HAMILTON, NJ --  While the new norm of social distancing doesn't exactly convey feelings of warmth and togetherness, the Girls Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey (GSCSNJ) are, through a series of online programming initiatives, making sure that their members, and others, aren't only while sheltering at home.

According to Ginny Marino, CEO of GSCSNJ, their organization was able to create The Girl Scouts At Home, a new web-based program to direct parents and teachers to tutorials, step-by-step badge programs, and live-stream events, in just seven days.

"Girls and parents will have activities that they can do to fill time together and keep their Girl Scout experience going," Marino told TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville. "During our first online Council Campfire, it was so heart-warming to see girls at home outside by their fire pits, inside in front of their fireplaces, or around the kitchen table having so much fun."  

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Marino said that approximately 80 families participated in the first virtual Campfire get-together, and activity hosted by a different Girl Scout camp every Friday at 7:00 p.m., as an opportunity for girls and families to come together to sing songs and listen to stories.  

Open to members and non-members of the Girl Scouts, the organization will continue to offer two new live-stream programs daily as long as self-quarantine and social distancing is in place. These programs, including outdoor adventures that adhere to social distancing, science badge activities, engineering paper airplanes, art apprentice, photo magic, and computer coding work, can be done independently, and as a family.

The programs are tailored to be age-appropriate for ages four through 18 and are free, though some require prior registration. Additionally, Marino added, a program for all ages will be offered each Monday through Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., including campfire building, foil dinner packets, collage fun, painting inspirational rocks, upcycling a t-shirt, a dance party, yoga, and more. Every Monday through Friday a specific age-level program will take place at 2:00 p.m. based on one of the Girl Scouts' pillar themes of STEM, Life Skills, Outdoor Adventures, or Entrepreneurship.

Marino also highlighted the Clay Heart Keepsakes Community Service Project wherein girls, in exchange for earning their required community hours will be taught to use clay, or a play dough substitute, and other craft items commonly at home to create hearts that will be later donated to the Samaritan Hospice in a ceremony to honor grieving families. 

"These programs had not been offered online before." said Marino who will be doing week-by-week assessments to determine if some programs could continue virtually.

"Our number one priority is the health and safety of our Girl Scouts.  We are optimistic and hopeful that the community has the capacity to do the right thing and look out for fellow man," she added. 

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