- Volunteer Toolkit (free troop leader digital resource accessible through MyGS)
As a Girl Scout volunteer, your talents and experience have the power to change girls’ lives. As girls learn, grow, and lead, you’re there through it all—shaping the future right along with us. And while you teach them important life lessons and set them up for happy, successful lives, you’ll grow too—honing your own leadership and organizational skills.
We know that volunteering isn’t always easy, especially when you’re new, so we’ve collected some resources just for you to help you get started. Before we jump into new resources, you should be familiar with the following:
Not sure what your next step is? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help get you on track!
Have parents/guardians fill out the following forms each year*:
Troop leaders keep these forms on file. See the “Getting Organized” section for tips.
*For continuing troops, this should happen each year in the fall. For new troops, this should happen whenever the troop first gets started, and then each year annually in the fall.
Each troop should have a first aider who is CPR/First Aid certified, following the guidelines for CPR/First Aid requirements. See the Volunteer Handbook and Safety Activity Checkpoints located on our GSME Resources page for more details.
When girls are present, Girl Scout adults must have a well-stocked first aid kit available with copies of the GSME Emergency Procedures cards and an Accident/Illness report.
Make sure your meeting location follows the safety guidelines
discussed in the Volunteer Handbook, and that you can hold safe in-person meetings there. Be sure to follow
the ratio chart from the Volunteer Handbook (and shown below) to make
sure you have enough volunteers at each meeting.
For example, if you have a troop of 12 Daisies you will need:
Please note that anyone who is planning to volunteer with the troop
3 or more times must be registered and background checked.
Field trips and travel are integral to the Girl Scout experience and are an important part of what makes Girl Scouts so rewarding for girls (and adult volunteers, too!). Prior to embarking on any activities outside of regular troop meetings, troop leaders need to complete Troop Volunteers, Part 2. Check out our Adult Learning page to find out more and to sign up for a session.
As a troop leader, you are responsible for tracking a variety of troop-related information. Develop a way that works for you to track receipts, bank statements, Annual Permission Forms, Health Records, Parent Permission Forms, program materials, meeting plans, and other important documents. Be sure to keep all personal and confidential information secure.
Assemble a binder to keep track of receipts, health and permission forms, notes, plans, and other important troop documents. Clear plastic sleeves and folders are very helpful!
If you prefer to keep everything digital, feel free to utilize the digital organizational tools you are comfortable with (Gmail, Google calendar/docs/forms, a private Facebook or Instagram group, etc.).
For in-person meetings, consider creating a troop file box to act as a “mailbox” for girls/parents to check at the beginning or end of meetings. This can be helpful for forms and permission slips, distributing missed patches (if not received during a ceremony), updates and notices, etc.
Here is a list of a few helpful links:
There really is no limit to what Girl Scouts can accomplish! Here are some of the main ways that girls build their Girl Scout experience:
What have your girls always wanted to do? Make their own movie, go geocaching, or plant a garden? Great news! They can learn to do all these things and more while earning official Girl Scout badges. Badges are worn on the front of the vest or sash. The Volunteer Toolkit is a free resource for troop leaders with everything you and your girls need to earn all of the badges. If you prefer a pre-printed resource, check out the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting for your troop’s level.
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination! Troops can opt to complete a Girl Scout “Journey” over multiple sessions. Journey meeting guides are available for free in the Volunteer Toolkit or in pre-printed books available to purchase through the GSME shop. These guides show the leader how to help the girls through the process of identifying a problem, coming up with a solution, and putting a plan into action. Girls then earn Journey Awards that will go on the front of the uniform.
Think of fun patches as collecting memories in Girl Scouts. They’re often a part of the fun activities you can do in Girl Scouts and have fewer or no official requirements compared to badges. Check out the whole suite of GSME patches made just for Girl Scouts of Maine! There are also many other types of fun patches available, from Founder’s Day celebration to roller skating and more. Patches are always worn on the back of the vest or sash.
Check out our online events calendar for activities just for Girl Scouts! You can sign up your troop or girls may attend events on their own. Be sure to also connect with your service team to find out about local programming within your service unit.
Learning in the outdoors is a special part of the Girl Scout experience, and we have amazing camp facilities and programs here in Maine! Girls can learn to play the ukulele, paddleboard, meet the challenge of the high ropes course, practice target sports (such as archery and hatchet throwing), and so much more. We also offer troop and family camps. Interested in planning your own outdoor adventure at a location other than a GSME camp property? Check out the “Troop Safety” section above!
Every troop (including yours!) has a team of people available to them who are ready to offer support. Refer to the materials you received after your Welcome Zoom for details and reach out to your volunteer support specialist with questions. Not sure who your Volunteer Support Specialist is? Contact email@example.com for assistance!
Every troop has at least two troop leaders who work together to guide the troop and attend to everything that needs to get done. While each troop may have additional parent volunteers, the troop leaders are ultimately responsible for guiding the troop along with the girls.
Make it a top priority to get to know your co-leader and decide how you will work together. Schedule a regular monthly meeting to check-in, review bank statements, and plan for the month ahead.
Have you known your co-leader for years and are already best friends? That’s awesome! Be sure to still meet regularly, decide up front who will do what, and maintain clear lines of communication around Girl Scouts. Remember, none of us reads minds: ask questions AND share your hopes, dreams, and expectations early and often for clarity.
Parent meeting: Schedule a parent meeting
before you start your regular troop meetings with the girls. See the
“Meeting with your troop” section below for more details.
Family Star Patch Program: The Family Shining Star Patch Program is a great way to get troop parents involved and help fill in any gaps on the troop leadership team.
Communication: Plan how you will stay in touch with troop parents/caregivers. Decide as a leadership team the method and schedule that works best for you. You will want to establish a regular means of communication, which keeps everyone up to date on the latest and greatest from the troop including: stories from the girls, troop financial status, wish list, news & upcoming events, etc.
Most troops meet once a week or twice a month, while some troops meet monthly. Daisy troops tend to have shorter meetings, generally 45 minutes to an hour, while troops of older girls often meet for longer. The important thing is not how often or how long the troop meets, but how well the meetings work for the troop.
Before meeting with your troop, you will want to meet with the girls’ parents/caregivers. This meeting is a great chance to start to get to know your Girl Scouts and their families, share with parents/caregivers how they can support the troop, and set clear expectations around troop business (such as dues, scheduling, responsibilities, etc.). Troops are encouraged to hold parent meetings at least once a year.
For full details on planning for your parent/caregiver meeting, please refer to the Volunteer Toolkit. The parent meeting is usually listed as the first meeting of the Year Plan, or you can search for “Intro Meeting” using the “Add Badge/Journey” function. There are also additional materials available in the Resources tab of the Volunteer Toolkit and in the Volunteer Handbook.
Girl Scouts is girl-led, which means girls of every age take an active and age-appropriate role in figuring out the what, where, when, why, and how of all the exciting troop activities they’ll do. Girl-led happens over time, starting with small steps that build upon each other in progression.
Remember that projects don’t have to come out “perfectly” (whatever that means!) and girls don’t have to fill their vests and sashes with badges. What matters most is the fun and learning that happens as girls make experiences their own. Lay the foundation together, and then step back and let your girls take the lead.
Here are some simple tools that will help you in supporting your girls to take the lead:
Follow the six part meeting template structure for successful troop meetings. Customize with your troop as needed!
Please note that the meeting plans in the Volunteer Toolkit are already organized in this format, and those can also be customized to fit your troop.
Create a troop kaper chart. Kaper charts are a great way to get all of the girls involved in running the troop (it is their troop, after all!). Girls can learn new skills and even get to know each other better. Try pairing up girls who may not already spend much time together. Rotate the girls and assignments frequently to keep the pairs and kapers fresh.
Creating a troop agreement is a great activity to complete together early in the year. This sets clear expectations for the rest of the year and, since the troop creates it together, the agreements are more likely to be followed. Keep it girl-led by providing guidance in the form of asking questions to help get the girls thinking. For instance, you can ask the girls how they like to be treated, what their values are, etc. Encourage girls to work as a team to brainstorm and agree on what should be included in the troop agreement.
When reviewing the list of items with the girls, also consider questions such as: Does everyone know the purpose behind the agreement and how to live up to it? Are there clear, realistic, and enforceable consequences for not following the agreement? How will the troop agreement be shared with new members and when/how often will it be reviewed by the troop?
When working with the youngest Girl Scouts (Daisies in particular), start by having a group conversation around how they like to be treated. Focus on helping them come up with a small and simple list of the most important aspects from their ideas. You can try the Five Finger Contract, where each finger represents a guideline for the girls that is easy for them to remember (such as positivity, participating, safety, etc.). When you have agreed on the contract, you can get a big piece of paper and have everyone trace their hands and sign their names inside to say that they agree to uphold and follow the contract. This method can also work for Brownies and Juniors.
Plus/Delta is a simple evaluation tool you can use with kids or grown-ups. Connect with your girls (or troop adults!) after completing an activity to find out what is going well and what can be improved.
Plus focuses on the things that went well.
Delta is the mathematical symbol for change.
You can write out this chart on dry erase board or a large piece of paper and take notes during a troop discussion.
At the end of a meeting or activity, ask the group “What went well?” Enter responses under the Plus sign.
Then ask, “What could we do differently to make it better?” Enter responses under the Delta sign.
For a quick version, you can ask girls to give a simple thumbs up/thumbs down. You can also come up with another method that works for your troop.
Each troop manages its own bank account, following the GSME guidelines. Your Volunteer Support Specialist will provide you with the information you will need in order to open your troop bank account. Review the Troop Finance and Banking Guidelines in the Volunteer Handbook for full details.
Troop leaders are responsible for keeping all finance records and receipts and submitting an Annual Finance Report each year. Be sure to review the Volunteer Handbook for information on troop finance guidelines. The Volunteer Handbook can be found in the GSME Resources section of our website. Keep track of troop income and expenses in a way that works for you.
Girls work together, with the support and guidance of their troop
leaders, to earn money to achieve their goals as a troop.
Troops earn funds primarily through participating in the Fall Product Program and the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Troops have dedicated support throughout both programs from service team volunteers and GSME staff. Troop leaders are also encouraged to recruit parents/guardians from the troop to fill the roles of fall product program volunteer and cookie program volunteer.
Troops that are Brownie level and up may apply to participate in additional money earning activities (bake sales, car washes, etc.), if they are working towards a goal that requires additional funds. Refer to the Volunteer Handbook for details and requirements.
The Girl Scouts of Maine council serves all of Maine. The council is divided into 37 service units, each of which is managed by a service team.
A service unit encompasses a specific geographic area and is generally made up of a collection of towns. Each service unit is identified with a name and a number, such as “SU665 Chickadee”. Refer to the welcome materials you received for your service unit name and number.
Each service unit is managed by a service team, which is made up of volunteers and a GSME staff member (volunteer support specialist). Service team volunteers are often also troop leaders, or have been in the past, however that is not a requirement. The service team works together to make sure the service unit offers the best possible experience for local Girl Scouts. The service team does this through things such as mentoring new troop leaders, planning service unit events and activities, and holding regular leader meetings.
Each troop is asked to send at least one troop leader to every service unit leader meeting. Leader meetings are very important to helping you grow as a troop leader. It’s where you will meet your peers, form your local support network, problem-solve together, share resources, and connect with sister troops, which are so beneficial for the girls and the volunteers. Please reach out to your service team or volunteer support specialist for your current service unit leader meeting schedule.
A lot of news, updates, opportunities, and other information is shared through Facebook. We ask that each troop have at least one troop leader join the service unit Facebook group for their area. You are also encouraged to join the GSME Volunteer Swap! group on Facebook. Refer to your welcome Zoom slide deck for the appropriate links.
For information on upcoming service unit events, keep an eye on your email and your service unit Facebook group. And feel free to reach out to your service team directly as well. These events are volunteer-led (and sometimes troop-led!), and are offered in addition to events organized by Girl Scouts of Maine.
One of the best parts of being a troop leader is you are not alone in your journey. Connecting with your service team is a great way to start building relationships within your service unit. In general, the best people to reach out to first are the service team volunteer(s) mentioned in your Welcome Zoom. You will also be connecting with your whole service team through leader meetings, the service unit Facebook group, and service unit events. You will also receive a service team contact list from your Volunteer Support Specialist so that you can contact team members directly. Check out this blog post, “The Questions your Service Unit Manager Wishes You’d Ask”, from GSUSA’s Tips for Troop Leaders.
Girl Scouts enjoy a rich history of shared traditions, and also use their creativity to craft new traditions of their own! Here is some information to get you started on your exploration of Girl Scout ceremonies and traditions:
Check out the Girl Scout Spirit Year patch program for fun ways to explore the Girl Scout law and learn Girl Scout songs and traditions with your troop.