Starting a troop

Chapter 4 quick links:
Form a team
Meeting place and time
Getting girls registered
Family Involvement Meeting
Meeting with girls
Traditional meeting
Structure – letting girls lead
myGS and the Volunteer Toolkit
Keep in touch and share your story

Thank you for making it possible for girls to experience the wonderful world of Girl Scouting!

We want to provide just the right amount of support to help you plan and make your first meetings a success!

Form a team

Think about the people you know who can connect with girls, are dependable and responsible, and realistically have time to spend volunteering. If your group needs help finding volunteers, talk to your local service unit team or volunteer support specialist for advice and support.

A troop committee is made of volunteers who fill the following roles:

  • Troop Leadership Team: A team of 2+ unrelated* adults who are excited to put their time into planning with girls.
  • Troop Support Volunteer: The possibilities are endless for this position – most often Support Volunteers assist with trips and chaperoning, building girls outdoor skills and experiences (ie Troop Secretary)
  • Troop Cookie Manager: A volunteer who manages the group’s participation in the Cookie Program.
  • Troop Fall Program Manager: A volunteer who manages the group’s participation in the Fall Product Program.

Note: “Related” GSCO currently defines as marriage, partnership, family, roommate. If you have additional questions, please reach out to your volunteer support specialist.

Every adult who spends 3+ sessions with girls, handles group funds, or attends an overnight activity must become a registered member and submit to a background check. Get started here

Meeting place and time

When you first choose a meeting location, and anytime your location or meeting details change, notify Girl Scouts of Colorado using the Troop Update form.

Choosing a meeting location

Meeting places need to provide a safe, clean, and secure environment that allows for participation of all girls. Consider schools, libraries, places of worship, and community buildings – you can even rotate locations. If you’re asked for a Certificate of Insurance, contact your volunteer support specialist.

Ideally, your meeting location should be free to use, easy for the girls to help keep clean, and have a small space to store supplies. At a minimum, it will need to have at least two functioning exits, accessible toilets, and phone service. Make sure to have first-aid kit at all meetings!

Note: Troop meetings may never be held at a private home/residence, please reach out to your volunteer support specialist for more details. A chaperoned event (one parent for every child in attendance) may take place at a private residence. If it is not a chaperoned event, everyone living in the home over the age of 18 must have passed a criminal background check and a proof of homeowner’s or renter’s insurance must be provided.

Deciding where, when, and how often your group will meet is up to you and the girls!

  • Daisy meetings typically lasts 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • As they get older, they can progress to longer meetings. Consider adding 15-30 minutes each time they bridge up to the next program level.
  • It is common for groups to meet biweekly, but many groups meet weekly or monthly.

Getting girls registered

Membership registration and $25 annual membership dues are required for participation in Girl Scouting – here are tips to make it easy on you and your troop families.

  • Girl Scout membership year begins Oct. 1 – a girl’s program level is determined by her grade at that time.
  • Girls going into kindergarten may become members beginning July 1 before they enter kindergarten.
  • Girls can join online anytime during the year here www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/join.
  • Be sure to share your troop number to make searching the catalog a breeze!
  • To renew girls, log into your member profile and select the troop tab
  • Paper forms are also available in the Forms and Resources website and accepted at any Regional office; visit www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/forms.
  • Financial Assistance is available online for girl and adult memberships, for those who are unable to afford the membership dues.

All new troops are initially set to accept 12 girls, and will display in the troop catalog online for easy registration access for new girl members.  Communicate your desired number of girls, and your preference on whether your troop displays in the catalog using the Troop Update form.

Troop definition

A troop is defined as three unrelated girls, with two unrelated adult leaders, and open to accepting new girl members and adults to volunteer.  For a troop to receive troop proceeds from their participation in a product program, the troop must meet these minimum qualifications. Please note that if a troop  does not meet the minimum expectation the troop will be allowed to receive funds in their bank account.

Early Bird Registration

Membership renewal for the upcoming year begins in the spring and continues into the summer. Girls are encouraged to register early to take advantage of great incentives for participating!


Family Involvement Meeting

A parent/guardian meeting, or a meeting of your friends-and-family network (as encouraged in many of the leadership Journeys), is a chance for you to get to know the families of the girls in your group. This is also a time to get a Family Agreement in writing.  Download copies of the GSCO Family Guide or share it digitally with your troop families.

Before the meeting, be sure you and/or your Troop Leadership Team have done the following:

  • For younger girls, arranged for a parent, another volunteer, or a group of older girls to do activities with the girls in your group while you talk with their parents/guardians (if girls will attend the meeting, too).
  • Practiced a discussion on the following: Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law; benefits of Girl Scouting for their daughters, including how the GSLE is a world-class system for developing girl leaders; all the fun the girls are going to have; expectations for girls and their parents/guardians; and ideas of how parents and other guardians can participate in and enrich their daughters’ Girl Scout experiences (Family Agreement).
  • Determined when product programs will occur (including Girl Scout Cookie activities). Parents/guardians will absolutely want to know.
  • Determined what information parents should bring to the meeting.
  • Used the Friends and Family pages provided in the adult’s guides for many of the Journeys, or created your own one-page information sheet (contact information for you and co-volunteers and helpers, the day and time of each meeting, location of and directions to the meeting place, what to bring with them, and information on how to get Journey resources—books, awards, and keepsakes—and other merchandise like sashes, vests, T-shirts, and so on).
  • Gathered or created supplies, including a sign-in sheet, an information sheet, permission forms for parents/guardians (also available at girlscoutsofcolorado.org/forms), health history forms, and registration instructions.
  • Prepared yourself to ask parents and guardians for help, being as specific as you can about the kind of help you will need (the Journey’s Friends and Family pages will come in handy here)

Hosting a Family Involvement Meeting is a great way to get to know the families of the girls in your group.  It’s your opportunity to share your passion for Girl Scouting and ask families to get involved. Be specific about the kind of help you will need. For younger girls, you may want to ask a group of older girls to do activities with them during the meeting.

There are tips and recommendations on how to engage families in the Nuts and Bolts and program level 101 trainings, as well as in our GSCO Family Guide. You can ask other volunteers in your service unit and/or your volunteer support specialist for ideas on how to get families involved in support of the girls in your troop.

You’re free to structure the parent/guardian meeting in whatever way works for you, but the following structure works for many new volunteers:

  • As the girls and adults arrive, ask them to sign in. If the girls’ parents/guardians haven’t already registered them online, you’ll want to email or hand out information so they can do so. You may also want to email or hand out a brief information sheet before or at this meeting.
  • Open the meeting by welcoming the girls and adults. Introduce yourself and other volunteers. Have adults and girls introduce themselves, discuss whether anyone in their families has been a Girl Scout, and talk about what Girl Scouting means to them. Welcome everyone, regardless of experience, and let them know they will be learning about Girl Scouts today. (If you’re new to Girl Scouting, don’t worry— just let everyone know you’ll be learning about Girl Scouting together!)
  • Ask the girls to go with the adult or teen in charge of their activity and begin the discussion.
  • Discuss the information you prepared for this meeting:
    • All the fun girls are going to have!
    • When and where the group will meet and some examples of activities the girls might choose to do.
    • That a parent/guardian permission form is used for activities outside the group’s normal meeting time and place and the importance of completing and returning it.
    • How you plan to keep in touch with parents/guardians (a Facebook page or group, Twitter, email, text messaging, a phone tree, or fliers the girls take home are just some ideas).
    • The Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law.
    • The Girl Scout program, especially what the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is and what the program does for their daughters.
    • When Girl Scout Cookies (and other products) will go on sale and how participation in product programs teaches life skills and helps fund group activities.
    • The cost of membership, which includes annual GSUSA dues, any group payments, optional uniforms, and any resources parents/guardians will need to buy (such as a girl’s book for a Journey).
    • The availability of financial assistance and how the Girl Scout Product Programs generate funds for the group treasury.
    • That families can also make donations to the council—and why they might want to do that! Families can become a member of Daisy’s Circle, Girl Scouts of Colorado’s monthly giving program.
    • That you may be looking for additional volunteers, and in which areas you are looking. (Be as specific as possible!)
    • Remind the group of the next meeting (if you’ll have one) and thank everyone for attending.

Hold the next meeting when it makes sense for you and your co-volunteers—that may be in two months if face-to-face meetings are best, or not at all if you’re diligent about keeping in touch with parents/guardians via Facebook, Twitter, text messages, email, phone calls, or some other form of communication.

After the meeting, follow up with any parents/guardians who did not attend, to connect them with the group, inform them of decisions, and discuss how they can best help the girls.

A family agreement should be created at the first parent meeting before the troop begins. This is an opportunity for the leadership team and families to gain a mutual understanding of troop expectations for the year. Some best practices include:

    • Meeting time and location
    • Drop off and pick up windows/expectations
    • Collection of health history, any other relevant data needed
    • Family involvement with the troop, chaperones, additional troop support
    • Girl led expectations, see volunteer essentials for details
    • Troop dues (if any)
    • Attendance policy (if any)
    • A little bit about the leaders, and each girl
    • Troop accounting transparency
    • Communication methods
    • Introduction of Volunteer Essentials as a useful resource

Once the group decides on the above-mentioned items, the troop leadership team can put it into one document and send it out to parents or guardians for signatures of acceptance.

Removal of a girl from the troop/group is never a decision that can be reached by a troop leadership team member without the support of their volunteer support specialist. Using language in the group or family agreement such as “failure to do so will result in removal from the troop” is strongly discouraged.


Meeting with girls

When you get together with the girls, you’ll want to give them a chance to get to know one another!

Check out “Intro” and “Jump into Badges and Journeys” Meeting Plans in myGS for ideas on how to help the girls get started and involved in deciding what awards and activities they want to pursue as a troop this year.

Remember you can customize the activities you see to fit the girls’ interests and resources available to you. Badges and Journeys are a great way to ask Troop Support Volunteers to work with girls and lead activities at troop meetings!

Looking at a sample troop year

Here is just one example of how you and the girls could set up your troop year:

Login and check out the Year Plans and Meeting Plans available! myGS is designed to make planning your year a breeze – it’s got everything you need to get started quickly and It’s fully customizable to fit your troop’s unique style.

Before you meet with the girls:

􀀀 Hold a parent/guardian meeting, and create a family agreement.

􀀀 Open a checking account (two unrelated, approved volunteers are needed as bank signers).

􀀀 Collaborate with families to register all the girls and adults (if needed) in the troop.

Meet with girls for the first time:

􀀀 Meet together for the first time, allowing the girls to decide how they can learn each others’ names and find out more about each other. Work together to create a group agreement.

􀀀 Kick off the year with a Jump into Journeys and Badges meeting (see any Year Plan in myGS for details). The girls may choose a leadership Journey, badge activities, or something they design.

Throughout your Girl Scout year:

• Have the girls plan, budget for, and “earn and learn” in the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

• Help girls plan a field trip or other travel opportunity.

• Encourage girls to plan a culminating ceremony to celebrate awards they have earned.

• Camp out!

• Participate in a council-wide event with girls from around your region.

• Have the girls plan and hold a bridging ceremony for girls continuing on to the next Girl Scout grade level.

Wrap up your Girl Scout year:

  • Pre-register girls for next year – watch for an announcement of Early Bird registration incentives.
  • Complete your Annual Troop Report.

Traditional meeting structure

Meetings often have these six elements but your group may structure meetings however you’d like.

As Girls Arrive Start-up activities for girls as they arrive so they have something to do until the opening
Opening Each group decides how to open their meeting. Most begin with the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and then add a simple flag ceremony, song, game, story, or other ceremony.

Business

Business may include taking attendance, collecting dues, making announcements, or planning an upcoming event or trip.

Activities Activities will depend on what the girls want to do in their group and how they want to spend their collective time. They can work on badges, their Journey, or other awards.
Clean-up Girls take leadership of clean-up by deciding who does what to get their meeting space back to the way it was when they arrived—maybe even cleaner!
Closing  The closing lets the girls know that the meeting is ending. There are many closing ceremony ideas in the Journey adult guides. Many groups close with the friendship circle. Learn how to do the friendship circle at www.girlscouts.org/program/basics/traditions.

Letting girls lead

Girls will gain confidence and leadership skills when given the opportunity to lead their activities and participate in decision-making! Here are a few examples of team decision-making traditions in Girl Scouting:

Daisy/Brownie Circle: While sitting in a circle, girls express their ideas and vote to finalize decisions. You play an active role in facilitating the discussion. If girls are talking over each other, consider passing an object, such as a talking stick, that entitles one girl to speak at a time.

Recommended for Juniors+ (4th grade and older):

Patrol or Team System: Large groups divide into small groups of 4-6, with every member playing a role. Patrols may be organized by interests or activities, with each team taking responsibility for some part of the total project. Let the girls choose team names!

Executive Board: A leadership team consisting of a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer make decisions for the entire group. The board’s responsibility is to plan activities and assign jobs based on interests and needs. The group decides how to pass their ideas to the board. Limit the length of time girls can serve in a position so every girl can participate.

Town Meeting: Business is discussed and decisions are made at meetings attended by all the girls in the group. Everyone gets the chance to participate in decision-making and leadership. Your role is to act as a moderator, making sure that all ideas are shared and considered.


myGS and the Volunteer Toolkit

With myGS, getting started is a breeze! This online service provides powerful planning tools in a sharable format to help the troop easily collaborate, plan and stay in touch.

myGS means less time planning and more time with the girls getting your hands dirty, making memories together, and building future girl leaders!

Check out these tutorial videos

Currently, the Volunteer Toolkit provides detailed Meeting Plans for Daisy, Brownie and Junior troops. Older Girls can fully customize their year and add their own activities.

• Watch for your “Member Community” invite over email – it will come from gsusacustomercare@girlscouts.org. Create your login and password, and start exploring! (You can also always click on myGS from the GSCO homepage, and choose Forgot Password to get access!)

• Choose a Year Plan first – you can always change it later if the girls’ interests take you in a fun, new direction.

• Customize your meeting dates and locations, and add activities easily using the built in tool.

• Meeting Plans include everything you need to run your meeting with your girls – materials lists, printables, and step by step instructions.

• Encourage troop families to login to the Member Profile as well – they will be able to see the troop’s plans! The more your families can see what your girls are up to – the more we know they’ll want to get involved.


Keep in touch  and share your Colorado Girl Scout story

Set up a group website

Your troop may want to share information, market Girl Scout products, and celebrate their Girl Scout memories online Just adhere to these guidelines:

      • Groups of girls 13 years or older who have parental permission may set up a group Facebook page or website. Parents/guardians and volunteers may create and manage a group website for girls 12 and under.
      • Make yours a site that does not allow outsiders to post messages to the site without approval.
      • Use girls’ first names only and never post girls’ addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses.
      • Always have an Annual Parent Permission form, which includes a photo release, for all girls.
      • Don’t violate copyright law by using designs, text, poetry, music, lyrics, videos, graphics, or trademarked symbols without specific permission from the copyright or trademark holder.

Share your stories

How is your troop making a difference? This is your moment to brag! Share all your great stories, videos, and photos with us at gscoblog.org/share.

If you would like to share your story with TV, print or online news outlets – we encourage you to! Contact Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Public Relations Director for guidance and information and advice on our partners in the media.