So how are you feeling? Excited? Anxious? Not quite sure yet? That’s ok, it’s normal. We know that volunteering isn’t always easy, especially when you’re new, so we can’t thank you enough for jumping in to be the mentor and role model she needs! Guiding your Girl Scouts—even if you’re still figuring things out—is nothing short of amazing!
The important thing to remember is, you’re not alone. We are in this with you, ready to help and support you at all times! Thanks again! It’s going to be a great Girl Scout year!
Do you know your Bridging Ceremony from your Brownie Ring? Your Five Outcomes from your Friendship Circle? Your Progression from your Pathways? Have you ever come across a Girl Scout term that you were unfamiliar with? Your guessing days are over!
We’ve captured some of the most frequently used Girl Scout terms and placed them in this handy Glossary. You can print the PDF Version or you can scroll the alphabitized list below and use our search function in the top right hand corner of this page if there is a specific term you are looking for.
~ A ~
An online submittable or paper (pdf) form that is used to report any accident or injury occurring at a Girl Scout event, activity, meeting, campout, field trip, etc.
Beyond the Basic Insurance Plan that covers registered members for approved, supervised Girl Scout activities lasting two consecutive nights or less, additional insurance can be purchased to cover non-member participants, events that last longer than three days, illness, and out-of-state and international travel. Consult the Safety-Wise chapter of the Volunteer Essentials for more information.
Adult Background Check
To become an approved volunteer, adults are required to undergo an electronic background check.
The minimum number of adults needed to supervise a specific number of girls. The purpose of these ratios is to ensure safety & health of girls. Ratios must include at least 2, unrelated, approved adults (see Safety-Wise Chapter in Volunteer Essentials for more detail).
AED (Automated External Defibrillator)
A lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. Referred to in First Aid training.
GSUSA’s monthly electronic newsletter that includes inspiring profiles of alums, career advice from woman paying it forward, and information about upcoming Girl Scout events.
A level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Ambassadors are in grades 11 and 12.
The yearly meeting a local Girl Scout council holds to elect its board of directors and conduct other business essential to Girl Scouting in the council.
Assistant Troop Leader
Sometimes referred to as the Troop Co-Leader . Registered and background checked individual who works alongside the troop leader to coordinate and organize meeting activities, communicates with girls, parents/guardians and families, and engage girls in their Girl Scout journey.
A category of achievements earned which include Journey Awards, Lifesaving Awards, Highest Awards, Leadership Awards, Adult Awards, and more.
~ B ~
Girls earn badges in a variety of skill areas to help them grow into well-rounded adults. Badges are official awards worn on the front of the sash or vest (tunic or vest for Daisies).
When girls advance from one level of Girl Scouting to the next. Typically, bridging is celebrated with a ceremony that occurs during the spring/summer in preparation for the new school year. A bridging patch can be earned when a girl transitions to all levels.
A ceremony that celebrates the transition from one level in Girl Scouting to the next.
The highest award a Girl Scout Junior (4th and 5th grade) can earn.
An award available for girls of all levels who have shown extraordinary heroism saving a life or attempting to save a list with risk to the candidate’s own life.
A level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Brownies are in grades 2 and 3.
The Brownie Ring is the planning portion of Brownie troop meetings, where decisions for the troop are made. Girls lead discussions and brainstorm ideas. A Ring Leader may be designated to lead discussions; this role should be rotated. The Brownie Ring is a good way to make major troop decisions from what badges to work on next to how to spend product program profits.
A safety system in which girls are paired to help and keep track of each other.
~ C ~
A level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Cadettes are in grades 6 to 8.
Camp (Resident/Overnight or Day Camp)
A resident camp typically means there will be an overnight stay (over the course of a week or longer) at a Girl Scout-sponsored camp. Day camp usually means attending a camp during the day (under 12-hour period of time) at a Girl Scout-sponsored camp.
A weekend camping event usually organized by a service unit to serve its members.
Any inquiry by members is logged as a case in GSNorCal’s membership system. A case is then handled by staff so that volunteers can get the answers they need as quickly and as accurately as possible. Members receive email notification that their case has been forwarded to the staff subject matter expert.
Certificate of Insurance (COI)
A Certificate of Insurance (COI) is an electronic or physical document that provides proof to our vendors that GSNorCal has a valid, active insurance policy. Meeting places, e.g., school districts, community centers, etc., and booth sales locations, e.g., shopping centers, local businesses, will often ask GSNorCal for a COI to prove that the council is insured should damage occur to their properties by Girl Scouts during the course of the Girl Scout meeting or event. COIs can be requested by submitting a Certificate of Insurance Request Form that can be found on the council website.
An online payment and collection platform that troop leaders and service units can use to manage their Girl Scout collections.
A term used for people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was assigned female at birth is a cisgender. The term cisgender is the opposite of the word transgender.
Closing Ceremony (sometimes referred to as a “Friendship Circle”)
A ceremony held at the end of Girl Scout troop meetings or gatherings. Girls gather in a friendship circle and sing “Taps” or “Make New Friends” and then end the meeting circle with a friendship squeeze.
GSNorCal’s community-based programs help fill gaps in the educational, developmental, and social needs of almost 3,000 low-income, high-need girls each year. Our signature programs include:
Community-Based Program Manager (CBP)
GSNorCal staff member who manages troops at local community centers and afterschool programs for girls who might otherwise not be able to participate in Girl Scouts.
Community members and/or groups who share a common goal and work together to improve the community in specific ways. By having community partners, Girl Scouts can have a greater reach in the community with a more sustainable program.
Community Partner Award
A service unit award recognizing individuals or groups within the community who have had a positive impact on the service unit by volunteering, providing donations, or providing other outstanding support to Girl Scouts.
A way for Girl Scouts to give back to the community by providing services that fulfill the Girl Scout Mission of making the world a better place.
Community Service Bar
Earned by Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador girls who make a difference in the community while practicing Girl Scout values. Details are available in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.
Cookie Entrepreneur Family Pin
All girls who participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program are eligible to earn the annual Cookie Entrepreneur Family Pin, which they earn by developing essential business skills. This pin is available to all grade levels.
Part of GSNorCal’s Product Program, the Cookie Program is the largest girl-led financial literacy program in the country. Girls learn 21 st entrepreneurial skills like goal setting, decision making, people skills, money management, and business ethics all while earning money to fund their Girl Scout adventures.
Our council is Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal). We are chartered by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to organize and deliver Girl Scout Program in our geographic area. Council membership includes all girls and adults the council has registered and its corporate body, nominating committee, and board members, committees and task groups, as well as its employed staff. Currently, there are 112 Girl Scout councils in the USA.
Council Board of Directors
A board elected by members of the local Girl Scout council and, between annual meetings, empowered to act for it within the framework of the council’s bylaws. Board members represent many aspects of the community as well as of Girl Scouting.
This award is earned by Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors experienced campers by combining their love for the outdoors with their leadership skills and goals.
Court of Awards
A ceremony where girls receive awards for their achievements.
A statement that recognizes GSNorCal’s mission to be a part of a movement that builds equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging for all.
~ D ~
A level in Girl Scouting. Daisy Girl Scouts are in kindergarten-grade 1.
The planning portion of Daisy troop meetings, where decisions for the troop are made. In the circle. Girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in a large group discussion. The Daisy Circle can begin or end a meeting and is recommended to only last 5-15 minutes.
Programs conducted within a twelve-hour period over three or more days, occasionally including an overnight stay.
A Girl Scout member, 14 years of age or older, elected to a voting position in the council. Delegates serve as the primary communication link between girl and adult members and GSNorCal’s Board of Directors. They provide input to the Board on our Council’s strategy and elect the Council Board of Directors.
Girl Scout activities/events/trips that individual girls aged 14-17 can opt to participate in to broaden their perspectives. Destinations can take place nationally or internationally.
An electronic platform that allows girl entrepreneurs to customize the way they learn and earn during the Girl Scout Cookie Program, using technology in new and engaging ways, all while earning cookie badges along the way.
The process that is followed when troops will not continue the following year. Troops disband for different reasons, most often when the girls age out of Girl Scouts, or when a leader can no longer lead the troop and no other leader has been identified. When a troop disbands, GSNorCal will work with parents/guardians to place girls in other troops if they would like to remain in Girl Scouts.
A fun learning event for adult volunteers held in early February every year.
Diversity and Inclusion
These are core values of Girl Scouts since its founding in 1912. GSNorCal and GSUSA are committed to assuring equal opportunity for all volunteers, valuing diversity regarding race, color, creed, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, veteran status, citizenship, pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical condition, marital status, political persuasion, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local laws, or ordinances.
~ E ~
Early Bird Registration
Spring registration of currently registered girls and adults for the following membership year.
The program used by volunteers and parents during the Girl Scout Cookie Program.
EGSE (Essential Girl Scout Experience)
A roadmap to help troops reach the goal of great outcomes for girls. This roadmap focuses on the basic Girl Scout concepts of Sisterhood, Supportive Adults, and Special Experiences, along with Troop Fundamentals and Camp Fundamentals to help troop leaders lead a rich experience with their troops.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Also known as ambulance services or paramedic services , Emergency Medical Services. EMS provide urgent pre-hospital treatment and stabilization for serious injuries and transport to medical care. Referred to in GSNorCal first aid training.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
The most common type of providers in EMS. Referred to in GSNorCal’s first aid training.
Essential Life Skills
Five skills every girl learns by participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program:
1) Goal Setting
2) Decision Making
3) Money Management
4) People Skills, and
5) Business Ethics
Formerly called the Activity Finder, the Events Calendar can be found on the GSNorCal website. It is the easy way to find fun Girl Scout events to help troop leaders plan their troop year. Troop leaders can choose between list, calendar, and day views, and filter activities by grade, location, price, audience, program theme, length of program, location, and more.
Extended Troop Travel
A trip lasting three nights or more that requires GSNorCal approval, additional insurance coverage arranged through GSNorCal, and an updated Health History Form with health examination.
~ F ~
Girls can learn what their faith and Girl Scouting have in common through earning faith-based awards including the My Promise, My Faith pin and Religious Recognitions. Girls can earn the My Promise, My Faith pin once a year, every year they are in Girl Scouts. Details can be found in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting for the five steps to earn the pin.
A fun learning weekend event for adult volunteers held in October every year.
Fall Take Action Program
An important Community Service piece of the Essential Girl Scout Experience. Taking part in the program gives girls the opportunity and equity to give back to their community while funding their dreams of making a difference.
Family of the Year Award
A service unit award recognizing families who have contributed outstanding service to troops and/or service unit in supporting their troop, camp, special events, product programs, etc.
Families of all shapes and sizes can explore camp in an open-house format while trained, experienced camp staff offer swimming, high ropes course programming, singing around the campfire, and more.
Validated measures closely connected to the Girl Scout Mission and program activities. When girls participate in Girl Scouts, they benefit in five important ways:
Honors the American flag as a symbol of our country and all the hopes, dreams, and people it represents. Learning to perform a flag ceremony is a great troop meeting activity and gives girls a chance to learn the history of the American flag and all of the rules surrounding it.
The event at which a Girl Scout Brownie receives her Brownie Wings and becomes a Girl Scout Junior.
Located on the GSNorCal website in the Forms section and organized by category and topic, the Forms Index displays forms and resources available to volunteers and staff members.
October 31 marks the birthday of the founder of Girls Scouts of the USA, Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah, Georgia in 1860.
Four areas that form the foundation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). Girls will gain important skills: STEM (science, technology, engineering & math), Outdoor, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship.
A circle formed by Girl Scouts standing and clasping hands. The circle represents the unbroken chain of friendship and is usually used as a closing ceremony at meetings and events.
A hand squeeze that travels around a friendship circle from one person to another after someone starts it.
~ G ~
Referred to in the Girl Scout program, acronym for Go-Getters who strive for what they want to accomplish, Innovators who think outside the box, Risk-Takers who aren’t afraid to try new things or to fail, and Leaders who are confident, responsible, and committed to changing the world.
A term used for a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
The term used to identify girls and adults who are members of the Girl Guiding Movement in many countries. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
Girl Scouts incorporates girl leadership into virtually every component of our program. We encourage girls to take ownership of projects, meetings, and planning opportunities. Girls partner with adults to facilitate meetings and other Girl Scout programs. As girls get older, the level of responsibility and leadership opportunities increase.
A member of Girl Scouts of the USA or another country’s national Girl Scout organization.
Girl Scout Adult
An adult member of the Girl Scouts who is at least 18 or older or has completed high school.
Girl Scout Birthday
The official birthday of Girl Scouting is March 12. It is celebrated during Girl Scout Week and marks the first meeting of a Girl Scout troop held in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912.
Girl Scout Gold Award
The highest award in Girl Scouting. Earned by girls aged 14-17, this award recognizes the leadership, efforts, and impact girls have had on their communities.
Girl Scout Handshake
A formal way of greeting other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. You shake hands with the left hand and give the Girl Scout sign with your right hand.
Girl Scout Law
Along with the Girl Scout Promise, the Girl Scout Law is the credo of Girl Scouting. A girl lives the 10 parts of the Girl Scout Law to fulfill the Girl Scout Promise.
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and so,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Girl Scout Leader/Volunteer/Advisor (See also Troop Leader)
A registered and trained adult with an approved electronic background check on file with GSNorCal who meets regularly with girls to help them achieve the purposes of Girl Scouting.
Girl Scout Leader Appreciation Day
A day of appreciation for Girl Scout leaders and adult volunteers in Girl Scouting celebrated every year on April 22.
Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE)
These are the 3 keys to girl leadership:
Girl Scout Membership Year
A term of membership that begins October 1 and ends September 30 of each year.
Girl Scout Mission Statement
“Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”
Girl Scout Motto
Girl Scout Playbook
An electronic troop guide ideal for new troop leaders. Provides tips for planning a successful troop year.
Girl Scout Program Levels
Program levels are divided by grade level. The levels are:
Girl Scout Promise
Along with the Girl Scout Law, the Girl Scout Promise is the foundation of the Girl Scout movement; the pledge that binds members together as part of the Movement. A girl must make the Promise to become a Girl Scout member:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God* and my country,
To help people at all times.
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
*Members may substitute the word “God” in accordance with their own spiritual beliefs.
Girl Scout Sign
The sign is made by raising three fingers of the right hand, which is held shoulder high. This is the official Girl Scout greeting. The three raised fingers stand for the three parts of the Promise. The sign is made when Girl Scout members recite the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Girl Scout Silver Award
The second highest award in Girl Scouting, earned by girls aged 11-14.
Girl Scout Voices Count Survey
USUSA’s annual survey to learn how girls, parents/caregivers, and troop leaders experience Girl Scouting.
Girl Scout Volunteer’s Day
A day of appreciation for adult volunteers in Girl Scouting held on April 22 every year.
Girl Scout Week
The week containing March 12, Girl Scout’s birthday. This observance is celebrated each year, starting with the Sunday on or preceding the 12th.
Girl Scouts’ Own
These are girl-planned inspirational ceremonies held in the troop or at camp.
Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting
Girl program resource that includes fun activities, an all-in-one badge book, and a handbook. This resource complements the Girl Scout Journeys. There is a different guide for every Girl Scout program level.
Golden Gate Bridging
GSNorCal’s annual bridging event for Junior Girl Scouts bridging to the Cadette level at the end of their 5th grade year. Girls come from across the nation to participate. The day begins with the girls walking across the Golden Gate Bridge with their troop leaders. Throughout the day, they participate in fun activities on Crissy Field, followed by the largest friendship circle ever!
A camp snack favorite. An acronym that stands for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts or Granola, Oats, Raisins and Peanuts, whichever you prefer.
The policy-setting system from which GSNorCal is run.
Green Angel Award
A service unit award recognizing volunteers who bring Girl Scout program to their service unit in the most creative or innovative way.
GSLE (Girl Scout Leadership Experience)
The national Girl Scout program, sometimes referred to as the Three Processes. By participating in the program activities in the Journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouts, girls learn leadership skills. Every activity that girls do in Girl Scouting should deliver the benefits of the GSLE. Girls Discover, Connect, and Take Action in a girl-led, cooperative learning, and learning by doing way so that they can become leaders who can make the world a better place.
GSUSA: Girl Scouts of the United States of America
The name of our national organization. The national headquarters is located in New York City.
~ H ~
Health History Form
An updated record of a girl’s past and present health status that includes allergies, chronic illnesses, injuries, etc., which her parent/guardian completes for Girl Scouts. Adults who volunteer with girls may also be required to provide a health history form, especially those who will be travelling with girls on overnight or extended trips.
Volunteer committee responsible for keeping Girl Scout history alive by creating wonderful exhibits at museums, in some council office locations, and at its stand-alone museum at Camp Bothin. The committee also maintains a collection of uniforms and equipment that is available to loan out for public displays and fashion shows.
Activities that must be approved prior to the activity by GSNorCal’s Risk Management team. These activities involve a reasonable expectation of physical risk to the girls and/or a legal risk to the adults and/or the council. A list of these activities can be found in the Safety-Wise Chapter of the Volunteer Essentials .
The highest awards, sometimes referred to as “Older Girl Awards”, are the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout program. There are three high awards:
These awards give girls a chance to take action in their community and make a difference. There are specific requirements in order to earn each award.
A national award for adults recognizing outstanding service to two or more communities.
A camp tradition where meals served family style have a “hopper” designated for each table. The hopper collects the meal dishes before the meal and delivers it their table and “hops” from table to table during the meal to request more food if their table runs out of a dish. At the end of the meal, the hopper collects their tables’ used dishes and returns them to the dish cleaning station.
~ I ~
Form used to report any non-injury incident that occurs which may result in future problems or repercussions for the people involved or for GSNorCal. Incidents might include:
Inclusion (See also Diversity and Inclusion)
The deeply held belief subscribed to by all members that all girls must be included in Girl Scout activities.
Individual Registered Member (IRM)
Also called a “Juliette”, this is a term for a Girl Scout who is not a member of a traditional troop program. IRMs enjoy the same components of the Girl Scouts program, i.e., badges, journeys, etc., but they do not belong to a troop. They can participate in council events, camp, and travel.
The umbrella term for earned age-level awards, religious and other awards, emblems, and participation patches and pins. Girls wear all insignia, except participation patches and pins, on the front of their Girl Scout uniform. Adult insignia includes the volunteer pin, level pins, position pins, numeral guards, and years of service pins.
Prospective girl or adult members can complete the online interest form, which will trigger staff to help them get started.
A special ceremony in which a new member makes her Girl Scout Promise, receives her membership pin, and is formally welcomed into Girl Scouting.
~ J ~
A program for each level of Girl Scouting that takes the girls through a series of age-appropriate activities to help them discover, connect and take action to lead with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place.
Journey Summit Awards
Awards earned by girls at all levels who have completed three National Leadership Journeys at their grade level. The colored border around each pin corresponds to their grade level. This is the highest award that a Girl Scout Daisy and a Girl Scout Brownie can earn.
Also called an” IRM” or “Individual Registered Member”, term for a Girl Scout who is not a member of a traditional troop program. Juliettes enjoy the same components of the Girl Scouts program, i.e., badges, journeys, etc., but they do not belong to a troop. They can participate in council events, camp, and travel.
Juliette Gordon Low
The founder of the Girl Scout Movement in the United States born in Savannah, Georgia in 1860. Her nickname was Daisy. Juliette’s birthday is celebrated every year on March 12.
A level in Girl Scouting. Junior Girl Scouts grades 4 and 5.
~ K ~
A chart that shows the delegation of temporary jobs and rotation of responsibility with the troop or group. The chart typically rotates or can be easily so that everyone experiences each job and has the opportunity for leadership.
~ L ~
Leader Support Manager (LSM)
This is a service unit volunteer responsible for supporting and retaining existing leaders and girls. The LSM plans and facilitates ongoing service unit meetings and support for volunteers.
Leadership in Action Award (LiA)
An award for Cadette girls, LiA candidates share their organizational skills, use special talents, teach Brownies something important from their Journey, and reflect on their Girl Scout experience.
Learning Facilitator (LF)
A volunteer who represents council in facilitating Adult Learning courses and/or supporting volunteers.
Granted to any person 18 years of age or older or a high school graduate. There are two fee structures:
~ M ~
Medal of Honor
This award, available to girls in all Girl Scout levels, is earned by a girl who has shown presence of mind and true Girl Scout spirit saving a life or lives or attempting to save a life or lives without risk to the candidate’s own life.
Membership Development Manager (MDM)
MDMs are council staff members who work with volunteer Troop Support Managers to recruit new girls and adult members into troops and support them through their first year in Girl Scouts.
The membership year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30.
When a troop needs to supplement its dues and product program earnings for a special trip or event, the troop may plan a money-earning event to help with the costs. Money-earning events should be girl-led and require approval by the service unit or council.
~ N ~
Elected representative of GSNorCal who attends the National Council Session of the Girl Scouts of the USA. This position is responsible for determining the direction Girl Scouting will take throughout the country. Adult and girl members aged 14+ are eligible to apply for this position.
National Proficiency Badges
Badges that enable girls to explore their interests and learn new skills. Details can be found in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.
National Program Portfolio (NPP)
Series of resources that bring Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) to life for girls. It includes The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting , Journeys, and national program awards (badges and pins). These are the foundation of the Girl Scout Program.
New Leader’s Guide to Success
A guidebook for new troop leaders with key information to help them get their troop started.
This term represents a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Non-binary identities can fall under the transgender umbrella, since many non-binary people identify with a gender that is different from their assigned sex.
~ O ~
An official way to start a troop meeting or Girl Scout event. In the troop meeting setting, girls are invited to sit or stand in a circle and participate in an opening activity, e.g., performing a simple flag ceremony, reciting the Girl Scout Promise, singing a Girl Scout song, sharing a favorite poem, or having each girl share a part of her day. In larger Girl Scout events, the Opening Ceremony include a flag ceremony, reciting the Girl Scout Promise, and welcome information to participants.
To treat, view, or make someone feel like they do not belong.
~ P ~
A term used for people who are not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity—a wide variety of sexual preferences.
The initial meeting every troop should have at the beginning of each school year, or when a new troop first starts. At this meeting, the troop leaders meet the parents, collect forms and payments, and decide on ways parents can be involved in the year.
Formerly called the Troop Catalog or Opportunity Catalog, the Participation Catalog is a great way to find Girl Scouting options that works for a girl’s schedule, location, and interests. The catalog includes troop descriptions so that girls can find a troop that matches what they would like to do.
Participation Patches and Pins
Supplementary insignia received by girls for simply participating in an event or activity. Commonly called “fun patches”. Girls wear participation patches and pins on the back of their Girl Scout uniform.
The ways in which girls and adults experience Girl Scouting. The most common are Troop, Camp, and Series, but also included are Event, Travel and Virtual.
A form of troop government in which the troop is divided into small group of girls that plan and carry out activities within the troop.
There are two permission forms used most often. The Annual Permission form is filled out at the beginning of the school year by parents/guardians who provide permission for girls to:
The Activity/Event Permission form is filled out by parents/guardians when girls will be participating in any activities or events that will take place on a different day, time, or location from their regular troop meetings.
These are earned awards by Girl Scout Daisies. Girls earn the Promise Center by showing they understand the Girl Scout Promise. Girls earn Petals by showing they understand the 10 parts of the Girl Scout Law.
This go-to guide for planning a successful troop year pulls together key resources and best advice in one key place for new and experienced troop leaders. It can be launched from the GSNorCal website.
An established course of action that must be followed.
Council-wide girl-led entrepreneurial program where girls participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the Girl Scout Fall Take Action Program. Girls develop life skills, such as leadership, teamwork and commitment, along with business skills in marketing, project management, and budgeting.
Program Aide (PA) Award
This award, for Cadette girls, is achieved by earning a Leader in Award (LiA) badge, and assisting younger girls by sharing their skills, passion, and experience over the course of six activity sessions. Learn more in the Program Aide Girl Workbook.
Program Support Manager (PSM)
This is a service unit volunteer responsible for ensuring that all service unit program activities and events deliver the Girl Scout Leadership Experience benefits.
Term used to describe an approach that enables girls to gradually grow their skills that will enrich their experiences in an age-appropriate way.
Eleven camps and properties spread throughout Northern California are available for rental during the off-season (non-summer months) to GSNorCal troops, volunteers, and to the public. Information can be found at www.camp.gsnorcal.org/ rentals.
~ Q ~
An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender.
Raising the right hand over the head to signal for attention and quiet at any Girl Scout gathering. When the hand goes up, mouths go quiet, and everyone joins in giving the quiet sign.
~ R ~
A formal ceremony at which a girl or adult, who was previously invested into Girl Scouts, renews their Girl Scout Promise.
Religious & Other Awards
Official awards earned for completing requirements set by religious/other organizations or by Girl Scouts of the USA. These awards are all worn on a similar place on the Girl Scout uniform.
Also called “sleepover camp”, resident camp is an essential step in every Girl Scout’s development, building independence and leadership while making life-long friends and memories.
~ S ~
Safety Activity Checkpoint
Safety guidelines that provide valuable information and tips for planning specific activities. If an activity is not found in the Safety Activity Checkpoints, the general guidelines in the Safety-Wise chapter of the Volunteer Essentials should be checked to ensure that the activity is allowed and does not require approval from the GSNorCal Risk Management team.
For all grade levels, Safety Awards are earned by following a five-step process for being safe, tailored for each grade level. More information can be found in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.
This is an online training course, designed to keep girls safe and be prepared by following safety guidelines and procedures. It also signifies following the safety guidelines contained in the Safety-Wise chapter of the Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints.
A level in Girl Scouting. Senior Girl Scouts are in grades 9 and 10.
Topics highly personal in nature or rooted in beliefs and values, e.g., child abuse, human sexuality, and religion, etc. If these issues are going to be discussed in a troop meeting, troop leaders are advised to have parents/guardians fill out a special Sensitive Issues Permission Form that can be found on the council website.
Service to Girl Scouting Bars
For Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Girl Scouts who volunteer at least 20 hours for the Girl Scouts. Some volunteer ideas include volunteering to help with a special event for younger girls, be an office assistance for GSNorCal or service unit, or help with special projects.
Service Unit (SU)
A geographic subgroup within the council that includes area Girl Scout troops, girls, and their leaders. Troop Leaders within each service unit are encouraged to attend regularly scheduled service unit meetings where they obtain information and support and help plan service unit activities for area Girl Scout troops.
Service Unit Delegates
Serve as the primary communication link between our girl and adult members and Northern California’s Board of Directors, provide input to the Board on our Council’s strategy, and elect the Council Board of Directors. Adult and girl members age 14+ are eligible to nominate themselves for Service Unit Delegate positions.
Service Unit Finance Report
Online form prepared and submitted by Service Unit Treasurers to record their service unit’s annual income and expenses. The report is due to council by September 30 each year.
Service Unit Team
A group of adult volunteers that facilitates service to girls through its volunteers in a service unit.
The highest award a Girl Scout Cadette (grades 6-8) can earn.
A lightweight pad or mat used when sitting on the floor or ground. This is a popular craft activity for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scout.
An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Sometimes called “STEAM”—the “A” stands for Arts. GSNorCal offers STEM programming that supports girls in exploring new opportunities in these fields.
SWAPS (Special Whatcha-ma-call-its Affectionately Pinned Somewhere)
Small tokens of friendships made by Girl Scouts to exchange with Girl Scouts they meet while traveling or while attending Girl Scout events.
~ T ~
This is a national award for adults that recognizes outstanding service that benefits the entire council or Girl Scout Movement.
Thanks Badge II
This is a national award that recognizes outstanding service council-wide or beyond for adults having already received the Thanks Badge.
Award for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors who are leaders in their community. Girls must complete one Leadership Journey and serve a full term in a leadership position at her school, place of worship, library, community center, or other organization that is important to her.
The Girl Scout culture comprised of our shared history, stories, traditions, uniforms, songs, language, values, and experiences. We express who we are as Girls Scouts through our traditions.
GSNorCal’s troop volunteer support blog that are archived on the council website.
Trip or High Adventure Approval Form
Online form submitted to GSNorCal that requests approval for a troop activity that involves a trip further than 60 miles from the troop’s regular meeting place and longer than 6 hours in duration, overnight trips not hosted by a service unit, trips for 3 nights or more, and/or any event or trip of any length that includes a high-adventure as outlined in the Volunteer Essentials Safety-Wise chapter.
Group of 8-10 girls or more, led by volunteers (often parents, friends, or family members). Troops allow girls to work as a team to enjoy their Girl Scout experience while building friendships to last a lifetime.
Troop Cookie or Fall Product Program Manager
This volunteer helps the troop set up booth locations, manage inventory, and money.
Troop CrestA Girl Scout tradition—a Girl Scout patch worn on the front of the Girl Scout uniform designed to help troop leaders identify girls belonging to different troops while attending activities where multiple troops are present.
Troop Finance Report (TFR)
A financial report prepared by the troop leader or troop treasurer and submitted to council. The TFR, due in May every year, accounts for incomes and expenses associated with the troop for the previous year. The TFR is prepared via the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK).
A governmental system that encourages girls to take a leadership role in how their troop is governed and how troop decisions are made.
Assist the troop leader as a team to coordinate troop activities, e.g., field trips or driving, chaperoning cookie booths, participating in outdoor adventures, planning meeting activities, etc. Troop Helpers who volunteer with girls must be registered and undergo a background check.
A registered and background checked adult who has gone through troop leader training. This individual coordinates and organizes meeting activities, communicates with girls, parents/guardians and families, and engages girls in their Girl Scout journey.
Troop Leadership Volunteer
Adult members in charge of facilitating troop operations and management tasks.
Troop Support Volunteer
Adult members who support the troop leadership volunteers and girls.
This registered and background checked adult manages troop funds and the troop’s bank account. This trustworthy and reliable volunteer works with the girls and troop leader to develop the troop budget, makes sure dues and payments are collected at meetings, manages the troop bank account, and shares the troop balance with girls and parents/guardians.
See Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).
An umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity or expression does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
Troop camping is a great way for troops to start on the path of outdoor adventuring together. GSNorCal staff provide expertise to support fun camp activities that participating girls and adults sign up to participate in.
The various ways a troop ensures that girls lead the planning and decision-making for their Girl Scout experiences.
An activity planned and carried out by girls to earn money for troop/group expenses.
Troop Support Manager
A service unit volunteer responsible for developing membership growth by recruiting girls and adults and assisting them in forming new troops/groups.
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A small troop formed at a day camp or resident camp. Girl Scouts assigns campers to a unit based on age or interest. Also refers to a portion of a campsite designated as the living and working area for a group of campers.
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Volunteer Development Manager (VDM)
VDMS are members of council staff who work with troops, service unit teams, and LSMs. Their focus is to support troop leaders and service unit leadership.
This online guide contains policy, procedures, and guidelines for the members of Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal). This Glossary is a part of the Volunteer Essentials .
Volunteer Learning Portal (VLP)
GSNorCal’s online learning platform for troop leaders, troop support volunteers, service unit volunteers and GSNorCal staff to access the online learning for their role.
Updated and approved by the GSNorCal Board of Directors annually. The Volunteer Policy shares information and expectations regarding training and learning opportunities for volunteers, Girl Scout community values, taking charge of physical and emotional safety, holding ourselves accountable, and so much more.
Volunteer Toolkit (VTK)
Comprehensive digital tool accessible via the web on hone computers, smartphones, and tablets. Provides troop leaders, service unit volunteers, parents/guardians and Juliettes/individually registered members with access to Girl Scout programming, badge and award requirements, meeting plans, resources, and more.
Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts earn this award by mentoring younger Girl Scouts outside of the camp experience. Girls’ VIT project should span a three-to-six-month period. More information can be found in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.
Volunteer Run Camp
Usually a weeklong or twilight program organized by volunteers or council staff to serve current registered girls and/or girls who are interested in joining Girl Scouts.
Monthly newsletter emailed to all registered troop and service unit volunteers of the first day of each month. Volunteers can sign up to receive it on the GSNorCal website.
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Starter troops that serve a specific community. New members form a troop in their community during a series of six introductory meetings for parents/guardians and girls. The Welcome Troop is a great way to get started with Girl Scouts.
A themed event with a number of stations. Groups rotate between the stations, completing activities at each one.
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)
An association of Girl Scout and Girl Guide national organizations around the world. GSUSA is one of 146 members. The mission is to inspire girls and young women to reach their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world.
Five program centers owned by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The centers are located in Africa, India, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Girl Scouts from around the world are welcome to visit the world centers and many GSNorCal Girl Scouts visit the world centers every year.
World Thinking Day
World Thinking Day, also called Thinking Day, is celebrated by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world on February 22. At World Thinking Day events, girls participate in activities that help them learn about the lives of their sisters around the world.
Updated as of 6/1/2023
California’s COVID-19 State of Emergency is over, but COVID-19 has not gone away. To safely go about participating in Girl Scout activities, we need to continue taking steps to prevent the spread.
GSNorCal continues to support troop leaders, event directors, and camp directors to use their judgment in establishing protective measures based on planned activities, current local conditions, and local requirements that might exist.
GSNorCal values inclusion and recognizes that some members of our community are at greater risk than others and may need enhanced safety measures to be safe. We will work with our members, and where possible, identify appropriate modifications and alterations that will not increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure for Girl Scout participants.
It is important to note that if individuals are feeling ill or have tested positive for COVID-19, they should stay away from in-person meetings or gatherings.
Effective immediately, masks are no longer required at Girl Scout meetings and activities*, unless local conditions, private or public venues, school districts, communities, or counties require masks to be worn.
*See Camping Section below for guidelines specific to the camping environment.
Vaccinations and Testing
GSNorCal strongly recommends, but does not require, vaccines/boosters for all eligible adults and youth.
Proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID test will not be required at Girl Scout meetings, activities, or events unless specified in a program description. For those attending camp, consult your adventure packet or event confirmation packet for vaccination requirements related to camp programs and events.
Participants who develop any symptoms of illness while participating in a meeting, activity, or event will be isolated and arrangements for sending them home to recover will be made as quickly as possible. Parents/guardians are asked to pick their girls up from the event as soon as possible.
Quarantine & Isolation
Visit this website to use the Isolation and Exposure Calculator that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has developed to help you determine if you need to isolate or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19. This tool asks specific questions about your exposure and possible symptoms and makes recommendations accordingly.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also offers helpful isolation and precautions for people with COVID-19.
When girls share sleeping structures, consider the following to lower the risk of any and all contagious illness spreading through the group:
What You Need to Know
Make sure to plan ahead:
It is important to note that travelers should always check the U.S. Department of State's International Travel Advisories to understand which countries are LEVEL 4 (Do Not Travel status) and Level 3 (Reconsider Travel).
The Trip or High Adventure Approval form should continue to be completed for all international trips.
*Helpful Tips When Planning International Travel: COVID-19 Spring-Summer 2023 Travel Guide
Help the girls create a plan for the possibility of someone getting sick or catching COVID during the trip. This is a good idea even if you choose to travel domestically or to a Level 1 or Level 2 country:
1. COVID-19 incident rates:
You and your troop families acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists for any in-person activity, including meetings, activities, events, and trips; and
You and your troop families are voluntarily assuming all risk related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Girl Scouts of Northern California, or any of its directors, employees, agents or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.
Review the GSNorCal COVID Guidelines (this webpage) and the Travel and Trips Safety Activity Checkpoint with the girls to learn what our policy is for International Travel.
Have the girls look at the websites for the CDC and US Department of States Travel Advisories to find travel advisories for the country they want to visit, since each country has its own unique guidelines and protocols. Please note that CDC and US Department of State Level rankings are not necessarily exactly aligned- the Department of State rankings are based primarily on the CDC data, but also may include additional factors.
What is the country's COVID-19 Level, as described in the State Department Travel Guidelines?
What does that level mean?
What is their vaccination requirement?
What is their policy if someone in your group contracts COVID?
Will that person be able to board a plane and go home?
How long will they need to stay in that country?
How will they know when they can go home?
If the COVID-19 rate is high at either location, consider rescheduling. If the US Department of State has “Level 4” Travel Advisory in place, Girl Scouts do not travel to that location.
2. COVID-19 related requirements for vaccination or testing in the destination:
Are vaccines, testing, masking or other COVID-19 mitigation measures required at the location?
Consider not only the country or state regulations, but also local vaccine or testing rules for businesses you may want to visit (i.e., restaurants, events).
If a group cannot comply with all COVID-19 regulations at the destination, consider rescheduling.
3. Financial Considerations:
What is the deadline for final payments to be made, and have you worked with vendors to push payment deadlines as far out as possible?
What is the cancellation policy for the hotel/accommodation? Best to find 24-hour cancellation policy locations, when possible.
Is the airline offering full refunds or just changeable tickets? Can the troop afford to purchase refundable tickets?
Do all travelers understand the financial implications if the entire trip is postponed or cancelled at the last minute or if an individual participant(s) must cancel at the last minute? Exactly how much money would each person lose?
If a participant must leave the trop early due to an exposure and necessary quarantine, will any of the activities be refundable? Exactly how much money would each person lose?
If a participant must leave the troop early due to an exposure and necessary quarantine, will any of the activities be refundable? Has this been communicated to parent/guardians?
What is the plan for accommodations/hotel if any members of the group have to isolate for illness or quarantine during the trip, or after the planned last day of the trip? How will this be paid for, if needed? (See #5 for more information)
Travel insurance: Has the group reviewed and decided on purchasing travel insurance? (Note that COVID-19/pandemic is excluded from most travel insurance policies, but there may be other reasons groups may find travel insurance valuable. Read the fine print!)
If a group is not able to make a viable plan for these financial risks, consider rescheduling.
4. Activity consideration and trip logistics:
What is the sleeping, transportation, and eating arrangements?
If a trip does not meet any particular requirements set by GSNorCal for these areas, consider rescheduling.
5. Illness, exposure, and quarantine considerations:
Are you planning to have additional adult chaperones on the trip beyond ratio-requirements? (Strongly recommended)
What is the immediate plan if a member of the troop exhibits COVID-19 symptoms? Will that person be immediately tested? Have parents/caregivers given permission for this, and do trip leaders have tests on hand? Who covers the cost?
What is the next step for an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 Which adult(s) on the trip will supervise any participant who must be isolated for positive case, and at what point (24/48hrs) must parents/caregivers arrive on site to take custody of their children?
What is the next step for individuals who are exposed to COVID-19? Which adult(s) on the trip will supervise any participant who must be isolated for exposure, and at what point must parent/guardians arrive on-site to take custody of their children?
Do all participants and parents/guardians understand and agree with the above plans? Have parents/caregivers been advised that they must be contactable during the entire trip and willing to finance their own travel to pick up their child? If trip is international, does a parent/caregiver of each child have an up-to-date passport?
What is the plan if adult chaperones fall ill?
Will the trip have additional adults beyond ratio-requirements? (Strongly recommended)
Will all adult chaperones be fully up to date on vaccines?
Remind the girls and the parents/guardians that you and your co-leaders are just as much at risk as they are for catching COVID, and a plan must be put in place for this possibility. Share your concerns with the girls.
If a group is not able to make a viable plan for these risks, consider rescheduling.
Be sure to meet with parents/guardians to keep them informed of evolving plans. Having these conversations with your Girl Scouts and their parents/guardians will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Thank you for your help in keeping Girl Scouts a safe, fun space for everyone! If you have questions about how COVID-19 may impact Girl Scout activities, please contact us at email@example.com or 800-447-4475—we're here for you.
Additional COVID Resources
CDC Vaccines for People Who Are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised
CDC: Coronavirus: How to Protect Yourselves and Others
CDC: International Travel to and from the United States https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html
CDC: Cruise Ship Travel during COVID-19 (Updated 11/3/2022): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/cruise-travel-during-covid19.html#:~:text=Check%20directly%20with%20your%20cruise,3%20days%20before%20you%20travel).
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