Leader is frustrated: I am so tired of telling my girls to put away their cell phones at troop meetings. The parents haven’t been helpful either because most of them feel that they need to be able to reach them during meeting times. How have you dealt with this?
Our Facebook leaders shared their opinions about cell phones at troop meetings.
Several leaders have a place for phones
- Christine: We have a basket that the girls put their phone in at the beginning of the meeting – even leaders.
- Melanie: Decorated an old shoe box, now it’s our Phone Drop Box. Phones go in when they get there and they pick them on their way out.
- Donna: Phone jail! A box decorated! And a coleader who does not tolerate phones!
- Shelley: Get a shoe hanger that hangs on the door, label each compartment with a name of the girl. Make them slip their phone in with the backs facing out. They can retrieve the,pm after the meeting.
- Georgette: My girls turn their phones in to our phone box at the beginning of each meeting and collect at the end. If they do not want to do this then they are asked not to come, I explain that it is not fair to those who want to be here to participate. And if you feel you should be on a phone during our meeting then there is no reason to be here.
- Sarah agrees and added: I tell parents up front we are a no phone zone.
Other troops have a rule
- Katherine: Have them turn the phones face-down. No interaction, but parents can still call.
- Randi: If they don’t put it away after 2 requests I pass around a basket or bag and it goes in there until the end of meeting.
- Julie: I wrote up a separate “advanced media policy” for Cadettes that states they can use their phones while eating snack, but then they have to turn off ringer and put it in bucket. I put my phone in there too, with ringer on. That way, if it is truly an emergency, the parents can still speak to girl via me.
Two different troops had the same creative solution
- Anne and Susan: Tell your girls to put their phones in the middle of the table. First one to pick up, cleans up. If parents need to reach them, they can text or call the leaders during meeting time.
How about an incentive?
- Maureen: I attended a no phone event where we put our phones in a basket and then one was pulled randomly for a prize. Could be an incentive for the first few times?
But what about trips?
- Toi: All this sounds great but what do you do on field trips and such? Everyone takes photos with their phones now but I feel if you allow them to use their phones for the photos you are opening the door to just let them use them. I have seen girls that do not have phones (either by parents choice or financial reasons) feel alienated.
- Mavis: I have always had the rule that when we are on trips (major or cross country) that phones may be used while we are in the vehicle traveling. When we are out of the vehicle, eating or touring, phones are only to be used for pictures. We’ve never had problems. I’ve always been with high school troops and the girls would rather interact with each other. If they need to be on the phone that much with someone back home, they should have stayed home with them. I’ve always asked the girls before the trip what their choice is and they’ve always made this rule themselves.
Some leaders turned this into a teaching moment
- Debbie: Would these parents expect to interrupt a doctor’s appointment or an SAT exam? They need to start understanding that an appointment with someone else is not just another distraction that is unimportant. And WHAT did these parents (or, rather, the parents before them) do in ancient times before cell phones? A conversation needs to start about “convenience” vs. “emergency.” It is not an emergency if you just want to know what your kid wants for dinner .
- Paula: It’s an addiction and it needs to be treated that way. Parents need to be teaching kids to use the phone as a tool not to let it control them. If they can’t put them away you should hold on to them. There is a good show called brain games which describes the addiction it may be good to share with them.
- Tracy: I feel that my job is to help them be leaders and responsible, functioning members of society. Taking their phones doesn’t do that. Teaching them that it’s rude and disrespectful will have more of an impact in their lives especially as they grow and get jobs, go to college, etc. You won’t be there to take their phone so help them make that decision now so they know when it’s appropriate and inappropriate to have their phones out. Of course our girls are allowed to use their phones to research for trips and such so they keep them.
Other leaders worked with the girls to help them create their own solution
- Tammy: Our girls created an electronics agreement. It took time at two meetings to get to an agreement but it’s done. They turn them into a box at beginning of meeting.
- Melissa: Have you tried asking the girls what would help?
Troops that didn’t have a problem because of meeting structure or behavior agreements already in place
- Lori: Our troop has 9th graders. We haven’t had much problem with it and I think it is because they have been taking turns leading meetings and teaching badges for many years now. They know how it feels when the scouts don’t pay attention and I think it had changed how they treat the President of the day. Maybe more leadership positions would help. If not, then take a phone that keeps coming out after a warning.
- Tracy: Girl behavior agreements need to be reviewed and signed. I give a ‘Girl of the Year’ award every year to the girl who best lives the Girl Scout Law. (Respect authority means you are actively listening and participating to whoever is leading the meeting)
Eventually you won’t need to take away the phones completely:
- Shannon: I have a troop of 1st and 2nd year Cadettes. Our troop started by having them put all their phones on a shelf at our meeting place. My co-leaders and I would have our phones if parents needed to reach the girls. As time has gone on, I have not had to take their phones because they have learned during meetings, we don’t play on them. Now, we can actually use them to look up things during meetings and it doesn’t become a free for all.
- Genevra: We have actually been using the phones to do research. The girls are looking up information for the around the world in 80 minutes for a dinner party they are planning.
- Dona: I had a put the phone away rule until the last 10 minutes of the meeting when parents were usually pulling up in cars texting them that they are there. My co leader and I also put our phones away as well. I feel that the last 10 min is reasonable and thank goodness the parents are OK with that too. I don’t collect them because I feel they need to be responsible enough to just put them away in pocket, purse or backpacks.
- Cathy: I tell my girls they can have them in the meetings but the MINUTE we see them out of their pockets they are mine for the rest of the meeting! Most of them just hand them over when they get there now.
Fun activities with cell phones for your troop
Planning a selfie scavenger hunt. Take a look at the Selfie Fun Patch from with a free download of suggested activities.
Most girls can probably have entire conversations with just emojis. Try a new twist on an old favorite. Have the girls say something nice about each other using only emojis to earn the Emoji Fun Patch.
For those troops that want to use an incentive for phone policy compliance, the I Love GS Fun Patch could be just what you’re looking for.