GSUSA Leader 101 Checklist

Remember that every council has slightly different rules and regulations, and everything you read online that is general for all of USA should always be double checked with your local council rules and regulations.

This is not an authoritative – 100% true – zero incorrect ideas type guide. In the end, the only word you can 100% trust as a GSUSA Leader is GSUSA official training sessions (in person or online), written guidelines and communication from your council, or the national GSUSA printed guidelines. What this Leader 101 is, is more general advice from one leader to another to hopefully give new leaders a launch point.

Since this was published while it is in rough draft form – please contact us if you see any typo, incorrect information, or have additional information you believe needs to be included.

Here is a quick checklist to go over. Each item will link to it’s on page to give a few more helpful details on what to do or where to find the information you need.

First Things First

Before you worry about even having a troop, you need to make sure a few things are done first.

  1. GSUSA Registration & Background Check
  2. Training

To Start the Troop

After you are registered and have the key training (or have it scheduled to happen), getting a troop started can be a little crazy.

  1. Find a Co-Leader
    1. Hopefully your community/service unit has assigned a co-leader. If not, try these options:
      1. If you do not have a troop yet, either skip this step or recruit a friend with a daughter in the same grade as your child willing to help you out.
      1. If they have assigned you a troop, start calling each parent and asking them to be an “Assistant Leader” which sounds far less intimidating than “Leader”. As far as duties go, just explain you need someone that will attend all the meetings as the 2nd adult and can meet with you every other month to bounce ideas off. Leader meetings could be done virtually or in-person and can be done at home or at a public location. You can add if they have time to help with the prep work or are willing to run a meeting, that would be great, but the first two things are the most critical.
  2. Pick When to Meet
  3. Find Out Where to Meet
  4. Recruit Troop Members
    1. Hopefully your community/service unit has a troop set up, if not:
      1. See if the community/service unit has any upcoming recruitment drives you can attend and help out to get more members from.
      1. Talk to your own connections at school, church, extra curriculars, etc.
      1. Do not do any recruitment posters without getting permission from council or your community/service unit. There are often strict rules in recruiting that need to be followed.
  5. Troop Financials
    1. All councils have different requirements to open up a Troop Bank Account. Contact them directly for instructions. The bank account can only be opened when you have a co-leader and must be done before the first council fundraiser (Fall Product or Cookie Sales) in order for your troop to participate.
  6. Contact Guardians
    1. Email and text message (and possibly call them if you get no response) parents to get them to come to the First Meeting. Keep it short and simple as parents can be overwhelmed. Just mention:
      1. date and time
      1. where the meeting is at
      1. who needs to attend
      1. what they need to bring (pen, cash for troop dues or a check, copy of immunizations for health history form if needed, etc.)

Prep For The First Meeting

The first meeting will not actually be a troop meeting. It needs to be a “Guardian Meeting”. Each troop member must have a legal guardian attend that is able to sign permission slips, make decisions, and fill out other council required paperwork. Here is what you will need to have ready.

  1. Paperwork Parents Fill Out
  2. Receipt Booklet
    1. Anytime you get money from families, a receipt should be written so you have a written record of what they paid.
    1. Get a booklet that has a carbon copy you can give to families. They should keep it on hand just in case you lose your record and ask them to pay a 2nd time. They have written proof they already paid you.
    1. It does not need to be a complicated receipt. Simply a place to write the date, the amount, and what the payment was for will work.
  3. Girl Scout Voting Method
  4. Girl Scout Activity
    1. Usually a small craft they can do without adult help or a coloring page works best.
    1. GSUSA has new Activity booklets that might work for your troop.

Hold the First Meeting

There are some critical items you need to make sure are done or discussed at the First Meeting.

  1. Get Paperwork Filled Out
  2. Have Girl Scouts Vote What They Want to Do During the Year
  3. Have an Activity Girl Scouts Do While Adults Talk
    1. See the Prep for First Meeting
  4. Discuss Meeting Time, Place, Length, and Frequency with Adults
  5. Vote on a Communication Method (i.e. Email, Text, or Apps like Facebook, BAND, Shutterfly, or Remind)
    1. Note – despite the vote, just keep in mind you will follow it and adults will still ask you questions you have already communicated the answers to. Do not be afraid to simply reply “See the last message sent out”. Sometimes though, it’s easier to just answer the question even though you know you’ve answered it already and move on.
  6. Adults Vote on Troop Dues
  7. Get Adult Volunteers to Help Leaders
    1. Only you and your co-leader can decide what kind of help you need.
    1. GSUSA has some suggested Volunteer positions for extra adults that can help a troop leader.
  8. Collect Troop Dues

There are some Meeting Plans for the First Meeting available

Plan Troop Meetings

Troop Meetings vary all over the place. Unlike many youth programs, GSUSA currently has an open-door policy to make sure every troop can just do what they want to do – as long as they stick to the Safety regulations. There is absolutely no activity or badge you HAVE to earn as a Girl Scout in the current program to progress to the next level.

  1. Know Safety Checklist
    1. Each council has slightly different Safety Checklists. Go to your council’s website to search for their version. The National GSUSA Safety Checklist is altered by each council based on the council’s regulations and insurance requirements. What the national organization has is a good guideline, but you MUST check your council to ensure you are following your local safety checklist.
  2. Make a General Year Plan
  3. Plan Your Meeting
  4. Award Badges and Fun Patches
    1. After each meeting
      1. Pro – Scouts get badges and patches as they earn them to always be able to put them on their uniform right away
      1. Con – You often purchase badges and patches that go unused because someone did not show up for a meeting (and sometimes cannot be returned to the store), families often lose the badges and patches before they can put them on the uniform
    1. At Award Ceremonies (which an just be at the beginning or end of a normal Troop Meeting)
      1. Pro – Families get a nice number of badges and patches to make it easier for them to just put them on all at one time instead of one badge/patch at a time, families appreciate knowing they have set times of year they will be adding badges to a uniform (i.e. Oct, Jan/Feb, May/June)
      1. Con – Scouts don’t get to display earned badges immediately, some families do not like how the last group of badges of the level are given out at the very end of their level before moving up (the argument is they don’t get time to display them as they move to the next uniform level)