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COVID-19: Council News & Updates


Safety First

Updated: September 21, 2020, 9:50 a.m.

The spread of COVID-19 has put an unprecedented strain on our community, the nation and the world and we are all doing our best to navigate this health crisis. There is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers and council staff. We hope that you, along with your families, friends, neighbors and co-workers, are staying healthy and safe. Please follow the recommended CDC guidelines and maintain social distancing when out for essential needs.

As national, state and local health and safety protocols continue to evolve rapidly, we are reacting as quickly as possible. We are keeping this blog post updated as situations change, so please check back if you are looking for the most up-to-date information.

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.

Troop / Service Unit Meetings

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 with hosting in-person troop meetings of up to 50 people*. Troops that choose to meet in person must adhere to our COVID-19 In-Person Meeting Guidelines (which includes all adults and girls completing designated COVID waivers, documenting attendance, maintaining social distance of 6 feet from anyone they don’t live with, and wearing masks, unless prohibited by a health challenge.) Please review and adhere to the full Meeting Guidelines document prior to planning any in-person meetings or activities.

Please note: In order to ensure there is adequate space for troop members, tagalongs (non-Girl Scout members, including younger siblings and adults who are not registered volunteers) cannot attend troop meetings. Non-troop members should remain in a separate location from the troop meeting.

*At this time, the 50-person rule does not apply to gatherings at our camp properties. Please refer to the “Camp Properties” section below.

All troops should monitor local restrictions for gatherings. Restrictions can vary greatly from county to county, and even from town to town, and frequently change. If your area is more restrictive, you must follow the local requirements.

In order to help facilitate troop meetings during a time where many meeting locations like schools, churches, community centers and other facilities are closed or highly restricted, GSWCF is permitting troops at all levels to meet at approved private residences. Each volunteer who wishes to host meetings in their home must have a Residential Meeting Agreement on file, adhere to the directions noted in the COVID-19 In-Person Meeting Guidelines, and follow all standard safety ratios and requirements for leading a troop. If you have additional questions, please review our Membership Q&A or contact your service unit manager. 

We know this is a difficult time for families, and especially – our girls. That’s why we have developed a number of resources to support virtual meetings and at-home experiences so that you can continue to connect girls, even when in-person activities are not safe. But we understand that this risk varies across our geographic footprint spanning eight counties, and we want to offer options to help our troop leaders and families navigate their different comfort levels for in-person activities.  

COVID-19 Precaution: COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that spreads easily through person-to-person contact. As with any social activity, participation in Girl Scouts could present the risk of contracting COVID-19.  While Girl Scouts of West Central Florida takes every safety and preventative precaution, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida can in no way warrant that COVID-19 infection will not occur through participation in council programs.

If your troop had been making travel plans this summer or fall that have now been cancelled/postponed, please see our guidelines.

What about carpooling?
The safest way to transport girls to and from meetings is for individual guardians to drop off and pick up their own girls from meetings, we recommend avoiding carpooling. However, we are opening up the option for carpooling if the troop decides it is necessary and can adhere to the following safety practices:

  • Girls and adults should wear masks when inside of a motor vehicle
  • Keep car window 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? 

Remember, sustained contact within less than six (6) feet for longer than ten (10) minutes within an enclosed area creates a high risk for virus transmission, so be very careful with carpool decisions.Camp Properties

Troop meeting space at GSWCF camp properties is currently available by reservation; however, the capacity of each troop meeting space 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 at this time.) 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.).

If you are interested in hosting your Girl Scout meeting at one of our camp properties on Wednesdays or Thursdays, you can find more details and the link to reserve on our Troop Camping page. Before you can meet at camp, you'll need to read and agree to our guidelines (after completing the form, please email it to campreservations@gswcf.org). If demand is high enough, we will look at expanding to other days of the week. Please note: Tagalongs (non-Girl Scout members, including younger siblings and adults who are not registered volunteers) cannot be brought to these troop meetings.

Adult trainings on our camp properties begin in October. You can register for these by logging in to your MyGS account and selecting the gsLearn option.

We plan to begin offering limited, in-person program opportunities along with troop-led day camp activity reservations at our camps beginning in November. Look for more details in the weeks ahead on our Events page and in social media.

The Outdoor Program Team hopes to have programs open in November (we will have additional updates on the status of this soon).

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

On a positive note, the rangers at each property have been taking advantage of the months without any visitors to beautify our camps and tackle some of the bigger projects on their to-do lists. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to see the wonderful work they’re doing. You can learn more at our Camp News page.

Leadership Center

The Leadership Center is currently closed to outside visitors but you are available to visit the Girl Scout Store and our Resource Center by appointment.  

Programs and Events

Adult trainings on our camp properties begin in October. You can register for these by logging in to your MyGS account and selecting the gsLearn option.

We plan to begin offering limited, in-person program opportunities on our camps, and potentially with program partners, beginning in November. Look for more details in the weeks ahead on our Events page and in social media.

We will continue to look for virtual programming opportunities with our partners and will share those on our council events page as they are made available. If you have any questions about a cancelled event, please contact our Customer Connections Team.

We are working on a plan to safely conduct program activities on our camp properties and at the Leadership Center as soon as possible and will update you when we have more information.

Here is the current status of major upcoming council events:

  • Dessert First: At-Home Edition – Nov. 21 (virtual event)
  • Thin Mint Sprint – Moved to January 9, 2021

Visit our Girl Scouts At Home page for virtual programs and activities for the whole family anytime. You can find even more fun Girl Scout activities at GSUSA’s Girl Scouts At Home page.

The Girl Scout Store

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

*Please Note: the following guidelines for in-store shopping at the Tampa and Wildwood Girl Scout Stores:

  • In-store shopping is available by appointment only
  • Maximum of three customers may be in the store at a time
  • All customers and retail staff are required to wear face coverings while in the store (exceptions for children under 2 years old or those with existing respiratory issues; please let us know if advance if either of these apply so we can plan accordingly)

For curbside pickup at the Tampa and Wildwood Girl Scout Stores, please 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. Upon arrival, you should call the store so the order can be brought out to you.

You can also opt to have your order shipped directly to you. Call 813-262-1793 or email us at the Tampa Girl Scout Store with your order. Payment must be taken over the phone. All orders of $75** or more will be shipped FREE. Any orders under $75** will be shipped in a flat rate box ($8-$15). Flat rate to be determined at the time of payment, prices vary depending on size of box needed for shipping. 

**Total order value before tax.

Also, GSUSA is offering FREE shipping on all orders placed directly through the online Girl Scout Shop (www.gswcf.org/shop) through December 31. 

GSWCF Staff and Member Support

Though our camps and offices are closed, Girl Scouts has not been cancelled. We are still working to deliver the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and support our members. Our staff is available to you via phone, email, social media or our website from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Please visit our Girl Scouts At Home page for Journey and Badge Programing, resources from our program partners, fun videos from staff and so much more to keep families engaged and active.

Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy

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

  • Wear a facemask-  The CDC recommends wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people when in public in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Clean your hands often- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use social distancing-  Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others when out in public. It is especially crucial to avoid close contact with people who show visible signs of sickness (sneezing, runny nose, cough, red eyes, etc.).
  •  Stay home if you’re sick-  Except to get medical care. Please take care of yourself and get well soon.
  •  Cover coughs and sneezes- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them with soap and water before using a commercial disinfectant (like Lysol wipes). Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

For additional information and resources about COVID-19, we recommend the following: