We enlisted the help of several volunteers from across our council footprint to give input into creating our phased “Return to In-person Girl Scout Activities Guidelines, Readiness Checklist and Travel Program Questions & Responses.” The guidelines, which are rooted in public health safety, aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reflect our commitment to the protection of girls and volunteers, as well as family and friends. As a result, we have several COVID-19 response updates to share in regard to phase one of this plan regarding in-person meetings and activities, camp property usage, additional money earning and more. Click here to learn more. In addition we have a special announcement regarding Senior funds, click here to learn more.
Dear Girl Scout Volunteer,
We are aware of the many questions and confusion that exist pending changes to the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland travel program. We hear and we see you. Your feedback is important to us. It is understood, and mutually felt, that it is extremely difficult to plan without knowing what the future holds. This communication which answers questions we have received about the program, should offer you more clarity.
But first, be assured that travel is, and will continue to be, an integral component of GSCM’s Girl Scouting experience. In fact, we are diligently working on the details of an updated program that is designed to enhance the type and number of travel opportunities that will be available to girls, while offering girls additional leadership opportunities and ensuring that all travel opportunities are run in a safe, consistent, and rewarding manner.
Will Travel Troops/Groups be disbanded?
No, it is completely inaccurate that travel groups have been or will be disbanded by GSCM. Even once the updated program is fully unveiled, travel groups will absolutely be able to continue traveling as a group. In fact, the new program incorporates troop/group leaders and girls, in a greater way then they have been incorporated in the past.
Why do we need a new/updated travel program?
While the planning, organizing, and executing of mostly girl-led programs and events have provided support to troop leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure that all programs are as robust as those that travel volunteers and girls aim to provide and that we are all working in tandem. The need to emphasize measures that will reduce or eliminate such issues has slowed our rollout, but we are continuing to move toward our goal. Also, the updated program is being designed to align with other Girl Scout travel programs more closely around the country.
What is the new travel program?
The Trefoil Adventure Program, comprised of three branches – our new travel program, Mariners, and Trailblazers, is intended to elevate our level of participation in the Destinations program and incorporate council-sponsored travel opportunities. The goal is to provide more girls with more travel opportunities, whether through their traditional troop, a travel group, or a council-sponsored program. Travel is an integral component of the Girl Scout experience and as such, travel will remain an integral part of GSCM’s program offerings.
Will the GSCM Travel Program be girl- and volunteer–led?
Our new travel program will be the third branch of our new Trefoil Adventure Program. The program will be overseen by an advisory committee of girls and adult volunteers, working in conjunction with select council staff members. Girls and volunteers from each council county/city will be invited to apply to join the committee. Additional information will be released by September 1, 2020.
Is the “new vision” of travel the reason that the Travel Pathway additional money-earning programs have not been approved?
No. All additional money-earning program requests, including those submitted in bulk by the former Travel Pathway Volunteer Coordinator were not approved because of the emergence of COVID-19.
Once GSCM begins reviewing additional money-earning requests, will it reconsider approving the requests that were submitted in bulk by the former Travel Pathway Volunteer Coordinator?
The requests submitted in bulk in February 2020 were not approved due to the pandemic and the related safety concerns and will have to be resubmitted, in accordance with the updated travel program guidelines. The guidelines no longer allow bulks submissions. Details will be issued by September 1, 2020.
How will requests for additional money-earning activities be considered once the updated travel program is announced?
All troops, groups, and girls will be required to adhere to the same request process moving forward. To clarify, travel groups must submit a trip application, including a full roster and proposed itinerary, in conjunction with their additional money-earning request. All girls must be registered for the year in which the group intends to raise additional funds. The additional money-earning request must be submitted on the appropriate form and contain a detailed estimated budget that reflects the total estimated per person amount, the amount each girl will contribute on her own, and the amount intended to be raised. Requests must be emailed to email@example.com and will not be accepted in any other manner.
Why won’t the council continue to accept bulk submissions of requests for additional money-earning activities?
Upon reviewing our additional money-earning processes, we recognized that that accepting additional money-earning requests in bulk from our Travel Pathways groups was unintentionally inequitable and negatively impacted Service Units, traditional troops, and girls seeking their highest awards.
Accordingly, moving forward, all girls, troops and groups will follow the same submission process.
If I do not have any girls currently in my “troop” may I continue to submit requests for additional money-earning activities and then recruit a girl to join my “troop”?
No. To be considered a “troop,” generally there must be at least five (5) registered girl members. Girl Scout travel is primarily intended to teach girls to be independent; accordingly, adults should be limited to the number of adults required to meet ratio and safety requirements. If a volunteer without a troop is interested in promoting Girl Scout travel, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who was involved in discussions that lead to this decision?
There have been several meetings and communications between the council and volunteers about the proposed changes to our travel program over the course of the last eight months. The official guidance, as finalized by the council, will be shared by September 1, 2020.
When can we travel again?
Our public health officials will offer guidance to help us determine when it is safe for organizations like ours to travel again, but we do not know right now. Like you, the council is vested in the girls and continuing to keep them safe, healthy, and engaged in robust programming is our top priority.
What about pre-existing planned trips?
Pre-existing trips that have been approved are still approved. However, if your troop/group travel destination changed since the submission of your original intent to travel submission, you must submit a new trip application that must be completed to the fullest extent possible, including a complete roster and detailed itinerary. Your intended travel dates should be within two (2) years of the submission and must be within no more than three (3) years of your submission. Additionally, initial trip applications (or intent to travel applications) must contain proposed dates, a detailed itinerary and roster. The council must be notified of any members who subsequently join the troop/group.
As we plan to move to the next phase of activities, we will continue to communicate to all GSCM groups/troops through our COVID-19 updates on our website, the Vine, and our official social media channels.
We sincerely apologize to anyone who hasn’t received answers to questions, felt unheard by the council, and has thought the travel program was going away (again, it is NOT going away). It is our goal to be transparent and inclusive with our members and volunteers. Know how much each one of you is appreciated.
We’re confident that by working together and trusting one another, we will continue to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place – and get to experience the world themselves through our travel program (when it is safe to do so again).
Violet M. Apple
Chief Executive Officer
Distinguished Women Awards Auction
These five Girl Scouts had the opportunity to see new ways they can utilize the leadership skills they learn through the GSLE. During their mentoring day with a 2020 Distinguished woman honoree and their participation in the Distinguished Women Awards they had an up close look at women’s leadership in action. The event was held virtually this year and launched the annual online auction. The Distinguished Women Awards auction is live now through August, 19 and there are many great items available to bid on. Click here to view the complete gallery.
Cookie Sale Updates
This year’s cookie season will be filled with wonderful creativity, new innovations and endless opportunities. We know that much of this season’s sale will be done virtually. It will have some challenges but overcoming obstacles is what Girl Scouts do best.
It is very important that volunteers who are performing cookie roles attend cookie training this year. We have been working hard to prepare details, family resources, improve systems, start new initiatives and write guidelines for you to use during these unprecedented times.
Our Theme: Be Amazing
Our Mascot: Honey Bee
Cookie Sale start date: October 1, 2020.
Cookie Sale end date: December 13, 2020.
There will also be a NEW Winter Cookie Sale Pilot in February 2021.
Here’s what SERVICE UNITS need to do NOW in order to be ready to support troops with cookie sales.
- Recruit a Service Unit Cookie Manager and a Service Unit Booth Coordinator. Get them registered for 2021 with their SU role assigned. Registered and assigned Service Unit Cookie Managers and Service Unit Booth Coordinators will be contacted and sent a Zoom invite to attend Council training.
Here’s what TROOPS need to do NOW in order to prepare for and be eligible to participate in this new and amazing virtual cookie sale.
- Get all troop volunteers and girls registered for 2020-2021. Ensure address, and emails are current for each troop member.
- Each troop needs to recruit a volunteer to manage the troop’s sale and support the girls and families with cookie sales. This volunteer needs to be registered and have the role of Troop Cookie Manager assigned to their member record.
- Troop Leader completes the 2020-2021 T-3 ACH form found in the VTK.
- Registered Troop Cookie Managers will receive cookie sale training information, sales materials, and support from their Service Unit Cookie Teams starting in mid-September.
Remember: The sooner you register, the sooner you will be able to access the cookie system when the sale begins. We know our girls are AMAZING and this is another opportunity for them to show us they are!
Girl Scouts Love State Parks
Join your fellow Girl Scouts from across the Council, State and Nation in celebrating Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend, September 12-13 2020!
Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has coordinated several ways for girls to participate in our Maryland specific event, whether in-person or virtually, there is something for everyone!
Participation in any of our Maryland specific activities, or participating in any of the activities offered by GSUSA, is sufficient to earn this year’s patch. Patches will be available to all registered participants for purchase following the event.
Girls may also earn the complementary GSLSP patch from GSCM by completing one (1) mandatory activity AND (1) activity of her own choice. To earn the 2020 GSLSP patch for free:
(1) Register below to receive the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park – Virtual Ranger Experience Workbook. Completion of this activity workbook is mandatory.
(2) Participate in one or more of the following Maryland Department of Natural Resources experiences: Park Quest, Create Your Own State Park Challenge or Western Maryland Rail Trail: Design Your Own Bike.
Participate in one or more of the GSLSP virtual events offered by GSUSA.
Be sure to document your experience, you will need to submit copies of your workbooks and pictures of you participating in the activities to earn the patch for free.