UPDATED: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Girl Scouts GCNWI

Updated April 27, 2020

Repeated from this blog post: For the past few weeks, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana has remained optimistic that we would emerge from the impact of COVID-19 in time to run a full summer of activities for girls. 

Today, it absolutely breaks our hearts to announce that we have made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person programming through Aug. 14, 2020 — including all day and resident camp sessions — due to the risks associated with COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

There are just too many unknowns, and too many concerns about everyone’s health and safety, to proceed with business as usual this summer.  

This decision is incredibly painful for our entire council. Seeing girls laugh and learn in the outdoors is one of our greatest joys. However, we must do what is best for our girls, families, staff, and communities. 

While right now Girl Scouting looks radically different than what we’re used to, our spirits, sense of adventure, and commitment to serve our girls remain higher than ever.  

Though we will not be able to gather in person at our camps yet, our team is working relentlessly to develop and deliver creative, virtual experiences for girls to participate in now and throughout the summer months. New adventures, including backyard camping expeditions, activities and much more, will be rolled out and announced on Girl Scouts from Home.

And we will be there, ready, when it is safe to get back together in person again.

Your Support is Needed  

As with so many non-profit organizations, this pandemic has left us vulnerable with a funding gap. In a time when we’re facing significant reduction in program revenues, your continued support can make all the difference.  

We know this crisis is affecting so many. If you are able, please consider donating back your deposit or paid program fee to Girl Scouts GCNWI to enable us to continue to provide critical financial assistance to members in need, keeping Girl Scouting and future camp seasons accessible for EVERY girl, regardless of her family’s circumstances.   

We also know that for some, especially now, donating is not an option. Therefore, we have outlined the process below to proceed with rescheduling, crediting your account, or requesting a full refund. 

Next Steps for Paid Registrations  

Families and volunteers who were planning to participate in any of our summer programs or activities have several options for next steps. Follow the link below to our form to indicate your preferences.

These options are regardless of reservation or registration type, and they include day and resident camp; all council programs (including outdoor and custom); adult training; council-sponsored travel; participation in a volunteer-led day camp; troop, group and family camping reservations through Aug. 14. 

Make your selection by May 11 for how to allocate your paid registration fees: 

  • Donate all or part of your program payment to support Girl Scouting in challenging times 
  • Keep your payment as a credit on your account for future programs 
  • Reschedule a troop camp outing or custom program experience for after Aug. 14 
  • Receive a full refund (including the program deposit, which is typically non-refundable) 

Please fill out this form by May 11 to indicate your selection

Refund Specifics

Every effort will be made to process all refund requests as soon as possible. Due to unexpected circumstances and high cancellation volume, there may be significant delays in refund processing. We will begin processing refunds after May 11.

You will receive your refund in one of two ways: 

  • If you registered on or after Feb. 3 for a program, outdoor program, or summer camp: requested refunds will be issued back to the credit card that you provided with your registration or you will be contacted by a Girl Scouts of GCNWI staff member for your card information if you do not have a card on file.  
  • If you registered before Feb. 3 for a program or event: refunds will be issued as a paper check in the mail. 

We are here to provide comfort, suggest other virtual program options, hear your ideas, answer your questions, and help you select the option that best fits your family’s situation. You can contact us at customercare@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Our Commitment to You and the Future

Thank you for being part of our Girl Scout family. 

We need each other more than ever, and we are committed to finding bright spots to celebrate in this challenging time. Show your support by renewing your girl and adult memberships when our annual renewal campaign kicks off on May 4. You will not want to miss what we are already planning for the year to come.

Today and always we are grateful and privileged to serve our girls, families, and volunteers – especially in moments they need a sense of community the most. 

Sincerely,

Nancy L. Wright, CEO
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana


Current Cookie Program Updates (as of March 30)

The copy below was published in a blog on March 30. We have repeated the blog below for clarity.

We hear your concerns, and want to clarify our intentions for the remainder of the cookie program for Girl Scouts GCNWI.
 
The one, most important point we want to make is that we care deeply about you, your health, your safety, and your financial concerns.
 
We understand the anxiety you are feeling. People are worried about loved ones, their jobs, the stress of balancing family life and work life, and how to begin to explain what is happening to their children. Cookies should be the  last thing you have to be concerned about, so please read this entire message.

We will restart booth sales and reopen our  cookie cupboards once the shelter-in-place order is lifted.

Once our gathering places can reopen, we will do everything we can to restart our  cookie program for approximately two weeks, including two weekends. Please check back here often for dates and times as they become available.

  • All Cookie Cupboards will reopen, including volunteer cupboards.
  • Goal Getters will resume.
  • Booth sites will return. We ask that you refrain from trying to secure your own right now. Many stores are unable to discuss until the advisory is lifted.
  • If COVID-19 requires us to be out longer than June, we will revise our plans with other solutions at that time. 

The ACH Sweep is scheduled for April 10, but you can file an adjustment request.

  • We are not trying to put any troop or person in harm’s way. Many  of our Girl Scout troops have finished, or nearly finished, their cookie selling season, and are ready to settle up their finances.
  • If you are concerned with the April 10 ACH date, please just fill out an adjustment form by April 8.
  • We know some of you still have cases of cookies in your stock, and as we have said all along, we will partner with individual troops to resolve that situation as best as we can so that no girl or troop is impacted financially as a result of this pandemic.

File an ACH Adjustment Form

What if you don’t want to wait for booths and cupboards to reopen?

We have heard of some creative solutions for troops who do not wish to wait for booths to reopen.

  1. Host your own “virtual cookie booth” so people can buy cookies using the CLOVER payment system (with GCNWI paying the transaction fees). We will support this payment process until June 30 for cookie transactions.
  2. People who want actual cookies and live near you can arrange to make the transaction through the CLOVER payment system, and you can do a “porch drop” with no personal contact.
  3. People who want to show first responders their support can purchase via your troop and designate them as Gift of Caring. Those cookies can be distributed through someone you know who is in that service or medical field (remember, no physical contact), or you can hold onto them until the advisories lift and deliver them later when it is safe.
  4. Ask a business that does carry-out or pickup orders if they would like to purchase a case or two so they can give away boxes to customers during this stressful time.

But don’t forget, booths and cupboards will reopen once the stay-in-place order is lifted, so you can also fill out the ACH Adjustment form, and wait for booths to reopen.

What you should NOT do

  • Troops may NOT set-up a Go Fund Me page, or anything similar.
  • Troops are NOT able to sell through Facebook marketplace pages.
  • Online orders have also ended for digital cookies.
  • Troops should not under any circumstances pay for a delinquent parent’s cookie payment. 
  • Volunteers should not take money out of their own pocket either. Please turn in an IC form for that parent.

Rewards
Thank you for submitting your final rewards on March 24!

  • Rewards will be delivered to your service unit cookie manager sometime in May (depending on advisories).
  • If your girls earn more rewards, a reward reorder form will be available sometime in May; those rewards will arrive in late June for pick up at your nearest Gathering Place (also depending on advisories).

Girl Scouts GCNWI is NOT participating in Girl Scouts of the USA’s “Eat. Share. Show Communities We Care” digital campaign.

We have had many questions about this national digital campaign which you may have seen.

  • This campaign is designed for the Girl Scout councils that were hardest hit, many who were just starting their cookie program. Our council does not fit that criteria.
  • GCNWI was nearly done with our cookie program when the pandemic hit. Other councils hadn’t even begun. Their initial order deliveries had just taken place. They are being incredibly hard hit, and it’s time for us to put in place the very heart of what this movement stands for which is helping others.
  • This means that when someone plugs in their zip code on the “Eat. Share….” page, they are directed to  the nearest council that did not get as far as we did in their cookie season before the coronavirus hit.

Every one of our girls, families, volunteers and communities is in our hearts right now. We are committed to helping resolve the stress you feel about cookies so you can fully focus on your families.
 
If you have additional questions, just ask us directly. Our product program team is here for you, even in these difficult and challenging days. Please contact us at productprogram@girlscoutsgcnwi.org or 855-ILOVEGS, ext. 6722.
 
Thank you for your patience. Stay safe.

Previously Announced Affected Events 

  • The in-person Annual Meeting and Adult Recognition event planned for April 4 will not take place. The Annual Meeting will now be a virtual meeting, and all voting will be done electronically, as allowed by our council bylaws. All voting members of the council have been notified.
  • Our Adult Recognition celebration will be postponed. Discussions about how to honor our council award recipients are underway. We will share details when they are available.  
  • Tribute to Achievement has been canceled (was scheduled for March 25, 2020).  
  • The Gold Award Ceremony has been postponed to August 8, 2020.  
  • Green for Good has been postponed one year until May 8, 2021.  

Program Refunds  

We are suspending our established refund policy until further notice. If you are registered for an event or program set to occur between now and May 1, 2020, you will receive an email with specific details about any cancellation or postponement. Refunds or credits will be given.  

Volunteers or families with girls scheduled to attend any GCNWI-sponsored event, program, workshop, or activity beyond the next few weeks may cancel their participation to receive a credit to apply toward a future activity. If no other future events are desired, or there are extenuating circumstances, a full refund will be issued. To cancel a program or camp registration, please email reghelp_events@girlscoutsgcnwi.org.    

Service Unit and Troop Activities  

All in-person activities, including troop meetings and cookie booth sites, are canceled until further notice. Read our guide to Virtual Troop Meetings! 

Retail  

To honor the merchandise needs of our volunteers and girls, we will offer FREE SHIPPING on all previously placed in-store pickup orders and new orders from our online shop through March 29.  

Preventative Measures  

Please remember that the best protection is self-protection and self-monitoring, especially in this flu season. Health officials recommend the following measures to minimize your risk of contracting any virus:  

  • Wash hands frequently especially after sneezing, shaking hands/bodily contact with another individual, and before eating. Use soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.  
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick – health officials call this “social distancing” and recommend staying about three feet away from someone who is sick.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer.  
  • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing then throw the tissue in the trash, or as a last resort cough into the elbow  
  • Stay home when you are not feeling well.  
  • Get plenty of sleep, good nutrition, stress-relief, and exercise – a healthy body is the best defense against illness.  

Additional COVID-19 Resources  

For additional information and resources about the COVID-19, we recommend the following:  

Help Her Be Happy and Healthy 

Raising Awesome Girls Blog 

Girl Scouts has created a way to talk to girls, not by avoiding the topic, but by tackling it head-on.  

How to Talk to Your Girl About Coronavirus 

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