Is Virtual Bridging for Our Troop? Yes, It Is!

Top 3 Reasons to Celebrate Bridging Virtually

Girl Scout climbing on a tree

Bridging—that is, when a girl celebrates “crossing the bridge” from one Girl Scout level to the next—is one of the most important moments in a Girl Scout’s life. And although the COVID-19 pandemic may have us continuing to pause our in-person meetings and ceremonies, you can still find ways to honor all the good things your troop has done this year and get excited for everything you’ll experience next year!

If you can’t organize an in-person ceremony this summer, consider holding a virtual bridging celebration or taking part in one of GSUSA’s National Virtual Bridging Ceremonies, which will be held August 1 and 8.

Here are three reasons your troop will want to get in on the virtual bridging fun:

Keep the groove going. Everyone’s daily routine has been upended in recent months, and marking this incredible point in your troop’s Girl Scout experience is so important in helping everyone feel some forward momentum. Putting a virtual bridging ceremony on your calendar and counting down the days is going to feel so good!

ALL 👏 YOUR 👏 SISTERS👏 Being a Girl Scout means having sisters across the country and around the world ready to cheer you on! Taking part in one of the national virtual bridging events is a powerful reminder that everyone in the troop is part of a big sisterhood made up of resilient girls and adults who are staying strong and doing good in their communities. Whatever comes our way, we’re never alone!

Celebrate your achievements. The last few months have been challenging no matter where you live, but that’s all the more reason to lift up everything the troop has achieved this year! You earned badges and Journey awards, made our communities better, and continued to shine your brightest. Most importantly, we all stayed Girl Scout strong in the face of hardship—and that’s worth celebrating here and now.

The best part? You can bridge virtually and amp up the experience with an in-person event when it’s safe. Like everything in Girl Scouting, it’s all about what the girls want! And you can make the occasion even more special with an official bridging kit from the Girl Scout Shop.

We can’t wait to see you on August 1 and 8 and create more special memories together!

Source: Is Virtual Bridging for Our Troop? Yes, It Is!

A Juneteenth Celebration of Black Girl Magic

To honor Juneteenth, we’re showcasing Black Girl Magic in action across the country. From fighting injustice, to helping endangered species, to honing the culinary skills that will make them top chefs someday, Black Girl Scouts are out there creating the world they want to see.

For those who aren’t familiar, Juneteenth combines “June” and “nineteenth.” It’s also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation Day. Even though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in 1863, in practice slavery remained in some parts of the country. When word that the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished finally made it to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, celebrations among the newly free Black community followed, which became an annual tradition.

For more on the history of Juneteenth, see these resources:

Today, Juneteenth remains an opportunity to gather and celebrate Black culture. And while we’re proud of a long list of Black Girl Scout alums who have changed the world for the better, here we’re honoring the current generation of Girl Scouts—and we hope you’ll share your own examples of Black Girl Magic in action.
Girl Scout A’myla

Girl Scout Senior A’mylah’s Take Action project promotes body positivity. Her project included magazine cut-outs of women of all shades and shapes, along with positive affirmations and words about what body image means and how it affects girls and women in our country.

Girl Scout Saela

For Centuries Girl Scouts have led positive change through civic engagement. Girl Scout Cadette Saela used her voice to speak out against racial injustices in her community and marched to protest racism and violence.

Girl Scout Rachel
Shout-out to Rachel for graduating high school and checking off the ultimate #goals list without missing a Girl Scout meeting: Associate of Arts, 4 Honor Societies, Honors Rotary Interact, Gear Up, Debate Team, Mock Trial, Yearbook Committee, Dance Company & Sacred Ensemble, Flag Runners, NAACP Youth Council, and Top Teens of America.
Girl Scout Kamryn

Gold Award Girl Scout Kamryn took action in her community by teaching black hair care to adoptive and foster parents. Here’s why: “Some black children, especially those who are adopted or in foster care, don’t have parents who understand the unique way to care for and maintain a black child’s natural curls.”

Girl Scout Mikala

Gold Award Girl Scout Mikala educated her community about endangered animals by creating a website that describes the risks of extinction and why it is essential to keep threatened species alive.

Girl Scout Victoria
Girl Scout Ambassador Victoria collected over 1,200 diapers for a New Orleans women’s shelter. She’s off to college this year and plans to attend culinary school in the fall. Her dream? Owning a bakery one day so she can share her pastries with the world!

Let’s keep the celebration going all year—share an example of Black Girl Magic in your troop by tagging our social media handles at FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, or by sending us a private message.

Camp Corner, Spring 2020 (Part 2)

By Madeline Jackson

chipmunk-429699_1920Chippy is back with Part 2 of Camp Corner for Spring 2020! Here are projects that council staff has been overseeing at Camp Caloosa.

A complete property tree trim was completed to lift canopies, widen the back trails, eliminate dead landscape, and, most importantly, clear additional area for parking at the camp entrance. You won’t believe the big difference!

Parking lot clearing

Crushed shell has since been installed on the newly cleared additional parking area. We are hopeful that this will provide a drier parking area if the property floods in the summer, where cars can safely park without getting stuck. If you’ve visited Caloosa during the rainy season, you know how important this is!

Because it was in disrepair and presented a potential safety hazard, the old fishing dock was demolished and removed. Handrails were installed so the space can now serve as an observation area. Caloosa’s Volunteer Caretaker, Jason, repaired the ramp bridge that leads to the back trails.

Bridge stabalized

All touchpoint areas at camp, including bunk beds and camp mattresses, have been disinfected. And, the Chalet house has been equipped with a new water heater.

If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 of the spring camp blog to catch up on happenings at Camp Honi Hanta.

CALOOSA CHAMP 2

Don’t forget, there is a Honi Hanta Hero and a Caloosa Champion patch that the girls can earn for doing a service project at each respective camp. We have painting projects, cleaning projects, signage projects, trail trimming, etc. There is always something to do to improve camp and leave it better than we found it. Contact Madeline Jackson (madelinej@gsgcf.org) to learn more!

Camp Reminders

  • VERIFICATION OF OUTDOOR SKILLS TRAINING— To ensure your troop/service unit will be meeting all the requirements of your desired camp experience, we are verifying certifications for all reservations made in the Double Knot system.
  • If you borrow a piece of equipment from another campsite, please return it to its original location so all of our equipment can be accounted for.
  • If for any reason, you are planning to visit one of our camps without a reservation, you must first get prior authorization. Please contact Kimberly at kimberlya@gsgcf.org, or 800-232-4475, so we can inform our volunteer caretakers that you will be visiting the property.

Madeline Jackson is the Property Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

Camp Corner, Spring 2020 (Part 1)

By Madeline Jackson

Chippy has been lonely during our stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 and hopes she will see you all very soon! While you’ve been away from camp, the property staff and volunteers have still been working hard to make camp improvements for you to enjoy once you can safely return. In Part 1 of Camp Corner for Spring 2020, Chippy will share the many developments at Camp Honi Hanta.

Troop 17 Completed Bronze Project - Honi Hanta Directional Signage

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of camp, Troop 17 completed their Bronze Award project. They designed and installed directional signage by the Lodge to assist first responders in locating campsites in case of emergencies. They were truly thankful for their business partners Gulfshore Landscaping and Violetto Customs for assisting with the completion of their project. In addition, Troop 614 painted the floor of the Eagles Bathhouse. Thanks so much, girls!

Eagles Perch Bathhouse Floor Paint 1 - troop 614

With volunteer assistance, staff installed a five-hole disk golf course near the Manatee House, thanks to funding from the Bradenton Kiwanis Foundation and the Junior League of Sarasota. What a new fun activity for everyone to enjoy! Honi’s Volunteer Caretaker, Lance, was able to repair wood and screen issues at the Roundhouse. In addition, the Bathhouse flooring at Armadillo Alley was pressure washed and freshly re-painted with a second coat of paint.

Disk Golf Basket #1 leading to Hole #2

Council staff oversaw a number of important projects, including:

  • New decks and stairways were installed at Eagles Perch campsite for increased stability and safety.
  • The old plywood partitions were removed, and new toilet partitions installed in the Eagles Perch bathhouse.
  • Our friends at Modern Air were kind enough to donate a used iced machine that we desperately needed. Service units and troops alike no longer need to worry about bringing ice to camp.
  • Fans were installed in all of the treetop cabins and bathhouses for added breeze and comfort. In addition, new floodlighting was installed to light up the stairs, so they are more safely utilized in the evenings.
  • New storm doors and window A/C units were installed in the Armadillo Alley cabins. YES, I said air conditioning in ALL of those units!!!! Can I get a Yippppeeee??
  • Mulch landscaped beds were cleaned out and prepped for crushed shell installation, so mulch won’t stream into the pool.
  • Several leaky roof locations at the Roundhouse, the Lodge Kitchen, and the Eagles Perch screen room were repaired.
  • All touchpoint areas at camp, including bunk beds and camp mattresses, were disinfected.

chipmunk-429699_1920

Next week, Chippy will share projects from Camp Caloosa, along with general camp reminders and information about how girls can earn a badge for helping around camp. Be sure to check it out!

Madeline Jackson is the Property Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

The Citizen Badges Every Girl Scout Should Earn

Citizen-Badges_17_02
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) launched the G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts, a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls and those who care about them to lead positive change through civic action. The multiyear effort celebrates the Girl Scout legacy of civic engagement, and for the first time ever, we’re sharing these free, expert-curated resources beyond our 2.6 million members so we can reach as many girls as possible. The materials are derived from renowned Girl Scout programming that has driven generations of girls over the past century to become leaders.

Encouraging girls to speak up and advocate for the issues and ideas important to them is not new. In fact, even before women could vote in the United States, Girl Scouts could earn the Citizen badge by displaying their knowledge of government and how to get involved!

These Citizen badges—Good Neighbor, Celebrating Community, Inside Government, Finding Common Ground, Behind the Ballot, and Public Policy—engage girls in age-appropriate activities involving community service, public policy, government, voting, and more. Over time, the badges build girls’ knowledge of local and global communities and show them how their actions as citizens make the world better for everyone.

Check out a breakdown of all the Citizen badges below.

Daisies

Good Neighbor: With this badge, Daisies will explore the communities they belong to—from their roles as Daisies in Girl Scouts to their place as residents of their town. They’ll also learn how people work together to be good neighbors to one another.

Brownies

Celebrating Community: Brownies who earn this badge will discover how communities celebrate their unique qualities and how supporting the people within communities can mean everything from looking for landmarks to marching in a parade. Girls will learn how their communities honor and observe their special traits as they celebrate their traditions.

Juniors

Inside Government: Citizens are responsible for knowing the basics of government. To earn this badge, Juniors will go beyond the voting booth and inside government by examining laws, reporting on issues, and deciding what it means to be an active citizen.


Cadettes

Finding Common Ground: Cadettes will explore the challenges of finding common ground with those who have different opinions. Elected leaders often need to make compromises, so girls will investigate how negotiations happen by learning about civil debate, accommodations, mediation, and group decision making.

 

Seniors

Behind the Ballot: Making your voice heard through voting is both a right and a responsibility, whether you’re voting for class president or our nation’s leaders. Seniors will learn about elections, investigate the ins and outs of voting, and help get out the vote.

Ambassadors

Public Policy: Ambassadors have already learned about the need to speak up about issues important to them, but by taking the next step and exploring public policy, they’ll dive deeper into the laws and government actions surrounding specific issues. Through advocacy, learning about public policy on a local or state level, and action, Ambassadors will learn firsthand how citizens can change the world.

By earning these badges in an all-girl, girl-led environment, girls build the confidence they need to become the civic-minded leaders of tomorrow.

Find out more about the badges using the Badge Explorer.

To learn how your Girl Scout troop can get civically engaged, visit www.GIRLagenda.org.

 

Since 1912, we’ve built girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Source: The Citizen Badges Every Girl Scout Should Earn

Girl Scouts Step up for Hunger’s End

It takes more than a global pandemic to keep Girl Scouts from making their community a better place!

Troop 21 had been planning for several months to prepare and serve two Monday meals at Hunger’s End, a nonprofit that provides a food pantry and Blessings Closet in Bradenton. The girls were already familiar with the organization, having previously donated food and toured the facility.

Troop 21 during their pre-Covid visit to Hunger's End

But they wanted to do more. So they decided as a group to use some of their Cookie Program proceeds to buy all the supplies needed to serve two Monday meals in March and April. All the plans were in place—until the COVID-19 outbreak brought their project to a standstill.

Not to be deterred, the girls and their adult leaders came up with a solution. Troop leader Michelle Cramer purchased all the meal components and delivered a portion to each of the troop member’s houses. There, the girls worked independently to prepare individual parts of the meal, chopping vegetables, cooking sloppy joe filling, assembling pasta salad, and packaging cookies for dessert. Girl Scout cookies, of course. Cramer then retrieved the foods and delivered them to Hunger’s End for their Monday Evening Community Meal on May 4.

Monday Meal

“Michelle and her team were amazing and it was so helpful to our organization to have this meal prepared to serve 200 in our community,” said Vicki Snyder, co-founder and treasurer/secretary for Hunger’s End. “We are so proud of them for wanting to help those in need in the community and honored that they chose us to be a part of it.”

The group of determined second and third graders isn’t done yet! They are planning to do it all over again in June. “The girls are so excited that we are still carrying through with our commitment and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Cramer.

“One of the fundamental goals of our program is to instill in the girls the leadership skills needed to make the world a better place,” said Mary Anne Servian, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida CEO. “Girl Scout Troop 21 is a shining example of giving back to their community.”

 

Lori Tomlinson is the Grants and Communications Manager for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

Seniors enjoy virtual sing-along with Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

By Mary Anne Servian, Chief Executive Officer

I was so proud of our Gulfcoast Girl Scouts this week when they treated local senior citizens to a virtual sing-along on April 28 as part of our “Across the Generations” council-wide service project.

We partnered with Harbor Chase in Sarasota for an old-fashioned campfire sing-along, with a virtual twist. Using an online platform, more than 100 girls, family members, and volunteers sang familiar favorites such as “The Brownie Smile Song,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” and “Make New Friends” to the enjoyment of assisted and independent living facility residents across the area.

Girl Scouts virtual sing-along

One of our beloved long-time volunteers, Betty Webb, shared her appreciation for the girls. “I am currently living in an independent living center and have not been able to leave the building for several weeks. Listening to the camp songs brought back some very nice memories. I thought the idea for the project was very timely and kind.”

Our council began the Across the Generations service project in March by encouraging Girl Scouts and their families to send cards, letters, and drawings to local nursing homes and other senior facilities, whose residents are feeling isolated during the COVID-19 lockdown. The virtual sing-along was also held in conjunction with the 2020 Giving Challenge.

Held April 28-29, 2020, the Giving Challenge was sponsored by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and further supported by The Patterson Foundation. Our council participated with hundreds of other nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte Counties, to raise funds to help support our programs.

The Giving Challenge is all about giving back to the community, whether it’s a monetary donation to your favorite local nonprofit organizations or a simple act of kindness during these especially challenging times. Girl Scouts are well known for giving back to their communities, and on April 28, we celebrated that tradition of service in a big way, bridging “across the generations.” 

If you missed the virtual sing-along, you can still join in the fun by viewing the recording on our Youtube channel. My sincere thanks to everyone who participated in the sing-along and the Giving Challenge, and to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation for making it all possible!

Updates About G.I.R.L. 2020 and the 55th National Council Session

Note: Mary Anne Servian, CEO of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, would like to share the following message from Girl Scouts of the USA.

For 108 years, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has enabled girls to realize their biggest dreams and tap into their spirit of innovation, collaboration, and service to their communities to make the world a better place. Most recently, Girl Scouts, their families, volunteers, and supporters have mobilized to give back to those in need due to our current health crisis in safe and creative new ways.

Safety has always been at the heart of all Girl Scout activities. As we’ve continued to monitor public health experts’ recommendations and forecasts, it became clear that, because there are no widely accepted models that predict when it may be safe to hold large-scale, in-person events and when all restrictions on travel will be lifted, Girl Scouts could not hold our G.I.R.L. 2020/55th National Council Session in October as planned—we simply can’t guarantee the health and safety of participants. As we sought feedback from all key stakeholders, including delegates, we assessed and prepared for different scenarios, given the extraordinary circumstances we have been operating under due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This included asking those expected to participate in NCS if they had any concerns about the event—74% responded they were concerned about the health and safety of participants (this was the top concern).

Given all of this, the National Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, April 21, and voted to hold a one-time virtual session for our 55th National Council Session in October 2020. The board also voted to cancel G.I.R.L. 2020, including the Global Roundtable.

We are reimagining NCS in the innovative spirit of our quick Movement pivot due to current challenges toward a 100 percent virtual experience to continue delivering for girls.

The board discussed various options and decided this was the best way to enable the business of Girl Scouting to continue in a timely manner and honor the significant business that was brought to the National Council, including four proposals initiated by councils and two that were co-created by councils and recommended to the board, as well as the business of electing the new board. We will be leveraging our councils’ learnings, as more than half have already held/decided to hold their annual meetings virtually this year.

We know this news is disappointing for the girls, troops, volunteers, alums, and supporters who were looking forward to meeting in Orlando for a truly impactful, girl-led event. Although we can’t meet in person, we encourage you to continue to connect with our unbreakable sisterhood via the many virtual events and activities we’ve recently launched for girls and their families, as well as our volunteers and alums, via Girl Scouts at Home™ and the Girl Scout Network’s Campfire Chats.

GSUSA is enormously grateful for the many volunteers and council leaders and staff who have been working to create amazing experiences for G.I.R.L. 2020/55th NCS. We want to send a special shout-out to the G-TEAM—26 brilliant young women from across Girl Scouts and Girl Guides who have played a central role in planning all aspects of our convention—and the six Florida host councils:

  • Girl Scouts of Citrus
  • Girl Scouts of Gateway Council
  • Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida
  • Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida
  • Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida
  • Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

GSUSA will be refunding in full (100%) all convention registrations that were booked directly through GSUSA (please give us a few weeks to process them all). We also will be seeking additional feedback and support as we plan a virtual NCS. We ask for your patience as we work through the impact these decisions have on the many events and activities that were originally planned as part of G.I.R.L. 2020/55th NCS.

As always, Girl Scouts are trailblazers—with our pivot to a virtual National Council Session, we are making history and preserving Girl Scout’s democratic process while propelling our Movement into the future together through an engaging virtual experience.

If you have any questions, please refer to the FAQ.

Source: Updates About G.I.R.L. 2020 and the 55th National Council Session

Financial Literacy During Uncertain Times

From our sense of security and wellbeing to canceled troop activities, graduations, and birthdays, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives. For so many of us, the ongoing uncertainty means having to navigate difficult situations. So this April—for Financial Literacy Month—we’ve partnered with Morgan Stanley’s Financial Advisors to answer a few of the questions you submitted on Facebook and Instagram. Check them out!


Thien Le
, Financial Advisor:

The first financial lesson is to learn how to set goals. Setting goals is a great way to determine what to save for and to stay focused on your financial objectives and your reasons for saving. Bucket each goal into short term, medium term, and long term. Short term could be buying a new car, while long term could be retirement; which it’s never too early to think about. Start saving now as soon as you have earned income from your part time job or when you begin to work full time. When my 16-year-old daughter got her first job as a math tutor, I opened a retirement account for her to encourage her to save a little each month. Lastly, don’t be afraid of investing, and learn how to do it. Staying focused and keeping money invested in the market can be rewarding over time, but it may require patience and a long investment horizon. With market volatility, people often panic and make irrational decisions, so it is important to review your goals and remain focused on your investment objectives.

Lisa Benton, Financial Advisor:

An emergency savings fund is money that you have set aside for unexpected life events, such as losing a job or paying for a broken-down car. It’s a good idea for everyone to create one. When you are first starting, aim to save a few hundred dollars in a separate savings account. A convenient way to do this is by establishing a direct deposit for your emergency savings account. This allows the funds to be transferred into your account automatically. The ultimate goal will be to save three to six months of your take-home pay as a cushion for life’s uncertainties. Remember that this can be done gradually as your cash flow allows. One of the best ways to be financially savvy is to plan and that includes planning for the unexpected.

Kate Waters, Financial Advisor:

The goal should always be to have as little debt as possible, but there are certain instances where debt can be “good debt.” For instance, if you think you can get a better paying job by going to college or going for your master’s, medical, or law degree, then it might be smart to take on a student loan if you can’t afford it all on your own. This also holds true for buying a home. In both instances, you need to understand how long it will take to pay off and to make sure there is potential for a positive longer-term return on your investment. You also need to make sure the additional expense of the loan fits within your budget and be prudent about paying it down. By being diligent about your personal finances and responsible about paying down debt, you can be well on your way to being debt-free!

To help build girls’ confidence, Girl Scouts has developed Financial Literacy badges that your girl can start earning today! The badge activities are based on real-life situations, such as budgeting and philanthropy, to give girls a deeper understanding of financial literacy power their future life success! You can also check out Girl Scouts at Home—our brand-new hub of online activities, including some for financial literacy!

Since 1912, we’ve built girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

Source: Financial Literacy During Uncertain Times