As social creatures, staying connected to others is vital to our health and well-being, but staring at the screen for hours on end can also have some unintended consequences. Namely, that it’s mentally exhausting—Zoom fatigue is real. Even if we’re using Google Meet, FaceTime, or Skype for leisurely activities like shared meals, quarantine birthdays, and game nights, the way that we interact online is very different than how we as human beings are programmed to socialize. For girls who miss their friends and reminders of their normal routines, there are still ways that they can stay in touch without clicking “Meet Now.” Read on for five screen-free ways to keep those connections alive during social distancing.
An oldie, but a goodie! It’s always exciting to get something in the mail—plus, buying stamps right now is a great way to help support the US Postal Service. Figure out a way for families who’d like to participate to share their contact information (our troop opted to just go the simple route and sent out a group email). Girls don’t just have to stick to “regular” letters; encourage them to flex their creativity muscles. For example, they could try “Pass the story,” where one girl writes the opening line to a story and each girl contributes a subsequent line. Once all the girls have added their spin on it, the girl who’s last can read the entire story during your next virtual troop meeting!
Have a few bookworms in your troop? Encourage girls to start a book exchange. Girls can drop off (if they live near each other) or snail mail a book from their personal collection that they think their friend would enjoy. After they’re done, the recipient returns the book with a note detailing their thoughts and opinions about what they’ve read. If they’re so inspired, girls can also collect these review notes and turn them into a zine to share with other troop members!
Arts & Crafts Swap
Books not up your troop’s alley? No problem—try an arts and crafts swap! Similar to the book exchange, an arts and craft swap lets girls share materials from their own arts and crafts collection (or finished artwork if they’re so inclined) with another friend. Girls can partner up on their own and work out how they’d like to swap supplies or items. Or for more Type-A swap organizers, you can have girls complete a short survey about their likes and dislikes, favorite colors, preferred mediums, etc., and then pair girls up that way.
While all Girl Scouts River Valleys summer camp programming has been cancelled, girls can still keep some of the fun camp traditions going even at home. Enter, Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere, a.k.a., SWAPS. Girls can create their own SWAPS and mail them to each other. Another neat activity you can do is to send each girl a small packet of the same materials (think: a safety pin, some pony beads, scraps of felt, etc.) and then task girls to create their own SWAPS before your next troop meeting. At the troop meeting, they can share what they came up with—it’d be interesting to see all the different types of SWAPS that can come from the same materials!
We’re all eating at home a lot more often now, and some of us could use new ideas to spice up (literally) mealtimes. Set up a recipe exchange with your troop. Girls can use one of the many free printable recipe card templates to write down a tried-and-true family recipe to share. This would also be a cool way for girls to work on a cooking-related badge like Simple Meals or New Cuisines!
As the proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention. We need to stay connected, but technology isn’t the only way to go about it. From sidewalk chalk messages to painted rocks, there’s no end to the imaginative ways that girls can keep in touch.
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 Brownie troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (And rescue dog, Neil!).