Dear Girl Scout Family,
Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey is committed to keeping everyone safe during this unprecedented time. With breaking news about COVID-19 constantly developing, we are taking precautionary measures to limit our exposure in the hopes of mitigating the spread of the virus. The health and well-being of our girls, volunteers, families, supporters, community partners, and council staff continues to be our organization's highest priority. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the New Jersey Department of Health.
As stated last Friday, unfortunately, the rise of COVID-19 collides with GSHNJ's season of program activities, the Girl Scout Cookie Program, camporees, as well as our Annual Meeting and Volunteer Recognition event just as the outbreak is forecasted to be spreading nationally. We are actively managing our risks and ensuring our girls, volunteers, and council staff stay safe while also keeping Girl Scouting vibrant and active.
In an effort to keep our community safe, and contribute to "flattening the curve," we have taken the following actions:
- Closed all service centers and shops since Monday, March 16, 2020. We expanded our virtual work capabilities for staff, and moved to a remote work-from-home reality. Although we don't anticipate a reduction in service levels, we ask for your patience as we deploy new measures to ensure business continuity.
- Cancelled all council-sponsored programs, property reservations, trainings, activities, and events scheduled through April 30, 2020. All registrants should expect individual email notifications for each event discussing refund or rescheduling options. We expect all refunds to be processed within three weeks; those payments received more than 60 days ago will be refunded via check. We are individually evaluating each program planned with careful thought and consideration of all aspects of our members' learning experiences, health, and safety. For the most up-to date program options, visit our online Event Calendar, and reach out to us at email@example.com.
- Required troops, groups, and service units to suspend all in-person meetings and partner events through April 30th. We will revise this requirement and communicate additional recommendations as the impact of COVID-19 on our communities evolves.
- Suspended all Girl Scout Cookie booth sales, and extended the opportunity to host a cookie booth through May 17th. We will be re-opening the girl delivery option in Digital Cookie by this Friday, March 20th to allow troops to sell any additional cookies through our digital platform. Customers can purchase the cookies online and volunteers/parents should use their best judgment on when to deliver cookies to girls' customers. Digital Cookie online orders are shipping without interruption for the time being.
- Encourage all our our Girl Scouts at home to stay engaged by earning the Cookie Entrepreneurship Family Pin, working on a GSHNJ patch program, and watching our social media for upcoming virtual programs and badge-earning hacks.
2020 Volunteer Recognition Ceremony and Annual Meeting
- Our Volunteer Recognition Ceremony and Annual Meeting, scheduled for April 22, 2020 will NOT occur in person as originally planned.
- Please continue to hold April 22, 2020 on your calendars as we explore transitioning to a virtual Annual Meeting this year. As a membership organization, we have certain legal requirements imposed by the State of New Jersey and our governing documents that mandate an annual meeting to occur. We will reach out to all delegates with details and next steps as they are finalized.
- We will be rescheduling the Volunteer Recognition Ceremony portion of the event once it is advisable to do so, and will share additional information as it is confirmed.
Summer Camp 2020
At this time, we are forecasting "business as usual" at all three of our summer camps. We are in close contact with GSUSA, the American Camp Association, New Jersey Youth Camp advisors, and local health officials to monitor the continuing evolution of COVID-19 so we will be prepared to enact and communicate any changes in a timely manner.
Now more than ever, our girls can benefit from the support Girl Scouts provides. Let us all continue to encourage proper handwashing techniques, good hygiene, and social distancing. Social and emotional health are just as important: remind girls that not everything they read on social media is accurate and they should ask for help and support if they are feeling upset or unsure. Watching GSUSA and GSHNJ social media platforms for suggestions are ways to keep your girls virtually engaged through online programming and events, independent badge work, and more. To keep girls and leaders actively engaged, consider creating take-home packets, choose a badge, Journey, or patch program for families to work on individually, and host group discussion/sharing video conferences, or find a Facebook Live event to connect with one another.
Ongoing communication is critically important at this time. Please know that GSHNJ staff are readily available through email, so forward any questions or concerns to the appropriate person. Also, please continue to check our website for important updates. At this time, the service centers and shops will remain closed until Friday, March 27th. Camp Hoover, Camp DeWitt, and The OVAL will remain closed until April 30th.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you as we navigate together through the challenges ahead. In the next few weeks, as more COVID-19 cases are reported, it is important to stay calm, reassure people that we are prepared, and continue to be actively vigilant in keeping our girls, volunteers, and staff safe as we lead through this moment.
Yours in Girl Scouting
Natasha Hemmings | Chief Executive Officer