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The emotional and physical safety and well-being of Girl Scouts is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the Safety Standards and Guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities.

For current COVID-19 guidelines, check your local council’s version of Safety Activity Checkpoints.

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, and other vital information             
  • Activities that are not permitted by Girl Scouts of the USA 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 Girl Scouts 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
  • Whether prior approval from your council is required before girls participate in a specific activity

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 following chart 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. 


© Copyright 2009–2021 Girl Scouts of the United States of America.  All rights reserved. All information and material contained in Girl Scouts’ Volunteer Essentials guide (“Material”) is provided by Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) and is intended to be educational material solely to be used by Girl Scout volunteers and council staff. Reproduction, distribution, compiling, or creating derivative works of any portion of the Material or any use other than noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law is prohibited, unless explicit, prior authorization by GSUSA in writing was granted. GSUSA reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit, or discontinue the Material at any time without notice.


GSEMA Guidelines for Planning Troop Activities

Please check our up-to-date COVID-19 guidelines for Girl Scout troops and groups before planning in-person activities. 

Ready for some adventure? Camping, overnights, and excursions are some of the most memorable experiences in Girl Scouting. Check out the Girl Scouts travel progression chart.

Safety is our first priority. We have established safety protocols and policies to ensure girls and volunteers stay safe while participating in Girl Scout activities. This quick and easy-to-follow reference guide will assist troop volunteers who want to plan Girl Scout activities outside of the troop’s usual meeting time and place. Download a printable version.

Would you like to connect with our safety team and other volunteers planning trips and travel? Join us for a virtual Risk Management and Volunteer Safety Connections session

Activities outside the Troop’s Usual Meeting Time and Space

When planning activities taking place outside of the troop’s usual meeting time and space, leaders must complete the following steps:

  1. Review the Girl Scouts’ Safety Standards Guidelines in Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  2. Gain approval from caregivers (parents/guardians) using the Activity Girl Permission Form.
  3. Ensure proper volunteer-to-girl ratios. See the "Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need" section above for guidance.
  4. Review the information on “Transporting Girls”—including the checklist for drivers—in Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  5. Read Safety Activity Checkpoints for requirements and recommendations for participants in these activities.
  6. Complete a Non-member Insurance Request for any approved Girl Scout activities where girls, adults, or family members who are not registered Girl Scout members will be participating—even just as audience members or potential “customers” (except for council-sponsored Fall Product or Cookie programs, where this is not required).

What training do I need?  In additional to basic troop leadership volunteer training and criminal background check requirements, First Aid training is recommended, but not required.

High-risk Activities

Not sure if your activity is “high risk”? Use the Girl Scout Activity Form Pre-Check flowchart to evaluate whether your activity fits in this category.

When planning “high-risk” activities, complete steps 1–6 above, plus:

7. Complete the Girl Scout Activity Form for all troop/group/service unit-organized “high-risk”/“high adventure” activities, as defined and required by Safety Activity Checkpoints.

8. Check the Certificate of Liability list to verify that GSEMA has received the insurance information. If the activity/location is not listed, follow the instructions at the top of this page to request a Certificate of Liability.

9. Verify that at least one volunteer in your group is a GSEMA-approved First Aider. Refer to Safety Activity Checkpoints for details on who can serve as a First Aider.

What training do I need? In addition to basic troop leadership volunteer training and criminal background check requirements, First Aid is required, as well as any additional specific trainings or certifications outlined in your activity’s Safety Activity Checkpoint.

Overnights (1–2 Nights)

When planning activities that include an overnight, complete steps 19 above, plus:

10. Participate in a training opportunity listed in the Camping Learning Plan for Volunteers (outdoor skills, cooking/camping) or complete the Online Overnight Orientation for non-camp/indoor one- to two-night overnights. When planning encampments or large group camping experiences, see the Encampment Director information in the Camping Learning Plan for Volunteers.

11. Review the Girl Scout Safety Guidelines in Safety Activity Checkpoints for additional information about safe overnight outings, including sleeping arrangements.

12. Ensure that caregivers complete the GSEMA Overnight Permission and Health Form. The First Aider must possess these forms for the duration of the trip.

What training do I need? In addition to basic troop leadership volunteer training and criminal background check requirements, First Aid and any specific trainings or certifications outlined in your activity’s Safety Activity Checkpoint are required.

Overnight training requirements may vary by the group’s sleeping location. For indoor, in-state overnights—such as a council-sponsored program—online Overnight Orientation is required. For outdoor overnights or out-of-state stays, Outdoor Basics: Cooking and Outdoor Basics: Camping are required. See the Troop Camping page for more details about these courses.

Overnights (3+ Nights)

When planning overnights that are three or more nights, complete steps 112 above, plus:

13. Read, complete, and submit the Extended Troop Trip Packet.

What training do I need? In addition to basic troop leadership volunteer training and criminal background check requirements, First Aid, any specific training or certification outlined in your activity’s Safety Activity Checkpoint, and appropriate overnight training (see guidelines under Overnights (1–2 Nights)) are required. Plus, troops planning extended trips need to provide evidence of trips and travel progression. 

GSEMA Volunteer Safety Trainings

Many programs require additional safety or outdoor skills training in order to keep girls safe and provide them with the best possible experiences. Details for required and enrichment safety courses are listed below.

Overnight Orientation

This orientation will prepare you to take Girl Scouts on non-camp, 1–2 night outings, including indoor council-sponsored events and indoor overnights. Overnight Orientation is available gsLearn.

First Aid Certification: Reciprocity Requirements

If you are a medical professional or have other CPR/First Aid certification from a certifying body outside of GSEMA, you may be able to submit your licensure or certification for reciprocity.

Training Requirements

For first aid/CPR courses not hosted by GSEMA, we strongly recommend obtaining pre-approval by emailing us to ensure the courses meet our safety requirements. Courses must:

  • Be provided by an approved, accredited organization
  • Include basic first aid
  • Include CPR/AED training covering adult, child, and infant
  • Include live instruction, either:
    • As an in-person course, OR
    • As a live instructor-led online session that includes hands-on practice and evaluation using a manikin

Level 2 First Aider: We accept valid licensure as an MA physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, paramedic, military medic, athletic trainer, and emergency medical technician (EMT), as these professions have a reasonable expectation of emergency care. Submit your valid license/registry number, including expiration date, to

MEDIC First Aid and CPR: Blended

Please see COVID-19 updates and current guidelines for GSEMA First Aid/CPR Trainings.

Become a First Aid-trained volunteer. This course is offered in two parts: an online program, and a hands-on skills session with an instructor. Both portions must be completed for certification. Certification is valid for two years, and the course fee ($75) includes a take-home resource book, keychain CPR mask, and certification card. Financial aid is available. Register.

MEDIC First Aid and CPR: Recertification

Please see COVID-19 updates and current guidelines for GSEMA First Aid/CPR Trainings.

Requalify as a First Aid-trained volunteer. This course is intended for volunteers whose certification has expired or is about to expire within 30 days of the listed session.  Recertification is valid for two years, and the course fee ($40) includes a take-home resource book, keychain CPR mask, and certification card. Financial aid is available. Register.

Wilderness First Aid Certification

Please see COVID-19 updates and current guidelines for GSEMA First Aid/CPR Trainings.

With this 16-hour course, become a Wilderness First Aid volunteer capable of taking girls 30 minutes or more away from medical care. MEDIC First Aid/CPR or other First-Aider qualifying training is required as a prerequisite for Wilderness First Aid. Full and partial financial assistance is available. Register.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour program that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health challenges in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. This course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional peer, social, and self-help care. This course provides useful information for adults working with Girl Scouts at every age level, but is particularly helpful for those working with Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors. Financial assistance is available. Register.

Child Abuse Prevention and Reporting

Per our Volunteer Policies and Procedures, GSEMA “supports and maintains environments that are free of child abuse, including but not limited to sexual abuse, and neglect. Child abuse and neglect are defined as any recent act or failure to act which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Procedure for Reporting Child Abuse

If the child is in immediate harm, call 911 and follow emergency procedures on the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts Emergency Procedures card (GSEMA Emergency Number: 1-800-348-7788).

If the child is not in immediate harm, document the information as thoroughly as possible on the Child Abuse Incident Report Form and submit within 24 hours of the suspected or reported abuse.