Read about girl-led examples from your peers, in GSUSA’s Tips for Troop Leaders blog.
Organizing Field Trips
Leave the troop meeting room to help girls explore their world. Witness the effort and action in your community. Listen to a Girl Scout say, “I want to do that!” What’s the reason to go?
Badges: Review the badge content for field trip ideas and suggested community members to talk to about the badge topic. Girl Scouts will see for themselves how the skill is used in their community.
Service: Help girls serve and support the causes they care about with a field trip focused on community service. While younger girls can do small service projects in the troop meeting room with help from family and friends, older girls need to get out and see the action for themselves.
Fun: Make a plan to go get ice cream or watch a movie because field trips just for fun are great! These celebration trips are a chance to build relationships and make memories with Girl Scout friends!
Find field trip inspiration.
Events—Search our events calendar by topic or by date for a list of activities across the council.
Field Trip & Travel Partners—These places and people have agreed to host Girl Scout troop activity. They want to host your next field trip!
Girl Scout volunteers—Talk to other leaders about their best experiences.
Ask the girls—Keep Girl Scouts girl-led when you ask for their input. Remember what you wanted to do when you were a child and help make
Program materials—The badge pamphlets and the Volunteer Toolkit give suggestions for “learning by doing” experiences.
Activity Zone—This GSUSA collection of video recordings features both experts and mentors with advice for badges and activities. Play one of
these recordings as a “guest speaker” to complement your field trip.
Your personal network—Reach out to friends, family, and local shops who can help you provide a memorable experience.
Many organizations offer virtual experiences on their website and social media platforms. If you can’t find a field trip opportunity locally, or are unable to travel, check out the many places you can “visit” online! Tour museums in Europe, watch interactions with endangered species, or fly over geological wonders. One of our favorites? The Smithsonian!
Field Trip Safety Preparation
Parent/Caregiver Permission Form
Every field trip requires parent/caregiver permission. Collect the completed forms and keep them with you during the field trip. If you are organizing a Girl Scout carpool, make copies and give a set to your drivers. The permission form communicates several details to caregivers, including the mode of transportation, names of volunteers accompanying the children, and items each Girl Scout should bring (weather-appropriate clothing, supplies, snacks, money, etc.). Identify a time-saving “at-home contact” person; this person is not on the field trip but is responsible for calling caregivers if needed, for example to notify of a delayed return time or an emergency.
Adult to Girl Ratios
Plan for additional caregivers to join you on field trips because the adult/girl ratios for field trips are different than troop meetings. The chart
is in Volunteer Essentials—Troop Management and in Safety Activity Checkpoints.
For trips and activities, it is helpful for members of similar age to pair up as partners. Each Girl Scout member is responsible for staying with their buddy throughout the trip or activity. A buddy can warn their partner of danger, lend a helping hand, or get immediate assistance when the situation warrants it.
If your destination location does not provide personnel certified in First Aid/CPR/AED, you’ll need to bring your own First Aider. Always check Safety Activity Checkpoints for guidance.
“Be Prepared” with an Exit Action Plan
The Girl Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Consider what you will do for an unexpected physical injury, sudden illness, severe weather alert, or missing girl. Review the plan with girls as a learning experience, to the extent it makes sense according to their age and maturity. Review the key components of an effective emergency action plan in the Safety Activity Checkpoints.
In the Safety Activity Checkpoints, browse the Activities at-a-Glance view for guidance on age-appropriate activities like the selected example below. Click the title to access a full description and checklist of how to prepare your Girl Scouts for the selected activity.
Transporting Girl Scouts
How parents decide to transport Girl Scouts between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility. As a volunteer, you can arrange to have caregivers bring their children directly to the field trip destination or organize a troop carpool. If you organize a troop carpool, allow time to recruit drivers and have them sign up as a Troop Helper to get a background check. The Safety Activity Checkpoints has other specific directions and a very helpful “Checklist for Drivers” in the Transporting Girl Scouts section.
Girl-Led Reflection and Learning
After the field trip, ask the girls what they liked and didn’t like, or what went well and what did not. Help them listen to one another’s point of view. This kind of reflection will help improve the quality of your future adventures. Use the excitement of this outing to motivate them to help plan the next one. As the girls have more experiences and get a little older, they can assist more and more in the planning process including choosing the next field trip and budgeting for it.
There’s a badge or a patch for that!
Present the girls with the earned badge or a fun patch after a field trip as a visible reminder of the skill learned or the
shared experience. Members make great memories in Girl Scouts!
Field trips are the first step in the Girl Scout progression of travel. When moving up to each level of the progression, consider girls’ independence, flexibility, decision making, group skills, and cross-cultural skills.
Field trips and extended travel opportunities are fun! It’s exciting to leave the regular troop meeting room, but how do you get everyone to your destination? How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout field trip locations is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility. Consider these typical options.
Ask families to bring their child directly to the field trip location. Families may choose to organize carpools among themselves. Provide clear communication with lots of activity details in the parent/caregiver permission form to keep everyone on the same page.
Organize a troop carpool. Each driver must be registered as a Troop Helper in the troop, with a completed background check. The Safety Activity Checkpoints provides carpool guidelines and a handy Checklist for Drivers in the Transporting Girl Scouts section.
For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities, in which a group will be transported in privately-owned vehicles, arrange qualified drivers and ensure:
- Every driver must be a registered, background-checked member (approved adult volunteer) at least 21 years old, and have a safe driving record, a valid license, a registered/insured vehicle, and meets council standards and policies for driving and transporting girls.
- Girl Scout youth members never drive other members to, from, or during activities or field trips.
- If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, registered background checked members (approved adult volunteers) in the vehicle, one of whom is female.
- If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, registered background checked members (approved adult volunteers), one of whom is female.
- Review and implement the standards in the Checklist for Drivers, in the Safety Activity Checkpoints Transporting Girls section.
- Share the Checklist for Drivers with all drivers, in advance.
- Build possible delays into your schedule. Allowing time for traffic or other delays will help prevent urgency and stress, which can be dangerous when driving.
- Provide directions for each vehicle.
- For driving trips of more than a few hours, plan a stop where all cars can gather. This will avoid having drivers follow too closely or worry about being separated from the group.
- Anticipate stops every couple of hours, for drivers to rest and refresh. Let drivers know they can stop more often, if needed.
- Arrange for relief drivers if trips will last 6 hours or more.
- In each vehicle, there should be a first aid kit, and the permission and health history forms for each person in that car.
-From Safety Activity Checkpoints, Transporting Girls
- Borrowing or renting vehicles
- Chartered vehicles
- Taxis and ride-sharing services
- Recreational vehicles, campers, and trailers
- Vans designed for 15 passengers
- Commerical and common-carrier transportation
- When traveling internationally
For Girl Scouts 8 years old and under make sure to review current laws about booster seats and use them in all carpools.
GSNWGL has a discount program for troop travel with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.747.6945 to request the information.