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.