4 Tips for Successfully Managing Your Troop This Year
Troop management is about more than being in charge or having a special title; it’s recognizing that you’re part of a team, and understanding the team’s needs and interests. For volunteers, the start of a new Girl Scouting year is a great time to get excited about all the opportunities ahead of you—including the chance to help girls succeed, play a critical role in their lives, and watch them blossom!
Whether you’re an experienced volunteer or a first-time leader, troop management is important to keep your meetings fun, productive, and girl-led. Here are some ideas to help with troop management as you start the new year:
1. Get the wiggles out
Girl Scouts big and small love to move around! They may be coming to you with high energy after school, or they could just be excited to start their next troop meeting. Start things off with a game or Girl Scout song to help your girls get the wiggles out and be prepared for the meeting.
2. Use a Troop Governance technique
While you’re getting into the heart of the meeting, use a Troop Governance technique that fits your age group to help keep things girl-led:
The Daisy Circle
The Daisy Circle is the planning portion of a troop meeting in which decisions for the troop are made. In the circle, girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in a large group discussion. The Daisy Circle can begin or end a meeting and is recommended to last 5–15 minutes.
- Sit in a circle: all girls sit in a circle so everyone can hear.
- Have a moderator: the leader, or another adult, should be a moderator for the circle by guiding girls in a discussion. This is a great opportunity to offer girls choices about activities they would like to do as a troop.
- Daisies need structure: Daisies need to understand how decisions are made and will need a set of rules to follow. Establish a structure for your circle right from the beginning. If a girl wants to contribute to the conversation, let her know that she must raise her hand.
The Brownie Ring
Like the Daisy Circle, the Brownie Ring is the planning portion of a troop meeting in which decisions for the troop are made. In the ring, girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in a large group discussion. The Brownie Ring can begin or end a meeting and is recommended to last 5–15 minutes.
- Sit in a ring: All girls sit in the Brownie Ring so everyone can see and hear.
- Let girls try moderating: a girl ringleader may begin to lead discussions—with leader guidance—and brainstorm ideas and activities for the troop. Be sure that all the girls have access to this leadership opportunity at some point throughout the year.
- Brownies need structure: Brownies need to understand how decisions are made and will need a set of rules to follow. Establish a structure for your discussion time by using a “talking buddy” (a designated object that is held by one person talking at a time), teaching the quiet sign (when someone raises their right hand, everyone must do the same and become quiet), or establishing the troop rule that nobody criticizes any ideas that anyone offers to the group.
Leaders can prepare a list of choices for girls to choose from or have the girls generate ideas themselves. If you gather suggestions from the group, you can record the suggestions and consolidate the ideas to what’s feasible and realistic after the meeting. Later, offer a list of options that came from all of their ideas so they can discuss and decide as a group.
Pictures, charts, Girl Scout Journey books, and other materials are great decision-making aids for Brownies.
The Patrol System
The Patrol System is one of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In the Patrol System, girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in smaller group discussions and then selecting a leader to represent their group.
- Divide girls into groups: girls are divided into small groups of four to six, called “patrols.” Each patrol can choose a patrol name, a symbol, a patrol lead, and assistant patrol leaders. Members of the patrol rotate as leaders so that everyone has an opportunity throughout the year.
- The Court of Honor: each patrol leader represents her group in a Court of Honor consisting of other patrol leads. The Court of Honor meets with an adult leader who helps guide decision-making. Patrol leaders communicate all decisions made in the Court of Honor back to their patrols.
The Executive Board
The Executive Board is another of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In the Executive Board, girls rely on one leadership team for the whole troop, called an “Executive Board.”
- Elect the board: girls should elect board positions such as president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer for your troop. The number of officers and positions may vary, depending on the needs of your troop.
- Hold board meetings: the board holds meetings outside of regular troop meetings to discuss troop matters. The board should report to the troop on a regular basis regarding decisions made, and most importantly, seek feedback and input from the troop before final decisions are made.
The Town Meeting System
The Town Meeting System is the last of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In this system, there is no formalized government structure. The girls discuss and make decisions as an entire troop.
While the Town Meeting System has no rigid structure, this system does require a girl moderator to ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak and provide input. Girls should be leading the discussion with very little help from the leaders, so it’s especially important to establish guidelines for discussion.
3. Consult the resources available for volunteers
From toolkits and guides to regular contact with experienced people, you’ll have all the support you need to be a Girl Scout volunteer. Here’s a list of some important resources that will help you with troop management.
Volunteer Toolkit (VTK)
The Volunteer Toolkit is a customizable digital planning tool for troop leaders and co-leaders to easily manage their troop year-round and deliver easy, fun troop meetings. Accessible via desktop and mobile devices, the VTK saves you time and energy all year long so you can focus on each girl, ensuring she has every opportunity to build a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure.
Girls have more fun when they can shape their own experiences, do hands-on activities, and work together as teams. With the VTK, girls and leaders can explore meeting topics and program activities together as they plan their Girl Scout year.
Through the VTK, troop leaders can:
- Plan the troop’s calendar year and meeting schedule
- Email caregivers with one click.
- View the troop roster, renew girls’ membership, and update girls’ contact information
- View meeting plans for Journeys and badges, including suggested tracks for multi-level groups (K–5 and 6–12)
- Customize meeting agendas to fit your unique troop
- Explore individual meeting plans that show a breakdown of every step, including a list of materials needed, editable time allotments for each activity within a meeting, and printable meeting aids
- Record girls’ attendance at meetings and their badge and Journey achievements
- Add council or custom events to the troop’s calendar
- Submit troop’s finance reports (depending on the council’s process)
- Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as Safety Activity Checkpoints
- View the troop’s meeting schedule and individual meeting plans to stay up to date on the badges and Journeys they are working on
- Renew their memberships, and update their contact information
- View their Girl Scout’s attendance and achievements
- See upcoming events the troop is planning or attending
- Easily locate both national and local council resources, such as the Family Hub
- View the troop’s finance report
You can find the Volunteer Toolkit by visiting your myGS account.
Meet other Girl Scout volunteers from across western Ohio and southeastern Indiana on Rallyhood, our all-in-one communication and collaboration platform! Get fast answers and feedback from council staff and other volunteers within special “Rallies” that fit your every need.
Safety Activity Checkpoints
Safety is paramount in Girl Scouting, and this resource—Safety Activity Checkpoints—contains everything you need to know to help keep your girls safe during a variety of exciting activities outside of their regular Girl Scout troop meetings.
4. Explore your network of support
When you’re having trouble with troop management, there is a network of people who can lift you up and help set you on the path to success:
Girl Scout Volunteers in Your Community
Remember that Girl Scout support team we mentioned? You’ll find them in your service unit! Troops are organized geographically into service units or communities. Within your service unit, you’ll find a local network of fellow leaders and administrative volunteers ready to offer tips and advice to help you succeed in your volunteer role. They may have a Facebook (or other social media) page where you can ask questions of the other leaders at any time!
Girl Scout Staff
Our Girl Scout staff are always here to help as well. Your Community Development Manager will be your go-to person for support. If you don’t know who your Community Development Manager is contact our Customer Care Team at 888.350.5090 and they will get you connected!