One thing I am most proud of when it comes to Girl Scouts is how adaptable, progressive, and forward-thinking we are as an organization. We understand that as parents in this day and age, many of you are running on empty, and as much as you would absolutely LOVE to spend every waking hour leading your girl’s Girl Scout troop, this just may not be in the cards for you right now.
Whether you’re a current troop leader in need of extra support, a parent who just found her troop without a leader, or a group of parents looking to start a new troop, co-op troops might be the answer you’ve been searching for!
What is a co-op troop?
A co-op troop is one in which every parent takes on shared leader responsibilities. Instead of two co-leaders running the troop, parents will take turns on a rotating schedule, using the River Valleys Plan Your Year resource to easily plan and lead meetings, along with any optional field trips and more.
Some quick tips for leading a co-op troop:
- Get to know each other! Whether it’s through email or in person, share your individual strengths, hobbies, education, skills, interests, and work schedules to help divide up your year. Bring your own personality to your troop assignments, but be consistent as a co-op leader team in maintaining expectations for girls’ conduct.
- Communication is key! Determine the best way to communicate (private Facebook groups can be great for this!) and who will coordinate communication within the group. Share contact information and determine an emergency communication plan (i.e. weather cancellations, last minute changes, etc.).
- Support each other! Consider keeping a notebook that can be passed from adult to adult in which you can record successes, challenges, and helpful suggestions for the next adult in the rotation (or use an online platform). This will make it easier for each person in the rotation to build on past experience.
- Check in! Determine if the co-op leaders want to meet periodically through the year to evaluate and adjust any plans and to support each other.
- Use our resources wisely! Any and all co-op leaders are encouraged to attend a service unit or council-led training, such as New Leader Orientation (stay tuned for upcoming dates!). We also have planning resources available for each grade level, and plenty of council-led events where we do the hard work for you!
If you and the rest of the parents from your troop agree to become a co-op troop, each participating parent will need to register as a volunteer (including the $15 GSUSA membership fee) and complete an online background check.
Natasha Brownlee – Natasha is a Program Specialist at River Valleys, where she develops and leads awesome Girl Scout events – and runs the In the Loop blog! Her background is in curriculum development, programming, and creative writing. She has BA’s in Peace Studies and French and a MSc in Gender, Development & Globalization and has worked with various girl-centered organizations in the US and abroad. Natasha loves traveling around the world, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her dog, Rooney!