Friday, July 24, 2015

Twilight Camp Songbook

We have an amazing camp director for our day camp. It's in it's 15th or more year. I have done songs the past few years and started getting song books printed for the girls and unit leaders.

Before anyone emails me and tells me I have  a phrase wrong or word wrong or whatever, please understand that Girl Scout songs vary by region. I have searched all over the net and local groups for the songs and these are the ones we sing.

I have included a link to a YouTube video for the ones I can find. They are not my videos, so if you love it, please make sure you leave a little love on their video.

You'll find the following songs in our booklet for Twiligt Camp 2015: ARTrageous:

A Ram Sam Sam
Baby Shark (not the same words, but you get the tune and they are hilarious)
Boom Chicka Boom (again, I have different styles, but you get the tune)
Bug Juice
Cannon  (this is actually our service unit day camp)
Evening Star
I Met a Bear 
I’m Peanut Butter - I can't find the one with the tune the campers taught us... I'll try to record it this year... 
Make New Friends
Mama’s Soup Surprise  - I can't find the one with the tune the campers taught us... I'll try to record it this year... 
Princess Pat (Rig A Bamboo)
Purple Lights
Purple Stew (this is actually our service unit day camp)
Say Why
Stay on the Sunny Side
Superman Grace
The Littlest Worm
There Was a Great Big Moose
We’re Great (this is actually our service unit day camp)
Weave Song

and in case your missed the link above... booklet can be found here:

It's set up to be printed as a boklet... front and back side of the paper, folded, and stapled in the middle.

And YES... we have a cover.. it's adorable. You can find it here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Daisy: Sunny - Friendly & Helpful Petal

Since the Cadettes are mentoring the Daisy troop, they help plan the meetings. I have the bare bones ready for them, because the Daisy petals are pretty simple compared to the Cadette badges I'm used to. Don't get me wrong, they still take planning... but I welcome the simplicity!

So, I thought with this petal I'd let you see in to my world of planning and how I get it done. This is ready to go for our September meeting. It has the activities, the supplies list, and the pictures for samples. 

Daisy Troop Meeting Outline
Sunny - Friendly & Helpful Petal
September 2, 2015

Early Girls Activity
Game - What’s Different
All in circle, one person leaves/turns around and changes something then comes back. Whoever notices what is different first goes next. Cadettes will go with Daisy’s to help them change something.

Beginning Craft (10 minutes)
See photo to the right. We will be making sunflowers with forks and fingers. 

  • heavy paper for paint 
  • yellow, orange, brown, green paint
  • plastic forks
  • tablecloth for underneath paintings to protect table
  • brushes

Opening Circle (15 minutes)
  1. Friendship Circle
  2. Talk about the meeting “plan” - Earning Sunny Sunflower: Friendly and Helpful
  3. Practicing the GS Sign & Promise: Repeat After Me then Together

Activities (30 minutes)
  1. Enjoy Sunny’s Story, then talk about it 
    • Read the story and answer questions/discuss
  2. Make a mural based on Sunny’s story
    • Drawing - each girl gets a petal shaped piece of paper and draws/colors their favorite part of the story. put all together to form one big sunflower
  3. Practice being Friendly and Helpful
    • Make cards for Marine Parents - 
      • Supplies: 
        • Coloring pages from their website
        • Card bases
        • basic card supplies
        • Return address labels with Leader's address
Closing Circle (5 minutes)
  1. Next meeting date
  2. Sing Make New Friends
  3. Friendship squeeze and turn out for dismissal

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cadette: Budgeting Badge

Our Cadettes worked on the Budgeting badge last year at the beginning of cookie season and it was a real eye opener to say the least. Now, I will say this was not a "fun" badge to earn, but it's one that made them think and it's a life skill everyone needs to have... the sooner, the better!

Practice Budgeting for Values: Create a team values list OR make your own
For this requirement, I had the girls write down a list of 5 things they felt were "needs" and 5 "wants". Then, we discussed them. This was a great discussion, because one of the girls felt a "need" was a car. We talked about how living where we do, a car is a need. At least, it's a convenience and comes in handy... a lot! But, if you were living in a big city with great public transportation, then a car may not be a need. 

After each list, I asked the girls to really evaluate their needs and wants. We discussed how a "need" for one person, may not be for another. We also discussed "need" are different at different times in your life. Right now, it's a need that they have a backpack or something to carry their books in, but later in life that will no longer be something they require. 

Then, we discussed our troop "needs" and "wants". We determined that we have a lot of wants and not so many needs. The girls also realized that they have different needs now than when they were younger Girl Scouts. 

It was a thought provoking discussion and I let them talk and discuss for a while on this. They are becoming wise young ladies and hearing them debate and reach resolutions was fulfilling as a Girl Scout Leader.
Different Ways to Give: Team up with others 
Since this was during cookie season, we discussed how we could use the cookie money and give back. We thought of different charities and groups we could help. At the end, we decided that we wanted to thank the teacher that allowed us to use her room for our meetings with a gift card to a store where she could get supplies she needed. 

Along with this discussion, we talked about different ways to give. We discussed money, services, material items, and time. I had the girls think of specific things for each type and evaluate what they were willing to do. We then discussed why all of the different ways to give are important and why it's important to give back to your community.

Tracking Spending: Track your spending for a week
I gave the girls a sheet to take home with them and told them it was up to them if they wanted to track their spending or their families spending for a week. Part of the activity was to set down with an adult at the end of the week (parent, old sibling, grandparent, someone) and evaluate the spending and think of ways that money could have been saved. 

If you want to use my sheet, you can download it here: Track Your Spending for  Week

Different Ways to Save: Research budgeting online
For my full-time, paid gig, I work for a non-profit that specializes in student loan counseling and financial literacy. We have some great tools and resources on our website, so I utilized those for this portion of the badge. Please, feel free to use them, too. :)

Budget Calculator - online tool
Show Me The Future - online game; requires Flash

Create Budget: Troop Budget
I brought in the troop financial summary reports for the past 3 years and showed how much income the troop had from cookie sales, how much was paid for events, registration, supplies, snacks, etc. I answered any and all questions they had, after all this is THEIR money. They are old enough now to see the financial statements and have a good understanding of how much stuff costs. Yeah, they want to go on these big trips, but are they willing to work for it? 

We then discussed how much a box of cookies sold means for our troop and then related that information to different things we purchase. 
1 special IP badge they want to do is $1.50... that's 3 boxes of cookies each. For 7 girls, that's 21 boxes of cookies. 
1 event is typically about $5/girl x 7 girls... that's 64 boxes of cookies 
1 meeting snack averages $8 x 2 meetings a month x 9 months of meetings... 262 boxes of cookies... (and this is when they decided they would start bringing their own snacks)
So, then we discussed how much was in the account... how money was spent... what they wanted to do with this year's cookie money. 

We came up with a very rough draft form of a budget  and talked about each item they agreed to do or not do. We discussed when to use troop money, when not to use troop money, and what they felt a good long term goal would be for the group. 

Like I said, this was a discussion heavy badge. But, it's a life skill that they need to learn. I was shocked how little they knew about budgeting, though it doesn't surprise me too much when you think of the way our society spends. There are some that are trying to be good stewards, but do they discuss it with their children? How else will they learn and hopefully not fall victim to the same pitfalls.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Planning season

Our troop doesn't meet during the summer months. But, that doesn't mean I take the summer off Girl Scouts. It's typically a little slower, which is nice because the rest of life isn't.

My co-leader and I are getting together this weekend to plan the year. We'll go over the badges the girls said they wanted to do and we'll come up with a way to have the girls decide what to do when and get their input on the badges. This is for the Cadette troop. We want our Cadettes to take more responsibility and leadership this year. It's a work in progress. Last year was difficult. We brought 4 troops together with 7 different personalities and 7 different levels of maturity. I think they had fun and I hope they picked something up along the way to last a lifetime... even if it was how to hammer a nail.

The Daisy troop, I'll go through the next few petals and break it down. Since the Cadettes help with that troop, I'll have the outlines ready and have them help me fill in the blanks on what activities and such we should do. For the most part, I plan these meetings. Petals aren't as intense as Cadette badges and I'd rather our Cadettes focus on planning their meetings.

It's also planning season for the Service Unit. We sat down a couple weeks ago and set our dates for events, penciled in venues, and chose coordinators (or volunteered) for the events. We work with Council and try to set our events around theirs, if possible. We don't want troops having to decide whether they should do a Council or Service Unit event. Since we are in Columbia, MO, we also take into account Mizzou Football season and the school schedule. It takes a lot of thought and can be a little tricky at times. You know what they say about the best laid plans.... yeah, we've had a few of those in the past.

My goal this year is to keep life in balance. It's easy to get caught up in the "I want to do everything" approach and the "I don't want the girls to miss out" mindset. But, it's important to make sure you not only show passion for an organization, but passion to keep life in balance. There needs to be family time. There needs to be ME time. There needs to be fun. There needs to development of life skills.

... and you thought you were just planning a simple little meeting with glitter, glue, and snacks. Don't discount what you are doing. You are forming the future and guiding tomorrow's leaders. As a Girl Scout volunteer, you have in your arsenal of skills the ability to show young women that it is possible to be a well-rounded individual with many qualities to offer the world.

What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming scouting year?

Monday, July 13, 2015

It didn't happen overnight.

I was speaking with a few fellow volunteers over the past couple weeks and they were so shocked to hear all that we do and our efforts. We are not a "flagship" by any means, but we have added things that seems to help our leaders. But, it didn't happen overnight. It's taken several years and lots of work and conversations. 

When I became the Service Unit Manager for our amazing Service Unit 3 years ago, I had a million great ideas and things I wanted to do and improve. I had been on the team for about 1 1/2 years prior to that as the webmistress and co-manager for the service unit. I was part of a team of 8 other amazing women that were, thankfully, open to moving forward and improving many efforts and areas for our group. But, I soon saw that I had so many ideas and so many thoughts running through my mind that it was hard to get anything done. 

That's when I began "focus goals". They go by many a name, but for me the name reminds me that first and foremost... FOCUS! At the beginning of each scout year, I sit down with the team and ask "What do we need to accomplish this year? What do we want to accomplish?" We brainstorm and think about the million and three things we would love to do. Then, one by one we go through them and decide what was most important. 

The first year, it was communication. That's a pretty broad topic, though. So, we set a "focus goal" to begin publishing a monthly newsletter for Leaders. Our Lead Her News comes out the 2nd Monday of the month at the Leader meeting and contains information about Service Unit events, Council events, patch programs, contact information, and we've added a craft column, recipe column, and Girl Scout history column to the mix. It's been a great help for volunteers to know what is going on and they aren't left wondering if they missed the deadline for events and it helps plan for upcoming things. To get troops and girls involved, we ran a contest to design a logo for our Service Unit. We have had it made into a patch and our events have rockers that fit around it. It's pretty darn cute, too. 

Next... this was a biggie... online event registration and social media. This was really 2 focus goals. First, online event registration. This was huge. No other Service Unit had done this. We worked with council to figure out a way to set up a PayPal account for our Service Unit, have it tied to our checking, and to make sure it was secure and monitored. We started using an online form service that accepts PayPal and set up forms. The first few events, online registration was about 40-50%. Now, online registration is at least 90%. They complain when they have to mail it in or drop it off. Funny they didn't even have this until 2 years ago and are already hooked. We do still have a few bumps here and there because of addresses and accounts and all that, but most of it is smooth sailing. 

The second goal for that year was to beef up our social media. The majority of our Leaders are connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. So, we set up a FB page and we're pretty active there. We follow the rules set by Council and we monitor all posts going on the page. Leaders love that they get the reminders about event deadlines and meetings and such. This may not seem like a huge thing, but believe me... it is. It's another piece of the communication puzzle.

Last year was the GAB (Girl Advisory Board). Our Service Unit had one years ago. Our older girls want to be involved and want things for them, yet they don't have the opportunity to get involved and make it happen. So, we rekindled the GAB and gave them the opportunity. They planned, hosted, and pulled off their first event last year. It was great to see their passion and ownership of something they did. 

Along with the above mentioned things, we have really tried to promote service projects and encourage Leaders to track the girl's hours and their own. I would love to see a bigger buy in for this. There is no reason all of our volunteers shouldn't be receiving the PVSA each year. I know they are putting in the time. We have started the Hearts of Service patch program, which is a derivative of a program ran by a NJ Council. 

This year... I'm not sure. We just finished our event dates for 2015-2016. I would like to see us expand our CSA offerings and we want to evaluate the events we are offering to make sure we're still relevant for today's Girl Scout. I would also like to find a way to get more involvement in reporting what they are doing. So, maybe that's the answer... better communication coming back from troops. We'll see... 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meeting Survival Kit

I had a lovely blog reader suggest I talk about what I take to meetings with me. This has varied through the past 5 years as a leader and I've learned to lighten the load, because I don't like carrying in tons of stuff to the meeting place each time. But, I do have a "survival kit", so to speak.

I normally show up with my purse, my shoulder bag, 31 zip-top organizing tote, and MAYBE 1 more tote if the activities we are doing are involved and require a ton of stuff. Yes... this is LESS than what I had done in the past. On Daisy days, I have 1 additional tote for their activity stuff.

I'm going to break this down by tote, because then I'm less likely to forget something.

I always have my purse with me and it has the troop camera, my cell phone, and my car keys... along with all the other stuff purses carry.

Shoulder Tote
This is my awesome Leader bag that I purchased from council when I was brand new on the scene. It's held up and works to carry the stuff I have to have with me at meetings and events. It's not really like the one I'm sharing here, but it's close and you get the idea of what kind of bag I'm using. If I wasn't lazy, I'd go downstairs and take a picture of it, but... well... moving on. Included in this bag is:

    1. Health History/Parent Information Binder: I have a binder that contains each of the girl's records. The health history, parent information, troop schedule, conduct agreement, etc. This binder is with me at every meeting and every event we go to. It also contains signed permission slips, etc. This is sort of my disaster recovery binder. If anyone gets hurt, need first aid, has a problem that they need reminding they agreed not to act like hoolighans... I'm covered. My co-leader also has a copy. I have copies of all of this at my home. The thought is, if something happened to me, the next responsible adult in charge would have the binder and can quickly look up the information for the girls and know who to contact, etc. FYI: There is a health history and emergency contact sheet for each adult, too. Each year I have grand ideas of improving this, but the fact is... it is what it is and everything is in there. 
    2. Badge bookletI used to carry the entire Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting with me. It's heavy. So, now I take the badge booklet out for the badge we are going to be working on and the one we are planning and take only those. It lightens the load.
    3. Meeting Outline
      This is my "brain sheet". It's hard sometimes to remember everything you need to do and what needs to happen when. So, I make up a Meeting Outline for each meeting and list it out. I reference the badge activity number, any resources I'll need, etc.
    4. My Water bottle!
      I'm pretty sure you know what a water bottle is... I take one with me.

Thirty-One Zip-Top Utility Tote
I am not a 31 dealer, nor do I have a lot of their things... but I have an amazing friend and co-leader that felt sorry for me dragging in the little cheap plastic reusable totes from cookie sales to meetings that have no structure and digging through them to find what I need. She solved my problem, at least one of my problems.. HA! In this mega awesome huge tote with heavy duty super cool handles is:

    1. First Aid Kit
      Yes. You should have a first aid kit in with your things. Mine is small and stocked with the supplies I would need to tend wounds, pull splinters, etc. It isn't for hiking trips, camping trips, or overnights. It's intended for meetings and day activities. I don't want to pack "the big one" to each meeting unless we're doing something that I feel we'll need it for. Plus, my coleader keeps her big one in her car... just in case. 
    2. Basic Supplies
      The basic supplies for meetings change as girls age and with badges. But, there are some things that remain the same. I have a tin stocked with pens, pencils, scissors, markers, and glue sticks. I also put in a notebook of paper and a small dry erase board which I write the meeting outline on for the girls to see and discuss in opening circle.
    3. Badge supplies
      This changes every meeting. The meeting outline comes in very handy when packing for a meeting, because I list the supplies out. (Ex. First Aid #1: Make a first aid booklet - supplies needed: photocopied booklet, library rings, scissors, hole punch). So then when I go to pack up for the meeting, I can go down the outline and grab the things I need and stick them in the bag. It is a little work in the beginning, but this system works for me. You are going to have to think through what you need anyway, so I just do myself a favor and get it done when I'm planning to make packing easier.
    4. Filler "stuff"
      Sometimes I don't plan enough to fill the time or the girls fly through the activities I thought would take longer. So, I have a few things I take with me for filler. They absolutely love Spot It and it's small and in a cute tin. It's in there. I also have a rope tying book with ropes cut to length for practice. A bandana knot tying game. Three washcloths for the washcloth toss game. When they were little, I would always have a few coloring pages for them and crayons or a find it page or something like that. When I have time, I also make up little SWAP kits to tosee in with all the supplies needed to complete them.
    5. Other "stuff"
      Okay, we'll just say I've learned through experience... sometimes it pays to have a few other items on hand. I typically try to have a couple plastic shoppping bags, bandanas, few ponytail holders, pack of kleenex, and a wipe up the mess towel. I don't take paper towels, because our meeting location has those. But, one time with wet socks from an outdoor game or spilled drink and you'll be glad you grabbed these items. 
The Extra Tote
This isn't always necessary... for real! Most of the time it all fits in the other bags. This is really the overflow bag. Anything that doesn't reside and fit into the main big tote I'll toss into another reusable tote and carry along. 

I'm sure you are thinking "everything but the kitchen sink, huh?". But really it isn't that bad. I used to carry books and notebooks and tons of things back and forth with me each time because I didn't want the girls to forget their things and miss out or be sad. I have found by being nice I instilled a thought in their mind that they didn't need to be responsible and for that... I'm still paying. So, don't do that! Each of the girls has a bag that has a notebook, journey book if we are doing that, song book, pencil pouch with pens, pencils, sticky notes, and water bottle. The sooner they take ownership and determine they need to be responsible for themselves, the sooner you aren't lugging in a TON of extra stuff.