side menu icon
Explore the at-home Girl Scout activities you can do with your family or troop:
Girl Scouts at Home »

Coronavirus Updates: Working Together to Keep Our GSNorCal Community Healthy

gsnorcal-health

Updated as of April 6, 9:30 AM (PST)

At Girl Scouts, there is nothing we take more seriously than the safety and well-being of our members. As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be of growing concern in Northern California, Girl Scouts of Northern California will take all possible and appropriate measures to ensure girls continue to have a safe, fun, one-of-a-kind experience at Girl Scouts.

Our current decisions, based on public health, CDC, and local school district guidelines, are summarized below. If you have specific questions about any of these programs, events, or meetings, please email: info@gsnorcal.org.

Most recent updates:

  • As of April 6, all programs, events, and property reservations are cancelled through June 1; we are issuing refunds to all registrants.
  • Troops and service units are required to cancel all in-person events through June 1 as well.
  • The annual meeting (April 18) will be held virtually. We can accomodate up to 250 participants—please see the Golden Gate Bridging and Annual Meeting dropdown below for information on how to join.
  • The deadline for GSNorCal Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award Girl Scouts whose original deadline was September 30, 2020, will now be September 30, 2021.
  • Golden Gate Bridging has been cancelled and all registrants will receive a refund within about 4 weeks.
Adult Meetings (Council & Service Unit)

We are canceling or postponing all council-organized Girl Scout in-person business and in-person recruiting meetings through June 1. We are asking service units to cancel or postpone in person service unit team and troop leader meetings and in-person trainings.

To the extent possible, we are working on ways to provide support for phone-conferencing and also are looking forward to trying new virtual ways to share Girls Scouts with potential new members.

Returning Unsold Inventory

March 16, 2020

We recognize, as a woman-supporting, girl-led, non-profit business, that the COVID-19 national emergency is putting increased emotional and financial stress on California families. To support our affected members, Girl Scouts of Northern California will absorb the financial impact of cookie packages that go unsold during the final week of the Cookie Program due to pandemic-related concerns. If your family or troop is impacted, here's what you need to know:

  • GSNorCal will take on the financial responsibility for unsold cookie packages for girls and troops who are directly impacted by the pandemic. We sent out an email to families, troops, and service units with instructions on what to do with your inventory on Monday, March 16. Please email info@gsnorcal.org if you did not receive it.
  • To further support our entrepreneurs who want to safely sell online, we are extending Digital Cookie direct ship through March 22, 2020. Girls who have physical inventory may continue to sell to friends and family through this date as well, but there will be no public booth sites during the extension. Plus, we've expanded our Care to Share cookie donations to include food banks, the military, and first responders.

Cookie Program Rewards

March 18, 2020

Thank you for sharing your concerns over potential cancellations for 2020 Cookie Program reward experiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know girls truly love their cookie program reward experiences, and we enjoy providing them as a celebration for their hard work! We are committed to rescheduling the reward experiences where and when we can. Both GSNorCal and our vendors are doing our best to adhere to the recommendations of the CDC and federal state of emergency mandates as we shelter in place, and we sincerely thank you for your understanding and support as we navigate this uncharted territory.  

Our goal is to be transparent with girls and families so everyone is clear on possible substitutions prior to making their reward choices by March 26. In support of our commitment to rescheduling and rewarding girls with experiences, here is some additional information: 

  • With the CDC’s March 13 recommendation of event cancellations through May 10, we can say for certain that our California Academy overnight with Marina experience has been cancelled. Marina is fully committed to honoring our 2000+ girls and is considering alternatives that provide the individual connection girls want. Please stay tuned.
  • Girls should choose their desired reward at the appropriate earned level and the Product Team will notify them with updated, alternative options if we are forced to cancel the experience due to health restrictions We will share updated information with girls directly as we receive it.
  • All reward experiences are required by the IRS to have a unique Girl Scout Program component, so we are unable to share vouchers for families to self-schedule. We continue to explore creative solutions.
  • Reward cards provide girls the financial empowerment to power her individualized Girl Scout activities. Your troop can start planning travel adventures, kayaking, surf-lessons, high-adventure activities, and beyond. Your girl can develop ideas for Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects. She also has the option of holding onto her reward cards and using them to fund GSUSA Destinations when international and domestic travel is an option. Learn more about Reward Card conversions.

Please reassure your girl that we truly hope to have the opportunity to meet her and celebrate her accomplishment at the experiences, but we simply can't know, yet, when or how. While we understand and share your disappointment, please know that there's only so much we can do in the face of global uncertainty around this pandemic and our current community containment measures. 

Thank you for supporting her participation in Girl Scouts. We hope your family stays healthy through this challenging time.  

  • All tangible rewards remain as listed with no changes—shipping delays will be communicated to troop volunteers as we are notified. 
  • Summer Camp: Should we need to cancel summer camp programming due to COVID-19, we will directly notify earners of the 500+ package discount, Reward Card match, and Camp Rocks with next steps.
  • Cal Academy Sleepover with Marina (May 2-3): $400 Reward Card instead of $300 Reward Card
  • Turtle Bay Day with Marina (May 23): $400 Reward Card instead of $300 Reward Card
  • Water Adventure with a Friend (June 6): girls will receive the $75 Reward Card
  • 600+ Club Santa Cruz Boardwalk (June 13): girls will receive the $50 Reward Card
  • Disneyland to the Max (July 18): girls will receive the $250 Reward Card
  • Fleet Week Lunch Cruise (October 2020): girls will receive the $350 Reward Card
Council Programs & Property Reservations

In accordance with the latested CDC guidance, all council-run events and property reservations are cancelled through June 1, 2020.

We will issue refunds starting Monday, March 16 (due to a higher volume of requests, refunds could take up to 4 weeks to return to your account). We are communicating with program partners who do their own event registration and request participants contact outside partners regarding cancellation of their refund policy.

Destinations & Council Trips

All of our vendors and sponsors are closely watching the progression of COVID-19 locally and in the countries we are traveling to. At this point we are moving forward with council trips and will inform participants directly about changes.

Guidance for Cancelling Service Unit/Troop Events

In response to recent state and local government announcements regarding extending Shelter-in-Place, school closures, and social distancing, GSNorCal is directing that all service unit and troop events and programming be cancelled through June 1.

This guidance is being issued to assist service unit and troop leaders in making decisions regarding cancelling Girl Scout events that are scheduled to take place after June 1.

  • Current applicable state or local restrictions regarding shelter-in-place, travel, or group gatherings must be followed in all cases. Please note recent announcements on the extension of the Shelter-in-Place requirements in the 6 Bay Area counties to May 3, 2020, and the recommendation by California Governor Gavin Newsom that all schools stay closed and focus on virtual learning through the end of the school year.
  • This guidance may be considered in evaluating options for all events, small and large, including Camporees, overnights, skills days, social, or troop gatherings (e.g. troop leaders and daughters), ceremonies such as Bridging or Year-End/Court of Award ceremonies, participation in community events (parades).
  • If you have questions or would like to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to contact Mary-Jane Strom at mstrom@gsnorcal.org.

Indicators that your event needs to be cancelled or postponed:

  • Shelter-in-place is extended past May 3
  • Shelter-in-place has lifted, but local or regional strong social distancing requirements stay in place
  • Your local school district is still closed
  • Non-essential businesses in your area are still closed, either by order or voluntarily
  • Health care emergency systems are overwhelmed in April and May
  • Decline in rate of transmission generally, but curve is not flattened enough in your local area so hospital and medical care is still challenged or at risk in your area
  • Testing is still limited to only high-risk individuals
  • Attendance is not limited to a small, controlled geographic region, whose COVID-19 status is known
  • Media attention re: severe illness / death being seen in younger patients
  • Parent & volunteer comfort, based on feedback from your local Girl Scout community or families

Indicators that you can keep planning for a successful event:

  • Shelter-in-place has been lifted for your area several weeks before
  • Social distancing and other community restrictions or recommendations have been lifted
  • Restrictions on event and gatherings have been lifted
  • Schools are back in session
  • Local businesses have reopened and are experiencing positive results
  • Local community spaces (performance centers, playgrounds, parks, trails, city or county buildings, etc.) are open
  • Reported declines in rate of reported new cases (e.g. effective flattening of curve) or other positive news on local spread and risk
  • Effective testing, quarantine, and health care systems are in place and available to everyone in your community

Ways to substitue with a virtual event:

  • Find inspiration for badges and activities at Girl Scouts at Home: www.gsnorcal.org/at-home
  • GSNorCal LIVE!: Our Facebook group filled with ots of ideas for crafts, activities, etc.
  • Review outcomes of event and consider how you could accomplish at some of those through a virtual event. For examples, a My Buddy and Me Dance meant to give girls time with a caring family member could happen on Zoom with plans for all to keep theme, send people a playlist, and set up Zoom so everyone sending video of themselves dancing at home.
  • Review what preparations girls have done to date in anticipation of the event. How can that work be continued virtually so girls feel some sense of accomplishment and evidence of their contribution? For example, girls who were going to do workshop on outdoor cooking for a camporee could put together a cookbook to send to all registered troops and offer individual videos of them each preparing a favorite recipe at home, camping-style outside.
  • For Camporees, consider what badges were you going to do. You could provide directions on how to do most of the elements at home, end the day with a virtual campfire on Zoom, and include an option for people to share what they did.
  • With community service projects, what can individuals do at home to make a difference? For example, girls could collect supplies to deliver, offer items needed in their communities, or do crafts for delivery later.
  • If you can’t do the event virtually, what could you do virtually that would provide service, fun, or community to the girls in your group? Be flexible and creative to provide awesome Girl Scout experience!

Ways to lower risk at in-person events:

  • Have people bring their own food to your event and do not serve communal foods
  • If you offer shared equipment, make sure you can clean the equipment between use and have the supplies to do the necessary cleaning
  • Change activities so that they don't require shared equipment
  • Turn overnights into a day activity only
  • If overnight, provide sleeping arrangements by family and don't have communal sleeping locations
  • Be sure that you have plenty of handwashing stations both in and outside of bathrooms all around the event
  • Communicate to all that are attending that if the individual or someone in the individual’s household is feeling ill, none of them should attend

Best Practices for Cancelling Events

  • Determine whether you can postpone and reschedule the event or need to cancel it. This decision will depend on your event, it’s current date, your groups’ needs and your capacity to reschedule. 
  • Inform all registered attendees as soon as possible of your intention to cancel or reschedule. You do not need to announce the reschedule date at this time if you don’t have the date/location secured yet. With so many things uncertain, people will understand and appreciate that you need time to finalize any future plans.
  • We recommend that you inform registrants of your intention and that you will follow up with additional information about new dates and/or plans for refunds as soon as possible. Again, ask for their understanding and flexibility as you need time to manage this situation.
  • Contact your registered attendees via email and announce on your groups’ communication and social media platform if available.
  • If your event was scheduled at a GSNorCal property your reservation has already been cancelled and a refund is being processed. You will receive a full refund for your reservation. Please allow at least four weeks due to the high volume of cancellations. If you are interested in finding a new date or location to reschedule your event, please visit the website or email us at info@gsnorcal.org
  • If your event was scheduled at an outside property, contact them as soon as possible to request a refund or reschedule. Most vendors have been very cooperative in giving refunds. If you need support in working with a vendor, please contact us at info@gsnorcal.org.
  • Issue refunds as needed per your usual practices. If you need to issue refunds and have any concerns or questions, please contact us at info@gsnorcal.org.

Insurance and Event Notification Forms

If you have submitted a Service Unit Event Notification Form and/or arranged insurance for your event, please send an email to travel@gsnorcal.org to notify us of your change. Please do not submit a new Event Notification Form. 

Your email should include:

  • Old event date 
  • Your decision to either CANCEL or POSTPONE/RESCHEDULE
  • New event date, if you know it 
  • Name of the event
  • Service unit # of troop # hosting the event
  • Event/activity planner’s email address and mobile phone number
  • Where the event was scheduled to be held 

Event Insurance

If you have the postpone an event, we will arrange for the transfer of additional insurance to the new date/location when we receive your email.

Insurance that was purchased for a series of service unit or troop meetings or events will stay in place ready for meetings or events resume.

If you have any immediate questions specifically about insurance, please contact insurance@gsnorcal.org

Other Cancellation Concerns

If you have any program management questions please contact us at info@gsnorcal.org. We are ready to assist you with your concerns including on the following topics:

  • Cancellation notification language 
  • Thinking through what to do with supplies, food, patches, etc. already purchased
  • How to keep people excited about the event if you reschedule 

Hosting Virtual Meetings

We have created detailed instructions for hosting virtual meetings, which you can find on our Girl Scouts at Home page at www.gsnorcal.org/at-home

Golden Gate Bridging & Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting & Town Halls

Updated April 6

In light of the current public health guidance on COVID-19, we have shifted the format of the 2020 annual meeting on April 18 from in person to virtual, as permitted by Article I, Section 10 of our Bylaws. 

We have a limit of 250 participants, and first priority will be for our voting members and nominees. If you would like to attend as a guest, to receive a link to the annual meeting webinar, please send an email to Michelle McCormick, Chief Mission Delivery Officer, at mmccormick@gsnorcal.org. Michelle is counting participants and will provide meeting webinar links on a first-come first-served basis.

Town Halls: Before COVID-19 changed so many plans, I (Marina) had announced town halls this spring in eight locations around our council. We will now re-schedule these town halls as virtual meetings. Stay tuned! Our topics will be similar to the topics we plan to discuss with members at the annual meeting: state of the council, our COVID-19 response and recovery, strategic priorities for our next three-year plan (2021–2023), and proposals to be discussed at the next National Council Session (currently planned for October 2020).

Golden Gate Bridging

Per the San Francisco public health mandate issued Friday, March 13, 2020, which calls for all large events to be cancelled through April 30, we’re regretful to announce that we have cancelled Golden Gate Bridging (GGB).

We understand this is a disappointment for all of our sisters who planned, saved, and worked hard to be able to participate in this event. We are disappointed as well, but know that this is the right thing to do in the time of a national health crisis.

We have heard from many of you, asking to postpone GGB until fall. Unfortunately, permitting of this level is issued almost a full year in advance from multiple local, state, and federal government agencies. During these uncertain times, we don't believe postponement will be possible. We will, however, let you know by September 2020 what our plans are for GGB in 2021.

Currently, we are focused on making sure everyone who registered for GGB receives a 100% refund of all registration and lunch fees. The following FAQ has answers to the most pressing questions you may have today:

  • How and when will we get a 100% refund for our registration fees and lunches?  Our Member Services team will issue an automatic refund for registration and lunches. If you already received a 50% refund, we will refund the balance.  Please do NOT request a refund for registration fees and lunches, as it will be automatic.  Please also be patient, as we estimate it may take up to 4 weeks to issue all refunds. This is a big event, and we are working through challenging times with cancellations of all events and property reservations, in addition to GGB.

  • What about our reservations to stay at GSNorCal properties and camps during GGB?  We will cancel and refund 100% of ALL GSNorCal owned property reservations for GGB weekend. 

  • How do we get refunds of our airfare, hotel deposits, etc. Unfortunately, we cannot help you with non GSNorCal out-of-pocket costs. We understand the hardship. It is impacting all of us. Please reach out to your carrier to discuss your options.

  • I purchased some GGB registrations from another troop or individual, not directly from GSNorCal. How do I get my refund?  To expedite refunds, we are issuing all refunds to the original purchaser. We hope everyone will operate from a place of honesty and kindness. We will issue the refund to the individual who purchased the original event registration. You should reach out to your seller to arrange to receive the refund. If the seller refuses to issue the refund to you, please send an email to registration@gsnorcal.org letting us know your name, the seller's name (and Girl Scout council, if you know it), and the number of registrations. We will try to the best of our ability to work with the seller and their council to ensure that we all live by the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

  • What about 2021—will you extend GGB to this years' participants?  At this time, we don't know, and it will be some time before we can answer that question.  Every year, the GGB event dates and number of participants are subject to the permits that government agencies issue. We will let you know when we have time and more information from the government agencies we work with. This will likely be some time from now. 

  • What about the GGB t-shirts and sweatshirts we purchased from GSNorCal?  We will honor our 60-day refund policy.  Please note: our offices are closed to the public and all staff are working from home, including our retail shop staff, which may delay your refund. Your patience is requested. Consider checking with your girls, as they might want to keep their apparel.

If you have any additional questions, please email registration@gsnorcal.org and our Member Services team will get back to you as soon as possible with answers.

As Girl Scouts, we strive to do the right thing, even when it can be hard. We admire the effort and hard work our girls, parents, and volunteers have invested in GGB—our hope is that, by cancelling this event, we can all do our part to prevent the spread of a devastating disease and protect our families and communities to the best of our ability. 

In Girl Scouting, 

Marina H. Park, CEO
Mary-Jane Strom, Senior Director, Program and Outdoor Program

Highest Awards

Updated March 31

Dear Girl Scouts,

We are doing our best to respond to the rapidly evolving situation regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. For many of our members, school has moved entirely online, and extracurricular programming is cancelled. Shelter-in-place orders have also been implemented statewide. We recognize that for many, this means that progress on Highest Awards will face unforeseen challenges and delays.

GSNorCal is offering a special extension of one membership year to girls who are currently approaching their deadlines and unable to proceed as planned due to the impact of COVID-19. This applies to 5th grade Juniors, 8th grade Cadettes, and 12th grade Ambassadors who will officially complete their program level on September 30, 2020, and would typically no longer be eligible to earn the Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, respectively.



Girl Scouts Eligible for Deadline Extension

New Deadline

Award Requirements

Other Changes

Gold Award

12th grade girls currently in-progress with an original deadline of September 30, 2020, or their 18th birthday

9/30/2021

Same as before, please refer to Gold Award page

Reward Card Conversions for the Gold Award will still be available throughout this extension

Silver Award

Teams containing (or individual) 8th graders with an original deadline of September 30, 2020

9/30/2021

Same as before, please refer to Silver Award page

Reward Card Conversions for the Silver Award will still be available throughout this extension

Bronze Award

Teams containing (or individual) 5th graders with an original deadline of September 30, 2020

9/30/2021

Same as before, please refer to Bronze Award page

Reward Card Conversions are not currently available at this level

 
The intention of this deadline extension is to respond to the needs of our Girl Scouts and communities during this unprecedented situation given the uncertain circumstances we are all working with. GSNorCal staff, some of whom earned their Highest Awards, recognize that some girls may be facing having to start over completely, and that pivoting in this way takes time. Dealing with uncertainty can also be very challenging, and we know that some girls may be feeling very impacted by the stress of the situation. It is okay to need a break.

We encourage girls first and foremost to take care of themselves and stay safe. Follow the safety guidelines set for your community, and prioritize your health and the health of those around you.

To learn more about how girls can engage with their projects during shelter-in-place, and more specifics about how this will impact girls at each program level, please visit the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award webpages. We hope that this deadline extension and solutions-oriented framework will help girls move forward with their Highest Awards intentionally and without undue stress.

Please reach out to the Awards team by contacting awards@gsnorcal.org with further questions or comments.

Troop & Service Unit Activities

Troop Meetings, Activities, and Travel: In accordance with the latest CDC guidance, all troops must cancel in-person meetings, activities, and travel now through June 1. If your school has closed, you should not meet until the later of June 1, 2020 and your school re-opening. We are working on best practices and recommendations for holding virtual meetings and will share those as soon as we can! You can also join our new Facebook group, GSNorCal LIVE! (norcal.gs/live) where we're sharing virtual programs and events for your girls.

Service Unit-Run Programs and Events: In accordance with the latest CDC guidance, all service units must cancel their planned programs and events, including the use of program centers, now through June 1.

Offices & Shops

Shops: Our retail shops will be closed to in-person visitors beginning Monday, March 16. Our online shop remains open for business, with some limitations. Any GSNorCal-branded apparel (think: council t-shirts, patches, or tote bags) will not ship until our retail staff is back in the office on May 7.

Office Visitors: In accordance with CDC guidelines for workplace safety and current public health mandates, our offices is closed to all staff and visitors, through May 7.

Our staff are still working remotely and here to support you! Contact us at 800-447-4475 or email info@gsnorcal.org.

Summer Camp

At our council-run resident summer camps (Bothin, Hidden Falls, Skylark Ranch, and Sugar Pine), we are gearing up for summer camps and will be following all CDC and American Camping Association guidelines.

Please know that GSNorCal will issue full refunds if it becomes necessary to cancel any of our council resident camps. In the meantime, we encourage you to look at our camp options with your girls and dream about future fun at summer camp at camp.gsnorcal.org!


Thank you for your help in keeping Girl Scouts a safe, fun space for everyone! If you have questions about how novel coronavirus may impact Girl Scout activities, please contact us at info@gsnorcal.org or 800-447-4475—we're here for you.

Be a Source of Comfort and Calm for Girls

Girl Scouts of the USA has developed a helpful resource for How to Talk to Your Girl About Coronavirus to help minimize stress and worry in your Girl Scout’s life and give her a sense of calm and control.

Throughout our history, Girl Scouts have played an important role in helping to keep our country safe. The 1947 Girl Scout Handbook explains: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." During World War II, Girl Scouts tended victory gardens, sold war bonds, and collected scrap metal. The work of today’s Girl Scouts is just as essential.

Girl Scouts can continue to demonstrate leadership in the fight against coronavirus by teaching proper handwashing and other hygiene practices to their peers. They can learn about how coronavirus is spread and how to protect themselves and share this information with others. Girl Scouts can be a force for good by confronting misinformation about Asian-Americans, who increasingly have been the targets of racist attacks and discrimination.