Advancement and Marketing Officer
Within 24 hours of the accident:
- Complete a Standard Incident Report, available on the Council
- Document the circumstances and include names and
addresses of witnesses. Submit the completed report to the Senior
Manager, Risk Management, or another Council staff member with whom
you are already in contact
- Share information about the
accident only with law enforcement officials, appropriate Council
staff, insurance representatives and legal counsel. Inform a Girl
Scouts of 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
- Assemble a well-stocked first-aid
kit that is always accessible
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 First Aid/CPR/AED) be present.
For that reason, if you or another adult volunteer can take an Adult
and Child First Aid/CPR/AED course from a Council-approved agency, do
it! Safety Activity Checkpoints will always specify when a first-aider
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 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
|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
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
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.
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:
- Partner with troop families to make sure the girls are safe
- Select a meeting platform that allows families who
may not have internet access to call in.
- Think about
logistics: work with the girls to set up ground rules; consider how
you’ll incorporate in-person. Whether we're in-person or virtual,
Girl Scouts provides opportunities for all girls to participate in
skill-building activities that put them on the path to a lifetime of
leadership and success. Check out https://www.gsemtogether.org for additional
- Talk with families on how to keep activities
girl-led if your
girls will be completing them from home.
And don't worry if your girls want to use a web or social platform
you’re not as familiar with, because you’ll learn alongside them!
You’ll also find lots of inspiring badge activities and tips on Girl Scouts at Home.
Girl Scout Troop Size
The troop size “sweet
spot” is large enough to provide an interactive and cooperative
learning environment and small enough to encourage individual
development. Though the ideal troop size is 12 girls, we recommend
that groups be no fewer and no more than:
- Girl Scout Daisies: 5–12 girls
- Girl Scout Brownies:
- Girl Scout Juniors 10–25 girls
Scout Cadettes: 5–25 girls
- Girl Scout Seniors: 5–30
- 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 girls’ schools, 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.