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.


  1. Thank you so much for doing this!! It is so helpful!!! I look at the program materials and try to brainstorm, and this blog helps me expand my brainstorming immensely!!

  2. This is awesome - my girls have been pretty vocal about how they don't like this badge so this is suuuuuuper helpful!!!

  3. very helpful, thank you! I was passing this one by when ever I looked in the girl guide for which badge to work on next. However, our new state rep is a female (hopefully I'll have better luck than you, and she'll come talk to us) and with the Presidential elections next year I'm thinking this might be a good badge to do and I think it just might end up being fun!

  4. I am leading this activity for our troop and found this helpful for ideas. For step 1, we brainstormed ways to be an acitive citizen and why those things are important. We also covered Step 4 last night where I gave them each a copy of a local newspaper that comes out monthly covering issues/topics only for our area (this way avoided all the presidential race stuff, gay marriage stuff and terriost stuff that's been in the news lately). They each had to select an article and then pretend they are a reporter on the news covering that topic. I coached them to think about the 5 W's - what, why, who, when, where - - that if a person didn't have this newspaper to read, how would they get the key points across to someone in our city. They enjoyed this activity and I also liked that it was good practice speaking in front of a group. We are going on a 3 night trip this summer to our state captial for Step 2. Still working on exactly how I want to cover steps 3 and 5 for our next meeting.

  5. I'm disappointed to hear that your elected officials were so unsupportive. I've had a refreshingly different experience. I called up our city government to check on the ownership of some public statues for the Save of Sculptures patch (sadly no longer available, but a great experience regardless). The lady I spoke to immediately invited the troop to come and share their findings with the Historic Preservation Commission, which got me thinking about working on the rest of this patch at our next meeting. One of my girls is on student council, and three are British-American dual citizens, so those will be nice perspectives to throw into the mix.

  6. Another idea is to talk to your school board! They are invested in kids, and depending on the state, volunteering their time to provide leadership guidance to the schools. They create policies, the calendar, etc. These are things the kids might actually be invested in. There are levels of decision making, like building principal, superintendent, and board. Finding out who is making decisions that effect them will also help them to understand hierarchy and chain of command. They can also learn about state and federal mandates, which is even more hierarchy! Some things you might want to discuss: clothing policies/dress code, bus routes, field trips, the school schedule (why so early/late, etc.), the school calendar, what are the requited number of days in school and who made that rule? You might also ask about teachers' unions and school contracts and why there are times the teachers seem to be upset. You can ask where the money/funding for schools comes from and how that's divided. (Maybe plan ahead and ask if the business administrator can give a simplified version of the budget and expenditures.) You can ask what are some of their greatest challenges? Why they are on the school board? How they got on (elected, appointed, etc.)? What are some of their frustrations?

    1. Thanks for sharing your ideas and rationale. The girls are certain to learn about process, procedure, and accountability of decision makers to various stakeholders. Your ideas are right on target!

  7. I suggest you contact your local board of education, who are invested in education and possibly are already volunteering to lead the district. You can discuss policy, curriculum, etc. You can talk about the chain-of-command, the state and federal mandates, etc. Perhaps alert the Business Administrator and he can give a simplified list of budget items and income to you when you meet.