Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Spring Bridging Ceremony Ideas We Can’t Stop Thinking About

For moms, dads, grads, and beyond, spring celebrations are starting to pop up everywhere this time of year, especially in the world of Girl Scouts. As the troop year ends and summer camp season is on the horizon, Girl Scouts of all ages look back on a great year of adventures and look forward to endless opportunities. For many troops, this means it’s time for a bridging ceremony!

Most popularly celebrated in the spring, bridging in the Girl Scout world is a fabulous reason to celebrate your Girl Scout troop’s achievements and look forward to the new adventures, discoveries, and, yes, badges that await at the next level. A bridging ceremony usually has an opening ceremony that includes reading the Girl Scout Promise and Law, a literal or figurative crossing of a bridge, and a friendship circle closing. But the experience is totally dependent on what is important to the bridging Girl Scouts.

Many troops choose to combine their bridging ceremonies with other exciting milestones like investiture (welcoming new Girl Scouts) or rededications (committing to another year of Girl Scouting at the same level) so everyone can celebrate together. It’s also a great time to recognize Girl Scouts who have earned one of the Highest Awards: the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.

No matter what you’re celebrating this spring, the Girl Scout Shop has what you need to mark the occasion. Leveling up? Check out bridging kits, including certificates and all the new patches, badges, and membership pieces you’ll need for your new uniform.

Speaking of that new uniform, did you know you can order that fresh vest or sash already customized for your Girl Scout? One less thing to worry about before the big day!

Don’t forget your number one celebration accessory...your Girl Scout membership! Renew or join today to take part in the festivities near you and get ready for your next year of adventure.

Bridging Celebration Ideas

No one throws a party like a Girl Scout troop! As with most things in the Girl Scout world, being girl-led is key, and we are 100 percent here for self-expression. Here are a few party tricks developed by troops and volunteers that live in our minds rent free.

Girl Scout Glow Up

Opting for a nighttime ceremony, Troop 723 from Girl Scouts of Caribe in Puerto Rico celebrated their bridging and rededication in neon style to reflect their bright future as they continue their Girl Scout journey.

Haunted House Bridging...Wait, WHAT?

Really putting the ‘fearless’ in fearless leaders, Troop 4357 from Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri visited one of the oldest haunted houses in the country to conduct their bridging ceremony on the spookiest bridge they could find.

Flying Onward and Upward

Leveling up with a touch of whimsy, this troop’s matching wings have our hearts totally fluttering.

Iconic (Literal) Bridging

Some troops think BIG when it comes to bridging by incorporating major landmarks into their celebration, like these NYC Girl Scouts crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Many councils plan similar events this time of year; be sure to check out opportunities in your area.

Say It with Sweets

Fact: You don’t have to be a master baker to make a truly memorable bridging treat. Getting creative with candy, cakes, and (of course) brownies adds an especially sweet touch to your gathering.

Crossing the Ultimate Bridge: Becoming a Volunteer

For graduating Girl Scouts, the fun doesn’t have to stop! There are so many ways to stay involved. You can support your favorite camp in the summers, start a Campus Girl Scouts club at your college or level up to the navy blue vest and become a volunteer or troop leader!

Don’t forget, as a recent graduate, you can get a major discount on a Girl Scout lifetime membership so you can stay connected for life! (Pro tip for parents: it makes a great graduation gift!)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Friendship Matters: How We Can Tackle Loneliness to Boost Confidence Among Girls

Did you know that as girls grow older, they often start to feel lonelier and less confident? Yup! It’s true. Experts have long discussed the impact of loneliness and social isolation on peoples’ well-being, including mental, emotional, and physical health. The U.S. Surgeon General has even called loneliness an epidemic. In recent years, girls have been disproportionately affected by mental health issues—it’s no wonder they’re not immune to the loneliness epidemic, either. It’s time we dive into this.

We set out to learn more about loneliness and how it affects girls by sending out a survey. And guess what? The results were eye-opening. Nearly 70 percent of girls ages five through 13 experience loneliness. And, as feelings of loneliness increase, self-confidence decreases.

But there was a bit of encouraging news, and it has to do with the power of friendship.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Loneliness Increases with Age: Survey results show that loneliness escalates as girls get older. 64 percent of girls ages five through seven, 67 percent of girls ages eight through ten, and 73 percent of girls ages 11 through 13 reported feelings of loneliness.
  • As Loneliness Grows, Confidence Drops: While 86 percent of girls ages five through seven expressed beliefs in their ability to tackle challenges, this figure drops to 80 percent among girls ages eight through ten and even down to 73 percent among 11 through 13-year-old girls.
  • Friendship Is a Confidence Booster: Companionship helps girls try things they wouldn’t otherwise do alone. For more than half of the girls surveyed, having a friend by their side encourages them to try new things (52 percent) like talk to a new kid (52 percent); 50 percent would join a new group with a friend.
  • Girls Prefer Real Interactions to Screen Time: Most girls would prefer to be creative (63 percent), go outside and play (59 percent), or spend time with their family (59 percent) rather than spend all their time on screens. Despite the ubiquity of digital devices, these results point to girls’ desires for a range of authentic experiences and interpersonal connections.
These findings highlight the importance of supporting young girls in building meaningful connections and boosting their confidence. With that in mind, Girl Scouts has programming meant to tackle the specific issues today’s girls face, thanks in part to amazing partners like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Our amazing mental wellness resources and programming were specifically developed to support girls, Girl Scout council staff, and adult volunteers as they learn about mental wellness, behavioral issues, and healthy habits. Through our mental wellness programming, girls across the country are given the tools to effectively identify and communicate their emotions, offer support to their friends, and seek help from trusted adults in their community.

And we know a thing or two about helping girls build lasting friendships and their self-confidence!

Girl Scouts offers programming that can help all of us address the loneliness epidemic.

Girl Scouts Mental Wellness Programs for Girls:

  • Resilient. Ready. Strong. Patch Program
    • Have you heard about the awesome Resilient. Ready. Strong patch program designed for ALL grade levels? Launched in 2021, this program is all about boosting confidence and tackling challenges heads-on with easy and fun activities and help girls boost their resilience and learn skills to lift their moods when they need it.
  • Mental Wellness Patch Program
    • Picture this: A special program for Girl Scout Juniors through Ambassadors (grades 4–12), packed with practical tips for handling tricky emotions. We’re talking about helping girls identify and tackle their feelings while encouraging help-seeking behavior through the “Finding My Voice,” “Showing Up for Me and You,” and “Knowing My Emotions” patches.
  • Making Friends
    • Brownie troop leaders and caregivers, listen up! Our Making Friends badge program is your Brownies’ ticket to friendship success. From mastering introductions to showing the people in their lives they care and, of course, having a blast together, we’ve got Brownies covered!

Girl Scouts Mental Wellness Programs for Adults:

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)
    • Created for council staff, troop leaders, and volunteers, YMHFA delivers vital information to better support youth mental well-being and address common mental health and substance use challenges. Don’t miss out on this amazing resource!
  • Mental Wellness 101
    • Attention troop leaders and adult volunteers! This training program equips you with the knowledge and tools to promote mental wellness within the Girl Scout community. So important!
To learn more about our programs, this data, or to sign up for Girl Scouts, head to girlscouts.org. Join the conversation on social media. Tag us @girlscouts.
Monday, April 22, 2024

Girl Scout Tree Promise: Growing a Greener Future Together!

When Girl Scouts come together, their collective power knows no bounds. It's a force that transcends individual efforts and creates waves of positive change. Now, imagine channeling this collective strength towards a cause that helps the planet. Say hello to the Girl Scout Tree Promise!

The long-standing Girl Scout Tree Promise program has new and improved guidance to ensure it’s easier than ever to take action. Join us as we plant, protect, and honor trees, to create positive change and make the world a better place.

Made possible by General Motors, participants will learn to protect natural resources, be advocates for causes they believe in, and work as a team—all while having fun with friends and family.

Why Trees Matter Everywhere

Deforestation is hurting our planet. Trees help reduce pollution, prevent erosion, take carbon out of the air, and so much more. When forests are cut down, not as much carbon is removed from the atmosphere, creating last climate effects such as severe weather. But fear not, because Girl Scouts are on a mission to make a difference!

Girl Scouts worldwide have pledged to take 5 million actions to address climate change. Already, Girl Scouts and friends have planted trees, protected new trees and existing tree cover, engaged with citizen science projects, and honored trees. They’ve even acted to raise their voices for the environment at conferences and in their communities. But our work is far from over—we need your help!


How to Make a Difference with the Girl Scout Tree Promise

By completing the Girl Scout Tree Promise, you not only contribute to a greener planet but also unlock a special patch. Here’s your road map:

Make the Girl Scout Tree Promise: From Daisies to Ambassadors, every member and friend of Girl Scouts can get involved. Make the Tree Promise and explore the fascinating ways trees make our world a better place.

Plant, Protect, or Honor Trees: Download the Activity and Volunteer Guides for background information, instructions, and ideas on how you can take action.

Plant: A seemingly small act with a colossal impact. Whether through Girl Scouts, with your community, or even by hosting your own tree-planting, every tree counts. Log your efforts in the Girl Scout Tree Promise Tracker and create a care plan to nurture your planted trees.

Protect: Deforestation is a global issue. Protect existing trees to ensure our ecosystems thrive. Trees need our help, especially in the face of threats like wildfires, disease, and climate change.

Honor: Deepen your connection with nature by learning about and appreciating local trees. This connection inspires action and reinforces our commitment to the environment.

Unlock the Patch: Once you make the Tree Promise and plant, protect, or honor trees, you can find the special patch in the Girl Scout Shop.

The power to make a change is in your hands. By making the Girl Scout Tree Promise, you become an essential part of a collective effort to create a better future. Let’s grow a greener world together—one tree at a time! #GirlScoutTreePromise

More Ways to Make a Difference and Keep the Fun Going!

Made possible by General Motors and the Elliott Wildlife Values Project.
Special thanks to American Forests, the Arbor Day Foundation, and SciStarter.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Financial Literacy Month: Unlocking Money Smarts All Year Long

​​Financial Literacy Month is here, and it's time to celebrate. 🎉

This April, caregivers and volunteers, it's your chance to team up and help Girl Scouts master some serious money know-how. Girls have big dreams about their education, careers, and financial success. With our support, they have the tools to reach for the stars. Rest assured! You don't need to be a financial whiz to help them reach their goals and set them on a path of financial empowerment. Let's dive in and see how you can make a big impact while having fun.

First, let’s give a huge shoutout to the nine Girl Scout councils who hosted fantastic Financial Literacy events made possible by the Charles Schwab Foundation. These events were all about Girl Scouts learning the tools to take control of their financial futures. Additionally, these councils are not just stopping there. They are continuing to host more events, ensuring that even more Girl Scouts have access to financial literacy education.

The council-run events were based on the Financial Literacy badges, available for all grade levels. Girl Scouts learned key financial literacy concepts, such as creating a budget, setting money goals and reaching them, as well as making smart money choices.

"I learned about taxes and savings." Olivia, Junior, 11 years old

"I learned that a budget helps me save money." Taylor, Brownie, 8 years old

From Daisies to Ambassadors, Girl Scouts participated in hands-on activities and got important guidance from local Charles Schwab Foundation pros.

“I spoke with the older group of Girl Scouts. They were interactive and fun to talk to! They had some great questions about credit and budgeting.” Jamie, Charles Schwab Foundation volunteer

Thank you to all the participating councils:
  • Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine
  • Girl Scouts of Central Indiana
  • Girl Scouts of Central Texas
  • Girl Scouts of Citrus
  • Girl Scouts of Colorado
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri
  • Girl Scouts Northeast Texas
  • Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska
  • Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains

Next, let's ensure that your Girl Scout has the opportunity to shape her financial future. If you believe in the importance of financial literacy as a key aspect of success, then let's dive into those Financial Literacy badges today. These badges are designed to address real-world situations that girls will encounter and provide them with skills to make wise financial choices. Even kindergarteners can get in on the action, practicing goal-setting and teamwork through fun activities and projects. And for the older girls? They'll get to flex their financial muscles by managing troop finances, funding their awesome adventures, and so much more. By instilling a money-smart mindset early on, we're setting your Girl Scout up for a lifetime of making savvy financial decisions.

So, as we celebrate Financial Literacy Month this April, let's come together to make a difference. Let's arm our girls with the knowledge and confidence they need to make the world a better and more equitable place. By introducing a mindset focused on smart money management early on, we're laying the groundwork for your Girl Scout to make informed financial decisions throughout her life. Let's do this! 💪💰

Monday, April 1, 2024

Cheers to You, Super Volunteers! Inside the Girl Scout Celebration of #YourYearOfImpact

Girl Scout Volunteers make the world go ‘round! Your generosity is the secret sauce making magic happen in the lives of countless Girl Scouts. Join us as we celebrate your dedication in helping Girl Scouts grow and thrive.

Heartfelt Gratitude from Our Leaders:

During Volunteer Appreciation Month, we take time to shine a spotlight on the amazing individuals like you who bring the Girl Scout experience to life. So, to the selfless volunteers who keep the Girl Scout Movement in perpetual motion: We see you and appreciate you…this month AND all year long! Take a moment to see this year’s special note of thanks from Bonnie Barczykowski, our CEO, and Noorain Khan, our National Board President.

“Volunteers are the beating heart of Girl Scouting and make it all possible. They unlock adventure, exploration, curiosity, and community impact while also serving as inspirational role models and mentors for our Girl Scouts—championing, challenging, encouraging, and inspiring them as they move through their Girl Scout experience. We are so grateful for the time, energy, care, and creativity they bring and for all they do to ensure Girl Scouts is truly transformational.”

-Bonnie Barczykowski, GSUSA CEO

“As a proud Girl Scout alum, I know firsthand the impact of Girl Scout volunteers. They activated and empowered me, and they made Girl Scouts a place where I felt like I belonged. None of what Girl Scouting has done in the last 110+ years would have been possible without the very best volunteer force in the world—and that’s what we have. They contribute their time, their living rooms and garages, their treasure, their hearts, and so much more. Their commitment to our mission means everything—to councils across the country, to everyone at GSUSA, and most of all, to the Girl Scouts they serve.”

-Noorain Khan, GSUSA National Board President

Celebrating the Unique Spark of Our Diverse Volunteers:

Sharing is caring—which is why we want the world to get to know our talented, creative, and dedicated volunteers! No two Girl Scout leaders are alike, but they all have that “something special” required to make a real difference in girls’ lives. Here are just a few of the inspiring volunteers like you working their magic across the country.

“When a Girl Scout lost her home to a tornado, she reached out to volunteers council-wide through Leaders Lounge (a Facebook group for GSofSI leaders) to ask for help to make sure this Girl Scout's family had what they needed from clothing to food, and even birthday presents for the girl. In addition to all of this, she has Service Unit events nearly every month and reaches out to each individual family to make sure they know what is available beyond a troop setting.”

Thank you, Debra, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois

“[...] Ninety-five percent of my girls would never go camping if I didn’t take them. They wouldn’t meet CEOs of companies or meet other Gold Award Girl Scouts. They wouldn’t meet female pilots and astronauts and hear their inspiring stories. But most importantly, they develop the confidence to make a difference in their community.”

Thank you, Patricia, Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida

Want to share your story with us? Take to social media this month and use the hashtag #YourYearOfImpact

A Token of Our Appreciation:

Volunteering is a generous gift that deserves recognition. There are countless intangible benefits of helping Girl Scouts grow and thrive—but there are concrete perks to enjoy, too. For Volunteer Appreciation Month this year, we’re thanking our volunteers with a special 15% discount on $50 or more in the Girl Scout Shop (with promo code THANKS24) from 4/19–4/22!

You can also enter our extra special Volunteer Sweepstakes for the chance to win a grand prize bundle worth up to $1,250 in retail value!

There will be four drawings in the month of April and four winners of a bundle valued at $1,250 that will include troop year essential badges/pins and trefoil fun finds for your troop as well as a customized denim jacket, rose gold journal, and adult recycled vest for you the volunteer. Not to mention, a $750 Amazon gift card—thank you to Amazon for their generous donation. Terms and conditions apply. Visit girlscouts.org/forvolunteers for details.

Gathering Grateful Girl Scouts:

Why do you do what you do? To be the rad mentors, the fun facilitators, the outdoor gurus, and the life skill legends for Girl Scouts of all ages. We've recruited Girl Scouts from coast to coast to shout out their favorite volunteers! This month, girls can download and print our Volunteer Thank You Card to hand to their MVP volunteer, or share the digital version on Instagram to spread the love far and wide!

Download Thank You Card

A Fill-in-the-Blank Volunteer Thank You Card that girls and caregivers can share with a Girl Scout volunteer.

It takes creativity, heart, and energy to serve as a Girl Scout volunteer—but words can’t even begin to express how much every single volunteer means to the Girl Scouts they serve. Simply showing up and encouraging girls to be themselves makes a lasting impact that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. There has never been a better time to help girls grow in your community—thank you for being the superheroes you are!

So, hold on tight for the rest of Volunteer Appreciation Month—expect heartwarming stories, mega thank-yous, and just good ol' fun.

Not a volunteer but curious about becoming one? Find your local council and learn how you can join our movement!