Should Girl Scout Troops Buy Uniforms for Their Girls?

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As the year begins to wind down, Girl Scout leaders are starting to plan their bridging ceremonies. For many troops who sold a lot of cookies, their bank accounts are full and they want to spend the money on things the girls want to do and what the troop needs.

 Should troops pay for uniforms? What issues arise if they do?Brownie Vest and others available online at Boscov’s

There are many troops out there that spend their fundraising dollars on uniforms for their girls. In most cases, I believe that this is a bad idea. I understand that not all troops have families who can easily afford to buy their daughters a new uniform every two years. I am talking about those who have parents that can afford it.

It seems like a great idea to have the girls bridge and then take off their old vest and put on their new one. I did this with my girls every time we had a bridging ceremony. However, the parents bought the vests, not the troop.

Parents are more apt to go forward with something if it costs THEM money. A vest, along with Council ID badges, troop numbers, the flag and the tab add up. What happens if a girl bridges and then decides not to return in the fall? Your troop is out that money. In theory you could ask for the vest back, but if the girl did fundraising with the troop, her efforts purchased that vest for her.

If a girl loses her vest, then who replaces it? Is that a conversation you want to have? If you replace one vest, what happens if two or three lose them? If you do replace it, then you have to make a trip to the Girl Scout Shop and buy it.  Guess what? Now you have created more work for yourself.

Girl Scout uniforms, in my opinion, are the responsibility of the parents. They can easily buy almost every part of the uniform online and have it shipped to their house.

If a girl does not have a uniform for bridging, then it is not on you. It is on her parents. As leaders we feel for the children in our troop, but we can only be responsible for so much.  Coaches do not buy new cleats for the children on their teams, dance studios do not buy costumes and shoes for dance competitions. Why should Girl Scouts be any different?

Do you buy your troop’s uniforms? Why do you or why don’t you?

6 thoughts on “Should Girl Scout Troops Buy Uniforms for Their Girls?”

  1. We do 50/50 for the vest and insignia. If the girl loses it then she would need to replace it. The troop buys all the badges.

    I agree with you about the parents having a stack in the activity if they have to put money forward, but our troop strongly believe GS should be self sufficient and a family.

    1. It is a nice gesture for your troop to pay for half of the uniform. If this was how my troop did it, then I would wait until the child was registered to purchase the item, just to be sure she was sticking around and her other activities did not interfere with the troop meeting time. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I am an “old” leader, more than 25 yrs. In all the troops I led or my daughters were in, the parents paid for the vests & initial insignia (council strips, troop numbers, etc) and the troop bought the badges earned during the rest of the year. The troops also had initial dues of $25-35 to “prime the pump” for patch/badge other purchases before the product sale $$ started coming in.

    The leaders would usually figure out the size vests to purchase by having a try-on session with a borrowed vest or two, or one she had already bought for her daughter, & then make the run to the council shop (when she was already buying the other end-of-year things). I think this is still a good idea, or the leader should order them all, because that way she is sure everyone has a vest at the bridging ceremony & some girl isn’t crying because her parents “forgot.”

    1. Mary, that is one way to do it to make sure that they troop does not lose money if a girl does not return and she is also ready for bridging. It works if the leader does not have to hound parents for the money! Thanks for sharing a clever way to solve a problem that leaders do face at bridging every year.

  3. I’m a Daisy leader Bridging my girls this week. I usually buy the Starter kits and my parents reimburse the Troop for them. If one of my parents needs to file for FA, I don’t really worry about repayment. I purchased all of the petals and badges with Troop funds and will continue to do so. However, as a Walmart employee, my Troop is eligible to receive a VAP (Volunteerism Always Pays) grant from Walmart’s charitable foundation based on my volunteering. So I don’t worry about it overmuch, so long as my girls have the best experience possible.

    I do want to say that reading your article and your Pinterest post gave me some great ideas for bridging my girls this week. Thank you for the information.

    1. Congratulations on bridging! FYI-I have a Brownie Badges blog here for your next two years!

      You are lucky to get a grant for your troop, most people do not. After bridging to Brownies, one girl dropped out before the school year started and two floated in and out for a few months before dropping out. I would have been upset if I spent troop money on those uniforms! The parents need to have some skin in the game…I always say that. Coaches do not buy cleats and socks for their team each year. Girl Scouts is no different, in my opinion.

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