The school year has started (in some shape or form) and that means another Girl Scout year is upon us! Whether your troop is meeting virtually, in-person, or a combination of the two, remember that this year is like no other. Don’t expect the same from yourself or your families that you would in a typical year.
Girl Scouts is always about customizing to meet girls’ needs—and that is true now more than ever. It’s okay to mix things up and meet less frequently. Consider scheduling one meeting a month and mixing in social time, badges, and traditions—all to help keep the Girl Scout spirit alive in your troop. It’s also helpful to remember that during times of stress, change, and school transitions, your troop might want a break from badge-earning and awards, and may just want to spend time together. That’s okay! As their troop leader, keep providing ways for the troop to stay connected and follow their lead. They’ll let you know when they are ready to earn badges again.
How do you start planning your year with all that’s going on? Let’s face it–everyone’s ability to pivot and adapt can vary (Pivot fatigue is a thing!). How much time you have to devote to Girl Scout planning may shift from month to month or week to week. As a troop leader, you can decide how much energy and pizzazz you put into your troop planning this year. Let’s break down virtual and in-person troop meeting ideas into “easiest,” “moderate,” and “advanced” categories to help get you started.
Let Girl Scouts River Valleys do the work and sign up for one of our virtual council programs that has built-in troop breakout time. Choose 1-2 for the fall and you’re set. Or simply let your troop know about upcoming council virtual programs and sign up any girl who is interested. That way if you have girls who are interested in doing a lot of virtual and others who are not, you can meet everyone’s needs.
Is your troop having online-learning fatigue? Then consider just getting everyone together for a social call and play Kahoot! or watch a movie together over Zoom. If you haven’t already, be sure to request a free Zoom account for your troop this year from Girl Scouts River Valleys.
Use one of our online virtual meeting plans and host a virtual troop meeting. We have plans for fun badges like the Good Neighbor badge for Daisies or the Playing the Past badge for Juniors. Check out the library of online resources at our Girl Scouts at Home page for great virtual meeting plans and videos.
Seek out partners and inspiring women and invite them to speak or lead an activity at a virtual meeting. You never know who might say “Yes!” unless you ask. Or you could use social media to connect with another Girl Scout troop from across the nation to learn about life in another area of the country or sign up for a virtual program at another council to learn something new.
Attend an in-person council program or arrange for a field trip to do a COVID-19-safe activity. You can also let girls and families know about fun in-person council programs and encourage them either to register on their own or let you know and have you register them with troop funds. Another option is to get the troop together for something easy, like a walk on a favorite local trail. Girls need time just to hang out together and chat, and as the troop leader, you can help make this happen.
Did you know that Girl Scouts has tons of badge-earning activity plans that could be done outdoors? Choose one to fuel your next troop adventure. Another great option for in-person activities is community service projects. Rake leaves, shovel snow, or chalk-the-walk with encouraging messages.
For an outdoorsy troop, this is a great time to perfect fire-building skills to warm up your outdoor meetings. Or maybe you want to plan a zip-lining or camping trip for next summer (in separate/socially distanced tents, of course–see Girl Scouts River Valleys’ In-Person Girl Scout Activity Guidance for details). You could also rent space at one of our camp properties to plan an outdoor day.
If your troop is planning a hybrid option this year, mix and match the virtual and in-person ideas to create a blend that works best for your troop.
Looking for a little more direction? Here are three examples (virtual, in-person, and hybrid) of what this might look like in action.
|Hold a planning meeting||Hold a planning meeting||Hold a planning meeting|
|Attend a virtual council program or try a virtual field trip||Attend a council program or take a hike||Attend a council program or take a hike|
|Check-in Zoom call (fun, socializing)||Check-in meeting (fun, socializing–keep it simple)||Check-in meeting (fun, socializing–keep it simple) and meet outdoors if the weather is nice|
|Work on a badge||Work on a badge||Attend a virtual council program (live or watch a pre-recorded event)|
|Hold a Cookie Program meeting||Hold a Cookie Program meeting||Hold a Cookie Program meeting (in-person or Zoom)|
|Check-in zoom call (fun, socializing)||Do an outdoor activity (sledding, ice skating, winter walk)||
Do an outdoor activity (sledding, ice skating, winter walk)
|Work on a badge||Work on a badge||Work on a badge (Zoom meeting)|
|Attend a virtual council program (live or watch a pre-recorded event)||Do an outdoor activity or hold an outdoor meeting for fun and social time||Do an outdoor activity or hold an outdoor meeting for fun and social time|
|Hold an end of year check-in meeting and celebration||Hold an end of year check-in meeting and celebration||Hold an end of year check-in meeting and celebration|
Troop leaders are true superheroes—remember that YOU are making an impact on the girls in your troop. By keeping your troop together this year, you are providing a space for familiarity, fun, and friendship. We can’t wait to hear how your troop makes the most out of the 2020-2021 year. Share your success stories, tips, and tricks of your in-person, virtual, or hybrid meetings with us—and we may just feature you in an upcoming post!
Emily Schmall – Emily is the Senior Manager of Program Resources at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and has a background in visual arts, education, curriculum development, and volunteer management. Emily was a Girl Scout growing up and now leads her daughter’s troop of spirited teenagers. She lives in the St. Paul area where she enjoys hanging with the fam and going on adventures with their rescue dog, Dory. In her (non-Girl Scout related) free time, Emily enjoys photography, playing the ukulele, and attending the Minnesota State Fair.