Once a troop is established, girls need to help decide which form of government they will use for their troop. At the Daisy and Brownie level, this is easy, as each level has a prescribed method of troop government (see below). But, when the girls reach Juniors and on through Cadettes and Seniors, the girls take on more responsibility of running the troop and thus should decide which form of government they will use.You may want to try all three out before the girls make a final decision. And, if the system they chose is not working for the troop, the troop can then decide on another form of government for themselves.
Daisy Girl Scouts can help make some of the decisions about their troop through the Daisy Circle. Meetings are held about once a month or so for 10-15 minutes and they are led by the Troop Leader. It is best for the Leader to give girls two or three choices to pick from at this age. Decisions could include things such as where to go on a field trip or what kind of service project the girls would like to participate in. Simplicity is the key here.
The Brownie Ring is very similar to the Daisy Circle but expands to the abilities of these now somewhat "older" girls. Girls can now begin to lead discussions and "brainstorm" ideas. A Ring "Leader" may be designated to lead discussions but make sure that all girls are given this leadership opportunity. If your group is very large, you can divide the group into smaller units, called Brownie Circles, to make it easier to accomplish some tasks.When someone wishes to speak, a special "Talking Signal" is used in the Brownie Ring. This is indicated by the girl placing the two fingers of her right hand on the floor (or table, if you are seated at a table instead of the floor). The Brownie Ring is a good way to make all of the major decisions in your troop from how to spend cookie profits to which Try-It to work on next.
The Executive Board consists of the "officers" of the troop. They generally include a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Job descriptions should be agreed upon as well as the duration of office. It is important, especially at the beginning of self-government, that eveyone has the opportunity to participate at some time throughout the year. These "board" members meet on a regular basis to decide matters for the troop. Some method needs to be devised for the troop members to give input to the Executive Board. This could be a simple suggestion box at a troop meeting. This system tends to work well with smaller troops.
In a Town Meeting, the entire troop makes its decisions together. A Moderator is generally needed to lead group discussions. Officers such as Secretary and Treasurer may be elected if the troop feels that there is a need. This generally only works well in small groups but can work in large groups if the girls can stay on task.
The Patrol System is the most versatile of the systems of government. The troop is divided into smaller units called Patrols. The ideal patrol size is about 5-8 girls. Each Patrol elects a Patrol Leader responsible for running their patrol meetings. An Assistant Patrol Leader is also a good idea in the event that the Patrol Leader cannot make a meeting. All troop business can be handled in these patrols. Attendance and dues can be recorded by the patrols. For any given outing, chores may be divided up with each patrol responsible for its own task. In order for the troop to run smoothly and as a group, Patrol Leaders should come together periodically (at least once a month) to discuss troop issues and make group decisions. This is called the "Court of Honor". Each patrol gives their input to the Patrol Leader who presents their viewpoint at the Court of Honor. Also included in the Court of Honor are any other troop officers such as Secretary and Treasurer. The Patrol System can be very successful, but only if the girls are given skills with which to succeed. See Patrol System Training.
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