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Bridging Guide

Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout’s life. Celebrating movement from one program level to the next should be fun, personalized, and memorable for everyone involved. Most importantly, it should be designed by girls in true partnership with adults as they come together to acknowledge their achievements and commemorate progressing to the next level of Girl Scouting. This guide will provide you with tips for planning a bridging ceremony at the troop or service unit level, and making that ceremony a truly girl-led event by using the three processes of Girl Scouting.

The Three Processes of Girl Scouting

1. Girl-Led 2. Cooperative Learning 3. Learning by Doing

Ask Girls Questions

Listen to their answers

Let girls offer ideas and use their imaginations

Adults make decisions when needed

Adults guide girls to what’s possible

Coach girls to come to group decisions

 

Support girls as they carry out their plan

Guide girls to reflect on what they’ve done

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Make Your Bridging Ceremony a Girl-Led event

When you use Three Processes of Girl Scouting, you’ll find that volunteering with Girl Scouts is easier—and more fun! Girls get the most out of a project when it’s Girl-Led (girls shape their experiences by asking questions, offering ideas, and using their imaginations). When girls work together to choose an idea and develop a team plan, they engage in Cooperative Learning. Most important, when you help girls carry out that plan and think about what they’ve experienced so they can apply what they’ve learned to other areas of their lives, they’re Learning by Doing. When you see how well girls can lead, you can relax and enjoy the process. Remember: It’s the journey, not the destination, that benefits girls the most.

First Things First: Pre-Planning

There are a few important questions you must answer before you launch into the planning of your event:

Who will take part in your Bridging Ceremony? Will this be a troop activity, or will you join with a few other troops in your area who are bridging or your entire service unit? This will help guide you in choosing a location, determining how the girls will help plan the ceremony, and budgeting, among other things.

Food for thought: Include all girls in your bridging ceremony, even if they are not bridging! Use this time to inspire all Girl Scouts to think about how they have grown and what they want to do next. What can you do to help second-grade Brownies get excited about becoming third-grade Brownies? How can you let girls who have participated in series or other short-term experiences know about ways they can participate next year? Do you have girls who can share their highest awards take action projects with girls who have finished their Journey pre-requisite and are ready to go for the Bronze, Silver, or Gold? The possibilities abound!

Where will your bridging ceremony take place? You can hold your ceremony anywhere you choose—in a park with an actual bridge girls can walk over, or at a church, school, or home. 

When will your bridging ceremony take place? Set a date and time that will be convenient for most and on which the location you’ve chosen is available.

Important Dates to Remember when Planning your Bridging Ceremony:

Girl-Led Tips

Ask the girls for ideas and suggestions about who, where, and when. Use their input to come to a decision about what is practical for your ceremony. If you lead younger girls, adults will likely make these decisions, while with older girls, you may guide them through the decision making process and have the girls play a larger role in the final determination.

Allow girls to ask questions, offer ideas, and use their imaginations as your group thinks through what would make the ceremony the most personal and meaningful.  At this stage, write down ALL ideas girls provide.  Along the way or after the initial brainstorming, you can coach girls about what is practical and what is not.  Divide ideas into categories, such as “Now” and “Later,” or “Can Do,” “Maybe,” and “Can’t Do.” Then, guide girls to come to group decisions about the ceremony.

Decide together which pieces the girls will plan (the adults may have to plan and execute some things), what resources they’ll use, and timelines for their work. Remember, you’re providing guidelines for girls as they learn by doing! See Involving Girls in the Planning Process (below) for some examples of age-appropriate jobs for girls.

Planning the Ceremony

Now that you know the who, where, and when of your ceremony, you can plan the what and the how. First, consider the mood of your Bridging Ceremony. Will it be serious? Lighthearted? Reflective? You may also want to have a theme to your ceremony; for example, one group of girls in Texas chose a western theme for their Bridging Ceremony, which they titled “Boot-Scootin’ Across the Prairie.” Establishing the mood and/or theme may help guide girls as they plan the elements of your ceremony.

The Opening
In this part of the ceremony, you welcome your guests, state the purpose of the ceremony, and set the mood for the occasion. There are many ways you can open your ceremony, including a Flag Ceremony, a general welcome message to the attendees, reading a poem, singing a song, or saying a prayer.  Work with girls to decide what’s right for your group!

The Main Part
This portion of your bridging ceremony can be as simple or elaborate as you like—there’s no requirement regarding what you must include unless the girls are working toward the Bridging Award. The focus, especially during the main part of your ceremony, is paying tribute to the girls as they move forward and supporting each girl in her transition.

Bridging ceremonies often utilize a bridge as a prop. The act of crossing is a physical, as well as a symbolic, step into the future. You can use a real bridge in a park, check out a bridge from one of our Resource Centers, or create a symbolic bridge. Some options for creating your own bridge can be found under Tips and Resources. Also consider how the girls will bridge; if you have a large space, they may all walk over the bridge together. Or, you may choose to have each level bridge independently and acknowledge them one by one.

Consider what else would make this ceremony personal and memorable for the girls. Girls may want to exchange SWAPS, sing their favorite Girl Scout songs, or present Silly Awards. Bridging Ceremonies involving larger groups are a great opportunity for girls to put on exhibits about their troop activities, their favorite thing about being a Girl Scout at their last level, what they’re looking forward to at the next level,  and/or earning the highest awards. If you’ve chosen a theme, food and games are a great way to develop that theme and bring your guests together.

The Closing
Just as with the opening of your ceremony, there are many options for closing your ceremony.  You may form a friendship circle, thank your guests, or sing a song, among other options. As with all parts of the ceremony, work with girls to determine what options work best for your group!

Involving Girls in the Planning Process

As your event plan comes together, allow girls to take ownership of different pieces. Consider their age and ability level, and make sure an adult is available to guide girls as they work together on age appropriate tasks. 

Girls at all program levels can be involved in the basic planning steps, such as determining who will participate in the ceremony and where it will take place. Likewise, girls at all program levels can share their favorite activities or present a booth about what it’s like to be a Daisy, Brownie, etc. Below are a few suggestions for more specific tasks girls can take on at different program levels. No matter what tasks girls take on or what age level they’re at, make sure they’re having fun!

Daisies can

  • Make decorations
  • Help with set-up and clean-up

Brownies can

  • Make invitations
  • Perform a dance or play

Juniors can

  • Share their Bronze Award project
  • Perform a dance or play

Cadettes can

  • Share their Silver Award project
  • Plan activities for younger kids

Seniors can

  • Develop an event timeline
  • Design decorations/develop theme

Ambassadors can

  • Share their Gold Award Project
  • Shop for supplies
Girl Scout Bridging Awards

Bridging awards are designed to emphasize the continuity of Girl Scout programs and to welcome girls to an anticipated "next level." They involve two steps that remain the same through all levels:

  1. Pass it on!
  2. Look Ahead!

Find out more on the GSUSA website and in the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting.

Tips and Resources

Locations
You can hold your Bridging Ceremony in any location that will fit your group, from city parks to private homes. If your girls would like to cross the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park (a popular venue for bridging!), the bridge is open to pedestrian traffic. The primary factors to consider are the size of the location (will it fit all of your attendees comfortably) and availability.

If your troop is planning to bridge in San Francisco, please take the Troop Tripping workshop.

Bridges and Other Options
The bridge girls cross can be real or symbolic. If your location does not have an actual bridge and you’d like to reserve a bridge from one of our Resource Centers, we suggest you make that reservation early. We have a limited number of bridges available for checkout and they are popular props for Bridging Ceremonies! Some other options for creating bridges, both real and symbolic, include:

  • A “step up” bridge: each girl decorates her own stepping stone, then the girls line up their personalized stones to step over or outline the path they will walk.
  • Form a human bridge: Adults and/or girls stand facing one another and join hands over their heads, forming a tunnel for bridging girls to walk through.  Girls can also form horseshoes or circles for each program age level.
  • Create an archway using balloons, streamers, etc. for girls to pass under.
  • Line up flower pots or bunches of balloons, delineating the path girls will walk.
  • Get creative! Your “bridge” can take whatever form you choose.