Overall Health, Well Being and Inclusivity
Health History Form. Girl Scout councils require an annual health history form to be completed and signed by one parent/guardian for every Girl Scout and kept on file with the troop leader.
Follow council guidelines to comply with this requirement. The form should reflect any significant medical conditions, health issues, or allergies, and be updated each year. The form can also reflect any over the counter medication that a Girl Scout is not permitted to take, if there are any.
If parents send medication on trips or activities, it should be in its original labeled container and controlled and administered by one designated adult. Health history forms can be shared with the site, camp physician, or nurse ahead of time.
Always keep a current and signed health history form for each Girl Scout member with you when traveling. Your council may require an updated mid-year health history for overnight trips. For physically demanding activities, such as water sports, horseback riding, or skiing, an additional current health history form may be obtained to make sure all adults are aware of any current medical conditions or special needs. Councils will retain all health history forms in accordance with state record retention requirements and laws.
Health Exams and Health Exam Forms. Some councils also require a health exam for any activity that is three overnights or longer, which may include resident camp. Again, follow your council’s guidelines with respect to health exams. In most cases, the health exam needs to have been completed within one year of the last date of the trip in order for Girl Scout members to participate. Your council may require a current health exam for adult volunteers who participate in trips of three nights or more as well; be sure to ask your council about their health exam policy. A health exam can be given by a licensed physician, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, or a registered nurse. The medical provider must sign the health exam form.
For large events or trips longer in duration, such as resident camp or a weeklong trip to a ranch, the designated health professional at the trip location is responsible for collecting all health exam forms and health history forms for members and adults.
Health exam forms and health history forms are to be shared only with designated health professionals and council staff responsible for coordinating them. All health and medical information are private (by law) and must not be shared or publicly available, so keep forms safe and secure. Only share information on a need-to-know basis.
Councils will retain all health exam forms in accordance with individual state record retention requirements and laws.
Vaccination and Immunization. Issues or questions with respect to vaccination exemption periodically arise with activity and trip participation. Vaccine exemption laws vary by state and focus on public and private school attendance more directly than they do for youth organizations. Therefore, it is best to obtain local and state legal guidance and proceed in accordance with the state law as it applies to school attendance. A general overview of state laws regarding school immunization exemption is provided and annually updated on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
If you have any questions about your obligation to communicate a Girl Scout member’s non-immunization with other troop parents, contact your Girl Scout council for legal guidance as privacy laws may apply. Absent state laws that speak directly to vaccines and communicating non-immunization with parents of youth groups, the guidance is to follow the standard and protocol as it pertains to school attendance.
For information on COVID-19 vaccination, see Coronavirus Safety in Girl Scouts.
Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Lyme’s Disease Prevention. Mosquitoes, ticks, and insect bites are an inherent risk to any warm weather outdoor activity. Ensure parents and guardians are aware of the need to have their children properly covered, preferably with closed shoes and light -colored clothing and socks. It is important to advise parents, guardians and Girl Scout members of this risk and the safety precautions they should take. The understanding that your troop or council cannot be held responsible for tick bites, can be reinforced with a waiver reference on a permission slip.
An excellent source for learning more is the Tick and Lyme disease prevention section of Up to Date.
To learn more about using insect repellent safely, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at Repellents: Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Other Arthropods. To learn more about safely using DEET directly on the skin and on children, check out EPA DEET.
Emotional Safety. Adults are responsible for making Girl Scouts a place where girls are as safe emotionally as they are physically. Protect their emotional safety by creating a team agreement and coaching girls to honor this agreement. Team agreements typically encourage behaviors like respecting diverse opinions and feelings, resolving conflicts constructively, avoiding physical and verbal bullying or clique behavior, practicing fairness, and showing positive, respectful, and helpful communication with others.
Physical or Sexual Abuse. Physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse of girls is forbidden. Sexual pressure, sexual advances, improper touching, sexual communication, such as text messaging, and sexual activity of any kind with Girl Scout members is not tolerated. If you witness or experience any behavior of this nature, notify appropriate council staff immediately. Incidences of abuse of any kind will result in immediate council intervention. Volunteers are responsible for following their council’s guidelines for reporting any direct information or concern around physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse with respect to girls.
COUNCIL NOTE: Reference the GSNWGL Volunteer Policies and Practices.
Youth Violence and Bullying. Youth violence or bullying is also not tolerated in Girl Scouts. Youth violence occurs when young people intentionally use physical force or power to threaten or harm others. Bullying is a form of youth violence. Volunteers should become familiar with the signs, risk factors, and preventive measures against this type of behavior. If you witness or experience any behavior of this nature, notify the appropriate council staff for guidance.
Child Abuse. All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have specific laws which identify persons who are required to report suspected child abuse to an appropriate agency. Therefore, if you witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, whether inside or outside of Girl Scouting, always notify the appropriate council staff immediately and follow your council’s guidelines for reporting your concerns to the proper agency within your state.
COUNCIL NOTE: Reference the GSNWGL Volunteer Policies and Practices.
Mental Health and Safety. As an adult volunteer overseeing the activities and behaviors of young girls, and similar to child abuse, you may witness other signs of harmful tendencies such as self-harm. Self-harm can take a physical form such as cutting, burning, bruising, excessive scratching, hair pulling, poisoning, or drug use. Other tendencies of self-harm are suicidal ideations that can be expressed verbally or with the written word. Another harmful expression involves harm to others which can be detected verbally or with physical aggression. If a situation of this nature is observed or comes to your attention in any form, always notify an appropriate council staff member immediately and follow your council guidelines with respect to next steps. The CDC provides informative guidance around identifying and responding to harmful behaviors: Self-Directed Violence and Other Forms of Self-Injury and also a section on at-risk youth Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Youth at Risk.
Include Girl Scout Members with Disabilities. Girl Scouts is committed to making reasonable accommodations for any physical or cognitive limitations. Talk to Girl Scout members of all abilities and their caregivers. Ask about needs and accommodations. Always be sure to contact the location, facility, and/or instructors to ensure they are able to accommodate those with disabilities. For more information visit Disabled World. Whenever possible, the individual activity’s safety activity checkpoints will provide additional resources specific to that sport or activity. Be sure to reference these resources when planning to include a Girl Scout member with a disability. Our goal is to include all girls with a desire to participate.
Equity. In addition to physical and social-emotional disabilities, consider the history, culture, and past experiences of the Girl Scout members in your troop that could affect their ability to equally participate in an activity. Work with members and families to understand how an activity is perceived. Ensure that all Girl Scout members and their families feel comfortable and have access to whatever is needed to fully participate, such as proper equipment, prior experiences, and the skills needed to enjoy the activity.
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