If you’re a new troop leader, you’ve probably heard about service units at least once or twice. But if you haven’t had a chance to meet your service unit volunteers or check out one of their meetings, you may be wondering: “What is a service unit?”

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So… what is a service unit?

Definition of a Service Unit: A Girl Scout service unit is a community of volunteers and girls in a geographic area usually defined by a cluster of schools. The service unit (or SU) is an essential support system that organizes trainings, mentorship, girl programs, and membership support for volunteers, girls, and girl families.

What does that all mean? Basically, the SU is your connection to your Girl Scout council and GSUSA as a whole. They have the information and support you need to feel confident as a Girl Scout volunteer.

Service Units 101: The Structure

Service Units generally hold monthly meetings where they share information about upcoming events and new information from GSNorCal and GSUSA with representatives from each troop. All troops must have someone present at each SU meeting to listen to these vital and useful updates and ask any questions they may have.

Each SU has a team of volunteers to help it run smoothly. Roles include Leader Support Manager (LSM), Program Support Manager (PSM), Member Support Manager (MSM), Registrar, Treasurer, Cookie Product Manager, Fall Product Manager, School Representatives, and more. Make it a point to learn what the volunteer in each role does—you might want to volunteer for a role yourself someday! If so, let your SU know. Many hands make light work!

Why are service units important?

But your service unit is so much more than just required monthly leader meetings and updates! Connecting with your SU regularly has tons of amazing benefits, like:

1. Find out about upcoming events and activities.

Do your girls hope to attend the Mother-Daughter Tea, walk in a Parade, camp with other troops? You can get all the information about upcoming events/activities in your area and be able to ask any questions you have in person—no need to search out the info on your own!

2. Learn from leaders who have “been there and done that.”

There is a wealth of Girl Scout knowledge in the room when you attend a Leader Meeting. There are volunteers leading older girl troops who have been through it all and can give you suggestions and advice about all things Girl Scout, from rules and requirements to expert pointers on what to expect in just about every situation.

3. Connect with older girl troops who can help you.

Are you a Daisy troop just getting started and would love help with a Journey? Are you a Brownie troop hoping to go camping soon and would like help with a Camping Badge? You can talk with troop leaders who may be looking for ways their older girl troops can “give back.”

4. Connect with younger girl troops you can help.

Maybe you are a Cadette troop needing to find a Brownie troop so you can earn your LiA (Leader in Action) Award or maybe you are a troop needing to fulfill PA (Program Aide) requirements. The SU meeting is an easy place to connect with leaders from younger troops that would love to let you help them.

5. Get suggestions about best practices.

Having problems with troop parents? Wondering how to manage tough situations within your troop? Is Cookie Season wearing you down? Go to the meeting, explain your situation, and just listen as the suggestions and advice roll in!

6. Hear first-hand about Council/GSUSA specific information.

Your service unit team is your connection to the bigger Girl Scout world. They get information from GSNorCal that they then share with you—information about the Cookie Program, new requirements for trainings, promotions that are happening council wide, etc.

7. You will make new friends.

Girl Scouts isn’t just for girls! Getting to know the volunteers in your SU will make you feel connected to something special. Think of it as your own Adult Girl Scout troop! Many lifelong friendships can develop that transcend the boundaries of Girl Scouts just because you take the time to engage with your service unit.

So, what are you waiting for? If you don’t already have your next service unit meeting on your calendar, find out when the next one is and show up! Make it worth your while. You’ll be glad you did, and your troop will be happy knowing that you have everything you need to make their Girl Scout experience the best that it can be.

What to do next:

Shannon McMathShannon 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.

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