Bridging is a time-honored Girl Scout tradition, one that only becomes more important as girls grow older. Bridging ceremonies help girls reflect on their past year, and all the skills and knowledge they’ve earned in that level of Girl Scouts. Plus, they also get girls excited for all the opportunities that open up at the next level of Girl Scouting.   

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But sometimes a traditional in-person bridging ceremony isn’t always possible, whether because of distance, logistics, or a global pandemic. So how can you host a great Girl Scout bridging ceremony virtually, or from afar? 

What makes a great bridging ceremony? 

The best bridging ceremony is the one that is best for your troop! A troop or service unit-based ceremony will be the most powerful experience, but the most important element of any ceremony is making it girl-led and girl-focused. Have the girls think about their future—spend the months or weeks leading up to bridging planning or fulfilling any pre-requisites for activities they want to do the following year to get excited. Then have them think about what kind of activities they’d like to celebrate with best! This is about them and their experiences, so make sure whatever activities you plan have space for reflection and express pride at all their accomplishments. 

Here are a few ideas to make an at-home bridging experience special: 

Plan an individual adventure. 

Before meeting up together online, why not plan a mini adventure for your girls to complete with their families before the meetings? If they’re outdoorsy, have them take a hike with their parents or older sibling(s) to reflect on past adventures. If they like to get fancy or want to treat themselves, have them plan a fancy tea party they can set up in their own backyard! Whatever their preference is, this is a celebration by and for them—it’s their day to feel special and proud of their work. 

Pro-Tip: Northern California is filled with National Parks that your Girl Scout families can go to for their celebratory adventure.  

Care packages make things special. 

Once you’ve planned your on- and offline activities, what better way to make those solo activities feel special than to add some flair? Whether you mail your girls a package of inexpensive streamers, confetti, and homemade crafts, buy them bridging celebration materials from the Girl Scout shop, or drop off a baked good or collection of supplies for your online activities, this is a perfect way to make the day feel special. 

Virtual celebrations should feel different than virtual meetings. 

Bridging shouldn’t feel like just another troop meeting! Create time to socialize, get silly, and shrug off your usual structured activity time. Maybe you make an easy fun craft together like a collage of their experiences as a Brownie, or bake a recipe together over video chat and laugh as you all get to different steps at different times. Have a virtual dance party where each girl gets to pick a song!  Shake up your routine a little to make even a long-distance ceremony feel like a party. 

Keep the focus on the girls. 

While there are loads of resources for bridging ceremonies, the most important part of any bridging is reflection. Girls deserve some time to remember all they’ve done at their level and feel pride in those amazing achievements! Whether you give each girl time to talk about their favorite experiences in Girl Scouts so far or what they’re looking forward to most or even put together a photo presentation of all the good memories you’ve all had together, spending time on these accomplishments and memories will help your girls feel connected despite the distance and let each one of them feel the glow of that well-earned spotlight. 

Each year of Girl Scouts has its own unique joys and challenges, and each progressive level of Girl Scouts gets more and more special as girls build unique memories and amazing skills. Getting to support them as they grow into young women of courage, confidence, and character is a wonderful experience, and we know that whatever you plan for your girls’ bridging ceremony, it’ll be just right.  

What to do next: 

Erica Sutliff—Erica is a Program Manager for the Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she works to support Service Unit programming and creating abundant opportunities for older girl leadership. Erica was an active Girl Scout and strongly believes in the power of girl-led programs to build courage, confidence, and character. Erica moved to the North Bay after graduating from the San Jose State University with a B.A. in Psychology. Aside from her involvement with Girl Scouts, Erica enjoys spending her time exploring nature spaces with her adventurous dog Nola; together they travel to National Parks and Forests all over the country.

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