Among the many activities that COVID-19 pushed to the back burner were Girl Scout meetings, activities, and outings. But just like so many other organizations, the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey have gone virtual, highlighted by a new event series called "Make New Friends."

Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey CEO Betty Garger said the idea is aimed at girls entering kindergarten (the "Daisy" phase of scouting), and getting them to develop social and leadership skills.

Also, with some of these girls beginning full-day school for the first time in the fall, the Girl Scouts' virtual program will ease them into the distance learning environment, which will be crucial to start a school year that it appears will be only partially conducted in person.

Garger said that the COVID-19 crisis has made it clear to Girl Scout staffers that virtual instruction is here to stay, even when troops are eventually allowed to gather face-to-face once again.

There are numerous positives to be found in that, she said.

"We do see that virtual has really helped for girls who are unable to make specific troop meetings, whether due to other activities or transportation issues," Garger said. "Girls from anywhere can join a virtual troop, which really helps them make friends from across the country or across the state."

Already in lieu of summer day camp, the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey are encouraging online participation in activities such as sketching and art, fashioning homemade crafts, and reading stories to improve comprehension of main characters and plotlines.

Scout leaders and volunteers are also teaching basic STEM, coding, and cyber security concepts, such as instilling the fact that when an image gets onto the internet, it never goes away.

It is Garger's hope that these sessions will improve these young girls' fine and large motor skills, and reinforce the values of courage, confidence, and character which the Girl Scouts are all about.

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Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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