It’s time for the beginning of the school year and the new Girl Scout year! For your girls, every year brings new adventures. So if you’re looking to have your best year yet, here are some elements we encourage every troop to try out:
- Meet at least once per month during the school year to form a tight-knit troop
- Choose badges or activities from a variety of skill-building areas
- Hone their entrepreneurial skills by starting a troop cookie biz through the Girl Scout Cookie Program
- Explore the great outdoors through an age-appropriate outdoor experience
- Attend or hold an end-of-year event to celebrate what they’ve accomplished
- Learn resilience, risk-taking, confidence, and other crucial life skills at summer camp
- Participate in Girl Scout traditions, such as wearing a Girl Scout uniform, saying the Promise & Law, and singing Girl Scout songs
These elements will guarantee that your girls have an exciting, well-rounded Girl Scout experience, year after year. Whether you’re new to leading a troop or you’re looking for inspiration, we’re here to make your troop responsibilities easier with a list of suggested seasonal activities, holidays to celebrate, and meeting ideas for any month of the year!
Register for new Programs and Events: GSNorCal partners with innovative and creative organizations like the Charles Schultz Museum, the Walt Disney Family Museum, the Children’s Creativity Museum, the Chabot Space and Science Center, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to teach girls about robotics, space science, art, entrepreneurship, survival skills, and more. We offer educational, fun-with-a-purpose programming for all girls, from Daisies to Ambassadors.
Pro Tip: STEM, travel, outdoors, life skills—you name it, we’ve got it! Use our Activity Finder to learn more and register for programs, events, and trainings that best match the interests of your troop!
Investiture Ceremony: As girls head back to school, they’re often looking for new activities to join, so make sure they know about your troop! You can list your troop (and what makes them so unique) in the Troop Catalog to find new members, and welcome the new girls to your troop with an investiture ceremony. This ceremony is a beloved Girl Scout tradition that introduces girls to the Girl Scout Promise and Law, makes them feel welcome in their new troop, and gives them their first pin to put on that shiny new uniform! The ceremony can be adapted to be as formal or casual as you want depending on your troop culture.
Is this your first year leading a troop? Read about How to Plan an Investiture Ceremony for some helpful tips!
Fall Product Program: Your troop can start developing their business skills, and earn rewards to fund their activities or camp sessions by participating in the Fall Product Program. In addition to essential entrepreneurship skills, participating in the Fall Product Program provides your troop with the opportunity to practice and build five important skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics that will help them succeed in the future.
Pro Tip: We have useful online trainings for the Fall Product Program, Money Matters, and Safety-wise. Learn more about these and other key Girl Scout volunteer trainings: Top 6 Online Trainings Every Troop Leader Should Take. After your training, check out our blog post on 5 Tips for a Successful Fall Product Program.
Founder’s Day: October 31st isn’t just Halloween, it’s also Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday, or Founder’s Day. Juliette believed in the power of girls, and was an inspirational woman of courage, confidence, and character. From the very beginning, Juliette made sure that the Girl Scouts was inclusive of all girls, and we strive to follow her example.
The sky is the limit on how you and your troop can celebrate Juliette’s life and legacy. Many troops celebrate with a birthday party in addition to Halloween festivities, or participate in community service projects. Ask your troop what Juliette’s life and work for the Girl Scouts means to them, and how they can continue her legacy of inclusivity and leadership. Discover even more creative ideas for celebrating Founder’s Day.
Volunteer and Give Back: Give thanks and celebrate the spirit of the holiday season by giving back to your communities as a troop. Visit nursing homes, animal shelters, your place of worship, or other places that support those in our communities who need extra love. Remember to keep your volunteering girl-led by choosing a project that interests your girls, and where they can take the lead in changing the world, Girl Scout style!
Pro Tip: Join the annual GSNorCal One Warm Coat drive and earn a patch for your troop.
Any Excuse for an Adventure: Celebrate lesser known holidays and special occasions in November and December with themed troop events. Remember, certain activities require a bit more planning, so make sure to check our Safety Activity Checkpoints for guidelines and tips.
On November 17, take advantage of northern California’s mild climate and go hiking for Take a Hike Day.
Throughout the month of December, Write-A-Friend Month encourage your Girl Scouts to write letters and holiday cards to each other, or to friends in faraway places. Emails or social media messages absolutely count, but if you can, take the time and effort to send your love with a special handwritten card.
Do you have Brownies in your troop? National Brownie Day is December 8. Brownies (and Girl Scouts of all ages) can bake brownies and share them with their friends, family, or at a nursing home, school, homeless shelter, or other community center.
Cookie Program: Girl Scout cookie season is so well known (and the cookies so delicious) that it’s practically an American tradition. But more importantly, the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls entrepreneurship, creative design, people skills, and business ethics, setting them up for a lifetime of leadership. Your family and friends might be most excited about Thin Mints, Samoas, and Trefoils, but the real value is the skills and insight the girls learn along the way (plus they earn funds for their next troop adventure)! We recommend that troops start planning for the Cookie Program in December and early January. This way, girls and troops have clear goals when selling cookies during February and March.
Pro Tip: Are you a new troop leader or curious how to make this cookie season your most successful one yet? We have tons of resources and blog posts for you, from Tips for New Troop Leaders and Quick Ideas for Cookie Program Success to top cookie sellers advice from Leah and Allura. We even have a Pinterest board for booth decoration inspiration!
World Thinking Day: February 22 is World Thinking Day, a holiday of international friendship and solidarity between Girl Scouts and Girl Guides throughout the world. Girl Scouts is a member of WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), which organizes each year’s World Thinking Day.
Girl Scouts can celebrate World Thinking Day by participating in age-appropriate activities to earn an award. The theme and activities vary by year, and are dependent on the theme chosen by WAGGGS. Read up on activity ideas for 2017’s “Grow” theme and for 2018’s “Impact” theme. There’s also a Pinterest board for World Thinking Day. All of the pins will teach your troop something about other countries and cultures.
Pro Tip: Your Girl Scouts can befriend other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from other countries. Connect with your international sisters through the WAGGGS Pen Pal Program.
Girl Scout Week and Birthday: Girl Scout Week is celebrated each March, starting with Girl Scout Sunday and ending with Girl Scout Sabbath on Saturday, and it always includes Girl Scout Birthday, March 12.
Girl Scout Week is a fantastic opportunity for your troop to reflect on what it means to be a Girl Scout. Your troop is made up of go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders, following in the amazing legacy of the Girl Scouts before them. To tap into the strength and pride of that legacy, try out these 7 Ways to Connect to Girl Scout History.
While this is a great time to reflect on the past, it’s also helpful for reflecting on the present and future. Take some time during a meeting to remind the girls of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. What does it mean to them? What are some ways they demonstrate the qualities in the Promise and Law, both within Girl Scouts and in their daily lives?
Although Girl Scouts is a secular organization, Girl Scout Sabbath/Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for girls of faith to connect their Girl Scout lives and their spiritual path. Even for non-religious or spiritual girls, these days are a chance to learn about the traditions and faiths of their troop mates and communities. Girl Scout troops have the option to participate in religious services during this week, volunteer at a place of worship, or host a reception. For ideas on how to host a Girl Scout Sunday/Sabbath reception of your own, check out how a troop in Kentucky celebrates Girl Scout Sunday. Participating in a Girl Scout Sabbath or Sunday event is a meaningful way for your girls to earn the My Promise, My Faith pin.
Women’s History Month: Since March is also Women’s History Month, encourage your troop to learn more about some of Girl Scouts’ famous and successful alums. Girl Scouts have been making a difference since 1912! Take a troop field trip to the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond, CA to learn about the incredible women who worked in the shipyards, factories, and other locations throughout the Bay Area and the United States during World War II. The Rosie the Riveter Trust and Museum is dedicated to a “We Can Do It” spirit—a spirit that Girl Scouts share!
National Volunteer Month: Our incredible organization wouldn’t exist without awesome volunteers like you—that’s why April is dedicated to our incredible volunteers who lead troops, help girls with the Fall Product and Cookie Programs, mentor girls at camp, drive them to exciting activities, and so much more. You believe in our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character. And on April 22, we celebrate Girl Scout Leader’s Day, a special day that honors our hardworking troop leaders who embody our mission every day as they build girls of courage, confidence, and character (we couldn’t do this important work without you)!
Take some time during a meeting in April to have your girls write (and decorate) thank-you notes for all the parent volunteers and troop helpers. Your girls can also make small, thoughtful gifts of appreciation or visit our retail shop for Girl Scout themed gifts.
Pro Tip: For even more volunteer appreciation ideas, check out 7 Ways to Thank Troop Parents for Their Involvement and 5 Meaningful Ways to Show Your Girl Scout Volunteers Some Love.
Celebrate the Planet: Girl Scouts are taught to leave no trace, whether it’s on the playground or at the campground, so you can imagine how excited our budding environmentalists get for Earth Day (also April 22!) and Keep America Beautiful Month, which is the whole month of April. By going camping, hiking, kayaking, and just going outside, Girl Scouts connect with nature and appreciate (and protect) the precious planet we live on for future Girl Scouts.
There are so many great ways to celebrate Earth Day; whether it’s at the park down the street or a national park, getting outdoors is the first step! While doing the work and knowing that you’re doing your part to save the planet is reward enough, many Earth Day activities can earn badges and count towards the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey.
Parents’ Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day: Girl Scout parents are amazing. They believe in the power of girls, and that their daughters can do anything. They bring their girls to meetings and events, help out with the Fall Product and Cookie Programs, and empower their girls with continuous support. Dedicate some time during your meetings in May and June to acknowledge your troop’s awesome parents by writing heartfelt notes, making crafts, or buying cool Girl Scout gifts.
Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day: Each of these summer holidays can be marked with a good ol’ Girl Scout flag ceremony. You can adapt your ceremony to best suit your troop, and watch videos of other troops for inspiration. There’s even a fun patch that your girls can earn!
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of summer, and a moment to support people in your communities who may have lost friends and family who served in the military. Check with your local City Council or other community organizers to see if your girls can march in a Memorial Day parade—it’s a great way to show your Girl Scout pride and participate in an important community event. And there’s no better post-parade celebration than a delicious BBQ together. Have your girls plan a menu and cook up some activities to help them earn their Cooking and Health badges.
Bridging Ceremonies: The year just flew by, and it’s time for your girls to take their Girl Scout experience up to the next level! Maybe your Brownie received her wings and is flying up to the Junior-level. Or she’s about to start middle school, and is excited to become a Cadette and participate in our biggest bridging event of the year, Golden Gate Bridging. Or your Ambassador is about to bridge for the final time and become an adult member of Girl Scouts. Celebrate these momentous milestones of sisterhood and success with a bridging ceremony!
Like investiture ceremonies, your bridging ceremony should be as casual or as formal as your troop wants it to be. Our Pinterest board offers a lot of great suggestions to make the ceremony as unique as your troop. By participating in the ceremony and talking to Girl Scouts from other levels, new girls can earn Bridging Awards, which are a meaningful first decoration on their new vests or sashes. If this is your first bridging ceremony, take a look at our bridging planning resources for a place to start.
Summer Camps: Troops don’t usually meet on a regular basis during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean girls have to wait ‘til fall to get their Girl Scout on! Camp has been at the center of the Girl Scout experience for over a century, and the sisterhood, memories, skills, and confidence they’ll find at any of our thirty council or volunteer-led camps will last them a lifetime.
Friendship Week is the third week of August every year. If your troop meets in late August, take the opportunity to celebrate the friendships your girls have formed in Girl Scouts. Have your troop go to one of their favorite places together, or exchange handmade cards. Encourage your girls to invite other friends to Girl Scouts meetings. Make new friends and keep the old, one may be silver and the other gold, but they can all be Girl Scout green.
What to do next:
- With all of these celebrations, holidays, and meeting suggestions, keep in mind that Girl Scouts is girl-led! As a troop leader, your role is to give girls the tools to take ownership of ceremonies, events, activities, and other Girl Scouts experiences. Always check in with your troop about what they want to do. Chances are, they’ll come up with fantastic, creative ideas that none of us imagined.
- Want more girls to join in on the fun? Fill out and submit our online Opt-In Form. Share what your troop likes to do, when your troop meetings take place, and even the types of volunteer roles you’re hoping to fill. If you fill out the form before the deadline, you’ll get a themed patch to celebrate your new growth!
- Have more suggestions about how to give troops the best Girl Scouts year ever? In the comments, tell us all about the celebrations and events you have planned!
Christiana Oatman—Christiana is the Communications Specialist for the Girl Scouts of Northern California. She is responsible for a wide array of marketing materials, with a focus on The Trailhead, the GSNorCal website, and emails. Christiana is excited to work for an organization that is women-led, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character. She majored in history with a minor in gender studies at the University of the Pacific. When not working hard or dreaming of all the delicious cookies she’ll eat during cookie season, Christiana enjoys exploring everything the Bay Area has to offer, attending plays and musicals, and reading. She is working on her annual goal to read 100 books in a year.