One Girl Scout Tradition
Group singing is a fun and meaningful Girl Scout tradition! Use songs in Bridging ceremonies, community service, as a planned activity during campouts, or as behavior management help in troop meetings. Energetic action songs help bring the energy up. Slow, sweet songs help bring the energy down.
Not everyone thinks of themselves as a “singer” and that’s ok! No matter your singing skill, stand up and lead with enthusiasm to strengthen troop bonds with the comradery of group singing!
Check out this Girl Scout song leading workshop, review the song leader tips here, and then search your Girl Scout resources and the Internet for more songs to add to your repertoire!
Song Leader Tips
- Consider the group that you will be working with. How old are they? How many girls? What are their singing abilities? What are their song interests? How long is their attention span?
- Begin with simple songs or songs that the girls know. Choose songs that are simple, like short rounds, repeat-after-me songs, or songs with choruses.
- Practice ahead of time. Know the words and the melody. Use notes if you need them. Make a list of the songs you will sing and the order you will sing them. Share the history or the story of the song with the girls.
- Consider time and tone. If you are choosing songs for an evening program, start out with rowdy songs and end with quiet songs to set the tone for bedtime.
- Choose a variety of songs. Choose songs that are fast and slow, songs that include hand motions, simple songs, and funny songs. Avoid songs that might be offensive.
- Be enthusiastic! When you’re having fun, the girls want to join in! Encourage the group to listen to each other to produce a beautiful sound.
- Introduce the song. Name the song, where it’s from, and what it’s about. Sing the first verse and the chorus so the girls know how it sounds.
- Teach the song by phrases. Sing a phrase, and have the group sing back to you. Then repeat once or twice with longer phrases joined together until you’re singing the verse and chorus.
- Give the starting note. Hum the melody or use a musical instrument. If you get it wrong, stop and start over. Avoid pitching too high or too low for girls.
- Use hand motions to keep the beat. Hand motions can be used to keep the group together at the right tempo and let the girls know where they are in the song.
- Sing the song parts separately, then together. If singing a round, a song with parts, or a descant, make sure each group knows its part well before putting the parts together. Assign a song leader who knows the part to each small group.
Celebrations acknowledge an accomplishment, a holiday, or any special occasion. They’re often planned by adults for kids to enjoy, but in Girl Scouts, we use our “girl-led” approach to get the girls involved in the planning. When the girls help plan their own celebrations, they get invested in making it a success. Watch them organize something unique or even unusual! Ceremonies can be reverent or wacky, brief or lengthy, predictable or uncommon! The ceremony is a chance to have fun, make a good memory, and acknowledge the girls’ growth in their Girl Scout journey.
Parts of a Ceremony
Think of building a ceremony in three parts:
- The Opening can be used to welcome guests, tell the purpose of the ceremony, and set the mood for the occasion – it might be quiet, festive, or solemn.
- The Main Part of the ceremony focuses on the reason you are gathering people together. This part might include singing, reading poems, performing skits, or sharing candle lighting.
- The Closing may summarize the ceremony. It might include forming a friendship circle, saying good-bye or thank you to special guests, or singing a closing song.
Elements of a Ceremony
The most exciting ceremonies have all the elements of a good story. Think of your favorite book or movie – it probably includes the same things you’ll need to put together a memorable ceremony.
- Purpose. The purpose of a ceremony is its main idea. Maybe you want to welcome new members to your troop or group, or maybe you want to celebrate the end of a Girl Scout year. State the ceremony’s purpose in the opening after you welcome your guests.
- Mood and Atmosphere. Mood and atmosphere establish the tone of the ceremony. Would you like to be serious, reflective, lighthearted, or funny? Mood is the way you affect your audience during the ceremony. You can help create a mood with music, decorations, and candlelight.
- Characters. The personalities of each girl taking part in the ceremony contribute to the nature of the ceremony. Every participant plays an important role. Each girl should have the chance to express herself during the ceremony.
- Setting. A ceremony’s location – and the time it is held – can make a big difference in your event. The setting needs to comfortably fit your group’s size and the activities you’ve planned. It should also contribute to the mood and atmosphere you are hoping to set.
- Theme. The theme of a ceremony focuses on the purpose and how the purpose is developed. You can carry out a theme through your choice of readings, drama, humor, and songs. The invitations, refreshments, and decorations – along with all the other elements – will reflect your theme.
Traditional Girl Scout Ceremonies
Girls can create a ceremony for whatever occasion they wish to honor! Here are a few special occasions in Girl Scouts that are often celebrated with a ceremony. Explain these to the girls.
- An investiture ceremony welcomes someone into Girl Scouting for the first time.
- A bridging ceremony is held when you “cross the bridge” to the next level in Girl Scouting.
- A rededication ceremony is held at special times, such as when you want to renew your Girl Scout Promise and review what the Girl Scout Law means to you. A Court of Awards ceremony is where you receive awards and recognitions you’ve earned.
- A Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award ceremony might be part of a Court of Awards, as a special honor for girls who’ve earned one of Girl Scouting’s highest awards. A flag ceremony honors the American flag as the symbol of our country and all the hopes, dreams, and people who make it up.
- A Scout’s Own is a special ceremony created around a theme. It might take place indoors or outdoors, during a group meeting, at camp, or during any gathering with other Girl Scouts. The Scouts’ Own is your chance to create a meaningful celebration around a theme that matters to you. You can share poetry, songs, skits, and ideas – you decide what fits the occasion, and design a creative experience to inspire yourself and others.
Find ideas for ceremonies and celebrations
We love to celebrate what we’ve learned and what we’ve accomplished in Girl Scouts. Every day can be a special occasion! Girl Scout badge and Journey materials give celebration suggestions.
- Host Traditional Girl Scout Ceremonies like bridging, Scout’s Own, or investiture.
- Girl Scout Holidays like Founder’s Day, Girl Scout’s Birthday, or World Thinking Day.
- Milestones in the life of a girl like birthdays, anniversaries, or the last day of school.
- Flag Ceremonies on any day, but especially Memorial Day, Flag Day, or Veteran’s Day.
- Advocacy Causes and days like Earth Day, National Voter Registration Day, or National Child Health Day.
- Cultural Diversity Connections like Juneteenth, National Hispanic Month, or Chinese New Year.
- Search your favorite Girl Scout websites and social media platforms for examples of scripts and activities.
Bridging is a significant Girl Scout tradition that honors girls’ achievements and celebrates their “crossing the bridge” to the next level in Girl Scouting, for example moving from Daisies to Brownies. There are two independent elements of bridging in Girl Scouts.
- Earning the bridging award
- Celebrating the occasion in a simple ceremony or party
To earn the award, girls complete two steps.
Step One: Pass It On. Share your talents and skills by teaching younger Girl Scouts something you learned in this grade level.
Step Two: Look Ahead. Find out what’s coming in the next grade level by talking with your Girl Scout sisters.
To plan your bridging ceremony, take a look at the Girl Scout Bridging Guide, with sample scripts, activity ideas, and planning advice. Bridging ceremonies are usually hosted in spring (at the end of the school year) or fall (the end of the Girl Scout membership year).
Want to walk across a real bridge? Meet at a park or garden with a small bridge, borrow or construct a small walkway, or fix decorations to the floor to symbolize a bridge path. Invite family and friends to share in the celebration, take a photo to mark the milestone, and celebrate with a snack and a festive atmosphere!
Something special for Daisies bridging to Brownies
The Story of the Brownie Elf
Daisies bridging to Brownies learn the value and the fun of helping. Read “The Brownie Story” in the Girls’ Guide to Girl Scout Brownies Handbook to learn about Brownie elves, the Wise Old Owl, and how little girls can be big helpers. New Brownie Girl Scouts can wear a special membership pin, just for Brownies. At the bridging ceremony, the tradition is to place the Brownie pin on upside down. The girl can turn the pin right side up after she completes three good turns (good deeds) for her family. Did you know? The Girl Scout slogan is “Do a Good Turn Daily.”
Something special for Brownies bridging to Juniors
Brownie Wings and “Flying Up”
Brownie Wings are a special insignia awarded to Brownie Girl Scouts who are bridging or “flying up” to Girl Scout Juniors. This award stays on a girl’s uniform all the way through 12th grade to show everyone she was once a Brownie. Brownie leaders used to be called Brown Owls, borrowed from the wise old owl in “The Brownie Story.” When Brownie Girl Scouts moved up to the next level, their Brown Owl would give them one of her feathers so they could “fly” up. Brownie Wings have been a symbol of bridging since 1927.
Something special for Juniors bridging to Cadettes
A Silver Key
A silver key is a symbol of unlocking the door to the world of older girls in Girl Scouting. It’s about accepting individual responsibility and displaying leadership qualities. Exciting opportunities in Cadette Girl Scouting include several leadership-focused earned awards and the chance to earn the prestigious Silver Award. A silver key can be worn as a charm, used as a keychain, or admired as a treasured keepsake of time spent with Girl Scout friends.
Over the years, girls can collect an impressive stack of bridging awards that move with the girls to each new uniform. Hey, Girl Scout graduates! There’s even an award for bridging to adults! Remember, “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.” Check out Bridging Awards in the Girl Scout Shop!