Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Patch Programs

Thank you, Wendy, for allowing me to share your awesome patch program idea. :)

My troops do not meet over the summer break from school. It's difficult to coordinate schedules and I need a break!

Last Summer, I found a patch program for the girls and thought it would give them something to do and earn over the break from troop meetings. We did the Not Bummer Summer 2014 challenge. It was a patch program I found on a Facebook group. It was a hit with the girls and a few of them even remembered to track their stuff and bring it in to turn in for their patch. I held them to it, too. If they didn't turn anything in, they didn't get the patch. 

So, this summer I'm going to do it again. Since the Cadettes have already done Not Bummer Summer, they are doing Diary of  Summer Girl. The Daisy's are doing Not Bummer Summer. 

The troop that is putting these together are using the proceeds to help pay for some troop trips they are doing. They put together PDFs of what activities qualify and a points system on how to earn the patch. It's all for fun and easily customizable. I swapped out a few items that were sort of location specific or not something for the age range I was targeting. 

Giving the girls something to do over the summer months is a great idea, in my opinion. It's easy for me. It's hopefully fun for them. It keeps them thinking about scouts, too. I plan to send a card halfway through the summer to each of them asking how they are doing and asking they write me a letter back. Another way to stay in touch and support a lost art form... letter writing!

Here are the groups:
Girl Scout Badge Swap:
and Fun Patches to Buy and Sell:

You can find both of these patch programs on one or both of the groups, if you are interested. Just join the group and search for Bummer Summer  or Summer girl and they should come up (unless you wait until next summer to look and then you may be out of luck! Pay attention to the date of this post, please) :) If they don't come up, ask the group or reach out to me and I'll be happy to get you in touch. I didn't want to just share her email and information here for the whole world to bombard her with blindly. 

Have a great summer!! I'm moving, unpacking, organizing, and hoping to catch up on some badges that we have done for your reading pleasure. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Be a sister to every Girl Scout (and destash!)

We are moving. There are a lot of emotions and craziness with that statement. We aren't moving towns, but we are moving. Which means I'm packing. Packing. Packing. Packing. 

Why do I share this, you ask? Well... I have found that I have  a LOT of stuff that is related to Girl Scouts. I have Girl Guides for every level, even though I've only had 4 of the 7. I have journey books for each level. I have leftover yarn, foam, cups, markers, crayons, etc. from 5 years of having a troop. 

So, what do you do with all the leftover "stuff"? We all have crossed this bridge. You need a supply for a craft and you are ordering from Oriental Trading and it comes in sets of 12, but you have 8 girls.... or worse... sets of 12 and you have 13 girls! The remainder is packed away. At least, it is at my house. 

I don't want to toss it, because we might use it. Those days are done. My 7th graders aren't interested in foam shapes any longer. I have no use for things that are just collecting in the totes... yes... totes... and I don't mean little 5 gallon totes.. I mean hold a Christmas tree tote... 2 of them... plus more... It's time to destash. I have come up with a plan. After I move and settle and get organized (insert laugh here, because that is an ongoing process every single day of my life), I plan to go through the "stuff" and put together starter kits of stuff and then gift them to new troops in our Service Unit. 

I have tote bags galore! Seriously... I have more tote bags than any human being should have. I can easily say I have 30 tote bags from Girl Scout events. I don't know why I have so many. I don't NEED that many. If I ever filled that many, I would be so sad... those are going to be passed on full of supplies in the above mentioned "start up" kits. 

And then there are the tools and non-consumables. We have done a few projects over the years that have required lino cutters, hammers, pliers, etc. I searched and got good deals. No one scold me for being frivolous with troop money and let's be honest...a lot of times I paid for it, even though it was for the troop. That stuff, I plan to put together in kits and tell the Service Unit about it for a check out program. I may regret that decision, but that's what we are going to do. 

I hope this will help my fellow Girl Scout sisters and give me a way to destash the ever growing stash of things that is taking up WAY too much space... even though the new house does have more storage, I'd like to be storing family stuff and not just troop stuff... Ha!

The reason for the post? If your girls have outgrown the stash you are keeping, please evaluate and be a sister to a troop. Pass it along. Help someone out. Remember back when you first started a troop and what a blessing a bag of supplies would have been. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

String Art Teaches a Great Lesson

Have you ever had one of those moments when you hear yourself talking and before you know it you realize it's an amazing teachable moment? Have you ever missed that moment and had someone else point it out to you later? That's what happened to me during our last Cadette troop meeting of the school year. 

I had planned to do String Art for a fun little project for the girls. They still love crafts and I like to find things that will at least challenge them a little. They are all on different levels with their crafty skills, so at times it's difficult. 

I explained to the girls how to do their string art project. We talked about safety, because they were using hammers and nails. We talked about following instructions and remembering to do the steps in order to make sure the result was a good one. 

I asked the girls if they had hammered a nail before, because a few are new to our group this year. They all responded they had. So, I showed them how I held the nails and hammer and told them if they weren't comfortable holding the nails with their fingers, then they could use the pliers I had brought. I began to hammer the first nail as a demonstration and one of the girls says "How did you get so good at that?" I shared the story with them and then later when talking to my husband he says "Just like any skill in life... practice!" But, this is the story I shared with them: 

"I have always been a Daddy’s girl. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I wanted to help my Dad build a fence. I kept asking if there was anything I could do and thankfully my Dad is a patient and  caring man who loves his little girl. He gave me a hammer and a coffee can of nails and told me he needed all those nails hammered into a fencepost he was going to use. I’m sure I thought it was a very important task. I remember sitting there and hammering away. They were crooked, bent over, half in, and not a very good tradesman quality of work. But, with time, I got better at it. At the end of the day, he helped me get the ones that weren’t flat to the post hammered in and then he did use it as a gate post. 

Now, if you ask my Dad about this day he will smile and tell you he couldn’t believe I hammered over 100 nails into that post. He really thought I would get bored with it. He knows how many were in there because many years later, he took down that fence and pulled all the nails from the post before burning it. It took him a whole day to get all those nails out from so long ago."

Just like hammering in those nails, it takes time and practice to learn a new skill. Dad showed me how he held the hammer and how to line up the nail with your fingers for the first hit. While it’s important to watch and learn from others, there is a point where you have to just devote yourself to practice and keep going until you know how to do it. Dad understood the importance of just letting me find my own way. He was always good at showing me and then walking away to allow me to practice and figure it out. I don’t swing the hammer just like my Dad and I typically need 2 hits, instead of his 1, before I remove my fingers. But, we can both drive a nail.

Don't forget as a Troop Leader there will be many teachable moments and sometimes you are teaching them life skills that you don't even realize. They hear and absorb more than you know. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tom's One Day Without Shoes 2015

Our troop signed up to participate in the One Day Without Shoes campaign with Tom's Shoes this year. Then, we were selected to get a TON of cool stuff from Tom's!! They sent t-shirts for everyone, a backpack, posters, signs, tattoos, stickers, cards to spread awareness. Crazy haul of stuff. The t-shirts are super duper soft, too!

Tom's does this each year to raise awareness about the need for shoes. They will donate up to 1 MILLION pair of shoes from this campaign. Since it's an annual event, please be watching and thinking... consider participating next year and plan an event to spread awareness. More information here:

We did Court of Awards BAREFOOT! Before Court of Awards, I took the Cadettes and we did some "cute pics" of them jumping and different things. Then, with the Daisy's we formed a circle and took pics of all the cute feet. It was a fun time. 

Here are a couple of my fave pics. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Moving on and not

I'm not sure why I feel drawn to share this today, but I do. Maybe someone else needs to hear my story. So... here goes.

I began my journey as a Girl Scout leader when my stepdaughter was 7 (2nd grade). Her troop needed a Leader and I figured I could at least make something up and provide some fun. We have had a lot of fun, too. 

Now, as she enters 7th grade in the Fall she has decided to move away from Girl Scouts and become more involved with music and sports. She has grown from that funny little girl into an independent mature young lady. She's more confident about herself and her abilities. To say I was devastated when she told me she didn't want to do Girl Scouts would be an understatement.  I wrestled with what I was going to do and how to continue without "my girl" being part of something that was who we were. I struggled with what to do with all the Cookie Credit she has saved since 3rd grade for a trip to Europe (hey.. being honest... it was a thought). I cried over not having her at troop meetings and events. I thought about how hard she (and we) has worked to sell cookies and build up the troop account, so she (and the other girls) could save to do cool things. I felt like she was walking away from so much and how could she do that!?  I was never upset or mad at her. I was, however, very sad. Sad to know she felt I expected her to continue something she didn't want to do. Sad to lose part of who we have been for five years. Girl Scouts has been "our thing" and now it's gone...scared that we were losing touch and that I would somehow lose my girl... that's the scariest thing... losing our relationship. 

Then, I processed. I gave it a lot of thought. I stopped thinking about it and just kept going for two months. Then, I woke up. I asked myself...isn't THIS what we've spent the past 5 years building? A confident young woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it? Isn't that what Girl Scouts is all about? It's taken me time to reach this... trust me... many many tears. I have a lot of time and energy invested... I realized I was sad about fulfilling what Girl Scouts is supposed to do?! I have an almost 13 year old who is confident in herself, courageous to try new things, and she is definitely changing the world! She has learned time management and prioritization. She volunteers her time. She is interested in her school community. She is able to determine what is most important to her and if it isn't Girl Scouts... then it isn't. It's really that simple. We have all been involved with things in our lives and then ended them for one reason or another. People change. People grow. 

I have sat in groups discussing how to retain our older girls and what to do to make them stay and convince them to stay in scouts through High School. Do I wish she would have? Sure. But, do I feel she needs to in order to be a confident, courageous young woman? Absolutely not. She has the building blocks. She has the history. She has the experiences that will last forever. Right now, it might be a sensitive subject for her... she's almost afraid to admit she had a good time because then it doesn't sound like it makes sense to leave. But, we've all had those things in our lives. With time, I hope she'll look back and think "oh yeah, I can do that. We did that in Girl Scouts. I had a great time." They tell us experience is the best teacher and I have learned this lesson loud and clear the past few months. Instead of being sad about girls leaving, we need to remember what they have gained. Everyone matures and "gets there" at a different rate. Everyone has their own interests. We need to applaud their bravery for charting a new path for their lives. We need to remember even if they were in Girl Scouts for a short while, they have gained skills for a lifetime. Instead of being sad about her leaving, I'm excited for her future and in my heart I know that Girl Scouts gave her the confidence and courage to strike out on the journey of life. For that, she and I are blessed. 

Then... the next decision... she's leaving Girl Scouts. What about me? I wrestled with this, too. I have committed myself to two troops. I have 16 other girls who are depending on me to be there for them. I'm not leaving. I am prioritizing. I'm turning over a few things to a very experienced and amazing Girl Scout Leader, but I'm still going to be there. The Cadettes are "my girls" and I love working with them. Teens are extraordinary (and difficult, but mostly amazing). They need someone to take them through CSA. Someone who has been there and knows how to put those expectations on them. So, while I'm staying, I'm stepping back. I have an amazing friend who knows how to help these girls bloom and lead. The Daisy's are awesome and I have them for one more year. This is the age where I feel I have the niche. I can come up with cool things for them to do and experience. So, for the two troops we're splitting duties more next year. 

Just as my almost 13 year old has grown, so have I. When you reach the point where you can clearly evaluate what you want and what you are good at, you can then come up with a plan to move forward. 

So... next Fall begins a new chapter in my life... Girl Scouts without "my girl", but still in it for the others and still in it, because as an adult... Girl Scouts has provided me with some amazing friends that I wouldn't trade for the world!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cadette Field Day Badge

My Co leader did an amazing job putting together this badge with the girls. She had them select the type of game for each requirement and then came up with some super fun things to do. Laughing and smiles all around.

When I think "Field Day" I think outside... the problem is the location where we meet. We meet in the school and because of security for students and after hours staff, the doors are locked and you can't get back in. You can't prop open the doors, either. So, we had to do things inside... even though we really wished we could be outside. 

Requirement 1: Team up and dress up
The girls decided to draw names out of a hat and then distinguish their teams with green and white bandanas.

Requirement 2 & 4: Host a historical game & Find fun in fiction
Target practice has always been a game to show skill. The girls played a "down to earth" version of Quidditch. Quidditch is a real game, by the way. It isn't just in Harry Potter. Of course, our version was a bit of a twist. There were 3 goals with points and the girls had to get balloons to go through the hoops and get to 200 points to win. It was a tight match full of oh "AHHHH!" and "EEEEEE" and "WOO HOO!!!", plus lots of giggles.

Teams stood on opposite side of the table with 1 member on the other side for retrieval of balloons for returning to their team.

It took about 10 minutes with explanation of rules and actual play time. The girls loved it and wanted to do it again and again.

Requirement 3: Play a scientific game
The girls chose to "make it flink". Flinking is when an object is not floating and not sinking. They were given styrofoam, paper clips, bead, and string. The string couldn't be suspending the the object. it was only for retrieval.

This took the longest, really. They worked on it for about 15 minutes or more before anyone was able to make it work. In hindsight, I think adding some small washers or coins would help.

Requirement 5: Stage your grand finale
The girls chose to do a relay type race. We set up 5 stations for them. The twist was that the 3 of them would be representing "Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil."

Station 1: Put the GS cookies in order of introduction. We used Shortbread, Thin Mint, PB Sandwich, Caramel Delite, PB Pattie, Thanks a Lot, Lemonade, Mango Creme, and Cranberry Citrus Crisp.

They also had some bonus questions at this station in order to get extra points in case they needed to make up points at another station.

Station 2: Spell out Girl Scout words using Alpha Bits cereal. They had 2 minutes. One group had 1 word and the other had none. If doing this again, would probably give more time or use the magnetic letters or something instead of cereal. The cereal was hard to decipher letters.

Station 3: Put together a simple puzzle. It was a 24 piece puzzle found at the dollar store.

Station 4: Hula Hoop 10 times around each person in your group. Since the person in the middle was tied to the outside 2 girls, we allowed them hula hoop anywhere on their body and help if necessary.

Step 5: Unwrap the goodies. A little ball of candy, bells, etc. all wrapped up in plastic wrap and packing tape. They couldn't break open any of the objects inside or else they lost the station.

Bonus Activity: Name that tune Girl Scout style
Teams would count down saying how many words they needed to name the song. We didn't sing it, but rather just said the words. We tried to use songs the girls knew, otherwise that wouldn't be fair.

This troop is actually 4 different troops that came together this year and we haven't really spent much time on songs. Ironic, since I do songs at different events for the Service Unit. Anyway, the way the teams were divided by the hat draw, one team was at a disadvantage because they didn't know many songs at all or at least that was their story.

Overall, it was a great meeting. It was our farewell to an amazing college student that has been with us for 3 years. She's going on to become an Elementary school teacher and she will do amazing things and make a huge impact on every student she has. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Court of Awards

It's that time of year for my troops when they are presented with the badges earned for the past semester during our Court of Awards.

Now, Daisy's were to get their stuff at each meeting... but I forgot their Promise Centers and then figured it was a week before Court of Awards, so why not hold them for one week and make a big "to do" about it?

I have 17 girls total. That's not a ton, but it's enough that I needed to prioritize. Throw into the mix that I'm moving in 4 weeks and all the frenzy of activity that goes with that. I'm also just tired. There, I admitted it... I'm tired!

But, I wanted to do something other than a ziploc bag. If you're doing a ziploc bag, don't feel bad. I've done that a lot, too! They work great!

Anyway... I decided to cut cardstock at varying lengths and staple the badges and patches to it. I stapled badges on one color and fun patches on another. Then, I stapled then back to back. To "top" it off, I made toppers with their name and stapled that up top. Don't get overwhelmed with my use of the word "topper". I set up a table in Word, put their sweet little names in each box, and printed it on cardstock. Then cut them apart, folded over, and stapled.

Their name faces the front of the pack with the badges. Now, in my mind, this should help them know what goes on the front and what goes on the back of their uniform. In actuality, they still won't understand and will ask me or have me sew them on... but, at least I tried, right?

It was pretty fast and easy and it isn't a project that took hours only to be tossed away. So, if you are cutting it close to the wire and need something quick that works... feel free to use the idea. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Daisy Lupe Honest and Fair Petal

Our 2nd Daisy meeting has been completed! Woo hoo!! The girls have earned the Promise Center and the Lupe Honest and Fair Petal. 

To earn Lupe Honest and Fair:

Enjoy Lupe’s Story: Read the story and answer questions/discuss

For the girls that missed this, there is a great YouTube video of a leader reading the story and I suggested they watch it at home. Then, you just need to talk about the story and when was Lupe honest and fair, when was she almost not, how would she and her friends had felt... things like that. 

Act out the story with Daisy friends

I split the Daisy's up and assigned Cadettes to help each group of girls come up with a skit of their favorite part of the story. It didn't have to be a huge performance. Just a quick way to get girls working together and planning and acting part of the story out. 

Practice being honest and fair
Truth/Lie Game - Put up a picture of a Happy Face on one wall, and a Sad Face
on another wall. Say either a truth or a lie. The girls run to the Happy Face if you tell the truth. They run to the Sad Face if you tell a lie. Once the girls understand the game, they can take turns being the person who tells the truth or lie.
I quickly learned that the Daisy's are really good at lying. I was shocked that those sweet little innocent faces could be so deceptive. Ha!
Honest and Fair Hunt - We hid enough pieces of candy around the room so each girl would get 5. Once the girls had found their 5 items, they were to ask if anyone else wanted them to help find the rest of their 5 items. Game continues until everyone has found 5 items.
With this activity, I learned you need to be watchful and make sure everyone knows they aren't to take candy during the meeting... next time, I will hide it in a different room... Ha! We had to replace some of the candy and figure out how many had been discovered by little tag alongs.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Simply Circle: 5 ideas for organizing your scout group

I am honored to be featured as a guest at Simply Circle. Simply Circle is a new service for scout troops to help organize their life. I have reposted the my column here.

Everyone is going to get organized differently. You need to do what works for you. Some people work great with containers, while others are good with one big basket. Some like seeing it all on a shelf, while others are more content boxing it away in the closet. The path you take depends on how you work most efficiently. I admit I get a little excited at the chance to find a place for everything. Seriously, I giggle with enthusiasm in store storage aisles. I also like using technology to help me share and stay up to date.
Here are a few things I have done to help stay organized. With any solution, the key is to stay on top of it. Don’t put it off and try to play catch up for months of procrastination.
  1. My top “must have” is a binder. Binders are not boring. Stop that thought! Binders are awesome! I have a binder for each of my troops. The troop binders contain Health History forms and Parent Girl Information sheets in page protectors for safe keeping. There are also Meeting Notes, blank Permission Slips, a printed Attendance Sheet, and the current badge we are working on. Instead of taking the Girl’s Guide AND my binder, I simply put the badge into my binder for the meeting and we are good to go for referencing.
  2. Next, I have a “survival tote”. This isn’t about First Aid. This is about surviving those meetings when you thought you planned enough and was wrong, wrong, wrong. In the tote I have a couple small games (Spot It! and a Knot tying bandana with ropes cut to length for knot tying practice), 3 rolled washcloths for the washcloth toss game, markers, blank paper, and a couple song books. When I have time, I put together SWAPs kits and toss that in for a quick filler craft. This tote has saved me countless times. Pack yours with things you know your girls like. Ask them what you should put in it.
  3. Google Drive is your friend. Learn how to use it! I set up sharing for my co-leader to help write up Meeting Plans, track attendance, track badges earned, and track service hours for the girls. I love it because I can work on something and my co-leader can easily access it and we are both looking at the latest version at all times! My badge tracker sheet is color coded so I know what we’ve done, who was there, what I’ve ordered, and what I need to order. I update this sheet after each meeting, so when it’s time for Court of Awards I don’t have to go back and think who was at meetings and who wasn’t. The Meeting Plan outlines also have enabled me help many others, because I can go back and reference what we did for a badge and offer suggestions.
  4. Filing cabinets may be old school, but they are very handy. If you don’t want to do a cabinet, consider a filing box. I have a folder for each girl in the troop, plus one for each registered adult, receipts, product sales, trips, and handbooks. In the girl’s folder, I have a copy of all the paperwork she does at the beginning of the year. I also put past permission slips in there and hang on to them for a year or so. During product sales, I scan a copy of their order sheet and stick a copy in the folder. That way, the next year with the product sale packets, I give her a copy of the previous year and she has a list of customers to start calling.
  5. My latest “splurge” is a photo box. Not any photo box, but a photo box on steroids! With my brand new adorable Daisy’s earning petals and petals coming in one bag with all the petals and Promise Center, I decided digging through 10 bags each month didn’t sound fun. I also decided that baggies were slippery and easily lost. Plus, this gave me a chance to use the label maker! I divided up the petals by color, printed out sheets from this site and stapled the petals to the appropriate sheet. There are 2 in each box and the box is labels with the flower name for the petals included. Since we plan on repeating the Daisy program again, I can reuse these time and time again. Now, for meetings I can grab the appropriate stack and I’m ready to go.
When you have a full-time job, family, 2 troops, and are the Volunteer Support Coordinator for the largest Service Unit in your Council, organization is mandatory and helps keep me sane for the most part.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Global Action 2015

It doesn't really get much easier than Thinking Day and Global action. Both are earned badges now and go on the front of the uniform. Just as the Thinking Day badge, Global Action only required one completed activity to earn it. 

You can find more information about the Global Action Badge here:

To complete our Global Action 2015, we chose #4:
4. Treat your mom to a cup of tea or coffee. Talk to her or another mother you know about the joys and challenges mothers face every day in raising children. Write a short essay describing her experience and reflect your gratitude for what she does. (Millennium Development Goal: Keeping mothers healthy)

We made a Friendship Tea mix in our troop meeting and each girl was sent home with a jar
of the mix and instructions on how to make the tea. They were told to be on the Girl Scout honor to complete the task of having a cup with their Mom or mother figure and discuss the joys and challenges she has faced. I also tasked them to learn something about their Mom that they didn't know before.

Here is the Friendship Tea mix recipe:

Friendship Tea
From Mavis Bowin (A dear, sweet, amazing Girl Scout friend and sister)

2 c instant orange drink (Tang)
3 c instant tea
1 3z pkg lemonade mix (eliminate if you use instant tea with lemon)
3 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove

Mix well, store in airtight container. Use 2-3 tsp to taste to cup of hot water. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cadette Badge: Comic Artist

This was by far the easiest Cadette badge we have completed this year. Seriously... easy. I'm glad I had other things planned for our meeting, too, because this wouldn't have lasted the whole time.

Now, remember our meetings are 2 1/2 hours long. I know... it's long. But, it's because parents get off at 5pm and can get there to pick up at 5:30pm. School gets out at 2:45pm. So, it just works for us.

I pretty much followed the badge activity guide on this, too. I didn't do too much tweaking at all.
  1. Differences/Similarities Discussion beforehand (This was not part of the badge activity book, but I think it helped the girls think). I put together a collection of comics for them to review. I asked them to look for differences in scenery, dialogue, drawing styles, etc. We talked about how all of the comics were funny and how they got their point across, yet used different means to deliver that. Some were much more detailed than others and which did they like.
  2. Make sticky-note comics: Each girl was given 3-4 sticky notes and told to draw a progression of a scene. I did a flower seed planted, watered, growing, blooming. The girls were much more creative.
  3. Choose a story to tell: The girls then had to think of a story and create a basic outline. I had them do a brain-storming sheets and then rank their ideas. Once they chose one, I had them use a bullet list to talk through their progression. They weren't do to any drawing at this point. It was simply "get your thoughts on paper."
  4. Draw it out: (My source: Next, we practiced some drawing. I had printed out several "How to Draw" sheets. I had the girls select 3 different characters to practice and then incorporate into their final comic.
  5. Frame it in 4 panels: (Great resource: I pre-printed cartoon panel sheets and let the girls decide which to choose.
  6. Add the words: and finally, the girls added in the dialogue which they had drafted in their outline. This took great self-control for the girls, as they wanted to do it all at once, but going through the process step by step in this way helped them see how to build up a story in the way a cartoon artist would do.