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. 

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