Troop Meetings in a COVID-19 World
Girl Scout troop meetings can seem so daunting and overwhelming when it comes to navigating in a COVID-19 world. Now, more than ever, we encourage leaders and co-leaders to establish a sense of normalcy for girls when they need it most.
While we only recommend in-person troop meetings if you can ensure proper social distancing and hand-washing guidelines, they are still very much a possibility for your troop! On the flip side, you might be asking: can I still keep the Girl Scout spirit going without meeting face-to-face? The answer is YES!
We are here to ensure that you, troop leader(s), are not alone in figuring everything out during such weird times. Here are some suggestions about how to keep your troop moving forward while being mindful of health and safety concerns.
To be certain you are doing all you can to reduce risk to yourself and troop, be certain to follow the most up-to-date information provided by the CDC, the Arizona Department of Health, or other credible, local public health sources.
Practices to implement during in-person troop meetings or activities:
Meeting size: Follow state and local restrictions for nonessential gatherings.
Maintain distance: Social distancing should be implemented and consistently practiced.
Masks: Face coverings for girls should be required and consistently practiced.
Outdoor meetings: Southern Arizona weather is cooling down, which means the outdoors is a perfect place to host troop meetings! When possible and weather permitting, girls should consider finding a local park or outdoor spot for troop meetings.
Avoid touching and passing items: Girls should bring their own snacks and materials, whenever possible.
Temperature and symptom checks: Remind girls, caregivers, and volunteers to take their temperatures prior to group interaction. Anyone showing signs of a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home.
Prior to your meeting, create fun signs as a reminder to girls to keep safety top-of-mind. Here are a few sayings that could help girls and volunteers to engage in everyday preventative actions:
Stay home if you are sick
Cough and sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash or sanitize your hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you do touch, wash your hands
Check you temperature before each troop meeting
Sign Up for an Online Meeting Platform of Your Choice: There are many ways out there that you can video chat with your Girl Scouts! Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger are all great options, just to name a few. At Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, we often work with Zoom and find that it keeps us connected pretty well. The only drawback to Zoom is that there is a 40-minute time limit for the free version, but it still allows you an opportunity to conduct a decent-length meeting. Zoom can be used through an app on your Android or iPhone, your computer, or even dialing in on a telephone. You can sign up and download the platform on their website. Practice setting up and holding a meeting with a friend so you can get used to the controls and help guide your girls and parents when they get to try. You can also watch online tutorials to become more familiar with the platform.
Educate the Families about the Online Meeting Platform You Choose: Let your troop (and the parents) know the details of your new meetings, and how to log in. Reassure them that this is an easy way to stay connected and keep their girls occupied while they’re stuck indoors. Parents have enough on their plate without adding one more complicated thing to the list! Make sure to review the online safety guidelines with your girls as well, helping them navigate their increasingly digital world safely.
Plan Your Agenda Ahead of Time: Keep your meetings focused on the Girl Scout troop meeting fundamentals: the Girl Scout Promise, troop business, discussion, and closing. Activities are best left for the girls to work on their own outside of the meeting. It would take a long time to show them how to fold an origami crane on video chat, when they could watch a YouTube tutorial after the meeting and practice on their own. Encourage girls to share pictures of their completed projects online, whether it’s on a troop Facebook page or just via email.
Let the Girls Take the Lead: Your first virtual meeting will likely be a learning experience. There may be quite a bit of background noise and nerves. Girls truly just want a space to be with their troop and their friends again. Allow girls to talk about their feelings of the current state of the world, but also give them as close to a normal meeting as possible. Sing songs, plan for future trios, etc. If they want to talk about the “normal for now,” read up on how to talk about coronavirus with kids to prepare for the conversation.
Give Yourself Room to Make Mistakes: This is a big change to be making, so you’ll naturally make some mistakes— whether it’s with the new tech or ideas that will keep girls engaged remotely. Allow yourself the wiggle room to make those mistakes and to grow from them in the next meeting. Things won’t always run smoothly, you won’t always get to do what you wanted, but you can be creative with giving the girls different opportunities. Be gentle with yourself and the girls, and keep trying new things! Don’t forget to think ahead about accommodations as well. Not all of this new system or technology is built well for everyone. Remember the Girl Scouts in your troop that need accommodations, and talk with the parents about how you can meet their needs at this time.
However you choose to keep your troop moving forward, remember that all of us here at Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona are here to help you when you need. Visit our staff directory to find helpful contact information or use email@example.com and your inquiry will be sent to the right person!