Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cake Decorating IP

I have found with the older girls (Cadette and up), you have to become creative with activities for them in order to maintain their enthusiasm for Girl Scouts. The badges in their Girl's Guide can get a little boring. I'm not saying they aren't important... but, to the girls... they seem more like school and less like the fun memories they have formed with Girl Scouts over the year. My group of girls also would rather do something hands on than pencils up.

SO... I look around and join groups on Facebook and I'm constantly on the lookout for "fun stuff". I have found many fun activities through Artistry to Stitch About (A Facebook group who is remaking some old IPs and coming up with new ones to tie in with the latest/greatest movies and books the girls are reading). 

We recently worked on the Cake Decorating IP (btw: IP means Interest Project. It's part of an old badge system Girl Scouts had for CSAs (Cadette, Senior, Ambassador)).

In order to earn an IP, you complete 8 requirements. There were more than that to choose from, but this is what we did. Our Council is cool with the girls wearing this badge on the front of their vest, but other Councils may insist they wear it on the back. I leave that to you. I would also say, you don't necessarily have to have the IP/badge/patch to have the fun. I know, I know... badges are bling and bling is everything... but, seriously... sometimes having fun to keep girls interested with or without the patch to prove it can be just as great.

Our meetings are basically 2 1/2 hours long. Keep that in mind. We are also blessed to meet in the FACS room at their Middle School, so we have access to a kitchen.

To save a little time, my co-leader baked a batch of cupcakes prior to the meeting and brought those in with her. That way, while the girls were baking the other batch of cupcakes, we could decorate the first. 

Learn how to make designs with tips

Supplies: Icing tips and tube

This one was the most fun for me. My Mom sold wedding cakes for over 30 years. i grew up in a house where if you wanted to play with icing, that was easy. She showed me so much and I loved being able to pass that along to the girls. 

We used an applicator, not a pastry bag. But, pastry bags are good for large groups. Ziplocs work, but I tend to shove my fingernail through it. Anyway, we used a star tip, piping tip, and border tip. I showed the girls how to make easy flowers ,the traditional cupcake swirl, and a basket weave. I hope they enjoyed it half as much as I did. 

Use two different toppings to decorate

Supplies: sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, store bought icing, buttercream icing recipe and ingredients

This was fun. The girls had sprinkles, colored sugar, and crushed shortbreads to choose from. They loved the "trick" I showed them on how to get a lot of sprinkles on your cupcake, too. Frost the cupcake, invert it into a bowl of sprinkles and lightly press..voila. TONS OF SPRINKLES!

Decorate a cupcake using GS cookies

Supplies: Shortbreads

We crushed the shortbreads and used them as a "sprinkle". Easy peasy.

Decorate Cupcakes using a theme or holiday design (Valentine’s)

Supplies: Valentine paper, red food coloring

It was close to Valentine's Day, so that was the holiday we went with. Obviously, choose a holiday close to the time you are doing this...or not. The girls tinted some of the frosting pink and used Valentine themed paper to work on their cupcake picks. 

Decorate cupcake wrapper, holder, or pick

Supplies: cardstock, glue, toothpicks, punches

I took in punches and Valentine paper. The girls punched out shapes and made the cutest little toppers ever. I was quite impressed. 

Decorate cake on paper

Supplies: paper, pencils, colored pencils

This is self-explanatory, right? Give the girls paper and pencils and something to color with. Let them design their own cake on paper.

Try two different flavors of cake

Supplies: Cherry Chip and Vanilla (liners, mix, read box for needs)

My co-leader baked the vanilla cupcakes and brought them with her. The girls baked the cherry chip. It was a struggle, but we muddled through and ate 2 cupcakes. Okay, okay... I know we could have cut them apart and taken little bites of each, but that doesn't make as great of a memory. It's okay to eat 2 cupcakes sometimes. 

Make or decorate cupcakes for bake sale, scouting event, bake off

Supplies: foil pans for putting cupcakes in to deliver cupcakes to play practice or teacher’s lounge

We tweaked this slightly. We decided the teacher's at the school could use a cupcake. So, we left them in the lounge for them to find the next day. Hopefully they still looked okay overnight. I'm sure they tasted delightful.

Another Option

Okay... so, yeah.. I know you may not be able to get the patch for this one. But, it will still be fun and I bet you could tie it in with the Wilton Cake Decorating kit designed for Girl Scouts, too. Check it out!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Service Project: Power Pins

I have mentioned these a couple times over the years as part of a journey in a sleepover plan. I have had several people ask me what they are and how to make them. I guess I left out that minor detail huh? 

Okay... So... Power Pins... we made and donated these to a local Women's Shelter to remind them they are powerful and strong. We included a note of encouragement to let them know they had someone who believed they could overcome their past. 

Coiless Safety Pins (Find those in the jewelry department)

Various colors of pony beads (We used red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, and white)

Simply thread the beads onto the pin and attach a tag that explains the meaning of each
color. Now, colors have various meanings depending on the website you find. This is what we said they meant: 

Red: Strength
Blue: Stability
Green: Energetic
Yellow: Optimistic
Orange: Healthy
Purple: Unique
White: Peace

We made cute tags that had the colors, short description of the meaning behind the pin, and our troop number. The tags were tied onto the pin with ribbon. 

Power Pin PDF (fill in your troop number on the blank lines)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Service Projects, Take Action Projects, Community Service, Giving Back

No matter what you want to call it, this is one of the best pieces of being a Girl Scout... in my opinion. From the very first level of Daisy, girls are shown the importance of giving back to your community. 

What's awesome about this to me, is that girls are SHOWN... not told. I am happy to say each and every service project my troops have done, I have done with them. We work as a team. We have helped Marine Parents pack up countless bottles of shampoo (did you know you need to tape shampoo bottles shut, if you are sending them somewhere, because the air pressure on a plane can cause them to explode? It ruins care package cookies... save the cookies!). We have reclaimed garden areas for churches and schools. We have donated kitchen supplies to FACs rooms. We have left surprise cupcakes for teachers when completing our Cake Decorating IP. We've made holiday cards for a homeless shelter. We've donated scarves (that we made!), blankets (which we made), and more to various shelters and groups. Our latest was Valentine cards for Meals on Wheels, which was very cool by the way... a card-making party at my house and 230 cards to donate. This week we will be working on bracelets to send to Ethiopia (

Six years down the road, it's easy for me to say our troop gives back. The girls love it. I love it. But, I also remember the first year as a Leader when I heard of others talking about "service projects" and "take action" or even worse "TAP". It was quite confusing. So... deep breath, if you are at the point of asking "WHAT IS A SERVICE PROJECT?!?!?" I get you. I totally get the frustration... believe me, I have screamed inside my head (and maybe to an empty house) various questions over my Leader years. 

I recall a rather enlightening meeting with my 3rd grade Brownies discussing what "community" means. Community doesn't necessarily mean your town. It could be your neighborhood, your church, your school, your hospital, your meeting place, your Girl Scout community. So, when thinking about projects... think about that. Not only should we reach out to our towns and cities, but take it smaller. Often, smaller area means larger impact. 

So, what's up with the different terms? I have no idea... They can be used interchangeably, in my opinion. 

This is how I use them: 
Service Projects are what we do for the 2nd meeting each month (yes, every month. My Cadettes have 2 meetings. 1st meeting of the month is a badge meeting, 2nd is a service project meeting). They are small projects that we can get done in one sitting. 

Take Action Projects are journey related. They don't have to be, but that's when we have done them. They are larger in scale and somehow spreads the word or makes an impact on a community. We have made power pins for a woman's shelter (beads of varying colors and each bead represents something). We have done a building audit and reported the findings to our council at a program center. We have done a poster campaign in a middle school for anti-bullying. It takes longer, more thought, and has an impact.

Community Service is not when you get in trouble with the law and pick up trash along a road... at least, I hope your troop hasn't done anything for court-mandated community service... To me, anything that we do in correlation with another group, is community service. When we help Marine Parents pack care packages, that is an opportunity to help out our community. Another example is when we helped the Children's Hospital plant a learning garden. They provided everything and we just showed up to stick plants in the dirt. 

All of these are forms of Giving Back. You can also work with the girls to find other ways to Give Back... such as pots and pans for the FACs room or silverware for the church. We didn't have hands-on work to do, but we used cookie money or something to fulfill a need for another group. 

No matter what you call it or how you do it, I encourage you to talk to your girls and come up with a plan to "make the world a better place". Warm fuzzies all around!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Where is your passion?

The world is full of people doing things they feel they have to do... they are obligated to do... maybe you are one of them. I know I'm one of them at times. 

Many of us may not have the choice to quit our job or not do laundry. So, make sure when it comes to where you spend your leisure time and your volunteer time, it is something that brings smiles and joy.

This past year, I have been able to step down a bit from Troop Leadership with my older girls. I'm blessed with a co-leader who encouraged them (or maybe she just told them) to plan their own meetings, be responsible for their own things, and figure out what they want to do. She has also, for the most part, taken over organizing and getting everything together for those meetings. I still round up supplies, offer advice, remind them about events, and work on the ongoing communication struggle. I also do record-keeping of who has earned what and service hours and such.... for the most part I do administrative stuff. 

With the Daisy's, their meetings are simple. I don't want to downplay the importance of Daisy leaders and I don't want to scare anyone off from continuing, but seriously... Daisy meetings are simple! They don't require as much work or thought. You can get by on a pretty low budget, too. 

So, I've been able to free myself up to think about where I see myself in 5 years. This is the last year with the Daisy's. Their parents are taking over. Five years is my timeline, because the Cadette troop will graduate in 5 years and where does that leave me? Where do I feel I can be of best use and... more importantly... what do I WANT to do?

That's the cool thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts. There are so many choices. You don't have to be a Troop Leader or Assistant Leader. You don't have to be the Cookie Mom. Though, all those roles are desperately needed!! You can volunteer at a Service Unit level, Regional level, Council level. You can organize events, plan series, help out with administration, or simply choose an event or 2 each year that you want to do. Think about it. If you could do ANYTHING... what would it be? 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

WAGGGS Ceremony

Did you know there is a WAGGGS ceremony? I didn't know this with my first troop, though they already had their pins and stuff when I "inherited" them.

Anyway, my sweet little Daisy's are going to get their WAGGGS pin this month (February), because it's Thinking Day month. It ties in beautifully.

Unfortunately, I have NO idea where I found this ceremony... if it's yours, please tell me and I'll update to give credit. Also, don't take offense, because I sort of tweaked it a little.

So, I'm a terrible leader (no... I'm busy.) and totally forgot it was THIS meeting, so we will be building ours out of paper and piecing it together. IF I have time, I may make a felt one sometime to have for future ceremonies, because I think this would be nice to do each year with your troop for a reminder.

I have 10 girls in this troop... so one girl was "in charge" of making sure we had a horseshoe shape the entire time. 2 others led the GS Promise with the Trefoil shape we added, so we could count the 3 parts and another led it again at the end of the ceremony. It worked out pretty well. With girls this age, you can't leave anyone out or feelings are hurt. 

WAGGGs Pin Ceremony

To start:
All participants stand in a horseshoe. Somewhere, have a table or felt board available for the construction of the pin as the ceremony proceeds.

Leader: The horseshoe formation symbolizes the open friendship circle. In the open end of the horseshoe stand our sister Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. If they were actually here, our horseshoe would become a completed circle, having no beginning or end.

[Then come a series of questions and answers, which you can divide up in any practical way. We had the people who asked the questions come forward to place the part of the pin they asked about on the felt board while someone else read the answer.]

What is the world pin?

It is the pin of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. We are going to construct such a pin. As we do, let us consider very carefully the reason for its color and design. Then we will know how deep a feeling of international friendship it can inspire in it.

What does the gold circle around the edge stand for?

The gold band surrounding our pin symbolizes the sun that shines on children all over the world.

Why is the world pin blue?

The blue background symbolizes the sky above us, all over the world.

Why do we have a trefoil in the World pin?

The gold trefoil is the sign of Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding around the world. The 3 parts of the trefoil stand for the 3 parts of the Promise.

Let’s say the Girl Scout Promise together and count the three parts.

There are 2 stars on the World pin. What does the left star stand for?

The star on the left, the same side as our heart, stands for the pledge that all Girl Scouts and Girl Guides try, on their honor, to keep: the Promise.

What does the other star stand for?

The right star, on the side of a helping hand, stands for the Girl Guide and Girl Scout code of conduct--the GG/GS Law.

What does the pointer in the middle stand for?

We place a compass needle in the center, to serve as a guide pointing towards the right way in life.

What does the base of the trefoil mean?
At the base of the trefoil we place the flame. Its burning represents love for humanity and international friendship.

Join me ending our ceremony by saying the Girl Scout Promise.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Daisy: Gerri - Respect Authority

Moving on with our petals!

Petals have 3 parts to earn, if you didn't know that already. Our flower friend this time is Gerri the Geranium. Gerri helps the girls learn to Respect Authority. I love that the story focuses on the "non-traditional" types of authority that most of us would think of...  This is a good one and one that I know a lot of adults that could use a refresher... but I digress. 

1st Step: Enjoy Gerri’s Story

Gerri's story is in the book. If you want to take a short cut, you can show the video a troop put together. 

2nd: Talk to someone in authority

Following the lead of the story, I chose to have one of my Daisy Mom's lead this discussion. She is a Middle School Math teacher and sports coach, so I asked her to talk about the classroom rules she asks her students to follow and why it's important for students to respect teachers.

Make sure you build in time for questions and contrast. Remember to explain to the girls that each classroom is different and it's important to know what your teacher expects.

Last: Show respect

In order to tie in our story, guest speaker, and showing respect, the girls made Brown Sugar Hand Scrub to give as a thank you gift for their teachers. 

I found cheap little food storage containers at the Dollar Tree and it's Valentine's time, so they had little bags the containers fit in perfectly. I chose NOT to use glass, because 1st graders are taking these to school and I would hate for them to drop and break and have shattered glass to deal with. YIKES! I thought the bag would be a good idea, because then they aren't just carrying a container... presentation is everything. 

In addition to the scrub, I had the girls draw a picture or color a picture for their teacher. I use the Respect Authority coloring sheet from MakingFriends, because it was perfect and gave their teachers insight about how awesome Girl Scouts can be for their students. 

Here is the recipe I used for the scrub and some labels I made for the top of the containers.

Brown Sugar Scrub

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla

Stir it together really well and store in an airtight container.

If you have the girls wash and DRY their hands, they could use their hands to mix it. I had the girls stir it up in the containers we were giving, because then everyone was responsible for their own. I did help on the measuring part. 

Since we used plastic containers, no concern of putting it right in the shower. 

To finish off our container, we used a cute label and piece of ribbon. Simple, yet perfect.  

A recap of what is "in the bag":

  • Brown Sugar Scrub
  • coloring page from the girls
  • recipe card from me along with a note of thanks, in case they want to make more. 
  • of course, you could add some candy or chapstick or drink mixes or gift cards for Starbucks.... but, I was trying to keep this relatively cheap.