Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Junior Badge: Gardener Badge

I'm going to start this by saying that we did this badge in the Fall... yep... not the "perfect planting" season. But, that was on purpose. I wanted the girls to think outside the box (or the season, in this case).

I worked with the church where we have our meetings and arranged to have the girls reclaim a flower bed that was overrun with weeds. It worked great and the girls loved it! LOVED IT!

We also tried our hand at "patrols" at this meeting. If you haven't worked with patrols (or if you have), I will say our version is VERY loosely based on the concept. Basically, I split the girls into two groups, assigned them a task, had them elect a leader and let them go to it. About half way through requirement 5, I intervened and got them back on track or else we may still be there trying to decide how to plant the flowers! HA HA! I love my girls.

Gardener 1: Visit a garden
To start our meeting, we toured the gardens at their school and at the church where we met. I made sure

each girl had input about what they saw and smelled. We talked about container gardens, flower beds, herb gardens, and various shrubbery and landscaping. To end with, I had the girls discuss what other types of gardens they had seen and if they had any at their home.

Gardener 2: Explore Garden Design (Plan your dream garden) - need magazines with pictures of flowers/trees/ greenery/ etc.For this, I brought in magazines and let the girls chop them up. They sketched out on paper what their gardens would look like and include. They then added colors, plant pictures, and sculpture pictures to the page to show what they envisioned. They were broken up into two groups of 3 for this, as part of their patrol work.

Gardener 3: Find six plants that will grow in our hardiness zone - need garden books
My dear friend, Laura, let me borrow a heritage seeds catalog. I gave the girls a list of types of stuff to find in the book, since all of them were zoned for our area. I didn't realize that until the day of and it was too late to find a replacement book. They had to find the following:
1. a bush that grows into a barrier or fence
2. climbing plant
3. purple veggie
4. flowering vegetable
5. flower that doesn't look like a typical flower
6. fruit

Gardener 4: Experiment with seeds (kits with directions for the girls to take home to complete; chart to track daily progress and watering/sunlight information)
This was homework (<--badge requirement linked)... They had a chart and a kit. I bought lima beans, seed starting potting soil, dixie cups, and used 1/2 eggs cartons. They had to decide what experiment they were doing and write down the progress each day for two weeks. I have a few girls that go back and forth between Moms and Dads, so they were told to make sure someone was babysitting their seed when they weren't there. The girls did great with this and most of them returned it to earn the badge.

Gardener 5: Help with a community garden - planting mums
We were blessed to have the church tell us "SURE! Plant where ever you want!" when we asked about some help for the badge work to complete. The girls worked on a garden in front of the church that was overrun with weeds. They pulled out all the weeds and planted Fall mums in the area.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

But, what does your Service Unit do?

This year has been a huge learning curve for me. I'm trying to turn my "little" girls into "big" girls and I've added the responsibility of Service Unit Manager, which is now called Volunteer Support Coordinator.

I am part of the largest Service Unit in our Council, though that may be different this year. We have lost about 10 troops and I have no idea on how many girls. The troops we lost aren't just the "older" girls, but some younger ones and it's really hard to find someone to step up to be a Daisy leader for those sweet smiling little faces, too.

I admit, at times, I think about talking my stepdaughter into being a Juliette (or Individual Girl Member, as they are called now IGM... lovely...). But then something happens to remind me why I do what I do. I love my girls. All eight of them. I love my Service Unit. All 83 troops of them. I have some great women (and men) that I work with to provide our girls the best experience possible.

I can honestly say that I feel our Service Unit is a role model for what you strive for. We are cutting edge in our Council. We do online event registration. We accept PayPal for event fees. We have custom Service Unit logo badges and rocker bars for events. We host at least 13 events per year, including a 4 day long day camp that invites surrounding areas to join, too. We have 10 Service Team members and each one is responsible for something. We just went through a structure change for positions and we are now "flat", but in essence we've always been flat. We work together. No one person is making all the moves. Our team is just like our troops. We vote, we discuss, we brainstorm, we decide.

Anyway, I thought I would share our events and our team positions. Just in case you are looking for Service Unit ideas.

Back to School Pool Party - We rent a local pool and pack in as many as they allow. The event is typically free to registered Girl Scouts (girl and adult) to welcome them back to a another year. The "free" part is contingent on whether or not we get the Cookie Bonus the year before.

Investiture and Re-dedication - As a Service Unit, we coordinate an event for troops to attend. The girls have parts for the ceremony and we have "veteran" Girl Scouts speak. 2013 was the first one we did, so I'm sure it will get better as years go by.

Juliesta - I thought Juliesta was a GS wide thing, but apparently I was wrong. I have had several friends from other Councils inquire about this event. It's around October 31st for Juliette Low's birthday. It's themed differently each year. Our Event Coordinator, Katie, is AMAZING! She comes up with the coolest, cutest ideas for the girls. 2013 was Disney magic, 2012 was Rockin' through the decades, 2011 was Halloween themed

Holiday Parade - This really isn't an event, I guess. But, as a Service Unit we register and walk in the parade, instead of separately as troops. It makes an impact when you have 300 Girl Scouts Daisy through Adult taking up a huge amount of space in the parade. :) We do a float and troops can do red wagon float (build it on a red wagon to pull). Of course, we pass out candy and the girls wear their uniforms. Great way to show we are present in our town.

Cookie Rally - To kick off cookie season, we hold a Cookie Rally. I think most Councils do this. We limit attendance to Daisy and Brownie and then have Junior and up volunteer to work the stations. Girls learn how to make good impressions, door to door sales, and all about the cookies.

World Thinking Day - In February, we hold a WTD event. Girls learn about the 5 selected countries from WAGGGS and do various activities. All girls attending earn their WTD badge. It's an easy way for Leaders to get a badge in without having to do the planning.

Sweetheart Dance - The Event Coordinator for this, Marianne, is AWESOME! She puts on a Father Daughter Dance for 3-5th grade girls. "Couples" register and attend a formal or semi-formal dance. They enjoy appetizers and dancing for an evening. Wonderful event for Daddy's and Daughters.

Older Girl Appreciation (this needs a new name!) - This is a fairly new event. We started it in 2013, at my suggestion. We ask our "older girls" (Cadette and up) to work at events hosting stations and such, but we didn't have an event just for them. So, in 2013 I started an appreciation event. We don't charge for it. We only invite Cadette and up to attend. 2013 was a dinner party cooking class with a local grocery store. We gave them goodies, too. 2014 is going to be a painting party at a canvas place here in town. Painting and dinner is on the Service Unit. If we don't get the Cookie Bonus, we'll have to reevaluate this event.

Teddy Bear Sleepover - An overnight event for 3rd grade Brownies bridging to Junior. Girls bring teddy bears to donate to local children's hospital, police department, and various other groups. They rotate through craft, games, skits, and all enjoy a late night pizza snack and movie before crashing at about midnight. By the time the event is over, Brownies have fulfilled most of their Bridging requirements and Juniors helping have earned a badge. This year (this is my event), I'm going to try to see if I can figure out a way to get the Juniors their Junior Aid bar.

Volunteer Appreciation - Another event I have inherited as Service Unit Manager. We hold a dinner in April for our adult volunteers. We do a silent auction to offset the cost of the dinner, but the Service Unit caters in dinner and has gifts for team members, awards for outstanding leaders and volunteers, and an evening for volunteers and their family to take a break from troop stuff and be honored and appreciated.

Bridging - New... 2013 was the first of these we hosted as a Service Unit. It's really to help out newer troops and small troops see how big Girl Scouts can be. We gather at a local Program Center and do a Bridging Ceremony for the various levels. Troops are responsible to bring what they need (vests, pins, etc).

Campout - 3 days of craziness!! Friday night through Sunday morning. We invite troops to camp at the Program Center as a Service Unit. Troops bring their own food and supplies. The Service Unit coordinates sessions such as archery, canoeing, hiking, orienteering, simple camping foods, etc. Troops elect whether or not to participate in sessions.

Twilight Camp - 4 days from 3-8PM... our Service Unit day camp. This is one of my favorite events and one of the reasons I love our Service Unit. We choose the hottest week of the year in early August (not really on purpose) and invite girls to come to camp. The girls are broken into unit based on what badge they want to earn. Their unit leaders are adult volunteers that may or may not be troop leaders. Some are trainers and just ladies that love Girl Scouts. Units have some scheduled activities to attend (craft, games, songs) and then during their free time they work on badge work, cookout, hike, and just have a great time. Marianne coordinates this and she is phenomenal. I just stand in awe of her and this event. There are typically 125 girls, 20 Program Aids, 40+ adult volunteers helping out. She pretty much does all the planning and such on her own, too. Awesome experience. In fact, other Service Units have attended just to get ideas for theirs!

So, yeah... there you have it... the events we do. If you want more information on any of them let me know and I'll be happy to answer any questions I can.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Junior Badge: Detective

This was one of my most favorite badges that we have done thus far. It was fun for the girls and for me! Not that I feel the need to be entertained, but this was very cool!!

As always, there were 5 requirements for the badge and this is how we got it done. 

Detective 1: Spot the difference
Anytime you can use an online source for help... DO IT! The first requirement was to observe, so why not a spot the difference activity. The girls made a "race" out of this and tried to see who would find the most differences the fastest. It was cool to see them then come together and help one another find all the ones they may have overlooked.

Detective 2: Make invisible ink (lemon juice, baking soda, q-tips)
This is where I must inject a little issue I have with the badges in the new program... it doesn't tell you what is supposed to work and I didn't find an exact recipe on how to make these... basically you make two different types of invisible ink and have the girls write with qtips. We then took the heat gun to heat it up and figure out which was easiest to be seen. I won't give away our discovery, though. 

Detective 3: Fingerprint for fun (ink, cardstock)
I gave the girls fingerprint cards that I made and printed on cardstock and ink pads. They filled their cards and compared. They also looked at the patterns in their fingerprints and discussed the different types, etc. 

Detective 4: Detect Handwriting details (article about detectives to copy)
I just copied out the article about the detectives from the badge sheet and the girls and I discussed it for this. It was pretty easy peasy. With the instructions not to doodle or put their name on the sheet, I had the girls copy down a mystery and hand them all in. Then, I shuffled them and showed one at a time to see if the girls could decide which one belonged to who. 

Detective 5: Create a clue hunt (5 clues to find secret sister gift)
We tied this in with Global Action and had made little swaps for one another, so lastly for the detective badge the girls made up clues to lead their friends to the hiding spot for their gift. They saw how difficult that it can be writing and decoding clues. But, we found all the stuff back. Success!! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Junior Badge: First Aid

 If you have been a leader for a while, then most likely you have done the First Aid Badge... it's at every level, building on the last. It's great in theory, except when their activities overlap and are the same as the time before. The girls get bored and so do I! So... we improvise. I hear my Grandma saying "Improvise, improvise, improvise." in response to my "I don't have" or "I'm out of" or "I'm so tired of"... tweak it, ladies. It's fine. Promise!

I'm going to tell you what we did and I'm going to supply you with some resources I used to get this badge earned. 

First Aid 1: 1st Steps for an Emergency (choice posters/skits/video) - Check, Call, Care sheet (link to Red Cross sheet; but there is also one on page 3 of the Junior badge guide that you can use)
I gave the girls the choice of what to do on this. They were supposed to study the sheet and then do something to explain. They chose to make a video. Remember this is our transition year and I'm trying to "let go" and make them "do it". Well, let's just say the first take wasn't a keeper. I actually gave them a talk about the importance of taking this seriously, as it is a badge activity and asked if they felt they met the requirement. The 2nd take was much better and keeper. Not as I would have done it, but it was fine and it was theirs. It covered the basics and they got the point. 

First Aid 2: Talk to First Responders (video with note taking/interview)
So, in theory wifi is wonderful... but sometimes technology hates me. About 1/2 way through the wifi died and I couldn't get it back. So, we watched the first 1/2 and I had the girls give me a lot of information about what they heard and learned. They did this while eating a snack. I'm not opposed to field trips, I just don't want to have to do them for every badge.
First Aid 3: Portable First Aid Kit (Paracord Bracelets)
We did backpack kits as Brownies. Finding all the stuff to put in them is challenging and I don't see the point in buying a kit, taking it apart and putting it back together. So, paracord bracelets are all the rage with the girls (or were when we did this). Instead, I tweaked this and decided to go with something different. We discussed some basic survival skills and what to do if you are out hiking and wasn't prepared with a First Aid Kit...we made the bracelets and went over the ways they could use them from the basics I knew... then, I had the girls come up with other ways they could be used. They were quite clever, I must say.
First Aid 4: Review discuss First Aid chart (link to extrenal site) & word searches
We did talk about some basic injuries that may happen around the home and how to treat them. We did the word search and I had the girls go over each thing and explain to me what it was, too. They are very knowledgeable by 5th grade.
First Aid 5: Talk to family members and neighbors about what makes them feel better when sick
This is part of our transition... yep, I give homework for Girl Scouts. I have done that for just about every badge this year, because they have to start taking some responsibility or else they won't be prepared for the shock of Cadettes next year. So, I gave them the sheet and put it on our troop website and told them to bring it back. When they did, I marked them down as earned for the badge. Everyone returned it, too. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Junior Badge: Digital Photography

The Digital Photography badge was a lot of fun for the girls and for me. They love taking photos. In fact, one of our kapers is to take photos at each meeting/event. So, they had done a lot of stuff already. But, it was nice to slow down a bit and focus on this.

We were blessed to have a college Journalism/Art student with us for a few meetings. So, we used her knowledge.

#1: Learn about digital cameras from an expert

The girls interview the college student and she was great to talk about why she like photography and what subjects she liked.

I also brought in my "good camera" and printed out a tips/tricks sheet from the internet and we reviewed it and talked about what different terms meant. The badge sheet included some basic terms, too, which I talked about with the girls and explained the differences, etc.

#2: Take tons of photos
Well, I can't say they took tons while focusing on this badge, but remember they had been photographing all sorts of stuff all year long, so they had this covered. Instead, I gave them a list of 5-7 items that they had to do.... such as "take a selfie, find a different perspective, macro photo, group shot, action shot, landscape photo".

#3 Edit three photos
THEN, with the photos they took... I brought in my laptop that has photo editing software and let them play. I did put a timer on it, because these girls would spend HOURS editing if you let them. They each got 10 minutes to apply filters, add borders, correct red eye, etc. If you don't have software, check out Picasa's photo editing tool. It's free and contains lots of fun stuff you can do.

#4 Make a digital photo project
I happen to have software for digital scrapbooking. So, after they edited photos, they used those to create a card or a page. I had them printed and they were used as invitations to our Court Of Awards at the end of the year.

#5 Share your photos
We did an online shared album of all the photos the girls took. I invited parents to view and share with family.

As a fieldtrip for this badge, we visited Miller Photography. Their Columbia facility is about 2 miles from our meeting location. It was very cool. The girls were able to see all the cool stuff professional photographers could have their prints turned into. The girls saw machines in action and how quickly orders are processed and shipped. They maintain a 99.9% 24 hour turn around rate even during Christmas season!! The girls' favorite was the laser cutting machine... how could they not be impressed seeing a laser burning through layers of chipboard to make album covers?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shutterfly "team" sites

I may the last person on the planet to know about Shutterfly's Share sites, but just in case, I wanted to pass along an amazing FREE tool for your troop.

My girls like to have a Photo Journalist kaper. They take turns taking photos and documenting what we did for troop meetings. It's great, because I want pictures but it's hard to take pictures when you are the Troop Leader... but in a few years, when they are doing most of the work and I'm just there for advice... they'll still want to take the pictures. HA!

Anyway... a good Girl Scout Leader friend of mine mentioned she used Shutterfly for her troop for signing up for events. My ears perked up and I asked for a little more information. Well, life gets busy and I hadn't done anything with it until last week.

You can set up a Shutterfly account (if you don't have one) and then set up a "Share" site to set up calendar events with reminders, share photos and give parents permission to upload additional photos from events, have a troop roster to easily track who is and isn't available for events, event sign up forms (these do have to be tweaked), upload files for dispersing, set up a journal for sharing news with parents, a message board (though I disabled mine) and of course the store where you can order photo gifts (It is Shutterfly after all).

The Calendar is where you can set up reminders, events, meetings, service projects, etc. Now, the site was designed for "teams" (like softball, t-ball, etc), so you have to sort of covert things in your mind. For instance, I don't need "Game", but I definitely can use "Meeting" when setting up my calendar items.

I use "Trip" for events; "Volunteer" for Service Projects; "Performance" for Ceremonies; "General" for deadlines on event registration and you can set up a reminder where the system will automatically email out the reminder to parents and I don't have to remember to do that!!! I did add all the girls' birthdays and the GS Holidays, too. You can even download the Calendar and import it into another client, such as Google or Outlook or whatever. That's nice, too. If events change, you can ask it to update members.

The Event Sign Ups I'm using totally differently than intended. For my events, I'm using the Volunteer Sign

Up forms. I put the girls names as a Role and have parents leave a comment "yes" or "no" to let me know if their daughter is attending. I have a sign up for all the events we are doing this year with any information I have about the event.

You fill out information about the event and decide what type of sign up form it is. Like I said, I'm using Volunteer sign ups.

Then, you list the roles or jobs. I'm listing the girls names as Roles, because that's what I've found is easiest to get parents to give me responses.

Once it's created, you can have the site email the members and ask them to come sign up. I set up all the events for the year and parents can sign up when they want, but I didn't have the site email them. When I am ready or closer to an event, you can send the sign up form out to members and invite them to sign up. That's what I plan to do.

One of the things I was complaining about the first night was the inability to upload files to the site to just have a Resources pages for parents... those basic forms that everyone needs access to... permission slips, at home badge information, "homework" sheets that I'm sending with girls this year in order to get them to step up and take responsibility for their badge achievement, and completed stuff we do like newsletters that parents may want to see. I did find it... You add a "Files" page and then can upload as you want. LOVE that you can drag and drop to reorder the list, too.

I'm still figuring it all out and I'm definitely not an expert on it, but so far it's pretty cool. My only "oops" was with the Message Board, which is why it's gone (ha!). I was uploading some blank forms and told it to post and when it did, it emailed all the members of the site that there were files uploaded... niiiicceee. But, it was my fault.. I wasn't paying attention apparently and I didn't uncheck a box. But, I don't want parents posting things on a board thinking they are going to me and they send them to everyone. AND I don't want my parents to post something and I not see it and it be kinda important. I want to retain our communication and improve it... not make it more difficult.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that I can set up albums and ask parents to contribute photos after the event. The calendar has an option to "email after event to invite to share photos". I plan on doing that. PLUS, I love that there is one place now for my families to check calendar, event sign ups, documents, and they are able to view photos from past events. That is awesome. Much easier than setting up a new album every time and sharing it out. I really hope that I will keep on top of uploading photos. OH... and you can tag people in there, too, even the girls who don't have accounts (They have to be 13, so I better not be getting any requests because that's a violation of their Internet Safety Pledge. There are Federal Laws preventing companies from collecting personal information about kids under 13 and since they have to share personal information to make an account... they aren't supposed to have one and if they do... it's because they lied about their age... which I'm totally NOT cool with. -- okay... off soap box).

I encourage you to check Shutterfly out... I know there are other places that offer similar things, but I really like this and it's very easy to use... plus you can order prints right there... it's awesome.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Junior Badge: Scribe badge

I have to say... the Scribe badge was one of the quickest ones the girls flew through... In fact, I had planned to do 3 of 5 activities and the girls finished all 5 in one meeting... I think I have a batch of writers in my troop.

Scribe 1: Poetry  
We tied our Poetry to World Thinking Day, actually. The girls wrote poems about their Mom, which tied to the 2013 theme.

Scribe 2: Short Story (team)
I like to bring teamwork into any badge we do, because it's great to work alone and it's great to learn how to work together. The girls took turns passing around a piece of paper to create a progressive short story. We had done this before verbally, but the girls had never written down a story together. They did a great job.

Scribe 3: 10 words about me
Believe it or now, this was the most difficult for the girls to do. Although, I put a few "rules" on it... it had to be positive, had to be a characteristic other than physical appearance, and couldn't be general like "I'm funny". They did a great job.

Scribe 4: Write an article
The girls chose to write a troop newsletter together. They thought about the types of things they see in the paper and divided up the sections. One girl did a feature story, another community event (wedding), the weather, comics, and even the ads section were covered. I took their stories and drawings after the meeting and compiled them into a newsletter for each of them to have. It was rather cool, in my opinion.

Scribe 5: Opinion essay
The Opinion Essay was a shocker. These girls were in 4th grade... 10 years at the oldest. The topics they chose to write about was not why cheddar is better than mozzarella or why you should eat dessert... These girls chose their topics and addressed gun control, freedom of speech, and using resources like electricity wisely. I could not believe their topics.... yes, these are tomorrow's leaders and if they keep that drive the world will be a better place. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to Troop!

It's BACK TO TROOP season. 

I decided to be a little nice to myself this year and wait a couple weeks after school started to start up our troop meetings. In theory, that was to allow me time to get several pieces of the puzzle together and be all prepared and planned out and such. In actuality, it's because I have issues with saying "no" and I'm adjusting to a new position of Service Team Manager for our Service Unit. Don't get me wrong, I haven't done anything I don't want to do. I just sometimes want to do too much. 

Anyway... on to the purpose of this post. It's Back To Troop time and I thought I'd discuss what I do at the first meeting of the year. I know as a new Leader I had no idea what to do or what to expect. I'm surprised I didn't lose my mind that first year, because you really are presented with so much information to process that it's possible to hear brain cells exploding. Don't fret, though. It's fine. You're fine. You'll be okay. Promise!! Just take it one step at a time and remember to breathe.

So.. First Meeting of the year... here are the basics:

  • Paperwork
  • 1st Meeting Plan
  • Parents Meeting


The paperwork is what I want to focus on first. Here is the list of "stuff" that I have ready in packets at my Parents Meeting. (Yes... you should have a Parents Meeting! They need to know what your plan is and what your expectations are for the year. We'll get to that in a moment. ) I actually email all this out in advance and ask them to have to done and sent with their daughter to the first meeting. Returning girls are covered until October 1, so it gives me a little time in case they forget. New girls can't attend until I have all of this.

I have my parents fill this out each year. I stress the importance of not rushing through it and to make sure I know everything I need to know! I learned by experience after multiple conversations with a Mom why certain people were not allowed to pick up her daughter and why. The year was almost over before she told me... my heart skipped a beat, because it was information she should have included on the form. Same Mom made sure I knew her daughter had food allergies, but didn't tell me allowing her Dad to pick her up could be a horrible mistake... sigh. I ask more questions now and review forms closely. I suggest you do the same. You never know when custody issues, abuse, etc. may be present in the young girl's life. You need to know!

Registration form (This is VERY important. Unregistered girls should NOT be in meetings! It's a liability for you and for Girl Scouts. If something happened and they aren't registered, you are on your own! This also puts your meeting place at risk. Make sure you have registrations for each and every girl! Also make sure any parent hanging out to help is registered. They are a liability, too, if not. Our Council started online registration this year, but I registered the whole troop. Because of that, I have to get a signature on a registration form for their files to show consent.)
* Health History form (Each council is a little different. We have one we can get off our Council website and that is the one I use. Check with your Council for this form.)
* Girl/Parent Information sheet (I am blessed to have found an experienced Leader in the very beginning that shared her sheet with me. I have tweaked it some, but the basics are all Ms. Jill.)
* After School Permission Slip (Since we meet right after school, the school office needs a permission slip for each girl to release them to me for meetings. They also get a copy of our schedule for the year.)
* Internet Safety Pledge (Our troop does research on the web. Read this over with the girls and talk about the importance of being honest and safe.)


At the first troop meeting, I explain to the girls what my expectations are and discuss our goals for the year. We also discuss their expectations of me and what they set for goals for the year.

With my 2nd year Juniors this year they will be given a list of badges we haven't earned and a questionnaire about what they expect and what they want to do and their goals. This helps set the pace for which badges to do, what activities to plan, and how we focus our time. Now, I do plan out troop meeting dates, a couple fun activities that I know they want to do, and have a set of goals to encourage them. But, we are transitioning to a complete "girl-led" experience. As Cadettes next year, I have high expectations for them. It's time they are kicked out of the nest.

We talk about what we want to accomplish and go over different badges we haven't earned together. The girls get to fill some stuff out, too.

* Troop Rules (As a group, we decide what are rules for troop meetings and activities should be. We write down all the ideas and then narrow the list.)
* Kapers (When the girls were younger, I set the Kaper Chart. Now that they are older, I want them to think of what needs to be assigned and what should be everyone's responsibility and how to keep track of it. Don't let them skip over clean-up. Again, we write down all the ideas and then narrow the list.)
Badge List (Give them a list of badges and go through them. Have each girl mark what she wants to earn. Remind them even if we don't do it as a troop, they can earn on their own at home and present it at a meeting.)
* Short Questionnaire (What do they want to accomplish this year? Where does their heart lie? Service Projects? Badges? Bronze? Camping? Games? Songs? What do they want to do?)


I actually hold my Parents Meeting after the first troop meeting. Now that the girls are older, they are to be there, too. When they were little, I had my Assistant Leader entertain them while I talked with the adults. I'm planning for the girls will be more involved in the meeting and present different things they have decided upon.

Basic rundown:
* Introductions & Welcome
* Collect any forms that weren't turned in by the girl (Have extra blank forms for those that forgot)
* Girls' decisions on rules, kapers, and goals (Have the girls present these.)
* Expectations for the girls and the parents
* Cover how troop money is spent
* Have information on events with registration deadlines
* Talk about registration deadlines!
* Go over any "big plans". This year, we are going to talk about the Bronze Award.
* Answer questions they may have

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Be a Leader... show her She Is Worth It.

It's "that" time of year once again. The time of year when people start thinking about school starting up. In the Girl Scout world it means trying to find Leaders for girls who want to join Girl Scouts. This isn't as easy as one might think.

I don't want to be preachy or give a lecture unnecessarily. I just want you to stop and think for a moment... are you really TOO busy to spend time with your daughter, step-daughter, niece, cousin, friend's daughter, or any young girl that just wants to be a Girl Scout. I have friends who are Moms, Step-Moms (like me), Sisters, Cousins, Aunts, Childless women who are Leaders. They give their time, their heart, and their effort to changing the lives of many young girls. I've heard it a million times... ANYTHING you can provide is more than they would get otherwise. And that is the truth.

Girl Scouting building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. That's the motto. That's the goal. How can you say you are too busy to help that movement? I understand you have a list of reasons. We are all busy. We all have reasons to stop us.

Will spending a couple hours a week planning and a couple hours a month with a group of eager girls make a difference? Ask the girl who is going to a home where no one is excited about her accomplishments, if it mattered when you told her she was amazing. Ask the young women that send their GS Leader a wedding invitation and birth announcements of their baby girl, if their Leader was important to them. Ask the young mother that has been counting down the days until her daughter starts Kindergarten so she can be her Troop Leader and follow in her Mom's footsteps if she liked  her Mom being a Leader. Ask the entering college Freshman who is sure she can conquer the world because she had years in a troop building her confidence in who she is if your time was worth it. 

Do all Girl Scouts turn out to be members of Congress? No. But, some do. Do all Girl Scouts enter into medical fields doing research to cure disease? No. But, some do. Do all Girl Scouts learn that they are great just the way they are and can do anything they put their mind to? Absolutely. At least I hope my troop of nine will.

Let me ask a question... (I have fell back on this many times in my life... and I should be a ton more. I can't remember where or who started this little synapse in my brain, but I am forever grateful they did. )
"What you are doing right now... 
The decision you are trying to make...
The things you are spending your time doing... 
Will it matter a month from now? 
Will it matter 6 months from now? 
How about a year? 
10 years? 
20 years?" 

Now, we can justify and categorize anything and say "YES! It will matter." But, will it really? Trust me. I am the best at placing significance on something that really doesn't matter. Does it matter that the coffee cup isn't in the dishwasher? "YES! It will attract ants and bugs and they will take over my house and attract rodents and they will eat my house and I'll be homeless and I'll be on the streets and catch pneumonia and die!!! All because of a dirty coffee cup!" See... Told you... I can jump there with the best of you. But, does it really matter? No. Just pick up the cup and put it in the dishwasher. It takes like 5 seconds. My favorite catch phrase inserted here... Seriously???

I can honestly say my decision to being a Girl Scout Leader WILL matter 20 years from now. My step-daughter will be 31. I hope and pray she has a family of her own and is happy with the life choices she has made. I know she will recognize the time and effort I spent making sure she went to every event she wanted to go to, realizing the time we spent together is priceless, and the opportunities she had because I decided she was worth it. She was worth the time. She was worth the energy. She was worth the heartache. She was worth the frustration of cookie sales season. She was worth dealing with parents that sometimes are the worst. She was worth every single second and dime I spent making sure she had a great Girl Scout experience. She is worth it!

It's kind of like the story of the starfish. As the boy throws the starfish into the sea, the old man says "You can't save them all. What difference does it make?" As the next one is tossed back in the boy replies "No, I can't. But, it made all the difference in the wold to that one." So, maybe we don't save them all and maybe they don't all become world leaders... but if one does and the only thing standing in her way was an adult that wouldn't step up... how do you decide it's okay to stay silent?

Show her she is worth it. 
You can talk until you are blue in the face and it won't have near the impact of your actions. 
She is worth it. 
No matter how or if you are related. 
The girls are worth it. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Service Unit Event: Teddy Bear Sleepover

This post is a little different, as it isn't something we do as a troop meeting. It's a Service Unit level event. I am adding it because I love the idea of collaboration and sharing things that work with others. I don't see it as stealing the idea, but rather a compliment that someone else feels our idea is good enough to use.

I coordinated the Teddy Bear Sleepover event this year for our Service Unit. This event is for 3rd grade Brownies bridging to Juniors. It helps them complete most of the requirements for Bridging AND they earn the Junior level Junior Girl Scout Ways.

Juniors and up volunteer to help at the event. My girls attended as Brownies last year and were quick to jump at the chance to help run the event this year.

I'll give you a breakdown of stations and how they tie in to Bridging Brownies and the Junior Girl Scouts Ways badge. Both Brownies and Juniors earn this badge.

Pre-Start Station (Fulfills Junior GS Ways: Spread the friendship of GS): 

Each girl brought Teddy Bear for donation. They were disbursed to the police department, Ronald McDonald House, Rainbow House, and True North. To make it more personal, the girl named their bear and wrote it on a bookmark tag that had a poem about teddy bears. They then tied on a patch from a previous year and tied it around the teddy bears neck.

The girls also made SWAPs to keep out of puzzle pieces and googly eyes. They were super cute. The SWAPs are a tradition from the past, too, for Junior GS Ways.
Poem on tags: 
A teddy bear is a furry friendwhose love and support never end;keeps your secrets, never liesfriendly, fuzzy, cozy, wise.Tell it your secretsit'll keep them wellyou don't have to worry,it won't ever tell.Whenever you need oneit will always be therethe same old teddy bearwith the same old stareready to listen, ready to care.Hello, my name is
 _______________________May I be your teddy bear?

Photo Station: 

After they got their bears done, they headed to the photo booth for groups photos with all sort of props. I made mustaches out of felt, bought over sized glasses and leis, etc. at the $ Tree. For a backdrop, I used plastic tablecloths and folded them over rope to hang on the wall.. much prettier than a plain white wall. My amazing husband came to take photos of the groups and I'm so glad he did, as there is no way I could have done that and checked people in and all the other running around I did. 

Songs Station: (Pick Songs for an Occasion for Junior GS Ways)

The girls were quizzed on what was appropriate and what wasn't for the event. They then chose 3 songs to sing together. We did this all together right after Opening Ceremony in a large circle. It was fun and we even coaxed the Leaders to join in. I love my adults, but sometimes they are the hardest to convince to set a great example and "just join in."

Craft Station: 

For Teddy Bear Sleepover (TBS) I ordered pillowcases from They have alot of great designs. They were a little pricey and I probably won't do that next year, because of the budget. But, the girls loves them. Caution: The markers they sell are AMAZING, but stinky. The girls and adults helping in that area needed more ventilation. 

Skits & Power Posters: (Read the GS Story for Junior GS Ways)

My girls actually led this station. They read the story to the Brownies and then quizzed them, because the first group wasn't paying attention and they had to come up with a skit to act out based on the story... so, they took it upon themselves to quiz the Brownies after that. HA!

They also made Power Posters with words that describe the powers you gain as Girl Scouts. My favorite was "So much better than Boy Scouts!" Ha! Gotta have that Girl Scout pride. 

Each group presented their posters and acted out their skits later in the evening for the rest of the group. 

Games: (Learn a Tradition from the Past for Junior GS Ways)

The girls were told "back in the day" there weren't electronics to entertain, so kids played outside games with whatever they could find. One of the games they played was Washcloth Toss. They also did a Relay Race to put together a Junior uniform on a bear and a Bronze Award puzzle. If they had time, they also did a Hula Hoop Relay around a circle. 

To finish up the Junior GS Ways badge, everyone did something to help clean up either at night or in the morning. Everyone was assigned a kaper and we did leave the place cleaner than we found it. 

In order to do some of the Bridging requirements, Brownies were able to interview a Junior Troop about what they like the most and what being a Junior Girl Scout is all about. The same troop had just finished up their Bronze, so they were  interviewed about that, too. It was impressive to hear the questions the girls had for the older girls. 

As far the schedule for the night, this is what worked for us. I had three Junior and Cadette Troops that led the three stations (Crafts, Games, Skits) and the Brownies rotated through them. I had 40 Brownies, so it was a small event for our Service Unit, but if you have more girls then you could make the Songs, Interview, and Opening Craft a station or double up stations to make your groups smaller to rotate through.  

For the most past, we stayed "on time". We had some issues with the music for the dance party (because I couldn't find the speaker on my laptop.... ), so that went a little longer than planned. Tangled was over about 12:30am. 

5:45-6:15pm: Volunteers arrive to get set up
6:15-6:30pm: Check In & Bear drop-off
6:30-7pm: Settling; Photo Booth and Bookmarks
7-7:15pm: Opening Ceremony and Overview
7:15-7:30pm: Singing
7:30-8:00pm: Station 1
8:00-8:30pm: Station 2
8:30-9:00pm: Station 3
9:00-9:15pm: Interview a Junior troop
9:15-9:35pm: Pizza snack
9:35-10:00pm: Group Skit & Poster Presentation
10-10:15pm: Dance Party
10:15-10:30pm : Night Routine
10:30-Midnight : Tangled
Midnight: Lights out
12:00-6:00am: Sleep
6:00-6:30am: Older girls wake up to prepare for breakfast
6:30-7:00am: Wake up/Morning Routine
7-7:30am: Breakfast
7:30-8am: Clean up and Troops Leave

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Amuse Journey in a sleepover

My girls are... inspired?... dedicated?.... driven?.... crazy?!?! They want to get their Journey Summit award. That means we have to do ALL three Journeys. We did one last year. It took 5 months of meetings. That means we had two left. 

I found an AMAZING source online that had a rundown of how to do the Amuse Journey in a day long workshop. I was intrigued. The only thing they don't do for you is the Take Action project. If that isn't done, then the journey isn't done. So, I did come up with something for that. 

The Amuse Journey is all about stereotypes and the roles women play in the world. It was a great discussion with one young lady that said her Mom was "just a Mom". Ha! A stay-at-home Mom's nightmare come true... her daughter believing she isn't as "important" because she has decided to raise her children rather than work outside the home. We broke down what her Mom did on an everyday basis and showed her (and the other girls) just how important her Mom was and all the different roles she played for her family. 

I learned a lot about my stepdaughter, too. Things she hasn't expressed  interest in were revealed as things she is "too afraid to try, yet wants to". I definitely want to encourage those items, too. It's important to chase dreams, no matter how big or small they are. 

So, my Assistant Leader and I set up two stations. One on each end of the lodge (our lovely Silver Meadows Program Center which we love dearly!!!!). The girls rotated between the two of us... back and forth. I'm so glad to have an Assistant that can pull this off and has the stamina to go the distance. 

By the end of the evening, we were done. A whole Journey in one day... it was a major accomplishment. We also had a campfire with onion bombs, corn on the cob, and potato packets. Banana boats and smores were for dessert... yes, both... they had been begging to make banana boats and you can't have a fire and not make smores! It's just not done in GS world, okay?! Problem with that? Back off! You are just jealous of our Thanks A Lot smores... they are to die for!!

If you want to do your Amuse Journey in a day... check out this awesome guide:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Court of Awards - Junior Troop 70258 style

The girls planned their own ceremony this year. It was very similar to what we have done in the past, but really... I sat with pen and paper and said "What do you want to do? What do you think we should do? What comes first? Next? Next?"

I did add in a few things, because I wanted them to have a few surprises. But, this is what they came up with:

  • Troop Leader will welcome parents
  • Opening Flag Ceremony * caller information below
    • Pledge of Allegiance
    • GS Promise
    • GS Law
  • Girls all walk back out of the room and then enter as introduced (This is sort of our thing. They love hearing their name and coming in waving and smiling with parents and friends cheering them on.)
  • Sing "She's got a G for generosity" * lyrics below
  • Girls are seated
  • Special Presentations
  • Badge presentations to girls
  • Gifts to Parents (we made a SWAP in our last meeting that was a little foam hand in the "love" sign from in sign language with "Mom" or "Dad" on it.)
  • Gifts to Assistant Leaders
  • Gift to Leader (A complete surprise to me... they had many secrets to keep per one girl in my troop. HA!)
  • Closing song - Linger * lyrics below
  • Recession of Flag* caller information below
  • Dismissal

Refreshments!! Pink Lemonade and Key Lime cupcakes with Junior punch.

Junior Punch
(aka Princess Punch, Power Punch, Groovy Punch, Peace Out Punch, etc.)
1 can Hawaiian Punch (Fruity Red flavor)
1 large 1/2 gallon can pineapple juice
2 liter of 7up

Mix and serve over ice.

Photo op with a backdrop in the refreshment room.

Flag Ceremony (Speaking parts in red)
Opening Flag Ceremony

Please stand.” Instructs audience to stand in preparation for entry of flag.
"Girl Scouts, attention." Used to announce that the flag ceremony is to begin.
"Color guard, advance." This signals the color guard to advance with the flags.
"Color guard, post the colors." This directs the color guard to place the flag in flag standards.
"Color guard, honor your flag." The color guard salutes the American flag.

"Please join us in saying the Pledge of Allegiance." 
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Please join us in reciting the Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Please join us in reciting the Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Color guard, dismissed.

Girl Scouts, dismissed.

We will now begin our ceremony.

Recession of flag

“Please stand”
“Color guard, advance”
“Color guard, honor your flag”
"Color guard, retire the colors." This asks the color guard to remove the flag from standards.
"Color guard, dismissed." The color guard leaves in formation, with the flag.
"Girl Scouts, dismissed." Girls may leave in formation or be at ease where they have been standing.

This concludes our ceremony. Guests dismissed

She Wears a "G"
submitted by Karen Glassman
Lyrics found here: the tune: 

She wears a G for generosity.
She wears an I for interest, too.
She wears an R for real sportsmanship.
She wears and L for loyalty, for loyalty!
She wears an S for her sincereity.
She wears a C for courtesy.
She wears and O-U-T for outdoor life, outdoor life.
And that Girl Scout is Me!

Mm, mm, I’d like to linger
Mm, mm, a little longer
Mm, mm, a little longer here with you

Mm, mm, it’s such a perfect night
Mm, mm, it doesn’t seem quite right
Mm, mm, that it should be my last with you
Mm, mm, I will remember
Mm, mm, and come September
Mm, mm, our campfire bright and friendships true
Mm, mm, and as the years go by
Mm, mm, I’ll think you and sigh
Mm, mm, this is goodnight and not goodbye

Oh, goodness...

I thought this morning... I need to blog more... then I came here to check it out... March 13??? That's two months of no blogging. I have an excuse... I've been busy doing and not telling. So, I will get back on the wagon and put together some posts.

What do you want to know? What do you want to see?

I have a Junior troop that just planned their Court of Awards. I was super impressed and delighted to see them take the reins. I'll share that first... stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How does your meeting work?

I start this post by saying... this is what works for us. I have nine girls in my troop and they are awesome, creative, energetic, wonderful young ladies who really want to earn some badges and do some stuff. 

I have received numerous emails asking "How do you get so much done?" and "What are your meetings like?" and "How long do you spend on _____". Those questions are what prompted this post. 

Our meetings are right after school across the street at a church. We meet for 1 1/2 hours basically... when you subtract out the time to walk across and get settled.. we are "down to business" for 90 minutes. 

Here is a sample meeting outline. I do one of these for each of my meetings. It helps keep my Assistant Leader "in the know" and me on track. We adjust as needed. We may spend more time on something than anticipated and push things off until the next meeting. We may decide to say "forget it" and just sing and play games. Other times, we scramble to look at the badge flyer to see what else we can accomplish because the girls flew through what we had planned. So... when looking at this, don't set your timer!! Remain flexible and keep it girl-led. 

We have Kapers and the girls know when we arrive they are to put down their things, get their water bottle, use the restroom, check the Kaper chart and meet me on the carpet squares for Opening Circle.

Meeting OutlineMarch 5, 2013 - Digital Photography/Scribe/Jeweler

Opening Circle (15 mins)
  • Roll Call - I have a sheet I simply hand to the Business Assistant and she marks the names.
  • Girl Scout Promise & Law - YES! They know it by heart and recite it from memory.
  • Good Turns - We stopped doing this as Juniors, as the girls are holding themselves accountable for doing a good turn daily and feel they don't need to say if they did it or not at a meeting.
  • Song - The Song Bird selects one song from our song books to sing at each meeting, because my girls love to sing.

Snack (15 mins) - end by 4:30
  • PB&J Sushi & Ants on a log (PB, jelly, bread, celery, raisins) - Our Troop made the decision that while snack is important, it also needs to be healthy and with minimal waste. So, we try to have a small, healthy snack that isn't prepackaged in individual servings. We also use reusable water bottles instead of juice boxes. I keep those with me and they come in handy for field trips.

Activities (45 mins) - end by 5:15 - Activities are obviously different each meeting. But, this is how I break it down. I note the badge and activity number by each. That way if I split a badge between more than one meeting, I can keep track of which requirements we have met. If it's an activity that has numerous supplies, I note that behind it or any notes for discussion. 
  • Digital Photographer 1: Interview a photography student (Erin Fucher)
  • Digital Photographer 2: Photo groups
  • Jeweler 3: t-shirt bracelets
  • Digital Photographer 3: Edit 3 - add borders (Google+ )
  • Digital Photographer 4: Make a digital project (MDS card)
  • Scribe 1: Poetry
  • Scribe 2: Short Story (team)
  • Scribe 3: 10 words about me
  • Scribe 5: Opinion essay

Clean up - We do have a Kaper for this, but they are the team lead. EVERYONE pitches in to help.sweep floor, rearrange tables, turn down furnace, turn off lights, take trash

Closing (15 mins) - end by 5:30
  • Friendship Circle
  • Our “Good Turn” for the next meeting (write these down for next time) - As I said, as Junior we stopped doing this. They do them on their own.
  • 1 Song - Song Leader Choice (one of GS songs) - We've actually stopped this because most of the time we focus on cleaning up before the Closing Circle and run out of time.
  • Join hands, Friendship Squeeze and “turn out”

And that's that... that's how we do it... Now, when I put together posts for the blog, keep in mind that we may not do it ALL in one meeting. I try to note when I've split badges or Journey sessions up, but I am not 100% on that. Please don't look at one of my posts and think you can cram it all in at one meeting... go at the pace of your girls. With that said... the Scribe badge I had planned 1 activity and the girls did 4... good thing I had that badge booklet with me to get them to the next one, as they love writing and wanted to just "get it done!". 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Brownie The Girl Scout Way

Forgive me... It's been over a year since we did Brownie The Girl Scout Way, but we just finished up the Junior Girl Scout Way badge and I started thinking... oh yeah... I should do a post on the Brownie level.

My girls actually earned this twice... once as a Try It and once as a new badge. The badges look different, so... whatever. You can't go wrong learning about Girl Scouts and the basic values they should possess. 

When I'm doing my meeting plans (at least now I do this), I type out the activities as you will see the titles in this post. That way I remember which part of the badge we are working on and what the ultimate idea is. If at the meeting the girls aren't really in to one activity, we simple "get the point" and move on. No use beating a dead horse... or bored Girl Scout. 

Girl Scout Way 1 - Sing Everywhere

We actually did this and our Council's Sing Patch at the same time. The girls learned the five songs over the course of a few meetings and then they chose a couple to sing at Court of Awards at the end of the year. We also set up a time with a Daisy troop to teach them a few songs we had learned, too. The girls loved being the "big girls" and being idolized by the sweet little Daisys. 

Girl Scout Way 2 - Celebrate Juliette Gordon Low's Birthday

We didn't necessarily celebrate her birthday, but the birth of Girl Scouts. We earned this badge in March, so it tied in perfectly with the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts. We decorated the room, had balloons, cupcakes, games, and a lot of fun! It so happened that it was my actual birthday the night of the party, so it was a win-win for me. (and YES I do the scheduling for troop meetings and was fully aware that my birthday fell on a troop meeting day. What better way to spend your birthday with amazing Girl Scouts?)

Girl Scout Ways 3- Share Sisterhood - Create a play about good turns

The girls put on impromptu skits. I gave them a line from the Girl Scout Law and they had to come up with a way to act out the wrong way and the right way. We talked about the importance of doing good turns and came up with several simple ones they could do at home, such as emptying the dishwasher, grooming the pet, making their bed and cleaning their room without being asked, not fussing over homework, and just helping around the house and yard. 

Girl Scout Ways 4 - Leave a place better than you found it

The girls had such a great time cleaning up their playground for a service project with the journey, that we did the same for the church we meet at. We cleaned up the parking lot, the side lots, and the back. I must say they have to have someone doing that, because we didn't get near the amount of trash as we did at the school. But it still looked better when we were done. 

Girl Scout Ways 5- Read the Brownie Story and act it out

This tied in with traditions. The Brownie Story is a traditional Girl Scout story and one the girls need to know. It talks about Brownies after all. It sets the tone for the years of service ahead of them and makes them stop and think about ways to get involved. We read the story through once and then they chose parts and we went through it again with them acting it out. Their favorite part was the spinning and turning part... ha!

I want to say one thing about this badge... we didn't do it all in one meeting or one month... We spread it out. We did a couple things here, one there, one here, and finished it up at the end of the school year. You don't have to do all the activities in one meeting!! Just keep track of what you did and what you need to do and you'll be golden. I have a Leader friend that actually just has fun with her girls all year long and at the end of the year they sit and look through badges to see what they did. That would drive me insane, but it works for her. Whatever your approach, as long as the girls are having fun and learning and doing... you have met the goal. Don't stress over badge work. Focus on enjoying what you are doing.