GSNorCal Volunteer Essentials

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Quick Links to VOLUNTEERING Chapter Topics: Volunteering With Girl Scouts | Becoming A Volunteer | Adult Screening | Volunteer Management Policies | Learning Opportunities | Support | New Troop Checklist | Volunteer Toolkit | Appreciation |


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VOLUNTEERING WITH GIRL SCOUTS

You make the difference - change the world one girl at a time and become a GS volunteerNo matter how you volunteer with Girl Scouts, your investment of time and energy will pay back tenfold! With your help, girls will be able to identify issues they care about and work with one another to resolve them. Your interests and life experiences make you the perfect person to be a new kind of partner for girls, someone who creates a safe environment where they can work together and each girl feels free to work toward her highest aspirations. Have no doubt: You, and nearly one million other volunteers like you, are helping girls make a lasting impact on the world!


Your Role as a Girl Scout Volunteer

Your most important role as a Girl Scout volunteer is to be excited about everything this opportunity affords you: a chance to help girls succeed, play a critical role in their lives, and watch them blossom! You also want to be someone who enjoys the activities you’ll be embarking on with the girls—whether you’re leading a troop, volunteering at a camp, working with girls who are traveling, or partnering with girls on a short-term series on a topic that interests you.

You'll introduce girls to experiences that will change their lives and form life-long memories that will be treasured. In More than ‘Smores: Success and Surprises in Girl Scouts Outdoor Experiences, the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) has described the role of Adult Volunteers:

“Because everything girls do outdoors in Girl Scouts must be supported by an adult, these results speak indirectly to adult volunteers and their preparation.  To get girls outdoors more regularly, Girl Scouts need adult volunteers who encourage and promote outdoor experiences. Communicating to volunteers and parents that casual outdoor experiences are effective ways of giving girls opportunities to build competencies and try new things may be the key to opening the gateway for all Girl Scouts to participate in the outdoors on a more regular basis.” (2014, p.27)

As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’ll serve as a partner and role model to girls. You’ll also work closely with a co-volunteer, because two adults must be present at all times when working with girls, and at least one of those volunteers must be female and not related to the other adult. This is an important distinction that bears repeating: Men can serve as troop volunteers, but an adult female who is not related to the other volunteer must be present at all times, and only in cases of emergency is a girl to be alone with only one volunteer. Remember to also check the adult-to-girl ratios in the “Safety-Wise” section of this guide.

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Your Responsibilities
Your other responsibilities as a Girl Scout volunteer include:

  • Accepting the Girl Scout Promise and Law
  • Completing the appropriate learning modules for your role.
  • Be a currently registered Girl Scout member and ensure the girls you're working with are registered Girl Scout members.
  • Process and complete registration forms and other paperwork, such as permission forms.
  • Complete background checks regularly (every three years, annually if volunteering at a resident camp), and be currently cleared as a volunteer.
  • Understanding the Three Keys to Leadership that are the basis of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience: Discover, Connect, and Take Action
  • Sharing your knowledge, experience, and skills with a positive and flexible approach
  • Working in a partnership with girls so that their activities are girl-led, allow them to learn by doing, and allow for cooperative (group) learning; you’ll also partner with other volunteers and council staff for support and guidance
  • Organizing fun, interactive, girl-led activities that address relevant issues and match girls’ interests and needs
  • Providing guidance and information regarding Girl Scout group meetings with girls’ parents or guardians on a regular and ongoing basis through a variety of tools, including email, phone calls, newsletters, blogs, other forms of social media, and any other method you choose
  • Ensure health and safety of the girls
  • Communicating effectively and delivering clear, organized, and vibrant presentations or information to an individual or the group
  • Overseeing careful record-keeping the funds that girls raise with honesty and integrity
  • Maintaining a close connection to your service unit volunteer support team as well as your council
  • Facilitating a safe experience for every girl

Above all, though, don't ever try to go it alone! Remember to call on your volunteer support team. This team can help you observe a meeting, assign you a buddy, help with registration forms, assist you with opening a bank account, plan your first meeting, and so on. Also plan to attend service unit leader meetings—usually held several times throughout the year—that provide excellent opportunities to learn from other volunteers. [GIRLS & ADULTS: Friends & Family Network (Adults)]

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BECOMING A VOLUNTEER

Volunteering for Girl Scouts will be one of the most satisfying and gratifying things you will ever do. No matter what your role, the place to start is with the five steps below:

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Volunteer Interest Form

Complete the Volunteer Interest Form. Go to www.GSNorCal.org and click on "Volunteer".

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Select Your Role and Register as a Member

Search the Opportunity Catalog and select the opportunity that is right for you. Either enter a specific troop number you’ve been given, or enter your zip code and choose from the offerings near you. Select unsure if you don’t find what you’re looking for or would like additional assistance.


If you’d like to learn more about different roles, login to our Volunteer Learning Portal at training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org

Once you’ve chosen your role, you’ll pay your membership fee, and agree to the Volunteer Management Policies.

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Adult Screening

Enter your required information into the secure system. All information you provide will be treated confidentially. Note that you won't receive information to complete your background screening until you select a volunteer role above.

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Welcome Video

Watch the 4 minute welcome video for an introduction and overview about Girl Scouting.

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Adult Learning Courses

Click on your role in the Volunteer Learning Portal to take the modules designed just for you. training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org


Volunteer Interest Form
When you complete the Volunteer Interest Form, you will provide your basic contact information.

Select Your Role
You will either:

  • Provide the troop number of the troop you wish to join. Once you enter the troop number you've been given, you will choose the role you'd like. The choices you'll have are:
    • Troop Cookie Manager
    • Troop Fall Product Manager
    • Troop Friends and Family Network - choose this one if you will be driving or helping out occasionally by supervising girls, preparing a meeting or two, or chaperoning outings or camping trips, or are unsure exactly what you'll be doing, but know you'll help out with the troop
    • Troop Leader
    • Unsure
  • Search the Opportunity Catalog for the right role for you. You'll be able to specify your zip code and opportunities within certain mileage from you.

After you specify your role, you'll pay your membership dues to GSUSA and become an adult member.

Terms & Conditions

GSNorCal’s terms and conditions inform parent/caregivers and prospective volunteers of GSNorCal’s Volunteer Management Policies and the volunteer’s obligation to self-disclose any fact or circumstance that would call into question being entrusted with the supervision, guidance, and care of young people, as well as inform them that their membership registration is non-refundable and does not guarantee placement.

Registration Questions

Who must register?
mom and girl at computerAll adults who are doing anything with a troop need to register as volunteer members and complete a background check. In Girl Scouts, it’s safety first. Volunteer roles include the following:

  • Troop Leader
  • Troop Friends and Family Network
  • Troop Cookie Manager
  • Troop Fall Product Sale Manager

Registered adult members are automatically covered with the Girl Scout Activity Accident Insurance for the entire membership year (Plan 1). It is recommended that all adults who will participate in any meeting or activities be registered. If an adult is not a registered member and going to attend an outing then the troop/group must purchase additional insurance for each event where unregistered adults or children (including siblings) are present.

Can unregistered adults or children (tagalongs) attend meetings or events?
Yes. If an adult attends a meeting or activity as a visitor (e.g. guest speaker or audience member) and is not providing supervision in the adult-to-girl ratios, they need not be registered. This person would not be covered under Girl Scout insurance, and this should be made clear to them. The same is also true of children (siblings or friends) attending an activity as a non-participating visitor (such as an audience member at a ceremony.) If the child will be included in any activities, additional insurance must be purchased.

It is the responsibility of the adult volunteer team of any troop/group to ensure that all adults or children who participate in Girl Scout activities (including siblings) are either:

  • Registered members so that they will automatically be covered under the Girl Scout Activity Accident Insurance
  • Or, any unregistered children or adults participating in the meeting or activity are covered by purchasing additional activity insurance (information about purchasing this very reasonably priced insurance is found here).

Can an unregistered adult attend an overnight event or activity?
No. All adults attending any overnight event or activity must be registered and complete an adult screening.This includes family camp.

How often do I need to register?
Adult volunteers must register each year, or can become a lifetime member. Girl members must also register each year. Registered members are covered by Girl Scout insurance and can serve as Girl Scout volunteers.

What if I change my name or contact information?
Should you begin using a hyphenated last name, change your last name, or change your contact information, it is necessary to notify the council. For name changes, please email info@GirlScoutsNorCal.org To change your contact information, please log in to your membership community account at www.GSNorCal.org and click on My GS or email info@GirlScoutsNorCal.org

What if I don’t have a computer (or smart phone or tablet) and cannot register online?
If you will need to complete your registration using paper forms, the girl and adult membership forms are found here www.GSNorCal.org/forms (search using ‘membership’) along with the additional form needed for the paper registration process (Troop Registration Summary).

Adult Screening

Who must be screened?

Before any adult (regardless of citizenship status) will volunteer with GSNorCal she or he must complete their adult screening. All adults who are doing anything with a troop need to register as volunteer members and complete a background check. In Girl Scouts, it’s safety first. Volunteer roles include the following:
· Troop Leader
· Troop Friends and Family Network
· Troop Cookie Manager
· Troop Fall Product Sale Manager

Possible Outcomes of Adult Screening Process

At the time of the adult screening, volunteers will be either:

  • eligible to serve as Girl Scout volunteers,
  • or disqualified from serving in any volunteer position.

If the council becomes aware of omissions or inaccurate information on documents or a subsequent conviction of a crime, depending on the severity of the crime, clearance may be revoked at any time and a volunteer can be removed from duties until the situation is resolved.

Any Girl Scout volunteer who is formally accused of, charged with, or under investigation by authorities for any automatically disqualifying offense (or offenses which might result in disqualification at the discretion of GSNorCal), will not be allowed to volunteer until disposition of the charge. The following procedures will be followed. A volunteer so accused is required to:

  • Suspend all Girl Scout activities and duties until the matter has been resolved.
  • Turn over all monies, materials, and records to a designated representative of the council until the matter is resolved.

The accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Confidentiality

GSNorCal has taken great care to ensure that the background screening process is completely secure. Our vendor uses state-of-the-art technology and adheres to the highest standards to ensure that all information is secure.

Your sensitive personal information is never transmitted to GSNorCal. All information that is received in the volunteer screening process will be treated confidentially. Your clearance status (whether eligible or disqualified) will be shared only with staff or volunteers working directly with the person, only as needed. The reasons for a disqualification will always remain confidential.

The reports only come to GSNorCal and not to any other agencies or organizations. The information is confidential and cannot be used against you, other than to deny your application to work as a volunteer. Girl Scouts of Northern California will not report any information, including citizenship status, to any government agencies.

People who are undocumented may be concerned about the screening process. It is not required that our volunteers be citizens, and citizenship/documentation status is not considered in screening our volunteers. We do require all volunteers to complete an adult screening. We believe that all of our girl members deserve the same protection, and an adult screening is required of all of our volunteers.

How do I complete the background check?
To generate an email to complete their background check, a member logs in to their own My GS Community (click on the My GS link at the top of the page www.GSNorCal.org) and selects a volunteer role (if unsure, select Friends & Family Network). Once a member has selected a volunteer role, they will then receive an email from our trusted vendor, Verified Volunteers, with a personal link to submit the electronic background check for Girl Scouts of Northern California. (If you had used the link in your email and too much time had passed, or you navigated away from the Verified Volunteers page, simply click on the link in the email again to ensure that the background check is connected with Girl Scouts of Northern California.) Verified Volunteers will send an email confirming that you have submitted your information when you complete that step (this email is not the same as confirmation of your approval to volunteer). NOTE: If you haven't selected a volunteer role, you won't receive the email from Verified Volunteers.

How much does adult screening cost?
The price can vary if your drivers license is out of the state of California, or if you live in certain counties, but starts at $11.50. If the background check fees will cause financial hardship for your family you can request financial assistance. When submitting your background check through our vendor Verified Volunteers you may elect to pay some or zero dollars, opting for the council to cover the screening fees and can process your background check at little or no cost to you.

Who must complete adult screening this year?
All new volunteers and renewing volunteers who completed the electronic background check in 2013-2014 or before are required to complete adult screening this year.

How often do I need to complete adult screening?
Adult screenings must be repeated every three years during renewal (screening for resident camp volunteers must be repeated annually, consistent with American Camp Association requirements).

What if I completed my screening by fingerprinting?
There is no fingerprinting option for screening, however, volunteers who previously completed their background check by fingerprinting with GSNorCal do not have to complete their screening again if there has been no lapse in membership.

I’d like to complete my adult screening using fingerprinting.
The council no longer offers a fingerprinting option for adult screenings, but those who previously completed fingerprinting will not have their screening expire as long as there has been no lapse in membership.

Who ensures that screening is completed?
The troop or group’s adult volunteer team makes sure that adults are properly registered and screened. You can check the troop tab in your member profile (click on MyGS on www.GSNorCal.org). Many groups ask the adults to register and complete their screening when the girls are registered as members to avoid disappointment (if they try to complete their adult screening at the last minute before a certain activity and cannot complete the process quickly enough).

The adult volunteer team must also ensure that girls are always supervised by an adequate number of registered and screened adults (minimum numbers per Adult-to-Girl ratios). [SAFETY-WISE: Adult-to-Girl Ratios]Those adults providing supervision should be aware of which other adults are also registered and screened and providing supervision (and which aren’t). Unscreened adult visitors may never be counted in the minimum adult-to-girl ratios for supervision, nor should they be present without sufficient numbers of registered and screened adults who are supervising the girls. Unregistered or unscreened adults may not attend overnight activities. 

I’ve had an adult screening done for another organization. Can I ask that organization to share my results with Girl Scouts of Northern California?
No. State law prohibits organizations from sharing information with other agencies. However, there are some screening vendors (including our vendor, Verified Volunteers) who can share your screening results with multiple organizations with your authorization. If you believe that your background check might be shared, contact info@GirlScoutsNorCal.org for further assistance.

Must all drivers complete adult screening?
Yes. Drivers are the only adults who are ever alone with girls. Driving records are part of the screening process, and it is important to take steps to ensure the safety of girls.

We will have an astronomer come to a meeting to talk about constellations. Must that person be registered and screened?
No. The minimum number of registered and screened adults must be present at all times and will provide supervision for the girls while the astronomer is visiting.

May unscreened parents visit during meetings or attend outings with the troop/group?
Unscreened adults may not attend overnight activities, but as long as the minimum number of screened adults will provide supervision for the girls at all times (and are aware of who the other screened adults providing supervision are), it is acceptable for meetings or day trips to have unscreened adults present as visitors.

Are there people who cannot attend Girl Scout activities?
Yes. Anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime or crimes against persons, including registered sex offenders, may not attend Girl Scout activities where girls are present.

Welcome Video

When your registration and adult screening is complete, you will receive a link to the four minute video. Or watch it now:

Adult Learning Courses

There are required and/or optional learning courses available for nearly every role you might take in Girl Scouting, many online. Be sure to take the courses that are required for your role. If you want to learn more, there are many optional courses with all the information you need or want.

Learn more about the available adult learning and support at GSNorCal. [VOLUNTEERING WITH GIRL SCOUTS: Adult Learning and Support]

Take adult learning courses: training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org

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VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT POLICIES

Girl Scouts of Northern California is governed by the policies of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) as stated in the Blue Book of Basic Documents 2015 edition and the Volunteer Management Policies stated below. The goal of the Girl Scouts of Northern California is to provide beneficial and safe program for girls. The Girl Scouts of Northern California Board of Directors has adopted the following as policy:

Safety
Volunteers and participants in the Girl Scout program should familiarize themselves with Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints, which outline the guidelines and checkpoints for maintaining a safe environment in which to conduct Girl Scout activities. All activities should be conducted following the Safety Activity Checkpoints and the guidelines listed in the Girl Scouts of Northern California Volunteer Essentials, or following state or federal laws, whichever is most stringent. Where no specific activity checkpoints or laws are stated, the guidelines of Girl Scouts of the USA and the policies and procedures of Girl Scouts of Northern California are recognized as the authority on the specific activity as an acceptable practice.

Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action
Girl Scouts of Northern California seeks to offer volunteer opportunities to all adults, age 18 and up, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, veteran status, citizenship, pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical condition, marital status or any other classification protected by federal, state or local laws or ordinances. Adult volunteers are selected on the basis of ability to perform the volunteer tasks, willingness and availability to participate in training for the position and acceptance of the principles and beliefs of Girl Scouting. All girls and adults who meet the membership requirements will not be denied access to the program. Annually we review our Affirmative Action Program to monitor progress toward our council goal. Girl Scouts of Northern California is committed to the Affirmative Action policies of GSUSA and our local Affirmative Action Policy as set forth in this paragraph. The council will endeavor, through targeted recruitment efforts, to enroll and train adult volunteers of culturally, racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. The council is committed to assuring equal opportunity and equal consideration to all applicants. In most cases, a written agreement will be completed at the time of appointment, which will include a term of appointment, specific expectations for tasks, and signatures of the volunteer and her/his supervisor.

Girl Scout volunteers who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are treated no differently than those with any other catastrophic illness. They are subject to Girl Scout volunteer policies and practices in the same manner as other volunteers.

For purposes of transgender volunteers, the Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints apply based on the volunteer’s most consistent gender expression.  If an adult does not identify as female, the same rules will apply to that volunteer as apply to male volunteers.

Male volunteers are welcomed to the organization to serve in accordance with standards established in the Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints. Girl Scouts of Northern California believes that female role models are especially important to girls as they develop the decision making and planning abilities they will need as women. Therefore, when men serve in troop/group leadership roles, they do so as assistant leaders or co-leaders with female leaders.

Girl Scouts values diversity and inclusiveness, and our staff and volunteers are representative of our diverse communities. Girl Scout membership does not discriminate on any basis; including sexual orientation and gender identity. There are established standards that do not permit adults to advocate or promote a personal lifestyle or sexual orientation, nor do we recruit accordingly. Adults working with girls must adhere to our firm standards relating to appropriate conduct, and we comply with all federal and state human resource regulations.

With guidance from volunteers and their parents, girls themselves are expected to respect the values and beliefs of other girls and refrain from advocating or promoting a personal lifestyle or sexual orientation. We believe that sexual orientation is a private matter for girls and their families to address together. In relation to gender identity, if a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Northern California welcomes her as a Girl Scout. GSNorCal will work with the family to get the child involved in Girl Scouts and will provide training and support, as necessary, to our staff and volunteers to ensure the child’s Girl Scout experience is a positive one.

Inclusion and Accomodation
Girl Scouts is inclusive. We support troop leaders to accommodate girls of all abilities and support each girl to make the most of her Girl Scout experience. We work with troop leaders to identify reasonable accomodations that can be made to meet the needs of each girl. We also understand that each troop leader’s ability to provide such reasonable accomodations may vary given all of the circumstances of their troop.

It is always our preference to find ways to support the troop leader, while accommodating the girl. Occasionally, a troop leader determines that they are not able to meet the needs of one or more girls in their troop. A troop leader in this situation should contact their service unit Leader Support Manager, or other designated service unit volunteer, for guidance and support.

If the troop leader and LSM are not able to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all parties involved, then the troop leader and/or LSM should involve GSNorCal staff to resolve the matter in accordance with the GSNorCal Grievance Process included below.

A member of the GSNorCal staff will evaluate the circumstances and provide resources and support to help resolve the issues. If GSNorCal staff determines that the troop leader’s concerns are reasonable given all of the circumstances of the troop, then GSNorCal staff will support removal of the girl from the troop and will work with the girl and her family to locate an alternate troop and/or other reasonable accomodations. If an alternate troop placement or other reasonable accomodations are not possible, then GSNorCal will issue a refund of membership dues and council service fee paid for that membership year unless the girl chooses to continue to participate as an individual member.

Harassment
All girl members, volunteers and employees in Girl Scouts of Northern California are entitled to work in an environment free of harassment in all forms including sexual, verbal, and physical harassment. Girl Scouts of Northern California maintains a strict policy prohibiting harassment of all forms. Council policy and equal opportunity law prohibit harassment on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, veteran status, citizenship, pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical condition, marital status or any other classification protected by federal, state or local laws or ordinances.

Adult Screening
A screening process for volunteers has been established for the safety of our girl members and the protection of our adult members. All volunteers must complete the screening process as established by the council for the specific role they will assume or have assumed.

Before any adult will work directly with/supervise girls (or drive them), work with money or be responsible for products, work with girls’ or other adults’ personal information, or attend an overnight activity (including family camp or a parent/daughter event), she or he must complete the volunteer screening process as outlined by GSNorCal, including completion of a background check.  The adult’s clearance status will be shared with staff or volunteers only as needed.  The reasons for a disqualification will always remain confidential. 

Any Girl Scout volunteer who is formally accused of, charged with, or under investigation by authorities for any automatically disqualifying offense (or offenses which might result in disqualification at the discretion of GSNorCal), will not be allowed to volunteer until disposition of the charge. The following procedures will be followed. A volunteer so accused is required to:

  • Suspend all Girl Scout activities and duties until the matter has been resolved.
  • Turn over all monies, materials, and records to a designated representative of the council until the matter is resolved.

The accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Volunteer Conduct
Standards outlining acceptable conduct of volunteers are important for the orderly operation of any organization and for the benefit and protection of the rights and safety of all the members. Volunteers are expected to abide by the Girl Scout Promise and Law and all policies, standards and practices established by Girl Scouts of Northern California and GSUSA. Inappropriate conduct may result in revoking volunteer status. Some examples of unacceptable conduct are identified below:

  • Possession of alcohol or any controlled substance at a Girl Scout event where girls are present, or while on Girl Scouts of Northern California premises (unless at an adult event) or participation in Girl Scout activities under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance, unless as prescribed by a personal physician.  Alcohol must not be consumed by adults for the entirety of the event or activity when they are responsible for the supervision of girls as part of the adult-to-girl ratio. 
  • Smoking in areas designated as non-smoking areas or any place girl members are present.
  • Bringing dangerous or unauthorized materials such as explosives, firearms and other similar items onto council properties or to Girl Scout activities unless such items are part of the program and are under strict supervision and control.
  • Failure to comply with California State Law requiring the driver and each passenger to be restrained by a separate safety belt when a passenger car, truck or van is being used.
  • Failure to comply with California State Law regarding the use of car seats for children, and the use of cell phones or other electronic devices without a hands-free device while driving.  Children must be in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Failure to comply with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines which prohibit children under 12 years of age from riding in the front seat of a car equipped with air bags.
  • Falsifying or making material omissions in Council records.
  • Misappropriation of any Girl Scout funds.
  • Theft or inappropriate removal of property that belongs to or is in the possession of Girl Scouts of Northern California, council employees, girl members or visitors, and/or malicious or willful destruction or damage to such.
  • Soliciting or accepting gratuities for personal gain or benefit.
  • Violation of federal, state, or local laws.
  • Girl Scouts of Northern California reserves the right to release any volunteer from service if, in the sole discretion of the Girl Scouts of Northern California, the volunteer’s actions are inconsistent with Girl Scout policies, principles, or procedures.
  • Adult volunteers are responsible for informing parents and others participating in Girl Scout activities of the standards of acceptable conduct.

Grievance Process

A grievance is a complaint regarding the application of policies and procedures. The grievance process is set up for handling these complaints in an orderly and fair manner. All council adults should seek resolution to problems through open communications and informal discussions.

If a volunteer has a concern or conflict, they should take it to the person involved first and negotiate for a mutually beneficial resolution.

If informal communications fail, the people involved should meet with their volunteer supervisor. The parties should try to resolve the conflict and specify the specific steps necessary.

If this does not solve the problem, the appropriate staff member should be contacted to provide assistance. (If the staff member is involved in the problem, that person’s supervisor should be contacted.)

If the volunteer still feels that the situation is not adequately resolved, the issue may be taken to the Chief Officer for the department involved who will make a final decision on the conflict and see that the decision is implemented. All decisions should be documented, and each party should sign the agreement and keep a copy.

Child Abuse Reporting

Girl Scout volunteers have a moral responsibility to report known or suspected cases of child abuse to Child Protective Services. If a volunteer is told or suspects that a child has been abused, she/he may report this information to the council staff member assigned to her/his area for assistance with the report to Child Protective Services. Staff are mandated reporters and must ensure that a report is filed.

California law defines an abused child as one who is any one or more of the following:

  • Physically abused
  • Sexually molested
  • Emotionally neglected or abused
  • Under constant verbal attack or torment
  • Without proper food, clothing, or shelter
  • Left alone for long periods of time
  • Volunteer suspected accused of abusing children

In the event that a Girl Scout volunteer is formally accused of, charged with, or under investigation by authorities for the crime of child abuse, the following procedures will be followed.

A volunteer so accused is required to:

  • Suspend all Girl Scout activities and duties until the matter has been resolved.
  • Turn over all monies, materials, and records to a designated representative of the council until the matter is resolved.

The accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Registered Sex Offenders,
Those Living in Households with Registered Sex Offenders

Registered sex offenders are expressly prohibited from serving as Girl Scout volunteers in any capacity.  Those living in households with registered sex offenders are expressly prohibited from serving as Girl Scout volunteers in any capacity where they work directly with, drive, or supervise girls.

Adult Education/Training
All volunteers with primary responsibility for working with girls must be adequately prepared for the position they will assume or have assumed in accordance with guidelines established by the council. Basic courses that are designated as mandatory for the position must be completed within a specified time frame. Adult courses will ensure that each volunteer has the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in her or his work.

Drivers
Drivers for Girl Scout activities where the transportation is arranged by Girl Scout volunteers or staff, must be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, carry the minimum insurance required by law and have completed screening procedures for drivers established by the council.

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VOLUNTEER LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

URL for Volunteer Learning Portal Girl Scouts strives to provide you with the necessary information to successfully manage your group of girls, and to let you know how and where you can get additional information on certain topics when you want to learn more. Volunteer learning is offered in a variety of ways, to best meet your unique learning styles: written resources, face-to-face learning, interactive online learning—and additional methods are being developed and tested all the time!

There is a specific learning path for each volunteer role, which may consist of a combination of online and/or in-person courses designed to acquaint you with Girl Scouting basics, provide resources for you to be more effective in your role, and help you feel prepared.

GSNorCal’s Volunteer Learning Portal is designed to give you the information you need just when you need it! Most of the online courses are fewer than 10 minutes long. You can learn at a time and pace that is convenient for you, resume where you left off, and your progress and completions will be tracked for your records. Our in person courses vary from 2 hours or can be a whole weekend.

Find Your Volunteer Checklist

There is a checklist for most volunteer roles here: training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org  Your checklist will take the guesswork out of which modules/courses are required or recommended for you, along with links for needed forms and helpful publications and resources. Most of the modules are very short and specifically address particular topics, such as "Open Your Bank Account" which will answer all of your questions about how to open a bank account for your troop/group, or "Getting Adults to Help" which will help you understand what kind of help you need and some tried and true techniques on how to get it. When you have completed each module, you’ll receive a virtual badge for that module. If you have already completed a step and recieved a badge (for example, you are a Brownie leader and you already took Welcome to GSNorCal as a Daisy Leader) you don’t need to re-take the module.

Badges Aren't Just for Girls Anymore!

examples of learning portal badgesYou’ll earn a virtual badge for each module you complete. When you’ve completed all of the required modules in a course, you’ll receive a virtual course badge. If you need to show someone which modules and courses you’ve completed as well as the badges you’ve earned, click on My Profile and View Profile and print that page.

Multiple Roles

If you have more than one role, that’s terrific! Use the checklists for each of your roles. For example, you may be a troop leader and also have a position on your Service Unit Team as a Service Unit Treasurer. You might also be a Regional Delegate. If that’s the case, you’ll work with the checklist for each of your roles. You don’t have to do the steps twice, though—once is enough! If you’ve already taken Girl Scout Program in your capacity as a leader, you don’t need to take it again because you are a Service Unit Treasurer.

Your Course Completions

If you want to see your course completions, click on Home, and then My Profile, and then View Profile in lower right of your screen. You will then be able to see the courses you are enrolled in, and which ones you’ve completed. You can also click on your name in the upper right of your screen and click on badges for a quick look at the modules you’ve completed.

Discussion Forums

Each volunteer checklist has a discussion news forum where you can ask questions or share good ideas with other volunteers who have the same role that you do.

Get Help More Easily!

One of the things that some leaders struggle with is getting help from the parents in the troop/group. One of the best ways to get people to help is to be very specific about exactly what is expected, and give people the tools and resources they need to do what you’ve asked.

Once you’ve recruited someone for a certain role, you can simply give the volunteer the link to the Volunteer Learning Portal training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org and have them select their role. They will have all the tools they need, and will be able to take modules or courses to support them, rather than you having to take all the courses yourself and then to have to train another volunteer about what they need to know.

There are specific courses for most of the roles you’ll need, and more are coming soon! If you’d rather take the time to train your volunteers yourself, you can still do that. For example, you might feel it would be easier to let the drivers for a field trip know what their responsibilities are, but you don’t have to—you can simply refer them to the troop driver learning path in the Volunteer Learning Portal training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org, where they will take a short safety module and will learn all they need to know.

Registration for In-Person Volunteer Learning Courses

You must register at least one week in advance for in person training courses. All course registration closes one week before the course. Our volunteer facilitator/trainers plan and bring materials based on the number of registered participants. Also, only registered participants are notified of occasional cancellations or last minute changes in location.

Use one of the three methods below to register for your in person classes. Note that first aid and camping courses have fees required. Volunteers may consider using troop/group funds to take needed courses if the girls and families agree.

Please note that we do not accept registrations for classes over the phone.

Online Registration
(preferred method—fastest and most secure)

www.GSNorCal.org/events

Or, search available in-person course offerings in our Volunteer Learning Portal training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org. When you find the date and time that works best for you, just click on the link to register.

Mail

Mail registration form and any payments to:

Member Services —Adult Learning Registration
Girl Scouts of Northern California
1310 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128-4502

Fax

To fax registration form: (408) 287-8025

Do not fax your credit card number—please call (800) 447-4475 ext. 2091 to give it verbally after you fax your form).

You will receive a course confirmation email about one week before your course. If you do not receive confirmation (check your junk or spam email folder!), please contact: registration@GirlScoutsNorCal.org.

What to Bring

  • Check the course description or your course confirmation
  • Water or other beverage (optional).
  • Feel free to bring a snack or light meal if the course occurs at your meal time.

Learning Events

Register for Fall Festival or Discoveree, our enhancement learning opportunities where numerous workshops are offered!

www.GSNorCal.org/events

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VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

GSNorCal Events
GSNorCal provides hundreds of events throughout Northern California each year, many of which contain an Adult Training Component. Take a look through GSNorCal's Program and Events Guide to discover endless opportunities for fun, learning, and adventure. We have something for everyone; troops, individual girls, and yes, adults too!  www.GSNorCal.org/forms

Participate in a series, a one-time event, or explore our travel opportunities. For info visit the Activity Finder on our website: www.GSNorCal.org/events

All you need to do is share the guide with your girls and find something that fits your calendar and your budget. Simply register online, and show up for an excellent program opportunity! So easy!

Program Boxes

Go to www.GSNorCal.org/en/about-girl-scouts/stem/tech-and-eco-questions.html for a list of Green By Nature and Girls Go Tech boxes and to reserve boxes for your troop and pick them up at your local Girl Scout office. Inside you’ll find everything you need--instructions and supplies--for some unique and fun program experiences for girls. For more information, contact registration@GirlScoutsNorCal.org

Volunteer Toolkit

The Volunteer Toolkit has some great tools to manage your troop and communicate with the families. Also, for grades K-5, there are detailed meeting plans and materials available. [VOLUNTEERING: Volunteer Toolkit]

Other Support

volunteers in a circleIn addition to the online and in-person courses and learning events, GSNorCal also offers the following support for volunteers:

  • Service Unit Team: Experienced volunteers in your local service unit who provide coaching, support and ideas.
  • GSNorCal Staff: Member Services and Volunteer Development Managers (VDMs) are available to help you. 800-447-4475 Ext 0 info@GirlScoutsNorCal.org
  • Social Media & Weekly News: The Weekly News electronic newsletter contains many reminders and ongoing clarification on procedures as well as program ideas. www.GSNorCal.org/subscribe
  • Electronic Resources: The GSNorCal website has specific publications, tools, templates, ideas, and other resources designed specifically for each volunteer role. www.GSNorCal.org/forms
  • Local Service Unit Meetings: Taking part in ongoing training and attending service unit meetings are basic responsibilities of a Girl Scout Leader or Advisor. Service unit meetings throughout the council offer ongoing mini-courses, and are considered an important part of a volunteers’ development. You’ll also have networking opportunities which will put you in touch with many experienced volunteers who are eager to give you ideas, advice, help and support, and a chance to discuss timely topics that will help you become more effective in the way you work with your girls. Contact 800-447-4475 Ext. 0 info@GirlScoutsNorCal.org to connect with your service unit.

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New Troop Checklist


volunteer icon


1. Register as a volunteer and complete background check


computer and smart phone illustrations

2. Complete Adult Learning Modules

Go to the Volunteer Learning Portal on your computer or  any smart device and choose your corresponding checklist training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org Everything you need is right there for you!

puzzle pieces

3. Form Your Troop/Group

Host a parent meeting or find another way for the group to communicate  and make decisions on how the troop/group will operate.

  • Ensure that the families have registered their girl(s) and that the adults in your Friends and Family Network are registered and screened. New girls and adults can also be added during the year.
  • Recruit your Friends and Family Network, including assistant or co-leaders, drivers, product sales manager and treasurer (who should also be a signer on the bank account).  Ask them to visit the Volunteer Learning Portal at training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org for their position descriptions, training requirements and resources. 
  • Make plans with the parents for your first meeting with girls.
money sign

4. Open Your Bank Account

Complete learning module to open your bank account:
training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org 

Download the Troop/Group Bank Account Creation Packet www.GirlScoutsNorCal.org/forms and follow instructions to open your bank account.  Your bank account must have a minimum of two signers (can add more later). Signers must be registered and screened.

Girl Scout briefcase

5. Prepare to Meet with Girls

Complete learning modules required before meeting with girls: training.GirlScoutsNorCal.org    

Use your Volunteer Toolkit to send a meeting notice out to the families, set up your basic calendar, download meeting plans, and keep track of your finances.


A troop is ready to meet with girls when it has one or more troop leaders and the correct member-volunteer/girl ratio for its program level. [SAFETY WISE: Adult-to-Girl-Ratios]

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VOLUNTEER TOOLKIT


GSUSA and GSNorCal have launched The Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) which is a comprehensive digital tool accessible on your computer, smartphone and/or tablet that is the primary support resource for troop leaders. This means that we have a new resource with a transformative purpose: to save our volunteers precious time and frustration so you can spend less time navigating our many available resources as you plan, organize, and manage your troop year with the girls and more time doing the things that you imagined when you volunteered: changing girls’ lives through amazing experiences!


My Troop—Troop Information

Manage roster and contact information for girls and parents/caregivers

Renew now button will not show if member is registered

My Troop Tab

Year Plan Library

Different year plans are given. All year plans start with the same first two meetings. The first introduces girls to Girl Scouting, and the second helps them to choose their year plan.

Year Plan Library

Year Plan—Troop Year Overview and Plans

Full year view for meetings and activities

Add/update activities and events

Move/Add Meetings during the year

Specify meeting dates, times and locations

Year Plan Tab
Meeting Plan—Detailed Plans for Meetings

Review Activity Details—activities with steps, materials, time required

Meeting Aids—Downloads and videos

Manage Agenda—change duration,
 delete or add your own activities

Download or print materials list, meeting overview, activity plans

Meeting Plan Tab

Resources

Lots of resources to download and print

Resources Tab

For Parents: My Troop

Parent can renew self and/or daughter, change contact info

Parent View: My Troop Tab

For Parents: Year Plan

Parent can see dates, times and locations for meetings

Parent can see planned activities (and can know what to sign up for)

Special reminders for parents, such as renewal information

Parent View Year Plan

For Parents: Meeting Plans

Parent can see agenda of activities

Parent can download meeting aids (helpful to make up meeting if girl is absent)

Parent can be prepared to help at the meeting

Parent View Meeting Plan

For Parents: Resources

Parents can see and download all resources available to the troop leaders

Parent View: Resources




How do I access the Volunteer Toolkit? Click on the My GS tab on the GSNorCal website GSNorCal.org and enter your member login credentials.

Will there be training on how to use the Volunteer Toolkit? The toolkit is designed to be intuitive and require no formal training, however, video tutorials are available in the Volunteer Learning Portal for Daisy, Brownie and Junior troop leaders.

Will all troop leadership have access to the toolkit? All leaders have access to the fantastic administrative tools. K-5 leaders have prepopulated meetings plans, with more added all the time.

Why aren’t there meeting plans for older girl troops? In order to use our resources wisely, we had to narrow our focus to a starting point. Stay tuned!

What if I don’t have internet access at my meeting place? You can easily download the materials to a laptop or print them to take to your meeting. Also, the VTK can be accessed on a tablet or smart phone, which may expand where it can be used.

What about volunteers who don’t have internet access at home? The toolkit can be accessed from any computer or device. Libraries or other public computers are a great resource. Meeting plans can be printed or downloaded.

Why has Girl Scouting decided to go digital? VTK is designed to help cut down the amount of time it takes for a volunteer to manage their troop including planning meetings (in partnership with the girls), communicating with parents, and finding support resources. Now volunteers can easily find resources, access the website, and communicate with parents all in one spot.

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KNOWING HOW MUCH YOU'RE APPRECIATED

Whatever your volunteer position, your hard work means the world to girls, to your council staff, and to Girl Scouts of the USA. We’re calling on all members of society to help girls reach their full potential, and you’ve answered that call. So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

volunteers have the heartJust as you’ll receive support throughout your volunteering experience, when you reach the end of the term you signed up for, you’ll talk with your support team about the positive parts of your experience, as well as the challenges you faced, and discuss whether you want to return to this position or try something new. The end of your troop year, camp season, overseas trip, or series/event session is just the beginning of your next adventure with Girl Scouting!

If you’re ready for more opportunities to work with girls, be sure to let your council support team know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ lives in the future—whether in the same position or in other, flexible ways. Are you ready to organize a series or event? take a trip? work with girls at camp? work with a troop of girls as a year-long volunteer? share your skills at a council office, working behind the scenes? The possibilities are endless, and can be tailored to fit your skills and interests.

Adult Recognition in GSNorCal

adult recognitionVisit the council website at www.GSNorCal.org/en/for-volunteers/recognition-and-awards.html or visit the GSNorCal Recognition Pinterest Board for ideas on how to recognize your volunteers, find the nomination forms for national, council, or service unit awards for adults, and more info. Do you have a special volunteer who deserves recognition? Download the National and Council Adult Recognitions Packet or the Service Unit Adult Recognitions Packet from the council website: www.GSNorCal.org/forms

    Volunteer Appreciation Month

    Volunteer Appreciation Month - The month of April is set aside especially for you. Girl Scouts pay tribute to the volunteers who help girls make the world a better place.

    The month centers on the long-standing National Girl Scout Leaders' Day (April 22). In addition, Girl Scouts also celebrates Volunteers Make a Difference Week, in conjunction with Make a Difference Day, which takes place during the weekend in autumn that we set our clocks back.

    Recognizing the Volunteers Who Help You

    See [GIRLS & ADULTS: Friends & Family Network (Adults): Asking for Help - Best Practices] and our website www.gsnorcal.org/en/for-volunteers/recognition-and-awards.html for some ideas to recognize the people who help you.

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