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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com.
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