Girl Scouts accomplish incredible things every day—and all of them are worth celebrating. Our organization has an awesome tradition of honoring girls for their achievements through annual ceremonies like investitures, bridging, and Court of Awards where the girls are recognized for their accomplishments throughout the year. These ceremonies help girls feel that their work is noticed, valued, and appreciated, therefore motivating them to keep working hard in the future. Doubly so when celebrating the completion of a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award—these higher awards give girls a chance accomplish great things while working on an issue that they are passionate about. Through their projects, girls inspire others and themselves and leave a lasting mark on their communities and the world.

Every year the Los Altos Service Unit (608) recognizes girls earning their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Over the years, the event has grown, and this year over 200 girls, family members, and friends came together to celebrate the girls’ incredible achievements. On top of that, the event was girl-led! Older girls emceed the awards presentation and even took care of event set-up and clean-up.

Girls were celebrated at a tea recognition ceremony that was organized by older girls as well as their leaders. Attendees were served tea sandwiches and cookies, and watched excited as the girls were presented with their awards. For the Bronze Awards, the entire receiving troop was presented with their award, and one girl from the troop shared about their projects. The Silver and Gold Awards were then presented, and each awardee shared a bit about her amazing project, which ranged from planting lush gardens in schools to building a library in India! The impact girls make in their communities and around the world is unbelievable, and it was wonderful to celebrate all of their hard work and accomplishments.

If you’re thinking of hosting a similar awards event for your girls, here are some tips from Service Unit 605’s Judy Zellers on planning celebrations for your older Girl Scouts, especially those completing a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award!

Start Planning Early

Early preparation is the key to staying organized and on top of tasks. Have a team to plan and prepare the event. We suggest using a Google sheet to help organize the team and each individual’s responsibilities.

Pro Tip: Keep the event girl-focused by letting them be involved as much as possible. They can do anything from acting as emcees and performing the flag ceremony to preparing for the event and cleaning up at the end of the festivities.

Send Out Invitations

Consider who you want to invite, and publicize the event to all of the troop leaders, as well as family and friends. Invite local dignitaries, such as your mayor or local councilperson, and get proclamations from them if you can.

Also consider celebrating all three higher awards together. We used to only invite Silver and Gold Award Girl Scouts, but inviting Bronze Award troops greatly increased attendance, and seeing the work done by the Silver and Gold Award Girl Scouts was deeply inspiring to our younger attendees.

Fit the Venue to the Event

Get a venue suited to the kind of event you are holding. Consider how many people you are expecting, what spaces are available and within your budget, and what to include in your event. Research free or inexpensive spaces in your city, such as parks and recreation venues. Consider the accessibility of the space so all interested friends and family feel welcome.

For example, we originally planned a catered dinner, but discovered the cost limited our guest list. We decided to host an awards tea instead to lower the cost and allow girls to invite more of their friends and family, making the event focused on celebrating the girls, and not on fancy food or a sit down dinner.

Personalize Your Event

Contact the awardees to get information about their projects for the printed program as well as photos for the slide show. The photos will also help the awardees create tri-fold boards that can be used during the event.

Along with the actual award pins, consider whether or not you want to present the girls with anything else. We’ve found that instead of gifts (as we used to do), giving bouquets of flowers along with the award pins has the best combination of celebratory feeling and gravity for this important occasion.

Pro Tip: If you’re going with flowers, consider buying at your local farmer’s market, which is often cheaper than buying them at the store! Don’t forget to think about the size of the bouquets as well—we like to do large to medium bouquets for Gold, small bouquets for Silver, and individual flowers for Bronze.

Small or large, recognition events are deeply meaningful for girls and their families, and inspire Girl Scouts of all ages to step up as leaders and make a lasting impact in their communities. With these tips, you’ll be able to confidently reward your girls for all their hard work, but more importantly, acknowledge their accomplishments with a meaningful celebration that they will never forget.

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Christy MorganChristy Morgan—Christy is a Volunteer Development Manager for Santa Clara North-West. She was a Girl Scout in San Jose, CA until she graduated from high school and is passionate about supporting volunteers so girls can have the best Girl Scout experience. She has over 10 years of experience working in the non-profit sector and with volunteers. In her free time, Christy enjoys traveling, especially international travel. She has been to every continent expect Antarctica, which is on her list of top places she wants to travel to. Her favorite place she has been is Australia.