Mini FAQ for Parents New to Girl Scouts

Kimberly has been spending lots of time answering questions for parents interested in signing their kids up for Girl Scouts. Here are a few of her answers. If you have more to add, please post them!

Thanks,
Kim

How do we register?
If you choose to join there is a simple paper form that needs to be filled out and registration is $12 per person registering. Many troops ask for at least one parent to register as well so they are able to participate more fully with the troop. In order for an adult to work with any girls other than their own daughter they must register and complete an online back ground check. This fee can be easily offset with a grant request for any amount up to the whole $12 by filling out a small section on the registration form.
What do the kids do?
This varies from troop to troop based on what the troop decides to do and how often they meet. All troops should be working from a Council program chart to help steer them in maintaining a well-rounded troop experience. Here is the link to what would be Council’s recommendations for a First year Daisy troop is
Program Essentials for First Time Daisies. This is just the starting point and how each troop chooses to approach this journey varies – no two troops will ever be exactly the same. Leaders may also work from a booklet called Meeting Plans for First Time that helps them plan a typical year – most do not follow the meeting plans verbatim but rather use them as a starting point and then customize them to their troops needs and desires. Many of the activities can be done in a meeting setting but most troops also like to incorporate some “field trips”. Most troops also incorporate some sort of service project or projects into their year. Regardless of the setting the aim is to have fun while still teaching the girls and helping them develop courage, confidence and character so that they can help make the world a better place.
Are there fees (1 time/monthly?) Other than the $12 registration fee – which is assessed by Girl Scouts of the USA – each troop figures out the costs based on what they want to do. The first year a troop forms this is usually done in the form of dues but after cookies sales in February and March the girls/leaders/families can choose to use their sales proceeds to offset troop costs as needed and as available. For example, if the troop decides that it needs $100 a year per girl to cover the costs of books, patches, events and supplies then they may try to to sell enough cookies to match that need or request dues/fees to make up the difference. The $100 is just a number. Some troops need much less and some need more. It totally depends on what the troop plans. All that being said no girl is EVER turned away for lack of funds. If cost is an issue you just need to let the leader know and they will help you to apply for grants and other ways to help offset costs. It is also important that all troops operate at a level that is comfortable for every member of the troop. We help leaders learn to plan activities within various budgets. Fun is not dependent on large sums of money but some events/trips may just need more time to fund and plan than others. Planning and goal setting helps the girls learn to set goals and work on a budget – two important lessons that should be taught in all troops.
Are there weekly or monthly meetings?
This is completely individual to each troop. Some troop meet only once a month and others much more. A lot of this is based on family desire and the availability of the leaders. There must be at least one trained leader at every meeting or event. For example, one troop may meet every other Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 during the school year for meetings and then also multiple special events throughout the school year too – at least once a month. Another troop may only hold one troop meeting and one troop outing each month. Some troops are very active and get together for one activity or another on a weekly basis. This is up to what the families decide they want from the experience.
Would she be with other girls from her school or neighborhood?
This is your call. Typically we would try to place her with a troop forming in her grade at her school. We hope to have at least one new kindergarten troop per school form each year – but this is completely dependent on how many adults volunteer to be leaders. We need at least two unrelated adult volunteers to take on the role of leader and agree to go through training for a troop to form. Without this we cannot form a troop no matter how many girls are interested. We work really hard to help facilitate this but on occasion a school may not form their “own” troop in any specific grade. In that case we work with the troops in the other schools to place girls. We have never not placed a girl in a troop.
Are there uniforms to buy and if yes, how much?
Yes. Girls love to show off what they have earned and they love going up to other girls to learn what their vests mean too. If your troop was to go with the full package – including books – here is a flyer with the cost Basics In a Bag, but please remember that no girl is ever turned away because of money. Uniforms and books are a very easy grant to get – all you or the leader needs to do is fill out a simple form to request it – and again we are happy to assist.
Besides meetings/selling cookies what other things/events are there (is
there a schedule?)?

This is determined by each troop. Each troop sets up its own schedule.
How are meetings/events done in regards to age? Would she be with K-12, K-6, K-3 or just K?
Here in Eden Prairie we have enough girls that troops are broken into grade level and then – many times but not always – into school. There are events throughout the year though where girls of various ages can interact and work together if the troop signs up for them. This allows the older Girl Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills and allows the younger girls to get to know the older girls – they LOVE the older girls. We do our best to plan a variety of these events and it is an integral part of the Girl Scout experience.
Do we the parents go to all meetings/events for Kindergarten age? Do we do anything or just watch/wait or is it up to each parent?
This is again a troop decision. There are troops that require a lot of parental involvement and others that do not. For example – my troop – on occasion I need drivers or additional chaperones but for the most part parents do not need to attend – but they are ALWAYS welcome too :D Then there are troops that are run in a co-op fashion. This style troop has multiple trained leaders and the parents rotate responsibility – but all parents are expected to be active in some agreed upon fashion. If a parent is just unable to run a meeting or attend events them maybe they are the troop treasurer or Cookie manager. More info on this can be found here Co-op Troop Packet. You would need to work with your individual troop to figure out which leadership style and what type of parent involvement is expected.
Any other questions I should ask or additional information I should need?
The main Council website is http://www.girlscoutsrv.org/ it is huge and has tons of information. Take a look around. Like I said I could go on and on about Girl Scout camp, all of the big things happening this coming year for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts in the USA in 2012, how I have seen Girl Scouts positively affect girls of all ages, how I have personally watched the girls in my own troop grow and so much more!!