GSUSA and Western Ohio have launched The Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) which is a comprehensive digital tool accessible on your computer, smartphone and/or tablet that is the primary support resource for troop leaders who work with K–5th grade troops. For those volunteers, this resource will replace the adult leaders guide for Journeys and the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. What does that mean in people talk? It means that we have a new resource with a trans-formative purpose: to save our volunteers precious time and frustration so you can spend less time navigating our many available resources as you plan, organize, and manage your troop year with the girls and more time doing the things that you imagined when you volunteered: changing girls’ lives through amazing experiences!
Here are a few frequently asked questions about the toolkit and our answers:
What will I find in the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK)? You will find the five tabs below to help make managing your troop more simple.
- My Troop: This tab allows you to manage your troop contacts, renew membership, and communicate with parents. This feature will be live by fall 2015.
- Year Plan: This tab allows you to broadly manage your troop year based on what girls want to do. When you log into VTK for the first time, you will see three year plan options for your girls to choose from including one Girl Scout Badge year and two Girl Scout Journey year plans based on the It’s Your Story−Tell It Journey and the It’s Your Planet−Love It Journey. The first two meetings of each of these year plans will help you decide, in partnership with the girls, which of the three year plans they would like to use based on their interests.
- Meeting Plan: This tab will also allow you to set your meeting calendar including meeting locations, date and time. In this tab, you will view meeting details including activity descriptions, meeting aids, materials lists, and more.
- Resources: Here you can also customize activities, delete activities that your girls wouldn’t enjoy and replace them with new activities. You can easily create your own activity or replace it with an activity from within the toolkit. Here you can find additional resources to support the activities that your girls choose to do. Here you will find the Safety Activity Checkpoints, all meeting aids, and other helpful resources. You can easily add the meeting aids to a specific meeting in your year plan.
- Finances: The finances tab will allow you to submit your troop financial report to the council and share it with parents. You will still have to submit your troop bank statement to the council if you do not bank at one of the preferred banks. (PNC or 5/3 Bank). This feature will be live by fall 2015.
How do I access the Volunteer Toolkit? Starting May 1, 2015, when you visit our website, you will see a My GS tab. You will enter your login credentials there to gain access to the Volunteer Toolkit. The VTK integrates right into the council website to allow the leader to seamlessly go back and forth between the website and the VTK.
Will there be training on how to use the Volunteer Toolkit? The toolkit is designed to be intuitive and require no formal training, however, video tutorials will continue to be made available via a YouTube link that will live on the GSUSA National YouTube page. Check out the Volunteer Toolkit Tutorial playlist below.
Will all troop leadership have access to the toolkit? Direct primary volunteers for K–5 troops will have access to the toolkit (Leader and Co-Leader). In future releases, the VTK will grow its user audiences to other Secondary Primary troop volunteer roles such as Troop Cookie volunteers. Parents will also be able to view some information in the Volunteer Toolkit in future releases.
Why is the Toolkit only for K-5 troops? Going digital is a new direction for our national organization and we had to start somewhere. Our older girls are very important to our organization and we know that a toolkit for older girls and their leaders will have to look a little different than a toolkit for younger girls. In order to use our resources wisely, we had to narrow our focus as a starting point. That doesn’t mean that we care more about younger girls than older girls.
What if I don’t have internet access at my meeting place? How will I access program materials? You can easily download the materials to your device or print them to take to your meeting. Also, the VTK can be accessed on a tablet or smart phone, which may expand where it can be used.
What about volunteers who don’t have internet access at home? The toolkit is not an app so that means that it can be accessed from any computer or device. Libraries are a great resource for volunteers who don’t have access to the internet at home. They can print meeting plans or download them to their personal computer or drive.
Why has Girl Scouting decided to go digital? We have heard about all of the hours that Girl Scout volunteers spend supporting troops. VTK is designed to help cut down the amount of time it takes for a volunteer to manage their troop including planning meetings (in partnership with the girls), communicating with parents, and finding support resources. The VTK puts all of this at their fingertips by having a central location for all of their Girl Scout “stuff.” Now volunteers can easily find resources, access the website, and communicate with parents all in one spot.
So are you as excited as we are to start using this new resource? Let’s make the 2015-2016 troop year a year for you to take back some time, finish a long standing project, spend an afternoon blowing bubbles with that special girl in your life. Thanks to the Toolkit you can finally do that thing you always wanted to do if you just had a few more free hours in your week!