How to Manage a Girl Planning Board

I post Volunteer hints and advice every Tuesday on Facebook and Twitter. My family and I volunteer so readily and widely, we usually have plenty of bits of experience to share. I wanted to post something about a girl planning board, which we use heavily in Girl Scouts, but I couldn’t find much beyond mentions of using one. I thought maybe I could share a bit of my experience for anyone ready to manage a Girl Planning board with your Girl Scouts.

What is a Girl Planning Board, you ask? I copied this from the Community Handbook offered by my local council, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council:

“Girl planning and decision making are the backbone of the Girl Scout program, so allow the girls to have a voice in their event through a girl planning board. This board is guided by an adult on the event planning committee who acts as the channel of communication between the girls and the adult planning committee. The Girl Planning Board can choose the event’s theme, design the patch, select program activities, plan opening and closing ceremonies, and choose the planning board identification. The girls need clear direction on their role and responsibilities for the success of the event.”

Cool, right? In other words, the Girl Planning Board contains the girls who plan the event. Now this role can be bigger or smaller depending on the size of the event. For instance, the girls planned all the activities and designed the patch and organized the stations for Stryders. For Grand Prix, the individual participants design and build their cars at home. So, the Girl Planning Board just designs the patch and chooses the medals and service projects.

Managing a Girl Planning Board

  1. Call Out
    • Send an email to the registered girls in your service unit or community for participants and mention the call out at your monthly meetings.
    • Make sure to include girls of all levels. Yes, older girls are going to have more experience and be more independent with designing the events. However, if you don’t include Daisies and Brownies, they’ll never learn how to do this and be ready by the time they’re Cadettes and Seniors.
  2. Set up Meeting Dates
    • It’s much easier to set all the dates ahead of time. That way the girls will know whether they will be able to reliably participate or not.
  3. Meetings
    • Have the girls brainstorm first, such as throwing out ideas for the theme of a community camp out. (I’ll design another blog about brainstorming for those of you who need more guidance on how to do this with your girls.) Then guide them through voting to a theme they agree on.
    • We’ve been having the girls design the flyers to distribute to potential participants as well. You can make that decision based on the experience of your girls. If they’ve been stepped up properly, they’ll be ready.
    • Now the girls can design the patch (you want to do this early so they come in on time) and t-shirts if they decide to have them for the event.
    • Next are the activities and food. This is usually the most fun and will give the adults an idea of what the budget should be.
    • Don’t forget the ceremonies. It wouldn’t be Girl Scouting without some sort of ceremony. Flags for opening or closing, a special moment where awards are handed out, a Scout’s Own, a flag retirement. There’s lots for them to choose from.
  4. Build Time
    • Each girl usually gets a homework assignment to look up building plans or design some of their own. Now’s the time to test those out in person.
    • Or to bring in samples of crafts they’d like to lead. Again, it’s good to practice things before you’re in front of a bunch of little girls and nothing is working right.
    • Also, it’s a good time to make sure the activity they planned is suitable for the ages they planned it for. Juniors might be able to make complicated friendship bracelets with fancy knots. But Daisies might get mad or frustrated with the tiny knots. Maybe they could braid with larger pieces of yarn for their bracelets.
  5. At the Event
    • This part depends on what kind of event you have set up. Sometimes, the Girl Planning Board handles the opening and closing ceremony and manages the kaper chart.
    • Sometimes, they break up into teams and actually run each station at the event.
    • Other times, the Girl Planning Board participates with the rest of the girls and just gets credit for setting it all up.
    • It’s up to the girls what kind of event they envision and where they see themselves in the big picture.

Hints and Best Practices

  1. I always copy the parents on the emails and the minutes from the meetings. The Girl Planning Board might be full of go-getters, but they’re still children and a little parental back-up is never a bad thing.
  2. Yet, it’s better if the parents are in a different room while the girls are doing the actual planning. Not only will each learn to stand on her own feet, she’ll also be more willing to use her own voice without constantly looking at mom for approval. And, let’s face it, sometimes we volunteer moms get more involved than we should and it’s supposed to be their event, not ours.
  3. Don’t forget to get the members of the Girl Planning Board something special for their hard work and award it AT the event. That way they get acknowledged in front of their fellow Girl Scouts which will hopefully inspire more girls to step up and join the planning.

Are you ready to hold your own Girl Planning Board now? If not, what did I miss?

My council offers an Events training which discusses Girl Panels and Girl Planning Boards. See what your local council offers.

If you have any other questions, ask in the comments below!

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