Here at Girl Scouts, we’re all about making new friends, so in the past few weeks or months, you might have welcomed new girls into your troop (thank you!). While some girls will hit it off right away (“Your favorite color is green?” “My favorite color is green!” “Best friends forever!”), other times, it can take a little more coaxing to get girls to open up to each other and build those connections.
After all, we’ve been there before—the new kid on the block, in class, or at work. Standing in front of a sea of new faces can be an anxiety-provoking experience. Will I have anything in common with these folks? Will they like me? Will I like them?
Luckily, with a few icebreakers, you can set the tone for your troop, have some fun, and help girls get to know one another. Try one of these fun activities at your next meeting. Before you begin, here are some general icebreaker tips:
- Have fun with purpose and use the icebreaker to prepare girls for your meeting. If you’re planning on working together on a cerebral Journey, opt for a reflection-related icebreaker, like an open-ended question or team-building challenge. If you’ll be heading outdoors to work on a badge, pick a more energetic activity to warm up their mental and physical muscles.
- Ideally, the icebreaker will be so fun that everyone wants to participate, but let girls know that they always have the option to pass. Allowing girls the choice to opt-out is a great way to reinforce autonomy. Check in again to see if they’d like to join in after a few minutes.
- Include all your girls. Adapt your icebreaker to suit the program grade level(s), abilities, and dynamic of your troop.
Bunches & Bunches
Suitable for: Everyone
- Have girls spread out across your meeting space.
- When you call out a category, have girls make “bunches” with other girls who share the same answer. For example, if you call out, “Make bunches of your favorite food,” then girls should move around and find out what everyone’s favorite food is, then stand with girls who like the same food as them.
- After girls have sorted into different bunches, have each bunch of girls introduce themselves to the others and say what the answer to the category was. For example, one bunch might say, “I’m Leah, this is Sakeena, and that’s Marlow. Our favorite food is spaghetti!”
- Other categories you can call out: Favorite Girl Scout cookie, birthday month, favorite season, favorite animal, school they attend, favorite outdoor activity.
Thorn, Rose, Bud
Suitable for: Juniors through Ambassadors
- Have girls gather in a circle.
- Ask them to reflect on their day. What was their thorn, rose, and bud? Thorn: Something that went wrong during their day. Rose: Something that brought them joy or was a highlight of their day. Bud: Something they’re looking forward to.
- Have those who are willing to share go first. Remember to give girls the chance to pass.
Cup and String
Suitable for: Everyone (make adjustments as necessary)
Materials Needed: String or yarn, scissors, rubber bands, and plastic cups
Goal: Stack ten cups into a pyramid.
Rules: Team members cannot touch the cups with their hands, even if the cups tip over or fall onto the floor. They can only use the rubber bands and string to move the cups.
- For younger girls: Cut string into four two-feet long pieces. Tie each string to a rubber band, making sure the string is evenly spaced on the band. Make one string and rubber band combo for each group of four girls. Break girls off into groups of four and hand each group one string and rubber band combo and a stack of ten cups. Review the rules of the game.
- For older girls: Layout rubber bands, scissors, string, and ten plastic cups on a table. Review the rules, then let the problem-solving games begin!
This or That
Suitable for: Everyone
- Have girls line up in the middle of your meeting space.
- Call out a question, then indicate which side of the space girls should move to for each answer. For example, say, “Would you rather go camping or horseback riding? For camping, move to your left. For horseback riding, move to your right.”
- Once girls have moved to their spaces, ask if anyone would like to say why they chose their spot.
- Some other questions to ask: Would you rather have a dog or cat as a pet? Would you rather read a book or watch a movie? What’s better—spring or fall? Thin Mints or Caramel deLites? Country or city? Tent or cabin? Snowstorm or thunderstorm?
Lily Yu – Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time by leading her daughter’s Daisy troop (who’s more excited to work on petals and Journeys—it could go either way!). In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family.