1. I did not want to waste troop funds on bridging badges, vests, etc., until the girls were re-registered for Brownies.
2. I wanted it to be a troop event, and make it special, and end of the year is a really tough time to get everyone together for something like this, because our schools here let out very early, and many parents are either dealing with spring sporting tournaments, or starting summer vacation.
Waiting until our first Brownie troop meeting in the fall worked best for us. As always, you do what is best for your troop! :)
However, this past spring our service unit held an Awards Ceremony, and offered a chance for all bridging troops to have their ceremony as part of a service unit event. We opted to participate in this, but I waited until fall before buying bridging badges and "flying up" wings for their Junior vests.
Regardless of when you hold your bridging ceremony, all girls can walk across the "bridge" to show they're moving up, but only those who've completed the required steps receive their rainbow bridging badge for the following year.
That said, we also reduced the frequency of our troop meetings (but extended the time for each meeting to compensate), because back to back meetings twice a month for both troops was too much for me. So our first Junior meeting was not about bridging (though we did have special rainbow treats). It was diving right in to planning the year ahead.
What you will need to do ahead of time:
- Make sure your roster is complete. Check with your SUM or council regarding "Early Bird" renewals (these are typically spring to early summer, though the girls are technically still Brownies until the new GS year begins in the fall -- at least in our council).
- Assist with online registration as needed.
- Make a list for parents of everything they will need in terms of uniform (vest, sash, pins, badges, etc.). Don't forget to include your troop crest!
- Revamp your attendance sheet, kapers, patrol info, etc.
- Look at your finances and decide how much your troop dues will be.
- Get health info forms from your SU or council (or create your own, if none are available -- these should include emergency contact info, allergies/health conditions, medications, etc., and stored in a small manila envelope that's labeled with your personal contact info, inside a ziploc in your first aid bag. The bag should live with you at all times when you're doing anything with your troop. These forms are confidential and for emergencies only).
- Double check your first aid bag to make sure everything's up to date and replace any expired medications or supplies.
- Make sure your adult volunteers have re-registered, and their background checks are up-to-date.
- Check your new adult/girl ratios (these change per level).
- Type up an email and/or take-home sheet to give parents at the first meeting. Include the dates by which all dues, forms, etc., are to be turned in. Never have parents write you a personal check for troop dues. All checks should be written to the troop. (And I far prefer checks to cash, as it's easier to keep track, but your mileage may vary.)
- Revamp your troop's website (we use Shutterfly, which works very well, but I had to change the banner and theme from Brownies to Juniors, and update member contact info, etc.).
- Check with your meeting place coordinators to ensure your SU's insurance is up to date, etc.
- Add troop meeting dates to your online calendar.
- Add online sign-ups for snacks or volunteers for each meeting.
- Make a list of ALL the official badges that can be earned on the Junior level. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Make a list of the three Journeys and what they entail. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Type up an intro to Bronze Award for the girls. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Print out everything you need!
- Bring spares, just in case you have last minute add-ons.
Below are the Welcome certificates I made for them. I give them a new one at each level, and I prefer a Welcome one to a Bridging one, as we always have new girls, it seems. A Welcome one covers everyone, and is something to give a new girl, while the others are receiving their Bridging badge and Wings.
Here is a sample Welcome certificate so you can see what they looked like, and a blank template that you can either open and add to, then print. Or you can save and print, and write in the information by hand. It's up to you. Or make one of your very own!
This one is a sample. Obviously it had the info for each girl in my troop.
This one is a blank template you can use for yours, if you like!
There are bridging certificates available online (and through purchase at GSUSA), and here's a quick one I came up with a few years ago, if you want to use it:
Just print it out on card stock and write in the info by hand.
At the meeting, you may want to talk to the girls about whether they want to earn badges, work on a Journey, and start thinking of potential Bronze projects. I looked at our meeting schedule/dates for the year, and it seemed to make the most sense (to me, for my troop) to have us working on badges the first year, and Journey/Bronze/TAP the second year. Plus, this doesn't exclude any new girls who may join the troop in our second year of Juniors -- they can still earn their Bronze if we're doing Journey then as well.
The girls agreed wholeheartedly.
Just like with Brownies, I gave them a list of all the official badges they could earn as Juniors, and had them pick their top four. I explained that they could work on badges independently as well, if they wanted (I stress this every year, because as they get older, they SHOULD be working on things independently. If I had a small troop, it would be easier to accommodate each girl's interests. But my troop is still pretty big, so we have to do a majority rules approach. But that doesn't mean any one girl is restricted from pursuing something else that interests her).
Below is the printout I gave the girls. Please note, it does not include two badges, as we earned those at fall camporee, which took place before our first meeting. You can adapt as you like, as always. Also, it does not include things like My Promise, My Faith or Junior Aide, etc. Those are things we would work on over time, or outside of regular meetings.
Put a check by the top four badges you're most interested in earning this year.
Camper and Simple Meals were earned at fall camp, so those are not included on this list. If you were unable to attend camp and would like to earn these independently, let me know. You can do the same for any other badge, if it's not chosen by the troop to work on in our meetings this year.
_____ Staying Fit
_____ Digital Photographer
_____ Entertainment Technology
Make Your Own (we pick as a
troop) EDIT: GSUSA is no longer offering this program, but you could always contact an independent embroidery company and create your own fun patch as a troop.
_____ Junior Horseback Riding
_____ Animal Habitats
_____ Social Butterfly
_____ Playing the Past
_____ Product Designer
_____ Junior Girl Scout Way
_____ Inside Government
_____ Junior First Aid
_____ Practice with Purpose
Put a check by the one Journey that appeals to you the most.
Journeys can either be done over a long period of time (several meetings, which means roughly half the school year), or we can meet on a weekend day and spend the day getting it all done.
We have the option to work on a Journey this year, or we can wait until next year. However, we have to have the Journey completed in order to earn our Bronze award (it's a requirement, and our Bronze project doesn't have to be related to our Journey, but many girls find inspiration in the Journey they do that helps them pick a community service project for their Bronze award).
Many troops do the Journey and Bronze in the same year, to accommodate any new girls who might've joined the troop.
We will do our Bronze Award next year, definitely. But for now, look through these and see what you think!
Choose the Journey you are most interested in (descriptions for each below):
_____ GET MOVING!
_____ Agent of Change
Energy use is the topic when Juniors on the GET MOVING! Journey. Some sample activities include: go for nature walks, interview power-use experts, or conduct energy audits of local buildings (or whatever we decide to do!). You will take action by launching carpools, working to dim the lights on city buildings, or promoting energy savings at school, etc.
As you explore your own talents and learn about women who have made the world better, Juniors following the Agent of Change Journey also discover the benefits of teamwork—whether it’s talking about energy use, helping a local food bank, or using your unique talents in other ways. It's up to us to decide how we want to be an Agent of Change!
Exploring new roles and busting stereotypes are just two of the activities Juniors enjoy on the aMUSE Journey. Whether it’s role-playing, speaking to actors about your characters, starting a “mix-it-up” day to meet new classmates, or something else entirely, you will develop increased confidence and inspire others.
At the meeting, we talked about the Bronze Award and what it entails. We had worked on the notion of Community in Daisies and in Brownies, so they had a clear understanding of what Community means. Each year of Brownies we worked on a Community Service/Philanthropy project, so they understand that as well. Now it's time to start actively looking for a need in our community, that our troop can help with, for our Bronze.
So throughout the year they will be looking for potential projects -- looking at needs in their/our communities -- in preparation for Bronze.
That's it for now! Junior Detective Badge info will be coming soon!