Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Girl Scout Journeys

YES! I'm going to talk about "that" topic. I will have to tell you first and foremost, I am (are you sitting down?) NOT opposed to the Journey's. But, I think it's all in the way you approach them and how you decide to carry it out. We've done Journey's in troop meetings, as overnights, and as day events. Each approach has it's advantages and disadvantages. So, I'm going to take a little time to share my pros and cons list of each... and... (don't skip ahead! STAY PUT!) I'll share some resources I have found that will help you out. 

My older troop has completed 1 Brownie journey, 3 Junior Journey's, and 2 Cadette Journey's. We've "been there, done that" and survived. We had fun, too!!

It's quite possible that my outlook on the journey's is because I came into the Troop Leadership role the same year the first of the Journey's appeared on the scene. The other piece of my perspective is that I want my girls to be able to get their Shiny Awards, if they want them, and to do that... you gotta do a Journey. You have to take a written test before getting your driving permit and you gotta do a Journey if you want to prepare to take on a bigger project for a Shiny Award. It's a stepping stone. Life is full of them and you can throw a fit if you want, but it's better to accept it and decide how to accomplish it. Plus, don't let YOUR distaste of change affect your girls. I've seen that too much... put on your big girl panties and a smile and encourage your girls to take it on!! You CAN do this. 

So... 3 different approaches.


In Troop Meetings:

I spent about a semester each time I have done this and I have done it 3 times. Once as Brownies with World of Girls. Once as Juniors with Agent of Change. Once as Cadettes with Amaze. 

Pros

  • You can make it MUCH more girl led
  • You break it down and can add in extra things along the way to break it up a bit
  • When you reach the Cadette level and you need something to do because there aren't THAT many badges, it gives you something to do.


Cons:

  • The girls really need to be there for every meeting or else it's hard to catch up and get all the badges associated with the journey
  • It takes a whole semester (or maybe that was just me and how detailed I was with it)
  • If it isn't a topic that is interesting to the girls, it gets hard to face each meeting... but it can be done and it teaches the value of getting it done and completing something even when it isn't your favorite. Dedication is a good value. 



As An Overnight:

This is probably the girls favorite way to do a journey. We rent the campground and sleep in the lodge and cook out and have a great girl's night.

Pros:

  • It's done in one sleepover
  • Girls are excited because it's a sleepover!
  • Great way to get one done if you have girls that want to do a Shiny Award
  • In my experience, the message sticks because you focus on one this one topic for 2 days and they remember and share thoughts. 


Cons:

  • Takes a LOT of planning
  • Not as girl-led, because they really don't know what all is involved until you are partially through the journey, so it's hard for them to make decisions on what to do. But, there are ways to make it happen... give choices... do high overviews... etc.




In a Day event:

We did one of these with our Council for the MEdia journey. It was great fo rme, because all I did was show up and sit and listen. But, I'll take the "we did it ourself" approach for the pros/cons list.

Pros:

  • Short amount of time and completed journey
  • Great for Shiny Award girls that need it completed
  • Perfect for the Journey no one wants to do but want the Journey Summit pin


Cons: 

  • Takes a LOT of planning
  • Again, not as girl-led
  • Gotta stay on task in order to get it all done
  • Peresonally, I'm not sure the message sticks as well, because you are flying through it
  • Take Action isn't as involved if you try to do this the same day, too. 



Now, let me impart some advice to anyone starting a Journey. 

  • Don't stress out about it!
  • Don't discourage your girls with phrases like "we HAVE to do this" or "well, here we go" or "I know this isn't fun, but...." (yes, I've heard leaders say this!)
  • Don't think your Take Action HAS to be life-changing. It's a service project that fits the theme of the Journey... That's it. I'm sure you have done service projects with your girls before. Don't freak out over a simple name change. 
  • Think outside the box. The ideas and activities in the book are suggestions. You don't have do them verbatim. Come up with your own thing if you don't like what they have suggested. 
  • Don't give up or quit. Find ways to make it enjoyable for the girls and don't just give up and teach the girls it's okay to quit something half way through just because you don't like it. Yes, there are times that quitting is the best decision, but it's a better value to impart to stick it out and finish something you have started. They can learn the quitting thing on their own. 
  • Have fun!

So... as promised I have some resources to share with you.. I have scoured the internet and found TurnKeys and Journey in a Day and all kinds of information for just about ALL the journeys and have them divided up into folder on my SHARED Google Drive. I also have blog posts that break down each journey I have done in troop meetings. 

Google Drive Explained: You need to know how my mind works... it works by level... so the Journey plans are separated by level on the drive and they are in folders that say "Journeys".

Daisy
I haven't done any, because we haven't finished our petals. But, it's on the agenda for 2018. Are you that patient? HA!
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoUVV1TDUwYm9KSzA

Brownie
World of Girls in troop meetings... all links on this page: http://girlscoutleader101.blogspot.com/p/brownie.html
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoOUJuclpMT2xOSFk

Junior:
Agent of Change in troop meetings.. all links on this page:
http://girlscoutleader101.blogspot.com/p/junior.html
Also links there for the other 2
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtocDV1cWJJM3draWc

Cadette:
Amaze in troop meetings... all links on this page:
http://girlscoutleader101.blogspot.com/p/cadette.html
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoTWxrM210MEhPNzQ

Senior:
We aren't there, yet, but I have a resource.
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoMl81SmdQZHdCZDA

Ambassador:
We aren't there, yet, but I have a resource.
Direct Link to folder with Journey Plans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoeFY2MHgtOE5iSEU

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ever Think About That?

Ever Think About That? has become a catch phrase at my house. It all happened one day when the girl and I were discussing/debating... I don't even remember... and I was trying to explain why things are the way they are and she questioned it once again and added some sort of great reason in her mind to disbunk my philosophy and ended with "Ever think about that?" It caught me so off guard that I burst into laughter and said "No. I haven't. But, I see your point."

As I sit here with a cold on a sunny Missouri day in preparation to spend the weekend listening to music and hanging with my two favorite people in the world, I'm thinking. I'm always thinking. I'm thinking about "that". Seriously, sometimes I wish I could just turn it off. I envy those that can sit for hours and stare at nothing and think of nothing and just... sit. How do they do that? I've never been able to do that. 

So, what am I thinking of... I'm thinking how as a young woman I was told "You get what you give." "Life is a two way street." and "You're only as good as your word." Well... I'm sure in some realm those are always accurate and true, but life and Girl Scouts has taught me they aren't and there are many gray areas between black and white. 

Now before you think "oh, great... " about this post... I implore you to read on... read on... 


Let's start with "You get what you give."
As a Leader of two troops and a Volunteer Service Coordinator, I can say when it comes to Girl Scouts I give. I give of my time, energy, money, space in my home, and in every way possible. I do this freely and happily. I'm not complaining. But, I look at the Leaders in my Service Unit and the other Leaders I have met along the way and these women (and men) give a LOT more than they get. The get side is lacking in comparison of the giving. We give young girls the chance to soar and reach dreams. To explode with passion of learning into a world that will be better because of the time we have spent preparing them. I don't give to Girl Scouts thinking it's going to even out on the scales. I give with my whole heart because it's a movement I believe in. Young women pursuing careers and families and life and using their many talents to change the world.That's what we will eventually get... maybe not in my lifetime, but hopefully in theirs. 

"Life is a two way street". 

(Don't do this on an actual highway! That's just stupid.) I picture a freshly paved highway when I think of this phrase. I wonder how many times I have swerved into the metaphorical oncoming traffic and dared my competitor to try me. Sometimes as a Leader, you have to get tough... not with the girls (though, that happens too) but with other adults who doubt them. You have to stand up for what you believe in. You have to fight for the girls when they don't feel they can. They need to see they mean the world to you and they are worth fighting for. It's all well and fine to stay in your lane and get the job done and get to the destination that was set before you. But, I challenge you to think outside that paved highway. Take the scenic route every once in a while... slow down and take it all in. Swerve into oncoming traffic and watch your opponent take the shoulder. Go off roading and feel the bumps in the terrain. This may seem ridiculous to you... but in my mind today I'm thinking of a challenge faced by many... "we've always done it that way". It's so easy to back down from this phrase and not step up to make a change. Sometimes, you have to swerve and face it head on and simply respond "the way it has always been done means nothing to today's young girl". SHE needs the opportunity to succeed and change and lead. You can't lead in the past. You can only lead in the present and build for the future. Remember when I said Girl Scouts is a movement... movements don't stand still and they aren't a straight line. Don't forget sometimes you'll be the opposition and taking the shoulder doesn't mean you lost or that you're weak. It means you are strong enough to leave the pavement and still survive. Do so with dignity and consider turning around and joining forces and just see what happens. 

"You're only as good as your word". 
This is so true for so many things, but I like to think that I am more than just my word. Words without actions are nothing. My husband and I both are in the IT field. He does the hardware and networking side, I do the programming side of the spectrum. He likes to tease me when I'm frustrated with a job that "It's only words on the page." He is teasing. He knows there is more to it. But, if it were only words on the page, how easy would that be? How boring would that be, too? It's great to have ideas and it's great to put words out there... but if you don't do anything with it, you are wasting your talent. What good is a speaker if they never speak to uplift, encourage, and kindle the passion for dreams in others? What good is the outline of a magnificent event if it never comes to fruition? What good is a plan if there is no one to carry it out? What good is a movement if there is no one to continue the flow?

Lastly, I want to remind you of this... a wise woman said this in a meeting I was honored to attend and I refer to it many a time. We were discussing how it's hard to get support and that we needed to make it easier for families. She sat back and simply said "It's Girl Scouts. Not Family Scouts. Not Business Scouts. Not Leader Scouts. GIRL Scouts!" We are building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. You are going to ruffle some feathers. You are going to have disagreements. It isn't going to be easy. Keep your composure and keep your focus. We need to remember our focus is right there in the name. If it's for the girls, then you are on the right page. If it isn't, then you need to refocus your energy. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lemonade birthday fun patch

A note from our service unit:
Lemonades 10th Birthday Patch!!! We have approval. 

You can pre-order yours NOW! We'll place the order around October 15, 2015. We will be ordering extras, but no guarantees unless you Pre-Order!

Patches will be 3" circle, fully embroidered,  and $1.50/each. Arriving in December 2015.


Feel free to spread the word.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Daisy: Zinni Considerate and Caring Petal

My adorable Daisy's are continuing on their petal earning quest. Next up for them is the Considerate and Caring petal. Zinni Geranium is the flower friend for the petal.

In order to earn the petal you need to complete 3 key items. I've listed those below along with one way to get it done. I may actually have a revised plan to tie in with Tom's World Sight Day, but I wanted a more generic one for you that would work at any time of year.


Beginning Craft (not petal related)

The girls will make a Zinni puppet (http://www.makingfriends.com/scouts/Flower-Friends-Puppets.htm). While we are reading the story, when Zinni speaks, I'll have them raise her up to encourage interaction and concentration on the story.

I wanted 4 puppets on a page, so I made this PDF: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Z1ODpbzZtoTmR3eUtSSHBaQ1U

Supplies:
Printed Zinnia coloring page
straws (You could use popsicle sticks, but I have a plethora of straws, soo that's what I'm using)
tape (scotch or masking or duct tape... all work)

Petal Activity #1: Enjoy Zinni’s Story and talk about it

I feel this is self-explanatory. We are going to read the story from the petal booklet in the Girl's Guide. If you want to see an amazing YouTube project completed by a Girl Scout troop and listen to the story, check this out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCEPt5vK2wY



Petal Activity #2: Come up with ideas of how to be like Zinni

Sit in groups of 3 and come up with ways to be considerate and caring, then share with the larger group.

I'll have the Cadettes work with the girls and find ways they could be considerate and caring. It may be things they heard in the story or they may come up with their own. Either way, you just want to get them thinking about how they can show they are considerate and caring to others.


Petal Activity #3: Practice being considerate and caring

This is a service project opportunity. Both troops report hours for the President's Volunteer Service Award and for our Service Unit's Hearts of Service program

The girls will make multiple tray cards for a nursing home. Just a little way to brighten someone's day and say we care about them.

Supplies:
Cardstock printed with message
die cut daisies foam stickers
happy face stickers




....and that's it... have I mentioned lately that the Daisy program is so fun and a nice change of pace from the more involved Cadette level... seriously loving the Daisies.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tom's World Sight Day - October 8, 2015

You may remember last Spring my troop was selected to participate in Tom's One Day Without Shoes. Tom's has another opportunity for Girl Scout troops to become involved this Fall. 

Tom's World Sight Day is to raise awareness for World Sight Day on October 8th, 2015! Troops help raise awareness about the global issue of visual impairment.

Tom's has a complete toolkit full of ideas, templates, and ways to be involved. The best part is, your troop could be selected to receive a toolkit from Tom's, which will be mailed to you prior to the event. The one for One Day Without Shoes contained t-shirts, stickers, tattoos, posters, signs, etc. It was pretty incredible!! Plus, each troop that registers and then follows through with the requirements (have the event, take photos, get quotes from the girls about it), will receive patches for the girls! I was in the middle of moving when patches were mailed and the Tom's rep was fantastic to work with. She made sure everything went smoothly and the patches were not lost. 

Tom's provides a list of activities to help you plan your event. of course, you could come up with your own, but these are some really great and "doable" activities!


  1. Have a meeting discussing and sharing facts & figures about visual impairment issues. Use our World Sight Day Stories & Videos list for clips from the TOMS YouTube Channel and stories on the TOMS Blog. 
  2. Educate your troop on the importance of eye care (i.e. wearing corrective lenses/sunglasses, regular check-ups with your optometrist, read in a well-lit area, take breaks from the computer/TV screens, nutrition for your eyes, keep eyes hydrated, etc.). 
  3. Check out books at the library or bookstore about the importance of eyesight. Use our Great Sight Reads document for some suggested readings! 
  4. Learn or teach Braille – a tactile writing system used by the blind and the visually impaired. 
  5. Do some arts & crafts: Glam Your Classes, DIY Cataract Challenge, Eye Chart Crafting, Street Stencils (you can find these in our World Sight Day Toolkit)! 
  6. Try activities in the dark or with your eyes closed (i.e. make a paper airplane, put your shoes on and tie your shoelaces, unpack and pack your bag, etc.) 
  7. Play guessing games where you use your other senses – close your eyes and taste diff erent foods to see if you can guess what they are, or put fun items into a box (i.e. feathers, cotton balls, etc.) and reach in without looking and see if you can guess the items. 
  8. Take a field trip to a local optometry office, Contact them ahead of time to inquire about eye screening opportunities. 
  9. Make a list of what you are grateful to be able to see and how you would feel if you weren’t able to see these things. 
  10. Make arrangements to volunteer at a local nursing home or after-school program and read to groups who may not be able to. 
Find out more here: http://tomstribewsd.weebly.com/girl-scouts.html In order to be considered for one of the physical toolkits, you must register before September 24, 2015. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cadette: Girl Scout Ways badge


We worked on the Girl Scouts Way badge over the course of two meetings. I like and dislike doing that. Girls' schedules are so crazy that for them to actually be present for 2 meetings where a badge is being worked on is almost impossible. But, we stick to the rule of you have to be there in order to earn the badge... or you have to make it up outside troop meetings and give us the rundown of what you did.That's only fair.

So... requirements and activities:
Lead a group in song: Teach an international song
This was hilarious to listen to. We do have girls in our troop that were taking French and Spanish, so they were able to help pronounce the words and interpret what was being said. We used a couple easy songs (Make New Friends and Girl Scouts Together) and an online translator and searched for the song on youtube to be sung in a foreign language. We didn't try to teach it to anyone, because it was a fail. Instead, we taught the Daisy troop Make New Friends in English.

Share sisterhood through the GS Law: Throw a celebration-GORP Ceremony
Who doesn't love GORP? We did a GORP Ceremony with the girls. There are a million different ones out there, so choose your favorite and go with it. I will offer one piece of advice... choose one that has the same number of ingredients as girls or split ingredients and make sure everyone gets a turn to stir the concoction. It's important, no matter what age, for each girl to be involved.


Leave a camp better than you found it: Planted bulbs at Silver Meadows 
We have an awesome Camp Ranger. He tilled up ground for us and helped prepare the area around the flag pole for us to plant a TON of flower bulbs. We planted iris, daffodils, and hyacinths. This is going to be something that will hopefully be better as the years go by. We won't even see what becomes of it until next spring. I'm really hoping those bulbs come up!!!!

Enjoy GS traditions!: Make a tradition “to do” list
Since we took on a Daisy troop and the girls are mentoring with that troop, we decided to pass along a list of traditions that our troop has that we feel the Daisy's may want to be involved in. We even started a couple traditions at their meeting.

For instance, our troop stands in a Friendship Circle at the end of the meeting and sings Make New Friends. We do the Friendship Squeeze going around the circle 3 times. Three times for the three parts of the promise and because when they were little I would ask how many times around with a maximum of three and they would always say 3, so it has become our troop tradition. Three friendship squeezes and a very long Make New Friends song. HA!

Flag Ceremony Practice
We volunteer at Service Unit events and are always in need of a troop to lead the Flag Ceremony. I have sort of taken it upon myself to make sure that if no one else is able, our troop will be prepared for this. Plus, I think it was a great discussion about being reverent and how important it is to be careful with the flag and show the younger scouts that patriotism is definitely part of Girl Scouts.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Cadette: Public Speaker Badge

I want to take a moment here and say that the girls in my troop have NO problem speaking or performing in front of others.

My co-leader did a great job of planning this meeting. She just rocks!

This is what they did:
1. Get a feel for performing solo
For this requirement, they drew an envelope and read a short story or poem that was enclosed. We used a variety of Girl Scout themed stories. Two were:
  • Warm Fuzzies
  • Little Red Bandana Hood
I have both saved here, just in the site disappears where I got them! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uNQ1gPk3Pu0W22A9h1xrPFAxguLVxaKEEmzaTVgYNMg/edit?usp=sharing

In addition to reading the story, they had to explain the meaning of the story. What is the point? There should be a point to every public speaking endeavor.

2. Focus on body language
A different twist for this one... we had a bag of random items (toothbrush, ball of yarn, etc.). You chose an item from the bag and then using it, played charades turning it into something else. For instance, you have a toothbrush and pretend sing into it. Everyone tries to guess "microphone". You pass the object to the next person in the circle and everyone gets a chance to turn the object into something different.


3. Find your voice
We all told our story with a stopwatch... our life story in 60 seconds... not more, but as close to 60 seconds as you could get. I was impressed they were right within the timeframe.

4. Choose or create a piece to perform
The girls were given 15 minutes to create a short skit to perform for everyone. Both did a great job and were fine with getting up and acting out their skit. I have to say I was cracking up with one of the girls who decided she was going to be the voice of Batman's shadow, Batshadow. Batshadow knows Batman very well, like they are connected.. though sometimes get confused for the ground, only 4 shades darker. I loved her voice while performing, too.

5. “Get onstage!”
Our girls are very involved with school and activities outside of school. We discussed what they had done int he past year that may fulfill this requirement. They have done plays, helped run stations at service unit events giving instructions, stood in front of our parents and discussed what our troop is doing, etc.

This wasn't as exciting as some others we have done, but it gave them a chance to stop and think about time management when speaking and speaking with purpose and not just randomly.