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.
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.
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:
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.
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. For multi-level troops, go by the youngest program level in your troop.
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:
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 the Opportunity Catalog.
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 "My Account" in the top right hand corner. On the left hand side, select My Troop(s). To add a new girl, select "Invite friends to your troop" at the bottom of the page. You'll be prompted to enter their email address, which will then send them a unique link to join your troop. To renew a girl or adult, select the checkbox next to their troop role and hit the "Renew" button.
Near the close of each Girl Scout year (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, navigate to "My Account" in the top right hand corner, select My Troop(s) on the left hand side, and then hit "Edit Meeting Details" at the top of the page.
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.
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:
Parents and caregivers can:
To get there, visit www.gscb.org:
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:
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!
Helpful Articles and Advice
GSUSA article: 5 things to know before your first meeting
GSUSA article: Ready, Set, Troop Meeting
Virtual Meeting Resources
When the COVID-19 pandemic created obstacles to meeting in person, Girl Scouts adapted by taking their meetings virtual! Though we have safely started meeting in person again, you may find yourself needing to utilize virtual meetings in the future for instances of bad weather, illness, or other.
These resources may be helpful to you:
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.
Girl Scouting provides the best opportunities for girls when families step up and play an active part in the troop. Without meaningful support from parents and caregivers, it’s difficult for a troop to be all it can be. Plus, girls feel a special sense of pride when their families take part and show interest in the things they’re doing!
What Is a Parent and Caregiver Meeting?
It’s the first meeting you have to start each troop year—whether you’re a new or returning troop. It’s 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:
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.
Another meeting you don’t want to miss is the Cookie Program Girl & Family Meeting in the Volunteer Toolkit. Just like the parent and caregiver meeting at the beginning of the year, this meeting is your chance to share what girls gain through the cookie program, outline expectations, and find the support you need for a successful cookie season. The cookie program is a team effort and you’ll want to get families on board!
For even more tips on working with troop families, check out Girl Scouts’ Tips for Troop Leaders hub.
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 communicated expectations around involvement with their girl’s troop is so troubling. Parents may have many talents, but they’re certainly not mind readers! If you’re nervous about getting turned down, don’t be. Sure, a few parents might be unable to lend a hand, but the helpers you do get will be worth their weight in gold. And just because someone wasn’t available a month or two ago doesn’t mean they won’t be free to help now. Loop back, follow up, and ask again!
Make Sense of “Why"
Explain that not only does the whole troop benefit with extra help from parents and other caregivers, but also that girls feel a special sense of pride in seeing their own family member step up and take a leadership role. Getting involved can strengthen the caregiver/girl bond and is a meaningful way to show daughters that they are a priority in their parents’ lives.
Make It Quick and Easy
Everybody’s got a full plate these days, so instead of starting conversations with a list of tasks or responsibilities that parents and other caregivers could take on (which can be intimidating!), ask how much time each week they might be able to dedicate to the troop, then go from there. For instance, if a troop mom or dad has 15 minutes each week to spare, they could organize and manage the calendar for troop snacks and carpools. If a grandparent has one to two hours, they could assist with leading the troop through a specific badge on a topic they’re already comfortable with. For more ways parents and other caregivers can help out when faced with a tricky schedule, check out the Family Resources tab in the Volunteer Toolkit.
Make Family Part of the Formula
While Girl Scout programming is always focused on the girls themselves, it’s important and helpful to open up a few events to their families throughout the year. Inviting the whole crew to celebrate her accomplishments in Girl Scouting—whether at a holiday open house, a bridging ceremony, or a fun “reverse meeting” where girls take the role of leaders and guide the adults, including caregivers, through an activity—will help parents better understand the value of Girl Scouts and they’ll be more likely to invest their time and talents in the troop.
That said, there’s no need to wait for one of these special events to engage families in their girls’ Girl Scout lives! Keep communication lines open throughout the year—either through your troop’s social media page, personal emails, or in-person chats—to keep parents in the loop on what the girls are doing and learning during each meeting. Encourage them to let their daughters “be the experts” at home, explaining or teaching the new skills they’ve learned. You can get everyone in on the fun and keep Girl Scouts strong at home by sharing the family badge guides in the Volunteer Toolkit.
GSUSA Article: How to Keep parents and caregivers on board
GSUSA Article: Recruiting parents to help
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:
Open a Troop Bank Account, Change Authorized Signers, or Close a Troop Bank Account
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 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.
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 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.
When you're not working on specific badges, patches, or Journeys, you might find yourself struggling to fill "down time" with your Girl Scouts. This could be the minutes in the beginning of a meeting while waiting for everyone to arrive, quiet time on a camping trip, or just unstructured meeting time.
GSCB has compiled a library of activities in our Activity Resource Library that are free and easy to use. You can find printable coloring and activity sheets, games, STEM experiments, scavenger hunts, and more.
Did you know you can request GSCB staff to visit your meeting a facilitate a program (supplies included) for FREE? It's true and it's called Program on the Move! Whether you're looking to supplment your badge activities or just want to explore a fun program with your Girl Scouts, request a Program on the Move visit today! Program topics include robotics, virtual/augmented reality, color exploration, circuits, content creation, and more.
Product Programs are an important part of the troop experience. Not only do troops earn proceeds to help fund their activities, Girl Scouts learn valuable financial literacy and entreprenurial skills.
GSCB has two annual product programs: Fall Product and Cookie
Fall Product happens in - you guessed it! - the fall. It usually spans most of the month of October and ends early November. Exact dates vary year to year. During this program, girls sell nuts, candy and magazines to family and friends.
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a beloved tradition that usually begins in January and goes through March. However, Girl Scouts get early access to their online sites in December so they can get started on their goals over those wonderful holiday family gatherings. The program happens in phases - early online access, Intial Order (order card + online), and Direct Sale (cookies are in hand and available for booth and other in-person sales opportunities + online).
We have a dedicated "microsite" for GSCB volunteers to best support their girls during product programs: www.gscbvolunteer.org.
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.
Do you lead a SUPER troop? The Super Troop Patch is a recognition for excellence in Girl Scouting by a troop and can be earned every year. Complete the requirements outlined in the guide and submit using the online form linked below.