The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is based on three keys—discover, connect, and take action—but it’s not just for your troop! As a Girl Scout leader, you’ll embark on your own leadership journey as you help girls develop the vital leadership skills they’ll use to make the world a better place. Here are a few basic concepts that outline what leadership means in Girl Scouting.
Leadership is teaching girls:
As a leader, see yourself as a coach who:
It’s important to remember that:
Volunteer Background Check:
In addition to becoming a registered adult Girl Scout member, volunteers must submit a criminal background check authorization before working with girls. All volunteer background checks expire after three (3) years. Active volunteers are required to complete an updated criminal background check every three (3) years. View the Background Check page for more information.
Your responsibilities as a Girl Scout volunteer include:
Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland expects that all volunteers will act in an appropriate manner at all times while participating in a Girl Scout capacity. At times it is necessary to use corrective action in order to maintain a positive, safe environment for girls and to protect the assets of girls, Girl Scout groups and the council.
Objectionable or unsatisfactory conduct will not be permitted and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, depending on the severity of the violation. When possible, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland will work with the volunteer to establish actions to correct the situation. Serious violations may involve immediate suspension or release from the volunteer position.
Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland or the volunteer may initiate termination of appointment to a volunteer role. A volunteer may be released from an appointed position because of the inability or failure to complete the requirements of the position, including training and background check, failure to abide by GSUSA or GSKH policies or standards, misuse or mismanagement of Girl Scout funds, or failure to accept and foster the mission and goals of the organization. Volunteers may still be a registered member of Girl Scout of the United States of America regardless of voluntary resignation or council termination.
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.
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 us or your service unit support team for help with a troop meeting place.
Special Considerations for Meeting in Homes:
Schools, churches, libraries and community buildings are excellent locations for troop meetings. A private location or home should be your last choice.
In order to ensure the safety of all Girl Scouts, GSKH has a special approval process for in-home troop meetings. Meetings or events cannot take place in a home where a convicted sex offender resides. Meetings or events cannot take place in a home or facility where residents smoke indoors. For home meetings, complete the Meeting Space Agreement. All persons over 18 living in the home must become a Girl Scout member and complete a criminal background check. A Girl Scout representative will conduct a site-visit of the home before approving the application.
A renewal of the Meeting Space Agreement must be completed each year that the troop leader is planning to hold a troop meeting in their home. This is due by October 1 each year and must be approved prior to the first meeting in the home each membership year. Additionally, a new Meeting Space Agreement is required if there is a change in site or circumstance of the adults living in the home.
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:
How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.
For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities (outside the normal meeting time and place) in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:
Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights. Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.
Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note, you must check with your council to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles. Fifteen passenger vans are not recommended.
Please keep in mind the following non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:
Neither Girl Scout Troops/Groups, nor individual volunteers, have the authority to sign any legally binding contract or agreement on behalf of Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland (the “council” or “GSKH”). Any contracts related to GSKH must be submitted to the CEO, or assigned Designee, for approval and signature at least one month before its effective date.
Checklist for Drivers
When driving a car, RV or camper, take the following precautions and ask all other drivers to do the same:
Check with your council for any other specific guidelines or requirements they have.
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:
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). Volunteers with ten or more years of service can become lifetime members at the discounted young alum rate.
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.
For marketing and recruitment materials for adding more girls to your troop, send an email to email@example.com. This is also the email you will use to get details about how to list your troop in a troop opportunity catalog.
There are courses offered on gsLearn that guide troop volunteers through the process of registering a girl or renewing girls into your troop. In addition, there are also trainings on recruitment tactics. Please see "GSUSA Managing My Troops from My Account" and "GSUSA Effective Recruitment Tactics."
Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that’s why we embrace girls of all abilities and backgrounds with a specific and positive philosophy of inclusion that benefits everyone. Each Girl Scout—regardless of her socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, primary language, political belief, or religion—is an equal and valued member of the group, and groups reflect the diversity of the community.
We believe inclusion is an approach and an attitude, rather than a set of guidelines. Inclusion is about belonging—about all girls being offered the same opportunities with respect, dignity, and celebration of their unique strengths. It’s about being a sister to every Girl Scout! You’re accepting and inclusive when you:
If you have questions about accommodating an individual girl, please reach out to us.
As you think about where, when, and how often to meet with your group, consider the needs, resources, safety and beliefs of all members and potential members. Include the special needs of any members who have disabilities or whose parents or caregivers have disabilities. Don’t rely on visual cues to inform you of a disability: approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability — that’s one in five people of every socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity and religion.
If you want to find out what a girl with a disability needs to make her Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask them or their parent or caregiver. If you are open and honest, they’ll likely respond in kind, creating an atmosphere that enriches everyone.
It’s important for all girls to be rewarded based on their best efforts — not on the completion of a task. Give any Girl Scout the opportunity to do her best and she will! Sometimes that means changing a few rules or approaching an activity in a more creative way. Here are some examples of ways to modify activities:
Focus on a person’s abilities — on what they can do rather than on what they cannot. In that spirit, use people-first language that puts the person before the disability.
|Say . . .||Instead of . . .|
|She has a learning disability.||She is learning disabled.|
|She has a developmental delay.||She is mentally retarded; she is slow.|
|She uses a wheelchair.||She is wheelchair-bound.|
When interacting with a girl (or parent/caregiver) with a disability, consider these tips:
Registering Girls with Cognitive Disabilities
Girls with cognitive disabilities can be registered as closely as possible to their chronological ages. They wear the uniform of that grade level. Make any adaptations for the Girl Scout to ongoing activities of the grade level to which the group belongs. Young women with cognitive disorders may choose to retain their girl membership through their twenty-first year, and then move into an adult membership category.
Just as your Girl Scouts rally around each other for support, you’ll also have a dedicated Girl Scout support team, consisting of council staff and passionate volunteers just like you. Your support team, which may be called a service unit at your council, is ready to offer local learning opportunities and advice as well as answer your questions about the Girl Scout program, working with girls, product sales, and so much more.
Before you hold your first troop meeting with girls, consider the support and people resources you’ll need to cultivate an energizing troop experience. Parents, friends, family, and other members of the community have their own unique strengths and can provide time, experience, and ideas to a troop, so get them involved from the very beginning as part of your volunteer troop team. This team is made up of troop leaders (like you) and troop committee volunteers.
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.
From toolkits and guides to regular contact with experienced people, you’ll have all the support you need to be a Girl Scout volunteer. Here’s a list of some important resources you’ll want to check out.
The Volunteer Toolkit
The Volunteer Toolkit 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 Volunteer Toolkit saves you time and energy so that you can focus on having fun with your Girl Scouts.
With the Volunteer Toolkit, 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.
Email parents/caregivers with one click.
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).
Customize meeting agendas to fit your unique troop.
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.
Record attendance at meetings and their troop’s badge and Journey achievements.
Add council or custom events to the troop’s calendar.
Submit troop’s finance reports (depending on the council’s process).
Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as Safety Activity Checkpoints.
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.
Renew their memberships and update their contact information.
View their Girl Scout’s attendance and achievements.
See upcoming events the troop is planning or attending.
Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as the Family Hub.
View the troop’s finance report (depending on the council’s process).
Get started by visiting: mygs.girlscouts.org
The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting
What does it mean to be a go-getting Girl Scout? It’s all in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. 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! girlscoutshop.com
Safety Activity Checkpoints
Safety is paramount in Girl Scouting, and this resource — Safety Activity Checkpoints — contains everything you need to know to help keep your girls safe during a variety of exciting activities outside of their regular Girl Scout troop meetings.
Tips for Troop Leaders
When you’re looking for real-world advice from fellow troop leaders who've been there, this volunteer-to-volunteer resource on the Girl Scouts of the USA website has what you need for a successful troop year.
Girl Scout Volunteers in Your Community
Remember that Girl Scout support team we mentioned? You’ll find them in your service unit! Troops are organized geographically into service units or communities. You’ll find a local network of fellow leaders and administrative volunteers ready to offer tips and advice to help you succeed in your volunteer role.
Customer Care Contacts
Questions? Need help resolving an issue? We’ve got you! Reach out anytime either by clicking filling out the Contact Us form or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. During business hours you can reach a customer service specialist by calling 1-888-686-6468.
We know that when you have the knowledge and skills you need to manage your girls, both you and your troop will thrive. Contact your council to ask about ongoing learning opportunities that will help you grow your skills and confidence.
What begins with Girl Scouts speaking up at a troop meeting can go all the way to speaking in front of their city council for a cause they champion—and they’ll have your support to thank for that. Your volunteer role makes a powerful difference. Thank you for all you do.
Just as you’ll receive support throughout your volunteering experience, when you reach the end of the term you signed up for, you’ll talk with your support team about the positive parts of your experience as well as the challenges you faced, and you’ll discuss whether you want to return to this position or try something new. The end of your troop year, camp season, overseas trip, or series/event session is just the beginning of your next adventure with Girl Scouts!
If you’re ready for more opportunities, be sure to let your council support team know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ lives in the future—whether in the same position or in other, flexible ways. Are you ready to organize a series or event? Take a trip? Work with girls at camp? Work with a troop of girls as a yearlong volunteer? Share your skills at a council office, working behind the scenes? The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to fit your skills and interests.
Without our passionate and dedicated volunteers, there would be no Girl Scouting. That’s why we celebrate National Volunteer Month every April! And get ready to crank up the party as we ring in National Girl Scout Leader’s Day on April 22.
Girl Scouts also celebrates National Volunteer Week, which falls during the third week of April. What can we say—we love our volunteers!
In order to recognize the extraordinary women and men who volunteer across the council for their service, GSKH offers a number of volunteer awards at the local, council and national levels. Please see more information on our Volunteer Recognition page.
The decision by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to open the Boy Scout program to girls has fundamentally altered the nature of the relationship between BSA and Girl Scouts nationally and locally. Local relationships between BSA and Girl Scout councils that have led to partnerships and joint activities in the past may now create certain risks or challenges for Girl Scouts. For this reason, councils are encouraged to avoid joint recruiting and/or joint participation in community events or activities.
To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique, girl-only, and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which girls participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and girl-led, and are conducted under the appropriate supervision of Girl Scouts.
Protecting Use of Girl Scout Materials
Girl Scout materials are intended for the exclusive use of Girl Scouts and are protected as the intellectual property of Girl Scouts of the USA. Materials include but are not limited to: Girl Scout logo, tag lines, and/or program and badge requirements.
© Copyright 2009–2022 Girl Scouts of the United States of America. All rights reserved. All information and material contained in Girl Scouts’ Volunteer Essentials guide (“Material”) is provided by Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) and is intended to be educational material solely to be used by Girl Scout volunteers and council staff. Reproduction, distribution, compiling, or creating derivative works of any portion of the Material or any use other than noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law is prohibited, unless explicit, prior authorization by GSUSA in writing was granted. GSUSA reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit, or discontinue the Material at any time without notice.