This is part of The S.U.ccess Series: Stories of Service Unit Victories. The series provides tips and inspiration for making your Service Unit successful.
This is a guest post from Jen Miller of Service Unit 434 about simplifying bridging requirements, along with council resources for planning your bridging ceremonies.
By Jen Miller
Leader of Honor Troop 41901
Service Unit 434 Co-Manager and New Leader Mentor
Cookie season is finally winding down, woo hoo! For many co-leaders, that sigh of relief is closely followed by, “Oh no, I have to plan bridging requirements.”
If you are unfamiliar with bridging requirements, look inside any Girl Scout level binder (near the beginning), and you will find two steps. The steps are the same for every level, and, to simplify, you must find a younger troop and an older troop and teach/learn about that level. These are the requirements to wear the bridge (rainbow), not to simply move up to the next level.
Seasoned leaders everywhere start busting out those contacts they made at camps and events. New leaders scramble to make contacts. Everyone is in the same boat, and once you find a troop that’s able to help comes the FUN part. matching up schedules. It starts with, “My girls have to meet after school due to sports, dance, yodeling,” and moves to, “My girls can’t meet after school due to work schedules and trapeze practice.” When the moon, the sun, the stars, and Pluto align, you finally have a plan for another troop to meet up with yours. Hallelujah! Wait, that was only one level, you still have to find the other level. Agh!
I’m part of Service Unit 434 and three years ago we implemented a service unit event that alleviates this pain felt by so many co-leaders. We host a service unit bridging requirements event at a community center in April. All girls in the service unit are invited, although we mainly get those bridging and those who aren’t sure if they want to continue with Girl Scouts. The event is free with the caveat that troops help with supplies by bringing their troop leftovers.
We ensure there is a representative from each required age level. An invitation is sent to pre-school girls who will enter kindergarten.
We create an event on our service unit Facebook page where we brainstorm ideas for activities for the girls. The first year, each level taught a craft and spoke about their favorite part of being in that level, from Daisies to Ambassadors. For crafts we lump Cadettes through Ambassadors into the same group. The second year, we created traditional friendship sticks and swapped them with our newly made friends. Last year, we learned a new song from each level.
At the beginning of the event, we remind girls that all troops are different and will do different things. We tell girls who aren’t sure if they want to continue in Girl Scouts to pay attention to what other troops do. Maybe they would have a better fit with a different troop.
The girls enjoy talking about what they did in their respective levels and answering any questions from the other girls. When Seniors and Ambassadors are present, the younger girls listen so closely as the older girls speak of their travels and adventures. When the Daisies and Brownies speak, the older girls instinctively want to help them. The Juniors and Cadettes remember all the fun they had when they were younger and see it’s possible to stay in Girl Scouts while they transition through the “that’s not cool” phase. It’s a win for all.
When the event is finished, usually two hours at a maximum, all of the girls have completed their requirements. We don’t actually bridge the girls at the event; we believe that should be a more intimate ceremony with their troop and family. Meeting the bridging requirements is no longer dreaded, now it’s an event!
If you have any questions about bridging, please don't hesitate to contact your area Troop Support Specialist!
More Bridging Support
Resources for Planning Your Bridging Event
As your troop prepares for the important transition to the next Girl Scout level, check out these resources to help you and your girls plan an awesome event:
- A Guide to Running Bridging Events
inspirational video from Girl Scouts of the
USA’s CEO, Sylvia Acevedo
- A press release you can customize and send to your local media
Spirit of Nebraska Bridging Kits Now Available
Girl kits range from $6.75 - $7.75 and include:
- Rainbow bridging badge
- Membership star and disc
- Bridging certificate
- Mechanical pencil
- Spirit of Nebraska bridging fun patch
- Brownie Wings (only in the Bridge to Junior Kit)
NEW! Bridge to Adult Kits are just $11.99 and contain:
- Bridge to adult pin
- Bridging certificate
- Spirit of Nebraska pen
- Puff rhinestone key ring charm
Be sure to check out the great new pricing on Lifetime Memberships, which come with a 10%
discount on retail purchases - for life!