Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seniors... here we come!

This is a fun year for my Cadette troop... oh, wait... they are going to be Seniors very, very soon. I have a couple girls finishing up their Silver Award and then we will bridge in the early Fall. They chose to wait to do Bridging, Court of Awards, and the Silver Award ceremony all together in the Fall. This means that traditional Court of Awards that I'm used to doing in May didn't happen. I love the troop being girl-led, but I missed the end of school year Court of Awards. It was weird to just end the year without a ceremony.

We did have a fun end of year activity. We went to a local ceramics painting studio and then had frozen yogurt. In addition to our small, but mighty, troop of 3... we invited another small and mighty troop to join us. Next year, we are planning to merge the two troops together and become a slightly larger and mightier troop. I'm excited, as the girls in the merging troop are awesome young women... just like the young women in my troop.

Anyway, this is just a post about personal troop plans. We are moving up to Seniors. I have all the Senior badge booklets and journeys anxiously awaiting to be filled through. We have a tentative date set for July 22nd to complete the journey Mission: Sisterhood as a Journey in a Day program (of course, I'll share my plans and outcomes with you!). I'm hoping to work in a badge workshop day over the Summer, too. We are going to Convention in the Fall and we're toying with the idea of doing a badge along the way. Sounds like something we could do to use up some of the 8 hours in the car.

So, yeah... stay tuned... Senior stuff coming your way very soon.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Super Hero Strong Patch

This is the May 2017 patch release day at BCG Patches

Super Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and have a various array of “strengths”. Some use their muscles. Others use their minds. Others use the art of cleverness to save the day.

The program guide has a wide variety of ways to earn the patch and become Super Hero Strong!

I'm so excited about this program for so many reasons. A good friend and fellow fearless leader helped develop the program. She is an amazing woman. Without her, this program guide wouldn't have been anywhere near as awesome. 

In addition to my friend, Lisa, helping on the guide, I am overwhelmed to announce Teresa Power's, author of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, sent BCG Patches an exclusive Yoga for Kids poster fora 5-Minute-A-Day Yoga Routine that is great for all kids (and adults!). We can't thank her enough for allowing us to include her amazing yoga program with our Super Hero Strong Program Guide. You can find the poster on the last page of the Super Hero Strong Program Guide. The sheet includes 10 yoga poses to form a balanced yoga routine for kids and adults to practice for just 5 minutes a day. The poses only contain standing postures, so they don't require any extra equipment (not even a mat!).

Please, check it out!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Parent Trap

As a Troop Leader, parents are your best friend and worst enemy. It's hard for parents of young children to let go sometimes. They want to see and do everything with their child, because they always have up until the point of starting school. With our society where both parents work, they know they miss so much and it's hard to accept their child is growing and learning without them, especially when it's fun activities and there isn't a one-way mirror to watch them learn to dance in dance class.

So, how do you handle a troop of girls with parents who all want to be at everything? As a Service Unit, we have given our troop leaders a great gift and battle. 5 years ago, our Service Unit started enforcing an adult/girl ratio policy for all our events. It isn't because we don't want parents to attend. It isn't because we're mean. It's because we have a large Service Unit and it's hard to find venues large enough to hold our events within our budget constraints. The problem we were having was troops of 10 showing up with 10-12 adults. Events are organized well and the girls are doing things at each station and there are plenty of adults around to monitor for safety and inclusion. What happens is, you have a lot of extra adults standing around complaining about how crowded and noisy the event is and how they aren't even able to be right next to their child. After watching this at multiple events, we put in place a policy to limit adults attending the events. It took a year or so for troops to not try to cheat the system and just show up with extras (yes, they did that). But, I stood firmly in my Mickey Mouse ears and explained to a 6'6" dad that they could not come in 1 1/2 hours early to an event to "just watch". We also make sure all adults are registered with Girl Scouts, because otherwise some little kid is going to trip and fall and break their head open and Girl Scouts is not going to cover that liability because the adult shouldn't have been there! Same holds true for little ones under the age of 5 and boys, who can't be registered Girl Scouts. The result has been events with a lot more space and less extra chatter. As a station leader, it's hard to talk to 25 excited girls to explain the craft when you are also battling 25 adults chattering about whatever in the background. (btw, I have no problem asking the adults to be quiet so the girls can hear. Yes, I have gotten looks of surprise, but the event is for the girl... not the adult... so hush and the girl can hear and have fun with the activity and I don't have to explain it 20 times).

Was it easy to implement and explain to our troops? No. Do I feel they are thankful 5 years down the road? Those that remember pre-policy are thankful. They have a way to limit parents and say "It's Service Unit policy". Those new troops coming in have never known any differently, so to them it's just the way it is.

What it has given our leaders, though, is the ability to work with their parents to rotate chaperones for events. We have all Service Unit events for the upcoming year planned in July. They can go down the list and select the ones their troop will attend. Then, they give the list to parents and have them select 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices and set up their chaperones. If you have 10 girls, you get 3 adults. Attend 4 events and everyone gets a chance to chaperone. This is just Service Unit events, too. There are also Council events and troop activities and meetings. You can easily do the same for those events. It takes planning, but you need to plan your year and give a list to your parents. That's just being a great leader and your parents will appreciate knowing what is coming up and how many dates to add to their calendar.

Working with your parents can be challenging and rewarding. When planning your meetings, reach out to the adults and ask them how they can contribute. Make them understand that if they are involved in the meeting or activity and have an active role, then you welcome their help. When you have parents that insist on being there, start assigning jobs. If they feel they just have to be there, at least they'll be helping you with something.

I also have a Troop Leader/Parent agreement I do with all my parents at the beginning of the year to outline expectations.

I leave with this... keep in mind, this is GIRL Scouting... not FAMILY Scouting. But, you need the family support. If you have little girls in your troop, don't worry. They'll grow and parents will become much more selective when they want to be around. By the time they reach 4th or 5th grade, you most likely won't have this problem anymore. Ha!