Category Archives: First-Time Volunteer

The Expected and Unexpected

Troop Meeting #2

Troop 40072 had it’s second meeting last week. With notes from last meeting and great suggestions from other Girl Scout volunteers, I planned my second meeting.


  • Since they like the snack and kept snacking last time, I arranged to have it outside so we could clean it up and move on to our next activity, after it was put away.
  • We chatted and caught up while snacking.
  • The girls liked the outdoor activity, sensing the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the outdoors. There was lots of giggling.
  • They were thrilled to get their Girls Guide to Girl Scouting.
  • The three Daisies read with my high school assistant, Aisling. They liked working with her.
  • They seem to be forming a group already. One of our girls is very quiet, still learning English with Chinese as her mother tongue. When I asked her a question and she didn’t answer, a few girls said, “She doesn’t talk much.” And her friend said, “She’ll explain it to me and I can tell you.” Her friend went on to translate.
  • The girls were very insightful about our outdoor activity. One said: “The ground smells like fall; it’s different than how summer smells. Now it’s fall and you can tell.”
  • It was so nice to have another pair of hands! Aisling was a Girl Scout and the girls know her from school. Our littlest Daisy was sitting in her lap within minutes of starting.
  • The girls all have different ideas about what badges they want to do.
  • The Juniors did not want to help the Daisies. They wanted to help the Brownies.
  • Some parents arrived early and the meeting broke up — sort of — early as a result. It was a kind of chaotic departure.

What I’m wondering: How do you manage badge selection with 14 girls in different age groups?

Act Now 2012

Last week, I went to the Girl Scouts Act Now 2012 Conference, focused on strategies for increasing membership. The organization wants to grow by 1 million volunteers in five years! Wow!

I heard some great things. I had fun! Most helpful to me– 10 Essential Elements for Creating the Girl Scout Experience. Based on research with nine troops, 10 elements  are essential to the quality of the girls’ experiences in Girl Scouting.  It reminded me why I wanted to do this in the first place. Take a look!

1. Families welcomed – when families understand how our commitment to girls helps them be leaders in their daily lives and in the world, girls have richer, more meaningful experiences in GS.

2. Belonging to a big sisterhood – getting girls excited about belonging and looking forward to the fun and impactful opportunities that await them may help retain them down the road.

3. Leadership development – is the core of the GSLE

4. Community engagement – through journeys, girls explore opportunities to change their communities and make a difference in the world

5. Skill building – choosing and earning at least one skill-building badge helps girls gain confidence in their ability to use their new-found knowledge

6. Expanding world view – by taking a trip, meeting an expert, or exploring in some other way, a girl’s world of ideas, people, and places expands

7. Ceremony and tradition – celebrating and honoring how girls have learned and grown in GS helps to point them toward new adventures

8. Adult support – especially in the use of the three processes (Girl-Led, Learning By Doing, and Cooperative Learning), volunteers can make the GSLE come alive for girls

9. Earning and learning – by participating in product sales, girls have the opportunity to “earn and learn” five skills (goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics)

10. Experience progression – share the exciting opportunities girls will have if they stay with Girl Scouts

Tell Me: For experienced GS leaders: Have you found these elements in your work with Girl Scouts? For new volunteers: Are you hoping to develop these elements in your troop?

Resources: How do you include these elements in your troop? GSUSA has created toolkits for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors, available at:

The Good, the Bad, and the Snack: My First Troop Meeting

Troop 40072’s First Meeting

My troop met for the first time yesterday. Troop 40072 consists of 13 girls, from Kindergarten through 5th grade, Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors.

The Good

  • They were so excited to be Girl Scouts!
  • We learned the Girl Scout Promise, handshake, sign, and quiet sign — they caught on so quickly.
  • They shared what they wanted out of their Girl Scout experience: arts and crafts, trips, exploring outdoors, camping, and helping children in Africa to name just a few.
  • We voted on sashes — instead of vests — for our troop.
  • As a short Discover activity, the girls wrote and shared about things that make them happy and things that make them sad.
  • They liked the Friendship Circle.
The Bad
  • We had a bigger group than I expected and the person who was going to assist couldn’t make it.
  • We needed a bigger room.
  • The Daisies needed more help. When I went to help them, the Juniors seemed to get bored, walking around the room.
  • I didn’t leave enough time for clean-up!
  • My younger daughter didn’t think she squeezed the hand of the person next to her, yet the Friendship Circle continued to go, resulting in tears in the car on the way home. Total meltdown.
The Snack
  • They kept eating snacks the whole time and I only scheduled five minutes for it. They were really hungry right after school!
  • Then, there were lots of Clementine peels to clean up and not enough time to do so (see clean up note above).
Notes to Self
  • Get someone to help! For certain!
  • Allow more time for snacks.
  • Allow more time for clean up.
  • Split up group into age groups with an adult for each.
  • Find a bigger room.

Tell Me: How was your first troop meeting? Do you have meeting tips to share?


What is the Girl Scouts Leadership Experience?

Journeys and Guides

Volunteer Essentials answered a lot of the logistic questions I had–about registration, parent meeting, co-leaders, CPR certification, a troop bank account — which was great.

But in the week that’s passed since training — and as the date for my first troop meeting comes closer–I’m still not clear on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. I don’t have a handle on the Journeys or the Girl Scouts Guides. So, I’ve searched the web for some more information. I’ve found this stuff helpful — and some of it fun. You may find it helpful too if you’re wondering about the GSLE. Take a look! Let me know what you think.

Experienced volunteers, tell me: What do you want to share about the Girl Scout Leadership Experience? How do you use the journeys and guides?

Girl Scouting is meeting girls’ definition of what it takes to be a leader with the New Girl Leadership Experience—a model that engages girls in discovering themselves, connecting with others, and taking action to make the world a better place. This model is more inclusive and empowering of girls as the experiences are, as much as possible, girl led and encourage experiential and cooperative learning.

Introducing Troop 40072!

Volunteer Essentials: Required Training

I went to my home council for the required training, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson. “If you take two things away from this training,” our trainer Leigh said, “it should be 1) You can do this! and 2) there is lots of help available.”

She went on, “The biggest goal for your program is to be girl-led. It’s leadership; it’s girl-led.” We are teaching them how to lead.

While this is all very interesting — and why I wanted to start a troop, to nurture leadership in girls — what I really wanted to know was: What do I do when they show up that first day?

I do want to build girls of confidence, courage and character but I also want to make sure they don’t all get up and walk out of the room! Leigh was ready for that, and shared a typical troop session schedule:

  1. Girl Scout Pledge
  2. Girl Scout Promise
  3. Snack: Ask parents to sign up to bring snacks for each meeting
  4. Meeting Starter: Ask girls to share something about their week, sing a song, play a name game
  5. Activity: Working on a badge? Planning a trip? Going on a trip? Community service?
  6. Clean Up: “A Girl Scout always leaves a place cleaner that she found it” (If I can get my girls to do this at home, I will consider the whole experience a success!)
  7. Closing: Reflection, Song, Friendship Squeeze

“Create a community in your troop,” explained Leigh. “This is what we do.”

Other interesting tips:

  • I’ll need a First-Aid kit at every meeting
  • CPR and First-Aid training is strongly recommended
  • Write up a calendar for the year with meeting dates, place, and time
  • I’ll need a troop account at TD bank
  • I’ll need a registration form from each girl before they are covered by insurance so registration is REQUIRED before starting
  • The official volunteer uniform is a plain white shirt, khakis (pants, skirt, shorts), vest or sash
At the end, Leigh gave us the name of the contact person we email to get a troop number. I sent in my email however, they didn’t have proof of my completing the training. After clearing that up, I got the information: We are Troop 40072!
Tell me:  What do you think is essential in training for a new volunteer?



Tales from a First-Time Volunteer: Finding My Way

Getting Started

From the Girl Scouts Research Institute report, Voices of Volunteers 18–29.

I really did intend on going through the normal channels to start a troop at my daughters’ school, where Girl Scouts used to have a strong presence. Really.

I mentioned it to one of the teachers I saw while waiting in the carpool line. I put it on my to-do list to go to the local council website and sign up. A week passed. And then another.

Then, the local volunteer coordinator emailed me. Someone from the school had contacted her. There had been a fabulous troop leader at the school a few years ago and they wanted to reinstate the tradition.  “Let’s get a great troop going again!”

“Uh, great,” I said. So, no pressure, or anything.

We met in May. We sat on a bench outside the school and chatted for 45 minutes. I got my folder, filled with information, a badge book, notes for parents, and sign-up forms for girls. I signed the background check permission, and learned about the next steps in getting started.  I heard about the new program materials and local council events.

See the Volunteer Essentials Training Book from Girl Scout Council Heart of the Hudson.

She explained I could arrange the troop meetings at a time that worked for me. The next step was to go to Volunteer Essentials training after my background check came through.

I wasn’t concerned about scheduling the training, as it was the beginning of June, and I wasn’t starting the troop until the fall, the start of the new school year. Plenty of time… right?

Suddenly, it was the end of August! I scrambled to sign up for a Volunteer Essentials training. I couldn’t seem to do it online – my name wasn’t in the system. I needed to call or email my volunteer coordinator but I couldn’t find my volunteer folder.

Mild panic was followed by going through stacks of papers, books, mail, children’s work from the end of the year, all accumulating in my office while my girls were home from school in the summer.  I called and emailed the local council.

Once I finally found the folder, I emailed the coordinator too, who got in touch with the council office. Turns out, I wasn’t in the system even though I had done all the paperwork.  But they put me in and I was able to sign up. I’ll be going to Volunteer Essentials in mid-September at Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson.  Stay tuned!

Tell me: How did you learn about being a volunteer for the Girl Scouts? If you were going to give a volunteer one tip, what would it be?

If you don’t have a contact through a school or location, you can go to

You can also find your local Girl Scout Council through the council finder tool: