Tonight was our Service Unit’s Bridging Ceremony. It initially started as a leader/daughter appreciation dinner, but then got upped to a Bronze Award Ceremony because several girls in our SU earned theirs, and then got upped again to encompass Bridging as a whole.
And for whatever reason, I volunteered to plan it. Something which I will never do again. It was very stressful and had very little return (only two troops came). That being said, I think that it was a success overall.
The decorations were very simple. Anne and I (well, mostly Anne), made centerpieces. They were a last minute thing as the troop that had tentatively offered to make them was not able to attend. One of the other leaders found some GS balloons, so we went with that – a white GS balloon on four green balloons, and a green GS balloon on four gold balloons.
The mom in my troop who made a balloon arch for us last year was gracious enough to do one again…even though I emailed her on Saturday asking for help. She came early, and we, plus Anne, my husband, and another mom tag-teamed it and got the arch set up with very little trouble.
HOW TO MAKE A BALLOON ARCH: And how she did it was disgustingly simple – she had three pieces of thin-ish, flexible piping; two of them were set into cement filled flower pots, the third one attached (with tape) to those poles. We blew up two balloons, tied them together, then twisted them around the pipe, alternating the directions, so there was very little pipe showing through.
Explain Higher GS Awards
Opening Ceremony. I had initially wanted to do a flag ceremony followed by a candle ceremony for the opening, but because of the lack of participation in our SU, I whittled it down to having all of the GS present come up to the front, gave each a daisy or a piece of paper, and had them say a line of the GS Promise or GS Law. As they said their line, they put their daisy into a vase. I did this with my Daisies at our rededication last fall, and hey…no reason not to do it again when I had everything already.
Bronze Award. After our Opening Ceremony, I gave a brief-ish explanation about what the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are. On a side, I think only about 5% of all eligible Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award. That is horrible! I wish I knew what percentage of Boy Scouts earn their Eagle Scout Award. It has to be considerably higher. And if you enlist in the military, having the Gold Award bumps you up a rank.
Girl Scouts have three levels of Awards they can earn throughout their scouting experience: the Bronze Award is earned by Juniors (4th-5th graders), the Silver Award is earned by Cadettes (middle schoolers), and the highest of the awards, on par with the Eagle Scout Award for Boy Scouts, is the Gold Award, which is earned by Seniors and Ambassadors (high schoolers).
To earn these awards, girls must complete a Journey, which gives them a foundation for learning leadership skills, problem solving, and creating and carrying out community service projects. After they have completed a Journey, the girls work as a team to find some way to help improve their community. They identify a problem, determine what they can do to fix it, work with the appropriate person or department, and complete the project. With each higher award, the projects completed become more complex, with the goal that the project will ultimately be self-sustaining or perpetuating.
The leader from the Junior troop came up and explained what her girls did: they created an after-school craft club. And it was successful to the point that our village is picking it up for this coming school year. That is amazing! Then she gave them certificates (the actual award is back-ordered at our Council).
Bridging. Once the Bronze Awards were finished, we Bridged our Daisies and Juniors (8 girls in all). Again, I explained what Bridging and the Bridging Award are. The Daisies went first, then the Juniors. I found a cute little poem to read, but didn’t remember to do it until afterward. And I completely forgot about pulling one of my three Brownies who were present to help welcome the girls.
We also didn’t have a bridge, just a balloon arch. I think it worked out perfectly though.
Bridging is the transition from one level of Girl Scouting to the next. Every girl who completes a level automatically bridges to the next one. However, each level also has an earned Bridging Award associated with it. There are two required to steps: to Pass It On and to Look Ahead. Pass It On has the girls’ sharing their experiences at their current level with girls who are one level below them, or who haven’t started scouting yet. Look Ahead has the girls either doing something with girls in the level they will be Bridging to, or exploring different badges or opportunities the next level has.
Each troop will Bridge separately, starting with the youngest girls first. Each girl will cross a bridge, which symbolically shows them moving from one level to the next. They will be met either by their leader or a Girl Scout from the level they are Bridging to at the other side of the bridge. There, they will do the Girl Scout Handshake, and be welcomed to their new level.
Closing Ceremony. Again, I kept this very simple. Instead of pulling the girls up again, they stayed sitting with their parents. We sang “Make New Friends” to close everything out. Any parent who knew the words sang with us. There were a lot of people singing, which was nice.