COVID-19 Update 7-7-2020

Hello Girl Scout Members,

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve emphasized and lived by our #1 priority: keeping our Girl Scouts, their families and our volunteers safe. We’re now entering Phase 4 of Western New York’s reopening, and we continue to follow state and county Department of Health guidelines, as well as rules set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

With those priorities in mind, we are pleased to announce that we will resume some limited in-person Girl Scout activities and in-person troop meetings starting this week.  We will also soon open our camp properties for family and troop day trips, and our Service Centers for curbside retail (details on property and service center opening will be shared in next week’s Member Essentials).

We have prepared guidelines for troops and service units to follow when planning in-person activities and meetings. There will be two information sessions, listed below, on how we plan to reopen safely and maintain everyone’s well-being. We will require social distancing and the use of face masks. And, of course, each parent/guardian should decide what is best for their girl[s].

Before leading any in-person Girl Scout activities, volunteers must review the Safety Activity guidelines for in-person meetings, and attend the webinar this week or watch the recording.

Thursday, July 9, 6:00 pm Service Unit Managers:Registration Link
Thursday, July 9, 7:00 pm Troop Leaders:Registration Link
Webinar recordings will be shared for those unable to attend.

For questions, please contact Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

We continue to encourage and promote virtual and at-home programming as the safest option.  Our alternative camp program began this week, and girls in Girl Scouting and non-members are invited to register. The weekly cost is $60, which includes a Camp Activity Kit, live virtual sessions, online dining hall experiences, self-led activities, virtual campfires, and more, with a variety of weekly themes that your girls will enjoy.  These programs run until August 14. Non-members will also need to enroll in Girl Scouts upon registration for $25. Financial aid is available. As most of you know, both our overnight camps and our two day camps are closed this summer, but we’re aiming for a great 2021.

We are #GirlScoutStrong and our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place is necessary now more than ever. Our collective, unprecedented time continues, and most experts cannot determine with any certainty when these conditions may change – nor what they may eventually change into.

We understand the importance of girls meeting with their friends in person, and participating in outdoor activities. We know many of you are excited to get together in person once again. We also continue to reinforce the importance of all members following strict safety guidelines as the right thing to do.

But we also realize that with 15,000 Girl Scouts and 6,000 volunteers across nine counties, many of you have had diverse experiences with the virus and what it means. For some of you, it may be something you have only seen on the news.  For others, especially those across the council who are front-line health-care workers, it is a stark daily reality. We are also well aware that some of the Southern and Western states that re-opened in May and even earlier are now seeing dangerous spikes in their number of cases. We don’t want to contribute in any way to a reversal of New York’s general containment of this dread disease.
  
True too, we do not know what schools are going to do in August and September. Yet we’ve seen some local youth programs reopen for the season, with general outdoor social gatherings and recreation permitted. As we all can agree, there is no one-answer-fits-all solution. But we feel strongly that even if your area has relatively little exposure to the virus, we should all respect each other’s health and well-being and wear masks when in contact with each other.

It is also so important to remember we are girl-led, and allow each volunteer and family to determine the level of participation that they are comfortable with.  For any troops who choose to resume in-person activities, please continue to offer alternative ways for the girls to connect.

All of you helped us face these unprecedented challenges and now we are at a point where, with caution and care, we can resume some of our valued in-person Girl Scout activities. We will listen closely to your input and suggestions, and we will carefully monitor these meetings and events. We want to make sure we stay true to the guidelines for everyone’s safety and good health. But we also look forward to letting our girls be together in person with their fellow Girl Scouts again.

Thank you for all you do!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York

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