Council leaders start Virtual Girl Scouts to keep homebound kids busy, educated

Nathan Baker • Mar 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM

How do you hold Girl Scout meetings when all the girls are isolated in their homes?

You reach them where they are, said Sarah Hinton, programs manager for the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

Starting Tuesday, the regional council, which serves 46 counties in Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and north Georgia, started posting videos on its Facebook page. The council calls it Virtual Girl Scouts.

“Right now, they’re at home, and they’re not able to attend regular troop meetings,” Hinton said. “We’re trying to have a little fun, get a little creative and help families not feel like they have to risk their safety to go out and buy materials.”

The videos will cover everything from outdoor learning to badge classes and art activities.

On the council’s first full day of posting, staff members held an outdoor scavenger hunt and led camp singalongs.

Hinton said the challenge issued to the council’s staff was to keep the materials needed for activities to a minimum and to incorporate materials that most people already had in their homes.

“If we can make it easier on the parents, who have more on their plates, because the kids are home and many of them are now trying to work from home and entertain and educate their children,”she said. “We want to enrich our Scouts and help out those parents so they can accomplish the things they need to accomplish.”

So far, the videos have received a lot of positive feedback from Scout leaders and parents.

Hinton said Tuesday’s singalong was viewed several hundred times. Some viewed the videos from outside the council, and some weren’t even Girl Scouts.

Many of the lessons and activities try to engage the Scouts by asking them to post photos of the crafts they made or with live interaction.

The Scout council’s staff aren’t professional YouTubers, Hinton said, so the learning curve for the technology and best practices has been steep.

“Most of us are used to interacting with live girls, we’re not usually talking to computers or cameras,” she said. “It’s definitely different.”

As Virtual Girl Scouts continues, Hinton said it will likely evolve based on the community’s needs. Right now, staff hope to post at least two videos a day.

“We want to make them feel like they can do this, we want them to feel empowered,” she said. “If they feel good about themselves, it supports their mental health and helps everybody.”