Not only do some of the most memorable moments in a Girl Scout’s life happen while taking trips, but travel also offers a wealth of opportunities for girls to develop leadership skills!
Traveling with Girls
Some of the most memorable moments in a Girl Scout’s life happen while taking trips. Travel offers a wealth of opportunities for girls to develop leadership, confidence, and practical life skills. The following information can help you and girls prepare for local, regional, or international travel.
Girl Scouts is a great place for girls to learn how to plan and take exciting trips, because travel is built on a progression of activities—one activity leads to the next. Daisies can begin with a discovery walk. As girls grow in their travel skills and can better manage the planning process, they progress to longer trips—even global trips!
For Daisies, this could mean a day trip to an arboretum as part of the Journey they are achieving. For Seniors or Ambassadors it might mean whitewater rafting in Costa Rica or exploring the Our Chalet World Center in Switzerland.
Although many troops decide to travel together, Girl Scouts may also get together specifically for the purpose of traveling. Girls might join a trip with other girls from around their council, or form a new troop with other girls who like to travel. Girl Scouts of the USA also offers individual Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors the chance to travel independently and meet other Girl Scouts from across the country through the Destinations program.
The recommended progression of trips and travel for Girl Scouts are:
- Field trip: A walk to the nearby garden or a short ride to the firehouse or courthouse.
- Day trip: A day-long trip to a nearby city, stopping at a restaurant for a meal.
- Overnight trip: One or two nights at a state park or hotel in a nearby city for sightseeing.
- Extended trip: Three or four nights camping or in a hotel with various activities.
- National trip: Travel anywhere in the country to incredible cities, historic sites, and museums!
- International trip: When girls show an interest in traveling abroad, contact your volunteer support specialist for support as you help the girls plan their trip.
Global Travel Toolkit: http://forgirls.girlscouts.org/travel/resources/global-travel-toolkit/
Age Level Guidelines:
- Juniors and older (4th-12th grade) may take “extended” trips of 3 nights or longer.
- Cadettes and older (6th-12th grade) may travel internationally!
Travel progression checklist
Determine a group’s readiness for travel by assessing the girls’:
Ability to be away from their parents and their homes.
Ability to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and situations.
Ability to make decisions well and easily.
Previous cross-cultural experiences.
Ability to get along with each other and handle challenges.
Skills, interests, and language skills (where applicable).
Ability to work well as a team.
|Training||When do you need the training?||cost||length|
|Overnight Trips||3+ months prior to your first overnight activity||n/a||45 minutes
|Cooking and Camping||6+ months prior to cooking/sleeping outdoors for the first time||$10||8 hours
|Extended trips||12+ months prior to your first trip of three nights or longer||n/a||3 hours online|
Approved volunteers who have taken the appropriate travel training are approved to help girls plan trips of any length. While written approval is not required, please be sure to tell us about your trip.
Trip Notification Form
For trips of one or more overnights, please submit a Trip Notification form online. We just need the basics in case of an emergency.
Journeys give girls a way to explore leadership through their travels:
- If Cadette girls have chosen the MEdia Journey, they can read online newspapers from the area to which they will travel—and evaluate how well the media reflects the realities there.
- If Senior girls are using SOW WHAT? Journey, they can plan to observe agricultural practices in other parts of the country or around the world.
- Ambassadors using BLISS: Live It! Give It! Journey, can build a trip around dreaming big—and empowering others in their community to dream big, too.
Girls can also work on earning skill-building badges as part of their trip!
- The most obvious example is the Senior Traveler badge, which fits perfectly into planning a trip.
- Cadettes can explore the food in other regions or countries for their New Cuisines badge.
- Seniors can find out about international business customs with the Business Etiquette badge.
- Ambassadors can work on their Photography badge while documenting their trip.
Limit your role to facilitating the girls’ brainstorming and planning. Allow the girls to lead – and make mistakes (in a safe environment). Provide ideas and insight, ask tough questions when you have to, and support their decisions with enthusiasm and encouragement!
There are basic steps to planning any trip. Start by asking the following:
Where are we interested in going?
What do we hope to experience?
When are we all available to go? Will everyone in our group be able to go?
What are our options for getting there?
What’s the least and most this trip could cost? How will we earn the money?
What will we do when we get there?
Who will we want to talk to and meet? What will we ask?
What are visiting hours and the need for advance reservations?
What’s the availability of drinking water, restrooms, and eating places?
How will we share our Take Action story?
As girls answer these questions, they begin the trip-planning process. After they’ve returned from an event or trip, girls should have the chance to evaluate their experiences and share them with others via the GSCO Blog at gscoblog.org/share.
To determine how many volunteer chaperones the girls will need with them on the trip, see the adult-to-girl ratios. As you ask for chaperones, be sure to look for ones who are committed to:
- Being a positive role model
- Respecting all girls and adults equally, with no preferential treatment
- Creating a safe space for girls
- Prioritizing the safety of all girls
- Supporting and reinforcing a group agreement
- Handling pressure and stress by modeling flexibility and a sense of humor
- Creating an experience for and with girls
- Getting fit (appropriate to the trip)
Be sure every chaperone reviews and follows the 12 Girl Scout Safety Guidelines, available both in the Quick-Start Guide to this handbook and in the “Safety-Wise” chapter.
Be sure to discuss the following items with the girls and their parents before you leave on any trip:
- Who her buddy is—and how the buddy system works
- What to do if she is separated from the group
- What to do if she loses something significant: money, passport, luggage
- What to do if emergency help is needed
- How to perform basic first-aid procedures
- What behaviors you expect—and what consequences exist for not living up to those behaviors
- How to deal with a large crowd (if applicable)
- What to do in the event of a crime
Travel Security and Safety Tips
|Share these safety tips with girls before you leave on any trip that involves a stay at a hotel, motel, hostel, or dormitory:
· Always lock the door behind you, using the deadbolt and the chain or anchor.
· Do not open the door for strangers; if hotel staff claims to be at the door, call the front desk to confirm.
· Don’t mention or display your room number when in the presence of strangers.
· Never leave jewelry, cameras, electronics, cash, or credit cards in your room.
· Never leave luggage unattended in the hotel lobby (or in an airport or train or bus station).
· When arriving at the hotel, locate emergency exits.
· Keep a small flashlight on your bedside table, along with a small bag with your room key, wallet, passport, and cell phone. Take the flashlight and bag with you if you have to leave the room in an emergency.
· If a fire alarm goes off, get out as quickly as possible. Don’t stop to pack your suitcase.
· Before leaving your room, feel the door: If it is warm, do not open it. Stay in your room and stuff towels around the door. Call the hotel operator immediately. If the door is cool, proceed slowly out the door, looking for flames or smoke. Repeat these instructions for any door you encounter.
· Contact the front desk to make sure girls’ rooms are cleared of any minibars or refrigerators. Also be sure the hotel doesn’t provide access to inappropriate movies on TVs and does not allow long-distance calls. Alert the hotel management that underage girls are staying in the hotel, and ask them to contact you if any girls are seen out of their rooms after bedtime.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace and World Centers
The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, is a fantastic place for Girl Scout Juniors and older to visit. Reservations and council approval are required to take a group of girls to visit the birthplace, and most educational opportunities are booked at least a year in advance, so book early! Families and individuals, however, do not need to reserve a tour in advance.
In addition, four lodges are available in England, Mexico, Switzerland, and India for use by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, each with hostel- or dormitory-style accommodations. The world centers are operated by WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) and offer low-cost accommodations and special programs. They are also a great way to meet Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world.