Troop government is an easy, structured way for girls to govern and
manage their Girl Scout troop decisions and discussions. Troop leaders
can use this guide to learn how to implement troop government and help
girls take the lead.
Troop Government is Hands-On Learning
Troops are expected to use the processes of girl-led,
learning-by-doing, and cooperative learning in all Girl Scout
activities. Using a democratic form of troop government is one way to
implement these processes because it gives girls the opportunity to
lead the planning, decision-making, and activities in their troop!
It’ll help girls work together toward shared goals as they figure
out the what, where, when, and how of their activities, and give each
girl the opportunity to have a voice in the troop and be a leader.
The Five Types of Troop Government
There are five traditional forms of Girl Scout troop government
based on program grade-levels. Daisies can participate in the Daisy
Circle and Brownies can form the Brownie Ring. Juniors, Cadettes,
Seniors, and Ambassadors can choose from the Patrol, Executive Board,
and Town Meeting System.
The Daisy Circle
The Daisy Circle is the planning portion of 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.
Sit in a Circle
All girls sit in a circle so everyone can hear.
Have a Moderator
The leader, or another adult, should be a moderator for the circle by guiding girls in a discussion. This is a great opportunity to offer girls choices about activities they would like to do as a troop.
Daisies Need Structure
Daisies need to understand how decisions are made and will need a set of rules to follow. Establish a structure for your circle right from the beginning. If a girl wants to contribute to the conversation, let her know that she must raise her hand.
The Brownie Ring
The Brownie Ring is the planning portion of troop meetings, where decisions for the troop are made. In the ring, girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in a large group discussion. The Brownie Ring can begin or end a meeting and is recommended to only last 5–15 minutes.
Sit in a Ring
All girls sit in the Brownie Ring so everyone can see and hear.
Let Girls Try Moderating
A girl ringleader may begin to lead discussions—with leader guidance—and brainstorm ideas and activities for the troop. Be sure that all the girls are getting this leadership opportunity at some point throughout the year.
Brownies Need Structure
Brownies need to understand how decisions are made and will need a set of rules to follow. Establish a structure for your discussion time such as:
using a “talking buddy”—pick an object and the person holding it is the only one who should talk.
teaching the quiet sign—when someone raises their right hand, everyone must do the same and become quiet.
establishing the troop rule that nobody criticizes any ideas that anyone offers to the group.
Leaders can prepare a list of choices for girls to choose from or have the girls generate ideas themselves. If you gather suggestions from the group, you can record the suggestions and consolidate the ideas to what’s feasible and realistic after the meeting. Later, offer a list of options that came from all of their ideas so they can discuss and decide as a group.
Pictures, charts, Girl Scout Journey books, and other materials are great decision-making aids for Brownies.
The Patrol System
The Patrol System is one of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In the Patrol System, girls learn communication and decision-making skills by participating in smaller group discussions and then selecting a lead to represent their group.
Divide Girls Into Groups
Girls are divided into small groups of four to six, called “patrols.” Each patrol can choose a patrol name, a symbol, a patrol lead, and assistant patrol leaders.
Members of the patrol rotate as leaders so that everyone has an opportunity throughout the year.
Court of Honor
Each patrol leader represents her group in a Court of Honor consisting of other patrol leads. The Court of Honor meets with an adult leader who helps guide decision-making.
Patrol leaders communicate all decisions made in the Court of Honor back to their patrols.
The Executive Board
The Executive Board is one of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In the Executive Board, girls rely on one leadership team for the whole troop, which is called an “Executive Board.”
Elect the Board
Girls should elect board positions such as president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer for your troop. The number of officers and positions may vary, depending on the needs of your troop.
Hold Board Meetings
The board holds meetings outside of regular troop meetings to discuss troop matters. The board should report to the troop on a regular basis regarding decisions made, and most importantly, seek feedback and input from the troop before final decisions are made.
The Town Meeting System
The Town Meeting System is one of three common forms of government used for older Girl Scout troops. In this system, there is no formalized government structure. The girls discuss and make decisions as an entire troop.
Have a Girl Moderator
This system requires a girl moderator to ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak and provide input. Girls should be leading the discussion with very little help from the leaders, so it’s especially important to establish guidelines for discussion.
Tips for All Grade Levels
No matter the age of your troop, remember the following:
Come to meetings prepared.
Establish a discussion process.
Record/document discussions to help with the planning and implementing of the girls’ ideas.
Use troop government to evaluate activities with the girls to help make their Girl Scout experience and activities more meaningful.
Have Patience and Adjust as Needed
The first few meetings may not be perfect and the discussions may not run smoothly or go as planned—experience and mistakes will shape how girls learn troop government and its benefits.
Adjust how your government functions based on the needs of you, your girls, and the troop as a whole. Through trial-and-error, you’ll find a system that works best for your girls!