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 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.
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 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 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 Engagement Manager.
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 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 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 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:
- Arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed
- Notify patient’s emergency contact person, as appropriate
- 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 website
- 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 building-security issues
- 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 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 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.
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.
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 online.
- 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 information.
- 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: 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 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.