Want to Grow Your Girl Scout Troop? Try These Ten Strategies
Do you want to expand your girls’ network and bring new voices and perspectives into their world? Consider welcoming more girls into your troop! Growing your troop is a great way to share the power of the Girl Scout experience. And in the spirit of sisterhood, you’ll help your girls make new friends (and keep the old).
So if you’re ready to introduce more girls to Girl Scouting, what’s the best way to get the word out? Our volunteer experts share their top ten tips for letting the go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders in your community know they can join in the fun with your troop!
1) List your troop in the Opportunity Catalog.
Whether your council dubs this online resource the Troop Catalog or Opportunity Catalog, creating a listing in it is a simple way to let your community know that your troop has open spots. You can also use this space to share what makes your troop unique and why potential Girl Scouts won’t want to miss out on all your troop fun!
2) Distribute and post flyers at schools and in the community.
What’s one of the most effective recruiting techniques, according to our volunteer experts? Being present at schools and other places where girls in your community assemble. “I find that, by far, our Back-to-School Night recruitment table with girls from the school's troops seems to garner the most interest," says Kathy Robbins-Wise, a troop leader in the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska council.
Putting a “face” to the troop is particularly impactful, observes Silvia La Falce, a troop leader in the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council. “The personal contact at school events, directly with parents and girls by leaders and troop members, was the most effective way of connecting and spreading the word on what Girl Scouting is about,” she explains.
You can also encourage the girls to speak up at or outside of recruitment events! “One of our leadership team members had her Brownie troop write out why other girls should join Girl Scouts, then she put those letters on a bulletin board at her elementary school,” adds Kathy.
3) Share troop openings on social media.
Think of your most frequently used social touch points—maybe you’re part of a Google group for neighborhood parents or your town recreation department’s Facebook group. Consider writing a short post about the exciting, hands-on activities that girls can take on through Girl Scouts and that there’s room for girls to explore their interests in your troop. At the end of your post, be sure to let people know how to register their girls.
4) Use word-of-mouth tactics to share inspiring stories.
As helpful as social media and other apps are, word of mouth can be the actual proof that gets families excited about Girl Scouting. “We had girls join after hearing their friends’ stories: a sleepover at the Indianapolis Zoo, waking up to see dolphins, ziplining, Girl Scout camp over the summer, glass blowing, or whatever the girl found exciting,” says Trina Floyd, a troop leader in the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio council.
“I also find that when most of the girls are heading to the Girl Scout meeting after school, those not in the troop feel left out and start begging their parents to let them join,” adds Laura Flanagan, a troop leader in the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan council.
5) Ask your girls to wear their sashes or vests to school on meeting days.
“Just wearing their Girl Scout uniform to school on meeting days was a way of starting a conversation about Girl Scouts with their peers,” says Silvia. “It gave them an opportunity to share what they had learned when earning the different badges and all the activities related to patches.”
6) Spread sisterhood in your community.
It’s one thing to talk about what Girl Scouting is all about; it’s another to experience it! Your troop is an important part of your broader community, so consider adopting a “more the merrier” approach to events. “In our small town, our [Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador] troop hosts a Me and My Guy Dance the first Friday in February every year, inviting all girls and their special guy—dad, grandpa, uncle—to the dance,” says Laura. “We have over 100 people in attendance each year, and many girls continue into [joining] the troop just to be able to host the dance.”
7) Use local media to share troop activities and achievements.
“I feel that if you want to get the word out about Girl Scouts in your area, then you need to get the girls out and about,” says Laura. “When our troop collects food donations for our food bank, we take a picture of our girls in uniform, and the local paper is great about putting the picture and information in there.”
Get to know your local Patch.com editor, radio station staff, or newspaper’s community reporter, and share impactful stories from your troop—everyone loves an uplifting story, and you’ll inspire potential new members with all they can achieve through Girl Scouts.
8) Have parents share their Girl Scout experience.
Just as your girls will share fun stories about their Girl Scout experience, so will their parents or caregivers! “If parents feel that their daughters are having a great time at Girl Scout meetings and events, they will usually tell other parents about the troop,” says Laura. “I believe that is how we acquired some home-schooled girls into our troop.”
Seeing is believing, so consider inviting the parents and caregivers in your troop to a meeting, or create a special event just for them. “I try to offer throughout the year a time when moms can come and do an activity with their girls,” says Tanya Schwab, a troop leader in the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania council. “It’s also a great way to find parents who fill a need in your troop; that’s how you include everyone and use your resources!”
9) Host a bring-a-friend night!
Bring-a-friend events are a favorite among troop leaders and girls alike. “My service unit did a roller skating ‘bring a friend to Juliette’s birthday party’ event,” explains Silvia. “Girls brought ‘presents’—hats, gloves, or donations for our local food pantry—and took home a goodie bag with a ‘s’more in a bag,’ a patch, and some small Girl Scout items. We got a couple of registrations right away, and I believe a few more in the following weeks."
“We had an older-girl expo in our town and invited all the older Girl Scouts and the Juniors to learn from one another and get ideas for what they wanted to do,” says Karen Freundlich, a troop leader and service unit manager in New Jersey. “It included five stations: Trips/Travel, Adventure, Gold Award, Badges, and Free for All/Open Space, which was a Q&A space. The activity was mostly for retention but could easily be modified to be ‘bring-a-friend’ event.”
10) Recognize the role your girls play in growing their troop.
Consider giving the girls who helped bring new members to your troop a small token of thanks—a new patch, certificate, or personal thank-you note from your council. “Our council offers the Add a Girl patch, so Girl Scouts who recruit new girl members can receive this patch,” says Kathy.
And, don’t forget, you don’t have to set a deadline for girls to join your troop. “We encourage girls to join any time of the year,” says Laura. “We understand that fall can be busy time of the year and that the girl may not be able to join until winter. We accept new girls anytime!”