“Multi-level” can mean a variety of things when we’re talking about troop structures, but they all require a few extra steps of planning to ensure the girls are getting the most of their Girl Scout experience. A few different examples of multi-level troops include:
- The majority/minority troop – A troop of 18 Brownies that has 2 Daisies who are younger sisters of the Brownies. In this case, the troop will focus most of their energy/attention on Brownie level activities, but make small modifications to ensure activities are fun for Daisies too, and help them earn their petals.
- The 50/50 troop – This is a truly mixed troop of two age levels that are side-by-side. This troop might have 8 Brownies and 10 Juniors. Another variety of this is the two-grade troop, which on Year 1 has Kindergarten and 1st graders (all Daisies), but in Year 2 has 1st graders and 2nd graders (Daisies and Brownies), so by Year 3 has 2nd and 3rd graders (all Brownies). In this case, the troop will ensure that activities are age-appropriate and complete award criteria for both levels.
- The MULTI-level – This is a troop with more than two age levels: they might have Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors. They might have Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, or some other combination. In this case, the leader has far more planning to ensure the activities connect to award criteria and age-appropriate design than the other troop styles. It’s can be a lot of work, but becomes simpler with practice. An important note for when you view the “multi-level” Journeys and information in the Volunteer Toolkit: They are designed for Daisy/Brownie/Junior multi-level combination.
- *Note: these titles and descriptions (majority/minority troop, 50/50 troop, and MULTI-level troop) are not official titles by GSUSA, just a helpful description to differentiate between various troop styles.
The term “multi-level” can also apply to leader trainings and girl events. If you’re considering opening your troop to multi-level or just getting started with a multi-level troop and looking for ideas to assist in planning and prepping for meetings, or planning an upcoming event for multiple age levels, here are 6 Tips to get you started:
- Know the age groups you’re planning for and how you want to include older girls (as participants or helpers). This is especially important for events. Be sure you’re collecting age/grade information on the registration form. If you don’t have any Cadettes sign up, then you don’t need to plan any Cadette activities. Additionally, we often make assumptions about whether older girls (Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors) would rather be participants and enjoy all the fun or serve as Program Aides and practice their leadership skills. Either way, we can be incorrect on their preference, so it’s best to discuss it with girls or their leaders.
- Be aware of how much time you’ll have and how much you can squeeze into it. For troop meetings, don’t forget enough time for getting settled, bathroom breaks, snacks, and clean-up at the end.
- Select the badges or Journeys you want to work toward. This can be overwhelming at first, but there are lots of resources available, even if you don’t have the Girls’ Guide or Journey books for each level: Volunteer Toolkit, badge charts, Journey bookshelf, badge explorer.
- Plan out the activities. This really just involves a lot of lists, to see where there is overlap between different age levels’ badges/activities, or to see where one activity might apply to several different badge topics. The process of comparing can be tedious, but with a little practice, it becomes smoother.
- Decide on a format. How will girls progress through the different activities? Is it best to be “round robin” style and have groups of girls rotating through different stations? Is it best to have one large group and one instructor leading everyone with helpers around the room (like most troop meetings)? Is it best to have an event “open-house” style where activities are set up throughout the whole time, but individuals or small groups can move between them at their own pace. The answer will depend on: size of the group, age of the group, type of activities, physical layout of the space you’re working in, and how much adult help you have.
- Decide how you’re delegating. Even though this is the last step on the list, do this at the beginning of your planning process. Identify right away how you can use help and ask for that help, specifically. Can someone bring the snacks? Who can be on the clean-up crew? Do you need activity leaders? Delegate from the beginning.
Looking for examples and ideas? Experienced multi-level troop leader, Elizabeth, the co-host to Silver & Gold Podcast Episode 10, is providing you with tons of great resources. Get her exact activity plans here: Cookie Rally, Camping Day Event w/ the brand new troop camping badges, 3-day Day Camp
About the Author:
Stacie is the creator and hostess of the Silver & Gold Podcast, a place for Girl Scout adults to connect, grab great ideas, share cool stuff, and feel like you’re never alone, because you’ve always got friends – new or old – silver and gold. Stacie is a professional consultant for Girl Scout councils in programs, trainings, grant-writing and more. She’s a Gold Award Girl Scout and Lifetime Member. Stacie holds a degree in Youth Programming & Camp Management. Connect with her at: www.silverandgoldpodcast.com, www.facebook.com/silverandgoldpodcast, or email@example.com.
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