side menu icon
vols-adult training

Hosting Family Meetings

Family meetings are generally held three times a year and provide a chance to meet the families, set expectations, build support, and recruit troop member-volunteers.

Our membership staff can help you with coordinating your first parent information night, but if you'd like to plan your own, this how-to will help you set the tone for the year and guide families with gusto!

numbers

Meeting One: Kick Off the Year

The following steps are essential to planning the first family meeting.

Select a Meeting Space

Select a meeting space and time that accompanies your troop families, such as a school cafeteria, library, church meeting room, or even a local coffee shop. Be sure to contact the location prior and request permission. Ideally, this should be the meeting space where you plan to meet as a troop to get the girls and family comfortable with the location.

Invite Families

When you invite troop families to attend, include materials you’d like families to complete and bring to the meeting like registration, health history, and annual permission forms, or even troop dues.

Required Forms:
Blanket Permission/Health History Form
Special Permission Form
Caregiver Form - Coming Soon! 

Plan a Girl Activity

Plan an activity that girls can do during the meeting. It should be an activity that they can do by themselves—perhaps in a separate room, under the supervision of another troop leader.

What to do at your first family meeting

Think of this first meeting as a crash course for the families of your troop! Discuss any exciting things you’re planning for the troop and outline all the things they can do to help you succeed in your role as a troop leader.

Use the following sample agenda to cover all your bases:

Open the Meeting

Greet everyone who attends and ask them to sign in. It can also be useful to have nametags, pens, or even a sign-in sheet to gather information. Collect any forms and encourage each of the family members to introduce themselves to one another.

At your first troop meeting, you'll want to collect:
Blanket Permission/Health History Form
Special Permission Form

Housekeeping Items and Year Outline

Once you gather everyone’s attention, cover general items such as the troop number and where and when the troop will meet. Emphasize that an adult should come into the meeting area 10 minutes before the meeting begins and ends. Be sure to outline the year to come and what that means for families.

The Program
Share the Girl Scout program materials such as the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Journey books. You can explain how your troop will use the materials and what the girls will get out of them.

Your Pick-Up/Drop-Off Policies
Discuss your policy on dropping off and picking up the girls. Emphasize that an adult should come into the meeting area before and after the meeting, so you can confirm who’s picking up the girls. You may even want to have a sign-out sheet and file set up for each girl for the parent to check prior to departure—this gives you an opportunity to distribute any important handouts or communication that each girls’ family needs to know.

Troop Meeting Snacks
Based on your troop meeting time and length (and if the locations permit), you can share if there will be snacks at each meeting. Decide if the cost of the snacks will be included in troop dues, or if families are willing to take turns providing the snack.

Don’t forget to check for allergies or food concerns and encourage healthy snacks!

Set Expectations Around Communication

Communication is key, so be sure to sure to set expectations around it. Everyone has different communication styles so create a group understanding of the following:

  • how families should communicate (via email, phone, text)
  • how often they need to respond to certain communications
  • important deadlines they should remember


Explain that it’s the parents’ and guardians’ responsibility to read all applicable information and to reply in a timely manner. This includes deadlines for payments, turning in permission slips, and helping out the troop as needed!

Families should confirm their preferred contact information and provide an email address on their registration so they receive emails from Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

Discuss Troop Costs

At the beginning of the troop year, there are usually some start-up dues. You’ll want to discuss troop dues and participation in the Cookie Program, Fall Product Program, or other money-earning activities.

Troop fees and money-earning activities support girls by helping the troop purchase uniforms, Journey books, and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting specific to their program grade level. Your troop may also need supplies such as construction paper, crayons, or glue, etc.—consider creating a wish-list and let families donate those items.

Let families know that financial assistance forms for shop purchases, troop dues, camp, and events can be found at www.girlscoutsindiana.org.

Encourage Parents to Volunteer With Your Troop

here are many ways for families to be involved and share their knowledge—don’t be afraid to ask! You could survey for skills and talents that could help the troop like supporting girls during outdoor activities, volunteering to drive to field trips and events, or handling money.

Just remember, any adult that has regular contact with girls, manages money, or chaperones trips should be registered and complete a background check. Here are some of the formal options for troop volunteers:

Troop Treasurer
We know it can be intimidating—especially for new troop leaders—to earn and manage money for the troop, so consider recruiting a troop treasurer who can help keep track of troop expenses. Your service unit’s treasurer is a great resource who can help you with questions, get you started with opening a bank account, and may even offer training in your area.

Troop Cookie Program Manager
Troop Cookie Managers help foster entrepreneurship, business ethics, money management, and people skills in your troop by guiding the troop through the cookie program. They'll support by coordinating family orders and Digital Cookie setup, distributing and maintaining inventory, reserving booth locations, and keeping the focus where it belongs: on the girls! This role should be filled by mid-November and splitting the role between two or more people can make the job easier!

Troop Fall Product Program Manager
Troop Fall Product Program Managers guide the troop through the Fall Product program. This role should be filled by August 1 for troops wishing to have a volunteer in this role.

Troop Helpers
Troop Helpers are occasional troop volunteers that are registered Girl Scout member-volunteers. Explain to families that we require at least two unrelated, registered adults with the girls at every meeting. See which adults are willing to help. Be sure to discuss the size of the troop and the number of adults it will take to drive, plan camping trips, chaperone during field trips, coordinate badge-earning activities, etc.

curvy divider
number1_32

Meeting Two: Cookie Program

View "How to hold a caregiver meeting" in gsLearn available starting December 7, 2020.

Prepare for the meeting

Cookie family business meetings are critical to the success of the program! They help provide a foundation of understanding and agreement for volunteers and families. To prepare for your meeting, select a meeting space, invite families, and plan a girl activity—just like in the first family meeting of the year.

- Review Cookie Program Materials and training on gsLearn under the Troop Cookie Rookie training track that opens December 7, 2020.
- Watch for girl materials to arrive in your mailbox on January 4, 2021.
 

Explain the program

As the largest entrepreneurial program for girls in the world, the Girl Scout Cookie Program (February–March) gives girls the opportunity to power new, unique, and amazing experiences, while also learning critical life skills. Girls earn proceeds for their troop through the Cookie Program, which fuels amazing adventures.

Additionally, proceeds from the Cookie Program stay local, help keep costs low for girl programs like subsidizing camp costs, and give Girl Scouts of Central Indiana the opportunity to support families through financial assistance for girl programs.

You can point families to cookie section of the website to learn more about the Cookie Program and the resources available to them.

Set family expectations

Be sure to have each caregiver sign the Caregiver Agreement Form. At the bottom of this form are several volunteer opportunities to help you. Discuss girl goals, share best methods for staying in contact (i.e. text, phone, email), and agree on roles and responsibilities. More family involvement means better troop success! Discuss opportunities that parents/ guardian(s) have during the cookie program. They can help pick up the initial order, supervise the girls at cookie booths, etc.

curvy divider
number3_32

Meeting Three: Celebration of the year

As the school year comes to an end, it’s important to have some time to share and reflect on all that the girls have done over the year. Here are some suggestions:

Prepare for the meeting

Review your year plan in the Volunteer Toolkit. How many badges did the girls earn? What were some of the highlights? Where do you see growth? Review cookie information – number of boxes, profit, highlights.

Share summer opportunities

Girl Scout camp is an awesome way for girls to discover something unique about themselves. From day camp, one week or two week residential camp, to coding or Girl Scout Journey camps, GSCI has a camp for every girl! Each family receives a camp guide early in the year. Girls can attend camp either together or on their own. Financial assistance is available on the registration form. NOTE: many sessions fill quickly.

Troop annual report

Share costs and expense the troop incurred over the year. Be sure all who purchased troop supplies are reimbursed. Share cookie program information: number of boxes sold, troop profits, achievements. This is a great time to thank the cookie manager(s) and all who helped make the year successful.

 

Discuss next year

It’s important to have an up front conversation with families about next year. If you know that your troop is continuing, take advantage of the incentives offered for spring renewal. Everyone needs to decide if troop funds are going to renew girls’ memberships. If not, share with families how to renew their daughter’s membership.

curvy divider

What Troops Do

Want to know what you should be doing with your troop from month to month? Just need an idea for a simple craft or activity? Check out our collection of helpful and fun resources to make your Girl Scout year amazing.

To have a well-rounded Girl Scout experience, we encourage all troops to:

  • Participate in at least one Girl Scout tradition at every meeting (like wearing uniforms or doing a flag ceremony),
  • Earn 3–5 badges and awards from a variety of skill building areas,
  • Attend about 1–3 special events or field trips,
  • Participate in the Fall Product Program and Girl Scout Cookie Program,
  • Complete at least one community service project,
  • Hold an end-of-year celebration or bridging event, and
  • Experience at least one outdoor activity (like Girl Scout Camp)!

Got questions?
We've got your back. Just email us or call 317.924.6800. We are here to help!