Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Tradition of Honor: Retiring an American Flag

We’ve all seen American flags in the community waving in the sky, and our camps have started and finished each day with the raising and lowering of the flag for decades. Flag ceremonies are an iconic Girl Scout tradition and are meaningful moments for girls and adults alike. Sometimes, we see flags that are in need of repair or should be replaced and might ask ourselves, "What can I do?" When that happens, Girl Scouts can help by collecting them and doing a proper flag retirement at their next troop or at a service unit encampment.

There have been numerous troops that have done “how to” videos on flag ceremonies and demonstrations on flag etiquette for their Bronze or Silver Award projects, with videos to be found on YouTube and if you need to know how to do a general flag ceremony, refer to the Girl Scout Guide of Girl Scouting handbook available in the shop. 

Let's talk about the process and reasoning behind a flag retirement ceremony. When do flags retire? When the United States flag becomes worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, it is time to replace it with a new flag. The old flag should be “retired” with dignity and respect befitting our nation’s flag. According to the U.S. Flag Code when a flag is “in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”. This is often called a flag retirement ceremony and as always, we are to place the emphasis on respect for the flag. There is more than one appropriate way to retire a flag, but here are some general guidelines- 

 Examples of Etiquette - Flag Retirement Service and Ceremonies Ceremony of Final Tribute

• Only one flag should be used in the ceremony, which is representative of all the flags to be burned in the service. The remainder of the flags collected should be incinerated. A corporate, government, or military incinerator or furnace can usually be found for this purpose.

• The ceremony should be conducted out-of-doors, preferably in conjunction with a campfire program, and it should be very special.

• The ceremony involves two color guards, one for the flag currently in use and a special color guard for the flag to be retired from service. Of course, this may be adapted if conditions necessitate. 

• Just before sunset the flag which has been flying all day is retired in the normal ceremonial procedure for that location or group.

• The color guard responsible for the flag receiving the final tribute moves to front and center. The leader should present this color guard with the flag that has been selected for its final tribute and subsequent destruction. The leader should instruct the color guard to "raise the colors."

• When the flag has been secured at the top of the pole, the leader says: “This flag has served its nation well and long. It has worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation. This flag represents all of the flags collected and being retired from service today. The honor we show here, this evening, for this one flag, we are showing for all of the flags, even those not physically here.” 

• The leader should: 

• Call the group to attention and order a salute.

• Lead the entire group in the Pledge of Allegiance; and order the flag retired by the color guard.

• Slowly and ceremoniously lower and then respectfully fold the flag in the customary triangle.

• Deliver the flag to the leader, and then dismiss the group. Ceremonial Burning Flag Preparation: The color guard assigned to the flag opens its tri-corner fold and then refolds the flag in a coffin-shaped rectangle. 

• Assemble around the fire. The leader calls the group to attention and the color guard comes forward and places the flag on the fire.

• All briskly salute. After the salute, but while still at attention, the leader should conduct a respectful memorial service as the flag burns. The National Flag Foundation recommends singing "God Bless America," followed by an inspiring message of the flag's meaning, followed by the "Pledge of Allegiance," and then silence.

• When the flag is basically consumed, those assembled, with the exception of the leader and the color guard, should be dismissed single file and depart in silence. The leader and the color guard remain until the flag is completely consumed.

• The fire should then be safely extinguished, and the ashes buried. Fire preparation is important that the fire be sizeable preferably having burnt down to a bed of red-hot coals to avoid bits of the flag being carried off by a roaring fire-yet be sufficient enough to ensure complete burning of the flag.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bronze Award Spotlight: Senior Living Butterfly and Pollinator Garden

The Girl Scout Juniors of Troop 1087 recently earned their Girl Scout Bronze Awards by working together on a project they titled, “Senior Living Butterfly and Pollinator Garden.” This project served to protect nature while helping friends in the community! The girls were inspired to organize and plant a pollinator garden with the goal of benefitting nature while bringing joy to some of those who have been deeply affected by the pandemic. The troop got started by writing letters of intent and sending them to local nursing facilities for seniors. The troop agreed to work with Dominion Village of Williamsburg and, once deciding on the garden location on their grounds, went on to begin the planning and organizing processes. The girls first consulted a local master gardener about plants suitable for this garden and then created a wish list to price out at a home improvement store. Once the budget needed to accomplish their vision was determined, the Girl Scouts decided on using Girl Scout Cookie funds earned to complete their project.

With the support of troop leaders and parent helpers, the Girl Scouts completed two separate days of planting in the garden and took time to meet with residents to gather their input about the garden. These Girl Scout Juniors prove that the power of working together is a key to success!

 Melissa Reeves, leader of Troop 1087, said, “The girls learned essential teamwork skills such as listening, sharing, and collaborating with a large group on a specific project. They now have this shared memory of working together to help the community, which in turn, solidifies their bonds with their troop.

The troop has plans to visit Dominion Village of Williamsburg again in the fall for a garden clean-up.

Girl Scout Juniors of Troop 1087 who earned this award were Abby, Amelia, Amy, Ava, Callie, Clare, Elise, Emelia, Grace, Kenly, Kennedy, Kiera, Lily, Lucy, Mae, McKinley, Nicole, Olivia, and Vivian.

 Congratulations, Girl Scouts!

To learn more about the Girl Scout Bronze Award visit us at www.gsccc.org.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Silver Award Spotlight: "Bee the Change; Save the Bees."

Girl Scout Cadette Lana was recently awarded the Girl Scout Silver Award by completing a service project she titled, “Bee the Change; Save the Bees.” Through research, she found that pollinators like native bees and honey bees are threatened globally and campaigned for awareness about things people can do to protect these species in their own backyards.

In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) identifies four major threats to pollinators, many within action of things we can do in our own communities. As reported by FWS in 2021, "For the past 25 years, many species of bees and other pollinators have experienced large drops in numbers. Among the causes: Fewer places to feed and breed. Pollinator habitat is shrinking. Disease-causing organisms— including viruses, fungi and bacteria — can spread from non-native to native pollinators. Pesticides are overused along with the effects of climate change."

Lana shared information at the Isle of Wight County Easter Egg hunt on April 9, 2022 with an interactive and informative display tent for guests to visit. The tent had activities for children, bee identification fact sheets, and information about pollinator gardens and how to start one. She hopes the easily digestible information will encourage her community to take action. 

Lana said, “Both honey bees and native bees are threatened. Bees are our primary and most efficient pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. If no action is taken, and the bee population continues to decline, our own food chain will be threatened.” she continued, “Things we can do to help both native bees and honey bees are to plant pollinator gardens, include bee houses for solitary bees, add bee safe water sources to our gardens, and to limit or eliminate, if possible, the use of pesticides. Adding pollinator gardens will end the food deserts that we have created with plain grass yards and urban development.”

Lana previously earned her Girl Scout Bronze Award and plans to continue taking action to improve her community as a Girl Scout!

Congratulations, Lana!

Friday, May 6, 2022

2022 Girl Scout Cookie Season Wrap Up!

Three cheers for our girls, adults and volunteers that participated in the 2022 Girl Scout Cookie Program! The 2022 Girl Scout Cookie season is a wrap and we want to celebrate the achievements and effort that went into making the season a success while sharing some of the ways our top cookie sellers commemorated their entrepreneurial achievements. 

In 2022, we met and exceeded our Council goal with a total of 1,309,565 boxes sold with ZERO cookies leftover in our cupboards! This year, 3,892 Girl Scouts in our area participated in the program and learned valuable skills along the way! With every transaction, the community and volunteers were invaluable in supporting Girl Scouts’ ability to learn, grow, and thrive through the program’s adventures. Digital Cookie participation was a home run! 463,574 boxes of cookies were sold by girls in our Council through the Digital Cookie platform! The best part is all proceeds stayed local to help fund life-changing, girl-led programs, experiences, and learning for the next year of Girl Scouting to come.


Top Cookie Entrepreneur celebrations kicked off on April 23 with GSCCC’s Top 10 cookie sellers heading to the National Zoo in Washington, DC., alongside GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller! The top ten sellers were Abigael S. from Troop 235, Jasmine B. from Troop 1413, Alaina S. from Troop 94, Sophia H. an IRG member, Alexa R. from Troop 287, Delilah S. from Troop 94, Lexie B. an IRG member, and Lorelei T. from Troop 1026, Maureen K. from Troop 359 and Caitlyn V. from 1659.  Lorelei,  the #1 Cookie Entrepreneur in our Council, who sold 6,142 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, was sure to get a photo with her favorite zoo animal, the panda, while on the visit! 


104 girls climbed to CEO level by selling 1250 boxes or more during 2022 and headed to Latitude Climbing + Fitness on May 1 with Tracy Keller alongside to cheer them on. Latitude Climbing and Fitness is a program partner of GSCCC and is owned by GSCCC alum Marisa Beck! 

17 girls earned the top Gift of Caring reward, earning them a Girls Night out at a Tides game on May 13 where one of our Girl Scouts will throw the first pitch. This year, over 53,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies were designated for donation to the 
Virtual Gift of Caring program and will go on to benefit the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia. 

We are so thrilled by the innovation, creativity, and business ethics witnessed throughout the 2022 Girl Scout Cookie program! We sure had an “Adventureful” time and can’t wait to see what next year’s program brings!

When girls participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, they’re part of the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world! Having the opportunity to run your very own cookie business gives girls skills essential for success today and in the future. For more information about Girl Scout Cookies and how the Girl Scout Cookie Program supports girls’ success, visit us at gscccc.org.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Meet Captain: GS Alum and GSCCC's 2022 Camp Director!

Meet a homegrown Girl Scout from Suffolk, camp nickname, Captain, who has taken the job as the 2022 Camp Director for GSCCC’s camp season! She’s been a Girl Scout since joining as a Daisy at the age of five. She had the same leader, Susan Buchy, from Brownie level to Ambassador. She earned the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Awards and recalls how meaningful earning the Silver Award was to her. This Girl Scout put hours into earning the award and took on the responsibility independently without help. She particularly appreciated the encouragement and support she received from her leader.

Captain sharing some of the awesome outdoor experiences GSCCC has to offer Girl Scouts

“I planned our Suffolk service units spring bridging at Sleepy Hole Park,” Captain said. “We hadn’t had one before as a unit, so this was the first one and I knew it had to be a good one.” She had to research locations, reserve it and then plan out all the details that included the ceremony. It was a hit and an event many in the service unit still recall.

 Captain stayed in Girl Scouts through her senior year of high school.  By that time, there were four girls left in the troop and they ended up becoming close friends and staying in touch. Like her, they are in college. They shared a love for the outdoors as Girl Scouts and Captain feels that is what kept her and many of her friends involved, for the sisterhood and unique outdoor experiences. She has camped countless times at Camp Darden and Camp Skimino and is a certified facilitator in archery, wall climbing, and canoeing. She was a ropes course facilitator but needs to be recertified which she says is in her plans. She also loves to do high-adventure type activities and has backpacked with GSCCC’s Wild Things.


Captain has spent a lot of time in the outdoors as a Girl Scout, including going through the Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program at Camp Darden in 2016 and 2017. In addition to the fun being in the outdoors offers, she says the leadership she gained from the experience has been priceless. “Participating in outdoor activities in Girl Scouts has given me an opportunity to practice and improve on all different types of skills, including communication skills where I am part of a team. Building leadership skills through the outdoors is enjoyable and it sticks with you, because it doesn’t come with a lot of stress. And when you’re with Girl Scouts, you are with others who are cheering you on. If you fail, there are other times to try again without any pressure. It’s the perfect place for girls to stretch their leadership muscles. Being outdoors at camp also lets girls learn new skills and activities that help them to connect with nature in a safe environment.”


Captain is looking forward to seeing returning campers this summer and to meeting new campers! There’s still time to register for a session, so get started today!