Your Girl Scout troop is a T.E.A.M.
When you learn to work together and support each other, your troop will create bonds to last a lifetime. Establish a strong team early in your Girl Scout year. Use these ideas as a starting point and have fun setting the tone for a successful Girl Scout experience!
T is for Talk. Talk about what a troop is. You’re a group of girls who all have different skills, stories, and dreams. But you all have one thing in common—you’re all Girl Scouts! Encourage girls to learn from each other and be open to everyone’s ideas and suggestions for how your troop will operate.
E is for Ease. Ease into Girl Scouts by dedicating a couple meetings to teambuilding activities (see our suggestions below!) instead of jumping right into badge work. We know you’re excited to start in on programming, but don’t skip over the critical step of getting to know the girls (and having them get to know each other)!
A is for Ask. Ask the girls what their interests are and what really gets them excited. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about each girl individually and might spark some ideas for badges and field trips that would appeal to the troop.
M is for Meet My Girl Scout Form. Give each caregiver a copy of the Meet My Girl Scout form and ask that they return it at your next meeting. This gives caregivers a chance to tell you more about their Girl Scout, and you’ll appreciate the additional insight on the girls you’re working with.
Engineers. Divide group into teams of 3–4 girls. Give each group the same amount of supplies and instruct them to build the tallest tower possible. Supply suggestions: toothpicks and grapes, mini-marshmallows and dry spaghetti, pretzels and gumdrops. As the groups are working, take some mental notes on how the girls work together. Afterwards, ask the girls what worked well in their group and what did not.
Link. Ask one volunteer to stand with one hand on their hip and share something about themselves (e.g., my favorite color is orange, I have a horse, I’ve never been camping before). Once someone in the group hears a statement that also applies to them, they run up and link their elbow with the person who shared the original statement. Then they share something about themselves, and the game repeats until the whole group is linked in one large circle (yes, that means the last person to link has to find something in common with the person who started the game). Talk with the group about how easy or difficult it was to find things in common with other people.
Group quilt. Provide participants with art supplies and paper cut into squares. Each person should decorate their own square with things that are important to them or that will tell the rest of the group who they are (e.g., drawings of pets, sports they’re involved in, how many brothers or sisters they have). Once complete, assemble all the squares together with tape to make a troop quilt. Have each girl share her square and tell the group about it.
Revisit teambuilding activities each time a new girl joins the troop!
Setting group norms, or expectations, with your troop members early on is another way to build a great team. Since everyone has a different idea of what “normal” is, don’t make assumptions that all girls will know how they should behave at troop meetings. Some girls might think it’s normal to interrupt others if they are really excited to share something. Others might think it’s okay to run around and play indoor tag if they get antsy. Successful troop norms are established when:
- Every member of the troop is present
- All ideas are considered, and recurring themes are condensed
- Positive wording is used (“use indoor voices” instead of “don’t yell”)
- The list isn’t too lengthy—keep it under ten
- The finished list is posted at every meeting
Don’t forget to involve the caregivers. Creating a simple troop contract that lists the group norms that the girl and caregivers sign is a great way to remind everyone of the troop expectations. Here’s a sample troop norm list. See how troop norms can easily be connected to parts of the Girl Scout Law?
- Greet each other with a smile
- Be kind
- Always look for ways to help
- Be ready to participate
- It’s okay to be wrong
- Celebrate differences
- Be a sister to every Girl Scout
Your troop is going to create tons of happy memories throughout your Girl Scout experience. Unfortunately, though, no matter how much you encourage being friendly and helpful, girls won’t always get along. What will you do when conflict arises in your troop or when girls choose not to follow the group norms after being reminded? Try these activities with your troop to help navigate conflict.
Crumpled hearts. Give each girl a piece of paper and instruct them to cut a heart out of the paper. Have her write down something negative someone has said to her in the past, or something she overheard being said to someone else. Then have her take her heart and crumple it into a ball in her fist. Now have her open up her fist and try to flatten the paper as best she can. Explain that once something is said or done, it can’t fully be taken back. Even if someone says “I’m sorry,” their words still leave a mark. Talk about how it is important to be mindful of what we say or do to others.
Girl Scout Law bracelets. Sometimes girls need a reminder of what it means to be a Girl Scout. Being a Girl Scout is more than just attending troop meetings and selling cookies. In our Girl Scout Promise, we vow to live by the Girl Scout Law. Have girls make a bracelet with colored beads that represent each part of the Girl Scout Law. Refer to the Girl Scout Law every time conflict arises in your group.
Try more teambuilding activities. Search online for teambuilding activities and do one at the beginning of every meeting. Setting the expectation that the troop is a team is a good way to ward off conflict. Teambuilding isn’t just for the first or second meeting of the year – it’s something you must do often for continued troop success.
Remember that simple troop contract you had the caregivers sign that outlined the group norms? Refer to this if anyone needs a reminder on what the group agreed upon for behavior and expectations. With a little bit of work and a whole lot of fun, you’ll have your troop operating like a team in no time. And if you need some extra help, contact us at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to assist!
Exercise: Values. This teambuilding exercise helps each person in the group get to know one another. It will create bonds and help the individuals in the group realize that everyone is different and unique. Size of Group: Divide into groups of 4-8. Materials: Index card and pens. Time: 15-20 minutes. Give each individual a card and ask them to identify 3 things they value. (i.e. an object, relationship, or an idea.) In the group ask them to share their list and explain their choices.
Exercise: Birthday Line-Up. This is a great way to show the group that people communicate using non-verbal signs. In order to communicate effectively, you should consider the verbal and non-verbal signs. Size of Group: Everyone. Materials: none. Time: 7-10 minutes. Have the group form a line in order of their birthdays from January 1 to December 31. The group cannot talk at all and cannot write anything down.
Exercise: Commonalities. This is a great way to show the group that there are some common bonds within the group. Some bonds are simple (i.e. Girl Scout Volunteer) but if you look hard enough. You can find some of yourself in another person. Knowing where a person is coming from is a big part of understanding each other. Size of Group: divide into groups of 4-5. Materials: none. Time: 15 minutes. Divide into groups of 4-5 individuals. Ask that each individual exchange names within the groups. In the group, generate a list of things that are common to all individuals of the group, but are not identifiable by just looking at each other. (I.e. speaking a foreign language, favorite brand of soda, attending the same high school.) Give the groups 5 minutes to make a list of 3 items. -Or- Give the groups 5 minutes to make a list of as many things that are common to all individuals of the group.