At Girl Scouts, we’re always adjusting to the changing circumstances surrounding coronavirus to ensure the well-being of our girls and volunteers. Moving programs online, wearing face masks, using copious amounts of hand sanitizer—check, check, and check. But we’ve also learned that safety and fun aren’t mutually exclusive. (Evidence: our virtual camps this summer!)
As many troops gear up for another Girl Scout year, you might be wondering how your girls will be able to meet and earn badges while still adhering to Girl Scouts River Valleys in-person activity guidelines. Not to worry—as always, we’re here with some helpful tips. Read on for a few ways to modify your in-person troop meetings so girls can still connect, share experiences, and try new things—in a socially distanced and safe way.
A caveat before we begin: this post is based on the most current guidelines at the time of publication (October 2020); because COVID-19 risk is fluid, these protocols may change as well. Always refer to Girl Scouts River Valleys’ In-Person Activity Guidance before engaging in any in-person activities. With that covered, let’s get to the tips!
Opening Ceremony & Ice Breakers
Singing Make New Friends and passing the friendship squeeze—such a treasured Girl Scout tradition. Of course, for the time being, it’s best to refrain from hugs, handshakes, high-fives, and friendship circles (I know, so hard!) to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Encourage girls to tap into their inner innovators to come up with new ways to greet each other. I’ve done this greeting activity with a group of girls who didn’t know each other well and it was a big hit: Each girl introduces herself and then does a unique gesture. The next girl repeats the first girl’s name, does that girl’s gesture, and then introduces herself and her own gesture. First girl: “I’m Leslie!” (Leslie does jazz hands). Second girl: “I’m Ann! (Ann does the chicken dance) and that’s Leslie!” (Ann does jazz hands). Go around in a circle until everyone’s had a chance to introduce themselves (And repeat everyone else’s name and gesture!)
Just because girls are physically spread out doesn’t mean they can’t engage in icebreakers or group-bonding activities. Here’s a long list of fun games that kids can play while still staying socially distanced.
Make use of our new Girl Scouts River Valleys’ in-person adapted troop meeting plans, which allow troops to complete all the steps for a badge—outside and following current COVID-19 guidance. These plans can also serve as inspiration for how you can adapt other badges for a socially distanced troop meeting.
Keep in mind that troops should limit or eliminate most forms of sharing at troop meetings. Could you adjust your plans so that activities use few (or no) supplies? If you will be using some supplies, you might consider making bags or containers of high-use supplies (like markers, scissors, glue, etc.) for each girl that she can bring with her to each meeting. If you’ll be working on a badge that requires special supplies, sort out materials beforehand into individual bags so girls can get them easily without having to congregate around the supply table.
Some badges lend themselves better to socially distanced group activities than others. Outdoor badges, for example, immediately come to mind. Because if you’re already planning to meet outside, why not seize the opportunity to build outdoor skills while the temps are temperate and the sun is still high in the sky at 4:00 in the afternoon?
Holding troop meetings outside will also make it easier for girls to stay safely apart from one another. To help girls adhere to social distancing, use picnic blankets, hula hoops, chalk, or painter’s tape to mark spots for each girl.
If girls are set on earning a particular badge that can’t figure out how to adapt to use minimal supplies and/or remain socially distanced, you could save that badge for a virtual meeting!
As of now, groups of fifteen or fewer people can meet indoors (including the required number of unrelated adults to ensure proper girl-to-volunteer ratios), while groups of 25 or fewer can meet outdoors (again, keeping that ratio in mind).
If your troop already falls under these parameters, then you’re all set to meet! If you have a larger troop, consider breaking up into smaller groups with each group meeting at the same time (by program grade level or by creating patrols). Get creative about what each group does—the various program grade level groups could work on the different badges, while patrols could work on different steps of the same badge. Remember that these groups should not intermix (for example, if the troop is broken up by program grade level, Daisies from one group shouldn’t mingle with Brownies from another group).
Have we all had to adapt to change lately? Yes, for sure. We do it not just because we’re awesome and nimble, but also because we know that Girl Scouting is essential to so many girls. Some might say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But I say, when the going gets tough, Girl Scouts get going.
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!).