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Preparing for Activities

When preparing for any activity with girls, always begin with the Safety Activity Checkpoints written specifically for that particular activity. Use the handy Safety Activity Checkpoints Matrix to quickly check which activities are appropriate for your age group and whether you’ll need advance approval. Click on the image below to open in a new window, then on the activity name to view the checkpoints.

In addition to reading these checkpoints yourself, you can also share with co-volunteers, parents/guardians, and girls. Send them the link or print it out for them.


Important Links

Safety Activity Checkpoints
GSACPC Safety Activity Checkpoints Matrix
GSACPC Approved High Adventure Vendor List
ADD to GSACPC Approved High Adventure Vendor List
Special Insurance Request (not additional insurance)

Girl/Adult Ratios

Know How Many Volunteers You Need

Whatever the activity, from camping to cookies sales, adult supervision is required regardless of the grade level of the girls. The table below shows the minimum number of adults needed to supervise a specific number of girls. These adult-to-girl supervision ratios were devised to ensure the safety and health of all girls taking part in the activity.

For example, if one adult has to respond to an emergency, a second adult is always on hand for the rest of the girls. It may take you a minute to get used to the layout of this chart, but once you start to use it, you’ll find the chart extremely helpful.

  Group Meetings Events, Travel and Camping
  Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for every: One additional adult to each additional: Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for every: One additional adult for each additional:
Girl Scout Daisies (grades K-1) 12 1-6 6 1-4
Girl Scout Brownies (grades 2-3) 20 1-8 12 1-6
Girl Scout Juniors (grades 4-5) 25 1-10 16 1-8
Girl Scout Cadettes (grades 6-8) 25 1-12 20 1-10
Girl Scout Seniors (grades 9-10) 30 1-15 24 1-12
Girl Scout Ambassadors (grades 11-12) 30 1-15 24 1-12

Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old.


Swimming Lifeguards and Watchers Ratios

Number of Swimmers Lifeguards Watchers
1-10 1 adult 1*
11-25 1 adult
2*
26-35 2 persons, at least 1 is an adult; others may be 16 years of age or older. 3*
36-50 2 persons, at least 1 is an adult; others may be 16 years of age or older. 4*

*Some states allow watchers to be under the age of 18, but in all states, they must be at least 16 years of age.

These numbers are a minimum. The ratio of lifeguards and watchers to swimmers may need to be increased depending on the number of girls in one area, swimming level and ability, girls with disabilities, age level and ability to follow instructions, type of swimming activity (instruction, recreation), type of swimming area, weather and water conditions, and rescue equipment available. At aquatic lessons, ensure there is an adult present who possesses qualifications specific to the activity.

The waterfront/aquatic director should meet the following qualifications:

  • Certification
  • Training
  • Lifeguard training from a nationally recognized body, or 
  • Swim instructor certification from a nationally recognized certifying body, or 
  • Instructor rating from a nationally recognized boating or watercraft organization, or Equivalent certification 
  • Experience (previous experience in management or supervisory position of at least six weeks’ duration at a similar aquatic areas) 
  • Current certification in first aid and CPR
Transporting Girls

How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.

For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities outside the normal meeting time and place in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:

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Every driver must be an approved volunteer at least 21 years old and have a good driving record, a valid license, and a registered/insured vehicle. Only currently registered, background screened adult members are permitted to drive girls. To check background screening expiration (CBC) of troop adults, leaders may log onto MyGS and click the "MyTroops" tab.

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Girls never drive other girls.

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If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers in the vehicle, one of whom is female. In addition, the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Girl/ Adult Ratio” section must be followed.

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If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers, one of whom is female, and the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Girl/ Adult Ratio” section must be followed. Care should be taken so that a single car is not separated from the group for an extended length of time.

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Carry the health forms and event permission slips of the girls riding in your car for the duration of the ride. 


Private Transportation

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights. Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.

Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 15 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note, you must check with your council to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles. Fifteen-passenger vans are not recommended.

Please keep in mind the following non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:

  1. Even though written agreements are always required when renting or chartering, you are not authorized to sign an agreement or contract, except for rental car agreements, even if there is no cost associated with the rental. Such agreements must instead be signed by the person designated by your council. Contact your activity consultant to begin the review and approval process.
  2. Check with your council to make sure you are following accepted practices when using private transportation. This ensures that both you and your council are protected by liability insurance in the event of an accident.
  3. If your council has given permission to use a rented car, read all rental agreements to be sure you comply with their terms and avoid surprises. For example, in many cases, the minimum age of drivers is 25, and the maximum age is often under 70. In addition, make sure the car is adequately insured and you know who is responsible for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. Finally, ensure you have a good paper trail that shows the vehicle rental is Girl Scout–related.


Uber or Lyft

In an effort to protect councils, the use of Uber and Lyft is not recommended.  Uber and Lyft are ride-share companies which provide privately owned vehicles for hire.  For hire means commercial use.  When a privately owned vehicle is used for commercial purposes, a specific commercial auto policy must be in place which many Uber and Lyft vehicles do not have – or, it is very difficult if not impossible, to verify whether they do or do not ahead of time given their current business model.

Since Uber, Lyft, Curb, and similar ridesharing companies, most of the time, will not carry complete or adequate commercial auto liability insurance, if the worst occurs and there is an accident involving bodily injury to several members, the liability exposure will rest with the council exposing a council’s insurance.  

Not all councils have non-owned auto liability or borrowed auto liability insurance on their Auto Liability policies, which means a loss like that would potentially have a direct impact on a council’s balance sheet. And if the council does carry non-owned auto liability coverage, then that loss would impact the council’s loss experience and ultimately the insurance rates.  

In Safety Activity Checkpoints, which is geared primarily to volunteers, the use of Uber or Lyft is specified as not permitted to protect councils from volunteers making decisions with hidden implications that could financially damage a council.  The safety, credibility, and insurance of the individual drivers is far more difficult if not impossible to qualify compared to that of traditional or well-known commercial charter or rental companies.


Commercial Vehicles 

Only vehicles designed to carry passengers can transport Girl Scouts. Flatbed or panel trucks without seats, buses reconditioned by hand, or any vehicle that cannot be registered should not transport passengers. 


Rental Vehicles Chartering

When chartering transportation (driver is being provided by charter company), use the following guidelines.

Develop an approved list of responsible transportation providers and give this list to travel volunteers during the planning stage. All vehicles traveling on public roads are equipped with:

  • Seatbelts
  • First-aid kits
  • Emergency-warning reflectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • A cell phone or some other kind of communication device

 Approved Motorcoach Bus Line list

To request motor coach bus line not on approved list please forward this link to bus company.

Driver Checklist

When driving a car, RV or camper, take the following precautions and ask all other drivers to do the same:

  • Obtain background check clearance in advice of driving (allow 3 weeks).
  • Ensure all drivers are adults at least 21 years old.
  • Girls should not be transporting other girls.
  •  Never transport girls in flatbed or panel trucks, in the bed of a pickup, or in a camper-trailer.
  • Keep directions and a road map in the car, along with a first-aid kit and a flashlight.
  • Check your lights, signals, tires, windshield wipers, horns and fluid levels before each trip, and recheck them periodically on long trips.
  •  Keep all necessary papers up to date including, but not limited to: your driver’s license; vehicle registration; any state or local inspections; and insurance coverage.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, and insist that all passengers do the same. Girls under 12 must ride in the back seats.
  • Booster seats are required for children under 8 and under 57” tall. Make sure restraints fit properly.
  • Follow all the established rules of the road in your state, including the speed limit. Some additional guidelines include: keeping a two-car-length distance between you and the car ahead of you; not talking or texting on a cell phone or other personal electronic device while driving; not using earbuds or headphones while driving; and turning your lights on when your windshield wipers are on.
  • Plan rest stops every few hours and avoid driving for extended periods at night. If traveling with others, prearrange stopping places along the way. When planning trips longer than 6 hours, arrange for relief drivers.
  • Do NOT drive when you are tired or taking medication that makes you drowsy.
  • Permission forms and health histories should be carried for each person in the car.
Activities Not Permitted

Prior to any activity, consult the Safety Activity Checkpoints Matrix. If Safety Activity Checkpoints do not exist for an activity you and the girls are interested in, check with your council before making any definite plans with the girls. A few activities are allowed only with written council pre-approval and only for girls 12 and over, while some are off-limits completely.

Caution: When activities involve unpredictable safety variables, they are not recommended as Girl Scout program activities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Flying in small private planes, helicopters or blimps
  • Hang gliding
  • Hot air ballooning*
  • Hunting
  • Motor biking
  • Paintball*
  • Parachuting
  • Parasailing
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles
  • Riding motorized personal watercraft such as jet skis***
  • Skydiving*
  • Stunt skiing
  • Outdoor trampolining
  • Zorbing

When planning activities with girls, note the abilities of each girl and carefully consider the progression of skills from the easiest part to the most difficult. Make sure the complexity of the activity does not exceed girls’ individual skills.

Bear in mind that skill levels decline when people are tired, hungry or under stress. Also use activities as opportunities for building teamwork, which is one of the outcomes for the Connect key in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).

Responsibility of Parents/Guardians

Troop volunteers will want to engage each parent or guardian to help the group work toward ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of girls. Troop or activity leaders must clearly communicate to parents and guardians that they are expected to:

  • Provide permission for their daughters to participate in Girl Scouting as well as provide additional consent for activities that take place outside the scheduled meeting place. This can include such activities as product sales, including Digital Cookie; overnight travel; the use of special equipment; or sensitive issues. 
  • Make provisions for their daughters to get to and from meeting places or other designated sites in a safe and timely manner, and inform troop leaders if someone other than a parent or guardian will drop off or pick up their child. 
  • Provide their daughters with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities, or contact troop leaders before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment. 
  • Follow Girl Scout safety guidelines and encourage their children to do the same. 
  • Assist troop leaders in planning and carrying out program activities as safely as possible. 
  • Participate in parent/guardian meetings. 
  • Understand what appropriate behavior is for their daughters, as determined by the council and troop leaders. 
  • Assist volunteers if their daughters have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited. 
  • Provide notification of background clearance to their daughters’ troop leader before they drive, chaperone, handle money or work with girls.
     
Responsibility of Girls

Girls who learn about and practice safe and healthy behaviors are likely to establish lifelong habits of safety consciousness. For that reason, each Girl Scout is expected to:

  • Assist the troop leader and other volunteers in safety planning.
  • Listen to and follow the leader’s instructions and suggestions.
  • Learn and practice safety skills.
  • Learn to “think safety” at all times and to be prepared.
  • Identify and evaluate an unsafe situation.
  • Know how, when and where to get help when needed.