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 Random.org 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 (http://gsneny.org/wp-content/uploads/aMazeTurnkey.pdf). 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 RootsandShoots.org. 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 http://lauriethompson.com/books/changemaker-start-something-matters/. 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!!!