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Tips for Troop Leaders

As a Girl Scout troop leader, you fill important roles in your girls' lives: fearless leader, empowering role model, and innovative event organizer, among others.

No one said this rewarding journey would be easy, but with Tips for Troop Leaders, you'll be ready to meet any challenge that comes your way.  Tips for Troop Leaders supports both new and returning troop leaders as they encourage their girls to grow into the leaders they were born to be! Each week we’ll add a new tip for you and your Troop!

September 22nd - International Day of the Girl

October is full of special days, the start of the Girl Scout year, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday, but do you know about International Day of the Girl? This is celebrated on October 11th! International Day of the Girl is a day to celebrate girlhood, discuss the importance of girls’ rights, and bring attention to the unique challenges’ girls face around the world.  

Since 2012, Girl Scouts and the global community have used this day to bring attention to some of the most pressing issues impacting girls in the United States and around the world. It has also become a day to showcase the resilience, ingenuity, and power of girl leadership and social change. 

How can you celebrate International Day of the Girl with your troop? Here are a few ideas to get you started:  

  1. World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) Activity Guide. Each year WAGGGS released a new activity guide for all Girl Scouts. This year they are focusing on #writeherstory encouraging Girls to learn more about how they want to see the world in the future and how to advocate for it! Learn more about it here: https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/day-of-the-girl/ and get the free activity guide here: https://www.wagggs.org/en/resources/write-her-story-international-day-girl-2021/
  1. Attend Girl Scout Change the World. Girl Scouts has partnered with Lego for a great virtual event all about how Girls have changed the world and how to get involved in global action! This event is free and will be on October 9th from 1:30 pm-5 pm. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/girl-scouts-change-the-world-registration-164879774845?aff=WebBanner
  1. Learn more about Day of the Girl. UNICEF and the UN have great information and resources on why it's important to celebrate International Day of the Girl! Have the Girls learn about this important day and share with the troop what they found. Use these resources to get started: https://www.un.org/en/observances/girl-child
September 15th - New Leader Check List

A Girl Scout tenant is Be Prepared and what better way than having a checklist for your year! Our Troop Leader Checklist outlines different things to do with your troop to engaged! Girl Scout research has found that having a variety of activities throughout your Girl Scout year keeps the Girls engaged longer.

Here are just some of the items from the checklist for your year:

  • Have a parent register as a parent helper! Parents can volunteer to help with badge work, chaperone a trip, or run a product sales program! Remember if they are working with Girls or finances, they must be a registered adult member and have a background check.
  • Continue your Leader education with at least one of our additional trainings. Register for them today at: girlscoutsnenyprograms.org
    • Volunteer Conference in the Fall
    • Outdoor Education Weekend in the Spring
    • Online Tools for Leaders
    • Microlearning sessions on Facebook
    • Outdoor Basic Skills
  • Observe at least one Girl Scout Holiday/Tradition:
    • Juliette Low Birthday – October 31st
    • World Thinking Day – February 22nd
    • Girl Scout Birthday – March 12th
    • Girl Scout Week – the week of March that includes the 12th 
  • Give back to the community by completing community service or Take Action Project.
  • Participate in at least one Service Unit event.

This list is originally made for new leaders, the first page covers all the steps for starting your troop and what Council will do to help you get started! For troops with current troops utilize the last page – it’s still a great tool!

On the page you’ll see some checklist items have a trefoil – if you complete all trefoil items you will have earned the Be Prepared Adult Award! With this being the first year it’s been released, all troop leaders are eligible if you complete the trefoil items! We hope you have a great year! 

September 8th - GSNENY's Volunteer Conference

Each year Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY hosts our annual Volunteer Conference in the fall – we hope you can join us this year! Our Volunteer Conference has a lot of great opportunities for new and returning volunteers:  

Learn some great skills! We will have classes for different skills and levels – something for everyone! There are classes on Daisy programming, conflict management, fun with journeys, going outdoors with your troop and so much more!  

Learn from fellow volunteers! We will have group discussions, so you have the opportunity to learn from other volunteers. See how fellow volunteers have managed different situations or share an activity that’s worked great from your troop! Our group discussions, called Roundtables, will cover:  

·         Working with Girls K-5 

·         Transitioning from Junior to Cadette 

·         Favorite Projects 

·         Family Engagement 

Talk with Council Staff! We will have our whole Volunteer team, members from our Membership team, Girl Experience (programs) team, Member Care team, and you might even be able to meet the CEO! We are here to provide trainings, answer questions, and chat! We’re so excited to see you in person! 

 

Make sure to save the date – October 23rd at Queensbury High School. Registration will be opening soon! Have more questions? Make sure to join us on our Facebook Live on 9/9 at noon for our S’More Learning where we’ll talk all about the conference!  

August 31st - What is the Sage Tuition Program?

What is Sage Tuition? Sage Tuition is a reward points system. Tuition Reward Points accrue like frequent flyer miles and are earned by just being a registered Girl Scout! You may also get Sage Tuition from other organizations you’re part of like your bank or employer.  You can use these points for college scholarships; each point equals $1 in scholarship money. These scholarships are only available at partnering colleges; check out this list of participating colleges!

Girls earn 2500 points each year for being a Girl Scout and Volunteers earn 3500 points! Adult points can be transferred to their Girl or other family members in the Sage Tuition program.

How do members earn Sage Tuition?

What should Troop Leaders do? First, make sure that you are signed up for Sage Tuition points, you get a lot of points for your family! Next, make sure to share this information with your families – this is a great topic to cover at a parent meeting. This is also a great tool to incentivize your parents to sign up to be a troop volunteer! For only $25 you can help your troop, be a mentor to your Girl, and earn $3500 in scholarship money!

For more information on Sage Tuition check out the GSNENY page on Sage Tuition

August 25th - Safety Activity Checkpoints.

What are the Safety Activity Checkpoints? Safety Activity Checkpoints (SACs) are written specifically for activities that Girl Scouts may participate in. This policy and guide are developed by GSUSA and reviewed with Northeastern New York Council’s additional policies. Each activity has information on the required training & paperwork, history and general information about the activity, how to include Girls with disabilities, how to be equitable in your activities, safety checkpoints, safety & required gear, and what to do to prepare for this activity.

In an exciting, learning-by-doing environment like Girl Scouting, it's only natural that girls will sometimes want to take part in activities not covered in Safety Activity Checkpoints, if that’s the case reach out to volunteering@girlscoutsneny.org and we will help guide you through those activities.

How do troops use the Safety Activity Checkpoints? When preparing for any activity with girls, always begin with the Safety Activity Checkpoints (SACs)!  Learn what the requirements for the activity are, including training, supervision, and paperwork. Make sure you have everything you need before you get too far into planning. Next review the information on being equitable and inclusive to make sure this activity is fun for all Girls. Lastly, check the Safety Points for your activity to see what you should do to plan the best activity.

In addition to reading these checkpoints yourself, you can also share them with your girls, co-volunteers, and parents/caregivers. If your Girls are older and planning their own activities, make sure they are utilizing SAC in their planning.

In addition to the activity-specific guides, read the Introduction to Safety Activity Checkpoints. In this introduction, you will find specific information for the checkpoints that are common to all activities (e.g. communicate with council and parents) as well as an overview of the format for all SACs.

What’s new in this release of Safety Activity Checkpoints? Let’s dive into the big changes to see in this Safety Activity Checkpoints:

  1. Clear on Required Information. We’ve included what required paperwork is needed for certain activities in each activity description.
  2. Coronavirus Safety. There is a new section to address COVID-19 safety guidelines and basics. Please remember you still must follow national, state, and local guidelines – including your local meeting location.
  3. Community Clean-Ups. This new section has been added covering beach clean-ups, river & waterways, public parks, highway/road, adopt-a-highway.
  4. Rocketry/Model Rocketry. This new section has been added covering: engineering, designing, physics, launching.

In addition to the full Safety Activity Checkpoints we have our Safety Activity Checkpoints At-A-Glance! This is a shortened version of the SAC that gives you an insight into what level can complete the activity, what paperwork you need, and trainings. Both of these documents can be found on our Forms page!

August 18th- All about Google Classroom

What is Google Classroom? Google Classroom is an online space where Girls, families, and Leaders can bring all of your materials together, work simultaneously on a document or meet with Google Meet.

Why Use Google Classroom? It’s an easy system that families can access and keeps all of their information together. Gmail, Docs, Forms, Files, you name it. It all connects seamlessly and using your Gmail address; no duplicate accounts or logins needed.

You can get information out to Girls quickly and easily, along with parents. Check out this troop leader’s idea of a Girl Corner & Parent Corner:

By using Google Classroom you can add required paperwork for families to complete (plus families can upload the paperwork right in the classroom and it’s saved in a Google drive for you!). Utilize Google Forms to get opinions from your families or Girls about what they want to do.

Interested in learning more check out these helpful videos to get started:

Using Google Classroom for Troop Activities

August 11th - National S'mores Day

It should come as no surprise that those responsible for the most iconic cookies are also responsible for the most iconic camping snack: s’mores or “Some Mores” as they were originally called in a 1927 publication titled Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, is the recipe gem that would change campfires forever. The original recipe calls for 16 graham crackers, 8 bars of chocolate (broken in two), and 16 marshmallows. 

Make sure to celebrate National S’mores Day (August 10) by making a good old-fashioned s’more – and you can thank your Girl Scout sisters of 92 years ago for this delicious creation. Missed the holiday, no problem! Enjoy a campfire with your Girl Scouts and enjoy s’mores when you can!

Have marshmallows to spare?

Try this marshmallow science experiment adapted from Science of Cooking:

Supplies: 3 marshmallows, 3 plates, microwave, notebook, pencil  

  1. Microwave the first marshmallow for 10 seconds, observe the shape, texture, and smell of the marshmallow. What happens when it heats up? What changes when you take it out of the microwave?  
  2. Microwave the second marshmallow for 30 seconds. Record your observations. 
  3. Microwave the third marshmallow for one minute. Record your observations.  
  4. Line all three marshmallows up next to each other. Record similarities and differences (including taste).  
  5. Why do you think the marshmallows look different now? What makes them soft versus crunchy? What makes marshmallows turn from white to brown?  
  6. See the “What’s Going On” Section of this article to find out the science behind marshmallows!  
August 4th - Traditions- Ash Ceremonies

As we enjoy these nice summer months and camping with our troop it’s time we also enjoy a Girl Scout tradition – Ash Ceremonies! What’s an Ash Ceremony?  We’re so glad you asked! An Ash Ceremony involves taking ashes from one campfire to another and is a ceremony conducted by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all around the world.

Ash Ceremonies involve having ashes from each of your campfires joined together. To do this you will have the ashes taken from a previous campfire, sprinkled into the flames at the start of the campfire.  When that campfire has gone out and the ashes are cold (generally the next morning), they are stirred and each Girl Scout present at the ceremony takes some with them to mix with their next campfire, and this continues on across the Girls’ years in Girl Scouts.

For your first campfire try this sample ceremony:

  • On your last night of camping, the girls write a wish or a dream, a gratitude, favorite moment on the trip, etc. on a scrap of paper and they take turns throwing them into the fire.
  • The next morning (the morning you leave) the cold ashes are stirred and you scoop a small amount of the ashes into a container and give each girl a canister.

For future ceremonies when you have ashes to mix into the fire, try this sample ceremony:

  • “We carry our friendships with us in these ashes from other campfires with girls in other lands.  May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Girl Scouts and Girl Guides of all nations together.”
  • Alternate “May the spirits of past campfires be here with us tonight, carrying fellowship in these ashes from other campfires, thus uniting us with friends and comrades in other lands.“
  • “With greetings from our sisters around the world, I will add these ashes and the sisterhood therein, to our campfire.  Will anyone with campfire ashes please come forward and join me.”
  • “The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to <year>. I will now charge these ashes to the campfire.” (sprinkle ashes)
  • “So that you may pass these ashes on and share them with others at your next campfire, you will be given a history of where these ashes have been.”

To prepare for this ceremony you’ll want to get small containers to hold the ashes. You can find this at your local craft store – don’t forget about your 15% discount at Joann Fabrics! Along with this container, you’ll want to connect a way to write down the fires you’ve visited.

If you have an Ash Ceremony this year, make sure to take a picture and send it to Council at: marketing@girlscoutsneny.org We’ll feature your troop on our Social Media pages!

July 28th - Helping Girls with their Resume.

Camp counselor, grocery clerk, or college admission —whatever first job she’s dreaming of probably seems so exciting and fun. She’ll meet new people, get to try her hand at new skills, and maybe earn some extra cash. Before we can get there, she has to apply first. Here’s how to help highlight her Girl Scout experience on her resume:

  1. Make a list of skills and experiences they’ve gained in Girl Scouts.

All Girl Scout experiences help to develop essential life skills, as well as confidence and competence. Perhaps you loved learning outdoor skills at Girl Scout Camp, sharpening your STEM skills at a hands-on engineering event, completing a Take Action project, or advocating for a cause you care about. Whatever it may be, chances are you learned meaningful lessons that have helped shape who you are today. Start by making a list of your most memorable Girl Scout experiences to decide how to frame the skills you learned.

  1. Identify the skills the job or college is looking for.

If you’re applying for a job, they have a list of skills or experience they want their candidate to have. Highlight these in the job posting and match them to the skills you listed earlier.

If you’re applying to college, what skills may you need for your degree or are qualities mentioned on the school's website? Write down at least 3 and match them with the skills you listed earlier.

  1. Highlight the stand apart parts of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest female-led business in the world. If you participated you learned about goal setting, decision making, business ethics, money management, and people skills. Highlight these skills, they set you up for success!

Did you earn a highest award? Through this, you learned to identify an issue, find a solution, work with members of your community, and put a sustainable project into motion. This highlights your project management, problem-solving, and leadership skills!

Now that you have an idea of just how much Girl Scouts can make you stand out – try completing the My Portfolio Badge (Seniors) Girl Scouts at Home has the Land the Job part of the badge activity on the at home website with a helpful video. This will help you practice preparing your resume!

Looking for some extra tips? Check out Girl Scouts tips to get a summer job or Indeed’s resume examples for teens

July 21st - Putting Volunteer Experience on your Resume.

Making your volunteer experience pop professionally on your resume can give you a leg up in your job search, whether you’re seeking a new role at your current workplace, are looking to change jobs, or want to reenter the workforce after a break. So what’s the best way to showcase your vast skillset and go-getter attitude to potential employers?

  1. Where should you put your experience on your resume?

A dedicated volunteer section on your résumé showcases your values and commitment to a cause, so if you're hoping to work at a nonprofit or a company with a strong social mission, create a separate volunteer section. Looking to fill some gaps in your résumé? Your role as a troop leader is an ongoing commitment, not a one-off volunteer project, which makes it a worthy addition to the work section of your résumé. For clarity, include your volunteer status in the role description.

No matter where you list your volunteer experience, best resume practices still apply: use active verbs, be specific, and note any accomplishments or awards you’ve achieved as a troop leader.

  1. Brainstorm the skills you’ve developed or grew as a volunteer.

Start by making a list of your regular responsibilities and any hard skills you've gained through your volunteer work. Some examples include: 

·         Lead troop meetings

·         Coordinate badge and award requirements

·         Serve as an adviser and mentor

In addition to these responsibilities don’t be afraid to add soft skills, like time management, leadership, or being a team player. A 2017 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs shows that 77 percent of respondents viewed underdeveloped soft skills as a threat to business. Including the soft skills you’ve honed gives your resume an edge!

  1. Numbers count – you can include them!

Girl Scout volunteers do a lot! Did you host an event with impressive attendance? Are you a Service Unit Manager and support a large number of volunteers? These are great numbers to include with your skills from before. This highlights specific examples and shows the impact you make. Learn more from Indeed on using numbers on your resume.

  1. Tailor your resume for the position you’re applying for.

As a Girl Scout volunteer you fil a lot of roles – use that to make your resume work for you! Not everything you do in Girl Scouts may be related to each position. If you’re applying for an office job, your ability to work with Girls may not be as important to your future employer as your ability to manage people (your Troop volunteers or parents) and money. Take the list you built in #2 and match them with the responsibilities listed in the application. A tailored resume should make your skillset crystal clear to employers; consider creating multiple versions of your résumé if you‘re applying for roles in different fields.

Stay tuned for next week when we talk about coaching your Girls on including Girl Scouts on their resumes. 

July 14th - Are You Ready For Camping Season?

Are you ready for camping season? Is your song arsenal ready for the campfire? Learn about just a few of the great Girl Scout songs you can sing with your Girls in this week’s Tip for Troop Leaders.

At a Girl Scout event, the phrase, “Now let’s sing…” is a surefire way to get Girls excited! Girl Scout songs are a tried-and-true Girl Scout tradition, plus they can teach values in the form of catchy tunes. Whether your Girl is at camp and you want to understand the songs she’s humming on the car ride home or you want some songs in your back pocket for your next troop meeting – now is a great time to learn some Girl Scout songs.

Girl Scout songs can brighten almost every Girl Scout scenario with some extra spark: at troop meetings in a wisely scheduled song break, around campfires fueled by s’mores, or during special ceremonies. While there are thousands of songs here are some good ones to start with:

  • Make New Friends. The classic Girl Scout theme song! “Make New Friends” is an excellent song to teach your smallest Girl Scouts. If you’re looking for a fun way to end your troop meeting, gather the Girls in a friendship circle and singing “Make New Friends”, then send a friendship squeeze around as fast as you can. 
  • Hermie the Wormie. Repetitive songs are good to teach a young group of girls because they’re easy to memorize and participate in. Hermie the Wormie is a great example, plus it’s funny and incorporates hand gestures as well. As with many of traditional Girl Scout songs, there are a lot of options for the verses and every Girl has her favorites.
  • Girl Scout Chant. Chants are not only an easy way to get your troop singing but also an awesome way to get your troop motivated. If your troop is walking in a parade, or on a neighborhood walkabout selling cookies trying to get the community’s attention and let them know who’s coming down the street, nothing beats this chant. You will want to have several chants in your songbook, however, because the girls can get a little bored of singing the same song over and over again.
  • Boom Chicka Boom. Boom Chicka Boom is a good old-fashioned ‘repeat after me’ song that is about as silly as they come. The song allows the girls to be creative and have fun! There are a lot of different versions of this song from singing it softer, louder, in strange accents, pretending to be underwater, or changing the words around so girls can incorporate their own lyrics.
  • 12 Days of Camp. There are a lot of versions of this song, which is sung to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas.” The girls can even make up their own version based on their personal camp experience, adding in seven s’mores a roasting, five friends adventuring, or four campfires blazing!

Songs can be a big part of your meetings and camping trips. You can begin with a song, end with a song, and sometimes throw a song in during the middle of the meeting to calm the girls down, get a break in the routine, and have fun. Make sure to remind all of your Girls that you don’t have to be a great singer to sing Girl Scout songs, you just have to do your best! Even the oldest (and coolest) of Girl Scouts loves singing songs with her Girl Scout sisters. When you’re all singing together, even the newest or shyest Girl Scout will be raising her voice with confidence before long.

July 7th - Participate in the Girl Scout Tree Promise!

Now is a great time to participate in the Girl Scout Tree Promise! This is a bold mission to protect the planet from the effects of climate change by planting 5 million trees. As part of that mission, we’re excited to partner with JOANN for some earth-friendly crafts that help girls flex their creativity and get in the spirit of saving the planet.

Whether making homemade tree ornaments or stamps or remixing a plain white T-shirt, girls will be inspired by the natural world and bring a little of that wonder into their daily lives.

Craft 1: Tree Promise Ornaments With clay, paint, glue, and a little creativity, these ornaments are a beautiful way to make outdoor treasures, like leaves, berries, and flowers, last all year long.

Craft 2: Handmade Letterboxing Stamp The possibilities of what you can do with the handmade stamps you’ll create from this craft are unlimited! Find elements outside and transform everyday acorns, sticks, and seedpods into unique stamps for anything—from tote bags to tees.

Craft 3: Tie-Dye Tee Tie-dyeing T-shirts are an old favorite, but with the extensive prep and mess that it can leave behind, this craft often gets passed over for other easier projects. Now, this mess-free alternative lets you be as creative as you want—without fear of stains, spills, or drips.

About Our Partnership with JOANN

JOANN’s partnership with Girl Scouts inspires and prepares every girl to create her own success—whatever that means to her. By becoming a gathering space for Girl Scouts, JOANN builds community and support that prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure.

Don’t miss out! JOANN is offering all active Girl Scouts a Girl Scout Rewards Card good for a 15% discount every time they shop at JOANN stores in person and online. Even better: when you make a purchase with the rewards card, JOANN will donate 2.5% of every eligible transaction from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021, to Girl Scouts. Get your membership card today and get crafting!

June 30th - Civic Engagement

Girl Scouts has a long history of civic engagement and being community-driven, Independence Day is a great time to continue that tradition! A great example of our civic mindedness comes from this 2012 study, which found that Girl Scout alumnae are more likely to vote than non-alumnae! Here are some great ways to get your Girls civically engaged:

  1. Learn about the history of Girl Scout Alumnae in history and times of need! In World War, I Girl Scouts helped to roll bandages for soldiers. In the 1930s, with the United States consumed by the Great Depression, Girl Scouts participated in relief efforts by collecting clothing and food for those in need. During World War II, Girl Scouts knit socks for soldiers, planted victory gardens, and even sold war bonds. They also sponsored defense institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids.
  2. Learn about Girl Scout Alumnae’s influence in government. Every female secretary of state in U.S. history is a former Girl Scout. Sixty percent of women in the 116th Congress are Girl Scout alumnae. Of our female representatives, 69% of Senators and 57% of House of Representatives are Girl Scout alumnae. Lastly, five of the nine current female Governors are Girl Scout alumnae.
  3. Work on one of Girl Scouts civic engagement badges! Girl Scouts offers a Citizen badge at every grade level that helps girls learn to celebrate their communities—from their towns and states to their country. The badges include Celebrating Community for Brownies, Inside Government for Juniors, Finding Common Ground for Cadettes, Behind the Ballot for Seniors, and Public Policy for Ambassadors.

Girl Scouts also have guides for civic engagement! Utilize their Get Inspired Guide talking about how to get started (K-5, Middle School, High School) or their Get Prepared Guides to help you change the world (K-5, Middle School, High School). For our adult leaders utilize our Adult Guides for each level!

  1. Learn about Girl Scout Activists! Girl Scouts as Girls and Alumnae have made a huge impact here in the US. Here are some to start off your research:
    • Josephine Groves Holloway. Josephine was an unstoppable Girl Scout! She was trained as a leader by Juliette Gordon Low herself. She started the first Black Girl Scout Troops in Middle Tennessee and advocated to her Council and Girl Scouts USA to allow Girls of Color into Girl Scouting.
    • Dolores Huerta. Dolores is a labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association (later becoming the United Farm Workers). She is an activist for workers, farmers, immigrants, and women’s rights.
    • Meghan Markle. Aside from her work in England and Hollywood, Meghan started as a woman’s rights activist at age 11. She started a letter-writing campaign on gender equity and now is speaking out again about racism in England.
    • Margaret Everson. Margaret is the current National Park Service Director and is an environmental advocate. She works to preserve our 100-year-old park system and is passionate about teaching Girls the pathway to environmental advocacy through science.
  2. Learn more about Independence Day. You can learn the history of the holiday, including why we celebrate and when it was founded. When researching this is a great time to also look into how not everyone in the United States were free and independent at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Also researching other national holidays like Juneteenth, and why these celebrations are also important in the conversation of freedom.

Check out Girl Scout Highest Awards. Girl Scout Highest Awards are a great way to take your civic engagement and apply it to Girl Scouts! Our Highest Awards focus on the Discover, Connect, and Take Action steps. You can utilize the Highest Awards to advocate for your community! Learn more about the steps to highest awards here: Bronze – for Juniors, Silver – for Cadettes, & Gold – for Seniors and Ambassadors.

June 22nd - Learn All About Swaps!

In this week’s Tips for Troop Leaders we’re going to cover a Girl Scout Tradition – SWAPS! Learn about what they are and how to incorporate them into your troop!

Girl Scout SWAPS is an acronym, it stands for: Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere. SWAPS are small tokens of friendship that Girls exchange when they met other Girl Scouts. Typically, Girls will make SWAPS when planning to go to a meeting where they will be seeing a lot of different troops. This could be summer camp, encampments, or Council/Service Unit events.

SWAPS are small handmade items that can be pinned on to an outfit (like your Girl Scout vest) or a special GS item (like a hat or tote bag). They don’t need to be complicated or expensive; the Girls should have fun while making them! Use this time to use your resources wisely – think about recycled items like bottle caps or leftover craft items (like pony beads, craft sticks, fabric scraps).

You might want to make your SWAPS themed to the activity you’re doing – if you’re going camping something like a tent or a bonfire, or if you’re going to a World Thinking Day activity something international. A lot of folks like to include a small note with the Troop number and potentially: the Girl Scout’s name, location, and/or date of the meeting. Be cautious sharing Girls’ personal information – you don’t want to include full names or home addresses.

In addition to SWAPS at events you could do SWAPS with a pen pal! This is a fun way to make a connection with a fellow Girl Scout Troop in another area – maybe another state, across the country, or in a different part of the world!  SWAPS can also be a fun way to kick off a Troop meeting if you want to try it out for the first time – the Girls can make their craft in the meeting and practice introducing themselves and trading their SWAPS!

SWAPS Etiquette

  1. SWAPS are intended to be traded. Make sure to make enough to trade with the other Girls/Troops at the event. It’s best to keep your SWAPS in their own baggie or box as SWAPS pinned to a hat or vest are typically considered off-limits unless a Scout offers it to you.
  2. Stay positive! Always say a heartfelt “thank you” after receiving a SWAPS and don’t say anything negative about a SWAPS received.
  3. Stay safe. Make sure that the pin is closed when passing SWAPS so no one gets stuck. Allow the other Girl to pin on her own SWAPS, this is respectful of boundaries and can prevent accidental pricking.
  4. Be Considerate and Caring. If you see a Girl with few pins and nothing to trade, offer to give her a SWAPS so she can feel included!

If you need ideas for SWAPS, check out this great compilation from Girl Scouts of Sierra Nevada

June 16th - Selfcare is IMPORTANT!!

Self-care is more than just a buzzword associated with spa days or eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting (though sometimes it’s needed!). Learn or remind yourself about the importance of self-care and how it’s important to model these behaviors with our Girls in this week’s Tips for Troop Leaders. 

Self-care is more than just a buzzword associated with spa days or eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting (though sometimes it’s needed!). It’s about paying attention to your needs and taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. During challenging times like a pandemic, and changing times like the end of the school year, self-care is more important than ever. 

It’s easier said than done, of course, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t be there for our families, our troops, and the other people and things we hold close to our hearts? In practicing self-care, you also demonstrate for your Girls what it means to listen to your gut and be your best self. Here are some ways to help care for yourself this summer: 

Create Routines 

There is comfort in the familiar and if having a regular routine feels good to you, stick to it! This could be a daily bike ride or a phone call with a friend. Keeping a schedule can help you feel organized and give you a sense of control in these uncertain times. You, your family, or your Girls might appreciate having some structure as things are changing. 

Prioritize Flexibility 

On the flip side, embracing that every day may look different can help ease some tension. Saying out loud that things are different and that’s okay. Expectations for your troop’s routine might change right now, and that’s OK! Let Girls and families decide how much they want to continue with Girl Scout activities and give them some options for participating from home. 

Set Reasonable Expectations 

Even though our family sometimes sees us as Super Woman and we want to think we are – we’re just humans. We can’t be on top of everything all the time. Utilize your resources, be that family and friends in your personal life, coworkers and bosses in your professional life, and your fellow volunteers and Council in your Girl Scout life. It’s okay to ask for help and lean on each other for support – that’s why we’re a network of Girl Scout sisters! 

Meet Your Needs 

Self-care is also focused on meeting your needs to keeping yourself fulfilled. Meet your physical needs – make sure to eat and sleep, these are necessities for us to keep going; add in extra care like exercise or taking an extra 10 minutes in the hot shower. Meet your emotional & social needs – talk with friends and other adults, find that precious alone time, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, say no to extra responsibilities. Meet your intellectual needs – if you’re going to the library pick something up for yourself, create your own art along with the Girls, return to an old hobby that you haven’t pursued in a while. 

It’s important to set aside a little bit of time for self-care even when you feel like you don’t have a single second to devote to yourself. Self-care strategies are different for everyone it’s important to experiment and figure out which strategies work best for you! 

June 9th - Summer Break is Coming up!

Summer break is coming up – so what should your troop do? Do you want to Keep on Keeping on, Events Galore, or Kick Back and Relax? Check out this weeks’ Tips for Troop Leaders for some ideas for your troop this summer!

You did it! You helped girls work on their badges and Journeys, sell cookies, flex their leadership muscles, and made it through a tricky school year. As we approach the summer a lot of Troops are wondering what to do this summer! Here are some options you can choose for your troop – or adjust these to blaze your own trail!

  1. Keep On Keeping On. You can definitely keep meeting throughout the summer! This is a great option if you slowed down a little due to meeting restrictions, or if your Girls are just excited to keep going!
  2. Slow & Steady. Maybe your Girls are excited about meeting but schedules are difficult with summer plans. You can slow your meetings down to be less frequent in the summer.
  3. Events Galore. Doing events only over the summer is a great way to say connected in a more relaxed way. You can organize your own events or utilize Council’s programming to make planning easier!
  4. Kick Back and Relax. Some troop prefer to take a summer break and not plan face to faces over the summer and that’s okay!

While you might be ready for a (well-deserved!) break, for some Girls the transition from seeing fellow troop members on a daily basis to little or no contact once school ends can be jarring. Here are a few low-key ways you and your Girls can stay connected during the summer:

  • Be a (Pen) Pal. Exchanging letters is an easy way to maintain and build strong bonds if face-to-face contact isn’t always an option. Plus, who doesn’t like getting mail? Ask families for contact info, pair girls off and exchange info, then have each pen pal pair set up a writing schedule that works for them. Will they send a note every other week, once a month, or as often as they can? Encourage them to get creative with their letter-writing—jazz it up with cute stationery, kooky quizzes, or personalized postcards
  • Blog About It. If letters aren’t your girls’ cup of tea, they might be more keen to start a group blog instead. As the name implies, a group blog is a blog with multiple writers and contributors. You can use a free publishing site like WordPress to set it up, then girls can take turns writing about their summer adventures and even post pictures if they’d like. This is a fun and simple way for everyone (including families) to stay in the loop about what the rest of the troop has been up to. Plus, if you continue the blogging traditions for years to come, it’ll be a sweet digital chronicle of your summer escapades. Remember to follow Safety Activity Checkpoints whenever girls are online and make sure everyone signs the Internet Safety Pledge before posting.
  • Share an Event. Girl Scouts Northeastern NY events are held year-round! Summer is the perfect opportunity to continue working on their skills, and what better way than through a Council event! You can share a list of events and encourage families to connect and attend events together!

Summer Challenge. Check out our June 2nd post about summer challenges and offer this to your Girls as a way to stay engaged in Girl Scouting! Girl Scouts Loves the Outdoors is a great way to keep Girls engaged that isn’t a traditional meeting!

June 2nd - Get ready for some Summer Challenges!

Summer challenges are a fun way to organize GS programming and keep families engaged and keep Girls interested over the summer – like Girl Scouts Loves the Outdoors!

As we’re approaching the summer, you might be thinking of ways to keep families engaged and keep Girls interested over the summer. One fun way to do this is for your troop to have a summer challenge!

A summer challenge can cover anything! It may be to complete a badge, a fun patch, involve a scavenger hunt! This is a great way for your Girls to have something to work on if you take a summer break and a way to incorporate family participation. A challenge allows you to provide Girl Scouting opportunities throughout the summer even if you choose not to meet or can be a great addition to your regular troop meetings.

Check out some of these past programs to help structure your own challenge. If you’re not interested in making your own, you can also utilize premade challenges. Check out Girl Scouts Loves the Outdoors for a fun summer challenge!

May 26th - Learn about Camping with Your Girls!

Look out, move out, camp out – learn about camping with your Girls and how to prep your Girl Scouts for a camp out in this week’s Tips for Troop Leaders!

We have entered camping season! When preparing your troop to start going outside – we recommend checking out our Outdoor Progression Chart! This chart helps you and your Girls feel ready for being outside! This starts with:

·       Look Out. This gets the Girls sharing about their outdoor experiences and places!

·       Meet Out. This gets the Girls outside, maybe for a meeting! They can share about what they experienced.

·       Move Out. This gets the Girls exploring nature by taking a walk outside, this is great to do during a meeting.

·       Explore Out. Get the Girls comfortable preparing for different weather and staying safe by taking a walk or hike! You can also use this opportunity to earn the Trail Adventure badge, which is available at every level.

·       Cook Out. The Girls can get comfortable planning and cooking their meal outside! Before you do this with your Girls make sure that one registered adult has taken Blended Outdoor Basic Skills!

·       Sleep Out. On the 6th progression step your Girls are ready to Sleep out! The Girls can learn outdoor skills, prepare how to pack for an outside sleep out, and put those cooking skills to action! We recommend this step is done in a cabin or backyard.

·       Camp Out. Once the Girls are comfortable with their first overnight we can take this up to a 1-to-2 night camping trip. Let the Girls to take more responsibility in planning and practice campsite set up!

·       Adventure Out. This is our last progression step where the Girls take an outdoor trip for several days!

When preparing for your camping trip here are some important reminders:

  • Stay Safe. Check out the Safety Activity Check Points to see what GSUSA recommends to prepare for your activity!
  • Outdoor cooking or overnight camping it is required that you have training through Council. You must take Blended Outdoor Skills which is a training offered during the Spring and Fall with Council. At minimum, one adult who is registered and background checked must have this training.
  • Use Girl Scout properties. All of our camp properties can be rented – even through the summer! Troops & SUs get a discount rate for day or overnight rentals, and you can reserve properties free for a 3 hour weeknight evening program!
  • Camping in your backyard. Camping in a backyard is allowed for all Girl Scout levels. To camp in a backyard you must have an Intent to Travel form submitted to Council, let your Service Unit Manager know, and all adults present must have memberships & background checks. 
May 19th - Are You Interested in More Events for Your Troops?

Looking for extra opportunities for your troop? Do you have Girls who are interested in more programming opportunities? You should check out the GSUSA Virtual Events Calendar. This is a great way to supplement your Girl Scout Calendar. The GSUSA Virtual Events calendar has 4 types of events:

  • Awesome Girls – Fun events for our Girl Scouts and friends in K-12
  • Raising Awesome Girls – Help for parents & caregivers
  • Tips for Troop Leaders LIVE – Ideas and advice for volunteers, often from volunteers
  • Campfire Chats – Conversations for older Girls, alums, and supporters

Some of the great upcoming programs include: Taste the World with Puerto Rico, Endangered Species Day, and individual badge work! The great news is you can register for a pas event & get the recording – so no worries if you missed an event you’re excited about!

A great way to merge this into your troop is to look for programming that aligns with what your troop is interested in working on and utilize the recordings in your meetings. You can use snippets of the recordings to learn more from an expert or watch the informational part and have your own live discussion with your troop. Make sure to check out the Virtual Event Calendar now!

May 12th - National Service Project Inspired by the new "Becoming Me" Program Series

Small acts of kindness and gratitude can have an incredible impact on your community! And through this national service project, inspired by GSUSA’s new Becoming Me program series, Girl Scouts can pay it forward by recognizing the people in their communities who have supported them in finding their unique paths.

Your Troop can take part by:

  1. Think about the people who support and inspire you. They might be teachers, parents, or any individuals serving your community and supporting others. Talk about why it’s important that we honor people who support us. Use our discussion guide to help you get started!
  2. Once you’ve decided on one person you’d like to honor, decide how you will show your gratitude. You could write a letter to tell the person what their support has meant to you or you could support a cause they champion.
  3. Reflect on the experience of recognizing this person. How did it feel for you? How did they react? Were your actions responded to by others in your community? How so?

Check out the discussion guide (PDF) for more information on leading a troop discussion on this and ideas for ways to show gratitude!

May 5th - Girl Scouts LOVE a Good Ceremony

Your girls have worked hard—and had tons of fun—all year; they’ve earned a celebration! Girl Scouts love a good ceremony, so get your troop excited for what lies ahead with a bridging ceremony. Bridging is a beloved Girl Scout tradition that honors girls’ achievements throughout the year and celebrates their “crossing the bridge” to the next Girl Scout level.

Many troops hold their bridging ceremony in May or June, and some tie it to the end of the girls’ current school year. You may also choose to deepen your girls’ connection with their Girl Scout sisters by holding your ceremony during National Bridging Week, which will be celebrated June 12-19, 2021.

Like investiture and rededication ceremonies, Girl Scout bridging ceremonies have a few basic elements:

  • Opening: Welcome your guests and share the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
  • Main section: Girls, whether physically or symbolically, cross a bridge and are welcomed to the next Girl Scout level.
  • Closing: Girls participate in a friendship circle and thank their guests.

And the rest is up to the girls! The ceremony should always focus on paying tribute to Girl Scouts as they move forward, but let your girls get creative with how they’d like to celebrate—this is the fun part! As you’re planning make sure to check out the Girl Scout Bridging Guide from some great tips & ideas!

Would the Girls like to cross over a physical bridge? Reach out to Council to request to borrow one of our bridges! For more info give us a call at 518-489-8110!

The Girl’s can also earn their Bridging Awards as part of the ceremony. To learn more about how they may earn their awards review the guidelines for each level and you can order your own bridging kit online today!

April 28th - Planning Outdoor Meetings and Events!

As the weather starts to get nice – it might be time for an outdoor meeting or event! Here are some steps to be prepared for your outdoor meeting:

Planning the meeting

  • Keeping Girl Led. Make sure to check in with your Girls to plan events they’re excited for! You can also keep it Girl Led by repeating an outdoor event that they enjoyed in the past.
  • Pick a great activity. Not sure what do to? Check out the Volunteer Toolkit for some ideas! Activities with a tree next to them are designed to be outdoors.  You can also review the list of National Badges to see more about our Outdoor Badges.
  • Stay Safe. Check out the Safety Activity Check Points to see what GSUSA recommends to prepare for your activity!
  • Choosing the right location. Parks are a great option for your outdoor event, use this finder to pick the best park. You can also reserve Girl Scout Camp property by emailing rentals@girlscoutsneny.org.

Prepare the Paperwork

  • Getting parent permission. You’ll want to make sure parents are okay meeting outdoors. Check out GSNENY’s Yearly Permission Slip & Health History Form which covers you for the GS year and provides needed medical information.
  • Intent to Travel Form. This form may be needed if you’re meeting 50 miles or more from your normal meeting location.
  • Inform people about your trip. Whenever you are meeting at a location that is different than your normal meeting location you have to let your Service Unit Manager know. Make sure to send them an email about a week before your meeting!

Day of Excitement

  • Have a first aid kit with you and an adult who is first aid/CPR certified.
  • Make sure to have copies of all your paperwork with you.
  • Check the Girl Scout ratio guide to make sure you have enough registered and background checked adults!
April 21st -Learn About Girl-Led Experiences!

Part of our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is having Girl Led experiences! Girl Led can sometimes be difficult when trying to find a community service project if your Girls aren’t sure what to do. If this is the case with your Girls, try Do Something. Do Something is a youth-led platform to share community service projects and social change campaigns. Look through the campaigns on the site with your Girls and see what they get excited about!