Everyone knows that Girl Scouts is all about making new friends (but keeping the old!), and the start of a new school year is the perfect time to round out your troop with some new faces. Adding new members can invigorate your group, bringing diverse experiences and new ideas to the table as you strengthen the sense of community within your troop. But how can you showcase and attract others to the empowering, character-building benefits of Girl Scouts that you know and love?

As a Girl Scout alumna and troop leader of 7 years, here are my top tips for recruiting new girls to join your troop:

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1. Host a Bring-a-Friend meeting.

It’s common that your girls might want to invite their friends to troop meetings to see what Girl Scouts is all about! So lean into your girls’ natural desire to be social and host a special “Bring-a-Friend” meeting for your troop (or just designate certain meetings throughout the year as being open for friends.).

When hosting a Bring-a-Friend meeting, it’s important that the meeting is authentic to your troop’s Girl Scout experience. If your troop is full of outdoor adventurers, a meeting filled with crafts and games may not be the best way to attract the girls that are right for your group. And if your girls are a little more on the low-key side, your troop trip to Great America might not be the right event for potential new Girl Scouts to experience. Instead, plan a meeting that will allow for lots of interaction between the girls, down time for you to talk to the potential new parents, and a fun activity that is true to your troop’s interests.

2. Add your troop to the Troop Catalog.

Did you know that there are thousands of girls all over the country waiting to find the perfect troop, and hundreds in Northern California alone? We need to do our part to help these girls find their homes in Girl Scouts! Many councils have a troop opportunity catalog—an online listing that provides detailed information about the troops in your area that have open spots available. (You can find GSNorCal’s troop catalog opt-in form, here!) The troop catalog is the perfect opportunity to tell new members about what your troop likes to do and what makes you, you.  You’ll fill in all of the details about the age levels of your girls, when you meet, and what kinds of activities you enjoy, which will help new Girl Scouts and volunteers find their perfect match.

Psst—When GSNorCal troops opt into our troop catalog before November 30, 2017, all of your girls (and leaders, too!) will receive a free patch to celebrate your success. And when you opt-in to the catalog and add a new girl to your troop before November 30, you’ll earn the patch and rocker. Click to learn more about the GSNorCal troop catalog opt-in campaign!

Grow Your Troop Patch

3. Have your girls wear their uniforms to school on meeting days (and share their Girl Scout story).

When I was a Daisy, Brownie, and Junior, I remember wearing my uniform to school every time I had a Girl Scout event to go to. (And I’m talking full-on uniform here—vest, khaki shorts, white polo shirt, decorative hair bow, the whole nine yards.) My troop leader actually incentivized us to do this, since we had some kind of troop point system; you got extra points if you wore your uniform to school. I stopped wearing my uniform to school during middle school when I switched troops, but started up again on my own in late high school. For me, wearing my Girl Scout vest made me so proud to show off my badges, skills, and Higher Awards, and I loved when people would ask me about them! Some of my best Girl Scout friendships to this day were created with girls who joined my troop in high school, after learning about my own experience.

No matter how old your girls are, wearing their uniforms out and about is a powerful way to recruit new members for your troop. The Girl Scout uniform is a symbol of pride and tells a story of their unique experiences—the skills they’ve learned, the adventures they’ve gone on—and it’s hard for friends not to ask about it. Encourage your girls to don their Girl Scout green to school, back-to-school night, and out in the community on days that they have Girl Scout events to attend, and you’re sure to pique interest.

4. Invite your friends and their girls to attend Service Unit or Council events with you.

There’s something magical about the Girl Scout sisterhood, isn’t there? So what better way to recruit new members than to invite your friends and their girls to join along for a Service Unit or Council event to get a taste of the wider Girl Scout community! From building robots to singing songs around the campfire, there are opportunities for every girl in Girl Scouts, no matter what her interests are. (And I like to think that that’s what makes us so special!)

Whether we’re environmental champions, budding entrepreneurs, or passionate about changing the world, the next opportunity to stand up, speak up, and take the lead is never far away. So round up your favorite friends and invite them to see why Girl Scouts is the best place for their girls to grow into the confident, courageous, and strong women of tomorrow, today. (Seriously, what parent can say no to that?)

5. Hand out physical invitations for girls to share with their friends.

Your girls are by far your best recruiters. Make it easy for their friends to join in on the fun by giving out a handful of physical invitations for your girls to pass out at school, in the community, clubs, church, sports practice, dance classes, back-to-school night, student government meetings, and, well, you get the idea!

Your invitation should include space for your girl to write her name, her friend’s name, meeting details (date, time, and location), and your troop leader’s contact information.

Pro Tip: Canva is a great free graphic design tool, if you want to get creative with your invites.

And that’s a wrap on my ideas, but I know you have a ton of ideas of your own! Be sure to let us know in the comments below what your best strategies for recruiting new girls to join your troop are—there are always newer troop leaders looking to learn from your expertise!

What’s next?

  • Have a friend that’s new to the world of being a Girl Scout leader? Share this post with them!
  • If you’re adding new girls this year, be sure to make her feel welcome by planning an investiture ceremony.
  • If you’re a GSNorCal troop leader, add your troop to our Troop Catalog by 11/30/2017 and earn your free patch.