Try Now Join Later

Girl Guides of Canada Try Now Join Later Opt-in

What is Try Now, Join Later?

Try Now, Join Later is Ontario Council’s most successful initiative for recruiting new girls into Guiding!

Try Now, Join Later was first introduced by Girl Guides of Canada, Ontario Council in 2011, to allow new girls to visit active Guiding units at no charge in the months of April, May and June, in hopes of retaining girls for the next, paid Guiding year – and hopefully beyond.

Since its inception, over 6,500 girls have been introduced to the joys of our Guiding programs through Try Now, Join Later. Of these girls, 4,207 have registered as girl members - that's a 64% conversion rate!

What are the benefits of participating in the program?

Try Now, Join Later is a fantastic way to build your unit numbers, if you need more girls! But we’re encouraging you to think beyond your own unit, too.

If we want Guiding to be a healthy, growing organization that continues into the future, we need to continually add new girls to our ranks. We know from experience that Try Now, Join Later is a proven way to expose new girls to our wonderful Guiding program, so they will want to join us as members. In this way, these girls who “Try Now” in the spring are an important part of the future of Guiding.

It’s also true that, while it offers great value as compared to many other after-school activities, Guiding can be expensive for some families. Giving the girls a chance to experience the Guiding program in the spring - and create bonds of friendship with our current girl members - is a useful way to let parents “try before they buy” and see the value of our programming, before committing to the cost of a full year of membership.

Sometimes Try Now, Join Later can also result in new adult leaders joining Guiding! More than a few Guiding units that have participated in Try Now, Join Later have encouraged “Try Now” parents to become volunteers when their daughters join us in the fall, making this a program can recruit both girl and adult members into Guiding.

Don’t just take our word for it, though! Listen to the wise words of your fellow Guiders, who have experienced the benefits of Try Now, Join Later:

I've been a Guider in a small village for many years. I think the "Try Now, Join Later" program is a great addition to Ontario Guiding. Guiding can be expensive for some families in these small villages, so giving the girls a chance to join without having to pay the membership fee, and enjoy activities with their school friends for a few months in the spring, when the outdoor activities that are more common, is a great idea to encourage more members. It is in the spring and early summer that there is more of a chance for a special year-end activity which can be one of the most memorable experiences in Guiding and that may be the clincher for coming back to Guiding in the fall. That was certainly the situation for a girl in my Unit last spring who was a "Try Now, Join Later" Brownie and now is a very committed Guide - and her Mom has become a Parent Helper!” - Joanne

“Try Now, Join Later is very important to our unit. In my first year as Contact Guider of a Sparks unit, we only had two Sparks. In the spring, Try Now, Join Later bumped that up to 8 and though word of mouth by many of the girls who took part in TNJL that year, our unit grew to twelve come September! We've been taking part in TNJL ever since. The girls who join are a mix of friends of girls who are already registered but whose parents don't want to pay full registration mid-year, daughters of mothers who were in Guiding as girls and who want to see if their daughters feel the same kinship with Guiding as they did, girls whose parents are looking for an activity for their 5 year old (as there isn't much available in our community for that age) and girls who are new to the community and whose families are looking for a fun and enriching experience for their daughters to try. Our unit's Try Now, Join Later consists of four meetings - our last four meetings of our Guiding year. Parents love that their daughters get a good chance and a good idea of what it means to be a Spark and whether or not this is a program that would work for them come September. An average of 95% of the girls who attend TNJL register the following Guiding year!

When planning our Try Now, Join Later meetings, we make sure to show much of what Guiding offers. We work on a Challenge so every girl receives a badge (and so begins the obsession er...I mean fascination of earning badges!), we do some form or community involvement and we, of course, do crafts and play games. We finish our year with a campfire and invite all the parents to attend. That way parents too get a true idea of what we do during our hour and they see firsthand how their daughters glow while attending a Sparks meeting.

The paperwork is not too much extra work. Parents must fill out a paper registration form and an image release form. Then scan and email these to GGC. That's it! Within days, the girls are on our roster and we are good to go. We also have the girls fill out an H.1 form that we keep with us during meetings.

I love seeing new girls come into the unit near the end of our Guiding year. The existing girls are proud to show off their Keepers and what they've learned and are always wonderful with the new girls. I love to see the confidence our current girls have when teaching our Promise and songs to the TNJL attendees. It reminds me that we did something right all year.

Overall, Try Now, Join Later is a vital part to our unit's growth and success and I look forward to taking part in the program every year. I can't wait to see those shy little faces enter our meeting space and watching them blossom in such a short period of time. That is what makes it worth it.”
– Julie

Try Now, Join Later is the main reason our small Sparks unit has grown at all. We are a very small community, and all the girls came from the same school in the first year. Word spread quickly around the school about how much fun Sparks was, so we had no trouble getting more girls to try it out, and they didn't seem to mind not coming camping or getting badges. Without Try Now, Join later, we wouldn't have much of a unit at all. It takes a bit of a bite out of our budget, but it certainly is worth it in the end.” – Kim

I cannot say enough nice things about this program in Guiding! I received two girls into the unit last spring under the Try Now initiative. Both returned to Guides this fall. The 'Try Now' program lets us have our cake and eat it too! By this I mean that the new members are informally registered into the system, allowing them to participate in activities while being covered by our insurance etc., and also it allows the girls to delay the expense of registration until they fully commit to becoming Guides. I have welcomed other girls in the past years this same way. I am always excited to receive new members. The Guide program is something girls can tackle whenever they join so aside from the Enrolment activities we do usually in the fall, they just join in with the other girls and we all move forward together. I believe it is extremely important to make Guiding accessible to every child who wishes to join. If we only accept girls in September, we might well miss any chance of ever receiving these interested families. For girls with financial difficulties, this program is perfect. In the months that remain of whatever year they join, we win over the families with the activities and acceptance. In September, they are back for more!” – Sharon

Try Now, Join Later is a program that I have been using for a long time. I believe that in order to help bring girls come out of their shell and see all the fun things we are doing they should try it first. It also help parents ease their mind on whether we are worth their hard earned money. In doing this program I also invite parents to stay and see it for themselves (because most parents are scared to leave their children for the first time no matter what age). During these evenings, I am also able to help convince them that if they are able to also help out; their daughter will be able to flourish. I have been able to convince 4 parents to sign up as Guiders/Non Members this year; my philosophy in life is the More the Merrier! If you believe in the basic philosophy of Girl Guides then adults and girls will definitely broaden their horizons and make new friendships with the same common goal.

The New Hamburg Units, were closed when I moved here. In re-opening the units 4 years ago, we have been able to grow to 40 girls and 8 leaders. The Spark and Brownie unit in September prior to opening reached the maximum of 24 girls. Since then we are still receiving phone calls, I have had to suggest that they attend other units in order that their daughters can attend Girl Guides, however in a different community.

I am always excited to have another girl in the unit to play with. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a girl try something new for the first time and seeing her smile when she realizes that she can accomplish something. I love my girls! They are always so welcoming!! The new girl walking in the front door can the shyest person ever, but there is always someone there to help bring her into the group, explain things, laugh at things and play games. I would suggest that all units open their doors and hearts to new and exciting adventures with each new person that walks through the front door.
” - Janice

Will I be given a choice about whether I want to participate?

You will receive an email to advise you if you have been selected to participate in this year’s program. This email will be sent to you, at the email address we have on file, by the end of February.

If your unit has girl spaces available:
This year, if we are aware that your unit has girl spaces available (e.g. if you are under the maximum capacity level for your meeting space and leader ratio), you do not need to take any further action, as you will be automatically "opted in" to participate in Try Now, Join Later. If you do not wish to participate, you are given the opportunity to “opt out” of the program, via an online form that you can fill out. However, we will need you to provide a reason for doing so. This information will be shared with your Administrative Community Leader (ACL), who may follow up with you at a later time.
If your unit has no girl spaces available
If your unit is full, or over maximum capacity for space/ratio, you will not be automatically included in this program. However, we encourage you to consider your unit’s needs for the fall. Do you have girls who will be moving to the next branch level in the new fall Guiding year? Do you know of other girls not returning to your unit in the fall? You are welcome to register to “opt in” and participate in Try Now, Join Later. If you are able to provide ratio, welcoming a girl or two into your unit in the spring can help her to get “hooked” on the joys of Guiding, so she is encouraged to find another, open Guiding unit to join in the fall.

Deadline for opting in/out of Try Now, Join Later: Friday, March 9th, 2018

How will Try Now, Join Later girls be added to my unit? What do I need to do?

We will begin communicating about the program to parents right after March Break this year. Parents will be asked to contact the Ontario Council office, so we can record their information and determine if there is a local unit near to them that’s participating in the Try Now, Join Later program. Girls must be registered before they can visit a unit in the spring. This includes a completed A.5 at the Ontario Council office and units will need their health forms completed.

Your Unit Administrator (UA) will contact you directly, to inform you if a Try Now, Join Later girl(s) will be visiting your unit this spring. You simply need to be available for this call and then make the visiting girl welcome in your unit, by including her in your unit activities this spring. You can read helpful tips about how to do that, by scrolling below.

If you wish to invite people in your community to join the program, please direct them to call 1-800-565-8111. Girls must be registered with the Ontario Council office for the Try Now, Join Later program, so that we can record their information before they attend any unit meetings. This also ensures that we can extend them the offer to join Guiding, during the priority membership renewal period in the spring.

You can also order promotional postcards to distribute in your community, via this online form.

How will Ontario Council promote Try Now, Join Later to parents?

Immediately after March Break, we will begin communicating to parents about the Try Now, Join Later program. We will extend the invitation to participate to the following parents, if there is a participating TNJL unit in their area:
  • INQG (wait list) parents
  • Parents of new girl inquiries between April and June
  • Parents of non-member girls who participated in recent winter and Family Day Camping programs
We will also share a message with all current girl parents in communities with participating TNJL units, to ask them to “pass the word” to others in their community who may have daughters who may wish to try out our Guiding program. Of course, current girl parents with other girls in their households of age to try the Guiding program, if these girls are not yet members, may also participate if there are local spaces available.

Why does Try Now, Join Later happen in the spring? Why not the fall?

Parents whose daughters get to “sample” the Guiding program in the springtime, are more likely to remember the fun a few short months later, when they’re looking for extra-curricular programs for their daughters in the fall season when the new school year begins.

Girls who register for Try Now Join Later are also included in our Spring Renewal process for the next Guiding year, giving them priority renewal before open registration. This is a timely promotion that gives these new girls an added incentive to join us for the new fall Guiding year.

Won’t it be disruptive to my unit to have girls joining near the end of the year?

It’s a good bet that your current girls will enjoy welcoming and mentoring new girls into Guiding! Read what some of your fellow Guiders have to say about their experiences with their girls welcoming “Try Now” visitors to their units:

I am an experienced Guider and a new girl towards the end of the year does not interfere with our unit program. We are open to welcoming new girls and offering an opportunity to have fun and explore Guiding. There is very little leg work for a Guider to welcome a new girl into the unit. All should be so lucky to have this opportunity to bring a girl into Guiding.” - Wendy

My unit has always been very receptive to new girls and the children in my unit do everything in their power to make the new girls feel accepted. They are proud to be Girl Guides.” - Abby

My unit participated in the Try Now program last year. It was a great bunch of girls! The existing Sparks took pride in being able to teach the new additions the song and promise and it is a great way to meet new people in the community. The Try It Now is a great program, and if space permits, hopefully most units will considering joining!” – Jen

It renews the girls in my unit to see a new face and talk about all the things they got to do. The girls take kids under their wings and not only are more helpful, but they act like little mother hens and help include them in all the activities. It's great interpersonal skills, and shows the essence of Guiding: Being a friend to all and a sister to each other.” - Natalie

How can I include Try Now, Join Later girls in my unit activities, when girls who’ve been there all year are crafting, getting badges, going to camp, or doing year-end activities that they’ve fundraised for?

When your girls are doing free or low-cost activities with their unit, that’s a perfect time to help them make the Try Now, Join Later girls feel included and welcome. Your current girls will have fun teaching a visitor what they’ve learned from their Guiding experience and being a helper.

If you’re giving out badges, ask your current girls to use the “buddy system” with your Try Now, Join Later girls. They can explain to the visiting girls what Guiding badges are all about and how they are earned. With any luck, the visiting girls will be encouraged to join Guiding as girl members, so they can start earning badges of their own!

While girls participating in Try Now, Join Later don’t have to pay a membership fee to visit unit meetings in April, May and June, we do advise their parents - and Guiders - that weekly activity dues and special event fees may apply to some activities. As well, there may be some unit activities that you cannot offer to Try Now, Join Later girls, such as a weekend camp that was booked in advance.

Try Now, Join Later girls are offered priority placement for the next year of Guiding, before new members. However, they are not entitled to the member rate for summer camp, camperships or subsidies, unless they pay the fee for the current year.

What if I my unit is almost full? Is it really worth the trouble of participating?

Your unit may be nearly full today – but consider your needs in the fall and beyond. As girls move on to the next branches, the Try Now, Join Later program is a great way to fill the gaps they leave behind.

For the Tiered Cookie Program, will our unit’s TNJL girls be included in our total registration number?

No.Only girl members registered in your unit will make up your total registration number. TNJL girls will not be included in your girl numbers as they relate to this program.

What do real girls think about this program?

Guiders who’ve been through the program tell us that it’s easy to participate in! Just read their comments to us:

INQG (wait list) parents “It was incredibly easy for us to participate in TNJL. We're rural units with units who still have space in them so welcoming a few extra kids is always possible. Since participating last year, I went on to spread this news amongst my other "Mom friends" and many of them are looking forward to having their daughters try to join a unit this coming April through the same initiative (of course I did disclaimer it's based on availability and ratios...). I also plan to start word of mouth of this within my own community to try to increase membership as well.” – Natalie

Participation in this program required little effort and it was worth the outcome. Our unit was facing closure in the 2015-2016 year due to leadership. Our goal in participating in Try Now, Join Later was to recruit a mother/daughter team to help us keep going in the following Guiding year. We welcomed two new girls to try our unit (who did and are now registered members) and we gained a new Guider as well. It was great to welcome a new girl to our unit who might not otherwise have joined (the initial cost without knowing much about the program). Ours girls were ready and willing to welcome our try now participants. Super easy and fun program to be involved with.” - Becky
Girl Guides of Canada Try Now Join LaterFor the past two years, Try Now Join Later has proven to be a successful recruitment campaign, not only for the organization but for parents and girls too!

The following message speaks to how Guiding can and does make a difference for girls …

So Rachel has talked about nothing else but Guides! We are currently door to door selling cookies and she came home from school took off her school uniform and put on her Guides uniform to head out selling. She can't wait to work on badges and wants to know everything there is to know about Guiding. Whatever you did and said last night sure made an impression. She has talked about your daughter and the other girls all the way home last night as well as on the way to school this morning.

Opting Out

If you do not wish to participate, you are given the opportunity to “opt out” of the program, via an online form that you can fill out. However, we will need you to provide a reason for doing so. This information will be shared with your Administrative Community Leader (ACL), who may follow up with you at a later time.
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