Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Year! Meeting 1

My troop is full of wild, crazy and spunky girls.  They are also kind, smart and funny.  Like me, sometimes they lack a filter and sometimes say the most out there things we can't think of!  But, I really did miss them over the summer.  A couple I did get to see because they live so close to us.

This year is going to be so exciting for us!  We are a MULTILEVEL troop!  This crazy leader has taken on Daisies all the way up to Cadettes this year.  No, I have not lost my marbles (though we're not sure if I ever had them to begin with).  BUT, this would not be possible without my incredible team that I have on board this year!  Really, they are spectacular. 

So, what do you do when you have 4 levels of girls, girls with the same or similar names, and ones that are close to their leaders names?  Go by your camp names!  This year, you'll hear me talk about myself (Lima bean) and my three co-leaders, Firefly, Jelly and Twinkie.  I really mean it when I say that if it weren't for them, this crazy troop would not be possible this year.  I really do miss my old co-leaders, and wish they were both still with us, but I think the 4,000 mile commute might be a little too much on them.

First meeting of the new year, lots of new girls, and even more returning scouts.  We "inherited" another troop this year.  Some of the girls I had many, many years ago in my first troop in this area; and we also got to welcome in a few scouts who moved here from another state.  In a way, it was like a blending of a new family, and it really could not have gone more smoothly!

Let me start by talking about an "unspoken tradition."  It doesn't matter if you are a Girl Scout, Girl Guide or even a Boy Scout, this happens to us all- the first meeting of the year usually runs very late.  This is because we're all "getting back in the habit," almost like it is at the beginning of the school year.  How we managed to finish three minutes early is beyond me.  I am also certain that this will never happen again.  Ever.

Over all, it was a good meeting.  As the girls were coming in, we had them each do a Flat Juliette that we're trading with a Troop in England.  Once we finished up, we did snacks (early, yes), since it gave us a chance to go over some "troop business," mainly what's going on this year. We spent the rest of the meeting playing some simple get to know you games.

It was a simple meeting, but it went over very well!  Stayed tuned for more adventures of this wild, and crazy troop!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yes, I AM a Girl Scout... and a volunteer



Volunteering is becoming a lost art.  This is a bold statement to someone who is constantly volunteering their time for various reasons and organizations.  Those who volunteer though, can tell you that we are all always in need of more volunteers.  We are all “short staffed.”

I won’t lie, being a Girl Scout volunteer is not easy.  Yet every year, I return, and ready for more.  All of the girls I work with want to be there, and that is one of the many reasons why I return.  They are eager to learn and have fun.  Sometimes, they are a group of crazy kids running around you, and other times they are very quiet listeners who are fixated on your every word.  

Ok, I know you’re all thinking, “this woman is nuts!  Why on earth would she give up her time for a bunch of kids?”  My reasoning is very simple.  The first is to pay it forward- many years ago I had an amazing Girl Scout leader, and I feel the need to pass on everything she taught me (and she taught me a lot!).  My second reason is a little selfish- to spend more time with my daughters.  My last reason is one I owe to my parents for instilling upon me a sense of community- to give to those around me to better our area.  

I started out as a Girl Scout volunteer during my time in college, many years ago.  The first troop that I led was one that forever changed my life.  It was a troop with nine young women who were all from severely impoverished families.  It never stopped them from attending meetings, and it never stopped them from being amazing people.  Before I graduated and handed the troop over to a trusted friend, we took a big trip to New York City.  Those girls had earned every single penny through Girl Scout fundraisers (mainly our precious cookies).  Their parents had to pay nothing for the trip- not a single dime.  That trip was one they were all so very grateful for, because none of them had ever been outside of their home state. 
 
Here I am, years later, a troop leader to my oldest daughter’s troop.  Even though they are all equally wonderful, each scout has touched me on a different level because they are all my daughter’s friends.  I have watched the shy girls come out of their shells, the “girly” ones try messy and dirty things, and I have watched all of them explore the world around them.  They constantly challenge me.  Every year, they spend their last meeting planning for the following year.  I recently sat down to put their plan into a schedule and I realized that I have some reading to do if I plan on being their own personal expert on canoeing, botany and first aid (just to name a few).  Every year, they come up with things that I need to learn a little bit about, but I enjoy it because I know they want to learn about all of these things.

Girl Scouting doesn’t stop once you leave high school though, and I am living proof of this.  Since becoming an adult volunteer, I have literally traveled the world in the name of Scouting.  Two years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Chicago to represent our area in Girl’s World Forum.  The forum had women from over 90 countries in attendance.  My own roommate was from Ireland!  I have been presented with opportunities to travel to Germany, Hong Kong, Rwanda, Mexico and more.  I was offered these chances because I am a member of the GLO pool- Global Leadership Opportunities.  This is a Girl Scout sponsored thing, but you have to be an adult Girl Scout member to be in it.  It gives me the chance to represent our country in the name of Girl Scouting, all over!

I love everything that Girl Scouts stands for.  I learned how to start a fire, change the oil in my car and I even learned how to climb a mountain, all because of Girl Scouts.  I can proudly say that I am a debt free adult because I learned how to make and stick to a budget while my former Girl Scout troop planned a massive overseas trip.  Every time someone asks me if we just sell cookies, I laugh a little, but it’s because I know how important the Girl Scout program is.  The Girl Scout leadership experience, instills courage, confidence and character.  We do strive to, “make the world a better place,” but in the process, we learn invaluable skills and life lessons, and we always manage to make amazing friends along the way.

I can’t imagine my life not being a Girl Scout volunteer.  It just doesn’t seem right to me.  In the end, what truly makes it worth my time is when the girl who was standing in the corner, upset, decides to join in on the activity, and later on tells you, “thank you!”


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Catching up!

Hello everyone in Girl Scout land!

I want to apologize to everyone for falling (very) behind on my blog!  I blame it on the newest Girl Scout in my house (though in her defense, she's a cute little 8 month old).   Many of you have sent emails or comments in that I have not yet (still) responded to, and I am very sorry!  Eventually I will get to them all.  I am hoping this post will make up for it.  I am trying to upload everything I have that has been requested.  I've got some of the journey plans I've done and other events (as I upload them, I will update this post).

How to plan a journey
Brownie Quest
Brownie World of Girls and Daisy 5 Flowers, 4 Stories 3 Cheers for Animals
Sample Cookie sleepover
Challenge and Change- Adult Guide
Challenge and Change- Girl Guide
Challenge and Change- Girl planner

I promise I will work on getting the rest of my year blogged (that is after I came back from "maternity leave."  My little GS arrived just before Christmas!).  And, too all you leaders gearing up for the "new year,"  GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brownie Quest..... in less than 24 hours!

Recently I facilitated an adult session on how to plan a journey event/sleepover/camp out.  The heart of the lesson was how to "properly" address earning a journey in a very short period of time.  Someone asked why this was something they should learn.  There are a number of reasons why.  The first one that comes to mind is the fact that for many things (mainly the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards), earning specific journeys are a prerequisite.  Another reason could be that your troop simply does not have the luxury of being able to do all three journeys in two (or in a Cadette's case, three) years- not all of us meet weekly, so there's a lot we have to cram in during our few meetings.  However, this is not a recommended method to earn all of your journeys- this is a "band aid solution" if you need to squeeze in one for whatever reason.  Many of the journeys are designed to go hand in hand with the supplemental badges (in the badge activity sets), so they are great to do during the span of several meetings.  But, going back to those pesky prerequisites, we understand that this needs to be done.

So, what happens you need to squeeze in one more journey?  Have a sleepover!  Or a long day.... or a camping trip (take your pick!).  This is South Georgia in November though, so the weather is very unpredictable, so sleepover it was!  Here's how we did Brownie Quest:

Overview:
Drop off, Friday, 5:15-5:45 PM
Pick up, Saturday, 11:30 AM

Friday:
5:15-5:45 PM, arrivals.  Check in, parents turn in permission slips and scouts receive name tags (name tags color coordinated by patrols)
5:30-6, stragglers check in
6-6:45, Dinner- dinner activity- explain healthy eating habits (why we have no soda or junk food at the sleepover)
7-8:35, Journey activities
                7-7:45 Activity 1/2/3
                7:50-8:35 Activity 2/3/1
                8:40-9:25 Activity 3/1/2
9:25-9:45, clean up from journey activities, set up snack table
9:45-10:00, Late night snacks
10:00-10:30, Clean up, get out sleeping bags
10:30-? movie
?  lights out

Saturday:
7:30 AM, wake up
8:00, breakfast
8:45, clean up breakfast, prepare for Take Action workshop
9:00-11:00, Take Action workshop and planning
11:05, clean up
11:30, depart

Dinner menu/activity: healthy foods and drinks, discuss importance of, ect.

Patrol activity 1: team games- Brownie Blob, human knot, blind fold tent

Brownie blob- girls stand in a tight circle with arms around each other.  A path is outlined that they have to walk across (path can be marked with masking tape for first try, second try should be “blind”).  However, they have to work as a team so that while walking this path, they never break apart/separate.  The point of this exercise is to highlight basic leadership skills.

Human knot- girls stand in a circle and put their arms/hands in front, into the circle.  They then must grab someone’s hand.  They cannot grab their neighbor’s hands, and they cannot grab the same person’s hands (so they should be holding two different hands).  Once this is done, they then must figure out how to “undo the knot.”  They cannot let go of hands.  The girls can end up standing backwards, sideways, ect. As long they do not let go.  The point of this exercise is to highlight communication skills.

Blind fold tent- girls are broken into smaller teams (recommended 2-4 per team).  One person volunteers to be the “eyes,” while the others will be the “builders.”  The builders will be blindfolded.  The eyes can instruct the builders on what to do, but may not physically participate.  The builders will be given a sheet and 4 chairs that they will have to make into a tent-fort, under the direction of the eyes.  The point of this exercise is to highlight communication and leadership (apply what they learned in the previous two games).

Patrol activity 2: Family circle map, family member’s key roles (expanded into community)

Family circle- this activity, the girls will essentially create a depiction of their immediate family circle.  They will then use personal observations to describe what everyone’s role is.  For example- Mom cooks dinner, Dad mows the lawn, sister sweeps the floors and brother cleans the toilet.  In this example, each family member has a role that is important- without one, the others cannot function.  This will then be brought over into the Saturday activity regarding community mapping (this will essentially set them up to better understand it).

Patrol activity 3: The great elf adventure- adopt an elf and decorate it, discuss needs and wants of the elf.  Discuss clothes for the weather, healthy food options, good sleep habits, good hygiene habits and good study habits.  Relate this all back to the Elf about how you can make the Elf happier by living a good life.

Take Action workshop (for further questions, consult the Challenge to Change workbook- this is what we used)

1: Community mapping- learn about community resources, identify community needs and wants.  Assist girls in mapping out what our community has to offer (ie: library, United Way, state park, ect), and then identifying what each “resource” can potentially “provide” to the community (ie: library has books and research material, United Way has access to volunteers and grants, and the state park has natural resources). 

2: After the community mapping, discuss issues within our community.  Ie: lack of famer’s market, lack of clothing resale stores.  Assist girls in identifying the root of the issues behind these problems.

3: Choose and plan Take Action project based on community needs/issues.

4: Take action- set a date to do together OR give the girls a way to complete it on their own OR leave it to the troops to complete the project on their own.  On a Girl Scout’s honor, they have not completed the badge until they complete the Take Action project. 

***Take Action project will then be completed by the girls, on their honor, after the sleepover (individually or as a troop)

Supplies:
Brownie elf outline copies (from Making Friends
Crayons or markers
Large sized construction paper
Scissors (SU storage)
Pens/pencils
Oversized paper pads
Water cooler
Masking tape
Large, top sheets (to be returned)

Food:
Carrots
Celery
Ranch dressing
Ketchup
Chicken nuggets (to be baked)
Orange Juice
Apple Juice
Grape Juice
Milk
Triscuts and/or Wheat Thins
Paper bowls 
Paper plates 
Napkins 
Windex 
Bleach (for cleaning floors and sinks)
Spoons
Paper cups (for backup)
Cheerios
Life
Vanilla yogurt (large)
Strawberry yogurt (large)
Bananas
Apples
Oranges
Granola

Trail mix (late night snack)


I am sure that many of you have questions about the Take Action component.  The Challenge to Change workbook is a great method to assist girls in learning how to properly choose and execute a take action project.  I highly recommend it!  In the end, our group choose to do a project regarding endangered animals in our area.  They want to create a Facebook page (that they will contribute to through us adults), create awareness signs to put out and create educational pamphlets to distribute.  We only just had our sleepover a few says ago, so I can't say yet how well the afterwards of the take action will work out (so far so good though!).  

Overall, though, the sleepover was a success!  The girls had a blast and they got to earn a journey!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 4

In the course of Girl Scouting, there are so many important moments.  Most will agree that the single most important moment is when a scout receives her Gold Award (from experience, I can tell you, that really is a big deal!). But, before the Gold Award, there are plenty of other important moments as well.  When a new scout comes into scouting, they are often "brought into" scouting through an investiture ceremony.  The short is that this ceremony welcomes the new scout into the sisterhood of Girl Scouting.  Many leaders also hold at the beginning of the year a rededication ceremony, where returning scouts reaffirm their commitment to scouting.  Often times, we hold these two ceremonies simultaneously, as they hold near identical meanings (and because we often have a mixture of new and returning girls).

First order of today's meeting was to practice for our investiture and rededication ceremony.  I found a cute ceremony online that I adapted for our girls, but more on that later.  Once we had our practice out of the way, we continued work on the badge My Family Story (the one that we sent supplies home with the girls at our previous meeting so they could created family trees).  The abbreviated version- we went over our family trees and the remaining requirements for the badge (sorry, preggo brain has forgotten them, but this is why I always keep the badge pamphlets with me at meetings!).

Now, onto the important part of the meeting!  The ceremony began with the girls standing outside in the hall, and knocked on the door.  We asked who was there, and they responded some Girl Scouts.  We opened the door and asked them what they wanted.  Their response was, to become Brownie Girl Scouts!  They then filled in, and we sang the Brownie smile song (a classic!).  First, we gave all of our returning girls their Brownie insignia tab and pin.  We saved our new girls for the end and read a poem to them about becoming a Girl Scout.  After everyone had their pins, we also used this as a chance to hand out our first batch of earned awards.  We finished off by reciting the Girl Scout promise (a little backwards, but it worked for us).  It was very touching to look at the troop and see all of them wearing their new Brownie pins.  Some of our girls have been with us since the very beginning.  I hope that all of them will stick with us to the end and one day, we may have the honor of giving them their Gold Award.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 3

I love that my scouts want to try and so everything.  I'm the same way, I wish I could do and try everything, but with limited amounts of time and resources, we have to pace ourselves.  During our end of the year planning meeting last year, I felt like the girls wanted to try and do two years worth of programming in a year!

Last week we worked on the My Best Self and Snacks badge, which lead us right into the start of week's badge, My Great Day.  Before we did our sit down activity, we played a little game.  I call it the human blob.  The girls stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder, and put their arms around each other.  Without letting go or breaking the circle, they have to work together to walk across a predetermined patch.  It sounds simple and easy, but it's really quite complicated!  The whole point of the exercise it to teach them about good communication skills and basic leadership concepts. Yes, in scouting we are teaching our girls to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Therefore, this exercise, in essence, allows them to hone in on specific leadership and communication skills.  It took them a while to get the hang of it, but eventually they seemed to get it.  I know we'll do this exercise again in the future as it's such a great learning tool!

After our little game, we sat and asked, what's your routine like?  I used my daily schedule as an example- get up with my daughter, get her on the bus, accomplish a slew of things around the house, errands, filling orders for my Etsy shop (if I had any that day), get my daughter off the bus, help her with homework, then some rest time (hahaa!), cook dinner, clean up from dinner, get my daughter in bed, and then, maybe, some TV or a book before bed.  We all have some sort of a routine, so the girls were asked to put it onto paper.  Even at school they have a routine.  Putting it on paper gave them all a chance to realize that they do have some form of a routine and how important it is in their daily lives.

We're going to be finishing up this badge later on, but to end the meeting, we gave the girls some materials to take home (thank you back to school clearance and coupons that stocked up our troop for pennies!).  Each girl was given two, large pieces of construction paper and a box of crayons.  We explained to them what a family tree was.  They were asked to make a family tree and go at least as far back as their great grandparents.  They will then have to bring this back for our next meeting when we will then work on the badge My Family Story.

Brownies, year 1, meeting 2

This whole being pregnant and being a leader thing is NOT easy.  I laid down last night around 8 to read a book, thinking I could get in a few chapters.  Instead, my husband woke me up at 9:45 to tell me to put away the Kindle safely.  My troop wore me out!  And, I completely forgot a few things we needed for the meeting.  For example, I forgot the list of how to earn Brownie Bucks and the new food pyramid (luckily I had a "back up" I could use in the badge pamphlet).

The start of our meeting today, we wrapped up the requirements for the badge Making New Friends (which we started last week).  After that, we began work on the Healthy Habits badge. We normally have snack time at the end of the meeting, but as a change today, we did snack time first since it had a hidden agenda there.  I purposely signed my daughter up for snacks this week to make sure we would have a good, healthy and teachable snack.  Ok, I know, many people hear healthy and automatically think something that tastes like cardboard.  The chef in me says shame on you!  It is very possible to have tasty, yet healthy foods.  To simplify it for the girls, our snack was 100% fruit juice (no junk added) and "natural" granola bars (meaning no processed sugars in them- the ones I bought have honey, dried fruit, some nuts and oats in them and are very yummy!).  We also got a chance to learn about a balance meal, the food groups and other healthy eating habits.

Our next activity was very fun, and a little bit silly.  We had each girl come up one at a time and we asked them each where a specific organ in their body was.  Some we knew they wouldn't know (for example, where is your large intestine, or where is your esophagus).  Once we had asked all of our girls where these organs were, we then asked them about some common pains they have felt before.  We related it back to those body parts, and what to do if it hurt.  Of course there was that old mom saying- if your stomach hurts, try pooping first.  Yeah, we went there, but we know it holds true so often!

In the end, we covered good hygiene practices, how long we should be sleeping at night and a few other things along those lines.  Our hopes was that they would keep all of this in mind until our next meeting, but the next badge we would be working on worked into this one as well (which all of these will work into our upcoming journey sleepover).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 1

You'll have to excuse me for a moment while I turn into a Mom here for just a moment..... my little girl is a Brownie this year!!!  Yes, I had already seen her in her Brownie vest back in May at our investiture, but it didn't really hit me until today.  On top of that, I have some exciting news- we recently found that I am having another Girl Scout!  I know my awesome membership representative is silently thinking something along the lines of oooo yay, a new member, more numbers for us!  Let's face it, girlie #2 will be in Girl Scouts one day just like her big sister and mom!

So, new year, "new" troop.  Sadly, we had one girl move out of state, and another had to transfer to another troop that met at a different time.  However, we did gain two scouts from a troop that disbanded, and two completely new scouts.  I had no doubt in my mind that our four new scouts would fit with our special group of girls (they fit in perfectly- you would have never known they were new!).  Like all first meetings of the year, it took us a while to get back in the habit, but once we got started, the girls were quick to remember.

Our first order of business after our openings- a new kaper chart!  We all loved our Daisy kaper chart, but it was obviously a kaper chart for Daisies, with Daisy kapers.  We're Brownies now, so we need a Brownie kaper chart!  We all know that we all need to help clean up and set up, so those we did not list specifically.  We also are no longer in need of one person each to pick out a song, a grace, lead us in the pledge, promise and law, and start the friendship squeeze.  Instead, we have someone to lead our opening, and someone to lead our closing.  We still have our snack person, but no specific snack helper.  Also listed on our new kaper chart is pet rock duty and elf shop duty (more on those two later).  We also have a "general" spot for helpers, and one blank spot.  The girls haven't decided yet what to list as their last kaper, but hopefully they will decide soon.

Well, what do you do when you have new scouts in your troop, and not everyone knows each other?  You go grocery shopping!  Ok, you don't actually go to the grocery store, but you do get to play a fun game.  The premise is that as you go around the circle introducing yourself, you then have to say, "and I am buying _____ at the grocery store."  The item you are buying has to start with the same first letter as your name.  For example, when it was my turn, I said, "hi, I'm Lindsay, and when I go to the grocery store, I am going to buy some limes."  Here's the hitch- you also have to list what everyone before you is buying, and their names.  So if you're last to go, you need to pay close attention!  It's a fun game, and a great way to learn new peoples names.

Ok, back to that kaper, elf shop duty.  Back in May when we had our planning day, the girls found the Brownie Elf paper doll at the back of the guide book.  They asked that we find something to do with it this year.  I told them I would come up with something, and that I did!  After I flipped past the Elf and another page of clothes, I found a few pages of items with prices on it, and a few pages of pretend money.  Oh, and more thing, the girls voted to do the money manager badge at our planning meeting.  After some copies were made, a quick shopping trip to the back to school section at Target, so came the Elf Shop.  All of the girls were given a Brownie Elf, the Brownie uniform, a pouch to store them in, and were started out with 17 Brownie Bucks (what we're calling the pretend money).  Then we had a discussion about needs vs. wants, and things that the girls would need to "provide" their elves with.  For example, even though it's still blazing hot here, it will get cold eventually, so they'll need to buy a sweater, warms socks, or a hat for their elf.  We then got on to food, and our elves need to eat just like us.  However, we need to feed our elves good, healthy good before they eat "junk" food.  The Brownie Guide book provided us with the perfect example- Girl Scout cookies and broccoli.  We need broccoli, but want the cookies (unless it's Girl Scout cookie season, at which point it's ok to tell our customer that they need the cookies).  We also touched on how the girls would earn Brownie Bucks, but said we would go over that in detail at our next meeting.

Next order of business, the pet rock.  Yes, I know at first glance this may sound cheesy, but it actually is one of those "bigger picture" sort of things.  That's about all I'm going to say because it's also one of those secretive things we like to do in my troop.  Don't worry, it's really, really cool!

Well, that was our first meeting!  It went really well, and, we actually finished ON TIME!  Shocker, right?!

One more thing- Zumba!  The weekend following our first meeting, we got to participate in a special Zumba class that was put together just for our Service Unit.  One of the local Zumba instructors is certified to teach Zumba to kids, and she did an amazing job.  The girls had a blast, and I hope we get to do it again!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to do a journey in a day!

Confession time- when I have blonde moments, they are pretty massive (and usually a tad embarrassing).  I will be the first to preach about how much I love Google Drive, yet this blondie forgot to use it for you all!

So, with that being said, I finally uploaded some files that many of you have emailed me about (please, keep emailing away!  I love helping you and your girls out!).

First file, my original plans from our Daisy-Brownie sleepover (not included were the pages we read during the sleepover)
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2L6gPq7RdP1b0F0X2M4aTY1LVE/edit?usp=sharing
Not listed- I took the Brownies and the Daisy and split them up in to two patrols each (so four patrols total), and we told them that once they transplant their take action, to please rinse and recycle their plastic bottles.

Second file, a little how-to guide that you may find useful
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2L6gPq7RdP1X0QxWkVVZEJiNEE/edit?usp=sharing
Not listed- sample kaper chart (for those who don't know what a kaper chart is, it's like assigned "chores" during GS events.  We used in ours things like help set up for breakfast, clean up after snack, clean bathrooms, mop).

In addition, check what resources your council may have.  For example, I found on my council's website a handy form that can help you budget for any event and a helpful checklist to help you keep track of needs (mainly GS required things, ie: adult to girl ratio, extra insurance for specific activities, and more).  And of course, Google!  I'm not the only leader blogging out there.  So many other awesome leaders have shared their own resources with us (that's what Girl Scouting is all about, sharing!).

Hope that helps!

End of the year trip, second year Daisies

Guess who's Daisies were among the top earners in their Service Unit?  If you guessed mine, you deserve a Thin Mint (if you have any left).  Seriously, my girls ROCKED cookie sales this year! I do, in part, credit the planning we did.  It kept them focus and on the goal at heart.  Our end of the year trip was 100% paid for by their cookie funds.  The parents had to pay nothing.  Yes, you read that correctly, our parents were on the hook for zero dollars!

Our fun filled day started out with a trip to the Birthplace in Savannah.  If you ever have a chance to visit, plan in advance so you can reserve a spot at one of their programs (they have them for all levels).  It was SO much FUN!  The girls got to play a few games and took a mini-tour of the house.  After the tour, they got to go to the carriage house to do a few arts and crafts.  They wouldn't let us adults in though (it was a surprise).  It did give me a chance to slip into the gift shop to buy some Birthplace pins and patches (still using cookie money).

Next up, lunch time!  The girls opted to eat at Lady and Sons (Paula Deen's restaurant).  It was sooooo good!  We got there a little early, but it was ok since they have a waiting area for people about to be seated (by the way, make reservations in advance!).  While the girls were waiting, I left my trusty co-leaders with them so I could slip into the gift shop to buy them some patches and pins.

The next activity of the day was a trolley tour of the city.  It was fun, but it was also a nice break in the day (we had to leave our hometown at 7 AM and we didn't get on the trolley until nearly 3 PM).  A few girls did snooze for a bit, but I was not about to wake them!

So, what do you when have a troop of awesome girls who raised SO much cookie money?  Treat them Build-A-Bear, duh!  It was a surprise though.  I knew it was something all of them had wanted to do, but we simply said that after the trolley, we had a special activity for them to do.  We all pilled into our cars and made our way to the mall.  Once safely inside the mall, we had them close their eyes and we lead the way.  We then told them to open their eyes, and we (the adults) had to hold our ears.  I would have loved to let them get any bear they wanted, but we did have a budget.  They all got a bear and all opted for the Brownie uniforms.

Our day was finished off with a meal in the food court, and very quiet cars (they all slept on the way home!).  We didn't get home until 9:30, but, it was worth it.  The girls all had a blast!

We still had cookie money leftover too!  We used the leftovers buy the girls their Brownie vests (and all the necessary patches), re-register all of the girls and our troop product managers for next year, and saved the rest for a few activities for next year.  Ok, I have to brag just one last time- my girls ROCKED it!