There’s nothing like the sounds of a gaggle of Girl Scouts as they work together on a badge, venture out on a field trip, or sing “Make New Friends.” I should know—I lead a troop of 28 Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors! Leading a large troop can seem overwhelming, but with a few tips and tricks, it can be very successful.
Divvy up duties
Having several dedicated volunteers as part of your troop helps things run smoothly. Volunteers in our troop meet a few times throughout the year to discuss upcoming meeting plans and activities. We use that time to assign a task to each volunteer before the troop meetings, so they know what their responsibilities are before each meeting. Some of these tasks include: leading a badge activity station, taking photographs, and helping serve snack. By sharing this information ahead of time, our troop volunteers can prepare themselves and feel more confident in their role when they arrive at the meeting.
Every troop has two leaders, but there are plenty of other volunteer positions that families can help with. In our troop, we also have a troop treasurer, a communication person, and a cookie manager.
- Troop treasurer: This volunteer makes sure dues and payments are collected at meetings. They also manage the troop checking account, and share the troop balance with girls and parents.
- Communication person: This volunteer posts important information on our troop’s Facebook page, and sends emails and texts to parents (like reminders about our upcoming meetings and field trips).
- Troop cookie manager: This volunteer manages the cookie program and conducts a parent and family meeting before the start of cookie sales, so everyone understands their roles and responsibilities during the cookie season.
Use the patrol system
Patrols are small groups of girls that work together during part of a meeting. Patrols are essential for many of our badge-earning activities. Breaking the troop into patrol groups of 5–8 girls makes it easier for the girls to work on badge steps. Each patrol can also help plan an activity or badge to share and teach the rest of the group. Our girls enjoy using and building their leadership skills through patrols. You can have the girls be in the same patrol group all year or switch up the groups 2–3 times throughout the year so girls have a chance to work with everyone.
Working in small groups also means we don’t need to have 30 pairs of scissors and 15 bottles of glue. Since the patrol groups will rotate through the activity stations, we end up only needing about 5–8 sets of supplies. During a troop meeting, patrols will rotate through a badge activity station every 15–20 minutes so they can participate in each activity. We also have a few volunteers at each station to help the girls.
Communication is key
With a large troop, it’s important to communicate well and often with families. We have a few different ways we send out information. We have a private troop Facebook page where we share troop meetings and activity dates. It’s also a place for volunteers and parents to post pictures—we’ve found that the parents who can’t attend the activities in person enjoy seeing pictures of their girls working on badges and having fun with their troop. We also email and text parents with meeting or activity reminders. After each troop meeting, we send an email recap to parents to let them know what we did at the meeting, and any steps girls need to complete before the next meeting. These meeting recaps are also nice for girls who didn’t attend, so they know what they need to do or make up if they want to earn that badge on their own.
There are many upsides to having a large troop—think of the group games and activities you can play and do with 28 girls! Regardless of the size of your troop, the most important part is to build sisterhood, create memories, and try new things—for you and your girls! Do you lead a large troop and have some tips and tricks of your own? We’d love to hear—share your story with us!
Pauline Wangen – Volunteer Support Manager Pauline has worked at Girl Scouts River Valleys for 17 years in the volunteer support and membership departments. She has been a Girl Scout since first grade and has been a troop leader for 28 years. Prior to joining Girl Scouts River Valleys, Pauline was a preschool teacher, cooked at a few different restaurants, and catered for weddings and special events. In her free time, she volunteers at her church and Cub Scouts. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys.