Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Patches, Patches, Patches...



I'm so excited about the Fall patch from BCG Patches. It's called Autumn Splendor and it has my absolute favorite little creature (other than my cats) on it. Can you guess what it is? No... it is not a fox.

The Fall patch is designed to be super easy and fun for your group to earn. The patch measures 2 1/2"x 2 3/4". It fully embroidered and sew on (because we all know iron-on fall off!). This is an exclusive design to BCG Patches and there is a FREE digital guide to go along with it.

Check out the guide and order your patches before November 15, 2018 (that's the guarantee date).

Isn't it just the cutest!!!??



AND a bonus patch this month, Tea Time. It's great for young and older groups. You can get all fancy shmancy or keep it simple and fun. It's totally up to you. Either way, the little panda bear just makes me smile.

Be sure to check out the FREE digital guide for it and order those patches, too.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Senior Badge: Girl Scouts Way

My Seniors completed their Girl Scouts Way badge at their April 2018 meeting. We only meet once per month now that they are in High School and have many, many other activities keeping them busy.

One of the requirements was to pass on information about making ceremonies special to younger troops. The girls asked me to publish their PDF on my blog, so that's what I'm doing.

If you would like to share our troop's tips with your group, feel free to download the How to make your Ceremony special PDF.

We hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Summer Bucket List: A Patch Program

Here we are again on the cusp of summer and what to do... do we meet over the Summer? Do we shudder at the thought of trying to schedule with super busy families for an overnight or day long event? Do we say forget it and see you in the Fall? Do we figure out a plan to stay in touch when it's almost impossible?

I started using Summer patch programs about 5 years ago. They are optional, so the girl's decide whether or not they want to participate. I try to choose something that is easy for them to do on their own and typically plan a "meet up" at some point over the summer to have a little fun and complete one or two of the activities. It's my way of encouraging them to keep in touch.

This summer, we are using Summer Bucket List from my shop, BCGPatches.com. It's a super flexible way to give them something to do and earn a super cute patch. The hidden learning exercise that we all try to sneak in is all about goal setting. The first thing they have to do is come up with 15 things they want to do over the summer. When they complete them, simply check or cross them off. There are 4 different sheets they can use  (or they can come up with their own)... simple to flowery.

I worked on my Summer Bucket List yesterday after downloading the free program guide. I'm excited about the summer and I'm hoping to mark a couple things off the list over the week... like planting tomatoes and such this weekend.

If you have questions about the patch or the guide, please feel free to reach out.

You can join the Patch Programs For Youth Facebook page
OR
"like" the BCG Patches Facebook business page
OR
join the newsletter

I'm also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram... pretty easily accessible. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Junior; Jeweler Badge Slide pin

I did a post some time back about the Jeweler badge. My failure to provide good instructions for the Hieroglyphic Slide Pins prompts this post. Many of you have contacted me and wanted to know how we made these. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how simple they were to make.

BUT... to redeem myself... I have created a Project Sheet AND a YouTube tutorial on how to make them. Please no pointing and laughing as I go through how to make them.



Junior Badge: Jeweler
Slide Pin
Supplies:
2 glass slides
White Cardstock cut to fit the slides
Markers, colored pencils, pens, crayons
Metal tape
Adhesive pin back
Scissors
pencil

1. Trace the shape of the slide onto a piece of white cardstock and cut out.


2. Decide on your design and sketch it out using a pencil.

3. Color in your design.

4. Place the design between the two glass slides.

5. Cut a length of metal tape.

6. Adhere the metal tape to the sides of the glass slides, securing them together.

7.  Adhere pin back to back of slides. Double check the way your design goes to make sure your pin is in the correct direction.


Resources:
Slide Pin project sheet (PDF) - It has more pictures.
YouTube tutorial (embedded below, too)



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Progress... as promised... and proof

I have recently taken up the art of quilting. I deem it more than a craft, because it's really so much
more. My paternal Grandma quilted. My Mom quilts. My brother (!!!) is a quilter as of the past year or so. His wife and oldest daughter have also been piecing quilt tops. So, I guess it runs in our blood. Over the past 20 years or so, I have put together a quilt top here and there, but never had I given it the devotion to learn how to quilt and the tricks and tips you need for success.

You may be wondering what that has to do with anything related to Girl Scouts or youth activities. Oh, believe me... it does. 

One of the horrible habits we fall victim to when starting anything new is self-criticism. We look at our own work and compare it to others. We feel we are failing and will never succeed. How many times have you told a young person to "keep trying" and "you can do this"? How many times have I heard myself say "You are doing a great job!" and genuinely mean it for the recipient. But when it comes to myself, I'm so very critical. I demand perfection.

Perfection is not your friend in quilting (or anything else, really!), I have found. There are most definitely people out there that quilt that would love to critique you work, if you want them to (and sometimes when you don't). But, is that really what you need? I can critique well enough on my own. What I need is words of wisdom, encouragement,  and advice on how to get that scant 1/4" seam consistent (and don't even get me started on flying geese...ugh)!

The answer, for me, came in a stack of quilt blocks pieced by my Grandma. I had decided to sew them all together into a quilt for my guest room bed. There are very few that are the same design. I learned so much during the process of putting them together. For instance, Grandma's piecing wasn't perfect. She used the fabrics she had on hand, whether it be left over from clothes making, a worn out apron, or a feed sack. Some were sewn together by hand with the thickest thread I have ever seen in my life... seriously, it resembled twine. Others were sewn by machine. All of them were put together with love. I could feel it radiating from them as I worked on placement and sizing.

This quilt was a turning point for me. I decided to work on a few things that I do want to get better at.
But, I also want to keep it in perspective. I'm making progress on piecing. But, just as I never noticed any mistakes in Grandma's quilts... I'm betting no one will see the mistakes in mine... unless I point them out. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive a quilt from a friend or loved one.. take the time to say "thank you" and know you are pretty darn special to them for them to put in the time and energy it takes to assemble such an amazing work of art.

So, what does any of that have to do with leadership? Oh, sister! Heed my words.

  • We all start out as beginners. 
  • We all start out with a few basic tools that help us along. 
  • We all need to resist the temptation of comparison. 
  • You need to get up, dust yourself off, and smile when someone finds pleasure in your mishap.
  • Accept mishaps are going to happen. Don't let them define you.
  • You are going to run out of things to do with your group. Pack a songbook or a deck of Uno cards.
  • You are going to want to scream when you have to find one more guest speaker for the bazillionth time. 
  • You are going to want to just give up and say forget it. Just don't. Don't give up. 
  • Keep your focus. Pick one or two things that you want to get better at and work on it. 
  • Ask for help. 
  • Ask for advice. 
  • Pick the RIGHT people to ask. We all know there are those with experience that are happy to help.. and those that are happy to point out how they would have done it while making you feel like you are an idiot for trying it a different way (those are the WRONG people!)

I promise you. Just as I can now almost piece a block without losing any points in the process... you will improve, too.

There is no such thing as standing still. We are always in movement. Move forward, not backward.

And if no one else tells you this today...
You've got this. You can do it. You are doing great. I believe in you.




Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ask the Girls... still holds true

I had a very good conversation with a High School Freshman/Senior Girl Scout. This young lady is mature for her age, but not to the point that she too old for her age. She's involved with band, another youth organization, archery, science clubs, art clubs, and like most girls her age... her life is scheduled... a lot... and busy... all the time.

We had to cancel our troop meeting this week because two of the girls had a band concert and one had a soccer game. The other two that attend meetings had soccer practice until about 30 minutes prior to our meeting. Instead of holding a meeting for 2/5ths of a troop for a badge that we feel all the girls need to earn, we cancelled. I set up all meeting reminders through Remind and the young lady leading the meeting didn't respond until the first scheduled message (which I forgot to cancel) went out. I mentioned that I felt bad about that and hoped it wasn't too confusing, yet I wanted the person leading to make the ultimate decision on whether or not to have the meeting. This sparked a good conversation.

Her reply to the meeting being cancelled was "I was glad we cancelled." I said "Well, I don't want Girl Scouts to be stressful. It should be fun. You all have enough pressure for everything else in your lives. If I can make this easy and flexible, I feel I should." She smiled and said "And I am SO thankful for that! Really. I appreciate that you are in tune with us." She went on to make a few insights into the programming and opportunities.

She said she felt the badges were too hard to earn at times. They expect you to be helping the little girls all the time and forget that all those things we learned about as little girls we should be able to be doing now... within our own group. We want to make the world a better place... we've been told to do that for years... we're finally old enough and able enough to make an impact.

I mentioned Destinations and trips and she said "They are so expensive. Most people can't afford that. They need things that are available locally and more often." She did mention it was one of the reasons she likes the GAB events (GAB is the Girl Advisory Board we have with our Service Unit. They meet once a month, plan outings or meet ups for CSA girls in our service unit.. they are laid back, low-key things... movie night, ceramic painting, brunch class, etc. Girl selected. Girl planned. Girl led.)

Her words "Sometimes I think they treat the older girls like their own volunteer army and the only reason they want us around is to help the little girls. They forget that we have our own interests and we want to do our own things."

I sense this with many of our older girls. It isn't that they don't have hearts of gold. It isn't that they
don't want to give back... they just want to go bigger.. they want to go OUT... they want to make the WORLD a better place... they want to do things together... things that don't involve babysitting, instructing, or quite honestly.. simplifying it so their little counterparts can do it, too.

There has to a balance. I think it's important for little girls to see the High School girls at events and out and about. But, they need to see them doing more than just serving and helping. They need to see them having fun, hanging out, forming friendships, forming connections that will be greatly appreciated in the upcoming college and beyond years. When I say "see", I don't mean they necessarily need to be there. They need to see the pictures, hear the stories, and have information about events that have happened.

Girl retention is a problem with Girl Scouts. Why? Because they have choices. And let me ask you...
Given the choice to help little ones and complete badges that require work that resembles school OR hanging out with friends, laughing, joking, and just having a stress-free evening... which do you think is going to appeal to a 14-18 year old girl? I can tell you the latter sounds more fun to me and I'm a few days past that age range.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hello, Spring! Patch

I've been so excited about this patch, but I kept telling myself I couldn't release a Spring patch in January... but I really wanted to!

I'm not even going to bore you with anything here... let's just get to the good part...

We have modified last year's Spring points activity list and added in some super fun choices. There is a coloring page and mad lib for a rainy day. A really quick and easy sun catcher craft project is included, along with a way to glam up some flip flops. Did I mention the 20 choices of activities to choose from and 8 pages of jam packed fun?

Make a Spring meeting easy this year and hop on the Hello, Spring patch program!

(Guaranteed through June 15, 2018)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Boredom Buster: Busy Bee Patch

How many times have you planned your little heart out and then came up short? When the girls in my troop were little, I remember over-planning and stuffing extra things in the bag just in case they completed activities a lot faster than I anticipated. That "bag of tricks" came in handy quite often. It became an incentive with them, too. They knew if we stayed on task and got the "work" done, we would have time for a game or song or something.

So, this month's release is in the spirit of helping you bust the boredom, fill the gaps, and have a few tricks up your sleeve for the times when you thought you had enough for them to do... but didn't. The activities also work great to mix it up and toss in a little extra fun. I hope a few of the items become your groups favorites, too.

The February 2018 release is jam-packed with games, artsy activities, and a few easy and yummy snack ideas. I mean, you have to have snacks!

It's your choice if you want to use this as filler activities or devote a meeting to completing it all. You simply complete 5 activities and earn the patch. Of course, you are always welcome to toss in your own ideas and make it fit your need and group interests.

The patch is only guaranteed through May 15, 2018. So be sure to order yours before it's too late. 

Download the Free Digital Guide 
(Or the mailed hardcopy, if you can't print and want it printed)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Senior: Locavore Badge

Somewhere in my brilliant brain, I agreed to complete the Locavore badge in January. Not much going on in January in the gardening world in Mid-Missouri. But, hey, that just adds to the interest, right?

This is how we got it done:

1. Explore Benefits and Challenges of Going Local: Make a 5 question survey to give to friends 

The girls works on this and brainstormed the best questions to ask. They asked if people wanted to go local, if it was important, what items were hardest to find.

2. Find Local Food Sources: Choose 10 foods in your house and find local equivalents 

We printed out a map of Missouri and those selected 10 foods we were using for the items we made that evening. Since they are teens, they Googled for local farmer's markets, dairies, fruit farms, etc. They also shared placed they had been to pick strawberries, blueberries, apples, etc. I encouraged them to start thinking outside just fruits and veggies, as we are in an area where you can work with local farmers for meat through the University and we're about 30 minutes from a very large dairy co-op (Central Dairy).

3. Cooking a dish: Make 2 dishes and compare. 

The idea was to make 2 things with the same main ingredient and compare the differences. I had blueberries frozen in the freezer from the summer before, so we made jam (yes... we made jam) and blueberry peach smoothies. None of the girls had made jam before and it was a great experience for them. We even used a water bath canner to preserve the jam. Of course, the last jar wasn't completely full and that was perfect for us to try with some homemade scones. Each of the girls was able to take a jar of jam home with them, too. We discussed the process and why each step was important and the safety of home canning. Hopefully, that was an experience for them. The smoothies, most of them had had smoothies before, so that wasn't a big deal. But, they were yummy. (recipes below)

4. Make a recipe with local ingredients: A family recipe with local foods 

I'm going to be honest here and tell you we tried our best. We used an Instapot and made Chicken Fajita Soup. I had purchased the chicken from a farming co-op service. I tried to purchase the other ingredients as local as I could, but as I said... it's difficult in January to find a lot of local produce. The soup was really good, though. (recipe below)

5. Local Challenge - Pretend you're  Girl Scout from 1920

The girls used modern technology and searched for what foods were available locally in the 1920s. Then, they figured out how to store them and sorted them into lists of canned, dehydrated, repurposed, etc. I think this was eye opening for them to think about a time when refrigeration wasn't as common and definitely not deep freezers. 

My take away... I love having a garden in the summer for fresh tomatoes, green beans, and peppers. But, I'm so thankful I don't have to rely on that garden to get me through the year! We are blessed to have farmer's markets in the spring, summer, and fall. I plan to try to support those farmer's more in the future. The quality of the food is better, I'm sure. That doesn't mean I won't be picking up avocados and artichokes at the supermarket, though. Those don't grow well in Mid-Missouri and we are blessed to have an infrastruture that allows us access to foods that aren't grown in our region.

Recipes (as promised)

Blueberry Jam
We used the pectin calculator at FreshPreserving.com and followed the recipe using the low/no sugar pectin for blueberries. We went with the low sugar option. I've included the recipe we used below, but I encourage you to visit their site and choose your own fruit, etc. They will also give you a chart to make more than 2 half-pint jars in a batch. 


Blueberry Jam Recipe
FOR EVERY 2 (8 OZ) HALF PINTS, YOU WILL NEED:
  • 1 1/3 cups Blueberries-wash; crush 1 layer at a time with potato masher
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened fruit juice or thawed concentrate or water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin
  • 1/2 cup Granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp Bottled Lemon Juice
Make Your Jam
  1. PREPARE waterbath canner, jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions, if preserving.* Prepare and measure ingredients for recipe.
  2. COMBINE prepared fruit with fruit juice in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in Ball® RealFruit™ Pectin. Add butter, if using. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. ADD sugar, sugar substitute or honey, if using. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
  4. PACK based on Enjoy Now or Fresh Preserve steps below.
*If you are preserving at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, adjust processing time as indicated by the altitude chart.

Blueberry Peach Smoothie - Find the recipe here: http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/blueberry-peach-smoothie-317649
Blueberry Banana Smoothie - Find the recipe here: https://www.marthastewart.com/336635/banana-blueberry-smoothie

And lastly, the instapot Chicken Fajita Soup. HUGE kudos to a Mom in my troop for putting this together for us. 



Friday, January 26, 2018

Compassion for the unknown

I am working on a change in my life.. my perspective... my attitude. With all the technology in our daily lives and all the screen time we each have, it's easy to forget that a human being is on the other side. Whether you are reading this blog post, chatting with a company's customer service, or emailing about who knows what... at some point... another human is there on the other end. Maybe you got the automated service with the robot voice walking you through troubleshooting, but a human had to set up that system... design it, program it, and install it.

We each face struggles in our lives. I know this about myself... I don't allow too many people close enough to me to know all the struggles I have faced. I'm not the type of person that will sit down and pour out my heart and soul to another. You have to be very important for me to truly open up. Undiagnosed, but most likely I have trust issues... I don't have a huge "thing" that happened in my childhood to cause it. I like to tell people I see the world as a realist without the mirage of perfection. My husband says I'm a conspiracy theorist and on some days he is correct.

This bring us to... the change... my new outlook on life. Just as I don't open up to others and dump a sob story, I remind myself I'm not the only one like that.. and shame on anyone who thinks they have to know the story in order to show compassion. You don't know what the other person is facing. It's imperative to have compassion for the unknown. Maybe Customer Service at your favorite store is lacking today because the employee was just dumped by who they thought they were spending the rest of their life with... or maybe their dog died... or maybe their Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe they just really hate their job, the coffee was cold, and someone cut them off on their commute.

Why is it that we can give more patience and tolerance to those that we know are struggling while those who don't want to air the dirty laundry with random strangers are given less consideration and compassion?

If you find yourself struggling to get through another conversation about the same issue, take a breath and tell yourself you may be working with someone on their worst day. Be polite. Be thoughtful. Make small talk. Try to inject a little humor. Show compassion for the unknown. It's none of your business, but that doesn't mean you can't be nice. Not only are you showing you have a good heart, you could turn their day around, too. Don't blame them for things they can't control.

Then, there are those people that are always hard to work with. No matter what you try, it seems you can't do right by them. I wish I had a plan for solving this issue. The only thing I can share is one of the sayings I remember from my Grandma "Kill them with kindness." "Being kind to your enemies is like reaping hot coals on their head." (Proverbs 21If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you

While I hope you and I don't have "enemies", sometimes we treat one another like we are. Keep this in mind as we travel through cookie season and beyond.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

BCG Patches Patch Club


I have a special opportunity going on right now at BCGPatches.com.

Anyone placing an order for $10 or more by January 31, 2018 will automatically be included in our new Patch Club program.

The Patch Club entitles you to a 10% discount for ALL orders you place with BCGPatches in 2018!

Patch Club Members will also have various opportunities and access to special sales, products, and more throughout 2018. We have lots of fun ideas and we can't wait to share them with Patch Club Members.

All you need to do is place a $10 order for anything in the store by January 31, 2018. That simple.

Please spread the word to your friends who also love patches and sharing great programming with their groups.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Leader Binder

An installment for the Meetings: Be Prepared series. 

One of my "must have" items for every meeting and outing is my Leader Binder. I have kept one since the time I had a troop. It's a one-stop shop for everything I may need to know.

I have had several people ask me over the years how I have it set up, so I thought I would put together a post for everyone.

Supplies: 


Your dividers may be different based on your needs. Think about what you are constantly searching for and go with it. Remember, you can ALWAYS change them. No one said this is set in stone. My tabs are as follows:

  1. Meeting Notes - The first page is the schedule of meetings for the year, after that comes the current Meeting Outline and any supporting documents, then previous meeting outlines. I clean this out once a semester or year, depending on how much gets in there. I will say I rely on technology more now, than 8 years ago. But, I typically still have a printed copy just in case technology is failing me or if you are in an area where you know it will be unavailable.
  2. Individual Files - This is where Health History and Parent/Girl information sheets go. Yes. All contact information is in my phone, but what if the phone is dropped and broken or I'm not able to use the phone (unconscious, injured, etc.). My phone has a screen lock on it and no one else would be able to get to the contacts.
  3. Troop Information - I have a sheet that lists the adults in my troop and their roles. It also states our level, number of registered girls in the troop, where we are from, our service unit number, our Council, Council office contact information, and the Volunteer Service Coordinator information. This is just in case something happens and someone else needs to use my binder OR if I'm not as calm and thinking as clearly as normal in an emergency. It happens. Be prepared.
  4. Financial - I do NOT keep bank records in my binder. They are in the filing cabinet. I try to keep a quarterly print out of the Troop Financial Worksheet in case the girls ask how much is in their account. It's very generic. Check with your council for what is on the financial worksheet for troops and build your reporting off that. It helps have it all together at the end of the year when you need to turn it in, too.
  5. Letters Home - I don't really use this anymore, as most everything I do is via email. I will put a copy of the Back To Troop letter to parents that I put together at the beginning of the year which goes over the goals and such for the year. But, other than that, this section is pretty empty.
  6. Blank Forms - These are really there for my reference in case someone asks me about this or that on a form and I don't want to have to guess. I keep a blank Parent/Girl Info Sheets, Health History, Internet Safety Pledge, Girl Scout Registration Form, Permission Slip, Troop Travel. (You should check with your Council for the unlinked forms, as they may vary)
  7. Permission Slips - This section ONLY has the current permission slips if we are at an event. I don't keep ALL Permission slips here. Permission Slips are moved from binder to filing cabinet folder after the event. I keep mine for a year and then archive into a manilla folder to the basement. There is a debate of how long to keep them. I feel a year is a good time length to keep at my fingertips in the filing cabinet.  
Resources:
You are welcome to use any or all of my sheets to help set up your binder. All I ask is that you keep my URL information in the footer of the documents. If you share about them online, please give me credit. :)
  • Binder Cover Sheet: I have a cover sheet on my binder that has our troop number and my contact information. The graphics came from ABC Bakers. They are fine to use for personal use. They go over that in their terms of use. 
  • Meeting Schedule Planner: You can download through BCGPatches.com for free. There is an Excel file. I tried PDF, but it's so limiting that it isn't worthwhile. 
  • Troop Information Sheet: You can download through BCGPatches.com for free. There is an Word and fillable PDF version.