Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ask the Girls...

It seems like a simple phrase, yet it is one that "we Leaders" sometimes forget. It's a phrase that was used by Juliette Low anytime a tough decision had to be made... ask the girls. 

Our troop has been working on Agent of Change for four months, basically. It's all we have done this semester. We are also first year Juniors. I have a ton of things I would love for our Junior troop to be able to do. I want them to be able to do a flag ceremony by heart. I would love to see them teaching younger Daisies and Brownies the Girl Scout Ways. I want to make sure they know the GS traditions... knot tying, camping, ceremonies, songs, the list goes on and on.

Pinterest is a friend and foe. I'll also toss in that this blog is a friend and foe. I never intend any of my posts to come off as being "the way to do it". The things we do are what work for us. There are so many options and ways to present material. It is our job as a Leader to tune in to our girls and figure out where they are and what interests them. After all  if they aren't interested, included, and engaged... they won't stay with it... and that should be the ultimate goal...

My girls... they love singing. They also love lummi sticks. I put together a cheap plastic folder of songs in sheet protectors for troop songbooks. We were talking about the things we had to get done for our Journey and one of the girls says "Can we just sing at a meeting sometime?" I stopped in my tracks and replied... "Would everyone like to devote time to singing at a meeting?" Overwhelming replies of "Yes!" My next question "Do you want a whole meeting or half a meeting or what are you thinking?" There was discussion and they didn't want to miss snack (ha!) and they didn't want to lose their voices, so a half meeting was the decision. "When?" I asked. "The next meeting!!" they exclaimed.. and so it was. The Journey was on hold, because we obviously needed a break. We had talked about so many fun things we were going to do "some day" and it was obvious that "some day" needed to happen soon.

It was harder when they were little to let them plan, but they can still help. Start with baby steps with the younger girls. You don't want to overwhelm them and say "Plan your meeting!" There has to be a plan to get them there. Give the girls choices. Even simple choices of "Do you want to do this badge or this badge next?" You can pick out the badges you know they will like, but then let them order the way they earn it. Give them decision making power. "What do you want for snack at the next meeting?" or "Do you think we need to add anything to Opening or Closing?" But... you have to let them make choices and decisions. It is their troop and their time and their experience. No one throw things at their monitor... but who cares if they don't earn every single badge?! Who cares if they don't go camping three times a year?! This is THEIR troop... and what you do should reflect THEIR interests. 

I'm going to be honest... This is a struggle I deal with on a daily basis. I'm very type A and I'm very good at planning, organizing, coordinating, and doing... It's hard for me to sit back and say "What do you want?" and just go with the flow... but, there needs to be balance. The girls need to know they are the ones figuring out what they want. They are the ones leading... you may have the title of Leader, but really... you are being led by young girls that are discovering, connecting, and growing in strength and courage.

Great leaders listen to those they are leading... and by doing so you will all be on the best adventure ever.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Agent of Change: Session 5

As I told you in the entry for Session 4, the girls selected the Humane Society to help as a Service Project for our Journey. I contacted them and they told me the girls could make no-sew fleece blankets and collect items they need.

At our meeting, we were also gearing up for the Holiday Parade and finishing up our 1980s patch for Windows to the Past. So, we had a few things to do.

We had animal crackers for a snack to tie in with the Animal Shelter project. The girls thought I was so clever... I do have to admit that I didn't even think about the correlation until after I purchased the snack and was like "oh... cool!". Sometimes I surprise myself.

Over snack we discussed What Do We Have? and Who Will Do What? I got the girls started and then just let them roll with it. I made sure if I offered any help with the items on the list that I would say "Are you in agreement with that?", "Does that sound correct?", "How would you word it?", "Did we forget anything?".

We first talked about Who Will Do What? We broke down the list of items the Humane Society had asked for and we divided it up between the girls.

Who Will Do What?
Carry In Blankets8 blankets, 1 for each girl to carry in
DriversLeader and Co-Leader
Peanut ButterD
Applesauce (unsweetened)A
Hand SanitizerC
Paper TowelsC

The girls signing up for something to bring were instructed to ASK their parents and if they were okay with it, that was fine. They were also instructed that if they wanted to bring additional items, they could, but to please make sure they brought what they signed up for, so we covered the list.

We also talked about what we had. I wrote the list for them on a piece of cardstock.

What Do We Have?
  • blankets
  • girl power
  • vehicles to get there
  • a plan
  • vests for our trip <--This one made me proud. They were insistent they need to wear their vests for the fieldtrip. 

I had gotten the fleece and my main girl and crafty bud helped me cut out the blankets and cut all the strips before the meeting. It took us quite a while and I didn't want to try to supervise seven girls cutting the fleece and stress out... So, we spent a lot of the meeting tying knots. The girls were so excited and then I stretched them to make them square and they were very amazed and proud of their blankets... with good reason. They did a fabulous job!

The girls are super excited about the trip. So, our next troop meeting is a fieldtrip to the Humane Society.

Session 6 & 7 are carrying out the project and reporting on it. So, we'll spend the next meeting doing it and the last meeting of the semester making posters or writing a story or drawing a picture to show what we did. I plan to get photos of the meetings and trip printed and we'll make a simple album of the journey. Stay tuned and I'll let you know how that turns out.