Family meetings are generally held three times a year and provide a chance to meet the families, set expectations, build support, and recruit troop volunteers. If you’re a troop leader, use this article for planning your first family meeting (at the beginning of the Girl Scout year) to guide families with gusto!
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Prepare for the Meeting
The following steps are essential to planning the first family meeting.Select a Meeting Space
When you invite troop families to attend, include materials you’d like families to complete and bring to the meeting like registration, health history, and annual permission forms, or even troop dues.
Hold the Meeting
Think of this first meeting as a crash course for the families of your troop! Discuss any exciting things you’re planning for the troop and outline all the things they can do to help you succeed in your role as a troop leader.
Use the following sample agenda to cover all your bases.Open the Meeting
Guide the girls to the activity you’ve planned for them, so they can settle in prior to the meeting starting.
Once you gather everyone’s attention, cover general items such as the troop number and where and when the troop will meet. This can even be a good time to introduce any adults that will be working with the girls at meetings. Be sure to outline the year to come and what that means for families.
Share the Girl Scout program materials such as the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Journey books. You can explain how your troop will use the materials and what the girls will get out of them.
Your Pick-Up/Drop-Off Policies
Discuss your policy on dropping off and picking up the girls. Emphasize that an adult should come into the meeting area before and after the meeting, so you can confirm who’s picking up the girls. You may even want to have a sign-out sheet and file set up for each girl for the parent to check prior to departure—this gives you an opportunity to distribute any important handouts or communication that each girls’ family needs to know.
Troop Meeting Snacks
Based on your troop meeting time and length (and if the locations permit), you can share if there will be snacks at each meeting. Decide if the cost of the snacks will be included in troop dues, or if families are willing to take turns providing the snack.
Don’t forget to check for allergies or food concerns and encourage healthy snacks!
- how families should communicate (via email, phone, text)
- how often they need to respond to certain communications
- important deadlines they should remember
Explain that it’s the parents’ and guardians’ responsibility to read all applicable information and to reply in a timely manner. This includes deadlines for payments, turning in permission slips, and helping out the troop as needed!
Families should confirm their preferred contact information and provide an email address on their registration so they receive emails from Girl Scouts River Valleys.
Troop fees and money-earning activities support girls by helping the troop purchase uniforms, Journey books, and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting specific to their program grade level. Your troop may also need supplies such as construction paper, crayons, or glue, etc.—consider creating a wish-list and let families donate those items.
Let families know that financial assistance forms for shop purchases, troop dues, camp, and events can be found at GirlScoutsRV.org/Financial-Assistance.
Just remember, any adult that has regular contact with girls, manages money, or chaperones trips should be registered and complete a background check. Consult Safety-Wise for specifics.
Resources for Encouraging Parents/Guardians
You can show this YouTube video at your meeting, or share it with parents/guardians via email or social media:
In addition to the video above, you can also use the parent engagement training to show at your family meeting for more specifics on how families can help.
*This training is hosted on Training.GirlScoutsRV.org, which will prompt you to create a username and password. If you have previously completed any training on Training.GirlScoutsRV.org, you may log in using the same username and password. If you can’t remember your password, please contact us.
Options for Troop Volunteers
We know it can be intimidating—especially for new troop leaders—to earn and manage money for the troop, so consider recruiting a troop treasurer who can help keep track of troop expenses. Your service unit’s treasurer is a great resource who can help you with questions, get you started with opening a bank account, and may even offer training in your area.
Troop Cookie Manager
Troop cookie managers guide the troop through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. This role is optional but should be filled by mid-November for troops who wish to have a volunteer in this role. Splitting the role between two or more people can make the job easier!
Troop Fall Product Manager
Troop fall product managers guide the troop through the Snacks & Magazines program. This role should be filled by August 1 (and no later than September 1) for troops wishing to have a volunteer in this role.
Troop volunteers are occasional troop helpers that are registered Girl Scout members. Explain to families that we require at least two unrelated, registered adults with the girls at every meeting. See which adults are willing to help. Be sure to discuss the size of the troop and the number of adults it will take to drive, chaperone during field trips, etc.
Summary of Resources
- Girl Scout Law and Flower Friends Coloring Sheets – An example activity for the girl portion of family meetings.
- The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Journey Books – These recourses are available for purchase in our shops or online.
- Health, Safety, and Using Safety-Wise – This article includes checklists and resources required for Girl Scout activities.
- Earning and Managing Troop Money – An article outlining the financial responsibilities and opportunities for troops.
- GirlScoutsRV.org/Financial-Assistance – A resource for girls and families to get assistance paying for program items.
- Troop Cookie Managers – An outline of the troop cookie manager role and responsibilities.
- Troop Fall Product Managers – An outline of the troop fall product manager role and responsibilities.
- Parent Involvement Video – Show this short YouTube video to encourage parent/guardians to volunteer with the troop.
- Parent Engagement Training – Show this training from Training.GirlScoutsRV.org at your family meetings for specifics on how families can help your troop.
- Family Meeting Two: Cookies – A great follow-up article!