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Girls of all ages, Daisies through Ambassadors, can become leaders when they are given the opportunity to step up. Having volunteered with Girl Scouts for twenty years (and leading three troops), I discovered that the best way to empower girls as leaders is to help them plan and host events, so they can test their leadership and ideas in action.
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When the girls in my last troop, Troop 30986, were just first graders, a few of them had younger siblings in a play group. As a troop, we invited the play group (and their parents) to one of our meetings, planned activities for the toddlers, and prepared for the event. The girls picked and learned a craft, practiced a song to sing and teach, and dreamed up the perfect snack for the younger kids. On the big day, our six-year-old Girl Scouts took on the role of leaders with pride. I will never forget the way those toddlers looked up at these girls with such sweetness and admiration.
So if you’re ready to let the girls take the lead, here are some resources (more specifically tips, a checklist, and event ideas!) to get your girls started on their event planning and leadership skills.
Some tips to keep in mind to help your girls plan events:
- Girls of all ages can put on an event—in fact, the sooner the better. The earlier a girl gets experience with leadership, the more time she has to grow her leadership skills. But any age is the perfect time to host her first event!
- Girl leaders should be at least two years older than the participants to ensure the event runs smoothly.
- Start with small comfortable activities, then start to expand the size of the events, so the girls can get more experience with different types of events and increasing numbers of participants. If your girl leaders are younger, they should be leading a very tiny number of participants. With my 6-year-olds, they only had to teach their song, snack assembly, and craft to two little. As they get older, 2 girls might lead an event with 6 participants, and by the time they are young women, often one girl is leading an event with 10–15 participants.
- When making decisions it can be easy to accidently spend the whole meeting discussing one thing! Set time limits for discussions. I like to determine the number of talking minutes by the girls’ ages. For example, if 7-year-olds are deciding on a snack for their event, dedicate about 7 minutes brainstorming snack ideas before making a decision or moving on to another fun activity.
- Remember the event is not just for girls, it needs to be girl-led, so try to be patient. It can be tempting to try to make the decisions for the girls, since you have more experience, and it would be easier.
- Money-earning activities are a great way for troops to bond and support their troop activities—just make sure to review the GSNorCal guidelines and fill out the appropriate forms.
So, where do you and your girls begin?
GSNorCal has an event manager training takes a troop through the necessary steps to plan and host and event, and many service units also have resources to help troops at all levels. Contact your service unit team members at your next leader meeting to gain insight on this procedure. In some cases, a single troop inviting another troop may not be defined as a formal event, but even you don’t need all the official steps, you and your girls should follow this checklist to plan your event, which is based on the event manager training and this service unit’s event planning packet.
3 months prior to event
- Determine the event theme and event participation.
- Plan activities and test them with the girls trying everything themselves.
- Secure a site and develop an event budget.
- Create an event flyer and contact Service Unit Program Event Manager for their process for approval.
- Decide on patch design (if needed).
2 months prior to event
- Present event flyer and budget to Service Unit Team. The girls should be a part of this process, if possible.
- Approved flyer is presented at the upcoming Leader Meeting by girls.
- Type up step-by-step instructions for each activity with checklist of supplies.
1 month prior to event
- Set up registration log and send out confirmations.
- Deposit checks as received and maintain receipts as purchases are made.
- Order patches.
- Complete Event Notification Form online.
- Test all activities and purchase all materials (keep the receipts). Stay within budget.
- Prepare event an evaluation form and prepare troop registrations packets, if needed.
- Do a ‘dress rehearsal’ and walk through of all planned activities.
- Consider providing tea or coffee area so that attending adults may sit and chat quietly.
- Plan a layout of the tables/chairs and rotating schedule so that room/area can be ready.
- When registration is complete, align girls into ‘groups’ for rotation purposes. May wish to provide name tags that are color coded for the rotations.
- Girls (and supporting adults) should learn several roles in case a switch is necessary.
Day of event
- Collect Troop Roster Sheets upon revival and Evaluation Forms at end of event.
- Normally participants will rotate through activities/stations by groups.
- Gather everyone together, welcome them, and stay on track.
Within 3 weeks of the event
- Keep copies of everything and file any paperwork required by the Service Unit or troop.
- Submit all receipts for reimbursement (if this is service unit event).
- Distribute patches if you have any.
- Evaluate the event (look for the highlights and ways to improve).
- Write thank-you cards, letters, or emails to any donors or volunteers who helped.
- Celebrate with the girls!
Here are some ideas for events your girls can lead:
The most important part of planning an event is empowering the girls to plan it themselves, so make sure they are excited about the even they plan! Don’t limit the girls’ thoughts to this list, but here are a few ideas that are always successful. Let them brainstorm to find ideas that they would love to implement!
Daisy-Brownie Level (Kindergarten–3rd Graders):
Invite toddlers or preschoolers, lasting 45 minutes–1 hour
- Holiday gathering
- Children board game time
- Relays and outdoor games
- A craft and snack with a silly song
Junior Level (4th–5th Graders):
Invite younger Brownie or Daisy age kids, lasting 1.5–2 hours.
- Carnival games with prizes and tickets
- Brownie badge events (this is a great way to allow them to pick one they really liked)
- Relays and outdoor games
- STEM-focused activities
Your Juniors may wish to earn a Bronze Award as 5th graders (the highest Award for a Junior Girl Scout) with an event. See Volunteer Essentials and the online trainings through the Learning Portal for any special rules that may apply.
Cadette Level (6th–8th Graders):
Invite younger girls of all ages, event lasting 1.5–5 hours, depending on the age.
- All Petals for the Daisy age girls
- Badges or Journey in a Day workshop (normally without the Take Action portion)
- STEM workshops with lots of hands on challenges.
- Outdoor skills like knot-tying, hiking, and relays to learn about fire starting, layering clothing, packing for a campout, rolling a sleeping bag, and edible fires.
- Mini Camporee experience for Daisy Girl Scouts (campout style activities without the overnight)
Your Cadettes may wish to earn a Silver Award as 8th graders (the highest Award for a Cadette Girl Scout) with an event. See Volunteer Essentials and the online trainings through the Learning Portal for any special rules that may apply.
Senior and Ambassador Level (9th–12th Graders):
Invite all ages, as girl leaders at these ages can handle almost anything. Event can be 3–5 hours, full day events, or even overnight campout opportunities.
- All badge levels (can even include several ages and several badges)
- Journey in a Day events for any age
- Girl Scout World Thinking Day events for the service unit (this event can be up to hundreds of people!)
- Community service events for neighborhoods and schools
- Overnight Campout for Brownies and Juniors
- STEM workshops for all ages
- Career workshops for middle school age children or girls
Your Seniors and Ambassadors age may wish to earn their Gold Award—the highest, most prestigious award a Girl Scout can earn. See Volunteer Essentials and the online trainings through the Learning Portal for any special rules that may apply.
The most important part of planning an event is encouraging your girls to find an event that they want to support, so they feel motivated to make it happen. It should be fun for them, energizing, exciting, thrilling, and most importantly, empowering. And after months of hard work and planning, nothing quite beats the feeling of watching the event participants look to your girls for “help” with that heartfelt look of admiration, knowing your girls have become leaders.
What to do next:
- From promoting to evaluating, brush up on your event planning skills with the online Event Manager training.
- Check out Volunteer Essentials for more tips on how to foster a girl-led environment.
- If your girls are planning an event anytime soon, make sure to review this event planning packet from GSNorCal’s Crossroads Service Unit (Pleasanton, Dublin, and Sunol).
- Need inspiration? Check out this list of money-earning events and ideas.
Karen Rodriguez—Karen Rodriguez is a Volunteer Development Manager for Alameda County but was a volunteer, including Leader Support Manager, for twenty years in the Crossroads Service Unit. As a Learning Facilitator, Gold Award Coordinator, and an active member of the Community, she enjoyed her volunteer time working with the girls and the community. She strives to encourage more activities to empower girls to become leaders, and loves to see girl-led events by girls, for girls.