We’re gearing up for Rally Season in my Council. Signing up new Girl Scouts, forming new Troops – this is what September is all about for Girl Scouts. GSUSA has started making Registration really easy using its online tools, and I’m going to let you talk to the staff and other volunteers at your own Council to figure out any issues you might have with registering for Girl Scouts online.
But let’s talk Troop structure.
Single Level Troops
This is by far the most common Troop structure in my area. And judging by the way the Volunteer Toolkit tools work from GSUSA, across the country. What this means is that your Troop only has girls from one grade in it. These Troops typically start at Kindergarten, and the girls just move in lockstep: Kindergarten to First to Second, Daisy to Brownie to Junior. Single Level Troops tend to be have between 6 and 18 girls in them, with 2 Leaders. More if you’re lucky.
The big advantage to this structure is that everyone is literally on the same page. You have one level of girl, all doing the same activities, earning the same badges.
This one is hard to summarize in a neat little heading. But what I’m talking about is what used to be fairly common, though I don’t know that it still happens. Using made up Troop numbers to make it clear, when you begin Girl Scout, your daughter joins Daisy Troop 101. After two years, she bridges to Brownies, and then changes Troops to Brownie Troop 102. Again, after two years, she flies up to Juniors, and then changes Troops again, this time to Junior Troop 103.
This structure has the same advantage as a Single Level Troop, everyone in the Troop is the same level. It also has the advantage of connections with Troops of different levels for those all important Leadership opportunities (Junior Aide, LiA, Volunteer in Training, Service to Girl Scouting Bars, etc.).
The disadvantage, of course, is having to learn a whole new Troop number every time you change levels. And if you are the Leader, you tend to stay with the Troop (level) rather than your daughter. Which is a plus if you just LOVE working with Brownies! And a minus if you just LOVE doing new things! 🙂
And then, the reason we’re here: multi-level Troops. These can be so hard, and yet so rewarding at the same time. Here are some situations in which multi-level Troops make sense:
- Sisters. You have more than one daughter, and you know that your local Community/Service Unit is going to look to you to run a Troop for each of them. Or you just can’t imagine having two or three or more Troop meetings to shuttle your daughters to.
- Church/School Based Troop. This is the scenario I have seen multi-level Troops in most often. All of the girls at a particular church or school (usually private) are put into the same multi-level Girl Scout Troop, which is supported by the church or school.
- You can’t say no to girls who want to be Girl Scouts. This is my situation. After 8 years as a Leader, I could not look at those eager 6th and 7th graders and tell them they couldn’t join my 8th grade Troop, they couldn’t be Girl Scouts. There were only 4, so they couldn’t form their own Troop.
- You think a multi-level Troop has so much to offer the girls.
This last one, most people will not actually have it as a reason they started a multi-level Troop, but I want you to consider it. In a multi-level troop:
- you typically have way more girls than in a single level troop. More girls = more parents = more possible volunteers to help you out.
- the older girls have easy access to Leadership opportunities. Juniors need to earn heir Junior Aide? Create a schedule which allows each Junior to help the Daisy portion of the Troop for 3 meetings (and make life a little easier for the Daisy Leader). Don’t want to run that Junior Journey? Have the Ambassadors do it, with help from the Cadettes and let them earn their ViT and LiA in the process.
- younger girls SEE what older girls do every meeting. Last year, my Daisies were so bummed because they could not spend the night at camp with the rest of the Troop. But, now that they have bridged, they know that is one of the things they get to do, and they know from the Brownies and Junior who DID spend the night, that it is totally worth it.
- girls see how connected the skills they are learning are, they see the progression that we feel is so important. They see that while they may only be crawling now, if they stick with it, they will be running in no time.
- you can stay with your daughter as a Leader, as she climbs from level to level. Or you can choose to stay with your level. Or both. My Father-in-Law was his daughters’ Leader until they got to middle school, when he decided to stay as the Junior Leader and let them start scouting without him as a safety net.
There are so many great reasons to start a new multi-level troop, and reasons to make your single level troop multi-level.