I don’t know about you, but this year really flew by. How can it be that in a few weeks, school will let girls out for the summer? Didn’t spring just start? For many troops, these upcoming months also mark the time to wrap up their year and look forward to the adventures that lie ahead, a.k.a, bridging.
Bridging is the progression from one level of Girl Scouting to another (for example, second-year Daisies would “bridge” to first-year Brownies). It may seem pretty cut and dry, but bridging is an important moment for girls. Why? Reflection is a critical component of the learning-by-doing process that defines the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, and bridging serves as a chance for girls to do just that. When girls have an opportunity to reflect on their previous year—what skills did they acquire, where did they stumble, where did they face and overcome challenges?—it makes their Girl Scout experience that much more meaningful. We talk a lot about progression here at Girl Scouts, but that may not always be evident to girls. As they work on activities to earn their bridging award, girls can see for themselves just how far they’ve come. Then, during the actual bridging ceremony, girls can celebrate those accomplishments with their friends and family.
This year, Girl Scouts of the USA announced that National Bridging Week is May 4–11, 2019. Whether your troop is planning to bridge this week, or in the weeks to come, let’s explore the basics of bridging and how girls can make the ceremony their own.
The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting includes the steps each program grade level must fulfill to earn the bridging award. This usually involves two parts: Pass It On and Look Ahead. In the first step, girls remember their favorite activities and share their skills with a younger troop. In the second step, they’ll meet with older girls to learn what’s in store for the next program grade level. Use our handy planning guides for additional ideas on helping girls earn their award, and be sure to check our shop for all-in-one bridging kits as well.
Now for the fun part! Bridging ceremonies generally consist of three parts:
- Opening: Welcome guests and set the tone for the ceremony (Casual or more formal?).
- Main section: Explain the purpose of the ceremony to guests and those who may not be in-the-know. Girls can share something they’ve learned, a favorite memory, sing a song or dance. Afterward, girls can cross a bridge (real or symbolic) and/or, if they’re Brownies, “fly up” to Juniors.
- Closing: Thank your guests and end the ceremony with a friendship circle.
The celebration should be planned and designed by girls in partnership with adults (And the “adult” in this equation doesn’t have to be you—ask around and see if any families in your troop would like to take on event planning duties), so remember to keep it girl-led. For example, Daisies and Brownies can create an invite list, make invitations, and decide what songs to play during the main event, while Seniors might want to tackle planning a neighborhood bridging ceremony for several local troops.
Aside from these basic parameters, there are no hard-and-fast rules for a bridging ceremony, so let your imagination run wild! That being said, it doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. Something memorable and special to girls can be as simple as a rainbow balloon bridge and a box of popsicles.
For multi-level troops with only some girls bridging, you can make it an event for everyone by including a rededication component in the ceremony.
Girls across the country (And throughout the world!) have been bridging for years. As girls look back on what they’ve accomplished and turn their sights to what’s ahead, remind them that they’re joining a long line of Girl Scouts who have made, and continue to make, the world a better place. If your troop is planning to bridge this year, we’d love to hear about it—share your story with us!
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!).