Kapers Kapers Kapers...We are not talking about pickled flower buds. Those are Capers, not Kapers. See the difference?
I think this is one of the terms that as a new leader I was baffled and perplexed. Then, when I figured out what they were I was baffled and perplexed as to how to use them. I will also tell you that it took me a little while to figure out what worked for our troop. The good thing is, they are customizable. What I do, may not work for you; and what you decide upon, may not work for me.
A kaper is a nice way of saying chores around camp.They are a job that needs to be accomplished during a meeting, event, or trip. It's also a temporary job or responsibility. Not too much fun if the same girl has to clean up the trash at the end of every single meeting. But, when you rotate them out everyone gets a turn to do the "fun" ones and the "not so fun" ones. Now, from a leader perspective you never ever ever tell them which ones you think are not so fun. AND... make sure you build in some "fun" ones.
How you set them up is really up to you and your meeting structure.This means you are going to have to think about it a little.
- What do you do?
- What needs to be done?
- Where could you use an extra set of hands?
- What could those precious little scouts be doing that would teach them responsibility and give them a sense of ownership in their meetings?
Now if you have Daisys, your kapers are going to be different than if you have Seniors. But, even little Daisys can do things to help during their meetings (and they should!).
Let's go through a few "regulars" and then I'll share our troops Kaper Chart and definitions, so you can see how you can customize it up.
Pass Out Snack: This is self-explanatory... snack time... they pass it out. If the girls are older, have them prepare, divvy, and pass it out. If you have Daisy level, you prepare and divvy and allow them to walk the plate and cup to each girl.
Attendance: This kaper is for tracking who is at your meeting and who isn't. They take role, just like teachers in a classroom. If you have Daisy's that may not be able to read, make your attendance sheet with a photo of each girl's face. They can call the girls name by sight recognition and place a check mark in the box or maybe use a smiley face sticker.
Supplies: Have one of the girls responsible for passing out supplies for activities. She can pass around the sheets of paper for coloring or the cross word puzzle or she can be the one to make sure everyone has a pencil and know where the supplies stash is in case someone needs something. This kaper will save you SO many steps.
Flag: If your troop does a flag ceremony or says the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of your meeting, you can have one of the girls in charge of holding, carrying, and caring for the flag. Be sure you discuss how to properly hold, carry, and care for the flag before you turn them loose. They should understand the respect and reason for such tradition. Don't assume they know.
Clean Up: After snack, after crafts, at the end of the meeting... this girl is in charge of cleaning up. Make sure they know where the broom and extra trash bags are.
Leader Helper: We all need a sidekick to help us out. So, set up a kaper for a helper. This is the girl you can turn to and have grab your phone from across the room or help keep the group quiet when you are explaining something. They could also be the one leading the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Squeeze Starter: A Girl Scout tradition... Friendship Squeezes and "turn-outs". This is a great kaper, because it keeps down the "Who is going to start today?" question. Rotate through the girls and everyone will get a chance to start the Squeeze.
Dues: Do you collect dues? If you do, then put one of the girls in charge of going around the collecting the quarter or dollar or whatever you collect at every meeting.
Songs: When you sing songs, allow the girl in charge of Songs to select the song and lead it for the group. Again, it helps cut down discussion time of who and what.
Note: The above only represent some suggested/regular kapers. We all have kapers we do that others don't. I'm sure we could sit and talk about some which aren't on the list and "should be". The debate could go on forever. This article is not about which ones are right or wrong or must haves. It's for YOU to think about, discuss with your girls (even though you should not allow them to veto clean up help!), and determine what is best for your troop. It's truly a personal troop thing. There is no right or wrong (unless you have cleaning toilets with a toothbrush... that would be wrong). It's what works for YOUR troop. Remember that.
Troop 70258 Kapers (that's my troop)I do give each of the girls a sheet that has the responsibilities of each role on it. I also gave the kapers official titles, because it makes them sound more important.
Business Assistant: During the Opening Circle, this Girl Scout will take attendance and lead the troop in the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law. During the Closing Circle, she serves as the Circle Leader starting the “Good Turn” statements. She also starts the Friendship Squeeze.
Song Bird: During Opening and Closing Circle, this Girl Scout is always prepared and ready to lead the troop in singing our songs. If she chooses to learn a new song, the Troop Leaders will help her in leading.
Digital Photographer: At each meeting, this Girl Scout will have a digital camera. Her job is to capture our meeting in photos. She is to get a wide variety of activities and troop members in these photos. She should not cause disruption or delay with the meeting. If she chooses to have some posed photos, those should be done between activities and discussion.
Happy Hostess: This Girl Scout helps pass out the snacks, napkins, and makes sure everyone gets a snack before she begins eating hers. After everyone is done or when snack time is over, this Girl Scout brings the trash can over and makes sure everyone throws away their trash. She may also need to wipe off the table top, if it is messy.
Activity Assistant: This Girl Scout hands out all activity materials to the troop. She makes sure everyone has what they need to complete the activity. She also helps clear the table between activities and makes sure everyone throws away any trash.
Clean- Up Captain: These Girl Scouts are responsible to help clean up the room after the Closing Circle. Any trash that was overlooked should be thrown away. The chairs need to be stacked and table moved back to how they were before the meeting took place. The floors may need to be swept, as well. These Girl Scouts make sure we leave the room in clean, tidy order.
- Obviously, if you have four girls in your troop you don't want 20 kapers. You need to make it work for the size of your troop.
- Make it fun! Take a "whistle while you work" mentality. Be sure you aren't complaining about what you have to do or say "ooooo... Cindy Loo got stuck with cleaning up!".
- Explain the importance of working together as a team and how dividing up responsibilities help everyone.
- One thing I tell my girls is that their Kaper for the meeting means they are in charge of that duty. If they need help or choose to ask another girl to help them, that is fine. They learn delegation like this. If we had a messy meeting, cleaning up is going to be a huge job. So, make sure they know it's okay to ask for help. But, they still need to be the one doing most of the work and coordinating the effort.
- A Kaper Chart does not need to be a "chart". Write the jobs on popsicle sticks and have each girl draw one or rotate through.
- Make sure the same girl isn't always in charge of the same thing.
Examples:The photo of this first chart was sent to me by a wonderful Service Team Member, who noticed I was going to talk about Kapers. Thank you, Katie!!
This is a great chart because it is in the design of the new Daisy petal uniform. It looks like each girl's name is attached with velcro and they rotate through the jobs. It's bright, cheery, and I'm sure it helps the girls realize their job is helping their troop grow. If this is your chart, please contact me. I'd love to know more about it.
Update 10/1/2013: Imagine my delight this morning when I received an email from Ashley B. Troop 6323 - Marshfield, Wisconsin. This is her chart! Some info from Ashley:
"We did use laminated name badges attached with velcro and we rotated them each meeting. The petals were made with adhesive fabric so that we didn't have to worry about ripping paper when we moved the badges. The girls LOVED this chart as Daisies and now I have to step it up each year - tonight we have our first meeting as Brownies!"
Below is a photo of the "chart" I use for my meetings. You'll notice I have six jobs and seven girls. The 7th girl gets the meeting off. Whomever is Clean-Up Captain will get the next meeting "off". The chart is on a cookie sheet and the names are magnetic. I simply move them around before each meeting. Now that the girls are Juniors, I display the board and they are responsible for finding their job and remembering it. When it comes to that point in the meeting, they just get up and do what they are to do.
Don't think you have to have a posterboard or cookie sheet, though. You can divvy out your kapers anyway you choose. Don't be overwhelmed by the task, rather find something that works. Maybe you start with popsicle sticks in a can and make it a troop activity to make a "pretty kaper chart".
If you want more ideas about types of kapers and ways to divvy them out, this is a great resource: http://www.leaderlobby.net/tools/kaper_charts.php#