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COVID-19: Council News & Updates


Safety First

Updated: April 6, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

As COVID-19 health and safety protocols continue to evolve, we are reacting as quickly as possible. This blog post is updated as situations change, so please check back if you are looking for the most up-to-date information. There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers, and council staff while we look for ways to bring the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to our members.  

We are available to support you via phone, email, social media, or our website. Please note that since the relaunch of Volunteer Systems in December, we are experiencing a high backlog of cases and are working to resolve all individual concerns as quickly as possible. Part of the complications are the number of widespread system issues that we have to rely on the GSUSA team to resolve. We regret that wait times have been unusually long and we share your frustration and appreciate your patience.

To receive text updates from GSWCF, please text BEPREPARED to (855) 980-0305. You can also opt in by logging into the MyGS link at the top of this page, clicking Family Profile, selecting edit, and then checking the box next to "text opt in". If you need assistance making the change to your status, contact our customer connections team.

What’s New

Based on current standards from GSUSA, the CDC and the state of Florida, we have removed restrictions on the size of gatherings and are leaving the decision to our Girl Scout members and their families. This includes the ability for service units to plan larger activities like bridging ceremonies, launching registration for troop camping/encampments, and offering program activities with partners like LEGOLAND and Universal Studios for special member opportunities to enjoy. Look for more information on our website and social media channels.

However, specific requirements for any Girl Scout activities remain in place until further notice, these include:

  • Complete and submit a council Heath Form/Waiver (English, Spanish) for all attendees
  • Keep accurate attendance records for all meetings and activities
  • Follow standard safety protocols (masks, distancing, hygiene, etc.) as described in our COVID-19 In-Person Meeting Guidelines and Safety Activity Checkpoints
  • Ensure that families are aware of and comfortable with any in-person interaction

Troop / Service Unit Meetings and Activities*

Virtual meetings and activities are the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, however, troop leaders may collaborate with families to decide whether they are comfortable hosting in-person troop or service unit meetings. Please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Troops that choose to meet in person must adhere to our COVID-19 In-Person Meeting Guidelines.
  • All adults and girls must complete designated Heath Form/Waiver (English, Spanish) prior to any activity and attendance should be documented.
  • Maintain social distancing and wear masks, unless prohibited by a health challenge.
  • Ensure all participating families are comfortable with the activity and aware of the risk.
  • Tagalongs (non-Girl Scout members, including younger siblings and adults who are not registered members) cannot attend troop meetings; non-troop members should remain in a separate location from the troop meeting.
  • Troops at all levels are permitted to meet at approved private residences. Each volunteer who wishes to host meetings in their home must have a Residential Meeting Agreement on file and follow all standard safety ratios and requirements for leading a troop.
  • For those who are not yet comfortable meeting in person, we have a number of resources to support virtual meetings and at-home experiences.
  • In addition to standard Girl Scout safety protocols, check for any local COVID-19 guidelines which may vary greatly from county to county, or even from town to town.

*This may not currently apply to gatherings at our camps. Please refer to the “Camp Properties” section below for more.

Troop Camping, Travel, and Overnight Stays

If your troop is in agreement to travel, and understands the inherent risks, troop camping, travel, and overnight stays are permitted with prior approval. No international travel is allowed at this time.

We are excited to welcome members back to our properties for overnight stays. Please be mindful of hygiene, social distancing, wearing of masks, etc. Additionally, please be aware that there may be additional groups on site at the same time and that all groups are asked to avoid interacting with other groups at camp.

Girls and adults in separate households should travel separately or in small, family-approved groups. A “small, family-approved group” is comprised of multiple families who come to the agreement together that they are aware of and comfortable with the risks, and assume responsibility for members of their families to stay in close contact with another family (traveling, bunking, and eating). 4-6 people is the ideal size for a "small, family-approved group" and the group should not exceed 10. All parties must have the proper council waivers and should adhere to COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols.

The safest recommendation is to plan sleeping arrangements where members of different households are in separate quarters.

  • Service units can approve travel for trips up to two overnight stays; council approval (obtained through your Community Membership Manager) is required for trips lasting three nights or longer.
  • Masking, social distancing, and standard hygiene measures should be followed when groups traveling together are engaging in shared activities and experiences, preferably outdoors.
  • Troops should continue to follow standard Girl Scout COVID-19 protocols and check for any local COVID-19 guidelines which may vary greatly from state to state, or even from town to town.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. If you do, read all fine print and ensure COVID-19/pandemic-related cancellation is covered as it is often excluded.
  •  Follow the CDC’s guidance for pre-screening and symptoms check and check the CDC Domestic Travel Guidance details about various types of travel, risk factors, and steps to mitigate risk.

Best Practices for eating meals while traveling include:​

  • Avoid situations that require using shared utensils (buffets, salad bars, self-service, counter food service, etc.).
  • Use "grab-n-go” services or boxed meals in which meals are pre-packaged or assembled on a tray for diners to retrieve.​
  • Maintain physical distancing between individuals while in line for meals.​
  • Dine outside or in open air facilities​ whenever possible.

Public transportation should be avoided whenever possible. If it is not possible to avoid, you may seek council approval. Be sure to take in to consideration the following specific safety guidelines:  

  • Avoid peak hours  
  • Allow extra time to wait in order to avoid crowded buses, subway cars, or capacity restrictions
  • Always wear a mask and space out girls to avoid crowding (but be sure to use the buddy system)  
  • Consider grade level, age, and maturity level of girls  
  • Obtain parental or legal guardian permission, and make sure they are aware of your plans
  • Clean hands before and after public transportation travel

Carpooling

  • Girls and adults should wear masks when inside of a motor vehicle.
  • Keep car windows opened, at least slightly, to circulate fresh air.
  • Routinely disinfect the car handles, seats, and any touchable surfaces.
  • Wash hands before and after the trip.
  • Consider the personal situation of your girls and have an open discussion with the families to make an informed decision: Do they live with an immune compromised person that they can put at risk? Have the families been isolating, and free from contagion?

Activities at Camp

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have increased our cleaning protocols to follow CDC guidelines by disinfecting with a bleach solution or bleach wipes for common surfaces such as doorknobs and activity tables.

  • Adult trainings are available at our camp properties. You can register for these by logging in to your MyGS account and selecting the gsLearn option.
  • In-person program opportunities and troop day activities at our camps can be found on our Events page.
  • If you are interested in hosting your Girl Scout meeting at one of our camp properties, you can find more details and the link to reserve on our Troop Camping page.
  • Troop meeting space at GSWCF camp properties is currently available by reservation (the meeting space capacity varies by facility).
  • Any requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on number of attendees (note that we may not be able to accommodate any groups larger than 20).
  • Troop leaders are required to sanitize all surfaces prior to allowing girls to enter the meeting space and again after all girls have left. This should include any areas that are used beyond the reserved meeting space (bathrooms, etc.).
  • Before you can meet at camp, please review the in-person meeting guidelines and complete this agreement form
  • Tagalongs (non-Girl Scout members, including younger siblings and adults who are not registered) cannot be brought to these troop meetings.

Family Camping

Family camping is the safest camping experience due to the fact that families have already been exposed to each other. If Girl Scouts opt for family camping, it is recommended that one household per site should camp where safety hygiene, distancing and all COVID-19 protocols are followed completely. Girls and adults from separate households can opt for camping in small, family-approved groups. A “small, family-approved group” is comprised of multiple families who come to the agreement together that they are comfortable with the risks and assume responsibility for members of their families traveling, bunking, and eating together.

  • Families are allowed to camp at public campsites, such as state parks. An individual family’s site should stay insulated from other families.
  • All parties must have the proper council waivers and should adhere to COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols.
  • Safety Activity Checkpointssection on camping starting on page 47 provides additional guidance to keep your camping experience safe.
  • Recommendation for family camping at public campsites: One person in the family should have current BOLT certification. 
  • Requirement for family camping on Girl Scout property: One person in the family grouping must have current BOLT certification.  Learn more.

Leadership Center

The Leadership Center is currently closed to outside visitors but you are able to visit the Girl Scout Store and Resource Center during operating hours.  

Programs, Events and Trainings

We are continuing to expand our program opportunities with both in-person and virtual events. You can find details and register on our council events page. If you have any questions about a cancelled event, please contact our Customer Connections Team.

The Girl Scout Store

Both the Tampa and Wildwood Girl Scout Stores are open for in-store shopping and pre-scheduled curbside pickup. You can find store hours and protocols for both locations at gswcf.org/store. The Saturday Shops at Camps Dorothy Thomas and Wai Lani remain closed until further notice. 

For curbside pickup, call or email your preferred location at least three hours in advance to place the order, pay for your items and schedule a pick-up time.

You can also opt to have your order shipped directly to you, visit our store page for full details on shipping.

Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy

We advise that everyone follow the steps outlined by the CDC:

  • Wear a facemask
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Use social distancing
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces daily

Additional information and resources:

GSWCF’s Girl Scouts At Home

GSUSA’s Girl Scouts At Home

CDC website

Florida Department of Health