When preparing for any activity with girls, always begin with the Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints written about that particular activity, which you can find on your council’s website.
Each Safety Activity Checkpoint includes the same format:
- Title of the checkpoint, a photo, and introductory text
- Information on where to do this activity and how to include girls with disabilities
- Basic and specialized gear required for the activity
- How you and the girls need to prepare yourselves in advance of the activity
- What specific steps to follow on the day of the activity
- Web links to help you and the girls learn more, plus ways to increase your know-how
- Activity-specific jargon
In addition to reading these checkpoints yourself, you can also e-mail or print them for co-volunteers, parents/guardians, and the girls themselves. The checkpoints are formatted as checklists, so that you, your co-volunteers, and the girls can go through and check off that each step has been followed.
In keeping with the three processes of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, be sure that all activities are girl-led, taking into account the age and abilities of the girls. Older girls can take the bulk of the responsibility for carefully planning and executing activities, while younger girls will require more of your guidance but should still be deeply involved in making decisions about their activities.
Also give the girls the chance to learn cooperatively, by having girls teach each other new skills they may need for activities, rather than hearing all that from you. And let girls learn by doing: If research or special equipment is needed, they’ll learn better doing that research themselves than by having you do the legwork and report back to them when possible. Even Daisies can do basic research and give reports or do show-and-tell for each other. And Ambassadors may need you only for moral support as they research, teach each other, and plan every detail of their excursions.
If Safety Activity Checkpoints do not exist for an activity you and the girls are interested in, be sure to check with your council before making any definite plans with the girls in your group. A few activities are allowed only with written council pre-approval and only for girls 12 and over, while some are off-limits completely:
- Caution: You must get written pre-approval from your council for girls ages 12 and older who will operate motorized vehicles, such as go-carts and personal watercraft (driving or riding all-terrain vehicles and motor bikes is never allowed); take trips on waterways that are highly changeable or uncontrollable (Class V and higher watercraft trips are never allowed) or fly in noncommercial aircraft, such as small private planes, helicopters, sailplanes, untethered hot-air balloons, and blimps (hang gliding, parachuting, and parasailing are never allowed). (These types of flights require that the rpovider be pre-approved and that the troop or provider buy an additional insurance policy since they are NOT covered by the council policy).
- Warning: The following activities are never allowed for any girl: shooting a projectile at another person (such as paintball), potentially uncontrolled free-falling (bungee jumping, hang gliding, parachuting, parasailing, and trampolining), creating extreme variations of approved activities (such as high-altitude climbing and aerial tricks on bicycles, skis, snowboards, skateboards, water-skis, and wakeboards), hunting, riding all-terrain vehicles and motor bikes, and taking watercraft trips in Class V or higher whitewater.