Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Post : Words Hurt

My troop has been working on the Amaze journey. Part of the Interact Award is to do an anti-bullying campaign. My stepdaughter has decided to do a "Words Hurt" campaign by putting her message on business cards for me to pass out at the 2014 Girl Scout National Convention.

If you received one of those cards, you should have been routed here. If you didn't and you just found this post, that's awesome... keep reading. Please read her "call to action" below. -- and thank you for helping.

Hi! I'm from Troop 70258 and we are doing the Amaze journey. It's all about building friendships and working on relationships. It's also about anti-bullying and how to spread the word about the reason bullying is destructive and could potentially cause someone to end their own life! 

I know sometimes when you are with friends, it's easy to tease and not know when to stop. I like joking around and I do tease my friends, but there needs to be a limit. You have to know when to stop. Words hurt! If you constantly tell someone they can't do this or aren't good at that, they are going to believe it no matter what the truth is. We're all trying to get through this world and life is hard enough without having to deal with people that tease and put you down. 

So, I asked my step-mom to pass out these cards and I'm hoping other troops will join my campaign. I encourage you to spread the word at your school. Words hurt! You can never take them back and they can't be unheard. Please remember to be careful what you say. You don't what they might already be going through. 

You can send my step-mom an email, if you want, and let me know you have joined in the fight against bullying and are spreading the word. If this sparked a cool idea, please comment below or you can email and share a photo. 

Thanks!! Have a great day!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Amaze Journey: Session 2

Oh, no, we did not give up! Our second meeting with the girls this year was the Amaze Journey Session 2... sort of... we tend to make it fit our troop and not follow the book word for word. The book is a reference, not a stone path to follow and if you step sideways you fall into the abyss... it's there for help, not for hindering... remember that!

This was our 2nd meeting:
(Before I begin this, please note our meetings are now almost 3 hours long... so, yeah.... we get a lot done. If your meetings aren't that long, break it down.)

Trusted Adult Activity - I asked the girls to vote on whether they wanted to do these during meetings or as homework with an adult of choice. It was pretty much unanimous to do these in troop meetings. So, we drew names and during snack we met with the girls for about 5 minutes each. I had the ones waiting work on Walk In My Shoes and the 1st Peacemaker Kit. 
You can find the Walk In My Shoes and Peacemaker sheet as follows:
  • Walk in my shoes (sheet) - pg 32 girl book
  • 1st Peacemaker kit offering (sheet) - pg 25 girl book
If you are using the overnight plan I mentioned in the first session, they are attached with the PDF.
Team Agreement Parking Lot 
I gave each of the girls 3 post it notes and asked them to write down something on troop behavior. If you have a conflict this is an acceptable way to resolve it. This thing should never be done, etc. Some examples "If you disagree with someone, it's not acceptable to roll your eyes." "If you have a conflict with a troop member, you should talk through it and explain why you are upset in a nice way."

Once they filled out their post-its, I had them create a parking lot on a large sheet of paper and discuss the various items they came up with. We didn't spend TOO much time on this, because let's get real... these girls have heard this a lot and the whole journey is about it. So, we'll bring it up more as we go. 

Beneath the surface beach ball game - page 20 girl book
The girls LOVED this game. We combined 2 games into one. We used the BUZZ game along with it, so it was more fun than just toss the ball, answer the question. 

To prep: Use the list of questions on page 20 in the girls book (or page 6-7 in the overnight plan) and write all the questions on the ball. Then, use a dark colored masking tape (I used regular and I had to layer it because you could see through the tape...) to cover the questions up. 

Time for play!
Explain we are going to toss the ball to someone in the circle and count... 1,2,3,4,5,6, BUZZ! Instead of 7, you say BUZZ. If you mess up and say "7", then you are skipped. You aren't out, you just don't get to answer a question. Keep track and make sure everyone gets a turn. The BUZZ person removes tape from a section, reads the question, and answers it. Tell the girls they have X seconds to answer or else you could run into really long stories (been there, done that... 10 minutes later... girls love to talk. We don't want to squash that, but we need to play fair and keep it moving). 

We did 2 rounds. Everyone answered 2 questions and then we stopped. The girls loved the game and asked if we could do it again sometime. Next time, I'll have them blow up the beachball and cover the questions with tape... apparently, I'm not full of hot air! Took forever to blow up that beach ball! HA!

Interact Award Activity:
I looked through the overnight plan and I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing pieces of the awards with the journey. I decided to add to it and pull out a couple things. Plus, I needed a crafty thing for the girls to do... all talk and no crafts makes a dull meeting. So, this is what I came up with. I just pulled 2 items from the list in the girls book and went with it. 

Antibullying CampaignThe girls voted on how to spread the word on this. They were told to have it done by the next meeting. Their choices:message for email/text signature line, (Just kidding just hurts)* text to all friends* locker poster* decorate back of notebook
Make notecards to give to friends
Supplies: cardstock, envelopes, paper, glue, embellishments
I brought in everything they needed to make 3 notecards and instructed them to handwrite a nice note thanking a friend for being a friend and why they valued their friendship. They were excited about this... maybe the art of a handwritten note is not lost on this generation. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Get Yourself an Assistant Leader!

I know... that's easier said than done, right? It's SOO hard (or maybe it just has been for me?) to find someone:
  • you can work with and that actually wants to help you with meetings. 
  • that can plan and carry out those plans. 
  • sharing the same values for the troop. 
  • who doesn't just sit there and stare as you run ragged around the room. 
  • providing a great role model and isn't another person to take care of during meetings.
  • willing to be an Assistant Leader and not just an 02 on your troop paperwork (tell me you don't know the difference? If you said you didn't, you lie! Or you have always been blessed!)
I'm going to confess something here... I am VERY Type A and slightly OCD (not in the clinically diagnosed way, but in the "yeah, I have some tendencies" way.) I know that I'm not the easiest person in the world to work with. It isn't like I'm mean or unwilling to hear alternative plans... it's just that I've found most of the time it's easier to do it myself than depend on someone else and those rare times I have turned it over to someone else it never came to fruition, therefore I tend to do a lot of things on my own. But, I'm learning. I'm learning to trust and delegate. Mostly because I am BLESSED this year with an amazing Assistant Leader (former Troop Leader to a troop that graduated High School 2 years ago) and two extremely talented and energetic college girls who have a lot on their plate, but still make time for troop "stuff". 

But, here's the deal... You can't be Batman without Robin. The difference in volunteering with Girl Scouts is that you should consider being in this for the long haul. If the little girl you are starting as a Daisy is over the moon in love with everything Girl Scouts (and how could she not!), this is potentially a 13 year commitment if you want to see her through Ambassadors. You need someone reliable and wonderful to help you, so neither of you burn out and quit leaving girls in the limbo world of what troop will they be able to find... and it's harder the older they get. So, share the work load with the assistant leader. Share leading activities. Share share share. 

Pace yourself (I should listen to myself!)!! Slow down! Breathe! You don't have to do EVERYTHING the first year or two. Give the girls a reason to stay in Scouts and give yourself a break. I love events. I love trips. I love service projects. I tolerate camping. But you don't have to do all of them every year. Leave time for yourself and your family. Here's a secret, too... if you have a great assistant leader, you don't have to go to everything! Let them go with a parent and the girls. It's okay!

Anyway, this year promises to be a lot less work for me and lot more fun for everyone. I'm looking forward to having a helping hand. I'm hoping 

Monday, September 22, 2014

And the winner is.....

I used to generate a random number based on the number of comments for the book post.

There were 10 eleigible comments. One was from the author and another was a duplicate. So... the winner is.... Nh1st0ryLIB

Please send me your mailing address by September 25, 2014.

Thanks for playing!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Badge Blanket aka Fun Patch Overload!

Sometimes the best and easiest types of posts comes from questions I get from blog stalkers (affectionate name I have for my groupies... ha!).

Brigitte in Tustin, CA emailed me today and asked:
"I had a question, when your girls runs out of room on their vest, it's common for you to use a blanket? Just wondering so I can plan on having a quilt made for my Junior. Her vest is full on the back and she completing her last year as a Junior this year. Do you have any specific references or referrals of websites for this? I have an amazing seamstress that would do it for me, just need to get the materials for her and show her a picture. I wanted to go to the expert first as there is different stuff online."

You know.. that's something I hadn't really even thought about. I mean... of course the girl and I both have blankets, but I didn't think about making it a post! What an awesome idea!!

My troop does a LOT of stuff. Not as much as others, more than some, but we have fun and that's what matters. The "problem" (though I don't consider it one) is that means we get a LOT of fun patches. They aren't earned badges for all these fun events we go to, but they are mementos of memories made and fun had. They need to be kept, but come on! The back on the vest isn't big enough a lot of times... and if you are using sashes for your troop... HA! Good luck with finding room for all those patches!

The solution I came up with isn't a new one. It's a tradition passed down and I latched on to it like there is no tomorrow! A badge blanket! It's a blanket for all those patches that no longer fit on the vest. A place for all that fun to be together in one place. The really fun part is, you can start it at anytime and continue on for however long it take to fill and then start another one if you want. It's all good! There is not right or wrong way.

Our blankets are fleece. I like them because:

1. Our Council name is on them.

2. They came with sweet little carrying strappy things

3. Lightweight and small enough to pack for any camping or overnight event

4. Big enough to cover more than just one year.

I've seen others with vest pillows where they turn their daughter's vest into a pillow for her room when she bridges to the next. I've seen capes. I've seen leaders buy sashes and sew them onto the bottom of the vest like a ruffle or extension. I've seen a lot of different ideas, but I am sold on the blanket.

The blanket is awesome. I take it with me to overnights and I can sit and tell the girls about the different patches and events... what we did... what I remember... and if it happens again and "do they want to go?!" It's a great way to get girls excited about events. All those memories on one handy dandy blanket.

The reason I don't like cutting vests to make into a quilt is because I have this nostalgic hope that one day... maybe my granddaughter will want to pull out her Mommy's vest and wear it in a parade or take it for show n tell to a troop meeting. Sniff sniff... makes me teary thinking about it, actually.

So, yeah... find yourself a blanket! Want a quilt? Get a quilt! Make a quilt! No rules to it. Find something you want and then cover it up with patches.

TIP: My stepdaughter now knows that when she gets a fun patch I'm going to ask "Vest worthy? Blanket patch?" It isn't that the blanket isn't as important, but it allows her to prioritize what is on her uniform that people see at each event we go to and which ones as on the blanket and only seen at overnight events.

And yes... we have some patches that are vest and blanket worthy and we buy extra, so both have them. That's mostly SU events and I have an inside connection there to get more patches.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Amaze Journey - Interact Part 1

We were going to do the Amaze journey as a sleepover and then we decided with three years of Cadettes that we want to slow the pace. I found this AWESOME Turnkey program from Girl Scouts of Northeasten New York ( We are using this outline and bringing in our own stuff and planning as we go.

For our first meeting, we did more than just the Amaze journey.... we

  • talked about meeting structure
  • talked about Cadette badges
  • everyone got their uniform
  • everyone got stuff they are to bring to each meeting (notebook, pens, pencils, Amaze girl book, water bottle)
But... you are here for Amaze, right? Probably so, since that's the title of the post... I am loosely following the Turnkey example and bringing my own things in, too. 

Introduce Amaze
- group discussion on what they think the journey might be about
- read page 5
- discussed what that meant to them
- asked if they had to ever make hard decisions, had disagreements with friends, etc.
This was an eye opener. Not because they had to make tough decisions, but the depth and maturity in the discussion. The young ladies are not the same girls I remember at the beginning of last year or even the end of last year. This group has matured and they are amazing!!

Interact Award Activities (this was not completed in one meeting, but part of it was... this is what we did)
- Group Share: Share one interesting or funny fact about yourself that we know already (Easy when
we are bringing together 4 troops and 1/2 of the girls are new!)
- 2 Truths and a Lie: Come up with three statements and share. See if we can guess which is a lie. The truths were interesting and got the girls talking about their lives and experiences
- Peacemaker Kit: I bought cardboard paper mache boxes at JoAnn's for $1/each. The girls used duct tape and self adhesive ribbon embellishment to decorate them up. They are to bring them to each meeting as we will be adding to them. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guest Post: Laurie Ann Thompson - Author of Be A Changemaker

I was super honored to receive an advance copy of Be A Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson a few months back. I have really enjoyed reading the book and thinking of ways to incorporate it into my Cadette troops Silver Award journey. I feel the book is inspiring to young women (and men...) to take hold of the talent they have and realize they CAN and ARE making a difference in the world. 

Laurie is on a blog tour this week and was gracious enough to supply me with a guest post, so without further ado... Laurie Ann Thompson's words about Be A Changemaker. Did I mention you can win a free copy of the book? You can.... read through Laurie's words and then leave a comment (more information below).

Thanks for having me here today, Lora! My book, Be a Changemaker, is for teens who want to make a difference in their own communities or around the world. It features profiles of young changemaker and the organizations they founded, practical how-to advice and tips, hands-on activities, and motivational quotes. I wrote Be a Changemaker because I believe young people can be not only the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today. I wanted the book to empower young people to make the changes they want to see, which is exactly what the Girl Scouts organization does for today’s girls. As a former Girl Scout, volunteer, and leader myself, I see many natural parallels between the Be a Changemaker message and the mission of the Girl Scouts. 
In fact, one of the teams I profile in the book (chapter 4, Researching Your Big Ideas) came
together because of their Girl Scout Bronze Award, and these girls ended up changing the Girl Scouts organization itself! Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, decided to work together toward their award. They knew they wanted to do something that helped animals, so they started by looking on Dr. Jane Goodall’s website at That led them to research about endangered animals, where they soon learned about the plight of orangutans due to the destruction of their natural habitat for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is a common ingredient in many processed foods, so Rhiannon and Madison started reading labels and trying to avoid products that used palm oil. Imagine
their surprise when they noticed that the Girl Scout cookies they had been selling since they were little girls had palm oil in the list of ingredients!
The pair changed their focus and launched a venture called Project O.R.A.N.G.S. (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts), and they starting working to convince the Girl Scouts of the United States to remedy the situation. In 2011, they succeeded, and GSUSA adopted a sustainable palm oil policy for its cookies. Since then, they’ve expanded to take on the palm oil industry itself and have worked with other established organizations like Orangutan Outreach, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Climate Advisors. 
What started out as a simple poster board by two Girl Scouts working on their Bronze Award has grown into a powerful organization doing real good in the world and launched two young women on their way to being lifelong changemakers. I hope every Girl Scout can have that same kind of experience, whether they start something small that happens only once or they continue to build on it and see what develops over time. I wrote Be a Changemaker to help them do just that.
For more information about the book, please visit my website at If you subscribe to my newsletter while you’re there, I’ll even send you a link to download an excerpt so you can check it out for yourself. 

Yes... I promised a chance to win a free copy, right?

Teen Librarian's Toolbox is creating a free downloadable workshop guide for libraries and classrooms for the book that will be available on Laurie Thompson's website in late October.


One lucky winner will receive a copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson (U.S. addresses). Leave a comment below before 6PM Central on September 19th and your name will be entered into a drawing for a FREE copy of the book!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Independence Badge

Updated 3/17/17 to include the Habit Tracker

This badge went against all values we were trying to instill in the girls at the end of the last semester of their Junior year. They were struggling to work as a team. They were bickering and emotional and well... being 5th grade girls. But, it was one that I felt they needed to earn. It built some self-confidence and it helped me bridge the thought with them that they are now the "older girls". They need to be able to do things on their own, if for no other reason than I believe with my whole heart they can. So, we tackled it...

Independence 1: Help take care of a car

We can't be experts at everything. I don't pretend to know everything about everything. I can talk my way through just about anything, but sometimes it's good to get other involved. Sometimes it's very rewarding for others to be involved. My husband LOVES cars. He is restoring a 1976 MGB and we have our hopes set on another classic car to add to our family soon. I asked if he would like to take care of this. He agreed, though I had to talk him down from teaching them how to change the oil and explain we were doing baby steps. I also assured him he would be able to do that when they were a bit older. His enthusiasm was exciting, though. Then life happened and he got stuck at work and was running late. So, I went over the interior gauges and talked about this and that and all the stuff I know about batteries, oil, etc. Hopefully I didn't make too much stuff up. Ha! It wasn't intentional. The Green Knight arrived just as I was starting to go over the stuff under the hood. He took over and the girls were captivated! He had a grin so big I thought his face was going to split. There's just something about your daughter and her friends listening to every word like it was gospel.

Independence 2: Learn 2 sewing skills 

Anything to do with sewing... I got this! For this requirement, the girls sewed a button on to two layers of felt flowers and then onto a safety pin for a felt flower corsage. Weeks later I saw them adorning backpacks and that really makes you smile. 

The other practical skill we learned with this was sewing a patch on! I volunteer sewing services to my girls, because mothers don't sew. But, these girls are going to know how! I purchased bandanas and had some left over fun patches. The girls each chose one and a thread color. I showed them how to whip stitch it on quickly and explained this is all they need to do for badges and patches. They were excited. We'll see if they really learned when they have or don't have badges on their uniforms next year.

HOMEWORK: Independence 3: Break a habit (on my honor)

I put together a sheet to send home for them to break a habit. I told them on their honor they had to do it, because there really wasn't any way for me to know if they had or not truly broken a bad habit. They did report back and share their accomplishments.

Resource: Habit Tracker

Independence 4: Clean to a beat (set up to a beat for Court of Awards)

We cranked up the music and cleaned the place up and then set the place up for Court of Awards. The girls did great working together... time management was a bit of a problem, but all in all they did a great job.

Independence 5 - Field Trip to HyVee: Run an errand

Each girl will have an item she has to go find for our snack and use good shopping skills to make wise choices. The girls were given $5 and were tasked to find a healthy snack AND drink. They had to complete the challenge own their own, including paying for it. I stressed the importance to watch their prices, as I wouldn't bail them out. I also gave them 2 additional challenges for a little competition. Whomever finished first got to keep the change. Whomever spent the least amount of money also got to keep the change. They weren't allowed to share ideas or work together for this... after all, it's the Independence badge.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Guest post: Inside Government and Customer Insights

I'm so happy Karen from Troop 42820 sent me these ideas and gave me permission to share with all of you! She has some great ideas. 

For Inside Government—
  • For Step 1, we did Be an active citizen in action. We made a list of things we thought made an active citizen, and since some of our girls were new to the Girl Scout Law, we talked about how the Law was like being an active citizen.
  • For Step 2, we invited the Vice Mayor from one of our communities to our troop meeting. As a bonus, she was a long-time Girl Scout! She talked about how she helps to make laws, and shared with us the process of creating the law governing the keeping of residential chickens in our village. :) The girls were very interested and had a lot of questions!
  • For Step 3, instead of laws, technically, I looked at some issues that were either up for a vote or had recently been voted on in our community—things that the girls could relate to, like a police/fire levy and even the renewal of a swimming pool levy. We took a vote by using small post-its—the girls wrote 'yes' or 'no' and placed them in cups (we did 3) for each issue. Then 3 volunteers counted the vote and announced the results. Girls who wanted to share their votes stated which way they voted and why. We had some lively discussions. :)
  • For Step 4, the girls had a choice—some watched an online video of their community council meeting and wrote an article, while others followed the local news and wrote a "letter to the editor". 
  • For Step 5, girls made posters in support of our school district's renewal levy, and I posted them on our school's Facebook page.

For Customer Insights, girls did a fair amount on their own and we discussed it as a troop. My girls love to talk... and sometimes get a bit off topic, but I want them all to be heard. :)  So sometimes we don't get as much packed into a meeting as we need to in order to earn as any badges as they want.
  • For Step 1, we visited and talked to the local owner of a cupcake shop! We also used this outing to fulfill Step 2 of Cookie CEO. After our visit she even made Girl Scout cookie-themed cupcakes for a few weeks. :)
  • Steps 2, 3 and 4 were done pretty much as they are listed—I gave the girls handouts with a picture of the badge and the guidelines at the top so they could make notes and bring them back to a meeting for discussion.
  • For step 5, we did role-playing at our cookie sale kick-off meeting. During that exercise we also did step 4 of Cookie CEO and Skill 4 of the Cookie Activity Pin. :) The girls enjoyed practicing their pitch and getting tips on improving it, and then enjoyed being the potential customer as well.

If you would like to contribute to the blog, please let me know. :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Enough for who?

I dedicate this post to all the Leaders doing their best and feeling they are falling short... This is your wake up call...

I went with a group of friends to see Mom's Night Out. If you haven't seen the movie and you are totally Type A like me or if you are woman trying to juggle home, career, family, friends, and everything else... GO SEE THE MOVIE! It's hilarious.. you need to laugh... it's moving... I had a revelation while watching the movie and through the laughter... caught myself crying... like... tears streaming down my face quietly sobbing crying. So glad they were good friends.... I don't want to ruin the movie if you haven't seen it, but I want to tell you about my epiphany.

It was one line, really... one line that pushed me over the edge and ever since I haven't been able to shake it. She was struggling with managing her life and said "Whatever I do, it's never enough". Been there, felt that sister. Oh so many times.... I was not prepared for the next line... She was simply asked..... "Enough for who?" They went on to discuss how we have a tendency to put more on ourselves than others actually expect... we all need to lighten up and remind ourselves we are doing the best we can... and we don't need to keep up with anyone else. Be who YOU are!

Trying to encourage Leaders who are at their wits end is one of the hardest and heart-wrenching things I have done. It's so hard to explain that whatever you are doing with your troop it is more than those girls would have without you. If all you do is crafts and giggle, they are growing and learning and enjoying themselves... kids learn through play... it doesn't have to be spectacular meetings with field trips to the moon. Whatever you are able to provide for those girls, it is more than they would have without you. Let me say that again and this time... read it slowly... digest it... think about it...No matter what you are doing... whatever you are able to provide for the girls in your troop... it's more than they would have without you.

I look at my small troop of six and can tell you there are some girls in my group that need Girl Scouts. Not for the outdoor skills. Not for the badges.. not for the ceremonies... not for learning how to make invisible ink... they need it because they need a positive female role model in their life. They need to know and see and feel that there are adults who care enough about who they are and who they will become that they are willing to spend time with them.

Each of us, I'm sure, can think of one girl in our troop that we probably don't really want to know everything about her home situation... that's not a cop out.. that's a coping mechanism. Some of the girls we meet go home to a "family" who never ask how she did at school, how the test went, how the day was, or if she needs anything. YOU might be to her the only person that really cares enough to give her a smile and word of encouragement.

If you are like me, you signed up or agreed to be a Troop Leader because of a girl you loved. Then, you were bombarded with the expectations of passing on thousands of old traditions, new badge programs, field trips, adventures to last lifetimes, and started to wonder how you were supposed to get all of that done. I hope not many of you are like me in this aspect, but if you are don't feel alone... at times I just want to sit down and call it quits. You are convinced you can't keep up with "Troop Perfect Amazing Incredible Doing Everything You Wish You Could".

Reading through blogs and message boards and watching all the pictures on Facebook of the happy little troops doing happy little things and building a water system for a village can make you feel less than accomplished. But are you less than accomplished? No. You're doing fine! You are there, aren't you? That's more than many others can say. Don't forget that!

The girls need leadership skills. Yes. The girls need to feel included. Yes. The girls need to have fun. Uhhh... YES! The girls need you to do your best... not someone else's best. You don't need to keep up with another troop. You need to find out what your troop wants to do. Your girls don't need you to spend 50 hours decorating for the perfect ceremony. They need you to remind them they are wonderful and can accomplish anything they put their mind to.

It's hard when you are trying to balance a full time job, family, extended family, troop, and extra "stuff". But, just cut yourself some slack and remember.... you are enough. Obviously, you care or else you wouldn't have signed up as a Girl Scout Volunteer... and you wouldn't be reading this post. You aren't failing. You may need to regroup. You may need to take a couple months off. You may need a break. But, you aren't failing.

You are enough. Just let each girl know she is important to you. That's what makes you enough. That's it. It's that simple. The rest will come... and if not... 20 years down the road the girls won't chastise you for not showing them how to do the highwayman's knot... they'll say "My Leader cared about me. She was great!" And for that.. and everything else they will never realize you did... you deserve a gold star!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Survey the girls

End of year surveys...

I meant to share this with everyone before the point in time that it may be too late to accomplish this scouting year (my troop doesn't meet over the summer months... yeah... because I need some time off!)... but posting this now, it just gives you the opportunity to be more creative on how you pull this one off... yeah, I'll go with that.'s an idea... mail the survey with a SASE to each girl and imagine the delight of them receiving something in the mail from you!!!

This is the first year I did a real end of year survey... okay, I've asked the girls at the end of the year what they liked and what they wanted to try to do next year and such before... we did this as a round table discussion and just in passing type thing... but this time I made it more "official".

Don't worry... it was still simple, but turned out to be very enlightening. 

I gave the girls a single sheet of paper and a pencil (because I couldn't find my pens). I asked them to spread out around the room. I stressed that I wanted them to be honest and open. I asked they not be mean, but be truthful even if it wasn't bright and cheery. I also told them I wasn't going to look at the sheets until I was home. I wanted to make sure they knew it wasn't going to be discussed with the troop and it was just for me and the other leaders to review. 

So... what did I ask... really some basic questions. 

  • Name: 
  • What did you like the most about this year?
  • What did you like the least about this year?
  • What would you change?
  • What do you want to do next year?
  • Are you coming back to Girl Scouts next year? Yes/No/Maybe
  • Why or why not?

Yep... it was that simple. The results were great. Don't over think this stuff... I tend to complicate items at times and make it really involved... don't be stressing yourself out like that.  

What they told me will help me plan next year. I now know I need to bring
back more crafts, which I thought they were getting tired of and apparently I was wrong. I learned they love working on service projects. They like having visitors come in and help with various things. They love field trips (I was not shocked on this one). Overall, they liked what we did. They didn't LOVE all the badges, but I have a feeling they learned something from each one.

I knew a couple girls probably weren't returning and I knew one girl was moving away. I try not to take those things personally (esp. the moving away part). I realize girls have lots of opportunities and interests and want to try new things. I don't find it beneficial to beg a girl to stay that really doesn't want to be there. I hate to see her go, but I don't want her last experience to be her leader begging for her to stay and making her feel guilty for leaving. Instead, I smile and give her a hug and say "We are going to miss you. We wish you the best and hope you are very successful in your next activity, just as you have been with Girl Scouts. If you change your mind, just let me know. You are always welcome to come back."

So, if you do the surveys be prepared to read over them and think about them and don't take it personally. Hopefully they don't maliciously intend to destroy your whole being. 

Even if they didn't love everything (remember one of the questions was about what they didn't like), it doesn't mean you failed. As the Leader, you have to make those tough decisions... I knew they weren't going to be over the moon talking about government, but it made them think and it's something they will remember later in life...I envision one of my girls at a party discussing whatever and a topic will arise about how government needs to do this or that and I hope in that moment, she will remember our discussions about government and what it means... how it's different in a free country compared to other countries... how you have to think through the changes you want made... how you have to think about it affecting other people, businesses, areas, future generations... and in that moment in time, I romanticize about her smiling a little and thinking "maybe it is good we talked about all that and earned that badge".

So... be brave... be bold... do a survey of your girls.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Junior Badge: Inside Government

The girls were not thrilled about doing this badge. In fact, they didn't WANT to do this badge. But, I knew they would be okay with it. We tend to make everything fun, because that's what is going to keep them around... which is the ultimate goal.

For our badge... this is what we did:

#1: Decide what Being an Active Citizen Means to You

We discussed what this meant. I had them define citizen and think about what "active" really means. To their surprise, it isn't doing jumping jacks in the intersection of a major highway! (Teasing... but it makes them giggle and think and start talking. I tend to throw in "off the wall" ideas just to get them to loosen up and start talking. Laughter really helps that!)

As a group, the girls listed 10 ways to be an active citizen. I let them brainstorm and include things they can do now, things we have done as a troop, and

#2: Go Inside Government
I tried to get an interview with a state legislator and I even tried local level. No one was interested and that is frustrating! So... plan B! My assistant leader was elected President of her sorority and I had been appointed to a few positions with our Council. I had the girls think of questions to interview us. I also had them define what the difference in being elected and being appointed it. We discussed who is elected and who is appointed. How appointments take place, etc etc. I was very thankful my assistant leaders are younger than I and have fresh brains that retain that information.

#3: Look into Laws
As a group the girls came up with 6 laws they would like to propose someday. Without their knowledge, my assistant leaders and I threw them in the pit of discussion to have to defend their law proposals. We had great discussions on why what they propose would help or hurt the world and how it may affect the economy and freedoms we hold dear. To end with we discussed how our legislators do the exact same thing. It was the same process for them, only probably not as polite as we kept it.

#4: Report on the issues
The girls had to track the news for a week and discuss 5 stories that affected them. They all did really well. We had a couple tragedies in the world that week, which came up in discussion. I was also interested to hear the types of science news the girls were into (3D printers for human organs, robots to help in surgeries, etc.)

#5: Get involved in government
I'm going to preface this with the fact that we spent a LOT Of time on proposing laws and interviews. We had great discussions and the girls were interested in how it all worked... so by the time we got this activity we were pretty much exhausted. I split the girls up into teams of 2 by having them pick a slip of paper that gave them their role. We had 3 Campaign Managers and 3 Politicians. They teamed up, came up with the office, the platform, a short speech and a campaign poster to support the candidates. It could have been done a lot better, but it was fine and the girls know how elections work, as many of them have ran for student government.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Song: Purple Stew

This song is one that we turned into a game of sorts. The girls LOVE IT!! I know some use this with a scary story, but we use it as light and cheery fun!

We begin by having EVERYONE (adults included!) stand in a circle with 1-2 girls that know the song and are leading in the middle. They are the ones that start the fun.

Sing the song through and if you are in the middle of the circle you choose someone to bring in with you when you get to that part of the song.

Continue to sing it through until everyone is smushed into the middle of the circle and no one is left standing on the outside.

The girls giggle and love this song. It's a great way to get the adults involved, too, as they can't resist a little girl coming to take their hand and lead them into the fun.

Purple Stew

Making my purple stew, (pretend to stir a pot of stew)
Whip whip, whip whip, (swish side to side)
Making my purple stew, (pretend to stir again)
Scooby dooby doo, (arms are rotating in front of body)
With Purple potatoes, and purple tomatoes, (reach behind you and
put something in your pot with one hand
and then the other)
and YOU in my purple stew! (the girls in the middle each pull

someone into the middle of the circle)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Take Action Project: Get Moving Journey

Photo from:
As you probably already know, you are to do a service project (or Take Action Project aka TAP) with each Journey. Several people are intimidated by this, but really you shouldn't be. We do service projects all the time with our girls and just don't think about it. I know we all do!

We :

  • collect food for the food pantry,
  •  toys for pets, 
  • blankets for the shelters, 
  • cookies for safe houses, 
  • books for transition houses,
  • and the list goes on and on. 

So, take a deep breath and keep it simple.

The Get Moving! Journey is all about energy conservation and innovating to save energy... so, yeah.. recycling. Part of one of the not-so-latest trends is upcycling, too.

We did the Get Moving Journey right about the same time as cookie sales... with cookie sales comes cookie booths. I gave the girls several options for a Take Action Project (TAP). I suggested they could:

  • make signs for the lodge where we hold our sleepovers on water conservation, 
  • signs for the doors to check to make sure they were closed, 
  • conserve energy signs for their homes or schools, 
  • or we could do something to promote recycling/upcycling to give out at our cookie booth. 

Now, seriously, the signs would have been a LOT less work. So, I have to say I was proud of the girls when they decided to do something for the booth to hand out to people passing by.

We made coffee cozies from old jeans. We used old jeans, fleece (clearance rack, but you could use old sweats if you have any? or an old thermal/flannel baby blanket, if you can part with one), buttons that I had on hand, velcro from the closure, and needle/thread. We did a sandwich of:

  • Denim
  • Fleece
  • Denim

then, whipstitched (blanket stitch) them together. We tried to hot glue the velcro on, but that didn't work. So, I machine stitched that on. In addition the girls used the scraps to cut out free style circles of fleece and denim to layer (3 layer) with a button in the middle for a cute little flower looking thing. They also cut out hearts and random shapes.

The girls all made 2 each and then they delegated... they learn that from me, but somehow have mastered it much better than I have... we cut out several pieces and then they asked me if I would sew them, since we were out of time. I agreed and did... plus more... They also wrote up information about the project, why they were doing it, etc. etc.

The coffee cozies were a HIT!! We offered them to people walking by our booth and at first they would say "How much?" or "I don't need any cookies." So, these girls learned quickly... I started saying "Can you do me a favor and just help the girls with a Take Action Project? They have to do a project with each of their journey's and are trying to hand these out to people. You don't need to buy cookies and we don't expect you, too. Really, it's fine. But, can you help them out?" People were SHOCKED... touched... and I will admit, a lot of people ended up buying cookies and giving a donation for the cozy (after they insisted we would take it).

Here is where I got the idea, but... we didn't use buttons and hair elastics... we used 2" wide velcro.

I wish I had one to show you, but.... I gave them all away!!!! BOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Service Unit Patches

This is NOT the complete set, but I'm excited and I have to share. I don't want to brag (maybe I do a little...), but I had this crazy idea about 2 years ago to start providing our Leaders with a newsletter each month that went over all the information we try to push out and get to the girls. Well... what is a newsletter without a crest or logo of some sort, right?

We held a contest and asked the girls in our Service Unit to design a logo for our Service Unit. We told them it would be used on the newsletter and event registration our Service Unit pushed out. What we didn't tell them, because we weren't sure, was that we hoped to get it made into a patch! Oh, yeah... a PATCH! If you are a Girl Scout (and chances are if you are reading this, you are...), you know that patches are the best thing ever!! Girls and adults collect them... okay, it's possible I know a few adults that are way more excited about patches than girls, but hey... we give a lot of time if we want a cute patch --> SO BE IT!!

The Service Team was super excited and insisted we find someone to make our logo into a patch. It took a while to find a company that could do it and do it well. It is a large patch, 4" in diameter, and we love it! We had patches made of the Service Unit Logo about 6-9 months after the newsletter came out. 

Then, this year, I had another idea (this may be why the Service Team just shakes their head at me... I'm full of ideas...) What about designing rocker bars to fit around the patch?! My fellow patch hounds were delighted!! So, that's what we did this year. Each event we hosted (all 13 of them!), we designed a rocker bar to fit around. There were a couple snags along the way (notice the Pool Party patch... yeah, that's cause yours truly didn't catch the height of the patch was not the right size.... and the space between the patch and the logo drives me slightly insane... any ideas on what to do about would be greatly appreciated... or maybe it will just serve as a constant reminder to double check your measurement... sigh.)

At our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on April 22, 2014, I presented each of the Service Team Members with a framed set of the event patches and SU logo patch as a gift from me to them. We all work hard. They were happy and I heard "oh! That's why you were insistent and asked if we wanted a rocker for every event." and "Now I see why the Pool Party patch size upset you so much." HA HA!! I love those ladies so much!!! They totally rock. 

We have 4 events that are not represented in the photo above, because they haven't happened yet. Remind me and sometime in August I'll post the full collection. :)

OH! And because I know you are wondering what amazing and awesome patch company was able to make these gorgeous patches for us... Emblem Enterprises is their name and the most stunning patches are their game! (They don't know I'm doing this and I get nothing from it. But, Ms. Kitty (she's a GS, btw) is awesome and she has been a tremendous help this year. If you do check into getting patches with them, please tell them the crazy gal from Columbia, MO mentioned their company to you. )

Friday, May 2, 2014

How many Leaders do you work with?

I received a delightful email this week from a Girl Scout Volunteer in Louisiana (you know you who are... you owe me coffee. Ha!). I have to say, I smile each time I receive emails from fellow Girl Scout sisters about this blog.

My troop was working on the Inside Government badge Tuesday night and I wanted to expand their minds on what government really means and can be (this has a point, I promise). We, of course, discussed federal level, state level, and city level. But, I had them interview my Assistant Leader who was elected President of her Sorority and I had them interview me from the viewpoint of being appointed to the Service Team and as a Delegate for Council and National level. The term "appointment" was loose by definition, but I wanted them to think about the difference. One of the questions I was asked was "How many Leaders have you worked with?" To clarify, I asked "In the troop or in Girl Scouting in general?" "All of Girl Scouts" she says. HA! She had no idea what she just asked me to tally up. So, I replied by saying that I work with Leaders for our Troop, the Service Team, all the Leaders in the Service Unit as part of the position of Volunteer Support Coordinator, as well as Council level because I will talk to anyone about the amazing things we have going on. I then added that I also have this blog and hope that I have helped numerous Leaders throughout the US and world.

I do receive emails from various places and I truly enjoy hearing that I have been of use to someone. I ended by saying "It's all about the warm fuzzies". The girls really had no idea what they had asked, because I really don't discuss my various levels of involvement in Girl Scouts with them. I should, I think. But, I don't. I feel they probably wouldn't understand the amount of work it takes, the dedication (or insanity), and the big picture of why I would do what I do.

So, if you are a Leader or Volunteer out there in the world have come in to contact with this blog or something you saw of mine on Pinterest or Facebook or where ever.... I really hope it helped you out. Please know that if you email me, I will email you back. Girl Scout promise! I don't promise it will be instantly, but sometimes it is. I had a lot of great people help me get started and they continue to help me when I'm stuck or (let's be honest) burnt out and I hope I return the favor from time to time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Girl Scouts National Convention 2014

Girl Scouts National Convention 2014. Are you going?

It's in Salt Lake City, Utah October 16-19, 2014.

I'm going to be there. I'd love to connect with some of my blog followers, if you have the time and desire. I promise I'm not crazy... well... not crazier than it is necessary to do what we do...

I'll be a National Delegate for our Council and I'm really kinda excited! It should be a fun time. I really hope to see ladies dressed in vintage uniforms or covered from head to toe in SWAPs. Maybe I'm just blowing this up in my mind, but I'm really hoping something phenomenal happens. My only regret is that my step-daughter isn't old enough to go with me. Though, I think she can but she can't go to like 80% of the stuff... so we'll wait until next time and she will be old enough and oh yes she will be going with me! Sharing these things with her is really what keeps me motivated and going.

So... let me know if you are going to be there. :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Junior Badge: Entertainment Technology

I'm a computer progammer, web developer, project manager by day... for those that were unaware of my nerdy geeky techie-ness. So, I will admit that I embrace technology and welcome it into my world and life. I don't try to live in a bubble and pretend my girls aren't living in the virtual world either.

This badge focuses on that and really helped the girls see what all entertainment technology could do for them. There are so many great careers that could be obtained. If any of them go into game design or engineering roller coasters, I'm totally taking the credit because of this badge!

We split the girls up into two groups for most of the badge. My assistant leaders ran one station and I ran one. 

Entertainment Technology 1: Animate your own artwork: Play around with stop-action
I brought in a lump of Sculpey clay, the camera, and several pieces of white cardstock. The girls were instructed they needed to build a "light box", come up with something to animate, sculpt it out of clay and take at least 10 photos of their item "moving". They did great. After they were done, I put the photos together into an animated gif and showed them the result. We talked about what to do differently to make it better next time and the importance of having the camera in the same spot for each location. They suggested the use of a tabletop tri-pod would have helped. I agree and thought of that after the fact. 

Entertainment Technology 2: Talk to a developer!
This is sort of hard to do sometimes... to find someone to come in and talk. So, I followed the lead of wiser and experienced Leaders and thought... why not use Entertainment Technology to fulfill this! I found an interview of the guy that built MineCraft and had the girls review it. They were into MineCraft (I'm so hip!), so I knew it would be interesting to them. Plus, it showed the unexpected growth of what the developer didn't think would be such a huge gamer base. Proving the point you just never know when an idea is going to hit big!

This is the interview I used, ( because it talked about how he got into programming and such, too. There are several different interviews, including video, that he has done. So, if you want to go the Minecraft route, just Google Minecraft interview with Notch (that's his nickname).

Entertainment Technology 3: Catapult some stuff
Who doesn't love launching something across the room with encouragement and permission from the adults!!! I found this great plan at the link below and gave the supplies and instructions to the girls. We didn't help them much. They had to build it and work together to make it better, etc. They had races and contests and took them outside. It was a great time and one of their favorite activities done at a troop meeting.

We also built rollercoasters online:

Entertainment Technology 4: Create your own Special effects 
I tweaked this one a bit. The girls LOVE taking "selfies" with their iPods and phones and such. So, I downloaded the Lab app, paid the $1.99 for the "Pro" version to get rid of ads and let them take selfies with my phone, play with the app, create special effects, etc. I was actually surprised how wide of a range we had with our group when it came to technology experience. I had a couple girls that had never used an app like this and others that were showing me things after seeing it for the first time! It was fun and an easy way to bring technology into something they liked doing to begin with.

Entertainment Technology 5: Experiment with acoustics 
We took a stroll for this. I had the girls choose the song, the places around our meeting place, and keep track of their findings. We were in the bathroom, the hall, a vestibule with high ceilings, against a concrete wall, between cars, etc.They cupped their ears and listened again. Just taking the time to think about sound and how different places react to the sound waves helped them understand why certain activities are better inside or outside.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What have you done lately?

I have received a few emails lately asking if I'm still doing Girl Scouts and just checking in to see if I'm okay. That's what I love about Girl Scouts. No matter where we are from or if we've ever met, we are sisters. I have met so many wonderful friends through Girl Scouts. It really is my "smile" spot in my life.

Yes! I'm still around. Just very busy with a Junior troop that isn't always a bed of roses. We have some "drama" with a Bronze project right now that I've really been avoiding, to be honest. I have had to think about how to work it out and deal with it for a while now. I'm still not sure the best route and I don't think there really is one. There is only the path you choose to take and you hope for the best.

Yes! I'm okay. This is a very busy time of year with cookies, events, and troop activities. So, I'm trying to manage my time and unfortunately the blog isn't the highest on the list. Then add in some health concerns with my Dad and you have the makings of one very tired person.

So... I will start back soon, I promise. In the meantime, I'll let you know what we've done this semester:
January - cancelled the cookie kick off and both troop meetings because of snow!!! BUT, we had a sleepover and did the Get Moving journey (yes, check that out.. i added that post a couple days ago!).

February - cookies... enough said... no, we had a cookie booth, cancelled a meeting for snow, tearfully said goodbye to a girl that I've had from the beginning because she moved to another state, and earned the Global Action and Cookie Activity pin

March - one meeting with drama Bronze discussion; 2nd cancelled because I was sick.

BUT... this is the plan for the rest of the year

  • Snooze at the Zoo this weekend
  • Social Butterfly
  • Inside Government
  • Independence?
  • Safety Award
  • Customer Insights
  • Junior Aide/Bridge to Cadette at an overnight event with our Service Unit (which I'm coordinating....)
The first semester this year, we earned:
  • First Aid
  • Gardener
  • Entertainment Technology
  • Musician
  • Product Designer
We don't do meetings during the Summer and to be honest... at this point in the year, I'm more than ready for a break. Next year... we'll be Cadettes... crazy!!!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Get Moving Journey as a Sleepover

UPDATE 10/26/15: 
I have had several people request a link to my spider video... I would skip to 2:20 for better focus, though the first part shows her spinning her web around the wasp.

Our troop has now officially had the opportunity to complete all three Junior Level Journeys... yes, we are that crazy. No, really, the girls are motivated. They really wanted the Journey Summit pin and there were a couple girls that needed to do a Journey in order to do their Bronze. 

So... I sat and looked through the Journey book and read the overview and went over it again and again. I couldn't find a plan like I found for aMuse, so I decided to come up with my own. How hard could it be, right? Ha! It did take a bit of time. Not going to lie... but, it was worth it. 

This is how we broke down our days. We did an overnight. Before the times you see, we did drive to the program center, unpack, get our stuff situated, etc. But, as far the Journey, this is how it went down. 


Sunday:6:30-9:30PM Complete Session 1 - 3
9:30PM Night Routine
9:30-11:00PM Movie and Finish up any unfinished crafts
11:00PM Lights Out

Monday: 8:00-8:30AM Morning Routine
8:30-9:30AM Breakfast (cereal, fruit)
9:30-12Noon Session 4 & 5/6
12-1PM Lunch (soup and sandwich, fruit/cookies)
1PM-4:00PM Session 7-11
4:00-4:30PM Pack up and Clean

I want to stress that I had FOUR girls and THREE adults doing this. The PDF  (link below) will show that we set it up as three stations and had the girls rotate through. As they did one activity, the other two stations were cleaned up and set up for the next activity. It worked well. Some of the activities took more time and others less. The times reflected are estimates. Don't think you are going to go to the minute... you won't. But, it gives you a basic idea of how to get it done.

No tricks, no joke, no triple clicking to who knows where... just a link to the PDF at Google Docs. 
It's a public link, so it should be a simple click and get operation. 
Let me know if you use it and if it works for your group.