The Troop Committee: How to Build One and Why It’s Important for a Strong Troop
Originally published on the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio blog, December 6, 2017
According to research from the Girl Scout Research Institute, the most successful troops nationwide have 12 girl members. But although this allows for lively, engaging conversation among the girls, it can quickly get overwhelming if there are only two troop leaders present.
That’s where troop committees come in! Adult support is vital to the experience girls have in a troop setting, and troop committees ensure you’ve got the help you need.
What Is a Troop Committee?
The term “troop committee” describes the adult leadership team for a Girl Scout troop. There’s no one specific makeup of a troop committee; it’s flexible based on your troop’s needs!
Common roles in a troop committee include troop leaders (two are required to form a Girl Scout troop), troop cookie managers, drivers and chaperones, troop treasurers, and snack coordinators.
Now let’s dive in to some of these roles!
Girl Scouts come up with so many amazing ideas for learning new things, taking risks, and making a positive impact in their communities. At the beginning of the year, girls in a troop will come up with a laundry list of things they’d like to accomplish, and troop leaders are the ones who make the magic happen!
Leaders are in charge of organizing the ideas and planning meetings and outings so girls can accomplish as many of their dreams as possible. When they do this, they’re helping girls have fun with a purpose and keeping everyone safe!
In addition, they’re the ones leading the troop committee. They assign tasks, ask for help when needed, and make sure everything is getting done on schedule.
Girl Scouts are naturally curious about the world around them. As girls begin to experience adventures in Girl Scouting and see the possibilities, they want to explore their world! This requires transporting them in personal vehicles. At Girl Scouts, we believe the safety of girls is paramount to all girl activities and experiences. That’s where drivers and chaperones come in!
Drivers and chaperones are troop leaders or troop assistants who drive to field trips and keep girls focused on fun, learning, and safety during the outings. To be approved as a driver, an adult must:
- Be a current, background-checked member of a council’s specific troop
- Have a current and valid driver’s license
- Have auto insurance that is in compliance with state law
- Have a vehicle with working seat belts for every person in the car, including themselves
Troop Cookie Manager
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is not only a great way to fundraise for the amazing things your girls want to accomplish, it’s also an opportunity for girls to learn entrepreneurial skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. The troop cookie manager ensures the program goes smoothly for the troop each year.
As troop cookie manager, this adult manages troop cookie funds, gathers permission forms, helps girls set and achieve their goals, and picks up cookies from Cookie Cupboards and delivers them to the girls. Because this position is so involved, we’ve found that the most successful troops have a troop cookie manager who is not one of the troop leaders. (If one person has both roles, they’ll likely get burned out from the number of projects they have to keep organized.)
We also want troops to continue with non-cookie programming throughout the sale, including earning badges and going on field trips, like they do the rest of the year—and this is much easier to make happen if one person is in charge of the sale while another is in charge of outings and meetings.
Depending on your troop’s needs, you might find it helpful to have additional roles like troop treasurer, troop camp first-aider, communications liaison, snack coordinator, distributor of sale materials, and/or supplies donor! Get creative based on the needs of your troop and troop leaders.
Ten Advantages of Organizing a Troop Committee
There are so many advantages to getting more helping hands on board via a troop committee throughout the Girl Scout year. Here are our top ten:
- It enables a strong foundation of diverse adults to help girls grow.
- Busy adults can plug into specific areas they are good at or enjoy with less of a time commitment.
- Troop committees grow Girl Scout families!
- Adults develop friendships and build skills alongside the girls.
- Many hands make light work.
- A girl gets special time with her adult.
- It allows more adults to give back to their community.
- Every superhero needs a sidekick!
- It enhances the safety and well-being of girl and adult members.
- It ensures the sustainability of the troop!
How to Build Your Troop Committee
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of why your troop would benefit from a troop committee and what it should look like, it’s time to fill those additional roles!
Think about the adults girls bring with them to Girl Scout events, as well as other individuals—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Girl Scout alums, and community members are all welcome to be involved in your troop committee. They all have gifts to share and many have time to give, so establish connections!
1. Facilitate an annual caregiver meeting.
Each year, host a meeting that’s just for the caregivers of the girls in your troop. It’s a great way to get to know everyone and ask for help!
At the meeting, share specific opportunities for adult volunteers. If you know someone works in accounting, ask if they’ll be the troop treasurer! Or if someone went with you to all of your troop’s outings last year, ask them if they’re interested in signing up as the driver and chaperone. Personally ask parents/caregivers to help with specific tasks. Pass around signup sheets that have roles and commitments clearly outlined.
2. Call adults regularly to ask how they and the rest of their family are doing.
You care about the girls in your troop! Show it by regularly checking in with their caregivers to see how everyone is doing.
This isn’t necessarily a time for a sales pitch on volunteering; the key is to show genuine concern for people. Be a friendly face they can turn to when they need some help or a nice pick-me-up! When someone feels cared for, they’re more likely to return the favor down the road.
3. Send troop updates periodically.
If adults aren’t actively engaged in troop goings-on, they likely don’t know the latest.
Periodically, send parents/caregivers troop updates so they know what’s happening in their girl’s troop and why. They’re more likely to be interested in volunteering if they know what they’re getting into!
4. Incorporate family interests into troop activities.
We’re more likely to sign up to help with something if we’re interested in the topic or project. Make sure everyone is interested in the troop activities by asking families what’s important to them and then including those things in your troop year plan! If you know one family loves to cook, make sure there’s an opportunity for them to share their knowledge with the girls in your troop.
5. Just ask!
Often, it’s really that easy. If you need help with a task, ask someone for help! The more specific you are with your request, the more likely people will be to sign up. So if you’re overwhelmed with the amount on your plate, break everything up into projects and ask people for help with one specific thing.
To sum it up, troop committees are an excellent way to ensure you can have 12 girls in your troop without their adult volunteers burning out!