Submitted by GSCO Membership Connection Committee
The crisis and response to COVID-19 is like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes. Our girls are feeling unsettled and scared. As troop leaders, we have an opportunity to provide some normalcy in their lives by offering the continued presence of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Of course, it will look radically different.
Some troop leaders are already offering virtual troop meetings through the Zoom videoconferencing service. If you aren’t familiar with Zoom, you can go here to check it out: https://zoom.us/. You can sign up for a free account that allows you to host meetings for up to 100 participants, up to 40 minutes in length. Although that is shorter than a typical troop meeting, it may be just enough right now. Try one or two activities, and see how it goes.
Or, you could use a free Zoom account to host a virtual social gathering. Some troops are trying half-hour lunch socials. In these times of “social distancing,” regular social connections are even more important. Let your girls see each other and talk about whatever is on their mind right now.
We also have compiled our top ten recommendations for badges and patches to work on in these unusual times:
Now is a great time to work on the Safety Award. Each level’s award focuses on slightly different aspects of emergency preparedness. This resource offers some ideas for how to complete the requirements at each level: https://allthingsgirlscouts.com/2019/07/14/episode-8-safety-awards/.
Beginning with Girl Scout Brownies, each level also offers a First Aid badge. You can find suggested Meeting Plans in the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK).
With lots of together time at home, girls and their families might enjoy completing a space science badge. These badges are available at all six levels, and the badge requirements can be purchased in digital form from the Girl Scout Shop. Here is where you can find the Junior-level requirements, for example: https://www.girlscoutshop.com/Junior-Space-Science-Investigator-Badge-Requirment-Pamphlet. Each level offers detailed instructions on projects for learning about space, and also includes some nighttime stargazing.
Girls and their families may also enjoy completing an outdoor art badge. These are also available for all levels and the badge requirements can be downloaded. For example, here is a link to the Ambassador-level requirements: https://www.girlscoutshop.com/AMBASSADOR-OUTDOOR-ART-MASTER-BADGE-REQUIREMENT-PAMPHLET. Getting outside is important for everyone’s mental health during social distancing or “stay-at-home” orders, but be sure to follow all of the guidelines from the CDC and your local authorities for safeguards to follow.
A third badge available at all levels, and accessible through digital download, is the new Trail Adventure series. See the Cadette-level requirements here: https://www.girlscoutshop.com/cadette-trail-adventure-badge-requirements. These badges are extremely flexible in terms of requirements, and can be completed by any girl at any level in any outdoor conditions.
Be Prepared, Not Scared” is a patch program that might be appropriate. Several different Girl Scout councils, including Colorado, have offered different “zombie survival” workshops in the past using some of these materials. You can find a comprehensive activity guide developed by Girl Scouts of Central California South here: https://www.girlscoutsccs.org/content/dam/girlscouts-girlscoutsccs/documents/Be%20Prepared,%20Not%20Scared%20Patch%20Series.pdf. The patches can be purchased here: https://www.girlscoutshop.com/search?keywords=zombie
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame developed a patch program that can be completed entirely online, while learning about important women leaders throughout our state’s history. See the details here: https://www.cogreatwomen.org/girl-scouts-of-colorado/
Census 2020 documents are arriving in mailboxes. Here is a great opportunity to teach girls about the history and importance of the census, and also earn a fun patch: https://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/content/dam/girlscoutsofcolorado/documents/GSCO%20Stand%20and%20Be%20Counted%20Patch%20Booklet.pdf.
Maybe your troop would like to look toward the future – when they can return to their routines – and start planning their next trip locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally! Here’s a great resource to guide you through the planning process: https://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/content/dam/girlscoutsofcolorado/flyers/anytimeactivities/Girl_Scout_Guide_to_U.S._Travel.pdf.
With our “new normal” of doing so much online, it’s a great time to teach or remind our girls about cybersecurity basics. Here are some great simple activities to do with Daisies, Brownies, or Juniors: http://gscoblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/CybersecurityPatch_FacilitatorGuide.pdf. Or you can work on the series of 3 Cybersecurity badges offered for all levels: https://www.girlscoutshop.com/search?keywords=cybersecurity.
You can find even more resources on our Council’s “Girl Scouting at Home” webpage here: https://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/en/our-program/ways-to-participate/girl-scouting-at-home.html.
Our wonderful council staff have also assembled this document, which they are regularly updating, that includes other suggestions for virtual patch activities: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GbqoF8PqGsWIcPfkDzLNl7pI4fg1sFGhsqlHkO6fbos/edit.
And you can check out what our Sister Girl Scouts and Girl Guides are doing around the world here: https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/digitalguiding/.
If you don’t have the bandwidth as a leader to take an active role in offering any programming to your girls right now, that’s okay too. (Maybe just forward this message to your troop families?) It’s important that we all prioritize our own mental health in these challenging times.
Whatever you do, remember that this is temporary. We will all get through it together, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it.