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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This section was designed to answer some of the questions most often asked about the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians.

If your question isn't answered here, please contact us at 800-474-1912 or info@girlscoutcsa.org.

Camp

How many camps are there in our council, and where are they?
GSCSA is home to three camps: Camp Adahi in Cloudland, Georgia, Camp Tanasi in Andersonville, Tennessee, and Camp Wildwood in Johnson City, Tennessee.

What is Summer Resident Camp?
Summer Resident Camp is when girls come "live" at camp from anywhere from three nights to two weeks! There are many different weeks and activities to choose from. Don't miss our camp-specific FAQ section, too!

Is there financial assistance for Summer Resident Camp?
Yes. Financial assistance is available for families with financial needs for summer resident camp. Girls must be registered Girl Scouts to apply. Funds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program, area United Way organizations and contributions from businesses, friends, and families help underwrite the actual cost of resident camp, allowing us to keep fees as low as possible.

We encourage all troops to participate in GSCSA sponsored product sales. These sales allow girls to learn budgeting and goal setting skills while allowing them the opportunities to pay for shop items, uniforms, badges, and program events from sales proceeds. Participation in product sales is required to be considered for a campership.

What are the requirements to go camping as a troop?
In order for a troop to go camping at a council owned site or another off-site location within 30 minutes of medical help you MUST have the following:

  • One approved volunteer with Child and Adult CPR (and/or AED) and First Aid training.
  • One approved volunteer with a one-time Outdoor Basics training and a completed Camp Policies take-home exam (every three years). Cadettes and up can also take the training.
  • You do not need to have the trainings and certification before you make your camp reservation but names and copies of certification cards MUST be turned in prior to your camping date.
Membership

How old do you have to be to join?
Girls can join as soon as they are in kindergarten! The Girl Scout grade levels are as follows:

  • Girl Scout Daisy – kindergarten and 1st grade
  • Girl Scout Brownie – 2nd – 3rd grade
  • Girl Scout Junior – 4th – 5th grade
  • Girl Scout Cadette – 6th – 8th grade
  • Girl Scout Senior – 9th – 10th grade
  • Girl Scout Ambassador – 11th – 12th grade

How do we join?
Please visit www.girlscoutcsa.org and click FIND MY TROOP. This will take you to a separate page where you will enter the basic information to get started. Once you enter the school information and zip code you will have access to search our troop catalog so that you can locate a troop that is convenient for you. There is a $15 annual registration fee which you may pay by credit/debit card, cash, or check. Financial assistance is also available if needed. Girl Scouting is open to all girls regardless of their income.

Is there financial assistance for membership?
Girl Scouting is open to all girls and adults regardless of their income. To encourage participation, Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians makes funds available to help girls, adult members, and volunteers who need financial assistance.

When completing a new online registration or renewing your membership on our website at www.girlscoutcsa.org, please select "Financial Aid" as your form of payment.

Is there financial assistance for items in the shop, such as uniform components?
Yes. To apply for shop financial assistance, complete this form (coming soon), and submit to info@girlscoutcsa.org, fax or drop off at one of the three service centers indicated on the form. To be eligible to receive financial assistance for shop items, each Girl Scout must be a registered member of GSUSA and meet the eligibility requirements by providing documentation of need as indicated on the form. All forms are subject to approval and will take into consideration how long the Girl Scout has been a member and if she has participated in money-earning activities with the troop.

Once the completed form is received, we will review the information and inform you of the status. Please allow at least 48 hours for processing.

Does she have to have a uniform and/or pins? Where does everything go?
Uniforms are not required, but they are encouraged! Uniforms are different for each grade level.

Refer to the Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting or this diagram for color pictures for placement of pins, badges, and patches.

What is an Individually Registered Member?
An Individually Registered Member is a Girl Scout who is not in a troop, but still wants to participate in Girl Scout events. IRMs can attend any Girl Scout event and Summer Resident Camp, and can also participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

How do we renew for another year?
Check out our handy renewal guide for girls, adults, and troops!

How do we pick a troop? Are there troops near me? Can we request a specific troop?
Please visit our homepage and click FIND MY TROOP. This will take you to a separate page and you will enter basic information to get started. Once you enter the school information and zip code, you’ll have access to search our troop catalog so that you can locate a troop near you. To join, there’s a $15 annual membership fee which you may pay by credit/debit card, cash, or check. Financial assistance is also available. 

Product

What is the Fall Product Program?
The Fall Product Program gives girls and troops the opportunity to sell magazine subscriptions (and renewals) and popular nuts and candies in order to earn quick and easy startup money for their troop. The program is short - only a few weeks to a month long.

When is the cookie sale?
Dates vary from year to year, but the Girl Scout Cookie Program typically starts in January and concludes in March.

Where does the cookie money go?
After our product costs are covered, every penny our Cookie Program generates will directly or indirectly benefit the girls and communities GSCSA serves. During the 2016 Cookie Program, nearly 1 million in proceeds was earned by girls and troops for local use within our communities.

What are cookie booths? Who runs them?
Cookie booths are an opportunity for girls to sell cookies directly to customers in high-traffic areas such as grocery stores, malls, or at sporting events. Booth sale times and locations are organized by service units.

Volunteers sign up for a specified number of cookie booth slots in eBudde during several rounds of sign ups. Booths take place in two-hour time slots, and must be manned by one Girl Scout and two unrelated adults. Volunteers can also submit additional booth locations for approval after all the initial selection rounds have ended. Additional sites are subject to approval by council staff.

Unauthorized booth sales, including cookies being sold where there is no girl present, are not allowed.

I have way more questions about cookies. HELP.
We know that the Cookie Program is a big undertaking for both girls and volunteers. Check out our Cookies page for tons of resources and explanations.

Program

How does she earn badges?
Girls earn badges by completing the requirements either by themselves or with their troop. Requirements for specific badges can be found in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, as each age level has its own set of badges/requirements. Badges are part of the official Girl Scout Leadership Experience, and are placed on the front of a girl's vest or sash.

How do we earn the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award?
The Bronze Award can be earned by Girl Scout Juniors, the Silver Award can be earned by Girl Scout Cadettes, and the Gold Award can be earned by Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors.

One is not required to earn the next, but the requirements are progressive, and prepare the girl for the next one.

Prerequisites vary by with grade level, but each requires completing Girl Scout Journeys, and spending a set amount of hours on the award. Check out the individual requirements for Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

What scholarships can she apply for after earning the Gold Award?
GSCSA offers 10 scholarships annually to girls who have earned their Gold Award and are graduating high school seniors the year they apply. There are eight $500 scholarships recognizing overall achievement, one $750 scholarship recognizing the highest academic achiever among applicants, and one $750 scholarship recognizing the highest service achievement among applicants. Girls who have completed their Gold Awards as freshmen, sophomores, or juniors can apply for these scholarships the year they graduate high school. High school seniors who finish their Gold Award after the March 16 deadline cannot apply for the scholarships the following year when they are already college freshmen.

No late applications are accepted. Girls will be notified by the end of April and funds are sent directly to the girls' chosen higher education institutions.

What about grants for taking big trips?
Our council offers Cadettes and up the opportunity to apply for up to $500 to put towards a council-sponsored trip or GSUSA Destination. This grant is for individual girls, and not troops.

Are there grants to help with the costs of a big community service/Take Action/Silver or Gold project?
YES! Cadettes and up can apply for up to $250 in the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant.

What is a Journey and how do I do one?
A Journey is a collection of badges and corresponding guide book. The Journey follows one of three themes: It’s Your Planet – Love it!, It’s Your World – Change It!, and It’s Your Story – Tell It! Girls can use the Journey book to guide their experience while also working on the five skill-building badges that go along with it. It can be done solo or with a troop!

Safety

What are Safety Activity Checkpoints?
The checkpoints are sets of safety guidelines for frequent Girl Scout activities. They are all easily accessed on our website. Read the checkpoints, follow them, and share them with other volunteers, parents, and girls before engaging in activities with girls.

How many adults need to be present with a group of Girl Scouts?
Your group must have at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers present at all times, plus additional adult volunteers as necessary, depending on the size of the group and the ages and abilities of girls. Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old (or the age of majority defined by the state, if it is older than 18) and must be screened by your council before volunteering. One lead volunteer in every group must be female.

What should volunteers do about potentially abusive situations?
Sexual advances, improper touching, and sexual activity of any kind with girl members are forbidden. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse of girls is also forbidden. Follow your council’s guidelines for reporting concerns about abuse or neglect that may be occurring inside or outside of Girl Scouting.

How can a troop be as emotionally safe as possible?
Adults are responsible for making Girl Scouting a place where girls are as safe emotionally as they are physically. Protect the emotional safety of girls by creating a team agreement and coaching girls to honor it. Agreements typically encourage behaviors like respecting a diversity of feelings and opinions; resolving conflicts constructively; and avoiding physical and verbal bullying, clique behavior, and discrimination.

How do Girl Scouts model inclusivity?
Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, disability, family structure, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status. When scheduling, helping plan, and carrying out activities, carefully consider the needs of all girls involved, including school schedules, family needs, financial constraints, religious holidays, and the accessibility of appropriate transportation and meeting places.

Troops

Does she have to be in a troop?
While troops are the traditional and most popular way to participate in Girl Scouts, she can participate by attending events, workshops, trips, and/or camp as an individual.

When and where do troops meet?
Everywhere and all the time! Troops choose their own meeting times and places. You might be placed into an existing troop, or if you’re in a new troop – you’ll get to pick your own meeting time and place!

Who will be in her troop?
A troop is made up of girls in the same grade level, or sometimes, there are multi-level troops. That means that the troop has members of different Girl Scout grade levels.

Who leads the troops?
You might! Troops are 100% volunteer led. If you are placed in an existing troop, there will already be volunteers providing guidance and leadership, but they would be glad to have extra assistance. In a new troop, all parents and caregivers, after registering as volunteers and passing a background check, will divide the responsibilities of leading the troop – like a team!

There is a required number of adults to be present based on the grade level. These are our Safety Ratios, and are designed to keep everyone transparent and safe.

Girl Scouts requires at least two adults when working with girls, one of which must be a female. Check Chapter 4 of Volunteer Essentials - "Safety-Wise." to make sure you understand how many volunteers you need.

How do we set up a troop bank account?
Check out Chapter 5 of Volunteer Essentials - "Managing Group Finances." In order to maintain accountability, we require that two troop financial reports be submitted annually. We also have instructions on our Troop Banking page.

How does our troop raise money?
You can participate in the Fall Product Program and the Girl Scout Cookie Program! Both of these are great ways for girls to earn funds for their troops. Some troops also choose to implement troop dues, but that varies from troop to troop.

Can we do another fundraising project besides Fall Product and the Cookie Program?
Troops and service units may participate in the following fundraising events without informing the council:

  • Bake sales 
  • Pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers, or other meals 
  • Car washes 
  • Yard/garage sales

The council must be informed about any other money-earning events other than those listed above through the Money-Earning Application. We ask that this be completed 30 days prior to the event, when possible. This allows us to be sure that we are following GSUSA guidelines and IRS guidelines and standards. Plus, we’re eager to see your success in money-earning events.

Can our troop ask for donations?
Troops may not solicit a business with 50 or more employees for monetary donations. Troops may, however, solicit any business regardless of size for in-kind donations, including gift cards.

Troops may receive up to $250 in sponsorships annually. Service units may now receive up to $500 in sponsorships annually.

Volunteering

What kinds of volunteer roles are there?
There are many ways to volunteer with Girl Scouts. You could volunteer with a troop, teaching outdoor skills classes, helping at events, or even during recruitment.

What kind of volunteer training is there, and when is it?
There is role-specific training for all troop volunteers. Some is online, some is in person. Troop administrator and girl program mentor workshops are held frequently at your local service center. Check the Activities page for a session that may even be scheduled closer to home. And, if you have four friends, we will bring the workshop to you! These workshops are very interactive, so at least five volunteers must be registered in order for the workshop to be a success.The in-person workshops last 90 minutes to two hours.

Do I have to have Girl Scout experience to volunteer?
Absolutely not! As with any over 100-year-old organization, the program has changed over time to meet the needs of girls today. Training is provided on the current mission and program. You also don’t have to be a mom. A lot of volunteers in Girl Scouts are moms and relatives of girls – but a growing number are not. Anyone who wants to help build girls’ leadership abilities may apply to volunteer. Including men!

What kind of resources are there for volunteers?
There are troop meeting-planning resources for troop administrators and girl program mentors: the Volunteer Toolkit and MyGS. The Volunteer Toolkit allows volunteers to take girls' input and plan their entire year, from badges to trips, events, and product sales! MyGS allows volunteers in leadership positions to view the girls and adults in their troop, as well as renew girls and volunteers for the next membership year.

There are staff dedicated to troop volunteers, who are ready and able to answer your questions, and help get you trained. They also provide on going support for volunteers.

There are plenty of tip sheets, manuals, and how-tos on our website, but the best resources will be your fellow volunteers.

What are the expectations and time commitment of being a volunteer?
Troop volunteers work together in a team environment to provide a quality Girl Scout Experience for girls assigned to their troop. All prospective volunteers are required to complete a GSCSA volunteer application for approval; become a registered member of Girl Scouts of the USA; comply with Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians Policies and Procedures; and participate in and complete training for specific roles. Time commitment varies depending upon the frequency of troop meetings, the ages and needs of the girls, and the availability of additional volunteer help.

All volunteers have to be background checked? Why?
All volunteers are required to become registered members of Girl Scouts of the USA upon appointment and to renew their membership annually, unless they choose to become a lifetime member.

All prospective volunteers are required to complete the GSCSA volunteer application, including the release of personal information to GSCSA for a criminal records check using one or more third party vendors. This is a secure process and all information is confidential.

A volunteer is defined as any adult age 18 or over who wishes to serve GSCSA in a voluntary, non-paid capacity. This includes adults working directly with girls, adults who simply fulfill the adult requirement of the adult/girl ratio by grade level as detailed in Volunteer Essentials and the Safety Activity Checkpoints, and administrative volunteers who handle large amounts of money or confidential information.

Do I have to be a volunteer?
You don't have to volunteer in order for your daughter/girl to be in Girl Scouts, but it definitely helps. If you're in a new troop, and it hasn't gotten started yet, you might take on a role to get it going! It's fun and special to make memories alongside your Girl Scout.