By: Elizabeth Cooper, Leader of Girl Scout Troop #1493
When I became a Girl Scout Leader of my own troop, one of the challenges I faced was finding an appropriate meeting location. That first year our troop met at three different sites, each site a different day and time, before we found a permanent meeting space at a local church. And all that was before our meetings broke for the winter holidays!
Even though parents understood the reasons, each move was causing an upheaval to their schedule. As you can imagine, this was not the way I wanted to start my new troop. For any new leaders, there will be challenges to finding the “perfect space,” but I do believe there are many great spaces are out there for troop meetings.
In addition to my role as troop leader, I also serve as the Service Unit Manager of Area 36 in Cumberland County. I make it part of my mission to find locations for new troops or for those looking for a new location to meet. Troops in our local service area meet at local parks and recreation centers, at local libraries, at churches and faith organizations, and at local community centers.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you look for that great meeting space:
- The location must be free to use, in both cost and availability
- You want a place that will be accessible for all levels of mobility
- Two, clearly marked accessible exits
- Consider level of privacy for security reasons — you do not want strangers tromping through your meeting space, this make your girls vulnerable safety wise, so a location that has room off to the side, or class room space is best.
I have also learned that it is important to maintain contact with the locations that donate meeting space for our troops. Stopping by is a great way to learn what is happening in the local community, to ask if their service projects Girl Scouts can assist with and give back, and ensure the troops at those sites are they representing Girl Scouts appropriately.
This will be my fourth year leading the troop, and I am pleased to say that we have not moved again since the church opened their doors to us. In fact, the church has increased the Girl Scout presence and hosts five Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines’ troops covering all the levels on Tuesdays, which winds up being very helpful to parents of sisters who are at different grade levels.
Remember, the key is to finding that perfect space is to reach out to your community. This is an opportunity to become a part of your community, develop a partnership while showing the girls and the community what we can do when we work together.
For any seasoned leaders out there, where have you found those perfect meeting spaces? And what special things have come from the partnerships you have with your meeting sites?