What do you think of when you hear the phrase Girl Scout? Leadership, camps, team bonding, personal growth, adventure, and delicious cookies might be some words that come to mind. Like so many other organizations, the Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont (GSCP2P) have had to pivot their programs when unforeseen circumstances stemming from COVID-19 hit. Now the girls of GSCP2P have a new word added to their vocabulary: virtual.
As COVID-19 struck organizations across the globe, the team at GSCP2P knew they had to pivot their plans. Charlotte Elliott, Director of Outdoor Experience, states, “I wish I could tell you we saw virtual programs coming from a mile away. We’d watch the news and attend our meetings to discuss our options but the term virtual barely appeared prior to COVID.” The staff at GSCP2P were primarily worried about the safety of their members and how best to continue providing services and support to their girls amidst new circumstances.
While the Girl Scouts hosted activities on Facebook live, they never anticipated transitioning most of their offerings to the virtual world. “When we realized we’d have to go full force into virtual there was no downtime. We made the decision April 7th and launched our virtual classes April 14th.” Utilizing email capabilities within Camp & Class Manager and their social sites, GSCP2P was able to quickly communicate the upcoming changes. Badge programs, journeys, educational sessions, and even dance parties are now offered virtually for Girl Scout members.
Even though GSCP2P has maintained small class environments (15 or less girls in each virtual class), that hasn’t stopped their reach. Elliott says, “We wanted to ensure our classes were still providing as much hands-on experience as possible. Even though we’ve kept classes small, we’ve been able to serve almost 400 girls each week.” Virtual programming has allowed the Girl Scouts from GSCP2P to connect, inspire, and lead girls from 48 states across the country.
When asked what the secret is successful virtual programs, Elliott says, “Be intentional with every detail. We moved quickly but we knew that we had to give our girls programs and lessons that could still offer the skills we teach in person.” And for anyone looking to make the virtual shift, Elliott leaves us with this, “Virtual is here to stay. Once you make the decision, do everything wholeheartedly and there will be no boundary to your reach.”