Arranging Meetings with Parents/Guardians
Every Girl Scout year or group of sessions should start with a parent meeting. A parent/guardian meeting is a chance for you to get to know the families of the girls in your group. It’s a good idea to have a parent meeting at the beginning of the year or when planning large trips or group projects. Before the meeting, be sure you and/or your co-volunteers have done the following:
- For younger girls, arranged for a parent, another volunteer, or a group of older girls to do activities with the girls in your group while you talk with their parents/guardians (if girls will attend the meeting, too).
- Practiced a discussion on the following: Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law; benefits of Girl Scouting for their daughters, including how the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a fun and effective program for developing girl leaders; all the fun activities the girls are going to have; expectations for girls and their parents/guardians; and ideas of how parents and other guardians can participate in and enrich their daughters’ Girl Scout experiences.
- Determined when product sales (including Girl Scout Cookie sales) will happen in your council; parents/guardians will absolutely want to know!
- Determined what information parents should bring to the meeting.
- Created a one-page information sheet (your contact information, contact information of co-volunteers and helpers, the day and time of each meeting, location of and directions to the meeting place, what to bring with them, and information on how to get Journey books and other merchandise like sashes, vests, T-shirts, and so on).
- Gathered or created supplies, including a sign-in sheet, an information sheet, permission forms for parents/guardians (also available from your council), health history forms (as required by your council), and GSUSA registration forms.
- Prepared information about how parents and guardians can help, being as specific as you can about the kind of help you will need!
Registering the Girls in Girl Scouting
Every participant (girl or adult) in Girl Scouting must register and become a member of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). GSUSA membership dues are valid for one year. Membership dues (currently $15) are sent by the council to GSUSA; none of the dues stays with the council. Membership dues may not be transferred to another member and are not refundable. Returning troops are encouraged to set aside a portion of their bank account to use to re-register girls for the following year.
Pre-registration for the upcoming membership year occurs in the spring. Girls are encouraged to register early to avoid the “fall rush.” Early registration helps ensure uninterrupted receipt of forms and materials from the council, helps girls and leaders plan ahead, and gets girls excited about their upcoming Girl Scout year. Girl Scout grade level is based on the girls grade at the start of the membership year beginning October 1.
All members can register online through eBiz. Paper registration forms can be downloaded or requested from the Girl Scout Center.
Working with Parents and Guardians
Most parents and guardians are helpful and supportive and sincerely appreciate your time and effort on behalf of their daughters. And you almost always have the same goal, which is to make Girl Scouting an enriching experience for their girls. Encourage them to check out www.girlscouts4girls.org to find out how to expand their roles as advocates for their daughters.
Implementing Your Parent Meeting
You’re free to structure the parent/guardian meeting in whatever way works for you, but the following structure works for many new and experienced volunteers:
- As the girls and adults arrive, ask them to sign in.
- Open the meeting by welcoming the girls and adults. Introduce yourself and other co-volunteers or helpers. Have adults and girls introduce themselves, discuss whether anyone in their families has been a Girl Scout, and talk about what Girl Scouting means to them. Welcome everyone, regardless of experience, and let them know they will be learning about Girl Scouts today. (If you’re new to Girl Scouting, don’t worry—just let everyone know you’ll be learning about Girl Scouting together!)
- Ask the girls to go with the adult or teen in charge of their activity and begin the discussion.
Discuss the information you prepared for this meeting:
- All the fun girls are going to have!
- When and where the group will meet and some examples of activities the girls might choose to do.
- That a parent/guardian permission form is used for activities outside the group’s usual meeting place and the importance of completing and returning it as indicated.
- How you plan to keep in touch with parents/guardians (email, text messaging, a phone tree, fliers the girls take home, posting on an invitation-only group you create on Facebook are just some ideas).
- The Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law.
- The Girl Scout program, especially what the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is and what the program does for their daughters.
- When Girl Scout Cookies (and other products) will go on sale and how participation in product sales teaches life skills and helps fund group activities.
- The cost of membership, which includes annual GSUSA dues, any group payments (ask your local council), optional uniforms, and any resources parents/guardians will need to buy (such as a Journey book).
- Review eBiz registration instructions. For more information go to the council website and click on eBiz and eBiz help.
- The availability of financial assistance and how the Girl Scout Cookie sale and other product sales generate funds for the group treasury and create a unique learning opportunity for girls.
- Family Partnership Campaign-That families can also make donations to the council that support the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.
- That you may be looking for additional volunteers, and in which areas you are looking (be as specific as possible!).
Remind the group of the next meeting and thank everyone for attending. Hold the next meeting when it makes sense for you and your co-volunteers—that may be in two months if face-to-face meetings are best, or not at all if you’re diligent about keeping in touch with parents/guardians via email, phone calls, or some other form of communication.
After the meeting, follow up with any parents/guardians who did not attend, to connect them with the group, inform them of decisions, and discuss how they can best help the girls.
Problem-Solving with Parents
For assistance in communication and problem-solving with parents, please refer to “Problem-Solving with Parents in the Problem-Solving Section of Volunteer Management-Volunteer Personnel Policies and Procedures.