No matter how Girl Scouts express their spiritual identity, the Girl Scout Constitution notes that “the motivating force in Girl Scouting is spiritual”. Usually celebrated in March during Girl Scout Week, Girl Scout Sunday and Sabbath provide Girl Scouts with the opportunity to learn more about their chosen faith and share in one of the oldest Girl Scouting traditions, as well as a way to thank your local faith communities for any partnership or support you’ve received in the last year.
In 2016, my multi-level troop, Troop 1133 in the Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council began hosting an open Girl Scout Sunday with the help of Hopeful Lutheran Church in Florence, Kentucky. 2018’s event was our most successful kick-off to Girl Scout Week in our troop’s history. Each year, the event’s success grows. Why? Because Girl Scout Sunday or Sabbath has become a rare event. No longer though! Here are 5 tips (and a handy adaptable checklist based on our event) you can use to set up your own Girl Scout Sunday or Sabbath, and fill your troop’s spirit with reflection, gratitude, and delicious green punch!
1. Find a sponsor.
Our troop went with Hopeful Lutheran Church because they are already our regular troop meeting location, so it was easy to set up a meeting with Pastor Blair Fields to plan our event. But don’t worry if you don’t already have a place in mind! Talk to your girls and their parents about their various faith locales, whether they are churches, synagogues, or mosques, or even just local secular community centers!
2. Spread the word.
Now to invite your guests! Troop 1133’s members designed church bulletin inserts and recipe cards with the council’s marketing director, and broadcast professionals mentored the girls’ production of social media and documentary videos to advertise the event. Print flyers, make announcements at school or service in the weeks before the event, and ask around your community for help in spreading the word.
3. Feed the soul.
Have your girls participate in services before the event, or host a discussion about Girl Scout spirituality, where the girls talk about their community service work and motivations. For our event, Girl Scouts from all over Northern Kentucky attended 9AM and 11AM services at Hopeful Lutheran Church. Each service recognized all Girl Scouts—past, present, and future. The 11AM service even played the girls’ video, highlighting their year of service work and partnerships with the church.
On top of that, the Hopeful Foundation (the group which manages Hopeful Lutheran Church’s investment portfolio) was so impressed by our 2018 event that they awarded Troop 1133 $250 to help expand their landscaping project. The Pantry of Hope will be installed on June 9, 2018.
4. Feed the body.
The cookie and green punch reception following the 11AM service is an exciting and highly anticipated opportunity for the congregation to meet and mingle with its favorite girls in green. After three years of hosting this even, we’ve learned a few things about hosting a cookie reception.
At our first event in 2016, we thought that Girl Scout Cookies would be the star of the show, but it turned out there was a secret star waiting in the wings: our green punch! Because Girl Scout Sunday takes place in the middle of our Cookie season… the cookies had less draw than we expected, but the punch provided a cozy (and delicious) sense of hospitality to the event. Many elderly guests approached the girls to share memories of scouting and punch socials in their day! Our favorite recipe for Girl Scout Green Punch is a mixture of pineapple juice, ginger ale, and lime sherbet, courtesy of Food Network’s Paula Deen!
In 2017, we upped our Girl Scout Sunday game with vintage uniforms and bakery wars! Girls modeled uniforms from the 10 different decades of scouting while mingling with attendees. We also collected cookies from the two different Girl Scout Cookie bakers, and had attendees vote on which recipe they liked best. Congregation members stayed through the end of the reception as excitement built to see if their cookie and bakery choices won.
In 2018, we had an iron-clad formula for Girl Scout Sunday. A few boxes of cookies: check. Green punch: double-check. But the new main attraction was the Iron Chef Table, with a secret mystery ingredient of… Girl Scout Cookies! Girls dished out several desserts featuring Girl Scout Cookies as the main ingredient. Recipe cards are on the table in front of each dish so people can decide what they want to try, and also marvel at the girls’ inventive use of the different cookies!
Pro Tip: If you’re participating in the Cookie Program, you’ll want a cookie booth at the event! Pastor Blair Fields came up with this idea. He felt the congregation would appreciate the chance to purchase cookies before leaving church, and boy was he right!
5. Make it happen (financially).
Sold on the idea of Girl Scout Sunday or Sabbath? Here are two options for how to make it happen financially:
- Set Aside Troop Funds from the Previous Year. Save up some funds from your previous year to host the event! Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot: you can host an awesome event with just a few boxes of cookies, maybe a bowl of punch, and your girls’ smiling faces.
- Ask a Sponsor. If you ask around, you’ll find plenty of people would be happy to support your event! Our first year I donated $100 to fund the event, but asking parents, community members, charitable organizations (Thrivent is a great one for church-affiliated troops), volunteers, or your various congregations to pitch in for the event can be an excellent way to bring the community together to make Girl Scout Sunday or Sabbath happen.
Our Girl Scout Sunday event becomes more successful each year. It is a fabulous opportunity for girls to explore their faith and spirituality, and a safe and encouraging space to showcase their accomplishments and share future goals.
These networking events have also forged new partnerships with businesses and organizations as community members with ties to exciting activities and missions consider partnering with the Girl Scouts for the first time. As a result, Girl Scout Sunday events have expanded the scope and focus of our troop’s service projects. That makes us thankful indeed.
What to do next:
- Interested in hosting your own Girl Scout Sunday event? Here’s a checklist based on our event to make planning easier! Feel free to adapt it to your own needs and faith traditions.
- Learn more about opportunities to recognize religion and faith in Girl Scouts.
Tonya Freeman—Tonya is a full-time mom who overschedules her calendar and drives her family up a wall. She’s a Christian, PTA treasurer, preschool board member, actress, musician, and voiceover artist. This former TV gal and Girl Scout Cookie connoisseur does freelance PR and producing in addition to mom-aging her 2 little girls’ acting careers. She always keeps an overnight bag with a passport by her front door and travels as much as humanly possible. Follow her adventures at www.DFFrentFocus.com.