Put away your shovels, folks, because seedlings are pushing through the ground, buds are forming on those tree branches, and the lakes are on schedule for ice-outs. Is it safe to say that winter is over? I sure hope so! Here at Girl Scouts River Valleys, the longer days and ramped up temperatures can only mean one thing—it’s time for Early Bird!
As the old expression goes, the early bird gets the worm, and this year, our “worms” are more irresistible than ever! Read on for a rundown of Early Bird, and just a sample of what’s in store—head over to our Early Bird page for the full details.
This year’s Early Bird season runs from May 1–31, 2019. During this time, Girl Scout members (girls, families, and volunteers like you) have the chance to register for the upcoming 2020 membership year.
Registering now may seem counterintuitive (Why not wait until August or September?), but there are lots of reasons to do so. Knowing how many girls will be returning in the fall gives you extra time to prepare for the upcoming Girl Scout year, especially if girls are bridging to the next program grade level. If some girls choose to not return, then you’ll also have a chance to update your information in the troop catalog (more on that below) and, if you’re able, open your troop to new girls.
Every girl and adult who registers during this period will receive a punch card to the Girl Scout shop as well as the exclusive 2020 Early Bird patch, which features this year’s mascot, the great blue heron. Fun fact: The signature s-shaped neck is how you tell the difference between a heron and a crane when in flight (the latter’s neck sticks straight out).
It’s not just individual girls and adults who benefit by registering early. Early Bird troops will have the chance to win some awesome experiences that they won’t get any other way. Think: free membership for 2020 (we’ll reimburse your troop up to 14 members), free troop camp registration (Lock in your troop camp session early and we’ll cover the cost!), choose the 2021 Early Bird (May I suggest the piping plover or red-shouldered hawk?), and so much more. If those benefits don’t have you champing at the bit, we’ve also added two new experiences this year: Tish in a Tent (Our CEO, Tish Bolger, will visit your troop’s tent overnight—and bring s’mores! What better way to show off your troop’s fire-building skills?) and program event registration (pick an event—we’ll cover the cost for your troop). Early Birding is also the first step to help your troop grow their cookie proceeds—that’s an additional $0.10 per package for the 2020 Cookie Program!
Who qualifies as an Early Bird troop? Troops who register at least one troop leader and half of the number of 2018–2019 troop members (as of March 31, 2019) by May 31 have a chance to win. If you’re not sure how many girls are currently registered in your troop, log in to MyGS to view your roster. New troops that formed between April 1–May 31, 2019, qualify if they have one troop leader and at least three girls registered for the 2019–2020 membership year.
How to increase your chances of winning: If your troop is stoked about a particular benefit (I’m looking at you, Name a Horse at Camp), you can increase your chances of winning by submitting a troop catalog update during the Early Bird season. Troops who do so will get an additional entry into the drawings. Whether or not your troop is open to new girls, make sure your troop’s grade level(s) and meeting details (day, time, general location) are up-to-date in the catalog.
To get your troop geared up for Early Bird season, we’ve also developed an Early Bird Activity Plan, which is filled with fun great blue heron facts, and games like:
- Build a nest out of popsicle sticks.
- Test how your reaction time and see how it compares to a great blue heron. Who will catch the fish faster?
- Measure your wingspan and learn how the size and shape of a bird’s wings affect its ability to fly.
So, what are you waiting for? Another year of Girl Scouting adventures is on the horizon—register today!
Lily Yu –Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Daisy troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (and rescue dog, Neil!).