It is that time of year again! Girl Scout season is upon us, and your first troop meeting is just around the corner. Whether you are a seasoned girl scout troop leader or a certified newbie, it is essential to have a solid plan for your first meeting and to make sure that it’s engaging and fun for the whole group.
Your girl scout troop interest meeting should show new members what the girl scout experience is all about. It should get the girls inspired and excited to have an active role in the community and participate in the many Girl Scout activities the program has to offer. This first meeting is also an excellent opportunity to learn about your girls, their personalities, and their interests so you can make it the absolute best thing they have been a part of, inciting them to come back next year!
Between finding a troop meeting place, collecting all the troop information, and gathering a few troop committee volunteers, it can be overwhelming to come up with the best plan for your first meeting, especially if it’s your first time. If you find that you need some help, even after going through your volunteer toolkit, we’ve got your back! That’s what the sisterhood is all about, right? As an expert volunteer myself, here is my take on what to do with your new girls at your girl scout troop interest meeting.
- Find a Great Meeting Space
If your troop does not have a meeting space already established, you’ll need to choose a place that is either free or at a very, very low cost.
Some great meeting spaces include:
- Childcare facilities
- Places of worship
- Local businesses
- Community or recreation centers
If you have a group of older girls, consider holding your meeting place somewhere they enjoy, like a coffee shop or bookstore. Anything that they find hip and trendy will give you some serious brownie points (and maybe they will even think you’re totally cool!).
Above all else, make sure that your meeting spot is at a safe place with enough room for your girls and the activities you will do there. The facility should have bathrooms, chairs, and tables. It should also be wheelchair accessible and free from allergies such as pet dander and peanuts.
- Learn About Your Girls Before the Meeting
The experiences of your troop should reflect who they are, what they want to do, and what they find interesting. The best way to make your program experience one they will never forget is to learn about each of your individual girl scouts. Start with finding out basic things such as What is their age level? What is their socioeconomic status? Will any families need financial assistance?
Once you find that out, you can send out a survey to the girls before they attend their first meeting to get an idea of their interests and what they want to get out of their time as a girl scout. This will give the girls more time to think about their responses and engages their families. An electronic survey works wonders for keeping all your responses together in one place and referring back to them throughout the year when you get stumped on your next outing or activity.
- Open the Meeting with a Girl Scout Tradition
Nothing ignites the girl scout spirit better than a beloved girl scout tradition! Gather everyone’s attention with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Girl Scout Promise and Law, or any favorite Girl Scout songs you know they’ll enjoy.
Another great idea is to begin the meeting with a friendship circle. This will immediately get the girls moving and create a more intimate setting. Once in the circle, you and the other troop leaders can introduce yourselves and talk about how excited you are about all the fun things you will be doing together. Take this opportunity to teach the Girl Scout quiet sign and a few songs such as “The Brownie Smile Song” or “I’m a Girl Scout Daisy” when the girls’ attention starts to wane or they begin to get a little restless.
- Do an Ice Breaker Activity
The first few troop meetings can be pretty socially overwhelming for not only the girls but for the troop leaders as well! There are a lot of new faces and personalities to get familiar with, so throwing a few fun ice breakers into the mix will help everyone to relax, get more comfortable with each other, and hopefully get some laughs!
Great ice breakers can come in the form of a game, a hands-on activity, or even a discussion prompt. Anything that encourages the girls to introduce themselves and get to know each other in a fun and special way works wonders! Not sure where to start check out these wide variety of ice breaker games you can use again and again at future meetings and events right on Amazon.
- Foster the Spirit of Community
Set the tone for the year by talking about the girl scout sisterhood and the importance of being kind to each other. Make sure they understand that your troop is a special place cherishing friendships, helping each other, and growing together.
It might also be a good idea to clarify that even though you meet after school, that girl scouting is not school. Yes, they may be learning and trying new things together, but that does not mean they will be getting graded or anything of that nature.
- Let Your Girls Know Their Voices Matter
This is a MUST when first talking with your girls! Feeling heard is empowering for girls of all ages. It builds their confidence and teaches them to speak up and take ownership of their actions and decisions. Discuss with them what it means to be “girl-led” and that they have a say in what they do as a troop, not just you and the other troop leaders.
I usually like to mention that with everything we decide to do, it is majority rules, and if they don’t get their choice, there will be more opportunities for them to. This will set appropriate expectations so your girls will stay happy and encouraged throughout the year.
When done right, every grade level should know that they’re in charge of the troop. Whether it’s the Daisies deciding on fun activities, Brownies selecting which badges they’ll earn, or Juniors choosing which badges they lead the troop in earning, the leaders are simply there to help them along the way.
- Plan Your Year and Encourage Collaboration
Based on what you’ve learned about your troop’s needs and interests, start sharing the exciting possibilities for the year ahead. Encourage collaboration and invite them to share ideas and voice their opinions. The older your troop members are, the more involved they can get with the planning. At the end of your meeting, your girls will be ecstatic to get started!
There are so many great ways to kick off your girl scout season and make it a fun, positive, and empowering experience for everyone involved. These tips should provide you with a strong baseline, but remember that incorporating your wonderful personality and attributes is what will truly make it special! Your girls will only take your words to heart when they see you as a living, breathing example of what it means to be a girl scout. When in doubt, be real, be bold, and be kind. Have a wonderful girl scout troop interest meeting!
8. Play some games or start earning a badge
If you need something quick that requires little planning on your part be sure to browse the Leader Connecting Leaders shop full of ready to use programs for games, activities, and badges.
Enjoy every minute being a leader and continue to inspire your girls!