While the greatest achievement for many people stuck at home due to COVID-19 was finishing a Netflix show, 10-year-old Girl Scout Diya Mehta from Longmont has grown vegetables from food scraps, learned how to code, met a ukulele player and developed a fitness plan for her family.
These activities are a part of Girl Scouts of Colorado’s new Girl Scouts at Home initiative, created so that Girl Scouts can continue to do activities and earn badges while taking proper social distancing precautions.
“We knew kids were at home. We knew parents were looking for things to do,” Girl Scouts of Colorado Community Outreach Manager Mary Katherine Thorn said. “We decided that we had to get busy. We had to start creating content and making it available online, and it’s an entirely new experience for us.”
Mehta’s favorite at-home Girl Scouts activity so far has been working on earning the Think Like a Programmer badge, which introduced her to computer programming and taught her how to code. Mehta said that she may even pursue a career in coding someday.
Mehta’s whole family has been able to get involved with her activities. For the Gardener badge, Mehta helped her father plant vegetables in their vegetable beds and in pots. For the Staying Fit badge, her family had several opportunities to exercise together, including family bike rides, yoga and Zumba classes.
“Instead of just you learning how to do something the whole family will,” Mehta said. “So that’s really fun because then your whole family is spending a lot of time with each other.”
In addition to encouraging family activities, Girl Scouts of Colorado is motivating girls to be active outdoors, dedicating a whole section of the Girl Scouts at Home webpage to outdoor experiences.
“When the lockdown started, I would not go outside at all,” Mehta said. “But now… I don’t feel sad that I have to go outside. I feel excited because the things that I have to do outside will be fun.”
Added Mehta’s mother Christina Godwin, “I’m glad she’s doing this and not just sitting and watching something the whole day.”
In addition to badges that can be earned online, Girl Scouts of Colorado has also hosted Meet an Expert webinars for Girl Scouts to meet professionals in various fields. As a part of the Musician badge, Mehta attended a webinar with Marnie Ward, a Denver-based ukulele player.
Thorn said that many features of Girl Scouts at Home are likely to continue beyond quarantine, and that Meet an Expert webinars and fully online badges “are bringing in girls who haven’t had as much access to certain events” and “are more far-flung throughout the state.”
While Mehta has enjoyed earning badges from home, she said that Girl Scouts is better when she can be with other Girl Scouts in person, but Thorn said it is not clear when that might be.
“We proactively closed our camps for the summer which was heartbreaking for our staff but also for our girls who, many of them, sold cookies specifically to pay for camp,” Thorn said. “We never want to close our camps. That was a really hard choice for us. But we did it in the interest of being as safe as possible.
“There’s nothing like being in person, and we really look forward to the day when it’s safe to do that again.”
Those interested in learning more about Girl Scouts at Home can go to www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org.