Girl Scout troops come in every shape and size, each one with different needs, goals, and desires! Whether you lead a Brownie troop that wants to build a community garden, or an Ambassador troop who aims to travel abroad before graduation, setting clear expectations with both parents and girls is crucial for the success of each Girl Scout year.
Start the year off right by keeping your girls, parents, and volunteers on the same page with our Guide to the Perfect First Parent-Troop Meeting!
With just a little bit of preparation, your troop will be running like a well-oiled machine! For the first parent-troop meeting, have parents bring their personal and family calendars. Get a sense of potential schedule conflicts before establishing your troop’s meeting schedule. After the initial meeting, send information that was discussed and decided on to each parent, and add your meeting day, time, and location into the MyGS portal.
- How often will you meet? If you have a troop of younger girls, shorter, more frequent meetings may be ideal to ensure maximum engagement. Older girls busy with other extracurricular activities may find that they only need to meet once or twice a month to check in and plan activities.
- Where will you meet? While public facilities such as schools, libraries or community centers are recommended, older girls may prefer coffee shops or bookstores for meetings!
- Who will provide supplies? Are you planning on having snacks at your meetings? Decide who brings them, how often, and whether you will send out parent reminders or add it to your troop calendar.
Troop communication is key, and there are so many great tools available to make it easier! If your troop prefers group messaging to keep everyone up to date, apps like GroupMe are a great option. For events, photo sharing and other news, you may want to create a group Facebook page (or your local Service Unit might already have one!). Emails can be used to send out longer messages or announcements with attachments. Parents should be on the same page about where to expect updates on things like upcoming events or schedule changes.
- The Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) is a fantastic asset that provides a troop roster, event calendar, messaging capabilities, activity guides, meeting plans, and resources for troop leaders and parents. This will be your best friend!
- The New Leader’s Guide to Success covers everything from trainings to meeting agendas, along with a ton of other tips, tricks, and FAQs.
- Girl Scout Family Connection has all the information parents might be curious about, including uniforms and patch placement, noteworthy events by month, and most importantly…how they can support!
Goals & Expectations
What do your girls want to accomplish for the upcoming Girl Scout year? If the girls have multiple trips or excursions they’re interested in, they may want to plan to raise more during cookie season or hold a troop fundraiser. Maybe your troop is more drawn to the outdoors than STEM events? Check out a Program Catalog and plan depending on your troop’s budget and schedules.
- Troop Interests: Maybe your girls are avid campers and drawn to more outdoor events than STEM programs, or perhaps they’re passionate about community service projects! Gauging what your Girl Scouts are interested in or narrowing down what badges they would like to work towards will make planning for the year go much more smoothly.
- Troop Budgets: Yearly goals will determine what kind of a budget a troop needs to create. Get a clear picture of financial ability of parents to contribute and what the troop will need for a successful year. Encourage open conversation to ensure that no family feels overwhelmed or financially burdened by their participation.
- Parent Involvement: Recruit adults to help with the leadership and support of the troop! Encourage each family to register at least one adult as a volunteer. This will help ensure that families are engaged in the success of the troop and will provide leaders with the support they need. The Volunteer Toolkit has information about how adults can help under “Meeting Overview.” Interested parents can check out possible Troop Volunteer Roles. You never know which parent will make an awesome Troop Treasurer or Cookie Chair!
Troop leaders, families, and girls should decide and agree together about what the troop will pay for and what families will pay for individually. Will you be using dues to cover incidentals like membership fees, books and uniforms? Will the troop budget cover meeting materials such as craft supplies or snacks? How will you fund that end-of-year field trip? Decide together on a financial plan that works for everyone and teach girls the importance of creating a budget that meets their needs!
- Troop Dues: Dues are one of two ways that troops utilize to fund their activities. Together, girls, parents and volunteers should decide how often they will be collected and how much they will be. This could range from a few dollars per meeting to one lump sum for the entire school year – it’s completely up to you!
- Money-Earning Activities: The Fall Product and Cookie Programs are not only great for earning money for troops, but they also teach girls financial skills that they will use for the rest of their lives! Determine what your troop plans to participate in and their time commitment abilities. After setting a goal for how much you’d like to raise through product programs and what you plan on using proceeds to pay for, you can get a better sense of what other finances need to be covered.
- Financial Assistance: Every Girl Scout should be able to participate regardless of financial background. Any girl needing financial assistance for membership can request it as part of the online member registration process. Other financial assistance is available for uniform components, events, and camps, and can be requested. Bonus leader tip: Council offers financial assistance to start a troop!
Following this handy guide will ensure that all members of your team feel well-equipped and excited to start the new Girl Scout year! When in doubt, invite a member of your Service Unit team or local staff to attend your meeting to answer parent questions you may be unsure of. Just getting started? Check out our 8 Easy Steps to Start a Troop!