December 2016: Checklist for Success

Need a refresher from last month? Check out the November Checklist!

Need to download a copy of the December Checklist? Click here!

December At-A-Glance

Upcoming – For Girls, Troops, and Families]

Winter Events:
Troops and Girl Scout families can view and register for events around the council from the Events Calendar on our website. You can also find program kits and field trips online!
Be sure to check out upcoming programs near you:

Gold Award Training: 

  • Senior and Ambassador troops – are your girls ready to take on earning their Gold Award? Be sure to take a required online Gold Award training, which occur every 3rd Tuesday of the month. The next training is scheduled for December 20 at 7:00 p.m. Register on our Event List!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service: 

  • Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day – January 16 – a day ON, not a day off! Many businesses and schools will be closed that day, which makes it the perfect day for a troop or service unit to come together for a day of serving your community. Need some ideas for service projects? Be sure to check out our Girl Scouts Give Back post on The Bridge!

Volunteer Resources

Circle of Creativity:

  • There’s still time to attend a Circle of Creativity event this year!  Check out our Event List online to see if there is one left in your area.

First Aid/CPR

  • Do you need to get your First Aid/CPR certification? We just scheduled a new training in Des Moines on December 17!  Check out the details and register on our website.

Cookie Training

  • The 2017 Cookie Program is fast approaching! Be sure to attend the upcoming Cookie Trainings, happening first week of December. (Recorded versions will be available if unable to attend live versions.) You can also find links to register for the trainings below on our website at > Cookies > For Cookie Sellers > Resources. And keep an eye out on The Bridge for another resource round-up post for the Cookie Program!

Circle of Excellence

  • We want to celebrate you! We’re planning one big Circle of Excellence event on April 22 to honor the amazing accomplishments of volunteers and girls this year. Keep an eye on your mailbox for a special invite after the holidays!

Building Girl Scouts

Volunteer Invite-a-Friend

  • Did you know? Now through December 15, GSUSA is offering an awesome promotion if you recruit a friend to start a new Daisy, Brownie, or Junior troop:
    • You get $50 to spend at Girl Scouts’ official online store—sweet!
    • Your friend gets awesome resources (a $50 value!) to help them get their troop up and running!
  • Learn more on our Volunteer Invite-a-Friend Bridge post, and fill out this form when your friend has become a leader!

Winter Membership Campaign

  • We’re also doing our own “cool” winter membership promotion here at GSGI! Here are the basics – keep an eye out for a Bridge post on December 1 with more info:
    • If your troop adds a new girl or volunteer between December 1 and January 31, you’ll be entered into a drawing for five $50 gift cards (that’s one entry per new member)!

Your Girl Scout Shop

Holiday Office Closures

  • All GSGI Leadership Centers will close at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 23, and re-open on Tuesday, January 3. As we get further into winter, be sure to check our Hours & Locations page for office closures before you drop by to see us!

Shop Survey

  • We want to hear from you! Take our Shop Survey to let us know your thoughts on our hours and more (you can also access the survey by visiting and clicking “Shop” in the upper right corner of the page).

Change Lives AND Win a Prize with our Winter Membership Campaign!

We’re doing a “cool” winter membership promotion here at GSGI! Will you help us spread even more Girl Scout cheer this holiday season (and enter to win prizes in the process)?

The Basics:

For every girl and adult volunteer you add to your troop between December 1 and January 31, you’ll earn an entry into a drawing for one of five $50 gift cards!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How can I open my troop up for additional spots on the Opportunity Catalog?

You can open up more spots in your troop by filling out the Troop Catalog Update Form on our website.

  • How can I promote the openings in my troop within my community?

If you’d like flyers to post around town or send out through the schools, you can request them on our website through the Recruitment Flyer Request Form.

  • When will the winners be announced? 

We’ll do the drawings LIVE on Facebook after the promotion is over! The date is TBD, but keep an eye out for more information.

  • Do I need to do anything once the new girls/adults have registered? Or will you pull that information for me?

You don’t need to do anything! We’ll pull a report at the end of the winter membership drive that will tell us how many new girls and adult volunteers you added to your troop between December 1 and January 31.

  • Is there a maximum number of girls/adults we can add to our troop?

As long as you’re within the ratio of girls to adults outlined in Volunteer Essentials, the sky is the limit!

  • Are there any limitations on where we can choose the gift card to be from?

The gift card should be used for troop supplies, outings, celebrations, etc. Therefore, it is limited to those establishments and companies that are appropriate for girls and families.

  • What if a girl or adult registers before January 31, but is still waiting to hear back about financial aid after the deadline?

They will qualify! We won’t keep a new girl or adult from counting if you’re waiting on us!

  • What if I added new girls/adults earlier this fall?

Thank you for sharing the Girl Scout experience with new girls and/or adults! The dates for this campaign are December 1 through January 31, so any girl or adult with a new membership dated within that time frame qualify.

P.S. – Do you know about the Volunteer Invite-a-Friend initiative? You can find out more on the Bridge. For each friend you invite to start a NEW Daisy, Brownie or Junior troop, you receive $50 to spend in the online Girl Scout Official Store and your friend receives $50 in new troop resources!

Want to participate? We’re here for you. Email us at!

Your 2017 Cookie Program Guide

This post will be your one-stop Cookie Program resource! You’ll definitely want to bookmark this page — we’ll continually update the post with the most up-to-date information to help your 2017 Cookie Program go smoothly.

Get Ready with Cookie Program Training:

Service Unit Product Chair (SUPC) Training: This training is for Service Unit Product Chairs responsible for the 2017 Cookie Program. We’ll go over the program format, share updates and leave time for questions at the end!

Juliette Parent/Guardian Training: This training is designed for Juliette parent/guardians who are new to the Cookie Program. We will discuss definitions, what girls should learn from the program, how to facilitate it and council policies.

Troop Cookie Program Refresh: This training is designed for returning volunteers who will be acting in the Troop Product Manager role. We will discuss just the changes in this year’s cookie program in an abbreviated hour long training.

Troop Cookie Program Basics: This training is designed for new volunteers who will be acting in the Troop Product Manager role. We will discuss definitions, what girls should learn from the program, how to facilitate it and council policies.

Select your preferred date and time (below) from our registration drop-down.

  • December 8 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • December 9 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • December 10 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Cookie Program Resources

This is your one stop shop for all things Cookies. Updated guides for the 2017 program will be listed here so you get everything you need in one place!

Shout Outs – Links to all Shout Out Product Program Newsletters will be added to this Bridge post.

Forms & Agreements

Program Guides

  • Volunteer Guide – This guide is for Troop Product Managers and Service Unit Product Chairs to manage the Cookie Program. It includes important dates, deadlines and helpful information to start the program.
  • Family Guide – A resource for families who have a Girl Scout in a troop participating in the Cookie Program.
  • Juliette Guide – A resource for Juliette (individually registered girls) and their families who are participating in the Cookie Program.
  • Cookie Dough, Munch Money, and Program Credit Policies – Information on how Cookie Dough, Munch Money, and Juliette Program Credits can be earned and used through the Product Programs.
  • More to come! Check back soon.

Snap+ Guides and Videos

  • Mark your calendar for Snap+ Training January 4-7!
  • Snap+ Introduction Video
  • More helpful guides and videos to come! Check back soon.

Interactive Tools

  • Check back soon for links to this year’s interactive tools.

Family Resources

Be sure to check out our “Family Resources” section on the Resources page of our website for some great info to give your troop families!

Keep an eye out for more great information and resources soon. Happy Cookie Season!

Volunteer Invite-a-Friend: Cool Incentives for You and a Friend!

Did you know?

  • 96% of girls have tried at least one new thing as a Girl Scout—what a confidence booster!
  • 93% of girls agree that Girl Scouts helped them learn leadership skills—her future just got brighter!
  • 73% of girls improved their willingness to persist through challenges because of Girl Scouts—she will never back down!

Every day, as a Girl Scout volunteer, you help girls do all this and so much more. This November, you can double that impact by inviting a friend to join you on this life-changing adventure. Not only will you be giving girls another hero they can depend on to help them find their spark, but you and your friend also get a fun prize!

That’s right. Now through December 15, invite your friend to volunteer , and once they’ve formed a Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie, or Junior troop:

  • You get $50 to spend at Girl Scouts’ official online store—sweet!
  • Your friend gets awesome resources (a $50 value!) to help them get their troop up and running—so cool!
  • Plus, when you double the friends, you double your prize… $100 for you and a Volunteer Resource Pack for each friend—awesome!

The best part is girls get one more guiding star to cheer them on, expose them to new and unique experiences, and prepare them for a lifetime of leadership (and fun!).

Once your friend joins as a Girl Scout leader and starts a new troop, you’re ready to redeem your reward.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • When does Volunteer Invite-a-Friend happen? 

The Volunteer-Invite-a-Friend promotion runs from November 15 to December 15, 2016!

  • How many new volunteers can be recruited during the promotion?

Volunteers can invite up to two new troop leaders to receive two $50 coupon codes to the online shop (one per new troop leader). Of course, you can invite more, but you will only be able to receive a total of $100 in coupon codes.  

  • Can I recruit a new co-leader for an existing troop and get the $50 for the online shop?

No – the goal of this promotion is to start new Daisy, Brownie, and Junior troops, so this does not count for the promotion. But we’re all for recruiting new co-leaders!

  • If I invite a friend to start a new troop, and it turns out the new troop leader is already an existing volunteer or has been a troop leader in the past, are they eligible?

Yes! As long as a NEW troop has been created, you and the new troop leader are both eligible.

  • What if the new troop is multiple levels?

If the newly-created troop is multi-level, the promotion still applies as long as at least one of the levels encompassed in the troop is Daisy, Brownie, or Junior!

  • What steps does the new volunteer have to get through by Dec. 15 to qualify?

To qualify, the newly-recruited volunteer must complete their adult Girl Scout regsitration within our council, and pass their background check, by December 15, 2016.

Have any additional questions? We’re here for you. Get answers at!

Please review official Terms and Conditions.

Girl Scouts Give Back – Holiday Edition

The holiday season is the perfect time for Girl Scouts to gather and give back to their communities! From caroling at nursing homes, to holding food drives to help families in need, to gathering presents for other children in their town, Girl Scouts make a real difference in the lives of others.

If your troop or service unit is looking for new ideas this holiday season, we have a few ways you can brainstorm, find new opportunities, and hear from other leaders!

Volunteer Roundtables

Each month, we hold online “roundtables” by phone to give volunteers the opportunity to collaborate with other leaders across the council, and hear about tips and resources from GSGI staff.

In November, we have two roundtables specifically about service projects! If one of the dates and times below works for you, we’ll send you the call-in information as soon as you register (just click on the date):

If you can’t make either of those times, you can access the recordings of the service roundtables (or any of the other past roundtables) in our Online Training Portal! Once you’ve created a login, simply click on “Roundtables” under the “Available Courses” section, then click “Enrol.” Then you can view all of the available recordings!

Service Project Chat – Facebook Notes

On our council Facebook page, we’ve created a set of regional notes where troops, service units, and community organizations can chat about ideas, projects, and service needs in your area:

November 2016: Checklist for Success

Need a refresher from last month? Check out the October Checklist!

Need to download a copy of the November Checklist? Click here!

November At-A-Glance

Upcoming – For Girls, Troops, and Families

Fall/Winter Events:

    • Troops and Girl Scout families can view and register for events around the council from the Events Calendar on our website. You can also find program kits and field trips online!
    • Join us for the Pre-Show Dinner Party for Disney On Ice on November 25! With a uniquely designed Girl Scout Princess Adventure passport, girls will meet and mingle with Girl Scout sisters from near and far, sing-a-long with a live music performance during the pizza party, learn princess etiquettes, take a picture with a Disney character, and create her very own flower crown to wear for the evening!
    • Plan ahead for the holidays by registering for Winter Day Camp at Camp Tanglefoot on December 27. We’re gearing up for sledding, building snow-Girl Scouts, making snow angels, snow painting, songs, games, crafts, Girl Scout badge work, and a campfire with s’mores!

Program Aide Training:

    • Do you have Cadettes who would like to share their knowledge and develop leadership skills? Encourage them to sign up for the next Program Aide Training in Sioux City on November 5.

Volunteer Resources

Circle of Creativity:

    • Don’t miss out on attending a Circle of Creativity near you! Choose from 8 sessions scheduled across the council in November/December. At these unique events, you’ll connect with your fellow Girl Scout leaders, hear from GSGI staff and share best practices with each other.

Virtual Roundtables:

    • Our virtual Roundtables are held each month by conference call. Register for the date and time that works for you, and call in from work or home to chat with other leaders about ideas and best practices!
      • November 2 & 3  – Service Project Roundtable
      • November 8 & 15  – Junior Leader Roundtable
      • Check out the calendar for more sessions

Program Kits:

    • Did you know that we offer program kits (many of them downloadable) for you and your troop to use? We even have a brand new Juliette Heritage Patch program, just in time for Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday on October 31!

Volunteer Toolkit Enhancements:

    • The Volunteer Toolkit is a great resource to help you plan and prepare your troop year! GSUSA just rolled out a few exciting enhancements that make it even better, including support for multi-level troops, improved search functionality, and more flexibility in how you organize your meeting content and dates.

Girl Scout Q & A

Q: What forms do we need to complete for troop activities?
A: Always start with the Event/Activity/Trip Checklist for all of your planning steps! If you’re planning an event that falls into one of these categories, an application for activity approval is required before you start your journey.

  • Your troop or group will be away for one or more nights.
  • You’ll be riding horses.
  • You’ll be doing water activities, or swimming at a location without a staff lifeguard.

Learn more in our Bridge post about troop and service unit activities!

Q: What’s the deal with Girl Scout Activity Insurance?
A: Every registered Girl Scout is covered by a basic accident insurance plan. The plan is designed to help pay medical expenses if an accident occurs during a supervised Girl Scout activity. Additional insurance options are available for travel, events lasting more than 2 nights, and activities where non-members will be present.

Learn more in our Girl Scout insurance guide on the Bridge!

Jump-Start Your Motivation at “Circle of Creativity!”

Whew, it seems like the year just started, but we’re already well into planning a new year, and the Cookie Program is coming up in just a few months. Need a boost to get you through? We want to help, with our Circle of Creativity events – designed with you in mind! At these unique events, you’ll connect with your fellow Girl Scout leaders, hear from GSGI staff and share best practices with each other.

Just like our Circle of Success events from this summer, you’ll get the chance to customize your experience with 3 rounds of break-out sessions, each with options suiting almost any volunteer role (see below for more info).

Locations are spread around the council – eight in all – so find the one nearest you and register for a day of Girl Scout fun!

What types of sessions will be available? Here’s a roundup of the options you’ll have for your breakout sessions:

Color Me Program

Join our program staff as we play a chocolaty game while getting to the heart of what girls like, what they want, and what they need to be successful Girl Scouts. From trips and council events, to service unit events and online registration — we’ll talk about it all & give you a fun takeaway!

Parents to Volunteers: Savvy and Creative Ways to Encourage Involvement

Do you want better parent involvement in your troop?   Do you struggle with getting parent help at your meetings?  Come and learn new strategies for getting parents more involved and sharing their talents/careers/activities with the girls.  We also look forward to hearing about your successes.

Pins, Petunias, and Poems…Oh My! – Appreciating Your Outstanding Volunteers

Everyone likes a little recognition! Learn fun, inventive ideas to recognize those outstanding troop leaders and volunteers in your life.  We will also discuss how to improve the nominations for the council-wide awards – such as Outstanding Leader and Rookie of the Year – using the stories you already know.

Rallies, Contests, and 100 Years of Cookies!

During this session, volunteers will share ideas on how to run a successful Cookie Rally, and learn more about contests and promotions for this year’s Cookie Program. We’ll also talk about Troop 100 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of girls selling cookies!

“Speed-Meeting” for Service Unit Managers

Unsure of who the volunteers are in your neighboring areas? Not sure how you can connect? This session is made for our Service Unit Managers (SUM) to help you get to know other SUMs in your region – quickly & effectively! At the end, we’ll take time to discuss some service unit support measures for this year, and take suggestions about how we can improve our efforts.

Spring into Spring Celebrations

Join us as we look at creative ways to celebrate the Girl Scout holidays that happen each spring.  From World Thinking Day to Court of Awards, we will discover new resources and share ideas.  Come prepared to awaken the excitement of spring in your troop!

Traditions: Incorporating Songs & Games

Whether you’re new to Girl Scouts or a returning volunteer looking to get back to the roots, this session is for you! Learn traditional and modern Girl Scout songs and games with our staff. We’ll then work together to consider how you can introduce them into meetings and events with your girls.

What’s New with Cookies!

We’ll give an introduction to the program, review what’s new for the 2017 year, and even have you sample the newest treat – the Girl Scout S’mores™ cookie! This session is for new and returning volunteers alike. (Note: This is not a full training on the program, simply a sneak peek.)

Still need convincing? Here are three more great reasons to attend Circle of Creativity:

  1. Many opportunities for prizes and surprises!
  2. Connect with a new Girl Scout sister from outside of your community.
  3. Spark a new idea or two to incorporate with your troop!

We hope to see you at Circle of Creativity soon. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for our council-wide “Circle of Excellence” event on Saturday, April 22 to recognize and appreciate all volunteers!