The school year is officially underway, and you are diving into another exciting Girl Scout year. You and your girls are ready to plan…but you think to yourself, “There are so many resources to choose from…where do I start?” Perhaps you are a seasoned troop leader and have used Girl Scouts River Valleys Activity Plans for years but are curious how this whole Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) thing works. Or maybe it’s your first year leading a troop and you’re still trying to make sense of all the resources you heard about at a New Leader Orientation. That’s where this post comes in handy! I’m here to walk you through these resources, and how you can use them to fit your troop’s needs.
Program Resources Rundown
To get you started, it is helpful to understand what resources you have at your disposal to plan troop meetings. As a troop leader, choose from three main resources to complete Journeys and badges: VTK, Girl Scouts River Valleys’ Planning Guides & Activity Plans, The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, and Journey books.
- VTK. This digital tool has everything you need to plan out your year. Meeting plans? Check. Attendance tracker? Check. Customizable calendar? Check. Access VTK by logging in to MyGS and explore all the options available to you.
- Girl Scouts River Valleys’ Planning Guides and Activity Plans. This is another great online resource that gives you easy access to a variety of badge and Journey content. Most badges and Journeys can be completed in 1-3 meetings with these plans. Check them out on our volunteer website.
- Journey books, The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, and skill-building badge sets. These are the original resources for program content full of stories, pictures, and fun graphics. Use them on their own or alongside your favorite digital resources. You can find all print resources in our Girl Scout shops or online.
Choose Badges and Awards to Earn This Year
Girl Scouts of the USA has a great tool called the Award & Badge Explorer. This online tool lets you search badges and awards by program level and gives a brief description of what the activities are all about. Once you’ve narrowed down your favorites, check out the Where to Find Program Content Chart to see your options for completing the badge or award—Girl Scouts River Valleys Activity Plans, VTK, or the tried-and-true Girl’s Guides, skill-building badge sets, and Journey Books.
Set Up Your Year Plan in VTK
Whatever method you choose to work on badges and Journeys, VTK is a great place to track your meetings and set your troop calendar. Login into VTK and set up your troop’s year plan in the “Explore” tab. If most or all your chosen badges and awards fall under one of the pre-selected year plans, go with one of those (make it simple, right?). Otherwise, choose the “Select Your Own” route (my personal favorite). You can always add and delete meeting plans from the “Year Plan” tab.
Do you want to complete a Journey or badge that isn’t listed in VTK for your program level or perhaps you prefer to use Girl Scouts River Valleys Activity Plans? No problem! Simply select “Add Activity” from the year plan page to add any meeting or event to your calendar (in the example below, I added the Animal Helpers badge as an activity). VTK can be a great organizational tool to help plan your meetings, no matter what activity plan or resource you are using.
Start exploring and find what works best for your troop. With so many great program resources, you are bound to have a great year in store!
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.