Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England COVID-19 Information
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COVID-19 Important Updates & Frequently Asked Questions

At Girl Scouts, there is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers, and council staff. We have been continuing to monitor communications from the governors’ offices, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, among others.

UPDATE 7/31/20: In-person Activities/Troop Meetings
As states begin progressing into Phase 2 and Phase 3 of reopening, girls and adults can begin following their respective state guidelines to resume all Girl Scout related activities (i.e. meeting, trips & activities), provided they adhere to all state guidelines per the State of Rhode Island, State of Massachusetts, and/or the State of Connecticut, as well as the Centers for Disease Control

Whenever possible, Girl Scout troop meetings should take place in safe, community settings that are accessible to all members e.g. schools, community centers, libraries, churches/synagogues, etc. We recognize that due to the extenuating circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, your troop’s access to public settings may be limited or impossible. To help support troops who wish to meet in person, GSSNE has elected to grant temporary permission for in-home Girl Scout meetings to those who meet the criteria. 

Prior to selecting the best meeting space for your troop, leaders should consider girls’ accessibility and allergy needs (food, pets, etc.) to ensure the physical space can accommodate those needs and it is free from anything that presents a hazard. Troops wishing to meet in a home must request permission from GSSNE by submitting this form

While we are granting this temporary permission to troops who would like to meet, we recognize that not all volunteers, caregivers, or girls are comfortable with meeting currently. Individuals should decide what is best for themselves and their families when considering whether to meet in homes or any other in-person setting. 

Click here for a Meetings in Homes FAQ

Additionally, because we are allowing troops to consider meeting in homes, we are extending the Early Bird Renewal Deadline until 11:59 PM on August 7th. Visit gssne.org/renew!

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England office and shop will be closed to visitors until further notice. Essential employees will be working from the office to assist our Girl Scout community during this time by email or phone, while most staff will be working remotely. 

As things evolve, we will continue to communicate updates and necessary changes to our members. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we all navigate through this uncertainty.

Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. We will be adding frequently asked questions to this page as they come up. For more information about coronavirus (COVID-19), please follow the Centers for Disease Control's guidance and updates, including about prevention and travel.

Questions? Please email customercare@gssne.org or call 401-331-4500.

Check out our new Girl Scouts at Home page for resources and ideas for Girl Scouts of all levels!
   
GSUSA Articles
What communications has GSSNE released about COVID-19?

Recent GSSNE Communications Regarding COVID-19

Please note, the earlier communications on this list are now out-of-date. Please refer to the most recent communications for current information and recommendations.

Will you be issuing refunds for canceled programs?

We will be refunding any programs that we need to cancel in the coming weeks. We’ll be processing everyone’s refunds as quickly as is possible, but ask for your patience, as the volume of requests will be higher than usual.

Will my adult training, program, or museum tour be rescheduled?

At this time, all GSSNE trainings and museum tours have been canceled until further notice. All affected parties have been emailed individually, and anyone registered for either will be contacted once new dates are identified. 

We will do our best to reschedule as many programs as possible, but are taking this on a week by week basis.

What do I need to know about the Cookie Program extension?

All paperwork and final payments are due on June 22, 2020. 

Please utilize the ePayment system to do online payments.

We know troops with remaining cookies are eager to get their stock sold. Now that things are opening up more, we came up with some guidelines for troops to get back out there and sell off their remaining stock!

First and foremost, everyone's safety is our top priority! Please follow our guidelines when finishing this Cookie Season. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to share them! We want to finish the sale, however, we want everyone to be safe and healthy! 

These guidelines are for the rest of the 2020 Cookie Season:

  • Max 2 adults, 2 girls
  • Everyone must wear masks
  • Girls don't come in any contact with the customers
  • Leaders handle all payments and delivery of cookies
  • HIGHLY suggest Venmo for contactless payments or credit cards. You can print up the bar code to scan directly to the troop account. Keep that on the tables so you don't have to hand your phone towards them.
  • If taking cash, recommend sanitizing hands after or wear gloves
  • Hold booths outside
  • Keep cookies covered so they don't melt! Use pop up tents if you have them.
  • Put two tables instead of one to keep customers 6 feet back
  • Use dollar store table cloths to throw out after booth
  • Be creative to have the girls be involved: hold signs, they could bag the cookies if kept behind the tables but have adults hand the bags to customers. 
  • Have girls make cookie sale and social distancing signs and/or make discs to put on the ground that you can place 6ft apart from each other.

A couple of other ideas which are normally not allowed:

  • Cookies can be sold in stores; troops should make signs and thank you cards
  • Booths can be held with adults only
  • Could be one adult and one girl

Be creative, be safe!

Once cookies are sold, send payment into council. This keeps us updated on who has cookies remaining. Council will be booking some booth locations and send that information out soon. 

Suggestions of locations:

  • Food truck nights: work with local food trucks, they aren't doing the big food truck nights but they are in different locations and they post that out! See if you can have a table of Girl Scout Cookies and they add that to their post!
  • Garden Shops are a great location to catch a bunch of people.
  • Many schools are doing pick up days where parents are going in to collect their children's personal belongings. 

If you have any questions about a booth sale, please feel free to reach out to council. Council will be booking booths, if there is a great location and you need some assistance, let us know. Many service units are done, if you want to go into another service unit, please reach out to council so we can assist.

Together, we can get through this and finish up this unforgettable Cookie Season!

How can Girl Scouts still participate in the Cookie Program virtually?

We know many of you look forward to Cookie Season and have great adventures planned with your cookie proceeds. We’d like to share some great ways we’ve heard about for girls to participate in the virtual aspects of the Cookie Program while practicing good social distancing:

  • Work on the new Cookie Entrepreneur Family Pin and pieces of the Cookie Business and Entrepreneurship Badges 
  • Utilize the “Girl Delivered” option in ABC Smart Cookies (click here to see our Cookie Resources for Girls page for instructions): 
    • "Porch Package": Customers are encouraged to buy cookies for in-person delivery and the girl will deliver them by leaving them on the customer's porch. Then people can get their cookies and avoid contact!
    • "Click and Collect": Customers buy online and the girl will leave the package on her porch for pickup by the customer. Promote Direct Ship to friends and family near and far who may want cookies delivered to them while they are spending more time at home! 
  • Cookie Share is also a great way for troops and girls to meet their goals! For Traditional Cookie Share, girls/troops collect money from customers and use it to purchase cookies that they will donate to local charities at a later date. For Virtual Cookie Share, girls/troops collect money, but then Troop Leaders enter it as “cookie share” in ABC Smart Cookies. GSSNE will collect that money from troops as part of the final payment and GSSNE will donate cookies to local nonprofits at the end of the cookie program. Customers can also donate to Virtual Cookie Share through a Direct Ship order.
  • Host a Virtual Girl Scout Cookie Booth! Check out these resources from GSUSA for step-by-step instructions!
How can I purchase cookies or donate cookies to our local heroes and those in need?

Cookie Grab and Go:

Live locally and want to pick some up at the GSSNE Headquarters in Warwick? We're now offering Curbside Cookie Pickup! Order for pickup here: https://bit.ly/cookiegrabandgo

Cookie Donations:

During this difficult time, GSSNE has been continuing its mission of making the world a better place by donating cookies to places like the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Kent Hospital.

To further support our community, with your help, we will be donating more cookies to those in need of a sweet treat during these stressful times. For every $5.00 donated, we will be able to gift a box to local first responders, hospital staff, nursing homes, local food pantries, and others in need. Click here to donate cookies today: https://bit.ly/GSSNEDonateCookies

What digital platforms can my troop use to connect?
Holding virtual troop meetings is a great way for troops to stay connected and continue to support each other while social distancing! Here are some video chat options to check out: 

Helpful Hints for a Virtual Meeting

  • Hold a digital parent meeting before meeting with the girls to work out technology roadblocks
  • Plan well in advance with a wide variety of activities (send links out beforehand to parent emails if you can)
  • Engage the girls equally and by name so they are acknowledged and so they know you can see them
  • Create a group agreement with ground rules in your first meeting (be respectful, keep microphone muted unless you are talking, etc)
  • Incorporate traditions, even if it feels awkward (the girls will appreciate and love this part)
  • If a leader is also a parent/caregiver, encourage them to log on separately from their girl if technology allows 

Here are some additional safety resources for conducting virtual troop meetings. 

Can I still make shop purchases?

Update 5.15.20: Our Retail Shop is currently closed to the public, however GSSNE shop staff is available to process orders Monday through Friday. This includes including items only available through the GSSNE Shop like Highest Awards items, graduation regalia, and GSSNE specific patches!

To place an order, please submit this form or email shop@gssne.org or lmoore@gssne.org. Shop staff will prepare the order, call for payment information, and will have the order ready for curbside pickup or shipment at your request. Please stay tuned for updates from council as they become available.

You can also make purchases online girlscoutshop.com from the safety of your home! All efforts are being made to process and deliver orders. There may be delays but you will be kept informed of any delays in your order. 

We are happy to assist in any way we can during this challenging time, and we look forward to seeing you in the shop again soon!

We've got you covered. Shop from the comfort of home with free standard shipping on all girlscoutshop.com orders, no minimum. Shop Now.
Will there be a Volunteer Appreciation Event this year?

In sincere thanks for all that our volunteers do, this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Reception for all GSSNE volunteers, as well as members of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, will be announced as soon as a date has been selected and more information is available.

We are also very excited to announce that this year, we will spotlight our Adult Volunteer Recognitions at the reception, not at the Annual Meeting. It is the perfect opportunity to celebrate each other and the value you, our valuable volunteers and supporters, bring to the organization.

 

Camp Updates for Summer 2020

Update 6/1/20: Announcing Beyond Camp! 

Beyond Camp registration is now open! Join us for a summer of fun, where you can participate in a variety of virtual camp programs and challenges, experience camp traditions, and make new friends along the way. Each week has a different theme that several of the week's activities will be based on. You can also purchase a Camp Care Package in addition to your camp registration. Each package includes fun Girl Scout items, along with some fun activities to do at home. Register here!

Session Schedules: 

Click the links below to see the schedule for each Beyond Camp session. Each document contains separate schedules for Younger Girls (D/B/J) and Older Girls (C/S/A).

Chase the Rainbow July 6-July 10
Animal Planet July 13-17
Outdoor Skills July 20-24
Master Chef July 27-31
Theater in the Woods August 3-7
Around the World August 10-14

Throughout the global health crisis, GSSNE has remained committed to following State guidelines designed to keep our membership safe. As you know, this has required us to make some very difficult decisions that have impacted our traditional program delivery. Just one of the areas impacted has been GSSNE’s traditional summer camp experience. As states and businesses are starting to re-open, GSSNE remains vigilant in understanding and following all State guidelines that will allow us to re-engage our membership in some of the beloved experiences that are such an important part of the Girl Scout’s life. We were extremely hopeful we’d be able to allow troop camping at our camps beginning in June. However, after lengthy review of the guidelines just released by the RI Department of Health, and following hours of thoughtful internal discussions, we are unable to allow troop camping at any GSSNE camp during June 2020 in a way that ensures everyone’s wellness.

The guidelines and requirements for allowing groups to take part in overnight camping in June are lengthy and detailed and require the orchestration of many, many factors in order to do it properly.  We are cautiously optimistic, and hopeful that GSSNE troop camping will be opened later this summer. We promise to remain dedicated to finding a way to allow troop camping this summer if possible, in a way that protects everyone’s safety and health.

Update 5/15/20: On May 15, GSSNE sent an email to all GSSNE families regarding summer camp updates. An additional email was sent to all caregivers of girls who had already registered for summer camp for 2020. If you did not receive these emails, please check your spam folder. If it is not there and you would like us to check your email preferences, please contact customercare@gssne.org. Below you will find some FAQs regarding the changes to the 2020 camp season. Click here if you would like to view these FAQs as a PDF document. 

What’s happening with GSSNE camps this summer?

Due to safety limitations imposed by the government and health officials, traditional in-person, on-site camp sessions are suspended this summer. Safety limitations imposed by the government and health officials mean we can’t provide the same experience we had originally planned. Realistically, we are not able to deliver a safe day and overnight camp experience with the capacities and timeframe that we had been planning on. In our decision-making process, we acknowledged what we couldn’t provide our scheduled sessions to girls, but we’ve pivoted, adjusting to the new way of life that we’re all enduring together, and are excited to provide alternative camp experiences this summer (aka Beyond Camp).

So, while conventional camp sessions are suspended for this summer, GSSNE will still provide opportunities to give girls with a taste of camp life, from the comfort and safety of their own home. Additionally, it is our hope to offer in-person Family Day experiences in July and/or August on our properties. As guidance is issues from the state government, we are ever-assessing how to bring the offering to life. We ask for your patience while we work through all of the moving pieces, but please rest assured that it is our priority to give members opportunities to utilize our camps as much as the circumstances allow. At this time, we do still plan to run The Great Escape, Tall & Small, and Can U Canoe? as in-person mini-weekend sessions.
 

Does Governor Raimondo’s announcement regarding camp change GSSNE’s decision to not hold in-person camp sessions as planned?

Although Governor Raimondo announced on Thursday, May 14th that the state hopes for camps in RI to open beginning June 29th, this does not change the decision that we’ve made at GSSNE. While we hope to be able to add more in-person experience at camp later on this summer, at this time we cannot guarantee safe and enjoyable traditional camp sessions. Additionally, keeping in mind that we have camp properties in both RI and MA, state guidelines may differ as we move forward. What applies to RI may not apply to MA, and vice versa. The last thing that we want to do is to over-promise and under-deliver to our girls this summer.  To that regard, at this time we are only promising what we know we can deliver – Beyond Camp sessions, The Great Escape, Tall & Small, and Can U Canoe?. As we get closer to summer, we hope to add in more troop camping and Family Camp days on our properties. 

What is an alternative camp experience, or Beyond Camp?

These are weeklong sessions full of both on-her-own activities and virtual camp experiences “all together” with fellow campers via a variety of platforms.

The vision is for campers to experience (from home) what a typical day at camp is like including the morning flag ceremony, themed activities, talent show, and evening campfire.

Activities offered will be determined by age-level.  Age-levels are based on the Girl Scout level the girl is bridging into. For example, a girl completing 1st grade this spring will enjoy Brownie programming this summer.

We are still working on details for Beyond Camp but will be sending out a communication about that once everything is aligned and ready. We plan for registration to open on June 1st and will have more details available prior to then. 

My girl is already registered and paid for camp this summer. What do I do?

An email was sent out mid-day on Friday, May 15th with details regarding your registration and payments made. If you have already put down a deposit towards 2020 summer camp you have the unique opportunity to put that payment towards your 2021 Girl Scout membership. If you do not wish to renew your membership, you will be issued a full refund of your deposit. Simply click on the following link to either renew or receive your refund.

Who can attend our alternative Camping Experiences?

ALL Girl Scouts! Whether or not your girl was previously registered for a camp program, she now has access to attend any (ALL) of the summer activities for her age level. If you’re new to Girl Scouts, or curious about what Girl Scouts is all about, now is a great time to experience the magic of Girl Scouts! 

What if I already put down a deposit on my troop rentals?

We recognize that many of you have troop camping reservations on our properties beginning in June. We ask for your patience while we work through these details. Although the operational logistics of allowing troop camping are not as complex as summer camp (bussing, dining services, summer camp staff management, etc.), there are still a number of “unknown” factors that pertain to utilizing camp properties in June. We will continue to monitor state and local ordinances, along with guidance from the American Camp Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Girl Scouts of the USA, as we work to create processes to keep girls and families safe while also providing an opportunity to explore the outdoors at our camps. Please stay tuned for more details regarding troop camping in the coming weeks. 

How much will these Alternative Camping Experiences cost?

Each full week session will be $50 per girl. We are in the process of finalizing session details and building registration sites. We plan for registration to go live on June 1st and will announce more details prior to then. 

My camper received financial assistance to go to camp. What happens now?

Upon registering for alternative camp experiences, you will be asked if you have already applied for financial aid. Financial aid that was rewarded will be applied to her camp registration after Cookie Credits have been used. 

Who will be leading these programs?

Outdoor Program Manager, Cassie Audette (Swizzle) is excited to be returning to camp this summer along with many of your beloved summer camp staff members.

What is a virtual camp? How is this going to work?

These alternative camping experiences will be delivered via mixed media channels including videos, emails with activities and live Zoom get-togethers. A week before each camp, your camper will receive an email with details.

What about Cookie Credits?

Since this summer’s experience will be different than most, we are making an exception for how Cookie Credits can be applied for this year only. The options for Cookie Credits earned this year are as follows: Girls who have earned under $100.00 must apply those credits to programs this summer (alternative camp experience sessions, The Great Escape, Tall and Small, and Can U Canoe?). For girls who have earned over $100.00, the first $100.00 must be used on programs this summer; any remaining balance can be rolled over to next year and applied to camp sessions in 2021. For example: if your Girl Scout earned $150.00 Cookie Credits this year, she is eligible to roll over up to $50.00 into the 2021 summer camp season. Our registration team will keep track of credits in excess of $100.00 that can be utilized next year. This is applicable to cookie credits earned by Monday, May 25th, 2020.

Additional update: We have had a few inquiries since this morning’s message about camp and cookie credits, and we’ve heard you. We assure every family that if there are no offerings that meet the needs of your Girl Scout this summer, we will be happy to transfer all cookie credits to next summer. You don’t need to request the transfer because you have enough on your plate – we will simply transfer any unused credits to next summer for all girls. 

We know that many families are anxiously awaiting our summer program plans because their girls are eager to connect with their fellow Girl Scouts and new friends. We initially made the exception to transfer anything over $100 in cookie credits to next year because we won’t have offerings this summer that would enable most families to use more than $100 in credits this year. 

We will have programs later in the summer as well as virtual camp programs that families can send their daughters to this summer. We opted for both virtual and in-person offerings because we recognize that some families might not feel comfortable sending their girls to an in-person experience, and we felt strongly about providing a medley of options. Though we haven’t determined the full summer schedule, we do plan to have several options to meet different comfort levels including some family days at camp that cookie credits can be used towards, as long as state and health restrictions allow. 

What are other Girl Scout councils doing about summer camp?

There are 111 Girl Scout councils throughout the country offering many types of Summer Camp experiences. Each is independent and make decisions that works best for their council. Around 90% of Girl Scout councils have made the decision to suspend in-person traditional camp sessions this summer. 

Can girls from another council – another part of the country or world – attend GSSNE’s alternative camping experience?

You bet! Already we have had girls and grown-ups from across the United States attending our spring virtual Girl Scout activities. How amazing is that?!

What about girls who are not members of Girl Scouts?

Do you know a girl who isn’t yet a Girl Scout? Invite her to attend a virtual camp this summer. She’ll get to have amazing experiences and learn what it is to be a Girl Scout! Win Win!

When and how can I sign up for Beyond Camp and Family Days?

Beyond Camp registration is now open! Join us for a summer of fun, where you can participate in a variety of virtual camp programs and challenges, experience camp traditions, and make new friends along the way. Each week has a different theme that several of the week's activities will be based on. You can also purchase a Camp Care Package in addition to your camp registration. Each package includes fun Girl Scout items, along with some fun activities to do at home. Register here!

Sample Schedule: From around 9am-12pm every day there will be virtual programs (activities, games, skill-building, and guest speakers), followed by “at home activities” that girls do at home OFF their computers. Activities will include things like games, experiments, or projects that they can do at home, at the park, or with friends and family! You can check out a more detailed Beyond Camp schedule here.

Family Days require a bit more planning and we ask for your patience while we work though those details. As more guidance from the state becomes available, we will be working to put systems in place to keep campers and family members safe and clean. Once those details are ready to be implemented, we will share more information and registration details with our membership.