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.