Fall is here, the weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to change and Girl Scout are heading back to school. This means girls, parents and volunteers are starting to get crazy busy with their hectic schedules. But have no fear, whether you are a brand new troop leader or a seasoned volunteer there are online and offline resources that will help you have conversations with your parents and volunteers and plan for the year, girl led of course. Here are some easy and great ideas to help make your meeting planning smooth sailing.
Find your Troop’s Vision
Talk with your troop members, adults and girls, to discuss what their vision for the upcoming year is going to be. What are your goals, what are they excited about, what are they dreading? Girl Scouts of all ages are able to come up with some SMART goals for the troop for the year to help them grow in their experiences. Don’t fall into the temptation to plan it all yourself, I know sometimes it feels easier, but Girl Scouts is girl-led. Having the girls participate in the planning will help the girls engage and be invested in the yearly agenda.
Flexibility is Key
That agenda you spend all the time and energy creating, it is a changing document. You can spend as much time planning for the unexpected as you want and there will be something that pops up unexpectedly. It is important to stay flexible and let the girls that it is ok to have changes to original plans, use it as a teaching opportunity. For example, your troop has planned a hike that might need to be cancelled or moved because of the weather, a guest speaker had to cancel last minute leaving a gap in your nightly plans. Check in with the troop throughout the year to make sure you are staying on track for your vision and see if any changes need to be made.
Think about how much time you are going to need to spend on planning, do you just need one meeting for the younger girls or a few meeting for the older girls to take the lead. Keep the planning specific with a timeline so you can stay focused and keep the process moving forward. You don’t want to spend all your year planning and not actually get to the fun stuff.
Depending on the attention span and interest of your troop, you can plan a couple meetings at a time or take on months or the entire year. This is brainstorming so make sure to write down all the ideas from each member even if they are crazy and seem to be too big or out there. These ideas can lead to something that would work for your group.
Ideas to keep track of your brainstorming session:
- Write it down! Use poster board, butcher paper, whiteboard or you could use a Google doc if you are a more tech troop.
- Have each girl brainstorm individually before coming back as a group to talk about it. Some girls have a hard time sharing their thoughts in large groups so this will allow everyone to have input.
- Make it a game: give the girls 5 minutes to write down as many ideas for each topic you need to plan. Examples, snacks, service projects, badges, journeys, fun trips, places to visit, etc.
Start Big, Add Details
Take a look at the list that you created and decide as a group what you are going to do. For younger girls you may need to take the lead as the adult and with the older girls let them give it a try and be there to help as needed. To narrow things down, talk as a group to come up with the favorites. This can be done through voting, discussion, ranking, and more, it is important that everyone feels they are being included and their voice is being heard.
Once you have narrowed down the list to the top interested of the troop you can start filling in the details. This is where your network will come in handy to use your connections within and without Girl Scouts. This can include your Service Unit, Troop Leaders, parents, your council, social media or community groups.
Online resources are a great place to go for you and your girls to research your plans. Search engines, Pinterest, and blogs are great places to find if someone else has tried your idea, and you can build off what they had done.
What to do next
Remember you don’t have to do it all yourself, have the girls, parents, and other volunteers help! Use your resources wisely, this includes people too! Make a plan, be flexible, and use what you have to make your upcoming year full of fun success!