At Girl Scouts, we’re all about building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Making the world a better place starts small, in your communities! It’s important for your troop to get to know the community around them so they can discover new interests and see how they can make a difference. Connecting your troop to community leaders might seem like a daunting task, but we have four tips to help you get started!
Identifying Local Experts
Many badges have a step that directs your troop to talk to an expert on that topic. We also love when activities provide hands-on learning opportunities, so it’s important to understand where to look for someone to facilitate! First, you can look within your troop community. As the troop leader, you may not know a cybersecurity expert, but one of the parents in your troop might. You can use the family interest survey to learn about your troop families and how they might be able to leverage their connections to help the troop. Your Service Unit is also a great resource. Try asking around at your next Service Unit meeting. Other troop leaders and volunteers likely have some local recommendations they’ve enjoyed working with. Local nonprofits and businesses are invested in the community around them (just like your troop!) and may be very excited to work together.
Don’t start looking for a local partner at the last minute! Just like many of us appreciate advance notice, your community partner will appreciate more time to prepare, and it’s more likely they will be available. We recommend reaching out to community members 1-2 months ahead of the desired date.
When you are working with a community partner, don’t assume that they know everything about Girl Scouts and how we operate. Let them know that Girl Scouts should be given the opportunity to lead, try new things, and be allowed to fail. When we set expectations for our community partners, they are ready to let your troop grow into the confident leaders they are meant to be.
A Beneficial Exchange
Remember, partnerships are a two-way street! Your troop should always show their appreciation for a community partner who has taken the time to work with them with a thank you note, a box of Girl Scout cookies, a social media shout-out, or another token of appreciation. If you want to take it to the next level, you can reciprocate by giving back. Did you work with a nonprofit that’s now holding an event that needs volunteers? Ask if your troop can sign up! Was there a local expert that was invaluable to their Silver Award project? Invite them to the Silver Award ceremony! Community partners want to work with Girl Scouts so they can share their leadership and feel a sense of connection. Fostering that connection is the best thank you they could receive!
Community partners and local experts can inspire your Girl Scout troop to try new things, especially if there’s a topic you don’t feel so confident in. It’s so important to cultivate successful community partnerships and we hope these tips get you started!
Sydney Tuttle – Sydney is a Leader Engagement Coordinator at Girl Scout River Valleys, focusing on training and supporting troop leaders. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Minnesota— Twin Cities. In her free time, Sydney enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with her friends. She can talk your ear off about her two cats, Korra and Mabel!