Welcoming new girls into Girl Scouts is very exciting – for leaders, girls, and parents. There are a lot of things for new Girl Scouts to learn and absorb and information coming from an amped-up Girl Scout leader can be… overwhelming. From the Promise and Law to favorite songs, here are some important things to teach your new Girl Scout. Make sure the returning girls in your troop take turns leading each one of these activities at your meetings, as it might take more than one meeting for your new girl(s) to feel comfortable with the routine.
1. Making New Friends, The Girl Scout Way
The girls need to get to know one another before diving head-first into Girl Scout traditions. Start your first meeting with an icebreaker so everyone has a chance to get to know one another on a deeper level. Heck, do two icebreakers if time allows. And while you’re at it…have the parents do one if they stay at the meeting. The better the parents know one another, the more comfortable they’ll be, which in turn will improve your entire troop dynamic (and will likely help you recruit more parent volunteers).
2. The Promise and Law
Repetition is key with the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Start every meeting reciting both. It’s a great chance for all the girls (and leaders) to get a refresher because they probably don’t recite it every night before they go to bed (wink, wink). There are a lot of great craft ideas on the internet for those troops who like to be hands on. You coud use iron-on material to put the Law on a t-shirt that you wear to every meeting. The girls read it right off your shirt.
Kapers are key to the way we run meetings, stay organized, and stay on-task. Girl Scouts love being responsible for something and kapers help the meeting remain their meeting. Leaders should assign tasks before every meeting and make sure that everyone gets a chance to play a different role. Girls can be in charge of collecting dues, saying the Promise and Law, setting up the craft or activity, leading the friendship circle…all of it! There are great ways to display kapers so you have a visual for the girls. They range from elaborate to simple – you decide what works best for your troop.
This is one of the best parts of the meetings. Let the girls choose the songs and sing and sing and sing until everyone knows the songs. Print them out so the girls can take them home to practice and share with their family members. Many Brownie troops love the Brownie Smile Song and Hermie the Wormie. It won’t be long before they are singing their new favorite Girl Scout songs around the house!
5. Friendship Circle and Squeeze
Participate in the Friendship Circle and squeeze the first meeting or 2, and then put the girls in charge of leading it, being responsible during it, and teaching it to new Girl Scouts. This is where you see true leadership and teamwork come into play. It’s a very fun and interesting dynamic to watch. Every troop has a slight tweak in their friendship squeeze so however you decide to end your meeting is fine. In order to make sure the girls are focused and to reduce the amount of fidgeting that takes place during the friendship circle, you can tell girls that they have to be quiet so the Girl Scout fairies will hear their wishes. Works like a charm!
6. Cookie/Fall Product Expectations and Responsibilities
Hold a special meeting where you role play booth sales and door-to-door sales so the girls can discuss safety with one another. It’s important for the new girls to hear this from their peers because selling face-to-face can seem a little intimidating at first. When they hear the creative ideas the girls come up with on how to make it fun, they get more excited about it.
Remember that there will be plenty of time to work on badges and Journeys throughout the year, but you only get chance to make a new member feel super welcome. So make sure to set aside some time early on for the new Girl Scouts to understand all the timeless traditions that are involved in the global sisterhood they’ve joined!