This year, Girl Scouts from around Western New York marched in parades and participated in ceremonies honoring our fallen heroes. Check out some of the pictures below and see the full album on Facebook!
It’s National Girl Scout Bridging Week! While bridging is an important ceremony to us, you may not understand what it is or how to do it. Never fear! This blog post is designed to help you plan your bridging ceremony and provides resources for each level.
In case you don’t know, a bridging ceremony is the celebration of moving on to a new adventure. We recognize what the girls have accomplished and how they’re ready for their next steps and responsibilities as they move to the next level in Girl Scouts.
While there is a general guide, the most important thing about the bridging ceremony is that it’s fun and personalized by the girls themselves. It’s meant to be done as a partnership between the girls and adults.
Usually held at the beginning or end of the troop year, they generally consist of three parts, including an opening, main section, and closing. The opening is your time to welcome everyone and set the tone for the event. The main section will explain what’s happening and celebrate the girls as they “bridge” to the next level. In closing, the girls can do a friendship circle and thank everyone for attending.
Through every part, it’s important to make sure there’s room for the girls individuality and creativity to shine through, making it a girl-focused event. You’re paying tribute to these amazing girls and want that to remain the focus.
For more information on how each level can earn their bridging awards, check the links below:
Bridging is one of our most beloved Girl Scout traditions and celebrates our girls’ achievements as they “cross the bridge” to the next level in Girl Scouts. This year, GSUSA planned a National Bridging Week for all councils to celebrate together.
Part of the idea is to hold bridging events throughout council this week, but it’s also about the education behind why we bridge and the resources available to you.
Below is more information about the bridging ceremony from the Girl Scout website. The Volunteer Toolkit is also a good resource for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors who are bridging. To purchase kits in council, you can come into any of our shops or check out our online store.
Many troops hold their bridging ceremony in May or June, and some tie it to the end of the girls’ current school year. You may also choose to deepen your girls’ connection with their Girl Scout sisters by holding your ceremony during National Bridging Week, which will be celebrated May 4–11, 2019.
Like investiture and rededication ceremonies, Girl Scout bridging ceremonies have a few basic elements:
- Opening: Welcome your guests and share the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
- Main section: Girls, whether physically or symbolically, cross a bridge and are welcomed to the next Girl Scout level.
- Closing: Girls participate in a friendship circle and thank their guests.
And the rest is up to the girls! The ceremony should always focus on paying tribute to Girl Scouts as they move forward, but let your girls get creative with how they’d like to celebrate—this is the fun part!
Keeping the ceremony girl-led
Depending on your girls’ ages, you might find yourself doing a good chunk of the planning, as troop leader Lara Cordeiro of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio did when her girls were young. Still, says Lara, “As with everything, progression is key! The girls plan the ceremony—they pick any readings, poems, or songs that they want to say or sing. The girls cross the bridge and if they are [bridging to the next level], they get their new uniform right there. The girls also tell everyone their favorite Girl Scout memory from that level. It’s great to hear what they really enjoyed and recap those few years at that age level!”
As with other Girl Scout activities, a bridging ceremony doesn’t need to be perfect. “Weather is the only thing that’s gotten in our way, because we bridge outdoors,” says Lindsay Hayden, who leads a Senior and Ambassador troop at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. “We’ve learned to always book a picnic shelter and forgo the actual bridge if necessary. As long as girls move from one area to the other to get the Girl Scout handshake, we feel they get the effect.”
Get families and your community involved
Share this important moment with your girls’ caregivers and other family members, and anyone else the girls wish to invite! Could be a favorite teacher, coach, or someone they volunteered with this year—and be sure to recognize these individuals at the ceremony! Even a simple thank-you from you or your troop committee and the girls goes a long way in showing troop families how much their girls appreciate their involvement and how important they are to the troop.
And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it! “In order to minimize costs and free up some of our time as troop leaders, we asked parents to sign up to bring certain food items and decorations,” says Denise Montgomery, a Junior troop leader at Girl Scouts of San Diego. “Our troop purchased two things for bridging—a cake and pizzas—and we asked for parent volunteers to pick up those items while we were rehearsing the bridging ceremony with the troop.”
Our Volunteer Experts’ Top Girl Scout Bridging Ceremony Tips:
Set your girls up for success. “When our troop bridged from Brownies to Juniors we invited the families to come a half hour after we gathered as a troop, so that we had a chance to rehearse our ceremony,” says Denise. “We try to set the girls up for success and help them feel comfortable by knowing what to expect.”
Amplify your girls’ voices…literally. “We borrowed a mobile amplifier system and microphone from a troop family to ensure that the girls would be heard by everyone when they spoke,” shares Denise. “Because we hold our bridging in the courtyard at our school there can be ambient noise in the background, and we want the families in our audience and the girls to be able to hear the ceremony. The microphone seemed to be a draw for the girls, and passing it made it clear whose turn it was to speak, so it helped us to have a smoother ceremony.”
Know who’s covering what. “We did a couple of our bridging ceremonies with another troop that’s the same grade as ours,” says Lara. “It was wonderful getting a large group together, but since [members] didn’t know one another really well, it was difficult to do the planning—no one wanted to make any decisions! In hindsight, it might have been better to split the jobs between the troops/groups and let them each run with their part.”
Outline exactly what you need from ceremony volunteers. “One thing that didn’t quite go [the best] was that we wrote a volunteer description for a Bridging Coordinator position, and we think it might have sounded like too much responsibility for one person to take on—no one stepped up to take on the role,” says Denise. “So now we have spread the responsibilities among more volunteers and have renamed the role Bridging Designer to make it sound more appealing—and there’s a creative component—while remaining clear that the person will be working with our troop members to determine theme and come up with ideas for decorations and food and to set [that part] up.”
Consider some surprises. “Each year we ask the girls who are bridging to plan a special surprise for the girls who are staying and vice versa,” says Lindsay. “Last year, our younger girls made personalized bulletin boards for our bridging girls to take to their college dorm rooms. They included personalized notes and a photograph of the troop on each.”
Check in with your council or service unit. Lara discovered that her council had a printable resource to help her girls plan their ceremony. You might also ask your service unit if it hosts a unit-wide bridging ceremony or if there are other opportunities for your girls to connect with their Girl Scout sisters at this time of year.
Need more support? Check out the Volunteer Toolkit, where you’ll find a bridging guide for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior troops in the Closing Celebrations section; for older girl and multi-level troops, you’ll find it in the Resources tab under Girl Scout Traditions and Awards.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls. Reserved for Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, it is the highest and most difficult of all our awards. The leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment that come from “going for the Gold” set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.
Each year, less than 6% of all Girl Scouts will earn their Gold Award and in 100 years of our highest award, one million girls have earned it or its equivalent.
More than just a community service project, girls who pursue their Gold Award must demonstrate a higher commitment to improving their communities and advocating for sustainable change.
In the process of earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, girls not only develop sustainable solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges- for example, cleaning up our oceans, increasing girls’ access to education, and addressing public health issues- they grow more confident and strengthen skills that guide them toward success in both school and their future careers.
When a girl becomes a Gold Award Girl Scout, she feels the satisfaction that comes from working to support an issue she’s passionate about; she also gains an edge in applying for competitive scholarships and in the college admissions process.
Interested in learning more? Visit our website today!
Just announced! Starting October 28, we’re going to hold double the fun days at Camp Piperwood where Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors are invited for archery and low ropes course excitement for as little as $5. Each event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you’re interested, visit eBiz to learn more and register!
One of the most important ceremonies for a Girl Scout is Bridging, where a girl moves from one level to another. It’s a moment of reflection of what the girl has accomplished, as well as her anticipation to embrace new adventures and responsibilities. While adults are involved, everything is planned in partnership with the girls.
To Bridge from one level to the next, there are two steps that each girl must complete. From Brownies to Ambassadors, the girls must first Pass It On and then Look Ahead. By Passing It On, they are working with younger girls and showing them the value of moving on and joining Girl Scouts. With Look Ahead, they are learning about the new adventures that lie ahead of them.
Girls at all levels from across Girl Scouts of Western New York held Bridging Ceremonies and their creativity was amazing! Each event, while decorated in rainbow colors, showed a flair unique to the troop or service unit involved. Below are a few pictures, but the rest can be found in an album on our Facebook page.