Take the Lead

Take the Lead March 2013





Girl-Led Bridging and How To Work In Re-Registration for Next Year
Making Bridging Girl-Led
The decision to bridge should be made early in the year so that the girls have time to work on bridging requirements and plan their ceremony.  It is so important to allow the girls to do this planning because when girls get to lead:
  • Girls become excited and engaged
  • Girls gain confidence
  • Girls stay in Girl Scouts
  • Girls invite others to join in and share the fun
  • Girl planning may look a little messy to adults, but that’s OK, that’s how girls learn. 


The leader’s role in girl planning is to do whatever the girls are unable to do themselves to accomplish the steps.  And, as a leader of older girls, to guide them as they make the arrangements necessary to accomplish the steps on their own.

Bridging is a celebration, a time to be recognized for their achievements and a welcome into another level of Girl Scouting.  It supports transitions from one grade level to the next, helps girls to become familiar with the activities, atmosphere and environment of the grade level they are moving to and girls will gain new perspectives of the new level in which they are moving.

At the beginning of their bridging year, share with the girls what a bridging ceremony is and the parts of a ceremony.

The parts to a ceremony include:

  • Opening:  Guests are welcomed and the tone/theme is set. 
  • Main Section:  The ceremony is explained and they celebrate moving to the next level.
  • Closing:  A closing tradition and a thank you to their guests.


Using your troop’s form of government decide if a bridging ceremony is going to be a part of your calendar.  After the decision has been made to have a bridging ceremony, questions need to be answered by the troop.  This is where facilitation by the “leader” comes in. 

Questions to ask: 

  • Who will we invite and how will they be invited?                          
  • Where will it be held?
  • When will it be held? (refer to a calendar with the girls)          
  • Why are we bridging?
  • What are we going to do during this time?        
  • What supplies will we need?
  • What will everyone’s role be?                                                                     
  • How long will the ceremony last?
  • How will we recognize that it is a celebration?  Will we use decorations, food and props?


Girls need to practice the ceremony ahead of time so that everyone feels confident and proud of their accomplishments.  The girls should not go into this ceremony unprepared!  Each of the ceremony's parts offer plenty of room for the girls' creativity and individuality.  Whether the ceremony includes an actual bridge or a symbolic one, or if it includes props like candles, flowers or flags, the ceremony should always focus on paying tribute to the girls as they move forward.

When the ceremony is complete, please do not simply let the girls leave.  Reflect with them.  Did everything go as expected?  Was there anything they would have liked to do differently?  What was their favorite part?  Was there anything that happened that wasn’t planned for?  Ask the girls what other thoughts they have that need to be communicated.  This is how the connections for learning occur.

Re-Register for Another Year of Fun, Learning and Leadership! 
Bridging ceremonies are the perfect time to engage girls and their parents with plans for next year.  Here are some tips for how to include registering for 2014 as part of your evening:


  • As a part of the ceremony agenda, include some time to talk to the audience about the power of Girl Scouts and why it is so important to support our girls to become the best leaders they can be. 
  • If possible, have computers set up in the room for parents and leaders to give permission and re-register on eBiz before they leave.  If computers aren’t available, download registration forms from our website and have on hand for registrar.
  • Encourage girls to think of friends they would like to invite to join them in Girl Scout for the next year.
  • Allow time for the girls to brainstorm possible activities, badge work and/or trips that they’d like to take next year.  This will get the girls excited and allow families to see girl planning in action, as well as to get a good understanding of what’s in store for the next year. 
  • Provide a form for girls to present to the supporting adults in attendance.  The  form should ask what the adult might be interested in helping with in the coming year.  This engages all of the girl’s support system and assures them that they are wanted and needed in the growth of the girl.

Impacting Program Effectiveness Gap Areas
Each year Girl Scouts of Western Ohio conducts the Program Effectiveness Survey to see what girls are saying about their Girl Scout Leadership Experience.  This survey helps identify strengths and weaknesses within the troop pathway across Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.  You should be receiving a summary of the Program Effectiveness Results for 2012 this month at your service unit meeting or can find it at www.girlscoutsofwesternohio.org.  Of the 15 GSUSA program outcomes, less than 55% of girls responded positively to 5.  The five low scoring outcomes or “gap” areas are listed below.


Knowing this information allows leaders and volunteers to work towards
our goals in a very intentional way.


Girl Scout leaders are the ones who work directly with and have the greatest impact on the learning experiences of girls.  You can help improve these areas by following these tips when working with your troop.

What can be done to close in the Gap?

One way to achieving success is making sure all the girls have the opportunity to participate in the Girl Scout program processes:

Girl-Led activities where the girls are making decisions about the what, where, when, how and why of their activities.
Learning by Doing activities where the girls plan, implement and then reflect on what was successful or what they would do differently in the future.
Cooperative Learning activities where girls are able to identify the strengths of their team and work together to accomplish a shared goal.

Another way is to help girls better understand what they are learning, is to speak the language of goals and outcomes.  For example, if you are playing a game to intentionally work on team building and cooperation, then emphasize to the girls that while this game is fun, they will also be learning how to work as a team.  They will be learning how to cooperate with each other toward a common goal.  When they hear those words often, they can better relate to what they are learning and accomplishing.

There are numerous tools that are available to help support the Girl Scout program process and goals:

  • Girl Scout Journeys
  • The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting
  • Earned Recognitions/Awards
  • Council and community sponsored program opportunities
  • Troop product sales
  • Monthly issues of Take the Lead
  • Council and national website
  • Adult grade level trainings


Visit www.girlscoutsofwesternohio.org for more information.

Take Action:  Making it Meaningful for Girls
Girl Scouts are all about building their communities and we often see girls giving back through service in numerous ways.  This month, we are sharing with you ways to turn your service projects into meaningful Take Action projects.  The result will be projects that have a meaningful impact in girls’ own lives in addition to the impact they have on others and the community.

Characteristics of Meaningful Projects
Authentic service learning experiences, while almost endlessly diverse, have some common characteristics:

  • They are positive, meaningful and real to the girls.
  • They involve cooperative experiences and thus promote skills associated with teamwork and community involvement and citizenship.
  • They address complex problems in complex settings rather than simplified problems in isolation.
  • They offer opportunities to engage in problem solving by requiring participants to gain knowledge of the specific context of their service learning activity and community challenges.  As a result, service learning offers powerful opportunities to acquire the habits of critical thinking; such as the ability to identify the most important questions or issues within a real-world situation.
  • They promote deeper learning because the results are immediate and uncontrived. 
  • There are no "right answers" in the back of the book.
  • As a consequence of this immediacy of experience, service learning is more likely to be personally meaningful to participants and to generate emotional consequences, to challenge values as well as ideas, and hence to support social, emotional and cognitive learning and development.


Meaningful Take Action is not:

  • An episodic volunteer program
  • Logging a set number of community service hours
  • One-sided:  Benefiting only girls or only the community


The distinctive element of service learning is that it enhances the community through the service provided, but it also has powerful learning consequences for the students or others participating in providing a service.  Service learning is growing so rapidly because we can see it is having a powerful impact on young people and their development.

Service Project to Meaningful Take Action Project

Food Drive
Standard Project:  Most groups implement a food drive by placing boxes at their school or asking everyone to bring a canned good to an event then collect the items and drop them off at a food bank.

Make it Meaningful:  Turn your food drive up a notch by visiting the food bank you will be making your donation to during the planning stages of your project.  Take a tour of the facility, ask them about the importance of the food bank to the community, interview one of the employees.  You could also learn about homelessness and the challenges people without a home face.  What other organizations are in your community to aid those in need?

Planting Flowers at a Nursing Home
Standard Project:  Typically, this project is implemented in one afternoon and only includes the physically labor involved in planting flowers and watering them.

Make it Meaningful:  Your Take Action project will really blossom if you reach out to master gardeners prior to your planting day to learn about the plants and find out what flowers are native to your area.  Or you could visit with the residents to find out what the garden means to them and why they feel it is important, you could ask them what they would like their garden to look like or contain to enrich their lives.  For example, would they like a birdfeeder or bench in addition to the flowers?

Standard Project:  The most common way to do this project is by collecting plastic bottles and taking them to a recycling facility.

Make it Meaningful:  Your recycling efforts will be multiplied if you learn everything that goes into it.  Tour a local recycling facility, learn about all the materials that can be reused in new ways, find out about the impact landfills have on our environment and all the ways you can help.  Or you could expand your project to create a sustainable program that focuses on reducing all waste and not just recycling.