Chapter 2.5: Girl Scout Traditions and Celebrations
Throughout the long history of Girl Scouts, certain traditions remain meaningful and important and are still practiced today. This section gives you an overview of annual celebrations in the Girl Scout year, as well as other revered Girl Scout traditions. Be sure to look in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Leadership Journeys for more information on songs, historical anecdotes, traditions, and ceremonies.
GS-TOP lists many great opportunities for troops and individual girl participation. The Events Calendar is updated regularly at www.gs-top.org/events.
Girl Scout Calendar
Girl Scouts celebrate several special days each year, which you’re encouraged to include in your group planning.
- February 22: World Thinking Day (the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell and Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the originators of Boy Scouts and the Scouting Movement worldwide).
- March 12: The birthday of Girl Scouting in the USA. The first troop meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia, on this date in 1912. Note that Girl Scout Week begins the Sunday before March 12 (a day known as “Girl Scout Sunday”) and extends through the Saturday following March 12 (a day known as “Girl Scout Sabbath”).
- Third week in April: Volunteer Appreciation Week centers on the long-standing National Girl Scout Leaders’ Day (April 22), but expands the definition of volunteers beyond troop leaders to include all the volunteers who work in so many ways on behalf of girls in Girl Scouting.
- October 31: Founder’s Day (Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday).
Ceremonies play an important part in Girl Scouts and are used not only to celebrate accomplishments, experience time-honored traditions, and reinforce the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, but also to encourage girls to take a short pause in their busy lives and connect with their fellow Girl Scouts in fun and meaningful ways. Many examples of ceremonies—for awards, meeting openings and closings, and so on—are sewn right into the Journeys, including ideas for new ceremonies girls can create.
Girls use ceremonies for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a brief list, in alphabetical order, so that you can become familiar with the most common Girl Scout ceremonies:
- Bridging ceremonies mark a girl’s move from one grade level of Girl Scouting to another, such as from Junior to Cadette. (Note that Fly-Up is a special bridging ceremony for Girl Scout Brownies who are bridging to Juniors.)
- Closing ceremonies finalize the meeting, with expectations for the next. A closing ceremony may be as simple as a hand squeeze while standing in a circle.
- Court of Awards is a time to recognize girls who have accomplished something spectacular during the Girl Scout year.
- · Flag ceremonies can be part of any activity that honors the American flag.
- · Girl Scout Bronze (or Silver or Gold) Award ceremonies honor Girl Scout Juniors who have earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award (Cadettes who have earned the Silver Award; Seniors or Ambassadors who have earned the Gold Award), and are usually held for a group and combined with council recognition. GS-TOP offers recognition ceremonies for girls who earn the Gold Award each spring. Check your area’s calendar for specific details.
- Girl Scouts’ Own is a girl-led program that allows girls to explore their feelings and beliefs around a topic (such as the importance of friendship or the personal meaning they get from the Girl Scout Promise and Law) using the spoken word, favorite songs, poetry, or other methods of expression. It is never a religious ceremony.
- Investiture welcomes new members, girls or adults, into the Girl Scout family for the first time. Girls receive their Girl Scout, Brownie Girl Scout, or Daisy Girl Scout pin at this time.
- Opening ceremonies start troop meetings and can also begin other group meetings.
- Pinning ceremonies help celebrate when girls receive grade-level Girl Scout pins.
- Rededication ceremonies are opportunities for girls and adults to renew their commitment to the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Be sure to attend the montly leader meetings in your Service Unit. S.T.A.R. (Specialized Training and Resources) courses are offered regularly and include mini-courses on Girl Scout Ceremonies.
Also, check out Hosting a Girl-Led Event for more information.