As we take necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in our communities, we can still try to maintain some semblance of everyday life for our Girl Scouts. Though in-person troop meetings and events should be postponed for the time being, there are still many ways girls can connect with one another.
We are just a few days into this new world of social distancing, but already so many troops have come up with creative ways to keep in touch and continue their Girl Scouting adventures. Read on for some innovative examples of connecting when you can’t be together and resources you can use to host your own virtual troop meeting.
Siana’s Daisy Troop
Like many of us, Monica, a parent in the Twin Cities, was blindsided by how quickly she became closed off from the outside world. The sudden need for isolation was especially hard for her daughter Layla, a first-year Girl Scout Daisy, whom she describes as a very social kid.
“Tuesday evening was when our girls would normally meet,” Monica says. “Siana [our troop leader] reached out to the troop through our Facebook group and proposed a virtual meeting. We all enthusiastically said yes, we would give it a try. She led the girls in the Girl Scout Promise, asked each girl how their day was, and then led them in a few activities. The girls wrote a silly story together, each adding on to the previous girl’s part. In the end, they sang Make New Friends like they normally do. Usually, they stand in a circle, crossing arms and holding hands. [Instead] Layla did this with her arms and held her own hands. As we move forward in the coming weeks, we are planning more ways for these girls to connect at a distance. The girls are going to independently work on their Daisy Trail Adventure badge with their families and then report back to the troop about their experiences.”
Curious what the meeting looked like? Check out their virtual friendship circle while singing Make New Friends.
Katrina’s Junior Troop
Katrina, a leader of a Junior troop in Maple Grove, shared her own (Girl-led no less!) success story of a recent virtual troop meeting. “My troop was supposed to meet on Sunday to complete their Drawing badge. Summer [a Girl Scout Junior] was leading it, but we were clearly unable to meet in person. We decided as a parent group to continue on with the meeting over Zoom. So, Summer created instructional videos for the activities the girls would need to complete for their badge, and they spent Saturday and Sunday morning working on their drawings. Then we met during our usual meeting time over Zoom. The girls had a blast and it was such a great way for them to stay connected during this time. We now feel prepared and ready for the April meeting if we need to meet over Zoom again!”
Virtual Troop Meeting Best Practices
Keep in mind that it might take some iterating to figure out how to adapt your in-person troop meetings for this new virtual realm. The good thing is that the prep and flow of a virtual meeting is quite similar to “offline” ones. Here are a few pointers:
Decide on a Meeting Time
Will you be meeting during your regularly scheduled meeting or do you want to set up a new time to accommodate people’s new schedules?
Communicate the Agenda
Will you be leading hands-on activities during your meeting? If so, send out a list of supplies girls should have on hand before you meet. (Also, consider what girls will readily have access to while they’re at home so no one needs to venture out to the store to purchase anything.) Do you want girls to complete steps on their own before meeting and use the meeting to share experiences and to check-in? If so, send out instructions for girls to work on beforehand.
Build in Some Traditions
Virtual meetings may feel a little strange to girls who are used to getting together in person, so try to build in some parts of a “traditional” meeting. For example, you can still have a pre-meeting activity (maybe it’s a check-in question that girls can answer in the chat box), and girls can still take turns leading the Girl Scout Promise and Law, reviewing troop business, and singing songs to close the meeting.
You followed these best practices and held your first virtual troop meeting—you deserve a round of applause (and a fun patch)! If everything went off without a glitch, even better! If some things did go awry, don’t beat yourself up too much—this is new terrain for everyone, so remember that you’re doing the best that you can. Right now, your Girl Scouts need connection more than a perfectly-run troop meeting and by showing up for them, you’re providing just that.
Video and Audio-conferencing Options
Our sisters at Girl Scouts of Western Washington compiled a list of online meeting tools that troops (and service units) can use to hold virtual troop activities. Refer to this handy one-pager for instructions on setting up a virtual troop (PDF).
- Zoom, Skype, and Webex are video and audio-conferencing tools—while all three have a free version, they might come with limitations (such as meeting duration or a maximum number of participants). Also, note that you may be prompted to subscribe to an upgraded (paid) version.
- Chat rooms—popular in the 90s, but still useful today! Set up a private room in Google Chat or Hangouts.
- Facebook Groups. Set up a private group just for your troop. Use Facebook Live to stream troop meetings.
- FaceTime. Granted, all users have to have an iPhone or similar Apple device to access this feature. This can be good for touching base one-on-one.
We’re social animals—we naturally seek companionship and turn to each other to share in joy when times are good and for comfort when times are difficult. Nurturing this connection is essential to remind us that we all share a greater humanity even as we hunker down in our respective homes. As Siana and Katrina have so incredibly and innovatively demonstrated, when there’s a will, there’s a way to find our way back to our Girl Scout community.
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 as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Brownie troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (And rescue dog, Neil!).