Traditions give Girl Scouts a sense of history—and inspire them to be the best they can be. Sharing traditions with millions of Girl Scouts—and the huge network of Girl Scout alums who came before them—helps remind girls they belong to a big, powerful sisterhood. This page for troop leaders explains some of the ceremonies and celebrations that Girl Scouts can participate in.
Prefer to watch?
- Watch Bridging and Court of Awards.
- Watch Opening and Closing a Meeting.
- Watch Holidays and Celebrations.
- Watch Flag Ceremonies.
Bridging ceremonies typically take place toward the end of a membership year and are sometimes combined with a Court of Awards ceremony. At a bridging ceremony, your troop can cross over a bridge–real or symbolic–to symbolize each girl’s advancement in Girl Scouts.
Advancing from Girl Scout Brownies to Girl Scout Juniors is usually called “flying up.” For all other grade levels (Daisy, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador,) it is called “bridging.”
Use it Anytime
The Court of Awards can be held anytime during the year, at any location, and as often as the troop wants. Some troops have these ceremonies monthly, annually, or at the end of the year. A Court of Awards ceremony can also be used as a closing ceremony for a troop project, or as a way to present recognitions individual girls have earned over a period of time. It’s common to have a Court of Awards ceremony in combination with a bridging ceremony.
Participate in a Service Unit Ceremony
You can plan these ceremonies as a troop or attend a service unit wide ceremony with other troops in your area. Attending a service unit Court of Awards is a great opportunity for girls in your troop to meet other Girl Scouts, especially troops in different grade levels and schools.
- Opening or closing meetings
- Opening or closing special events
- Beginning or closing a day
- Honoring a special occasion or special person
- Retiring a worn flag
Flag ceremonies may take place in meeting rooms, outdoor settings, large auditoriums, onstage, or even on horseback. The American flag is carried by a color guard for protection during a flag ceremony. All flag ceremonies share one thing—respect for the flag.
See a our Flag Ceremonies video to see girls participating in a flag ceremony.
Examples of suggested opening activities are:
- reciting the Girl Scout Promise
- a simple flag ceremony
- a Girl Scout song (which could be serious or silly!)
- a favorite poem
- each girl sharing something special about her day
For closing, often girls gather in a friendship circle and sing “TAPs” or Make New Friends. You can also include, or substitute, a friendship circle or archway.
See our Opening and Closing a Meeting video to see girls participating in these ceremonies.
The Friendship Circle
Representing the unbroken chain of friendship among Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world, the Friendship Circle involves Girl Scouts standing in a circle, crossing their right arms over their left, and clasping hands with their friends on both sides. Everyone then makes a silent wish as a friendship squeeze is passed from hand to hand around the circle.
Making an archway is another idea for closing a meeting. Girls make two lines facing each other and then reach up making arches with their arms. The pair farthest from the door go through the arches, then the next pair, and so on. The last two go out under the arch made by the two adult leaders.
October 31 – Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthday
Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday or Founder’s Day, October 31, marks the birth in 1860 of Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia.
Juliette started the Girl Scout movement before women could legally vote and before many women were able to own property or even work outside the home. Juliette envisioned a movement that would inspire girls to believe in their abilities, develop leadership skills, and gain the courage, confidence, and character to make their world a better place. Girl Scouts of all ages honor Juliette Low’s birthday on or near October 31. Younger girls enjoy hearing the story of the founder, and some plan a field trip or special troop activity. Older girls may choose to do a service project.
February 22 – World Thinking Day
On World Thinking Day, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide celebrate international friendship. Each year, on February 22, they think about one another and the millions of members in the sisterhood. Girl Scouts sometimes celebrate this day by planning international-themed events, donating to the Juliette Gordon Low World Friendship Fund, or holding a special Girl Scouts’ Own* ceremony.
Girl Scouts of the USA is a member of the largest organization for girls and women in the world: the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been celebrating World Thinking Day since 1926.
February 22 was chosen as the official date because it was the birthday of both Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement and his wife Olave, who was the world Chief Guide. Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his wife were inspirations to Juliette Gordon Low, who started Girl Scouts in the United States.
*A Girl Scouts’ Own is a girl-planned program that lets girls explore their feelings around a topic, such as friendship or the Girl Scout Promise and Law, using spoken word, favorite songs, poetry, or other forms of expression. It is never a religious ceremony.
March 12 – Girl Scouts’ Birthday & Girl Scout Week
Girl Scout Week celebrates the anniversary of the first Girl Scout meeting on March 12, 1912 in Savannah, Georgia. Troops plan how they want to celebrate on (or near) March 12, and girls can make birthday cake and ice cream, attend a service unit event, join with other troops and sing songs, conduct a service project, or attend a council sponsored event.
Some troops will plan observances within their faith communities. Girl Scout week begins on Sunday and concludes on the following Saturday, which allows our membership of diverse faiths to celebrate on their chosen day of worship.
April 22 – Girl Scout Leader’s Day
Girl Scout Leader’s Day honors all the volunteers who work as leaders and mentors in partnership with girls. On this day, girls, their families, and communities find special ways to thank their adult Girl Scout volunteers.
Originally designed to honor adult volunteers who led Girl Scout Troops, over the years leaders day has evolved to recognize the contributions of volunteers throughout our movement. It is now more appropriately called Girl Scout Leadership Day, an inclusive term that acknowledges the important role the older girls, volunteers in non-troop positions, staff members, and others play and striving to make Girl Scouting the premier leadership development organization for girls.
August 10, National S’mores Day
National S’mores Day is August 10—just for fun! This holiday is celebrated to honor and enjoy delicious s’mores.
While National S’mores Day is not exclusive to Girl Scouting, the first ever recorded version of the s’mores recipe can be found in the publication, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts of 1927.
Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day
While national patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day are also not exclusive to Girl Scouting, Girl Scouts and troops may want to consider how they can be good citizens, contribute to their communities, and honor the service of members of our Armed Forces during these local and nationwide observances and celebrations. Your local community may have a parade, a veterans brunch, a flag-raising dedication, or other special event that Girl Scout troops may participate in or support.
Summary of Resources
- Girl Scouts River Valleys Pinterest – Find ideas for your ceremonies and celebrations!
- Guide to Bridging – An in-depth guide to bridging ceremonies (find bridging activity plans on our planning guides under the troop leader section of this website).
- Girl Scout Celebrations and Ceremonies – A detailed guide to the activities listed above and more.
- Girl Scout Songbook – All your favorite songs in a book!
- WAGGS.org – The official website of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.