Navigating troop meetings during a pandemic is tough! Many of our troops hit the pause button back in March, some troops have been meeting virtually since then, and others have started to slowly get back into meeting in-person again. Not to mention, since March and the start of the pandemic, we’ve gained several new Girl Scouts and troops along the way (welcome)! So, what’s best for your troop? And where do you start when it comes to planning troop meetings right now?
We know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to troop meetings right now. It all boils down to (1) what your troop feels comfortable with and (2) what the current guidelines are in your county. That’s why we wanted to pull together some resources for troop meetings – virtual and in-person – for both new troops and old who may be looking for activities or ways to navigate meeting right now.
If you and the other families in your troop are comfortable meeting in-person, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee recommends following these guidelines to keep everyone safe. Again, meeting is up to the discretion of each troop, but we’ve come up with a list of suggestions to help keep meeting safe.
If your troop isn’t comfortable meeting in-person yet and is opting to meet online, we have several recommendations and resources to get started.
- What platform should I use for Virtual Meetings?
- Zoom: our favorite platform to use is Zoom! While there is a paid account option, each Service Unit has an account that you can use. You just have to schedule a day/time to use it. To do this, just reach out to your Service Unit Manager to schedule a time slot. You can also use a free account for meetings that last less than 40 minutes. This option does have security features in place that can help protect the girls.
- Microsoft Teams: this is a great option because some girls are already super familiar with this program through school. This can also be a free option if downloaded. This option also has security features in place that can help protect the girls.
- Google Meet: this is another great option that is free and can be used on phones, tablets, or computers. The downside to this option is that you cannot record meetings.
- How should I structure a Virtual Meeting?
There are many different ways that you can set-up your virtual meetings. We recommended letting parents know ahead of time if supplies are needed or do a porch/mailbox drop-off with the needed supplies for each girl to do on their own. As for the actual meeting itself, here is an idea for how to structure it:
- Start-up: get the girls signed in, set guidelines for the meeting, and remind the girls of the supplies that they need to have on hand.
- Opening: try opening with the Girl Scout Promise and Law. A great tip is to do a screen share with the words on the screen for them to recite. Feel free to use our linked PDF!
- Ice Breaker: this is totally optional, but if you’re looking for a fun ice breaker or way to start the meeting, we’ve written a blog about fun games to play over Zoom here. Other simple icebreakers could include just sharing a favorite part about everyone’s day or a fun fact.
- Activities/Badge Work: if you’re looking for a badge to work on that you can do virtually, look no further! We’ve included instructions for several virtual badges and activities here. If you have multiple levels or need to be in smaller groups, breakout rooms on Zoom work great for this.
- Closing: have the girls all come back together and share something they learned or enjoyed about the meeting. Singing “Make New Friends” can be another great way to close out the meeting!
- Business: before closing out, share any reminders with the girls and send an email to parents with any important information. This way all important information makes its way to the adults.
- What are some ideas to keep things interesting during Virtual Meetings?
So much of what our girls are missing is social interaction, so if they talk about an article and spend the rest of the time just talking to each other, that’s okay. It’s what they need and Girl Scouts can be that safe space for them to talk about whatever they need to. Some other tips on activities that can be really fun and constructive during virtual meetings are:
- Add engaging activities – distraction can be easy, and we all have a little bit of Zoom fatigue at this point, so add polls, games, or fun opportunities for girls to lead the meetings into the mix.
- Add movement to meetings – play games that get the girls up and moving! Things like Simon Says or Scavenger Hunts can be a super easy way to get everyone’s blood pumping.
- Invite a guest speaker – want to learn knife safety, a new cooking skill, first aid, or democracy? Invite a camp trainer, chef, nurse, or local elected official to your meeting to talk. It’s easier than ever for them to come to a meeting for 20 minutes when it’s done virtually.
- Team up – find another troop of a similar size and with similar ages to team up and meet together! This is a great way for your troop to meet other sister Girl Scouts and make new friends.
- Take a Virtual Field Trip with your troop – use Screen Share to take your troop on a virtual field trip! There are several free options to do this. Some examples are:
- What if my troop has some technical difficulties with our first Virtual Meeting?
There may be some bumps along the way and that’s okay. If the girls can see each other and have fun, it’s a great meeting. Working on badges or doing an activity may take more work outside of the scheduled meeting time or take more meetings. What matters is giving girls a chance to experience Girl Scouts and connect with their sisters in Girl Scouts, so keep going and lean on the other amazing volunteers out there just like you!
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for FAQs with leaders who are doing both in-person and virtual troop meetings for ideas and more examples of ways to navigate meeting right now. If you have any great meeting examples or tips and tricks to share, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share your troop’s stories!