With the Girl Scout year now in full swing, it’s a great time to take a look at your troop meeting agenda and work with your girls to develop a plan that works—for them and you! Whether you meet in a classroom right after school or you rally the troop on a Sunday evening at your home, setting a standard order of activities will help everyone stay on track during meetings, support your troop goals and, ultimately, set you up for a successful Girl Scout year.
Planning a meeting isn’t just about activities and logistics (although those things are important too!) It’s about creating a safe space where your Girl Scouts can build relationships, grow, and thrive. Here are a basic structure and tips to get you started. Of course, this is just a starting point and can be adjusted to fit the length of your meeting time and the needs of your troop.
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Step 1 — Pre-Meeting Activity
(As few as 5 minutes or as many as 15)
It’s 4:30 PM… the start time for your troop meeting. Only three of your 10 girls are there. How do you keep them occupied while you wait for the others?
For younger Daisies, some coloring pages and crayons could be enough to keep them engaged. Brownies and Juniors might like an ongoing craft project that they work on a little bit at each meeting such as lanyards or friendship bracelets. As girls get older, this time can be spent chatting and catching up with their troop friends who maybe now attend different middle/high schools while having a healthy snack—preteens and teens seem to be hungry ALL THE TIME (I would be too if I was growing that fast!) so a snack is always a welcome activity.
Step 2 — Opening
(As few as 5 minutes or as many as 15)
This is when the meeting “officially” begins. The goal is to get everyone to focus and be ready to get down to business. Talk with your girls and come up with an opening that is meaningful to them.
For Daisies, standing and reciting the Girl Scout Promise is a good start. As time goes on, you can add the Girl Scout Law to the recitation. Some troops include a flag ceremony or song to signify that the meeting is now in motion.
This could also be a time to go around the circle and give each girl a “show and tell” moment where they have the opportunity to mention something that happened in their life since you all last met— “I got a new pet,” “We went to Yosemite,” “I missed the last meeting because…”. Girls should be respectful and listen to each other. Using a “talking stick” or some other type of item to signify whose turn it is to talk is helpful.
Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors can give updates on any higher awards that they may be working on, suggest additions to the meeting agenda, or bring up anything they think is important to troop management.
Step 3 — Troop Business
(Depending on the Girl Scout level, this could take a few minutes or half of the meeting time!)
Sometimes you’ll have a lot to discuss in this section of your meeting—whether you need to collect dues, hand out flyers or materials, discuss upcoming events, or set product sales goals will determine how long it takes. If your troop uses Kaper Charts, this is a great time to go over assignments for this meeting or the next.
For younger girl troops, troop business discussions are usually handled by the Troop Adults at the meeting. If something important is being mentioned that parents should hear, such as “we need drivers for our pumpkin patch outing” or “cookie money is due next week,” you can ask them to stick around for the business portion of the meeting as needed.
As girls get older, Troop Business discussions migrate to them. Is the troop organizing an event for younger Girl Scouts? Are you planning a big trip? Will you be starting a new badge at the next meeting? This is the time to discuss logistics, assignments, budgets, and all the things involved in these more complex endeavors. As a leader, your job is to guide them through this process and remind them of things they may be forgetting.
Step 4 — Main Activity
(This generally takes up a majority of the meeting time. 30–45 minutes)
Activity time is the part of the meeting girls seem to like best! It’s usually a hands-on, active time that engages their curiosity, makes them think, and moves them toward a goal—working on badge requirements, moving ahead on a Girl Scout Journey, completing a service or take action project, working on decorations for an event. Whatever it is, be sure the girls know why they are doing it!
Preface the activity with something like “we are going to be working on Step 2 of the Home Scientist Badge today” or “we need to have our plans in place for the Father/Daughter dance by next week” or even “today we are just doing some fun crafts.” This way they will understand what the goal for the allotted time is and will work towards that.
Of course, a great resource for planning badge work meetings or Journey meetings is the Volunteer Tool Kit (VTK), which has activities already designed to fit into your meetings!
Step 5 — Clean Up
(5 minutes at least)
Remember, Girl Scouts always leave a place cleaner than they found it! This also helps cut down the time you spend cleaning up afterward on your own. Even the youngest Daisy can help put things away and tidy up. Be sure to have a few things on your Kaper Chart for this part of the meeting—sweeping, putting scissors away, recycling paper scraps, etc.
Step 6 — Closing
Just as with the opening, making closing time meaningful is important. Let girls plan this so they get what they want out of it. Do they want to do a friendship circle? Sing a song? Make a wish? … or maybe all three! There could be a different girl leading the closing each time based on their Kaper. Maybe one page of a story is read at the end of each meeting… basically, setting up a “tradition” will give the girls closure for their Girl Scout time together.
For older girl troops, this could be a time to reflect on the meeting, bring up things that need to happen before the next meeting, or simply a time to say good-bye to each other and make plans for activities outside of Girl Scouts.
In my experience, girls value and remember their time spent together and the friendships they made, not the difficulties or the mistakes. They are not going to remember that “making the bath bombs totally didn’t work” or “we didn’t have any scissors so we just tore the paper instead” … well, maybe they will remember those things, but will remember them fondly and with a smile!
Overall, just know that no matter how much planning and preparation goes into the agenda for the meeting, there are always variables that are out of your control. Some things may take longer than planned, some activities may not be successful, some girls may not be cooperative. The trick is to stay flexible, roll with the challenges, have fun, and put your focus where it belongs—on the girls and their experience!
What to do next?
Shannon McMath—Shannon McMath is the Leader of Troop 10280 in Santa Rosa – a WONDERFUL group of Cadettes who have been together since kindergarten! In addition to volunteering at the troop level she has worn many Girl Scout hats… Leader Support Manager, Program Support Manager, Program Team, Learning Facilitator, Regional Delegate, National Delegate, and more. Her passion is traveling to new and interesting places and she is sharing that passion with Girl Scouts by hosting a trip to Costa Rica in 2017 and Ecuador/Galapagos Islands in 2018.