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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)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Safety in Girl Scouts

Health and safety is always our highest priority. Once our communities begin to reopen, Girl Scouts will want to continue to manage carefully. Please recognize that health and safety guidelines will continue to evolve and adapt as the situation and risks change over time. Stay up-to-date with all health precautions.

Also, the degree of COVID-19 risk varies from community to community, state to state. In addition to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and American Camp Association (ACA) guidance provided in Safety Activity Checkpoints, always become familiar with and practice the precautions as provided by local health and governmental authorities. 

Adults should be very mindful to abide by the guidance that has been issued by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) when convening again,  which is to practice the basics:

  • Make sure girls and adults know and practice good hygiene by washing or disinfecting hands frequently
  • Remind girls and adults about social distancing and when out in public and with each other
  • If a girl or adult is exhibiting symptoms of being sick, as always, suggest that they stay home and only return when no longer sick
  • If a girl or adult knows that they have been in close and sustained (10 minutes+) contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus, make sure that they comply with the 14-day period of quarantine

Other topic-specific links from the Center of Disease Control (CDC)Another excellent source of guidance to follow when planning Girl Scout activities is the COVID-19 Resource Center for Camps which has been developed by the American Camp Association.

There is more on Coronavirus safety under the Camping SAC chapter.

Have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

The Girl Scout motto is "be prepared," and proper preparation is the key to success. An important thing to consider ahead of time, before taking girls out on a trip or to an activity, is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP).  Volunteers can review their troop’s EAP with girls as a learning experience for them, to the extent it makes sense according to their age and maturity.

For the adult volunteer, however, it is important to think about and document an EAP in the event of an emergency or injury. Think through a scenario of what can go wrong, such as physical injury to a girl, severe weather, fire, intruder, missing girl, or sudden illness. This simple step is invaluable.

The key elements of an effective risk management plan are:
 

Identify – the type of emergency

  • Medical, a member becomes suddenly ill
  • Accidental injury, a member is hurt during an activity
  •  Weather-related crisis or a challenging environment as with backpacking
  • Pay attention to the weather so that the activity can be rescheduled if there is a severe storm or weather-related risk
  • Fire, become aware of all entrances and exits, and alternative routes out 
  • Missing or lost member

Mitigate – minimize the damage, injury or time element in seeking help. Know how far the activity is from the closest Emergency Medical Service (EMS)

  • If EMS is more than 30 minutes away, an Advanced First Aider should always be present with girls, preferably with Wilderness First aide (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) credentials.
  • If EMS is less than 30 minutes away, a General First Aider should be present with girls.
  • If more than 200 people at an event, an Advanced First Aider should be added to the General First Aider for every 200 girls.
  • Make sure that emergency response vehicles can access the area where you are practicing an activity with girls. If an emergency vehicle cannot access the site, notify either local EMS or parks services or other authorities ahead of time of where you will be, what you will be doing and how many members are with you.

Respond – having confirmed the properly trained first aiders are present 

  • Immediately engage the first aider to the accident scene involving an illness or injury
  • Notify and coordinate the arrival of emergency medical services or law enforcement. 
  • Contact all relevant parties
    • Parents or legal guardians
    • Council staff
    • Law enforcement
    • Property owner or facility manager
Some key components of an effective Emergency Action Plan (EAP) include:

Contact List . A chart, table or simple list for all participants, including adults, with parent and legal guardian contact phone #s as well as key emergency phone #s, in addition to 911, such as the nearest hospital, medical center, law enforcement or emergency transportation

Roles and Responsibilities. A pre-determined and established emergency role assignment, who does what.  For example, the leader stays with girls or the injured girl(s) while the co-leader calls for help and coordinates the arrival of emergency help and notifies the parents, or vice versa.  Agree on this ahead of time so that you are calm and prepared if the worst occurs. Also think through what you will do if the injured person is one of the adults.

Exit Strategy. Become aware of all emergency exits and/or evacuate plans ahead of time. Identify and communicate alternative exit routes.

Evacuation Meeting Place. Determine and communicate a pre-agreed meeting place should the group become separated or a girl should become lost.

Communication Method.  Have a method of emergency communication that works. If camping or backpacking, consider a whistle or horn as an emergency call out. Make sure to inform girls that this is the sound of an emergency. When girls hear this sound, they know to gather to designated spot. If there is cell service at the activity site, save all contact names and numbers, including those for the appropriate authorities, in your mobile phones ahead of time before the activity takes place.

Activity Preparation. Communicate with Council and girls’ parents/guardians about the activity, including details about safety precautions and any appropriate clothing or supplies that may be necessary. Follow council procedures for activity approval, certificates of insurance, and guidelines about girls’ general health examinations. Girls are key to activity planning. Keeping their grade level abilities in mind, encourage girls to take proactive leadership roles in organizing details of the activity.

Review Safety Checkpoints with Instructors. These checkpoints should be reviewed with the vendor, facility, camp or your council as appropriate to determine if the safety checkpoints can be complied with. Take any questions or issues with safety compliance to your council for guidance and next steps.

Itinerary and Key Contacts. Give an itinerary to a contact person at home. Call the contact person upon departure and return. Create a list that includes girls’ parent/guardian contact information, council contacts, and emergency services contacts. Keep this list on hand or post in an easily accessible location. Emergency and parent contact information should be saved to an adult’s mobile phone on the trip and be provided to the contact person at home.

Safety Gear. Safety gear includes clothing and equipment girls will need to safely take part in the activity. These items are necessary to ensure safety. Always opt to take the safety equipment offered by an organization or facility, even if it is not specifically listed here. If the facility offers helmets, always accept the use of helmets for girls. 

Required Gear. Required gear simply means the activity-specific gear that girls must have to participate in the activity. For example, skiing – a girl will need to bring or rent skis and poles.

Additional Gear. Additional gear may include items that support a safe and healthy outdoor learning experience. These are items that often make the experience with girls more comfortable. Recommended items, based on Girl Scout experience, include:

  • Layers of clothing for wintertime or for activities on or by the water or mountains, where temperatures or wind can change dramatically within a short period of time
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, sun visor, lip balm
  • Change of clothes for water-related activities or those involving dirt or mud, such as spelunking
  • Comfortable shoes and socks if hiking or spending long days outside, in order to prevent ticks and blisters
  • Watch, compass, maps
  • Insect repellent
  • Towels for waterfront, pool, and paddling activities
  • Bottle of drinking water, healthy snacks
  • Backpacks—girls carry their own gear and supplies!

Always take additional gear into consideration when planning an outdoor activity or trip in addition to the safety gear required for the specific activity. 

Instructor Credibility. Verify instructor knowledge, experience, and maturity. Ensure the volunteers or on-site instructors possess the proper skill set, knowledge, training and certification, or documented experience required to meet your council’s guidelines and as outlined in the specific approved activity.

With respect to instructing and safeguarding children, maturity level and years of experience can positively impact the support needed for volunteers to safeguard girls. For example, while the legal definition of an adult lifeguard is 18, qualified lifeguards of 21 years of age are preferred whenever possible. 

General Insurance. Commercial general liability insurance protects the Girl Scout organization. The facility or vendor that hosts your troop event (for example, a riding stable, a hotel, or a bus company) should carry general liability insurance, and auto liability when motor vehicles are involved. A facility that carries valid general liability insurance has almost always been examined for risk by its insurance carrier. If a place does not carry general liability insurance, it’s a red flag. It may not be safe, so it would be best to select another place. 

When your council requires you to provide documented evidence of insurance, ask the facility for a certificate of insurance for your records. But be aware that some places do not provide documented evidence of insurance to all customers, or only provide a certificate of insurance when a group is large or if the group plans to pay a certain amount. 

If you plan to enter into a written contract with a facility or are considering a new vendor, remember to consult your council for the proper insurance requirements and see if they use an approved vendor list. Check to be sure the certificate of insurance you will be obtaining validates the insurance limits outlined in your contract or agreement.

Activity Accident Insurance. Activity accident insurance is supplemental health insurance that protects registered Girl Scout members. Registered members are automatically covered under activity accident insurance when participating in all Girl Scout events and activities including trips that involve two (or less) overnight stays. The Basic Plan does not cover trips of more than two overnight stays.

Important! Trips that are three overnights or more are not covered under automatic activity accident insurance. Also, non-members are not automatically covered and international trips are not automatically covered. Activity accident insurance must be individually purchased for coverage under these scenarios.

So, you will need to purchase extra activity accident insurance for outings and events that:

  • Involve three or more overnight stays
  • Take place outside U.S. territory 
  • Include non-members, such as siblings and friends 

When planning trips, always consult your council to see if extra activity accident insurance is needed.

Leave No Trace. Search the web for tips on environmental responsibility, and remember our principle of Leave no trace (scroll down to the “How to Leave No Trace Outdoors” video)—and, in fact, Girl Scouts have a long tradition of leaving an area better than we found it. Doing so will teach girls responsibility and also safeguard your troop and local council from complications or issues involving the use of public property.

Emergency Preparation. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid, emergency response requirements, and other precautions. Know how far away and where emergency medical and law enforcement services are located. Understand your surroundings in relation to the closest medical facility or hospital. Also, familiarize yourself with the forms of emergency communication and emergency transportation options that are available.

Weather Conditions. Always monitor the weather in the days preceding an activity or trip. Check the local weather report on the day of the trip. For circumstances in which forecasted weather could be a risk to safety, consider scheduling alternatives. In the case of severe wind, lightning, hail, ice, snow storm, flood warnings due to heavy rain, or a hurricane or tropical storm, make contingency plans for itineraries and transportation. Reschedule the event if the weather report is severe. Adhere to public safety announcements concerning staying indoors or evacuating the area. In extremely hot weather, girls should do outdoor activities in the morning and late afternoon hours, and during the hottest time of day stay in a shaded area or inside with air conditioning. It is important on extremely hot days to plan for easy access to plenty of drinking water to prevent heat exhaustion or dehydration.

If extreme weather or temperature conditions prevent a trip, be prepared with a backup plan or alternative activity. 

Buddy System. Always use the buddy system with all ages of girls, which means pairing girls up as partners. Each girl is responsible for staying with her buddy throughout a trip or activity. A buddy can warn her partner of danger, give a helping hand, or get immediate assistance when the situation warrants it. All girls are encouraged to stay near the group so that if someone is injured or not feeling well, there are others, including an adult, close by to seek help. 

Permission Slips.

  • Annual permission slips are parental or legal guardian consent forms for girls’ attendance at regular troop meetings throughout the year. If annual permissions are practiced in your council, in addition to the specific activity permission slips, volunteers should keep copies for all their girls.
  • Day trips and activities – It is imperative to secure a signed permission slip from a girl’s parent or guardian for any trip or special activity outside the troop meeting space. This applies to all girls under the age of 18. Always keep a copy of these permissions.

In most cases, one parental consent or one legal guardian is legally acceptable. However, there may be circumstances regarding a custody situation or a standard in your council where dual parental consent is required. For international trips, written consent is generally required from both parents, caregivers, or legal guardians. If there is a question about single versus dual parental consent, please consult your council and they can consult local or state laws for specific local guidance. 

Overnight Trips. Prepare girls to be away from home by involving them in the planning so they know what to expect. On trips where male volunteers are part of the group, it is not appropriate for them to sleep in the same space as girl members. Always support and maintain an all-girl atmosphere for sleeping quarters. Men may participate only when separate sleeping quarters and bathrooms are available for their use. Men should not be in situation to walk through girls’ sleeping quarters for entrance, exit or to access restrooms. In some circumstances, such as a museum or mall overnight with hundreds of girls, this type of accommodation may not be possible. If this is the case, men do not supervise girls in the sleeping area of the event and the adult volunteer-to-girl ratio is adjusted accordingly.

An exception is made for family members during events such as parent-daughter or family overnights where one family may sleep together in an area specifically designated to accommodate families. Also please make note of the following:

  • Each participant has her own bed. 
  • Parent/guardian permission must be obtained if girls are to share a bed.
  • Girls and adults do not share a bed; however, some councils make exceptions for mothers and daughters.
  • It is not mandatory that an adult sleep in the sleeping area (tent, cabin, or designated area) with the girls, but if an adult female does share the sleeping area, there should always be two unrelated adult females present.

Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway. See the Travel/Trip chapter for specific safety checkpoints when utilizing Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway. There are specific steps that must be followed when utilizing these privately owned property rentals, steps that are not necessarily taken with every traditional commercially owned and operated property such as hotels. 

Modeling the Right Behavior. Adult volunteers should adhere to the Girl Scout Promise and Law.  When spending time with girls or representing Girl Scouts do not consume alcohol, smoke, vape or use foul language. Always obey the law, for example, by not talking on a phone or texting while driving. 

Drugs and alcohol. Volunteers and adults may not purchase, consume, possess or be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs/substances, or prescription or over-the-counter medications which impair performance or judgment while participating in Girl Scout sanctioned activities, in the presence of girls, while conducting Girl Scout business, or in Girl Scout branded clothing.  Alcohol or any substance which may impair one’s judgment must never be used by volunteers, adult members, or any other adult in the presence of a girl member, immediately prior to, or during a girl member activity. Alcoholic beverages may be served to/consumed by adults of legal age at Girl Scout events when girls are not present only when previously approved by the Council Board of Directors or Chief Executive Officer.

Firearms . Firearms and/or weapons are prohibited at any Girl Scout activity and on Girl Scout-owned or leased property except when in the possession of a sworn officer of the law, council-authorized property staff, a certified instructor, licensed wildlife control personnel, and/or trained adult while conducting a Council-approved Girl Scout program activity.  Volunteers and adults do not carry ammunition or firearms in the presence of girls unless given special permission by your council for target sport activities.

Online Safety. Instruct girls never to put their full names, location or contact information online, engage in virtual conversation with strangers, or arrange in-person meetings with online contacts. On group websites, publish girls’ first names only and never divulge their location or contact information. Teach girls the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge and ask them to read, understand, discuss and commit to following it.

Money-Earning Activities. Safety is an important consideration throughout money-earning activities, including Girl Scout Cookie sales and other council-sponsored product sales. During Girl Scout product sales, you are responsible for the safety of girls, money, and products. In addition, a wide variety of organizations, causes, and fundraisers may appeal to Girl Scouts to serve as their labor force. When representing Girl Scouts, girls cannot raise money for other organizations, participate in money-earning activities that represent partisan politics or are not Girl Scout–approved product sales and efforts. It is imperative that Girl Scouts do not partake in anything that can be construed as unrelated business income, in order to protect our organization’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. If there is a questionable circumstance, consult your council. 

Volunteer Essentials. A key resource for Volunteers in Girl Scouting is Volunteer Essentials. While Safety Activity Checkpoints focuses on safety guidance and parameters, Volunteer Essentials will address an array of topics such as Engaging Girls and Families, Troop Management, Product Program, Troop Finances, and Leader’s Guide to Success. All Girl Scout Volunteers are instructed to review, understand and practice the principles and standards in both Volunteer Essentials and Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Girl/Adult Ratios

Know How Many Volunteers You Need

There are different adult supervision requirements for Girl Scout troop meetings as compared to events outside of the regular Girl Scout troop meeting such as outings, activities, camping and travel. Activities and travel outside of the regular troop meeting space require more adult supervision.

  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

Some high-adventure activities may require more adult-to-girl supervision than stated above. For those activities, the safety checkpoints will provide specific adult-to-girl supervision ratios. Remember, some activities are less safe for younger girls, particularly Daisies and Brownies. Younger girls may not be permitted to participate based on their age, as appropriate, and this will be specified on the individual activity. In cases where younger-girl participation is an option but only under certain conditions, this is indicated toward the top (on some occasions, with an asterisk that’s followed by explanation further into the write-up).

Note: For mixed-grade level troops, use the ratio for the lowest grade level in the troop. For example, if the troop consists of Daisies and Brownies, the Daisy ratio should be followed. 

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
Troop Meeting Space

Always choose a safe meeting space. Careful considerations should be used to find appropriate facilities for the age of the girls to be served and the activities to be conducted.  A meeting place needs to provide a safe, clean, and secure environment that allows for the participation of all girls. You might consider using meeting rooms at schools, libraries, houses of worship, community buildings, childcare facilities, and local businesses. For teens, you can also rotate meetings at coffee shops, bookstores, and other places girls enjoy spending time.  

Here are a few points to keep in mind as you consider meeting locations:

  • Accessibility: Be sure the space can accommodate girls with disabilities, as well as parents with disabilities who may come to meetings.
  • Allergen-free: Ensure that pet dander, smoke, and other common allergens won’t bother susceptible girls during meetings.
  • Availability: Be sure the space is available for the day and the entire length of time you want to meet.
  • Communication-friendly: Be sure your cell phone works in the meeting space or there is a landline for emergencies.  Internet accessibility is also helpful.
  • Cost: The space should be free to use. However, you may wish to develop a partnership to provide service or offer a donation toward maintenance or utilities.
  • Facilities: Sanitary and accessible toilets are critical.
  • Resources: Determine what types of furnishings come with the room and ensure that the lighting is adequate. A bonus would be a cubby or closet of some sort, where you can store supplies.
  • Safety: Ensure that the space is safe, secure, clean, properly ventilated, heated (or cooled, depending on your location), free from hazards, and has at least two exits that are well-marked and fully functional. Also be sure first-aid equipment, smoke detectors and fire extinguisher are on hand.  
  • Size: Make sure the space is large enough to accommodate the whole group and all planned activities.

Can we meet in a private home? It is not recommended to hold troop meetings in a private home.  If you are considering meeting in a private home, please check with your council to make sure it is permitted based on council policy. In addition to the above, please remember to ensure these standards: 

  • The private home must the home of registered, council approved Volunteer.
  • Girls may not meet in a home where a registered sex offender lives or is present.
  • The troop needs to be able to focus without disruptions from other household members.
  • Animals should be kept in a place that is separate from the meeting space.
  • Homeowners should consider any personal insurance implications.  The Homeowner should ask their personal Homeowner’s insurance carrier if there are any insurance concerns with troop meetings at the home.  Also, volunteers should confirm with the council that troop meetings in the home are covered by Council’s liability insurance carrier.
  • Weapons must be out of view and in a locked space. Medication, cleaning products, or any poisonous substance must be stored in a secure space out of sight, preferably locked. 
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, in which a group will be transported in privately-owned vehicles, arrange qualified drivers:

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Every driver must be a registered, background-checked member (an approved volunteer), at least 21 years old, and have a good driving record (without driving restrictions), a valid license, and a registered/insured vehicle. 

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Girls never drive other girls during activities or field trips.

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If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, registered, background-checked members (approved adult volunteers) in the vehicle, one of whom is female. 

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If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, registered, background-checked members (approved adult volunteers), one of whom is female. 

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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. 

 

Plan for safe driving:

Review and implement the standards in the Checklist for Drivers, below.

  • Share the Checklist for Drivers with all drivers, in advance.
  • Build possible delays into your schedule. Allowing time for traffic or other delays will help prevent urgency and stress, which can be dangerous when driving.
  • Provide directions for each vehicle. 
  • For driving trips of more than a few hours, plan a stop where all cars can gather up. This will avoid having drivers follow too closely, or worry about being separated from the group.
  • Anticipate stops every couple of hours, for drivers to rest and refresh. Let drivers know they can stop more often if needed.
  • Arrange for relief drivers if trips will last 6 hours or more. 
  • In each vehicle, there should be a first aid kit and the permission and health history forms for each person in that car. 


Private Transportation

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, and chartered vehicles.

When borrowing or renting vehicles, drivers may rent cars or minivans in their own names, without council staff signature. Make sure the car is adequately insured; consult the driver’s auto insurance company. Know who is responsible for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. Be sure the vehicle is used only for Girl Scout purposes, as non-related use can compromise coverage. 

Read rental agreements to be familiar with the terms of the agreement, 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. 

Chartered vehicles—such as buses—are contracted, usually with the driver or operator, for a group’s exclusive use. Volunteers may not sign contracts for charters, even if there is no cost. Contact the council office at reghelp@girlscoutsaz.org to request approval and signature.


Taxis and ride-sharing services , including Uber and Lyft, may be used with these guidelines:

  • An adult rides in each vehicle with girls when multiple vehicles are being used.
  • Wait for your ride in a safe place. For taxis, when possible, call (or ask your hotel to call), rather than hailing from the street. Use a taxi stand at airports. Stand away from traffic while waiting.
  • For taxis - check that the taxi is appropriately marked. 
  • For ride-sharing services: 
    • Check that the vehicle’s license plate, make, and model match what is shown in the app. 
    • Compare the app’s photo with the driver. Ask for their name and be sure it matches the app. 
    • Ask, “who are you here to pick up?” They should have your first name, but no other info about you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, do not get in the vehicle. If you become uncomfortable, end the ride. Report your experience to the taxi service or ride-sharing app.
  • Send your in-town contact the name of the driver and your destination. Most apps have a sharing feature for this purpose.
  • Don’t share information about the group or where you are staying to any stranger. 
  • Each passenger must wear a seat belt. Enter and exit curbside.
  • In foreign countries, consult a local expert about how to best call for taxis or rides. Reputable practices vary. 


Commercial and common-carrier transportation is available to the general public. They include buses, trains, airlines, ferries, and similar modes of transportation. In the United States, these are regulated and can be considered safe. Girls can compare fares and schedules and make decisions with adult support. When traveling internationally, consider the transportation options available in the host country and determine safety and accessibility specific to the location.

Recreational vehicles, campers, and trailers—whether privately-owned or rented--may be used if the driver has the appropriate training and license for the vehicle. Passengers must use seat belts when the vehicle is in motion, and may not ride in a trailer or in the bed of a truck. 

Vans up to 15 passengers (guidelines are under council review) :

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.


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:

  • Ensure all drivers are volunteers at least 21 years old
  • Girls should not transport 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.
  • Load gear appropriately. Heavy objects and luggage can affect vehicle stability and handling. Avoid overloading, especially on the top or back of any vehicle. 
  • 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 seat belts and insist that all passengers do the same. Each person must have their own, fixed seatbelt. 
  • Girls under 12 must ride in the back seats. Use car seats and boosters as required in your state.
  • Follow best driving safety practices:  
    • Keep at least a two-car-length distance between you and the car ahead of you
    • Do not talk or text on a cell phone or other device
    • Do not use earbuds or headphones
    • Turn your lights on when your windshield wipers are on
  • Know what to do in case of a breakdown or accident. It’s smart to have reflectors, a flashlight, a few tools, and a good spare tire.
  • Take time to familiarize yourself with any new or rented vehicle.
  • Take a break when you need it. The volunteer in charge of your trip will plan occasional stops, but it’s ok to pull over to a safe place whenever you are too tired to continue. Relief drivers are planned for long drives. 
  • Do NOT drive when you are tired or taking medication that makes you drowsy
Activities Not Permitted

After being thoroughly investigated, some activities are clearly classified as “not permitted.” Each sport or activity on the “not permitted” list is evaluated annually with respect to safety factors, council feedback, insurability, and accident history. These activities pose a high risk of bodily injury, require extensive prior experience to safely participate, or may require a driver’s license such as with ATVs. Activities with a poor accident history based on loss data gathered from various industries are not approved and therefore “not permitted.” The purpose of prohibiting certain activities is first and foremost to protect girls, but also to safeguard the financial and reputational well-being of your local council and the Girl Scout organization.

GSUSA does not approve, endorse, or provide safety checkpoints for activities “not permitted.” 

The following activities are in the not permitted category:

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Flying in small private planes, helicopters or blimps
  • Hang gliding
  • Untethered hot air ballooning
  • Hunting
  • Motorbiking
  • Paintball tagging
  • Parachuting or skydiving
  • Parasailing
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
  • Riding a motorbike
  • Riding electric scooters
  • Using outdoor trampolines 
  • Snowmobiling
  • Stunt skiing
  • Zorbing

Bungee Jumping. Bungee jumping is not highly regulated for safety or consistent in terms of facilitation from one place to the next. It is an activity that carries a significant risk of bodily injury. Most insurance companies that have access to the accident history of bungee jumping have deemed this activity high risk and dangerous. 

Hang Gliding, Parasailing, Zorbing, Parachuting/Skydiving, and Untethered Hot-Air Ballooning are activities similar to bungee jumping in terms of safety regulations, consistency of facilitation, and insurance implications. These are activities that carry a significant risk of bodily injury. Insurance carriers with knowledge of these activities from a claims perspective view them as a high safety risk, meaning they see frequent and/or severe accidents associated with these sports. 

Privately Owned Aircraft. Flying in privately owned aircraft is a very clear exclusion under GSUSA and (most) councils’ commercial general liability insurance policies. In the event of an incident involving an aircraft accident, your council would be financially liable for potential liability and resulting lawsuits. Even with a specific non-owned aviation liability policy (if your council purchases this type of policy, which it may not), a private plane is a separate and distinct insurable interest (compared to a professional chartered aircraft tour). In other words, even under non-owned aviation insurance, privately owned and/or operated planes are often excluded.

Outdoor Trampolines. Outdoor trampolines, particularly those with stilted metal frames, pose a high risk of injury. The activity can result in sprains and fractures in the arms or legs—as well as potentially serious head and neck injuries. The risk of injury is high in the case of children that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home. Outdoor trampoline park injuries also are an area of emerging concern. Indoor trampolines in a confined padded indoor facility with higher supervision are far safer, but still not recommend for children under six years old. See for reference: AAOS

Paintball Tag. Paintball tag is offered in specialized parks where participants shoot pellets of paint at each other throughout an obstacle course, woods, or maze. The pressure used in a paintball gun is quite strong. When hit by a paintball pellet, a girl is certain to experience some pain, swelling, and perhaps a bruise or welt for a couple of days. Shooting a girl with a paintball pellet is likely to cause a minor injury and has the potential to cause a more serious injury to eyes, mouth, ears, and throat. For these reasons, paintball tag is prohibited Target paintball shooting, however, is permitted.

Hunting. Hunting is a sport that requires handling firearms in the wilderness, high maturity levels, and the availability of expert guides. Shooting accidents are not uncommon during hunting trips. This is also a sport which rarely, if ever, comes up as a requested activity. A very large majority of councils do not commonly hunt or request hunting trips. 

Jet Skis, Motor Bikes, ATVs, Snow Mobiles and Electric Scooters. Jet skiing, motor biking, and riding snow mobiles, ATVs and electronic scooters are prohibited due to the extremely high incidence of serious injury involved. Most insurance carriers are not comfortable with these activities due to poor accident history. Insurance companies require that an operator hold a valid driver’s license. Adults and children riding on the back of motor bikes and jet skis as passengers are exposed to a high risk of serious injury with no active opportunity to actually learn the skill.

For legal reasons, there are other activities that girls and volunteers are not permitted to participate in while representing Girl Scouts, in order to preserve the integrity of our organization. These include:

  • Endorsement of commercial products or services
  • Solicitation of financial contributions for purposes other than Girl Scouting
  • Participation in political campaigns or legislative activities, unless the legislative activity has been council-approved
First Aid

Make sure at least one adult member who is certified in first aid / CPR accompanies the troop/group on activities.

What to Do If There Is An Accident

Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first, provide all possible care for the injured person. Follow established council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of council staff, parents/guardians, and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital. Check with your council for emergency contact information and keep your Emergency Action Plan current with the appropriate contacts.

Your council may either have specific emergency contact information or a 24- hour emergency number or both. You should reach out to them for assistance.  If a Girl Scout needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow council procedures for accidents and incidents. You will need the exact time and location of the incident, a description of the incident, and also the names of the people involved and any witnesses. After receiving a report of an accident, council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will contact parents/guardians, as appropriate. Your adherence to these procedures is critical, especially with respect to notifying parents or legal guardians. If the media is involved, let council-designated staff discuss the incident with media representatives.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be immediately notified. A responsible volunteer must remain at the scene at all times. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions. Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council, and, if applicable, insurance representatives or legal counsel.

When Someone Needs Emergency Care

Girls need to receive proper instruction on how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to volunteers any accidents, illnesses, or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. You can help girls by keeping in mind the following: 

  • Know what to report. 
  • Establish and practice procedures for weather emergencies. 
  • Know the type of extreme weather to expect in your area (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning). Please consult with your council for the most relevant information for you to share with girls. 
  • Establish and practice procedures for such circumstances as fire evacuation, lost persons, and building-security issues. Every girl and adult volunteer must know how to act in these situations. For example, you and the girls, with the help of a fire department representative, should design a fire evacuation plan for meeting places used by the group. 
  • Assemble a well-stocked first aid kit that is always accessible. First aid administered in the first few minutes can make a significant difference in the severity of an injury. In an emergency, secure professional medical assistance as soon as possible, normally by calling 911, and then administer first aid, if appropriately trained.

First Aid/CPR

For many activities, Girl Scouts recommends that at least one adult volunteer be first aid/CPR-certified. You can take advantage of first aid/ CPR training offered by organizations such as:

  • American Red Cross
  • National Safety Council
  • EMP America
  • American Heart Association
  • American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI)
  • Medic
  • Other sponsoring organizations approved by your council. 

Caution: Internet first aid / CPR training that is offered entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts’ requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on life-saving technique. If taking a course not offered by one of the organizations listed in the previous paragraph, or any course that has online components, get approval from your support team or council prior to enrolling in the course.

First-Aider

General First Aider . A general first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout approved first aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for adult and pediatric CPR, first aid, and AED as well as AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training that, minimally, includes face to face, hands-on skills check for:

  • Checking a conscious victim
  • Checking an unconscious victim
  • Adult & Pediatric CPR
  • Adult & Pediatric Conscious choking
  • Controlling bleeding
  • Sudden illness

If through the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, or American Heart Association, you have a chance to be fully trained in first aid and CPR, doing so may make your activity planning go a little more smoothly. 

Advanced First Aider. An advanced first aider is an adult with general first aid certification with additional health, safety or emergency response expertise such as, for example, a physician; physician’s assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; wilderness training, certified lifeguard or emergency medical technician(EMT).

The Safety Activity Checkpoints always tell you when a first-aider needs to be present. Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a first-aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness and scope of the activity. For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times the first-aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the advanced first-aider must have knowledge of wilderness first aid (see the chart below).

Access to EMS Minimum Level of First Aid Required

Level of First Aid Required

Less than 30 minutes 

General First Aid

More than 30 minutes

Advanced First Aid or Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR)


Although a WFR is not required, it is strongly recommended when traveling with groups in areas that are greater than 30 minutes from EMS. 

It is important to understand the differences between a first aid course, and a wilderness rated course. Although standard first aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of an advanced first-aider is required at resident camp. For large events—200 people or more—there should be, additional to regular first aider(s), one advanced first-aider for every 200 participants. The following healthcare providers serve as advanced first-aiders for large groups: physician; physician’s assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; wilderness training; and emergency medical technician.

First-Aid Kit 

Make sure a general first aid kit is available at your group meeting place and accompanies girls on any activity (including transportation to and from the activity). Please be aware that you may need to provide this kit if one is not available at your meeting place. You can purchase a Girl Scout first aid kit, you can buy a commercial kit, or you and the girls can assemble a kit yourselves. The Red Cross offers a list of potential items in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit (note that the Red Cross’s suggested list includes aspirin, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without direct parent/guardian permission). You can also customize a kit to cover your specific needs, including flares, treatments for frostbite or snake bites, and the like.

In addition to standard materials, all kits should contain your council and emergency telephone numbers (which you can get from your council contact). Girl Scout activity insurance forms, parent consent forms, and health histories may also be included.

Chartered Aircraft Trips and Aviation

Small chartered aircraft trips require prior council approval for each trip. This activity is permitted only with trip-specific council prior approval. The safety factors involving chartered aircraft, equipment and pilots are transparent and readily verifiable, unlike private aircraft. Confirm with your council ahead of time that chartered aviation participation is covered under your council’s general liability policy or non-owned aviation liability insurance policy. Again, these policies will almost always exclude privately-owned aircraft

Your council will confirm that the aviation company has evidenced proper insurance showing at least one million dollars aviation liability insurance and five million dollars umbrella. It is strongly recommended that your council consult with their insurance broker and/or GSUSA Risk & Insurance via LShimborski@girlscouts.org for assistance with vetting insurance issues and implications.

Tethered Hot-Air Ballooning. Some outdoor parks may offer the opportunity to learn the skill of hot-air ballooning in a relatively safe and controlled environment utilizing a tethered hot-air balloon. Consult your council so they can check their general liability insurance or non-owned aviation liability policy to determine if this activity is covered. A hot-air balloon is an aircraft and viewed the same as small planes or helicopters from an aviation risk perspective. Therefore the same standard applies—professionally chartered and tethered hot air balloon rides will be considered, but private hot air balloons will not – private hot air balloons are not permitted.

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.