1. Girl Scouts of the USA.
The national site offers a great overview, programming information, level information, additional patch programs and more. This is where you need to go to learn everything “Girl Scouts.”
2. Council resources.
There are over one hundred councils in the United States. While Girl Scouts of the USA does have processes and procedures, each council has its own way of doing things. Start with your council site to find out what it has to offer you as an adult volunteer. Volunteer Essentials is an excellent resource to start your journey.
3. Service unit.
Each council is made of multiple service units. Some councils may have a different name for them. The service unit is the way the council connects to individual volunteers. Service units are made up of volunteers. Your service unit may offer one or more of the following:
- Monthly meetings
- Volunteer support
Find out about your local service unit and attend a meeting / event to learn more about it.
4. Required training.
Training is the one thing each volunteer must do. From the initial trainings at the GSUSA site to local trainings, you need to take the required training before leading a troop. Training may be done at the council or service unit level. You can take it via webinars, self-study courses, scheduled workshops or one-on-one trainings. You may find volunteer-led weekend trainings where attendees can choose to get all the basics in one day. Check with your council or service unit to find out what ways you can take your training. Take any training required for the volunteer role you’ve taken on.
NOTE: Training may vary slightly depending on your council. When you take required training, you’ll find most of your questions regarding Girl Scouts and working with the girls will be answered. Sample trainings are listed below.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
- Girl Scouting 101
- Volunteering for Series / Events
- Volunteer Essentials
- Grade Level: Daisy
- Grade Level: Brownie
- Grade Level: Junior
- Grade Level: Cadette
- Grade Level: Senior
- Grade level: Ambassador
- First Aid & CPR
- Outdoor 1: Discover
- Outdoor 2: Cabin Camping
- Outdoor 3: Outdoor Camping
- Outdoor 4: Advanced Camping Skills
Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania
- Girl Scouting 101
- Step 2 Training (within individual service units)
- Volunteer Essentials (by grade level)
- First Aid & CPR
- Outdoor Camping 101
- Outdoor Camping 102 / 103 (held during weekend camp-out)
- Volunteer for Series / Events (to run service unit events)
In addition, other training may be required to hold certain positions within volunteering ranks.
5. Supplemental training.
Supplemental or enrichment training is any training you take to give you more information to present to your girls. Offerings may be held over a weekend or as a single class where you can learn about a variety of things including crafts, camping, science and Girl Scout traditions. The Web offers even more. You can take science classes on PBS, listen to podcasts or even earn badges on your own through projects like the Enrichment Project. Participate in one or more supplemental trainings.
Depending on your volunteer role, you may find one person who can help with your questions or you may have multiple people. You may find other new volunteers or experienced people who can offer more ideas to make your experience enjoyable.
Don’t limit your network to those you physically meet. There are also groups on Yahoo! which offer advice and help for the asking. Check out one or more of the groups to find people who can help you.
Know someone who has “been there, done that”? You can find another leader who has worked at your level. Your council might even have a mentoring program in place. Find a mentor who can attend your meeting, answer your questions and more.
As the leader, you get to choose the time, date, frequency and location of your meetings. Some councils have meetings at schools or churches. Times can be after school, during the weekend, etc. Some meetings are weekly, twice a month or even monthly. You’ll find older girls tend to meet less often. Check with your council to find if you have any restrictions in regard to meetings.
Parents need to be part of your troop. They need to be involved. Plan a parent meeting at the beginning of the year. Be able to offer specific volunteer positions / jobs to them. If a parent knows what the task is and the length of time it will take, they will be more likely to help. You cannot run everything yourself. Some of the parent positions you might ask for help with include:
- Cookie mom / dad
- Fall product mom / dad
- Field trip driving / supervision
- Helping hands at meetings
- Presenter at meetings
10. Beyond leadership.
Leading a Girl Scout troop is just one way you can help girls. Many leaders continue after their daughters are no longer “girls” in a variety of positions. Find out about other opportunities to help girls and volunteers in your area.
Remember as you enjoy your time as a Girl Scout that you need to have fun. If you’re not having fun, you will look at volunteering as a job. Relax and remember this is your opportunity to help girls experience the world beyond their school and family.
Sites to Explore
- groups.yahoo.com (search for Girl Scouts)
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_GS_Leader