Friday, April 19, 2013

"Bring a Friend" Meeting Doubles Troop Size

Thanks to Brandy Slack, of Troop 45028 in SU 16, for this post! 

Troop 45028 began as a brand new troop last fall. We started out with only six girls – grades 4 and 5. We have been working on our Journey award badges. Since we're still such a new troop, we're trying to get the troop to run smoothly since next year we will be a blended troop.

Since I joined the SU team by becoming the new membership coordinator, I started thinking of ways that I could help get more girls signed up with Girl Scouts. I thought the best way to do this and also make our troop grow, was to have the girls invite their friends to join. The only thing better than doing something you like is doing it with your friends!

I made the suggestion to the troop, and of course the girls were more than ready to invite their friends! Each girl made invitations, and the girls planned the date and what we would do at the meeting, along with their parents. Most girls had at least one friend they want to invite, but some (like my daughter) had more than one  friend they wanted to invite.

For our invitation, I had a picture of four girls on my computer from the Juliette skating party back in October. I used website called Smilebox that had cards that you could print up, email, put on DVD, etc. I picked a card and added the picture of the girls* to it. Then I personalized the card to the information I wanted it to say, and printed it on photo paper. My daughter Brynne and I went to Michael's craft store for background paper and some Girl Scout stickers to add to it (Michael's carries Girl Scout items)! We ended up sharing the photo invitation with several girls. Each of them personalized the cards for their own use.

Nine new girls showed up to our Bring a Friend Meeting. Troop members introduced themselves and the friends they brought at the beginning of the meeting, and said something they loved about being a Girl Scout. The troop recited the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law. 

While one of the troop moms taught all the girls how to do a craft project, I talked to the parents that came to the meeting and gave them packets with information about our troop, what items were required to become a Girl Scout, the Girl Scout forms for both the girls and their moms in case they wanted to join.

On the day of invite, we had three new girls sign up. Three more girls signed up before our next meeting, two weeks later.  The girls who are new and in 5th grade share books with the original girls to help cut down on the cost of joining, since they will have to re-buy the next level books in the fall.

We will absolutely try this again! It was a great idea with little effort, but a huge pay off since six out of nine girls joined.

I believe the main reason more girls aren’t members already is because they either don't know that much about Girl Scouts, or they aren’t really sure they'd like it. Girls tend to enjoy something more if their friends are in it, too – which is why the bring a friend meeting was so successful.

If another troop wants to try this idea, I say GO FOR IT! A couple of tips to help make the meeting successful:

·        Watch out for cliques. Make sure girls have the opportunity to mingle and get to know one another so no one feels isolated or left out.
·        Let the girls decide what activities they want to do with their guests and let them design or decorate their own invitations. This will get the troop girls excited as well as the invited girls.

Friends will always talk to each other about what the troop does, the events they've participated in and how much fun they have with the other troop girls. There's no better advertising than that! 

*When using photos of members, please be sure to have appropriate photo permissions. You may use form #002 to obtain permission.