One of my favorite Girl Scout traditions is watching everyone come together to sing “Make New Friends” at the end of troop meetings or events. (At one of our service unit events, it took almost twenty minutes for the girls to pass the friendship squeeze around the circle of 100+ participants!) The lyrics of the song reflect the spirit of Girl Scouting—welcoming new girls into the fold and ensuring that everyone feels included.
Whether you’ve expanded your troop recently, or are now just thinking about adding or updating your listing in our online troop catalog, remember to smooth the transition for your newcomers. I know—this can be hard enough to do in-person, let alone during a Zoom troop meeting! Read on for some tips on extending a warm (virtual) welcome to the new Girl Scouts in your troop.
A week or so before your troop meeting, ask the girls in your troop to send postcards to the newest Girl Scouts who’ll be joining them. Girls can write about themselves, what they enjoy about their troop, some fun activities they’ve done, and what they’re looking forward to trying in the future. This is a great, low-key way for the newer girls to get to know the existing members before they “meet” for the first time.
What often happens with new kids at school is that they’re paraded to the front of the room and introduced to the whole class—so everyone knows the new kid’s name, but the new kid has no idea who’s who! Put a little twist on that by having girls break out into pairs (you can use the breakout room feature on Zoom for this). In their pairs, have each girl answer the prompt “Three things I’d like other people to know about me are…” When you come back together as the larger group, have each girl introduce their pair buddy. (For example, Zakia will say, “This is Frances and three things they’d like people to know about them are…” and then Frances will introduce Zakia.)
Break the Ice
Ah, good ol’ ice breakers. They’re a perfect way to start a troop meeting and gives girls an opportunity to get to know one another (even those who’ve already been friends for years). Here are a few ice breakers you can do virtually:
What’s in the Box?
Before the meeting, ask girls to place a random object (or a few) inside a cardboard box. During the meeting, each girl will take turns describing the object in their box. They can either describe it truthfully, or fib about what’s actually in their box. After the presenter has described their object, the other girls will give a thumbs up if they think the presenter is telling the truth, or a thumbs down if they think they’re telling a lie. After everyone’s cast their vote, the presenter will reveal their secret object.
Play Mad Libs
Find a Mad Libs template online and call on different girls to give answers for the blank spaces (noun, adjective, etc.) Read the completed Mad Lib when you’re done—hilarity ensues!
Use Zoom’s whiteboard feature, or Skribbl, a free online multiplayer drawing/guessing game to play get-to-know-you Pictionary. Instead of word prompts, create a list of questions for girls to get to know each other (like, What are some of your hobbies? What’s your favorite food? What do you like about being a Girl Scout?). Girls can then take turns drawing and guessing the answers to those questions. (On Skribbl, you can create a private room and type the questions as “Custom words,” and choose the option to use those custom words exclusively.)
Meeting someone new for the first time can give anyone jitters. When that introduction is done virtually, it can add another layer of nerves and apprehension. With these tips and fun activities, hopefully your newest members feel like part of the crew in no time.
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!).