Are you having a hard time getting the girls to settle down or work together at your meetings?  The best way to cure the crazies at your meeting is to have a plan and keep the same routine for each meeting.  Girls know what is expected, gives them a sense of order and makes planning easier for the adults and the girls.

Include each of the following in your meetings:

Pre-Opening:  Always have something for the girls to do while everyone arrives.  It can be as simple as crayons and paper (even for older girls!).  Give them a challenge when they arrive to draw their portrait or something they want to share with the rest of the group.  Have a game ready to start that is easy to join in to for the girls as they arrive.  Duck Duck Goose, Red Light Green Light, or any game in a circle where others can join in.  Sing a fun camp song, it’s always great to hear a group singing when you arrive.

As your girls get older, have the patrol that is responsible for the opening do their prep time while the others are playing a game.  You might also have journals for each of the girls to write something about their week or what they are looking forward to at the meeting.

Opening:  Brings everyone together and signals that the meeting has begun.  Flag Ceremony, Song, Circle Time Sharing are examples of an opening.  If your girls are new to each other, this is a great time to play a name-game, or a game where you all learn something about the other girls (like favorite food, color, animal, etc.).

Business:  Where the girls make the decisions for the troop.  Collect dues, plan outings, create a kaper chart.  Review your past outing, did everything go as planned?  What would they change for the next outing?  The key here is for the GIRLS to do the planning (with gentle guidance from the leaders).

Major Activity:  This should be a fun activity, possibly working toward a Badge, learning a new skill, making something, creating a presentation for another troop.  This can be any topic that the girls are interested in.  Tap into your parents in the troop for their expertise.  Many parents will be thrilled to come teach the girls about their favorite hobby.  Don’t forget about that talented Aunt, neighbor, or your best friend, they can be a great resource for teachers.

Clean Up:  Before the parents arrive, make sure the girls participate in the clean-up process.  For us, that means putting tables and chairs away before leaving, so more hands is better.  For little girls, sing a clean-up song as you go so everyone stays focused.

Closing:  This is really important, so try not to let your meeting time slip away and skip this part.  It’s a great time to give the girls encouragement and praise, remind them of what you discussed today, share a short moment of girl scout sisterhood.  Most troops do this with a closing friendship circle where one girl starts a friendship squeeze that goes around the circle.  Each girl makes a wish before sending the squeeze to the person next to her.  Arms are crossed right over left and holding the hand of the two people next to you.  When all are done, girls raise their arms and the circle “twists” up and out to release the girls.  You can also have the girls sing a song, or share a compliment about someone else in the group.

Try this simple plan over your next few meetings and you’ll see girls come in to the room excited to start and asking how they can help get ready for the meeting!