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Girls with microscope for Volunteer Essentials

Troop Leader Central

You’re an amazing Girl Scout Troop Leader. You’ve got this. We’re here to help!  

We’ve put together resources specific for leading a troop below. For additional resources on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, Programs, etc., please visit Volunteer Essentials

Getting Started

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.  

Stuck and need additional support? Contact your Volunteer Support Specialist or GSCB Member Care for help with a troop meeting place. 

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. 

Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need

From camping weekends to cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure their girls have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. 

Who counts as a "Volunteer"? Volunteers are registered Girl Scout members with completed background checks. 

Not sure just how many adults you’ll need for your activity? The helpful chart below breaks down the minimum number of volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of girls; councils may also establish maximums due to size or cost restrictions, so be sure to check with them as you plan your activity. 

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Leading a Successful Troop

Girl Safety

In Girl Scouting, the emotional and physical safety and well-being of girls and volunteers is our top priority. Girl Scout volunteers should follow GSCB safety guidelines during all Girl Scout activities. If at any point you are unsure if an activity is safe or approved by GSCB, please consult the Safety Activity Checkpoints or contact your Volunteer Support Specialist for assistance. 

  • Safety Activity Checkpoints – When preparing for an activity with girls, always begin with the Safety Activity Checkpoints. Use this go-to document to search by activity and find out how to prepare yourself and girls, what to bring, and how to ensure girls’ safety throughout the activity.  
  • Girl Health Card – Girl Scout volunteers should always a have up-to-date health card for each participating girl for any Girl Scout function. 
  • GSCB Parent Permission Slip for Events – Best practice for any Girl Scout field trip or event outside of your meeting place is to ask parents/caregivers to fill out a permission slip. The Girl Scout volunteer should keep these on file until after the trip. For international trips, both parent/caregivers (if applicable) written consent is recommended. 
  • Background Checks - Background checks are required for all Girl Scout volunteers. A background check, also called a CBC, is good for 3 years from time of completion. You will receive email reminders when your background check expiration is approaching. To find out when your background check expires, go to MyGS and navigate to the Troop page, then reference the column “CBC Expiration” found under Adults. 
  • GSCB Emergency Procedures - In the case of emergency, suspected injury or loss of property at a Girl Scout function, please follow these guidelines.
  • Incident Report - If a girl's health or safety is jeapordized during an incident at a Girl Scout function, this incident report should be completed as soon as possible by a Girl Scout volunteer or health professional who was/is on the scene.
  • Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge – The internet can provide a number of exciting opportunities for Girl Scouts but can also present unique safety concerns. Before using the internet for a Girl Scout activity, girls are encouraged to complete the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge. 
Maintaining Your Troop Meeting Information and Roster
Accessing Your Troop Roster 

You can check your troop roster any time, anywhere, if you have access to wifi and a smart device.  

To get there, visit www.gscb.org

  • Navigate to the “My GS” link in the top right-hand corner. 
  • Login (Your username should be the email address you used to register for Girl Scouts.) 
  • Choose Member Profile OR Volunteer Toolkit 
  • Navigate to the “My Troop” tab and you’re there! 
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.  

Opportunity Catalog - The opportunity catalog is a searchable list of all troops with available spots for new girls. Families can search the catalog during registration, or you can browse using the links below. Once a troop has reached its desired maximum, it will no longer appear in the catalog. If you're unsure what your troop maximum is or wish to change it, please contact your Volunteer Support Specialist. You can also make changes to your troop information in the Opportunity Catalog by submitting a Troop Participation Form at any time.

As a Troop Leader, you can help girls register or renew to your troop on the spot if you have access to wifi and a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Pull up your MyGS account and go to your troop roster. To add a new girl, select "Add A New Member" at the bottom of the page. You'll be prompted to select Girl or Adult. To renew a girl or adult, change the dropdown next to their name to Renew. Then, with the parent/caregiver present, you can complete the registration/renewal by pressing “Next”.  

Near the close of each Girl Scout year (Oct 1 – Sept 30), Troop Leaders are asked to complete a Troop Participation Form. The information collected in this form helps GSCB plan for the coming year and keep our records up to date. You’ll be asked to enter your troop meeting information, your troop’s program level(s), the maximum number of new girls you are looking to accept into your troop, and more.  

Changing Your Troop Meeting Information

You can update your Troop Meeting Information at any time through your online MyGS profile! Just log in, click on the Troops tab, and scroll to the bottom of the page. In the bottom left corner click on the View/Edit Troop Information link. 

Please update it anytime you have changes to your meeting location or troop availability.

If for some reason you are unable to access your troop meeting information via MyGS, feel free to submit a Troop Participation Form with your new meeting information.

Changing Your Troop Leaders

As your troop grows or your schedules and circumstances change, you may find yourself needing to update the volunteers leading your troop. You can submit a Troop Participation Form anytime throughout the year with updated Troop Leadership information.

Disbanding Your Troop

All good things must come to an end! We hope our Girl Scout troops continue for as long as possible, but when a troop does disband, we make the process as easy as possible for the volunteers. Notify GSCB of your troop's disbandment by submitting a Troop Participation Form. GSCB Staff will follow up with you for any additional information needed. 

Set Up A Year Plan

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. | Watch Tutorial
  • Email parents/caregivers with one click. | Watch Tutorial
  • 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). | Watch Tutorial
  • Customize meeting agendas to fit your unique troop. | Watch Tutorial 
  • 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. | Watch Tutorial
  • Record girls’ attendance at meetings and their badge and Journey achievements. | Watch Tutorial
  • Add Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay events or custom events to the troop’s calendar. | Watch Tutorial
  • Easily locate both national and local resources, such as Safety Activity Checkpoints. | Watch Tutorial

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. | Watch Tutorial
  • Renew their memberships and update their contact information. | Watch Tutorial
  • View their Girl Scout’s attendance and achievements. | Watch Tutorial
  • See upcoming events the troop is planning or attending. | Watch Tutorial
  • Easily locate both national and local resources, such as the Family Hub. | Watch Tutorial

Accessing VTK 

To get there, visit www.gscb.org

  • Navigate to the “My GS” link in the top right-hand corner.  
  • Login (Your username should be the email address you used to register for Girl Scouts.) 
  • Choose Volunteer Toolkit 
Parent/Caregiver Communication & Involvement
Hosting a Parent/Caregiver Meeting 

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

Build a Team 

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.

Get and Keep Parents/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 canhelp outwhen faced with a tricky schedule, check out the Family Resources tab in the Volunteer Toolkit.    

Helpful Articles and Advice  

GSUSA Article: How to Keep parents and caregivers on board

GSUSA Article: Recruiting parents to help

Communicating with Parents/Caregivers 

Communicating with parents/caregivers consistently and effectively can make both your life and theirs much easier! There’s no one right way to communicate with troops, so you’ll have to do some asking to find out what works for your group. It’s best practice to collect all parent/caregiver contact information, and emergency contact information, at your Parent/Caregiver meeting. You might also want to have them indicate their preferred method of communication (email, text, phone call, etc.). Troops have also had success with:  

  • Email – The Volunteer Toolkit allows you to create and send emails to all parents/caregivers. You can also add in your meeting plans, and notes to indicate things like whose bringing snack, or if girls need to bring something with them to the meeting. 
  • Facebook groups – Private Facebook or other social media groups have been a successful place to share troop information, and gives parents/caregivers a forum to ask questions and share their photos or special Girl Scout moments. To protect the privacy of girl members, be sure to keep your group private and closely monitor the members.  
  • Group Apps – There are a multitude of group apps like Remind, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Shutterfly, SimplyCircle, etc.  

 

Troop Banking and Money Earning

Open a Troop Bank Account, Change Authorized Signers, or Close a Troop Bank Account

  • Bank Account Request Form
  • Only one online request form needs to be submitted per Troop Bank Account. Upon completion, the Volunteer Support Specialist will provide you with the necessary letter and board resolution by email; as it pertains to your specific request.

Money Earning Activities
When product programs aren’t enough and troops are still in need of funds to support their activities or trips, they can explore Additional Money Earning Activities. For guidelines on what activities troops can do, please review the Additional Money Earning Policy.

The application must be submitted four weeks in advance, and Service Unit Managers will be notified when submissions are sent. Your Volunteer Support Specialist will review the application and be in touch with any questions and to let you know if your application is approved or denied. If your girls need help choosing an activity, see our brainstorming list for a variety of ideas! 
Application | Activity Ideas | Guidance

Financial Assistance 
Financial Assistance is now offered to girls and volunteers who fall into the guidelines set by the FDA Free and Reduced School Lunch Program. When “Request Financial Assistance” is checked during the registration process, a Member Care Specialist will reach out and share the Financial Assistance Application. Once completed, the FA will be approved or denied and the family communicated with accordingly.


It is recommended that Troops renew girl members with Troop funds. However, in Troops where this is not budgeted for, Troop Leaders should let families know that GSCB offers this assistance and how to apply. Leaders should be forthcoming in letting parents know that she/he can see in MyGS when a girl has FA pending and that this will be handled with discretion among other parents/caregivers. However, receiving FA is nothing to be ashamed of and GSCB offers this assistance so that Girl Scouting is available to all girls and families who want to participate. 

Misuse Reporting
If at any point you suspect Girl Scout troop/group funds are being used inappropriately, we encourage you to report it to GSCB staff for investigation. If you suspect Service Unit or troop funds are being misused, please complete the Suspected Misuse of Funds Form as soon as possible. All submissions using this form are considered confidential. The submitters name and information will not be shared with anyone outside of the GSCB staff.

Supporting Product Programs
Leading A 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. 

If you’re not sure where to start when planning meetings, we recommend two options: 

  • Volunteer Toolkit – Not only can you plan your troop’s year, but you can also access extensive meeting plans for each badge and journey. You can follow the meeting plan closely (it even includes a script!), or you can use it as inspiration for your own activities that meet the requirements.  

Meeting plans that can be modified for the outdoors have a tree icon beside them. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get your girls outside!

  • Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting - The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting is available for girls at every program level. 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! 

Helpful Articles and Advice

GSUSA article: 5 things to know before your first meeting

GSUSA article: Ready, Set, Troop Meeting

GSCB Troop Support

At GSCB, we know supporting our volunteers is the best way to ensure they, and their Girl Scouts, are successful. Every Service Unit is assigned a Volunteer Support Specialist. The Volunteer Support Specialist’s role is to answer volunteer questions, help volunteers access the resources they need, address volunteer and parent/caregiver concerns or complaints, support troops through product programs, recruitment, and renewal, and celebrate volunteer and girl successes.  

Not sure who your assigned Volunteer Support Specialist is? Reference our Member Support map.

Additionally, if you’re unable to get in touch with your Volunteer Support Specialist, one of our Member Care staff may be able to help you. Contact Member Care at MemberCare@cbgsc.org or 1-800-341-4007. 

 

Helpful Tools and Resources

Monthly Troop Leader Essentials
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Virtual Meeting Resources

Virtual Meeting Resources for Volunteers - a comprehensive guide to meeting with your troop virtually including how to use zoom, how to adapt badge requirements to the virtual space, and monthly meeting ideas to keep things interesting.

    Quick Tips for Running a Virtual Meeting

     Safety Activity Checkpoints for Hosting a Virtual Troop Meeting

     Vol 1, October 2020

     Vol 2, November 2020

      Vol 3. December 2020

      Vol 4. January 2021

     Vol 5. February 2021

     Vol 6. March 2021

 

Girl Scout Leader Chat Meeting Activities - Developed by other Girl Scout leaders, these are activities you can download and share with your troops.

Virtual Girl Scout Activities Facebook Group  Volunteer and parent led Facebook Group to compile at home Girl Scout resources.

GSCB COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Troop Meeting Guidelines: outlining best practices for volunteers to follow for girl scouting activities.

COVID- 19 Troop Action form: to be completed by August 31st for council records of how troops are meeting for the 2020-2021 Girl Scout year.

COVID-19 Liability Waiver: to be completed by any participants in girl scouting activities.

COVID-19 Camp Protocol: measures to be followed for GSCB property usage.

GSCB Emergency Procedures

 

For New Leaders

 

Have questions about any of the resources on Troop Leader Central? Contact your Volunteer Support Specialist or our Member Care team at MemberCare@cbgsc.org or 1-800-341-4007.