Volunteer Orientation Handbook
Communicating with Girls of Any Age
When communicating with girls, consider the following tips:
Listen: Listening to girls, as opposed to telling them what to think, feel, or do is the first step in helping them take ownership of their activities.
- Be honest: If you are not comfortable with a topic or activity, say so. No one expects you to be an expert on every topic. Ask for alternatives or seek out volunteers with the required expertise. Owning up to mistakes—and apologizing for them—goes a long way with girls.
- Be open to big issues: For girls, important topics are things like relationships, peer pressure, school, money, drugs, and other serious issues. When you do not know, listen. When Girl Scout activities involve sensitive issues, your role is that of caring adult who can help girls acquire their own skills and knowledge in a supportive atmosphere, not someone who advocates any particular position. Check with Manitou Council about which sensitive issues may require additional council support to present and discuss, as well as whether parent/guardian permission is required.
- Show respect: Girls often say that their best experiences were the ones where adults treated them as equal partners. Being spoken to as a young adult helps them grow.
- Offer options: Providing flexibility in changing needs and interests shows that you respect the girls and their busy lives. But whatever option is chosen, girls at every grade level also want guidance and parameters.
- Stay current: Be aware of the TV shows girls watch, movies they like, books and magazines they read, and music they listen to—not to pretend you have the same interests, but to show you are interested in their world.
The Quiet Sign is made by raising your right hand high. As girls in the troop see the sign, they stop talking and also raise their hands. Once everyone is silent, the meeting can begin.
Group Agreement is a “girl-led” process to create a list of appropriate individual and group behaviors that will support a good learning environment. Having a group agreement will also help the girls manage conflict.
Addressing the Needs of Older Girls
Consider the following tips when working with teenage girls:
Think of yourself as a partner, and as a coach or mentor, as needed (not a “leader”).
- Ask girls what rules they need for safety and what group agreements they need to be a good team.
- Understand that girls need time to talk, unwind, and have fun together.
- Ask what they think and what they want to do.
- Encourage girls to speak their minds.
- Provide structure, but do not micromanage.
- Give everyone a voice in the group.
- Treat girls like partners.
- Don’t repeat what is said in the group to anyone outside of it (unless necessary for the girl’s safety).
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