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Safety

Safety in Girl Scouting

In Girl Scouting, the emotional and physical safety and well-being of girls is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the safety standards and guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities.

All volunteers should review the Safety Activity Checkpoints manual when planning activities with girls in order to manage safety and risk in Girl Scout–sanctioned activities.

In Safety Activity Checkpoints, you’ll find:

  • Girl Scout Activity Safety Standards and Guidelines with requirements for adult supervision, permission slips, preparation, field trips and overnight trips, transporting girls, and other vital information 
  • Activities that are not permitted by GSUSA, and actions that girls and volunteers should not take
  • Policies surrounding chartered aircraft trips and aviation
  • First-aid and overall health information you’ll need from the girls
  • Standards for well-being and inclusivity, including working with girls with disabilities and ensuring emotional safety
  • A breakdown of specific activities—such as camping, internet use, and water sports—and their individual safety checkpoints 

Following the Safety Standards and Guidelines is an Activity-at-a-Glance chart which details two critical points to keep in mind:

  • Age-appropriate activities and participation by grade level
  • For any activity requiring prior approval, submit the Activity and Event Approval Form at least 30 days prior to event.

Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need

From camping weekends to cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure their girls have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. 

Not sure just how many adults you’ll need for your activity? The helpful chart below breaks down the minimum number of volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of girls; councils may also establish maximums due to size or cost restrictions, so be sure to check with them as you plan your activity. 

The following ratios should be followed for the youngest girls present at an activity. Also, make sure that any additional children present (tag-a-longs/brother or sisters, non-Girl Scouts) are included in the count.  

Volunteer Expectations

Confidentiality of Girl Information

Health Histories

Troop/group leaders are expected to maintain health history records for the group.

Girl Heath History

Adult Health History

Troop leaders should have complete health history forms on hand during troop meetings and any other troop activities. When travelling, health history forms and emergency contact information should be in the possession of the adult in charge. Heath history, address and contact details of girls are confidential (pertinent information may be shared with other volunteers or GSCO staff when needed). Please keep this information in a safe place. Troops are encouraged to have a binder or folder that is accessible only to troop volunteers to store confidential health information.

Dispensing Medication

Medication, including over-the-counter products and sunscreen, must never be dispensed without prior written permission from a girl’s custodial parent or guardian (Medication Permission form).

Volunteer Safety Responsibilities

The emotional and physical safety and well-being of girls is always a top priority. You, the girls, and the parents/guardians of the girls share the responsibility for staying safe.

Follow the Safety Activity Checkpoints

Safety Activity Checkpoints is a resource that provides instructions for staying safe while participating in various activities. Read the checkpoints and share them with the adults and girls in your group before engaging in activities. Each set of Safety Activity Checkpoints offers information on:

  • Where to do the activity
  • How to include girls with disabilities
  • Where to find both basic and specialized gear required
  • How to prepare yourselves for the activity
  • What specific steps to follow on the day of the activity
  • What program levels are appropriate to participate in each type of activity

Report Abuse

Sexual advances, improper touching and sexual activity of any kind with girl members, as well as physical, verbal and emotional abuse of girls is strictly forbidden. Follow the guidelines for reporting concerns about abuse or neglect that may be occurring inside or outside of Girl Scouting.

Share your concern with the girl’s family, if this is feasible. If you believe a child is at risk and it is not feasible to share your concern with her family, get the information you need to make a report.

How to Report Suspected Child Maltreatment
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at (800) 4-A-CHILD or (800) 422-4453.

Travel Safely

When transporting girls to planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities that are outside the normal time and place of regular troop meetings, every driver must be an adult (21+) with a membership and an approved background check, a valid license, and a registered/insured vehicle. Insist that everyone is in a legal seat and wears a seat belt at all times and adhere to state laws regarding booster seats and requirements for children in rear seats. Use the Driver Information Record as an optional resource to help you coordinate drivers for trips and ensure that they are fully aware of responsibilities as a driver.

Ensure Safe Overnight Outings

Prepare girls to be away from home by involving them in planning, so they know what to expect. Males should have a separate sleeping area (such as tent, tabin, or separate room). Groups should have access to either a separate restroom or troops should bring a sign to indicate the gender using the restroom at that time. It is not mandatory that an adult sleep in the sleeping area (tent, cabin, or designated area) with the girls, but if an adult female does share the sleeping area, there should always be two unrelated adult females present. During family or parent-daughter overnights, one family unit may sleep in the same sleeping quarters. During family overnight events, each girl must have accompanied by a caregiver. If this is not possible, then every single adult who is able to attend must be a registered member and have a completed background check. When parents are staffing events, daughters should remain in quarters with other girls rather than in adult areas. Overnight Trips training (available as part of the Travel Peak learning path in gsLearn) is required before your first overnight activity. If the troop will be camping or cooking outdoors, Outdoor Skills training is also required. 

Role-model the Right Behavior

GSCO expects volunteers to be fully capable of performing their duties. While volunteering, it is not permitted to be under the influence of any substance, including marijuana, which may impair physical and/or mental skills. Don’t consume drugs or alcohol, smoke, or use foul language in the presence of girls. Do not carry ammunition or firearms in the presence of girls unless given special permission by your council for group marksmanship activities.

Create an Emotionally Safe Space

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 Group Agreement and coaching girls to honor it. Group 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.

Ensure That No Girl is Treated Differently

Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, disability, family structure, religious beliefs, gender identity 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.

Promote Online Safety

Instruct girls never to put their full names or contact information online, engage in virtual conversation with strangers, or arrange in person meetings with online contacts. On group websites, never divulge girl’s contact information or identify girls by name in photographs. Review the Computer/Online Use: Safety Activity Checkpoints, and teach girls the Girl Scout Online Safety Pledge.   

Keep Girls Safe During Money-Earning Activities

The Girl Scout Cookie Program and other council-sponsored product programs are an integral part of the program. During Girl Scout product sale programs, you are responsible for the safety of girls, money, and products. In addition, a wide variety of organizations, causes, and fundraisers may appeal to Girl Scouts to be their labor force. When representing Girl Scouts, girls cannot participate in money earning activities that represent partisan politics or that are not Girl Scout–approved product programs and efforts. Follow the guidance for money earning activities in the Troop Finances section of Volunteer Essentials.

Transporting Girls Safely

How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.

For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities (outside the normal meeting time and place) in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:

  • Every driver must be an approved volunteer at least 21 years old, have a good driving record, a valid license and a registered/insured vehicle.
  • Girls never drive other girls.
  • All state laws must be followed.
  • If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers, one of whom is female, and the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed. Care should be taken so that a single car is not separated from the group for an extended length of time.

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, rental cars, privately owned or rented recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights.

Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note, you must check with council to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles . Fifteen passenger vans are not recommended. Contact risk.management@gscolorado.org with questions about large vehicle use.

Please keep in mind the following non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:

 

Insurance

Girl Scout Activity Insurance

Every registered Girl Scout and registered volunteer member in the Girl Scout movement is automatically covered under the basic Mutual of Omaha Activity Insurance plan upon registration. The entire premium cost for this protection is borne by Girl Scouts of the USA, and the basic plan is for registered members (girls and adults) ONLY at the time of the claim.  

This insurance provides up to a specified maximum for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident while a member is participating in an approved, supervised Girl Scout activity. This is one reason why all volunteers and girls should be registered members. It is important to remember that non-registered parents, tagalongs (brothers, sisters, and friends) and other persons are not covered by the basic plan. 

High risk activities (as defined by Safety Activity Checkpoints) require prior council approval. Complete the High Risk Activities approval form prior to participating in a high risk activity.

This insurance coverage is not intended to diminish the need for, or replace existing, family health insurance. Mutual of Omaha will work with the family’s health insurance to determine the amount of any benefits for expenses incurred that aren’t covered under another insurance policy. 

Supplemental Insurance

The supplemental insurance arranged by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) through Mutual of Omaha provides basic medical coverage for injuries and sickness (depending on the coverage selected) for participants at Girl Scout hosted activities and travel. There are two situations in which this supplemental insurance is required: 

  • Non-member participation in Girl Scout activities (i.e. camps, visit to zoo or aquarium, ice-skating, etc.)  Where an injury may occur is covered by Mutual of Omaha’s Plan 2, that is required to be purchased by the volunteer. Any time a non-registered adult (parent or other adult) and/or child (male or female not currently a Girl Scout member) participates. This requirement includes siblings. (Events such as Me & My Guy or a bowling activity with members and non-members participating are examples
  • Extended travel: All travel three nights or more in length, no matter Girl Scout membership status.

In both circumstances’ insurance is purchased on a per person, per day basis. GSUSA has established low-cost supplemental insurance coverage through Mutual of Omaha. In the event of an accidental injury, the individual’s personal insurance provides primary coverage and the Mutual of Omaha plans provide secondary coverage. Girl Scouts of Colorado provides no additional coverage for non-members in event of an accident outside of these plans. If participants have no personal coverage and no supplemental coverage through Mutual of Omaha, they have no accident coverage if they are injured at an event.

How to obtain insurance 

Complete the Activity and Event Approval Form prior to participating in any overnight activity or extended trip .

Using the information provided below chose one of the plans for your extended troop trip lasting more than 3 nights: 3E, 3P or 3PI and Roster for International Trips.

Plan 2 is for events with non-Girl Scouts attending

Mutual of Omaha Council Insurance Guide. Insurance/Troop Trip Travel Insurance/Mutual of Omaha Council Insurance Guide.pdf

Plan 3E

Plan 3P

Plan 3PI and roster

Email insurnace@gscolorado.org to purchase additional insurance for non- members participating in events or to purchase extending trip insurance for trips and travel lasting longer than 72 hours. If you have additional questions, please contact Girl Scouts of Colorado at 877-404-5708

First Aid and CPR

A first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken first aid and CPR training. Healthcare providers such as physicians, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, paramedics, military medics, and emergency medical technicians may also serve as first-aiders.

For all Girl Scout activities, including regular troop meetings it is required that at least one adult volunteer be first-aid/CPR certified. Safety Activity Checkpoints will tell you when an additional first-aider needs to be present or if there are higher requirements (such as Wilderness First Aid).

Creating a safe environment for girls is important, so first-aid and CPR training is an acceptable use of group funds. American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, and American Heart Association provide many training opportunities. (GSCO offers first aid training on a limited basis.)

Take child CPR if you’re working with younger girls and adult CPR if you’re working with older girls and adults. First-aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy GSCO requirements, however completing a hybrid class that is partially online and partially in-person is acceptable. 

First aid requirements are based on the remoteness of the activity. It’s important that you or another volunteer with your group has the necessary medical experience (including knowledge of evacuation techniques) to ensure group safety. The levels of first aid required for any activity take into account both how much danger is involved and emergency medical services (EMS) response time.

Access to EMS

Minimum Level of First Aid Required

Less than 30 minutes

First Aid

More than 30 minutes

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR)*

 

It is important to understand the differences between a first aid course, and a wilderness-rated course. Although standard first aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as the emergency first aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are not readily available.

The presence of a dedicated first-aider is required for large events of 200 people or more. There should be one first-aider for every 200 participants.