Why have a party or ceremony? Well a birthday party is a celebration, and a wedding not only celebrates but shows the commitment of 2 individuals to hold to their promise to each other. Girl Scouts have ceremonies for the same reasons. They can be short and sweet or take a whole evening. There is no right or wrong, it simply depends on what the girls want to do. If they are happy it was a successful ceremony.
The tradition began with Brownies, as leaders tried to prepare them for the older Girl Scout program. In 1963 when a total of 4 levels were introduced, Troops became to use bridges as the symbol for moving girls up to the next level.
When planning a ceremony there are 5 main points to consider.
1.What is the purpose of the ceremony?
2.What kind of mood or atmosphere are you going for? A serious tone with formality, or fun and lighthearted with funny skits.
3.Participation by each girls should be encouraged. All girls should be given a job to do that they feel comfortable with. All girls should have a voice in how it is planned. Be careful, some girls tend to speak the loudest and end up doing most of the planning.
4.The time and place will affect the ceremony you choose. If you are having a dinner party at the local pizza parlor, you wont’ have as much room as if you are in the park.
5.What will the theme be and how will it focus on the purpose of the ceremony. Invitations and food add to this.
The first time out I suggest going with a script. You don’t have to follow it exactly, but at least it will give you a general idea of how to run things. The more ceremonies you do, the more the girls will create their own. If you create something really fun and unique, be sure to share it with other leaders. New leaders always need the help and experienced leaders are constantly looking for ways to freshen things up.
TRADITIONAL GIRL SCOUT CEREMONIES
BRIDGING – This is when girls move up to the next program level. Girls may use a real bridge somewhere, have a small on indoors or just make a symbolic version. It takes place a the end of the school year for many Troops who do not meet over the summer. Others do it in September as the year officially ends September 30th.
CANDLE LIGHTING – Gives girls a chance to reflect on the Promise and Law. Each candle represents a value. It is often tied with another ceremony. A Juliette Candle is when 1 candle was lit from a flame passed down from the original 18 members.
Next to the bin is where I keep the flags and our green tablecloth. Since I use those items for a variety of things I don’t keep the table-cloth in the bin. All my copies of ceremonies I keep in a 1 inch binder that I can take to meetings so the girls can choose which they want to do.
COURT OF AWARDS – Girls who have earned awards, finished a TAP are recognized. It is done any time.
FLAG – These are done just about anywhere and honors the American flag. A Color Guard is used.
Or for other groups such as your school’s Veteran Day Assembly
FLY-UP – When Brownies are bridging up to Juniors. Dates back to when Brownies were a different program and “flew up” to the older Girl Scout program. The wings are worn on all vests and are not earned except by moving from a Brownie to a Junior.
GIRL SCOUT BRONZE, SILVER OR GOLD AWARDS – Girls are recognized for earning these awards. It should be done according to the wishes of the girl.
GIRL SCOUT’S OWN – All Girl Scouts can create a ceremony to express their feelings on a variety of subjects and is done whenever they want.
INTERNATIONAL WORLD THINKING DAY – February 22nd offers girls the chance to learn of Girl Guides around the world.
Many Service Units put on an event together.
Each Troop chooses a country to represent such as Mexico.
INVESTITURE/PINNING – A way to introduce new girls to Girl Scouting. Generally done early in the year but Troops can do it as needed or desired.
OUTDOOR AND CAMPFIRE – As an opening or closing ceremony at a campfire. Girls remove the ashes and save them in a container. Old ashes are added to the next fire.
REDEDICATION – Typically done the same time as Investiture. Former Girl Scouts can rededicate, but current Scouts may also.
RELIGIOUS AWARD – Girl Scouts recently came out with their own religious awards. However, for years it was an outside organization that girls had to work with. Those awards required much more effort to earn. Both awards may be worn on the uniform and have a ceremony to celebrate.
FOUNDERS DAY – October 31st was Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday and we take that day to honor her memory and all she did for this organization.
GIRL SCOUT BIRTHDAY – This recognizes the day that Juliette Low started meetings in the USA with her niece Daisy as the first member.
WELCOMING CEREMONIES – Welcomes new members in a more casual ceremony.
Archway – entering a different atmosphere or phase.
Bridge – a crossing over
Dove Olive Branch – peace
Dream catcher – protection
Eagle – courage
Eggs – newness, rebirth
Feather – nature
Flag – the official banner of something
Four Leaf Clover – good luck
Friendship Circle – the unbroken chain of friendship with girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world.
Handshake – hello, welcome
Lighted Candle – symbol of individual light, the essence of a person or a value.
Masks – identity, expression.
Pebble – nature
Planting a tree – conservation, a living dedication to someone or something.
Rainbow – unity, diversity
Shield/Crest – group unity
String – the human line binding all humanity
Treasure chest – treasures of any kind
Trefoil – the three parts of the Promise
Wishing Well – hopes and Dreams