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COVID-19 Important Updates & Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to see a list of our Girl Scouts at Home programs. 

Important Program and Procedure Updates 

November 2020

Our staff and volunteers continue to plan engaging, skill-building programs for our girls while ensuring the safety of our members, volunteers, families and staff as the pandemic that closed schools, restaurants, recreation centers, businesses and offices is still with us eight months later. Many of the safety protocols and activity restrictions regarding COVID-19 and Girl Scouts of Central Maryland activities remain in place. We enlisted the help of several volunteers from across our council footprint to give input on how we can safely move forward and provide adequate guidelines for volunteers and families. Our Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM) Staff Leadership and COVID-19 Response Teams diligently worked on a phased plan with guidelines for a safe return to in-person programs, access to camp facilities, and in-person troop/group meetings and activities. The results of these meetings produced the phased “Return to In-person Girl Scout Activities Guidelines, Readiness Checklist and Travel Program Questions & Responses. Below are COVID-19 response updates that have been shared regarding in-person meetings and activities, camp property usage, additional money earning and more.

Travel Program Questions & Response

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 membercare@gscm.org 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 membercare@gscm.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 websitethe 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). 

 

Sincerely,

Violet M. Apple                                                                                            Chief Executive Officer

What is Girl Scouts of Central Maryland doing in response to COVID-19?

To assist you with navigating conversations with girls we have disseminated and posted this blog article (en Español) about the coronavirus from GSUSA.  

The safety of our members, staff, and volunteers is paramount as the state and country work to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, therefore we are closing our offices, stores, and camps until further notice. In addition, all programs, events, service unit and troop meetings and activities have been suspended as well.

GSCM staff will be working remotely and will be responding to emails and calls.

We will re-evaluate how and when we will re-open our office, stores, and camps and resume hosting programs and events. In the meantime, we are offering activities and badge-work on-line. 

How to continue to engage in Girl Scout programming

We are currently hosting virtual program activities and options for troops and girls to participate in during this program postponement period. Click here for a list of our Girl Scouts at Home programs. 

We also suggest SU, groups, and committees consider using these video and audio-conferencing tools with free versions to conduct meetings, etc.

  • Skype
  • Periscope
  • Facebook live
  • FreeConferenceCall.com
GSCM Girl Programs

We are gearing-up for exciting, interesting and engaging girl programs this fall which consist of virtual, in-person, and hybrid (a mix of virtual and in-person) experiences for girls of all grade levels!  Over the last several months, we have been working to meet the interests and needs of girls in the current COVID-19 climate. Our GS411 program guide, which is going completely digital this year, will be released on October 1, 2020.

Cookie Sale Program

The 2020-21 cookie sale is currently underway. Girls should be engaging in online cookie sales with touchless delivery, direct ship options, and Cookies from the Heart donations. Cookie cupboards are open for troops to obtain additional cookies to fulfill orders; planned orders can still be edited, added or cancelled.

Effective November 13, 2020, no Girl Scouts of Central Maryland in-person booth sale activities may take place until further notice. This decision was made after conversations with council members, board members, and Governor Hogan’s recent announcement that Maryland is again a red COVID-19 state due to the surge of cases.

Girl delivery orders can continue with adults delivering cookies using the touchless methods found HERE. The following protocols must be adhered to:

  • Masks must be worn at all times by adults and girls participating in cookie deliveries
  • Adults must accompany Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies and Juniors when they are delivering cookies
  • Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors must have adult supervision when delivering cookies
  • Adults can decide to leave cookies on customers’ doorsteps to avoid face-to-face interaction. In some cases, parents and girls may need to communicate with customers that cookies will be delivered at a later date.

For complete cookie sale details from Terry Mercer, Director of Product Sales, click here.

Return to In-person Girl Scout Meetings and Activities

Please note: We are taking a phased in approach to ALL in-person meetings and activities. We anticipate that we will resume in-person Girl Scout meetings and activities on August 22, 2020, with the stipulation that if COVID-19 risk factors increase, this move to in-person meetings and activities will be delayed. We recognize that our members and volunteers are at varying levels of readiness in regard to their comfort level in attending and/or facilitating in-person Girl Scouts activities, whether or not they are held indoors or outdoors. Therefore, before a troop or group decides to resume in-person meetings or activities, they need to assess the readiness, preparedness, and comfort level of all troop/group girls, families, and troop volunteers against the GSCM readiness checklist that will be distributed the week of August 17. 

Because COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily in the community, volunteers should take all reasonable precautions to limit potential exposure for girls, themselves and families. We are recommending initial meetings be held virtually and/or in outdoor settings.  Meeting options may need to be flexible based on the fluid nature of COVID-19 risk. Troops/Groups that are able to run online meetings as needed (or wanted) should continue to do so.  Additionally, Girl Scout troops/groups may not meet in homes, be it indoors or outdoors, out of concern that the risk of exposure is too great to Girl Scout members and family members.  If a troop currently meets in a home, they are advised to contact us at membercare@gscm.org for guidance and assistance.

Troop/Group Travel

At this time our focus is on providing safe steps for our troops to get back together, therefore, we are not approving large group and service unit gatherings (i.e. programs, events, meetings, or trainings). Additionally, while individual troop/group in-state only day trips are permissible, we are not approving overnight trips.  For individual troop/group day trips, troops/groups still need to follow the State and local COVID-19 guidelines.  The week of August 17, troop/group leaders will receive guidelines on troop/group meeting and activities.

Additional Money Earning Activities

Troop/Groups may submit additional money earning requests for review and consideration. In doing so, troops/groups must follow all current GSCM additional money earning policies and procedures.  Additional money earning cannot be conducted during the GSCM Cookie Sale Program or Magazine and Nut Sale Program time periods.

Highest Award Updates Information

GSUSA has announced that all bridging Girl Scouts (5th , 8th and 12th grades) may be offered a deadline extension through December 31, 2020. Additional guidelines will be shared in the future. However, as we all navigate a new set of challenges, now is an opportune time for you to connect with your community in a meaningful way. So, put on your thinking caps and think outside the box! What can you do to benefit your community now, when it needs you the most? If you have questions about a project, email us: membercare@gscm.org.

To find out how to qualify for an extension, click here. 

The required Gold Award Workshop and Silver Award Workshop are currently available “on-demand”. Please visit our Highest Awards webpage to find the registration link for these programs. A new, optional, Bronze Award Workshop is now available “on-demand”, click here to view it. Our monthly virtual Q&A session will continue to run as scheduled. Registration information is, and will be, available on our events page.

Covid-19 Highest Awards Coach Training

Gold Award Banquet  Information about the new date will be shared only with girls and families who were slated to attend the March 15th event and members of the Gold Award Class of 2020.

Summer Camp

After much consideration we have made the very hard decision to cancel in-person day and resident camp for summer 2020. We decided there are too many unknown factors related to ensuring the safety of our campers and staff. Beginning July 6th we will offer At Home Camp Adventures-our virtual camps, some with in-person, socially distant components, that combine classic camp activities with brand new experiences. Click here to see what we’re offering.

GSCM Camp Property Usage

Starting September 15, 2020, a select number of camp site units at all four GSCM camps are available for GSCM troops, who are registered for the new membership year (October 2020-September 2021), to reserve for the purpose of holding troop meetings. At this time, priority is being giving to troops; service units are encouraged to continue meeting virtually.

Below is a reservation link for each of our four camps. By clicking on the link for the camp that your troop is interested in, you will have access to the schedule of available sites, dates, and times. Select the site/date/time your troop is interested in meeting.

Only one troop per one spot is being granted in order to give as many troops as possible the opportunity to meet at camp. Each troop is entitled to one meeting location per month recurring at the same time of day (e.g. every first Monday of the month at 5:30 PM). After reservations are received and checked for availability, troop leaders will receive a confirmation email, along with a site user agreement and guidelines.

Camp Conowingo

Camp Ilchester

Camp Whippoorwill

Camp Woodlands

Please email membercare@gscm.org if after a reservation is granted your troop no longer needs the reserved site so that other troops will have the opportunity to reserve an open spot.

Questions? Email membercare@gscm.org

 COVID-19 Guidelines for Reservation of GSCM Camp Properties for Troop Meetings

 COVID-19 Guidelines for Camp Volunteer Maintenance Work

GSCM Business Hours

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland is and has been operating during the shelter- in period.  While our council headquarters may not be physically open to the public, since mid-March, staff members have and continue to work remotely. Additionally, several times a week, a few staff members are working from the office in order to perform essential business duties which cannot be accomplished via telecommuting.

GSCM Stores

Store curbside services will continue to function as they have been the last few months; the schedule can be found here.  Additionally, we have added ‘virtual shopping appointments’ that allow the GSCM store team to chat with you in the store via Zoom so you may view items before purchasing. Fifteen-minute virtual shopping appointments may be scheduled on Wednesdays between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.  Should you need help or resources, contact us at membercare@gscm.org and we will work to assist you or get you what you need.

Graduating Seniors Funds Extension Guidelines
COVID-19 Updates by Date

 

Please keep in mind, that while Girl Scout troop/group meetings, trips, events, and activities may not yet be in-person, there are many ways , including Girl Scouts at Home for Girls, that allow Girl Scouts and volunteers to stay engaged: