Exciting things are happening online for Girl Scouts across Western Washington. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Exciting things are happening online for Girl Scouts across Western Washington. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Local Girl Scouts adapt to the pandemic by scouting at home

The coronavirus isn’t stopping these Snohomish County girls from earning badges and awards.

I have acquired the superpower Girl Scout leaders have been dreaming of for 108 years: the mute button. Forget raising two fingers for the quiet sign; all I have to do when I want my troop’s attention is click my mouse. Since early March, we’ve been meeting via Zoom.

It’s been 87 days since I’ve seen my nine Juniors in person, and I sure do miss them. I miss their noise and laughter. I miss the way they’d descend upon my house and make a giant mess and then clean it all up before they went home.

I even miss how they’d sometimes talk while I was talking, before I had the power to mute. But at least I see them every week on my computer.

My troop of fifth graders was supposed to go horseback riding at Lang’s Pony Farm in Mount Vernon this spring. We were to camp at Lyle McLeod in Tahuya, and earn our mechanical engineering badges. Instead, we’re learning about careers.

I put out a call on the Edmonds Moms Facebook group for volunteers, and within a couple of hours I had dozens of moms offering to chat with my troop about women in the workplace. Since then we’ve learned from scientists, archaeologists, fitness instructors, pilots, flight attendants, contractors, salons owners, bakers, clothing designers and more.

Every Monday night the girls log on and we interview a different guest speaker. It’s not the spring programming we planned, but it’s valuable nonetheless.

Other Girl Scouts in Snohomish County are adapting in exciting ways, too. Andraya Bustad’s troop 40886 from Everett has 19 girls, and four of them are Juniors working on their Bronze Award.

The girls’ original plan was to pass out fliers encouraging people to plant an extra row of fruits and vegetables in their garden for local food banks. Instead, the girls created a website highlighting the Plant a Row project in Snohomish County. Put your gardening gloves on and visit sites.google.com/view/troop40886 for their great ideas.

Junior troop 50529 from Mountlake Terrace also has created a fun website to check out. Vonita Francisco’s 14 fourth graders met via Zoom and built a virtual escape room. It highlights the beauty of Camp Robbinswold on the Hood Canal and teaches important survival skills like fire safety and packing the Ten Essentials. Try your luck at shorturl.at/rH138.

The biggest way the pandemic has impacted Girl Scouting is the disruption of cookie sales. COVID-19 caused the Cookie Program to end early and left the Girl Scouts of Western Washington with 300,000 boxes of unsold cookies. This devastating financial loss has caused layoffs, the elimination of key positions and the sale of horses.

But in an extraordinary act of kindness, Bartell Drugs has partnered with the Girl Scouts to sell those cookies while they’re still fresh. Visit any of Bartell’s 67 locations, buy a box of Thin Mints, and you too can help girls in your neighborhood keep on scouting.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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