Planning a new exciting troop meeting every week takes a lot of work! Whether you’re having virtual troop meetings, or meeting in person, for the first time or the hundredth, there are always a few basic factors that need to be considered for an excellent Girl Scout troop meeting. These tried-and-true strategies will make all types of online activities fun for kids!
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What age level are your Girl Scouts?
Learning or refreshing your knowledge around age characteristics is essential to understand what is generally developmentally appropriate for each Girl Scout level. What is true of girls in an in-person setting remains true for virtual teaching. For example, our Daisies and Brownies have short attention spans, wiggle and move around a lot, are learning to read and spell, and have developing motor skills,. Our Juniors, are generally capable of using technology independently, and use chat more to participate in the meetings. Whilst older girls are able to follow multi-step directions, have their own interests already, and craves peer to peer collaboration.
Although these characteristics don’t change between in-persona and virtual teaching, take some time to think about how these characteristics and behaviors appear in the virtual space. They may look like lots of physical movement for the younger girls to get their wiggles out and not depending on reading and typing skills. Our older girls respond best when they are guided through a meeting instead of being told what to do.
What routines can you create or maintain?
Everyone feels more comfortable when they know what to expect, making routines important to the flow of a meeting. Just as you would for in person, establish a routine for your reoccurring virtual meetings and set expectations. Expectations may include how to ask and answer a question, be respectful in chat, and to use your best listening ears.
Pro Tip: If you or your girls are using a brand-new virtual platform, set some time aside to learn together and test the tool out, so that next meeting the technical details won’t distract from your meeting plan!
What kind of activities will be most successful?
Trying to brainstorm activities can feel overwhelming. But just as there is in person, the same kind of activities apply in the virtual world. There are:
- Individual activities ex. Coloring
- Paired activities ex. Pairs in breakout rooms, drawing portraits of each other
- Small Groups ex. Girls broken up into breakout rooms
- Large group ex. Everyone in the main zoom room
As in person, ideally you want to be sure there is a mix of the types of activities. But how do you know which activities are best? Again, go back to what you would do in person. We know that our younger girls are not successful in paired up activities, so selecting a small group activity that is physical or active would engage younger girls the best. Likewise, with older girls a series of passive activities (ex. Do a drawing, then make friendship bracelets, then a collage) is not the best approach for them to get the social engagement they need out of a meeting. Consider the following:
- Number of participants
- Number of adults needed to supervise or help
- A mix of active and passive activities (Example making a group story v. scavenger hunt v friendship bracelet making)
- What girls like, need, and want (Think especially about their energy levels that week, virtual activities often require more focus than in-person activities.)
How can you fully include every one of your Girl Scouts in the meeting?
Meetings aren’t any fun if everyone can’t participate fully! Virtual meetings make it possible for everyone to connect where they are, but they also come with a lot of barriers. Planning ahead around economic, comfort, and ability-based concerns allows everyone to participate fully from the get-go.
Consider your girl’s technological capabilities. Do they have a device to connect with? If possible try to gage what kind of device your audience will be using and what will be possible. For example, Chromebooks do not have the annotate feature on zoom.
Then think about accessibility. As a habit, turn on live captions for your meetings to make the experience more accessible and a smoother experience. Studies show that 80% of people use captioning while watching videos. Do your best to use materials that are common household items and if specialty items are needed, it is best to use your troop funds for each girl so that access isn’t a barrier to participation.
If you can answer all four of these questions fully, you will have crafted a fun, inclusive virtual meeting! We’d love to hear about the tips and strategies you’ve found successful for meeting virtually: tell us in the comments!
What to do next:
- Learn more about girl grade levels and how to support their growth and development in troop meetings.
- Looking for more activities to adapt to virtual meetings? Try these friendship activities for your troop!
- Check out this full year of Girl Scout activities!
Eliz Adem—Eliz is a lifetime Gold Award Girl Scout who grew up in the Northern California council. As a former classroom teacher, she is well-versed in child development, program and curriculum design, and caring for the whole child. Eliz also was the Director of Camp Skylark Ranch, and she takes great pride in mentoring and developing staff members to be well-trained caretakers, professionals, and role models.