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:
– the type of emergency
- Medical, a member becomes suddenly ill
injury, a member is hurt during an activity
- Weather-related crisis or a challenging environment as with
- Pay attention to the weather so that the activity
can be rescheduled if there is a severe storm or weather-related
- 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)
- 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
- Contact all relevant parties
- Parents or legal guardians
- Law enforcement
owner or facility manager
Some key components of an
effective Emergency Action Plan (EAP) include:
. 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
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
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
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.
- 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
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.
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
Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway.
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 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.
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.