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Hosting Parent Meetings

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Hosting Family Meetings

Family meetings are generally held three times a year and provide a chance to meet the families, set expectations, build support, and recruit troop member-volunteers.

Our Membership Development staff can help you with coordinating your first parent information night, but if you'd like to plan your own, this how-to will help you set the tone for the year and guide families with gusto!

Looking for additional instruction?

Visit the Volunteer Learning Portal at training.gsnorcal.org for our full suite of trainings for troop leaders!

Meeting One: Kick Off the Year

The following steps are essential to planning the first family meeting.

Select a Meeting Space

Select a meeting space and time that accompanies your troop families, such as a school cafeteria, library, church meeting room, or even a local coffee shop. Be sure to contact the location prior and request permission. Ideally, this should be the meeting space where you plan to meet as a troop to get the girls and family comfortable with the location.

Invite Families

When you invite troop families to attend, include materials you’d like families to complete and bring to the meeting like registration, health history, and annual permission forms, or even troop dues.

Required Forms

Plan a Girl Activity

Plan an activity that girls can do during the meeting. It should be an activity that they can do by themselves—perhaps in a separate room, under the supervision of another troop leader.

   

What to Do at the Meeting

Think of this first meeting as a crash course for the families of your troop! Discuss any exciting things you’re planning for the troop and outline all the things they can do to help you succeed in your role as a troop leader.

Use the following sample agenda to cover all your bases:

Open the Meeting

Greet everyone who attends and ask them to sign in. It can also be useful to have nametags, pens, or even a sign-in sheet to gather information. Collect any forms and encourage each of the family members to introduce themselves to one another.

At your first troop meeting, you'll want to collect:

Housekeeping Items and Year Outline

Once you gather everyone’s attention, cover general items such as the troop number and where and when the troop will meet. This can even be a good time to introduce any adults that will be working with the girls at meetings. Be sure to outline the year to come and what that means for families.

The Program

Share the Girl Scout program materials such as the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Journey books. You can explain how your troop will use the materials and what the girls will get out of them.

Your Pick-Up/Drop-Off Policies

Discuss your policy on dropping off and picking up the girls. Emphasize that an adult should come into the meeting area before and after the meeting, so you can confirm who’s picking up the girls. You may even want to have a sign-out sheet and file set up for each girl for the parent to check prior to departure—this gives you an opportunity to distribute any important handouts or communication that each girls’ family needs to know.

Troop Meeting Snacks

Based on your troop meeting time and length (and if the locations permit), you can share if there will be snacks at each meeting. Decide if the cost of the snacks will be included in troop dues, or if families are willing to take turns providing the snack.

Don’t forget to check for allergies or food concerns and encourage healthy snacks!

Set Expectations Around Communication

Communication is key, so be sure to sure to set expectations around it. Everyone has different communication styles so create a group understanding of the following:

  • how families should communicate (via email, phone, text)
  • how often they need to respond to certain communications
  • important deadlines they should remember

Explain that it’s the parents’ and guardians’ responsibility to read all applicable information and to reply in a timely manner. This includes deadlines for payments, turning in permission slips, and helping out the troop as needed!

Families should confirm their preferred contact information and provide an email address on their registration so they receive emails from Girl Scouts of Northern California.

Discuss Troop Costs

At the beginning of the troop year, there are usually some start-up dues. You’ll want to discuss troop dues and participation in the Cookie Program, Fall Product Program, or other money-earning activities.

Troop fees and money-earning activities support girls by helping the troop purchase uniforms, Journey books, and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting specific to their program grade level. Your troop may also need supplies such as construction paper, crayons, or glue, etc.—consider creating a wish-list and let families donate those items.

Let families know that financial assistance forms for shop purchases, troop dues, camp, and events can be found at www.gsnorcal.org.

Encourage Parents to Volunteer With Your Troop

There are many ways for families to be involved and share their knowledge—don’t be afraid to ask! You could survey for skills and talents that could help the troop like supporting girls during outdoor activities, volunteering to drive to field trips and events, or handling money.

Just remember, any adult that has regular contact with girls, manages money, or chaperones trips should be registered and complete a background check. Here are some of the formal options for troop volunteers:

Troop Treasurer

We know it can be intimidating—especially for new troop leaders—to earn and manage money for the troop, so consider recruiting a troop treasurer who can help keep track of troop expenses. Your service unit’s treasurer is a great resource who can help you with questions, get you started with opening a bank account, and may even offer training in your area.

Troop Cookie Program Manager

Troop Cookie Managers help foster entrepreneurship, business ethics, money management, and people skills in your troop by guiding the troop through the cookie program. They'll support by coordinating family orders and Digital Cookie setup, distributing and maintaining inventory, reserving booth locations, and keeping the focus where it belongs: on the girls! This role should be filled by mid-November and splitting the role between two or more people can make the job easier!

Troop Fall Product Program Manager

Troop Fall Product Program Managers guide the troop through the Fall Product program. This role should be filled by August 1 for troops wishing to have a volunteer in this role.

Troop Helpers

Troop Helpers are occasional troop volunteers that are registered Girl Scout member-volunteers. Explain to families that we require at least two unrelated, registered adults with the girls at every meeting. See which adults are willing to help. Be sure to discuss the size of the troop and the number of adults it will take to drive, plan camping trips, chaperone during field trips, coordinate badge-earning activities, etc.

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Meeting Two: Cookie Program

Here are some tips for planning your cookie-related family meeting (generally held in December) that’ll serve as a kick-off to the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Prepare for the Meeting

Cookie family business meetings are critical to the success of the program! They help provide a foundation of understanding and agreement for volunteers and families. To prepare for your meeting, select a meeting space, invite families, and plan a girl activity—just like in the first family meeting of the year.

Prepare the following Cookie Program materials and resources:

Explain the Program

As the largest entrepreneurial program for girls in the world, the Girl Scout Cookie Program (January–March) gives girls the opportunity to power new, unique, and amazing experiences, while also learning critical life skills. Girls earn proceeds for their troop through the Cookie Program, which fuels amazing adventures.

Additionally, proceeds from the Cookie Program stay local, help keep costs low for girl programs like subsidizing camp costs, and give Girl Scouts of Northern California the opportunity to support families through financial assistance for girl programs.

You can point families to gsnorcal.org/cookies to learn more about the Cookie Program and the resources available to them.

Set Family Expectations

Discuss girl goals, share best methods for staying in contact (i.e. text, phone, email), and agree on roles and responsibilities. More family involvement means better troop success! Discuss opportunities that parents/ guardian(s) have during the cookie program. They can help pick up the initial order, supervise the girls at cookie booths, etc.

Got questions?

We've got your back. Just email info@gsnorcal.org or call 800-447-4475, ext. 2093.