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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.

Knowing Your Responsibilities

You, the caregivers of the girls in your group, and the girls themselves share the responsibility for staying safe. The next sections provide more details on everyone’s responsibilities.

Responsibilities of the Volunteer: Girl Scout Safety Guidelines
Every adult in Girl Scouting is responsible for the physical and emotional safety of girls, and we all demonstrate that by agreeing to follow these guidelines at all times.

  1. Follow the Safety Activity Checkpoints. Instructions for staying safe while participating in activities are detailed in the Safety Activity Checkpoints, available on the council website: gswo.org and in the Volunteer Toolkit under the resource tab. Read the checkpoints, follow them, and share them with other volunteers, caregivers, and girls before engaging in activities with girls.
  2. Arrange for proper adult supervision of girls. Your group must have at least two unrelated approved adult volunteers registered in supervisory roles (i.e., troop leader or troop assistant) present at all times. Additional volunteers may be necessary depending on the size, age or abilities of the girls. See the following pages for more on girl/adult ratio. At least one lead volunteer in each group must be female. Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old (and not eligible to be an Ambassador Girl Scout) and approved by Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.
  3. Get caregiver permission. When an activity takes place that is outside the normal time and place, or a topic is discussed that could be considered sensitive, advise each caregiver of the details of the activity and obtain permission for girls to participate. (See Permission Slip on council website).
  4. Report abuse. 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 Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s guidelines for reporting concerns about abuse or neglect that may be occurring inside or outside of Girl Scouting (found later in this chapter).
  5. Be prepared for emergencies. Work with girls and other adults to establish and practice procedures for emergencies related to weather, fire, lost girls/adults, and site security. Always keep handy a well-stocked first-aid kit, girl health histories, and contact information for girls’ families.
  6. Travel safely. When transporting girls to planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities that are outside the normal time and place, every driver must be an approved adult volunteer, at least 21 years of age, and have a good driving record, a valid license, and a registered/insured vehicle. Insist that everyone is in a legal seat and always wears their seat belt and adhere to state laws regarding booster seats and requirements for children in rear seats.
  7. Ensure safe overnight outings. Prepare girls to be away from home by involving them in planning, so they know what to expect. Do not have men sleep in the same space as girls and women. During family or caregiver-girl overnights, one family unit may sleep in the same sleeping quarters in program areas. When caregivers are staffing events, girls should remain in quarters with other girls rather than in staff areas.
  8. Role-model the right behavior. Never use illegal drugs. Don’t consume alcohol, smoke, or use foul language in the presence of girls. Do not carry ammunition or firearms in the presence of girls or on Girl Scout property unless participating in a council approved marksmanship program.
  9. 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 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.
  10. Ensure that no girl is treated differently. 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.
  11. 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, publish girls’ first names only and never divulge their contact information. Teach girls the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge located on GSUSA’s website and have them commit to it.
  12. Keep girls safe during money-earning. Girl Scout cookies and other council-sponsored product programs are an integral part of the Girl Scout program. During Girl Scout Product Programs, you are responsible for the safety of girls, money, and products. In addition, a wide variety of organizations, causes, and fund raisers 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.

Responsibilities of Caregivers
You want to engage each caregiver to help you work toward ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of girls. Clearly communicate to caregivers that they are expected to:

  • Provide permission for their girls to participate in Girl Scouting as well as provide additional consent for activities that take place outside the scheduled meeting place, involve overnight travel, involve the use of special equipment, and/or cover sensitive issues.
  • Make provisions for their girls to get to and from meeting places or other designated sites in a safe and timely manner and inform you if someone other than the parent or caregiver will drop off or pick up the child.
  • Provide their girls with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities or contact you before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment.
  • Follow Girl Scout safety guidelines and encourage their children to do the same.
  • Assist you in planning and carrying out program activities as safely as possible.
  • Participate in caregiver meetings.
  • Be aware of appropriate behavior expected of their girls, as determined by the council and you.
  • Assist volunteers if their girls have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited.

Responsibilities of Girls
Girls who learn about and practice safe and healthy behaviors are likely to establish lifelong habits of safety consciousness. For that reason, each Girl Scout is expected to:

  • Assist you and other volunteers in safety planning.
  • Listen to and follow your instructions and suggestions.
  • Learn and practice safety skills.
  • Learn to “think safety” at all times and to be prepared.
  • Identify and evaluate an unsafe situation.
  • Know how, when, and where to get help when needed.
Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need (Ratio)

Girl Scouts girl/adult ratios show the minimum number of adults needed to supervise a specific number of girls. These supervision ratios were devised to ensure the safety and health of girls—for example, if one adult must respond to an emergency, a second adult is always on hand for the rest of the girls.

‘Adults’ are registered and approved volunteers. Adults should never be in one-on-one situations with girls.

  Group Meetings Events, Travel, Booths, and Camping
  Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one additional adult for each additional number of this many girls: Two unrelated adults (at least one of whom is female) for this number of girls: Plus one additional adult for each additional number of this many girls:
Girl Scout Daisies (K - grade 1) 12 6 6 4
Girl Scout Brownies (grades 2 -3) 20 8 12 6
Girl Scout Juniors (grades 4 - 5) 25 10 16 8

Here are some examples on utilizing the chart: If you’re meeting with 17 Daisies, you’ll need three volunteers, at least two of whom are unrelated* (in other words, you and someone who is not your sister, spouse, caregiver, or child), and at least one of whom is female. This is determined as follows: for up to 12 Daisies you need two adults, and one more adult for each six additional girls. Since you have 17 girls, you need three adults (2+1). If, however, you have 17 Cadettes attending a group meeting you need only two unrelated adults, at least one of whom is female, since the chart shows that two adults can manage up to 25 Cadettes.

In addition to the girl/adult ratios, please remember that volunteers must be at least 18 years old and council-approved.

Have a multi-age level troop? Always follow the girl/adult ratio based on the youngest girls in the troop.  This means if you have a troop of 12 girls that are a combination of Daisy/Brownie girls, you need to meet the Girl Scout Daisy ratios.

*Unrelated defined as not biologically or legally related to, not residing in the same household, and not romantically involved.
**Same ratios apply for virtual.

Safely Approaching Activities

How can you, as a Girl Scout volunteer, determine whether an activity is safe and appropriate for Girl Scouts? Good judgment and common sense often dictate the answer. What’s safe in one circumstance may not be safe in another. An incoming storm, for example, might force you to assess or discontinue an activity. If you are uncertain about the safety of an activity, call Girl Scouts of Western Ohio staff with full details and don’t proceed without approval. Remember, the safety of girls is your most important consideration.

Safety Activity Checkpoints
You should always refer to the Safety Activity Checkpoints before planning activities. These can be found on the council website or in the Volunteer Toolkit under resources. If Safety Activity Checkpoints do not exist for an activity you and the girls are interested in, be sure to check with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio 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. See Safety Activity Checkpoints, because most activities require having an expert on hand to help girls learn an activity. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Does the person have documented training and experience? She or he should have documented experience for the activity in question, such as course completion certificates or cards, records of previous training to instruct the activity and letters of reference.
  • What does she or he need to be able to do? This person should have the knowledge and experience to make appropriate judgments concerning participants, equipment, facilities, safety considerations, supervision and procedures for the activity. At the very least, she or he should be able to give clear instructions to girls and adults, troubleshoot unexpected scenarios and respond appropriately in an emergency. Verify that program providers are operating within Girl Scout safety standards and with proper insurance coverage.

NOTE: You must get written pre-approval from the council for girls ages 12 and older who will:

  • Use firearms for target shooting. (See Sport Shooting and Marksmanship section of Safety Activity Checkpoints)
  • Take trips on waterways that are highly changeable or uncontrollable. (See Whitewater Rafting in Safety Activity Checkpoints)

Warning: When activities involve unpredictable safety variables, they are not permitted as Girl Scout activities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Operate motorized vehicles, such as go-carts and personal watercraft such as jet skis
  • Potentially uncontrolled free-falling such as bungee jumping, hang gliding, parachuting, parasailing and outdoor 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
  • Shooting a projectile at another person
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles and motor bikes
  • Taking watercraft trips on Class V or higher water courses
  • Skydiving
  • Zorbing
  • Flying in noncommercial aircraft, such as small private planes, helicopters, sailplanes, untethered hot air balloons and blimps

Correction: Girl Scouts are able to participate in simulated skydiving and zero-gravity rooms.

When planning activities with girls, note the abilities of each girl and carefully consider the progression of skills from the easiest part to the most difficult. Make sure the complexity of the activity does not exceed girls’ individual skills. Remember that skill levels decline when people are tired, hungry or under stress. Also use activities as opportunities for building teamwork, which is one of the outcomes for the Connect key in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). Please keep in mind that activities need to be inclusive of all girls in the group as much as possible.

Fireworks
No person will use or possess fireworks on council-owned or operated properties or while involved in Girl Scout related activities.

Caregiver Permission
Remember that every time a group meets at a time and location different from the regular group meeting, you must use a permission slip—even if the girls are responsible for getting to that location on their own. Permission slips give caregivers the “who, what, when, where, and why,” so that they can decide whether their daughter can participate in an event or go on a trip. A signed permission slip permits you to include the girl in the activity and provides you with up-to-date emergency contact information.

Girl Release to Authorized Person
Girl Scout volunteers shall release girls only to persons authorized by the parent or caregiver. The troop leaders will maintain the Girl Scout release information and will update information annually.

Community Program Providers and Safety
Some activities can carry a greater risk than others which create a greater potential for serious injury to the participant. Therefore, it is important that these activities be conducted with companies or organizations that offer such activities in a safe manner. Horseback riding, hayrides, and canoeing are examples of hazardous activities with the potential for serious injury to the participants.

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio will only do business with those organizations that operate within government and Girl Scout safety guidelines and that carry insurance to protect themselves for the legal liability of their operations. Coverage provided by the program provider must be the primary payer in the event of a loss. Girl Scout troops are encouraged to verify that program providers are operating within Girl Scout Safety Standards and with proper insurance coverage.

Certificate of Insurance
When obtaining a location for a meeting place, service unit event or troop event, some sites will request a certificate of insurance. This is a copy of our council insurance coverage and can be provided by Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. A Certificate of Insurance can be requested through customer care or by filling out the Request for Certificate of Insurance form. Please allow two weeks to process this request.

If calling Customer Care to obtain the Certificate of Insurance, please have the following information ready:

  • Name of Facility
  • Physical and mailing address (if different)
  • Date and type of activity
  • Facility email address and phone number
  • Contact information of person requesting the certificate

Certificates of Insurance can be emailed out directly to the location contact within two weeks of your call or request.

Contracts and Agreements
In order to protect the legal and safety interests of girls, volunteers and the council, written agreements and contracts may only be signed by the director of regional services or other designated paid staff members.

Hold Harmless Agreements
If a program provider or other organization requires the signing of a Hold Harmless Agreement, a copy of it will be requested and reviewed by one or more of the following: program manager/team leader, director of regional services, or director of program and partnerships.

Girl Scout Activity Insurance

Every registered Girl Scout and registered adult member in the Girl Scout movement is automatically covered under the basic Mutual of Omaha plan upon registration. The premium cost for the Basic Plan is paid for by Girl Scouts of the USA. 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 the reason all adults and girls are required to be registered members. Non-registered caregivers, tagalongs (brothers, sisters, friends), and other persons are not covered by the basic plan.

This insurance coverage is not intended to diminish the need for or replace family health insurance. When $130 in benefits has been paid for covered accident medical or dental expense, any subsequent benefits will be payable only for expenses incurred that aren’t compensable under another insurance policy. If there is no family insurance or healthcare program, a specified maximum of medical benefits is available.

Additional activity insurance is required for Girl Scouts taking extended trips and for non-members who participate in Girl Scout activities. There are a few options available. These plans are secondary insurance council offers to cover participants taking part in any council-approved, supervised Girl Scout activity. Additional insurance coverage is available for any Girl Scout activity that involves non-Girl Scouts or lasts longer than three days and two nights.

Requesting Additional Insurance
A Request for Additional Insurance Form must be completed and submitted to the Finance Department at the Cincinnati Girl Scout center at least four weeks prior to the event date. This form must be accompanied by a check payable to United of Omaha for the amount owed for the additional insurance. There is a $5 minimum. Incomplete forms without checks attached and checks less than $5.00 will not be accepted.

The Request for the Purchase of Additional Insurance Form is available on the Forms and Docs webpage. Mailing instructions are on the form.

Summary of Girl Scout Insurance Plans
A printed brochure from United of Omaha with a complete description of all the features of each insurance option can be requested from the Girl Scouts center. The information provided below is designed to be a summary of highlights only.

Plan Description Premium
Plan 1

Girl Scout Activity Accident Insurance Basic Coverage

  • Provided to every registered girl and adult
  • Effective when registration materials are received at the regional service center
  • Covers Girl Scout activities lasting two (2) nights or less or not more than three (3) nights if over an official federal holiday, or three days
  • Pays the first $130 of medical bills related to an accident, then becomes secondary to any other insurance coverage the individual may have
  • Pays up to $15,000 of bills incurred over a 52-week period after the accident that are not covered by any other insurance the individual may have
No charge - included as part of your Girl Scouts of the USA $25.00 registration fee
Plan 2

Accident Insurance

  • Same features as Plan 1
  • Used for registered girls and adults when activity length exceeds two (2) nights (three nights over a federal holiday), or three days
  • Used for non-registered participants in a Girl Scout activity
$0.11/day/participant
Plan 3E

Accident & Sickness Insurance for Extended Events

  • Adds $10,000 of Sickness Medical Expense Benefit and $1,500 of Returned Transportation Benefit to Plan 1
  • Will not pay more than 100% of total medical expenses incurred in conjunction with any other insurance the participant may have (Non-Duplication Provision)
$0.29/day/participant
Plan 3P

Accident & Sickness Insurance for Extended Events

  • Same as Plan 3E without the non-duplication provision
  • Therefore, the insurance pays without regard to what other insurance might be paying
$0.70/day/participant
Plan 3PI

Accident and Sickness Insurance for Extended International Trips or Events (lasting more than two nights)

  • Same as Plan 3P – for International Trips
  • Provides travel assistance up to $50,000
$1.17/day/participant
Transporting Girls

How caregivers decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each caregiver’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 a registered and approved volunteer at least 21 years old, and have a good driving record, a valid license and a registered/insured vehicle.
  • Girls never drive other girls.
  • If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers in the vehicle, one of whom is female. In addition, the girl/adult ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section 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/adult 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. Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here.

Anyone who is driving a vehicle that carries 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note: you must check with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio to determine specific rules about renting large vehicles. Fifteen passenger vans are not permitted for use to transport girls.

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

  • Even though written agreements are always required when renting or chartering, you are not authorized to sign an agreement or contract even if there is no cost associated with the rental. Such agreements must instead be signed by the person designated by the director of regional services and be leased on behalf of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.
  • Check the Volunteer Driving Policy below to make sure you are following accepted practices when using private transportation; this ensures that both you and Girl Scouts of Western Ohio are protected by liability insurance in the event of an accident.
  • If Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has given permission to use a rented car, read all rental agreements to be sure you comply with their terms and avoid surprises. For example, in many cases the minimum age of drivers is 25, and the maximum age is often under 70. In addition, make sure the car is adequately insured and you know who is responsible for damage to, or loss of, the vehicle. Finally, ensure you have a good paper trail that shows the vehicle rental is Girl Scout–related.
  • When leasing a bus, the driver must be an employee of the bus company.
  • The bus company must provide a certificate of insurance. The minimum limits of liability on any leased bus/van must be at least $1,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and property damage. If interstate highway travel is planned, there must be:
    • $5,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and property damage.
    • The certificate of insurance and leasing agreement must be submitted to the director of regional services or their designee for review and approval.
    • Obtain caregiver permission for any use of transportation outside of the meeting place.

Ridesharing/Ride-Hailing Services Policy
The use of ridesharing/ride-hailing companies, such as Uber or Lyft, are not permitted for any Girl Scout function. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio does not permit girls or volunteers to utilize these services while travelling to, from, or during Girl Scout activities.

Volunteer Driver Policy
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is always committed to providing a safe and quality program for girls in the community. While Girl Scouts of the USA provides the principles and standards for health and safety, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is responsible for developing local guidelines and procedures. In addition to Safety Activity Checkpoints, the following policies have been established to encourage the safe operation of vehicles and to address insurance issues when personal and/or leased vehicles are used for Girl Scout activities:

  • All drivers must have a valid state driver’s license, be 21 years old, and be covered by auto insurance, in compliance with state law and have been driving for at least five years. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is not responsible for the physical damage to a personal vehicle.
  • Drivers must be registered and approved troop leaders or troop assistants or appointed service team members who have reviewed our Transporting Girls handout.
  • Girl Scout leaders should verify annually that all drivers are registered members that have completed the screening process to become a troop leader or troop assistant, have a valid driver’s license and a current auto insurance policy. Girl Scout leaders are not required to maintain a copy of these documents. Girl Scout leaders should ask drivers to verify that their driving record complies with the guidelines below or to simply decline to be a driver.
  • Drivers on troop trips* will be informed that they may be asked to submit a copy of their drivers’ license for a driver record check, with the Troop Trip & Activity Notification Form that is submitted to your Girl Scouts center.

*See Girl Scouts of Western Ohio Troop Trip Procedures (later in this chapter) for more information on trip requirements.

What this Means for Troops
While you are getting girls registered this fall, it is a great opportunity to get adults to register that want to drive as well. That way, you will be ready and compliant with the policy when your trips come around! Troops/groups should plan early to make sure they have enough time for adult drivers to become registered members and complete the volunteer application process.

If a driver’s record contains one of the following violations within the past three (3) years, he/she is ineligible to serve as a troop driver:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Failure to stop/report an accident
  • Reckless driving/speeding contest
  • Driving while impaired
  • Making a false accident report
  • Homicide, manslaughter, or assault arising out of the use of a vehicle
  • Driving while license is suspended/revoked
  • Careless driving
  • Attempting to elude a police officer

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s insurance carrier has provided the following chart to determine whether an individual is eligible to serve as a troop driver. Should a driver’s record fall outside of the acceptable number of accidents or violations, according to the chart below, that individual is required to personally and privately decline any requests to drive for a Girl Scout activity.

# of violations within past 3 years # of at-fault accidents within past 3 years
  0 1 2 3
0 yes yes no no
1 yes yes no no
2 yes no no no
3 no no no no
4 no no no no

Checklist for Drivers
When driving Girl Scouts, take the following precautions and ask all other drivers to do the same:

  • Ensure all drivers are adults at least 21 years old.
  • All drivers have read the Transporting Girls handout found on the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio website.
  • Girls should not be transporting other girls.
  • Never transport girls in flatbed or panel trucks, in the bed of a pickup, or in a camper-trailer.
  • Keep directions and a road map in the car, along with a first-aid kit and a flashlight.
  • Check your lights, signals, tires, windshield wipers, horns and fluid levels before each trip, and recheck them periodically on long trips.
  • Keep all necessary papers up to date including, but not limited to: your driver’s license; vehicle registration; any state or local inspections; and insurance coverage.
  • Always wear your seat belt and insist that all passengers do the same. Girls under 12 must ride in the back seats.
  • Follow all the established rules of the road in your state, including the speed limit. Some additional guidelines include: keeping a two-car-length distance between you and the car ahead of you; not talking or texting on a cell phone or other personal electronic device while driving; not using ear buds or headphones while driving; and turning your lights on when your windshield wipers are on.
  • Plan rest stops every few hours and avoid driving for extended periods at night. If traveling with others, plan stopping places along the way. When planning longer trips, arrange for relief drivers.

If in an Automobile Accident:
In the event of an accident, leaders:

  • Take necessary steps to protect the lives and health of everyone involved.
  • Report the accident to the authorities and to Girl Scouts of Western Ohio using the emergency number at the beginning of this book if the accident is after hours.
  • Contact caregivers to inform them about the accident and their daughter’s status.
  • Comply with the instructions of the police and any other emergency personnel.
  • Do not assume or admit fault. Liability should only be determined after a thorough investigation.
  • The owner’s vehicle insurance is the primary applicable insurance payer.
  • The minimum state liability insurance coverage must be in effect and evidence of such provided and carried in the vehicle. NOTE: Minimum requirements may not be adequate under all circumstances; each driver should consult his/her insurance company to be sure that the coverage is sufficient for Girl Scout activities.
  • Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is not responsible for the physical damage to a personal vehicle.
  • In case of injury or death, please refer to policy under “What to do if...” found in this chapter.

Public Transportation
Public transportation includes trains, subways, buses, ferries, and airlines. Public transportation is regulated, which makes it preferable to chartered vehicles, but this mode of transportation is not without challenges. The biggest challenge with any public transportation is staying together as a group, so be sure everyone has directions and a map, and always designate a meet-up area if anyone gets separated. Girls also need to be vigilant for criminals, both those who might do them bodily harm and those who are interested in stealing their money, jewelry, and electronic devices. Prepare girls for their exciting journeys on public transportation, they’ll have an adventure they’ll remember for years!

Troop Trips & Travel Safety

Troop Trip Procedures
Before most trips, you and the girls will need to obtain council permission. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has instituted a Volunteer Driver Policy (under Transporting Girls) that must be followed by all drivers that will be driving children on troop trips. The troop leader is the person responsible for making sure all drivers are in accordance with this policy. Your troop must have completed and turned in a Troop Financial Report form for the previous year to be approved to go on a troop trip. If you have any questions whether a Troop Financial Report from has been turned in, please call customer care at the Girl Scouts center.

You must complete the Troop Trip and Activity Notification Form on gswo.org for all activities and trips that are over 100 miles from your meeting location. Note: A Troop Trip and Activity Notification Form must be completed for ALL high-risk activities regardless of the distance traveled.

This form can be completed online or turned in to the Girl Scouts center. The online troop trip form is the easiest to use. The Troop Trip and Activity Notification Form can be found on the council website under Forms and Documents. Completing the form will help volunteers and girls think through the financial and safety processes so they are prepared for a great experience! The trip approval for the following types of trips is automatic once you have submitted the form AND have taken the required training(s) for your type of trip:

  • High Risk Activities: all high risk activities when all Safety Activity Checkpoints are met
  • Day Trips (over 100 miles from meeting location)
  • Overnight Trips (over 100 miles from meeting location)

Trips less than 100 miles from your meeting place that are not high risk do not require council notification. Leaders should still take the training and have permission slips and health forms.

Trips and activities that take place at council owned properties do not require the Troop Trip Notification Form. Troops must instead complete the Site Reservation Request form or reserve the property on Double Knot.

Type/Length of Activity/Trip Turn in form no later than
Trips less than 100 miles No form needed
High Risk activities 1 month prior
Day/Overnights over 100 miles 1 month prior
Extended Trips (5 or more nights) 6 months
International Trips and travel outside of the continental U.S. No less than 6 months. Contact your program & partnerships manager as soon as you begin discussing this type of trip.

Training Requirements

Type of Trip Required Training
Day activity/trip, high-risk activity, overnight less than five nights Trip & Overnight Planning Training (see gswo.org)
Overnights at council-owned camp Lodge Camp Training *
Trips that include camping and outdoor skills Troop Camp Training *
Extended (more than five nights) and international Contact your program & partnerships manager*

*Troop Trip Training Manual is a pre-requisite to all additional trainings.

Extended/International Travel
Extended trips (5 or more nights) and travel outside the continental United States requires additional paperwork and approval from the Program team. Contact your program and partnership manager as soon as you begin planning this type of activity.

Involving Chaperones
To determine how many volunteer chaperones the girls will need with them on the trip, see the adult-to-girl ratios. As you ask for chaperones, be sure to look for ones who are committed to:

  • Registering as a member and completing a criminal background check (must be a council-approved volunteer)
  • Being a positive role model

Sleeping Arrangements
On trips where male volunteers are part of the group, it is not appropriate for them to sleep in the same space as girl members. Men may participate only if separate sleeping quarters and bathrooms are available for their use. In some circumstances, such as a museum or mall overnight with hundreds of girls, this type of accommodation may not be possible. If this is the case, girl/adult ratio is adjusted accordingly to ensure men are not sleeping or supervising the girls sleeping area. Always avoid having men sleep in the same area as girls and women, but during family or caregiver-girl overnights, one family unit may sleep in the same quarters in program areas.

Always ensure the following:

  • Each participant has her own bed. Caregiver permission must be obtained if girls are to share a bed.
  • Girls and adults do not share a bed.
  • 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 be one other adult female present.

Tips for Girls Traveling Alone
If a Girl Scout Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador will be traveling alone at any part of a trip, use the opportunity to help her feel comfortable with and capable of being on her own. Always talk first with her caregivers to assess her maturity and ability to handle herself, and have her caregivers complete an emergency form. If she is flying, also discuss the possibility of booking a nonstop flight to make her trip less stressful, and ask caregivers to contact the airline, who will make special arrangements for any unaccompanied minor. With the girl herself, develop a trip plan, discuss hotel security and safety, talk about avoiding excess communication with strangers, not wearing a name tag, and avoide exposing money or other items (such as cell phones, iPads, or tablets) that are attractive to pickpockets.

Traveling with Girls
Girls love trips. Girl Scouts is a great place for girls to learn how to plan and journey out on a trip.   For example, Girl Scout Daisies with no or little travel experience can begin with a discovery walk. As girls grow in their travel and planning skills, they progress to longer and more distant trips. 

Here are some examples of the progression of events and trips:

  • Short trips to points of interest in the neighborhood (Daisies and older): A walk to the nearby garden or a short ride by car or public transportation to the firehouse or courthouse is a great first step for Daisies.
  • Day trip (Brownies and older): An all-day visit to a point of historical or natural interest (bringing their own lunch) or a day- long trip to a nearby city (stopping at a restaurant for a meal)—younger girls can select locations and do much of the trip- planning, while never being too far from home.
  • Overnight trips (Brownies and older): One (or possibly two) nights away to a state or national park, historic city, or nearby city for sightseeing, staying in a hotel, motel, or campground. These short trips are just long enough to whet their appetites, but not so long as to generate homesickness.
  • Extended overnight trips (Juniors and older): Three/four nights camping or a stay in a hotel, motel, or hostel within the girls’ home region (the Upper Midwest). Planning a trip to a large museum—and many offer unique opportunities for girls to actually spend the night on museum grounds—makes for an exciting experience for girls.
  • National trips (Cadettes and older): Travel anywhere in the country, often lasting a week or more. Try to steer clear of ordinary recreational trips girls might take with their families and consider those that offer some educational component such as incredible cities, historic sites, and museums around the country. This often means no cruises unless they incorporate community service or travel to different cities and historic sites.
  • International trips (Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors): Travel around the world, often requiring one or two years of preparation; when girls show an interest in traveling abroad, contact your local service center to get permission to plan the trip and download the Global Travel Toolkit. Visiting one of the four World Centers is a great place to start, but also consider traveling with worldwide service organizations. Recently, girls have traveled to rural Costa Rica to volunteer at an elementary school, to Mexico to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and to India to witness the devastation of poverty in urban slums.

Travel Progression Checklist for You
If your group is thinking about travel, consider first whether the girls are mature enough to handle the trip. In determining a group’s readiness for travel, assess the group’s:

  • Ability to be away from their caregivers and their home
  • Ability to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and situations
  • Ability to make decisions well and easily
  • Previous cross-cultural experiences
  • Ability to get along with each other and handle challenges
  • Ability to work well as a team
  • Skills and interests
  • Language skills (where applicable)

Staying Safe During the Trip
Also be sure to discuss the following items with the girls and their caregivers before you leave on any trip (you may also want to put this information in writing and have girls sign it):

  • Who her buddy is—and how the buddy system works
  • What to do if she is separated from the group, whether by accident or because of a crime
  • What to do if she loses something significant: money, passport, luggage
  • How to report a crime
  • Ability to get along with each other and handle challenges
  • Ability to work well as a team
  • Skills and interests
  • Language skills (where applicable)
  • What to do if emergency help is needed
  • How to perform basic first-aid procedures
  • How to deal with a large crowd (if applicable)
  • What to do in the event of a crime
  • What behaviors you expect—and what consequences exist for not living up to those behaviors

Travel Security and Safety Tips
Share these safety tips with girls before you leave on any trip that involves a stay at a hotel, motel, hostel, or dormitory:

  • Always lock the door behind you, using the deadbolt and the chain or anchor.
  • Do not open the door for strangers; if hotel staff is at the door, call the front desk to confirm.
  • Don’t shout out or display your room number when in the presence of strangers.
  • Never leave jewelry, cameras, electronics, cash, or credit cards in your room.
  • Never leave luggage unattended in a public place (the hotel lobby, an airport or train station).
  • When arriving at the hotel, locate emergency exits and share them with others.
  • Keep a small flashlight on your bedside table, along with a small bag with your room key, wallet, passport, and cell phone.
  • Take the flashlight and bag with you if you must leave the room in an emergency.
  • If a fire alarm goes off, get out as quickly as possible without stopping to pack your suitcase. Before leaving your room, feel the door: If it is warm, do not open it. Stay in your room and stuff towels around the door. Call the hotel operator immediately. If the door is cool, proceed slowly out the door, looking for flames or smoke. Repeat these instructions for any door you encounter.
  • Also contact the front desk to clear out any minibars or refrigerators in girls’ rooms, to ensure that inappropriate movies are not accessible through TVs, and to disallow any long-distance calls from being placed from girls’ rooms. Alert the hotel management that underage girls are staying in the hotel and ask them to contact you if any girls are out of their rooms after bedtime.

What to do if...

There is an accident
Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person. Follow established council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of council staff, caregivers and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital.

After receiving a report of an accident, council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify caregivers, as appropriate. If a Girl Scout needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow council procedures for accidents and incidents. Your adherence to these procedures is critical, especially with regard to notifying caregivers. If the media is involved, let council- designated staff discuss the incident with media representatives.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be notified, and a responsible adult must remain at the scene. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions. Do not share information.

Someone Needs Emergency Care
As you know, emergencies can happen. Girls need to receive proper instruction in how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to adults any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. You can help girls by keeping in mind the following:

  • Know what to report. See the “What To Do If There is an Accident” section earlier in this chapter.
  • Establish and practice procedures for weather emergencies. Know the type of extreme weather to expect in your area (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning). 
  • Establish and practice procedures for such circumstances as fire evacuation, lost persons and building-security issues. Every girl and adult must know how to act in these situations. For example, you and the girls, with the help of a fire department representative, should design a fire evacuation plan for meeting places used by the group.
  • Assemble a well-stocked first-aid kit that is always accessible. First-aid administered in the first few minutes can make a significant difference in the severity of an injury. In an emergency, secure professional medical assistance as soon as possible, normally by calling 911, and then administer first aid, if appropriately trained.

The following action must be taken by the troop leadership in the event of an incident, accident or emergency during any Girl Scout activity, not just on council-owned sites.

  • Secure services of trained medical professional or first-aider on site and give priority to providing all possible care to victim(s).
  • Permit no disturbance to victim(s) or surroundings.
  • Retain a responsible adult at the scene.
  • Secure doctor, ambulance, and/or police. You are responsible until police assume responsibility.
  • Caregiver notification: report nature of emergency, condition of victim, secure caregiver wishes regarding:
    • medical treatment
    • hospitalization transportation
    • personal attendance
  • Council notification. After notifying caregivers and emergency authorities, council staff must be notified of any serious accident or injury. Please use the emergency phone number to contact a council staff member.
  • Exercise care that any statement made orally or in writing reflects only the facts of the incident.
  • Statements should only be made to the family, the authorities, medical personnel and the appropriate paid staff members. (The director of marketing and communications handles all media releases.)
  • Only designated paid staff or council representatives may speak for the council.
  • File an Incident/Accident Report Form Within 24 Hours of an injury. This can be found on our Forms and Documents page.
Council Wide Emergency Phone Number: 513-619-1398
First Aid/CPR

Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgment. For activities outside of their regular meeting space, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio requires that at least one adult volunteer be First Aid/CPR-certified. For that reason, if you have the opportunity to get trained in council-approved First Aid/CPR, do it! You can take advantage of First Aid/CPR training offered by chapters of the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, American Heart Association or the American Safety & Heath Institute. These certifying agencies have various authorized providers including local fire departments or State Highway Patrol, area hospitals, YMCA’s etc. where Girl Scout volunteers can attend a course.

Caution: First Aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scout requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your technique. If you’re taking a course not offered by one of the organizations listed in the previous paragraph, or any course that has online components, get approval from your support team or council prior to enrolling in the course.

First Aider
A first aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout-approved First Aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for child CPR. An adult volunteer who is First Aid certified is required anytime a troop leaves their regular meeting place.

The Safety Activity Checkpoints always tell you when a first aider needs to be present. Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a First Aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness of the activity.

For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times, the first aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the first aider must have knowledge of wilderness first aid.

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 emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of a first aider is required at resident camp. For large events—200 people or more—there should be one first aider for every 200 participants. The following healthcare providers may also serve as first aiders: physician; physician’s assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; and emergency medical technician.

First-Aid Kit
Make sure a general first-aid kit is available at your group meeting place and accompanies girls on any activity (including transportation to and from the activity). Please be aware that you may need to provide this kit if one is not available at your meeting place. You can purchase a Girl Scout first-aid kit, you can buy a commercial kit, or you and the girls can assemble a kit yourselves. The Red Cross offers a list of potential items in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit (note that the Red Cross’s suggested  list includes aspirin, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without direct caregiver permission). You can also customize a kit to cover your specific needs, including flares, treatments for frostbite or snake bites and the like.

In addition to standard materials, all kits should contain Girl Scouts of Western Ohio's emergency phone number (found at the beginning of this book and in this chapter) and troop emergency telephone numbers. Girl Scout activity insurance forms, caregiver consent forms and health histories may also be included.

Computer/Online Safety

Understand the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge
In order to make sure that girls are aware of how to safely use the Internet, you should discuss online safety issues with the girls and distribute copies of the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge (the pledge is available at girlscouts.org). The girls should also take a copy of the pledge home and go over it with their caregivers. Both the girl and her caregivers should sign the pledge.

Safeguard Information
Girls must understand that the Internet is an open means of communication that anyone can access. As such, websites will often attract people other than their intended users. It is therefore imperative that any information that could jeopardize the safety and security of girls and adults not be disclosed on a website. The following measures will help to ensure girls’ online safety:

  • Girl Scouts should only use their first names.
  • A Girl Scout’s last name, address, phone number, or email address should never be posted. For Digital Cookie a girl may post her unique Digital Cookie URL on her Facebook page and may email it to friends and family. For additional information please refer to Safety Activity Checkpoint for Online Product Programs, Digital Cookie Terms & Conditions for Volunteers and Digital Cookie Pledge for Girls.
  • Always have the caregiver’s permission when using pictures of girls on a website. This is especially important if the girl is under 13 years old.
  • Do not post addresses of group meeting places, dates and times of meetings, events or trips on a website. Instead, an adult who wishes to communicate upcoming events with families of Girl Scouts should send an email to the families.
  • Do not allow automatic posting of messages to a website. All postings to message boards, social media and guest books should have adult oversight, and be screened prior to posting live.
  • Ensure that websites do not show personal email addresses of girls, but use a troop, group or adult’s email.

Safety in Technology Based Sales
Girl Scouts use the Internet for a variety of reasons including the online marketing and sale of approved Girl Scout related products. Below are some key points to keep in mind for all online sales and marketing:

  • Girls must read, understand and accept the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge, prior to conducting any online sales or marketing activities, which is available at the end of the Computer/Online Use: Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  • Girls may send email messages to alert friends and relatives about product sales and accept customer commitments via email.
  • Social media sites may be used to market product, however, all applicable GSUSA and council guidelines must be followed.
  • Girls writing product emails or announcements online should sign with their first names only, their troop number or name and their council name. Personal emails or street addresses of girls should never be used. Instead, use one of the following:
    • A blind return address account where the girls’ name or personal email is not revealed to the customer and is instead hosted on a secure site.
    • A group account monitored by an adult.
    • A volunteer’s email account, which is supervised by that adult.
  • Girls should never arrange in-person meetings with new contacts they’ve made online.

For Digital Cookie there are additional, specific guidelines, some of which are:

  • Girls must read and accept the Girl Scout Digital Cookie Pledge before they can participate in Digital Cookie.
  • Volunteers must read and accept the Digital Cookie Terms and Conditions for Volunteers before they can participate in Digital Cookie.
  • Girls may only post about their participation in Digital Cookie on social media that allows them to restrict access to friends and family (e.g. Facebook).
  • Caregivers must approve the content of a girls Digital Cookie webpage before it goes live.
  • For girls under 13 years old, a caregiver must manage the girl’s web site and be responsible for all content. In other words, girls under 13 are not allowed to post anything to their websites; it must be done by their caregiver.
  • Girls should always make in person deliveries accompanied with a caregiver or designated adult.

For additional information and guidance please see the Girl Scout Cookie/Council-Sponsored Product Program: Safety Activity Checkpoints, Computer/Online Use: Safety Activity Checkpoints, the Digital Cookie Terms & Conditions for Girl Scouts, Terms & Conditions for Parents/Caregivers, and Terms & Conditions for Volunteers.

Reporting Abuse

You Witness or Experience Abuse
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. All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statues identifying persons who are required to report suspected child abuse to an appropriate agency. Therefore, if you witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, whether inside or outside of Girl Scouting, follow Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s guidelines for reporting your concerns to the proper agency within your state.

For additional information please check the following resources:

Child Abuse
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio expects all staff (volunteer and paid) to adhere to the following standards regarding reporting suspected child abuse and conduct when in contact with girls.

Volunteers and paid staff members are expected to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse or neglect and report incidents immediately to the local county children’s agency. Once an incident has been reported to the appropriate agency, it is the staff member’s responsibility to also inform his/her manager.

Volunteers and paid staff members are prohibited from harassing or threatening harm to a child’s health or well-being which occurs through sexual abuse or exploitation, non-accidental physical touching, mental harassment, injury or maltreatment in any form.

Guidelines for Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

What is child abuse? Non-accidental injuries by a caregiver, caretaker or other adult (often by an adult known to the child) which cause or create substantial risk of harm to the child 

Physical abuse: abuse represents an act against the child; health or safety is at risk.

  • Appearance: bruises, welts, lacerations and abrasions; clustered marks, burns; skeletal injuries; head injuries. Consider the number, location and stages of healing, or an explanation not consistent with injury.
  • Behavior: fearful of physical contact; poor relationships; reports injury by caregivers or caretaker.

Sexual abuse: any act of a sexual nature upon or with a child, which may be for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or a third party.

  • Appearance: usually there is no outward sign; may have torn, stained or bloody underclothing; sexually transmitted diseases; pregnancy.
  • Behavior: child relates incidents of touching or other behavior that makes the child feel embarrassed, confused or unsafe; behaves in an abnormally seductive manner with friends or adults; fire-setting; abuse to animals; bedwetting; nightmares; poor peer relationships; eating disorders; fear or reluctance towards a caretaker, family member or friend; difficulty walking or sitting.

Emotional abuse: chronic attitude or acts that interfere with psychological or social development of a child.

  • Appearance: few visible clues; obesity or anorexia; hives; rashes.
  • Behavior: bed-wetting; poor peer relations/withdrawal; cruel behavior; fire setting; substance abuse; excessive risk taking; behavioral extremes.

What is neglect? Failure to provide basic needs (physical care/supervision, safety, education, love) which places the child in a dangerous situation and which usually occurs over a period of time.

  • Appearance: chronic uncleanliness or poor hygiene (lice, scabies); body odor; squinting; unsuitable clothing or missing key articles of clothing; untreated injury; left alone.
  • Behavior: excessive sleepiness; begging; stealing or delinquency; chronic hunger; substance abuse; assumes role of caregiver, reports no caretaker in home; excessive school tardiness or absence.

Child Abuse and Neglect FAQ

What if I am unsure?
If (as a volunteer or paid staff member) you are unsure, contact the local children’s services agency to describe the situation.

How do I report?
Reports can be made by telephone or in person, and the individual making the report can do so anonymously. Any report is confidential. A report can be made immediately by telephone to the local children’s services intake phone numbers for the 32 counties served by Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.

What information should I give?
Reports should include:

  • The names and addresses of the child and his/her caregivers or person(s) having custody of such child, if known
  • The child’s age and the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or neglect, including any evidence of previous injuries, abuse or neglect
  • Other information that might help in establishing the cause of the injury, abuse or neglect
  • Record the name of the intake worker who takes the report and note the date that the report is made

Is this confidential?
Yes. Do not share this information with anyone other than the local children’s services agency, your manager, or director of regional services within Girl Scouts of Western Ohio or her designate.

What happens next?
Any volunteer or paid staff member participating in good faith in the making of the report, or any volunteer leader or paid staff participating in a judicial proceeding resulting from the report, by statute is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of such actions. Any report made under this section of the statute is confidential, and any volunteer or paid staff member who permits or encourages the unauthorized dissemination of the report’s contents is guilty of a misdemeanor in the fourth degree.

Does someone at Girl Scouts of Western Ohio need to know?
Although reports may be made anonymously, immediately inform Girl Scouts of Western Ohio of any reports of suspected abuse or neglect involving either adults or youth in Girl Scouting made to the local children’s services agency intake office by using the following procedure:

  • Providing a written report to the director of regional services or their designate no later than 24 hours after making a report to the local children’s services.
  • This report should include your name, address and telephone number (as the person who made the report to the local children’s services agency), the date of the report and to whom the report was made at children’s services.

Action by the local children’s services agency:
The local (county) children’s services agency will make a decision regarding the need for immediate investigation of each report referred to it and determines the circumstances surrounding the injury, abuse or neglect, the cause thereof and the person or persons responsible.

LEGAL REFERENCE:
O.R.C. 2151,421 and I.C. 31-6-4-3(a)(1) through 31-6-4-3(a)(5)

Report Child Abuse

  • All Ohio Counties: 855.642.4453
  • All Indiana Counties: 1.800.800.5556

Registered Sex Offenders
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio asks all troop leaders to use publicly accessible tools and resources to monitor for registered sex offenders in and around troop meeting places. Visit the United States Justice Department’s National Sex Offender Public website to search in your area. Also don’t hesitate to reach out to local law enforcement for information or assistance in keeping your girls safe. Keeping the non-emergency number of local law enforcement on hand is a great safety practice! Please contact your Girl Scout center directly to report a registered sex offender residing near your troop meeting place and receive support in notifying caregivers and ensuring girl safety.

Please note: Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s volunteer screening practices are in place to ensure that anyone with criminal charges related to sexually based offenses, child endangerment or neglect, and other violent crimes are not eligible for volunteer approval. Anytime a volunteer or volunteer applicant is found to be ineligible for volunteer approval, appropriate service unit and troop volunteers are notified. When the details of ineligibility present clear and present danger to girls or adults, specific details will be made available and council staff will provide support to help ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.

Any individual who is classified as a registered sex offender may not participate or be present at any Girl Scouts activities. Girl Scouts does not have jurisdiction to prohibit a sex offender’s presence in a public place where a Girl Scout activity may occur, such as a zoo or public sporting event; however, the individual registered as a sex offender will not be permitted to participate in the Girl-Scout specific activity. Any knowledge of a sex offender’s participation or presence at any Girl Scout meeting or event should be reported to council staff immediately.

Health & Wellness

Health Histories (Including Examinations and Immunizations)
Girl / Adult Medical History and Release Forms must be completed or updated annually. Troop leaders are responsible for maintaining these records throughout the year and should always have health histories with them when working with girls. This includes meetings, trips, and other outings. Please keep in mind that information from a health examination is confidential and may be shared only with people who must know this information (such as the girl herself, her caregiver, and a health practitioner). HIPPA laws require that confidentiality be maintained at all times.

For various reasons, some caregivers may object to immunizations or vaccinations or medical examinations. Councils must attempt to make provisions for these girls to attend Girl Scout functions in a way that accommodates these concerns.

It is important for you to be aware of any medications a girl may take or allergies she may have. Keep in mind the following:

  • Medication, including over-the-counter products, must never be dispensed without prior written permission from a girl’s caregiver (Girl Scouts of Western Ohio can provide the necessary form).
  • Some girls may need to carry and administer their own medications, such as bronchial inhalers, EpiPens or diabetes medication. You must have documentation from the girl’s caregiver that it is acceptable for the girl to self-administer these medications.
  • Common food allergies include dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood. This means that before serving any food (such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies or chips), ask whether anyone is allergic to peanuts, dairy products or wheat. Do this even if you are aware of which girls have specific allergies! Even Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies should be aware of their allergies, but double-checking with them and their caregivers is always a good idea.

Communicable Diseases
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is committed to providing a safe, secure, environment in which girls and adults can interact. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio is further committed to protecting the girl or adult suffering from chronic illness or communicable disease, as well as protecting the other girls with whom they interact. Girl Scouts of Western Ohio restricts services to those with communicable diseases only to the extent of what is specifically recommended by the county health department or if the individual displays behavior that puts others at risk.

If your service unit or any troops in your service unit are holding in-person events, we recommend adding the following statement to any / all permission slips or registration forms (the below statement should not be edited):

I acknowledge that COVID-19 is an extrememly contagious virus that spreads easily in the community. I agree to adhere to Girl Scouts of Western Ohio and state and local guidelines and mandates. I will take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, volunteers, and families, based on Girl Scouts of Western Ohio harmless and waive all rights to legal action, if my daughter contracts COVID-19 through exposure at a Girl Scout event.

The use of nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPI's) during meetings, events, and trips is the first line of defense against communicable diseases and currently, against Covid. The more these NPI's are used together or layered, the safer everyone will be. Nonpharmaceutical Interventions

  • Screening - Pre, Initial, Ongoing, Post
    • Purpose: Raise health awareness, identify early illness symptoms    
  • Hand Hygiene - Soap / Water
    • Purpose: Decrease virus / bacterial on hands
  • Face Masks - Cloth, Disposable
    • Purposs: Minimize sharing of respiratory secretions
  • Cohorting - Pod, Family Village
    • Purpose - Limit exposure; Improve contact tracing
    • Recommend 8 - 15 per pod
  • Sanitizing - Frequently, High Touch Areas
    • Purpose - Decrease virus / bacterial on shared surfaces
  • Ventilation - Outdoors, Fans, Screens, Filters (AC)
    • Purpose - Promote air circulation
  • Physical Distancing - Spray Paint, Duct Tape, Staggering
    • Purpose - Separate from others

Head Lice
Head lice are one health and safety issue that is more prominent in the spring and summer. Head lice are tiny insects that live on the heads of humans; they are hard to see, lay eggs (called nits) and feed on human blood. Head lice CAN transfer from one person to another. Because of that, any girl or adult with head lice SHOULD NOT attend any Girl Scout events until the issue has been resolved.

Prevention:
In order to prevent the transferring of head lice; teach your troop that they should not share items such as:

  • Hairbrushes and combs
  • Hats and clothes
  • Hair clips and hair bands
  • Pillows

Screening and Treatment:
If lice are present in the school district, troop leaders may want to conduct head checks before troop trips and overnights. Leaders can also work with caregivers to educate them on how to screen for lice before sending their girls to a Girl Scout activity. If leaders or other troop volunteers are doing the screening, they should screen all girls. Please assure privacy on the issue making sure that, above all else, the girls’ health and wellbeing are being protected. Visit cdc.gov for more information about lice screening and treatment. 

Action Steps if Lice Are Found
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio uses the same broad standards that school districts use when girls attend Girl Scout events or activities including:

  • If a girl has active lice, they will be sent home and treated before returning to the troop meeting.
  • If a girl has nits only, the child is allowed to stay for the remainder of the troop meeting, but the girl must be treated for lice and be lice free before attending another session.
  • During overnight events, girls will be sent home with nits and eggs and cannot return until treated.

Caregiver Notification
All caregivers of girls in the troop should receive notification letting them know that nits or lice were found on a member of the troop and action taken by the troop leader. Care should be taken not to single out any girl.  Caregivers of girls found carrying lice or nits should be notified about what was found and recommended action. Refer caregivers to the CDC or other local health department for support. They should also be notified that if nits or lice are found at the next troop meeting, their daughter will be sent home.

Bed Bugs
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio’s highest concern is always for the health, safety and well-being of our members and families. With the increased media attention that the pest known as a “bed bug” has been receiving, plus its increase in population in the state of Ohio, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio has implemented the following procedures at all camp facilities. These practices should be implemented when participating in any Girl Scout trips or overnights with girls.

Bed Bug Procedures for Home, Trips, and Overnights
Leaders, please share this information with your families prior to a trip or overnight. We are asking that you do your part in bed bug prevention not only for our facilities, but for your homes, cars, and our communities. We are asking you to follow these universal precautions:

  • If you suspect you’ve been in contact with bed bugs, dry all clothing and bedding in a dryer at high heat for 30 minutes prior to a trip or overnight. This would kill any bed bugs that may be present. Place clothes and bedding directly into a large garbage bag after heating. Twist the top closed, loop the twisted length over and secure with a tie, rubber band or string.
  • Once you’ve placed items in large garbage bags and secured them, label the bags with masking tape with girls’ name.
  • During trips or overnights, girls will keep their belongings in the garbage bags to minimize the possibility of hitch-hiker bed bugs.
  • Learn more about bed bugs.

 

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