By now you have likely heard about the Volunteer Toolkit, a.k.a. VTK. If you haven’t, no worries. It just launched for River Valleys a few short weeks ago! It’s an online app to help you plan and manage your Girl Scout year and has lots of meeting plans for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior troops as well as admin tools and new content for all program levels. Log into your member community (via MyGS) and take a look around! You can learn more about VTK on our volunteer website and read on for five tips to consider while using VTK.
(You may want to log in as you read through these tips – so you can see what we are referring to.)
Tip 1: Click. Play. Learn.
You can select a year plan, change your mind, and go back and select another. So, if you want to take a deeper dive than what the preview screen has to offer, select one year plan and view the full meeting plans you wish to see. Then, when you are back on the “Year Plan” tab, click the arrow to drop down the “Explore the Year Plan Library” again, and simply select a new plan.
Tip 2: Sync your calendars.
Can the VTK calendar sync with my personal calendar? Answer: Yes it can! On the year plan tab, click the download button (arrow pointing down) and it will sync to the default calendar program on your device.
Tip 3: One VTK per troop, please.
Regardless of how many leaders you have assigned to your troop, there is only one Volunteer Toolkit—it is a shared site among all leaders in your troop. You still use your own login to MyGS to access VTK, but any changes you make will be seen by other leaders in your group. Make sure you work together or designate a primary VTK guru to make updates to your troop’s year plans and schedule. In the event that someone makes a change that’s incorrect, remember tip number 1—You can always edit, delete, and change meetings and year plans.
Tip 4: It’s a date!
Assigning dates to meetings can feel a little tricky, but there is a workaround. The tricky part is that you have to initially set all the dates at the same time (ex. biweekly at 4 pm). Once you set your initial dates, you can change individual meeting dates by selecting each one and picking a new date and time. You can also combine meetings if you plan to meet longer and accomplish two activity plans in one day. Assigning dates is completely optional, and not a required step.
Tip 5: Send meeting reminders.
If you do assign dates to your meetings and activities, you have the ability to send meeting reminders directly through VTK. Click on the meeting, and select “Edit/Send Invitation/Reminder.” The meeting will pre-populate the email subject and content, but you can make changes or add other notes if you like. Keep in mind that VTK pulls the family’s email address on file at Girl Scouts when sending your message (check the My Troop tab to see which email the family has on file). Also helpful to know is that the email will show up from email@example.com, but if a family replies to your message, it will send back to your email! How handy!
We hope you find VTK a nice addition to the resources available to you as a troop leader. There is no right or wrong way to use VTK, so use it in any way that works best for you. Don’t forget that River Valleys still has activity plans and other resources available on our volunteer website. Mix and match any of the tools you have at your disposal!
Emily Schmall – Emily is the Senior Manager of Volunteer Services at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She was a Girl Scout growing up and now leads her daughter’s troop of spirited teenagers, where they share many adventures. Her background is in programming, education, and curriculum development. She has a BA in visual art and attended the M.Ed. initial licensure program in art education, both through the University of Minnesota. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, where they are busy training their rescue puppy and teaching their old cat new tricks. In her (non-Girl Scout related) free time, Emily enjoys photography, playing the ukulele, and attending the Minnesota State Fair.