Field Trips

Organizing Field Trips

Encourage girls to explore and discover their world. Leave the troop meeting room so they can meet new people with a variety of skills and interests, and see inside businesses and organizations in their hometown and beyond.

What’s the reason to go?

Earn a badge

Review your Girl Scout badge pamphlet or VTK plan to find field trip suggestions or community members to visit. Badge-related field trips let girls see for themselves how the skill is used in their community – and then imagine themselves helping to make a difference, too. A girl might leave inspired and say, “I want to do that!”

Provide service

Help the girls serve and support the causes they care about with community service. While small service projects could be completed in the troop meeting room with help from family and friends, try taking the girls out to see the action for themselves. Always call ahead to help you be prepared.

Have fun

Arrange a field trip just for fun. Go out for ice cream, plan a pool party, or meet at the sledding hill. These celebration trips are an exciting day spent with Girl Scout friends! 

Hey volunteers – enjoy the fun of watching girls grow, developing the five Girl Scout outcomes:
  1. Strong sense of self
  2. Positive values
  3. Challenge seeking
  4. Healthy relationships
  5. Community problem solving

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations began offering 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

Safety Activity Checkpoints

Browse the Safety Activity Checkpoints to review the chart of activities and age-appropriate permissions. Follow the links for a full activity description and planning advice – including necessary certifications.

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. Don’t have Adult & Pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED certification? Check our activity page for council training dates in spring and fall, ask your employer about training options, or ask troop families if someone already has this certification – and then register them as a Troop Helper.

Good Caregiver Communication

Send save-the-date reminders to caregivers well in advance, with details about the time, location, purpose, supplies needed, requests for chaperones, and even troop drivers.

Secure Drivers

Allow time for troop drivers to register as members, complete their background check, and review the Checklist for Drivers from the Safety Activity Checkpoints, which includes providing license, registration, and insurance information.

Bring Permission Slips and Health History Forms

Troop Leaders carry permission slips and Health History forms for every girl, signed by their caregiver, every time they leave the troop meeting place. Provide copies to each carpool driver.

Adult to Girl Ratios

Remember the ratios change when you leave your meeting place. You can find the chart in the Volunteer Essentials’  Safety section.

Buddy System

During the field trip, use the buddy system to group girls into pairs or trios. Teach the girls to stay with their buddy and inform an adult before moving away from the group.

Be Prepared

Provide families with a list of what to bring and how to dress, for example: wear uniforms, bring a rain jacket, and leave phones at home. Plan for unexpected delays with water bottles, snacks, or small games to play while waiting in line.

Keeping field trips “girl-led”

Use reflection as a tool

After the trip, talk to girls about what they liked and did not like, what went well and what did not. Encourage good group listening of their own experiences and their different perspectives. Take notes on ideas to plan the next adventure. Present the girls with the earned badge or a patch and remind them what it represents. Include the girls in more of the planning process as time goes on, including destination, transportation, and budgeting.  

Advice from volunteers

Read about girl-led examples from your peers, in GSUSA’s Tips for Troop Leaders blog.

Think about this: field trips are the first step in the progression of travel. “When moving up to each level of the progression, consider girls’ independence, flexibility, decision making, group skills, and cross-cultural skills.”

Transporting Girls for Activities and Travel

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? Volunteers can organize troop drivers for group transportation or invite families to arrange their own transportation.

Family Organized Transportation

Sometimes, rather than travel as a group to the field trip location, it will make sense for the group to meet at the field trip location. How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout field trip locations is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility. Communicating with detailed permission slips, specific information about drop-off and pick-up times and locations, and maintaining current contact information helps everyone stay on the same page. Families may choose to organize carpools on their own.

Troop Organized Transportation

The complete guidelines on organizing troop transportation can be found in the Safety Activity Checkpoints, under the heading, Transporting Girls. There’s also a handy Checklist for Drivers you’ll want to share, and remember to plan for booster seats for younger girls. Here’s a few points to help you get started.

For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities, in which a group will be transported in privately-owned vehicles, arrange qualified drivers:

  • Every driver must be a registered, background-checked member (approved volunteer) at least 21 years old, and have a good driving record, (more specific, without driving restrictions) a valid license, and a registered/insured vehicle. This volunteer driver will register to the troop in a troop role. Most drivers register as a Troop Helper.
  • Girls never drive other girls 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.
Plan for safe driving:
  • 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 up. 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

Check the Safety Activity Checkpoints for more guidance on:
  • 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

Booster Seats

For girls 8 years old and under make sure to review current laws about booster seats. Review Wisconsin and Michigan laws. 

Rental vehicles

GSNWGL has a discount program for troop travel with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Contact info@gsnwgl.org or 888.747.6945 to request the information.