New Council Patch Contest for 2019!

We want a new patch for our council and we’re asking the best designers we know – YOU! Girls of all levels, Daisies to Ambassadors, are invited to submit a hand-drawn design to represent Western New York.

The theme is Western New York, meaning your design should feature something that makes you think of the local area. Be careful not to use branded items, like the Buffalo Bills, restaurant names, etc.

When you hand-draw your design, you can make it any shape you want, but we’re asking for a maximum of eight colors, including black and white. Any utensils can be used to design, including markers, crayons, paint, and colored pencils.

Once done, you must mail or hand deliver your design to council so we can have the original artwork to consider in the contest. If you win, there may be changes to your design in the translation to patch, but the concept will remain.

Oh yeah, we also have prizes! The winner will receive:

• (1) new council patch of her design (shipping from the patch vendor may take several weeks)

• (1) $50 GSWNY Gift Certificate

• (1) framed print of the patch design

• A photo taken with the CEO and a press release to the media in the girl’s local area, plus a GSWNY blog post of the press release

• (1) new GSWNY CEO patch

Good luck, Girl Scouts! The learn more or download the form, click here.

DOWNLOAD THE CONTEST FORM

Daisies and Brownies recently learned outdoor skills at ‘Tents Up’

Daisies and Brownies from around council gathered Saturday, June 8, for our annual Tents Up training! This is the first of our Outdoor Progression Series designed to turn girls into master campers.

View the Complete Tents Up Album

Each level of the Outdoor Progression Series takes Girl Scouts from Daisies to Ambassadors and builds on their skills along the way. The first, Tents Up, brings Daisies and Brownies to Camp Piperwood where they begin learning skills like fire building, tent pitching, outdoor cooking, knots, and more.

Juniors and Cadettes go to Camp Timbercrest where they can participate in Ready Set Camp, the second level of the series that allows the skills to be built and honed further. Finally, Seniors and Ambassadors go to Camp Seven Hills the final weekend of September for Skills and Chills, the final step and friendly competition where girls can show what they’ve learned.

Girl Scouts in Action: Memorial Day 2019

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!

Memorial Day 2019 Photos

Troop 60098 Memorial Day Parade
Twin Lakes Daisies attended the Flag Laying ceremony in Mayville
Westfield Troops 20045, 20003, 20311, 20249, 20067, 20173, from the youngest Kindergarten Daisies to the Oldest of 5th Grade Juniors, took to the streets this morning and marched, biked and rode through town to honor any and all of our country’s veterans by proudly marching in the parade this morning wearing Red, White, and Blue with their Girl Scout uniforms!! They did it with a smile and a wave to everyone who lined the streets as we gathered to honor those who have served!
Several GS Troops from the Sweet Home Service Unit marched in the Memorial Day Parade in Williamsville yesterday
Mt Morris troops participated in the village’s Memorial Day parade and attended the Memorial Day ceremony. Cadette Troops 51027 and 51019 and Junior Troop 53090.
Girl Scouts from Lockport lining up for this years Memorial Day Parade march in Lockport this weekend.
Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes from the William Park SU walked in the Memorial Day parade
Pittsford Girl Scouts
Some of the first year Daisies from Troop 60532 marched in the Greece Memorial Day parade
Tekakwitha SU
KenTon SU in Town of Tonawanda parade

What does a bridging ceremony look like?

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:

Daisies

Brownies

Juniors

Cadettes

Seniors

Ambassadors

National Bridging Week starts tomorrow!

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.


Bridging Basics

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. 

Shelby: part tomboy, part football player, all Girl Scout

As competition for your girl’s time heats up, it’s easy to dismiss Girl Scouts as not being right for her. Your girl isn’t the girly-girl type, so she wouldn’t enjoy an organization where that’s a big deal. She’s more of a tomboy, so she likely wouldn’t have a good time.

We have news for you: every girl is right for Girl Scouts.

When you’re a Girl Scout, it doesn’t matter if you’re part trendsetter, part change-maker, part athlete, part engineer, part artist, or part go-getter, because you know who you are and where you want to go next. You’re all Girl Scout, and that makes the difference.

Pictured above is Shelby, a self-proclaimed ‘tomboy,’ football player, and Girl Scout Junior. She doesn’t fit the mold of what so many assume Girl Scouts is, yet our program fits her perfectly.

She’s learned practical skills like camping, fire building, and knot tying, but it’s the intangible skills that stand out. As a Girl Scout, Shelby has learned about caring, leadership, giving back, and working together.

Shelby, far right in the back row, with the rest of her troop

Shelby first joined Girl Scouts because it seemed like it would be fun and her mother, Kathy, wanted her to try something new. Since then, Kathy has watched her become independent, gain leadership skills, make friends, and enjoy many opportunities she wouldn’t have had the chance to experience without Girl Scouts. Even more, her confidence has increased.

Because of her interest in ‘boy things,’ Shelby can sometimes feel out of place in school and like she doesn’t fit in. When she’s with her troop, she feels comfortable to be herself.

If someone told Shelby they weren’t the ‘right kind of girl’ to join, she’d let them know it’s a perfect program for them because of all the activities they can do, like camping, crafting, caroling, and more. In fact, girls can pick from an array of different activities, events, and skills they want to achieve.  

Shelby’s favorite thing about Girl Scouts is Camp Timbercrest, where she’s met new friends who are like family

Even though she’s only nine years old, Shelby is already thinking about college. It’s one of the things she’s most excited about Girl Scouts. Through our Spring Renewal program, girls who renew their membership by May 30 receive SAGE Tuition Rewards Points. This translates into $2500 for college every year she renews.

Our partnership with SAGE was one of the things about Girl Scouts that surprised Kathy. She didn’t realize how it could help with Shelby’s future college dreams, or how the Girl Scout Gold Award can help increase a girl’s rank in the military. Another surprise was the number of companies that offer Girl Scouts opportunities, like Apple and Disney.

Both Kathy and Shelby are very active in Girl Scouts because of their belief in the program. For Shelby, it’s about learning about things she doesn’t know.

“She has had so many experiences and more just waiting for her,” Kathy said.  “She and her troop have done volunteer work at our local soup kitchen; they are working on their Bronze Award with a nonprofit little animal rescue; they’ve done beach clean ups to name a few of their projects. She will be able to not only save for college but visit some through the offerings they have at St. Bonaventures and Fredonia State.”

For girls and parents who aren’t sure about Girl Scouts, both Kathy and Shelby believe they should do their research and give it a try.

“As a parent, I would encourage them to do research on what Girl Scouts has to offer,” Kathy said. “Girl Scouts can help in a number of ways, including college through SAGE, travel opportunities, educational experiences, life skills, leadership, and to be in an environment that will help her grow.”

Girl Scouts is for all girls because we know no two are alike. Every girl has her own interests, talents, hobbies, and dreams, and we want to make sure she has the right opportunities to pursue them all. It’s not about what kind of girl you are, as long as you’re all Girl Scout.

Shelby is a lot of wonderful things and she’s all Girl Scout.

Girl Scouts Learn to Lead with Fire Safety

This article originally appeared on Prevention1st.org

This fall Prevention 1st trainers delivered the first sessions of the Leadership Development program in fire safety which they developed for the Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY). Sessions held in Rochester and Buffalo, NY, drew 34 Girl Scout Cadets, from 6th-graders to 12th graders, eager to learn leadership and fire safety skills. They will each now present 3 training sessions with younger Daisy and/or Brownie troops.

“This is a chance to up their leadership skills and be role models for younger girls,” said Lauren Bush, Assistant Director of Girl Experience for GSWNY. “And fire safety is so important, it’s good for them to hear it from their peers. As leaders, as adults, we can tell kids these things about fire. But when they hear it from their slightly older peers, it really sticks.”

“They were so enthusiastic and committed to playing a role in their community,” said Bob Crandall, Prevention 1st trainer. “For that age group it was very impressive.”

The Prevention 1st training will count toward the senior Girl Scouts’ leadership awards, and toward the younger Scouts’ play safe! be safe! Fire Safety Education patch. Training sessions were held on a day off from school, with some entire troops attending as well as individual girls interested in the training. The Rochester session was sponsored by the John F. Wegman Fund and the Buffalo session by Prevention 1st.

Molly Clifford taught the girls strategies for teaching younger children and presentation skills to keep their audience engaged and learning. Bob Crandall presented the specific fire safety skills they would need to teach the younger Girl Scouts, drawn from the curriculum of the play safe! be safe! fire safety program. The girls then worked in small groups to develop and rehearse their own presentations.

“They came up with creative ways to be “hands on” with skills,” Crandall recalled, “like using newsprint to make “smoke” and then demonstrating the correct way to Stay Low and Go under smoke.”

Bush hopes that as the younger Girl Scouts learn, they will later step up to do the same training for others:

“There’s no better way to show their leader skills. It’s a “pay it forward” skill.”

Prevention 1st is dedicated to preventing injury by educating and/or hazard proofing the environments of those most at risk: older adults, young children and people with disabilities. Learn more >>>