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. 

Become an Outdoor Guru This Summer

We may have left June and The Great Outdoors Month behind, but that doesn’t mean it should be the last time you enjoy the warmer weather. To encourage girls to spend more time outside, Girl Scouts of Western New York is pleased to announce the Outdoor Guru Challenge!

To win the exclusive outdoor challenge patch, girls must complete a certain number of items from a list of 65 activities, depending on Girl Scouting level:

  • Daisy: 20
  • Brownie: 25
  • Junior: 30
  • Cadette: 35
  • Senior: 40
  • Ambassador: 45

The activities range from watching the sunset and stargazing to earning a Troop Camping Badge. Girls have from July 1 to August 31 to complete as many challenges as possible. When they’re done, they can go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/outdoorguru and fill out the form to claim their patch. The form will be active until September 15.

Fortunately for all Girl Scouts, the fun isn’t limited to Western New York. Any girl is invited to take the Outdoor Guru Challenge and order a patch for $3 from us (more details soon).

Below is an image of the challenges, but you can download a copy here: http://bit.ly/outdoorguru

Outdoor Guru.jpg

Good luck, Girl Scouts!

What is S.P.P. camping?

A Girl Scout’s summer is filled with opportunities to have the time of her life at camp. We offer so many great programs for girls entering kindergarten through 12th grade in the fall and want to make sure we have something for everyone. For some girls and troops, this looks a little different than traditional resident or day camp.

 

SpecialtyProgramsProvided (S.P.P.) Camping is a great way for troops to get the best of camping together and experience specialized programs, like ropes courses, archery, and boating. The troop leader is responsible for most camp-related considerations with GSWNY providing the specialty programs and times.

In order to host troop camp like this, leaders must have either their Level I (for lodge camping) or Level II (for cabin and tent camping) camp training. Additionally, an adult with current first aid and CPR certifications must attend.

Specifically, our camp provides the boating and archery programming while leaders provide everything else, including meals. Our lakeside facility includes a like, central dining hall, infirmary, shower house, lodges, cabins, platform tent units, and an archery area. Your troop can choose from options at either Camp Seven Hills or Camp Piperwood.

For troops in the Buffalo area, Camp Seven Hills has two sessions available for S.P.P. Camping. Girls in grades K-12 are welcome to camp with their troops Friday, July 20, through Sunday, July 22, and Wednesday August 1, through Friday, August 3. The cost per girl is $35.

For those in the Rochester area, Camp Piperwood can welcome your girls in k-12 from July 27 to 29. The cost is $45 and the girls will get to experience archery and the ropes course!

Register with your troop today!

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month with the #gsoutdoors Challenge!

gs_gsoutdoors_how_to_enter.png

This month Girl Scouts are celebrating one of our greatest partners – the outdoors! Camping has been a tradition with the Girl Scouts and the skills you learn from experiencing the outdoors can help make you a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader).

More than just encouraging you to go outside, Girl Scouts of the USA is excited to announce the official #gsoutdoors Challenge! Each week, girls are encouraged to go outside, snap a photo, and enter to win!

At the end of each challenge, one winner will be randomly selected by Girl Scouts to receive an AMAZING prize, courtesy of our new partner, The North Face. That means in total you have four chances to win – but even if you don’t exploring the outdoors is rewarding enough.

The challenges are:
June 1-8: Go the Distance
June 9-15: Rock the Lifestyle
June 16-22: Embrace Adventure
June 23-30: Nurture Nature

Official Rules on How to Enter:
1. Head to Instagram and follow @girlscouts.
2. Post a photo tagged with #gsoutdoors that shows how you’re taking on Girl Scouts’ outdoor challenges.
3. Wait for a confirmation from @girlscouts that we’ve received your entry. Once you get the message, claim your post to complete your entry.

You can enter once a day, but don’t let that stop you from taking more pictures and spending more time outside! Even better, non-Girl Scouts can participate too! The contest opens June 1 and runs until June 30 with the first winner being selected June 11. Check the Official Sweepstakes Rules and FAQs from GSUSA.

gs_gsoutdoors_social_2.png

Girl Scout Alums Remind the World That Girl Scouts Grows Female Leaders Who Drive Powerful Change

Girl Scouts of the USA recently released a new national PSA, “Lifetime of Leadership,” heralding the organization’s legacy of fostering female change-makers and preparing girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. Featuring notable Girl Scout alums in fields such as technology, politics, media, and sports, the PSA showcases the positive change these powerful female leaders have created through activism, speaking up, breaking glass ceilings, and more—and illustrates the importance of Girl Scouts in providing girls with the leadership experiences they need to make their voices heard and effect change.

From philanthropist Melinda Gates and athlete Venus Williams, to supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss, Girl Scout alums highlighted in the PSA have inspired people worldwide. Narrated by Queen Latifah, the PSA also features Dolores Huerta, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Senator Tammy Duckworth, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Ellen Kuras, Dr. N. Jan Davis, Tyra Banks, Sheryl Crow, Céline Dion, Dakota Fanning, Susan Wojcicki, Senator Susan Collins, and Cassandra Levesque, a 19-year-old Girl Scout alum who worked to ban child marriage in New Hampshire.

“Lifetime of Leadership” brings to life what recent studies have shown: Girl Scouts have better life outcomes than their non–Girl Scout peers. They are more confident, seek challenges to a greater degree, are more active decision-makers, and are more proficient problem-solvers in their communities. The PSA also shows how civic engagement is a core part of the Girl Scout DNA—which is why it premiered today at G.I.R.L. Agenda 2018: Leading Change Through Civic Action. This unique event, which took place in Philadelphia, featured a keynote address from educator and former second lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, and a panel moderated by writer, professor, and television host Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry. Thousands of girls and those who care about them joined in-person and virtually for a conversation about preparing girls to lead positive change. The PSA brought to life what a Girl Scout’s leadership journey can look like as she grows into a woman, and it inspired all in attendance to take the lead and take action in support of causes they care about.

“We are proud to premiere our powerful new PSA and showcase the impactful change that Girl Scout alums have created to make the world a better place,” said Sylvia Acevedo, GSUSA CEO. “We know that leadership and meaningful civic action start at a young age—at home, at school, and in local communities. This PSA is a rallying cry for more girls to realize their leadership potential with Girl Scouts. The world is counting on them, and we hope our more than 50 million alums will be inspired to reconnect with us and share their leadership journey with the next generation of girls who will lead our country into the future.”

“I have no doubt that the girls of today will become the leaders and change-makers of tomorrow. Supporting them, empowering them and ensuring they have the opportunities they deserve is good for all of us,” said Dr. Jill Biden. “My Girl Scout experience taught me confidence, perseverance, and gave me skills that inspired me to pursue public service and helped me become a better leader. Girl Scouts is the preeminent organization that gives girls the place and the opportunity to develop their powerful voices.”

The new Girl Scout PSA was created and written by Girl Scout alum, Rachel Howald, founder and CCO, Invisible Man.

To watch the PSA and for more information about Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org/leadership. To join or volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.