#GivingTuesday 2019 is tomorrow!

Hopefully, your return to work today isn’t too hard after a Thanksgiving holiday spent with friends and family. The big shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, but you can still make a difference this holiday season by supporting Girl Scouts on #GivingTuesday.

2018-Giving Tuesday Email Header

#GivingTuesday is the social revolution of generosity and it’s happening tomorrow! Your support helps us continue to make a difference in the lives of our girls. Consider giving today and join the global movement to celebrate giving back.

We’re so thankful for our supporters, volunteers, advocates, and donors who embrace our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Without you, we couldn’t reach the thousands of girls across Western New York and deliver programming designed to set them up for success.

This year, we rolled out more than 200 programs focusing on our pillars of outdoors, STEM, life skills, and entrepreneurship, and everything in between. We want every girl to have the chance to pursue her dreams – whatever it looks for her.

Some of the programs we’ve held so far include a Pathways to Health Professional workshop where girls explored science and more; a Trailblazers program for our youngest Girl Scouts where they learned about fire building, tent pitching, leave no trace, and orienteering; a Maker Mania event at JCC that had the girls designing 3D patches, seeing a 3D printer in action, exploring the art of fingerprinting, and becoming beginner welders; a Glass Fusing class at Rochester Arc + Flame; and our 50th Anniversary Skills and Chills where girls competed in skills like canoeing, kayaking, fire building, tent pitching, log sawing, first aid, orienteering, archery, and more!

Plus, for the first time ever, our Girl Advisory Board held a conference for our Girl Scouts around council. The 2019 GIRL Experience Convention welcomed more than 300 attendees at Daemen College last month. The morning featured empowering keynote speakers and a Q&A. Following lunch, all levels were invited to an expo featuring many of our amazing program partners. From aerial arts to martial arts, face painting to robotics, and everything in between, this girl-led and girl-driven event represented what it means to be a Girl Scout.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what our Girl Scouts are doing and how donations support their growth. Join us on Facebook tomorrow to hear stories from counties around our council of what Girl Scouts are doing to make a difference, just like you.

Thank you for all that you do.

Donate Today

Women of Distinction 2019 is in three weeks!

Our annual, girl-led, women’s event of the year is happening in three short weeks on Thursday, September 26. We can’t wait to celebrate our nine amazing honorees and their contributions to the community!

More than just honoring the women, this event is all about mentorship. Each of the honorees was paired with a Girl Scout who will serve as a presenter at the event, sharing about her experience being mentored.

Check out photos of the Girl Scouts and their honorees below!

You can be a part of this special event as well by purchasing a ticket gswny.org.

2019 Women of Distinction:

  • Christine Bonaguide, Esq.: Partner, Hodgson Russ LLP (Erie County)
  • Linda Clark, M.D.: Doctor of Preventive/Occupational Medicine, Founder and CEO, Clark Occupational Medicine Services (Monroe County)
  • Tory Irgang: Executive Director, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (Chautauqua County)
  • Candace Johnson, Ph.D.: President and CEO, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Erie County)
  • Joyce A. Markiewicz: Chief Business Development Officer, Catholic Health (Erie County)
  • Nadia Pizzaro: Homeless Services Director, BestSelf Behavioral Health, Inc. (Erie County)
  • Katherine Conway-Turner, Ph.D.: President, State University of New York at Buffalo State (Erie County)
  • Lori Van Dusen: Founder and CEO, LVW Advisors (Monroe County)
  • Linda ZakrzewskiVolunteer of Distinction, Teacher, Family and Consumer Science, School 81 Buffalo (Erie County)

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.